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Procedure : 2011/2244(INI)
Document stages in plenary
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Texts tabled :

A7-0041/2012

Debates :

PV 12/03/2012 - 17
CRE 12/03/2012 - 17

Votes :

PV 13/03/2012 - 8.4
CRE 13/03/2012 - 8.4
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0069

Debates
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

9. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
PV
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Kurt Lechner (A7-0045/2012)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, this report on the authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession seeks to give legal clarification that the law of one EU Member State can apply in the case of when a deceased person owns property in more than one Member State.

I am, however, unable fully to support it. I am particularly concerned with the issue of clawback, which raises uncertainty in a person’s estate, suggesting that their decisions pre-death may not be final. In England and Wales, we operate a system where the individual has the right to decide the apportionment of their estate. Importantly, this gives individuals the right to freely choose whether they would like to give a portion of this to a charity, for example, after their death. No EU legislation should interfere with this personal decision.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Madam President, I would also like to give my sincere congratulations to the rapporteur, Mr Lechner. If our job is to create a little more legal certainty for the citizens of Europe and a little more trust in the European Union, then Mr Lechner has, in my opinion, submitted a very good report today. It deserves our admiration. We have introduced a proposal which, firstly, guarantees legal certainty in issues of international succession and, secondly, gives European citizens the option of choosing between the inheritance law of the country where they live or of their home country. In my view, this is a significant move towards self-determination for the citizens of the EU. We believe that this will simplify considerably the administration of estates in Europe. In addition, this is a successful step towards implementing a European internal market and a European legal culture.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE). – Madam President, I wish to explain on behalf of the Irish EPP delegation that we abstained from the vote on the Lechner report because the Irish Government expressed reservations about this report in regard to the use of habitual residence as the connecting factor in the absence of a choice of law, the effect of the regulation on the system of administration which exists in Ireland and the issue of lifetime gifts or clawback.

While some progress was made on the issue of habitual residence, the issue of administration of estates and the restoration of lifetime gifts or clawback were not resolved to Ireland’s satisfaction.

As a result, Ireland has not opted into this proposed regulation in the Council and therefore, the EPP Fine Gael members have abstained on this vote because we have similar reservations.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, along with my group, the ECR, I abstained on the Lechner report on jurisdiction and matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. We agree with the report for the most part but found it difficult to agree on the clawback mechanism as this mechanism is alien to the legal system and traditions in England and Wales, which I represent.

We would be concerned, were it introduced, that it would adversely affect charities in the UK as it would affect the certainty with which they can view donations. The clawback mechanism applies retrospectively. There is potential for gifts or donations given to charities during the lifetime of a benefactor then being annulled by their legal heirs upon the benefactor’s death. Given the Council’s refusal to allow an exception on this point for the UK, we felt in the ECR that we could not opt into this regulation.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Lechner, which aims to simplify and streamline successions, especially cross-border successions. Obviously, the regulation cannot resolve all the problems and regulate every detail, but I think it would considerably improve the present legal position and thereby give EU citizens a clear and secure basis for arranging their succession.

The new choice-of-law right will make citizens more autonomous and, lastly, the Commission proposal will be improved as a result of the creation of an European Certificate of Succession, which can be issued by notaries and bodies competent in matters of succession.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, we are again reminded of the difference between the common law system that prevails in England and Ireland, and the Roman or Bonapartist model which prevails across most of the rest of the continent. Our system tends to exalt individual freedom and property rights over whatever notion of collective good, and this difference in succession laws is a neat illustration. To simplify, our system allows you far more leeway over bequeathing your property to whomever you like without the state coming in and declaring your will illegal.

Naturally enough, this report follows the prevalent model on the continent. We are reminded yet again that harmonisation more often than not puts us in the minority through no fault of the system; it is just that we are the odd ones out. We are reminded again of that little miracle that happened when the common law system was invented. This extraordinary, sublime idea that law does not emanate from the state, but rather that there was a folk right of existing law that even the king and his ministers were subject to. How it happened I do not know, but it served to make us a free people and that we have accepted this alien system as superior over it leaves us dwindled as a nation, diminished as a people.

 
  
  

Report: Sophia in ’t Veld (A7-0041/2012)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, one of the cross-cutting themes in this report is the call for wider representation of women on boards of companies, an aspiration that I entirely agree with. More diversity on boards, when twinned with effective selection procedures that put the correct focus on expertise and experience, has been proven to be good for corporate governance.

However, I cannot support the concept of mandatory quotas. Not only is it patronising to women, it is completely against the concept of shareholder engagement that we are all so keen to foster in European companies.

The best way to achieve meaningful, non-tokenistic representation of women on boards is by industry initiatives, such as the 30% club in the United Kingdom, which encourages business leaders to take affirmative action in moving voluntarily towards a better gender balance at all levels of their organisation.

This approach has the added benefit of encouraging institutional shareholders to take a positive role in promoting women to positions of leadership, but the real problem of gender equality exists one step down, at the management level. Correcting this will involve long-term planning.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Madam President, I voted against this report. I actually feel the need to thank the rapporteur for providing proof of the runaway integration frenzy that is permeating this whole institution. Reading through this report, there is hardly a detail out there in the Member States that I feel there is a need for the EU to interfere in. There was a time when we had something we called the principle of subsidiarity – that is to say, the condition that the EU would not interfere unless it was absolutely necessary. If the Member States could deal with a matter themselves, then they should do so. Reading through this report, I see no trace of this principle of subsidiarity: matrimonial law, day nurseries, registered partnerships, nursery school opening times, the definition of the concept of family, maternity leave and wage formation – all of this is included in this report as something that the EU should interfere in. If it was not actually laughable, it would be enough to make you cry. We already have regulations covering the likes of whether we can blow up balloons and whether we have to give the name of a fish in our mother tongue or in Latin. When will this integration frenzy stop?

 
  
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  Frank Vanhecke (EFD). (NL) Madam President, this report on equality between women and men in the European Union, which – if I am not mistaken – was voted through in the Committee by one man and 27 women, is full of politically correct platitudes and proposes an enormous amount of meddling by Europe in almost everything. That is why I did not support it, even though I, personally, of course, – like most people, fortunately – am fully convinced of the need for equal rights for men and women.

What strikes me about this report is that it takes pot shots at almost everything except today’s overriding taboo, and that is the growing wave of extremism in Europe and, by definition, especially discriminatory Islam. There is a brief passing reference to the so-called Arab Spring, but otherwise, there is a great silence on the issues thrown up by Islam in our own European countries, from headscarves, the symbol of subjugation, to the horror of genital mutilation.

My conclusion on this is: shame on us all.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, with today’s vote, Parliament is sending out its message once again: we are still very far from achieving equal opportunities at work. For consistency’s sake, I obviously voted against the final text of this report because a number of amendments on maternity leave and quotas for women were rejected.

A few days ahead of International Women’s Day, fine words remain just that; there is no use talking about equal opportunities if women are not then given the tools to achieve it. What sort of policy on work-life balance can achieve positive results if many businesses confine employees returning from maternity leave to increasingly marginal roles in order to encourage them to resign?

Advancing the cause of women means supporting change; enhancing their status is not only important in economic terms but is, above all, socially valuable. Today, this House calls on all women: we must fearlessly report all infringements and re-double our efforts in our everyday lives. That is the only way to successfully eradicate a backward mentality which, unfortunately, still holds sway in many places and is shared, regrettably, by many of my fellow Members, as I have seen today.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, this is an important requirement and one that must be supported, just as we must support the advancement of the status of women, not only in the workplace. Important progress has been made in recent decades, including through absolutely cutting-edge EU legislation.

Sixty per cent of our graduates are women but there is no doubt that accessing the world of work is tricky when women choose family life as well as work. The family needs to be safeguarded and protected, while the gender gap definitely has to be significantly reduced through well-defined social policies, greater working flexibility and, of course, by protecting vulnerable women. Let us remember that when it comes to trafficking in human beings, it is often women who are the victims, which is also an important subject to which yet further attention must be paid.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Madam President, the report by the Committee on Women’s Rights on equality between men and women in the EU highlights a number of ongoing concerns. I am pleased that the report addresses a number of these.

Firstly, I agree it is frustrating that progress on gender equality is slowing, if not at a standstill. We must address – especially in times of economic crisis where belts are tightening – the problem that women earn, on average, 17.5% less than men across the EU. Gender stereotypes, often leading to discrimination in the workplace, must also be addressed.

The call for the European observatory on gender-based violence to be made operational as soon as possible is fully supported, while I agree that the EU Victims’ Package must include provisions to support women who have been forced to marry or who have been the victims of genital mutilation as a result of religious practices.

However, the report goes on to call for EU influence over maternity leave, quotas for female representation in elected positions, the combating of gender-based violence through EU-wide legal instruments and pension rights, all of which I believe are better addressed at a national level rather than at a European level. On issues such as quotas, I firmly believe it is up to the nation state and national parties to decide how they will address the gender imbalance. There are many points of agreement within this report, but often it goes too far and I cannot support this.

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI).(BG) Madam President, I have a male friend in Bulgaria who says that his biggest dream is to be born a woman in his next life. This same friend of mine is making a very important statement: ‘The strength of women lies in their weakness’. I firmly believe in the truth of what my friend is saying. I also strongly believe that the suffragette movement nearly two centuries ago achieved much less than the wives of the lords achieved, who remained at home with their meek attitude to their lords.

This is why I cannot accept the aggressive approach and tone of the report from Ms in’ t Veld which, in my view, does a disservice to women. Even Ms in ’t Veld’s own group had tabled amendments to this report to tone it down.

As a further point, I would like to add that we have witnessed exceptional hypocrisy on this matter because, by waiving Ms Morvai’s immunity, this Parliament has punished her for defending women against domestic violence. The next moment, we will be adopting a resolution against domestic violence. I find this hypocrisy outrageous and oppose it.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE). – Madam President, I wish to explain some of my votes on this report. I abstained on paragraphs 1, 3, 5, 47 and Recital T. According to the principle of subsidiarity, these are issues within the competence of Member States and I do not see why these issues are included in this report.

But I did want to make one other point. Since the report has gone into all sorts of issues which are not the competence of the Parliament, why has it not gone into the issue of gendercide? There are 100 million women missing in the world because of gender-based abortion. If this report can go into all sorts of issues in relation to abortion and war and everything else, why is it that we can never hear from this author or this committee any concern about the destruction of women because they are women on such an extraordinary scale?

It is wholly unacceptable and I am flabbergasted that it has not been mentioned in this report.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Madam President, this report contains some positive statements regarding domestic violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriages, all of which made it difficult to vote against the report.

I acknowledge the gender pay gap is still very real and it is an unjust fact of today’s employment market. I do not underestimate the need to encourage more women into politics. However, it is difficult to support a report that calls for an EU-dictated maternity and paternity leave proposal, which is both damaging to women and small businesses and is socially regressive. It supports targets and quotas at EU level and it meddles in pensions and social security measures, a red line in my view.

Unfortunately, there are too many areas I cannot support and these drown out all the good the report can do. I was therefore forced to vote against this report.

 
  
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  Ioannis Kasoulides (PPE). – Madam President, my voting record always shows that I am in favour of the termination of pregnancy under certain strict medical and legal conditions. I am in favour of gay rights and so on, but I am afraid that this report has missed the opportunity for the whole House to be in agreement on the equality of men and women because it touched upon issues of strict subsidiarity, which is not acceptable because it provokes this Parliament to be divided where this Parliament should have been united.

That is why I have voted against this report and I hope that next time the opportunity is offered to deal with matters of gender equality, the subsidiary issues will be left for each society to decide the ethical and social issues that are its concern.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, I very much regret that this report, which should have been about reducing inequality and highlighting a very important issue in this respect, has not only strayed into areas which are solely within the remit of the Member State, but has also been used once again to press the case for the pro-abortion lobby across the EU.

