Iva Zanicchi (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, during the economic and financial crisis, it has emerged that several individual national deposit guarantee schemes in Europe had problems. In addition to seeing a lowering of depositor confidence, the State and, ultimately, the taxpayer had to bear the consequences of the failure of a bank.
I therefore consider it right to adopt appropriate measures to achieve significantly better protection for depositors which, taking into account the heterogeneity of the various European banking markets, may implement common requirements applicable to all deposit guarantee schemes, primarily the right to be protected up to EUR 100 000 and the short time limit for repayments to depositors where they are due.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted against the report on deposit guarantee schemes. While what the scheme hopes to achieve is clearly desirable for all Member States, it is my view that the measures which have been proposed to reach these aims are neither suitable nor workable in practice.
As a Group, we do not consider it wise to demand that all Member States impose such a high level of pre-funding, especially when our banks are trying to increase capital levels while minimising the withdrawal of credit to consumers. We believe that, rather than imposing a blanket scheme for all Member States, it will be preferable for guarantee schemes and pre-funding levels to be tailored to the needs of the individual Member States, according to their own circumstances.
We feel that the one-size-fits-all proposals that the rapporteur puts forward are actually geared much more towards the banking system of his own country, Germany, than they are towards the EU as a whole. It is this factor, coupled with the insistence on a high level of pre-funding – to be built up over a short period – which led us as a Group, the ECR, to oppose this report.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, the bail-out of the banks will one day be regarded as one of the most scandalous moments of the century. The sums are off the scale. In the United Kingdom, we spent GBP 1 trillion. We know where the money came from. We do not know where it is now; we do not know who has got it. What happened in the panicky days in the intermediate aftermath of the collapse of Lehmans was a total loss of nerve. In their turmoil, politicians the world over turned for advice to the one lot of people who could not give them disinterested counsel, namely bankers. Of course bankers suggested that the banks be bailed out.
Do you know what, if we had asked the bakers whether we should bail out the bakeries, I suspect we would have got the same answer, and the bakers might have almost believed it – saying foodstuffs are an absolutely essential commodity, they are not like anything else, and so forth. But that is why we do not ask them; that is why we have representative government.
There has now been this explosion of anger, which has taken the form of the occupying movements. I would just say to anyone protesting in those movements: the one thing you are not complaining about is capitalism. In a capitalist system, bad banks would have been allowed to fail; their profitable operations would have been bought by more successful competitors, shareholders and bondholders would have lost, and taxpayers would not have contributed a penny.
Gay Mitchell (PPE). – Mr President, I understand that the discussions on this are ongoing in COREPER and in the Council and that there is no agreement between the Council and Parliament on this matter yet. As some of these issues are contentious, the four Fine Gael MEPs in the EPP abstained on both the roll-call votes because it is not clear how these contentious matters are to be resolved. I wish that to be a matter of record.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Mr President, I voted against this report. Yes, I agree that we need to focus on banks, but we need to focus on ensuring banks are able to raise their capital requirements and continue lending. We need to be focusing on freeing up capital for growth in Europe.
It may well be the case that some Member States need to take action to support better-funded guarantee schemes, but this proposal is simply not proportionate. The 1.5% is not sensible and not suitable for my Member State, the UK, and therefore unacceptable to my Group. We must stop this ridiculous juggernaut of European financial regulation. Mindless harmonisation is not the answer. It will not solve our problems. It is the action of busy fools, and I really do not look forward to being around when that becomes the accepted wisdom.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, I welcome this report drawn up by my fellow Welsh colleague, Derek Vaughan, on the guidelines for the 2013 budget, which covers all EU institutions apart from the Commission. He has established in his own-initiative report the need for the EU to freeze these budgets. However, I would urge him and his colleagues on the Committee on Budgets to be bolder in order to seek a real-terms reduction in the overall EU budget.
With the number of EU Member States implementing harsh austerity measures and unemployment on the rise, standing at 8.9% in my own constituency of Wales, it is only fair that the EU institutions play their part in curbing expenditure. Unnecessary and wasteful excesses need to be identified and reduced and, where possible, eliminated, including addressing the politically taboo issue of a two-seat parliament. Strasbourg and Brussels symbolise the EU excesses which my constituents believe should stop and this question is covered by Amendment 2, which was carried today. I hope that the formal negotiations on the MFF are also able to be more bold in this regard.
Frank Vanhecke (EFD). – (NL) Mr President, when it comes to these guidelines for the 2013 budget, we have, unfortunately, gone no further than a few generalities about ‘responsibility and restraint in budgetary matters’. In that regard, we have scored a big fat zero. We should have come up with specific proposals which would stop all the European institutions throwing taxpayers’ money out of the window. A EUR 50 million investment and EUR 11 million annual operating costs for a House of European History, on top of the EUR 21 million we have already spent on our Parliamentarium, our visitor centre? That is indefensible. Travel expenses of up to EUR 26 000 for each participating Member of Parliament? That is indefensible. A high-end film prize that no one is the slightest bit interested in, but which costs EUR 570 000 annually? That is indefensible. Subsidies for European political parties which will total EUR 30 million this year alone? That is indefensible. I could cite another 100 such examples. That is a scandal.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – (opening of speech missing as microphone not switched on) ... for the 2013 budget for the institutions other than the Commission. We as a Group welcome the budget freeze that was proposed, to be adopted by the institutions where possible, and are waiting now to see whether this will be an inflationary or a real-terms freeze. We do not believe that the report is yet perfect, but do believe that it will serve as a good starting point for future negotiations. We hope that, following these negotiations, the report will go further to keep the budgets under control, which is what is necessary in this European Union.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, the money has run out! The euro crisis has emptied our treasuries and exhausted our credit; and we are now talking about borrowing unbelievable sums, literally unimaginable sums: hundreds of billions, trillions of euro.
There is nobody from whom to borrow it, so in practice, what we are doing is borrowing it from future generations. In other words, the government is going to inflate away this debt through money printing. It has already happened in the US, it has happened in my country, and it is coming next to the European Central Bank.
Inflation is the coward’s way to close a budget deficit. Unlike a tax rise or a spending cut for which the government is blamed, inflation is still seen by a number of voters as some kind of natural force, something that governments have to deal with, rather than something they create themselves. But in terms of its overall impact, it is far more damaging to the competitiveness and productivity of an economy.
What I find most bewildering is the way in which people who defend our current levels of spending have appropriated the language of fairness. There is nothing fair about expropriating generations yet to come so that we can sustain our own standard of living.
Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). – (FI) Mr President, I am in favour of the European Parliament having just one seat. I am very pleased that Parliament has now voted for just one seat, and by a large majority. We must now try to persuade our governments that the Council, Foreign Affairs Ministers and Prime Ministers should raise this issue at the joint meetings of European Ministers. We have heard that not one Member State has mentioned the matter for years.
The fact that there are two places of work, however, costs taxpayers EUR 180 million a year, and that is a lot of money at a time when we should be making savings. A total of 5 000 officials come here for just a few days. The movement of people and paper on such a scale also takes its toll on the environment. The EU should also save on all administrative costs.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Mr President, I would like to welcome the vote. I very much welcome the beginning of a debate on the budget – it is about time we started addressing it sensibly. I particularly welcome the carrying of Amendment 2 for the ending of this ridiculous travelling circus that results in our monthly flog here to Strasbourg: something which I would very much like to do without.
The single most frequent question I am asked by my constituents is: Why is the EP not taking seriously the issue of austerity in the way that Member States are having to? The joke is, of course, that some of the Members here think they are. They need to go and have a look at what is happening in places like Greece and see exactly what needs to be done. We need to take a very big slash to our budgets. This place is not an alternative source of funding for pet projects in Member States that are not funded by Member State governments.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, I am also in favour of a single seat for the European Parliament, namely Strasbourg. So why is it that I did not vote in favour of Amendment 2? It is because it is factually incorrect. That is because we have only had one seat for many years. The Treaty states: the seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg. We could implement all the savings ourselves without having to consult with the Council. We could abolish the mini-part-sessions in Brussels, leading to substantial savings. We could move our administration from Brussels to here, leading to more substantial savings. We could sell our expensive buildings in Brussels and invest much more economically here, leading to yet more substantial savings.
The fact is, however, that no one who supported Amendment 2 wants to do that. This shows that the issue at stake here is not cost cutting. What we have here is demagoguery against Strasbourg. Strasbourg is the political capital of a political and cultural Europe, not a metropolis for bureaucrats.
Martin Kastler (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, I can only support what my colleague, Mr Posselt, has already said: Strasbourg is the capital of Europe, the seat of the European Parliament. I propose that we should close Brussels, that we stop shuttling back and forth between Brussels and Strasbourg, and that we finally invest here. We own the buildings here, but not the ones in Brussels. This is the seat of Parliament.
I have to ask myself: we entertain so many visitors here in Strasbourg every month. We explain how Europe works to them. Why are we building a Parliamentarium, a museum of European history, in Brussels? That belongs here in Strasbourg. It is for this reason that I voted against this report.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, sustainable fishing policy should be at the heart of all EU policy formulation in this area.
The western stock of horse mackerel is of great economic importance to the EU, and so we need to ensure we do not risk depletion of its stocks in our waters. It is important that we develop a strategy based on the latest scientific evidence, which will provide the maximum sustainable yield, whilst keeping in line with the goals of the common fisheries policy.
It is therefore sensible that this strategy is based on a rule of harvest control, looking at trends on where their eggs are abundant so that the sustainable exploitation of stocks can be achieved. It is for these reasons that I supported the joint resolution on a multiannual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, the problems of the common fisheries policy seem to go on and on and never seem to end. As they go on, the problems also go on for the fishermen and the people who actually work on shore and depend on the industry.
We have continuing disagreements between scientists and local fishermen as to who is right and who is wrong, and we never seem to be able to get to the end or have any control of it.
The real answer is that we need more regional control in fisheries; we need more regional support to the local areas and less interference from the centre. It is time for common sense. Fish are extremely important to everyone, and whenever something is blocked in Council, it must be unblocked at the earliest possible moment.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I, too, voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the multiannual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel. We believe that it is important that this internal dispute is sorted out as soon as possible, and thus we agree with the oral question asking the Commission and the Council how they intend to solve the institutional deadlock that has presented itself now. Given that the decision taken by the Commission and Council will have a knock-on effect on other multiannual plans that are under discussion at the moment, it is important that it be taken quickly.
We, as a Group, agree with the aim of the report itself and we feel that it is important that the marine biomass of western horse mackerel is maintained at a level that will ensure that it can be exploited in a sustainable way and that will also ensure that it provides the highest possible long-term yield for our consumers.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Mr President, I voted for this resolution because I am committed to restoring and then maintaining fish stocks at the levels that can produce maximum sustainable yields. This is with the aim of achieving the goals for depleted stocks on an urgent basis – and I stress the word ‘urgent’. Where possible, we need to achieve this by 2015.
This definitely needs to be unblocked in Council so that this action can begin. It really throws into complete disrepute all our claims to be able to manage fishing in any kind of coherent and sensible way if we cannot even get the most simple measure passed through Council quickly and efficiently and get on with the work that we are supposed to be doing to restore stocks.
Seán Kelly (PPE). – (GA) Mr President, I, too, was happy to back this report and we had a very good debate on this in Parliament two days ago.
Undoubtedly, we have a major problem – not only in Europe but globally – because the demand for fish is rising and many of the stocks are falling. Therefore, we must be very careful, as we see from this report.
The solution to the problem it is to be found in aquaculture and I would like to see a lot more emphasis on that in future. My own country is considering creating aquaculture, and that is a good thing. However, for the next MFF (multiannual financial framework), we should provide money to establish aquaculture around Europe and that will go a long way towards solving our current problem.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, with the CFP negotiations high on the EU’s political agenda, this joint motion for a resolution, on the contribution of the common fisheries policy to the production of public goods, makes some sensible assertions. We need to have a fisheries policy which keeps conservation and sustainability issues in mind, particularly as the current fisheries policy has failed to meet any of its targets.
We also need to look at the contribution the entire sector makes to the local and European economies. The Welsh fishing sector, although small, has a wider community impact, especially through the recreational and tourist sector and the extensive scientific research programmes being carried out around the Welsh coastline. We need, however, to take care when discussing the inclusion of recreational fishing in the CFP reform process, as a symbiotic relationship between fishing and tourism in my constituency should not be damaged by the inappropriate application of fishery policies to recreational boats. Despite this one reservation, I support the overall motion.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, the common fisheries policy has unfortunately failed the vast majority of fishermen throughout the European Union. It is too cumbersome, too centrally controlled and does not give enough power to the regions.
Global sustainable fishing is for the public good, has always been for the public good, and will continue to be for the public good. This is now being minimised because fish are a public good and fishing areas are being isolated. They are all in very isolated areas and they require our most urgent support. So I will call for the blockage to be unblocked and for this problem to be solved, because this is an urgent need for fishermen.
Norica Nicolai (ALDE). – (RO) Mr President, I voted for this resolution, which I consider important, because it is an early warning about the democratic scale-back in Europe and Hungary, respectively. I think that the current crisis can only be resolved with cohesion around the values that united us. Democratic standards, freedom of expression, freedom of press, individual freedom and constitutional rules are vital for the future of Europe. This resolution saves Europe, who cannot be accused any longer of practising double standards in its human rights policy, or that it behaves in a certain way with third countries whereas being quite lenient with Member States. I believe that any digression from the constitutional and democratic order, from the European Treaties, and from individual freedoms, must be sanctioned, and I think that Hungary understands that this Parliament is the Parliament that continues to be the guardian of these values.
Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, why have I voted against the European Parliament resolution on the situation in Hungary? I believe that our institution, the European Parliament, which is a very important institution, must consider very carefully indeed whether or not to interfere in the internal affairs of Member States. Had it come to any really serious infringement of democratic order, then we would have been obliged to speak out.
In my opinion, however, the European Parliament has become an arena for the internal battles being fought out in Hungary between left and right. I do not wish to judge – for that is not my role – whether Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is right in everything he does. He probably is not, for he is no saint, but our Parliament should certainly not be engaged in the internal political games being played out in individual countries. Such games are always going on, and individual democracies obviously have a right to them, but the role of the European Parliament should not be devalued by using it in such disputes.
Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE). – Mr President, I voted in favour of the resolution on the recent political developments in Hungary, for the reasons that I already outlined in the statement that was submitted after the debate. It was pivotal that the situation in Hungary was discussed in the European Parliament. When the core values of the European Union are at stake in any Member State, then it cannot be considered as an internal affair of the country. On the contrary, it then concerns all of us.
The European Parliament has adopted a strong resolution and I expect Mr Orbán to take it into account when making efforts to comply with the recommendations, objections and demands of the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Mr President, I supported the resolution. The recent political developments in Hungary are very worrying. On the other hand, we should have intervened in matters last summer.
The European Union is founded on common European values. At the heart of these are democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Each Member State of the EU must respect these values and principles.
The causes of concern are not merely restricted to the issues which the infringement proceedings initiated by the Commission have addressed. Hungary has also implemented a lot of other questionable changes to its legislation. For example, the law on the registration of churches requires approval by a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian Parliament. Such a restrictive rule is likely to violate the principles of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
It is important that Hungary also understands the concerns of the European Parliament. We should not give the Hungarian people the impression that we are against them: on the contrary, we want to support them.
Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, I very deliberately voted against this resolution because I believe that in our Parliament, there is a peculiar political campaign going on against a Prime Minister elected in percentage terms by a huge number of votes. A situation where a party has won such enormous support has never been seen before on this side of Europe. It seems to me that we should, since we talk so much about democracy in this institution, respect the democratic verdict of the voters. We should, of course, judge Prime Minister Orbán, but I have the impression that the attacks on him are part of a certain political game. Prime Minister Orbán is now cleaning up the mess left behind by the Socialists in Hungary. It is a pity that I see today on the Socialists’ benches only two Members. In my view we – as the European Parliament – should not be resorting to such methods. We should be playing fair. This resolution is an example of unfair play.
Zbigniew Ziobro (EFD). – (PL) Mr President, today’s resolutions on Hungary set a threatening and dangerous precedent which is evidence of the European Parliament interfering in the affairs of a sovereign Member State. This should not happen. If this happened today with Hungary, then we can ask ourselves when it will happen to other countries. Why is this happening? It is because the right-wing conservative government of Prime Minister Orbán decided to introduce into the constitution a reference to the values that are contrary to the political correctness in force in Europe today: a reference to Christian values, a reference to the institution of matrimony as a union between a woman and a man, and a reference to the principle that human life is protected from the moment of conception.
The double standards and hypocrisy of the Socialists who are attacking Hungary today is shown by the fact that when I sent a letter on behalf of a group of Members of Parliament and voters from Poland to President Schulz, then President of the Socialist Group, and now President of the European Parliament, referring to the mass ejection from the Polish media of right-wing journalists with right-wing views, there was no response. These are the double standards; that is the hypocrisy.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE) . – (LT) Mr President, this is probably a mistake because I asked to speak about the situation in Russia, but as for Hungary, I can say that I support Hungary wholeheartedly unless it breaches international obligations and agreements.
President. – Thank you. We shall correct this mistake.
Adam Bielan (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, the Hungarian constitution, although contested by the Socialist left, is a real constitutional achievement of the country. It is a document that emphasises the European and Christian values in which Hungarian society is rooted. It strengthens the protection of life and the institution of matrimony and, above, all, it replaces the Fundamental Law that dated from the Communist period. I believe that the doubts raised by the representatives of some EU Member States were largely unjustified, if not to say exaggerated.
I voted today in favour of the motion for a resolution tabled by my parliamentary group, and against the motion for a resolution proposed by the Left. I believe that in the political and economic situation in which Hungary currently finds itself, we are obliged to offer broad support to the people and authorities of that country. I should like to express my disapproval of any form of challenge to the laws adopted by the Hungarian Parliament in a democratic manner and in compliance with the generally accepted standards of the Western world.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, the resolution on Hungary tabled by the Left and the so-called Liberals in this House on Hungary is reminiscent of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. In other words, it has nothing to do with the facts.
You will see this for yourself if you visit Hungary. As soon as you leave the station, you will see someone demonstrating against the government. When you switch on the television news in the evening, you will hear someone criticise the government. Nevertheless, claims are made that there is no freedom of the press or freedom of expression. This is quite absurd. Hungarian television broadcast the debate in this House in full.
I wish a similar level of freedom of expression existed in all Member States, so that the people could make up their own minds. Following this debate, I received e-mails and letters from hundreds of Hungarians saying they felt the speakers on the Left were referring to a completely different country because they completely ignored the facts. They also told me that they believe that the issue at stake here is no longer the truth, but rather ideological warfare against a free country.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE) . – (LT) Mr President, it seems that there is no reason to expect fundamental changes in the election process in Russia. See-through ballot boxes and cameras in polling stations do not address systematic problems. President Medvedev himself has recognised that the rules need to be changed, but after the Presidential elections. This time, candidates throughout the country each had to collect 2 million signatures within a very short period – over four weeks (two of which were over Christmas). Such requirements constitute a formal basis for restricting voters’ opportunities to choose candidates from a broad political spectrum. Observer status is only granted to representatives of registered candidates and this limits the opportunities for public observation and monitoring of elections. There are worrying reports of barriers faced by several non-governmental organisations, above all, the Golos association.
Once again, I would like to say that today, I voted in favour of amendments concerning the Politkovskaya, Khodorkovsky and Magnitsky cases. Unfortunately, we did not adopt them in Parliament and I find that extremely regrettable because I believe that the cases of these people are a direct reflection of the situation in Russia.
Norica Nicolai (ALDE). – (RO) Mr President, I believe this resolution is just as important to highlight the need to promote democracy and free elections, which the European Union does constantly. Russia, as a privileged partner of the European Union, must meet certain standards in order to support the confidence in this partnership and make it viable. Unfortunately, what is happening in Moscow and elsewhere – numerous ordinary citizens, as well as organisations that are involved in the protection and defence of human rights are demonstrating in the streets – proves that we are dealing with a totalitarian temptation which is perverted and is unable to serve its citizens, only the interests of some political structures. The fact that some candidates were not allowed to campaign, the way in which the Electoral Commission works, and the fact that the campaign was not conducted fairly serve as proof that Russia is far from complying with these standards.
Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, it is not the first time that the European Parliament is dealing with the situation in Russia, and this is to be welcomed. Russia is an important partner for the European Union. It borders the continent of Europe. It is also Poland’s neighbour. It is hardly surprising that more and more people in this House, regardless of political divisions, view with growing concern what is happening on our eastern border.
There can be no doubt about the fact that the upcoming presidential election in Russia will not be a fair election. In fact, measures against the opposition are intensifying. It is not a simple matter for candidates who do not fall in with the authorities to get registered. Added to this is Russia’s position in international politics, which has de-masked the Putin regime somewhat. I have in mind here Russia’s veto of the UN resolution on Syria. The Russian stance on this question shows what they really are – supporters of the ruthless murderers of the Syrian regime.
Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE). – (ET) Mr President, today we passed the first resolution on Russia, the first this year. I supported this resolution, and I share many of the positions stated in the resolution; I myself am a co-author of this resolution. In the resolution, we reiterate that the elections to the State Duma in Russia that took place in December were neither free nor fair, and I would gladly read out clause six of the resolution, which very clearly states that new and fair elections must be held in Russia.
Namely, clause six states that we call upon the Russian Government to present, in accordance with OSCE recommendations, a package of legislative proposals whose objective is the development of a truly democratic political system. The proposals should also encompass reforms, in order to simplify the registration of parties and presidential candidates and avoid the restrictive implementation of rules for registration, so that the holding of truly free and fair elections may become a reality as soon as possible. Thank you.
Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, with a hundred thousand people out on the streets again, it is clear that the movement of the enraged in Russia is no longer directed against the fraudulent parliamentary elections alone. It is a prelude to the mobilisations that will follow the re-election of Putin. It is increasingly a movement that is fed up and disgusted with the whole political elite and with the thieves, the oligarchs that have enriched themselves at the expense of Russian workers, Russian pensioners and Russian youth. The movement is a demonstration of massive people-power in action, but the current leadership – a combination of failed neoliberal politicians and right-wing nationalist demagogues – does not offer any way forward in the struggle for democratic rights and freedoms.
Today, when corrupt politicians dominate the electoral arena, my sister party in Russia does not recognise the legitimacy of the presidential elections. I support their call for an active boycott, turning the current protests into a new, genuine socialist force that can unite all working people, regardless of ethnic background, religious belief or sexual orientation, to challenge the rule of Putin, the oligarchs and the pro-Kremlin lackeys.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Mr President, I supported the resolution. Europe needs Russia and Russia needs Europe.
Russia, like the Member States of the EU, is a member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and is party to numerous human rights agreements. Despite that, the situation with regard to democracy in Russia only continues to be a cause for concern. Russia’s electoral practices do not correspond to the norms of the Council of Europe and of the OSCE. The Duma elections in December revealed many procedural errors, evidence of manipulation, and the fact that ballot boxes were filled after the event. The elections were not fair or free.
As many as 600 international observers are expected to monitor the presidential elections in Russia in March. A smooth and impartial process of election monitoring is also important for the development of Russian society. The Russian authorities must not interfere in the elections, even though the end result already seems as clear as day.
The European Union is a community of values, based on a respect for democracy and human rights. We should not make allowances for Russia in all this.
Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, today we are condemning Russia, but perhaps it would be good if this appeal were to be heard by the governments of the European Union’s Member States. Representatives of many of the political parties that sit in this Parliament are actually jointly responsible for a peculiar hypocrisy. The governments of these countries have essentially placed human rights on the altar of trade relations with Moscow. It seems to me that it would be good if by speaking out loudly today – and rightly so – in defence of human rights in Russia, in defence of free elections and in defence of free media, the representatives of many groups in this Parliament were to beat their breasts over their own government, for example, the German Government, as well as others. In my opinion, democracy without this would mean nothing.
Eduard Kukan (PPE). – (SK) Mr President, elections are a fundamental pillar of every democratic system. If such a system is to function, elections need to be fair and free. The other parliamentary elections in Russia reflected the distorted reality in which the country currently finds itself. They were neither wholly free, nor wholly fair. They may have shown that citizens are allowed to express their will in elections, but that will is ultimately not respected. The EU must consistently draw Russia's attention to these matters, and it must establish the consequences in terms of further development of relations. I therefore support the resolution we have adopted today and the provisions for the EU to put pressure on Russia to conduct a thorough investigation of all irregularities that accompanied these elections, in order to draw the consequences from this. This appeal is all the more pressing for the fact that Russia is shortly facing further elections.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, the growing discontent in Russia is, beyond doubt, extremely concerning. This situation is not good for stability in either the short or the long term. I believe very strongly that the Russian people deserve much better than they are receiving at present.
We would all want to see free and fair elections. Some say it will not happen. Opposition parties must be given fair play, but, above all, I certainly hope all goes well for the Russian people in the coming weeks and months. I wish them good elections, I wish them to be free and fair, and I sincerely hope that the electoral commission is able to oversee those elections rightly and properly.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I too voted, along with my Group, the ECR, in favour of the joint motion for a resolution on the situation in Russia. The current political situation in Russia, following the Duma elections held there in December of last year and the subsequent demonstrations at the end of that month, remains deeply worrying.
In the ECR Group, we also feel it is important that the problems witnessed by the international observers of that election be addressed in order to avoid a similar situation next time elections are held. Thus we believe, as a group, that it is now imperative that all opposition parties are allowed to be registered properly. Once this has happened, we believe that future elections, in particular, the imminent presidential one, should be held in a way that is deemed to be democratic, free and fair and also consistent with Russian membership and obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE.
Adam Bielan (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, the recent Russian parliamentary elections are generally believed to have been manipulated. Evidence of this includes the mass demonstrations by opponents of the current authorities, which have taken place constantly since December, and which are now increasingly taking the form of an organised social movement. As far back as December, Parliament called for a re-run of the elections on the basis of democratic standards.
In view of the upcoming presidential election, we are obliged, with the involvement of European diplomacy, to provide strong support to the Russian civil society activists who oppose these undemocratic practices. Mobilising the Russian authorities to respect human rights, democracy and the rule of law is our next task. In supporting the resolution, I appeal to the Kremlin authorities to conduct free and fair elections based upon political competition. In particular, I call for a change of heart regarding the decision preventing the participation of two opposition candidates, Grigory Yavlinsky and Dmitry Mezentsev. I hope that the forthcoming election will be the first lesson in democracy of the Putin era.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, I also regret the fact that the resolution does not include the question of the fate of the Yukos prisoners, Mr Khodorkovsky and Mr Magnitsky, on the bureaucratic grounds that this is a resolution on the elections.
As these men are detained under the worst conditions, mistreated contrary to Russian law, and imprisoned far from their homes, this can only be because Mr Putin fears that they might undermine his power. These men have been taken out of circulation because they might have encouraged democracy and diversity in Russia.
It is for this reason that we are campaigning strongly for freedom for these men and also for democracy for Russia in the post-Putin era. Mr Schröder has stated that Mr Putin is an impeccable democrat. On the contrary, Mr Putin is an anti-democratic force in Russia and we need to gird ourselves to offer as much support as possible to the democratic opposition to Putin in the interests of the post-Putin era.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Mr President, it is important to establish an agreement between the EU and Morocco on agricultural and fishery products. Besides this, today we have also voted on a resolution on Morocco.
Is it really the case that, in its policy on trade, the European Union is unwilling also to improve the situation regarding human rights and democracy in the target country? In my opinion, such an approach is wrong and unsustainable. The European Union, as a community of values based on human rights and democracy, cannot ignore its principles in its dealings with others.
The European External Action Service, and the Commission in particular, should draw up clear and lasting policies for all commercial activities in countries outside the EU. These should contain clear and lasting guidelines for establishing and overseeing human rights, the rule of law and democracy, as a condition of forging all commercial relations.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, the debate we have had about Morocco has been one that has lasted for some considerable time. It has been long and intensive. I do realise that there are many issues in that particular area of the Mediterranean and North Africa that must be resolved. They are very complicated, difficult and they are down to trade and many other reasons, but we must continue to work with Morocco in every way and show our willingness to cooperate with them.
Trade is never easy and trade between countries and trading partners is never easy, but, above all else, it has to be fair to both sides and it must be open. Above all else, it must meet certain standards – standards that we set down ourselves – and we in the European Union cannot allow imports into the European Union that do not meet the standards which we laid down within the European Union.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Mr President, the EU must respect the principles of international law, and not accept the agricultural agreement with Morocco, unless production in the occupied Western Sahara is excluded from it. Of course, a new agreement can be made, as long as Western Sahara is excluded from it.
It is important to establish close cooperation between the EU and Morocco, and achieve an agreement on fisheries and agriculture, but human rights issues should not be sidelined. Human rights are universal, inseparable and interdependent.
Morocco cannot decide on trade relations on behalf of Western Sahara, which it occupies. From the commercial perspective, the agreement might also harm the competitiveness of European producers. The agreement recommends industrial agriculture, which would require a lot of capital. I myself recommended support for sustainable farming and family farmers. The European Union should act in accordance with its values in everything it does.
Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, I would like to emphasise very clearly that I did not vote for this resolution, for it really is not in the interests of farmers, only of large concerns – that is my first point. Secondly, I would like to say that in my country, Poland, we have had many problems with Moroccan strawberries, which have affected Polish strawberry growers. It seems to me that the European Parliament should not be drafting such resolutions which essentially damage the economic interests of the people who elected us to this European Parliament. This is why I voted as I did.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, I welcome the acceptance of this agreement. After all, if ever there was a North African state on a good evolutionary journey, then that state has to be Morocco: this is a country rooted in tradition, but open to reform, a classic constitutional state that is clearly moving in the direction of greater parliamentarianism. It is in our interests to support Morocco and to cooperate as closely as possible with it. After all, we do not know what will become of the military powers that have once again gained the upper hand in Egypt, nor what direction Islamism will take now that it has established itself among the opposition. Morocco, however, is a country of checks and balances, a country that is an important partner for Europe. We should not hold it at arm’s length out of egotistical self-interest on the part of individual Members.
It was a mistake to reject the fisheries agreement. I am pleased that we have done things differently this time. The fisheries agreement and other agreements should be supported by the House as quickly as possible.
Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, the European Parliament has spoken out about an issue that, I think, the whole world today finds appalling. Mr President, I would like to say that, when voting today on the resolution on the 19th session of the United Nations Organisation, I voted against the amendments, which, once again in this House, under the innocuous-sounding name of ‘reproductive rights’, conceal propaganda for and promotion of the killing of unborn children.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Mr President, the violent situation in Syria, now out of control, is due to the fact that President Bashar al-Assad refuses to step down. Parliament has already previously stated that al-Assad must go, because he has completely lost credibility. Syria has done all it can to prevent the international media from operating in the country. We know, however, that more than 7 000 people have now died in the past 11 months.
The reasons for the conflict relate to power, purely and simply, because, unlike Libya, Syria has no oil. The countries of the West and the United Nations are reluctant to start to enforce peace in Syria. The role of Turkey and the Arab League is crucial in resolving the conflict.
The European Union has rightly tightened economic sanctions targeted at al-Assad’s government and inner circle. We have to use any political and diplomatic resources available to us. One possibility that should be considered is France’s proposal for a humanitarian corridor, which would protect the civilian population. We have to act robustly for the UN to achieve a sustainable solution for action in Syria.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, it is probably extremely difficult for most of us to describe what we are witnessing in Syria. We see it continuing night after night and day after day on our television screens and it must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and in the strongest possible way. There is absolutely no way we can condone or sympathise with it.
While we cannot be the world’s policeman – and that is what I think we have to learn from events over recent years – we must offer what support we can. I have to say I was disappointed when the veto was used in the United Nations because, at the end of the day, it is the people on the ground – as has been said – who suffer the most. I hope for wise counsel to prevail as soon as possible so that they can look forward to a better future.
Adam Bielan (ECR). – (PL) Mr President, the Syrian ruler, President Assad, has, for almost one year now, been using brutal force against his own citizens. Initiative after initiative by the international community has yielded no results. The differences of opinion between the permanent members of the Security Council are becoming more and more shocking. In voting for the resolution, I am expressing my staunch disapproval of the measures taken by Russia and China in the international arena as regards this issue. I find them particularly regrettable because of the blocking by these countries of a resolution condemning the regime in Damascus, whilst calling at the same time for the situation to be reanalysed.
In Syria itself, there are concerns over reports of the emergence of militant-minded fundamentalists among the protesters, calling for a jihad and pushing towards civil war. Therefore, I urge the authorities to stabilise the situation in the country and to halt the repression of society and opposition activists. Open and peaceful dialogue between the people and the rulers is the only acceptable method of discharging obligations to the public, of introducing democratic reforms, and of guaranteeing respect for the rights of all ethnic groups.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, of course the Syrian regime needs to step down because the way in which it is slaughtering its own people is quite unacceptable.
