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Procedure : 2011/2313(INI)
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Texts tabled :

A7-0262/2012

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Explanations of votes
PV 11/09/2012 - 10.21
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0324

Debates
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

9. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
PV
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Pervenche Berès (A7-0011/2012)

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, every time the situation seems to improve, new downgrades by the rating agencies shake up the international markets. Many European businesses are failing, and in terms of employment, the number of long-term job seekers is rising, especially among the young.

If austerity plans and safeguarding the euro are necessary measures, then drastic changes to the job market are even more important at national level in boosting economic recovery in Europe. Only by making the European Union competitive again will we restore faith to investors and promote the creation of new jobs.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, the EU should not have responsibility over setting an EU strategy on jobs or for developing an EU-level strategy for employment. I fundamentally believe that Member States are better placed to make decisions on employment and develop their own employment strategy. A one-size-fits-all model really cannot be applied because the employment situation in each Member State – and indeed within each Member State as in the case of Wales within the UK – is affected by different factors.

A tailored and targeted approach must be adopted to ensure that we tackle priorities locally for employment and find specific measures that improve future employment opportunities, especially for our young people. Care needs to be taken with this EU-wide strategy.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, there is no doubt that the latest employment figures, especially among the young, generate particular social alarm. If unemployment is at 10.4% and rising, this clearly can only arouse particular concern.

Therefore, great care and attention needs to be paid to the initiative put in place by the Commission to create a task force, an action team to support individual governments – initially eight – in directing funding, including EU funds, towards the creation of new jobs, especially for the young.

The right to work is sacred and fundamental, and according to the Europe 2020 strategy, activities encouraging employment and growth should be actively promoted, also by linking migration flows to the labour market and, above all, by guaranteeing that preference is shown to EU workers.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, the adoption of this resolution today has finally refocused attention on a topic that is central for the future of Europe. Work has been the main casualty of the crisis and the inadequate employment policies of recent years. The situation is, unfortunately, getting worse, particularly for young people.

On 1 March, the European Council will launch the new economic and employment policy guidelines. We therefore need to discuss a new employment programme, a market reform that will create new jobs backed by an investment policy targeting the new generations and providing them with practical responses; in other words, a new employment plan that will modernise education and training systems and finally promote the value of individuals.

Work must go back to being regular and stable, which does not necessarily mean working in the same place all one’s working life, but nor does it mean that people should be ‘disposable’ either. The real challenge will be to allow and encourage different professional experiences in one’s lifetime, while at the same time safeguarding and guaranteeing professionalism and pay.

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, these guidelines for employment policies will be a great help in achieving the target of increasing participation in the labour market and reducing youth unemployment. Today, the future of young people is increasingly uncertain and insecure. There is no point in concealing the fact that sustained economic growth is crucial for the future of Europe. The youth unemployment figures are dramatic and unacceptable.

The European Union must be committed to a medium- to long-term strategy for better, full and good-quality employment, especially for young people and their mobility, but also in terms of gender quality. At the same time, there must be parallel efforts to improve education and training systems at all levels.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, one in five Greeks is now unemployed, 60 000 small firms have closed in the last year, the economy, which was scheduled to contract by 3% in 2011, has contracted by 6% and there is no end in sight as long as Greece remains in the euro. There is austerity and poverty and deflation without end.

I noticed in the debate this morning that it seems to be dawning on some of our colleagues on the Left that they have picked the wrong side, that they are lining up with the establishment, the bondholders and the banks against ordinary workers in Greece, and that this bailout money is going to rescue some very wealthy individuals from the consequences of their mistakes, but the repayment is going to come from ordinary taxpayers.

That is what happens when you base your whole policy on signalling your disapproval of nationalism. That is what happens when you take a position based on doing the opposite of people that you do not like. But it is never too late to come to your senses, my friends: ‘Joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance’.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Mr President, the current economic crisis, together with the austerity measures adopted in some countries, has created new social categories at risk of poverty, including young people and elderly people. Given the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Annual Growth Survey must ensure consistency between the various priorities in its political guidelines in order to ensure that budgetary needs are based on social justice.

I agree with the rapporteur on the need to act immediately in order to improve employment conditions for categories at risk of social exclusion and to make tackling youth unemployment a priority. Future national reform plans will need to include training programmes able to develop lifelong learning and to create qualified jobs with dignified pay and conditions.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I generally believe that the EU should not uniformly dictate employment laws across its Member States. I also remain sceptical about the need for an EU strategy on jobs or a reinforced coordinated strategy on employment. Forcing our Member States to adopt the same uniform policies across the board when their social structures and the economic problems they face are very different will do little to nothing to aid employment levels in the Union.

What is good for one country will doubtless prove unworkable for another, so I think it is best if Member States are left alone to define their own national reform programmes and to implement their own reforms as they see fit.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE).(HU) Mr President, the Annual Growth Survey 2012 is quite correct in stressing that the success of economic governance will greatly depend on the budgetary rigour implemented by the individual Member States, but it is just as important to kick-start economic growth and, at the same time, complete the internal market. Unfortunately, this did not receive sufficient focus either in the ‘six-pack’ or in the current fiscal pact. Yet short- and medium-term cuts made by the Member States in public expenditures are futile if no structural reforms are implemented. The Commission is not sufficiently satisfied with Member State reforms and efforts. It wants quick results, pressing and forcing Member States to deliver them, which leads to unnecessary austerity measures and a continuing rise in unemployment. That is why this is a good report, and that is why it is important that the Commission is finally entertaining the idea of once again giving this matter focus in its country-specific recommendations.

 
  
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  President. – Ms Gáll-Pelcz, next time, remember that you must register for an explanation of vote before the explanations of vote start. You registered when we had already started and, according to the Rules, you must do it before, so remember next time.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE).(HU) Mr President, I accept your kindness and next time, I will do as you have said.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Czesław Adam Siekierski (A7-0032/2012)

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE).(FR) Mr President, the political signal the Parliament has sent with this report on the distribution of food aid to the most deprived persons is very important at this time when an economic crisis is affecting people who did not cause the crisis, but who are suffering from its consequences.

For that reason, I voted for this report, which concerns the most deprived people and also regional and local authorities which, in many cases, are the principal distributors of food aid.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE).(FR) Mr President, today is a great day because the food aid programme for the most deprived has been saved. There had been talk of abolishing it, which would have been sheer madness, sheer political madness. Who would have thought that Europe could lose interest in a matter of such importance?

We won this battle, and should be glad about that. We should congratulate all those who played a part in this victory and particularly the governments who helped us – I should like to thank the French Government in particular – and all the Members of Parliament who supported us. However, this is just a battle, and the war has yet to be won, since we have saved this programme for two years.

I would simply like to say, in the gentlest possible fashion, to our friends – the German, English, Swedish, Danish, Dutch and Czech Republic governments, which opposed the renewal of this programme, that in two years’ time, we are all going to be back together again. I would simply like to say that a certain number of MEPs – particularly the French MEPs from the presidential majority – despite this, and in any event, will formally oppose any undermining of this programme.

Europe cannot lose interest in those who are quite simply hungry. This is clearly a matter of European solidarity.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, although this proposal allows for the continuation of a scheme which provides food for deprived individuals in some EU Member States, I do not agree that EUR 500 million should be allocated for this scheme from the common agricultural policy budget. This essentially is a social policy which therefore should not be part of the CAP. Indeed, I question whether it should even be funded by the EU budget at all.

Social policy and its implementation should be a Member State competence and so this initiative should be funded by national, social and welfare programmes. CAP payments should support agriculture and rural development; Structural Funds should improve competitiveness. If this is to be funded from the limited EU budget, then it should only be sourced from within the existing ESF, which is for social purposes. I am pleased to hear today the Commission say they recognise this fact.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). – Mr President, I certainly welcome this report. I commend the rapporteur for the huge amount of hard work put into it and for the very practical approach which allows this scheme – at long last – to come into operation as soon as possible.

I think it is an excellent scheme. It benefits over 18 million of the most needy people in 19 Member States. The programme is 100% EU-funded and the amount – EUR 500 million – is small in the context of the overall common agricultural policy budget. There is no state financing involved, and I welcome this.

The Council agreement of 15 December 2011 allowed for the implementation of the scheme over the period 2012-2013. The initiative was blocked, as has been said already, for far too long by seven Member States. I welcome the compromise that has been negotiated by the Council, but there is no guarantee that the economic situation will have improved by 2013. I welcome the clarification by the Commission today that it will use its initiative in terms of putting a further scheme in place.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, after a two-year impasse at the Council and some rather difficult negotiations, we have reached the conclusion that, in the absence of a better alternative, the compromise voted on today is the only way to reach a temporary solution and guarantee that the most deprived people in the EU can benefit from the food distribution programme for the 2012-2013 period.

Unfortunately, given the way in which it has been adopted, I believe that the programme financing, which will come entirely from the EU budget and has an annual ceiling of EUR 500 million for the Union’s financial contribution, will have to be discussed again after 2013.

 
  
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  Vincenzo Iovine (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, I was pleased to play a part in approval of the scheme for distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union. At a time like this, when the number of deprived people in Europe has risen as a result also of the economic crisis, I believe that an important signal like today’s can contribute to greater cohesion in the European Union.

This reminds me of the example of a Neapolitan saint. He was a doctor called Giuseppe Moscati. When he received patients in his surgery, he used to put his hat on the desk with the sides turned up, and a notice placed on it reading ‘Those who have please give, and those who don’t please take’.

 
  
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  Salvatore Caronna (S&D).(IT) Mr President, Parliament’s vote relating to the scheme for distribution of food products to deprived persons for the next two years was, above all, a mandatory step, bearing in mind also the fact that a few weeks ago, we approved a report against food waste that had amongst its targets the fundamental objective of helping the most needy sections of the population.

It is unthinkable that at a time of economic crisis and social suffering like the present, we should not be responding, albeit partially, in such a way. In such a perspective, it is to be hoped that we will find a definitive solution for the entire 2014-2020 period.

As we are seeing at the moment in the squares of Athens, the image of a European Union capable only of imposing cuts and sacrifices is a devastating one. We need to offer an alternative Europe capable of solidarity and of taking care of those in difficulty, and we need to do it soon.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, malnutrition does not affect only developing countries, but also threatens 43 million people right here in Europe. In the context of the economic crisis, the number of people who are no longer able to provide for themselves is, in fact, growing rapidly. The most vulnerable are primarily the homeless, the elderly in poor material circumstances, the unemployed and the disabled, single parents with children, and large families.

I consider the programme for the distribution of food to the most deprived, which has, in its 22 years of existence, helped to provide food to the poorest people in the Union, to be a most commendable initiative. I am concerned that precisely this kind of tangible assistance to the needy has been blocked in the Council for more than two years, and even faces disbanding after 2013. It concerns me that countries such as Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the Czech Republic are against it.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D). - (CS) Mr President, I very much welcome and fully support the compromise that has been reached over the continuation of food aid for the poorest inhabitants over the next two years. I also hope that an optimal way of funding it will also be found in the next financial period.

The fact that food aid to the poorest makes sense was confirmed this winter, for example, in Northern Moravia in the Czech Republic, in relation to delays with the payment of certain social benefits, which thrust many of these most vulnerable people into a real crisis situation. Thanks to the rapid and, in particular, humane response of social workers and non-profit organisations, the situation was kept under control.

These are precisely the situations where food aid helps. I am therefore sorry that the Czech Republic, which has had no problems in making use of European food aid, has failed to back the resulting compromise in the Council, even in this form.

 
  
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  Silvia Costa (S&D).(IT) Mr President, it would be truly strange if, at a time of such difficulties and problems in the lives of millions of people in Europe, the European Union were to impose further restrictions on food distribution. This would have a detrimental effect on basic social citizenship rights, the value of social cohesion and the very perception of the European social model.

The signal that Parliament and the Council are both giving is a positive one, but we need to work on giving a definite structure and future to this necessary initiative. I would like to point out that in my country, Caritas, local bodies and other not-for-profit organisations providing free meals have seen an exponential increase in the number of people joining the ranks of the deprived, who can no longer count on being able to feed themselves, and these include not just immigrants, but many elderly and young people as well.

I believe that, in the context of our ambitious fight against poverty and efforts to reduce poverty, this scheme is a prerequisite, and if we had not approved it, we would have gone against our own policy objectives.

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, at such a difficult time for Europe and after the blocking of the proposal at the Council and the tabling of a new amended Commission proposal, the distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union is undoubtedly a positive act. It is a useful compromise that has resolved many of the issues that caused the impasse, such as the full financing of the scheme by the European Union, with the participation of the Union in the distribution point programme, an annual ceiling of EUR 500 million for the Union’s financial contribution, the notion of the Union origin of the foods that are then distributed and the requirement for the purchase of food products to be made on the basis of competitive procedures.

The scheme will therefore be operational from 2013 and will allow the supply of food products from reserves deriving from intervention in order to benefit the most deprived persons in the Union, thus also achieving one of the most important objectives of the common agricultural policy (CAP). Today’s vote in favour is the culmination of this report’s complex and difficult path, and is an important sign of the Union’s support for its most deprived citizens.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this resolution because access to food is a fundamental right. It requires adequate funding in view of the warnings issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations concerning the increasing risk of global famine. In addition, extreme weather conditions this winter will certainly have a negative impact on the development of spring crops. I think we need to send a strong signal to the Commission and Council to release the funds required. In these difficult times, any delay in making a decision may cost European citizens dearly. The positive vote of the Council on 23 January is a step forward in the optimal continuation of the programme. A clear strategy must also be developed in this area for the next financial framework.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, it is a disgrace that people in the European Union are continuing to go hungry and we must not ignore this fact. We must help people who cannot feed themselves adequately. Therefore, I support the compromise that has been negotiated on aid for deprived people. However, in future, we also need to find a different basis for our efforts in this area.

It is also important to me to ensure that the Member States fulfil their responsibilities. We need a mechanism which calls for commitment from the Member States and does not simply pass the problems on to Brussels. Aid for people who are suffering should be provided on a regional and local basis because this allows it to be targeted more effectively. Brussels should only step in to help when, for whatever reason, the Member State is not able to do so.

 
  
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  Sari Essayah (PPE).(FI) Mr President, as this resolution was adopted with no proper vote being taken, I would like to say that, first of all, the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union a year ago jeopardised the entire future of food aid. Fortunately, based on the European Parliament’s resolution last June, we have now taken a decision, in conjunction with the Council, to avoid this dramatic cut in food aid, and now its continuation is assured until the end of 2013, with an annual budget of EUR 500 million.

Over this period, we will have to examine how this aid can be continued sensibly, because the number of destitute EU citizens will, if anything, increase in the years to come. We should also appreciate the voluntary work that is done by communities and aid organisations distributing EU food aid. Parliament’s actions and the outcome achieved were absolutely the right response to the plight of Europe’s poorest citizens.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, while this scheme has merit on a social and compassionate level, I would question whether the EU is the best level at which to define the needs of the most deprived and then address them in an efficient and cost-effective way. As a believer in the primacy of the Member State, I believe that this is where need is best defined and met.

But this is not only about poverty and social exclusion. In this Parliament, we are currently in deep discussion about a reformed common agricultural policy, a CAP which should be about food supply and security. We should ask the Commission to reconsider its proposals and put this at the heart of the policy. But is it not ironic that today in Greece, we see people going short of food, and farmers bringing food supplies into Greek cities to distribute for free, while at the same time we have demands for more austerity that we know Greece cannot meet? And all for that political project which is the euro.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, according to latest estimates, around 16% of the population of the European Union lives on or below the poverty threshold. Last Monday, when this part-session began, we talked about homeless, abandoned, marginalised and vulnerable people who are experiencing a particularly difficult time also because of the bad weather conditions. Six hundred people have died.

This is a partial response, and while significant, it is not entirely satisfactory. The Commissioner’s statement today that a plan will be put together, which did not contain details of the content, did not put our minds at rest. However, it is important that it should have been implemented. All in all, EUR 113 million is a limited amount. It is right to continue with competitive measures that put everyone in the same position, and by everyone I mean the third-party competitors.

However, a policy with a more solid approach to this problem is necessary.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Mr President, I welcome today’s decision, because approval of the Council position at first reading is an extremely important step towards releasing aid for the most deprived citizens of the Union as quickly as possible. The Council position maintains full support for the programme from EU funds. The annual ceiling for the financial contribution will, therefore, be EUR 500 million this year and next year. Key amendments suggested by Parliament have also been accepted, such as specifying the EU origin of the foods, purchasing food products on the basis of competitive procedures and reimbursing charitable organisations for the storage costs of these foods. I am pleased that representatives of the Polish Presidency were among those who helped work out a compromise in the course of extremely difficult negotiations.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, once again, this House is in full Cartesian demon mode, imagining that somehow, with this sententious declaration about the needs of the hungry, we wipe out and efface the reality of our policies. The single policy which causes most indigence and hunger in the world is the common agricultural policy, a policy which doubly affects developing countries, both by denying markets to their chief exports and then by dumping surpluses upon them.

But European policies are no longer just exporting hunger: we have now brought it into the European Union too. According to news reports, well-dressed Greeks are rummaging through dustbins and farmers are bringing food supplies into the cities to their relatives – all in order to sustain the euro.

We, comfortable and well fed here, rather than admit our mistake, are prepared to inflict this terrible price on people outside, and then we dare to pass high-minded resolutions like this and pat ourselves on the back and feel good about ourselves. I am sure you are long past trying to convince your constituents but, my friends, I think you are now past trying to fool yourselves about this.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I voted for this report but I have been disappointed at how we got to this position and indeed about what the future holds. I think it says a great deal when we see that the Council decision is to phase out the current scheme after 2013. Unfortunately, Parliament itself had no real margin for any substantial renegotiation with the Council, because of the urgency of the situation and because of the fact, of course, that this proposal has been blocked for two years.

I have to say that it is very worrying when we look at social issues, which I believe have a European dimension: issues like the distribution of food products, the continuation of the crisis derogation for the EAGGF, the micro-finance programme, etc. It is very worrying when we see that all three met significant resistance in the Council. We are told that is a matter for the Member States. Well, in Ireland, whenever we are having a debate about social policy, we often use the phrase about the difference between Boston and Berlin. If you ask me, that difference is getting less and less every day.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted against the report on food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union. The scheme clearly does provide nutritious benefit to a certain number of deprived people and I do not deny that soup kitchens, many of which receive this money, are a lifeline for the homeless. What I find difficult to reconcile is that EUR 500 million of funding for the scheme comes from the CAP and is not used by many Member States. My country, the UK, does not use the scheme at all.

I firmly believe that a scheme such as this would be better managed by the individual Member States themselves from their social security budgets, as such a policy is clearly a social policy. Funding should not be taken from the CAP and the scheme should not be delivered through the EU but left to individual national governments to decide upon as a matter of subsidiarity. I believe in the principle that the EU should be doing less and should be doing it better.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE) . – (LT) Mr President, today in plenary, I voted in favour of food distribution to the most deprived. As the European Union experiences an economic recession and the level of unemployment increases, unfortunately, so too does the number of deprived Europeans, and it is therefore important to ensure that the food aid scheme continues, alleviating the situation for the most vulnerable. It is also important for this scheme’s principal funding to be met by European Union funds. Why? Because some Member States are going through particularly difficult times and it would be too challenging for them.

In this context, other actions are also important. The European Parliament has expressed its position on the introduction of double date labelling. This could simplify the distribution of food aid, but the main thing should probably be the responsibility of Member States, i.e. ensuring that food aid really reaches those who need it most and there is no room for abuse. The Member States and relevant authorities should guarantee this.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, I am the rapporteur, but I did not speak earlier, despite asking to be given the floor. I would like to say a few words. Today in the European Parliament, we have completed the decision-making process related to the continuation, in 2012 and 2013, of the programme for the free distribution of food to the most deprived persons in Europe. This was possible thanks to the achievement of an agreement in Council during the Polish Presidency. The European Union provides EUR 500 million annually for the programme, which benefits 18 million needy people in 20 countries that have asked to be included. This means that the Union does remember the poorest and the excluded and that it puts the idea of human solidarity into practice on an everyday basis.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the continuation of this programme, which has been in operation for 25 years. We must do everything to carry on with the programme from 2014 to 2020. We have to do this. The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development is drafting a resolution on the need to continue the programme. I would ask Members who are opposed to or have doubts about the programme to read the report. I think that after familiarising themselves with its contents, they will change their minds. I would also like to explain that the programme has been financed from funds which were not taken up as part of the CAP.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Gunner Hökmark (A7-0019/2012)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, the EU radio spectrum policy makes sensible proposals in line with the digital switchover and will help Member States in driving innovation through the release of funds whilst safeguarding services at local level. Without doubt, the radio spectrum could be used more efficiently as we complete the transition to digital.

We need to ensure that the bandwidth previously required is now released for this spectrum to be allocated for use elsewhere. Measures which facilitate access to broadband in rural areas are to be welcomed. I know that this recommendation and subsequent actions will be particularly beneficial to my constituents in Wales, as there is currently a severe lack of broadband coverage in some of our more remote areas – a situation which needs to be urgently remedied.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D).(PL) Mr President, I would like to offer wholehearted support to the agreement between Parliament and the Council on radio spectrum policy. The agreement will enable the Union to take the global lead on broadband speeds. In practice, on 1 January 2013, the 800 MHz band will be freed up throughout the Union for wireless broadband Internet services. By 2015, at least 1 200 MHz will be allocated for mobile data traffic, which means that in the next few years, a completely new market will emerge in the Union with telecoms services on a new scale. This is very important for the people who live in the Union and for technological advance in all 27 of the Member States which make up the Union today.

 
  
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  Hermann Winkler (PPE).(DE) Mr President, in contrast to many of the other subjects which we debate here in Parliament, developing broadband communications really is a European topic. The overall scope of the services which are dependent on radio frequencies is estimated to be around EUR 200 billion per year in the EU. For many users, ranging from telephone services and radio, traffic applications, the energy and research and development sectors, cultural organisations and the police through to people in rural areas, access to radio frequencies is essential.

The decisive factor here is a coordinated EU-wide approach, because it is clear that frequency usage continues to differ significantly, in particular, in border regions. Some frequencies which could be used for radio communications in Germany are used for television or for military purposes in Poland or the Czech Republic. This means that when the police follow suspects across the German-Polish border, they are no longer able to communicate by radio after travelling for 5 km. A European approach could be helpful in this respect.

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE).(HU) Mr President, I voted against the motion for amendment on rejecting the Council’s position. The EU’s frequency policy is a source of its competitiveness, and I therefore agree that the European Union should strive to take the lead in respect of the speed, mobility, coverage and capacity of broadband services. The legislative proposal reflects the emergence of a threefold set of priorities, which are consumers, content and competition. Consumers’ increased demand for services is an indication that additional frequencies are required in terms of both capacity and coverage.

Content, that is, universal access to digital services, facilitates the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy. Under efficient spectrum policy, consumers are free to choose between providers, which results in healthy competition. The method of selling frequencies varies from one country to another, and I believe that a common allocation mechanism is necessary. Finally, we must not forget that a well-elaborated spectrum policy and the broadening of frequencies is also one of the prerequisites for the growth of cultural and creative industries.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted alongside my group, the ECR, in favour of the report on the first programme of the radio spectrum policy. With the freeing up of a certain amount of the radio spectrum following the digital switchover, the spectrum can now be used more efficiently and we believe the proposals put forward by this report outline an effective way in which this can be achieved.

We back this proposal as we feel that its attempt to coordinate certain spectrum use is useful and it is done in such a way that it leaves enough flexibility to the individual EU Member States. This means that services can still be protected at a local level and also that innovation is not hampered as a result. I particularly welcome the fact that more Wi-Fi coverage for broadband Internet access is a development that may come about as a result of these proposed changes.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Mr President, I welcome today’s recommendation on radio spectrum policy harmonising the 800 MHz band across the EU because its value in terms of distance and penetrability enables access to broadband and will allow people in the remotest of areas across Europe to have access to faster Internet speeds.

Indeed, within the UK Conservative Party, we feel very strongly that broadband Internet is vital for growth, which is why we are aiming to vastly increase the number of households with access to super-fast broadband. We are looking to follow world leaders in the field, particularly in Asia, who have taken measures to open up competition in this sector, so that we can become European leaders ourselves.

This is a particular interest of mine as I represent the East Midlands region of England, where 88% of the land is classified as being rural, containing 30% of the East Midlands population. Initiatives such as this go a long way towards assisting individuals in their work and their daily lives and helping business to develop, and this is why I and my political group support this regulation.

 
  
  

Report: James Nicholson (A7-0262/2011)

 
  
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  Antonello Antinoro (PPE).(IT) Mr President, I voted for this report because I am already starting to think about the next period, after 2015, when the milk quotas will come to an end and everything will be diversified. In order to secure a stable future for the sector, the bargaining power of producers needs to be strengthened, which should lead to a more equitable distribution of added value along the supply chain.

As well as formalising the contracts, the proposal is that farmers should collectively negotiate the terms of the contracts, including the price, through producer associations. At the same time, it is important to recognise the interprofessional organisations, which should play an important role in encouraging dialogue within the supply chain.

However, the nature of the contracts remains the most contentious issue between the Council and Parliament, and I hope that in the future, it will be possible for this to be clarified further.

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE).(PT) Mr President, I come from a milk-producing region: Galicia. Today, Galician agriculture specialises in producing milk which is, for the most part, collected and processed by foreign companies. As has happened in other European countries, the agricultural sector there survives today because of heavy investment in innovation in order to be able to compete in the single market. When Spain entered the EU, 20% of jobs in Galicia were in the primary sector. Today, that percentage has dropped by more than half.

My region is having to make traumatic sacrifices for the benefit of other, more powerful countries, since the allocation of milk quotas has been much lower than its production capacity. I am voting against this report because the awarding of contracts in this report is aimed solely at the industrial dairies, as it does not require that increases in production costs and payments to producers to remunerate them fairly for their work be included in the contracts. Without public control of production to ensure a match between supply and demand, producers will have to face price volatility and the ruin of thousands of farms. It is unacceptable that the Commission does not have an up-to-date study on the impact of the quotas.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, the report on contractual relations in milk and the milk products sector addresses the issue of the lack of bargaining power that smaller farmers have when they negotiate the price of their milk with retailers in particular.

Farmers in Wales should have greater bargaining power and control over the price they receive for their milk. This has become ever more important as the number of dairy farmers in Wales has halved over the past decade, from 4 000 to 2 000 farms. It is right that contracts should continue to remain voluntary at national level, and the Welsh Government could intervene in this way should that be deemed necessary. However, I would be opposed to introducing a mandatory EU-wide contract, as this would only increase the bureaucratic burden for Member States and farmers alike.

For those Member States that choose to impose contracts, it is sensible to require certain conditions to be met relating to the price to be paid and the duration of the contract. This would be particularly important for farmers in giving them a better sense of certainty and stability in the current economic climate. An increase of only a few pence per litre in the average price for milk would significantly change the economic position of the dairy sector in Wales and secure its future.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE).(GA) Mr President, I welcome this report and I would like to thank Mr Jim Nicholson for the hard work he has done on it. However, a lot more needs to be done to obtain fair prices for dairy farmers. This report is important because it is the first step towards strengthening farmers’ marketing power and changing the rules to allow farmers to set their own contractual terms with dairies in relation to various matters, especially in relation to prices. Currently, farmers must deal with very powerful companies who want to obtain the very best produce, on the one hand, but also pay a lower price, on the other. Farmers must also give cheap credit while becoming overdrawn on their personal bank accounts. In terms of milk quotas, we must do a lot more to secure a soft landing given the pressure farmers will be under when this new policy is implemented.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE).(SK) Mr President, in recent years, there have, unfortunately, been many events that have had a significant negative impact on the milk and milk products sector and that have also led to price volatility. The European market for milk and its products requires a new, flexible legal framework, the strengthening of contractual relations, the protection of the rights of producers, and a fairer distribution of value-added along the supply chain.

Competition in the market will also contribute to the revitalisation of the sector, which is suffering from certain actors abusing their dominant position. I firmly believe that protecting the legitimate interests of producers is closely linked with promoting prosperity in rural areas, because many European regions, often the most vulnerable, are directly dependent on the production of milk and milk products.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, the compromise reached on the milk package creates a satisfactory framework for contractual relationships in the dairy sector. I am pleased that we have succeeded in finding effective solutions for some of the central issues. One matter which was particularly important to me with regard to the milk producers who are affected was that Member States will, in future, be able to decide for themselves whether or not they introduce compulsory contracts.

Overall, these rules will put milk producers in a stronger position and improve the current situation.

However, we now need to prepare dairy farmers for the end of milk quotas. This means that dairy farmers must realise that the milk market is a market and must take a market economy-based approach. We must introduce mechanisms which allow farmers to regulate the amount of milk on offer depending on the price.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this report, as amended, because it encourages farmers to come together and increase their collective power within the supply chain. Large retailers have too much buying power and take a disproportionate amount of profit. This is an imbalance within the supply chain which must be addressed, and which impacts on the small family-owned farms characteristic of Northern Ireland.

The future of the common agricultural policy, and ensuring ‘safety nets’, must also be a priority in order to protect producers when the market fails. The safe landing for the industry which was promised after 2015, when quotas are to end, is another area which the Commission must look at and plan for. If we experience a dramatic increase in milk production which consequently reduces milk prices within the EU, we must have clear guidance as to how the Commission intends to protect producers. Altogether, this is a good start on the issues within the dairy sector. There is much more work to be done.

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, the milk and milk products sector has been undergoing a terrible crisis for some years now, but there are internal imbalances that this report and its amendment – which I supported from the start – will determine to a lesser extent, by influencing how it works and putting an end to these internal imbalances, or at least remedying them in part together with other instruments.

This measure has been produced by the working group set up by Mr Cioloş, which produced some instruments for restoring balance to the added value for all operators in the supply chain.

In specific terms, the terms and conditions of contracts will have determined characteristics of form, requirements and duration, which will mainly be useful to producers. One important element will concern raw milk processed in less favoured areas (LFAs), mountainous areas, intermediate areas and islands, where any transfer of milk from areas which are not LFAs must be authorised in advance.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I supported this report by Jim Nicholson on the milk sector and I agree strongly with the fact that producers need much greater bargaining power. They are the weakest link in the chain: they are price takers, not price makers. Given that in 2015, there will be a major shift with the ending of quotas, we need to ensure a more stable future for the sector and, in this context, the bargaining power of producers is absolutely crucial. I also believe that the introduction of voluntary contracts is certainly preferable to introducing mandatory ones.

Finally, a soft landing for the ending of milk quotas is essential. It is worth noting that overall production in the EU is 6% below the quota but in some countries – like my own – that is not the case. In this context, it makes sense to find an overall EU solution, and that certainly should include some form of soft landing so that dairy farmers in all EU countries can look to a sustainable future.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted alongside my group, the ECR, in favour of the report on contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector. We believe that the report serves to address some concerns about the lack of bargaining power for farmers – yes, there are even some dairy farmers in the London region, which I represent – when negotiating with processors or retailers, and we back the move to recognise formally any inter-branch organisation at Member State level, provided they meet certain criteria.

EU Member States are left the choice to opt into the contracts, which we as a group also believe is extremely important. We believe that the proposals put forward in this report for those states that choose to comply are satisfactory and that the percentages requested for producer organisations are also realistic. Overall, we believe that the proposals in this report will not serve to lessen competition in the milk sector, which would be our main concern and which we would, of course, oppose as a group.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: B7-0016/2012

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, it is acceptable for 27 borrowers, all of whom are creditworthy, to get together to take out a joint loan and, as a result, to obtain better terms from the bank. Eurobonds could function in a similar way to this and I would like to say once again at this point that for me, Eurobonds are a fair-weather tool.

However, if some of the 27 bank customers are not creditworthy, then mixed financing is needed and the borrowers who are in a better position will simply have to accept less favourable terms. This means that we first of all need to clarify the ground rules in Europe. We must implement the stability criteria and then we can ultimately bring in Eurobonds as the icing on the cake, so to speak. Since we have not yet reached this point in the European Union, I was not able to vote in favour of this motion and this report.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Mr President, today’s vote is a first step in the direction of economic governance in Europe, as hoped for by Mr Delors as early as 1993. The introduction of Eurobonds, which I hope will come about within a reasonable timeframe, is part of a wider process that will lead the countries in the euro area to strengthen the coordination and achieve the integration of their economic and fiscal policies.

The three options indicated in the European Commission’s Green Paper propose three different types of Eurobond, with a decreasing degree of solidarity between Member States. The serious economic crisis we are currently experiencing shows that no country is safe from financial speculation. To sceptics, I say that Eurobonds are, to date, the only practical answer to reviving growth and development in Europe. This is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Mr President, I have today voted against the introduction of stability bonds. It is deeply problematic if we believe that stability bonds can resolve the economic crisis in Europe. We need reforms in order to create jobs. We need Member States to stop spending more money than they earn. Overspending over many years is the cause of the sovereign debt crisis and the markets’ lack of confidence in countries’ ability to pursue a responsible policy in order to be able to pay back the money that has been borrowed. This problem will not be solved by stability bonds. Taxpayers’ money must be spent in a smarter way in the Member States on research, innovation and education, and social welfare payments have got to be reduced. Believing that we can resolve the whole situation simply by lending more money without investing in the future will not help at all.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I think this resolution on stability bonds is a realistic and pragmatic approach to ensuring that we have a firewall to prevent future crises. I support the call for a European redemption pact. While it has its limitations, at least it is an effort to deal with the serious overhang of debt which is smothering recovery in many countries, including my own.

Yes, in Ireland we must deal with our deficit, but guaranteeing our banks in order to prevent contagion in other EU banks has meant that our debt-to-GNP ratio will increase to at least 147%, so without a redemption pact or some other mechanism, it simply means that Irish citizens will be unable to pay for casino banking in our own and other countries.

It is interesting that this mountain of debt was not just our own choice. Mario Draghi, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, refuses to publish a letter sent by his predecessor, Jean-Claude Trichet, to our Finance Minister on the bailout, and I am just wondering why. Will this show us the real face of the ECB, and what responsibility might this letter put on the ECB? So I am calling on Mario Draghi and the ECB to reverse this decision so that European citizens can see how Europe really works.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, in any crisis, the first instinct of the Eurocrat is to reach for his wallet – or rather to reach for somebody else’s wallet, because of course, as we know in this Chamber (although this is not widely known outside), employees of the European Union are exempt from paying national taxation. So somebody else is picking up the bill in order to cover this error.

It is a policy of excessive monetary integration and a policy of excessive spending that brought us to this pass; we are not going to get out of it by accelerating the very things that led us here. It really does seem extraordinary – even by the standards of this organisation – that the one solution we have to a debt crisis is more debt. We have got like a runaway train into this kind of momentum: bailout and borrow, bailout and borrow. There comes a point when you run out of track, and I think we have reached that point now.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, when we look at the state of the economies across the EU and even at many households – including in my own country of the United Kingdom – we see the consequence of Member States and their people living beyond their means.