As someone who believes firmly in the right to life of the unborn child, I cannot support the distortion of reports in this way. There are already great concerns at how abortion clinics carry out their work. Indeed, only two weeks ago in the UK, the Daily Telegraph revealed the availability of gender-based abortions in a private clinic in England. That is a practice that must end and reports would be more profitable if they were to uphold the right to life of young girls such as those highlighted in the Daily Telegraph report. Despite the merits of some aspects of the report, I cannot support it and regret the continued pursuance of reports in such a one-sided way.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI).(HU) Madam President, I voted against Ms in ’t Veld’s report on equality between women and men because it uses the suffering of masses of disenfranchised women as an alibi to achieve two contemptible goals. One of the goals of the report is to put additional enormous sums of money in the pockets of those close to the fire and their friends as EU financing for utterly redundant projects. Meanwhile, abused women and their children are like fugitives, without any option for legal protection, as seen for example in Hungary. Disenfranchised employees, female employees, at various multinational companies are not afforded any legal protection whatsoever. This whole affair is therefore one big sham.

The other major lie here is that in using disenfranchised women as an alibi, the report attempts to bring across its own agenda to legalise prostitution, extend abortion and force same-sex marriage on Member States. Nothing illustrates the extent of this lie better than how eagerly the drafters of this report raised their hands in support when it came to commencing a witch-hunt against a women’s rights advocate, that is, myself.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted against the in ’t Veld report on equality between men and women in the EU. The report, of course, has many positive elements on gender equality which I support, such as work in the field of preventing domestic violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, discrimination in the workplace and unequal pay for the same work.

However, the references, for example, to maternity leave, forced paternity leave at EU level, quotas for women on the board of directors, pension rights, and a kind of EU-level criminal-law sanctions approach to combating gender-based violence are a step too far in my view and they caused me to vote against it.

Lastly, matters to do with abortion are a personal conscience matter and, in my view, should be dealt with under subsidiarity by national parliaments and national governments and individual MPs, not MEPs.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, gender equality is enshrined in the Treaty on European Union and is one of the fundamental principles of the European Union. One of the worst stereotypes, and a demoralising example of discrimination, is the persistence of unjustified differences in pay between men and women for equal work and equal qualifications. In some cases, these differences even exceed 25%.

In the interest of the proper protection of children, whether before or after birth, I state my complete disagreement with the misleading use of the phrase ‘sexual and reproductive rights’, which includes some kind of pseudo-entitlement to abortion or the termination of pregnancy. I would, first and foremost, like to mention that the only fundamental human right that is expressly recognised, whether in European or in international documents, is the right to life. The declarations of the European Parliament should be consistent with this human rights approach.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). – Madam President, this report is supposed to be about equality between men and women in the European Union. I regret that once again, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality has strayed completely from the topic. This report is a missed opportunity to discuss gender equality and the persistent and gaping gender pay gap, still 17.5% according to paragraph 17, and yet there is only one small paragraph consisting of four-and-a-half lines dealing with this. Instead, the focus of this report was diverted to abortion, reproductive rights and the definition of the family, all of which are subsidiarity matters.

I voted against paragraph 47, reproductive rights and access to abortion; paragraph 58, reproductive and health services; paragraph 61, access to abortion for victims of rape in armed conflict. Mr Messerschmidt, Mr Kasoulides, Mr Tannock have all emphasised that the vast majority of the matters being dealt with are matters of subsidiarity. I voted against the report in total.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Madam President, regarding the report by my colleague, Ms in ’t Veld, I would first like to say that, in my view, reports of this type do not really fall within the remit of the European Parliament, as most of the issues dealt with therein are for the Member States themselves to decide upon, under the principle of subsidiarity.

There again, this report was also very inconsistent as regards its content. Furthermore, from point 33 onwards, the numbering was wrong, and that consequently caused a good deal of confusion.

I can only say that I voted against this report, on account of its content, and because it does not fall within the remit of this European Parliament. In my opinion, we should always be in favour of life. I am a ‘pro-life’ person in every respect, and, unfortunately, this was not a report in defence of life. In that respect, at least, it could not meet with my approval.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, we will have to wait and see where the European Parliament stands on apple pie, but we now know its position on motherhood, and for many of the supporters of this report on equality between the sexes, it really is in that category.

Of course, if we were simply proposing equality of all citizens before the law, it would be very difficult for anyone to disagree. But what has happened is that this report has become a kind of general holdall receptacle for every current nostrum – quotas on company boards, quotas in political parties, abortion law, reproductive rights. I am not saying that there is not a case to be made for and against all of those issues, but surely they ought to be determined through our national democratic mechanisms and procedures?

If national parliaments cannot even decide sensitive and ethical questions [microphone momentarily switched off] accountable to their own electorates, what are they doing there? If, as independent countries, we cannot settle these matters for ourselves, let us quit all and give our vineyards to a barbarous people.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Madam President, genuine equality between women and men cannot be brought about by giving preference to women through quotas or other positive discrimination measures. Motherhood, raising children, as well as caring for family and close relatives contribute to the overall well-being of society at least as much as values created through working in a job or engaging in business. Equality does not mean a denial of the exceptionality of women, mothers, but the valuing of motherhood and allowing women freedom in their self-realisation. In this, however, the report failed.

Instead of supporting motherhood, the report underlines the value of abortion. Instead of supporting the family as the natural environment for birth and raising children, the report underlines bonds with persons other than heterosexuals. It is an outdated view of women’s rights, and I was therefore unable to support the report.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Madam President, like my colleagues Mr Higgins and Mr Mitchell, I also had difficulties with these proposals, in particular, that which relates to abortion and Member States’ powers. There was far too much in the report, as Mr Hannan said, and a lot of Members had to vote against it, despite being in favour of creating a balance between men and women. When you look at the world as it is at present and at the economic recession, one of the reasons we have an economic recession is that there are too many men in politics and too many men in companies, in particular, on company boards, and that should be corrected in future. Therefore, we have a lot of work to do and we must bring that forward as soon as we can. The proposals are here but they were intertwined with everything and a lot of people had to vote against it as a result of that.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI). (NL) Madam President, I voted against the report on equality between women and men in the European Union because some legitimate areas of concern, such as equal pay for equal work, are in danger of becoming lost in the mire of Utopian political correctness.

For example, it speaks of multiple discrimination, the victims of which are immigrant women. Why is it so difficult to tell the whole truth? Why is it so difficult to say openly that what this really refers to is the subordinate position of women in Islam? It is a pretty easy thing to do, to pretend that all cultures are equal and equivalent, only then to come crying that women in Islam have to put up with a subordinate position.

Things become totally surreal when the report states that there should be perfect parity between the Vice-Presidents of Parliament. Let us just hold free elections, where everyone can participate and where people are judged according to their capabilities and their ideas, rather than according to their gender.

 
  
  

Report: Sirpa Pietikäinen (A7-0029/2012)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, this report is a classic example of do as I say, not as I do. One would expect the EU institutions themselves with many politically appointed executives to be leading the way. I cannot understand why one of the most influential institutions in the EU, namely, the European Central Bank, does not get included in the scope of this report.

We sit and lecture and mandate gender equality for any number of private institutions and already have legislative proposals on the table covering diversity on the boards of financial institutions, yet the ECB itself does not currently have a single woman on its executive board. Many Member States still think it is acceptable to consider an all-male shortlist every time a position on the ECB comes up. I refuse to accept that there are no competent women out there able to take part in economic decisions that affect the lives of over 500 million EU citizens, or that the Bank’s dealings with Greece and other troubled economies over the coming years would not benefit from a female perspective. Let the EU institutions fix their own gender deficit before turning to others.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Madam President, as a young elected female representative, I feel it important to outline my opposition towards the report on women in political decision making.

It is regrettable that women are so badly under-represented in politics. We must encourage improvement on the 24% EU national average of women in political decision-making roles. The situation is even worse in Westminster in the UK where 22% of Members of Parliament are women. Considering that 51% of the UK population is female, this imbalance becomes stark. I therefore support ideas such as mentoring programmes, whereby training and exchange programmes could be used to better promote young women’s political participation and I commend the work of the Conservative Women’s Organisation in the UK in encouraging young women. I even recognise that my own Conservative Party has tried to promote women by supporting all-women shortlists, as David Cameron did in 2009, and so it should be that nation states and parties within nation states should have the freedom to address the gender imbalance as they see fit.

However, what I do oppose is the EU creating a top-down approach, whereby they impose quotas and other measures to address the gender imbalance.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Madam President, I think we would all agree that women are a tremendous asset to the whole of our society. For example, for nearly 20 years, my party has had remarkable success with a female chair.

However, the big question is this: is this really the only human characteristic that is important? If we have quotas for women because they are women, then why not have quotas for many other things? What about geographical quotas? I am sure that no one would claim that a candidate from the regions would be less qualified than a candidate from a city. Or what about age quotas? I am certain that on very many of the lists and the boards of directors around Europe, there is a clear excess of older people. Is that not an unreasonable case of discrimination? Or what about sexual quotas? A homosexual is obviously just as good a person as a heterosexual. Around one in twenty of Europe’s citizens are homosexual, so how about creating homosexual quotas? This would result in us operating in a state of chaos.

I would therefore like to make it clear that the reason I have voted against this report today is not that I am against women, elderly people or homosexuals; it is because I am against quotas and the idea that people can be tallied up in quotas. Quotas are for fish, CO2 and things like that, not for people of flesh and blood.

 
  
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  Frank Vanhecke (EFD). (NL) Madam President, equality between men and women, and a derivative thereof, equal rights for men and women, are achievements, or rather, a principle which no sensible person, in my opinion, can continue to question. That, indeed, includes me, as well, and it is one of the major reasons why I consider Islam, for example, completely incompatible with the principles of constitutional democracy with which we, in Europe, are fortunately familiar.

However, that said, I remain immovably opposed to a quota system whereby the representation of women in political decision making is boosted artificially. It is the responsibility of the voters, 50% of whom are women anyway, to elect their own representatives.

It is most probable that more men than women take an active interest in politics nowadays. That is not merely a consequence of discrimination. If, for once, we could agree on that amongst ourselves, as adults, then that in itself would be a step forward. But no, that does not seem to be possible and so, with this report, we remain in the realm of victim rhetoric and that is a pity.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, despite the progress that has been made, we do have to admit, unfortunately, that women are still subject to many instances of inequality in all areas, including active participation in decision making and the political process. This is a feature of all Member States and even of this House, since women occupy just 34% of the seats here.

In order to achieve equality between men and women, we must first of all remove the cultural obstacles and start to talk about gender policy. The parties themselves have got to initiate this first step towards change. Various positive measures are put forward in Ms Pietikäinen’s report, which I wholeheartedly support. These include the measures on quotas for women which, while not the ideal solution, are the only feasible approach until we see a change of culture and outlook, as I said.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Madam President, it is a given that we need more women in politics, in fact in all spheres of life. What we do not need is to put them there through non-flexible EU legislation which establishes targets and quotas for women.

Member States need to look at their own political systems and decide how best to support women in these fields. Member States must have the right to decide what is best for their government and how to format their government. Who is in the government is up to the electorate. Candidates must always be selected on merit and the ability to do the job.

This report is patronising to women and it is venturing outside the EU’s jurisdiction.

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI).(BG) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I personally benefited from a quota system as my faculty of law, the most prestigious faculty of law in Bulgaria, admitted an equal number of boys and girls and, if this had not been the case, it is most likely that I might not have got in and completed my legal education. However, was it fair that I and a few other boys took places from girls who were better prepared than us and fared better in the exams?

You know fine well that the answer to this question is ‘no’. This is why I am against setting quotas. My first child was born recently – a beautiful little girl. Like any parent, I want her to do better than me and, when she has grown up, I want her to successfully make her way in her professional life and career thanks to her abilities and not to charity in the form of quotas as, unfortunately, her father has done.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, whilst I agree that there are disproportionately low numbers of women in political roles, and indeed high in business, and we want to see those barriers which remain broken down, I do not believe that this report from the European Parliament will be the instrument to do so.

I am sure that I speak for the vast majority of women in saying that we want career advancement on the basis of merit, on our ability to actually do the job, rather than on our gender. I want people to vote for me on my record of representation, not because I am a woman. I certainly do not want someone else to suffer discrimination in order to advance my career. Capable, ambitious women want to reach the pinnacle of their careers on what they have achieved and what they can offer. To progress because you are a woman in order to meet an EU statistic would be a hollow achievement indeed.