On the other hand, many people are very frightened by the prospect of what will happen next. Syria’s Christians say they have been treated relatively tolerantly so far, as do the Jews in Syria. Israel is watching anxiously for future developments in Syria. It must be said that the removal of the present regime, however important this may be, is not the whole story, and that we must ensure that the relative tolerance for minorities and religious communities found in Syria in recent decades is not sacrificed to a new extremist regime pursuing Islamic ideologies.
We therefore need to say yes to supporting the people and yes to democracy, while at the same time promoting the cause of the minority communities and encouraging peaceful relations with the neighbouring countries of the region, not least Israel. This is an indicator of the enormity of the challenge awaiting us.
Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, May this year will mark the third anniversary of the end of the bloody civil war in Sri Lanka. Tens of thousands of innocent Tamils were slaughtered, particularly at the end of the war when they were caged into a tiny area before being massacred by the army.
At the end of last year, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission published its report. This commission was set up from the very start to be biased. It is not a serious attempt at all to deal with the very serious allegations of war crimes against the Rajapakse regime.
It is now time for a genuine independent inquiry into the events. This inquiry will have to include representatives of all communities within Sri Lanka and trade unions in the country. I have been denied a visa to visit Sri Lanka as part of a delegation of the European United Left Group in this Parliament because on several occasions, I have spoken out against the actions of the Sri Lankan Government, against the actions of the army, and in favour of the rights of the Tamil people.
I demand that the Sri Lankan Government revokes this decision and allows MEPs who are critical of its policy to visit the country and see the situation on the ground for themselves.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of this resolution, as a matter of principle. The resolution quite rightly stresses the importance of finding common ground at the forthcoming meeting of the UN Human Rights Council. Speaking with one voice has been the stumbling block to political cooperation on the part of the European Union, especially in foreign policy. Speaking with one voice would promote visibility and the power of influence of the EU as a global actor.
I would like to mention what I believe to be important issues in today’s international situation. The mainstreaming of human rights must have a role in building a country’s institutions. In particular, the new democracies emerging from the Arab Spring must receive support while they are building a genuinely democratic system.
The situation in Syria is worrying and affects Europeans. It is extremely regrettable that a crisis that has already claimed 7 000 lives cannot be brought to an end. The UN needs to reach agreement on joint measures.
Finally, I would like to stress that the EU should ensure that the universality, inseparability and interdependence of human rights should not be called into question.
Gay Mitchell (PPE). – Mr President, according to a former Tiananmen Square student leader, Chai Ling, over 35 000 forced and coerced abortions are taking place today in China. Ling calls the brutal enforcement of the one-child policy the largest crime against humanity. He says it is as if the Tiananmen Square massacre had taken place every hour, and it is an unending holocaust that has gone on for thirty years.
Coerced abortion has been exposed by the UNHCR in the context of refugees and displaced populations. Up to one hundred million girls who would have otherwise been expected to be alive are missing from various populations – mostly in Asia – as a result of sex-selective abortions, infanticide or neglect. Why is this not highlighted more by the UNHCR? Why is this not highlighted more by this House? If these were males, they would be alive. Gender-based abortion – the murder of women because they are females – is totally unacceptable and must be addressed by the UN and the European Parliament.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, I wholeheartedly support what Mr Mitchell has said and regret paragraph 31 of this report. After all, abortion is not a means for human rights policy, but rather a massive breach of human rights, namely, a violation of the right to life through the killing of an unborn human being. This means that this paragraph 31, as currently formulated, has absolutely no place in a report on human rights. What we have here is a human rights report being misused for ideological purposes. Human rights are far too important and precious for this to be allowed to happen. We in the European Parliament should have nothing to do with it.
Eduard Kukan (PPE). – (SK) Mr President, I am pleased that the European Parliament has adopted the resolution and has again called on the Commission to support a treaty dealing with copyright on books and printed materials for blind and visually impaired people. I agree that blind and dyslexic people should be enabled as far as possible to read books and printed matter in formats accessible to them, and also to lawfully distribute such materials across borders. In my opinion, this is one of the ways in which we can extend the hitherto very restricted access of the visually impaired to publications. I therefore support a targeted exception to copyright, which should be part of an international treaty drawn up at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). I hope this resolution contributes towards the Commission and the Council supporting a WIPO treaty on copyright on books and printed materials for blind and visually impaired people.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, along with my Group, the ECR, I abstained in the vote on the oral question regarding blind persons’ access to books. I fully believe that easy access to books is a great opportunity that should be shared by everybody. The world of literature should not only be accessible to those who are sighted, nor should it only be sighted people who can access encyclopaedias, comic books, recipe books, dictionaries, etc.
Our group does not object in any way with the general aim of this report. The aspect of the report that forced us to abstain as a group was the demand for a binding treaty on the issue, which seems a little extraordinary. As noted in the resolution, EU negotiators have already opposed the adoption of a binding treaty. We do not believe that, in this instance, a binding treaty would be the best way forward. It should be a voluntary convention of some sort instead.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, I fully support the right of blind persons to have access to every possible means that should be available to them, be it written, electronic or any other new means that I am not aware of.
I know there are some problems with copyright and other issues, and I have listened to my colleague, Mr Tannock, explain what some of them are. I certainly feel they should be resolved and overcome at the earliest possible moment.
We should not allow any bureaucratic problems to stand in the way of the rights of those who are visually impaired. I think this is something that we should all support in the best possible way.
Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, one of the hallmarks of an open and inclusive democratic society is that it treats all citizens equally, and particularly those with disabilities. In that regard, the European Union and Member States have made a lot of progress. Indeed, in relation to the European Union, there is a blind friend of mine up in the booth here who has a job as an interpreter and is doing a very good job indeed.
At the same time, we cannot be complacent. There is room for major improvement, particularly in certain areas. Where the visually impaired are concerned, their not having access to 95% of published books is simply a figure that we cannot be pleased with. We certainly need to do all we can to increase accessibility to books for blind people. This is a step in the right direction. We really have to work harder to ensure that all people have access to all books.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted alongside my Group, the ECR, in favour of the oral question on the future of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme as we believe that it is a key part of the European space strategy in general. We believe that monitoring of the sea, land and atmospheric environment is extremely important and that GMES plays a vital role in this regard.
We disagree with the Commission’s proposal that further financing of the project should be done outside the financial framework for 2014 to 2020. We feel that such a move would seriously jeopardise the entire future of the project as well as rendering the investment that has been put into the project so far both pointless and worthless.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, since I believe it is essential to protect the interests of members of the public who put their life savings in banks. There has been progress made with the guarantee system and with means of making use of it, but more will have to be done either at the level of individual Member States or at European Union level. It is therefore essential that people trust and believe in the credibility of financial institutions: if not, withdrawals by depositors could jeopardise the financial stability of these institutions. Setting out common requirements that can be applied enables the Member States to have harmonised conditions, so as to avoid distortions of competition, thus protecting depositors and contributing to the stability of the financial system.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The current economic and financial crisis has affected not only the political and institutional mechanisms of Member States, but also the ordinary citizens. As the closure of several banks has fully demonstrated, the stability of deposit and credit systems is essential to the success of the European economy. Member States’ citizens had to be compensated practically from public funds because of the failure of banking institutions responsible for managing their deposits. In these circumstances, the establishment of a European deposit guarantee scheme contributes significantly to the effective and real time protection of the European citizens’ savings. A further concrete advantage of the proposal is the establishment of protection measures enabling the prevention of banking institution failures, warning the national and European authorities in real terms about the existing systemic risks. I support the adoption of this measure by the European Parliament, which complements the directive adopted previously by the Council and the European Parliament on the increase of the deposit ceiling guaranteed by public authorities and on reducing the time for compensating the depositors. At the same time, I believe that by adopting this proposal, a decisive step is made towards achieving a genuine single market in banking services.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) This subject concerns an area of the internal market where the comprehensive protection of depositors and ensuring the same stability of deposit guarantee schemes within the EU arises as a common requirement, and therefore I, too, clearly endorse the adoption of this report. Nothing justifies my commitment better than that the adoption of this report will enable us to prevent the kind of banking panic that caused great upheaval in Hungary recently, as many people had terminated their domestic deposits and placed their funds with the banks of other countries. It is especially welcome that the directive clearly determines the coverage level for the same depositor, and that the incomes resulting from all transactions under this protection are indicated specifically by name, and that the incomes of local governments are also given sufficient coverage. This common safety net offers a high level of protection to depositors in the European Union.
Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Currently, the national deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) existing in the EU reimburse depositors in the event of failure of a credit institution, up to a coverage level of EUR 100 000 per depositor. The maximum time limit for payment is 30 working days. This system ensures the confidence of depositors, but if it is not sufficient to protect them credibly and to guarantee related repayments, it is the Member States and their taxpayers that will bear the cost of the bankruptcy of credit institutions. This report, for which I voted, proposes a differentiated approach, involving the setting of common requirements applicable to all DGSs, while ensuring sufficient flexibility with regard to the specific way in which they operate. It introduces concrete measures relating to common requirements for comprehensive protection of depositors and equal stability of DGSs within the EU; flexibility in terms of prevention and support measures that ensure stability; realistic time limits for payments, in the interests of depositors; and European DGSs and the promotion of European cooperation. The purpose of these measures is to guarantee common requirements for DGSs enabling uniform protection conditions, a single level of stability and no disruption of competition.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) The Simon report provides Parliament with an important legislative document, which affects a number of issues relevant to bank deposits and the bank guarantees on them. The current financial crisis has generated a climate of understandable distrust of banks and financial institutions, to the point that in 2010, the Commission decided to intervene yet again regarding earlier directives on this matter, given the delicate situation that many banks are going through following the financial turmoil. This proposal aims to modify and replace older directives with one introducing uniform standards for bank deposit guarantee and protection. Uniform criteria will be introduced by this directive to establish a minimum degree of confidence in banks on the part of citizens and businesses that is now at an historic low. I voted in favour of the report.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that, as the financial crisis continues, the creation of a single EU-wide deposit guarantee scheme is particularly relevant and necessary. Existing national deposit guarantee schemes in the EU must reimburse depositors in the event of failure of a credit institution up to a certain ceiling. In truth, during the financial and economic crisis, the coverage level was increased to as much as EUR 100 000 per depositor and the time limit for paying depositors was reduced to a maximum of 30 working days. The increased level of protection improves depositors’ confidence and thus helps to prevent simultaneous withdrawals by many depositors prompted by a fear of losing their money. These steps to strengthen the confidence of depositors are very welcome but more can and must be done. That is precisely why we are considering laying down a binding requirement throughout the EU that deposit guarantee schemes in all EU Member States and all credit institutions should comply with common requirements. This would avoid any distortion of competition, protect depositors equally in all Member States and prevent destabilising displacements of deposits.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The deposit guarantee schemes in force in the various EU Member States will, in the case of bankruptcy of a financial institution, compensate depositors up to the agreed coverage level of EUR 100 000 per depositor, and that the deadline for such compensation is 30 working days. I support this system, since it will ensure the confidence of depositors, but if it is not sufficient to protect them credibly and to guarantee related repayments, it is the Member States and their taxpayers that will bear the cost of the bankruptcy of credit institutions.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because I believe that reorganising deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) will contribute to the more effective protection of depositors and to the stability of the financial system itself. By guaranteeing equality in coverage level conditions, in repayment periods and in conditions for using the funds, the Member States will have the chance to adapt their DGSs to the features of their financial markets.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In view of the opinion of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, I agree with the rapporteur.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In 2008, the collapse of the fourth largest investment bank in the United States, Lehman Brothers, unleashed a tsunami through the financial sector because of fear that its customers would not be repaid what they were owed. With the exacerbation of the global crisis, other banks have collapsed and their depositors have not always recovered their savings. This situation has caused the public to have a certain amount of mistrust in financial institutions, which needs to be won back. This report, drafted by Mr Simon, concerns the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council, at first reading, on deposit guarantee schemes. I welcome this proposal for a directive intended to create a fund for guaranteeing deposits, since it cannot be the taxpayer that pays for the banks’ financial problems. On the contrary, the public should have guarantees that, if a bank fails, their deposits will not be under threat and they will be reimbursed within a reasonable timeframe. I voted for this report, since the new regulations will benefit the European public and society through guarantees and harmonisation, thereby contributing to the construction of a single market in financial services at European level.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this directive on deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) is to lay down common requirements for the various Member States on protecting depositors when a credit institution goes bankrupt. The proposal introduces pertinent issues as well as others about which we have concerns and serious reservations. The rapporteur proposes to increase the level of protection for depositors by establishing the legal right to a maximum reimbursement of EUR 100 000 and a shorter time limit for repayment.
On the other hand, this directive is another step towards full implementation of the EU internal market in financial services, which is a very sensitive area for a huge number of current reasons. The rapporteur’s proposal even leaves the way open for merging the DGSs of various Member States and for creating separate cross-border schemes on a voluntary basis. It also fails to specify which institutions are responsible for financing DGSs. It cannot be the state, otherwise known as the taxpayer, that suffers the consequences of credit institutions’ failure when DGSs have not worked well enough. The directive should ensure that this issue is covered.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) No bank, regardless of the state of its finances, has sufficient liquidity to pay out all deposits or a significant portion of them on the spot. Banks are therefore exposed to the risk of a mass withdrawal of deposits if savers believe that their deposits are not safe. That can have a serious impact on the entire economy. At present, there are almost 40 deposit guarantee schemes in the EU protecting different groups of savers and deposits at different levels of cover, and imposing different financial obligations on banks, which limits the advantages of the single market both for banks and savers. With the aim of facilitating the start-up and operation of credit institutions, it is necessary to eliminate differences in Member State laws concerning the rules on deposit guarantee schemes that apply to these institutions. The directive in question is a fundamental instrument for the creation of a single market in the area of credit institution activities from the perspective of freedom of establishment and freedom to provide financial services, while increasing the stability of the banking system and protection of savers. It should create equal conditions for credit institutions, enable savers easily to understand the details of the deposit guarantee schemes, and facilitate rapid payment to savers from healthy and reliable deposit guarantee schemes in the interests of financial stability. For this reason, too, it is necessary for deposit guarantees to be harmonised and simplified as much as possible.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) How could anyone vote against a report whose aim, in the event a bank fails, is to guarantee that depositors are reimbursed up to EUR 100 000 within a short time limit, with every bank obliged to belong to a deposit guarantee scheme?
However, the big question is this: what use is this when, in a country such as France, we know that citizens’ deposits are as high as around EUR 1.6 trillion and the guarantee fund does not even reach EUR 2 billion? We are trying to make people believe that an average deposit of EUR 24 000 per inhabitant can be covered by a guarantee of EUR 33 per inhabitant.
This simply means that in the event that a major bank fails, it is unlikely that any guarantee will work without urgently calling on the State yet again, in other words, on the taxpayer. When a bank is ‘too big to fail’, therefore, it can always do whatever it likes. The aim is worthy enough, but, in the event of a disaster, its effectiveness is doubtful. The only objective of such a text is to maintain depositor confidence, which is the very condition of the banking profession.
Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – I am in agreement with the Simon report, which advocates better protection for depositors on the one hand and supports stabilisation of the European financial system, with the view of a more complete Single Market, on the other hand. The rapporteur insists on the need to strike a balance between the uniform protection of depositors in each Member State through the diligent compliance of common requirements as set out by the proposal, and the flexibility which must be afforded to Member States in determining the framework for the operation of deposit guarantee schemes. The proposals for cutting red tape, ensuring adequate funding (both at the ex ante and ex post stages), staving off distortions of competition and ensuring that the same coverage level and target level are adhered to by all Member States are equally welcome. The need for proper monitoring, transparency and supervision by all relevant authorities at the various levels remains fundamental to securing the proper workings of this directive, guaranteeing the confidence of depositors and restoring stability in our financial markets.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this document because the formulation of common requirements applicable to deposit guarantee schemes would make it possible for Member States to organise these schemes in as flexible a manner as possible while providing uniform protection, ensuring equal stability and avoiding distortions of competition. While maintaining the same coverage and target levels and abiding by the stipulated time limits for reimbursements and terms relating to the use of funds, Member States will thus have the opportunity to adapt their deposit guarantee schemes to national features of financial markets. By means of this approach, effective protection of depositors will be achieved and the stability of the financial system ensured. A higher coverage level is not sufficient to credibly protect depositors. In order to counteract the danger of bank runs and prevent a possible destabilisation of financial markets, deposit guarantee schemes must also be adequately financed. During the financial and economic crisis, however, it has become apparent that individual national deposit guarantee schemes in Europe were inadequately financed, so that the State and, ultimately, the taxpayer had to bear the consequences of the failure of a credit institution. In order for deposit guarantee schemes to have a stabilising effect at times of financial stress, it is therefore also necessary throughout the EU to finance deposit guarantee schemes adequately in advance (ex ante). Depositors must be better informed than has hitherto been the case about how deposit guarantee schemes operate and must be reimbursed rapidly if the occasion arises. Bringing the measures together will increase depositors’ confidence, promote the stability of the European financial system and help to build the internal market.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Regardless of the financial situation of a bank, strong or weak, it is impossible for it to have enough cash for the partial or full reimbursement of population credits in the case of massive withdrawals. For this reason, banking establishments are confronted with the ‘bank run’ phenomenon, where depositors believe that their deposits are not safe and try to withdraw them at the same time. National deposit guarantee schemes in the European Union are particularly important for our citizens and offer additional confidence for creating bank deposits. The European guarantee schemes compensate depositors in the event of payment defaults up to a certain coverage level. The ceiling level was raised, first, from EUR 20 000 to EUR 50 000, and, as from 2011, to EUR 100 000 per depositor.
This directive applies to absolutely all credit institutions and membership in a deposit guarantee scheme becomes mandatory. In this way, we will ensure that depositors can always make a claim and that all systems are sufficiently funded. A higher level of protection increases depositors’ confidence and leads to the avoidance of simultaneous withdrawals of funds by many depositors for fear of losing their money.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal. The formulation of common requirements applicable to deposit guarantee schemes will make it possible for Member States to organise these schemes in as flexible a manner as possible while providing uniform protection, ensuring equal stability and avoiding distortions of competition. While maintaining the same coverage level and target level and abiding by the stipulated time limits for reimbursements and terms relating to the use of funds, Member States will thus have the opportunity to adapt their deposit guarantee schemes to national features of financial markets. By means of this approach, effective protection of depositors will be achieved and the stability of the financial system ensured.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The position expressed by Parliament is one I fully support. One of the priorities must be to prevent future claims on deposit guarantee schemes. For this reason, preventive action and supervision need to be implemented, ensuring a coordinated and transparent assessment of the business models of new and existing players, based on a common approach agreed with the European Surveillance Authority. My vote was in favour.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report contains some advances. However, it proposes to relax the rules for deposit guarantees presented by the Commission. They should instead be strengthened in order to increase the banks’ financial contribution to the security of the financial system. The idea of making bank shareholders contribute in the event that a bank fails or gets into difficulties that might threaten depositors has not been proposed by the Commission or in the amendments tabled by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. That contribution is necessary. It should be part of a general overhaul of the banking system. In particular, retail operations and market activities of banks should be kept separate in order to re-focus the credit system in favour of the economy and employment, and to reduce financial risks. I cannot give my vote to a report that is so lacking in ambition for the security of bank users.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Existing national deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) in the EU reimburse depositors in the event of failure of a credit institution up to a certain ceiling, known as the ‘coverage level’. During the financial and economic crisis, the coverage level was increased, pursuant to Directive 2009/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, initially from EUR 20 000 to EUR 50 000 and, as of 1 January 2011, finally, to EUR 100 000 per depositor. At the same time, the time limit for paying depositors was reduced to a maximum of 30 working days. The increased level of protection improves depositors’ confidence and thus helps to prevent simultaneous withdrawals by many depositors, known as bank runs. However, a higher coverage level alone is not sufficient to protect depositors credibly. In order to counteract the danger of bank runs and prevent a possible destabilisation of financial markets, DGSs must also be adequately financed. Bringing the measures together in this directive will increase depositors’ confidence, promote the stability of the European financial system and help to build the single market.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The fact that the central aspects of the current Commission proposal are a further reduction in the time limit for paying out to depositors, from 20 working days to 7 days, and the establishment of sound and credible deposit guarantee schemes in the EU, i.e. the deposit guarantee schemes have to be sufficiently financed, is very productive.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of this report as it is particularly during periods of crisis and economic recession that guarantees are needed to better protect savers from the potential risks of the banks failing. In these situations, there is the risk that a dangerous ‘run on the bank’ could occur, with destabilising effects for the entire credit system. This text lays the foundations for a common system of guarantees on bank deposits, with jurisdiction throughout Europe, so as to also avoid the risk of potential market distortion. The anticipated threshold of EUR 100 000 seems to be sufficient, as is the need for a short time limit for any potential payouts. Therefore, we must give due guarantees to those people who rightly want to make the most of their life savings and who may face finding themselves bankrupt due to excessive speculation and hazardous financial transactions at the hands of other people.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) As recent events in Lithuania have demonstrated, adequate depositor protection when a credit institution becomes insolvent is a very important instrument for ensuring citizens’ confidence both in the banking system itself and the country controlling this system. However, I would like to focus on a few points that received little attention in this report. The main thing, as the approved document rightly observes, is proper supervision of commercial banks by national authorities and a timely response to possible alarms. The second thing is the need to have objectives for financial instruments falling within the deposit guarantee scheme, a list of applicable criteria and the assurance that clients will be given accurate and detailed information about the guarantees enjoyed.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcome this resolution because a stable and credible deposit guarantee scheme will ensure adequate protection for consumers. Above all, common requirements for the comprehensive protection of depositors and equal stability of deposit guarantee schemes will stop distortion of competition and will help to protect cash deposits. Flexibility for prevention and support measures will also help to prevent the appearance of solvency problems in credit institutions and, if they should appear, will create the conditions to eliminate them as soon as possible.
I believe that it is appropriate to set a time limit, which is favourable to depositors, of five working days for the payout of unavailable deposits. Depositors will thus be protected from long-term financial difficulties and this will also preserve their confidence. Conditions will also be improved to allow the swift return of deposits to depositors.
In addition, clauses on providing information need to be strengthened, and consumers need to be given the possibility to transfer unprotected deposits to another credit institution without penalties.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Unfortunately, during the trialogue, an agreement was not reached. Therefore, we voted today on the text that was approved last July in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) at first reading, paving the way for second reading. Some sections of this report are satisfactory, whilst other measures, such as the threshold for contributions and the time limit for payouts, should, I think, be improved upon. I hope that at second reading, the Committee will present a balanced text. In fact, the text, as voted on by the ECON Committee, contains criticism of the Italian system, which has weathered the course of the recent crisis, due to both its system of financing and the means of financing the schemes. It is for this reason that I supported the four amendments presented by Ms Ford (European Conservatives and Reformists Group) aimed at leaving discretionary power to Member States with regard to the methods and system of financing deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs).
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) This particular report, which I voted in favour of, concerns a scheme for guaranteeing deposits if a credit institution goes bankrupt. It reminds us that, when the global financial crisis broke, the EU increased the guarantee limit from EUR 20 000 to EUR 50 000 and ultimately, as of 1 January 2011, to EUR 100 000 per depositor. Nonetheless, this regulation does not offer full protection for deposits. Clearly, a run on a bank, which is an important factor given the euro crisis, could destabilise the banking system in a very short space of time. This directive aims to create a deposit guarantee system by unifying the European measures applied by Member States. This proposal is very important to Greece, given the general need to protect the Greek banking system.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report on the deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) existing in the various EU Member States. The current system provides for compensation for depositors up to the coverage level of EUR 100 000 per depositor. The maximum time limit for paying compensation to depositors is 30 working days. This report acknowledges the heterogeneity of the various banking markets in the EU and proposes a differentiated approach, involving the setting of common requirements applicable to all DGSs, while ensuring sufficient flexibility with regard to the specific way in which they operate. The intention is to ensure common requirements applicable to DGSs, providing uniform protection, ensuring equal stability and avoiding distortions of competition, but also the greatest flexibility possible in how these schemes are organised; this will enable their adaptation to national features of financial markets. Since its purpose is effectively protecting depositors and guaranteeing the stability of the financial system, I voted for this report.
Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) should be considered from two points of view: the degree to which depositors are protected and to which bodies responsibility for this protection falls. This report supports strengthening the guarantees given to depositors, based on making financial institutions more responsible, so as to furnish DGSs with resources enabling them to tackle crises and prevent this responsibility from falling to the taxpayer through public involvement. This is the fairest option, the most responsible one and the one that sends the institutions themselves the best message about how to conduct their activities. I will vote for this report for these reasons.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The formulation of common requirements applicable to deposit guarantee schemes will make it possible for Member States to organise these schemes in as flexible a manner as possible while providing uniform protection, ensuring equal stability and avoiding distortions of competition. While maintaining the same coverage level and target level and abiding by the stipulated time limits for reimbursements and terms relating to the use of funds, Member States will thus have the opportunity to adapt their deposit guarantee schemes to national features of financial markets. By means of this approach, effective protection of depositors will be achieved and the stability of the financial system ensured.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Banks are special financial intermediaries because they are financed through deposits – instruments that are redeemable on demand and not liable for losses. The longer maturity of bank assets makes the repayment of deposits difficult in the event of an unexpected and simultaneous withdrawal request from depositors. A ‘run on the bank’ could spread to other banks and compromise the stability not only of the banking system but also of the entire economy.
In order to prevent this risk, a growing number of countries have introduced a system of deposit guarantees, following the example set by the United States. Deposit insurance has been shown to be effective in preventing bank panic, but it undermines market discipline in respect of management and shareholders and creates moral hazard problems. In fact, it lessens the incentive for depositors to monitor how the bank is being managed; a lack of attention from depositors may encourage the bank to employ riskier methods, given that they will reap any profits whilst any losses will be burdened by the deposit guarantee fund and, if this proves insufficient, by taxpayers.
I hope that the approval of this text, which we voted on this morning, will achieve the set objective of standardisation via a one-size-fits-all approach.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Commission has tabled a proposal on the deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) that are intended to provide the proper mechanisms for ensuring the public that their savings, investments or insurance policies are protected, regardless of where in Europe they may be located. I am voting for this report because I believe there is a need to ensure effective coverage for deposits of up to EUR 100 000 in any currency, whether made by private individuals or businesses. There will also be a need to reduce the associated bureaucracy, speed up payments and go ahead with a wide range of measures enabling responsible and long-term finance for the 95% of deposits that are within the protected limit. I believe that Europeans will not only have better protection for their savings, but will also be able to choose the best savings product in any European country. Banks will already benefit from the scheme, since they will be able to offer competitive products throughout Europe without being limited by these differences. I also consider it crucial that measures intended to prevent future claims against DGSs be adopted, as it is advisable to predict and oversee banking activity regularly.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D) , in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of Parliament’s legislative resolution of 16 February 2012 on the proposal for a directive on deposit guarantee schemes (reform) because this directive constitutes an essential instrument to the achievement of the internal market from the point of view of freedom of establishment and freedom to provide financial services in the field of credit institutions, while increasing the stability of the banking system and the protection of depositors. The national deposit guarantee schemes in the EU cover depositors in case a credit institution fails to honour its obligations up to the deposit guarantee ceiling, which, starting from 1 January 2011, is EUR 100 000 per depositor.
To make sure that the deposit guarantee schemes have a stabilising effect in times of financial crisis, it is necessary to ensure sufficient financing of the deposit guarantee schemes in advance (ex ante) everywhere in Europe. Depositors need to be better informed than they are at present about the way the deposit guarantee schemes operate, and in case a credit institution fails to honour its payment obligations, they should be compensated quickly. The formulation of common requirements applicable to deposit guarantee schemes allows Member States maximum flexibility in setting up these schemes.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I fully support this directive, which aims to ensure that savers are compensated for the failures of the banks. Protection for account holders is vitally important, especially given the events of the recent economic crisis with panicked scenes as customers attempted to withdraw their money from collapsing banks. Customers must feel confident that their money is safe and I voted in favour of this directive because it will ensure that effective deposit guarantee schemes are in place in each Member State.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) In order to reduce the risk of a ‘run on the banks’ to avoid the taxpayer once again being asked to shoulder the burden of bank failures in the event of future crises, it is vital that uniform minimum standards should be established throughout Europe to guarantee deposits. All banks, without exception, should be required to belong to a deposit guarantee scheme and adequate ex ante funding is required for all deposit guarantee schemes. In addition, short payout periods in compensation cases should strengthen depositor confidence. I believe that a Europe-wide payout deadline of five working days would be appropriate, instead of the 20 working days currently permitted.
Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this directive on deposit guarantee schemes (DGSs) is to lay down common requirements for the Member States to follow on protecting depositors when a credit institution goes bankrupt. In some ways, the rapporteur’s proposal increases the level of protection for depositors: it establishes the legal right to a maximum reimbursement of EUR 100 000 and a shorter time limit for repayment. However, some aspects of this directive are cause for concern. For one thing, this directive is another step towards full implementation of the EU internal market. It leaves the way open for merging the DGSs of various Member States and for creating separate cross-border schemes on a voluntary basis. Another problem is that it fails to specify which institutions are responsible for financing DGSs. It cannot be the state, otherwise known as the taxpayer, that suffers the consequences of credit institutions’ failure when DGSs have not worked well enough. The directive should ensure that this issue is covered.
Damien Abad (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) When facing the crisis, we must show that we are responsible. I therefore voted in favour of the Vaughan report, which advocates freezing the administrative budgets of the European institutions.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, since I believe that, in the current situation of a heavy burden on the public debt in times of restrictions and budgetary consolidation by the Member States, the European institutions should demonstrate budgetary responsibility and self-restraint, like the public.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) Reasonable and justified enlargement subject to cost-effectiveness and self-restraint. This is how I could briefly sum up the essence of the ‘yes’ vote I cast for the report on the guidelines for the 2013 budgetary procedure. Through the European Parliament, the European Union has once again demonstrated its amazing ability and skill to implement an enlargement of great strategic importance such as the accession of Croatia in such a way as to not burden the multiannual financial framework adopted earlier. Additionally, I noted with satisfaction the emergence of a marked need to set up a working group for the independent evaluation of the EP budget, as well as those measures that are intended to keep the budget within the bounds of rationality and economy. There is no doubt that the institutional systems of the European Union, including the European Parliament itself, must take the lead in respect of the restrictive economic policy they promote and expect the domestic budgets of the individual Member States to meet. The adoption of this report could be the confirmation and basis of the increasingly prominent societal need that is emerging vis-à-vis the political elite.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Budget cuts are unavoidable in times of crisis, austerity is everywhere in Europe, and we cannot ask the Member States to make a considerable effort without doing the same ourselves. The Vaughan report quite rightly advocates freezing the European Parliament’s budget for 2013. That is necessary, as we all know, for we must take appropriate action. However, we should not forget that the accession of Croatia runs the risk of increasing EU spending. We will need to be even more proactive than we are currently being, and anticipate budgetary adjustments as an imperative for future spending. As a way of showing solidarity with the citizens of Europe, it is only to be expected that we should freeze spending related to travel and our individual allowances until 2014. Alongside the measures linked to our individual allowances, the report advocates identifying long-term saving opportunities in order to maintain spending within the budgetary limits that we have set ourselves. It is vital to identify overlaps and inefficiencies across budgetary lines. As a result, in solidarity with the difficulties being experienced by many Member States, we are calling, through this report, for an independent evaluation of Parliament’s budget in order to make an objective analysis of the adjustments that need to be made.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because with it, the European Parliament is advocating the freezing of the EU institutions’ administrative budgets in the context of continued challenging economic circumstances. Parliament also recalls that in 2013, we will have to prepare for Croatia’s accession and this will have an impact on the budget, particularly as regards resources for new Members and staff recruitment across the institutions. However, the European Parliament recalls that given the heavy burden of public debt and the need for restraint at a time of ongoing national budgetary consolidation efforts by the Member States, all institutions must show budgetary responsibility and self-restraint. Parliament therefore calls for interinstitutional cooperation to be reinforced with a view to sharing best practices, looking for savings and modernising their policies on human resources, organisation, technology and buildings.
Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Vaughan, which sets guidelines for the 2013 budget, because I support many of the ideas contained therein. At a time of profound economic crisis, in which Member States and local governments are calling for sacrifices, sometimes major ones, from their own citizens, I think that the European Union should play its part and set an example in controlling public spending. I fully support the call for the continuation of structural and organisational reforms in order to ensure that the European Parliament’s overheads are contained and lowered, whilst taking into consideration the greater costs that will be involved in the full accession of Croatia next year.