It is therefore unwise, against this backdrop – which has entailed a more accountable lending process being instituted – for us to suggest a break or lessening in the link between the Member State and the investor in bond markets through the pooling of sovereign issuance. Irresponsibility put us into the financial quagmire we now find ourselves in, and my concern with stability bonds would be that irresponsibility would be given greater dispensation and investor confidence would be further diminished.

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR). – Mr President, I voted against EU stability bonds, or Eurobonds, as they fail to address the central problem: the euro itself. It is clear the euro is a dangerous and failed construct, and no political posturing or economic gesturing gets us away from the basic truth that the euro is disastrous for the world economy. The sooner troubled nations like Greece devalue and default, the better.

The cure is now more dangerous and deadly than the malady. Is there no end to these desperate measures to prop up this political currency?

The trampling of democracy in Greece, Italy and elsewhere by the EU’s new inner politburo, the Frankfurt Group, so that Europe erupts in flames. Barroso and Van Rompuy going cap in hand to China for rescue funds – and at what price? Gerrymandering Lagarde into the IMF so the IMF is misused as a new euro bailout fund. Weimar-like plans to print EUR 2 trillion to buy rubbish bonds; new wheelbarrows to carry all the notes. For God’s sake, for all our sakes, let the euro go.

 
  
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  Martin Kastler (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I have voted against the motion for a resolution tabled by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds. The name has been changed, but the content remains the same. These are Eurobonds.

We have now reached a stage in Europe where we need to ask ourselves the fundamental question of how Europe is to go forward. The Italian Prime Minister, Mr Monti, said today in a guest article in Germany that we need to ‘rethink democracy’. To this, I would add that we must ‘rethink Europe’. We must do this if we want to carry the citizens of Europe along with us. I believe that referendums are an important instrument. We need citizens to become increasingly involved in Europe, not only in the Member States, but also at a European level. This will enable us to discuss the major issues currently facing us which have led us into this crisis. It will take us further forward than simply tabling new motions for resolutions to distribute ever larger debts among ourselves. Every country is responsible for its own debts. We should not be transferring debts from one state to another.

 
  
  

Report: Marije Cornelissen (A7-0021/2012)

 
  
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  Horst Schnellhardt (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I was able to vote in favour of this report with a clear conscience because Parliament took a very wise approach and voted against a few points which had seriously bothered me. I am thinking here about the punishments for countries which have a current account surplus to encourage them to take measures to abolish the surplus. Current account surpluses occur not only because one country is very good, but also because the others are very bad. We need a measure which will help the bad countries to make faster progress and to emulate those at the top of the list. That must be our goal.

Secondly, Parliament has recognised that private employment services are also very important and, therefore, has included them in the work which it is doing. I would like to mention one point which did not receive a great deal of attention during the debate. This is paragraph 13, which clearly calls for the European Parliament finally to make use of its right under the Treaty of Lisbon and for the national governments to do the same. The catastrophic situation we are currently in has been caused by the constant intergovernmental cooperation which has never been successful. The solution is here in this Parliament.

 
  
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  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, one of the most important issues highlighted by the European Union Growth Survey 2012 is the serious need for new and stronger social and employment policies, especially for young people. A country with a high level of youth unemployment is a country destined to perish.

In my country, Italy, the statistics are frightening. According to Eurostat data for November 2011, the youth unemployment rate is 30.1%. Young people who are often highly qualified with plenty of energy and motivation are allowed to wither away by a system where gerontocracy has become the norm.

The Commission’s commitment in allocating EUR 82 billion from unused Structural Funds to stimulate growth and youth unemployment is a good step that needs to be made in the right direction. Investing in young people means investing in the future. Guaranteeing work for young Europeans means guaranteeing a future for us all.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, I agree with the premise of this report that all Member States should be seeking to find ways to foster growth in order to get us out of this crisis. Ideally, the Annual Growth Survey would work in parallel with the economic governance package and the EU could add value by coordinating what is being done at the Member State level.

However, in this report, Parliament has decided instead to focus on broad-sweeping EU schemes and taxation, including the ludicrous financial transaction tax. Worse, it tries to come up with an EU approach to things like unemployment, as though it can be solved by some EU silver bullet. The reasons behind unemployment and the measures Member States may use to tackle it are culturally specific and market-specific. Other groups may be happy to agree to an EU policy. I am not.

 
  
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  Joseph Cuschieri (S&D).(MT) Mr President, in the separate vote taken on clause 29 of the Cornelissen report, I have voted against. I do not agree with the European Council establishing a tax on financial transactions. I have opposed this tax on account of the fact that the financial services sector in Malta accounts for around 15% of the country’s GDP and provides some 6 000 jobs in this sector. It is neither in the country’s interest nor in that of Maltese and Gozitan workers to increase taxes in this sensitive sector of the Maltese economy. This measure can lead to the delocalisation of financial activity away from Malta, with the consequence that instead of retaining capital and cash in the Maltese financial sector, these would be moved out into some other country.

I have also voted in favour of the remaining clauses of this report since, at a time of fiscal consolidation, this report addresses the creation of sustainable jobs through investment, an improvement in job quality, investment in education and training and combating poverty and social exclusion, and also the participation of workers in the labour market.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE). (RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because the European Semester should include policies to create jobs. I share the concerns about high youth unemployment. In my country, it affects about 77 000 people aged up to 25 years. I believe that the introduction of a guarantee for young people to avoid prolonged unemployment is a timely measure. I would like to emphasise the usefulness of programmes that ensure transition from education to first employment.

I would like to point out in this context that Romania improved the apprenticeship law last year in order to facilitate labour market entry for young people. Appropriate programmes are required in order to support SMEs, including by reducing bureaucracy. I also welcome the focus on promoting worker mobility, but also on increasing the employment rate among women.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Mr President, I voted against this report because it aims to strengthen employment policy and economic governance at European level. These are clearly Member State competences, and this is the way it must stay. I also took exception to the report’s needless call for a tax on financial transactions to enhance sustainable job creation. This Parliament insists on a tax which will only damage the European economy. This Parliament is hell-bent on destroying the financial service industry in my constituency of London, and again, this Parliament refuses to listen to Member States that do not want to and will not accept this tax.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Mr President, the Annual Growth Survey presented by the Commission covers priorities in the areas of the budget, economic policy, employment, social rights and reforms. In so doing, it stresses action as part of fiscal policy to mitigate the effects of the crisis and the negligence of public administration. The role of Parliament in the process related to the European Semester is, unfortunately, restricted to giving an opinion on the Commission’s guidelines on employment. The report in question only expresses a desire to increase that role.

I am critical of the proposal to oblige Member States which have a current account surplus to prevent a recessionary spiral by increasing internal demand. Another controversial matter is the call for the Commission to use gender disaggregated data in their reports. The call to set up a tax on financial transactions is worrying, while the implementation and enforcement of anti-discrimination measures will only cause an increase in legal regulation. In view of these matters and a number of other doubts, I voted to reject the report.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE).(SK) Mr President, at a time of weakened economic growth and increased uncertainty among citizens, the European Union must focus its attention on addressing the pressing social consequences of the crisis, which exacerbate poverty and social exclusion. Unemployment has risen sharply since 2008 and has reached the level of 23 million unemployed in the EU, while young people in particular face an employment rate of more than 20%. Some statistics give a higher figure. I am concerned by the fact, for example, that during the 2008-2010 period, the total number of unemployed young people in the EU increased by fully 1 million. In the context of recession, the priority objective of the EU must therefore remain the effort to preserve jobs and create new employment and, at the same time, to bring qualifications and skills into line with the current requirements of the labour market. That is why I have supported this report.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, the terms ‘growth’ and ‘employment’ roll off the tongue quite easily, but it is the policy pursued by Europe which is denying employment and denying economic growth to many of its citizens.

The euro area crisis is causing unemployment to rise across Europe. In Spain, there is over 40% youth unemployment and in Greece 50%. Within the economic straitjacket of the euro, what hope and what future do these young people have in an economy that simply will not grow while tied to the euro project? This is the scandal of President Barroso, the Commission and the euro establishment. It is a scandal that is manifesting itself in Greece in violence, and in the Greek Parliament where euro bureaucrats are pre-eminent over elected representatives.

I voted against this report also because of its support for a financial transaction tax, supposedly to support employment and growth. In reality, it will be a raid on the United Kingdom tax base to prop up the euro area’s profligate spending. If Europe is serious about employment and growth, it could start with very simple measures like cutting red tape and helping SMEs, but it certainly will not do it with the measures outlined in this report.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Mr President, I have opposed this own-initiative report on employment and social aspects of the Annual Growth Survey for the reason – amongst others – that it continues to support a European and not a global financial transaction tax. The report calls on the European Council to set up a tax on financial transactions to enhance sustainable job creation. I am afraid that this cannot even be considered by politicians claiming to represent the interests of the British people.

In fact, it is also ridiculous to talk of job creation as a result of such a tax, which would have a disastrous effect on some of the 1.9 million people employed in our financial sector in the City of London and beyond. I will not vote in favour of a report which proposes a tax that could harm jobs for the people from my constituency in the East Midlands, many of whom commute to London every day. It is time for the rest of Europe to wake up and realise that Britain will defend her interests and will not be bullied into accepting disproportionate responsibility for euro area failure.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE). (LV) Mr President, there is a saying in Latvian that you cannot extract money from a beggar, however hard you try. In Europe as a whole, the greatest challenge we have at the moment is to increase economic activity and provide prosperity to our people. It is very important for us to take these austerity measures to put the budgets of our Member States in order, but we also need growth.

There are many people who think that the only path to growth is for Member States to print even more money, in order to stimulate the economy, but this would be at the cost of borrowed money, and is not the right path. The right path to foster growth is two-fold. Firstly, Member States must make the structural reforms required to reduce overall government spending. Secondly, we must continue to improve Europe’s single internal market, removing obstacles to cross-border activity. Ladies and gentlemen, without economic growth, we shall not have prosperity in Europe.

 
  
  

Report: Jean-Paul Gauzès (A7-0018/2012)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, we spent a long time discussing this report, and there is much in there on growth and innovation that I support. However, I cannot accept the central conclusion of this report, namely, that we need to change the EU Treaty in order to give Parliament codecision rights over the Annual Growth Survey.

I am not convinced that this is something we should be legislating for. It is fundamentally a matter for Member States and not a policy area where Parliament would add any value. I find it concerning that, yet again, the European Parliament is navel-gazing over its institutions and the interaction between them instead of seeking proportionate responses to the current crisis.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D).(PL) Mr President, I do think that in the current economic situation in Europe, carrying out analyses of growth planned for 2012 is a good idea. However, an obvious weakness of this analysis is that it concentrates mainly on the financial and debt crisis. Measures to stimulate growth are only to be seen in the background. Also omitted are measures which would support employment by stimulating investment in the Union. I am worried, in particular, by the lack of measures to create Eurobonds for funding key infrastructure projects. For Member States like Poland, and for provinces like mine – the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province – this may mean problems in the future with development and securing growth in employment.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Recommendation: Timothy Kirkhope (A7-0013/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE) , in writing. (FR) The Schengen area, which brings together 22 EU Member States and four non-EU states (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), offers its inhabitants the opportunity to move freely. The abolition of internal borders between these States in favour of a single external border leads them to harmonise their external border controls and step up their police and judicial cooperation. It is vital to associate these four non-EU States fully if we want to fulfil the objective underpinning the Schengen agreements, namely, the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice. I therefore supported their participation in the work of the committees that assist the European Commission in the implementation of the Schengen acquis.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation, as it is vital to step up EU cooperation with, in this case, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland, particularly with regard to one of the most important legislative achievements of the EU, namely, the Schengen Agreement. At present, it is all the more important that we facilitate dialogue between countries, and between countries and the institutions, so that the EU runs smoothly and so that the objectives of the Treaties can be achieved in full.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this important result of negotiations with the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation on the participation by those States in the work of the committees which assist the Commission in the exercise of its executive powers as regards the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. I support the final outcome of the agreement by which, among other activities, the associated states will be associated as observers with the work of the current and future Comitology committees assisting the Commission in Schengen matters. I also support a Joint Declaration which stresses that this specific association shall not be regarded as a legal or political precedent for any other field of cooperation between the European Community and those countries.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) The Schengen area, which simplifies the everyday lives of our peoples and our companies by opening the internal borders of the European Union to people, capital and services, got bigger today. Indeed, I supported the request by Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway, countries at the heart of Europe but which do not belong to the European Union, to become associated states of the Schengen acquis. This text aims to formalise their participation in the process of drafting texts within the Schengen Comitology committees, made up of representatives of the governments of associated states, of the Council of Ministers and of the European Commission. The latter, in particular, have the opportunity to raise problems that any particular measure suggests to them and to provide answers to problems faced by the other delegations. They also enjoy the right to make suggestions. However, insofar as they only participate in drawing up actions, ‘the associated states do not vote within the Schengen Comitology committees, and withdraw when these committees proceed to the vote’, rapporteur, Timothy Kirkhope, reminds us.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) The Schengen area is tangible evidence of European cooperation and integration. Enlargement of this arrangement to cover the entire European Economic Area has contributed to a strengthening of mutual relations between different countries of the continent. Unrestricted freedom of movement throughout Europe is the undisputed and greatly valued privilege of every citizen.

For implementation of the Schengen acquis to be effective, it is essential for there to be permanent cooperation with the signatories from outside the Union. The participation of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and the Swiss Confederation in the work of the committees which assist the European Commission in the exercise of its executive powers in this area therefore seems obvious. By signing the agreement, we will enable these countries to take part in policy discussions concerning regulation of the Schengen area and to present their position and report problems. In accepting the resolution, I express consent to conclusion of the recommended arrangement.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The association agreement concluded by the Council of the European Union, on the one hand, and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway, on the other, resulted in the establishment of a mixed committee consisting of representatives of the governments of these countries. Consequently, the representatives of the associated states participate in mixed committees that meet as Council working groups, with extensive participation of representatives of the associated states. At Coreper (Committee of Permanent Representatives) or Council level, these are chaired alternately for six-month periods by representatives of the European Union and by the representative of the government of the associated state. Participation in the mixed committee gives the associated states the timely opportunity to express any concerns regarding developments in the Schengen acquis, which must be adopted by all the associated states, and the implementation of this acquis. Following discussions in the mixed committee, the measures taken to develop the Schengen acquis are adopted by the Council and the European Parliament through the appropriate decision-taking procedure laid down in the Treaties.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – Although I do not support the extension of the Schengen acquis, I do, however, believe that EFTA Member States, in this case Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, have the right to join any compact they wish to without UK interference. I therefore chose to abstain from this vote.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the conclusion of this agreement between the EU and the four Schengen-associated states; namely, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. This will enable these countries to participate in the work of the committees that help the Commission with its executive activities in terms of the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. In my view, this agreement is important because it seeks to ensure greater consistency, while at the same time guaranteeing that all associated states are treated the same. The participation of the associated states gives them the opportunity to express, in good time, their ideas and concerns about the implementation of the Schengen acquis or potential changes thereto. The enlargement of the Schengen area to countries that are not EU Member States has brought significant economic benefits for European countries, as well as immediate practical results for the daily lives and travel of the European public.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the conclusion of this agreement between the EU and the four Schengen-associated states; namely, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. This will enable these countries to participate in the work of the committees that help the Commission with its executive activities in terms of the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. The conclusion of this agreement is of the utmost importance in ensuring greater consistency, while at the same time guaranteeing that all associated states are treated the same. The participation of the associated states gives them the opportunity to express, in good time, their ideas and concerns about the implementation of the Schengen acquis or potential changes thereto. However, their participation is restricted to contributing to the drafting of decisions; they cannot participate in the decision-making process itself, as they do not have the right to vote. They will be subject to a set of rules and obligations that will allow them real participation as observers, and they may also contribute financially to the administrative costs arising from their participation in the Schengen Comitology committees.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this agreement, which authorises the participation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in the work of the committee on the implementation of the Schengen acquis. This limiting and regulated participation will strengthen the EU area of freedom, security and justice and will make it possible to identify more quickly problems related to police and judicial cooperation as well as to the control of the external borders of Europe.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) Today’s vote aims to endorse the participation of the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation, which assist the Commission in the exercise of its executive powers as regards the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. Parliament has thus given its consent to the representatives of these associated states being able to comment on any proposed measure constituting a development of the Schengen acquis, or voice any problems encountered in implementing these measures. In addition, each of these associated states will decide on the transposition of all measures adopted by the Schengen Comitology committee procedures concerning the implementation and development of the Schengen acquis, thereby confirming the rules set out in the basic association agreements. This is a good thing.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I consider that as Schengen-associated states, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland should be involved in the procedure which assists the Commission in the exercise of its executive powers as regards the application and development of the Schengen acquis. Likewise, these states should also be involved in the reform process of the Schengen governance which is currently being negotiated, but which, unfortunately, faces opposition from several Member States.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the recommendation on the participation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and the Schengen acquis, as I consider it positive that there is agreement between the EU and these countries on their participation in the work of the committees that help the Commission with its executive activities, in terms of the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The participation of the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation in the committees that help the Commission with its executive activities, in terms of the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis, is of the utmost importance for the complete transparency of information and, as such, for the security of the citizens of EU Member States and countries subject to the Schengen Agreement.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of an agreement between the European Union, of the one part, and the Republic of Iceland, the Kingdom of Norway, the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein, of the other, on these countries’ participation in the work of the committees that help the Commission with its executive activities in terms of the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. The Schengen Agreement, concluded in 1985 and integrated into EU law by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997, establishes a geographical area of free movement of people, abolishing internal borders between signatory countries, and provides for cooperation and coordination between police services and the judicial authorities. The agreement provides for the participation of the associated states, as observers, in the work of current and future committees that assist the Commission through certain rights and obligations, including the payment of a financial contribution. Given that the participation of the aforementioned countries is provided for in the Agreement on the European Economic Area or based on the exchange of letters annexed to the association agreement with Switzerland, I am voting for this recommendation.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 and the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement was adopted in 1990. The agreement’s objectives were to abolish internal border controls between signatory states and create a single external border with common rules on external border controls and a common visa policy, and to establish police and judicial cooperation and to create the Schengen Information System.

We have always criticised this approach of building a ‘Fortress Europe’, which fosters and fuels the growth of racism and xenophobia, of other forms of intolerance, and of authoritarian and anti-democratic practices.

In the same way, we have criticised the security-focused, criminalising, exploitative and selective immigration policy. We advocate an immigration policy that respects immigrants’ rights, in particular, regarding access to work, health care and education. Despite these long-standing stances, we believe that the decision to join the Schengen acquis should arise from a sovereign choice by the countries in question; a view which we have also held for a long time. That is why we abstained.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Parliament, taking into account the draft Council decision and the draft agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation on the participation of these States in the work of committees assisting the Commission in exercising its powers in relation to the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis, and also with regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, has granted approval for the conclusion of the agreement. It also authorises its President to convey this position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – I welcome the adoption of this report in my capacity as the Chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation to Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and the EEA Joint Parliamentary Committee. The arrangement provides for the participation by the Schengen-associated states in the work of the committees which assist the Commission in the exercise of its executive powers as regards the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this legislative resolution on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the arrangement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation on the participation by those States in the work of the committees which assist the European Commission in the exercise of its executive powers as regards the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. The arrangement provides that the associated states will be associated as observers with the work of the current and future Comitology committees assisting the Commission in Schengen matters. The list of the Schengen Comitology committees will be regularly updated by the Commission and will be published in the Official Journal. Consequently, the arrangement establishes clear rights and obligations to ensure effective participation by the associated states in the Schengen Comitology committees.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the Kirkhope report. By adopting this report, Parliament has given its consent to an arrangement made between the European Union, the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation on the participation by these States in the work of the committees which assist the European Commission in the implementation of the Schengen acquis. The arrangement adopted provides for these States to be associated with the work as observers, albeit without voting rights. Furthermore, they will be asked to make a financial contribution to administrative expenses. Finally, this arrangement contains a joint declaration which provides that this association shall not be regarded as a legal or political precedent for any other field of cooperation.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. This is a consultation procedure to give the consent to the 2012 rollover of the guidelines for the Member States’ employment policies initially adopted in 2010. The aim is that the employment guidelines remain stable until 2014 to ensure a focus on implementation.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) This arrangement, which has been under negotiation since 2006, associates the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation with the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis by the European Commission and the committees which assist it. It is right that these Schengen countries can comment on the application of the Schengen acquis that concerns them. These States will be able to participate in the work of the committees as observers and to voice any problems encountered. To associate all the countries participating in the Schengen area is also to work for greater uniformity in the application of the Schengen acquis.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) The participation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in the committees which assist the Commission in developing and implementing the Schengen acquis provides these associated states with the opportunity to express any objections to the application of the provisions concerned. Thus, these states participate in the development of the relevant legislation, but not in the decision taking. Therefore, it is necessary to formalise their association to the Schengen Comitology, following an appropriate procedure. The proposal for a decision in this regard is welcomed in order to ensure equal treatment of the associated states as observers, through a single agreement and based on clearly defined rights and obligations. The final decision on the implementation of the measures adopted by the committees is taken by each state individually, as stipulated by the original terms of the association agreements. As a Romanian Member of the European Parliament, I hope that the principle of equal treatment will be respected in all aspects of the Schengen process, including in the acceptance of the accession of states that have already fulfilled all formal criteria.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) As they are participating in the Schengen Agreement, these countries also have to contribute to its development by actively participating in the work of the committees that help the Commission with its executive activities in terms of the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The arrangement between the European Community and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and the Swiss Confederation on the participation of those States in the work of the committees which assist the European Commission in the exercise of its executive powers as regards the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis should be concluded. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) For many Norwegians, the main reason for voting against joining the EU in 1994 was that this allowed them to retain their self-determination and democracy. Just as the Swiss did, they preferred to access the EU market only via the European Economic Area (EEA). A report on the 18-year Norwegian membership came to the conclusion that Brussels is exerting pressure on Norway by means of its access to the EEA. Switzerland has also made a similar accusation on the occasion of a variety of amendments. This is unacceptable. Nevertheless, there is nothing in this report which prevents me from voting in favour of it.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The Schengen system currently comprises 22 EU countries and four non-member States – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The non-member States are integrated into the Schengen system on the basis of association agreements. These agreements set up a mixed committee consisting of representatives of the governments of the associated states, and of the Council of the European Union and the Commission. Consequently, the representatives of the associated states participate in the activities of the mixed committees, which meet in the form of Council working groups enlarged by the representatives of the associated states. In Coreper or the Council, these groups are chaired alternately for six-month periods by a representative of the European Union and by a representative of the government of an associated state. I consider the conclusion of agreements between the European Communities and the four States on cooperation in the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis to be very important, and I therefore fully support the conclusions of the vote of the LIBE Committee.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution. In order to ensure consistency between and equal treatment of all associated states, I believe that it is appropriate for a single arrangement to be concluded which would grant Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland the right to participate as observers in the work of current and future committees assisting the European Commission in Schengen matters. These countries will thus be able to express themselves on any questions concerning the development or implementation of provisions of concern to them, but representatives of these countries will not take part in the voting of these committees. This would thus ensure the application and uniform implementation of the new Schengen acts or measures.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing.(IT) Over the last year, we have often returned to the effective application of the Schengen acquis, and on several occasions, the cornerstones of the regulation on the free circulation of citizens in European Member States have, unfortunately, been questioned or specifically debated, as in the case of Romania and Bulgaria. Parliament’s recommendation, which I fully support, involves the implementation and application of the Schengen acquis through the conclusion of an agreement between the EU countries in Schengen and the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation, non-EU countries considered suitable for compliance with the minimum security standards required for free circulation.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) This particular recommendation concerns an arrangement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation on the participation by those States in the work of the committees which assist in the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. Extending the Schengen area to countries which are not EU Member States has brought about considerable economic benefits for EU Member States and direct practical results and facilities in the daily lives and movements of European citizens. Certainly, States which are not EU Member States but which participate in the Schengen area must have a voice in debates on the future and the application of the Schengen area, which is why I voted in favour of this particular report, which will be forwarded to the Council for further action.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this recommendation of the European Parliament on the draft Council decision concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the EU, of the agreement between the EU and the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation in relation to the participation of these countries in the work of the committees that help the Commission with the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Following the agreements reached between the European Union, the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation regarding their participation in the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis, I voted in favour of the participation of the Member States belonging to the agreement in mixed committees, in order to be able to examine any issues regarding development of the Schengen acquis promptly.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Council has submitted a draft agreement between the EU and Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation to Parliament on the participation of these countries in the work of the committees that help the Commission with its executive powers in the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. As the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has not raised any objections to the conclusion of the agreement, which may help the Schengen area to run more smoothly, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The association agreements with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland set up a mixed committee consisting of representatives of the governments of the associated states as well as of the Council of the European Union and the Commission of the European Communities. Consequently, the representatives of the associated states attend mixed committees, which meet in the form of Council working groups enlarged by the representatives of the associated states. Participation in the mixed committee gives the associated states the opportunity to voice, in good time, any concerns they might have regarding developments of the Schengen acquis, which must be adopted by all the associated states, and the implementation of this acquis. After discussion in the mixed committee, the measures taken to develop the Schengen acquis are adopted by the Council and by the European Parliament through the appropriate decision-taking procedure laid down in the Treaties. Thus, the associated states participate in decision shaping but not in decision taking.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation provides for the genuine participation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in the work of the committees in which the Commission exercises its executive power in terms of the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis. I support Parliament giving its assent to this recommendation, giving those associated states rights and obligations. The aforementioned countries have observer status in the Schengen committees, so their representatives cannot vote, although they should be informed about the acts and measures to be implemented and contribute financially to administrative costs. Finally, a joint statement has been appended, specifying that this agreement will not have repercussions in other areas. In order for the Schengen area to develop, its component countries need to meet their obligations in full. This will bring about a real European area without borders.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) I welcome the effective involvement of the associated states Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway in the comitology committees in the Schengen area. This gives the associated states the opportunity to take part in formulating decisions without actually becoming involved in the decision-making process.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I supported Parliament’s resolution on the proposal for a Council decision regarding the conclusion of an agreement between the European Union and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland on their participation in the work of the committees working with the European Commission in the exercising of its executive powers as regards the implementation, application and development of the Schengen acquis.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The Schengen Agreement was established in 1985 and the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement was adopted in 1990. The objectives of the Schengen Agreement were to abolish controls at the internal borders of the signatory states, to create a single external border with common rules on external border controls and a common visa policy, and to establish police and judicial cooperation and the Schengen Information System. We have always criticised this approach of building a ‘Fortress Europe’, which fosters and fuels the growth of racism and xenophobia, of other forms of intolerance, and of authoritarian and anti-democratic practices.

‘Fortress Europe’, the Europe of Schengen, is being constructed through a security-focused, criminalising, exploitative and selective immigration policy. We also advocate an immigration policy in which the Member States respect immigrants’ rights, in particular, in relation to access to work, health care and education. Despite our views, we believe that we should not make pronouncements on the choices of the countries in question, namely Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, in relation to agreements signed with the EU.

 
  
  

Report: Pervenche Berès (A7-0011/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) Between now and 2020, there will be 73 million job openings in Europe. Nonetheless, it is essential that we think about how to fill these vacancies as efficiently as possible. I believe that this can be achieved through the provision of a skilled workforce, with training that will offer new opportunities, particularly to young people, who represent 20% of the total EU population. Let us not forget that, today, the crisis affects one in five young people.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as the guidelines suggested to support active employment policies should be the EU’s highest priority at this time. Austerity does not guarantee growth or liquidity, which would, in turn, create jobs, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ the vast majority of the EU population, and for which specific incentives should be devised. As such, the EU should ensure that all the Member States, especially those subject to Troika intervention, are able to implement these kinds of measures.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union finds itself in a highly critical situation that requires immediate, specific action. Parliament has accepted the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of Member States, adopted in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties and in line with the Council’s conclusions at the end of January. As decided by the Council, employment policies are now, more than ever, a priority of the EU, in order to be able to deal with 23 million unemployed and revive the European economy, as well as meeting the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. I believe that coordination between Member States is fundamental, in order to develop a competent workforce throughout the EU, reduce unemployment, particularly among the young, and promote social inclusion, education, training and lifelong learning in order to reverse these effects of the crisis and combat the risk of poverty.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) I endorsed the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States for 2012, which provide for the continuation of the efforts embarked on two years ago. I support this policy, which is based on solid annual guidelines: labour market participation, the fight against social exclusion and poverty, as well as the quality and performance of education and training systems. We all agree that we need to step up our efforts to put Europe back on the road to growth and employment. However, that must not be to the detriment of the need to strengthen European economic governance and to reduce public deficits. We, centre-right Members, are convinced that we will only get out of this crisis by restoring our public finances to health in a sustainable way. Any other way of thinking is purely selfish, because it places the burden of our current well-being on the shoulders of our children, who will have to pay off our debts. Yet healthy finances do not mean decline and unemployment. Quite the contrary, they guarantee and are the necessary bases for ensuring a return to growth and full employment. I therefore insist on the need to combine a responsible economic policy and long-term growth objectives for the EU.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because the employment strategy needs to be modernised. • The EU needs a sustainable economy able to create jobs. • The reforms aimed at improving labour market flexibility and security need to be encouraged. • I would like to point out that the EU’s workforce is shrinking. Only two thirds of the active population currently have a job. • The employment rate is particularly low among women and the elderly. • The high rate of youth unemployment is also disturbing. • In this context, it is necessary to improve the performance of education and professional training systems. • Action must be taken to increase the appeal of education and professional training. • The implementation of the principles of lifelong learning is important.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Today, we are saying that the guidelines for employment laid down in 2010 are indeed still valid, but we are also saying, take heed, that this approval is not the equivalent of giving the Council and the Commission free rein: it is predicated on action. It is more than time we acted, outside austerity and budgetary rigour, to promote employment in our Member States. France, like many other EU countries, has seen a sharp rise in unemployment in recent years. We are then saying we should promote the quality of employment, develop a skilled workforce, promote education and lifelong learning, improve the quality of education and training systems, and promote social inclusion: all these objectives behind the guidelines are, more than ever before, relevant, but we want the means of achieving these objectives to be developed and made a reality. At the end of January, the Commission started something by launching a youth employment initiative. This must continue: the social consequences of the crisis are too serious for us not to devote to it all the energy and resources that we have at our disposal.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) This report asks for all the essential points of the programme outlined by the Council in 2010 for implementing the Europe 2020 strategy to be confirmed for this year as well. The programme contained elements about which I was sceptical at the time, and the events in Europe over the last two years have only served to reinforce my initial opposition. We now know that the measures against budgetary imbalances we were discussing in 2010 are austerity measures imposed from above that have had catastrophic effects on people, social systems and standards of living, without helping to resolve the problem in the slightest. Furthermore, there was, and continues to be, an emphasis I cannot share on the need to open up the labour market in our countries to immigration. Today, at a time of such a tough crisis, we must think, above all, and first of all, of our own citizens. I therefore voted against the report.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – Member States understand the needs and specifics of their own countries and, as such, should not be subject to one-size-fits-all legislation that affects the daily practices of the majority of the population and has a direct impact upon growth and economic stability. Thus far, employment policy emanating from Brussels has posed many difficulties for companies and organisations across the UK struggling to assimilate EU law into quotidian practice. It is also essential at a time of financial hardship that the legislative approach to work and productivity be dynamic in order to permit the flexibility to foster growth and develop the job market to cater for the greatest number of people. Parliament has not been consulted on the issue and has merely approved an EU-level strategy for employment, without full understanding of its potential repercussions. The regulation of employment within the UK and Wales must be fully coherent with the specific needs of the citizens affected in constituent regions and demands a targeted and measured approach that is undermined by the imposition of top-down generalised legislation. Westminster should remain the unique decision-making body on employment law, and the sole author of a development strategy for the UK, without restrictive infringement or interference from the unelected EU Commission.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) Member States’ employment policies and, especially, the creation of new jobs are among the most important aspects at this time, given that the increase in the unemployment rate has generated numerous protests in several Member States of the European Union last year and this year. I am aware of the labour market problems currently experienced in all EU Member States, which are accelerated by the financial crisis. This is why I believe that the objectives stated in the Europe 2020 strategy are very relevant in this respect. The EU must encourage Member States in their efforts to develop their economy, based on a labour market that is inclusive, highly trained, and, last but not least, meets the demands. However, the role of the Member States in this area should not be ignored either. Member States can find significant support in the European Social Fund programme that provides them with considerable sums to create an increasingly competitive labour market.

I therefore support this report and believe that these guidelines are fully justified and absolutely necessary for the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy and, in particular, of the employment-related objectives.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing.(IT) Today, we debated and voted on the three reports by Ms Cornelissen, Mr Gauzès and Ms Berès drafted in relation to the Annual Growth Survey 2012, proposed by the Commission last November. My vote for the report by Ms Berès reflects Parliament’s decision to adopt the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of Member States as it is consistent with the economic and social growth objectives identified in the Europe 2020 strategy, which must remain in place until they have been met. The strategy, in fact, outlines a programme for intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth, with high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because the adoption of this resolution today finally draws attention to a matter that is vital to the future of Europe. Employment has been the biggest victim of the crisis and inadequate employment policy over recent years. The situation is becoming ever worse, particularly among young people. Market reform to stimulate employment, supported by a policy of real investment geared towards the younger generation will give them a concrete response: a new plan to modernise employment, education and training systems and, ultimately, to improve individuals. The real challenge will be enabling and encouraging diverse professional experience in life, preserving and ensuring professionalism and remuneration. There is an even greater need for major changes to national labour markets, with the aim of reviving the European economy. Only making the EU more competitive will give investors greater confidence and promote the growth of new jobs.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union makes provision for the Council to lay down general economic policy guidelines and employment guidelines. These particular guidelines must serve the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy and must be in keeping with general economic policy guidelines. As the EU 2020 strategy moves in a neoliberal direction, it fails to respond to the needs of European citizens, especially European workers, and especially following the outbreak of the crisis. The basic approach is to increase competitiveness at European level by dismantling labour relations. Furthermore, the general EU economic policy approach and answer to the crisis is to impose harsh austerity programmes and to cut back labour and social rights. At the same time, unemployment has broken all records. Therefore, the employment guidelines, within their framework, are not an important tool for containing poverty and unemployment. On the contrary, they serve policies that exacerbate social exclusion and impoverish European citizens. That is why I voted against this particular report.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) Parliament’s confirmation of the guidelines for the employment policies of Member States adopted by the Council in 2010 is an act that is not completed by a mere formality, even if the committee responsible voted to follow the simplified procedure. We have had the opportunity to hold another debate on the initiatives Member States will have to adopt in order to achieve the Europe 2020 strategy objectives, and to respond, in particular, to the by now unsustainable unemployment situation that young Europeans, more than anyone else, are facing. Opportunities such as this, and the Annual Growth Survey and its transformation into ‘annual guidelines for sustainable growth’, on which we are being asked to vote, allow us to make the future of the young generations of Europeans the focus of our debate and to play an active and immediate role in the interaction between Member States and the European Commission.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union stipulates that the Member States and the EU must develop a coordinated employment strategy and promote a skilled, trained, adaptable and capable workforce, as well as labour markets able to respond rapidly to economic change. The Europe 2020 strategy proposed by the Commission for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth sets out five main objectives guiding the action of Member States, including the European employment strategy. However, in the current economic crisis, there is a risk that all this will be nothing more than words on paper. I agree that the employment guidelines adopted in 2010 should remain in place until 2014, so that efforts are focused on their implementation, and that Member States should consider using the European Social Fund to implement the guidelines on employment. Unfortunately, I cannot share the Commission's optimism in this respect, given that while most of the measures adopted, as well as some of those envisaged, are necessary, they are not sufficient, as shown by the upward tendency of unemployment at European level.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) The European Union is, and has always been, a very popular social model. However, there has been a recent decline in the right to work, in social rights, and in the employment policies of Member States. I consider it essential that Member States take action at the time of the current economic crisis in order to put into practice their commitment to increase employment levels, improve individual skills and create employment opportunities with a view to reducing poverty and increasing social inclusion.