I want to state that I firmly support mentoring programmes and I want to commend the work of organisations such as the Ballybeen Women’s Centre in my own constituency – an example of real working women who are tackling the issue head-on, with greater access to education, training and support.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted alongside my group against the Pietikäinen report on women in political decision making. While I accept strongly that there is a numerical imbalance between men and women in terms of numbers involved in political decision making at the highest levels, and that this is not an ideal state of affairs, I strongly reject EU-wide quotas and targets being put in place and enforced.

I believe that this is a matter for national governments and political parties and their electorates. Although I do not oppose the notion of introducing targets at national level, I again feel strongly that this is a matter to be organised by the Member States as they see fit within their own political systems. Lastly, I would like to make the comment that, within my own political party, Margaret Thatcher never felt remotely held back in her rise to power in the United Kingdom by being a woman.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, this report is entitled ‘Women in the political decision-making process – quality and equality’. I strongly believe – as do some of my female colleagues who have already spoken – and I am glad that it is women who are talking about this, that they are offended that we are supposed to lay down, in some artificial way, whether they are to be allowed to speak, or whether they are to occupy some very important position.

Yes, the joint declaration adopted at the 66th UN General Assembly in New York recommends ever greater political participation by women, because this has a positive meaning for democracy, etc. Of course, there are many documents that encourage Member States to work towards eliminating discrimination. I can agree with that. However, I strongly believe that the introduction of quotas for women is not the right approach, and rather demeans women. Reserving places through quotas so that women can have more of a say, when, in the normal competition of people and ideas, they can honestly argue their position, is misguided.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). – Madam President, I am very happy to support this own-initiative report – and that is what it is, an own-initiative report. I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on an excellent report which sets out some very practical and realistic measures, unlike the last report which we debated here.

Gender quotas, in my opinion, are the only real means of change. I look at the Irish Parliament. It has a record high of 26 females since we got our independence in 1922 – that is what we have now. In percentage terms, it only represents 16% of the composition of Parliament, a far cry from the 30% target set by the UN.

We need to reinvent our political system so that it is gender-balanced. I look at Spain, for example, and Belgium, where they introduced gender quotas. The proportions of women in Parliament have rocketed since the introduction of legally-binding quotas. Belgium, for example: 12.7% in 2007, 35% now; Spain: 26% in 2008, 36.3% now; but I want to emphasise that it is only a very temporary measure until we get gender balance – because that is what it is all about.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE).(SK) Madam President, advocates of quotas do not want women to have the freedom to choose. They want to decide for them. According to them, the ambitions of women are the same as the ambitions of men. To manage a company, political party or government. Children and family are an obstacle. To overcome it, the right to abortion and employment quotas must be introduced. However, quotas do not solve discrimination, they deepen it. The majority of women also have the ambition of becoming mothers. They are discriminated against because they do a lot of work that nobody wants to see. From the employers’ perspective, the readiness of women to care for their nearest and dearest is a risk that they deal with through not hiring women, lower pay or career stagnation. Lower pay is then reflected negatively in the retirement pensions of each and every mother. From the viewpoint of women, then, this is a threefold injustice. This is the real problem facing women of today. I was unable to vote for the report.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Madam President, first of all, I would like to say that this report by Ms Pietikäinen is excellent and well worth supporting. I voted in favour of it, and if we compare this to the report by Ms in ’t Veld, which we were just dealing with, there is a huge difference. These issues have been put in the right context and are based on the very notion that competence is the decisive factor. In Europe, however, we still have some way to go until such decisions would be based on competence alone.

We need employment, we need education and training as well as an attitude that supports the idea that men and women should be treated equally in the labour market and in different roles. That is why I believe that quotas will be a temporary solution in political decision making.

We need action, because talking is not enough. There are good examples of this: in the European Central Bank, for example, where there is not a single woman, as has been made apparent here too. I do, of course, know that in some countries, there are offices of the ombudsman for equality where there is not a single man, and so on. The basic assumption must be that men and women should be involved in decision making, and I believe that this is a way to strengthen this trend in different countries, so that equality can become a reality.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI). (NL) Madam President, we have just voted on the report on equality between women and men in the European Union. The Pietikäinen report actually, though, advocates the exact opposite, since it openly calls for preferential treatment for women. This means turning the clock back 50 years and simply replacing sexism against women with a politically correct kind of sexism, sexism against men.

This report wants to impose all kinds of requirements on Member States, even on political parties in individual Member States. They would also be required to ensure a gender balance in their governing bodies. Now, these kinds of things are an insult, an affront to all competent working women. So let us stop this nonsense and assess people on the basis of their abilities rather than their gender.

 
  
  

Report: Sven Giegold (A7-0432/2011)

 
  
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  Patrizia Toia (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I want, first and foremost, to express my very sincere appreciation for Mr Giegold’s work on this own-initiative report. I also recall that we share with him and with others an active presence in Parliament’s Social Economy Intergroup.

My political group, as you know, believes that the social model is one of the fundamental characteristics of the European integration project. Therefore, this is not just a simple policy, or one of many; it is a policy that characterises our entire project. In this day and age, with the attacks relating to the need for public spending cuts as well, we still firmly support this priority. We know that it may be as a revised or modified social model, but we believe that it should be retained, defended and reaffirmed as a priority.

Therefore, I believe that, in this same vision, we must also promote business entities, such as cooperatives, which produce goods and services and have a very special role in the so-called European social economy. These businesses reassert the fact that it is possible to be productive, to do good things, to be efficient even if the goal is not profit but rather, for example, employment, welfare, labour development and contributing to the life of the local community.

This is why it is important – I am finishing here, Madam President – for Europe to make the appropriate instruments available for an active policy and make a good statute – not the one that exists now, which is unusable, but a good statute for cooperatives which can be a way to help this very important sector.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, cooperatives have a hugely important role in local economies, particularly in this time of economic hardship when necessary cuts are being made to public services. Setting up local cooperatives to meet local needs should be the obvious solution.

However, I think the concept of European cooperative societies misses the point. Setting EU directives to harmonise the concept of a cooperative is not what is necessary to make setting them up easier.

The real problem is the huge amount of red tape and bureaucracy that any number of other EU directives and regulations create and thus stifle small businesses, no matter whether they are organised as cooperatives, social enterprises or for-profit businesses.

I can only hope that the Commission’s commitment to a social business initiative and all businesses across the EU will turn words into action and actually deal head on with the issue of red tape and bureaucracy which affects all of my Welsh businesses, however they may be structured.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I voted for Mr Giegold’s report because European cooperative societies contribute to economic growth, the strengthening of the internal market and job creation. They are also involved in the implementation of the cohesion policy through their activities at global and regional level. At the moment, this important sector is not managed consistently.

I welcome the initiative to revise the directive on European cooperative societies as specified in Article 17, so as to factor in the specific needs of workers. Their involvement in cooperatives is vital and it needs to take place under the most favourable conditions possible. At the same time, the Statute for a European cooperative society should be amended in order to provide simpler access for users. This will help establish a consistent legal framework allowing cooperative societies in Member States to plan and carry out their activities on an EU scale.

 
  
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  Salvatore Caronna (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the role of the cooperative movement has always been important for creating a more balanced and just economy. Currently, while we are going through one of the most serious economic and social crises since the war, the function of cooperative societies has become crucial. It is quite clear that where there has been substantial development of the cooperative dimension in the economy, the result has been an increase in employment, more skilled labour and more equitable redistribution of the wealth generated.

Therefore, it is good that the European Union has adopted a statute for cooperative societies, but now more than ever, there needs to be a real simplification of the rules. We need to give new incentives for the creation of a common European framework on cooperatives and this must occur by giving assistance and not creating bureaucratic obstacles. This is why I voted in favour of this resolution and I hope that the Commission and the Council will take action to resolve the problems mentioned.

 
  
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  Vincenzo Iovine (ALDE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate those who actively contributed to the adoption of the report on the Statute for a European cooperative society. I would like to emphasise the important role of the cooperative experience in Italy and Europe and of its impact on the territory, in particular, during the period of crisis we are currently going through.

However, I must regretfully note that the European cooperative society (SCE) is not yet a success, given its scarce use: in 2010, only 17 SCEs were registered. This should make us question the applicability of the legal framework. I believe that today, more than ever, simplification is needed to enable small organisations to access information on national provisions for implementing regulations and directives.

Furthermore, I think we need to remember the commitments undertaken by the Commission, in particular, to include cooperatives among the financial instruments of the European Investment Fund and to make explicit reference to more favourable conditions for cooperatives, such as easier access to loans and tax concessions. The Italian experience has shown that if cooperatives are supported by adequate instruments and concessions, they produce excellent results in terms of employment and society.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I am abstaining on the Giegold report on the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees. While I do not oppose the idea of an SCE per se – and personally I strongly support the cooperative movement as a great business and social model – I note that the uptake has been relatively slow at EU level with only 17 such establishments set up since 2010.

Given this slow uptake, I do not back the calls for the creation of a dedicated European year of the social economy, and neither do I support the initiative put forward in the report for urgent improvements within the Commission with regard to the organisation and financial resources dedicated to the social economy. Instead, I much prefer the big society idea promoted by my very own Prime Minister, David Cameron. Maybe other EU Member States should look at the UK and copy this example.

 
  
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  Jacky Hénin (GUE/NGL).(FR) Madam President, I would like to express my pleasure at seeing the European Parliament reaffirm its support for cooperatives, which are a very distinctive type of company. These companies have considerable power: 160 000 cooperatives with 5 400 000 employees. Of course, let us not be naive. We know perfectly well that some cooperatives practise truly predatory behaviour, like the Finnish cooperative which just wiped M-real Alizay off the map, leaving more than 400 employees by the wayside. This is true and it is shameful, but, as a general rule, cooperatives behave completely differently and, above all, in many situations, this type of company enables employees to save and develop businesses that we simply wanted to eliminate.

That is why we must support this very distinctive type of company, where everyone has a voice.

 
  
  

Report: Luigi Berlinguer (A7-0035/2012)

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE).(PT) Madam President, the Bologna process has two key objectives that we support unreservedly. It enables compatibility between Europe’s higher education systems and it removes obstacles to studying and working in any other European country.

We view positively the report’s enhancement of the social aspect of Bologna, so as to ensure that no student will fail to take up higher education or to go on a university exchange for financial reasons. I myself did Erasmus in Germany and I know what it means to work so as to pay for your studies.

The key to the success of the Bologna process lies in funding for universities, which should have greater financial resources that are sufficient and stable, so as to guarantee excellent higher education. The report itself acknowledges that there are governments that are not offering sufficient financial support to universities. In my country, for example, education cuts are financially choking the universities of Galicia, which have ever fewer resources and opportunities for innovation and research.

Public universities should not be continuously questioned, or treated as careless and inefficient bodies. We must send a clear message to governments that they should make a firm commitment to public universities.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, whilst I support the Bologna process which, although not an EU initiative, has 47 countries agreeing to facilitate movement for study or employment between countries within the European Higher Education Area, I was not able to support this report, as I firmly believe that education is, and should remain, a competence reserved for Member States. So I do not agree with a number of the recommendations that have been made in this report.

Although I would not be opposed to additional cooperation between universities, or other education institutions in third countries and the EU, I am opposed to any harmonisation of academic standards at the EU level and beyond.

Similarly I cannot support the recommendation for an agreement for financial support on a common core curriculum. Even within the United Kingdom, Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have differences in their curricula and, although they have some harmonisation of academic standards, they are not always the same and do not need to be. If we can work on a diverse platform for education within my Member State, why not amongst the EU and, as described here, within the 47 countries?