Several of the proposals set out in the report will certainly be carefully considered and analysed, such as a freeze on budget lines related to travel and no indexation of any of the Members’ individual allowances. Furthermore, I believe that the controversial question of Parliament’s two seats, which involves costly travelling every month, should be addressed. Nevertheless, in light of the aforementioned observations, I think it is important that we ensure that any discussions are not cast adrift in the tide of populist and demagogical thought, which could harm the Union’s image without making any significant saving.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE), in writing. – (SV) This is why I welcome the call in Amendment 2 for a quick evaluation of the situation: I voted in favour of Amendment 2 to the report on the guidelines for the 2013 budget procedure, as I wholeheartedly support a single seat for Parliament, which would result in huge savings. Since I became an MEP in 2009, I have been involved in pressing for a single seat for the European Parliament and I voted in favour of us having one instead of two part-sessions in September. I actively support the Single Seat campaign led by a group of MEPs who are committed to finding a solution to this issue. At a time of economic crisis, it is astonishing that the EU continues to spend millions of euro every year maintaining two seats. Apart from the financial aspect, it would also be hugely beneficial for the environment if we had one common seat and we avoided the regular transporting of people and materials between Brussels and Strasbourg. If we do not find a solution soon, there is a risk that this will undermine confidence in the European Parliament as an institution. I say let us put a stop to the travelling circus between Strasbourg and Brussels.
Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. – (IT) It is universally accepted that, during this prolonged economic crisis, the EU institutions should lead by example in implementing austerity and rigour, starting by freezing their administrative budgets. This should be done in a manner that is both effective and tangible, so as to be credible as regards the sacrifices that we are asking our fellow citizens to make day after day. Making savings, strengthening interinstitutional cooperation, sharing best practices between institutions and modernising policies on human resources, technology and environmental policy can, and must, become strategic objectives for the European Union institutions. This vote allows us to stress once again and with greater clout the fact that we must counter the need for drastic cuts in unproductive spending by multiplying our efforts to free up and make as many more resources available as possible so that we can get the global economy back on track as soon as possible and return hope to those who now easily succumb to the sirens of populist, anti-European sentiment. Citizens’ opinions of the institutions that govern them depend on the institutions’ ability to come across as sensitive to their needs and to the current difficulties, and, most importantly, the ability to put together suitable policies in order to ensure that we recover from this crisis as soon as possible.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) In times of crisis, the majority are required to show strict budgetary discipline, and the European Parliament should not be an exception to that rule. It has therefore been decided to freeze Parliament’s budget for 2013. Specifically, the budgetary lines related to staff and MEPs’ travel will be identical in real terms to those of 2012, and our individual allowances will be frozen until the end of the parliamentary term. In order to identify other opportunities for savings, Parliament’s budget will be subject to an independent evaluation.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this austerity budget because it is important for the European institutions to contribute to the efforts at budgetary discipline initiated by the Member States in these times of economic crisis.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because I believe that the European institutions, in the current context of the serious economic situation, should freeze their administrative budgets, but without disrespecting legally binding obligations and possible subsequent increases. Cutting costs also involves stepping up interinstitutional cooperation, with a view to sharing best practices and increasing efficiency as regards human resources, organisation, technology and energy.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Taking the current financial, economic and social situation in the EU into due consideration, it is increasingly necessary that the institutions respond with responsibility and moderation to the requirements of the extremely serious situation we are experiencing, and that they employ rigorous budgetary management procedures with a view to making savings. There is now a need to achieve a sustained balance and to attempt consolidation in all types of budget, whilst retaining a prudent approach to administrative expenditure. I therefore welcome this recommendation to freeze the administrative budgets of the various institutions. Parliament should retain the principle of excellence in lawmaking, respect the principle of good management and transparency, and ensure a spirit of budgetary responsibility.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this report is the guidelines for the 2013 budget procedure as regards the following European Union institutions: the European Parliament, the Council, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Ombudsman, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European External Action Service.
At this time of financial crisis, it is essential that public institutions adopt principles of sound financial management when both implementing and drafting their budgets. The European Parliament should be an example of rigour and savings without, however, jeopardising excellence in lawmaking. We all agree that savings need to be made. I therefore support the proposal for creating a working group that will, alongside the administrative bureau, identify the lines in surplus and those where more savings could be made. The priority should be to channel funds into policies that help the Member States to emerge from the crisis. I voted for this report, since I believe the guidelines adopted will ensure a budget of great rigour and efficiency for next year, without jeopardising the availability of the funds required for the smooth running of the EU institutions.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) These guidelines concern all sections other than the Commission, covering the budgets of Parliament, the Council, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Ombudsman, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the European External Action Service. Guidelines to reduce the EU institutions’ spending are positive in general. However, ‘modernising [the institutions’] policies on human resources, organisation, technology and buildings’ would be fair concerns if some of them were not imbued with the same demagogic ideas as the so-called austerity measures. As we said during the debate, we are concerned by, inter alia, the cuts to the translation and interpretation services that, as well as jeopardising the principle of multilingualism of the European institutions, and Parliament in particular, could also open the way for attacks on the rights of those working for these services, which we cannot accept.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The ceiling for Heading 5 of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the EU’s 2013 budget is EUR 9 181 million in current prices. Croatia’s accession will have an impact on the 2013 budget, particularly as regards resources for new Members and staff recruitment across the institutions. In the context of the heavy burden of public debt and restraint in times of ongoing national budgetary consolidation efforts, the European Parliament and all institutions should show budgetary responsibility and self-restraint. The institutions, in the context of economic circumstances that continue to be challenging, should freeze their administrative budgets. At the same time, however, there is a need to respect legally binding obligations and possible subsequent increases. In my opinion, it is essential for the institutions to reinforce their interinstitutional cooperation with a view to sharing best practices, looking for savings and thus modernising their policies on human resources, organisation, technology and buildings.
Strengthening non-discrimination policies which facilitate the access, recruitment and integration of people with disabilities is also very important and justified. In order to achieve significant long-term savings, it is right for all institutions to look for further savings to maintain budgetary discipline and to freeze their budgets whilst bearing in mind legal obligations and new financial challenges.
Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I believe it to be of fundamental importance, especially during the current climate of austerity, that the European institutions continue to show that they are acting in a responsible manner, making genuine savings and showing appropriate budgetary self-restraint. For these reasons, I voted in favour of this report.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) The European institutions are all the more costly because they are harmful and generate unwarranted and excessive spending in an effort to justify their existence and increase their own powers and visibility.
In that context, this penny-pinching approach and the hypocritical calls to curb budgetary increases which appear in the report, and which are addressed to all the institutions except the Commission, come across as hypocritical and derisory, particularly when we know that the EU, paradoxically, employs fewer officials than the city of Paris alone, and that MEPs have systematically, and often opaquely, been opposed to making cutbacks to their own lifestyle.
We eagerly await the report on the Commission’s budget, management and policies, to see if, by any chance, and for once, this House will have the courage to slash unnecessary spending on advertising and clientelism.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) As it did for 2012, the European Parliament is adjusting to budgetary austerity: this week, we have voted on freezing Parliament’s budget for 2013. Certainly, when the EU is going through a period of unprecedented financial and budgetary austerity, it is vital for the European institutions to show responsibility and contribute to the budgetary efforts being made. I of course voted in favour of the report, and I welcome its adoption. We are also calling for an independent evaluation of the European Parliament’s budget. In addition, our individual allowances as MEPs are to be frozen until the end of the parliamentary term, as are the budgetary lines related to travel and staff. More specifically, I would like to mention that I voted against Amendment 2 in favour of having a single seat for the European Parliament, because this is yet another attack against the seat in Strasbourg. I am, however, firmly in favour of maintaining the Strasbourg seat, not only for historical and symbolic reasons, but also in the name of the European Union’s principle of diversity. This is primarily a political matter affecting Parliament’s independence. The decision to use Strasbourg reflects a desire for a decentralised Europe that is not ‘concentrated’ in a single seat of power in Brussels.
Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) On Thursday, 16 February, Parliament was called on to vote on its administrative budget for 2013. This budget would not have posed any major problems were it not for the tabling of an amendment requesting that the European Parliament should have only a single seat. To my great regret, that amendment was adopted, thereby paving the way for an internal battle between supporters and opponents of the Strasbourg seat. For the sake of convenience, some work is carried out in Brussels, but we should not forget that Strasbourg is the only official seat of the European Parliament; it is the symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany, and the symbol of European unity that the founding fathers wished for. Today, MEPs have declared open war on Strasbourg. However, a report written by the European Association of Young Entrepreneurs, presented on 14 February, overturns the financial, institutional and environmental arguments put forward by critics. I therefore call on the Members of the European Parliament to respect the letter of the Treaties, because, if we were to take this reasoning even further, why not make Strasbourg the only seat of the European Parliament?
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because given the heavy burden of public debt and the need for restraint at a time of ongoing national budgetary consolidation efforts, the European Parliament, and all institutions, should show budgetary responsibility and self-restraint. The institutions must reinforce their interinstitutional cooperation with a view to sharing best practices, looking for savings and thus modernising their policies on human resources, organisation, technology and buildings. I am pleased that significant savings were achieved in the 2012 budget thanks to the European Parliament’s structural changes and reorganisation. Structural and organisational reforms should therefore be continued and innovations applied in other areas. The Secretary-General should present the Committee on Budgets with a detailed report containing a clear overview of budget lines that were under-implemented in 2011 and an objective analysis of the reasons for this. However, at the same time, savings should not jeopardise the legislative activity of the European Parliament. I believe that all institutions must continue to look for further savings to maintain budgetary discipline and to freeze their budgets whilst bearing in mind legal obligations and new financial challenges.
Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The adoption of guidelines by means of a resolution constitutes the first stage of the budget adoption procedure. All the institutions are affected, apart from the Commission. Parliament’s budget is the largest of all the other institutions. The second stage will be the March vote on a resolution presenting specific estimates. During this time of crisis, and given the need to reduce our public spending, I supported the adoption of these guidelines stipulating that, like the Commission’s administrative budget, that of Parliament and the other institutions should be frozen, in other words, simply indexed to inflation.
George Lyon (ALDE), in writing. – In the context of national austerity and budget consolidation efforts across Europe, I am glad that, with the vote of Thursday, 16 February, the European Parliament has shown self-restraint and responsibility in the guidelines for the EU 2013 budget.
I support the proposed freeze in administrative spending for all institutions, which can surely be achieved through structural changes, reorganisation and getting rid of inefficiencies. I also welcome the proposed freeze on travel expenditure in 2013 and no indexation of all MEPs’ allowances. I am delighted that we seem to have an agreement to reject any new unforeseen building development project for our institutions until the end of the legislature.
Finally, I would like to recall that I remain convinced that one of the best and most efficient ways to make savings in the Parliament budget would be to adopt a single seat for this House, in Brussels, and this is the reason why I signed and supported the amendment tabled to that effect by a group of MEPs from all political groups.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report calling for the Secretary-General to come forward with proposals for an independent evaluation of Parliament’s budget.
Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report on the guidelines for the 2013 budget. While I support the need to freeze our institution’s budget for 2013, I voted against Amendment 2 attacking the European Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg. Two days earlier, a report was presented making major corrections to the erroneous yet often-reported figures that set the annual cost of the Strasbourg seat at between EUR 169 million and EUR 203 million. The reality is quite different. According to the Parliament’s General Secretariat, the total specific cost for Strasbourg is EUR 51.5 million, that is, EUR 0.10 per inhabitant per year. Similarly, the carbon footprint estimate of 19 000 tonnes of CO2 is four times higher than the real figure, which is actually 4 199 tonnes. I see that my colleagues will not give up their fight for the Strasbourg seat, and that this issue is actually more about politics than about the budget or the environment. For my part, I believe that if the European Parliament must have a single seat, it should, of course, be Strasbourg.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The rapporteur sagely recalls the significant savings which were achieved in the 2012 budget thanks to structural changes and reorganisation. It is therefore good to see that, as well as encouraging the continuation of structural reforms, we are starting to think about making long-term savings. I voted in favour.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The institutions, in the context of continued challenging economic circumstances, should freeze their administrative budgets. However, there is a need to respect legally binding obligations and possible subsequent increases. The institutions should reinforce their interinstitutional cooperation, with a view to sharing best practices, looking for savings and thus modernising their policies on human resources, organisation, technology and buildings. All institutions should therefore seek to make further savings, with a view to maintaining budgetary discipline and to freezing their budgets, whilst bearing in mind legal obligations and new financial challenges, such as Croatia’s accession.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In the context of the heavy burden of public debt and restraint in times of ongoing national budgetary consolidation efforts, Parliament, and all the EU institutions, should show budgetary responsibility and self-restraint. By calling for a freeze on their own allowances and travel expenses, the Members of this House wish to contribute actively to maintaining budgetary discipline and keeping the overall evolution of the Parliament’s 2013 administrative budget under the inflation rate.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) In view of the debt and economic crisis and the tough austerity measures embarked upon by many EU Member States, whether willingly or through coercion, it is all the more important that the European Union itself should seek to save money. Although there have been no breakthroughs in relation to the major topics such as the three parliamentary locations or the jungle of subsidies and agencies, this report has nonetheless made it clear that savings must be made. The report only contains half-hearted guidelines in this respect, although this is, of course, better than nothing. I have voted accordingly.
Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. – (PT) In the vote on the guidelines for the 2013 budget, I voted for a single seat for the European Parliament, not just for financial reasons resulting from the cost of the dual location, but also for reasons of efficiency and suitable conditions for Parliament’s work. I also voted to reduce the travel budget for inter-parliamentary committees and delegations, since it seems to me that there is too much travel, some of which is completely superfluous and is nothing more than ‘parliamentary tourism’, which does nothing to increase the political legitimacy of the European Parliament in the eyes of the public.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I am very pleased that today, an absolute majority of the Members of this Parliament has approved the amendment that I presented, which highlights the impossibility of continuing to operate between two parliamentary seats. Therefore, I hope that this text will now come to the attention of the Council and the Member States as quickly as possible. We cannot continue to hide behind this excuse, speaking of cuts and reductions when we ourselves are complicit, despite ourselves, in the greatest and most absurd wastage of all.
Nevertheless, today, I would like to see two other amendments presented by my Group also approved through a vote in this Chamber: the first to put an end to the extensive and unfathomable financing of parties and European political foundations, and the second to allow the purchase of buildings by the European institutions. Lega Nord remains consistent, as always, in its defence of rigour and transparency, whilst other parties prefer to draw on European financing and be complicit in unclear manoeuvrings over properties between Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) As we lead the European Union out of the crisis and reduce salaries in the private sector, the public sector should not be an exception. I welcomed this resolution because I am convinced that the EU institutions can also make a collective contribution to the broad policy of having to make savings. Our decision not to index allowances is also welcome, as is the willingness to cancel two jobs. I nevertheless believe that we should go further and begin saving with a real and effective cost analysis which could show the level of efficiency of our work and further cost-cutting possibilities.
Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I abstained on the final vote as the report did not specify that it would cut the generous expenses, salaries and other privileges of MEPs. I call for all MEPs to be on a salary not in excess of that of a skilled worker. Any expenses incurred in the exercise of their duties should be fully vouched for and be published on a regular basis. Due to the unnecessary financial and environmental cost, I supported the amendment calling for a single seat for the European Parliament; however, I believe that this must occur together with investment in public works in the city of Strasbourg to ensure that there is no loss in jobs in the Strasbourg region. I voted in favour of the amendment calling for a cut in the state funding of EU political parties and foundations. I believe that political parties, including those at an international level, should be primarily funded ‘from the bottom up’ through contributions from their members and non-corporate supporters.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) Faced with the current financial situation, the European Parliament and all the institutions should show budgetary responsibility and self-restraint. We need to pursue a wise spending policy.
I believe that the biggest savings could be achieved if Parliament only had one seat and ended the monthly trips between Brussels and Strasbourg. Furthermore, in order to ensure transparency in the area of building policy, the procedure should be reformed so that a decision on these issues requires approval by the plenary.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Following the structural changes and internal reorganisation of the European Parliament, with regard to the management of the 2012 budget, the means by which to achieve a wide savings’ margin was established. The objective for the 2013 budget is to continue to curb waste and, in view of these times of economic instability, I am strongly in favour of this. Looking to freeze the budget of the European institutions means making savings, yet we must ensure that these savings do not impact negatively on growth and development projects. We must therefore work on planning Parliament’s expenditure in order to produce satisfactory budget forecasts which, while curbing waste, do not undermine investment sectors.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report on the guidelines for the 2013 budget procedure. Its most important aspect is the call for all the institutions to step up interinstitutional cooperation with a view to sharing best practices and looking for savings and thus modifying their policies on human resources, organisation, technology and buildings. This determination will certainly contribute to making real savings in the budgets.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Above all, the 2013 budget will have to tackle two very important events: firstly, it will have to take into account Croatia’s accession, which will involve increased costs for the European Union; secondly, it is coming out against a backdrop of the great sacrifices being asked of the European public, so there is a need for a policy of transparency and restraint in the budget of the EU authorities. Right from the outset, therefore, its overriding concern will have to be cutting spending whilst seeking to adopt best practices that maximise available resources. I voted in favour, as that is the direction of these guidelines for the 2013 budget.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Today, during the plenary session of Parliament in Strasbourg, we voted on the report drafted by Mr Vaughan. Following a debate on the main budget lines of the European Parliament for 2013, MEPs agreed that it must not exceed the inflation rate and also took into consideration the accession of Croatia to the EU next year, which will have an anticipated impact of approximately EUR 8.5 million.
In order to contain spending and to identify other areas in which savings could be made, ‘overlaps and inefficiencies across budgetary lines’ were targeted. There will be a freeze on Members’ individual allowances until the end of the legislature and budget lines related to travel and staff will also be frozen to at least 2012 levels.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. I am especially happy that Amendment number 2, stating that a single seat could lead to important savings in the EP budget, has been adopted by a big majority.
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In a context characterised by continuing economic instability, I believe it to be fundamental that the institutions strengthen interinstitutional cooperation and make large savings through structural changes and internal reorganisation. Today, it is more important than ever for budgetary discipline to be rigorous, especially within the international institutions, which need to be particularly vigilant in identifying any areas of waste and bad management.
Kārlis Šadurskis (PPE), in writing. – (LV) The European Treaty stipulates that the European Parliament has an official workplace both in Brussels and in Strasbourg. In order for any changes to be made to this arrangement, such as having just one official workplace, the changes would have to be ratified in all the European Member States. The French Government will never support such a proposal. If, however, France were ever to support it, I believe that the majority of the other countries would quickly agree to it, since travel by MEPs and officials between these two workplaces is really a huge, absurd waste of European taxpayers’ money. Recent suggestions about the confirmation of a single official workplace for the European Parliament at the moment appear to be a cheap attempt to win popularity and lay claim to a sham frugality. It is exactly for these reasons that I supported the position of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) by voting against the motion for a resolution.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I am proud that in the text of the 2013 budget report, several sections make specific reference to Croatia’s progress towards accession, which is to be taken into account when next year’s budget is set.
Following a long process of European assimilation, the country will become a fully entitled Member State of the European Union on 1 July 2013, following the ratification of the Treaty of Accession by all 27 of the current Member States of the European Union and Croatia. Earlier this year, the country held a referendum on accession. During this ratification period, Croatia will continue along the road towards implementation of the Treaty and the Commission will be monitoring its progress. Up until its accession, Croatia will participate as an observer, without the right to the floor, in the majority of the Council’s groups and sessions as well as in European Council meetings. It will also participate in meetings of European Commission committees. This will allow representatives from Croatia to familiarise themselves with the working practices of the EU institutions and to participate in the decision-making process.
Therefore, I voted in favour of these guidelines on next year’s budget in the hope that their content will be maintained in the final text.
Nicole Sinclaire (NI), in writing. – I support Amendment 5 as I oppose the concept of pan-European political parties, not only on the grounds of cost, but because I question their democratic integrity.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report is the first step of the budget procedure and it includes proposals such as freezing the administrative budgets of Parliament and the other institutions; in particular, freezing the budget lines concerning travel with no indexation of the Members’ allowances until the end of the parliamentary session. It also envisages an independent evaluation of Parliament’s budget and making proposals for specific savings up to the end of 2012. I voted in favour of the document for the above reasons.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) In these difficult economic times for the Member States, the realistic cost cutting proposals we have heard from Mr Vaughan are quite correct and deserve our support. It is obvious that we need to freeze spending on administration at a time when all of the people of Europe are having to tighten their belts. There is no doubt that we can achieve further savings by improving collaboration between the institutions and by cooperating more effectively in areas such as human resources, organisation and building management. However, despite all the need for savings, a number of areas exist where caution is advised. The first of these is environmental protection, as we need efficient environmental policy in all of the EU’s institutions and bodies. These institutions should act as an example to Europe.
The second area is that of translations and language services: Attempts have been made to cut costs in this area in the last year. This situation cannot continue indiscriminately, however. The European Parliament is responsible for legislation for 500 million Europeans. These people need to be able to understand our work in their native language. Transparency in democratic processes should not be sacrificed on the altar of the interpreting budget.
Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) In the context of the current economic and social crisis, and of the profound difficulties that the peoples of Europe are facing, the report says that, in view of ‘ongoing national budgetary consolidation efforts, the European Parliament, and all institutions, should show budgetary responsibility and self-restraint’. Parliament therefore believes that the institutions ‘should freeze their administrative budgets’, but that there is a need to ‘respect legally binding obligations and possible subsequent increases’. We believe that guidelines to reduce the EU institutions’ spending are positive in general. However, we are afraid that statements arguing that the institutions should be ‘modernising their policies on human resources, organisation, technology and buildings’ have the same demagogic basis as the so-called austerity measures that have been exacerbating the living conditions of the European public. We would argue that these measures should not affect the principle of multilingualism, particularly as regards jobs in the translation services.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, since I believe that the objective of maintaining the biomass of western horse mackerel at a level that ensures its sustainable exploitation is essential, so that we can obtain the maximum long-term yield. We should also not forget that the precautionary principle is important under the common fisheries policy, so as to create more sustainability, not just for this fish stock, but for all of them, in general. To this end, it is essential that the Commission foster political dialogue with all the institutions, aimed at clarifying their respective roles in the decision-making process and at addressing the issue of the future architecture of multiannual management plans.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I voted in favour of the proposal for a multiannual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel and the fisheries exploiting that stock. I agree that in order to keep the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel at an appropriate level, there must be a state of equilibrium in both the sustainable exploitation of the stock and the highest long-term yield. This equilibrium can, of course, only be determined in possession of accurate biological information. This issue is of special importance, primarily to coastal regions; however, by laying down precise rules and target numbers for this species, we are also facilitating the extension of regulations to other species of fish. This is necessary, in my opinion, in order to ensure the competitiveness of fisheries at EU level, and also to preserve the extremely diverse stocks of marine fish that still exist today for future generations.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of this report because the EU needs to maintain the marine biomass of the western horse mackerel at a level that will ensure that it can be exploited in a sustainable way. The western stock is the most important stock of horse mackerel found in EU waters. I would like to point out that the biological information is insufficient to fully assess the stock. To this end, the egg abundance index can be used as a biological indicator for developments in the stock size. A good management of the allowable catches is also required. The application of effective control rules is essential. It is appropriate to guarantee the periodic assessment of the western horse mackerel management plan. I emphasise that long-term management plans are fundamental to the conservation of fish stocks.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the report on the multiannual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel since I consider it necessary to remove the deadlock in the legislative process in the Council, with a view to maintaining the biomass of the western stocks of horse mackerel at a level that secures its sustainable exploitation and the maximum long-term yield.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The sustainability and consequent renewal of fisheries resources are two concerns central to any fisheries policy, which, if neglected, could lead to the exhaustion of resources and ultimately put an end to fishing. The horse mackerel, which is a fish that is widely eaten in my country and in a number of others in the Union, is not exempt from this need for control and regulated monitoring or, at the same time, to the demands of markets and consumers. It falls to the European Union to use instruments such as the proposed multiannual plan to seek a fair balance between these interests and to find the best way to guide a fisheries policy that, in addition to renewing fish reserves, does not neglect those particularly involved in this sector. I hope that it will be possible to overcome the present interinstitutional deadlock on the proposed plan and that all the institutions will be able to contribute positively to increasing the capacity of Europe’s fisheries and to defending fisheries resources.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This motion for a resolution, drafted by Ms Fraga Estévez and Mr Gallagher on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries, pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure, was tabled by way of a supplement to the oral questions and concerns the state of play regarding the proposed multiannual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel and the fisheries exploiting that stock.
The planet’s resources are not unlimited and their exploitation should take this reality into account. Like many other fish species, the horse mackerel is very important for the European Union; we need a sustainable exploitation strategy, since the western horse mackerel stocks are the most important in EU waters. As such, multiannual plans based on scientific studies are enormously important in maintaining stocks, so they should be central to concerns in relation to the common fisheries policy. I voted for this motion for a resolution since it will contribute to maintaining the biomass of western horse mackerel stocks which, exploited sustainably, will, in turn, ensure a high long-term yield for fishers.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Multiannual management plans are an important tool for the sustainable management of fisheries resources. This resolution acknowledges exactly that. In the case of stocks of western horse mackerel, which is the most commercially important in European waters, the purpose of the multiannual report is to maintain the biomass of these stocks at a level that ensures their sustainable exploitation, and to provide the highest long-term yield. This objective is compromised by the institutional deadlock that has been preventing the adoption and effective implementation of the plan. This is a war between Parliament and the Council, in which Parliament wants to assert its power of codecision, since it believes the Council cannot keep the power to unilaterally change the parameters set out in the proposal for establishing total allowable catches, as these constitute core components of the proposed long-term plan. The adopted resolution stresses that the existing interinstitutional deadlock must be resolved for the sake of sustainable fish stocks and in order to enable fishing operators to better plan their activities in advance; this position seems correct to us. As such, it calls for dialogue between the three institutions, so as to overcome the impasse, in this case and in future ones.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) With regard to the implementation plan adopted at the UN world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg in 2002, the European Community undertook, among other things, to maintain or renew fish stocks at levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, with the aim of a more rapid achievement of these goals in the case of exhausted stocks, and by 2015, if possible. Economically speaking, the western stocks are the most important stocks of horse mackerel in Union waters. Biological information on these stocks is insufficient for an overall assessment allowing fish mortality targets to be set for fishing related to the maximum sustainable yield, which could back up the total allowable catch with scientific forecasts in this area. According to the preventive scientific recommendations, the annual catch of western horse mackerel was supposed to be kept below 150 000 tonnes for several years from 2003, on the assumption that stocks would remain sustainable at this level of exploitation, even without an exceptionally large supplementation of stocks in the future.
The areas for which restrictions are set annually on the overall catch of horse mackerel do not line up with the borderline stocks of this fish species in the Atlantic Ocean. We must ensure that the harvesting rules ensure a preventive management plan for these stocks.
Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – The delay by the Council in adopting its first reading has forced the Committee on Fisheries, in frustration, to raise the matter in plenary. As rapporteur for this file, I shall do all possible in conjunction with the shadow rapporteurs, the Committee on Fisheries, the Commission and the Council to reach a satisfactory conclusion, which may not necessarily create a precedent for other management plans.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) Under the terms of the implementation plan adopted at the United Nations world summit in Johannesburg in 2002, the European Union is committed to maintaining or restoring fish stocks to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, with the aim of achieving the goals for depleted stocks on an urgent basis and, where possible, not later than 2015. In April 2009, the Commission proposed a management plan based on the preparatory work in the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council and the advice given by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries. The plan’s objective is to maintain the biomass of western horse mackerel at a level that ensures its sustainable exploitation, and to provide the highest long-term yield. I voted in favour of this document because long-term management plans applying to as many fish stocks as possible are key for the conservation of fish stocks, as stressed by the Commission in its proposal for a reformed common fisheries policy. The Commission is therefore urged to act swiftly, as indicated and promised on several occasions, in order to prevent other interinstitutional blockages in relation to future long-term management plans, and the Council is urged to submit its position on the proposed multiannual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel in order to allow Parliament to start its second reading and make progress on this matter.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The western stock of horse mackerel is economically the most important stock of horse mackerel inhabiting Union waters. It is important to remind ourselves that under the terms of the Plan of Implementation adopted at the United Nations world summit in Johannesburg in 2002, the European Union is committed to maintaining or restoring fish stocks to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, with the aim of achieving the goals for depleted stocks on an urgent basis and, where possible, not later than 2015. This must also apply to horse mackerel stocks.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Multiannual plans are a cornerstone of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and a fundamental conservation tool, establishing general provisions aimed at the pursuit of the objectives of the CFP; these must, in turn, be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure, in accordance with Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The objective of these plans is to maintain the biomass of western horse mackerel at a level that ensures its sustainable exploitation, and to provide the highest long-term yield. The harvest control rule should be based in equal parts on precautionary advice and on the most recent total allowable catches, adjusted by a factor that reflects the recent trend in the stock abundance as measured through egg production. Harvest control rules are therefore core elements of the multiannual plans that must be decided under the ordinary legislative procedure.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I am confident that, to maintain the biomass of western horse mackerel at a level that ensures its sustainable exploitation and to provide the highest long-term yield, the harvest control rule should be based in equal parts on precautionary advice and on recent total allowable catches, adjusted by a factor that reflects the recent trend. I voted in favour.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) At a time when overfishing of stocks is becoming more widespread, we need more discussions about introducing catch quotas and subsequently also about how these can be adhered to and monitored. However, scientists have not yet succeeded in accurately determining the level of fish stocks, in this case of the Atlantic horse mackerel. As a result, all the measures that are taken are based solely on estimates. Nevertheless, these estimates must be used to establish the total allowable catches. I have voted in favour of the motion for a resolution because it will be necessary in the long term to maintain or restore fish stocks to a level at which the greatest possible yield can be achieved.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because it is very important to ensure exploitation of living aquatic resources that provides sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions.
Attention should be drawn to the fact that the multiannual plan for the western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel and the fisheries exploiting that stock is a fundamental conservation tool, ensuring the sustainable and long-term exploitation of stocks and allowing fishing operators better forward planning of their activities. It should be noted that harvest control rules must ensure resource management based on the precautionary principle.
Stocks of horse mackerel inhabiting Union waters are most important from an economic point of view and are fished by various fleets. The multiannual plan must therefore use effective means to ensure the stability of the fisheries sector.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this resolution is to resolve the interinstitutional deadlock between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council that has grown up around the implementation of the multiannual plan for horse mackerel. To this end, Parliament calls on the Commission to take initiatives to foster a political dialogue between the three institutions aimed at clarifying their respective roles in the decision-making process and at addressing the issue of the future architecture of multiannual management plans. It also urges the Council to submit its position on the proposed multiannual plan for western stock of Atlantic horse mackerel, in order to enable Parliament to start its second reading and make progress on this matter. It is also noteworthy that long-term management plans applying to as many fish stocks as possible are key for the conservation of fish stocks, as stressed by the Commission in its proposal for a reformed common fisheries policy, so there is an urgent need to apply it, in this case to western stocks of horse mackerel. I voted for this resolution.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) At the 2002 United Nations world summit, the European Union committed to guaranteeing the sustainability of the available fisheries resources. In this wide subject, horse mackerel stocks are particularly important, as they are found largely in western continental waters. Given the gravity of the problem, which points not just to environmental concerns, but also to the economic impact of whatever measures are adopted, which could affect many traditional fishers, any guidelines that may be adopted should result from the ordinary legislative procedure, in a process of political dialogue between the three institutions; that is, with the necessary contribution from the European Parliament. I voted in favour, because I agree with this reading tabled by the rapporteurs in this motion for a resolution.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The EP underlines that the plan’s objective is to maintain the biomass of western horse mackerel at a level that ensures its sustainable exploitation, and to provide the highest long-term yield; it believes that the harvest control rule should be based in equal parts on precautionary advice and on recent total allowable catches, adjusted by a factor that reflects the recent trend in the stock abundance as measured through egg production; it stresses that the harvest control rules are core elements of the multiannual plans that must be decided under the ordinary legislative procedure.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Certain types of fish can be made into meal and oil. However, the target species of industrial fishing are generally those not destined for human consumption, that therefore have a reduced commercial value. These are small-sized species, often sandeels, Norway pout, sprat and blue whiting, but medium-sized species are also caught, such as the Atlantic horse mackerel, which we are discussing today in this Chamber.
Industrial fishing is a fishing operation whose output is used for things other than food for humans. Incidentally, the European Union is concerned about adopting measures that reduce the by-catches of species such as haddock and whiting for human consumption. The most significant stage of production is an industrial process that, after the product has been ground, cooked and pressed, separates solid from liquid matter: the solid matter is crushed and made into meal, whilst the liquid matter is treated so that fish oil can be extracted.
Since Atlantic horse mackerel constitutes the main fish stock for this use throughout the European Union, I believe it to be advisable that, for a sustainable exploitation of and the highest long-term yield from the stock, once again in Parliament we look to support a sector that is of strategic importance for many European regions.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002, of 20 December 2002, on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the common fisheries policy, it should be ensured that the exploitation of live aquatic resources creates conditions sustainable from the economic, environmental and social points of view. I am voting for this joint motion for a resolution because I believe it is important to ensure the sustainable exploitation of horse mackerel, to obtain the maximum yield in the long term, and to solve rapidly the interinstitutional deadlock for the sake of the sustainability of the fish stocks and so as to enable fishing professionals to plan their activities better. Finally, I agree with the fact that harvest control rules are core elements of the multiannual plans that must be decided under the ordinary legislative procedure.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The resolution underlines that the plan’s objective is to maintain the biomass of western horse mackerel at a level that ensures its sustainable exploitation; urges the Commission to take more initiatives to foster a political dialogue between the three institutions aimed at clarifying their respective roles in the decision-making process and at addressing the issue of the future architecture of the multiannual financial framework; and urges the Council to submit its position on the proposed multiannual plan.
Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This is a war between Parliament and the Council, in which Parliament wants to assert its power of codecision, since it believes the Council cannot keep the power to unilaterally change the parameters set out in the proposal for establishing total allowable catches, as these constitute core components of the proposed long-term plan. The adopted resolution stresses that the existing interinstitutional deadlock must be resolved for the sake of sustainable fish stocks and in order to enable fishing operators to better plan their activities in advance. This is a decision that seems correct to us.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for the general principles of this resolution, namely, the objective of reforming the common fisheries policy (CFP) so as to ensure the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the hydrographic basins and the sustainability of local fishing communities, even though the management of the regional hydrographic basins, which are the best way of resolving the sustainability of local economies, has still not been clearly set out. I consider it important that CFP reform considers the fact that destructive fishing practices are caused by neighbouring Member States in the regional hydrographic basins of other Member States, which cannot be separated from the problem of regional self-management for hydrographic basins. I consider it even more serious that the European Commission has refused to allow local fishing communities to reserve adequate protected areas around the coastline for their exclusive exploitation, which is currently destroying the sector in regions highly dependent on the traditional and small-scale fishing sectors, like the Azores.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I voted in favour of the proposal because it concerns the protection and the regulation of the rational use of a very important common resource, namely our fish stocks. By strengthening the responsibility of those involved, this ecosystem-based approach contributes to the creation of a protected and sustainable fisheries industry. In doing so, it fulfils an environmental function as well, and can thereby also serve to reduce the impact of the negative changes accompanying climate change. I must specifically highlight that fishing as a core activity, as well as its ancillary activities, are important building blocks of European economic growth.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because with it, the European Parliament is providing its evaluations on the common fisheries policy reform package presented by the European Commission in summer of last year. Parliament is calling for the consolidation, through this reform, of the sustainable exploitation and preservation of fish stocks, as one of the fundamental ideas of common fisheries policy reform. The European Parliament proposes various measures to achieve this objective, including positive discrimination, i.e. providing that those companies carrying out environmentally friendly fishing should enjoy improved access to the European Funds. Such a practice is already being used successfully in the common agricultural policy. The European Parliament also draws attention to the fact that fisheries is a particularly important sector of EU industry, providing citizens with high-quality food and creating economic and social added value. It is therefore particularly important to preserve fish stocks at a healthy level, so that fishing activities can continue in their traditional areas and communities in the long term.
Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I fully support the motion for a resolution tabled by Ms do Céu Patrão Neves, which highlights the multi-functionality of the fisheries sector. Indeed, I have always argued that the common fisheries policy should not be determined by environmental concerns alone. As a source of dynamism and structure for many regions, fishing activities are a key factor in the production of public goods. They are an expression of know-how and culture, and carry with them many opportunities to strengthen scientific knowledge in particular and guarantee the development of coastal areas. They also have a structuring effect on maritime spatial planning. I therefore support the valuing of public goods provided by fishing activities.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The fisheries and aquaculture sector generates EUR 34.2 billion in annual earnings and provides jobs for more than 350 000 people in Europe. Environmental sustainability – improving the level of fish stocks – is a sine qua non of the economic and social sustainability of the sector. That is why the reform of the common fisheries policy should guarantee that stocks are fished in a sustainable way in order to ensure the survival of the sector and the future of coastal communities. It should be ambitious, consisting of clear, prioritised objectives that are measurable and time-bound.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the joint resolution on the contribution of the common fisheries policy to the production of public goods because its multifunctional dimension means the fishing sector provides public goods that generally benefit the European public. This contribution should be acknowledged, valued and, as such, taken fully into account in funding the common fisheries policy.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Fishing is intrinsically linked to multiple aspects of European life and contributes to making this life richer, more diverse and healthier. In terms of food, which is the aspect most immediately comprehensible by consumers, the existence of this product makes an important contribution to the richness and variety of our diet. However, this is just one aspect of the many economic, environmental, cultural, scientific, recreational and tourism factors that are affected by this activity and that should be borne particularly in mind when setting out and implementing a common fisheries policy for the European Union. Without this cross-cutting and multidisciplinary approach, we will risk intervening in fishing in a way that reduces its impact and potency. As a citizen of the European country with the largest maritime area, I not only do not want that, but also consider it a strategic error. Water is an important source of resources and fishing could be an important source of income for European businesses if this comprehensive and integrationist vision is properly appreciated and applied. A Europe that turned its back on the sea and rivers would turn its back on its heritage and its future.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this joint motion for a resolution, pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure, which replaces the motions by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group on the contribution of the common fisheries policy to the production of public goods. Fishing, one of humanity’s oldest activities, is worthy of particular attention from the European Union, not just because of a survival issue given its importance relating to food, but also because of its importance to the world economy. In fact, several pieces of legislation have been adopted, both by international organisations and by this Parliament; the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) is particularly important. I voted for this joint motion for a resolution for the following reasons: 1. It acknowledges fishing as a sector producing high-quality foodstuffs; 2. Emphasis is given to its economic and social component in culture, in recreation and tourism, in science, in energy, in the environment and in education; 3. It ensures the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks; 4. It consolidates policies for organising maritime areas; 5. It encourages the establishment of small fishing communities; and 6. It contributes to hitting Europe 2020 strategy targets as a driver of European economic growth.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We regret that, during the negotiations on drafting a joint resolution, the majority of the political groups – the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – decided to remove some crucial items from the resolution that we had tabled. The result was a weak resolution that did not contribute towards tackling the crisis currently being experienced in the sector and the serious threats bearing down on it; a resolution that measures up to the insipid ambitions of these groups for the fisheries sector, and for improving the situation of its professionals and the coastal communities most dependent on the sector. That is why we have retained the resolution of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left and abstained in the vote on the joint resolution. The most significant of the items that are ignored or dealt with insufficiently within that resolution are: the particular importance of small-scale coastal fishing and of traditional fishing in economic, social, environmental and cultural terms; that the future common fisheries policy (CFP) should, in isolation and in combination with other policies, contribute to maintaining and creating economic activities and jobs, both upstream and downstream from fishing; and that the multifunctionality of the fisheries sector should be fully taken into account at the level of funding the CFP, and any form of returning the costs of the CFP to the Member States should be rejected.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Fishing is one of the oldest human activities, and fish are an important and irreplaceable component of human nutrition. This is one of the reasons why we must make an effort to protect and maintain fish populations. The role of fisheries as a supplier of food for human beings is both long term and widely acknowledged. The fisheries sector, including wild and farmed fish, is an activity that contributes to the production of irreplaceable common goods through the three main strands of fishing, processing and marketing. The fisheries sector provides European citizens with high-quality food and creates economic and social added value for the EU. The reformed common fisheries policy (CFP) therefore needs to guarantee the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and the preservation of fish stocks at a healthy level, in such a way that fishing activities can continue in their traditional areas and communities in the long term.
The fisheries sector is one of the most important pillars of food security in the European Union and, as such, its sustainability and stability must be guaranteed by the CFP reform, so that, in the future, it can provide fisheries products of sufficient quality and in sufficient quantity to satisfy the demand from more than half a billion EU citizens.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this document because healthy fish stocks, healthy marine ecosystems and the preservation of marine biodiversity constitute important common goods, which must be preserved. A dynamic, well-managed fisheries sector could make an increasing contribution to European society and the European economy and thus play a significant role in the Europe 2020 strategy. The fisheries sector is an important EU industry which provides EU citizens with high-quality food and creates economic and social added value for the European Union. Therefore, the reformed CFP needs to guarantee the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and the preservation of fish stocks at a healthy level, so that fishing activities can continue in their traditional areas and communities in the long term. Fishing activities, when all their dimensions are considered, including sustainable aquaculture, their direct and indirect impact, and the common goods produced by means of fishing activities, guarantee social and territorial cohesion and promote vocational training and social and economic dynamism, in line with the EU 2020 strategy for promoting inclusive growth. When drawing up its future policy proposals and decisions, the Commission must ensure that the CFP contributes to the implementation of overarching policy aims. The crucial process of CFP reform must recognise the CFP as a source of development in the context of the European Growth Project and it is therefore essential to create the conditions which enable it to develop its full potential. The Commission must take the specific characteristics of fisheries and coastal regions into account when developing and implementing these policies.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report, which underlines that the existence of healthy fish stocks and healthy marine ecosystems and the preservation of marine biodiversity are, in themselves, common goods which are only produced if fish stocks are being managed in a sustainable way and unnecessary negative impact on the environment is minimised.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The fisheries sector contributes significantly to the economic growth of Europe, not only through its core activity by which it is the fourth largest in the world, providing 6.4 million tonnes of fish each year. For this reason, it is right to ask the Commission to adopt a holistic approach to the sector, particularly in the realm of the reform of the common fisheries policy (CFP), rejecting reductionist perspectives damaging not only the direct and indirect benefits of the sector, but also ignoring the wider range of benefits it produces. I voted in favour of this joint motion for a resolution.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The fisheries sector is an important EU industry which provides EU citizens with high-quality food and creates economic and social added value for the European Union. The reformed common fisheries policy (CFP) needs to guarantee the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and the preservation of fish stocks at a healthy level, so that fishing activities can be practised by those living in traditional fishing areas in the long term. Moreover, environmental, economic and social sustainability is an important objective of the CFP, and it should be stressed that the CFP’s top priority should be the establishment of a sustainable fisheries sector, in order to ensure that current and future generations continue to enjoy the environmental, social and economic benefits of fishing. Fisheries, if properly managed, could make a greater contribution to European society, in terms of food security, employment, and the survival of dynamic fishing communities.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In the resolution, Parliament emphasises that the fisheries sector is an important EU industry, which provides EU citizens with high-quality food and creates economic and social added value for the European Union. Parliament takes the view, therefore, that the reformed CFP needs to guarantee the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and the preservation of fish stocks at a healthy level, so that fishing activities can continue in their traditional areas and communities in the long term. In favour.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The common fisheries policy (CFP) can offer more than a series of economic guidelines for the sector. In fact, fishing can only be understood through reference to something else with which it is interlinked: the sea. There are, therefore, cultural, recreational, scientific, energy, environmental and educational dimensions that should not be neglected. When consideration is given, for example, to traditional fishing, it is clear that it is more than a mere economic activity: it is a lifestyle and an ethnography; it is the history and world view of various coastal populations. Therefore, the CFP should adopt a holistic approach that systematically takes into account these varied factors: a hybrid model that compromises between economic and environmental sustainability, that coordinates traditional types of fishing and cutting-edge scientific research, and that balances the sea as a place of work and a place for recreation. I voted for this joint resolution as it is a step in that direction.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Fishing is an important ancient activity in human communities that has always provided them with high protein and healthy nourishment, representing today an economic and social added value also contributing to food security and independence for the European Union. I take the view, therefore, that the reformed CFP needs to guarantee the maintenance of the fisheries, in its main activities – extracting, processing and marketing – in its traditional zones, and within the framework of a sustainable balance between environmental protection, social development and economic profitability.
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I believe that the contribution of the fisheries sector to the economic growth of Europe is significant, not only through its core activity by which it is the fourth largest in the world, but also through its input to other sectors. Today, fishing represents an economic and social added value, contributing to both food security and independence for the European Union and to development in several regions of Europe that are highly dependent on this activity, in particular, by creating more than 350 000 jobs.
The multifunctionality of the fisheries sector and its production of public goods guarantees social and territorial cohesion and promotes vocational training and social and economic dynamism. The full integration of the fisheries sector in the Europe 2020 strategy needs to be taken into due account, recognising this common policy as a development engine in the context of the European growth project.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) From research carried out by scientific experts on over 54% of Mediterranean fish stocks, it emerged that they are fished to well above sustainable levels. The EU ‘Mediterranean Regulation’ has been in force since 1 June and aims to improve the management of fisheries in order to facilitate sustainability, to protect the fragile marine environment, and to restore fish stocks to healthy levels.
In my opinion, however, it is not prudent to assume that regulations or the European Union alone can ensure the management of fisheries in the Mediterranean. The involvement of all countries that border the Mediterranean, such as my own, is crucial and the EU is making every effort to play an active part through multilateral organisations, such as the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, to improve scientific knowledge and guarantee equal conditions in order to promote sustainability.
At the same time, it is essential to protect local fishery traditions and coastal habitats to be able to avoid displacing the populations that have been established there for a long time and that often rely on fish as their main source of livelihood. I therefore rely on EU decisions to take into account both sustainability and local development.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The reform of the common fisheries policy (CFP) should ensure that traditional fishing activities continue in their traditional areas within a framework of a sustainable balance between environmental protection, social development and economic profitability. I believe the Commission should act by recognising the multifunctionality of fishing activities and the value of its vast and diversified production of public goods, by adopting a holistic approach to the sector, particularly within the framework of the CFP reform, and by rejecting reductionist perspectives that only harm the direct and indirect benefits of the sector.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D) , in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of Parliament’s resolution on the contribution of the common fisheries policy (CFP) to the production of common goods, since the European fisheries sector contributes to the social development of the European Union through the creation of over 350 000 jobs, both directly and indirectly. The European fisheries sector also contributes to economic growth in Europe by providing 6.4 million tonnes of fish each year and by generating EUR 34.2 billion in annual earnings.
Considering that social, economic and environmental sustainability are important CFP objectives, I emphasise that the top priority of this policy should be the establishment of a sustainable fisheries sector in order to ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the benefits of fishing. The CFP reform, alongside other key EU initiatives in the area of maritime affairs, contributes to achieving the EU goals for an ecological economy, and also to creating jobs and eradicating poverty.
I voted in favour of paragraph 23, which urges the Commission to find a legal solution that would enable fishermen to develop other sources of income within the wide range of ‘fishery-linked activities’ without being financially penalised.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The resolution on the contribution of the common fisheries policy to the production of public goods is a missed opportunity for the European Parliament to take a clear position on the common fisheries policy. The report contains some positive points but it is very theoretical. For example, the resolution calls for the establishment of a sustainable fisheries sector, food and employment security, and the maintenance of dynamic fishing communities. The resolution also calls for the preservation of marine biodiversity, which, in itself, constitutes a public good, and considers it vital to recognise seas – which cover more than two-thirds of the surface of our planet – as a resource that plays a crucial role in producing other natural resources. The resolution is deliberately vague and imprecise, even though, when it comes to the common fisheries policy, there is no lack of problems. I therefore abstained on this vote.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The resolution emphasises that the fisheries sector is an important EU industry which provides economic and social value for the European Union and considers that environmental, economic and social sustainability are important objectives of the CFP. It also considers it crucial to recognise the seas as a resource which plays a crucial role in producing other natural resources. The resolution asks the Commission to integrate the concept of conditionality, which is already employed in the common agricultural policy.
Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This is a weak resolution that does not contribute to tackling the crisis currently being experienced in the sector and the serious threats bearing down on it. It is a resolution that does not solve the problems of the sector’s professionals and the coastal communities most dependent on it. It was important for this resolution to stress the particular importance of small-scale coastal fishing and of traditional fishing in economic, social, environmental and cultural terms, and to contribute to maintaining and creating economic activities and jobs, both upstream and downstream from fishing.
János Áder (PPE), in writing. – (HU) This political resolution is a disgrace to European socialists and liberals, because it was drafted with a lack of knowledge of the facts, based on biased media reports and in the absence of any evidence. This political resolution is a disgrace to Hungarian socialists as well, because it follows the principle of ‘the worse the better’. Anyone who wishes to suspend Hungary’s membership rights is also initiating the withholding of European Union funds. In the middle of an economic crisis, the socialists intend to deprive Hungary of thousands of billions of forints of European Union support just so that the economic latitude of the Orbán government can be restricted even further and so that they can then point fingers at the government for being unable to fulfil its programme.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution, as it is crucial that the European Union monitor the most problematic issues relating to Hungary’s recent political development, particularly with regard to the workings of democracy, to fundamental rights, and to the values, freedoms and principles derived from European law. States that have joined the European Union should respect its democratic principles and fundamental freedoms. I would add that it is important to learn lessons from the mistakes with Hungary, so as to prevent issues like this from recurring within the EU; otherwise, we will not be building the European Union that we all want and to which we all aspire.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because we must take a strong position and reiterate once again our serious concerns on the situation in Hungary in relation to the exercise of democracy, rule of law and protection of human and social rights.
Most of all, I am deeply worried about the independence of the judiciary in Hungary. It is unacceptable that the new head of the National Judicial Authority and the Chief Prosecutor will have the right to assign cases to tribunals, infringing the principle of the right to access to court and to a fair trial.
The Hungarian Prime Minister, in front of the European Parliament, expressed his readiness to comply with the recommendations and objections raised by the EU institutions in order to respect the basic values and standards of the European Union. With this resolution, we clearly state that we cannot accept further delays.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I reject the serious violation of Hungary’s sovereignty by certain political groups. There is an official dialogue taking place between Hungary and the European Commission, and the European Parliament should wait until the Commission has delivered its analysis. Hungary is open to this dialogue. I find it unacceptable that the European Commission has come under political pressure. The current Hungarian Government is labouring to maintain a country that, in 2010, was indebted, vulnerable and barely able to withstand the negative impact of global economic changes as a functioning EU Member State. I reject the double standard demonstrated by left-wing parties and the international press who did not raise their voices against the former socialist government after the events of 2006, whereas now they seek to defame my home country with their uninformed and unfounded accusations. The country is even now facing financial problems and the government is trying to conclude a credit agreement. The financial world seems to have appeared as a new branch of power in European decision making, as the application of Article 7 of the Treaty of Lisbon would entail the suspension of the payment of EU support to Hungary. Anyone who proposes such a measure does not strengthen but, in fact, weakens European cohesion. All in all, I must stress that this is no longer about the acceptance of European values but about the political power and spreading influence of money.
Ivo Belet (PPE), in writing. – (NL) I chose not to vote in favour of the joint resolution because the European Commission has given the Hungarian Government an extension until mid-March before it has to have modified its legislation. Surely, it is only natural that we await the outcome of that formal procedure before we take such a firm position and start to threaten to wheel out the big guns in the form of Article 7? Exactly one month from now, we will find out whether or not the Hungarian Government is willing to accommodate the Commission’s demands. If they are not, then that will be the right time for the Commission to take measures. Otherwise, it seems to me that the grounds for making a new resolution will no longer exist.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Let us be clear that what is happening today in Hungary is serious for civil liberties and fundamental rights. However, in the current European political debate, everything is mixed up: economic issues and, in particular, the independence of the Hungarian Central Bank are mixed up with the issue of the independence of the judiciary and the problematic points of the new constitution as regards its compliance with the constituent values of the Union. As far as I am concerned, the central bank is not the main focus. Civil liberties and full respect for democracy are much more important. We now need to reflect on the most appropriate way to counter the Hungarian regime’s drift towards authoritarianism. Could that be Article 7, which is mentioned so often? In my view, we instead need to support the democrats in Hungary at all costs, both citizens and politicians, who are committed to democracy and its values. That should be our priority.
Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. – (RO) We cannot continue to ask third countries to comply with democratic standards that countries which are already part of the European Union do not comply with. Hungary continues to scale back democracy and I think it is the European Parliament’s duty to sanction these breaches of democracy. Discussing Hungary’s situation in the European Parliament was necessary in order to protect the EU’s values and laws, and I hope that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will treat seriously the recommendations made by the European Parliament.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The new Hungarian constitution, which entered into force on 1 January 2012, has been arousing concern in a number of areas, particularly the independence of the judiciary, the independence of the central bank, the independence of the data protection authority, and fair conditions of political competition and political alternation; there is also concern about the so-called ‘Stability Law’, which subjects the income tax system to a two-thirds majority, and the cardinal laws that give the current majority the right to appoint officials for an unusually long term. I voted in favour of Parliament drafting a report to determine whether Hungary is in compliance with EU legislation and values. This will determine whether there is a clear risk of a serious breach of common European values. I also consider it important to ask the Commission to monitor closely changes to Hungarian laws, their implementation and their compliance with the spirit of the European Treaties.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE), in writing. – (SV) Despite the criticism and the serious questions raised concerning a number of the Hungarian Government’s laws relating to the judiciary, among other things, we do not see any reason to question its democratic commitments. We believe that the serious questions that have been raised should be followed up in the legal procedure that has now been initiated, based on the common rules and laws on which the EU is founded. We therefore consider it to be important for the Commission to fulfil its task of safeguarding the upholding of the Treaty by carrying out a thorough examination of Hungary’s new constitution. However, we do not believe that the European Parliament should pass judgment, for party political reasons, in either the matters that are now subject to the Commission’s legal examination or the Member States’ domestic policy disputes.
Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – I support this resolution because of the serious concerns, including those voiced by constituents of mine in Ireland, about the current Hungarian Government’s commitment to the exercise of democracy, the rule of law, checks and balances, the protection of human and social rights, and equality and non-discrimination. Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs should now work with the Commission, the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission to determine how Parliament’s and the Commission’s recommendations to the Hungarian Government are being implemented. If the Hungarian Government does not adhere to the letter and the spirit of the EU Treaties that Hungary has signed, Parliament may have to activate Article 7.1 of the Treaty on European Union on account of a serious breach of our shared values as EU members. There is an onus on all of us to ensure that the EU’s basic values are upheld. This resolution is an indication of just how seriously the actions of the Hungarian Government are being taken elsewhere in the EU.
Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this resolution because I believe that the European Parliament has a duty to ensure that Hungary complies with the acquis communautaire and democratic principles as laid down in the EU Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Several problems relating to the new constitution, the media law, the Central Bank law, the independence of the judiciary or the electoral law, have been identified by both the European Parliament and the Commission, as well as by other international bodies, and the Hungarian authorities’ response has not been satisfactory up to now.
Therefore, the Commission, as the guardian of these Treaties, must monitor much more closely the way in which the European legislation and democratic principles are complied with, by carrying out a thorough analysis that would cover all aspects of concern specified in this resolution. At the same time, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs will ensure that the Hungarian authorities comply with the recommendations of the Commission and the European Parliament.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution as it expresses serious concerns about the situation in Hungary in relation to the exercise of democracy, to the rule of law, to the protection of human and social rights, and to respect for the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Today, we are considering the first democratic Hungarian constitution since the communist dictatorship and the legislation associated with it. These deserve to be respected as an expression of the will of the people’s representatives. Unlike the preamble to the draft constitution for Europe, which attempted to purge references to any of Europe’s shared Christian heritage, the text of the Hungarian constitution acknowledges that heritage and the civilisation and human values that stem from it. It does this without excluding other values and does not seek to wipe its history clean. It is noteworthy that, despite the attacks on issues relating to customs, tradition and Christianity that have been instigated by certain left-wingers, including heirs to and advocates of communism, it is issues related to the separation of powers that have stood out to the Commission. The Hungarian Government has shown itself to be receptive to responding to all concerns raised, and prepared to revise the legislation that it has adopted wherever justified.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The political situation in Hungary has been addressed several times in Parliament. A motion for a resolution was tabled and debated in July 2011 – but was ultimately not voted on – that admonished Hungary for the lack of guarantees in its compliance with the EU principles and values. On 18 January 2012, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, was here to explain the Hungarian Government’s policy choices and the Fundamental Law of his country, which has fully incorporated the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Parliament cannot intervene in the adoption of the constitution of a Member State, which would be considered interference in a country’s sovereignty and is something that should be judged by the citizens of that country. It is incumbent on the Commission to engage in dialogue with the Hungarian Government in order to overcome any lack of compliance with the EU Treaties. The new Hungarian constitution has been agreed by a majority in the democratically elected Hungarian Parliament and has replaced the communist constitution of 1949. However, since the Commission is the guardian of the Treaties, I believe it should act to ensure strict adherence thereto.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We would express our concern and unease at the escalation of anti-democratic sentiment in the Hungarian Government, and at the adoption of measures that have fascist elements in various areas of life and society. At the same time, we also would express our solidarity with the Hungarian people and all of those fighting for freedom, democracy, justice and social progress in Hungary. However, we cannot condone interference by the European institutions in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country, as others have been advocating, nor can we accept the Commission being assigned the role of guardian of freedom and democracy when it is imposing and enforcing the IMF-EU pacts of aggression under way in Portugal, Greece and Ireland. The way forward is not a choice between two versions of social regression: that of the Hungarian Government and that of the EU. It is telling that the Commission and certain elements of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament are not concerned about the new Hungarian Labour Code and the setback in workers’ rights that this entails, about the attack on social rights, or about the intervention by the IMF; in short, about the cruel demands of social regression which the so-called austerity measures are imposing.
Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted against the motion for a resolution, from the European Parliament’s left-leaning parties, on Hungary as I consider it to be a shameful fabrication, especially given the openness of the Hungarian Government as regards the points highlighted by the European Commission. Furthermore, the adoption of this resolution could have a counterproductive effect, undermining the Hungarian people’s confidence in the European Union. This is a situation to be avoided, especially during this period of growing euroscepticism. More generally, we are faced with a completely cynical political attack against a government legitimately elected with a large majority and that is proudly protecting the rights and the sovereignty of its own people.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Hungary adopted a new constitution in April last year, but both the adoption and some of the provisions were criticised by the European Parliament in a resolution of 5 July 2011. The Hungarian Government was called upon to address the issues and comments raised by the Venice Commission, and the European Commission was called upon to carry out a thorough review and analysis of the new constitution and laws, in order to verify that they conform to the acquis communautaire and especially the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, also expressed concern over the application of democracy in Hungary and called on the Hungarian authorities to respect the principles of democracy and freedom and to implement them not only in principle, but also in practice in Hungary’s political and social life.
The comments and concerns presented do not have the aim of criticising Hungary or the Hungarian people. I firmly believe, however, that the protection of fundamental rights, civic freedoms, and our shared European values, as well as peace, security and decent coexistence – that these are all values that should be respected and preserved.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – The recent political developments in Hungary are raising many concerns, not only because of the specific restrictions imposed by the government but also for the sake of democracy in Hungary. Since December 2010, the Orbán government has introduced worrying legislation: the media laws that significantly restrict freedom of the press; the cardinal laws which limit Hungary’s central bank and data protection agency; and a new constitution which imposes conservative ideology on the citizens by explicitly touching on the issue of abortions and same-sex marriage. While Prime Minister Viktor Orbán uses nice words to calm down our concerns, his words are void if not backed by consolidating actions. Having expressed our concerns about the situation in Hungary, it is our turn to transform our words into concrete actions. With the following resolution, the European Parliament requests an investigation into the compliance of Hungary’s recent legislation with the EU’s Treaties. We also instruct the European Commission to make use of legal measures, including Article 7 of the EU Treaty, in case Hungary fails to meet the legal obligations deriving from its EU membership. Our commitment to the EU’s values and to the rights of the Hungarian people is reaffirmed by this resolution. Therefore, I voted in favour of it.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) This week, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, along with the European left and the greens, succeeded in adopting our joint motion for a resolution strongly condemning the situation in Hungary, despite shameful opposition from the European right and far right. Our resolution expresses serious concern at the situation in Hungary in relation to ‘the exercise of democracy, the rule of law, the respect and protection of human and social rights, the system of checks and balances’ and ‘equality and non-discrimination’. This was a major victory for Parliament. Our resolution explicitly mentions (this was the subject of paragraph 7, which I of course supported) Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, which makes provision for a mechanism by which measures can be taken against a Member State when serious violations of the European principles have been proven. Up to now, in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the two main political families of the European Parliament – 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 – were opposed on this issue. The European Parliament has therefore decided to call on that committee, on which I sit, which will be instructed to write a report verifying Hungary’s compliance with European laws and principles in the area of media freedom and as regards judicial reforms and the issue of the Hungarian Central Bank.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I supported this resolution, which is justified by the serious concerns regarding the state of democracy in Hungary and the attacks made on European values. On the eve of the deadline set for accelerated infringement proceedings to be launched by the European Commission, we are sending the Hungarian people a strong message of solidarity. We therefore call on the Commission to verify that Hungarian law complies with the letter and spirit of the European Treaties, particularly with regard to the independence of the judiciary, respect for media pluralism and the protection of personal data. The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs should also be instructed to write a report that would enable us to consider activating the procedure, pursuant to Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, by which measures can be taken in case of violation of the EU’s shared values. As the guardian of the Treaties, the European Commission should see its task through to the end; meanwhile, the Hungarian Government should follow the recommendations made in order to comply with European law. It is clear that we cannot limit ourselves to purely cosmetic adjustment measures.
Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I voted in favour of the common resolution. Not, however, because I share all the views and opinions expressed herein. I voted in favour of the resolution as I believe it is necessary to send a strong message to the Hungarian Government that calls for respect for democratic rights. However, I support completely the efforts made by the Council of Europe (note: which is composed of 47 countries – and is not the same as the European Council) in securing respect for democracy and human rights in Hungary.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour because serious concern is expressed at the situation in Hungary in relation to the exercise of democracy, the rule of law, the respect and protection of human and social rights, the system of checks and balances, and equality and non-discrimination. In the joint interest of Hungarian citizens and the European Union, the Hungarian Government is urged to comply with the recommendations, objections and demands of the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission regarding the aforementioned issues and to amend the laws concerned correspondingly, respecting the basic values and standards of the European Union. I believe that it is essential to ensure the full independence of the judiciary, that the regulation of the Hungarian National Bank abides by European legislation, that the institutional independence of data protection and freedom of information is achieved, that the right of the Constitutional Court to review any legislation is fully restored, that the freedom and pluralism of the media is guaranteed, that the new electoral law meets European democratic standards and respects the principle of political alternation, that the right to exercise political opposition in a democratic way is ensured both within and outside institutions, and that the law on churches and religious denominations will respect the basic principles of the freedom of conscience.
Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. – I voted against the original resolution submitted by the ALDE, S&D, Verts/EFA and GUE/NGL Groups. The current hysterical witch hunt against Hungary is not acceptable. The European Commission has taken steps to resolve misunderstandings and questionable issues regarding the new constitution and Hungary has declared itself willing to fully cooperate on this matter. The EU is based on political agreements and treaties which lay down principles on how to behave in such situations. It is up to the European Commission to look into possible breaches of EU law. The European Parliament should not be made a tool of political rivalry and revenge after national elections have given a clear popular mandate to a certain political force.
The resolution in its present form can only incite political extremism and cause internal political rifts within a Member State, turning Hungarian people against the EU. It will be in the interest of all EU citizens to demonstrate that the EU is adhering to its principles, including the avoidance of making politically motivated, prejudicial and premature conclusions.
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE), in writing. – (FI) I voted against the resolution on Hungary because, in my view, this House did not act in accordance with its values when it condemned the Hungarian Government while the investigation by the Commission was still under way, and without allowing the government to answer the charges. The government has expressed its willingness to address the Commission’s concerns. That is why this gesture looks more like politically motivated humiliation than a genuine concern for European values.
Jacek Olgierd Kurski (EFD), in writing. – We claim to live in a Europe of free nations and profess to value freedom and democracy. Two decades after the fall of communism and the end of the division of our continent, what now do I see? Hypocrisy and double standards from those who claim to champion the rule of law and the will of the people. Of what crimes does Mr Orbán stand accused? Inscribing Christian values in the Hungarian constitution; defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman; protecting life from conception; characterising communism as tyranny. This House is the highest form of European democracy. It should constantly seek to promote democratic government and the rule of the majority with the respect of the minority. I have no doubt that minority rights are respected in Hungary today. If Mr Orbán’s actions are not in line with the views of the majority of the Hungarian people, the consequence will be clear at the next Hungarian election. Let the Hungarian electorate judge Mr Orbán then, as is appropriate in a democracy, and let the European institutions follow not the path of external interference, but rather that of respect for the sovereignty of the Hungarian people.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The situation created in Hungary after the introduction of the new constitution on 11 April 2011 concerns us directly and requires urgent action to be put in place. The new Hungarian constitution, as recognised by the Venice Commission, risks damaging citizens’ rights in several areas of social life. In particular, the independence of the judiciary is threatened and there is still excessive political interference in decision-making, legislative and legal processes. There are aspects that also have repercussions on the freedom of religious expression, which is undermined by the new law on the registration of churches that is subject to Hungarian parliamentary approval with a two-thirds majority. It concerns a set of provisions and policy choices that have caused the European Union to start infringement proceedings and that oblige us, as Members of this Parliament, to continue with this action in order to uphold the values that we are called to represent both in Europe and in our Member States.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which calls, in the joint interest of Hungarian citizens and the European Union, on the Hungarian Government to comply with the recommendations, objections and demands of the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission regarding their legislation’s compatibility with – notably – the independence of the judiciary, the independence of the central bank and the independence of the data protection authority and for fair conditions of political competition, and to amend the laws concerned correspondingly, respecting the basic values and standards of the European Union
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report has the merit of asking Mr Orbán to respect the rules of democracy. It should go further and condemn the anti-democratic and anti-social use of force by Mr Orbán and his extreme right-wing party. However, it makes no criticisms. It says nothing about the fact that Mr Orbán has quite simply abolished the Republic in Hungary, nor does it say a word about the reference to ‘God’ inserted into the constitution. No word, either, about the rights of workers, stifled by successive austerity plans.