I believe that a solidarity and cohesion policy is needed at EU level, with concrete legislative, fiscal and financial measures. It is vital that Member States observe these commitments to achieve more effective exchanges of best practices and experience in the area of combating social exclusion and reducing poverty, closely in line with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy related to the eradication of poverty.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Pursuant to Article 145 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Member States and the EU are working towards developing a coordinated EU strategy for employment and the promotion of a skilled workforce that is qualified, well trained and adaptable. The Europe 2020 strategy puts the EU on the right track with a view to the desired sustainable, inclusive and self-perpetuating economic growth, enabling higher levels, not only of employment, but also of social cohesion, productivity and competitiveness. In the context of the objectives set out in terms of increasing labour market participation and reducing structural unemployment, of developing a skilled workforce and promoting good-quality jobs and lifelong learning, of improving education and training performance at all levels and increasing uptake of higher education, and of promoting social integration and combating poverty, I believe that these guidelines should remain unaltered until 2014, and that any updating thereof should be strictly limited after that date. I voted for this report because I agree with the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report on the employment policies guidelines for the Member States because it represents an important step in maintaining the continuity of the European Union’s strategy for growth and employment, Europe 2020. I am very much looking forward to the Member States following these guidelines while adopting employment policies, in particular, because of the stress on a skilled, trained and adaptable workforce – a real engine for the future growth of Europe. In these days of economic and financial problems for the European Union, employment and growth become probably the most sensitive issues for the whole political debate. I believe that Europe should recognise job creation as a central goal for the revitalisation of our economy.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, which supports the Commission proposal to launch a new employment strategy based on greater coordination of economic policy. It is worth highlighting the importance of this strategy putting sustainable growth and competitiveness at the heart of the European agenda.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) As yet, there are few signs that the economic and financial crisis that began in 2009 is coming to an end. On the contrary, it is affecting countries that initially seemed to be immune. It was against this background of uncertainty over the end of the crisis that the last European Council took place. The report drafted by Ms Berès concerns the draft Council decision on the guidelines that the Member States should follow with regard to their employment policies. I welcome the measures adopted by the Council to channel funds into programmes promoting growth and employment, particularly those targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises and jobs for young people. As it is vital that the EU has a strategy for growth and employment, I voted for this report, which sets out a range of measures for combating unemployment and promoting sustainable economic growth.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs simply recommends that Parliament accept and retain the 2010 employment policy guidelines and does not propose the necessary changes to the economic and social policy that the Commission has been following. It does so as though everything were going swimmingly; as though unemployment in the EU had not risen to more than 23 million people without work; as though youth unemployment had not reached its current tragic proportions. Such levels have never before been seen in many countries, such as Portugal, which has had its highest rates of unemployment since the revolution of 1974.

In other words, through this report, drafted by a Member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Parliament is endorsing neoliberal doctrine, which it often criticises in an opportunist way. This doctrine includes promoting flexicurity, raising the retirement age and so-called ‘austerity policies’; in short, increasing the exploitation of the workers. For our part, we do not accept the continuation of these policies and demand new guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States that do not attack workers’ rights, but rather increase them and bring them into line with scientific and technical progress. We therefore voted against.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Article 145 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides that the Member States and the Union shall work towards the development of a coordinated strategy for employment and, in particular, the promotion of a skilled, trained and adaptable workforce. The Europe 2020 strategy, proposed by the European Commission, will enable the Union to steer its economy towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, which will be accompanied by a high level of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The European strategy for employment has the leading role in meeting the objectives of the new strategy for employment and the labour market. I am of the opinion that it is necessary that the Member States continue their efforts to address the priority areas of increasing labour market participation and reducing structural unemployment, strive to develop a skilled workforce in line with labour market needs, and strive to promote the quality of employment and lifelong learning. I believe that the employment guidelines adopted in 2010 should remain unchanged until 2014 to ensure their uninterrupted implementation. They should be changed as little as possible, except where absolutely necessary.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD) , in writing. (IT) Our position with regard to the Europe 2020 strategy has traditionally been a sceptical one, and the need to maintain a critical approach in relation to it seems to require reconfirmation in light of the developments that have affected Member States over the last two years. If, in 2010, the Union was being asked to take corrective action to resolve macro-economic imbalances affecting Europe, particularly in the more vulnerable Member States, in 2012, the dramatic consequences of the austerity measures introduced by this action have confirmed our original scepticism. The amendments to the proposal also introduced the objective of increasing the number of immigrant workers in the Union, an objective I do not share. I therefore voted against the proposal.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) After the adoption of several European measures aimed exclusively at imposing budgetary rigour in Europe, this vote, which confirms the validity of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States for 2012, is a timely reminder that Europe needs growth and employment to revitalise its economy.

That is why I voted in favour of the report by Ms Berès. Indeed, it is vitally important that we focus our efforts on combating unemployment and poverty, which are increasingly affecting EU citizens. To this end, the Member States must continue to do everything in their power to increase the participation of women and men in the labour market and to promote quality education and training for young people in accordance with the objectives of the guidelines.

Moreover, I support this report because it proposes a more democratic form of governance for the European Union in terms of economic policy than that which seeks to impose financial sanctions on the Member States, through the institution of a dialogue on economic policies between the Council and the European Parliament, with the participation of national parliaments.

 
  
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  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE), in writing.(PL) I am pleased that the European Parliament has approved today the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States. We need enhanced coordination of economic policy which will focus on the key areas where action is needed to use Europe’s potential for sustainable economic growth. This is important so that we can create jobs, particularly for young people.

Let us remember that the Europe 2020 strategy places particular emphasis on action for work and growth. We need the guidelines so that we can increase employment. The labour market should be open and, above all, accessible to young people. However, it is, in fact, young people who have the greatest difficulties in finding work in a labour market which is so unstable. The Member States should continue to concentrate their efforts on priority areas, and this includes efforts to reduce unemployment. A joint action plan of this kind is an effective method to find a remedy for this currently growing problem.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. – I welcome this report. What we need to focus on now is implementation of the guidelines. We need to ensure effective governance of the employment and social policies by the Member States. Member States should involve stakeholders, the social partners and parliamentary bodies in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the national reform programmes. Above all, we need to focus on the implementation of the guidelines in order to ensure a coordinated strategy for employment which will promote a skilled, trained and adaptable workforce. I am confident that we will achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth with a high level of employment, productivity and social cohesion throughout the EU. These employment guidelines will remain unchanged until 2014 and their updating should remain strictly limited within the three years. However, we must ensure that the integrated economic policy and employment guidelines are the main focus of the annual review of the Europe 2020 strategy

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the Berès report on the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States for 2020. The Europe 2020 strategy makes it possible to gear the economic system of the European Union towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, with a high level of social cohesion and productivity.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The proposal put forward by the European Commission sets out ambitious tasks for the whole Union in relation to combating the painful effects of the economic crisis for the European labour market. I would like to express support for the amendments proposed in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, which emphasise the fundamental role of European funds in coping with the crisis and recovering stability in the labour market, and propose simplification of systems for allocating funds so that they will be an attractive form of aid for potential beneficiaries.

However, even the most appropriate strategies and guidelines will not bring the expected result without close cooperation between all the European Union’s Member States. The greatest threat to achieving the aims of this strategy seem to me to be the announcements of reductions in the resources available from the Structural Funds in the next financial framework, for the years 2014-2020, which is a clear symptom of a particularistic mindset at the expense of support for the Union as a whole. Not even the best modified legal, institutional and systemic frameworks, even though they are consistent with the guidelines we have adopted, will bring the expected improvement in the labour market without a guarantee of the funds needed for their implementation.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report because I believe that the Member States should take action in line with the economic employment policies. The definition of the framework of actions covering the period from 2010-2014 involves limited intermediate amendments, and moves towards a standard approach that will make employment policies most effective. Control and monitoring of the execution of these policies by Member States is an equally important aspect that needs to be closely borne in mind when preparing the final considerations on the issue. I am convinced that these guidelines are valid indications that help to reconcile economic and employment policies. Indeed, we should not forget the value of employment at a time when every Member State is outlining its economic policies which, as well as necessarily restrictive measures to tackle the current crisis, also need to take into account the growth and development that will take place through a new boost to employment.

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE) in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States, taking into account the following considerations. In view of the economic and social difficulties faced by the Member States, it is absolutely necessary to coordinate economic and employment policies. It is important that, in their national reform programmes, Member States prioritise the development of the labour market, the reduction of unemployment, especially among young people, and the creation of new jobs. Now, more than ever, we need integrated policies addressing both the economic and the social aspects.

We cannot talk of sustainable economic growth without envisaging the creation of sustainable jobs. Member States must implement appropriate fiscal policies to support investments and encourage SMEs to create jobs, as well as make effective use of the Structural Funds. Thus, by supporting SMEs and using Structural Funds, new jobs will be created and youth unemployment can be combated.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report by Ms Berès as, in the light of the severe economic and employment crisis afflicting Europe today, the sustainable growth objectives have become extremely important and crucial. The European Union has set itself the long-term objective of creating seventeen and a half million new jobs through a common economic policy.

In this context, we need to focus our attention on certain groups of European citizens. In particular, those who are looking for their first job, in other words, young people who are really struggling to enter the world of work, those with few qualifications and people approaching pensionable age. In my capacity as Vice-President of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, I have to point out that of these, women are still marginalised and discriminated against in the workplace.

Policies to improve the budget indiscriminately affect women’s social and economic status. The policy for economic recovery proposed by the European Commission must remain a strategy for sustainable and inclusive growth, and not become exclusive as a result of the economic and financial crisis, to the detriment of women.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Berès. I agree with the Commission’s decision to maintain the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States in 2012, as per the annex to the Council decision of 21 October 2010 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which calls for the development of a coordinated strategy for employment and the promotion of skilled and trained workers across the EU. In the context of the financial crisis, it is important that a harmonised approach is adopted in order to address employment policies in the EU.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) The 2011 guidelines for employment were synonymous with raising the retirement age, making the labour market more flexible and lowering wages. The terrible results of such a policy cannot have escaped Ms Berès. However, with the majority of this Parliament, she proposes maintaining them for 2012. I voted against this text, which I condemn.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Unemployment has been reaching worrying levels since 2008, with 23 million people now unemployed in the EU, which corresponds to 20% of the active population, and the EU will have to create jobs for a further 17.6 million people by 2020 if it is to hit its employment targets. In view of this, it is with concern that I am voting for this resolution. I would like to see more determination to hit the Europe 2020 strategy’s targets and to create sustainable jobs, by improving conditions for increased participation in the labour market, particularly regarding education and training.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted against this report, as when it comes to growth and employment, I do not share the spirit of the 2012 Annual Growth Survey presented by the European Commission. The proposed solutions will not help to tackle the crisis, nor will they impede a generalised recession throughout the EU. Rather, they will worsen the effects of the crisis, increasing social inequalities, poverty, unemployment and the impoverishment of EU citizens. Both this survey and the EU initiatives are in line with the neoliberal policies that have led us into crisis. In the name of market confidence recovery, competitiveness and growth, salaries are being cut, the European social model destroyed and the basic rights of citizens infringed.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I am sure that continued use of the Guidelines is necessary in 2012, and I agree that EU Member States should use these Guidelines when implementing their own national employment policies. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Employment policy in the European Union is one of those areas of policy where the EU plays a coordinating role, in particular, by drawing up guidelines. However, the individual Member States are largely responsible for turning these guidelines into concrete measures and legislation. The key objectives of the new guidelines are increasing the employment rate of women to 75%, developing a labour force whose skills meet the requirements of the market, lowering the early school leaving rate to below 10%, increasing the share of people who have completed a university degree to at least 40% and combating social exclusion and poverty. I have abstained because, although the EU’s employment policy guidelines are ambitious, the requirements of the Member States in these areas carry far more weight and, therefore, need more support.

 
  
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  Tiziano Motti (PPE), in writing. (IT) Growth and employment are certainly very sensitive issues, especially for our young people, but the way in which the Commission has presented its proposal is frankly worrying. Our warning refers to the Commission’s plan to channel up to EUR 82 billion in uncommitted EU Structural Funds into schemes to create jobs for young people and to support small firms, which could undermine trust in the EU’s regional policy. In fact, the plan proposes to use funds in specific regional projects, but without the necessary involvement of the local authorities. We have here a proposal which creates the false impression that cohesion policy was performing poorly, while noting, on the other hand, that two thirds of regional policy funding has already been used or legally committed. While supporting initiatives to increase the take-up of funds, help small firms and fight youth unemployment, it is right to wonder how the Commission’s approach could be improved: according to it, up to EUR 22 billion of allocations from the European Social Fund (a third of its budget for the 2007-2013 period) and up to EUR 60 billion in regional and cohesion funds have not yet been committed to specific projects.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I supported this report, as I consider it crucial that Member States immediately introduce measures to fulfil their obligations with regard to increasing employment, improving skills and reducing poverty. Unemployment remains very high in the Member States of the European Union, especially among young people, with the relevant figure already above 40% in some Member States. Such a situation, in which a large proportion of the working-age population suffers from long-term unemployment and discouragement, paralyses the European economy and saps its vitality. It is therefore essential to launch a so-called guarantee plan in cooperation with social partners, in order to ensure that every young person has the right to obtain work, an internship or training if he or she has been unemployed for four months. Instead of European companies consistently moving their manufacturing to Asia, they should devote more attention to their home region, and the European Union and its Member States should also promote this more actively.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Employment policy is one of the main factors increasing economic growth and jobs. I believe that every Member State should pay particular attention to extending flexicurity and removing obstacles to growth. Social inclusion and the fight against poverty constantly need to be strengthened and the functioning of the labour market improved. Above all, we need to increase opportunities to participate in the labour market and reduce structural unemployment. Furthermore, training systems should be adapted to the needs of the labour market and skills should be developed. Only by implementing these and other measures provided for in the employment policy guidelines throughout Europe will we create more and better quality jobs and foster employment-enhancing growth.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I am concerned about the low level of employment in the EU Member States and agree that EU policy guidelines are needed to address this issue. Youth unemployment in some countries is as high as 49%, and insecure and low paid jobs, the lack of suitably qualified workers, social exclusion and combating poverty are common challenges for EU Member States. Only by acting together and pursuing a coherent policy can we therefore ensure sustainable growth. I agree that the Member States must coordinate their national programmes and the implementation of these, and these programmes’ measures should be directed towards promoting entrepreneurship, and adapting education and training systems to market needs. We need to use money from the European Social Fund more efficiently and improve the system for granting micro-credits to small and medium-sized enterprises.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Annual Growth Survey 2012 contains the plans for guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States. The economic crisis and the European common market’s need for measures to make it stronger and more competitive have brought about one of the most serious social problems of the present and the future: unemployment. I voted for the report by Ms Berès because we need special guidelines for employment policies in order to restore momentum to the economy and trust among our citizens. Europe needs guarantees for the future and the guarantee of work, particularly for young people, is the first step towards a better European Union.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since the major objectives and priorities set out in the guidelines for employment policy, adopted on 21 October 2010, remain valid, I voted for this European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States. In fact, in this document, Parliament is limiting itself to confirming the employment policies that, in line with the decision to adopt them, should remain stable until 2014, in order to ensure a focus on implementation.

 
  
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  Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The draft European Parliament legislative resolution on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States, tabled by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, has merely rubber stamped the employment guidelines set out by the Commission in 2010. Despite the exacerbation of the economic situation since then, with unemployment rates that are increasing exponentially in almost all the Member States, the European Parliament has given up its right to demand that the Council and the Commission table new binding measures geared towards increasing investment in job creation. That is why I voted against.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Pursuant to the Europe 2020 strategy, provision has been made for a series of central objectives aimed at economic growth and social cohesion, in a policy of linking up the actions of the Member States and the EU institutions. I voted in favour because these guidelines are included in the Commission proposal.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) In a fully integrating single market, in which the Member States are becoming increasingly interdependent, coordinating employment policies is an overarching objective in ensuring that actions are coherent and effective. In voting for the report by Ms Berès, I support this objective by approving the continuity of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States adopted by the Council decision of 21 October 2010. These guidelines are essential if we are to achieve this objective: increasing labour market participation, reducing structural unemployment, promoting the quality of employment and social inclusion, promoting education and lifelong learning, improving the performance of education and training systems, and combating poverty. They are necessities that I have defended for a long time. Finally, I welcome the Commission’s desire, endorsed today by the European Parliament, to strive to maintain the stability of these guidelines until 2014 to ensure a focus not on the conclusions of endless negotiations on their minor modification, but on their practical implementation. It is now the duty of the Member States to take them into consideration in their employment policies.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) We cannot support a text which seeks to resolve problems related to employment, and which deals with the employment policies of the Member States, with proposals which seek to ‘remove the barriers’ that prevent immigrants from accessing the EU’s labour market. We cannot accept these kinds of measures, since due precisely to the regulations helping legal immigrants, it is already more likely that they will be the ones asked to take on a job rather than an EU citizen.

We also realised that when the European Union proposes corrective measures for the Member States, it tends, in fact, to decide for them and, in the wake of the dramatic consequences of the austerity measures introduced by interventions like this, we are sceptical towards EU strategies such as the ones in question.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) As part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the EU has drawn up a list of priorities and joint initiatives aimed at smart, sustainable and job-rich growth. Boosting employment has been identified as the main driver of growth and recognised, quite rightly, as a key factor in greater social cohesion at European level. Thus, since their adoption in October 2010, guidelines have guided national employment policies. The Member States must, in accordance with the provisions of the Europe 2020 strategy, reduce structural unemployment, train a skilled workforce, promote quality jobs and ensure lifelong vocational training. The European Parliament has declared its support for the continuation of these employment guidelines until 2014. This position, which I share, reflects increased awareness on the part of the European institutions: employment is our priority and we need to reflect upon the ways and means to promote it and to make it more sustainable. To this end, the Member States have the possibility of using the European Social Fund.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) In the Annual Growth Survey (AGS), the Commission has identified five priority actions for 2012: fiscal consolidation; restoring normal lending to the economy; growth and competitiveness; tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis; and modernising public administration. Personally, I would like to underline my full support for the five priorities identified, as expressed with my vote in favour this morning. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that it is absolutely necessary to accelerate the initiatives to create the single market and to extend the reach of the AGS. Finally, I would like to underline my appreciation of the integrated structure of the document and the unprecedented attention to social issues.

A final word on young people: the fourth priority addresses youth unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis, which is having serious repercussions on social inclusion and on levels of poverty. Keeping people active – whether through work, training or even in the search for a job – is fundamental, both for the economy and for society. Therefore, the text suggests revising wage-setting mechanisms to better reflect productivity, removing legal obstacles to the recognition of professional qualifications between countries, restricting access to early retirement schemes and promoting entrepreneurship.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) According to Eurostat, the European Union currently has around 23 million unemployed; that is 8 million more than in 2008, with the majority of them young people who cannot find a foothold in the labour market. The EU Member States with the highest unemployment rates are Spain, with 22.9%, followed by Greece, with 19.2% in October; Portugal is in sixth place, with 13.6%. At the other end of the spectrum, those with the lowest rates are countries like Austria, with 4.1%, the Netherlands, with 4.9%, and Luxembourg, with 5.2%. Article 145 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union stipulates that Member States shall work towards developing a coordinated strategy for employment, so they have agreed to the intention expressed by the European Commission and the European Parliament to strengthen guidelines on employment policy, pursuant to the Council decision of 21 October 2010.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States because, due to the financial and economic crisis, unemployment has increased alarmingly in the EU. According to Eurostat, over 23 million people are unemployed in Europe. The guidelines provided in Decision No 2010/707/EU will be applied by the Member States in 2012 as well. Employment policies should be directed towards increasing labour market participation, reducing structural unemployment and promoting quality jobs, developing a skilled workforce to meet labour market needs and promote lifelong learning, improving the quality and performance of education and training systems at all levels and increasing participation in tertiary education or equivalent forms of education, promoting social inclusion, and combating poverty. These guidelines are aimed at the implementation of the main EU objectives for 2020, such as increasing the employment rate to 75%, reducing the school dropout rate to less than 10%, achieving a tertiary graduation rate of at least 40% among young people, and reducing the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion by at least 20 million.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted against the Berès report calling on the European Parliament to approve the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.

This vote is about ensuring the ‘compatibility’ of the employment guidelines with the economic policies of the EU. It is quite a programme and, every day, we are increasingly seeing what this means through the sad example of what is being imposed on Greece. It is about ‘implementing the Europe 2020 strategy’, ‘boosting Europe’s potential for sustainable growth and competitiveness’, ‘promoting labour markets responsive to economic change’, ‘complying with the Stability and Growth Pact’ and ‘giving precise guidance to the Member States on defining their national reform programmes’.

This says it all. We can talk all we like about reducing structural unemployment, developing a skilled workforce and promoting quality jobs. These are just words, sacrificed at the altar of austerity policies.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) It is essential that the guidelines on employment policy measures in the Member States are retained in order to boost growth and competitiveness in Europe and to guarantee that the Europe 2020 objectives are achieved. We must focus, in particular, on increasing the labour market participation of men and women, eradicating structural unemployment, combating poverty and improving the performance of the European education system.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report comes direct from the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. It simply recommends that Parliament accept and retain the 2010 employment policy guidelines, and does not propose the necessary changes to the economic and social policy that the Commission has been following. This means that Parliament is accepting the continuation of the neoliberal policies of promoting flexicurity, of increasing the retirement age, of so-called ‘austerity policies’; in short, of increasing the exploitation of the workers. We do not accept the continuation of these policies and demand new guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States that do not attack the sacrosanct rights of the workers, the right to collective bargaining, and the social rights they have won.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Czesław Adam Siekierski (A7-0032/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing. (FR) In a spirit of European solidarity, I voted in favour of maintaining the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) for 2012 and 2013. This vote is taking place after agreement in Council. However, this agreement cannot, under any circumstances, be used as a long-term solution. Indeed, we need to consider now the period beyond 2013 and how to reform the food aid programme and to enable the most deprived to benefit from this programme.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour. One of the problems still demonstrated by the EU, despite the level of development we have reached, is that of the malnourishment that has a particular effect on the homeless, on families in difficulties, on the unemployed, whose numbers are increasing substantially at the moment, on single-parent families, on immigrants, on asylum seekers, on socially disadvantaged older people and on disabled children. Seven countries initially rejected the support programme under consideration, on alleged legal grounds. This was a lamentable decision that has, regrettably, only been put on hold until 2013. I would stress that the EU was very quick to help the banks, but is showing itself to be very insensitive when it is a case of solidarity with the most disadvantaged. This reflection serves to demonstrate that we live in a Europe with these contradictions, which urgently need to be abolished.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I was pleased to hear that the blocking of the Commission’s proposal at the Council, lasting some two years, has been overcome. Considering the urgency of providing support to the most deprived persons in the Union and the delay that has been seen, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Siekierski in order to allow a rapid distribution of food products to the most deprived citizens and, at long last, to offer them the Union’s support during this time not just of economic crisis but also difficult weather conditions. I am firmly convinced that the programme should be fully funded by the Union and that the programme should be accompanied by temporary measures to avoid a sharp cutback in food aid and to ensure that people who are dependent on food aid do not suddenly suffer from food poverty once again. I am pleased with the agreement reached for these reasons, but also due to the fact that the food to be distributed will be of Union origin, and will therefore support our production and growth.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) This week, the European Parliament has made progress on a critical issue: a compromise has finally been reached with the Member States to maintain funding for the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) for 2012 and 2013. This programme supplies food to more than 13 million beneficiaries across 15 Member States. We must now work to ensure the future of this programme after 2013, and I can assure you that the European Parliament will continue to fight for this. My colleagues and I have demanded that, in the short term, the European Commission and the Member States provide a transition mechanism and that, in the mid term, they change the legislation to enable this programme to continue. I proposed, in this regard, contributions from the European Social Fund (ESF). Finally, I believe that this programme is also an instrument for combating food waste. In any event, while we need to save money at a time of crisis, we should certainly not do so by leaving 13 million vulnerable Europeans by the wayside.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) For the time being, the most important thing has been saved. We have managed to secure the continuation of the European food aid programme for 2012 and 2013. The annual budget of EUR 500 million will be kept in its entirety for the next two years. While congratulations are in order, especially for all the organisations working on the ground, vigilance is still called for, because the issue is far from being settled. Europe, they said, is being built in small steps and gathers momentum in crises, when its back is against the wall. This time, it has failed miserably! The programme has only obtained a reprieve, which, during the current period, when austerity policies are taking a heavy toll on the people of Europe, and the European Union is in full existential crisis, amounts to a denial of the future of the EU. There will be no EU in the future without a social Europe, without a rebalancing of the economic dimension to take account of the social dimension. So there is much yet to be done. We must, right now, think of new, effective solidarity mechanisms in collaboration with the European Commission to ensure that we maintain this action in favour of the most deprived people in Europe.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I fully support what it has achieved. This European Parliament report confirms the EU institutions’ compromise decision, on the basis of which the European Union will be able to provide the most deprived citizens of the European Union with the same amount of food aid as before for the remaining two years until the new multiannual financial framework. Indeed, the Council’s desire to reduce the amount of food aid at this difficult time, when the number of people requiring aid has grown as a result of the crisis, was particularly difficult to understand. I agree that today, we have to make savings, both at EU level and in the Member States, but we cannot do this by reducing assistance for the poorest people who have increased in number. Savings in this area would not solve the problem of the financial crisis. Instead, we would be turning our backs on our citizens and undermining the goals that we set ourselves a year ago – of lifting as many as 20 million people out of the poverty trap. It really is disappointing that this has dragged on for so long.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Although the EU enjoys, on average, one of the highest living standards in the world, some people are unable to provide the necessary food for themselves. It is estimated that within the EU, there are 43 million people at risk of food poverty, meaning people who cannot afford to eat a complete meal every other day. The programme for the most deprived persons supports the provision of food to these highly vulnerable individuals or families who are in a difficult situation. Charities and NGOs are counting on the EU’s contribution to support these people in need. For example, 51% of the products distributed in 2010 by the European Federation of Food Banks came from this programme. Each year, more than 18 million people in 20 EU Member States receive food aid distributed within this programme. In Romania, over 2.8 million people benefited from this programme in 2010, including pensioners, people with no income or very low income, and people with disabilities. Therefore, I think it is essential to find rapidly a solution leading to overcoming the current problems and which can make use of the available funds.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Siekierski’s report which aims to protect and support the most deprived persons in the Union through a funding programme for the purchase of food products.

Due to the two-year deadlock in the Council, it was necessary to pass the proposal quickly without the addition of further amendments. In the Commission’s amended proposal, the programme will remain fully funded by the EU budget but, to secure proper coverage and financial stability, a ceiling of EUR 500 million has been put in place.

The programme will be active during 2012 and 2013, but it is to be hoped that Parliament will have more say on the programme’s future beyond 2013. Due to the economic and financial crisis, which continues to damage Europe’s economy through worrying repercussions on our social fabric, we need a strong voice from Europe to speak out on aiding a more vulnerable civil society.

 
  
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  Arkadiusz Tomasz Bratkowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) I would like to express my satisfaction at the decision taken by the European Parliament, which, on 15 February 2012, adopted the recommendation of the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Czesław Siekierski, of the Polish People’s Party, on continuation of the programme for the distribution of food to the most deprived persons. As a result of a long process of negotiations between representatives of Parliament, the Commission and the Council, and also due to the efforts among others of the Polish Presidency, it was possible to work out an agreement on the level of the budget for the programme for 2012-2013.

I am profoundly convinced that the importance of this programme has grown during the current economic crisis, at a time when European society is becoming increasingly impoverished. At present, over 40 million people in the European Union are affected by poverty, while a further 40 million are under threat of poverty. Among those who benefit from this aid are people who are unemployed, homeless people, migrants, elderly people, disabled people and those who are in a difficult material situation, including families with many children and single parents, and in all, there are around 18 million deprived people who have received help from the European Union.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I do not, of course, oppose any measure that aims to combat poverty and hunger in the EU; however, the policy laid before us is both legally unsound and fails to address the real issue of the causes of poverty. The money should not come from the CAP budget as a social policy, which, in the opinion of at least the United Kingdom, should be a Member State domestic competence. What is so mind-boggling about this proposal is that it has failed to acknowledge the leading factor in poverty creation in the EU. Reports from Athens demonstrate that EU policy adherence to the erroneous single currency project is, in fact, one of the key drivers in poverty creation. Greening of CAP will also undermine the potential for self-sufficiency in Europe and exposes Member States to the possibility of food shortages and dependency upon importation. The creation and expansion of PEAD sets a dangerous precedent in permitting such erroneous and damaging legislation to continue to be made by issuing an illegal ‘back-up plan’.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE) , in writing. (RO) The programme for the distribution of free food to the most deprived citizens of the European Union, started in 1987 as part of the common agricultural policy (CAP), currently grants support to 18 million people living in poverty in 20 European Union Member States. In the EU, 43 million people are at risk of food poverty, and this figure will rise due to the economic and financial crisis and rising food prices. If no action is taken, the funds for this programme will have to be reduced in 2012 to EUR 133 million, compared with EUR 500 million in 2011. The interruption of the aid programme without notice or preparations will have serious repercussions for the most vulnerable EU citizens. It is necessary to find a way to continue the food distribution system for the needy in 2012 and 2013 (the remaining years within the current funding period), and also in the funding period 2014-2020.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The programme distributing free food to the most deprived EU citizens, set up in 1987 under the common agricultural policy, currently provides food aid for 18 million people suffering from poverty in 20 Member States. The present economic crisis, alongside difficult climate conditions, has been hitting poor people hard. Around 18 million people in Europe currently benefit from the food aid programme for the disadvantaged. I voted for this programme to be continued until the end of 2014, with a maximum annual budget of EUR 500 million, intended to aid 18 million of the most deprived people in 20 EU Member States.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this draft amendment to Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007, intended to improve the general rules on supplying certain organisations with food products from intervention stocks for the benefit of the most deprived persons in the Union. This reform is essential, not just because of higher demand resulting from the recent EU enlargements, but also because of increased problems due to high food prices in Europe and the cost of supplying it. In order to ensure that the supply of foodstuffs will continue to reach at least those already benefiting from this support, the priority has now changed, with greater emphasis given to the long-term sustainability of agriculture at the expense of the primary goal of increasing food production.

The following are the two most important of the amendments tabled. Now more than ever, there needs to be a long-term perspective when national authorities are planning distribution schemes, so distribution programmes lasting around three years will be implemented in order to increase levels of efficiency and flexibility. Secondly, I agree with the need to set out priorities more clearly. The Member States will have to draft their requests for aid on the basis of objective and pre-established national programmes for distributing food to the most disadvantaged.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – I supported the recommendation because it guarantees the continuation of the food aid programme, which currently provides food to more than 18 million people across Europe, for 2012 and 2013. However, I am opposed to the position of the conservative German and French governments to discontinue this programme after 2013. The Commission should come forward with proposals that comply with the Court of Justice’s April 2011 ruling to allow the continuation of the programme from 2014 onwards. I welcome the Irish Government’s support for this stance. The subsidiarity argument should not be used to suggest there is no role for measures such as a food aid programme at European level. In reality, we need a much stronger social dimension to Europe and a greater emphasis on growth and jobs to ensure that citizens do not have to depend on food aid to help them make ends meet. We can only consider ending this type of programme when there is no demand from the public for it.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) The report follows the controversial confirmation of the European programme for providing aid to the needy. The text is a compromise between those who were in favour of the programme’s continuation and those who wished to see it come to an end. Therefore, the compromise reached avoids the risk of a sudden end to the programme which would have threatened the survival of that sector of the population which is dependent on this food aid. Recent statistics have shown that the crisis is affecting increasingly large and central areas of the continent. This means that increasingly wide sections of the population in rich countries risk finding themselves in poverty. In this context, the attitude of those who, in the name of futile austerity, insist on rejecting such important interventions which have such a limited impact on the EU budget seems increasingly short-sighted and counterproductive. This compromise is very welcome and a new agreement to guarantee the programme’s funding for the future would be especially welcome. In any case, the hope is to investigate the possibility of strengthening the campaign against food wastage, with a programme capable of using recovered food through distribution and rational use, and redistributing it to the weakest and most at-risk sectors.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I think it is vital to continue the provision of this support in the future, and that it is necessary to support the European disadvantaged people at a level comparable to that of this year, knowing that the common agricultural policy has social components, too, and that poor people must continue to be assisted. Based on the principle of European solidarity, Member States that oppose this must show understanding of the situation of poor social categories and accept that it is necessary to continue the programme within the required parameters. This would also demonstrate solidarity within the EU.

 
  
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  Arnaud Danjean (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of maintaining the funds of the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) for two additional years (2012 and 2013). Indeed, it is our responsibility to ensure the survival of such a programme, which has helped more than 18 million deprived people in 19 Member States of the European Union since 1987 (under the CAP). This programme will therefore continue to supply food to numerous charities working to eradicate hunger, with an annual ceiling of EUR 500 million. At present, our new fight, in which I wish to be fully engaged, is to ensure the long-term sustainability of this important solidarity programme by guaranteeing its funding beyond 2013.