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Madam President, the Bologna process is part of an ongoing task to create a European Higher Education Area which will help to facilitate the mobility of students and professionals. I believe that education is a key factor in boosting economic growth and, as such, I was able to support some of the aspects of the report. I was also the rapporteur of the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, in which I highlighted the important role of research, employability, mobility and the importance of university-business dialogue in essential links of the Bologna process, with the connections in the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

It seems, however, that some have been carried away in the drafting of this report and it includes elements which are very difficult for me to support. As a British Conservative, I cannot support the repeated calls for more funding and increased public investment in higher education at a time of difficult cuts for many Member States, my own included. In addition to this, the report calls for harmonisation of academic standards and for strong financial support where there are agreements on common core curricula. Education is the competence of the Member States and it should remain that way. On this basis, I have had to vote against this report.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Madam President, mobility is an important principle of the single market. Also, many students find studying abroad to be a rewarding experience. However, I do not believe this means we need to accept the rigid recommendations of the Bologna process, not least because education is a Member State competence.

Three of the top universities in the world are in the UK, with one of them, Imperial College, in my home constituency of London. There is a danger that the Bologna process, with its emphasis on an academic credit system, will lead to a mechanical approach to learning or, worse still, the dumbing down of British universities. Student success should be based on their achievements, not the number of hours they spend in the lecture hall. I will be saying ‘no’ to this report and I voted against it.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE). (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Berlinguer, whom I congratulate on the work and the excellent analysis he carried out. The report fully highlights the problems and shortcomings that are obstructing the effective development of the European Higher Education Area.

In particular, I am referring to the inadequate relationship between universities and the world of work, to the still unfinished revision of the national systems of quality assurance and to unfair access to university educational systems. Therefore, I share my fellow Member’s calls for the adoption of a common system of quality assurance in order to establish mutual recognition of university qualifications.

At the same time, I hope that the next ministerial conference, scheduled to take place in April, will address the sore point of the issue: the need and urgency to move quickly in the process of revising the directives on professional qualifications and their recognition.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, in 1999, with the signing of the Bologna Declaration, the European signatory countries committed to working together to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010. This target would have guaranteed academic quality, economic development and social cohesion, and employment and lifelong learning for graduates. I support Mr Berlinguer’s report because it calls for decisive and coordinated action at European level.

The recognition of degrees based on an efficient system of quality assurance constitutes a good point of departure for encouraging Member States to adopt the national framework of qualifications for lifelong learning. It is essential to implement and develop a European system of higher education that allows and encourages the free movement of knowledge. I think the measures contained in the report represent the right path to follow to make Europe more productive and competitive.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because the European Union needs good-quality education which will foster research and innovation. Young people must be able to develop a wide range of skills so that they can become integrated into and adapt quickly to the labour market. Given the difficulties encountered in finding the first job, I should stress the importance of internships and professional integration programmes. The recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications is not only vital for encouraging student mobility, but also for the single market and the free movement of workers.

I hope that the ministerial meeting in Bucharest in April will yield positive results, contributing to the development of the European Higher Education Area. I should mention that Romania has launched a comprehensive education reform programme as part of its government reforms. Providing a good-quality education remains one of the priorities of the Romanian Government.

 
  
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  Marco Scurria (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of Mr Berlinguer’s report on the Bologna process. The creation of an open European Higher Education Area has been a major achievement for all of us.

Even more important is the need to harmonise the recognition of degrees and the qualification framework, as well as the complete revision of the national systems of quality assurance in university teaching. We still have students today who gain degrees through Erasmus that are subsequently not recognised by their own universities or only allow enrolment in universities that are too different and sometimes even of questionable standing.

This is why we need to reinforce the process, in order to achieve the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy in terms of increased employment and economic recovery, based also on improved cooperation between universities and the world of business and work.

 
  
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  Salvatore Caronna (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the creation of a European Higher Education Area is a major goal that the European Union has set for itself. However, despite the progress made with the Bologna Declaration – which, as noted, dates back to 1999 – we have got to recognise the fact that in terms of student mobility and the harmonisation of degrees across the various countries, the results have been far from satisfactory.

That is why I voted in favour of this report. We need to move forward with greater speed on this issue and reverse the trend – especially in some countries – of cutting investment in education. Accordingly, the harmonisation put forward under the Bologna Declaration is still essential in order to improve the entire European education system and make the labour market more dynamic. I, too, would like to applaud Mr Berlinguer for his excellent work.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this important report. The Bologna process, the creation of the European Higher Education Area, has been a success story. The number of countries participating in the process, which began in 1998, has risen to almost 50, and even countries outside Europe have shown great interest in it.

The main aims of the Bologna process have been successfully realised. European cooperation in the area of higher education has increased substantially.

The Bologna process still has scope for improvement. There are still major challenges, such as increased mobility and diversification, the recognition and harmonisation of qualifications, and youth employment after graduation.

Although it is primarily the task of the Member States to modernise and support their universities, as some of my fellow Members have said, the EU institutions and other stakeholders also have to be involved. The European Union must contribute to the success of the Bologna process.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted against the Berlinguer report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process, which is not a bad thing per se, but it should stick to the mutual recognition of degrees and diplomas. I feel strongly that educational policy should be primarily the preserve of the governments of the EU Member States.

A particular concern to the British Conservative Delegation are the repeated calls for more places and funding for higher education. Given that the British Government has recently made efficiency savings in the areas of higher education and increased tuition fees, we find it difficult to agree with a report that states that such cuts have a negative effect on attempts to strengthen the EU’s social dimension.

Personally, I would like to see, in my country, more support for teaching technical skills and crafts, equipping young people for jobs, which are needed in the economy rather than unlimited expansion of higher education.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report by Mr Berlinguer because it will be very good and important for the European Higher Education Area and its development. The Bologna process has been a success story. The objective therein proposed by Mr Berlinguer himself – and, of course, he was one of the ministers who set this process in motion at the Sorbonne back in 1998-1999 – that all EU nationals could be on the same starting line in terms of qualifications and thus be placed in employment in different areas of the internal market and beyond, and that there should be equivalence between qualifications, is an excellent one, and we should work towards it.

A total of 47 countries are party to the process. We all know that the European Union’s power is based on open coordination, and that is what is being employed here. We also need to remember that it is the Member States that have the ultimate power.

The British university and higher education system has benefited from this. The British have been very keen on this, and so it now seems a bit odd that the British Tories are opposed to it. Is it not now the case, my Tory friends, that you are opposed to everything connected with the EU? This is a success story, it is good for a united Europe, and it is not beyond anyone’s reach – quite the contrary.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Madam President, the development of a common European area of education is very important for building a knowledge-based economy in the European Union. However, it is necessary first to establish the quality. Therefore, it is good that the Commission is preparing a ranking system that will give us detailed information about the levels of universities and their departments. In Slovakia, we have good experiences from comparisons of the quality of education and research in universities. The creation of an academic ranking agency has given not only the government, but most importantly students, a reliable tool when deciding on their future studies. It would be good if more attention were paid to this issue at EU level in the future.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Recommendation: Claude Moraes (A7-0020/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the agreement between the EU, Iceland and Norway on the application of the Convention of 29 May 2000. The provisions contained in this agreement aim to strengthen judicial cooperation in criminal matters between the EU Member States and Norway and Iceland. These include both the hearing of witnesses and the sharing of information. This agreement, reached between the Member States, must be approved by the European Parliament under the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal to amend the protocol in question because there is a need for enhanced cross-border cooperation on combating crime. By signing this protocol, the European Union is increasing its area of cooperation on criminal matters. This will enable these countries and the EU Member States to benefit from information on bank transfers and combating organised crime, which can only be of benefit to the general security of the European public.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution concerning the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement with Norway and Iceland, which will improve judicial cooperation in criminal matters between the Member States of the EU and Iceland and Norway by applying certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol to Iceland and Norway. Cooperation will involve the hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular. I believe this will help to combat trans-border crime and enhance cooperation with the two countries and will serve to make the EU safer and more secure.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) In 2002, negotiations were started on agreements of mutual legal assistance between the European Union and our neighbours, Norway and Iceland. At the last plenary session, I voted in favour of an agreement aimed at improving this judicial cooperation. As the rapporteur, Claude Moraes, states, this includes, inter alia, provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular. Strengthening cooperation with our neighbours also includes sharing information to enhance our security. I fully support the improvements set out in this report.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this recommendation. The goal of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union is to encourage and modernise cooperation between judicial, police and customs authorities and better combat cross-border crime. The agreement with Iceland and Norway is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and Iceland and Norway in criminal matters. An agreement with these countries was signed six years ago, and therefore, given its importance, I welcome the European Parliament’s recommendation to immediately conclude the aforementioned agreement.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. (PL) I agree with the conclusion of an agreement on mutual assistance in criminal matters with Norway and Iceland. Uniform proceedings in criminal matters, including in relation to European countries outside the Community, is in the interests of public safety. The example of Anders Breivik shows that even in neighbouring countries with a stable political situation and a stable economy, domestic terrorism is a potential threat. The investigation in this particular case required extensive cooperation between Norway and other European countries, including Poland. This agreement makes it possible, inter alia, to hear witnesses, experts and defendants via video conferencing, which will mean significant improvements to criminal proceedings conducted by the police in different countries. I therefore look forward to closer cooperation on fighting crime with countries that are, after all, also part of the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament recommendation because the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States, Norway and Iceland by applying almost all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on mutual legal assistance between the Member States and its Protocol adopted in 2001. This agreement includes provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat organised crime. The European Parliament supports this agreement because this document extends to Norway and Iceland rules on mutual legal assistance that are already in force and mostly applied in the Member States. This will, undoubtedly, help combat cross-border crime. It will also enhance cooperation with these two countries that are already in the Schengen area and, in the case of Iceland, currently in negotiations for accession to the European Union.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I have always been in favour of greater cooperation at European level. Therefore, I naturally approved this agreement, which enables us to improve judicial cooperation on criminal matters between the Member States and extends this to the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway. Due to the trans-border nature of crime today, it seems to me imperative that we ensure that the different competent national authorities for legal and criminal matters can actively work hand in hand. The same is true of the effectiveness of our justice system. I am also pleased to see that this agreement strengthens Eurojust, the European Union’s judicial cooperation unit, created in 2002.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for the adoption of this agreement, signed on 19 December 2003, which will enable the extension to Norway and Iceland of the provisions on mutual assistance in criminal matters that are in force and have already been implemented in the vast majority of Member States. The fact that these two countries are members of the Schengen area makes it even clearer that there is a need to modernise and enhance judicial cooperation on criminal matters between them and the EU Member States, so as to make combating cross-border crime more effective. This agreement includes provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, as well as controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams, and requests for information on banking transactions and bank accounts, and for their monitoring to combat crime and organised crime in particular. I also consider it positive that there is the possibility of Eurojust involvement where a request is refused or where problems are encountered in the implementation of a request.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE) , in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report on the agreement between the European Union, Iceland and Norway. Ensuring security within the European Union requires that the abolition of borders and the resulting freedom of movement of EU citizens is twinned with greater cooperation and better coordination between the judicial authorities of the various countries. In particular, the agreement in question makes it possible to improve cooperation between the judicial authorities of two countries that are not currently members of the EU but are part of the Schengen area, namely, the Kingdom of Norway and the Republic of Iceland. As a result of the changes brought in by the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament’s consent is needed for this agreement to be concluded. Lastly, I join with the rapporteur, Mr Moraes, in emphasising the importance of involving Eurojust in the project and I applaud him for his excellent work.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I welcome the objective of the agreement to improve judicial cooperation between the European Union Member States and Norway and Iceland by applying all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on mutual legal assistance between Member States.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted for this text, which strengthens judicial cooperation on criminal matters between EU Member States, on the one hand, and Schengen members, Iceland and Norway, on the other. It is important that common rules are adopted in Europe to facilitate judicial proceedings, combat organised crime, enable our fellow citizens to benefit from a consistent standard of justice and guarantee them the same degree of protection wherever they are in Europe.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) This agreement extends to Norway and Iceland rules on mutual legal assistance that are already in force and mostly applied in the Member States. It will, undoubtedly, help combat trans-border crime and enhance cooperation with two countries that are already in the Schengen area and, for the case of Iceland, currently in negotiations for accession to the European Union. I particularly welcome the possibility, expressly provided by Article 3 of the agreement, to involve Eurojust in any instances where a request is refused by a Member State or where there are problems encountered in the execution of a request.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the European Parliament’s consent to the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters because it is an important step forward in the direction of a stronger mechanism for combating trans-border crime. Both Iceland and Norway are already part of the Schengen area: this agreement, by strengthening mutual legal assistance and by including provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular, makes the partnership on criminal issues with the two northern European countries stronger and more effective. The European Parliament, by giving its consent to this agreement, is providing democratic validation for its implementation within the EU as prescribed by the Lisbon Treaty.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The globalisation we are currently experiencing has made it even more evident that countries need to work together on areas that were previously considered exclusive national competences. Crime has become increasingly cross-border in nature, as well as more sophisticated and interlinked. This necessitates understanding from governments and a reaction that cannot fail to include working with other subjects of international law or the articulation of joint responses. It is therefore natural that the European Union should seek to reach this type of understanding with neighbouring countries with similar histories, cultures and standards of democracy, with the rule of law, and with respect for human rights, such as Iceland and Norway. I welcome this agreement and hope that European integration in relation to these areas, which are so important for public safety and well-being, will not fail to involve Iceland and Norway increasingly, and that this involvement will produce good results in terms of both preventing and curbing crime.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted, by Mr Moraes, concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol thereto. The purpose of this agreement on combating all types of criminality is to improve legal cooperation between the Member States and Norway and Iceland, specifically as regards the hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, as well as controlled deliveries, covert investigations, joint investigation teams, investigation processes and information on bank accounts. I voted for this report, since extending to Norway and Iceland the provisions on mutual assistance on criminal matters already in force in many Member States will, in addition to enhancing cooperation with two countries in the Schengen area, improve the combating of cross-border crime, which has been boosted by the present economic and financial crisis, and by increased mobility throughout the Schengen area.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report approves the conclusion of an agreement between the European Union and Iceland and Norway, its stated purpose being to improve legal cooperation between the Member States and these two countries. Almost all the legal provisions of the Convention of 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States are being applied. The protocol to this convention includes provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular.