However, it remembers to mention the independence of the Hungarian Central Bank and Hungary’s deference to the Commission, which took so long to react. I prefer this resolution to that of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), which shamefully supported Mr Orbán. However, I can in no way support it. May I remind us that Article 7 of the Treaty of Lisbon establishes that one-third of the Members of the European Parliament can ask for certain rights to be suspended, including the right to vote, of any government that violates democracy. Clearly, the majority is not concerned about this, and prefers to suspend the right to vote of deficit countries alone.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The new Hungarian constitution was adopted on 18 April 2011 by a large and legitimate majority in the Hungarian Parliament. This new constitution replaces the communist constitution of 1949, as Hungary was the only country in Central Europe that had still not adopted a new Fundamental Law since the fall of communism. This new constitution has fully incorporated the Charter of Fundamental Rights and established a fairer electoral system which ensures that minorities are represented in Parliament. EU law therefore needs to respect the Member States’ competence to adopt their constitutions, in accordance with the fundamental principles and values of the EU. However, the Hungarian Government still needs to work in close cooperation with the Commission to ensure that new national legislation complies with EU law and to make the necessary changes where appropriate.
Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. – (HU) Europe has become bent out of shape, and this is also true for European institutions. It is astonishing how much effort the EP can spend on putting one of the EU Member States in the pillory in the middle of an economic crisis. Where is European solidarity and justice when even the European Commission, which is theoretically supposed to form its opinions based on objective and thorough investigations, takes a biased stance towards an EU Member State? It would seem that individual thought does indeed have no place within the EU, and that efforts to resolve real problems have been replaced by superficial claptrap. I do not believe that after the closure of the infringement procedure initiated against Hungary – just one among hundreds of others – those politicians who are now inciting hate and speaking in unacceptable tones about a democratically elected and formed government will have a different attitude towards the Hungarian situation.
It is shameful that there are so many Members who assist them in this, from both new and old Member States. The European Parliament has become the stage for irresponsible political squabbles, where it is far easier to deliver sonorous speeches and feign concern for a Member State than to fulfil the political duties promised to EU citizens. I deeply condemn the resolution, some points of which severely violate Hungary’s sovereignty, and which is politically motivated and completely removed from reality. The Socialist, Liberal and Green authors of the resolution have crossed a line, which is completely unacceptable in a place where they continuously preach about democracy and solidarity. I could never vote in favour of shameful resolutions such as this one.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Liberty, democracy, equality, non-discrimination and respect for fundamental rights are core values of the European Union. Some seem to trivialise what is happening in Hungary by simplifying it. However, it is not insignificant. What is happening in Hungary is dramatic for the very idea of the European project, which embodies humanism, openness, solidarity, progress, justice and equality – in short, universality. The European project is a rejection of intolerance, nationalism and isolationism. My criticism of the measures taken lies in the fact that they commit the ‘sin’ of being biased. This is an attempt to establish a biased State, a State in the service of a political force. These measures, which are to become legislative and/or constitutional acts, are causing a European country to swing from a democratic regime to an authoritarian one. People are now afraid to speak out, complain or express an independent opinion. This transformation from a democratic regime into an authoritarian regime in a European country is extremely serious for the very idea of the European project. It goes beyond the limits of what is tolerable. We cannot accept what I call ‘the majority tyranny’. No country can join the European Union and violate its founding principles.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Finally, problematic questions have been raised about the so called ‘Cardinal Laws’, the Commission infringement proceedings against Hungary regarding three of the cardinal laws, general issues about the functioning of democracy in Hungary, the respect of fundamental rights and European laws, values, freedoms and principles in the complete internal restructuring of Hungary under the current government. In favour.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) Hungary has a new, democratically elected government, which, like every government, has issued new laws. We now hear arguments that fundamental freedoms are under threat and that the EU is therefore concerned about the position of the Hungarian people. Of course, breaches of basic rights cannot be permitted in any EU Member State. The high level of fundamental rights and freedoms must be maintained and upheld. Nonetheless, in relation to the criticism of Hungary, the question arises whether everyone’s motivations are entirely pure. Hungary has elected a government of the ‘right’, which is obviously a thorn in sides of the ‘left-leaning’ governments in other Member States and those politically correct Members of this House. Thus, some fairly flimsy arguments have been brought forward and we have heard criticism of things that are tolerated in other Member States. In Austria and other EU Member States, appointments to the central bank and the Constitutional Court are also de facto political appointments. Not all Member States of the Union have the same high standards when it comes to protecting human rights, which is, of course, regrettable. This is precisely why basic rights should not be used as a trumped up argument, otherwise some day, such arguments will be seen as just empty words. For these reasons, I have voted against the resolution.
Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Hungary is currently undergoing major social and political upheavals. The new Hungarian constitution, apart from providing a good advertisement for the Apple company (since part of it was reportedly written on Apple’s top-selling tablet), has also caused many protests in the country and a wave of displeasure in Brussels. The contentious laws in the new Hungarian constitution relate, for example, to Hungarian central bank independence, the retirement of judges, data protection office independence and the controversial media law. The developments in Hungary are, unfortunately, highly disappointing. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shuttles between Budapest and Brussels, where he says something different every time. This irresponsible conduct on the part of the Hungarian Government resulted in the Commission’s monthly ultimatum to amend the disputed laws. The response to the criticism was quick, taking the form of an absurd allegation of some sort of social-liberal democratic plot. It seems that Viktor Orbán does not want to acknowledge that he is mostly harming his own citizens through his efforts to concentrate as much power as possible in the hands of the prime minister. Our main task is to defend the interests of EU citizens – and that includes the citizens of Hungary. I therefore consider the situation to be very serious and in need of close monitoring.
Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) When the Hungarian Parliament adopted the new constitution and a series of new laws, there were doubts as to whether they comply with EU law, values and the fundamental principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. On 17 January 2012, the European Commission started infringement procedures against Hungary regarding the restriction of the independence of the Hungarian Central Bank, the judiciary and the personal data protection authority. The citizens of all countries that have joined the Union have the same rights and opportunities to defend those rights as other EU citizens. I therefore welcome the resolution, which calls for it to be established whether the actions of the Hungarian Government conflict with EU law and restrict democratic principles – the separation of powers and the pluralism of political parties – and whether they restrict the freedoms of expression and religion, the right to a fair trial and other rights.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution because I agree with Parliament’s support for the Commission’s role of ensuring that national legislation complies with the EU Treaties and fundamental European values. On this basis alone, I support the Commission assessing the new Hungarian organic laws.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Today, during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, we voted on the resolution on the recent political developments in Hungary.
In this resolution, Parliament expresses concern at the situation in Hungary in relation to the exercise of democracy, the rule of law and the respect of human rights. Parliament will draw up a report on whether European democratic standards are being respected, and it will then immediately decide whether to activate Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, which is used to investigate ‘a clear risk of a serious breach’ of EU values.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The European Parliament has today taken a stand to uphold fundamental EU values and to combat the dismantling of basic democratic rights in an EU Member State. In doing so, it is filling the void left by the other EU institutions, which are unwilling to act. The EPP-dominated Council has remained scandalously silent throughout, while the European Commission has focused its criticism on narrow areas, ignoring the broader thrust of the democratic scale-back in Hungary, which is completely at odds with the core values on which the EU is founded. Against this background, it is the duty of the European Parliament to take action to defend democracy in the EU.
Kārlis Šadurskis (PPE), in writing. – (LV) I voted for the resolution by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and against the resolutions of the other political groups because I believe that an inappropriate political hysteria has sprung up in the European Parliament about the development of events in Hungary. I am worried about the fact that socialists, liberals, greens and communists are already making up their minds before the conclusion of the constructive dialogue between the European Commission and Hungary. Opinions on the situation in that country ought to be based on facts and rational arguments, not on premature prejudices and emotions. Of course, the situation in Hungary is not perfect but, in my view, Prime Minister Orbán and his government must be given an opportunity to introduce the reforms that are so very necessary, in compliance with EU legislation, in a country where the reign of the former socialists and liberals has led to destructive consequences, both economically and socially. Unfortunately, this political hysteria is lessening Hungarians’ confidence in the European Parliament and is fostering euroscepticism. The view of the PPE Group has unfortunately remained a minority one on this occasion.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Hungary has recently approved a new constitution, which was passed by a large majority in its Parliament. This document, which supersedes the previous communist constitution of 1949, also acknowledges the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. With this vote, we stress that there is no threat to democracy in Hungary. Each Member State, in fact, has the sovereign power to draft its own constitution and this principle corresponds to the sovereignty of its people from the perspective of self-determination through democracy. It is to be hoped that the Hungarian Government will work closely with the European Commission to ensure that new national legislation conforms with EU law and, if necessary, to introduce changes. Despite this, there is no threat to democracy in Hungary.
Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (DA) I voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution, not because I share all of the views put forward in the proposal, but because I believe it is necessary to send a strong signal to the Hungarian Government concerning respect for democratic rights. That being said, I fully support the efforts by the Council of Europe
Michèle Striffler (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted for the resolution on recent political developments in Hungary, which was drafted following the adoption of cardinal laws in Hungary which threaten the independence of the judiciary, the Hungarian Central Bank and the Hungarian data protection authorities. I believe that the European Union, is first and foremost, a union of States that share common values, such as the respect for the rule of law, democracy and fundamental freedoms. This common destiny cannot tolerate members that compromise its values. I also urge Mr Orbán’s government to abide by the rules contained in the European Treaties and comply with the recommendations of the European Commission, which, on 17 January, launched infringement proceedings against Hungary.
József Szájer (PPE), in writing. – (HU) We must all unite and stand up for our home country and the Hungarian Government. I firmly reject the resolution of the Socialist, Liberal, Green and Communist groups, which condemns Hungary and the text of which is rife with falsehoods and malicious accusations. What took place in the European Parliament today is unacceptable and outrageous. I am grieved by this travesty today which clearly brings to mind the atmosphere of show trials.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Following the adoption of the new Hungarian constitution in April of last year, as well as countless organic laws, a multitude of voices declared that Hungarian democracy was moving backwards. On 19 January 2012, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, came before Parliament to clarify his position, assuring this House that the more controversial laws strengthening political control over several of his country’s institutions would be amended. In a letter sent to the Hungarian Government, the Commission expressed its strong concern, in particular, with regard to the independence of the central bank, the data protection authority and the judiciary. However, many NGOs in the country are accusing the Hungarian authorities of abuses of freedom of expression, religion and sexual orientation. Moreover, the Hungarian Government has adopted several retroactive laws that violate one of the basic principles of EU law. As Hungary is governed by the rule of law and is an EU Member State, I believe that it is vital that laws jeopardising the principles of democracy and freedom be reviewed in conjunction with the Commission. We cannot invoke particular principles and values in our foreign policy if there are Member States in breach of them.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D) , in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of Parliament’s resolution of 16 February 2012 on recent political developments in Hungary because Member States and the European Union have a duty to ensure that Member States’ legislative processes and the content of their legislation comply with the EU’s legislation, principles and values, and do not contradict these values and instruments. Hungary adopted a new constitution on 18 April 2011. Some of its provisions were criticised in the European Parliament’s resolution of 5 July 2011. Parliament requested that the European Commission carry out a thorough assessment and analysis of the new constitution and of the cardinal laws stipulated in it, in order to verify compliance with the acquis communautaire and the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
On 17 January 2012, the Commission initiated legal action against Hungary on the following issues: the independence of Hungary’s Central Bank, lowering the compulsory retirement age for judges and the independence of the data protection authority, while asking the Hungarian authorities for additional information on the independence of the judiciary. The European Parliament calls on the Hungarian Government, in the common interest of the Hungarian citizens and the EU, to comply with the recommendations, objections and requests made by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission regarding the issues previously mentioned and to change the laws accordingly, respecting the EU’s core values and standards.
Frank Vanhecke (EFD), in writing. – (NL) There is no doubt that countries that are part of the European Union should respect the basic rules of democracy; that obviously applies to Hungary, as well, and I have nothing against impartial observers checking whether or not there are any problems in that regard. That said, there are some who ought to search their own hearts. A few years ago, Flanders passed laws and set up special courts banning the largest and most popular party in the country. Moreover, most European countries have, in the name of supposed anti-racism, instituted what are effectively muzzling laws, intended to gag free speech on the topic of the huge problems we are experiencing with immigration and crime. Only recently, France passed a law imposing a new official and unassailable historical ‘truth’, this time about the Armenian genocide. Anyone who casts doubt on the official version is severely penalised. All these things are extremely worrying. It is time that these issues were addressed by this Parliament, too.
Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The entry into force of the new Hungarian constitution has provoked reactions of feigned indignation. The previous government – the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) – is now the opposition and the previous opposition – Fidesz – is now the government. Both sides are arguing over the hegemonisation of power and, fearing the people’s reaction to the deepening of the crisis, are feigning a dispute, not over the content of policy, but rather over its form. However, both sides have shown themselves willing to submit their sovereignty and their institutions to the EU Treaties, in order to safeguard the interest of the big business that they represent.
The Hungarian people are clearly of no concern to the EU, the Hungarian Government or the MSZP opposition. There is not one mention of the new Hungarian Labour Code and the setbacks in workers’ rights that it entails, of the IMF intervention, or of the cruel demands of social regression which the so-called ‘austerity measures’ are imposing. A political and ideological gulf separates us from the Hungarian Government and its supporters. We do not wish to encourage interference in Hungary’s domestic affairs. We do not condone the intervention campaigns promoted by those responsible for the situation in the country with the objective of forcing change from the outside, something which only the Hungarian people can do.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution and would stress my hope that the elections in March 2012 will respect international standards. I am concerned about the reports of procedural violations such as the lack of media impartiality, the lack of separation between party and state, and the attempts to threaten independent monitoring. There should be a thorough investigation of all reports of corruption, fraud and intimidation, and such acts should be punished.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this important resolution on the situation in Russia. By adopting this resolution, Parliament clearly shows its position regarding free and fair presidential elections in Russia. In a number of mass demonstrations since the Duma elections of 4 December 2011, the Russian people have expressed their desire for more democracy, including free and fair elections and a comprehensive reform of the electoral system. We, Members of the European Parliament, call on the Russian authorities to uphold fully freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in compliance with the constitution of the Russian Federation, and to introduce a package of legislative proposals aimed at developing a truly democratic political system. Moreover, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s continuing incarceration raises serious questions about Russia’s commitment to the rule of law, judicial independence and human rights. Observers attending his second trial condemned it as failing to meet acceptable standards of due process and independence. The EU must insist on Russia meeting its obligations under international law with regard to civil, political and human rights. The Kremlin should also act on the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, which has been highly critical of the conduct of the Khodorkovsky trial.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – With this resolution, we express our concerns for the forthcoming Russian presidential elections in March and we ask for compliance with international standards. According to the OSCE reports and to the Golos (the domestic election observation organisation) statements, the Duma elections of December 2011 were neither free nor fair and were marked by lack of independence of the administration, partiality of the media and state interference at different levels.
In addition to that, I strongly condemn the crackdown of the police on peaceful demonstrations protesting against election irregularities reported by international observers. The Russian Federation is a full member of the Council of Europe and of the OSCE and has therefore committed itself to the principles of democracy. For all these reasons, the Russian authorities must urgently reform the electoral laws in order to guarantee free and democratic presidential elections with equal opportunities for all candidates.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) My vote for the resolution in question was clearly a yes, as all the statements made and referred to therein give cause for serious concern. The results that the political and economic relationship between the EU and Russia have yielded so far are undeniable, but the recent public mood and the investigations and reports, as well as the attitude taken in respect of Syria (the UN veto and arms sales) provide grounds for grave conclusions. All this is no doubt due in part to the upcoming Russian presidential elections and the preceding campaign, but the EU must not disregard the facts which indicate a shift towards the endangering of political pluralism and the fairness of the elections, the prospect of resorting to intimidation, the restriction of the freedom to express sexual orientation or sexual identity, and other anti-democratic measures which seriously violate the achievements that have been made and put into practice in the field of human rights so far. As regards Syria, Russia must adopt a clear and unambiguous stance, because its current behaviour could also generate uncertainty in respect of the joint action drafted on the basis of the proposals of the Arab League.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the resolution on the situation in Russia, since I share all the concerns voiced over the fairness and degree of democracy with which an extremely important round of voting was carried out within a few weeks. Russia is a key player on the world stage, and yet there continue to be episodes of widespread irregularities each time that the Russian population is called to vote to decide who will be the occupant of the Kremlin and on the political structure of the Duma. It is important that this Parliament reprimand Moscow on its party plurality, on the pluralism of information, on the fairness of the elections, and on a general reform of electoral legislation and political parties.
Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the upcoming elections in Russia because I believe that a worthwhile and advantageous collaboration with this important strategic partner must not divert attention from shared respect for democratic principles. Having noted the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which states that the recent elections were not at all free, I share in the wish that the upcoming presidential elections be characterised by a greater degree of transparency, and in the request that the EU be able to express these hopes by encouraging a correct, unambiguous procedure. There is the risk that pluralism may be compromised through the seemingly arbitrary and completely unjustified barring of several candidates from standing. The reforms of the political and party systems announced by the outgoing President, Mr Medvedev, constitute a step forward in terms of transparency, but further action is needed to complete the country’s democratic transformation. The European Union has a duty to monitor and support Russia’s efforts in this undertaking.
Arnaud Danjean (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the resolution on the upcoming presidential elections in Russia, to be held on 4 March 2012, and on the controversial outcome of the legislative elections of 4 December 2011. With this text, we wanted to condemn the lack of transparency and impartiality of the Russian electoral system, prone to multiple cases of fraud, the lack of neutrality of the media, and the convergence of the state and the governing party. The aim of this resolution is therefore to express the EU’s concerns with regard to the situation of human rights and the rule of law in Russia. We urge Russia to hold free and democratic elections, and to punish those responsible for all forms of fraud and intimidation.
Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) With the arbitrary exclusion of opposition candidates in the upcoming presidential election in Russia, the regime of Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev is showing once again that it has little regard for political pluralism. It is vital for electoral laws in Russia to be reformed so that the people can take part in fair elections at long last. The citizens of Russia have come out into the streets to express their desire to take charge of the political destiny of their country. It is our duty to stand alongside them.
Diane Dodds (NI), in writing. – Undoubtedly, questions remain as to the freedom of the electoral process in Russia and whether the democratic process and result are free from interference from third parties. While we recognise that Russia has come a long way from the dark days of communism, we recognise, too, that progress still remains to be made. Of course, there is an irony in the EU lecturing Russia about the fundamentals of democracy and the need for utmost integrity in the electoral process. Ask the people of Greece, or of Italy, if their democratic voice has been respected by the EU and the answer will be a resounding ‘no’. Both countries today have leaders and decisions of Brussels’ liking, not of their own. That democratic right, that precious vote, has been cast by the wayside by the EU, democracy ran roughshod over by those clinging to the failed euro area project. Yes, progress must be made in Russia, but the EU is not the example to follow.
Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution on the upcoming presidential election in Russia because it represents an important document for the European Union in its relations with the Eastern European country. Not only does it register the importance of a mutual pacific and closer partnership, but it also rightly puts the accent on the need for Russia to undertake serious reforms in the direction of the full democratisation of its political framework. The resolution that the European Parliament has adopted, in fact, shows once more the role of the EP as the defender of democracy in Europe and for the Union external relations. I finally want to draw attention to the vital contribution by the S&D to the joint motion, in particular, having successfully obtained the requirement for the European Parliament to strongly urge Russia to take seriously its responsibility for international peace and security, by allowing the Security Council of the UN to act in order to solve the dramatic situation in Syria.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution, as it urges the Russian Government to table legislative proposals aimed at developing a truly democratic political system, in line with the recommendations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, so as to enable truly free and fair elections as soon as possible.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In What does Russia think?, Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard and Andrew Wilson are particularly clear as to one of the problems facing Europe when it tries to interact with Russia: ‘If we want to influence and deal with Russia, we need to understand it. But if we want to understand Russia, we should be interested in it’. The fact is that there does not seem to be a genuine European interest in Russia, or only an interest in terms of reacting to it or comparing the country to our own standards. Despite the importance of such standards, they should not make us forget the geostrategic importance of the largest country in the world. Russia is at a crossroads between liberal democracy and state capitalism, and has recently shown signs of leaning towards the latter model, as seen in its recent veto in relation to Syria in the United National Security Council. Reports on the freedom and fairness of the electoral process lead us to fear that the next presidential elections may also breach international standards. Russia would benefit if it adopted Western standards of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and the West would benefit if, in its turn, it became more interested in the real Russia, in order to better understand and influence it.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This joint motion for a resolution was tabled to replace the motions by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. It concerns the presidential elections to take place in Russia on 4 March 2012 and the outcome of the elections to the State Duma – the Russian Parliament – on 4 December 2011. The alternations of Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev as President of Russia have elicited some suspicion as to the transparency of the electoral process in this country and respect for the democratic process. On 14 December 2011, Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU-Russia Summit, in the hope that problematic issues such as energy, terrorism, corruption, respect for human rights and free elections might be addressed. We have recently been faced by Russia’s veto during the vote in the UN Security Council on proposed condemnation of the Syrian Government for the massacres of the civilian population, which have already resulted in more than 5 000 deaths.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This resolution, like others that Parliament has adopted in the past, does not shy away from intervening in Russia’s domestic affairs. Despite its deep contradictions, Russia stubbornly refuses to submit totally to the role that the EU powers and the US wish to impose upon it, following the defeat of socialism in Eastern Europe. The majority in Parliament does not accept Russia’s veto of a series of resolutions proposed by the US and other powers in the UN Security Council, particularly the resolution aimed at speeding up political transition in Syria.
They are therefore using this resolution as retribution, threatening Russia with the ‘intensification’ of support for the domestic opposition and for ‘civil society’. Russia is a vast country with major wealth in natural resources, has energy resources on which the EU depends, and is one of the world’s most significant military powers. The majority in Parliament is acting on the basis of political, economic and diplomatic calculations, antagonising Russia in order to subjugate it. This is a trend that is being exacerbated by the crisis of capitalism, with the confrontation between the major world powers, NATO and regional powers such as Russia.
Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the European Parliament resolution on Russia because given its geopolitical importance as an energy supplier and an economic partner of the EU, I believe that further efforts should be made to protect freedom of information, in the fight against corruption and, consequently, for the conduct of free elections. The EU must accompany Russia in its democratisation process, but must not give backing to those who, for reasons related to internal politics, exclusively want to criminalise the current government.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Relations between the EU and Russia have constantly evolved over recent decades, leading to a profound and complex interdependency which is bound to become even stronger in the future. Conclusion of the strategic partnership agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation will also continue to be of key significance in terms of intensifying cooperation between the two partners. However, concerns persist over developments in the Russian Federation regarding the observance and protection of human rights and adherence to commonly agreed democratic principles, election rules and procedures. The Russian Federation, as a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has an obligation to defend the principles of democracy and human rights. According to the final observer’s report of the OSCE/Office for Democratic Rights and Institutions, the elections to the Duma on 4 December 2011 did not fully comply with the principles of free and fair elections, and were marked by interference from the state and the government party, including a lack of independence of election authorities, media bias and state interference at various levels. Russian citizens have, in a number of mass demonstrations, expressed their desire for greater democracy and a comprehensive reform of the electoral system. In my opinion, it would be right and proper to see the recent demonstrations in this light – as an opportunity to respond to the call of the Russian people for more democracy, electoral law reform and compliance with the standards of the Council of Europe and the OSCE in cooperation with the Venice Commission.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Since the most recent legislative elections on 4 December 2011, Europe has been paying close attention to Russia. Those elections did not fully comply with the standards of free and fair elections. The European Parliament has therefore asked the Russian authorities to carry out electoral reform in order to guarantee free and equal presidential elections. The EU is also very concerned by the Russian situation with regard to respect for, and the protection of, human rights. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution because the stability, security and success of Europe depends on cooperative and neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia, based on shared values such as the respect for both human rights and fundamental rights.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because enhanced cooperation and good-neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia are of crucial importance for the stability, security and prosperity of Europe. The development of a strategic partnership between the EU and the Russian Federation can only be built on common values. In Europe, concerns remain about developments in the Russian Federation with regard to respect for, and the protection of, human rights and respect for commonly agreed democratic principles, electoral rules and procedures. As the Russian Federation is a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, it has therefore committed itself to the principles of democracy and respect for human rights. I believe that it is essential to develop a truly democratic political system, including reforms to facilitate registration for both political parties and presidential candidates, and to address the restrictive application of registration rules, so as to allow genuinely free and fair elections as soon as possible. There also needs to be a commitment to address the problems of media freedom and freedom of assembly and expression, and to develop the principles of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law.
Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) The current situation in Russia is unusual. This is the first time in a long while we have seen so many public protests. Demonstrations against the policies of the tandem currently ruling Russia are taking place in many cities, and are voluntary and spontaneous, in contrast to those organised by the party apparatus. This points to the formation of a civil society. The authorities’ reaction has nothing to do with respect for human rights, or even respect for the constitution of the Russian Federation.
I would like to express my support for this resolution, because in spite of its efforts to achieve good political and economic relations with this country, the European Union cannot aim for this at any price. As the guardian of the most stringent values in the international arena, it must be bold in lending prominence to its position.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which strongly condemns the adoption by the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg of a law against propaganda on sexual orientation. It equally condemns similar laws adopted in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions and calls on all Russian authorities to stop restricting freedom of expression in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also calls on the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative to convey the European Union’s opposition to these laws
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution. The European Parliament must not lower its guard and must continue to press the Russian Government to introduce a package of legislative proposals, in compliance with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recommendations, aimed at developing a truly democratic political system and including reforms to facilitate registration for both political parties and presidential candidates, and to address the restrictive application of registration rules, so as to allow genuinely free and fair elections as soon as possible.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Enhanced cooperation and good neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia are of crucial importance for the stability, security and prosperity of Europe, as the development of a strategic partnership between the EU and the Russian Federation can only be founded on shared values. However, there is still concern about developments in the Russian Federation with regard to respect for, and the protection of, human rights, and to compliance with commonly agreed democratic principles, electoral rules and procedures. The Russian Federation is a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and has therefore committed itself to upholding the principles of democracy and human rights. On 12 April 2011, the European Court of Human Rights condemned the cumbersome registration procedures for political parties in Russia, which do not meet the electoral standards set by the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and ruled that the limitations on the registration of political parties and candidates restricts political competition and pluralism in Russia. We must continue to encourage Russia’s leaders to adopt more democratic practices vis-à-vis the opposition parties.
Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR), in writing. – (PL) I voted for the resolution on the situation in Russia because it underlines the need to demand fair, free and democratic elections. However, I believe the amendments introduced by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group are crucial in this context. In them, the group called for the deaths of Sergei Magnitsky and Khadzhimurad Kamalov to be investigated and for those responsible for the murder of Anna Politkovskaya to be punished. I believe that an investigation into these murders will affect the pre-election situation in Russia.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The S&D Group expresses its hope that the March 2012 Russian Presidential elections will be organised in compliance with international standards. The group also expresses its serious concerns following reports of procedural violations, such as lack of media impartiality, lack of separation between party and state, and the harassment of attempts at independent monitoring. The S&D Group has already called in December 2011 for an immediate and full investigation into all reports of fraud and intimidation, and the sanctioning of those found responsible. I abstained.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) In advance of the parliamentary elections in Russia, the EU is looking to send out a signal. It is complaining about familiar irregularities in the hope of possibly influencing the forthcoming ballot. The Union is angry because Russia has twice voted against intervention in Syria in the United Nations Security Council, which is why the EU is taking a rather superior tone here, while omitting to start by cleaning up its own act first. It is unfortunately the case that the broad fundamental freedoms enjoyed in some EU States are not common to all Member States. However, the EU should seek to improve the lot of its own citizens before seeking to interfere in other countries. The fact is that the principle of freedom of expression is only partially honoured in some States, or is increasingly restricted as a result of new laws, as in the new catch-all anti-persecution law in Austria, for example. The recitals in relation to the resolution state that greater cooperation and improved relations with Russia will bring greater stability, prosperity and security. This motion for a resolution achieves the exact opposite. Russia is an independent country and this fact must be afforded greater respect. Therefore, I cannot vote in favour of this motion.
Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – The EU’s relations with the Russian Federation are very important for both sides. This country has shown some positive developments, as its recent accession to the WTO shows. However, I supported this resolution which raises concerns about the human rights situation in Russia. The OSCE did not consider the latest parliamentary elections in Russia free and fair. The post-Duma election events – huge demonstrations – testify that civil society in Russia is growing stronger. However, there is serious alarm regarding the future Presidential elections on 4 March. The Russian people have expressed their will for more democracy and a comprehensive reform of the electoral system. The EU should support them and contribute to the establishment of favourable conditions for the exercising of democracy in Russia. Brussels should do its best to ensure social and democratic consolidation, respect for human rights and the exercising of citizens’ freedoms in Russia.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Parliament’s resolution, of which I voted in favour, on the situation in Russia following the Duma elections on 4 December 2011, and on the upcoming presidential election on 4 March 2012, is a warning from the EU regarding respect for democratic rules in one of the most important countries in the world. The outcome of the December elections was bitterly contested, and the protests against alleged electoral fraud led to statements from Russian President Medvedev regarding comprehensive reform of the political system. I believe that it is important to stress that the peaceful demonstrations which occurred are nothing other than an expression of the people’s desire for free and fair elections, which Russia is required to guarantee as a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution because it condemns the police crackdown on peaceful demonstrations and because I agree with the call for the Russian authorities to fully uphold freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in line with the constitution of the Russian Federation.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Given not only its economic and territorial size, but also its history, Russia is a major player on the international scene, particularly in relation to Europe. It is therefore with deep concern that the results of the evaluation of the last elections to the Duma, in December 2011, have been received; they report several violations of procedural rules crucial to the validity of the electoral outcome. At the same time, outside the exact period of the elections, it has been noted that those in political power are trying to monitor opponents of the regime, which falls outside their sphere of competence and is taking on an authoritarian stance hardly compatible with the requirements of the rule of law. Against this backdrop, I voted for the joint resolution, which calls for a restructuring of Russia’s political and electoral system. It seems that this is the only way in which Russia can fully assume the role reserved for it on the world stage.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The EP notes the OSCE/ODIHR and PACE reports on the Duma elections, which state that the elections did not meet election standards as defined by the OSCE and were marked by the convergence of the state and the governing party, by procedural violations, apparent manipulation and a lack of independence of the election administration; is concerned that the outcome of the elections (the composition of the Duma) will not bring improvements as regards the role and influence of the Duma within Russia’s political system; calls on its Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee to consistently raise the issue of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law with the Russian counterparts; and calls, furthermore, for an assessment of the activities of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, and the intensification of the dialogue with the non-parliamentary opposition and civil society.
Kārlis Šadurskis (PPE), in writing. – (LV) I voted for the joint resolution on the upcoming presidential elections in Russia because I believe the European Parliament must send a clear message to the Russian Government and the opposition that it is not indifferent to the implementation of basic human rights and freedoms in Russia. The regime in Russia produces one disappointment after another for democratic institutions in Europe. Unfortunately, previous experience gives no grounds for optimism that the 2012 presidential elections in Russia might be fair and democratic, since the Russian Government has not drawn any conclusions after it was caught and vigorously condemned for cheating and fraud in the elections to the State Duma. European organisations have repeatedly expressed the hope that general elections in Russia will comply with legal standards, and on each occasion after the elections, they have expressed regret that democratic standards have not been observed. This is the practice in communication with a state where many in its government, it seems, have not noticed that we are in the 21st century.
Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. – (FR) As a member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Russian Federation is a privileged partner of the EU. Cooperating and maintaining good relations with our great eastern neighbour is a condition of our stability and prosperity. The possibility of adopting a strategic partnership is therefore being studied, with the aim of establishing closer cooperation. It would enable, inter alia, considerable progress to be made in terms of politics and trade. However, as with any relationship of trust, the EU’s relationship with the Russian Federation should be established on the basis of shared values. The year 2011 and the wave of democratisation it brought in the Arab world were a reminder of how much we cherish democratic principles and how important it is for Europe to promote these. The restrictions placed on the creation of new political parties in April 2011, the lack of transparency in the legislative elections of December 2011, and the refusal to register a large number of opponents as candidates for the presidential election, cannot go unheeded. The European Parliament, in a resolution that I co-signed, has therefore condemned these recent developments in the Russian Federation and urged Mr Medvedev to implement the reforms he announced.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) According to analysts, it was inevitable that there would be claims of fraud in the Duma elections last December, as was also alleged in the repeated mass demonstrations. In making this statement, I hope that this gives cause to reflect on the popular demonstrations, considering them as a positive sign of progress in democracy in Russia.