 
  
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  Michel Dantin (PPE), in writing.(FR) This is the culmination of intense diplomatic work on the part of Bruno Lemaire, French Minister for Agriculture, at Council level, and of the Members of the European Parliament at the level of our institution. Europe has thus demonstrated that it is capable of being an area of solidarity for the citizens of Europe.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE), in writing.(FR) I used my vote to approve the Council’s position, which will make it possible to extend the European food aid programme at its current level of funding for an additional two years. It would have been inconceivable to reduce it, now that the crisis has increased the number of people dependent on food handouts. This solution remains a temporary one, however. The validity period of the compromise for which we voted is two years. Two years is what was needed for the more than 13 million Europeans for whom this programme is vital. However, two years is not enough. I will remain fully committed to finding a lasting solution and to ensuring that this programme, which is essential to the maintenance of solidarity, is kept in the European budget.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text enabling the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) to be maintained and funded for 2012 and 2013. I will continue to work actively in the European Parliament and call on the European Commission and the European Council to find a solution, so that this programme, which provides food aid to more than 18 million of our fellow citizens, and which we need more than ever in these times of crisis, can continue after 2013.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the Council position at first reading because the distribution of food products to the most deprived persons is too urgent an issue to be delayed any further. A second reading procedure would only have meant more suffering for the people in need, a scenario which is simply unacceptable. Therefore, I think that the position voted for, by overcoming the stalled situation in the Council, has to be considered as a valid transitional solution for the remaining years of the current MFF. I would also like to express my desire for such a crucial programme to be maintained, or even enhanced, after 2013. Too many people still depend on food distribution in Europe and we – as representatives of the European people – must undertake this as a personal commitment.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union, as I believe it was crucial to reach an agreement that broke the two year deadlock in the Council on this issue and to ensure that this programme will continue in the next financial framework. European solidarity for those with the least protection is even more necessary at times of crisis. The right-wing majority in the Council has demonstrated great social insensitivity.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Social Democrats are opposed to extending the food distribution programme to the most deprived persons in the Union, as we believe that poverty and social exclusion should be tackled in the social sphere and not within the framework of the EU’s agricultural policy.

The programme was introduced during a period when there were large stockpiles of agricultural products and it was considered to be a fair solution to distribute this food to those in need. As the EU’s agricultural policy has been adapted to the market, these stockpiles have dwindled and the option of using EU funds to stockpile commodities has been abolished for several products.

We would have liked to have seen other forms of support for the most deprived persons in society, as the EU and the Member States need to take responsibility during times of economic crisis, not only for the financial institutions, but also for their own people.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) According to data provided by the Commission, 43 million people in the EU are at risk of food poverty, making aid programmes essential for providing them with a minimum level of subsistence. For this very reason, it is neither comprehensible nor defensible that the issue of distributing food to the most deprived people has been deadlocked for more than two years, at a time when the crisis is threatening to increase poverty levels, nor is it comprehensible or defensible that the decision we have adopted today is to retain the food aid programme only until 2013. A programme is needed beyond 2013. Once again, I would reiterate that the need to reduce expenditure cannot justify a lack of social sensitivity, especially when it comes to the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation for second reading, drafted by Mr Siekierski, concerns the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005 as regards distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the European Union. Following a delay in solving this problem, it has, in the end, been possible to reach an agreement on freeing up the EUR 500 million to support deprived people through food banks. I welcome the fact that this aid has been made available and hope this will continue after 2013.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Poverty and social exclusion have been on the increase in the European Union. Their growth goes hand in hand with the massive backwards strides currently being taken by society. The latest Eurostat figures, for 2010, show that we are in a tragic situation: 26.9% of children aged 0-17 and 19.8% of older people are at risk of poverty. In total, 115 million people in the EU are at risk of poverty; that is equivalent to 23.4% of the population. These figures will certainly be worse today, owing to the impact of so-called ‘austerity’ and, particularly, of the sordid IMF-EU pacts of aggression against Portugal, Greece and Ireland. There is more unemployment and wages are lower. Moreover, decreased social rights, and the increased prices and privatisation of public services have further exacerbated this situation.

It is in this context that it becomes even more pressing to continue with and step up the food distribution scheme programme for the most deprived persons, so as to ensure that those dependent on food aid – and the many others currently becoming so – will not suffer food poverty. That is why we voted for this report. That is why the stance of countries like Germany in the Council blocking the continuation of this programme is unacceptable.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Council Regulation (EEC) No 3730/87 laid down the general rules for the supply of food to the most deprived persons in the EU. This regulation was subsequently repealed and incorporated into the regulation establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets and on specific provisions for certain agricultural products. Rising food prices are currently adversely affecting the food security of the most deprived persons and, moreover, increase the cost of providing food aid. The objectives of the common agricultural policy therefore include market stabilisation and, in particular, ensuring supplies for consumers at reasonable prices. With regard to the distribution of food, however, the EU scheme cannot be the only response to the growing need for food aid in the EU. From the perspective of food security, national policies implemented by public administrations and the mobilisation of civil society are also necessary. The scheme could nevertheless serve as a model for the distribution of food to the most deprived people and could help encourage public and private initiatives aimed at increasing food security for those in need.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) According to the most recent statistics, around 16.3% of the EU population lives below the poverty line. As the crisis continues, the situation even looks set to deteriorate: indeed, it is estimated that from one day to the next, millions of Europeans could find themselves without even enough money for food. Thanks to today’s vote, the European food aid programme will remain operational until at least 2013, offering concrete and direct support to needy citizens who do not have sufficient means to feed themselves.

I think that now more than ever, and in the light of the worrying economic, financial and social situation, we need to guarantee the right to food for all Europeans and continue to ensure proper funding for this programme, which today supplies food aid to around 18 million people in 20 Member States. I hope therefore that this scheme can be improved with increased efficiency, even beyond 2013.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing.(FR) 25 years ago, Coluche went to see Jacques Delors, then President of the Commission, to request his support for the Restos du Coeur. Mindful of its image, the European Community agreed to make some of its existing agricultural stocks available to charitable organisations to enable them to distribute meals to those who, already victims of policies emanating from Brussels, no longer had any means of feeding themselves. It was buying itself a conscience on the cheap.

Today, this aid represents EUR 500 million. This shows the extent to which poverty has exploded. However, the systematic dismantling of the common agricultural policy (CAP) has hit stocks and, against the backdrop of the current economic crisis, a number of Member States have sought to save money on a budgetary item which, however, only represents a fraction of the EU’s EUR 150 billion budget.

The Court of Justice in Luxembourg, to which the matter was referred, wanted to cut 80% of the aid. This decision created such a public outcry that here we are today voting on extending this programming for two years, with no assurance that it will continue beyond 2013. That does not solve the problem. For those of us who voted in favour of this aid, it is only a stop-gap measure.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – This agreement is to be welcomed as it will ensure that we avoid the abrupt halting of the European food aid scheme, and the suffering that would entail for those dependent on food aid. It is vital to ensure that food aid continues to reach the most vulnerable Europeans, and that they are not subject to crippling food poverty. Making food available to those most in need will help them better their lives and, in turn, better the community around them. After a two-year deadlock, I am glad that the Member States at last came together to continue this worthwhile programme for 2012 and 2013. Nevertheless, we must now find a solution within the forthcoming financial framework to safeguard the long-term future of the European food aid scheme. Such a worthy scheme should not be subject to disruptions due to political disputes within the Council.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing.(FR) This is a major success for the Members of the European Parliament, who, on 15 February, saved the food programme providing food aid to the 18 million most deprived European citizens in 20 Member States. Last April, it was estimated, under the auspices of a number of Member States, that the programme needed to reduce its funding from EUR 500 million in 2011 to EUR 133 million in 2012, which would have been catastrophic in these times of crisis for millions of European citizens, the survival of whom depends on this programme. We therefore opposed this decision and, last July, the European Parliament sought a temporary solution to save the programme and to prevent a reduction in food aid. As a result of the intervention of the European Parliament, the programme will be effective until the end of 2013, and it will benefit from an annual budget of EUR 500 million.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) I strongly support the EU food aid regulation for the most deprived people, because it enables Member States to use products from intervention stocks to provide food aid.

Charitable organisations and, in particular, the deprived people they help are reliant on this ongoing programme. It is of the greatest importance for us to guarantee that this aid will still be available after 2013 and to enable charities to continue their work.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, through which the European Parliament gives its agreement to the continuation, in 2012 and in 2013, of the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD), in view of the extremely urgent situation facing charities and food banks.

However, I find that continuing this programme for just two years is unacceptable, and I very much regret the Franco-German agreement, which, admittedly, has broken the deadlock in the medium term, but which threatens the survival of the programme after 2014. This is simply unacceptable, especially since the economic and social crisis is jeopardising the jobs of more and more Europeans and reducing them to poverty.

My fellow Members in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and I repeat that we need to build a more social Europe. It is our duty to ensure that our citizens can feed themselves and live in dignity. This means that we need to set to work immediately and to take action to guarantee the continuation of the food aid programme, placing it on an appropriate legal basis in the next financial period 2014-2020. Time is of the essence.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing.(FR) The European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) provoked strong and passionate reactions throughout 2011 following the decision by the European Court of Justice to repeal the provisions authorising the purchase of food products on the market under the common agricultural policy for the benefit of redistribution associations. This scheme had been set up in 1987 because there were surplus stocks of farm produce, which is no longer the case today. Following this decision, which had been introduced by Germany, France and the members of the majority in Parliament took action to preserve this essential programme supplying food to more than 13 million people. In November, a compromise was finally reached between the Member States guaranteeing the existence of this programme for 2012 and 2013. In turn, the European Parliament, fully aware of the urgent need to release funds to relaunch the supply process in a particularly difficult period combining an unprecedented financial and economic crisis with extreme weather conditions, supported this agreement on 15 February.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour because, given the particularly unusual situation created by the blocking of the proposal at the Council for two years, the European Parliament has no real margin for an extensive negotiation in order to amend the Council position. It should also be remembered that Parliament, in its resolution of 7 July 2011, had called on the Commission and the Council to develop a transitional solution for the remaining years of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) so as to avoid a sharp cutback in food aid as a result of the reduction in funding from EUR 500 million to EUR 113 million and ensure that people dependent on food aid do not suffer from food poverty. At a trialogue organised on 6 December 2011, the European Parliament negotiating team recognised, in its majority, that in view of the explanations given by the Presidency and Commission representatives on the absence of a better solution in this particularly difficult situation, it saw itself obliged to agree to the Council compromise as the only means for achieving a transitional solution for the remaining years of the current MFF. In view of those arguments, also shared by the majority of MEPs at the AGRI special meeting of 12 December 2011, I welcomed the rapporteur’s proposal that the Council position should be accepted without amendments, so that it can finally be adopted in its current form at the European Parliament Plenary (as a so-called early second reading).

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – The economic crisis and the resulting rise in food prices are having a serious negative impact on the food security of the most deprived EU citizens. I therefore welcome the fact that Parliament opted to accept the Council’s position without amendments since, following a two-year obstruction, any further delay would worsen the situation and undermine the credibility of the programme. Both the Commission and the Council have taken on board most of the EP’s recommendations at first reading, so the scheme will be based solely on food of Community origin, purchased on a competitive basis, with preference given to locally produced fresh products, and with a clear obligation for distribution points to advertise the EU’s involvement. It is also very important that storage costs incurred by charitable organisations will be reimbursed and that, by doubling the sources of supply, distribution will no longer be limited to products to which intervention applies, so Member States, in cooperation with civil society, can make their choices on the basis of nutritional balance. Further issues, such as the review of the 100% ratio of EU funding and the introduction of cofinancing, might be discussed again later, given the possibility of reviewing the plan in exceptional circumstances.

 
  
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  Anne E. Jensen (ALDE), in writing. (DA) The Danish Liberal Party is able to accept the fact that we now have a legal basis for this budget line in 2012 and 2013 but, as a matter of principle, we do not believe that the EU should pursue a social policy of buying up food products on the open market and distributing them to the poor. It is therefore a good thing that the agreement expires at the end of 2013.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) Today’s vote is a success for Europe and will help 18 million deprived European citizens for a further two years. However, we must not drop our guard; we must stand together and continue to support people in need. France also undertakes to continue to provide food aid through charities. Food aid to the most deprived was doomed. It is thanks to France’s action that the European Parliament has recently saved it. With Nicolas Sarkozy, Europe also stands for solidarity.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) After lengthy discussions, the supporters and opponents of the programme have finally reached a compromise. Without this, it would not have been possible for the planned programme for deprived people to continue. The resolution is a response to the ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union. We should definitely consider whether the Agricultural Fund is the right area to enable this programme to meet its objectives or whether it would not make more sense to move the programme to the Social Fund.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I cast my vote in favour of Mr Siekierski’s report, through which we have made excellent progress on helping the millions of EU citizens who face difficulties in their everyday lives. I am delighted to point out that Parliament played a crucial role in reaching this outcome, in full compliance with the decision of the Court of Justice. We have managed to find a transitional solution capable of unblocking food aid for the poor this year and next, thereby avoiding a dangerous reduction in funds from the current level of EUR 500 million per year, which was to be cut back to roughly EUR 113 million per year. Obviously, we felt duty-bound to take this step to protect the less fortunate among us, particularly in view of the ongoing global crisis. It is absolutely clear, however, that this step does not resolve the issue of funding the programme to help the poor after 2013, when we will also be engaged in negotiations over the new multiannual financial framework for the period 2014-2020.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing.(FR) I am delighted that the European Parliament has endorsed the agreement reached in the Council last December extending the funding for the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) for 2012 and 2013 with retroactive effect from 1 January 2012. The food aid programme is indispensable in helping charities to fulfil their missions. Consequently, its continuation is a great relief. Nonetheless, we should not make do with this compromise. An emergency solution has been found. Priority should now be given to finding a lasting solution. We cannot be satisfied with this partial solution. It is important for the Council of the European Union to assume its responsibilities and to stop hiding behind legal arguments.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report by Czesław Adam Siekierski approving the decision taken in the EU Council on 23 January 2012, maintaining funding for the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) for an additional two years in 2012 and 2013.

I welcome the fact that a solution could be found to break the deadlock and not to deprive the charities and the most deprived persons of this crucial support. It would have been completely incomprehensible, especially in view of the serious economic crisis we are going through, had we not been able to find a solution to maintain this European programme, which is a symbol of European solidarity towards the most deprived. However, the battle is not yet won, and we must now continue this fund beyond 2013.

 
  
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  Marine Le Pen (NI), in writing.(FR) While the European Union comprises developed countries, almost 20% of its population lives below the poverty line and abolishing food aid to the most deprived from 2014 is not going to improve the situation.

Abandoning this programme, which, however, represents just 1% of the total CAP budget, will simply accelerate the growing impoverishment of populations. This says a lot about the current situation of Europe. When it comes to supporting the banks, agreements are reached, but when it comes to alleviating poverty, European solidarity no longer exists, reducing the contribution to 23 centimes per person.

Yet this comes as no surprise, since the European Union appears to go on as usual, dominated by the desires of Germany, the ultraliberal policies of which leave thousands of people in unbearable misery. As was the case with John I of France, social Europe is stillborn and will simply remain in the imagination of my dyed-in-the-wool Europhile colleagues, who stubbornly believe in this social utopia.

I voted for this recommendation and for extending this aid, but, in the conviction that it will be abolished in 2014, I ask that the appropriations earmarked for France under the European Programme of food aid for the most deprived (PEAD) (EUR 73 million) be deducted from our contribution.

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing.(PL) I endorsed this report, among other reasons, in view of the huge contribution made by the rapporteur, Mr Siekierski. Extending the programme by two years is the right decision. In relation to this, I would like the Commission to submit in the near future a proposal for the method of distributing the food and the main objectives in terms of geography and social groups. At least until the end of the crisis, this aid, which is addressed to those who are affected by poverty and social exclusion, is particularly important.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Over time, it has been proved that intervention stocks provided by the Community have been a secure and stable food supply source for the most deprived persons. The need to provide food has increased considerably due to the substantial growth in the number of deprived people and the increase in food prices, affecting the food security of these people.

I think that we need both appropriate national policies and the mobilisation of the civil society to provide food security for all people. In addition, changing the community programme will generate a strong element of cohesion and serve as a model for distributing food to the most deprived persons. This proposal seeks to maintain full funding from the EU for the programme. The maximum level of community funding will continue in the future. However, in order to ensure budgetary stability, an annual cap of EUR 500 million is envisaged for the financial contribution of the EU.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the recommendation on the distribution of free food to the most needy citizens of the EU with full conviction. I have supported the work of food banks, social committees and non-governmental organisations operating in Poland, particularly in the Podkarpacie region, for a long time. The EU programme is an important initiative that should be continued and developed, which is why I think we must conduct further talks with all the EU institutions so that the programme does not end in 2013.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – In July 2011, I supported the Parliament’s Committee on Employment resolution calling on the Commission and the Council for a transitional solution for 2012 and 2013 and a new programme beyond. I do not like the fact that cofinancing has been removed from the proposal, as it would ensure that Member States spend the money efficiently and effectively. We also understand and share concerns of our Scandinavian colleagues. However, at a time of economic crisis, it is important that we have a mechanism at European level to ensure that we are able to get food to those most in need. Furthermore, it is a good thing that money from the agricultural budget is being used to meet the needs of all citizens, not just farmers.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) Full Union funding for the programme to distribute food to the most deprived persons must be maintained We think it is worth ensuring that the current rate of 100% EU funding for the programme is retained for the future but, in order to ensure its budgetary stability, an annual ceiling of EUR 500 million for the Union’s financial contribution is foreseen.

We welcome the inclusion of a number of substantial changes suggested by Parliament, namely: the notion of the Union origin of the foods; the obligation for distribution points to clearly display the participation of the Union in the plan; purchase of food products to be made on the basis of competitive procedures; reimbursement of storage costs incurred by charitable organisations.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing.(IT) I have voted in favour of a procedure that can take important steps to help the most deprived EU citizens. The European institutions are duty-bound to intervene financially to support the charitable organisations that look after the disadvantaged and the needy among the population. Due to the harsh winter, many people have died as a result of the lethal combination of cold and malnutrition. Confronted with these deaths, we cannot continue to stand by and take no action. That is why I am pleased that the Council has adopted a number of substantial amendments suggested by Parliament, especially the amendment providing for full Union funding for the food distribution programme.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The European Union is facing a grave crisis of poverty and social exclusion. With the impact of the economic and social crisis, and of the austerity being implemented, this problem is worsening, resulting in more unemployment, pension cuts, low wages, greater vulnerability and more poverty. In this context, it is crucial to support stepping up the food distribution programme for the most deprived persons. I therefore voted for this report.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) Food aid distribution in the EU is necessary as a result of the increase in the number of people in precarious situations, as new Member States joined the EU, but also due to the rise in food prices. Every EU citizen has the right to be granted access to food. Thus, funds must be allocated to cover the cost of procurement on the intervention stock market adequately. It is the EU’s responsibility to provide food resources and reduce food insecurity among its citizens. Investment in people’s welfare is an essential component of the healthy development of each individual, contributing to the prosperity of the EU. The cold wave during this period that has hit the centre and south-east of the continent, including my country, Romania, confirms the importance of implementing a rigorous plan for food distribution. Preventive measures, such as the one we are debating today, can reduce the suffering of the poor and, in the long term, can remove some of the barriers to the development of the EU to its full capacity. These are some of the reasons why I support the report on food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) As many of my fellow Members pointed out during the debate, the future of the programme after 2013 remains unresolved. Accordingly, I think that Parliament, together with the Commission and the Council, should immediately start working on concrete proposals that will allow the programme to be continued and that demonstrate that the EU takes care of its most vulnerable citizens.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – The food distribution programme for the most deprived persons in the Union provides food aid for nearly 18 million Europeans with an aid package of EUR 500 million per year. I voted in favour of this report and welcome this important step towards assisting the 40 million people currently living in poverty in Europe.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The decision taken by the Council under pressure from certain governments is totally unacceptable. At a time when the Council is imposing unprecedented restrictions on the people of Europe, it is destroying one of the rare solidarity mechanisms of the European Union. It is even withdrawing charity from those it is starving. It is shameful. Today, it has left Members with a single choice: let good people starve to death in the days to come or accept aid today and its disappearance tomorrow. This Europe is not worth anything any longer. We are going to rebuild it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The food distribution scheme for the most deprived individuals, set up in 1987 under the common agricultural policy, currently provides food aid for 13 million people suffering from poverty in 19 Member States and has distribution chains encompassing some 240 food banks and charities. According to the Commission’s own estimates, 43 million people in the European Union are at risk of food poverty, a number set to rise due to the economic and financial crisis and the sharp increase in food prices. We must therefore try to avoid an immediate and drastic reduction in food aid as a result of the reduction in funding for the programme from EUR 500 million to EUR 113 million. Halting an existing and functioning aid scheme abruptly and without prior notice or preparation will have a major impact on the most vulnerable EU citizens. It is therefore necessary to find a way to continue with the food distribution scheme for the most deprived people in 2012 and 2013 – the remainder of the current funding period – and also for the new funding period, 2014-2020. Following a number of deadlocks in the Council that have led to delays with this programme, there is an urgent need to overcome the problems, if those in need of aid are not to continue being harmed.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) A positive political signal is being sent through this report to the most deprived people who are personally suffering from the crisis. Given that the crisis in Europe has meant that the number of people who are on the threshold of poverty has increased exponentially, I have voted in favour of this report. I believe it could lead to temporary assistance for these people. Charity is not the solution, however. The solution will involve structural changes and the abandonment of the neoliberal policies that have led these people into poverty, together with a commitment to a social Europe. That means a Europe which places its citizens at the heart of its concerns and which uses European resources to promote the well-being of its citizens, rather than big business and the financial sector.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) In this period of economic, social and financial crisis, the EU needs to show solidarity towards the more than 18 million most deprived persons in Europe. That is why I voted for extending this aid programme, which has been in existence for more than 25 years. This decision is the right one, because the EU is far more than an economic project. It is a way of living together and sharing values. Without solidarity, Europe loses all legitimacy. A growth strategy only makes sense if it is accompanied by a social strategy. We need to think about what will happen after 2013. We need to establish a European strategy to help the 3 million homeless people in Europe. The European model is a social model. If proof were needed, the Europe 2020 strategy counts combating poverty and social exclusion among its five priorities. We must not forget our commitments during the establishment of the new financial framework, which will be up and running from 2014. A lasting solution will have to be found which leaves no one by the wayside.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – If there is a possibility of market purchases of food products in the event of unavailability of suitable intervention stocks for food distribution, then it is important to guarantee continuation of the food aid programme, on the most appropriate legal basis, in the next financial period. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Although the EU is one of the wealthiest regions in the world, around 16% of the people in the EU live on or just above the poverty line. This means that 43 million people in the European Union are affected by food poverty and cannot afford a proper, balanced meal every second day. As many as 18 million people rely on the EU ‘Food for Free’ programme. Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic took a case concerning the legal basis for the programme before the Court of Justice of the European Union and, last April, the court ruled in their favour. The reason for this is that, according to the court ruling, the programme does not fall within the scope of agricultural policy, but should instead be part of social policy. This will be resolved at the level of the individual Member States. In the absence of a new resolution by the Member States, the EU must now bring the food aid programme for the most deprived people to an end. In past years, EUR 480 million has been available on an annual basis for the programme. Now the figure is only EUR 113 million and, from 2013, no more funding will be forthcoming. I have voted in favour of the report because I agree with the rapporteur that any further delays will affect deprived EU citizens and this would definitely not be a responsible way to behave.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. – (FR) By voting for this text, I supported the need to reassure MDP recipients. The blocking minority gave way to the need not to take away vital support from associations and the most deprived people they help. However, we should not be satisfied with this compromise. It was necessary to find an urgent solution, but the priority now is to identify a long-term solution. We cannot content ourselves with this partial agreement and the Council of the European Union must not hide behind legal arguments. Between the economic crisis across Europe and the particularly harsh winters this year, our fellow citizens must find in Europe the solidarity they expect.

 
  
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  Tiziano Motti (PPE), in writing. (IT) The proposal on distributing food to the poor has remained blocked in the Council for some two years. For people who live in misery, two months, two weeks or two days would have been too long. It is also worth considering that the Commission’s amended proposal of 3 October 2011 and the Council’s position being discussed in this House have incorporated all the substantial amendments adopted by Parliament at first reading, supporting the funding for the programme, which the Union will continue to pay for in its entirety. We have maintained full Union funding for the programme for the future, but in order to ensure its budgetary stability, an annual ceiling of EUR 500 million for the Union’s financial contribution is foreseen. Other substantial changes suggested by EP amendments have been accepted in their essence, namely: the notion of the Union origin of the foods; the obligation for distribution points to clearly display the participation of the Union in the plan; and purchase of food products to be made on the basis of competitive procedures. Furthermore, storage costs incurred by charitable organisations will be reimbursed. Finally, this is a compromise that we think is worthy of support, and we hope it gets the green light in short order.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), in writing.(BG) I voted in favour of the report by Czesław Adam Siekierski on ‘Distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union’ because I am convinced that this is an important step towards improving the conditions of the most vulnerable citizens in the EU. I believe that it is these people who have been affected most directly by the economic crisis, and that now is the time for us to send an important political message by showing that the EU is doing everything in its power to help the most deprived at one of the most difficult times. The programme serves to show that the EU is responsible for its citizens not only in terms of progress and stability, and this is an important message not just for us but for the entire world. It provides concrete support to over 18 million people in 19 Member States in a similar way to the ‘School Fruit Scheme’ and ‘School Milk Scheme’. This is a rather large percentage of the EU population, and I am of the opinion that any further delays will have a negative impact on all the programme’s beneficiaries, which is the last thing we should be doing to them. Finally, I would like to add that we need to be more ambitious in our intentions to find a way for us to guarantee support to the needy after 2013 as well.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report and welcome the fact that it was passed with such an extraordinary majority of votes. This programme is one of the most important social protection programmes undertaken by the European Union, and the majority vote today allows us to hope that Parliament, the Council and the Commission will find solutions in the course of this year to ensure its continuation after 2013. The fact that every thirtieth European citizen is dependent on this programme is enough to give us food for thought in this regard, and Parliament’s efforts in this direction should start straight away.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Given that an estimated 43 million people in the EU are currently threatened by food poverty and that, as a result of the economic and financial crisis and the dramatic increase in food prices, this figure is continuing to grow, I support this report and all the measures which it proposes. For me, the focus should be on creating jobs and sensible social security systems.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution. The right to food is a fundamental human right, and is achieved when all people, at all times, have physical and economically feasible access to suitable, safe and nutritious food. Food aid measures are one element in a larger integrated policy to combat poverty. Given the current economic, financial and social crisis, the provision of aid at European level to the most vulnerable and poorest members of society is vitally important and cannot suddenly be reduced or cancelled. Only through joint efforts, by implementing coordinated and effective measures, will we be able to ensure that people dependent on our food aid do not suffer from food poverty simply because there was a significant reduction in funding for food aid.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The food aid programme is used by 18 million EU citizens. It has become even more important during the crisis. In Lithuania alone, more than half a million citizens on low incomes ask for food aid. With increasing energy prices due to high heating costs, an increasing number of working families and families with children are falling into poverty. The unemployed, and some elderly and disabled people and single mothers are living in poverty. The extension of this programme is therefore vitally important. It is to be welcomed that the European Commission and the Council have found a consensus on the extension of the programme during 2012-2013 and have provided EUR 500 million for its implementation. This decision by the EU institutions proves that European solidarity is not a paper principle. I welcome this report, which underlines the importance of food originating in the EU, and the proper and transparent purchase and distribution of foodstuffs. Following this transition period of several years, we also need to ensure the continuation of the programme and the work of non-government organisations like the FoodBank.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the text on the adoption of the regulation on the distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union because it involves the realisation of one of the main objectives of the common agricultural policy (CAP). The text has been drawn up on exactly the same lines as the Council’s position and sets out the Commission’s responsibilities to fund the programme in its entirety. The EU will have a EUR 500 million budget to fund the project from 1 January 2012 until the end of 2013, with a particular view to stepping up future funding in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. Another important goal that has been set is that of ensuring that all the food to be distributed is of Union origin.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the recommendation. The agreement achieved between the Member States in the Council to increase financing for the programme to distribute food to deprived persons to EUR 500 million per annum (from EUR 113 million initially proposed by certain Member States) is, of course, most welcome. In these very difficult economic times, with unemployment increasing in numerous Member States, especially those hit by the economic crisis, such as Greece, governments and national bodies must focus their attention on making full use of these funds. In previous years, we have seen inefficient take-up of funds due to a lack of information for the bodies involved, red tape and other such factors. It is unforgivable in terms of the social framework of Europe for money available for such a sensitive issue, for which no national contribution is required, to go to waste as a result of negligence.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report so as to enable 100% EU finding for the programme in 2012 and 2013. I also voted for all the substantive amendments tabled by Parliament and accepted by the Council. I am referring, in particular, to the notion of the EU origin of the foods; to the obligation for distribution points to clearly display EU participation in the plan; to the purchase of food products being made on the basis of competitive procedures; and to the reimbursement of storage costs incurred by charitable organisations. At this point, I am also bound to express my deep concern about the future of this programme, when there is currently an agreement in the Council that it will be gradually abolished following the conclusion of the 2013 annual plan. This programme has been key to mitigating the problems of many of our poor. We cannot accept the ‘death foretold’ of this programme in the current situation of universal economic crisis, which has unfortunately seen a dramatic rise in the number of poor people.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing.(IT) The Council blocking the proposal on the distribution of food products for two years has created an urgent situation. Moreover, in its resolution of 7 July 2011, Parliament called on the Commission and the Council to develop a transitional solution for the last two years of the funding period (2012-2013) so as to avoid a sharp cutback in food aid, as a result of the reduction in funding from EUR 500 million to EUR 113 million, and to ensure that people dependent on food aid do not suffer from food poverty. In light of this, I am voting in favour of the proposal on Parliament accepting the Council’s position adopted at first reading on 23 January 2012 without making any amendments

 
  
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  Alojz Peterle (PPE), in writing. (SL) I support the regulation because I believe that in the current circumstances, such an expression of solidarity at a European level for people in need is justified, necessary and appreciated. I welcome the decision to include food originating in the European Union in the food distribution scheme.

 
  
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  Franck Proust (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I wanted to clearly position myself in favour of this reform, so as to legally guarantee aid for the most deprived in 2012 and 2013. Previously threatened by Germany and the Nordic countries, a compromise was reached last year. I welcome the decisive action taken by France and other countries. This is an important step. However, we must remain mobilised and commit to aid in the long term. The same countries that once jeopardised this aid want to see it disappear completely from 2014. Solidarity and unity are at the heart of Europe. These countries are sending out a message which completely contradicts the realities of millions of our fellow citizens. In Gard, this aid is valuable, even vital, for the associations which support the most deprived on a daily basis. I will continue to defend these values.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing.(IT) In today’s plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, we voted on the report by Mr Siekierski. The food programme for the EU’s most deprived citizens supports around 18 million EU citizens who are homeless, unemployed, old or disabled, as well as large families and single parents. Thanks to the agreement reached in the Council and the vote held today, the programme will carry on providing food to EU citizens in need for a further two years. This has made it possible to avoid a massive reduction in food aid at a time when the number of people in need is on the increase due to the effects of the global crisis.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) For 25 years now, the European food aid programme for the most deprived persons has provided EUR 18 billion annually to European citizens. Due to the blocking which persisted for two years at the Council, an emergency decision had to be taken to ensure the continuation of funding, and thereby help people in need, by rescuing the associations concerned from a difficult situation. I therefore voted in favour of Czesław Adam Siekierski’s recommendation, which contains the compromise reached with the Council. This text includes essential points, such as the continuation of funding until 2013 inclusive and the retroactivity of the decision from 1 January 2012. Furthermore, the Council’s position is consistent with the principal recommendations made by the European Parliament, which I strongly support: 100% EU funding, the possibility of giving preference to products of EU origin, displaying the participation of the EU – an important provision to increase the visibility of the added value of European action – and the reimbursement of storage costs incurred by associations. I hope that, from now on, the debates will continue in order to ensure a future for this programme after 2013 and that the Commission will play its part by publishing a proposal soon.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The current vote offers a solution for the coming two years, so that the 18 million people who are dependent on the programme are not suddenly left without food. The two years are meant to be used as a transition period, in which the foodbanks can prepare themselves for a future without direct food aid from the EU. However, the debate is polarised between those who want to see it continue indefinitely and those who would like it to stop as soon as possible. The danger is that foodbanks will do nothing and we will be faced with the same problem in two years’ time. The Greens advocate a constructive alternative. For the longer term, we want structural solutions to food security and alleviating food poverty. Ultimately, the aim is that foodbanks are redundant, because poverty would have been eradicated.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this document because I think that accepting the position adopted by the Council on 23 January 2012 is a matter of priority, since it has incorporated the amendments put forward by Parliament at first reading. Accordingly, I think it should be adopted without any further amendments so that an agreement can be reached quickly at second reading. The ultimate goal must be to provide the fastest possible help to the beneficiaries of this food distribution programme, who are the most deprived persons in the European Union.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing.(FR) In its early days, Europe was an exciting economic adventure; then it grew strong political ties; finally, it developed its social dimension and became involved in improving the living conditions of its citizens. The European Union, true to its history and founding principles, is therefore oriented towards protecting the most vulnerable, those struggling to survive and the hungry. As some of my colleagues have argued, it is true that food aid is the responsibility of the Member States, which support, as best they can, the needs of the most deprived. Nevertheless, given the enormous social or even humanitarian consequences of situations of extreme poverty, Europe cannot do without a programme for the distribution of food products. However, this has been the case for the last two years (distribution blocked for legal reasons) and thousands of Europeans have most certainly paid the price. Therefore, I welcomed news of a compromise reinstating the programme for 2012-2013, a compromise in favour of which I voted in plenary.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing.(FR) The mobilisation of civil society by a number of governments (notably the French Government) and the actions of the European Parliament have paid off, and we should congratulate ourselves. The Food distribution programme for the most deprived persons in the Community (MDP) will be extended to at least 2013, allowing charitable organisations throughout Europe to gain some respite during this period of serious economic crisis. It also gives us to time to convince those who once voted against the renewal of the programme after 2013 that Europe only makes sense if it promotes solidarity for its most at-risk citizens. Over 18 million homeless, unemployed, elderly people or people with disabilities, and those from large families and single-parent families, are dependent on this European Union aid. Can we really say to them: ‘make the most of it, as it is not going to last’? The new European Social Fund regulation is looking to fill the hole left by the decline in available agricultural stocks in order to continue to come to the aid of the poorest people. Currently in codecision, this regulation is an occasion for the European Parliament to show that the interests of certain Member States will not prevail against common interests and to demonstrate our vision of a social, united Europe.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) Today, I supported the conclusion of the second reading of the report regarding the distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union. I believe that this report is extremely important, considering the economic conditions of recent years and the increased need for food aid. I concur with the rapporteur that this report must be adopted as quickly as possible and without amendment in order to ensure the rapid, efficient and sustainable continuation of food aid. I am glad that after two years of blocking, the Council has decided to move forward and has also taken into consideration several positions that were previously expressed in Parliament. Among the positive developments, we can emphasise the fact that the Commission and the Council have agreed to a 100% rate of financing, and have also set the total amount of aid at EUR 500 million. One important point that I would like to emphasise is that I wholeheartedly support the distribution of food originating from the EU, which is also supported in the Council’s positions.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Following the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development’s approval of the Council’s text without any amendments, this House is this morning called to vote on the adoption of the regulation on the distribution of food products for the most deprived persons in the Union. Once approved, the regulation will take retroactive effect, applying from 1 January 2012 until the completion of the 2013 annual plan.