This is, therefore, a case of extending this protocol to these two countries. As this procedure respects the sovereignty of the Member States in this area and their right to establish cooperative relationships with whomsoever they freely choose, we are not opposed to it.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In December 2002, the Council authorised the Council Presidency, assisted by the European Commission, to start negotiating an agreement on mutual legal assistance with Norway and Iceland. Now, under the new legal framework resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon, the approval of Parliament is required. This agreement is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the Member States of the EU and Norway and Iceland by the application of almost all the provisions under the Convention of 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States and its protocol adopted in 2001. It includes, inter alia, provisions on the hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, on controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams, and on requests for information on banking transactions and bank accounts and their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular. Under it, Norway and Iceland are extending the rules on mutual legal assistance that are currently in force and that are usually applied in the Member States.

I firmly believe that the agreement will help in the fight against cross-border crime and enhance cooperation with the two countries, which are now in the Schengen area, while one of them, Iceland, is currently in negotiations on accession to the EU. I therefore agree with Parliament’s approval of the agreement.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) As Chair of the European Parliament delegation for Switzerland, Iceland and Norway and for the Joint Parliamentary Committee of the European Economic Area, I welcome the fact that this report was adopted.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because this agreement is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and Norway and Iceland by applying almost all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on mutual legal assistance between the Member States and its Protocol adopted in 2001. This includes, inter alia, provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular. This agreement extends to Norway and Iceland rules on mutual legal assistance that are already in force and mostly applied in the Member States. This will, undoubtedly, help combat cross-border crime and enhance cooperation with these two countries that are already in the Schengen area and, in the case of Iceland, currently in negotiations for accession to the European Union.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported this agreement, which extends to Norway and Iceland rules on mutual legal assistance that are already in force and mostly applied in the Member States. This agreement will help strengthen the fight against trans-border crime.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The basic idea behind the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 2000 and the Protocol thereto is to enable, on the one hand, Member States to take measures within the framework of criminal proceedings in relation to persons residing in other Members States, and, on the other hand, to enable these persons to participate actively in proceedings in order to protect their interests or exercise their rights. These acts are therefore an important element in shaping the area of freedom, security and justice. The Convention and the Protocol set out the legal framework within which the relevant authorities of Member States conducting proceedings may operate, and stipulate procedural conditions and prerequisites for their adoption. These tools increase the effectiveness of procedures for holding people responsible for breaking the law and, as a consequence, provide a better guarantee of the rule of law and protect the interests of people in the area covered by the regulations. At the same time, they facilitate the realisation of the right to a trial. Extending their effectiveness to all Member States and to countries which have close ties with the EU, as well as to candidate countries, is a natural consequence of accepting the common ideas of freedom, security and justice. The agreement is another formal step toward the realisation of such ideas. Its validity is not in question.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR), in writing. – I am in favour of the consent procedure to conclude the Agreement between the EU and Iceland and Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol. This is an important agreement since it is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and Norway and Iceland. I am confident that many of its provisions – such as those on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat transnational and organised crime – will increase our security and have a positive impact on our efforts to fight crime.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) The Convention of 29 May 2000 on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between the Member States of the European Union has made cooperation between judicial, police and customs authorities easier. The aim of the text, for which I voted, is to extend most of this international agreement to include relations with Iceland and Norway. It includes provisions on hearing of witnesses, joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions and bank accounts. I am convinced that this agreement will help combat trans-border crime more effectively and enhance cooperation between these two countries and the European Union.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this agreement, which is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and Norway and Iceland by applying almost all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on mutual legal assistance between the Member States and its Protocol adopted in 2001. This includes, inter alia, provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams and requests for information on banking transactions, bank accounts and their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of the conclusion of this agreement because it aims at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and Norway and Iceland by applying almost all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on mutual legal assistance between the Member States and its Protocol adopted in 2001. Indeed, this agreement does nothing more than extend to Norway and Iceland rules on mutual legal assistance that are already in force and mostly applied in the other Member States. We have no doubt that this will help combat trans-border crime and enhance cooperation with two countries that are already in the Schengen area and, in the case of Iceland, will also have positive repercussions on the current negotiations for its future accession to the European Union.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Moraes. I am convinced that we need to speed up the ratification of this agreement, which – as Mr Moraes rightly points out – has the important objective of improving the EU Member States’ judicial cooperation with Iceland and Norway. The highest possible number of regulations on this subject need to be applied in the highest possible number of States.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Combating crime involves enhanced dialogue between the judicial authorities of the Member States and the increased joint action thereof. Judicial cooperation on criminal matters is based on the principle of mutual recognition of sentences and court judgments by the Member States, and involves national legislation on the application of common minimum rules. As such, since they apply almost all the provisions of the 2000 Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol thereto, legal cooperation between the Member States of the EU and Norway and Iceland is becoming a reality. The agreement in question includes provisions of great importance, such as those on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams, and requests for information on banking transactions and bank accounts and for their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular. The adoption of this agreement represents a considerable step towards creating a genuine area of cooperation with countries outside the EU, which will have a positive impact on the Union itself, by enabling the creation of an increasingly large area of freedom, security and justice.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – It is clear that this draft Council Decision aims to conclude, on behalf of the Union, the Agreement between the EU and Iceland and Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol thereto. The agreement was signed on 19 December 2003, but it has not yet been formally concluded. The agreement should be concluded and ratified as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution, which is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and Iceland and Norway in criminal matters. As Norway and Iceland are in the Schengen area, judicial cooperation is an essential tool for stopping cross-border crime, especially organised crime. It should be noted that the principle of mutual recognition is a cornerstone of judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Cooperation with these two countries will therefore be improved.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The present report ratifies on the part of the European Parliament – as stipulated in the Treaty of Lisbon – an agreement designed to improve mutual judicial assistance between the Member States of the EU, on the one hand, and Norway and Iceland, on the other, by applying almost all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States and the 2001 Protocol thereto. The delay in the application of this agreement is due to internal national procedures which had not been completed when the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force. Consequently, under the new legal framework set out in the Treaty of Lisbon, especially in Article 218 TFEU, the European Parliament is now also required to give its approval. The application of the agreement, which I voted in favour of, extends the rules on mutual judicial assistance that already apply in the Member States to Norway and Iceland, thereby helping to combat cross-border crime and promoting cooperation with these two countries, which are already in the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I agree with the extension to Norway and Iceland of the provisions on mutual assistance in criminal matters already in force and implemented in the majority of Member States. This agreement will undoubtedly help with the struggle against cross-border crime and will enhance cooperation with two countries that already belong to the Schengen area and, in the case of Iceland, currently in negotiations for accession to the European Union.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) This agreement is aimed at improving judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and Norway and Iceland by applying almost all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on mutual legal assistance between the Member States and its Protocol adopted in 2001. It extends to Norway and Iceland rules on mutual legal assistance that are already in force and mostly applied in the other Member States. I am therefore voting in favour in order to help combat trans-border crime and enhance cooperation with two countries that are already in the Schengen area and, in the case of Iceland, currently in negotiations for accession to the European Union.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this report is to improve legal cooperation between the Member States of the EU and Norway and Iceland, so it applies many of the provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States. This is an important mechanism for combating cross-border crime which will, in turn, enhance cooperation with two countries that are already members of the Schengen area. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In December 2002, the Council authorised the Council Presidency, assisted by the European Commission, to start negotiating a Mutual Legal Assistance agreement with Norway and Iceland. On 17 December 2003, the Council adopted the Decision concerning the signing of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol thereto. The agreement was based on Articles 24 and 38 of the Treaty on European Union. Internal national procedures for this agreement had not been formally concluded at the time of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. As a consequence, according to the new legal framework provided for by the Lisbon Treaty and, notably, by Article 218 TFEU, the consent of the European Parliament is now required. In view of this, with the proposal for a Council Decision of 17th December.2009, the European Commission has recommended to the Council to obtain the consent of the European Parliament and adopt a decision concluding the agreement without further delay.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this project because I think reaching a mutual legal assistance agreement with Norway and Iceland is fundamentally important. The aim is to improve judicial cooperation between the EU Member States and these two countries, thereby extending to Norway and Iceland rules on mutual legal assistance that are already in force and mostly applied within the European Union. The adoption of the agreement should, undoubtedly, help combat trans-border crime and enhance cooperation with two countries that are already in the Schengen area and, in the case of Iceland, currently in negotiations for accession to the European Union.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the recommendation on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway because I consider that extending the rules on mutual judicial assistance that already apply in the other Member States to Norway and Iceland will help considerably in combating cross-border crime.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this agreement is to improve the existing judicial cooperation between the European Union and Iceland and Norway by implementing a range of rules laid down in the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. I am voting for this report, since it sets out new rules on cooperation between the EU and the other countries, especially with regard to judicial and political matters and to public authorities. I also consider positive the laying down of rules concerning the hearing of accused persons, witnesses and experts by video conference or telephone, the promotion of facilitated access to banking transactions and the creation of joint investigation teams, which will facilitate the rapid resolution of cases before the courts. I also believe Eurojust should be involved in this agreement process, since it will be able to act if any Member State refuses to cooperate, or if there are any problems implementing a request formulated by the judicial authorities.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 would strengthen cooperation between states in combating crimes and illegality. As the rapporteur has already underlined, the agreement enables States to involve Eurojust in case of refusal of a Member State in the execution of a request and enhances cooperation in the fight against trans-border crime. Therefore, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the text presented by Mr Moraes, which aims to improve judicial cooperation between the Member States and Norway and Iceland by applying almost all the provisions contained in the 2000 Convention on mutual legal assistance between the Member States and its Protocol adopted in 2001.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report approves an agreement between the European Union and Iceland and Norway that includes provisions on hearing of witnesses, experts and accused persons by telephone or video conference, controlled deliveries, covert investigations and joint investigation teams, and requests for information on banking transactions and bank accounts and for their monitoring to combat crime in general and organised crime in particular.

Since this is simply the formalisation of an inter-state agreement, we are not opposed to this procedure.