According to the daily newspaper Kommersant, on election day, several opposition groups demonstrated against the elections in the centre of Moscow, claiming they were irregular and rigged. The police arrested around thirty activists on Red Square, whilst a further hundred people were detained in Triumfalnaya Square.
Seeing how many people have taken an interest in free and fair elections by making their voice heard on the streets, we can understand how Russian society is modernising and becoming more democratic. These signals are ultimately exactly what we have always wanted to see, and we must therefore encourage these developments in the interest of the Russian Federation and Europe.
Konrad Szymański (ECR), in writing. – The continuing imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky reflects the arbitrary and politicised nature of justice in Russia under the Putin regime. However, the recent demonstrations in Russia following the rigged parliamentary elections in December show that ordinary Russians are losing patience with their authoritarian government. Putin will inevitably return to the Presidency in March but he will hopefully take account of the demands of the opposition, one of which is the immediate release of political prisoners such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky. At the very least, Putin should act on the findings of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, which was highly critical of the conduct of Khodorkovsky’s second trial.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Numerous violations were found to have taken place during the elections to the Duma on 4 December. The abuses of the electoral process reported by various NGOs and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe should not be repeated in the next presidential elections on 4 March, as stated by the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who believes that Russia needs to have democracy and combat the corruption found in all areas of society. I consider it vital for the upcoming elections to be monitored closely by the EU and international institutions, from the preparations to the actual election, in order to prevent the array of irregularities seen during the previous elections. However, there is a need to ensure that the electoral observers are not subject to any pressure or obstacles by the local authorities. The Russian people have already shown that they want an open society in which values such as political pluralism, freedom of expression, assembly and the press, and the rule of law are guaranteed as fundamental rights. Once again, I would reiterate that I am hoping that the Russian political system will become democratic so that it can have a voice and build its future, giving expression to the capabilities of a country like Russia.
Graham Watson (ALDE), in writing. – In addition to my concerns about the conduct of the recent parliamentary election, I am alarmed by the ongoing incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Many eminent experts and organisations have declared his second trial to fall well short of accepted international standards of due process. Amnesty International has declared Khodorkovsky a prisoner of conscience. The blatant political interference in his trial reflects serious deficiencies in the rule of law in today’s Russia. It is right that we make known our dismay at Russia’s apparent unwillingness to accept its obligations under international law with regard to civil and political rights.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The resolution stresses that the credibility of the Russian Federation at international level and the legitimacy of its authorities both outside and inside Russia depend on free and fair electoral processes, consolidated democratic institutions, and the respect of the rule of law; it condemns the crackdown of the police on peaceful demonstrations protesting against election irregularities and frauds reported by international observers and documented by recorded videos of average citizens; it calls on the Russian authorities to fully respect freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in compliance with the constitution of the Russian Federation; it calls on the Russian authorities to fully address all the shortfalls and deficiencies highlighted by both the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission and the independent organisation, Golos, and to quickly implement all of their recommendations with a view to paving the way for real free and fair presidential elections; it calls, in particular, for efficient, accurate, impartial and reliable observation of the elections in accordance with OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe standards.
Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – My constituency of London is home to a number of Russians who have sought political asylum to escape the Putin and Medvedev regimes. Thousands more have left their homeland for the UK as business exiles. Since Vladimir Putin became President of Russia in 1999, no elections in the country have been recognised by Western observers as free and democratic. At the most recent Duma elections in December, the OSCE witnessed blatant fraud, including the unashamed stuffing of ballot boxes. Corruption in Russia is endemic, with bribes accounting for 20% of the country’s GDP. I am also increasingly concerned about abuses of human rights and restrictions on the freedom of expression, including the unexplained deaths of journalists. Things must change in Russia. Russia must strengthen democracy and the rule of law and ensure that fundamental rights are respected. The country must also become a more responsible actor on the international stage. Russia’s recent defence of bully-boy client states like Syria is deplorable, and Moscow must join the international community in condemning the Assad regime and all those with ties to it.
Roberts Zīle (ECR), in writing. – (LV) I believe that the resolution on the upcoming presidential elections in Russia should definitely be supported. We should take into particular consideration the wish expressed by many Russian people for real improvements to be made to the Russian electoral system, eliminating the practice adopted hitherto of ensuring the total domination of one ‘essential’ party in the Russian State Duma by unfair means, and creating a real opportunity for alternative candidates to Vladimir Putin or Dmitri Medvedev to stand in the presidential election and be successful. The resolution rightly states that a strategic partnership between the EU and Russia can only be built on shared common values. For Latvia, as a country neighbouring Russia, it is important for a transition finally to be made in Russia to true democracy, which would not only promote closer economic relations between our two countries but, possibly, would also clear the way to the development of a common understanding about historical events. A democratic Russia is the only opportunity for looking forward to the development of a new foreign policy approach in our neighbour, one that is not based on empire building ambitions and dreams of keeping hold and increasing power and influence in Russia’s neighbouring states. I must, however, express my regret that in the final wording of the resolution, the reference to the need to diversify the supply of energy to the EU, included in the original draft resolution by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, has disappeared. Another point that has disappeared is the call to the EU not to apply double standards in its relations with Russia, such as exemption from some of the conditions included in the third legislative package on energy directed towards ensuring free access to energy supply and distribution networks.
Zbigniew Ziobro (EFD), in writing. – (PL) For a while in Russia, we saw clear steps towards democracy, inter alia in the shape of a change of the rules on the registration of political parties. Unfortunately, these positive decisions were quickly blocked and overshadowed by the brutal suppression of protests and harassment of the opposition. It should be noted that this is an opposition that remains outside the parliament. We have no tools to directly support it, but we can invite its representatives to Parliament and promote its activities in Russia. Especially now, during the pre-election period, we have a great opportunity for international criticism of the actions of Russian authorities and support for the opposition to bring two-fold results. Not only does it force the authorities to explain themselves, but it also legitimises and grants international recognition to the pro-democratic opposition movements. I therefore support the European Parliament’s resolution on human rights violations in Russia, and I expect broader monitoring of the internal situation in this country by EU bodies.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am abstaining from the vote on this motion for a resolution. I believe that this agreement will benefit the economic development of Morocco, an important neighbour in the southern Mediterranean, which is undergoing an important process of democratisation, and enable the privileged export of a range of European products. Moreover, it is important, particularly at this time of crisis, to safeguard the interests of the EU regions, which may emerge weaker from this opening up of the market, especially the regions with greater difficulties in selling all their products, where these activities comprise major sectors of the economy.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted against the resolution because I believe that the proposed text does not provide sufficient guarantees for the parties concerned. Thus there are no provisions to support small farms in Morocco, putting them at risk of being replaced with intensive farms. Furthermore, there is no safeguard against the exploitation of workers on large farms. On the other hand, the document does not answer the concerns expressed by the representatives of European producers in the fruit and vegetable sectors. They have repeatedly demanded the inclusion of clauses that would protect them against unfair competition from the Moroccan producers. At the same time, it is important that all imported goods comply with the EU’s phytosanitary rules. For these reasons, I support the Commission in carrying out impact studies with a view to adapting the clauses of the agreement to the technical requirements of the new common agricultural policy.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted against the joint motion for a resolution tabled by four groups, since the resolution favours adoption of the agreement between the EU and Morocco on agricultural and fishery products. The resolution expresses a position of open support for an agreement that runs counter to the interests of our farms and our producers, which will be confronted with increasingly fierce competition from products originating from Morocco. Moreover, as if this were not enough, this agreement will not even help Moroccan producers, as it only safeguards the interests of a very limited number of major multinational groups operating in Morocco in the agricultural sector.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because I agree that, among the measures used in the EU Neighbourhood Policy, trade and investment are engines for growth, helping developing countries to reduce poverty, bring peoples together, consolidate ties between nations and contribute to political stability. Therefore, given the political landscape in the countries of the southern Mediterranean region following the events of the Arab Spring, I believe that there needs to be a strong, effective and rapid response from the EU in order to maintain a stable situation in this country neighbouring the EU, with which the Union has close trade links. It is worth noting that trade in agricultural and fishery products constitutes approximately 18% of Morocco’s exports, while people in rural areas working in the agricultural sector represent as much as 75% of the entire workforce, and this demonstrates that the stability and development of this sector is crucial for the political stability of the country. Further liberalisation of trade between the EU and Morocco in agricultural and fishery products is therefore essential.
Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Now more than ever, Morocco needs the European Union’s support, not only in the current context of the Arab Spring, but also, more particularly, because Morocco is one of our closest partners. I already voted in favour of extending the existing agreement last December. This agreement was needed because it allowed 10 Member States to fish in Moroccan waters in return for which they paid financial compensation that was used to develop Morocco’s fisheries policies across the whole country. After a long and difficult process in committee and then in the House, the European Parliament at last reached a consensus, which I welcome. The European Parliament cannot, and should not, abandon a long-standing partner of the EU. Instead, we should now do our utmost to consolidate the partnership agreements with Morocco and propose new agreements based on a new approach in order to support the democratic process that is under way.
Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) I decided to vote in favour of this resolution. This positive vote strengthens our trade links with Morocco. It is a vote that reminds us that the EU is committed to providing support for economic and political developments in Morocco. This resolution highlights the importance of the agricultural agreement for both Morocco and the EU. It acknowledges the qualities of our Moroccan trading partner while presenting the concerns expressed by European producers, so as to enable the Commission to make an appropriate response. This resolution will allow us to monitor the implementation of the agricultural agreement. I am confident that Morocco, like the EU, will be able to respond.
Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I decided to abstain from the vote on this agreement. The fact is that the text presented to the European Parliament is imbalanced. In terms of content, this agreement risks making the fruit and vegetable sector more fragile, when it has already been bled dry, without providing sufficient guarantees to limit distortions of competition between producers on the two sides of the Mediterranean. That is why it is vital for the EU to commit to real structural reforms in order to maintain an active Euro-Mediterranean agricultural sector, particularly in the framework of the future common agricultural policy (CAP). As regards the form, it is deplorable that Parliament can only declare itself for or against. The Commission should change this method by allowing Parliament to participate upstream in the discussions. Furthermore, the Commission should have undertaken an impact assessment on the economic, social and environmental consequences before concluding this agreement, not after. However, apart from those aspects relating to economics and trade, this agreement has a political and strategic dimension for the EU and Morocco. It provides support for the stability of a partner that has succeeded in making considerable political reforms and continuing the process of modernisation in a troubled regional environment.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the resolution on the ‘Agreement between the EU and Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products and fishery products’, as it may be an important instrument for the development of the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, and may help to alleviate the widespread poverty and unemployment which are the source of economic, migration-related and security problems in the region.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In view of what has been happening on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, it is vital that the EU give a clear signal that it wants to move from words to deeds, and to strengthen its relationship with those countries. Following Parliament’s regrettable rejection of the protocol between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco, establishing the fisheries opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco, I believe it is time to keep the door open to the possibility of coming to an understanding with one of the Muslim countries that has recently shown most signs of moderation and capacity for reform. I am not unaware of the reservations that such liberalisation elicits, in particular, amongst European agricultural and industrial producers. I hope that the practical implementation of this decision will be monitored closely and that it will provide for clauses safeguarding these producers in cases of particular need. Nevertheless, I believe that a significant opening up of these markets could lead to more opportunities for investment and employment in Europe, and greater consumer access to products produced in the southern Mediterranean which strictly meet the same health and safety requirements as are imposed in the EU.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Cooperation between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco dates back many years to 1 March 2000, when the EU-Morocco association agreement came into force, providing for the gradual adoption of measures to liberalise reciprocal trade in agricultural and fisheries products. Recent political events in certain countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean require a prompt and effective response from the EU in terms of cooperation, in order to contribute to deepening the democratic process, while also strengthening bilateral relations. This new agreement means more financial benefits for Moroccan small-scale farmers and improves the quality of products by introducing new requirements relating to plant health. Although I consider it important to strengthen bilateral relations between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco, demonstrating our belief in a country that is beginning a process of democratic reform, I abstained from the vote on the report, as I am not certain that small-scale farmers in southern Europe, particularly Portugal and Spain, will not be harmed by this agreement.
Elisa Ferreira (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I would like to state that, in error, I voted in favour in the final vote, when I intended to abstain, as I have doubts about the possible impact of this liberalisation on Portuguese farming and fishing, despite indications to the contrary in the expert views to which I have had access, specifically from the Committee on International Trade, and the fact that I acknowledge the importance of the agreement for the political stabilisation of the Mediterranean and relations between this region and the EU.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This resolution is another profession of faith in free trade. It insists ‘that the opening-up of markets and progressive integration into the EU’s internal market can be powerful instruments for the development of the southern Mediterranean countries and help alleviate the widespread poverty and unemployment which are at the root of economic, migratory and security problems in the region’. These are tired arguments that have been repeated under many different circumstances over the years, and which reality stubbornly resists. These arguments have even been made within the EU itself, where the opening up and capitalist integration of market economies with very different levels of development has led to increased inequality. Moreover, it does not refrain from using the rhetoric of the Arab Spring, forgetting the Moroccan regime’s continued repression of the Sahrawi people. It forgets the illegal occupation of the territory of Western Sahara. If forgets that even other countries which have signed similar trade agreements with Morocco, such as the US, explicitly provide for the exclusion of products originating in Western Sahara; something that the EU does not do. It is significant that Portuguese, Spanish and Italian Members from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), representing countries whose farmers will be most affected, have voted against this agreement, even though they have, on other occasions, extolled the wonders of free trade.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The association agreement between the EU and Morocco entered into effect in 2000. In December 2010, the EU Council signed a document which, after ratification by the European Parliament, made it possible to proceed to the second phase of trade liberalisation with agricultural products and fishery products between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco. In respect of agriculture and fisheries, this new agreement gives mutual precedence to strengthening capital intensive industrial agriculture at the expense of family and small-scale agriculture. Increasing quotas with reduced rates for a broad range of fruit and vegetables will lead to a situation where European producers find it difficult to compete, without even strengthening the balanced development of agriculture in Morocco. We must not forget the EU’s commitments in relation to the Arab Spring regarding assistance for the southern Mediterranean countries in the transition to democracy by means of commercial and business instruments in order to secure a greater level of freedom and more economic opportunities. In this context, the agreement in question looks like a positive step, leading to support for political stabilisation and mutual, sustainable economic development. Liberalisation of trade between the EU and Morocco can lead to mutual benefits, greater economic growth, prosperity, job creation and the elimination of poverty.
Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The agreement on agricultural liberalisation, as it has been conceived, would have a worrying economic impact on European farmers, above all, within the fruit and vegetable sector, with dramatic repercussions for employment in the rural areas of the European Union.
For example, by immediately liberalising 55% of European imports from Morocco, many typical fruit and vegetable producers in Italy would be threatened by the entry on to the European market of products obtained on more competitive terms. We must consider that Moroccan farmers not only have production and labour costs which are far lower than those borne in the EU, but they are also not even required to respect the same production standards regarding the environment and food safety. It would therefore be appropriate, first and foremost, to carry out an impact study on the possible economic and social consequences of this liberalisation before it is applied.
I therefore hope that there is a desire to review the proposed agreement to safeguard the principle of reciprocity and the possibility for our farmers to compete within a competitive context which, if not equal, is at least sustainable.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because the opening up of markets and progressive integration into the EU’s internal market can be powerful instruments to promote development in the southern Mediterranean countries and help alleviate the widespread poverty and unemployment which are at the root of economic, migratory and security problems in the region. This agreement is a positive step in supporting political stability and mutual sustainable economic development. Attention is drawn, however, to the concerns expressed by certain EU sectors at increased duty-free quotas for sensitive fruit and vegetable imports, and the Commission must therefore present an assessment of the impact on European producers, and particularly on farmers’ incomes, and keep Parliament regularly informed.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this resolution on Morocco, which, in relation to Western Sahara, ‘Calls on the Commission to ensure that the future agreement fully respects international law and benefits all the local population groups affected’.
Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) I voted against the EU-Morocco agreement on reciprocal liberalisation measures for agricultural products and fishery products for two reasons. Firstly, I cannot accept the way in which Western Sahara, one of the last territories in the world to be under colonial occupation, is being treated as though it were under Moroccan administration. Secondly, I believe that the agreement deepens an agricultural model that fails both sides, by destroying jobs, by lowering the quality of production and by sidelining food safety.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This resolution explains the fact that free trade is an important element of the response that needs to be made to the Arab revolutions. However, the implementation of a vast Euro-Mediterranean free trade area has been planned since 1995. The majority in this House, bogged down in its liberal dogmatism, has once again supported European imperialism over the Mediterranean people’s desire to live comfortably. I voted against this text.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Portugal is going through a difficult period, as its success in combating the crisis will largely depend on its national production and exports. This agreement will have an immediate impact, especially on the countries of southern Europe, including Portugal, which produce competing products in the same seasons and at lower cost, considering the price of production inputs, not to mention the need to safeguard food safety owing to the lack of pesticides which are banned in Europe. I voted against for this reason, which does not mean that I do not acknowledge the importance of this and other agreements to be concluded with the Kingdom of Morocco, which is a strategic partner of Portugal, provided that all reciprocal guarantees are ensured.
Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (ES) As with the Bové report, I voted against the resolution because, if this agreement is adopted, it will have devastating effects for small and medium-sized farms. Furthermore, it will only benefit major European food multinationals and large Moroccan landowners, not least the King of Morocco, who remains the largest owner of fertile farmland in the country. This agreement, like the fisheries agreement, totally disregards international law in so far as it still includes natural resources that belong to the Saharan people. In so doing, it reinforces and perpetuates Morocco’s plundering of the Western Sahara. What is more, the agreement still fails to address an issue that is crucial in any trade relationship: products’ social and democratic quality, the exploitative conditions endured by Moroccan farmers, and the social dumping that accompanies market liberalisation, that is, making European and Moroccan agricultural products compete on the basis of price. Morocco continues to be excused of any requirement to fulfil and guarantee minimum standards in the area of social relations, employment or plant protection.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In the resolution by the GUE and the Greens, Parliament opposes the agreement between the EU and Morocco on reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products and fishery products, as well as any steps towards concluding free trade agreements with the countries of the Mediterranean. It is also of the opinion that the conclusion of free trade agreements will adversely affect small farmers, working people and young people, as well as the environment, in both the southern Mediterranean and the EU. The resolution urges the Commission to initiate new negotiations with a clear mandate to meet the needs of sustainable economic and social development, food sovereignty and food security, both in Morocco and in the EU countries, assuring mutual benefits and avoiding competition among producers on both sides of the Mediterranean. I voted against the resolution of the GUE and EPP.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) An extension of the fisheries agreement cannot be justified. We must reject the proposal to extend the fisheries agreement with Morocco, which has been found to be ecologically damaging and which, at over EUR 36 million annually, is not only one of the most expensive agreements (benefiting neither the European taxpayer nor the domestic population). This is particularly the case, since the two parties to the agreement both interpret it as including the fish-rich waters of occupied Western Sahara, which are now threatened with overfishing. This contravenes both the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and international law. The EU’s legalised plundering of the seas off occupied Western Sahara, which contravenes international law, must come to an end.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) The agricultural and fisheries sectors are particularly sensitive and important for the whole of the EU.
It should be noted that increased duty-free quotas threaten sensitive EU fruit and vegetable imports. The Commission must therefore carry out an assessment of the impact on incomes and must establish compensation mechanisms for producers and farmers.
In order to defend the interests of Europe’s economic operators, it is essential to stop fraud in the entry price system and ensure that it functions transparently. In these circumstances, I believe that it is appropriate to continue to regulate the increased tariff quotas under the agreement.
Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) I voted against the EU-Morocco agreement on reciprocal liberalisation measures for agricultural products and fishery products for two reasons. Firstly, I cannot accept the way in which Western Sahara, one of the last territories in the world to be under colonial occupation, is being treated as though it were under Moroccan administration. Secondly, I believe that the agreement deepens an agricultural model that fails both sides, by destroying jobs, by lowering the quality of production, and by sidelining food safety.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The political turmoil being experienced in the Maghreb countries, particularly Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, demands that the EU institutions pay attention, owing to their geographical proximity to continental Europe and in order to protect the EU. In light of the experience of the EU, economic cooperation, which introduces ties of dependency and interrelation between peoples, is a good mechanism for pursuing some of the key purposes of the EU project, such as defending the fundamental rights of individuals, the rule of law and the democratic legitimacy of government. The growth of EU-Morocco economic relations should therefore lead to the Moroccan development model moving closer to that of Europe, in terms of being based on respect for the individual and for the environment.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Today, I voted against the agreement between the EU and Morocco which lays down reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, fisheries and fishery products, since it raises many concerns regarding the negative consequences which its implementation would have on our agricultural and food system. It has become clear that the agreement is much more favourable for Morocco than for Europe, in particular, as regards the fruit and vegetable sector, and that within Europe, it is more beneficial for production in the continental countries than for the Mediterranean countries.
If the agreement were approved, it would significantly reduce or remove customs duties, in particular, for vegetables, fruit and citrus fruits, which means that some of the products typical of our country originating from Morocco could enter the European market under terms more favourable than at present. It is well known that the cost of labour in Morocco is much lower than the European average, and in particular, that in Italy, and that the respect for fundamental rights in the country is still very patchy and there are no guarantees that food safety is based on principles and procedures entirely analogous to our own.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, while Morocco is making notable democratic progress, it is essential for the EU to support it fully. In order to do this, it was important to ensure that, following long negotiations, the agreement on reciprocal agricultural liberalisation was not rejected. However, this agreement, such as it has been presented to us, raises a number of questions. Unfortunately, Parliament could only choose between accepting and rejecting this agreement, without having the option to amend it. This resolution was therefore a necessary one, and, although I would have liked it to go even further – I am thinking primarily of producers in the south-west – I supported it. In this report, we firstly stress the importance of small farmers benefiting from the agreement. Secondly, we call on the Commission to carry out an impact assessment of the agreement on European producers, something which should have been done beforehand. I supported the amendment highlighting the need to compensate any negative impact that they might experience, but it was unfortunately rejected. Thirdly, we ask the Commission to promote equivalent measures and controls between Morocco and the European Union on environment and food safety standards. Finally, we call on Morocco to improve its water management.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (ES) I voted against the resolution. Some of us have insisted, using not only political but also legal channels, that the agreement should explicitly exclude the territories of the Western Sahara, as is already the case with others, such as the agreement with the United States. This is the first fundamental reason why we reject this treaty.
We also believe this treaty should be renegotiated and adapted to the demands of sustainable economic and social development. It should promote regional integration and address the challenges of the ‘Arab Spring’, thereby also strengthening democracy in the region. I do not believe it is achieving this.
The treaty has scant regard for environmental protection, proper use of resources, adequate determination of producers’ wages, or the creation of sustainable jobs. I also disagree with the absence of any reference to child labour, a problem that already exists in the industry and which could be intensified as a result of an increase in agricultural exports.
Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. – (FR) In the context of the new powers conferred on the European Parliament by the Treaty of Lisbon, we can only either approve or reject a trade agreement, and this does not allow us to take a more nuanced position. The resolution, which we voted on at the same time as the Protocol to the agreement, has this specific function: to show that, despite the restricted choices that we have, we are examining all the implications and consequences once this is implemented. This resolution is balanced and provides a good summing up of the different points of view held by the parties involved. It also underlines the advantages that this new liberalisation will provide for the two parties: it consolidates the position of European exporters on the Moroccan market while maintaining mechanisms for protecting the most sensitive areas of European production. That is why I supported it in plenary.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Here, I intend to state the reasons for my vote against the joint motion for a resolution which has just been voted on. Contrary to the requests of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, which had been instructed to draw up an opinion for the Committee on International Trade, which is the competent committee in this area, on 26 January, Parliament’s Committee on International Trade approved the conclusion of the trade liberalisation agreement between the EU and Morocco.
Within a context that is already particularly difficult in economic and social terms for the European agricultural sector, a liberalisation agreement conceived in this way would have a catastrophic impact on European farmers, in particular, in the sensitive fruit and vegetable sector, with dramatic repercussions on employment in the rural areas of the European Union.
Were this agreement to be concluded, there would be a considerable increase in products originating from Morocco, with the introduction of import quotas much higher than under the previous agreement, specifically for six products: tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, garlic, citrus fruits and strawberries. It is also necessary to take account of the different production standards in environmental and plant health terms and the quality of products originating from Morocco, and that the European system of entry prices for these imports does not take account of production and labour costs within the EU.
For these reasons, I voted against the motion.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This motion for a resolution on the EU-Morocco agreement concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fisheries products, sets out the points behind my negative view of concluding the agreement. I believe in the democratic reforms that Morocco has been implementing. However, the recent events which resulted in the Arab Spring have demonstrated that the EU approach should have been substantially different. I also believe that trade liberalisation and the gradual integration of Morocco with the EU will serve as tools for developing the economies of the southern Mediterranean. However, I cannot vote in favour of an agreement for which there has not been any study of the environmental, social and economic impact, which does not require the same phytosanitary conditions, and for which numerous instances of fraud in the tariff agreements have been reported. Moreover, there is the dispute in the United Nations over the region of Western Sahara, which should not be included in this agreement, since it is not Moroccan territory. I abstained from the vote on this motion for a resolution, not because I am against liberalising the trade in agricultural products, but because I am against this agreement itself.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) This agreement between Morocco and the EU is questionable in many respects. I can only regret the fact that we have to vote on it when the impact assessment has not yet been published. Nevertheless, as we needed to take a decision, I chose to vote in favour. This is not a vote against French, Greek, Italian or Spanish producers; it is a vote for Moroccans and for consistency in the development policy that we are trying to conduct. While the Arab Spring has completely changed the game in southern Mediterranean countries, it is our duty today to support Morocco’s development. Of course, this agreement is far from perfect; free trade agreements as such pose numerous problems. However, Morocco is our neighbour and we cannot advocate the economic and democratic development of these countries if we completely refuse them entry into our markets.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted against the report since I am absolutely against the approval of the agreement between the EU and Morocco on agricultural and fishery products. This agreement is entirely detrimental to our agricultural producers and, above all, it does not guarantee any reciprocity and facilitates the invasion of our markets by Moroccan agricultural products to the detriment of local production. Providing for lower customs duties for Moroccan goods and expanding the quotas of products that can access the European market is equivalent to inflicting a hard blow against our agricultural sector, causing both direct and indirect harm to economies, primarily in the Mediterranean countries of Europe. Increasing numbers of products will enter Europe originating from Morocco, where they are produced and cultivated at very low costs without any respect for social standards and often using child labour. Products will enter our markets which do not respect the same quality and safety standards for consumers that European producers are required to respect. Finally, the agreement will not even result in any improvements for Moroccan counterparts, because it will only be a few major agricultural and food groups that benefit from the situation, and certainly not small and medium-sized producers.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because with it, the European Parliament consents to the conclusion of an agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products.
Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I am happy to see that the majority of MEPs have, like me, chosen to continue to support and to enhance the links between the EU and Morocco, and to support the transition to democracy following the Arab Spring. I am among those who think that this agricultural agreement will help to alleviate problems with the economy, immigration and security. Parliament has taken into account the many concerns raised by producers in Southern Europe. As a result, safeguards have been provided; these were called for in order to moderate the increase in quotas for certain products, such as tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers. The agreement also sets seasonal quotas with a view to combating distortions on the EU market and recalls that Moroccan imports should meet European hygiene standards. There was therefore a call for strict monitoring of the application of quotas, as well as enhanced controls in order to avoid any potential fraud in the entry price system. Parliament has also called for an impact assessment on the revenues of European producers and farmers.
Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I decided to approve this agreement, which is in the spirit of the specific association agreement signed in 2000. It is important to reiterate that the European Union has committed itself to making connections with the southern Mediterranean. This agreement therefore fits more broadly into a framework of dialogue which we can justifiably hope will have beneficial effects on the economic development and democratic evolution of Morocco, which has implemented considerable reforms. This agreement is balanced and respects the principle of complementarity of production, in other words, no overlap between production periods. It also provides for a consultation mechanism should there be a significant increase in European imports of fruit and vegetables. Concerning European fishery products, I would like to stress that this agreement enhances the opportunities for exporting them to Morocco. Furthermore, it sends a positive signal to Morocco following the non-renewal –against my wishes – of the fisheries agreement that we had with this country.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The fisheries sector, including aquaculture, generates approximately EUR 34.2 billion in annual revenue and supports more than 350 000 jobs in the EU. With this agreement with Morocco, a country that has recently undertaken important democratic reforms, Europe is giving concrete support to the development of Euro-Mediterranean countries. This agreement represents an opening up to neighbouring countries that participated in the Arab Spring, and the beginning of the development of the economic reforms needed in Europe in order to establish safer and fairer trade zones in the Mediterranean. With this agreement, the EU will open up its market to the Mediterranean regions affected by the Arab revolutions, which need investment and economic support in their transition to democracy. European farmers will be able to trade and export their products to Euro-Mediterranean markets, and the safeguard clauses set out guarantees in the case of an excess of products on the market.
Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) In recent months, there have been profound changes in the southern Mediterranean area and it is important that the European Union support even more the aspirations of these countries’ citizens. For several years, the Kingdom of Morocco has embarked on the road towards an overall process of political, economic and social reforms. Europe has supported, and will continue to support, the reform programme and the efforts made by Morocco for its implementation, a process accompanied by a structured and honest dialogue, within which human rights are an essential element.
Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) After the unfortunate vote against the fisheries partnership agreement in December, we very much needed a positive vote for the agreement on reciprocal liberalisation measures in relation to agricultural products and fishery products. The agreement is a balanced one which takes into account the specificities of the European and Moroccan markets and contributes to our mutual prosperity. In particular, it is an essential tool for integrating Moroccan ‘small-scale agriculture’ into international trade. Morocco is a country which must be supported in its stability, as the EU has committed to doing. To vote in favour of the agreement is to take a step in this direction and to reaffirm the solidity of the trade, economic and political links that unite us with Morocco.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Out of principle, and as substitute member of the Committee on International Trade, I am in favour of all agreements aimed at closer relations between the EU and third countries that are committed to moving closer to our legislative standards. As Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Mashreq countries and Vice-Chair of the EU-Morocco friendship group in the European Parliament, I welcome all agreements between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco. That said, however, I would clarify that I reject any form of unfair competition with European companies, whether in the form of any kind of dumping, abuse or illegality under the terms of the agreements signed. Therefore, following concerns raised in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development about monitoring timeframes and tariff quotas, compliance with EU legislative standards, geographical indications, competitiveness problems and the counter-seasonality of imports from Morocco, I decided to use a written question submitted two weeks ago to ask the Commission and the Council for some clarification on this agreement in order to clarify whether there is any detailed EU economic impact assessment for this agreement. How does the Commission intend to monitor compliance with EU standards and monitor the tariff quotas and timeframes? Moreover, when will there be agreement on geographical indications?
Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I know what the EU-Morocco agreement represents for this country. In symbolic terms, because the Arab Spring has changed the game in the southern Mediterranean countries. In economic terms, because agriculture represents a very important part of Morocco’s development, and employs up to 75% of the workforce in rural areas. However, I did not approve this report for at least two reasons. In terms of content, this agreement risks making the fruit and vegetable sector more fragile, when it has already been bled dry, without sufficient guarantees being provided to limit distortions of competition. In terms of form, it is no longer acceptable for the European Parliament not to have a say in the content of the liberalisation agreements. We must be involved upstream in negotiations with third countries. We must do this in order to amend the reports and to improve their content while taking into account their impact on European producers and raising the level of demand for Moroccan produce. Finally, it is unacceptable that this agreement should be put forward while the results of the impact assessment on economic, social and environmental consequences are not known. We cannot put up with this kind of behaviour from the Commission any longer.
Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The agreement between the EU and Morocco is misguided and damaging. The rapporteur, José Bové, and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development are fundamentally opposed to its adoption. In view of the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, it should be emphasised that the agreements on liberalisation introduced so far have failed to achieve the stated objectives, and we cannot therefore continue with a policy which favours the economic interests of powerful entities without assessing the social impacts on the population and the damage caused to the environment and the climate. The report has particularly drastic negative consequences for European and North African agriculture and fishing because it strengthens industrial agriculture at the expense of sustainable agriculture. It confronts European producers with unfair competition in the form of dumping based on child labour and jobs with no social standards whatsoever. For North Africa, the submitted report is harmful for the environment in particular. Powerful agricultural interests draw underground freshwater for their own agricultural profit in such a way that its surface is falling by 1.5 metres a year on average. For example, in Morocco, it takes 100 litres of water to grow one kilogramme of tomatoes, compared to 10 litres of water in France or Germany. I fully support the negative opinion of the rapporteur, and I oppose adoption of the agreement between the EU and Morocco on liberalisation measures for agricultural products and fishery products.
Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. – (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats cannot support a trade agreement that contravenes international law. We therefore voted against this agreement between the EU and Morocco. The EU can only conclude agreements with the occupying power Morocco that include Western Saharan territory if certain stringent conditions are fulfilled. These conditions – that the agreement must be in accordance with the wishes and the interests of the occupied people – have not been fulfilled. The European Parliament’s legal service is therefore of the opinion that it cannot be guaranteed that this free trade agreement is compatible with the international agreements to which the EU and the Member States are bound. When the European Parliament asked the European Commission whether products from Western Sahara would be covered by the agreement, the Commission replied ‘to the extent that exports of products from Western Sahara are de facto benefiting from the trade preferences’. Both EFTA and the US have trade agreements with Morocco that do not affect Western Sahara. The EU should obviously respect international law in the same way.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Despite the asymmetry in the liberalisation of access to European and Moroccan markets and the difficulties that some producers may face in view of increased competition, I believe that, on balance, this agreement will be beneficial to European companies, workers and consumers as it will allow easier access to a market that is expanding and full of opportunities. In political terms, this is another sign that the EU is not only voicing its good intentions, but is also capable of making a real commitment to progress in North Africa and seeking to establish a partnership with this region, enabling it to project, not only its interests, but also its ‘soft power’ here. While I understand the fears of European farmers, fishermen and manufacturers, I believe that for its own good, the EU has a duty to seek a closer relationship with Morocco and the other Arab countries, and to cement a commercially fruitful and lasting relationship which can form the foundation for a stable and balanced relationship in respect for the values of human dignity, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The recommendation in question concerns a draft Council decision on the conclusion of an agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products and fishery products, replacing previous protocols and agreements. This new agreement will liberalise the trade in fish, agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fishery products, consolidating trade representing 45% of EU exports to Morocco and 55% of EU imports from Morocco. The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has expressed major reservations over this agreement, even voting against it. I voted against adopting this agreement because I believe that it may harm small-scale EU farmers.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The agreement adopted today between the EU and Morocco means the immediate liberalisation of agricultural and fishery products. There are at least two strong reasons to reject this agreement. Firstly, it will harm European producers, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises of typically Mediterranean crops, particularly in the area of fruit and vegetables, since this agreement increases the pressure being felt today from low base prices and the difficulties experienced by many producers in distributing their products. Portuguese farmers will be hit particularly hard by this. Secondly, family farming will be another loser, as it is starting to face competition from intensive production and export-oriented models. Such models threaten environmental sustainability, the viability of regional and local markets, and food sovereignty, while also reducing food quality and safety. For these reasons, consumers and populations also lose out. Those who benefit most are large European companies and multinational distributors, who will thus be able to win new markets and access cheap labour, as well as have a better chance of circumventing social, employment and environmental standards in force in European countries. Finally, we cannot accept that the Commission is still ignoring the issue of Western Sahara, which is being illegally occupied by Morocco, with a total lack of respect for international law.
Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted against this agreement as I consider it inadequate and, above all, detrimental to Italian agriculture, particularly to the fruit and vegetable sector. Unfortunately, the logic of national interests has prevailed which, as has already happened in other sectors, benefits major industries from northern Europe to the detriment of those from the south, including, in particular, the Mediterranean area. This House has not followed the indications provided in the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, which had voted against ratification of the agreement. Considering also the crisis and the indiscriminate increases in the cost of fuel in Italy, which has a significant impact on the price of agricultural foodstuffs, we risk setting off a war among the poor. Moreover, the quality and safety aspect of the imported products is not to be overlooked, since the guarantees which will be provided are not sufficient in my opinion.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The association agreement between the EU and Morocco entered into effect in 2000. In December 2010, the EU Council signed a document which, after ratification by the European Parliament, made it possible to proceed to the second phase of trade liberalisation with agricultural products and fishery products between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco. In respect of agriculture and fisheries, this new agreement gives mutual precedence to strengthening capital intensive industrial agriculture at the expense of family and small-scale agriculture. Increasing quotas with reduced rates for a broad range of fruit and vegetables will lead to a situation where European producers find it difficult to compete, without even strengthening the balanced development of agriculture in Morocco. We must not forget the EU’s commitments in relation to the Arab Spring regarding assistance for the southern Mediterranean countries in the transition to democracy by means of commercial and business instruments in order to secure a greater level of freedom and more economic opportunities. In this context, the agreement in question looks like a positive step, leading to support for political stabilisation and mutual, sustainable economic development. Liberalisation of trade between the EU and Morocco can lead to mutual benefits, greater economic growth, prosperity, job creation and the elimination of poverty.
Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The agreement on agricultural liberalisation, as it has been conceived, would have a worrying economic impact on European farmers, above all, within the fruit and vegetable sector, with dramatic repercussions for employment in the rural areas of the European Union. For example, by immediately liberalising 55% of European imports from Morocco, many typical fruit and vegetable producers in Italy would be threatened by the entry on to the European market of products obtained on more competitive terms. We must consider that Moroccan farmers not only have production and labour costs which are far lower than those borne in the EU, but they are also not even required to respect the same production standards regarding the environment and food safety.
It would therefore be appropriate, first and foremost, to carry out an impact study on the possible economic and social consequences of this liberalisation before it is applied. I therefore hope that there is a desire to review the proposed agreement to safeguard the principle of reciprocity and the possibility for our farmers to compete within a competitive context which, if not equal, is at least sustainable.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) The reforms initiated by the King of Morocco which allow for gradual evolution in this country must certainly be welcomed, and cooperation with this great country must be encouraged. However, this certainly must not come at the price of a free trade agreement on agricultural products, which has been acknowledged to be a step towards Morocco’s participation in the European internal market, a very questionable objective.
Such an agreement would be devastating not just for European producers but also for the Moroccans, especially those who make a living from family-run and subsistence farming. We can never stress enough the importance and the crucial role of these types of agriculture in the food security and independence of nations.
A free trade agreement, whatever its scope, is certainly a ‘win-win’ situation for large multinational companies and global financiers. It is always a losing game for the people and the workers, who have been ruined here and reduced to slavery there.
Ana Gomes (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted against the EU-Morocco agreement concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products and fishery products, but not because I do not support the development of EU-Morocco trade relations, which I consider key to encouraging reform in the political and economic governance of Morocco, and thus to helping to realise the democratic aspirations of the Moroccan people. I voted against because I believe that the terms of this agreement do not comply with international law, as they ignore the need to establish a specific scheme for trade in agricultural and fishery products produced in Western Sahara, a territory which has been occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco since 1975.
As Parliament has rejected two amendments which proposed the establishment of a new system that meets the specific rights and interests of the Sahrawi people under this agreement, I had no alternative but to refuse to be complicit in an agreement that, in its current form, violates international law and the most basic rights of the people of Western Sahara to make use of their own resources.
Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing. – (FR) For the European Union, Morocco is a privileged partner which has priority in terms of trade, and must remain so. Morocco and the EU have made important progress in terms of political dialogue, institutional relations and exchanges of views on bilateral and international issues.
However, in terms of agriculture, as well as in other areas, we must demand reciprocity in respect for European hygiene and environmental standards. Yet for a number of agricultural products – tomatoes, for example – Morocco does not currently respect these standards.
This agreement would then risk harming French and European production of fruit and vegetables, which will find themselves in a situation of competition which will be difficult to sustain. That is why I abstained.
Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The challenges associated with the EU-Morocco agreement concerning reciprocal liberalisation of agricultural products and fishery products have produced strong reactions on the part of our farmers, who fear that their activities will be crushed by unfair competition. I would like to reassure them that there are guarantees. Given the sensitive nature of this sector and the offensive capability of Morocco, mechanisms for preserving this area have been implemented. In particular, this involves maintaining quotas for the most sensitive products (tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, clementines and so on) which will be subject to monthly management, maintaining entry prices for fruit and vegetables, and a safeguard clause. Specific provisions have also been provided for tomatoes, which are in a very challenging position. The liberalisation that Morocco has agreed to will also contribute to strengthening the position of European exporters on the Moroccan market with an immediate and almost total liberalisation of certain sectors. Finally, this agreement enshrines a commitment made in 2008 when Morocco obtained ‘advanced status’. It demonstrates the EU’s wish to support the process of democratisation and reforms being conducted in the country and, eventually, to achieve a common economic space.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I abstained in the vote because the rise in the number of quotas at reduced rates for a wide range of fruit (oranges, clementines, melons, strawberries) and vegetables (tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, garlic, cucumbers) will make it difficult for EU producers to continue to compete, but, at the same time, will not help sustain the development of balanced agriculture in Morocco. The circumventing of the system for import entry prices is considered by a large number of producer organisations to be a matter of deep concern for the sector, particularly with regard to fresh tomatoes. Operators profit from problems with the system, making improper use of current provisions on the customs valuation to cut the import duties due on fruit and vegetables. FEPEX (the Spanish Federation of Fruit and Vegetable Producers and Exporters) has even filed a complaint with Parliament’s Committee on Petitions regarding this very problem. Before opening up the markets any further to additional quotas, there must be effective tariff protection and verification of imported values. Turning to the environment, the outlook here is also negative and calls into question the European Union’s principle of protecting the environment and minimising likely climate change. So far, the social, environmental and economic impacts of this agreement have not always been assessed by the Commission, which has concentrated on tariff matters. An in-depth study is required to allow Parliament to reach a decision in full knowledge of the facts.
Peter Jahr (PPE), in writing. – (DE) Trade agreements with Morocco in relation to agricultural produce have often been discussed in this House. Only in April of last year, I stated that an agreement should only be approved if: 1. the permitted volume of imports is clearly regulated; 2. the quality of the produce is inspected, and 3. the implications for the EU’s farmers are examined. Today’s agreement marks a good deal of progress in this direction. For this reason, it is important that we should further develop our cooperation with Morocco and strengthen the ties between Morocco and the European Union.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted resolutely against the agreement between the EU and Morocco on the reciprocal liberalisation of agricultural and fishery products. Unfortunately, the agreement adopted today will be a disaster not only for Sicilian agriculture but also for European agriculture in general, for which much has been done and continues to be done in relation to quality protection, guarantees for consumers and support for agricultural producers so that they are increasingly competitive on the market. All of this has been cast aside today with a vote in favour of opening European borders to an economy, the Moroccan economy, which is not required to respect the same rules on trade and consumer health protection that, by contrast, operators in the European agricultural and fishery sector must respect. The agricultural sector is encountering numerous difficulties in many parts of the Union and I do not believe that we have achieved a result today which is endorsed by our farmers, to whom I personally, along with those who are against this agreement, can only reiterate my commitment to ensure that controls on goods imported from Morocco are strict and to provide guarantees to them and to European consumers as quickly as possible.
Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the EU-Morocco agreement concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products and fishery products. I am pleased at the endorsement that the European Parliament has given to this agreement. Firstly, this will allow us to enhance the position of European exporters on the Moroccan market while retaining protection mechanisms (quotas, entry price systems) for the most sensitive European sectors – especially French ones – in particular, the fruit and vegetable sector. Above all, this balanced agreement constitutes a very important step in the deepening of economic and trade relations between the EU and Morocco. It supports Morocco’s rural development policy while representing an opportunity for European exporters. Finally, through this vote, the European Parliament affirms its support for the courageous process of political democratisation and economic modernisation to which Morocco is committed.
George Lyon (ALDE), in writing. – I voted in favour of granting consent to the agreement between the EU and Morocco on reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural and fisheries products on Thursday, 16 February 2012 as I believe that, on balance, it will bring new opportunities for European States exporting to Morocco. I continue to have reservations as regards the human rights situation in Western Sahara and I hope that this agreement will be beneficial for the people in this region. On balance, given the current political situation in the Kingdom of Morocco and the southern Mediterranean area, I believe that the EU should strengthen its trade relations with these countries in order to improve the local populations’ economic situation and well-being, especially in primary sectors such as fisheries and agriculture. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that this agreement represents only a marginal opening of the market for sensitive EU agricultural products such as tomatoes (statistically, the extra 52 000 tonnes of tomatoes allowed to enter the EU tariff-free only represent 0.65% of the EU’s current tomato production).
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the recommendation on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of an agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products, the replacement of Protocols 1, 2 and 3 and their Annexes, and amendments to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Kingdom of Morocco, of the other part.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Opening up markets and gradual integration into the internal market of the European Union are the only effective instrument for developing southern Mediterranean countries and can contribute to mitigating the poverty and unemployment which lie at the root of the recent revolts in the Middle East. For these reasons, the European Union must be willing to make sufficient trade concessions. I voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This resolution ratifies the free trade agreement signed between Morocco and the EU in November 2010. This agreement constitutes a further step towards implementing the EU-Morocco free trade area, which I condemn. It benefits neither Moroccan farmers nor European farmers. Once more, its beneficiaries will be the large European agro-industrial and distribution companies, who have managed to win on both sides. The majority would have been better advised to follow the recommendations of the rapporteur, Mr Bové, who proposed rejecting the agreement. I am voting against this report and I condemn it.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Portugal is going through a difficult time, as its success in combating the crisis will largely depend on its national production and exports. The agreement in question will have an immediate impact, especially on the countries in southern Europe, including Portugal, which has competing products being produced in the same seasons, and at lower cost, considering the price of production inputs, not to mention the need to safeguard food safety due to the lack of pesticides banned in Europe. I voted against for this reason, which does not mean that I do not recognise the importance of this and other agreements to be concluded with the Kingdom of Morocco, a strategic partner of Portugal, provided that all reciprocal guarantees are ensured.
Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (ES) I voted against this report. Adoption of this agreement will have devastating effects for small and medium-sized farms. Furthermore, it will only benefit major European food multinationals and large Moroccan landowners, not least the King of Morocco, who remains the largest owner of fertile farmland in the country. This agreement, like the fisheries agreement, totally disregards international law in so far as it still includes natural resources that belong to the Saharan people. In so doing, it reinforces and perpetuates Morocco’s plundering of the Western Sahara. What is more, the agreement still fails to address an issue that is crucial in any trade relationship: products’ social and democratic quality, the exploitative conditions endured by Moroccan farmers, and the social dumping that accompanies market liberalisation, that is, making European and Moroccan agricultural products compete on the basis of price. Morocco continues to be excused of any requirement to fulfil and guarantee minimum standards in the area of social relations, employment or plant protection.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) This agreement, which is important both on an economic level and on a political and geostrategic level, further strengthens the links between Morocco and the EU. On an economic level, it is a great opportunity for developing the Euro-Mediterranean area, stimulating the necessary economic reforms for implementing a wider, more secure and more equitable free trade area in the Mediterranean, developing employment and limiting migration. While it offers Morocco access to a market of more than 500 million consumers, European agriculture will not be outdone, particularly as regards milk and grains. On a political and geostrategic level, Europe must support countries such as Morocco which are working to implement democratic reforms. We must help to consolidate democracy peacefully.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The agreement is beneficial both for EU exporters and for the economic development of Morocco, and in terms of poverty reduction. I voted in favour.
Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the agreement between the EU and Morocco concerning the liberalisation of trade in agricultural and fishery products because I consider it a mutually beneficial agreement. The alleged negative impact on European farmers is being grossly exaggerated. Without forgetting the benefits that the agreement will bring for European exports, it is important to bear in mind that it provides for several safeguard clauses – quotas, prices, etc. – which limit the possible negative impact of Moroccan imports. Moreover, I believe that the issue of Western Sahara has been satisfactorily resolved through clear commitments made by the Moroccan Government and the Commission. Finally, it is necessary to step up the political dimension of enhanced cooperation with Morocco, as a sign of EU support for political and constitutional developments towards democratic transition in that country.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. – (IT) This agreement best encapsulates the catastrophic and self-harming trade policy of the European Union. By adopting it today, we will see a real invasion of Moroccan agricultural products which will risk inflicting the definitive coup de grace on many of our excellent fruits and vegetables. It is not at all possible to compete with a country such as Morocco where the cost of labour is significantly lower and which even often uses child labour.
I wonder what benefit there could be for the European Union from this agreement: only the major agricultural multinationals which have already relocated or will shortly do so will benefit from it. I do not believe that there will be significant advantages for simple Moroccan farmers, nor less for the thousands of small and medium-sized farmers from the countries of southern Europe, for whom, by contrast, the consequences would be devastating.
I voted against this motion but unfortunately, today as well, the usual European commercial interests have prevailed. I do not dare imagine where we will end up at this rate: certainly the adoption of this agreement amounts to a defeat for European farmers and fishermen, and someone, sooner or later, will have to accept responsibility for this.
María Muñiz De Urquiza (S&D), in writing. – (ES) On behalf of the Spanish Socialist delegation: The Spanish Socialist delegation voted against the agreement between the EU and Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural and fishery products because the Commission has not provided any assurance that the following five conditions, which we addressed to that institution, will be met: study of the impact of Morocco’s productive potential on European farmers’ incomes; proposed reform of the entry price system regulation to ensure they are strictly enforced; quantified proposal of compensation for the European producers affected; proposed measures to ensure the strict application and control of quotas; absolute reciprocity in plant protection, environmental, hygiene and safety standards.
Regrettably, our proposed amendment on compensation has been refused. This explains our vote against the resolution as a whole. We also find it unfortunate that the position held by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group has prevented this mention from being included in the joint resolution, and that the PPE Group sought to reduce the compensations we demand for European farmers by submitting an oral amendment.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In line with the Italian delegation of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I voted against the agreement between the EU and Morocco on the liberalisation of agricultural and fishery products. Italy’s position is against the ratification of the agreement because it goes against the interests of European producers from Mediterranean countries, including, in particular, farmers and fishermen from the regions of southern Italy. In particular, notwithstanding its broad scope given the opening up towards the countries of North Africa, an agreement of this kind would create major problems for all those private individuals who would be at risk of no longer being competitive on the market for agricultural and fishery products. However, I should stress that my vote against is not a vote to reject the agreement but a gambit to defend the European market, and accordingly, I propose, along with my Italian colleagues, an agreement providing for gradual liberalisation in every sector in order to reduce the potential negative impacts of the agreement.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In view of the importance of good political relations with third countries and our neighbour, the Kingdom of Morocco in particular, and being committed to good trade links, I cannot accept another step towards a pretence of equal liberalisation that will really create a situation of profound competitive inequality between European and Moroccan producers. Europeans have to abide by strict and demanding food quality and safety standards, as well as agro-environmental and animal welfare standards, which considerably increase the cost of production. However, the required certification and labelling do not protect them sufficiently or encourage consumers to give preference to their products over those produced to lower standards and at lower cost. The liberalisation of 55% of exports from Morocco to the European Union and the increase in concessions in the fruit and vegetable sectors represents a severe blow to producers in southern Europe, particularly Portugal, but also Spain, Italy, Greece and France; all Member States experiencing difficulties that must rely on their productive sectors and not, once again, see their agriculture sacrificed to other interests.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The agreement between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco is aimed at introducing reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products. As it is intended that products imported from Morocco will be able to enter the EU market directly, it is worth having a transitional period of gradual liberalisation for products exported from the EU to Morocco. Despite the concerns raised by the rapporteur and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, in overall terms, the agreement has been approved, following the positions of the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on International Trade, and taking into account the current context in which a cooperative approach is being imposed between the EU and the countries of Northern Africa.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) I shall vote against this report. I support my colleague, Mr Bové, when he says that the MEPs who have ratified this agreement today should be under no illusion: this agreement goes against the interests of Moroccan citizens and the people of Western Sahara.
The liberalisation of trade will ruin thousands of farmers, in Morocco as well as in Spain, France and other southern countries of the EU, while putting the water resources of Morocco under threat.
By not explicitly excluding Western Sahara from this agreement, as the United States did in 2004 when they signed an agreement of this kind with Morocco, the European Union is making it a little more complicated to achieve a peaceful resolution of this conflict at the gates of Europe. This lack of clarity from the EU sends a very bad signal to the entire international community.
Nevertheless, I am pleased that, for the first time, the European Union’s trade policy has been debated, and strongly criticised, within Parliament. We have thus contributed to a situation in which a fundamental question – the real aim of trade – is beginning to be seriously examined by the EU.
Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. – (IT) The agreement between the European Union and Morocco regarding reciprocal liberalisation measures harms only one party: the European side. Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development itself issued an opinion objecting to it because many vegetables and fruits may freely enter Europe from Morocco, paying lower taxes compared with our own.
By reducing or removing the customs duties currently applicable to the importation of agricultural and fishery products from Morocco, Europe will suffer a loss of EUR 21 million. This amount can only increase since, given that imports are no longer taxed, they will increase exponentially, exposing European producers to unsustainable unfair competition. Farm workers in Morocco earn EUR 5/day, and it is therefore obviously inconceivable for our producers to compete with similar costs.
For these reasons, I voted resolutely against because I have always supported local produce due to its quality and for the good of consumers.
Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of approving this Protocol to the EU-Morocco agreement because it constitutes a step forward in the Union’s policy with regard to the southern Mediterranean countries, particularly in the context of the Arab Spring. It is an essential part of the realignment of values and economies, with the eventual aim of creating a common Euro-Mediterranean economic space, and should benefit all Moroccan farmers. Furthermore, this Protocol gives some reality to the advanced status which Morocco and the European Union presented in outline form in October 2008, and marks an important intermediate step prior to the start of negotiations on a complete and far-reaching free trade agreement, which is currently being deliberated. Finally, it consolidates the position of European exporters on the Moroccan market while maintaining mechanisms for protecting the most sensitive areas of European production. In the end, therefore, it is a Protocol which will produce equitable results for both parties, and that is why I supported it.
Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The impassioned debate that has been taking place on the EU-Morocco agreement is preventing us from keeping a cool head when the situation is extremely sensitive and complicated. I am aware of the strategic nature of this agreement, the importance of greater integration of our economies around the Mediterranean Basin, and the safeguard clauses that the Commission has tried to negotiate.
I would also like to welcome the efforts that the Kingdom of Morocco has made to improve its employment law, to respond to certain environmental restrictions, and to support the deep changes in its agriculture with the ‘Green Morocco’ plan. Above all, I would like to give them my support in their political reforms in these times of great instability.
However, given the almost saturated situation of the vegetable market in Europe, the situation of our farmers who have been hit hard by the crisis, and their fears of unfair competition, social dumping and environmental dumping, I cannot vote for this agreement.
For all these reasons, I have decided to abstain, while hoping that the Commission will become aware that free trade agreements cannot be made if they threaten the survival of our agriculture.
Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) The EU/Morocco Agreement on liberalisation measures is difficult to assess clearly. Political and strategic considerations, the need for development of neighbourly cooperation and the economic and democratisation reforms implemented in the country show a need for further rapprochement and development of cooperation. The proposed trade agreement is indeed more favourable to Morocco; however, the country has only just set out on the road to development. The rapporteur believes that the agreement is more harmful to Moroccan farmers than to European farmers, that liberalisation will benefit mainly the large corporations with European capital, including French companies that control trade.
The European Commission argues that trade will be closely monitored, that the increase in imports of tomatoes will be negligible, and that imported fruit and vegetables will meet quality and production standards. Questions remain as to the social conditions offered to those employed in their production, including children, and other standards in the production process. It is also true that other countries are also interested in the Moroccan market, and it would be hard for the neighbouring European Union to remain inactive. There are no conclusive arguments on either side.
Michèle Striffler (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I believe the agreement on liberalising agricultural products and fishery products is key to European Union-Morocco relations, particularly given the European Union’s clear strategy of supporting the process of democratisation occurring in some Arab countries. This agreement provides for the progressive implementation of much greater liberalisation of trade in agricultural products and fishery products. I would like to reassure French farmers that this agreement retains mechanisms for protecting the most vulnerable European and French industries, particularly the fruit and vegetable industry. Indeed, the entry price system for fruit and vegetables (particularly for fresh tomatoes) is preserved, which represents a definitive guarantee for French and European producers. This is why I have voted in favour of approval of this agreement by Parliament.
József Szájer (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I voted in favour of approving the agreement because I am of the opinion that through this agreement, the EU could contribute to the facilitation of economic reforms in Morocco and the establishment of a more advanced system of trade in the region. Naturally, the agreement would also have benefits for the EU, as, in addition to significantly increasing our exports, it would also open up the markets of the Community to the countries of the Arab Spring. Our goal is to become a key actor in the region. This agreement could open up a doorway to Mediterranean markets.
Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. – The EU has a certain responsibility to use its trade and economic capabilities to aid the transition of these countries towards democratisation. I believe that trade liberalisation and progressive integration into the EU’s internal market will help to alleviate the widespread poverty and unemployment in the region, trade and investment being proven engines for growth. It is our hope that such an agreement would also help to bring people together and to secure ties between nations. It is worth pointing out that whereas only 5% of EU citizens are employed in agriculture, 38% of the Moroccan workforce is employed by the sector. This agreement does not just bring benefits to Morocco, but also creates significant advantages for the EU. It will provide significant opportunities for the EU’s agricultural industry, particularly in processed foods, and it is estimated that, eventually, up to EUR 100 million will be saved in customs duties once Moroccan import tariffs for 70% of agricultural and fisheries product lines have been removed.
Given that access to the EU’s internal market is conditional on meeting hygiene and safety standards, and that a strong dispute settlement mechanism has been agreed that would allow the EU to gain redress if Morocco does not respect the terms, I back this agreement.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The agreement between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products will mean enormous disadvantages when competing against Moroccan farmers. Under this agreement, Morocco will automatically liberalise its agricultural sector to cover approximately 45% of the imports from the EU, to reach 70% in 10 years. In its turn, the EU will liberalise approximately 55% of its imports from Morocco under the agreement. Although Morocco will open up further in the long term, there are several points which put the EU at a disadvantage. Firstly, I would like to emphasise that we should impose the same phytosanitary measures and take account of the fact that the cost of labour is substantially lower in Morocco than in the EU. These two elements alone make agricultural products originating in the EU much more expensive. Secondly, there is the issue of the region of Western Sahara, which is included in the agreement, while, according to the United Nations, it should not be, as it is a disputed territory. Finally, I would like to stress that this agreement will bring benefits only for large-scale farms, with no benefit for 90% of Moroccan farmers. I believe that Morocco is engaged in a real process of democratisation. However, I do not agree that agreements should be concluded to the detriment of European agriculture.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I voted against ratification by the European Parliament of the EU-Morocco agreement on liberalising agricultural products. This agreement goes against the interests of farmers and small producers on both sides of the Mediterranean and will only benefit big business and the King of Morocco himself, who owns more than 12 000 hectares of land. The Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) has worked with the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Verts/ALE) and José Bové, who has led the fight over this issue, to put forward an alternative resolution. Our resolution observes that following the Arab Spring, the European Union should no longer dare to dictate unequal relationships, guided solely by the desire to impose its liberal model (the harmfulness of which grows clearer every day) to the detriment of fundamental principles such as food sovereignty. Within this resolution, we also took the opportunity to remark that this agreement should not apply to the Western Sahara. The European Commission responded that ‘the United Nations considers the Western Sahara to be a non-autonomous territory and deems Morocco to be its de facto administrative power’. Such a response is staggering. To apply such reasoning is to declare international law meaningless.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The draft agreement will allow Morocco to immediately liberalise 45% of the value of imports from the European Union while the Community will liberalise 55% of its imports from Morocco. The agreement also provides for increased concessions in the fruit and vegetable sector, in which Moroccan products account for 80% of the EU’s imports. This agreement should not go into effect without fulfilling import control mechanisms as pointed out by OLAF because it does not benefit small farmers in Morocco (over 70% of exports are in the hands of three firms), it includes the disputed Saharan territories (the UN does not recognise the sovereignty of Morocco) and it would mean the progressive disappearance and marginalisation of a number of European agricultural products.
Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The agreement adopted today between the EU and Morocco means the immediate liberalisation of agricultural and fishery products. Those who lose the most due to this agreement will be European producers, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises of typically Mediterranean crops, as this agreement increases the pressure being felt today from low base prices and the difficulties experienced by many producers in distributing their products. Family farming will also make considerable losses, as it is starting to face competition from intensive production and export-oriented models. It should be stressed that the Commission is still ignoring the issue of Western Sahara, which is being illegally occupied by Morocco, with a total lack of respect for international law.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution. This resolution reinforces the status of the EU as a body that respects fundamental rights and democracy. The Assad regime’s brutal denial of people’s right to freely choose their country’s destiny needs to be condemned.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this very important resolution on the situation in Syria. We, Members of the European Parliament, deplore in the strongest terms the fact that Russia and China have exercised their veto in the UN Security Council to block the draft resolution on Syria, thus voting against the peaceful transition proposal by the Arab League, which was perceived by the Assad regime as a licence to intensify the means of repression on the ground, using heavy weapons and indiscriminate force against unarmed civilians. It is regrettable that once again, the EU has missed the opportunity for a more coordinated and effective response by the Member States. Moreover, EU action has not been able to stop the violence or overcome the veto of Russia and China in the UN. I support the idea that EU governments should increase their pressure on Russia and China and regret the fact that this was not possible during the EU-China Summit. We cannot remain calm observers in the face of a massacre on this scale, tantamount to a crime against humanity.
Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Since the peaceful uprisings of demonstrators were put down by the army in March 2011, more than 4 000 people have been killed and 14 000 have been detained as political prisoners. That is not all: at least 400 children have lost their lives and around 380 have been arbitrarily arrested, some being beaten to death. According to the UN report on the Syrian Arab Republic of 23 November 2011, the Syrian armed forces subject children to physical and psychological torture, resulting even in their death, and appalling sexual violence either personally or indirectly as witnesses. Is the Vice-President aware of all of this? What measures does she intend to adopt in order to prevent innocent children from being subject to further torture and sexual violence and to put an end to violations of human rights, respect for human dignity and the integrity of freedom?
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution because I value its aim to express our deepest concern at the gravity of the human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian authorities. Mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of detainees must end.
The first step to be taken by the European Union is to draw up a blacklist of companies that deliver arms to Syria. All EU actors must fully respect the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. It is of fundamental importance to repeat that for the international community, the Syrian regime has lost all its credibility and legitimacy and that President Bashar al-Assad must step aside immediately, so as to allow a peaceful and democratic transition to take place in Syria.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I agree that the acts of violence in Syria should be fully condemned and that joint European action should be urged to put an end to such acts. The violent acts against civilians that have been taking place in Syria since March 2011 violate every aspect of humanity. UN estimates indicate that by now, the number of victims has reached 6 000, and this number is growing day by day. With all these horrors, one of the most tragic facts to me is that according to UNICEF reports, there are, at this point, 400 children and young people counted among the victims. It is deeply condemnable that almost 380 additional young people can be confirmed to have fallen victim to arbitrary imprisonment, torture and sexual abuse. These crimes violate all aspects of human rights and children’s rights to the fullest extent and it has therefore become imperative that the European Union takes action in this matter as quickly and as firmly as possible. I find it a positive development in respect of overcoming the situation in Syria that the Arab League has unanimously condemned the events that are taking place in the country, and Europe must therefore continue to act in unison when taking its measures to curb further aggression.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this resolution because the European Union cannot remain a calm observer of the continuing violence and brutal repression in Syria. The European commitment was demonstrated by restrictive measures that came into force on 18 January 2012, and additional sanctions adopted by the European Council of 23 January 2012. In particular, the additional restrictions on the transfer of funds and the provision of financial services are likely to affect the Syrian’s regime’s ability to purchase new equipment that could be used for repressive purposes. International pressure must be intensified to persuade the Syrian regime to stop violence and open the way to a peaceful democratic transition.
The EU has the responsibility to continue its involvement in obtaining a firm and coordinated position from the international community, including the United Nations. After 11 months of uprising, the humanitarian situation is extremely difficult in many areas of Syria. In these circumstances, the European Commission’s decision of January on providing humanitarian assistance is welcomed. It is, however, necessary to reinforce the capacities of the EU Mission in Damascus in humanitarian matters. I draw your attention, in this context, to the need to provide the necessary support to the European citizens residing on Syrian territory.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) The motion for a resolution forcefully condemns, as has already occurred in the past, the abominable use of violence by the Syrian regime in order to repress the people’s uprising through bloodshed. I endorse the call by this House on Assad to step down, along with his ruthless government, and to allow the Syrian people the possibility to secure a different future, despite the concerns that Syria may, in any case, fall into the hands of other ferocious political figures. In adopting this resolution, we condemn the Russian and Chinese veto at the UN, which has prevented a faster solution to the Syrian crisis, and we rightly ask Russia, as the principal supplier of weapons to Assad’s regime, to cease sales of military hardware to Damascus immediately. I voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution, which I fully endorse.
Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution on the situation in Syria because I share the concerns expressed regarding the serious episodes of repression which have been occurring in that country for many months. The demonstrations by those who call for reforms leading to greater democracy in Syria are being constantly and brutally repressed by the armed forces which, acting under orders from the government, react with torture, mass killings and the bombing of towns and villages, as stated in the United Nations reports. I endorse the appeal to the Syrian Government to cease all violence against civilians in order to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms, which have, for too long, been denied, are respected. I also support the call on the European Union to make greater efforts on the international stage in the defence of the oppressed Syrian people in such a way as to guarantee a common position within the United Nations Assembly and, in particular, the Security Council.
Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – President Bashar al-Assad’s regime must immediately end the violence, step aside and allow a peaceful and democratic transition in Syria. The numerous promises of reforms and amnesties by President Bashar al-Assad have never been honoured and the regime has lost all credibility and legitimacy. The systematic killings, violence and torture have dramatically escalated and the Syrian army and security forces have continued to use targeted killings, torture and mass arrests. The UN estimates that the death toll in Syria has exceeded 5 400 during the 11 month-long uprising and at least 69 000 have been detained. I call on the European Council to take a joint decision to recall all ambassadors from Syria and to freeze diplomatic contacts with Syrian ambassadors in EU Member States. I further urge the High Representative, Cathy Ashton, to reinforce the EU Delegation in Damascus with humanitarian capacity, and to do the same wherever else it is necessary in the region. We must actively support a genuine transition to democracy which meets the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and is based on an inclusive dialogue involving all democratic forces and components of Syrian society.
Arnaud Danjean (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I supported and participated in the drafting of this resolution in order to respond quickly to an unprecedented deterioration of the situation in Syria. I therefore voted in favour of this text, which calls for the regime to end the atrocities committed, to support the initiatives undertaken by the Arab League to end the crisis, and to strongly condemn the support shown by Russia and China for the Syrian regime.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Apart from the significance of this House speaking with a single voice and the repeated appeals in this resolution, which I was one of the first to sign, against the basely orchestrated massacre of a people, I believe that the whole international community must keep up constant and daily pressure on the Syrian regime, which should involve implementing new restrictive measures. Although I am perfectly aware that a democratic Syria needs a period of transition and guarantees for all of its minorities, I believe that the EU and the international community are already too late toughening up their action. As I said in plenary, we must give more concrete support to the Arab League. We need to give our unreserved support to the work of the Red Crescent in its efforts to mitigate the suffering of the people. The International Criminal Court must begin taking steps immediately to punish those responsible for the crimes against humanity that are being committed. In addition, as a form of pressure on countries that have kept up their support for Assad, all EU trade with Russian or Chinese companies that have trade relations with Syria should be banned.
Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) While the situation in Syria continues to escalate, the European Union must keep up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad and persevere with its work with regard to Russia and China, who are blocking the draft Security Council resolution. Russia must also stop delivering arms to the Syrian Government. We appeal for support for all international initiatives, including those of the Arab League and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Member States must demand that Syria immediately cease the attacks and intolerable repression being suffered by civilians. We cannot turn a blind eye to such an escalation of violence.
Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – Voting in favour of this motion regarding the dreadful situation of Syria represents this Parliament’s duty to rapidly, jointly and strongly respond to the Syrian army’s massive violation of human rights in the country. My vote in favour of this motion has to be read as my strong personal concern about the killings, tortures and mass arrests in Syria. The European Parliament, with this document, is sending a clear message to Assad’s regime to immediately stop the crimes he has been perpetrating, reiterating its call for the regime to step aside in order to allow a peaceful and democratic transition to take place. The motion also deplores the behaviour of Russia and China towards the crisis, calling on their international responsibility as members of the Security Council of the United Nations. As a member of the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament, I want to stress the importance of Russia stopping its supply of weapons to Syria and to call on the European Union to set up a blacklist of companies that continue to deliver arms to the country.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report as I deplore the veto by Russia and China of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, thus voting against the proposal for peaceful transition put forward by the Arab League. Given the escalating violence in Syria, it is unacceptable that Russia, its main arms supplier, should continue to export arms there. Baroness Ashton should redouble her diplomatic efforts to secure the support of China and Russia for the important UN resolution, so that it will be possible to end the violent repression being carried out by the Syrian Government.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) On 15 December 2011, I said that, despite the promises made at that time by Bashar al-Assad regarding a new constitution, free elections, and freedom of the individual and of association, reality showed that these had not, to date, gone beyond empty declarations, which is something we are bound to lament. The recent events in the city of Homs demonstrate the lengths to which the Syrian regime is capable of going in order to retain power, and make the urgent need for an international reaction even more glaring, in order to put a stop to this type of atrocity and ensure that there is a subsequent transition to democracy and the rule of law. I am bound to lament Russia and China blocking international action in the UN Security Council. This inaction means that this intolerable state of affairs, in which entire populations have been sacrificed, will continue, as senior human rights figures at the UN and many other credible organisations keep on telling us. The European Union should stand firm in its condemnation of the Syrian regime, and should be active in seeking a political solution enabling an end to the hostilities and leading to safety for the people and respect for their rights.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The political situation being experienced in Syria is scandalising the international community, which is an impotent onlooker to the butchering of the Syrian people that has been going on for more than 11 months and has resulted in over 5 000 deaths. Parliament has not been indifferent, having condemned the bloody repression ordered by President Bashar al-Assad on a number of occasions. However, the sanctions approved by this House, by the Arab League and by the UN Security Council have had no effect. The vetoes by Russia and China that prevented more drastic action against the Syrian regime are regrettable. The Syrian opposition needs international help in order to achieve regime change, establish democracy and bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice. I voted for this joint motion for a resolution, tabled to replace the proposals of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. This is because, in addition to condemning the veto by Russia and China in the Security Council, it calls for an end to atrocities against the Syrian people and for the creation of a humanitarian corridor enabling aid for all Syrians, who are suffering greatly.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The veiled threat of military aggression against Syria has been becoming increasingly clear. The consequences of this choice could be tragic and could destabilise even further the already unstable Middle East. This is the same modus operandi that led to NATO’s military attacks on Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya: fostering internal divisions, using secret services and special forces to intervene, and funding and arming the ‘opposition’, along with a campaign of despicable media manipulation.
None of these interventions had positive consequences for those peoples. In addition to thousands of deaths and the destruction of important infrastructure, they have cleared political space for those countries’ most reactionary and retrograde forces. With this resolution, the majority in Parliament are impeding the peaceful solution that is needed. They are backing disrespect for the sovereignty of the Syrian people, and refusing to support national dialogue and diplomatic efforts within the UN to prevent the internal situation from escalating. They are on the side of the NATO powers, and of the region’s obscurantist and reactionary monarchies in funding and supplying arms for the groups that have been attacking civilian populations and public buildings, and abducting and killing innocent civilians.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) According to UN estimates, more than 6 000 people – including 400 children – have been killed, many others have been wounded, thousands have been detained – including 380 children – and tens of thousands are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries or have been internally displaced in Syria since March 2011 by a regime that oppresses its own people. Towns and villages throughout Syria are surrounded and bombarded, access to food and basic needs is extremely difficult, and many Syrians are facing a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation due to displacement. Despite widespread international condemnation of the violence and human rights violations, which include torture and sexual violence, the crimes against humanity are continuing, targeting peaceful civilians, including children. There is a risk that the polarised situation in Syria will even lead to civil war. President Bashar al-Assad’s numerous promises of reforms and promises to grant amnesties were never implemented, and the regime has thus lost all credibility.
Moreover, there are growing calls for the President to step down. Syria is now undoubtedly facing extremely serious problems, which call for intervention by the competent European institutions. It is essential for the EU to take more vigorous steps in an effort to assist peaceful political transformation in this area.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) In mid-March, it will be one year since the Syrian people began taking to the streets daily to protest against the current regime and demand greater democracy. It will also be one year since Bashar al-Assad began clinging to power, completely immune to the demands of his people, by using all means at his disposal to crush the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people. According to United Nations estimates, more than 5 000 Syrians have been killed and tens of thousands imprisoned. For all these reasons, I voted for this resolution, which condemns this brutal repression by the Syrian authorities and Russia’s and China’s blocking of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria. In this way, we reaffirm Parliament’s full support for the Syrian people and call for a political solution to end the violence as quickly as possible.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) Today, we are adopting our ninth text on Syria. How many more will be necessary before the international community takes responsibility for Bashar al-Assad’s regime? This is no longer the time for declarations of intention while the regime brutally represses uprisings in the city of Homs. We therefore call on the international community to adopt tougher sanctions to maintain international pressure on the Syrian regime.
We are also calling for action to be undertaken to protect the Syrian people, who are the victims of this bloody and unacceptable repression. Only through the mobilisation and coordinated action of all those involved can we maintain the pressure to overcome the Assad regime.
Jacky Hénin and Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL) , in writing. – (FR) We are voting against this resolution.
We can only watch as Syria finds itself at a serious impasse. The fate of the Syrian people at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and this ferocious repression are horrifying. We condemn this regime and its policies. All the same, we must find another route than that presented to us in this resolution.
In fact, paragraphs 15 and 18 are part of the strategy recently set out by the Arab League for sending a ‘force’ to Syria. Sending in such a force without the agreement of all those involved, particularly the Syrian authorities, is impossible without military intervention.
However, the Syrian Government, like the democrats and progressives in this country, have rejected this proposal. By repeating this in more ambiguous terms, Parliament would be supporting a highly dangerous political and military escalation.
Indeed, it takes us back to the situation of some weeks ago, when France had already proposed humanitarian corridors and Turkey a no-fly zone. Once again, it all comes down to pressure for military intervention, an implicit pressure expressed in a language which conceals the risks of all-out civil war in the country and of foreign occupation.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because it once again calls on the Bashar al-Assad regime to end the violence against the Syrian people, to remove troops and tanks from cities, and release all detained protesters, political prisoners, human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, and give international humanitarian and human rights organisations, as well as international media, full access to the country. There must be prompt, independent and transparent investigations into the widespread, systematic and gross violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities, military and security forces with the aim of ensuring that all those responsible for these acts, which equate to crimes against humanity, are held to account by the international community. The country must make a peaceful and genuine transition to democracy because this meets the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and is based on an inclusive dialogue involving all democratic forces and components of Syrian society with a view to launching a process of deep democratic reform that takes account of the need to ensure national reconciliation.
Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution on Syria. The EU and the world have to finally rise up to the level of the standards to which they have committed themselves and put an end to the continuing exercise of violence by the Syrian regime against its own people. The continued ignoring by the Syrian Government of the appeals of the international community is bound to have a devastating effect on the human rights situation all over the world. The immediate goal is to stop immediately wide-scale human rights violations including mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill treatment of detainees. The EU has to put more pressure on Russia and China to join the joint UN Security Council resolution without further delay. Any proliferation of arms to Syria from third countries has to be eliminated. It is a disgrace that Russia proclaims its support for a negotiated settlement but, at the same time, keeps delivering weapons to Syria. Finally, I stress the call made in the resolution for the European Council to recall its ambassadors from Syria and freeze all diplomatic relations with Syria until the conflict is resolved.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – In adopting this resolution, the European Parliament is showing that there is growing unity and strength against the Syrian regime. Bashar al-Assad’s leadership is completely discredited both at home and abroad. His proposal to submit a new constitution to a referendum in a nation at war is inconceivable. Those responsible for the continuing systematic killing of civilians and massive human rights violations should be brought to justice and held accountable for their deeds.
Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (CS) I consider it significant that the European Parliament is trying to take a unified position on the current situation in Syria. Even though there are bloody conflicts in several locations worldwide, the conflict in Syria is attracting the most attention, not only because of the propaganda campaign but also because it presents the most dangerous threat of escalation. Our stance on the civil war in Syria must be based on the tragic historical experience of our own part of the world, and on the European humanist tradition. It must be based on the need to defend peace and human life. In my opinion, the greatest obstacle to achieving this goal is the unwillingness of certain armed groups to come to the negotiating table. This unwillingness stems from a conviction of inevitable victory over the government by means of violence, as a result of the expected support of NATO. It is highly likely that someone from abroad is supporting these armed groups in their rejection of negotiation. This fact is also reflected in the arming of, and media support for, the uprising. I am not coming forward in any way as a defender of the current regime in Damascus. I simply have a firm belief that, even after the events in Libya, the only path to peace is through compromise and reform. I consider the attempts at violent regime change from abroad in selected states as wholly unacceptable. I would like to make the elementary point that the UN Charter is based on the principle of sovereignty of individual states. Any other approach will only increase chaos in an already unstable world.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The situation in Syria is becoming increasingly serious. Since March 2011, which is to say, the start of the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators, systematic killings and acts of violence have dramatically intensified, and the army and the Syrian security forces continue to respond with targeted killings, torture and mass arrests. According to United Nations estimates, more than 5 000 people have lost their lives. It is necessary to carry out prompt, independent and transparent investigations into these widespread violations in order to ensure that all of those responsible for these acts are held to account by the international community.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This text condemns in the strongest possible terms the brutal repression of the Syrian people by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It calls for the regime to stand down immediately. It calls for the borders to be opened for humanitarian aid, human rights organisations and journalists.
For this reason, I support it. However, this text calls on Baroness Ashton to start discussions with Turkey, the Arab League and the Syrian opposition about arrangements for setting up humanitarian corridors at the Syrian-Turkish borders. Humanitarian corridors require sending in military forces to protect them. It is inconceivable that such negotiations take place in any other context than that of the UN.
This text ignores this obligation. Binding clauses preventing the risk of military escalation must be clearly and explicitly guaranteed. Nothing of the sort is called for here. I am voting against this text out of suspicion.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The EU must continue to press for the end of the unspeakable situation in Syria. The EU must continue to toughen the sanctions it adopted months ago. This is about fighting the crimes against humanity which have been committed every day for almost a year against a population who are demanding more freedom and democracy. It is high time to establish a peacekeeping force tasked with providing humanitarian aid. It is high time to press for the departure of Bashar al-Assad, to create pockets of protection and humanitarian corridors, to prohibit Syrian aircraft from flying over Syrian territory, and to protect and lend our support to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). We cannot be witnesses or accomplices to this bloodshed, which does not discriminate between women, men and children. The European Commission has decided to release emergency aid of EUR 3 million to ease the suffering of the Syrian people. We can only salute this initiative.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Brutal repression and army operations against the population have continued in Syria for months. Thousands of Syrian citizens have been killed, wounded, detained or internally displaced, or have fled to Turkey or another neighbouring country. All of this creates a humanitarian crisis in the area and constitutes a threat to regional stability in general. I voted in favour of the resolution.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. – (IT) For too many months now, we have been powerlessly witnessing violence of all kinds in Syria; the ruling regime has dramatically lost most of its support throughout the country, and is therefore reacting according to the methods typical of those at the end of a period of absolute power who do not want to face up to reality. In such situations, it is always preferable to find a political solution to the situation: therefore, the veto exercised on 4 February by Russia and China in relation to the draft resolution of the United Nations Security Council, which was moving in the right direction with the necessary cooperation of the Arab League, must be condemned. The Middle East has always been a very critical area, and the instability of a country may cause negative repercussions throughout the region. It is therefore necessary to take action as quickly as possible in an attempt to resolve the situation. I believe that the European Parliament has done the right thing today in expressing this position and, for this reason, I support the joint motion for a resolution.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – In exerting their veto right in the UN Security Council, Russia and China chose to share responsibility with the al-Assad regime for the increasing death toll of civilians and children, for the crimes against humanity and the continuation of violence (Russia and China voted also against UN Human Rights Council Resolution establishing the mandate of a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Syria and calling for human rights violations to stop and to be investigated). I do not believe this position gives credits in internal politics; the citizens of Russia must be wondering whether tolerance to the deeds of the al-Assad regime means such measures against opposition are also an option internally. The EU must utilise its dialogues with both China and Russia to persuade them to stand on the side of universal values (especially since the EU-Russia strategic and extensive partnership is declared to be built upon common values). The EU High Representative should bring a clear mandate and a united EU position to the meeting of Friends of Syria. Time is scarce, as every day takes the country closer to the vicious circle of violence, revenge, militarisation and humanitarian disaster, threatening the whole region and beyond.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The resolution adopted by the European Parliament on the situation in Syria shows us the reality of events within a country which, due to the craving for power of its ‘dictator’, risks descending into a fully-fledged civil war. In addition to the EU, which is ready to recall all ambassadors from Syria and to freeze diplomatic contacts with Syrian ambassadors in the Member States, the King of Jordan and Turkey have also called for Assad to leave power. I hope that the international appeal will also reach Russia, with the hope that it will stop selling arms to Syria. Russia and China should withdraw their veto of the resolution tabled in the Security Council in order to restart procedures relating to Syria.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) The joint motion for a resolution by the European Parliament on the situation in Syria is the result of the escalating and continuing violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations in the country, which has been going on for nearly a year now. UNICEF estimates that about 400 children have fallen victim to the suppression and the UN estimates that the death toll in Syria has exceeded 5 400 in the course of the 11 month-long uprising, and that thousands of other citizens have been wounded and at least 69 000 have been detained. This paints a picture of a humanitarian crisis in this country. Clearly, the international community has already delayed massively in taking effective action against the Syrian Government, as various approaches and conflicting aims have restricted it. In this resolution, which I supported, the European Parliament has taken a clear position.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution. Its most important element is the European Parliament’s support for the European Commission decision, of 3 February 2012, to provide EUR 3 million in humanitarian aid to minimise the suffering of the populations, both of Syria and of neighbouring countries.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Over the course of recent months, the European Parliament has been insistently drawing attention to the situation in Syria. It is currently estimated that there have been over 5 400 deaths in Syria. For its part, the city of Homs has been continuously bombarded; the fear is that the Syrian armed forces will move towards the final solution of destroying the city. At international level, despite the Arab League condemning the conduct of the Syrian authorities, the UN Security Council has chosen not to adopt a position on Syria because of the veto by Russia and China. As such, the pressure on the Syrian Government must be kept up, so that it will quickly change the course of its political actions, in order to change the course of events definitively, at some point. That is why I voted for this joint motion for a resolution.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The EP cannot remain silent. We should condemn in the strongest terms the escalation of the Syrian regime’s violent and brutal attacks again its own people and, in particular, in the city of Homs, the third biggest Syrian urban centre, that is suffering from continuous and heavy shelling since the beginning of February. Time has come to urge the Syrian regime to end immediately the killing of civilians, to withdraw the Syrian troops from besieged cities, and to release all detained protesters, political prisoners, human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In the light of the ongoing deterioration in the situation in Syria, efforts by the EU are continuing to increase pressure on Assad’s regime and to attempt to restart diplomatic initiatives, in concert with the Arab League, following the veto in the Security Council. The EU has been asserting since 18 August that Assad has lost all legitimacy and must step aside, a position which has been reasserted several times by us, the Members of the European Parliament.
The list of individuals subject to restrictive measures was extended by the Foreign Affairs Council in November, and then again on 23 January (which now includes 108 individuals and 38 bodies), in parallel with the suspension of European Investment Bank loans to Syria. Sanctions were imposed in September within the oil sector and on investments, and were reinforced on 1 December, to which measures relating to telephone and Internet interception equipment have also been added. A further extension of the EU’s package of sanctions is currently being examined, the impact of which on the civilian population must be minimised.
Our hope is that the many acts of repression will finally lead to the rediscovery of democracy in the country.
Michèle Striffler (PPE), in writing. – (FR) According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, one and a half million Syrians need international aid to feed themselves. The consequences of repression are affecting the lives of almost 3 million Syrians. It is possible that more than 5 400 are dead and more than 15 000 have been displaced, mainly to Turkey. In response to this revolt from the Syrian people, the repression led by Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, continues without intervention from the international community because Russia and China are blocking all action by the UN Security Council. This intolerable situation must end and I call on Baroness Ashton to do everything possible to ensure the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution, in cooperation with Russia and China. This is why I voted in favour of the resolution on the situation in Syria.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I consider it regrettable that Russia and China vetoed the United Nations resolution, so preventing the peaceful transition advocated by the Arab League. I also condemn the brutal use of force against peaceful demonstrators and the systematic persecution of pro-democracy activists. I am therefore voting for this European Parliament resolution. In this way, I hope the violence against the Syrian people will stop, and am also counting on the efforts of the Arab League.
Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The Greek Communist Party voted against and condemns the unacceptable joint motion for a resolution by the European Parliament on the situation in Syria, which is blatant interference in developments in an independent country. Once again, the European Parliament is at the vanguard of imperialist violence, paving the way for intervention in Syria. It is an insult for the political face of the monopolies which supports Israel, refuses the Palestinian people the right to a sovereign and independent state and strikes at the rights of workers in the EU Member States to present itself as the defender of grassroots freedoms. With barefaced cheek, they are calling the equipping and military training of armed mercenaries and the arms trading on the Turkish-Syrian border humanitarian aid. They are cultivating a climate of war in order to justify open imperialist intervention in the area by the EU, NATO and the US. They are using the same method as in Libya, where the European Parliament demanded a no-fly zone, thereby paving the way for the imperialist intervention and war against the Libyan people. The Syrian people and the nations in the area alone have the right to resolve the internal political problems in their countries and to decide on their fate, by fighting capitalist exploitation and overturning imperialist machination and intervention.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – This joint motion for a resolution is proposed by the major political groups; they harshly judge the Assad regime and what it is doing to the civil society; the resolution calls on the President to abandon power and allow a smooth transition; the text also talks about the EU code of conduct with regard to arms sales, recalling that all exports to this country are banned; finally, the groups take advantage of the resolution to congratulate the High Representative for promoting the creation of a contact group of countries – where Turkey is included – that will help democracy to arrive in Syria.
Zbigniew Ziobro (EFD), in writing. – (PL) I am strongly opposed to any attacks on civilians. The situation in Syria, however, is not as straightforward as it may seem, and it is closely linked with the events unfolding throughout the region. This is not just another part of the Arab revolution; it is also a struggle for influence between the West and the Russo-Iranian tandem. Without the consent of those states, therefore, President Assad cannot be removed from power. The most recent meeting of the UN Security Council was a prime example. We should also remember that the situation in Syria is not as unambiguous as some sources report. The President still enjoys considerable support, in particular, in large cities, and the Alawites and the Christian community which support him represent over 30% of society.
For all these years, the authorities in Damascus have eased religious conflicts, inter alia by banning the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, in districts of Homs and Idlib which have been abandoned by the army, there are ongoing clashes between the Alawites and the Sunnis. We thus have to assume that after the fall of Assad, there will be an escalation in sectarian strife. There is no close tie between the Syrian National Council residing in Istanbul and the demonstrators dying in the streets of Homs. Nevertheless, the European Union should strongly condemn the killing of unarmed civilians, including children, who account for over 10% of the victims of this conflict. We should put pressure on Assad to organise humanitarian corridors and allow the civilian population to leave the besieged cities, which would greatly reduce the losses caused by the fighting.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution and would stress the importance of the Member States of the European Union maintaining common positions on key issues that will be debated in the United Nations Human Rights Council; specifically, on freedom of expression online, on the rights of children, and on torture and arbitrary detention in Syria, Libya, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Burma/Myanmar, Iran and Côte d’Ivoire. I would stress the importance of the Member States bringing their positions together at mini-councils on foreign policy, so as to always ensure a single European Union standpoint internationally. I believe the European Union’s credibility depends on its ability to speak with one voice. In addition to this tactical issue, there is a particular need to extol the issue of the principles underlying these debates: human dignity and human rights should always come first and guide the EU’s stance in international politics.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution on Parliament’s position on the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The UNHRC is a specific forum dealing with human rights within the UN system and is entrusted with the important task of strengthening the promotion, protection and respect of human rights around the globe. We, Members of the European Parliament, welcome the designation of Burma/Myanmar, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Syria, Libya and Iran as key issues, as those issues are also priorities of the EU. We also reiterate once more the call to EU Member States to actively oppose any attempt to undermine the concept of universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights. We also condemn in the strongest terms the widespread brutal repression and systematic violations of human rights by the Syrian regime against its population, including children, and call on the Syrian authorities to bring an immediate end to violence and to comply with their obligations under international human rights law in order to allow a peaceful and democratic transition. In this regard, the decision to establish the mandate of special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Syria is highly welcomed.
Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The European Union cannot sit helplessly by when confronted with the violations of human rights and political freedoms occurring in countries in which democracy has recently been established. The Union promotes respect for fundamental rights and democracy throughout the world, and is legally bound to respect them by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Consequently, it must take action in order to ensure that the protection of these rights is a priority within the activities of the United Nations and accordingly provide its full support to actions carried out within that context. I am pleased with the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council and hope that its next meeting will be concluded with further progress on this score. I hope, above all, that the obstacle created within the Security Council regarding the situation in Syria will quickly be overcome. Unacceptable violations of human rights are ongoing and the international community cannot remain silent. Thousands of prisoners are suffering torture and sexual violence every day, including around 400 children. We cannot permit such violence to occur or to be repeated.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because it stresses Parliament’s strong support for the EU’s active participation in the work of the UN Human Rights Council and the importance of holding common positions on the key issues that will be discussed during the 19th session of the Council. It is fundamental to underline that, with regard to human rights issues, all international actors must work for the elimination of double standards and for the avoidance of selectivity and politicisation.
For these reasons, with this resolution, we express our concerns regarding the persistence of the practice of ‘bloc politics’ which continue to affect the selection of the countries receiving the UNHRC’s attention. This practice indeed is having a negative impact on its authority and credibility.
In view of this, I also believe in the necessity, for the EU and its Member States, to ensure that human rights are fully respected in internal policies, in order to increase consistency between internal and external policies and to enhance their moral authority on the international scene.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The European Union considers human rights to be universal and indivisible, and it takes an active role in enforcing and protecting them both within its own borders and in its relations with third countries. The EU has incorporated human rights in detailed laws which I recognise and support. I therefore voted in favour of this motion for a resolution. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy visited Parliament in December 2011 and presented her statement in which she placed human rights and democracy at the heart of EU foreign policy activities. In this context, I would also like to draw attention to the point of this document which stresses the EU’s active participation in the work of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). I note with regret that the High Representative will not be attending its next session. Out of the countries with problematic human rights situations, I am particularly familiar with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Based on the personal experience I obtained during the November 2011 election observations, I find that the presence of independent human rights experts in the country is indispensable.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because with it, the European Parliament has expressed its position on the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council and issues that are due to be discussed at it. The European Parliament has welcomed the fact that priority debates are scheduled on the situation in Burma, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Iran. Parliament also views positively the fact that the agenda includes panel discussions on human rights mainstreaming, freedom of expression on the Internet, freedom of religion or belief and conscience, discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, human rights and HIV/AIDS, and the Declaration of the Rights of Minorities, as well as extensive meetings on the rights of the child, and on torture, human rights and counter-terrorism, disappearances and arbitrary detention.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Human rights are part of our joint heritage in the West, but long ago left their confines to be asserted as increasingly universal and applicable worldwide. The European Union is therefore doing well to make them central to its foreign policy; the European Parliament particularly so, by becoming involved in the most important fora on the issue. I hope that the Union will live up to its history at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council, and will contribute to asserting these rights on the global agenda. In the same way, I hope that we will collectively be able to moderate the generous impulse to classify all rights as ‘human’ and ‘fundamental’, otherwise we will reduce the dignity and importance of those that truly are. I believe that bloating these categories of rights does not contribute to asserting them, but rather risks trivialising them.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This motion for a resolution, tabled pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure following the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Lady Ashton, concerns Parliament’s position on the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Respect for human rights is one of the most pertinent issues debated in the European Parliament, and there is currently a review under way of its position in this regard. This issue should be demanded as a prerequisite for realising any aid recommended in all its draft agreements or partnerships with third countries. I voted for this motion for a resolution, since it mirrors Parliament’s concerns in this regard and suggests the important issues to be tackled at the 19th session of the UNHRC: the situation being experienced in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and in other countries where fundamental human rights are not being respected. Finally, I should like to welcome the presence of a delegation from Parliament at the 19th session of the UNHRC to represent our interests there.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This resolution supports the European Union’s priorities for the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The EU’s hypocritical agenda on human rights is nothing new: it points the finger at countries where it has an interest in economic, geostrategic, political or diplomatic domination, ignoring ‘friends’ or even human rights violations within its own borders. Moreover, there is much to say about these violations in and/or by the EU. They hypocritically pronounce themselves in favour of the ‘indivisibility’ and ‘universality’ of human rights, but have a restrictive understanding of these rights, promoting sordid IMF-EU plans that jeopardise them and imposing unheard-of steps backwards socially by compromising peoples’ right to sovereignty and development. It is also notorious that no clear mention – or any mention, in some cases – is made of the systematic human rights violations by the United States at the illegal base of Guantánamo in Cuba, of the massacres of thousands of civilians by NATO in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya, of the occupation of Western Sahara and the violation of its people’s rights, or of the upholding of Israel’s policy of apartheid over the people of Palestine and of the blockade against Gaza, amongst many other examples.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Respect for, and the promotion and safeguarding of, the universality of human rights forms one of the cornerstones of European unity and integrity. The EU and its Member States should guarantee respect for human rights in their own policies, in order to increase coherence between internal and external policies, thus enhancing the credibility of the EU and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It is therefore pleasing to see on the agenda of the 19th regular session, among other things, panel discussions on human rights mainstreaming, freedom of expression on the Internet, freedom of religion or belief and conscience, discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, human rights and HIV/AIDS, and the Declaration of the Rights of Minorities, as well as extensive meetings on the rights of the child, and on torture, human rights and counter-terrorism, disappearances and arbitrary detention. I firmly believe that EU Member States must encourage the UNHRC to pay equal attention to the question of discrimination on all grounds, including gender, race, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief.
Member States must take an active part in discussions on submitted reports covering, among other things, the human rights situation in North Korea, Iran and Burma/Myanmar, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, the situation of human rights defenders and freedom of religion or belief.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – The work of the UN Human Rights Council is of great importance to monitoring and protecting human rights globally, and holding violators to international accountability. The 19th session of the Human Rights Council will be of great importance against the background of the urgent human rights situation in Syria, Iran and Tibet. While I remain hopeful that these urgent issues, among others, will meet with concrete solutions at the upcoming session, I must also express my concern at some key issues concerning the work and structure of the Council. The first is the ongoing practice of ‘bloc politics’, which affects the selection of countries and situations receiving attention in the Council. The second relates to the Council’s membership criteria that allow countries which violate human rights to criticise human rights violations. The EU’s engagement with the Council is essential for promoting respect for human rights, and thus I welcome our participation in the regular work of the Council and at special sessions. Our involvement allows us to express our concerns, strengthen the Council’s credibility and influence the decisions taken, to the benefit of human rights. This current resolution illustrates our key messages and concerns, with reference to the upcoming session, and therefore I voted in favour of it.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I support the document, because respect for, and the promotion and safeguarding of, the universality of human rights is part of the European Union’s ethical and legal acquis and one of the cornerstones of European unity and integrity. The review of EU human rights policy should contribute to EU foreign policy being a more active, more consistent and more effective force in the world. The EU and its Member States should guarantee respect for human rights in their own policies in order to increase coherence between internal and external policies and thus enhance the credibility of the EU in the UNHRC. All international actors must work for the elimination of double standards and the avoidance of selectivity and politicisation in the consideration of human rights issues. The UNHRC is a unique platform specialising in universal human rights and a specific forum dealing with human rights within the UN system.. It is entrusted with the important task of strengthening the promotion of, protection of and respect for human rights throughout the world.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, in which the European Parliament reiterates once more its call on EU Member States to further lead by example in supporting the universality of the work of the Human Rights Council, notably, in ratifying all international human rights instruments which it has established. It regrets, in particular, that no EU Member State has ratified the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, that several Member States have not yet adopted and/or ratified the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and that only one Member State has ratified the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and reiterates its call to all EU Member States to ratify these.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The respect for, and the promotion and safeguarding of, the universality of human rights are part of the European Union’s ethical and legal acquis and one of the cornerstones of European unity and integrity. For this reason, the ongoing review of the EU’s human rights policy should contribute to making its foreign policy a more active, coherent and effective force around the world. Within this perspective, I agree with the EU’s priorities for the 19th session of the Human Rights Council. I voted in favour.
Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (ES) I share the view that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a unique platform specialising in universal human rights and a forum that deals specifically with human rights within the United Nations system. I also believe it is entrusted with the important task of strengthening the promotion, protection and respect of human rights around the globe. However, I cannot agree with its criticism of Russia and China for using their veto in the United Nations, as in my view, they have used that veto precisely to avoid a war like the one we saw in Libya. I also disagree with the concept of responsibility to protect, as this argument can be used to justify military interventions such as the one in Libya. I therefore abstained.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – It is important to find more common positions on key issues that will be discussed during the 19th session, notably freedom of expression on the Internet, rights of the child, torture, disappearance and arbitrary detention, as well as countries’ situations: notably Syria, Libya, Burma/Myanmar and Iran. I think it will be useful to speak with