An annual ceiling of EUR 500 million is envisaged for full Union funding for the programme. The proposal incorporates the notion of the Union origin of the foods, the obligation for distribution points to clearly display the participation of the Union in the plan, the purchase of food products to be made on the basis of competitive procedures, and the reimbursement of storage costs incurred by charitable organisations.

On behalf of Parliament, we MEPs now call for unconditional support for continuing the programme beyond 2013, in view of future proposals from the Commission on the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020.

 
  
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  Bogusław Sonik (PPE), in writing.(PL) I endorsed continuation of the EU programme for the distribution of food to the most deprived persons. Aid programmes are very much needed at the moment. During the economic crisis, which is hitting hardest at the poor, the Union should be doing its best to protect the interests of those most affected by poverty. Cofinancing from national budgets is not a good solution, because this could place restrictions on some Member States or even exclude them from participation in the programme, particularly those countries in which per capita income is low. The beneficiaries of the EU food distribution programme are most often homeless, unemployed or elderly people, but the programme is also used by families with many children and single parents. The statistics show that over 18 million poor people in 20 Member States benefit from the programme.

 
  
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  Michèle Striffler (PPE), in writing.(FR) I am very pleased with the European Parliament’s approval of the continued funding for the EU’s Food distribution programme for the most deprived persons in the Community (MDP), which will last for two additional years (2012 and 2013), in an agreement that was reached in October by the Council of the European Union. The few Council members who opposed this measure yielded in view of the pressing need to not deprive associations and the most deprived persons of essential support. Nevertheless, we must not rest on our laurels with this compromise: a stop-gap solution was needed, but now, finding a long-term response should be a priority. We must not be satisfied with this partial agreement and I urge the Council of the European Union to not take refuge in legal arguments but to embrace a sense of responsibility. Now it is the turn of the European Union Member States to show their willingness to act.

 
  
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  Ciprian Claudiu Tănăsescu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I welcome the fact that, following negotiations with the Council, it has been decided to continue the distribution of food to the most deprived people in the 2012-2013 period. I wish, however, to emphasise that this positive vote granted to the compromise text does not represent in any way support for the Member States that envisage the complete elimination of this aid by the end of 2013. On the contrary, I think that now more than ever, the current economic situation shows us how important it is to continue this programme during the next period as well, i.e. 2014-2020.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In this recommendation, Parliament is proposing to adopt the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1290/2005 and (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union. Since the Council position includes all the substantive amendments tabled by Parliament at first reading, and since I believe, in particular, that full EU funding for the programme should be retained, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the draft recommendation for second reading on the Council’s position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation to continue the distribution of food products to the most deprived persons in the Union. Given the urgency of the situation generated by the Council blocking the proposal for two years, we believe that any delay in adopting this regulation would only result in prolonging the suffering of the most deprived EU citizens who could benefit from the food distribution programme.

In the Commission’s amended proposal of 3 October 2011 and in the Council’s position currently under review, all the substantial amendments made by Parliament on first reading on maintaining full EU funding for the programme have been included. The current level of 100% EU funding is maintained and, in order to ensure budgetary stability, an annual cap of EUR 500 million has been provided. The proposal that the food should come from the EU was also incorporated.

We emphasise the need to continue this programme of food distribution to the most deprived even after 2013, and urge the Commission to present a legislative proposal in this regard as soon as possible. Over 18 million people benefited from this programme in 2010.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) The European Parliament has rescued the food aid programme for the most deprived people and I was pleased to be able to vote in favour of this. Almost 20 million citizens rely at least in part on the EU food aid programme. The programme now has funding of EUR 500 million until the end of 2013, which will enable it to take action. We were able to prevent the funding being reduced to a quarter of its current level, as the Council had proposed.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) According to a Eurostat report published last week, 20% of Lithuanians are living on the poverty line. That is one of the highest rates in Europe. In Greece, for instance, the rate is 11.6%, while in the Czech Republic it is 6.2%. In Lithuania, the at-risk-of-poverty rate is much higher than the EU average (8.1%). In single parent families in Lithuania, this rate is 46%. It is therefore obvious that we cannot significantly reduce the distribution of food when the number of poor people is increasing. I agree with the rapporteur that we should seek a compromise with the Council on the scheme for ‘food distribution to the most deprived persons’ because it is shameful that the proposal was blocked for as much as two years at the Council. The compromise is perhaps a temporary measure, but would address a difficult situation for people who are dependent on the scheme and would give sufficient time for further negotiations on the implementation of the scheme post 2014. The report states that 18 million of the most deprived people in the EU are dependent on this food scheme. We cannot allow bureaucratic procedures to prevent us from helping those who urgently require our assistance.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I fully support this resolution to continue the distribution of food to those most in need in our society. The programme supports almost 18 million people, including the unemployed, the homeless, single parents and the disabled. This important resolution will enable these people to continue benefiting from the scheme at least until the end of 2013. In the current economic climate, schemes such as this are vital in helping to guarantee the welfare of EU citizens.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Given the importance of the food aid programme for the most deprived people, this regulation must be adopted immediately in order to prevent further delays. The European Parliament’s main amendments, including the clear indication of the participation of the EU in the plan, the purchase of food on the basis of competitive procedures and the concept of the EU origins of the food, have been accepted. For this reason, I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – While I recognise that this scheme has helped many needy people across Europe, I do not believe that the common agricultural policy should be spending money on social actions. We must do more to stop food wastage and we must also ensure that the most deprived members of society receive the help that they need. However, I am not persuaded that this is a job for the European Union and I am certainly not convinced that this is a job for the common agricultural policy.

 
  
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  Roberts Zīle (ECR), in writing. (LV) I call upon you to support the agreement that has been reached concerning the regulation, because it has a comprehensible, clear goal: continuing to offer EU support to the neediest people in the Union. I also think we should endorse the move to adopt the regulation at so-called ‘early second reading’, in order to prevent delays to the food programme, which would exacerbate the situation for those in need. It is also important to continue the programme in view of the fact that the euro area crisis and the unimpressive forecasts for the EU’s economic situation make it impossible for us to hope for an increase in economic activity and people’s prosperity over the next few years. I should like to stress that, given Latvia’s socio-economic situation, it would be a political mistake to eliminate the food programme on the basis of purely theoretical considerations about whether or not it complies with the subsidiarity principle. As a result of the crisis, Latvia’s people are suffering huge losses and a drop in real living standards, and the poorest have become even poorer. In part, this has happened because of the method chosen for resolving the crisis, with Latvia’s taxpayers taking responsibility for covering private debts and, at the same time, a decision not to devalue the national currency. This led to a highly significant reduction in government spending and a dramatic fall in GDP. The people of Latvia, particularly the poorest, in fact saved the Scandinavian and European bank system from considerable shocks. It would therefore be only logical if the EU were to look after the fate of Latvians, at least in the form of packages of the most essential food items.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The latest Eurostat figures, for 2010, show that we are in a tragic situation in terms of poverty and social exclusion: 26.9% of children aged 0-17 and 19.8% of older people are at risk of poverty. In total, 115 million people in the European Union are at risk of poverty; that is equivalent to 23.4% of the population. These figures will certainly be worse today, owing to the impact of the so-called ‘austerity measures’, with more unemployment and lower wages for workers. Moreover, decreased social rights and the increased prices and privatisation of public services have further exacerbated this situation.

In this context, it is even more crucial to continue with and step up the food distribution scheme programme for the most deprived persons, so as to ensure that those dependent on food aid – and the many more currently becoming so – will not suffer food poverty. We therefore voted for the report. However, we consider it essential to decide immediately that this aid will be retained for the next financing period, 2014-2020, at least under the current conditions; that is, the full annual European Union funding of EUR 500 million.

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE), in writing. (SL) After two years of deadlock, we have finally made a decision about the food distribution scheme. I am pleased that there are two parliamentary proposals in the final compromise proposal, incorporating 100 per cent financing by the EU and an obligation to indicate at distribution points the Union’s participation in the scheme. Several European countries are facing budgetary problems. By requesting cofinancing from other countries, it is possible that many countries could reduce their use of the scheme or even withdraw from it completely. Since last March, the number of unemployed in the EU has risen by well over a million. The number of people living in poverty has also increased at an alarming rate. The proposal providing for the participation of the Union may seem, at first glance, to be something of a cosmetic measure. In these difficult times, however, when we are faced with economic problems and doubt and mistrust of European integration, it is paramount that the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society know they are not alone. They must know that the EU is not only a synonym for the common internal market, but also represents solidarity and care for individuals, especially those who find themselves in need. It is alarming that the scheme will be gradually phased out after completion of the 2013 annual plan. I very much hope that by then, we have found a satisfactory solution to helping the most vulnerable.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Gunnar Hökmark (A7-0019/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) During this digital era, the demand for radio waves is growing. Therefore, it is essential that the EU establish a concrete policy on the subject. For this reason, I am in favour of the first European common radio spectrum policy programme. The gradual disappearance of analogue television from now until 2013, as it is replaced by digital, will free up radio frequencies which could help to improve mobile Internet. This programme also advocates access to broadband Internet in remote areas.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) At this time of economic crisis, the importance of the communications sector must be stressed, since it is currently the sector most associated with economic growth. It also contributes to the continuous creation of new services for the European public and it represents value added for the European Union to exploit. The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament advocates the innovative management of this vast spectrum by the European Union, for the purposes of economic, social and cultural well-being. The adoption of this report will enhance cooperation among the Member States, with the trend being towards harmonisation, with a single EU-level strategic instrument on the radio spectrum. This will make it possible to resolve shortcomings, to reduce the differences between Member States, and to find the best economic, social and cultural solutions.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this legislative resolution on radio spectrum policy. I welcome the resolution’s second reading, consolidating such important achievements as freeing up the 800 MHz frequency band for wireless broadband Internet services in all Member States by 1 January 2013 and speeding up the development of mobile broadband of at least 30 Mbps by 2020 for all EU citizens, etc. I agree with the rapporteur that this political agreement will pave the way for a development that will allow the EU to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. This agreement will also be particularly important for creating a flexible and coordinated European spectrum policy.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this recommendation, which aims to make the 800 MHz frequency band available to telecommunications providers. Currently used for television, it will allow the future broadening and improvement of wireless broadband Internet performance and access from 1 January 2013. This rare resource is a factor of economic progress, which is beneficial for citizens as strategic planning and the harmonisation of spectrum use will be utilised in a number of areas, such as maritime transport, health care, the environment or even defence. Mr Hökmark (Sweden), from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), stated that this programme ‘affords opportunities for both European industry and for new services and growth’. He also specified that ‘it does not only impact on telecommunications, but also offers a new economic dynamic to the European Union’, in order to regain a competitive edge in a new global economy which now includes large competitors such as China and India.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) In 2010, the Commission tabled a proposal establishing the first radio spectrum policy programme and setting out policy orientations and objectives for the strategic planning and harmonisation of the use of the spectrum until 2015. Following five informal trialogues, the EU’s Parliament and Council have reached a policy agreement on the legislative proposal in question. I am pleased with the policy agreement, which lays the foundations for development that will enable the European Union to take a global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. In my view, this will be a crucial building block in creating a flexible and coordinated European radio spectrum policy, which will make it possible to meet the exponential growth of mobile data traffic. Furthermore, the endorsement by Member States and by Parliament of the Commission’s proposal to open up the 800 MHz band for electronic communication services by 1 January 2013 will help to create a pan-European telecommunications market where new services could generate jobs and growth for a 500 million strong consumer market.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that during the economic downturn, we must improve and develop the telecommunications sector because it is one of the sectors creating the most jobs, thereby making a significant contribution to economic growth. It is also one of those sectors in which innovative technological solutions are most quickly adapted and people are offered the most new services. The objective of this document is to establish a common radio spectrum management framework throughout the EU. Indeed, this is a public resource, not subject to countries’ borders, and its management at European Union level would help balance the interests of both broadcasters and citizens and would ensure European cultural diversity. The practical expression of this coordinated management will allow the radio frequency hitherto used by analogue television to be used for wireless broadband Internet. This will consequently reduce pressure on ‘third generation’ networks currently used, will contribute to bringing fast broadband connections to people in remote areas, and will give a new impetus to wireless Internet services across Europe.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted for this report as it intends to reject a new attempt by the EU to introduce new legislation and take over control of part of the telecommunications market. I oppose the new strategic planning and unnecessary harmonisation of spectrum use/radio frequencies. I believe that the development and control of the radio spectrum should remain in the hands of democratically elected Member States, which should solely regulate in this area and decide upon what strategies to pursue to ensure the promotion of the development of broadband connectivity and availability.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this text because it will encourage the use of mobile broadband and will stimulate economic growth in the EU. I am pleased to know that a pan-European telecommunications market will create new opportunities, will open up new territory and will stimulate the growth of a market with 500 million consumers. Access to the radio spectrum is essential to a huge range of activities: telecommunications, energy, research and, above all, global development. It will also enable all Europeans, in the city and the country, to enjoy the benefits of digital technology and broadband connections. I voted for this report in plenary for all these reasons.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) We have been working to promote a coordinated EU approach, so as to prevent market distortions, to maximise the benefits of the spectrum, and to ensure its best possible use in social, economic and environmental terms. This initiative relating to the radio spectrum is key to the Digital Agenda and the Europe 2020 strategy, since use of the spectrum is increasingly important to sustainable development, to competitiveness and to productivity in the internal market, at the level of various important EU sectoral policies.

Given that the radio spectrum is a scarce resource, this initiative should make it possible to set out guidelines and political objectives for the strategic planning and harmonisation of use of the spectrum until 2015, thereby contributing to the existence of a flexible and coordinated European policy that ensures that radio frequencies will be allocated and used efficiently and effectively. I would congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Hökmark, on having achieved a political agreement with the Council, paving the way for a development that should allow the EU to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report on the reorganisation and freeing up of radio spectrum frequency bands, which will allow all European citizens, in both urban and rural settings, to reap greater benefits from the advantages of digital technology and high speed broadband connections.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) Since the dawn of the digital era, frequency bands have been freed up and can meet the growing demand for new technology and new services. Due to the scarcity of the spectrum and its economic, social and cultural value, it has been agreed on a European level that priorities for the allocation and use of radio spectrum will be established. This programme makes provisions for general regulatory standards and policy developments as well as joint provisions in order to strengthen efficiency and flexibility, protecting and encouraging competition, and calls for an inventory and the monitoring of the existing uses and emerging needs of the spectrum. The report also pays particular attention to an efficient use of the spectrum, to greater flexibility to encourage innovation and investments and guarantee fair conditions of competition in the European Union and to the need for a consolidation of the proposal for an inventory of the existing uses and emerging needs of the spectrum. The European Parliament has managed to implement a large scale inventory of the existing use of the spectrum from 400 MHz to 6 GHz, in order to create a flexible and coordinated European spectrum policy, allowing it to rectify inefficient use of the spectrum and to cope with the exponential increase of wireless data exchange by future reallocation of frequency bands.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on radio spectrum policy because it includes measures to increase the European legal framework as regards the radio spectrum and, therefore, to make better use of the associated economic, social and cultural benefits.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Access to the radio spectrum is key to guaranteeing all European citizens, whether in rural or urban areas, access to digital technologies and broadband, and the total turnover of this industry is approximately EUR 200 billion. Therefore, given the value of the radio spectrum, it is imperative to set out the EU’s priorities for its allocation and use. The Digital Agenda, the digital economy and this, the first policy programme for five years, are therefore aimed at stimulating our economy and realising the Internal Market in all its aspects. It is crucial for the European telecommunications industry to regain its global leadership and create an impetus for greater productivity, cohesion, competitiveness and access to a single market.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the past, the European Union led the way in technological innovation, particularly as regards mobile communications. As the years have gone by, both the United States and Japan, as well as other countries with emerging economies, have been taking the lead in this area. The time has come for the EU to reclaim the leadership in this regard, by taking advantage of the new opportunities offered by the Internet. This is a new dynamic that could help to relaunch the European economy. The text before us is a recommendation for second reading on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme. The data being transmitted online is currently increasing exponentially. However, radio-frequency transfer conditions have not been keeping pace with demand, despite the installation of fibre optic cables. I voted for this recommendation, since I am sure of the benefits of the multiannual plan to increase frequencies, specifically to 800 MHz by 2013 and to 1 200 MHz by 2015. The economy of the future will be a digital economy and, with these measures, the EU is making progress in terms of competitiveness.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This proposal sets out the guidelines and political objectives for strategically planning and harmonising the use of the radio spectrum by 2015. While we agree that there is a need to plan and organise the radio spectrum, we consider it essential that this be done in a context of cooperation among the Member States, retaining it as a public good and keeping it free of guidelines intended to put the radio spectrum at the service of the ‘Europe 2020 strategy’, the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ and the ‘Single Market Act’. Policies whose purpose is supposed to be improving the market, competitiveness and competition for the launch of the so-called ‘digital single market’ have, in reality, contributed greatly to exacerbating the crisis of capitalism and its negative consequences for the public. The radio spectrum, from low frequencies to very high ones, has been argued over and used for multiple purposes, so opening the way to the business of future EU-level digital services and fostering genuine competition. However, it is essential to preserve and defend space for public access, and to prevent it all being committed to commercial ends, which is the track down which European Union policy is headed.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In September 2010, the European Commission presented a proposal for a decision establishing the first radio spectrum policy programme, which was based on Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 8a(3) of Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002, which provides that the Commission may submit a legislative proposal establishing a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme. The proposal sets out the policy direction and objectives for strategic planning and the harmonisation of spectrum usage for the period until 2015. This proposal will enable the EU to take the lead with regard to broadband speed, mobility and coverage. It is a prerequisite for the creation of a flexible and coordinated European radio spectrum policy. Making the 800 MHz band available for electronic communications services from 1 January 2013 will contribute to the creation of a pan-European telecommunications market, and new services can create opportunities for the consumer market. If we strive to exploit its potential, focusing mainly on the economic, social and cultural well-being of society, telecommunications is one of the sectors that is capable of bringing about growth and activity and the availability of new services for European citizens at a time of economic crisis.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing.(IT) The proposal under discussion sets out the policy orientations and objectives for harmonising the use of the radio spectrum, which now affects innumerable public and private services across a vast array of sectors. The regulation that this proposal deals with will pave the way for a development that will allow the Union to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity, with the notable benefits for areas including the economy, security, health, culture, science, the environment and technology. That is why I will be voting in favour.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which promotes the use of mobile broadband and stimulates economic growth in European regions.

In May 2011, we approved measures aimed at accelerating the development of mobile broadband for everyone, using the radio spectrum freed up by the transition from analogue to digital television.

The allocation of radio frequency falls within the jurisdiction of national governments and not the European Union, but the rules on the way in which spectrum is shared between Internet providers and users must be decided at a European level. In accordance with the agreement, all European Union Member States must free up the 800 MHz frequency band for wireless broadband services by 1 January 2013.

A pan-European telecommunications market will also be created, where new services can create new opportunities to open up regions and stimulate growth for a 500 million strong consumer market.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome the provision that this political agreement will pave the way for a development that will allow the EU to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. This agreement will be a crucial building block in creating a flexible and coordinated European spectrum policy where the exponential growth of mobile data traffic can be met by future re-allocations and where inefficient use of the spectrum belongs to the past. The endorsement by Member States of the Parliament’s and Commission’s proposal to open up the 800 MHz band for electronic communications services by 1 January 2013 will help to create a pan-European telecommunications market where new services can create opportunities and growth for a 500 million strong consumer market. However, due to the economic crisis and difficult financial situation, not all of the Member States are able to implement the goals set on time, and this may become an additional burden for them, and not just a financial one. I also believe that the Member States should have more leeway when implementing the goals set because the Member States’ technical and financial capacities vary.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) In September 2010, at the request of the European Parliament, the Commission published its multiannual radio spectrum policy programme. This programme sets out policy direction and the means for implementing it in order to achieve a harmonised use of radio spectrum in the European Union for the period 2011-2015. Furthermore, it makes provisions for joint measures to strengthen efficiency and flexibility, foster innovation and encourage competition. Lastly, it calls for the implementation of an inventory of the existing uses and the emerging needs of the spectrum. Access to the radio spectrum is essential for a wide range of activities, from telecommunications and diffusion of broadband to transport, energy, research and development, and space applications. It also enables all European citizens, in both urban and rural settings, to benefit from the advantages provided by digital technology and high speed broadband connections. For these reasons, I voted in favour of this report during the plenary session.

 
  
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  Edvard Kožušník (ECR), in writing.(CS) I support the agreement reached in the trialogues conducted between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. I am pleased that the compromise at least defends the allocation of the 1 200 MHz spectrum for mobile data transmission through to 2015. In my opinion, the accelerated development of mobile broadband connections through speeds of at least 30 Mbps is equally important for EU citizens, and should be available within the next eight years. At the same time, I understand the limits of the radio spectrum and the need to make very effective use of it. I would therefore like to call for radio spectrum policy not to be seen as a purely EU policy, but to proceed on the basis of agreement with the Member States. Failure to comply with this procedure could disrupt or restrict competition in some EU countries.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted against this report, which aims to open up radio frequencies in view of fresh allocations. Although I am in favour of a liberalised market and of introducing new competitors to the sector, I have serious doubts about how easy it will be to adopt the new frequencies and their distribution across Europe. Indeed, a road map including times and procedures needs to be set out in order to ensure adequate regulation in the sector, particularly bearing in mind the fact that this issue has a direct influence on the information sector and therefore often has significant repercussions on society and the economy. I therefore think that the goal of the digital agenda ought to be achieved in other ways and by reviewing decisions that do not currently enable the European Union to make significant improvements to radio communications policy.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Access to the radio frequency spectrum is essential for a very wide range of activities, from telephony and radio broadcasting to transportation and space applications. In order for European citizens in both urban and rural regions to enjoy all the benefits of digital technology, it is extremely important to ensure broad and fair access to the radio frequency spectrum. Moreover, the better use of the spectrum can be a boost for the European economy, as high-speed wireless services will promote competitiveness and economic development.

Following today’s report, an 800 MHz band for electronic communications services will be made available in all EU Member States by 1 January 2013, and an adequate spectrum for wireless services will be allocated, totalling at least 1 200 MHz by 2015, thus providing the best capacity for European industry. Digital economy is the key to the future, and the lines drawn by this report will ensure future economic success.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which seeks to ‘make sufficient and appropriate spectrum allocated for mobile data traffic, amounting to at least 1 200 MHz by 2015 to best meet the increasing demand for mobile data traffic, thereby allowing the development of commercial and public services’. It hopes to bridge the ‘digital divide’ and ‘realise the objectives of the Digital Agenda, ensuring that all Union citizens have access to broadband, not less than 30 Mbps by 2020, and making it possible for the Union to have the highest possible broadband speed and capacity’. In doing so, it hopes to secure opportunities for both the commercial sector as well as public services by means of increased mobile broadband capacities. It also aims to ‘reduce the fragmentation and fully exploit the potential of the internal market in order to establish a pan-European level playing field in order to foster economic growth and economies of scope and scale at Union level’. It further aims to ‘reduce the Union’s carbon footprint by enhancing the technical efficiency of wireless communication networks and applications’.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Hökmark. The agreement reached will pave the way for a development that will allow the European Union to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. This is an important step towards realising a flexible and coordinated European radio spectrum strategy.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In this day and age, when new technologies have an increasingly important role, it is vital that all European citizens have the same level of access to digital technologies and broadband, regardless of whether they live in rural or urban areas. Thus, the digital agenda, the digital economy and this, the first policy programme for five years, which have just been adopted, are vital for the development of the Internal Market. The aim is for the European telecommunications industry to regain its global leadership and increase productivity, cohesion, competitiveness and access to a single market. The Member States’ adoption of the proposal by Parliament and the Council to free up the 800 MHz frequency band for wireless broadband Internet services in all Member States by January 2013 will help to create a pan-European telecommunications market, where new services can create opportunities and growth for a market of 500 million consumers.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) The European Union is one of the largest economies in the world. Contrary to misconceptions, neither the US nor China have larger economies; they are simply able to provide better conditions for competitiveness, new services and innovation. The Digital Agenda and a digital economy could be the key to the EU also being able to take a global position of leadership in respect of the speed, mobility, coverage and capacity of broadband IT services. The agreement adopted just now ensures access to the largest capacities and the highest speeds for Internet and broadband applications. We must open up to new services and increased mobile traffic as soon as possible.

In the framework of broadband services, we must lay the foundations for new opportunities for culture and content, broadcasters and public services. Today, it has become almost natural to hold video conferences and meetings over the Internet, and in future, these will only grow more common. This is why we must ensure the acceleration of the development of mobile broadband so that by 2020, every EU citizen can have access to Internet connection speeds of at least 30 Mbps, thereby bridging the digital divide and contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the European Digital Agenda. With my vote, I, too, intended to contribute to this.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The first radio spectrum policy programme promotes technology neutrality, innovation and investment. It is thus a very important programme.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The joint establishment of broadband networks and digital infrastructure will help to increase the competitiveness of the European economy, promote cooperation and interoperability among national networks, improve access to them and encourage the further development of a digital internal market. The instruments used to finance this development form part of the Connecting Europe Facility. The aim is to eliminate bottlenecks, which means creating network connections and enabling access to a digital services infrastructure across national borders. I have voted in favour of the report because the provision of a high-quality network with broad coverage can only bring benefits for the citizens of the EU Member States and for the European economy.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) As we have seen time and again, legislation often lags behind progress in the relations it regulates. This is especially true of digital technologies, for instance. I therefore welcome the view expressed by the European Parliament in this document, that at least as far as data transfer by digital and radio networks is concerned, we should not be chasing technological progress, but overtaking it and establishing lines of action for at least a decade ahead.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Access to the radio spectrum is essential for a wide range of services, from telecommunications and broadcasting to transport and space applications. The importance of wide and equal access to the radio spectrum lies in the fact that citizens will be able to take full advantage of digital technology. Better use of the spectrum could also support the European economy, since the introduction of fast wireless services will boost competitiveness and growth. This political agreement will pave the way for development, which will enable the EU to assume a global position in terms of broadband speed, mobility, coverage and capacity. The approval of the Member States and the proposal of the European Parliament and the Commission to make the 800 MHz frequency band available for electronic communications from 1 January 2013 will contribute to the creation of a pan-European telecommunications market, where new services can create opportunities and growth for a market of 500 million consumers.

It should also be borne in mind that speeding up the development of mobile broadband to at least 30 Mbps by 2020 for all EU citizens will contribute to achieving the objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) This report describes the political measures and objectives for the strategic planning and harmonisation of frequency use by 2015. This is intended to pave the way for a development that will allow the EU to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. It will be a crucial building block in creating a flexible and coordinated European spectrum policy, where new services will open up new opportunities and, above all, ensure growth in a market of 500 million consumers. Therefore, I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I believe that radio spectrum policy must be based on the principles of efficient management and use of limited resources, technological neutrality, functional parity, proportionality, transparency and non-discrimination. Furthermore, in order to implement this policy effectively, we should ensure the minimum amount of regulation necessary in this area, legal certainty in the changing market, and take appropriate account of criteria for economic development, guaranteeing effective competition, the protection of consumer rights and the objectivity of conditions and procedures. Given the importance of radio spectrum not just for the EU, but for each individual Member State, and the consequences of the last financial crisis, we must avoid hasty decisions on radio spectrum allocation. It should be noted that not all countries will be adequately prepared or have sufficient resources to implement the technical conditions for the allocation of the 800 MHz radio spectrum band by 2013. In order to safeguard against anti-competitive behaviour and anti-social measures, we should therefore ensure that regulation at EU level is kept to a minimum, and decisions on key issues should fall within the competence of the Member States.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The political agreement on a multiannual programme for radio spectrum policy reached with this report will pave the way for a development that will allow the EU to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. I voted in favour because I believe it will be a crucial building block in creating a flexible and coordinated European spectrum policy, where the exponential growth of mobile data traffic can be met by future reallocations and where inefficient use of the spectrum belongs to the past. Studies indicate that the Member States’ adoption of the proposal by Parliament and the Council to free up the 800 MHz frequency band for wireless broadband Internet services in all Member States by January 2013 will help to create a pan-European telecommunications market, where new services can create opportunities and growth for a market of 500 million consumers.

 
  
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  Alojz Peterle (PPE), in writing. (SL) A few years ago, I urged the European Commission to reduce the overseas roaming charges made by mobile phone operators, resulting in a significant price reduction. Naturally, I support the continuation of a common policy in this area and I support the establishment of a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme. Opening up the 800 MHz frequency band to electronic communications services in all Member States by 1 January 2013, accelerating the development of mobile broadband services to speeds of at least 30 Mbps by 2020 for all citizens of the European Union, and the allocation of 1 200 MHz of spectrum to mobile data traffic by 2015 are truly strategic decisions, essential to the establishment of a pan-European telecommunications market.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The legislative procedure for adopting a multiannual programme regarding radio spectrum policy was launched with a proposal for a decision tabled by the European Commission on 20 September 2010. This led to the European Parliament adopting its position at first reading on 11 May 2011, proposing a series of amendments. However, following five informal trialogues, the European Parliament and the Council have reached an agreement on the legislative proposal. Following the work done as a result of a process of cooperation between the various institutions, I voted for the European Parliament’s position at second reading, in the hope that the regulation achieved will contribute to the vitality and dynamism of the European economy.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour of the recommendation for second reading on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme (2010/0252(COD)).

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I think it is essential that Parliament and the Council reach an agreement to plan out a common strategy on the use of the spectrum until 2015. This will make it possible to pave the way for Europe to become the leader in broadband speed, mobility, coverage and capacity. Lastly, putting in place an effective strategy for the use of the radio spectrum will make it possible to deal with the exponential growth in mobile data traffic.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing.(IT) At long last, we have reached an agreement at second reading on the policy orientations and objectives for harmonising the use of the radio spectrum. These decisions affect important sectors and services from scientific activities to transport, mobile communications and television, radio and medical devices. We must not forget that exacting management of it will be essential for the security and civil protection services.

Other fundamental points include the spread of wireless broadband Internet across all Member States and the increase of bandwidth by 2020, not to mention the Commission assessing, in cooperation with Member States, the feasibility of extending the allocations of unlicensed spectrum for wireless access systems, radio local area networks and Wi-Fi. We need to take particular care over the idea that has been hinted at by the Commission, though not included in this text, of considering the use of European broadband funds as State assistance rather than EU assistance. Clearly, such an inauspicious decision would be against the spirit of this measure.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) I consider the radio spectrum policy to be a key element for the creation of a single European digital market, particularly in terms of its objective of setting out the policy orientations and objectives for the strategic planning and harmonisation of the use of the radio spectrum, thereby ensuring the functioning of the internal market.

According to the agreement that we adopted in the Chamber this morning, the Member States are expected to make 800 MHz frequencies available for wireless broadband services by 1 January 2013. At least 1 200 MHz of spectrum should be assigned to mobile data traffic between 2013 and 2015, as previously requested by this House.

I am sure that this measure will create a pan-European telecommunications market where new services can create opportunities and growth for a 500 million strong consumer market. Accordingly, Europe will be at the forefront in guaranteeing broadband Internet to its citizens and promoting future network developments.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In September 2010, the European Commission adopted three complementary measures intended to facilitate the implementation and uptake of fast and ultrafast broadband in the European Union. In May 2011, the European Parliament adopted its opinion at first reading, having made 88 amendments to the proposal tabled by the Commission. The most important of the amendments adopted are extending the allocations of the unlicensed spectrum to allow for greater use of Wi-Fi and guaranteeing all EU citizens access to broadband at not less than 30 Mbps by 2020. I am voting for the draft at second reading tabled by the European Parliament, since I consider this an important means for the EU to take the global lead on broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. I also believe this will lead to exponential growth in mobile data traffic, helping to create a pan-European telecommunications market, which will benefit around 500 million consumers.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the legislative resolution on the Council’s position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision establishing a multiannual radio frequency spectrum policy programme. The EU needs a programme to cover the internal market in all EU policy areas involving the use of the radio spectrum, as well as the policies on electronic communications, research, technology development, space, transport, energy and broadcasting. The policy objectives that Member States and the Commission should implement include the following: ensuring adequate availability of the spectrum, maximising spectrum flexibility, increasing spectrum efficiency through general authorisations and spectrum flexibility, avoiding distortion of competition, avoiding prejudicial interference and disruption, harmonisation of technical requirements, and ensuring protection of the population’s health.

This programme creates a very broad-scope inventory of the current utilisation of the 400 MHz - 6 GHz spectrum, in order to create a flexible and coordinated European policy on the radio frequency spectrum. Furthermore, the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, is assessing the timeliness and feasibility of extending systems, including local radio networks, to allow, for instance, increased use of Wi-Fi technology.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) More frequencies will be available from 2013 which will make mobile Internet access quicker and simpler. Initially, the 800 MHz frequencies will be released, followed by the 1 200 MHz frequencies in 2015. The additional bandwidth is needed to allow rapid transmission of data in all areas of Europe and for all citizens. Effective cost control measures will be followed up. I have voted in favour of the resolution because it represents another positive step towards an Internet- and data-based future.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – This political agreement will pave the way for the development of a flexible and coordinated European spectrum policy in which the exponential growth of mobile data traffic can be met by future re-allocations and inefficient use of spectrum belongs to the past. The proposal opens up the 800 MHz band for electronic communications services by 1 January 2013 and will help to create a pan-European telecommunications market where new services can create opportunities and growth for a 500 million consumer market.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This proposal sets out the guidelines and political objectives for strategically planning and harmonising the use of the radio spectrum by 2015. While we agree that there is a need to plan and organise the radio spectrum, we believe it is essential that this be done in a context of cooperation among the Member States, retaining it as a public good and keeping it free of Commission guidelines, particularly those that mention putting the radio spectrum at the service of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Digital Agenda for Europe and the Single Market Act.