 
  
  

Report: Eva Lichtenberger (A7-0050/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this request for immunity. A court has requested it in connection with outstanding proceedings in relation to alleged defamation of a private individual. Although Members of the European Parliament may not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties, the facts of the case indicate that the statements were made at a time when Ms Morvai was not a Member of the European Parliament.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the request for waiver of the immunity of our fellow Member, Ms Morvai, lodged by the Pest Central District Court, pursuant to Articles 8 and 9 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union. In accordance with Rule 6(2) of the Rules of Procedure, the request has been analysed by the Committee on Legal Affairs. Ms Morvai was heard by the committee, which requested further information and explanations from the Pest Central District Court before issuing its opinion. Ms Morvai is accused of public defamation because she made televised statements considered offensive to the good name of a member of the public, János Zombori. The Member acknowledges having made the statements ‘in her capacity as a women’s right activist’. Since the statements were made in 2005, long before she was elected to Parliament, which only happened in 2009, they cannot have taken place ‘in the performance of her duties as Member of the European Parliament’, so they are not covered by the Statute for Members. In view of this, and taking into account the committee’s recommendation to waive Ms Morvai’s parliamentary immunity, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) You have adopted a resolution condemning the Hungarian Government, questioning its democratic character and suggesting a lack of independence on the part of judges faced with an executive considered virtually fascist. Today, thanks to a last-minute amendment to the agenda, you are wasting no time in voting to waive the immunity of Ms Krisztina Morvaï, an opponent of this very government, to enable the very same Hungarian justice system, suspected of being at its beck and call, to judge statements made by her in her capacity as a women’s rights activist! Statements she was not alone in making, but for which she remains one of the only people pursued.

What a happy coincidence! What two-faced condemnation! You are nothing but a bunch of sycophantic ideologues, bowing obediently to the powerful, willing participants in a feeding frenzy in which you have nothing to lose.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – On the basis of the information supplied by the Committee on Legal Affairs, I followed the recommendation that the European Parliament should waive the parliamentary immunity of Krisztina Morvai.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Defending the independence of the mandate of Members of this House is the responsibility of Parliament, and that independence cannot be jeopardised. According to Article 8 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties. However, given that the facts of the case, as manifested in the submissions from the court to the Committee on Legal Affairs, indicate that the statements were made at a time when Ms Morvai was not a Member of the European Parliament, I support the waiver of her immunity.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I have always voted against waivers of the immunity of Members of the European Parliament, since I consider them to be disruptive of the work of the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Parliament has been asked to waive the parliamentary immunity of our fellow Member, Ms Morvai, as a result of criminal proceedings in which she is accused of defamation under the Hungarian Criminal Code. Ms Morvai was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 but, since the statements in question were made in 2005 before Ms Morvai became a Member of this House, the Committee on Legal Affairs, having considered the reasons in fact and in law for and against waiving the Member’s immunity, recommends that Parliament waive Ms Morvai’s parliamentary immunity. Indeed, the Committee on Legal Affairs does not consider Ms Morvai to have been performing her duties as a Member of the European Parliament when she made the statements in question. For these reasons, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
  

Report: Kurt Lechner (A7-0045/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing. (FR) The current system of cross-border succession in Europe faces numerous challenges. The differences between Member States in dealing with matters of succession rights create legal uncertainty for European citizens. Which law should be applied when the will of the deceased person relates to heirs of different nationalities? In a Europe where the free movement of people is a founding principle, such an issue cannot remain unresolved. This is why I voted for a clarification of legal rules on the matter and the introduction of a European Certificate of Succession.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) The harmonisation of legislation on succession rights is crucial if the European public is to cease to be an abstract concept in this regard. This will prevent confused interpretations on the part of courts and consultants and create a clearer system: it will become known what laws are applicable and where. For its part, the creation of a European Certificate of Succession would provide family members with a mechanism for validating their ownership of property with cross-border implications.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this regulation which aims to remove the obstacles to the free movement of persons who currently face difficulties in asserting their rights in the context of a succession with cross-border implications. At present, citizens have difficulties in foreseeing which country and authority (court, notary, administrator, etc.) have competence in handling the succession and this situation obviously creates legal uncertainty because citizens must be able to organise their succession in advance. This regulation will enable citizens to organise their succession in advance by choosing the law applicable to their wills. This regulation introduces a European Certificate of Succession, which will enable the succession to be settled in a shorter period of time.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This new regulation on cross-border successions will prevent future legal battles and lengthy proceedings to settle successions when the laws of several European Union countries apply. Today, we travel, study and live in several European Union countries and mixed marriages are, as a result, continually on the increase. Therefore, the aim is to facilitate the free movement of citizens and to strengthen the internal market. I therefore voted in favour of the creation of a European Certificate of Succession, which will allow heirs to demonstrate their status as heir or the attribution of a specific asset. I welcome the adoption of this text, which makes life easier for Europeans and shows that the European Union is also concerned about the everyday lives of its citizens.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The mobility of citizens in the EU is increasing and, in civil and commercial legal relations involving interests in several Member States, this often leads to various questions, such as establishing which Member State court is competent to address an issue that has arisen, which legal system will be applied, and the procedures for the recognition and enforcement of judgments, etc. The Treaty establishing the European Community sets out the objective of progressively establishing a common area of freedom, security and justice, in particular, by adopting measures in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters. This proposed regulation is aimed at addressing legal issues regarding cross-border succession in order to ensure greater legal clarity for EU citizens and simplicity when exercising their rights in cross-border succession cases. This regulation also introduces an important innovation – the European Certificate of Succession, which will enable heirs, administrators of the estate or executors of the will to demonstrate their status without any other formalities. This will represent great progress compared to the current situation and matters of succession will be dealt with more swiftly and cheaply.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I welcome the creation of a single framework throughout the European Union to address succession issues. I also welcome the creation of a European Certificate of Succession because I believe that this document will enable heirs, executors of the will and administrators of the estate to avoid many unnecessary administrative procedures. This piece of EU legislation will, in future, be of particular benefit to our citizens, an increasing number of whom are leaving to live and work abroad, or who simply acquire property in other countries. It is nevertheless regrettable that for now, the UK and Ireland have announced that they will not opt in to this regulation due to the specific regulation of certain aspects of succession in their countries. Understandably, it is very important for the citizens of our country that these countries should opt in to the regulation, and the European Parliament has therefore called on the Council to continue to seek means of reaching a compromise with these countries on the succession issue.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Lechner, which has the merit of clarifying the situation on succession law and thereby ensuring legal certainty. Indeed, European law is characterised by the combination of the laws of individual States, which creates inconsistent and difficult situations when it comes to recognising citizens’ rights. The creation of a European Certificate of Succession will act, on a cross-border basis, as proof of entries in registers and as a safeguard for persons acquiring succession property in good faith.

For citizens habitually resident in their home country, if all their assets are there, nothing will change. Instead, the change affects those citizens who intend to reside, or are already resident, outside their home country: in this case, they will have the right to choose to adopt the law of their home country. Handling cross-border successions will therefore be made considerably easier and advisers on succession will also be given a secure basis on which to operate.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) By adopting this report, we have just taken another step forwards in making our fellow citizens’ lives easier. In the framework of successions within the EU, we know there are judicial systems to settle successions, where it is compulsory to appear before a judge, and non-judicial systems, where the succession is settled by a notary. It was therefore important to achieve the principle of the movement of authentic instruments and thus for them to be recognised in another Member State, which has not been the case up to now. The adopted regulation also introduces a European Certificate of Succession (ECS) for use by heirs and legatees having direct rights in the succession, in order to demonstrate specific elements such as the status as heir or the attribution of a specific asset. Finally, we have managed to ensure that heirs who are citizens of a Member State that applies the reserved share mechanism, intended to protect a portion of the succession for the children of the deceased, can assert this in the case of international succession.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I supported this agreement at first reading because I think that EU citizens who choose to settle in another Member State greatly needed clearer rules on court competence, conflicts of law and implementation with regard to cross-border successions. The single market relates not only to companies which do business outside their national borders, but also to people who settle in other Member States and need to feel just as much protection as in their country of origin. At the moment, if someone is living in a Member State other than their country of origin and owns a property in that Member State which they want to leave as an inheritance, there is the danger of a conflict arising between the courts in the relevant Member States demanding jurisdiction. This situation may lead to cumbersome red tape for heirs or even to litigation.

I think that the European Certificate of Succession and the clarification that the competent court and applicable law are those in the last Member State where the person resided, except where it is specified in a will that the law of the Member State of origin should apply, will simplify the process considerably, while also maintaining the flexibility required.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I agree with the position of the rapporteur, Kurt Lechner, who stresses the need to simplify and harmonise the succession rules of the Member States. The aim of this regulation is to simplify the administrative steps for European citizens in matters of succession and to guarantee the rights of heirs and legatees. Within the European Union, there are judicial and non-judicial systems for settling successions. I welcome the retention of notaries’ competences. One paragraph lays down a universal competence for notaries, which will ensure that, when all the heirs agree to settle the succession amicably, the adjudicating judge will have to close proceedings so that the notary can settle the succession.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) There are still many barriers which, directly or indirectly, continue to restrict the free movement of persons within the EU, as well as the public’s ability to fully enjoy the benefits of the single market. Cross-border obstacles to successions at European level affect around 50 million people – for example, citizens who live in a Member State other than their country of origin, who own property in a Member State other than that in which they reside, mixed couples, etc. – and also have a direct impact on their heirs.

This is the first time that an EU instrument is being adopted on succession rights, which is, by its very nature, a highly delicate area, intrinsically linked to the national arena. This is a very important and complex initiative that is of clear benefit to the public, and not just in terms of legal certainty, since it seeks to prevent fragmentation in terms of succession and contributes significantly to reducing bureaucracy and costs. It will enable free movement and recognition of succession rights, as well as the creation of a European Certificate of Succession; this will allow the public to check the status of their rights and exercise them throughout the EU.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the regulation on the recognition of decisions in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. This contributes towards the recognition of documents on matters of succession and resolves a legal uncertainty by deciding the jurisdiction according to the principle of the ‘habitual residence’ of the deceased. Furthermore, I completely support the decision to allow the testator to choose otherwise by opting for the governing law of a State whose nationality he possesses instead of the one in which he is habitually resident. I would also like to emphasise that the introduction of the European Certificate of Succession helps simplify procedures in this area, since it offers sufficient proof of status as heir. Lastly, I think that this regulation fits, together with the Professional Qualifications Directive, into the wider context of reducing the barriers to free movement of persons within the European Union, and therefore helps to make the free movement of EU citizens a reality.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession because it will allow the harmonisation of succession rules in Europe and will avoid disputes and lengthy proceedings when settling successions where the legislation of several EU countries may apply. It is not normal that, in the era of the single market and European mobility, the rights of heirs and legatees are not better managed and that our fellow citizens, faced with the difficult question of succession, cannot benefit from legal certainty and legal predictability, thereby allowing them to be in the best position for the transfer of their assets.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) The European Parliament has voted in favour of a regulation that legally clarifies cross-border successions in Europe. Numbering 450 000 per year, cross-border successions represent 10% of all successions in the European Union, totalling EUR 123 billion. The resolution that we have adopted today by a large majority stipulates that the applicable law shall be, by default, that of the country where the deceased was last habitually resident. However, it allows testators to choose between the law of the country of which they have nationality or that of the country where they reside for the settlement of their succession. In addition, the creation of a European Certificate of Succession will allow the quick and easy settlement of cross-border successions by making it possible for heirs to demonstrate their status and their rights in another Member State. With this new regulation, we will avoid future legal battles and lengthy proceedings when settling successions where the laws of several EU countries apply. The Council and the Commission have already given their informal agreement, meaning that the text should be readily adopted by the Council on examination.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the report on the proposal for the regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession because it makes clearer the EU rules as regards succession. A European Certificate of Succession represents a step forward in the direction of a more homogeneous legal framework in the Member States, simplifying the adoption of the internal market rules in matters of succession. Whereas cross-borders relations are growing within the EU, transnational and more harmonised tools are necessary to properly tackle the challenges and to take advantage of the benefits which come along with the single market. With this regulation, handling cross-border successions would be considerably easier. Besides, the proposal stresses the ‘right to choose the law applicable’, a principle able to introduce a positive significant innovation for many citizens and for the Member States as well: a significant European added value.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on ‘succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession’ because it introduces measures to simplify and clarify succession and inheritance processes in the European Union, specifically, the European Certificate of Succession.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this proposal is not to harmonise the substantive law applicable to the succession, but rather to establish harmonised rules for resolving international jurisdictional conflicts. What this means is that we need to work within the framework of international private law and not within the substantive framework of family law, wherein each Member State will continue to have its own laws. With the increasing globalisation of personal and family relationships, it is important to ensure legal certainty for the parties when a number of jurisdictions are involved. The purpose of this proposal is to create common rules regarding applicable law and succession to the estates of deceased persons. I am bound to consider this an important step towards the creation of an area of freedom and justice in which there is genuine free movement of persons and greater legal certainty surrounding the resolution of conflicts of international jurisdiction in the context of succession rights, particularly through the creation of a European Certificate of Succession.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The achievement of the objectives underlying the creation of the European Union – specifically, the single market and the free movement of people and goods – has fostered the mobility of Europeans, who are increasingly emigrating to other Member States, where they establish residence, work, marry, divorce, acquire property and die. This report, drafted by Mr Lechner, concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. This is a cross-border system that constitutes an important step forward in this regard and that will enable the more effective application of the law, in line with the concerns of families. Indeed, once a decision has been made, there are no limits to the application of a judgment due to the European Certificate of Succession. I welcome the adoption of this report, which constitutes good news for thousands of European citizens: they will benefit from this initiative, which will put a stop to many conflicts. However, I regret that it has not been possible to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom or Ireland.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) It is regrettable that this report, like others, was not made available in a timely manner in all language versions. Specifically, a digital copy of the Portuguese version was not available at the time of voting. Unfortunately, it is not the first time this has happened. These are situations that jeopardise respect for the principle of multilingualism in the European Parliament and equality between Members, irrespective of their country of origin and native language.

The report proposes unified rules on jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition of courts in situations in which the citizens of a Member State reside in another Member State, so as to clarify situations about which there are currently frequent doubts in relation to succession rights. The European Commission proposal, with which the report agrees, suggests the creation of a European Certificate of Succession.

It seems clear to us that there is a need to protect the public from the existing shortcomings in the present legal provisions regarding the free movement of persons between Member States. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that succession rights and all relevant provisions in this regard should result from an expression of national sovereignty, which must be respected. The solutions found to solve specific problems existing today should therefore follow this pattern.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The EU has set itself the objective of developing and maintaining an area of freedom, security and justice. With the aim of progressively establishing this area, it must adopt measures in the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters having a cross-border reach, to the extent necessary for the market to be able to function properly. In the European area of justice, citizens must be able to organise their succession in advance. The rights of heirs and legatees, other persons having a relationship with the deceased, and the creditors of the estate must be effectively guaranteed. The accelerated, accessible and effective organisation of successions with an international element in the European Union means that heirs, legatees, executor or administrator must be able to easily, out of court, prove their status in the Member States in which the inherited property is located. In order to facilitate the free movement of such proof in the EU, an appropriate regulation should introduce a single European certificate of inheritance and specify the issuing authority. I am of the opinion that, in order to comply with the principle of subsidiarity, however, this certificate should not replace the national procedures of Member States, but should, conversely, clarify the connection with these procedures.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) This proposal aims to allow European citizens to organise their succession in advance and to effectively ensure the rights of heirs and legatees in an international succession. In this regard, while it is true that such a proposal seems helpful and justifiable, it must be acknowledged that, when it comes to the means by which these ends will be pursued, some unresolved issues remain that not only fail to simplify the existing rules, but, in some cases, even end up complicating them. Consider, for example, the enduringly controversial issue of the movement of authentic instruments and use of clawback. For these reasons, I decided to abstain.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) In general terms, conflicts of competence between the various national legislations is one of the classic hurdles to be cleared in creating an increasingly cohesive European Union. This is an issue that has affected – or does affect – various areas of European law, including the area of succession rights. Yet it is not merely a legal problem: it is an issue that, unfortunately, has a major bearing on painful individual and family affairs of many European citizens who, when a relative passes away in a Member State other than their home country, must, on top of everything else, deal with complex legal problems that are too often afflicted with differences between the two countries’ legal systems. Lastly, the European Certificate of Succession also helps to cover over a legislative gap that, over the years, has inevitably caused problems in all Member States and major inconvenience to many citizens at a particularly difficult time in their lives.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. (PL) The increasing mobility of EU citizens means that they face great difficulties in asserting their succession rights abroad. The inheritance law of Members States is very diverse and related to local tradition, which means that cross-border proceedings are extremely complicated and confusing for the participants. The EU has 27 different legal succession systems and every year, around 450 000 international succession proceedings are opened. It is important to create a single transparent procedural system that helps Europeans to pursue their succession rights.

The report on a regulation creating common rules regarding matters of succession in the EU and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession is a very complex and ambitious project. This will not affect national rules, but will make it easier for people who own property in more than one Member State. Statistics show that around 1.5% of residents in EU Member States are citizens of other countries in the Community; they will be able to decide, based on the new provisions, in which country the future administration of their estate should take place. Furthermore, the introduction of a European Certificate of Succession, which will constitute evidence of the status of heir, recognised in the territory of all the Member States, will make it easier for holders of such a certificate to exercise their rights, resulting in shorter and less costly proceedings.

I congratulate the rapporteur, and I hope that these new legal mechanisms will facilitate a practice often fraught with many problems involving different procedures and formalities, and which create more stress for citizens at such difficult times.

 
  
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  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE), in writing.(PL) Cross-border succession issues have not hitherto been regulated at EU level, which has entailed many difficulties for successors. Both substantive law and rules on international jurisdiction as well as applicable law differ considerably across Member States, and I therefore welcome the European Commission’s proposal. Issues such as adopting a broad definition of inheritance, a broad concept of the court, regulation of the court’s jurisdiction and the introduction of a uniform statute of succession are important solutions facilitating succession with cross-border implications.

The recognition of documents with significance for succession matters and a European Certificate of Succession also constitutes progress, aiming to speed up matters of succession with cross-border implications. I welcome the report, and I am pleased that the Commission has approved most of the solutions proposed by Parliament back in 2006 in its resolution with recommendations for the Commission on succession and wills.

Thanks to this proposal, citizens in the European Union are guaranteed legal clarity and certainty as well as a clear basis for the formation of their estate. Thanks to these provisions, Europeans will be able to exercise their rights in the internal market more effectively. Legal clarity and legal certainty are the most important elements which should be guaranteed in the area of succession law. The regulation strengthens these aspects, benefits the public and guarantees added value for the European Union.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. – I am abstaining on this proposal, which provides for the introduction of a European Certificate of Succession which would serve as proof of heirship or power of administration in all Member States. Ireland, like the UK and Denmark, has not opted into this proposed regulation. The principal reasons for the decision taken by the Irish Government not to opt in to the regulation relate to the use of ‘habitual residence’ as the connecting factor in the absence of a choice of law. While progress was made in relation to the issue of habitual residence, the issues of administration of estates and the restoration of lifetime gifts (clawback) were not resolved and, as a consequence, Ireland will not be reviewing its position on application of the regulation.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) During the plenary session of March 2012, the European Parliament adopted the compromise text negotiated with the Council of the European Union on successions, which brings three years of work and discussions to a close. This text recognises the principle of the movement of authentic instruments, which means that an instrument will have the same probative effects (content, date) in one Member State as in the issuing Member State. Above all, it recognises the universal competence of notaries in spite of the different succession settlement systems within the European Union, which should guarantee more efficiency between the systems. Among the other noteworthy advances, the text introduces the European Certificate of Succession (ECS) in order to facilitate the quick settlement of an international succession. With this certificate, heirs and legatees will be able to assert their direct rights in the succession. Finally, the reserved share principle, which is not recognised in all Member States, is preserved.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I abstained from voting on the European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession because, due to the specific regulation of certain aspects of succession in their countries, the UK and Ireland have announced that they will not contribute to this regulation. It is very important that these countries should opt in to the regulation, particularly for the citizens of our country who often go to work and live in these countries, and we therefore need to find additional means of reaching a compromise with these countries on the succession issue, so that these countries opt in to this regulation. I agree with the creation of a single framework throughout the European Union to address succession issues. I also welcome the creation of a European Certificate of Succession because I believe that this document will help heirs, executors and administrators to avoid many unnecessary administrative procedures, but both the UK and Ireland must participate in the framework to guarantee a single framework without exceptions.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the Lechner report, which is a real step forward for the European Union with regard to succession. Having been the subject of a compromise, the Lechner report advocates the principles of the circulation of authentic instruments and the protection of the reserved share. Moreover, it allows for the creation of a European Certificate of Succession for use by heirs and legatees having direct rights in the succession. Finally, in order to safeguard notaries’ competences, the report expressly provides for their universal competence.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The underlying principle of the proposal for a regulation is to eliminate all obstacles to the free movement of persons and their rights deriving from the particular variations in succession regimes in Member States. The proposed regulations aim to increase legal certainty for both testators and beneficiaries. The essence of the regulation is to implement the model of a uniform status for an estate where, in relation to one estate, regardless of the nature of its contents or the location thereof, the provisions of one legal regime apply, this having been selected by the testator as the applicable law. This avoids fragmentation of the estate and reduces problems in exercising successor rights under different legal regulations.