Policies whose purpose is supposed to be improving the market, competitiveness and competition for the launch of the so-called ‘digital single market’ have, in reality, contributed greatly to exacerbating the crisis of capitalism and its negative consequences for the public. The radio spectrum, from low frequencies to very high ones, has been argued over and used for multiple purposes, thereby opening the way to the business of future EU-level digital services and fostering genuine competition. However, it is essential to preserve and defend space for public access, and to prevent it all being committed to commercial ends, which is the track down which European Union policy is headed.

 
  
  

Report: James Nicholson (A7-0262/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) In light of the crisis that resonated deeply through the milk sector in 2008-2010 and the expiry of dairy quotas in 2015, I voted in favour of these measures, which aim to strengthen the bargaining power of producers, making contracts between producers and buyers compulsory and giving improved visibility to inter-branch organisations. I am very pleased with this significant progress made in the dairy sector.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am abstaining from the vote on this report because I see it as a lost opportunity. It includes positive elements, such as increasing the role of producer organisations and interprofessional organisations, as well as contract-related issues. However, it could have gone further and taken the opportunity to establish more legislation for the EU’s dairy sectors. There is a need to go beyond improving the condition of self-regulation in the relationship among stakeholders in this area. This sector should benefit, above all, from the European agriculture that we want and from access to the fair distribution of value along the food-supply chain, and should not be transformed into the agriculture of large, intensive farms, concentrated in a few Member States.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution because the European dairy sector is extremely sensitive and economically important to the EU. The milk and milk products sector faced exceptional events between the years 2007-2009 which, combined with the effects of the financial and economic crisis, resulted in farm gate prices crashing in 2009. Europe’s dairy sector will experience a major shift after the expiry of quotas in 2015. The Commission identified three key elements: the bargaining power of producers, contractual relations and inter-branch organisations. In its report, the Committee on Agriculture also highlighted the need for PDOs (protected designations of origin) and PGIs (protected geographical indications) to be able to manage the volume of their production. I agree with the proposal that, in order to secure a stable future for the sector, the bargaining power of producers needs to be strengthened. However, still further negotiations between the institutions are needed to define the best rates and quotas to maintain competition among farmers, but also to protect consumers and the European market.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European dairy market has been and is still characterised by a strong imbalance and reduced predictability, mainly due to unfair commercial practices existing in the production, processing and distribution processes. The main actors affected by this phenomenon are, on the one hand, the farmers who, as we have seen, happen to be often unaware of the price they will get for their milk, and, on the other, end consumers as well, who do not pay the producer price but the amount determined by all the other factors involved in the processing and distribution processes. I consider it necessary for the dairy chain operators to be given a sense of responsibility, and this target can be achieved through the use of formalised written contracts. I also believe in strengthening the bargaining power of producers vis-à-vis processing units. Last but not least, another reason why I am voting for this report is its purpose: to promote good practices and ensure transparency of the market as a whole. That is because, in my opinion, it is the only way we can speak in the future tense about the EU dairy sector. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) This week, we voted on a report which directly affects dairy producers. The sector has been blighted by serious crisis, which was prolonged and aggravated by the global economic crisis. The price volatility that followed has been profoundly unsettling for our producers, who already face the expiry of dairy quotas in 2015. This report amends contractual rules with a view to increasing the bargaining power of dairy producers, in order to ensure that fairer prices are achieved for the raw milk that they produce and to facilitate their preparations for the expiry of dairy quotas. All parties, except the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, have faced up to their responsibilities. Producer organisations can now negotiate in partnership for up to 33% of the total national production of a Member State or up to 3.5% of total European Union production. This text also strives to achieve improved transparency and comprehensive data analysis of EU milk production, which should allow the former relative stability to be achieved once again. Even though this report could have been more ambitious for the rapporteur, Mr Nicholson, it is nevertheless a compromise that represents considerable progress for our dairy producers and aims to protect the most vulnerable.

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. (HU) In keeping with the opinion I expressed in connection with the pan-Euro-Mediterranean system of cumulation of origin, I support not only the extension of the system of diagonal cumulation, but also its practical introduction and integration into the EU regulatory system. I agree with the conclusion of the agreement because it represents the culmination of the Barcelona process. Thanks to this agreement, the EU will be able to respond efficiently to excessively complex mechanisms arising in connection with existing bilateral regulations with Mediterranean partners, and to the new opportunities as well as challenges presented by the Arab Spring. In connection with the convention, I find that it is particularly worth highlighting the effort to set as one of the more distant goals the extension of the system of diagonal cumulation to the countries of the Western Balkans, thereby facilitating agreements with future Member States from this region.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) • I voted in favour of the report drafted by Mr Nicholson because the dairy sector represents an essential component of the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform. • The debate is necessary in the context of the events that had affected this industry deeply in 2007-2009, as well as of the obstacles in the food distribution chain. • Farmers are currently financially disadvantaged in their contractual relations with the dairy industry. • Therefore, I think that the specific measures promoted by the CAP reform can correct this imbalance. • At the same time, including dairy products in the scope of the quality policy is extremely useful. • It may provide the protection and preservation of traditional and regional recipes, particularly those in isolated or peripheral areas. • The new measure will also support the activity of small-sized farm holdings, as well as local cultural diversity.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) The milk package contains specific rules for the dairy sector regarding: the creation of producer organisations for the collective sale of milk; the recognition of inter-branch organisations that will be able to provide information and promote dairy products; and measures on drawing up purchase and sale contracts for raw milk. The compromise on the regulation was reached during last December’s EU trialogue. It contains numerous improvements on the previous proposals, including the requests of the Italian and European dairy industry on retaining flexibility in contracts, where the basic elements proposed by the Commission – price, volume, delivery schedule and duration – can be freely negotiated by the parties. Parliament’s efforts in the negotiations enabled the inclusion within the regulation of the protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) classifications for cheeses, which were absent in the initial proposal from the Commission. This is a fundamentally important measure which can be used by the Member States under certain conditions to match up supply and demand for products, preventing fluctuations deriving from the possible build-up of excesses of aged Italian PDO cheeses.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because it aims to increase the bargaining power of farmers working in the dairy sector, thus ensuring fairer milk prices and enabling farmers to achieve milk production quotas. The adoption of this regulation was initiated by the European Parliament in reaction to the fall in milk prices in 2008 and 2009 and to stabilise dairy product markets. On the basis of this regulation, farmers’ organisations in the dairy sector will be able to negotiate conditions for the sale of milk such as prices, the marketable production volume, the duration of contracts, etc. Indeed, the concentration of milk suppliers is low, with a resulting imbalance in bargaining power in the supply chain between farmers and dairies. This can lead to unfair commercial practices as farmers often do not know what price they will receive for their milk when delivering because the price is often fixed much later by dairies on the basis of the added value obtained, which, for non-cooperatives, is often outside of the farmer’s control.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing.(FR) This report is, in part, a response to the terrible crisis that afflicted the sector in 2008-2010, when prices paid to producers collapsed dramatically. Going forward, producers are now able to group together in order to gain greater clout in negotiations with processors and distributors. New tools, established by European legislation, are now available to them in order to help further their interests and to take part in the running of their market. The European Parliament will continue to keep a watchful eye on the dairy sector, in particular, through further measures to come, such as the issue of contracts being drawn up in the supply chain or the establishment of a mechanism to ensure that disadvantaged regions are not ‘drained’ of their milk production upon the expiry of dairy quotas in 2015. We must ensure that the progress reports scheduled for 2014 and 2018 are an opportunity to make new proposals, to ensure that the dairy sector is not hit by another disastrous crisis.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report as I cannot support further EU regulation over the dairy sector, especially interventionist legislation that fails to satisfy the needs of UK farmers. The weakening of the position of Welsh farmers within the dairy sector, rendered unable to oppose aggressive behaviour exhibited by retailers and price-fixing cooperatives within the dairy supply chain, has led to the majority of milk being sold at lower than cost price. The UK Government, in cooperation with the National Farmers Union and other directly representative bodies, should have the freedom to develop legislation in the dairy sector in harmony with our agrarian needs that generates best-fit policies for maximum output, while ensuring an economically viable product and while protecting the industry and the farmers involved.

 
  
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  Udo Bullmann (S&D), in writing. (DE) The Members of the European Parliament who belong to the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) would very much have welcomed the introduction by the EU of compulsory contracts at the level of the Member States. However, the Council and the Commission were categorically opposed to this proposal. Nevertheless, the compromise that has been reached allows milk producers throughout Europe to join together in producer organisations. It is of crucial importance for us to ensure that milk producers are put in a stronger position in their negotiations with dairies and retailers. Alongside compulsory contracts, we also strongly supported larger size limits for associations of producer organisations, because that would have further improved the negotiating position of milk producers in Europe. It became clear in this part of the trialogue negotiations that the Council would not have been prepared to accept this, even in the course of a further reading. The opportunity to join together in producer organisations is not a new one for German milk producers because this option is already open to them at a national level as a result of the German Market Structure Act.

Given that it was not possible to achieve a better result in the face of opposition from the Council and the Commission, it was all the more important for us to ensure that the interests of small and medium-sized milk producers are taken into consideration in the forthcoming reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). Conditions must be laid down in the CAP which enable these businesses to continue producing milk even in less favourable regions. This is the only way that we can meet our main requirement, which is to guarantee the existence of a sustainable and multifunctional agricultural industry throughout the whole of Europe.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Nicholson as I believe that it provides a number of solutions to the crisis that the milk sector underwent in 2009. I am pleased with the measures provided by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), which bring about greater stability for the dairy sector. It seems to me that it is urgent that we regulate the sector and ensure an acceptable price level as we move closer to the looming expiry of dairy quotas in 2015: this is essential in order to put a stop to unfair commercial practices, which put dairy producers in difficulty. Two proposals in the report caught my attention in particular: the implementation of a new European legal framework on inter-branch organisations and the required establishment of contracts fixing milk price, volume and contract duration. It is good news for dairy producers who see their rights consolidated.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is important because it aims, above all, not to prevent cooperatives from running effectively. For reasons of clarity, it is important to specify that, if membership of a cooperative means that a producer has an obligation to supply all or part of the raw milk they produce, for which conditions have been laid down in the cooperative’s statutes and in decisions based thereon, these conditions should not be the subject of negotiation via a producer organisation. Moreover, so as to maintain competitiveness in the dairy market, it is advisable that this possibility be subject to appropriate limits, expressed as a percentage of production in the EU and of production in any Member State covered by the negotiations. The limit expressed as a percentage of national production should be applied, first of all, to the volume of raw milk produced in the producer Member State or in each individual producer Member State. The same limit should also apply to the volume of raw milk supplied to a recipient Member State.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing.(IT) The crisis has highlighted the lack of direction in the dairy product market, making regulations to stabilise farmers’ incomes and improve transparency in the trade a matter of urgency. The long period of fixed quotas and high institutional prices, which created guaranteed outlets, has paralysed the market. The participants in the production chain have not been forced to respond to market indicators and had no incentive to innovate and increase productivity. However, we need to do the best we can to secure a smooth transition to the complete abolition of quotas, avoiding an overly inflexible and abrupt effect that could increase the risks faced by the sector and producers. Accordingly, the switch to advance contracts for the delivery of raw milk between producers and dairies looks to be capable of re-balancing bargaining power, particularly because it allows for joint negotiation of conditions through producer organisations. In the same vein, we welcome the possibility of planning and managing the volumes of certified quality (protected designation of origin – PDO) dairy products, as requested by Parliament. Consequently, it is essential that the urgent reform of the system does not cause problems for producers of the very best of the EU exports.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report because lifting EU dairy quotas in 2015 requires increasing producers’ bargaining power by concluding firm written contracts intended to strengthen the responsibility of dairy chain operators, as well as by encouraging farmers to get organised. The example of Switzerland, which abolished quotas in 2009, is useful for understanding the impact of the new system and anticipating its negative effects. In recent years, the decrease in demand and a stable level of production caused prices on the European milk market to collapse. Feed and output costs, including energy, increased as a result of higher commodity prices in recent years.

Therefore, I believe that, under these circumstances, the producers’ bargaining power vis-à-vis processing units should be strengthened for the purpose of a fairer distribution of added value along the supply chain. This would ensure a rational production development and would contribute to maintaining a fair standard of living for dairy farmers.

 
  
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  Arnaud Danjean (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation on contractual relations in the milk sector. In effect, the report is, largely, a response to the terrible crisis that afflicted the milk sector in 2008-2010, when prices paid to producers collapsed dramatically. Furthermore, it looks to prepare dairy producers for the expiry of dairy quotas in 2015. In this way, it aims to increase the bargaining power of dairy producers in order to ensure that they receive fairer prices for their products, without encroaching on the right to competition. In order to do this, the new regulation permits, amongst others things, dairy producers to be able to join producer organisations so that they can gain real clout against processors as well as ensuring fairer distribution of added value along the supply chain. In the long term, this approach aims to provide a fairer standard of living for dairy producers. Today, therefore, I urge dairy producers to fully embrace the new tools established by European legislation, so that they may help further their interests, find their place in the market and prepare themselves for the ‘post-quota era’.

 
  
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  Michel Dantin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) We should welcome the adoption of this text as some excellent work has been done. Whilst not entirely perfect, the policy changes are significant in comparison with decisions made in recent years, notably, the measure that gives producers the right to group together so that they gain greater clout in bargaining with processors and distributors. From now on, interprofessional agreements will be an integral part of the European vocabulary, and the right of producers of protected designation of origin (PDO) / protected geographic indication (PGI) cheeses to manage their production volumes has finally been recognised.

Other improvements such as, the requirement of contracts in the supply chain, or a mechanism ensuring that disadvantaged regions are not ‘drained’ of their milk production upon the expiry of dairy quotas, must be achieved in the years to come. The ‘soft landing’ promised by the Commissioner at the time of drafting, Ms Fischer Boel, should well and truly become a reality for European producers. From now on, producers must fully embrace the new tools established by European legislation in order to help further their interests and to take part in the running of their market.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which allows for an increase in the bargaining power of dairy producers so that they can obtain fairer prices for their products. It will allow for a break from the unfair commercial practices that have an impact on the final price paid by consumers.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) The collapse of milk prices that occurred between 2007 and 2009 remains stamped on our memories, as is the distress of producers. Following the difficult conditions faced by the dairy sector, a High-Level Expert Group on Milk (‘HLG’) was set up with the purpose of discussing mid-term and long-term arrangements for the sector. In its report, supported by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), the HLG indicated, amongst other recommendations, that it is necessary to act to improve concentration of supply, which is low and results in an imbalance in bargaining power between farmers and dairies. In order to ensure the future stability of the sector, the HLG recommends strengthening the bargaining power of producers, which should result in a fairer distribution of value-added along the supply chain. I am equally in favour of the proposal to create a European legal framework that authorises the establishment of inter-branch organisations in the milk sector.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector because it includes positive proposals, particularly as regards increasing producers’ bargaining power. However, these are insufficient from the point of view of the future sustainability of the sector, so I believe there is a need to ensure effective instruments for managing supply.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The profound crisis affecting the dairy farming sector means there is an urgent need to adopt more effective measures for supporting producers, and – I continue to maintain – very careful consideration of the elimination of milk quotas in 2015. As we have always said, this is a mistake, and it is not too late to change tack. The stabilisation of the milk market and dairy products will not be achieved through one-off measures alone, but with medium- to long-term solutions for maintaining sustainable production, not forgetting the right of consumers to a fair price. It is vital to give more power to producers and ensure the necessary price stability. In this respect, I would stress that the competitiveness of the outermost regions that depend heavily on dairy production, such as the Azores, is particularly fragile.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The reform of the common agricultural policy, which introduced a policy of quotas for milk production, has not had the desired effect, and in a time of short supply, we have farmers who have invested in the acquisition of quotas. With the announced abolition of these quotas – to which certain Member States are opposed – it is imperative to adopt regulatory measures that ensure the normal functioning of the sector and guarantee a fair income for producers, so that they do not give up farming. Although I am aware that this legislation will not solve all the problems faced by farmers, I voted for this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector, as I believe it strengthens the position of farmers when negotiating with distributors, as they can negotiate 33% of national production directly. In addition, Member States may opt for a European contract with a minimum validity of six months, either negotiated on an individual basis or by cooperatives.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a regulation does not solve the sector’s current problems. Thousands of dairy farms continue to close, as the price of milk paid to the producer does not offset the high costs of production. It is a misconception to think that this regulation – the assumptions of which are based on the fantastical idea of the lamb and lion coexisting peacefully – will solve the problems created by the decision to abolish milk quotas. It stipulates that quotas will increase, with a view to providing the so-called ‘soft landing’, which has been anything but soft for thousands upon thousands of farmers. What is needed is the reversal of the decision to abolish production quotas in 2015, and their adaptation to the needs of each country and to the relative level of development of its productive capacity, thus enabling the Member States making the greatest losses to develop. The Commissioner says that the 2009 milk crisis came about with the system of quotas in place, demonstrating their uselessness; this is a false argument and is regrettable. In fact, the crisis was caused by a situation whereby the end of the quotas was already partly expected, taking account of the decision to increase them. Therefore, the crisis is the result of the decision to end the quotas, not the other way around.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the milk package because the measures brought in will have a positive influence on the dairy sector, which has been in crisis since 2009. The adoption of the regulation rewards Parliament’s long-standing efforts, particularly during the trialogue with the Commission and the Council. I am also very pleased about the positive repercussions that today’s vote could have for Italy and its top quality products. I am referring, for example, to the 37 Italian cheeses with protected designation of origin (PDO), which enjoy greater protection due to the introduction of production planning for dairy products covered by the PDO mark and by protected geographical indication (PGI).

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The gradual reforms of the common market organisation for milk and milk products were market-oriented in order to promote the competitiveness of milk and the milk products sector and its sustainability in the context of globalised trade. In 2007-2009, exceptional developments took place in the milk and milk products sector. Initially, extreme weather conditions in Oceania brought about a significant decline in supplies, leading to a rapid and significant increase in prices. Yet, while world supplies had started their recovery, and prices had started to return to more normal levels, the subsequent financial and economic crisis negatively affected EU dairy producers, aggravating price volatility. In light of the difficult market situation for the milk sector, and while respecting the outcome of a review of reforms to the common agricultural policy, an expert group was to work on a regulatory framework to be put in place, in order to contribute to stabilising the market and producers’ income and enhancing its transparency. In order to ensure the rational development of production and a fair standard of living for dairy farmers, their bargaining power vis-à-vis processors should be strengthened, which should result in a fairer distribution of value-added along the supply chain.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing.(IT) The dairy sector is traditionally thought to be a jewel in the crown of Europe’s food sector. Unfortunately, over the last two years, it has been forced to take considerable steps to try and keep it running and avoid bankruptcy.

Through today’s vote, the EU has done its part to try and prevent a fresh crisis in this sector and all the ensuing repercussions in terms of small producers losing competitiveness and jobs being lost. Accordingly, I think we need to adopt the proposals in the report, especially in terms of retaining flexibility in contract negotiations, which will allow small producers to vary their output more easily.

 
  
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  Béla Glattfelder (PPE), in writing. (HU) One of the primary causes of the European milk sector crisis in 2008 was the increase in milk quotas voted for in the Council by Hungary’s former socialist government. The delegation of Fidesz to the European Parliament opposed both the quota increase and the subsequent abolition of the quota system as of 2015. Our position is that even if the quota system is terminated, there will be a need for supply control measures.

On the other hand, as a result of the European Commission’s current milk market proposals, the single internal milk market could fragment into Member State markets where different rules could apply at national level to the sale of milk. With the interests of milk producers in mind, I submitted a motion for amendment. My motion proposed that cross-border supply contracts should be governed by the regulations applicable at the seat of the producer, but it did not receive majority support.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing.(FR) The European Union has decided that agriculture is like any other sector and should thus be subjected to the hazards of the global markets. For this reason, it has decided to allow the expiry of dairy quotas, which facilitated the stability of the milk market and supported the prices paid to farmers, even though they are minimal, at a time when large producer countries would prefer milk to be considered as a strategic product and, as such, shielded in World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements.

The solution that has been found to replace this outgoing regulation is that of contractual relationships between producer organisations and dairies. However, this does not solve a single one of the issues facing the sector, let alone those facing farmers. It neither guarantees the prices that will be paid to farmers nor strengthens their position in negotiations with large dairy groups, nor indeed their very survival.

Were we to consider the lot of agri-foodstuff producers from a financial point of view, in the opinion of the vast majority of professionals, it will lead to mass production at huge industrial facilities, built in areas with good transport links, at the expense of moderately-sized, established farms. Furthermore, it brings no tangible advantage for consumers, hence we voted against this report.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report as it consolidates the role of milk producer organisations in negotiations with companies on price and volume. While it is an initial response to the milk sector crisis, it is necessary to go further to ensure that the serious crisis which has blighted the sector in recent years does not happen again. Whilst negotiations on the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) after 2013 are under way, we must focus our efforts so that farmers and breeders benefit from adequate resources in order to produce successfully and benefit from fairer incomes.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) I welcome the report on contractual relations in the milk sector, as it strengthens the negotiating position of milk producers. The aim is to enable dairy farmers to negotiate common contractual conditions with the dairies, including prices.

Although I believe that formal written contracts will help to raise awareness among those involved, I also welcome the fact in this context that the Member States have the right to decide whether or not these contracts should be compulsory.

In addition, I welcome the moves to strengthen the industry associations, as this may make the dialogue between the parties involved in the milk sector much easier, promote best practice and ensure transparency on the market.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing.(FR) The European Parliament has voted, with a large majority, in favour of the adoption of the milk package. This decision was necessary following the serious crisis that the dairy sector underwent in 2008-2010. It allows suitable preparations to be made in relation to the dairy sector prior to the expiry of dairy quotas in 2015. The milk package, as it results from negotiations between the Council and Parliament, marks a true step forward for dairy producers, giving them much greater bargaining power than they had previously. They are now able to group together in order to have greater clout in negotiations with processors and distributors. I am also pleased with other ambitious measures that were agreed, such as the recognition of inter-branch organisations, which allows for a facilitated dialogue between all actors in the supply chain. I also refer to the European Union granting producers of cheeses under protected designation of origin (PDO) or protected geographical indication (PGI) status the right to manage their own production volumes. It is an arrangement that will undoubtedly contribute to the economic prosperity of our rural regions.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I regretfully had to vote against this report. Mr Nicholson’s original report was a much stronger document; the new regulation has, however, been watered down to such an extent by negotiations that it provides insufficient contractual guarantees for dairy farmers, and, as a result, I was unable to support it.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because it is obvious that the dairy producing and processing sectors are highly differentiated between Member States. There is also a highly variable situation between operators and types of operators within individual Member States. In many cases, however, the concentration of suppliers is low, with a resulting imbalance in bargaining power in the supply chain between farmers and dairies. This imbalance can lead to unfair commercial practices; in particular, farmers often do not know what price they will receive for their milk when delivering because the price is often fixed much later by dairies on the basis of the added value obtained, which, for non-cooperatives, is often outside of the farmer’s control. I believe that following the abolition of quotas, written contracts could serve to increase awareness and reinforce the responsibility of the operators in the dairy chain to take into account market signals, improve price transmission and adapt supply to demand, as well as help to avoid unfair commercial practices. In order to ensure the rational development of production and a fair standard of living for dairy farmers, their bargaining power vis-à-vis processors should be strengthened, which should result in a fairer distribution of added value along the supply chain. Inter-branch organisations can also play useful roles in ensuring dialogue between actors in the supply chain, and in promoting best practice and market transparency. I expect Europe’s dairy sector to experience a major shift when quotas expire in 2015.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I welcome the fact that the Nicholson report on the milk package was adopted today by a very large majority in plenary. The text is largely a response to the terrible crisis that the dairy industry went through from 2008 to 2010, a period during which the price paid to producers fell drastically. Of course, this report is not perfect but it is a first step towards ridding the dairy industry of quotas. My colleagues in the French delegation of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) have been particularly involved with this issue. Their tireless involvement has allowed producers in the dairy industry to henceforth benefit from new tools provided for by European legislation. These tools will allow them to best assert their interests and help steer their own markets.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D), in writing. (DE) I welcome the key aspects of the regulation on contractual relations in the milk sector, as it will strengthen the negotiating position of milk producers. My main objective with regard to this legislative package was to ensure that compulsory contracts were introduced at the level of the Member States. Unfortunately, the Council and the Commission were successful in opposing this important improvement. The compromise that has now been reached is acceptable, but it does not go nearly far enough. There will only be a noticeable improvement in those Member States which decide to introduce compulsory contracts. Therefore, we must ensure that the interests of small dairy farmers in particular are taken into consideration in the forthcoming reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). I believe that there is real potential for improvement in the ongoing restructuring of the common market organisation (CMO). It is a pity that cooperatives were excluded from the requirement to negotiate contracts. It is still unfair that farmers deliver their products to the dairies and are often only paid weeks later by the retail chains. We need to find a solution to this problem. It is important that we do not leave milk producers out in the cold after the phasing out of milk quotas in 2015, in order to avoid giving rise to a new Europe-wide milk crisis, like that of 2009. Small businesses in particular rely on being given protection from the dairies and retail chains.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) This package of measures for the vulnerable milk sector is a compromise which was preceded by long and intense negotiations. Today’s resolution is the first step and sends out an important signal to milk producers. It takes seriously the problem of imbalances in the production chain. I welcome the fact that this legislation will strengthen the producers’ negotiating position, introduce new rules and minimum standards for contractual relations and establish a legal framework for the creation of industry associations. However, I believe that the courage to introduce far-reaching solutions is lacking and I am calling on the Commission to draw up further measures for the milk sector after quotas are phased out in 2015.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the proposal on the package of measures on the dairy sector. I would recall that from the very start of this legislature, Parliament has set about finding a solution to a crisis that began as far back as 2007. The planned abolition of milk quotas in 2015 was the EU institutions’ starting point for finding ways to reorganise the dairy sector that would be able to address such a radical change. The High-Level Expert Group on Milk (HLG) was set up in October 2009 and the debate about what to do officially got under way against a difficult background characterised by continuing excessive volatility in milk prices. I completely agree with the content of the text that has been adopted, which is in line with the long-standing proposals of European milk producers and the other stakeholders in the sector. We are therefore heading towards greater bargaining power for producers, which can be achieved through new contract conditions that will serve to reinforce the responsibility of operators in the dairy chain so that, taking into account market signals, they will improve price transmission and adapt supply to demand, as well as help to avoid unfair commercial practices.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) With the report adopted today by Parliament, milk producers will have a stronger bargaining position when negotiating fair prices for raw milk, which will enable them to prepare for the abolition of milk quotas in 2015. The current provisions will allow farmer organisations to negotiate raw milk prices independently, without violating the competition law. I supported this report because, by its amendments, the European Parliament asked the Commission to prepare two assessment reports on the situation of milk producers in disadvantaged regions, one by July 2014 and the other by the end of 2018.

 
  
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  Astrid Lulling (PPE), in writing. (DE) I support the compromise reached in the trialogue which will strengthen the negotiating position of dairy farmers with regard to the processing industry, despite the fact that it will not resolve all the problems.

This package of measures for the milk sector is the final report from the high-level group which is intended to ensure a soft landing after milk quotas are phased out. It is amazing that there is absolutely no mention of milk quotas in this report.

Young and ambitious farmers in Luxembourg and four other Member States who are attempting to prepare for the deregulation of the milk sector can only do this by buying additional quotas now, shortly before the end of the milk quota system. This involves a huge and unnecessary capital investment and puts them at a disadvantage when compared with farmers in the other 22 Member States. Therefore, five Member States voted against the compromise in the Council, which does not meet the requirements of a soft landing instrument.

The European Commission has a monopoly on introducing legislative proposals.

Therefore, I am calling on the Commission to take responsibility for this area and to submit a legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament in 2012 in order to rectify this obvious and costly error in the system.

A linear reduction in the period up to 2015 in the super levy which is imposed on each kilo of milk that exceeds the quota or the abolition of the fat correction mechanism could at least reduce the negative effects of the regulation which is being phased out without harming the Member States that are not affected.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I supported this report and, although I have some reservations, agree with the proposal as a whole. The core elements of the package will give milk producers the opportunity to organise themselves better into producer organisations, thus strengthening their position in the dairy supply chain – especially in relation to large processors.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing.(IT) In recent years, there has been a significant crisis in Europe’s dairy sector There will, without doubt, be a major shift after the abolition of milk quotas, scheduled for 2015. We must improve the bargaining power of producers in order to secure a stable future for the sector. Hopefully, this can be achieved through the use of contracts and by encouraging producers to organise themselves into producer organisations.

Inter-branch organisations can, in fact, play a useful role in facilitating dialogue between actors in the supply chain and in promoting best practice and market transparency. In order to ensure the rational development of production and a fair standard of living for dairy farmers, their bargaining power vis-à-vis processors should be strengthened, which should result in a fairer distribution of added value along the supply chain. Measures to improve transparency and comprehensive data analysis of EU milk production should go some way to restoring the relative stability which was once achieved by supply management.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I particularly agree with the statement that: ‘There are disadvantaged regions that depend heavily on milk production, in respect of which it is necessary to assess the guidelines laid down for the milk and milk products sector, as recognised in the Treaties, so that support and the application of these policies continue to be adapted to their specific characteristics’. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report as it provides solutions for farmers in some Member States that face particular problems in the dairy sector. While this report does not look at the ‘soft-landing’ issue, I would ask the Commission to consider the position of Member States, where penalties are being imposed on producers for supplying a product for which there is a market. The penalty is extremely severe, despite the fact that the EU is not filling its entire quota over all of the Member States.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I am in favour of planning production. Dairy quotas fulfil this function, in such a way as to control volumes and therefore regulate the markets and ensure lucrative prices for producers. This text proposes exactly the opposite. It supports the gradual abolition of dairy quotas by 2015. Despite the terrible consequences that this deregulation has already had for dairy producers across Europe, nothing is proposed here to prevent disaster. Not only will the proposal to subject deliveries to contracts merely reflect the existing balance of power, but it can be avoided. I voted against this text.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Between 2007 and 2009, there were some exceptional developments in the milk and milk products sector. Initially, extreme weather conditions in Oceania caused a significant drop in supply, which led to a rapid and considerable price rise. Moreover, although the global supply had started to recover and prices had begun to stabilise, the economic and financial crisis that followed had a negative effect on milk and dairy producers in the EU, exacerbating price volatility. First and foremost, the cost of feed and other inputs, especially energy, increased significantly, reflecting higher commodity prices. In October 2009, in view of the difficult situation of the dairy market, the High-Level Expert Group on Milk (HLG) was formed to discuss medium- and long-term measures for the milk and milk products sector on account of the abolition of milk quotas in 2015. Whilst respecting the results of the ‘health check’, the HLG should work towards developing a regulatory framework capable of stabilising the market and producers’ incomes, and increasing transparency. As this sector is very important for my country, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted against this report, as the proposed reform does not provide solutions to the problems that led to the 2009 crisis. The negotiating power of producers will not be strengthened without public regulation of production. Production will continue to be concentrated in increasingly larger farms, and will become ever more industrial in nature, to the detriment of sustainable family production and of maintaining production throughout all the milk-producing regions of Europe. With this reform, the dumping of our surplus milk in third countries will continue. It is time for regulation, not for contractualisation in favour of the industry on an unregulated market. Another milk policy is essential, one which gives priority to the regulation of production, a necessary condition for stable and fair milk prices, and to sustainable milk production based on fodder produced in the different regions and closely tied to the land.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – This is a very important regulation, requested by the EP after the dairy price collapse of 2008 and 2009. It aims to boost dairy farmers’ bargaining power, to ensure fairer milk prices and to help farmers cope with the ending of milk quotas. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) This proposal for an amendment to the regulation is an attempt to compensate for current difficulties in the milk sector. Longer-term contracts are not the norm and the regulation aims to make them compulsory at a European level. One aspect which is highlighted is the fact that industry associations must play a more important role in future, as they will help to ensure transparency and better organisation, in the opinion of the rapporteur. Transparency means that everyone involved in the production chain must provide the relevant information for analysing the market. This will result in much more work for small farmers.

In summary, there is a clear tendency to strengthen the already powerful position of large companies at the expense of smaller businesses. Current practices which have worked well are to be changed to ensure that the last independent dairy farmers join conglomerates. For this reason, I have voted against the amendment of the regulation.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing.(IT) In recent years, we have witnessed a multitude of problems affecting Europe’s dairy sector, including dangerous fluctuations in demand, extreme price volatility and imbalances in the production chain. Yet we must not forget that the real problem behind all the trouble in the sector is the existence of the now famous milk quotas.

This system has turned out to be deeply mistaken and unfair, and is especially damaging to producers. Luckily, the Commission has also noticed the mistake – albeit shamefully late in the piece – and the system will finally be abolished in 2015. The report in question sets out changes that are just and necessary, designed mainly to protect dairy farmers, particularly the smallest among them, and to incentivise the creation of associations to protect traditional strengths and top quality products. All these reasons led me to decide to lend my support to this proposal.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report. The proposed measures are definitely useful, but we must admit they are not enough. The contracts, the strengthening of professional organisations, etc. will not help consolidate the milk sector without a powerful and well-financed common agricultural policy after 2014. At the same time, the EU must continue to put into practice Parliament’s measures towards ensuring a balance along the entire food supply chain, specifically among producers, distributors, processors and retailers, to the benefit of European consumers.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) The milk sector in the EU will undergo major changes after milk quotas are phased out in 2015. Therefore, I am of the opinion that in future, the negotiating position and the interests of the farmers and genuine producers must be strengthened. Milk producers should be encouraged to join together in producer associations. The unfair treatment of those involved in the production chain from the raw material suppliers to the consumer must be eradicated. Dairy farmers have put their demands on the table, but they are apparently still being ignored by the EU. My call for a monitoring body which could respond to unfair market conditions has been completely disregarded. Unfortunately, the Commission’s new proposals pay far too little attention to natural, organic milk production, animal welfare and sustainable management of the countryside with the aim of ensuring a regional supply of milk from dairy farmers throughout the EU. Therefore, I have voted against the report.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because we need to strengthen the position of dairy producers in the dairy supply chain. Producers must be properly prepared for changes in market conditions following the abolition of the quota system. Given the difficult market conditions in this sector and the price crash which forced many dairy farmers in Europe out of business and put the viability of many other dairy producers at serious risk, producers need to be sure that they will be offered a fair price in the market, that they will be able to continue their activities and that the sector will remain viable and competitive. It should be noted that contractual relations, producers’ bargaining power, inter-branch organisations and transparency are complementary elements, which together will ensure the effective functioning of the supply chain. Written contracts between dairy producers and processors will ensure transparency, fairness and legal certainty. Strengthening producers’ bargaining power will increase this sector’s overall performance, competitiveness and sustainability. Furthermore, we should encourage producers to join together in producer organisations and constantly support measures to promote transparency.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing.(IT) After the crisis in the milk sector between 2008 and 2009, and in view of the abolition of milk quotas from 2015, a High-Level Expert Group on Milk (HLG) was set up to look into the problems in the dairy sector. I voted in favour of the report, which amends the existing regulation in line with the recommendations of the HLG on contractual relationships in the milk and dairy product sector. The measures strengthen the bargaining power of raw milk producers and make it possible, through production planning, to market cheeses with a protected designation of origin (PDO) or protected geographical indication (PGI), which are often produced in Italy.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing.(IT) Considering that Europe’s dairy sector will experience a major shift after the abolition of milk quotas in 2015, I voted in favour of the use of formalised, written contracts that may help to reinforce the responsibility of the operators in the dairy chain and increase awareness of the need to better take into account the signals of the market, improve price transmission and adapt supply to demand, as well as help avoid certain unfair commercial practices.

 
  
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  Alojz Peterle (PPE), in writing. (SL) I support this regulation, in the belief that it can contribute to improving the status of milk producers and strengthen their bargaining power relative to traders, thus leading to a fairer distribution of the value added on the way from producer to consumer. I also support the regulation because we need to prepare for 2015, when milk sector quotas will be abolished.

 
  
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  Franck Proust (PPE), in writing.(FR) In the last few years, European dairy farmers have experienced a fall in revenues as unexpected as it has been dramatic. The dairy industry has been badly hit by the crisis. As representatives of the European people, we have to come up with the best solution for everyone, but only as long as we properly understand the causes. That is why I voted in favour of this text because it responds, in part, to the industry’s troubles. Above all, it strengthens producers’ bargaining power in their contractual relations with distributors. Professionals will be able to join together more easily so as to exert more influence. This crisis has, at least, shown that not all deregulation is beneficial for European agriculture. There are industries that we must preserve. We should try to remember them in the model we want to put in place for the CAP after 2013.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) As in the agricultural sector in general, the milk and milk products sector has been facing many difficulties, and recent years have seen not only a drop in demand, but also a clear reduction in prices. The High-Level Expert Group on Milk was therefore formed in October 2009, bringing together professionals from this field, with the aim of finding solutions that would enable the sector to recover its balance. In this context, one of the areas that needs to be rectified most rapidly involves restoring the negotiating balance between producer and distributor. Indeed, the profound disparity between both parties’ economic power leads, in many cases, to a stranglehold on milk producers. In this context, it is worth considering the possibility of agreeing collective regulatory instruments between associations or producers and distributors, as set out under labour law. As such, it is imperative that solutions be found that bring the market back to normal working order. Otherwise, the current weaknesses may become much worse with the abolition of the quotas in 2015. I voted for the resolution, as it is a step in that direction.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing.(IT) Today, during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, we voted on the report by Mr Nicholson, which strengthens the bargaining power of dairy producers. The legislation will allow dairy producer organisations to negotiate the price of raw milk so as to get the best possible price for their milk.

The producer organisations should help farmers to better organise themselves, thereby strengthening their position in the food supply chain, especially in those Member States where such a system is limited or non-existent. This bargaining power does not, however, come at the expense of competition. Indeed, in order to avoid unfair competition, the volume of raw milk may not exceed 3.5% of total Union production.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Against. The idea of increasing the bargaining power of farmers in the food chain vis-à-vis ever more concentrated market power of processors was good in principle. Also, the proposal to increase transparency of costs of production in the various sectors and regions was positive. However, the negotiations within the Committee on Agriculture for a first reading agreement step by step dropped the more concrete ideas of making a fair contracting framework obligatory in the Member States and limiting the market power and unfair price policy throughout the EU. We made a number of proposals to strengthen the position of milk farmers and to introduce measures against the market power of the milk processors and supermarkets, like the price monitoring agency and specific support for local and SME processing, but without success. The measures and contracts as suggested in this report will not solve the imminent new milk crisis.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this text because I think it properly highlights the issues surrounding unjustified price increases along the dairy supply chain. It is necessary to reinforce the responsibility of all the relevant operators, making them aware of the need to keep their final prices competitive with market prices. Now we need to press on in this direction: actions such as recognising producer organisations could actually end up being insufficient to tackle the difficulties in the entire sector.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing.(IT) In 2009, in light of the crisis in the dairy sector, a High-Level Expert Group on Milk (HLG) was set up with the purpose of discussing mid-term and long-term arrangements for the sector, given the expiry of milk quotas in 2015. The group noted an imbalance in bargaining power in the supply chain between farmers and dairies, which can lead to unfair commercial practices. In particular, farmers do not know what price they will receive for their milk, because the price is fixed by the dairies after delivery.

Bearing in mind the failure of the milk quotas system, and in view of the crisis suffered by the sector, the regulation sets out a number of changes. The proposal allows for contracts between farmers and dairies where the price, delivery volume and contract duration must be specified. Producer organisations will be able to support farmers in contract negotiations and set appropriate quantitative limits. Thus, producers will be on an equal footing with dairies and cheese makers, and a suitable level of competition on raw milk supplies will be maintained. The volumes of cheeses with protected designation of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indication (PGI) that come onto the market will be monitored and associations will be recognised, which were measures that Lega Nord was particularly keen to see so that quality cheeses can be protected.

 
  
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  Antolín Sánchez Presedo (S&D), in writing. (ES) The 2009 crisis, along with volatile prices and distortion in the workings of the milk market detected during recent years, led me to consider the need for deep reforms of the operation of the sector’s value chain and the responsibility of the European Parliament to promote such reforms, given its role as colegislator for agriculture pursuant to the Treaty of Lisbon.

Today’s approval of the regulation regarding contractual relations in the milk sector is a significant step in the right direction and moves the reform of the CAP forward. It identifies the possibility for producers to negotiate collectively through their organisations and favours interprofessional organisations. The new contracts will provide greater stability and fairer competition. The new framework will make it possible for the most efficient holdings to grow in the future and will also boost product diversification and improvements in quality.

With respect to Spain, it means that the Royal Decree for milk of last April, which anticipated this direction, can now be fully effective. The beneficial effects of the new model can be seen in Galicia, where 45% of milk production is marketed under approved contracts that have helped to level prices out a little more.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) This vote makes it possible to monitor the price volatility of the Union’s dairy products. As early as 2009, the sector set up a High-Level Expert Group on Milk (HLG) in view of the abolition of milk quotas in 2015. The HLG noted that the dairy producing and processing sectors are highly differentiated between Member States.

It was found that there is a problem of price transmission along the chain, which is caused in essence by the lack of Union legislation on contracts, which are not mandatory in all Member States. In order to secure a stable future for the sector, the bargaining power of producers needs to be improved. Hopefully, this can be achieved through the use of contracts and by encouraging producers to organise themselves into producer organisations.

 
  
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  Francisco Sosa Wagner (NI), in writing. (ES) Despite the new regulatory framework providing improvements to remedy the shortcomings of the European milk sector, I voted against it, as there are still many loopholes that will make it impossible for the balance between farmers and dairies to be restored as far as negotiating power along the supply chain is concerned.

The legislative reform is linked to the expiry of quotas in 2015. Expiry is not our preferred option, given that there are other models in countries in a similar situation to the European market, where both the quota system and bid management work in a satisfactory fashion, benefiting producers, the sector and consumers in a more balanced way, and avoiding concentration of power in one area of the chain.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The sectors producing and processing milk and milk products in the EU differ considerably from one Member State to another, and there are wide variations between the Member States in operators and types of operator. Supply concentration is low, resulting in an imbalance between producers and dairies in terms of supply chain bargaining power, which can lead to unfair trading practices. The rapporteur has therefore tabled proposals on contracts, on the bargaining power of producers, on inter-branch organisations and on transparency, in order to increase producers’ bargaining power.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector. In 2007-2009, exceptional developments took place in the milk and milk products sector. A number of extreme weather conditions brought about a significant decline in supplies, leading to a rapid and significant increase in prices. Subsequently, the financial and economic crisis had a negative effect on EU dairy producers and aggravated price volatility.

I believe that the use of written contracts that observe particular formal requirements, which contain basic elements, and which are drawn up in advance of delivery, could increase awareness and reinforce responsibility of dairy chain operators to better take into account the signals of the market, improve price transmission and adapt supply to demand, as well as help avoid certain unfair commercial practices. In order to ensure a stable future for the milk products sector following the abolition of quotas in 2015, the producers’ bargaining power vis-à-vis processing units should be strengthened, which should result in a fairer distribution of added value along the supply chain.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I have voted in favour of the motion for a resolution. The regulation which has been adopted today puts dairy farmers in a stronger position in their negotiations with their customers. It allows them to join together in associations to negotiate prices in order to obtain better raw milk prices without coming into conflict with competition law. Prices can be negotiated and agreed on within an acceptable framework and the Member States have sufficient discretionary powers. At the same time, support is being provided for the production of quality regional cheeses.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) I am pleased that the report considers the issues of price volatility and imbalance in negotiations between farmers and major dairies. This is very relevant to the situation in Lithuania. Although Lithuania comes first among the Baltic States in terms of milk production (approximately 1.9 million tonnes annually, 23.4% of total agricultural production), Lithuania’s dairy industry is ill-structured. Milk prices are therefore higher than the European average. A recent study revealed that today, Lithuanian consumers pay 40% more for milk than they did in 2004. Such a situation is, in part, linked to the fact that 60% of Lithuanian dairy products are exported and, at the processing level, the current dairy industry is made up of just four large companies. The report states that this imbalance may lead to unfair commercial practices. In order to ensure a fair standard of living for dairy farmers, their bargaining power vis-à-vis processors should therefore be strengthened. This would help establish proper distribution along the supply chain. There is a need for greater stability, particularly as Europe’s dairy sector will face a major shift when quotas expire in 2015.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I voted against the European Parliament report on contractual relations with regard to milk products. This report in no way challenges the total abolition of dairy quotas by 2015, when we can see the dramatic effects on farmers’ incomes of policies already in place to gradually phase out quotas.

We reject a policy based on the undistorted law of the jungle of free competition for a commodity like milk, and one which leaves the dairy industry with the power to impose its conditions on producers. On the contrary, we advocate a policy of supply regulation which is respectful of farmers’ revenues and food sovereignty.

It is not enough merely to recognise the imbalance in the chain and inequality of bargaining power; it is also necessary to equip ourselves with the means to maintain dairy farms throughout Europe and to ensure fair remuneration for producers.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – Despite the improvements that the new regulatory framework contributes to remedy the defects of the European dairy sector, I voted against it because, in our view, there are still many gaps that will not resolve the imbalance of bargaining power in the supply chain between farmers and dairies. This legislative reform is part of the quota regime that will expire in 2015, an option that is not our preference because there are other models in countries like the European market situation where the system of quotas and supply management function satisfactorily and benefit both producers, industry and consumers in a more balanced way, avoiding concentrations of power in a sector of the chain.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – It is not a widely known fact that nearly 9% of land in my constituency of London is still used for agriculture. In fact, London produces 27 tonnes of honey and meat, milk and eggs a year. And it is milk that we are talking about today. I supported my colleague Jim Nicholson’s report because it strengthens the bargaining position for dairy farms – in particular, the smaller farms – and promotes greater transparency in the milk market. What is most significant about the report is that it does not include mandatory EU contracts and leaves the important decision making up to Member States. If we are to help farmers, we need to make it easier for them to do business, not lumber them with compulsory EU quotas and contracts. Farmers have to deal with enough meddling from the EU.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This regulation will not solve the problems caused by the decision to abolish milk quotas, which has affected thousands upon thousands of farmers. Thousands of dairy farms continue to close, as the price of milk paid to the producer does not offset the high costs of production. What is needed is the reversal of the decision to abolish production quotas in 2015, and their adaptation to the needs of each country and to the relative level of development of its productive capacity.

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE), in writing. (SL) Research shows that the majority of countries will be on their way to a ‘soft landing’ when milk quotas are finally abolished. Nevertheless, transition to a milk sector without milk quotas brings with it numerous challenges, especially for milk producers. Therefore, it is only right and proper that they be better prepared for these changes and their bargaining power be increased. In this regard, I welcome the proposed measures, such as the possibility of mandatory contracts, expansion of the rules on integrating producers and measures for the comprehensive and transparent monitoring of purchased quantities of milk. In particular, it establishes a new system for dealing with the challenges of milk producers in less favoured areas (including Slovenia). These producers will need to give considerable thought to how to move forward and, unfortunately, this will include less desirable options such as the abandonment of milk production and/or farming. In my opinion, the measures proposed will not be enough in these regions and areas. Therefore, I urge you to consider introducing additional measures for these areas, either as part of the common organisation of the markets or in the framework of rural development policy. Since 2015 is fast approaching, I await with great interest the next report on developments in the milk sector due at the end of this year.

 
  
  

Report: Stanimir Ilchev (A7-0399/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, in view of the lack of consideration that the European institutions currently show towards Parliament’s own-initiative reports because they are not ordinary legislative processes. In line with this report, the role of own-initiative reports will be enhanced by ensuring that they are handled as strategic reports. The treatment of such reports should also be improved.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution proposing the amendment of Rule 48(2) with a view to improving the treatment of own-initiative reports, in particular at the plenary stage, and to examining the question of whether Rules 163 and 167 should apply to INI reports. I agree with the rapporteur’s proposal to reduce the necessary quorum for tabling amendments in plenary from one-tenth to 40 Members, to extend the application of Rule 163 (split voting) and Rule 167 (roll-call voting) to INI reports, and to amend the last sentence of Rule 48(2) to endorse the COP (Conference of Presidents) recommendation according to which the decision on whether an INI report is ‘strategic’ or not should be carried out by the COP at the authorisation stage. These amendments will make Parliament’s work more efficient and dynamic.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) Within the European Union, the European Commission has the legislative initiative. However, the Lisbon Treaty has reinforced the rights of the European Parliament regarding the right to legislative initiative, which allows us to call on the European Commission to submit a proposal. With a view to improving how own-initiative reports are dealt with, in particular at the plenary stage, I agree with the decision of the Conference of Presidents, which has assessed that own-initiative reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity reports and monitoring reports should be treated as strategic reports.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report because I consider it to be a timely amendment to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure on own-initiative reports. • Without prejudice to the relevance of this type of report and the useful debates thereon, Article 48(2), as amended, shall allow for a greater focus of European Parliament’s activity on the legislative process. • This is necessary also from the perspective of Parliament fulfilling the new missions and exercising the new competences falling on it under the Treaty of Lisbon. • At the same time, a clearer definition of the nature of each own-initiative report as early as the authorisation stage will lead to greater efficiency in the drawing up, amendment and adoption of the text. The role of the expert committees as a central framework for negotiations to reach a compromise shall be reiterated. • Last but not least, I want to emphasise the usefulness of clarifications concerning the criteria for establishing the strategic character of an own-initiative report. These will ensure the positive effects of this amendment to the regulation.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this proposal, as it restricts the use of roll-call voting (RCV), only allowing RCV to be applied to final votes on own-initiative reports from Parliament. I believe RCV should be utilised in every situation to ensure democratic control, not just in final reports, but on crucial amendments as well. Information on how each individual elected Member of Parliament voted should also be made available for constituents to monitor, yet this proposal appears to further limit the application of roll-call voting to only certain elements of Parliamentary decision making.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) In my view, not all the amendments to Rule 48(2) of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure planned by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs are timely. While I go along with the idea that the way own-initiative reports are dealt with should be improved, equally, we should not overload the agenda with non-legislative reports. That is why I voted in favour of Amendment 6, which maintains split voting (Rule 163) and voting by roll call (Rule 167) for amendments tabled in plenary and parliamentary committee resolutions. I am in favour of the proposal not to apply split voting to alternative resolutions. I agree with the idea of letting the Conference of Presidents decide on the strategic nature of own-initiative reports.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this amendment because it will incorporate the following amendments into the Rules of Procedure: ‘Motions for resolutions contained in own-initiative reports shall be examined by Parliament under the short presentation procedure set out in Rule 139’. ‘Amendments to such motions for resolutions shall only be admissible for consideration in plenary if tabled by the rapporteur to take account of new information or by at least one-tenth of the Members of Parliament. Political groups may table alternative motions for resolutions in accordance with Rule 157(4)’. ‘Rules 163 and 167 shall apply to the voting on such motions and amendments. Rule 167 shall also apply to the voting on such alternative motions. This paragraph shall not apply in cases where the subject of the report qualifies for a key debate in plenary, where the report is drawn up pursuant to the right of initiative referred to in Rules 41 or 42, or where the report has been authorised as a strategic report’.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Several recommendations have been adopted by the Conference of Presidents to address the need to improve the treatment of own-initiative reports, in particular at the plenary stage. The aim of this initiative is to introduce the necessary amendments to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure in order to incorporate the decision taken by the Conference of Presidents, according to which own-initiative reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity and monitoring reports, as listed in items 1 and 2 of Annex XVIII to the Rules of Procedure, should be handled as strategic reports, pursuant to the criteria set out by the Conference of Presidents.

Regarding the question of whether Rule 163, relating to split voting, should apply to own-initiative reports, it establishes that this rule is not applicable, except for the own-initiative reports mentioned in the last sentence of Rule 48(2), or where the subject of the report qualifies for a key debate in plenary, where the report is drawn up pursuant to Rule 41 or 42, or where the report has been authorised as a strategic report. It also clarifies that the roll-call vote may only be requested for the final vote under Rule 167, with the same exception as set out in Rule 163.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI), in writing. – One of the many valid criticisms often levelled at this Parliament – and at the EU institutions as a whole – is that its actions lack transparency and real accountability and are not subjected to the necessary level of scrutiny. For any MEP who is a proponent of a more open Europe and of effective parliamentary scrutiny, the Ilchev report is unacceptable. The ability to request and partake in roll-call votes is an essential part of the process by which this Parliament conducts its business and is an important part of the transparency for Parliament which we MEPs should encourage and not seek to suppress.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Own-initiative reports are an important way for Members to carry out their duties and have enabled Parliament to look in greater detail at issues which would otherwise have escaped its notice. Despite these undoubted qualities, this House should resist the temptation to spend most of its time on non-legislative reports. This resolution seeks to improve the framework for this type of report within the Rules of Procedure, as well as their connection to the Conference of Presidents. I hope that the amendments that have been tabled will have the desired result: that the Rules of Procedure will become an increasingly important legal instrument for facilitating and informing the actions of Members and that, as a result, they will increasingly become less of a bureaucratic obstacle to this action, which should be free, active and well informed.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Mr Ilchev, concerns the amendment of Rule 48(2) of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure on own-initiative reports. This draft amendment follows the Conference of Presidents on 7 April 2011, at which it was decided that own-initiative reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity and monitoring reports, as listed in items 1 and 2 of Annex XVIII to the Rules of Procedure, should be handled as strategic reports in the sense of the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure, with a view to improving the treatment of own-initiative reports.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) These amendments to the Rules of Procedure, promoted by the majority in this House – the holy alliance between the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – do not make the institution more democratic. Quite the contrary. The amendment to Rule 48(2), for example, seeks to limit the political groups’ opportunities for involvement in tabling amendments, requests for split votes and roll-call votes on points in own-initiative reports, if these are only carried out under the short presentation procedure.

The aim of this is to assert the role of Parliament in interinstitutional disputes within the EU, seeking to make own-initiative reports look like a consensus, making it a feigned consensus. It is regrettable and reprehensible that they are trying to limit the political groups’ involvement and, in particular, that of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, which indisputably offers an alternative to this EU: that of a social Europe, a Europe of the workers and peoples.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) With a view to improving the assessment of own-initiative reports, the Conference of Presidents decided that INI reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity and monitoring reports should be considered to be strategic reports in the sense of the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure. The Conference of Presidents also decided to invite the Committee on Constitutional Affairs to examine the question of whether Rules 163 and 167 should apply to INI reports. As the recommendations adopted by the Conference of Presidents considers that ‘the decision on whether an INI report is strategic or not in the sense of the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure shall be carried out by the Conference of Presidents at the authorisation stage by using a more political interpretation of the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 as amended (Annex XVIII to the Rules of Procedure)’, the last sentence of Rule 48(2) should be adapted accordingly. Regarding the question of whether Rules 163 and 167 should apply to INI reports, the report considers that a split vote should be allowed only for own-initiative reports referred to in the last sentence of Rule 48(2). Requests for a roll-call vote should only be allowed for the final vote, with the exception of the reports referred to in the last sentence of Rule 48(2).

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) This report aims to improve how own-initiative reports, which are non-legislative reports, are dealt with, particularly in plenary. The idea is to avoid overloading the agenda of part sessions with these reports while preserving the right of Members to draft own-initiative reports, established under Parliament’s Rules of Procedures. I voted in favour of this report in plenary.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report in order to make the Parliament’s voting sessions more efficient.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour. I agree with the explanation put forward by Mr Ilchev and with the proposal to amend the text of Article 48. The text needs to be adapted taking into due consideration the Conference of Presidents’ interpretation of the authorisation phase.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This report refuses to expand the possibilities of calling for roll-call voting and split voting for each own-initiative report. These instruments allow Members to account for the positions they take on important issues. There is no need to prevent this for own-initiative reports which, along with resolutions and other explanatory texts, form the main part of what is voted on in this Chamber. If this Parliament has no power of legislative initiative, no spontaneous speech, no real right of amendment, then is it not merely a machine to say ‘yes’ to every liberal extravagance?

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the amendment to Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure concerning own-initiative reports, as it clarifies the voting procedure for motions for resolutions by the Commission and related amendments, and also sets out what should be considered a strategic report.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) Own-initiative reports are an important tool enabling the European Parliament to express its opinion to the other European institutions when the ordinary legislative procedure is not applied. I have voted against Mr Ilchev’s report in this case, as the rapporteur proposed some changes that restricted the possibility for Members to use these reports on equal terms. I am specifically referring to the restrictions concerning split votes and roll-call votes on these types of reports, and the necessary condition for tabling amendments as required by the report, that is, that amendments have to be signed by at least one tenth of the Members.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In April 2011, the Conference of Presidents approved a series of recommendations concerning the treatment of own-initiative reports. With a view to improving the treatment of own-initiative reports, in particular at the plenary stage, the report following the recommendations by the COP decided that own-initiative reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity and monitoring reports should be handled as strategic reports within the meaning of the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) While agreeing that own-initiative reports should be of greater strategic importance, particularly on those matters to which the European Parliament is drawing the Commission’s attention, along with especially important matters, I would like to highlight another aspect. It is often the case that the European Parliament drafts own-initiative reports one after another and on the same issues. Unfortunately, although we are expressing our position on important issues (such as the demographic situation or biodiversity conservation), such reports often only repeat one another and we do not say anything new in them, nor do we get any closer to solving the problem. I would therefore like to draw the European Parliament President’s attention to the need, when approving the topics of draft reports, to focus more on the relevance and originality of the topics of own-initiative reports rather than the importance of the subject.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) It should be noted that the European Parliament is an institution representing the citizens of the Member States. Elected MEPs work in accordance with the free mandate principle, which is a fundamental law of parliamentary democracy. Consequently, the right to own-initiative reports should not be restricted. Furthermore, I do not believe that it is appropriate to only apply the split vote and the roll-call vote to motions for resolutions and amendments thereto, and roll-call votes just once during the final vote on alternative motions for resolutions.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, which is aimed at adapting the Rules of Procedure following the decision by the Conference of Presidents to improve the handling of own-initiative reports, especially at the plenary stage. Indeed, the Conference of Presidents decided that own-initiative reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity and monitoring reports, as listed in items 1 and 2 to Annex XVIII to the Rules of Procedure, should be handled as strategic reports in the sense of the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure, and asked the Committee on Constitutional Affairs to ensure the adequate monitoring of that decision. I agree with the rapporteur, who believes that the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure should be adapted, pursuant to the amendment tabled by the Conference of Presidents.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing.(IT) In the decision adopted today, Parliament ‘takes note of the Conference of Presidents’ decision of 7 April 2011 stating that own-initiative reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity and monitoring reports listed in items 1 and 2 of the Conference of Presidents’ decision of 12 December 2002, as contained in Annex XVIII to its Rules of Procedure (‘the 2002 Decision’), are to be considered as strategic reports within the meaning of the last sentence of Rule 48(2), and instructs its Secretary-General to incorporate the decision into Annex XVIII’. Parliament also ‘takes the view that Article 2(4) of the 2002 Decision has become obsolete as a result of the decision of 13 November 2007 on the amendment of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure in light of the Statute for Members, and instructs its Secretary-General to adapt Annex XVIII accordingly’. I have voted in favour of the amendment of said article in order to improve the treatment of own-initiative reports.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 7 April, the Conference of Presidents adopted a decision on own-initiative reports. This decision aims to incorporate some amendments on own-initiative reports into the Rules of Procedures, stating that roll-call and split votes may be applied in these cases.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Own-initiative reports that are not subject of a key debate are currently not considered strategic or to have been drawn up pursuant to EP’s right of initiative and may only be amended in Plenary by the rapporteur to take account of new, objective information or by one tenth of the Members of the EP (74). Groups may only table alternative resolutions. Whether groups may or may not table split, separate and roll-call votes has been a contentious issue and is the reason why this question has been referred to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. Our group has taken the line that it believes that the tabling of split, separate and roll-call votes should remain possible for groups. We wanted to maintain the possibility for split, separate and roll-call votes for all own-initiative reports, and we got this.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that the Conference of Presidents has decided that own-initiative reports drawn up on the basis of annual activity and monitoring reports, as listed in items 1 and 2 of Annex XVIII to the Rules of Procedure, should be handled as strategic reports in the sense of the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure, and that, in line with the recommendations of the Conference of Presidents, the decision on whether an own-initiative report is strategic or not in the sense of the last sentence of Rule 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure will be made by the Conference of Presidents at the authorisation stage, I voted for the amendments tabled in the document.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the amendment of Rule 48(2) of Parliament's Rules of Procedure on own-initiative reports, as I believe it is necessary for the regime applicable to such reports to be improved, particularly at the plenary stage. Motions for a resolution contained in own-initiative reports shall be examined by Parliament under the short presentation procedure. Amendments to such motions for resolutions shall only be admissible for consideration in plenary if tabled by the rapporteur to take account of new information, or by at least one-tenth of the Members of Parliament. At the same time, political groups may table alternative motions for resolutions in accordance with Rule 157(4) concerning admissibility of amendments. Thus, a political group or at least 40 Members of Parliament may table a motion for a resolution to replace a non-legislative proposal for resolution contained in a report of a committee, but without exceeding the length of the competent committee’s resolution. The proposal is subject to approval by Parliament without amendments, by single vote. These provisions shall not apply in cases where the subject of the report qualifies for a key debate in plenary, where the report is drawn up pursuant to the right of initiative, or where the report has been authorised as a strategic report.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – At the last Brussels plenary, I was prevented by the President of the European Parliament from voting on individual clauses in a report ‘in the interests of efficiency’. I voted against this report because it also proposes to sacrifice democracy in the name of efficiency. We must be able to table split votes and roll-call votes on all items in all reports. Our constituents have the right to know how their elected representatives are voting and Members deserve the right to express their approval or disapproval of individual clauses in a report. The fact that this report was passed with a large majority is another testament to the ‘stitch-up’ between the largest groups in the European Parliament. Sunshine is the best disinfectant; the larger political groups should not fear transparency. They should end the stranglehold they have on this Parliament and open it up to true democratic principles.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament promoted by the majority in this House – the holy alliance between the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – come and go, but they do not make the institution more democratic. Proof of this is the amendment to Rule 48(2), which limits the political groups’ opportunities for involvement in tabling amendments, requests for split votes and roll-call votes on points in own-initiative reports, if these are only carried out under the short presentation procedure. The aim is to assert the role of Parliament in interinstitutional disputes within the EU, with the majority seeking to ensure that own-initiative reports feign a consensus, limiting the involvement of some political groups by conveying the idea that Parliament is united around common goals. This is aimed at the most significant political group in Parliament, the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, and its actions in advocating an alternative to the EU of big business and the major powers, which continues to support peace and oppose the militarisation of the EU.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: B7-0016/2012

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) Given the unique situation of the euro area at present, with the Member States sharing a single currency without a common fiscal policy or a single bond market, and with major concern over the continuous strains on the bond markets from the sovereign debt crisis, reflected in widening spreads and enormous volatility, I am voting for this report, as I believe that the prospect of stability bonds can foster stability in the euro area in the medium term, and that the ratification of the European Stability Mechanism treaty and/or euro bills is vital, as is joint management of sovereign debt issuance.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I supported the motion for a resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds in the European Union. At such a time of crisis, the creation of a ‘euro bills’ market and the creation of stability bonds in particular could offer a viable alternative to the US dollar bond market. However, Member States must be made more responsible and must ensure the long-term stability of the euro. Rigorous budget discipline and universal respect for the rules must be guaranteed. Furthermore, I feel I must highlight the fact that a sustainable fiscal framework is essential for joint bond issuance and must be aimed at both enhanced economic governance and economic growth in the euro area. I therefore welcome the Green Paper on the issue, which I think could provide a useful starting point for further reflection and developments on this solution, which is deserving of careful scrutiny from the Commission in terms of its impact, feasibility and effectiveness.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) My colleagues in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and I voted in favour of the introduction of stability bonds, which can foster stability in the euro area in the medium term. Our decision is based on the European Commission’s Green Paper. This resolution calls for the pooling of sovereign debt by the countries of the euro area, in accordance with a proposal by a group of German economists. However, the text calls for other financial instruments to be put in place quickly in order to respond to short-term needs and that we should not think that these stability bonds will solve our problems. I voted in favour of a resolution which, for the moment, is aimed at making us consider the possible conditions for implementing such bonds. In short, I am in favour of increased coordination of budgetary policy across Europe, which would be brought about by the introduction of stability bonds.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution expressing the European Parliament’s position on the Green Paper and a more detailed resolution or reports on this matter will be drawn up at a later date. The euro area and its Member States must ensure the long-term stability of the currency used by more than 330 million people and many companies and investors because it indirectly affects the rest of the world. I agree that stability bonds could be an additional means of incentivising compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact. However, we must continue to tackle such important issues as budgetary discipline and increasing competitiveness, the criteria for the allocation of loans to Member States and the capacity to service the debt, as well as measurable and enforceable debt programmes, etc. The prospect of stability bonds may foster stability in the euro area in the medium term, but the Commission must come forward rapidly with proposals to address decisively the current sovereign debt crisis.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Considering the particular situation in which the euro area finds itself, and the sovereign debt crisis and high interest rates being experienced by the weakest economies, there is consensus on the importance of stability bonds as elements for stability and increased confidence, convergence and growth for the euro area. Stability bonds will enable sovereign debt risk to be shared, will reduce market volatility, and will set the euro area on a path of greater integration, which will lay the foundation for relaunching economic growth. They will have other benefits, specifically with regard to reducing the cost of debt, to reasserting the euro as a reserve currency at global level, to market efficiency and to reducing speculative attacks. This resolution, for which I voted, emphasises the need for swift measures to resolve the sovereign debt crisis, calling for concrete actions from the European Commission.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because I agree that we have to consider in detail the proposed idea of euro-denominated bonds when seeking means of ensuring stability in the euro area, in order to ensure that the euro once again becomes a strong currency and contributes towards guaranteeing the stability of the international monetary system. We are forced to consider the idea of a common issuance of bonds because the continuous strains on the euro area sovereign bond markets, reflected in widening differences in purchase and selling prices over the last two years, leads to high volatility and vulnerability to speculative attacks. However, the European Parliament is once again reiterating to the Commission and the Member States that the creation of a sustainable fiscal framework, aimed at both enhancing economic governance and boosting economic growth in the euro area, is a necessary precondition for a common issuance of bonds, and sequencing is a key issue, involving a binding road map.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report as it is an economically illiterate attempt to introduce Eurobonds by the back door, prioritising collective euro area debt over the restructuring and recovery of national debts. National debt should remain one of the most important aspects of national economies and is the burden of the domestic government involved. At a time of economic hardship, the UK cannot afford the introduction of so-called stability bonds, which are supposed to foster stability in the euro area in the medium term and would be achieved by the use of Member State contributions, including a sizeable British contribution to the budget. I cannot agree to the use of Welsh taxpayers’ money to support the failing single currency when constituents are suffering economic hardships of their own. It is not right that the UK should be contributing towards paying off the debts of bankrupt euro area economies in order to resuscitate the EU’s single currency ambitions.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted enthusiastically in favour of the motion for a resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds, since I am well aware that the extraordinary period of crisis that we are going through requires the courage to bring in innovative measures and financial instruments. Fiscal austerity and budgetary discipline are, of course, necessary and essential: indeed, one of the most destabilising factors is the fragmentation of the equity market, which is currently subject to 27 different sets of rules and regulations. Yet if we stop here, there is a very real risk of recession.

At the same time, we need to support growth, development and jobs in order to revive the European economy. I think that opening the debate, as we have done today, on the possibility of issuing joint European bonds is a step that we cannot fail to take if our goal is to achieve a market with greater liquidity and lower interest rates. We absolutely must put paid to the concerns of some quarters over the debt that would be created being used to fund European infrastructure; this infrastructure is the key for reviving Europe’s economy and competitiveness in today’s globalised world, which will not allow us to fall behind.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution, as it contributes to the current debate on stability bonds, and in view of its relevance as an important element in resolving the crisis in the euro area. It comments on the importance of implementing stability bonds, and makes observations about the Commission’s green paper on the issue. In view of the unique situation in which the euro area finds itself, and of the sovereign debt crisis and high interest rates being experienced by the weakest economies, there is consensus on the importance of stability bonds as stabilising elements that foster increased confidence, convergence and growth for the euro area.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I support this report because stability bonds can be an additional incentive for compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, especially in the context of new rules for the effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance in the euro area. As the issuer of the second international currency, the euro area has an essential role in maintaining the stability of the international monetary system, and also a strategic interest in capitalising on its full potential, so that the euro can become a global reserve currency. However, stability bonds can only play an important role in national implementation and global affirmation of euro area monetary policy provided that there is a sustainable budget framework in place based on economic growth, and not in the fragile context of the last two years, marked by speculative attacks, instability and faulty economic governance.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds as I believe that launching a system of euro bonds is absolutely necessary to ensure stability of the single currency, increase liquidity and reduce the borrowing costs that are currently facing the EU Member States. Therefore, I appreciate the step taken by the EU executive in releasing the Green Paper on this issue and I expect a road map for the next steps to be taken to launch the new bonds.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this resolution, as it argues that introducing stability bonds will contribute to the efficiency of the bond market and of the broader euro area financial system. ‘Euro bills’ are not a panacea, but they are an important element of the medium-term solutions. Greater fiscal coordination will also be necessary for the joint issuance of bonds, with a view to better economic governance.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats are somewhat doubtful about the wording in paragraph 12 calling on the Commission to quickly submit a proposal with regard to a redemption pact and/or a euro bills system. These are plans that, as things stand, are merely at the idea stage and that need to be worked through very carefully before they could potentially be put into practice.

At the same time, as representatives of an electorate in a non-euro area country, we have no interest in preventing the euro area countries from moving ahead quickly in these areas if they consider it to be necessary. Provided there is no negative effect on the internal market and EU cooperation in general, it has to be up to the euro countries themselves to decide on the solutions that they consider suitable for dealing with government debt and for rescuing the common currency.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This motion for a resolution, tabled following the oral question submitted by Ms Bowles and Ms Goulard, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure, concerns the feasibility of introducing stability bonds. The possibility of introducing stability bonds has led to several studies, in particular the Commission’s Green Paper of 23 November 2011, and President Van Rompuy’s interim report of 6 December 2011, entitled Towards a Stronger Economic Union. The euro area issues the world’s second most important international currency, and its Member States should enjoy all the potential benefits of issuing the euro, as it has the potential to become a global reserve currency. Given that these bonds may contribute towards the stability of the euro area and the efficiency of its financial system, which is currently vulnerable to speculative attacks, I voted for this motion for a resolution, as it will also contribute towards European economic recovery.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The name that the Commission has now given to what were long called ‘Eurobonds’ – stability bonds – demonstrates the requirement inherent to them: the deepening of economic and fiscal governance, in the way advocated and put into practice by the directorate that runs the EU. This has been done by placing unacceptable limits on the sovereignty of countries and peoples in areas vital in enabling them to determine their collective obligations. The strategic objective adopted here is not economic growth, job creation and combating social inequality, but asserting the euro as a global reserve currency, which goes against the interests of the people of the outlying countries. This mechanism does not guarantee an end to speculative attacks and maintains differentiation in the interest rates each country pays for finance.

What is needed is not measures that, years ago, could have served to absorb some of the speculative shock, within the framework of a debate on profound change to European Union economic policy. What is needed presently is to reverse the path taken, and to repeal economic governance, the Euro Plus Pact and the new European Treaty.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Parliament has requested that the Commission present a report on the possibility of introducing euro-securities, which is an integral part of the agreement between Parliament and the Council on the package of six legislative proposals on economic governance. The euro area is in a unique situation, with the euro area Member States sharing a single currency without a common fiscal policy and a single bond market. The issuance of bonds with joint and several liability would, however, require a process of deeper integration. The euro area, as the issuer of the world’s second international currency, is co-responsible for the stability of the international monetary system. It is in its strategic long-term interest to draw all the possible benefits of issuing the euro, which has the potential to become a global reserve currency. The euro area and its Member States are responsible for ensuring the long-term stability of the currency used by more than 330 million people and many companies and investors, which indirectly affects the rest of the world. Stability bonds would facilitate the transmission of euro area monetary policy and would promote efficiency in the bond market and in the broader euro area financial system. At the same time, I am of the opinion that the introduction of a sustainable fiscal framework, aimed at both enhanced economic governance and economic growth, is a necessary precondition for a common issuance of bonds. I also believe that the prospect of stability bonds can foster stability in the euro area.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – I support Parliament’s resolution on the feasibility of stability bonds. Recent attempts by Member States to address the economic crisis have been almost universally short-sighted and half-baked. We must do better – Europe needs a credible, long-term route out of the crisis, involving a series of interlocking measures. One such initiative could be stability bonds, or Eurobonds. In my view, stability bonds deserve serious consideration because, if properly implemented, they could help to insulate the euro area’s 330 million citizens from the type of instability that has dogged us in recent years, costing us jobs and reducing people’s quality of life. A well-designed stability bond system would address these problems in the following way: firstly, by creating a single market for euro area bonds, stability bonds would be a formidable tool in our arsenal against the ongoing crisis. Stability bonds would improve liquidity in the bond markets, reduce volatility and prevent speculative attacks on euro area Member States. Secondly, stability bonds could support sustainable and responsible budgetary practices by including requirements for budgetary discipline. Such a solid economic framework could result in improved economic governance and, crucially, could spur economic growth, which has been hampered by the atmosphere of uncertainty on financial markets.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) The adoption of a road map to establish the conditions enabling the common issuance of part of the sovereign debt in the form of Eurobonds is a long-standing demand of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

That is why I supported the adoption of this resolution, because Eurobonds establish not only a system of responsibility and solidarity between Member States, by coming to the aid of the most indebted countries giving them access to loans at a reduced price, but also because they encourage a deepening of the economic and monetary union. What is more, they are a means of increasing the long-term stability and strength of the euro area. Eurobonds therefore represent a viable alternative to the drastic austerity measures imposed on citizens and provide a common European response to the sovereign debt crisis affecting the States and their people.

 
  
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  Carl Haglund (ALDE), in writing. – I, Carl Haglund, decided to abstain from supporting the resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds following my firm conviction that a system of permanent joint liabilities for sovereign debt is no solution for the eurozone. In addition to this, there are a number of issues concerning moral hazard, wrong incentives, impacts on the interest rates and legal constraints that, as yet, have not been appropriately tackled in my view. The rapporteur has made a great effort in tackling these and other inherent issues, which is the reason for my not voting against the resolution, even though the fundamental question on joint liabilities led me to abstain from supporting the resolution.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this resolution because I believe that stability bonds could be an additional means of incentivising compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, provided that they address the issue of moral hazard and joint liability. This is one of the possible measures that could help resolve the present situation. I welcome the provision that the Commission should come forward as soon as possible with proposals to address decisively the current sovereign debt crisis. The euro area and its Member States must ensure the long-term stability of the currency used by more than 330 million people and many companies and investors because it has an impact not just on the EU, but the rest of the world. We must be open to discuss all issues – both strengths and weaknesses – relating to the feasibility of introducing stability bonds under different options, so that we find the right response to the current sovereign debt crisis.

 
  
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  Anne E. Jensen (ALDE), in writing. (DA) I voted in favour of the resolution on stability bonds. I believe that we should reject the Commission’s first proposal for stability bonds, as these bonds would mean that countries whose economies are in order will pay a higher rate of interest. That being said, I agree with the resolution’s support for the proposal from the German experts for common bonds that would entail each country being liable for its own debt and receiving a cash incentive to pursue a disciplined policy. The resolution recommends that the Commission carry out further work on this proposal, and that is something that I can support wholeheartedly.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson, Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. – It is our conviction that a system of permanent joint liability for sovereign debt is no short-term solution for the euro area. There are a number of issues concerning moral hazard, incentives, impacts on interest rates and legal constraints that, to date, have not been investigated properly by the Commission. When the debt crisis has been resolved in the euro area and the Member States have reduced their budget deficits, such a system could be evaluated. There are, however, necessary strict preconditions that have to be met for a common issuance of bonds; for example, a culture of stability must have been credibly established in the euro area and a sustainable fiscal framework needs to be in place, aimed at ensuring both enhanced economic governance and economic growth in the euro area.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) Parliament has requested that the Commission present a report on the possibility of introducing euro-securities, a report which forms an integral part of the agreement between the Parliament and the Council on the economic governance package, the ‘six-pack’. This resolution constitutes a preliminary response to the Commission Green Paper dated 23 November 2011 on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds. It will be followed by an own-initiative report. I voted in favour of this resolution, which shows that stability bonds could be an additional measure which would encourage compliance with the stability pact and growth, and foster stability in the euro area in the medium term.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. (LV) I supported the resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds because this resolution sets out reasons for the need to introduce euro-securities and explains the measures required for them to be introduced. It is clear that changes are taking place in Europe, but this is particularly true in the European monetary union, namely, in the countries that have introduced the euro. Each of these countries has a different economic situation, debt level, growth prospects and so on. However, the European Central Bank, which oversees European monetary union, does not have the authority to issue euro-securities with the highest credit rating. Stability bonds or euro-securities would mean accountability on the part of all the euro states for the joint debt. Certainly, the introduction of such securities in the current situation is not possible, because more stringent fiscal conditions are necessary for the euro area states, in order to reduce the risk should any Member State be unable to pay back its debt. After it has joined the euro area, it will be advantageous for Latvia to introduce European stability bonds or euro-securities, because they will have the highest credit rating; that is to say, countries in the euro area would be able to borrow extremely cheaply because of the low interest rates.

 
  
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  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE), in writing. – The FDP Delegation has abstained in today’s vote on the motion for a resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds. We believe that the introduction of Eurobonds would set the wrong incentives. Since the introduction of the euro, low interest rates have led to a substantial increase in debt levels in many eurozone countries. Eurobonds would take the pressure off highly indebted eurozone Member States to consolidate their budgets and introduce much needed structural reforms. Therefore, we believe that Eurobonds would aggravate, rather than alleviate, the current crisis. However, we did not vote against the resolution as many of our concerns have been taken on board by the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the European Parliament’s resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds, following on from the Green Paper launched by the Commission on this subject.

These famous ‘Eurobonds’ are one of the options to foster stability in the euro area in the medium term, but they are not a single solution to the problems we are now faced with and, in particular, the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Of course, the necessary prerequisite is to implement enhanced economic governance, to continue the consolidation of public finances through common budgetary discipline, and to step up convergence of our economic and budgetary policies.

Once these principles are established and the implementation of the financial stability treaty has been completed, it will be possible to jointly issue bonds, which will be useful and viewed as such by the countries of the European Union. Furthermore, technical issues, primarily regarding the issue of debt segmentation, remain to be resolved.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I believe that the prospect of stability bonds can foster stability in the euro area in the medium term. This report calls on the Commission, however, to come forward rapidly with proposals to address decisively the current sovereign debt crisis, such as the European redemption pact proposed by the German Council of Economic Experts and/or the finalisation and ratification of an ESM treaty and/or euro bills, as well as joint management of sovereign debt issuance.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am voting in favour of the resolution. Following the introduction of the euro, the time is definitely right for Europe to put in place a common budget policy and a single bond market. This would make it possible to pursue more ardently the goal of stabilising the sovereign debt market and bring about reduced borrowing costs for Member States. Germany’s reservations were initially understandable, but there are sound reasons for them to be overcome, since it is now possible to conceive of Eurobonds that will allow some countries to cut their cost of their debt, without increasing it for others.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This resolution claims that stability bonds can foster stability in the euro area. However, these bonds promote dependence on free financial markets, which are precisely the cause of the instability. They also serve to justify forcing Member States to gradually move towards a policy of permanent restraint. In so doing, they hide the solutions that are needed as a matter of urgency. What we need to do is to cancel the illegitimate portion of sovereign debt, make the European Central Bank buy back another portion, set up a coordinated European policy to boost activity and jobs and organise a coordinated raising of tax on capital and income. I voted against this text.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The continuous strains on the euro area bond markets for sovereign debt are worrying, and have been reflected in widening spreads, high volatility, vulnerability and speculative attacks over the last two years. The euro area, as the issuer of the world’s second largest international currency, is jointly responsible for the stability of the international monetary system. It is therefore in the long-term strategic interests of the euro area and its Member States to take maximum advantage of issuing the euro, which has the potential to become a global reserve currency. It is worth noting that the US treasury market and the total euro area sovereign bond market are comparable in size but not in terms of liquidity, diversity and pricing. However, it may be in the interests of the euro area to develop a common, liquid and diversified bond market, and once a stability culture has been credibly established in the euro area, a stability bond market could offer a viable alternative to the US dollar bond market and establish the euro as a ‘safe haven’ currency. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I share the European Commission’s worries about the continued stress in the sovereign bond markets in the euro area. It is characterised by rising differentials, high volatility and a vulnerability to the speculative attacks of the last two years. I could even support the view that it might be helpful to issue Eurobonds for the euro area. Under no circumstances, however, can I accept their issue being subject to a budgetary framework aimed at economic governance, a binding scheme similar to the Maastricht criteria, and subject also to budgetary discipline and an increase in competitiveness, as stated in the report, nor do I understand Eurobonds as an additional means of incentivising compliance with the Stability Pact. That is why I have voted against.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The resolution is an answer by the European Parliament to the Commission’s Green Paper of 23 November 2011, in which the Commission offered three options for stability bonds for euro area countries. In the resolution, the European Parliament points to the necessity of conducting additional work regarding all three options.

 
  
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  Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. (PT) Since I agree that they form part of a genuine ‘fiscal union’, I voted for the resolution on stability bonds; that is, on the issuance of public debt by EU Member States, mutually guaranteed by the other Member States. As the resolution states, we have had a single currency without a common fiscal policy or a single bond market. When fiscal integration is consolidated, there will be no reason not to have a mutually assured issue of public debt. This will, however, require Treaty change. Despite the hasty demands of some, what we could not have is Eurobonds without first establishing fiscal union. A country cannot be asked to be held responsible for the debt of another country if there is no mutual control of their respective budgets. The recent ‘fiscal compact’ is an important step in the right direction.

 
  
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  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE), in writing.(PL) The current financial crisis has laid bare the imperfections of the institutional architecture of the euro area and its economic governance. Mention should be made, here, not only of the protractedness of the decision-making process and the ineffective enforcement of fiscal discipline in the Stability and Growth Pact, but also of the susceptibility to speculative attacks and the changeability of the prices of assets in sovereign bond markets, which reduce the effectiveness of the common monetary policy.

The initial proposal for the introduction of what are called stability bonds, in other words, a form similar to the common sovereign bonds issued on behalf of all the euro area Member States, is certainly worthy of attention. The potential benefits of introducing this remedy are the principal reasons which ought to persuade us to carry out an in-depth analysis of this question. The use of a form of mutualisation of debt can help increase the effectiveness, stability and resistance to sudden disruptions of the European market in government bonds. In periods of increased aversion to risk, a common bond market will make it easier for the Member States which participate in the mechanism to enjoy access to the market, and will also increase the effectiveness of the monetary transmission mechanism in the euro area.

It should also be added that the effect of scale will reduce the transaction costs and strengthen the role of the euro as an international reserve currency in the global financial market. Putting this proposal into effect entails important consequences for the global financial market and the future efficiency of operation of the euro area, but in order to evaluate it objectively, it is necessary to make a comprehensive examination of all possible variations and draw up a careful benefit-risk balance.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I abstained from this vote because I am not convinced that bonds will achieve the intended objective. I support the principles of solidarity, but only if it applies to every issue and every Member State. In issuing bonds, we wish to help our countries that have behaved irresponsibly in financial matters, while at the same time, we have unfortunately abandoned solidarity in the allocation of both present and future agricultural subsidies.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because we need to establish a sustainable fiscal framework, which, through effective measures, would enhance economic governance and boost economic growth in the euro area. Above all, the euro area should have a common liquid and diversified bond market, which would create an alternative to the US dollar bond market and would increase the role of the euro in the global financial system. The euro will therefore acquire the status of a global ‘safe haven’. Furthermore, bonds that are intended to ensure stability will help prevent a repeat of the debt crisis, will boost growth in the medium term, and will increase the efficiency of the market. However, in order to introduce stability bonds, we must not make hasty decisions. There is therefore a need for improved policy coordination, which would ensure high credit quality and that all Member States benefit from stability bonds.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution. In this resolution, the European Parliament officially takes the view that the issuance of bonds with joint and several liability is a process of greater economic integration. At the same time, it reminds us of the need to enhance economic governance and economic growth in the euro area. Within this framework, the Commission is called on to come forward rapidly with proposals to address decisively the current sovereign debt crisis, such as the European redemption pact, the finalisation and ratification of an ESM treaty and joint management of sovereign debt issuance.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This resolution is a preliminary response to the Commission Green Paper and will be followed by a more comprehensive resolution, in the form of an own-initiative report. The resolution represents a contribution to the current debate on stability bonds and their relevance as an important element in resolving the crisis in the euro area, with comments on the importance of implementing stability bonds. In view of the unique situation in which the euro area finds itself, of the sovereign debt crisis and of the high interest rates experienced by the weakest economies, stability bonds are becoming inevitable and should be combined with effective measures for promoting growth and making the European economy more competitive.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following a request made by Parliament, the Commission has published a Green Paper on introducing stability bonds. Lengthier analysis at a later date notwithstanding, this document should be applauded now, as it may serve as a basis for work that will be important later. While it is true that the euro is a currency central to the international monetary system, and which has the potential to become a global reserve currency, it is also certain that it can only achieve this if EU monetary governance is equipped with instruments enabling it to guarantee the stability of the currency. As noted by the rapporteurs, stability bonds may be one of the best ways to ensure the stability of the euro area in the medium term. In light of this analysis, I voted for the resolution.

 
  
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  Britta Reimers (ALDE), in writing. (DE) I have voted against the motion for a resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds because I am of the opinion that the creation of Eurobonds would send out the wrong signal. Since the introduction of the euro, low interest rates have led to higher debt levels in many euro area countries. Eurobonds would take the pressure off these countries to consolidate their national budgets and implement the necessary reforms. Therefore, I believe that the introduction of Eurobonds would make the current crisis worse.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. (FI) Lying at the heart of the debate on Eurobonds, I believe, is the notion that every country must be liable for its own debts. We need practical tools to beat the current crisis in the European economy. We also need sustainable solutions to prevent similar crises in the future.

Eurobonds cause fear in countries that have managed their budgets well. This fear is based on the imagined threat that Eurobonds will result in the cost of borrowing rising in countries with the highest credit ratings. Finland, for example, has not adopted the proposal on Eurobonds.

The Commission estimates that there may be many benefits from jointly issued Eurobonds. The euro area countries that are grappling with financial problems would be able to obtain loans more easily and more cheaply. A more sustainable, more stable euro area is in the interests of the whole of Europe. How the crisis in the European economy is managed should be decided within the European Union. That is why there needs to be discussions between the Council of Ministers, the Commission and Parliament on the European crisis and its management.

I call for financial discipline and monitoring as a condition of common Eurobonds. Member States that have managed their economies and budgets well should not have to foot the bill.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) Like many of my fellow Members, I agree with the responses to the public consultation received thus far and am pleased with the Commission for having presented the Green Paper on Eurobonds. Indeed, Parliament had been asking for some time for the Commission to put forward an analysis on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds under different options. It seems to me that what we have ended up with could be a useful starting point for further reflection.

According to the text of the resolution, Eurobonds could become a source of stability for the euro area in the medium term while, as already discussed, we will need other tools to solve the short-term issues. In the text, we call on the Commission to come forward rapidly with possible tools to deal with the current crisis such as the European redemption pact, as well as joint management of sovereign debt issuance.

In my opinion, introducing Eurobonds remains contingent upon reducing the risk of moral hazard and making the European economy more attractive, both in terms of higher-rated and more indebted countries, boosting competitiveness and introducing mandatory debt reduction mechanisms alongside greater fiscal consolidation.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Over recent months, the European institutions have been discussing the possibility of introducing stability bonds, with a view to solving the problems of the several Member States facing high interest rates when seeking finance on the international markets. In November 2011, the Commission published its Green Paper on ‘stability bonds’, with the aim of assessing the feasibility of introducing euro bills between the various countries of the euro area. I am voting for this motion for a resolution of the European Parliament, as I believe this is the right way to strengthen economic governance, to promote the efficiency of the bond market and the euro area financial system, and to ensure a more stable international monetary system. However, I consider it particularly important to make the public finances more sustainable, as this is the only way in which it will be possible to establish better conditions for introducing stability bonds. Finally, I believe that these bonds could contribute to greater stability in the euro area in the medium term, and that the Commission now needs to table concrete proposals to address the current sovereign debt crisis.

 
  
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  Alexandra Thein (ALDE), in writing. – The FDP Delegation abstained in today’s vote on the motion for a resolution on the feasibility of introducing stability bonds. We believe that the introduction of Eurobonds would set the wrong incentives. Since the introduction of the euro, low interest rates have led to a substantial increase in debt levels in many euro area countries. Eurobonds would take the pressure off highly indebted euro area Member States to consolidate their budgets and introduce much needed structural reforms. Therefore, we believe that Eurobonds would aggravate, rather than alleviate the current crisis. However, we did not vote against the resolution as many of our concerns have been taken on board by the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I was not able to vote in favour of this resolution today, even though it is just one resolution and a large variety of joint bonds are to be set up. I am, on principle and without exception, opposed to Eurobonds of any kind, just as the Maastricht Treaty very clearly rules this option out. The absolutely essential prerequisites for these ideas are the prior formation of a common fiscal union with all of the relevant mechanisms, such as a debt brake, and a legal basis in the Treaties. Any other sequence of events or measures will lead to complete ruin or to a socialist planned economy.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The euphemistic term by which Eurobonds are now described – stability bonds – is based on a requirement that we reject: namely, the deepening of economic and fiscal governance, which will mean a significant transfer of sovereignty to the major powers. The strategic objective adopted here is not economic growth, job creation and combating social inequality, but asserting the euro as a global reserve currency, which goes against the interests of the people of the outlying countries.

This mechanism does not guarantee an end to speculative attacks and maintains differentiation in the interest rates each country pays for finance. What is needed is not measures that, years ago, could have served to absorb some of the speculative shock, within the framework of a debate on profound change to European Union economic policy. What is needed presently is to reverse the path taken, and to repeal economic governance, the Euro Plus Pact and the new European Treaty. There will be no break with the process of extortion, colonisation and exploitation under way as part of capitalist integration in the EU within a framework of deepening federalism.

 
  
  

Report: Marije Cornelissen (A7-0021/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) Faced with the crisis and the adoption of austerity measures, certain sections of the population have been more harshly affected than others. Young people were the first victims. Though they represent 20% of the total population of the Union, one young person in five is unemployed. Youth employment must therefore be a priority. That is why I voted in favour of the Cornelissen Report.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as I believe that guidance on fiscal consolidation should be based on social justice in order not to increase the risk of poverty, and should take account of the additional efforts that families are making in order to combat unemployment and mitigate the social consequences of the crisis. The main aim should be to promote growth in the short term, as well as in the medium and long term.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution on the Annual Growth Survey, which sets out what the Commission believes have to be the main priorities for the coming year in terms of budgetary, economic, employment and social policies and reforms. I agree that the key message should be that more efforts are needed to put Europe back on track and sustain growth and jobs. Member States should focus on five priorities: pursuing differentiated, growth-friendly fiscal consolidation; restoring normal lending to the economy; promoting growth and competitiveness; tackling unemployment and the social consequences of the crisis; and modernising public administration. Together with other Members of this Parliament, I express a general concern that fiscal consolidation was set as a general priority and that fiscal consolidation measures are a threat to people at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The crisis has had particularly dramatic consequences for the situation of young people trying to seek stable employment but who are now facing an unemployment rate of over 20%, and of more than 40% in certain Member States.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The level of unemployment has reached 23 million people, corresponding to 10% of the working age population, without even counting the fact that 22.1% of young people are unemployed. Europe needs a plan made up of concrete and immediate measures to fight back against these shocking figures. Following on also from the conclusions of the European Council on 30 January, I think that combating unemployment – especially among young people – should be a priority for the Union. It should be dealt with through immediate and profound structural reforms, targeted strategies on employment policy and measures designed to ensure the transition from education to work and promote workers’ flexibility. Equally, in order to boost the EU’s competitiveness, we need to increase labour efficiency and productivity, as well as provide suitable support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Europe’s economy needs decisive and immediate action. Europe’s future rests on the ability to invert current trends, boost competitiveness and reaffirm confidence in the Union’s potential for growth. I voted in favour of Ms Cornelissen’s report for all these reasons.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) In the Annual Growth Survey, which will be adopted by the European Council between 1 and 2 March, the resolution by the rapporteur, Marije Cornelissen, looks more specifically at the social aspects and the importance of measuring the social impact of policies in each country. This resolution warns against the risk that new fiscal consolidation measures could hit those threatened by poverty or social exclusion. As you will no doubt be aware, the fight against insecurity and poverty in Europe is one of my pet topics. I agree with the vision set out in the resolution of a European Union that focuses more on decent work and efforts to support the reconciliation of work, family and private life. As a mother, these are my worries. In addition, the text insists on the need to create comprehensive strategies for young people who are not in employment and stresses the importance of reducing precarious forms of employment among young people. I therefore remain convinced that there is no contradiction between the current fiscal consolidation measures and the long-term growth aims of the European Union.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. Approximately 10% of working age people are unemployed in the EU Member States and this tendency has been increasing since the Member States began to apply austerity measures, which are halting the economic recovery of both the Member States and the EU as a whole. The social consequences of the financial and economic crisis are affecting an increasing number of EU citizens and in-work poverty is on the rise throughout the EU. I welcome the report’s call for the Member States not to allow austerity measures to compromise the promotion of growth and employment, and to prioritise growth-friendly expenditure such as education, lifelong learning, research and innovation, while also ensuring the efficiency of this expenditure.

 
  
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  Heinz K. Becker (PPE), in writing. (DE) I see the growth and employment report 2012 as a positive demonstration of the role of the European Union in creating incentives for the Member States. It puts the focus on managing the consequences of the crisis and generating new structural competitiveness by means of budget consolidation with an emphasis on both austerity and growth, restoring the necessary lending power, in particular, for innovative investments by small and medium-sized enterprises, and increasing Europe’s competitiveness by creating new ‘white’ jobs, for example, in health care, and ‘green’ jobs. It also recommends combating unemployment, in particular, among young and older people, for example, by means of educational initiatives, lifelong learning and age-related working conditions, and introducing administrative reforms in the shape of more modern digital organisations. We have identified other key issues in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs which I believe represent a joint obligation on the part of the Member States. These include complying with budget consolidation requirements such as those in the European Semester, which are now accompanied by the threat of penalty payments, a specific focus on the dual education model, which is a successful means of introducing reforms, and company health care provision as the starting point for an active life which will also provide support for older workers through to retirement. There is no alternative to Europe as a provider of incentives. I am calling on the national governments to inform all their citizens about this in order to help to eliminate euroscepticism and to convey the image to everyone of a common Europe which is ready for the future.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Strengthened economic governance, reduced public deficits, modernised public administration and so on. Will this be enough to allow 75% of the population to have a job or to reduce the number of people affected by or at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 20 million by 2020? I suspect not. The issues of employment and social policy are becoming increasingly rare in today’s political debates. Ensuring that austere budget policies do not hinder social justice, do not have the effect of increasing poverty or exacerbating unemployment … in short, it is essential that we ensure that the social effects of austerity are not added to the social effects of the crisis. It is not acceptable to have austerity as the sole policy direction. The strategy set out in the Cornelissen report involves refocusing budgets on employment and social policy to support the creation of quality jobs, to combat youth unemployment effectively, and also to tackle poverty and social exclusion. Ignoring the pernicious effects of austerity policies is not an option. The road to achieving the social Europe that the citizens have been awaiting for so long still appears to be a long one, but the ideas are there.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) Last November, the Commission presented the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2012, which sets out the EU’s priorities for the coming 12 months in terms of budgetary, economic, employment and social policies and reforms. The recent economic and financial crisis, which was followed by the deterioration of sovereign debt in the European Union, made it clear that the EU needs stronger European economic governance to prevent large budgetary deficits and macro-economic imbalances from threatening the euro and the European economy. While fiscal consolidation is necessary in many Member States, I think that policy guidance aimed at a general stepping-up of austerity measures is not compatible with a job-rich recovery, which is what the EU desperately needs. The crisis has had particularly dramatic consequences for the situation of young people trying to seek stable employment. While the AGS makes employment of young people a priority, I am concerned about the quality of the jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships that are suggested in the policy guidance. I take this opportunity to call the Commission’s attention to the need to take action to make the fight against precarious work among young people a key part of youth employment policy guidance.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) The essence of this report, whereby austerity measures are a bitter medicine that have to be imposed on countries in major budgetary strife, is worthy of support. The problem is the recipe being put forward for solving the current crisis. Indeed, there is talk of greater coordination on fiscal policy and deeper EU-wide action on taxation. Furthermore, there is an insistence on protecting the categories deemed to be most vulnerable and, according to Ms Cornelissen, most exposed to the effects of the crisis, such as immigrants from outside the EU and the Roma. I do not agree on these points, since in order to emerge from economic stagnation, we need business vitality and freedom for our small and medium-sized enterprises, not centralist actions on tax and revenues. Nor, much less, can we concentrate on categories like immigrants, when, in reality, it is our young people that are losing their jobs or not finding them in the first place. We should be looking after them instead, so that our economy can offer them work and opportunities to earn that do not currently exist. I therefore voted against the report.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the assessment of the Annual Growth Survey 2012 and agree that there really is much to be concerned about because the current national targets are not sufficient to achieve the Europe 2020 headline targets for employment, education and poverty reduction. However, policy guidelines on tackling unemployment are not dovetailed with guidelines on increasing employment, improving the quality of jobs and putting in place the necessary conditions for increasing labour market participation. Many Member States are failing to offer measures to ensure that work is decently paid and workers have decent working conditions. It is also important to stress that, if imposed, austerity measures should not compromise social protection and health and safety standards. The crisis has had a very negative impact on youth employment – on average, a fifth of all young people in Europe are unemployed. For many countries this has become a serious labour market problem, which people often try to solve by looking for work elsewhere. The phenomenon also devalues the investment countries make in people’s qualifications, which cannot be used. Young people are trying to escape by continuing their studies, but this only delays finding a solution to the problem and reduces the motivation to work. The worst thing is when the finest dreams and plans in life are shattered by long-term unemployment. Currently, there are as many as 7.5 million people in the EU who are neither working nor studying. It is unfortunate that these people are living in poverty, although their work is really needed by an ageing Europe, which aims to ensure solidarity among the generations based on prosperity for all.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Member States bear primary responsibility for employment and social policies. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, European institutions deal with those aspects for which EU solutions provide policy harmonisation. Thus, of common interest to all Member States are matters relating to funding, unemployment and social problems. So far, the EU has set only minimum standards and rights, on which basis the Member States adopt laws and regulations that go beyond the requirements of the European social policy.

The crisis has had dramatic consequences, particularly for young people looking for a stable job. They are faced with an unemployment rate above 20% and, for some Member States, even with a rate above 40%. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of young unemployed in the EU increased by 1 million. The number of young people aged 15 to 24 who are not employed and who do not attend any education or training programme increased by 2% during the same period. For these reasons, I believe that identifying solutions must be a priority for the European Union; otherwise, these youths will be a lost generation.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) As a matter of urgency, the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy must be an absolute priority for the European Commission and for the Member States. In the national action plan for employment that each Member State is going to publish in April, training must be adapted to company requirements; continuous training and retraining must be offered to staff; loan facilities must be provided for new young entrepreneurs via micro-credit. Our social policy as a whole must be more suitable, we need more crèches, social incentives that are more valuable than those linked to unemployment, and active support for all socially valuable enterprises. We must offer all young people without qualifications an apprenticeship or paid courses. There are 23 million SMEs in Europe, we have 23 million unemployed and European funds set aside for jobs go unused. Let us wait no longer: we should encourage the initiatives and implement those that will have a positive effect on jobs quickly. It is our duty to demand that the same energy that is expended on taking robust economic measures is also spent on ambitious, effective social measures.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing.(IT) Today, we have debated and voted on the three reports by Ms Cornelissen, Mr Gauzès and Ms Berès, which were drafted in relation to the Annual Growth Survey 2012 proposed by the Commission last November.

I supported the report by Ms Cornelissen since I agree on its approach calling for a greater European effort at all levels to achieve the dual goals of economic growth and social protection. I also agree with the hope that these goals can be pursued with coherent fiscal and budgetary policies, on the one hand, and coherent social and employment policies, on the other.

Furthermore, even though I do not believe in miracle cures, I think that the five ‘priority actions’ for 2012 set out in the Commission’s study and returned to in the report – namely, fiscal consolidation, restoring normal lending to the economy, growth and competitiveness, combating unemployment and the social effects of the crisis, and modernising the public administration – are the key to the European Union’s economic and social development and are goals that cannot be put off.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, as I believe that people approaching retirement age, the long-term unemployed, non-EU workers and low-skilled workers are among those hardest hit by the crisis. Given that the labour market situation is particularly critical for all young people, regardless of their level of education, who often end up with precarious employment contracts and in unpaid traineeships, and that the difficult situation of young people is partly because of mismatches between acquired skills and labour market demand, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against the report because it is governed by a central contradiction in its analysis of the economic and social situation in Europe. On the one hand, it rightly recognises that the austerity policies being imposed are increasing poverty, undermining the social state and increasing unemployment, especially among young people and women. On the other hand, it proposes the adoption of policies, such as the EU 2020 strategy, which contain neoliberal positions similar to those currently being implemented. The administrative-type proposals to reduce unemployment and protect labour contained in the text only operate as a framework for rescuing workers and the unemployed from complete impoverishment. If the EU really wants to improve the standard of living of the economically weaker, it needs to take action to safeguard citizens’ right to permanent and stable employment, make bold pay rises, extend the social state, tax large enterprises, exercise full control over the stock markets and create an education system predicated on the needs of society, not the needs of the market. Unfortunately, the report moves in no such direction. The deep economic recession cannot be addressed with a ‘stick and carrot’ policy.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The financial crisis, which has subsequently expanded into a social and sovereign debt crisis, requires new measures to support growth, which, until recently, were not in line with the main Europe 2020 strategy objectives. Moreover, the latest statistics indicate that levels of unemployment and inequality are worsening in the EU. I am voting for this report because, as the rapporteur argues, it is necessary to implement measures for job creation through encouragement for investment and tax reforms. As such, this needs to include budgetary leeway, so that priorities are balanced, in particular, between the necessary austerity and the need to increase levels of employment. It is also important to step up and improve investment in education and training.

I acknowledge the need to make an effort to adapt skills and profiles, not only to the current situation, but also in the medium and long term, through regular monitoring and evaluation of trends in the needs of businesses, training institutions and youth organisations, in order to combat structural unemployment and prepare workers for the transition to a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy.

 
  
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  Anna Ibrisagic (PPE), in writing. (SV) Today, we voted in favour of the resolution on employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2012. We would like to point out, however, that although higher tax revenue is a good thing, as is working actively to combat discrimination, these are matters that are subject to the principle of subsidiarity. We are also opposed to the call for a financial transaction tax.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – I welcome the emphasis in this report on the idea of a European Youth Guarantee, ensuring that within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed, every young person is offered a job, an apprenticeship, additional training or combined work and training. The preliminary results of a recent study by the European Foundation in Dublin indicated that 13% of all 15-24 year olds (7.5 million people) were not in employment, education or training (NEETS) in 2010. This costs all our societies EUR 100 billion annually in lost earnings and social transfers – 1% of our combined GDP (and 2.1% of Irish GDP). Getting just 10% of these 7.5 million young people into the labour market would save more than EUR 10 billion annually. The social democratic parties of Austria and Finland have led the way by introducing a Youth Guarantee. Their measures are producing results. The forthcoming March European summit should now make progress towards a European Youth Guarantee, using ESF funding. If we are to make our way out of the economic crisis, job creation, particularly for young people, has to be our first priority, and a European Youth Guarantee clearly has a role to play here. <