At the same time, we must consider whether the proposal fully realises the intended possibility of protecting the estate upon death. There is no doubt that the possibility of selecting the applicable law to resolve matters of succession in conjunction with the European Certificate of Succession allows for such protection. However, this is a formal aspect of this regulation, consisting of its introduction into the legal system. It has great potential. However, it depends on the material aspect of the actual opportunity for entitled persons to benefit from these institutions. We need to consider how to encourage the behaviour described by us in these provisions. This is the whole problem with the draft regulation. In addition to creating legal tools, we need to persuade entitled persons to use them.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR), in writing. – Although I am aware of the obvious difficulties and legal uncertainties that this proposal aims to resolve (in terms of simplifying the legal position for citizens in Europe by allowing the management of estates of deceased persons where these cover more than one Member State to be based upon the law of only one jurisdiction), my abstention in the vote concerned is due to the fact that this regulation presents a certain difficulty which is, mainly, that due to the haste in which negotiations have been concluded in Council and with Parliament, concerns still exist with the solution found for the varying practices across the Member States dealing with administration of the deceased’s estate.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) The free movement of people within the European Union ranks among the greatest successes of the European project. However, the great diversity of rules among the various Member States with regard to succession is a constraint on this freedom of movement and causes legal uncertainty. I voted in favour of this text, which aims to prevent legal battles in the case of successions where the laws of several countries could apply. Thanks to this regulation, citizens will be able to decide, in accordance with specific criteria, which EU Member State’s law they wish to apply to their succession. In addition, the text provides for the creation of a standard Certificate of Succession common to Member States, which will help heirs, in particular, to demonstrate their rights in any Member State.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing. (FR) I wanted to support the report of our colleague, Mr Lechner, on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. It had become necessary to adapt to the changes in society, in this instance, the constant rise in mixed marriages within the European Union and the legal problems that this can cause. This report therefore advocates the creation of a European Certificate of Succession in order to simplify notarial procedures with regard to cross-border successions. In this way, it will be easier for heirs to assert their status as heir in a cross-border context. It is another step forward for the people’s Europe, which proves that Europe offers concrete solutions in order to strengthen mobility within the European internal market.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I believe the adoption of this proposal will make handling cross-border successions considerably easier. However, I abstained because the UK Government opted out of this proposal.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) The right of testators to be able to choose their home country’s law as the law governing their succession must not be put up for discussion. The European Certificate of Succession is the best way to regulate this option. Accordingly, I agree with the rapporteur and my vote is in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Union has set itself the objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice in which the free movement of persons is ensured. For the gradual establishment of such an area, the Union is to adopt measures relating to judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, particularly when necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market. The proper functioning of the internal market should be facilitated by removing the obstacles to the free movement of persons who currently face difficulties asserting their rights in the context of a succession having cross-border implications. In the European area of justice, citizens must be able to organise their succession in advance. The rights of heirs and legatees, of other persons close to the deceased, and of creditors of the succession, must be effectively guaranteed. In order to achieve those objectives, this regulation should bring together provisions on jurisdiction, on applicable law, on recognition or, as the case may be, acceptance, enforceability and enforcement of decisions, authentic instruments and court settlements and on the European Certificate of Succession. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The report’s idea of enabling citizens who own property in several Member States, or who live in a Member State other than their own, to plan their successions adequately and at lesser cost is very timely. If the report is adopted, it is obvious that, by making clearer which laws apply and when, the number of cross-border inheritance disputes will be reduced. The creation of a European Certificate of Succession should lead to greater legal certainty for people when writing their wills. It is a pity that Ireland and the UK will not be opting in at this stage. It is important to avoid creating a system where people can ‘forum-shop’ and move to countries which have opted out in order to avoid commitments in their home Member States. In general, I consider the work of the rapporteur positively.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Considering how long there have been fundamental freedoms in the EU, it is astonishing that the EU has only in the last few years started to pay greater attention to the legal problems for citizens arising from freedom of movement. It makes sense to establish rules that it is possible for the average citizen to understand. In view of the change in circumstances for families in Europe in particular, citizens must be able to be sure which law is applicable in their particular case. This proposal represents a step in this direction and that is why I have voted for it.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which puts the need to protect the reserved share of the estate at the centre of the debate. In order to allow cases of international succession to be settled quickly, the regulation introduces a European certificate. This certificate is for use by heirs and legatees having direct rights in the succession in order to demonstrate specific elements, such as their status as heirs or the attribution of a specific asset. Uniform connecting factors for determining court competence and applicable law are the nub of a European solution. Deceased persons who had been habitually resident outside their home country and who had not made a choice of law would be subject to the law on succession of the country of residence. That would be new for all Member States. The European Certificate of Succession should be restricted to cross-border matters. Any entity dealing with an estate – courts, authorities, notaries, etc. – should be competent to issue it.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this proposal, as it represents an important step in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, which is still limited by a number of EU Member States’ rules governing cross-border successions. The aim of this regulation must be to make life easier for people, including heirs, to reduce costs and to ensure rules are clear and applicable throughout the Union. Therefore, it is extremely important that the European Parliament and the Council are working towards finding a fair agreement that can be inclusive of all the different sensibilities and legal traditions in the Union. Regarding this point, I would like also to express the hope that Member States with doubts will continue to be part of a dialogue based on the general principle of testamentary freedom and the willingness to reduce administrative burdens for families in Europe, which will lead to greater legal certainty for people when writing their wills.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I supported the adoption of this report, as I have supported all other legal frameworks that simplify cross-border formalities, safeguard Europeans’ freedom of movement and make Europe more integrated. The new regulation is very important in order to reduce the legal contradictions in inheritance-related matters and avoid disputes between various parties in the case of wills involving the legal systems of several EU Member States. This corresponding regulation, however, now makes it possible to choose between the laws of the home country and the country of permanent residence in cross-border inheritance matters, and that will make trans-European criteria clearer as regards the decision of which Member State’s laws will be implemented if the estate is subject to the laws of more than one Member State. As a Liberal, I am glad that European citizens will have the right to choose the most convenient way to conduct their official business in matters of inheritance, and the new legislation will make people’s lives much simpler in this area.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The initiative to establish a European Certificate of Succession and lay down a new choice-of-law right, which would make citizens more autonomous, should be welcomed. However, given the importance of this issue, we must not make hasty decisions. Detailed discussions should take place so that when applying this regulation, we prevent any abuse or opportunity to circumvent the law’s provisions. Any person habitually resident outside their home country, or intending to be so, must be guaranteed that when choosing the applicable law, they do not face an additional burden and succession issues are resolved appropriately and effectively.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The proposal for a regulation establishing common rules on succession and creating a European Certificate of Succession, which I voted in favour of, is in keeping with the conclusions of the Tampere Summit and subsequent efforts and initiatives to harmonise rules of law between the Member States. This initiative is a useful follow-up and supplement to a series of regulations such as the Rome I and II Regulations and the Brussels I Regulation. This harmonisation exercise will help considerably in establishing security of law in the common market and in the single European area and highlights the consistent efforts by Member States to achieve a high degree of mutual judicial assistance. Extending this commitment to areas of law, the regulation of which has hitherto been left solely to the legislative initiative of the Member States, such as succession law, illustrates that the Member States are dedicated to their common path and is highly encouraging.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) There are 450 000 cross-border successions open in the European Union every year, representing inheritances totalling over EUR 120 billion and around 10% of all successions. The purpose of this proposal for a regulation is to prevent legal conflicts and long court cases for heirs, where the legal systems of more than one Member State are applicable. One of the new measures is the creation of a European Certificate of Succession, designed to clarify the legal position of the testator, and to safeguard the rights of heirs and other parties, including creditors. I voted for this report because I believe these measures could contribute to making these processes more efficient and faster.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The result of this report is that deceased persons who had been habitually resident outside their home country and who had not made a choice of law will, in future, be subject to the law on succession of the country of residence. This is a new concept for all Member States. The Commission proposal is rounded off by the establishment of a European Certificate of Succession. It would not constitute a final, unappealable ruling on a particular succession; rather, it would be a certificate relating to that succession. It would be used on a cross-border basis as proof of entries in registers and, as a safeguard for persons acquiring succession property, would enjoy a presumption of accuracy.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today’s plenary session saw the vote on the report by Mr Lechner. The new regulation aims to facilitate the execution of wills and avoid long and costly procedures if a European citizen dies in a Member State other than his home country and his will involves more than one national legal system. According to Mr Lechner, cross-border successions account for 10% of successions in the EU, at almost 450 000 per year with a value in the region of EUR 123 billion. The new European rules would also introduce a European Certificate of Succession. This could ease legal procedures and ensure that the rights of heirs are respected alongside those of the other parties involved, such as creditors. Overall, this would making the procedure quicker and clearer, while use of the certificate would be voluntary. The new regulation will not apply in cases of succession for people who stay in their home country and does not alter national legislation on succession, property or tax, nor would it entail any harmonisation of national procedures.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) It has taken three years of work in order to arrive at a compromise text between our institutions. This text, which I endorsed, should facilitate successions and avoid conflicts where a person dies leaving a will involving the legal systems of more than one Member State. It should be remembered that cross-border successions account for 10% of all successions in the EU. The new arrangements, which will enter into force in 2015, will expedite procedures and reduce administrative formalities for heirs by introducing harmonised criteria concerning the national law applicable to the will where the estate concerns more than one Member State (the default rule will be that of the last place of residence of the testator). It will also make it possible for people living abroad to choose their country of origin as the reference for the applicable law when drafting their will. Finally, it is worth highlighting the creation of a European Certificate of Succession, devised in order to clarify the legal situation of persons making a will and to assist heirs and creditors in proving their status and safeguarding their rights throughout the Union. I only regret that the UK and Ireland have opted out, and that it will not apply in Denmark, which will reduce the impact of the text on the ground.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Our group is in favour of the report as adopted in the Committee on Legal Affairs. It calls though for a second reading in order to give the UK the possibility of opting in.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing. (FR) Even at the height of the crisis, the EU continues to work to make life easier for its 500 million citizens. Today, Parliament has adopted an important text that seeks to facilitate the settlement of cross-border successions and to avoid conflicts where a person dies leaving a will involving the legal systems of more than one Member State. According to some studies, successions of this kind account for 10% of all successions within the Union and involve EUR 123 billion.

It has taken more than three years of discussions in order to arrive at an agreement on this extremely sensitive matter for the Member States. Thanks to this new regulation, a Spaniard living in France will now be able to decide whether his heirs will inherit under French or Spanish law and thus avoid costly proceedings leading to the legal uncertainty of the past. In the absence of any intent expressly declared by the deceased, it will be the law of the country of residence that applies. This simplification applies to all of us and reflects a Europe of free movement, which is proactive, coordinated and provides protection.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Thanks to this vote, European citizens can plan their will properly and personally. It will provide legal certainty on a complex issue. European citizens will, at long last, be able to choose between the legislation of their own country or that of the country to which they have moved. The regulation will smooth, simplify and streamline cross-border succession. Perhaps it will not be possible to solve all the problems, but there will definitely be improvements. A European Certificate of Succession issued by a notary will improve citizens’ autonomy.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I abstained on the Lechner report on succession and wills because of the failure of the UK Government to influence the content of this new law by opting out.

 
  
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  József Szájer (PPE), in writing. (HU) I would first of all like to thank Mr Lechner because we can all be proud of the enormous work he has done, even more so since this is Mr Lechner’s last report, as, after 14 years of service, he will be leaving the ranks of the European Parliament in March this year. I am pleased that we had the opportunity today to vote on a topic that had been anticipated by citizens for a very long time. Living in the border town of Sopron, I am acutely aware of the administrative difficulties and barriers to the assertion of rights that citizens have to face more often than not in cross-border affairs. This, unfortunately, leads to diminished legal certainty, which is, however, an exceptionally important factor in respect of succession. I supported this report because with its adoption, the administration of cross-border succession cases will be significantly simplified, giving citizens a secure, predictable basis for disposing of their inheritance, thereby allowing them to save considerable amounts of time, energy and money. Although the report has not been in the spotlight of the international media, I do believe that it is votes such as this that truly show the worth of our work. The very reason for our being here as Members of the European Parliament is to discuss matters such as this and to represent the true interests of European citizens. Let us represent them instead of debating baseless, fervent accusations instigated by certain political interest groups against specific Member States.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In October 2009, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council intended to lay down the proper conditions for European Union residents possessing goods in various Member States to be able ‘to organise their succession in advance and effectively to guarantee the rights of heirs and/or legatees and of other persons linked to the deceased, as well as creditors of the succession’. In order to achieve a cross-cutting solution for all the Member States, it is crucial to lay down a single set of reference criteria for succession rights, specifically regarding the handover, administration and liquidation of the legitimate owner’s goods. I am voting for the submitted proposal, which guarantees increased legal certainty for citizens resident in the European Union, since the criterion of habitual residence will now be in force for the competent court to apply its own legal system. Finally, it is important to stress that no changes will be made to the normal succession process for citizens habitually resident in their country of origin who own property in that country. Property that citizens own outside their country of origin will also be covered by the legal system of their country of residence.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. An ever-increasing number of European citizens are moving during their life from one country to another within the EU to live, study, work or retire. The number of EU-27 citizens who are resident in a different Member State to their Member State of origin reached approximately 12.3 million in 2010, marking a rise of 3 million compared with 2005. In order to settle successions in the EU involving any cross-border aspect in a quick, easy and effective manner, heirs, legatees, executors of a will or administrators of an estate should be able to demonstrate easily their status and/or rights and powers in another Member State, for instance, in a Member State where the succession property is located. Therefore, the regulation envisages the creation of a standard certificate, the European Certificate of Succession, which will be issued for use in another Member State. In order to comply with the principle of subsidiarity, the certificate should not substitute internal documents which may exist for similar purposes in Member States.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I have voted in favour of the report because it simplifies and improves the right of self-determination for the citizens of the EU with regard to their personal succession. In future, everyone will be able to choose between the inheritance law of their native country and of the country where they live. The possibility of establishing foundations remains unaffected by this.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – This proposal seeks to make cross-border successions easier and to prevent conflicts by the determination of the applicable law, in order to facilitate everything it proposes. On the one hand, it creates a European Certificate of Succession aimed at protecting beneficiaries’ rights and, on the other hand, it establishes the law that will be applicable. Therefore, this report has to be supported. In the case of inter-state succession, the applicable law will be that of the country of habitual residence. A citizen drawing up a will could decide about the applicable law in his/her will, choosing between that of the country where he/she had their last habitual residence and that of their country of origin.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report proposes unifying rules on jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition of courts, in situations in which the citizens of a Member State reside in another Member State, so as to clarify situations about which there are currently doubts in relation to succession rights. As such, the European Commission is proposing the creation of a European Certificate of Succession. There is a need to protect the public from the existing shortcomings in the present legal provisions regarding the free movement of persons between Member States. However, there is a need to ensure that succession rights and all relevant provisions in this regard result from an expression of national sovereignty, which should be respected.

We would also like to mention that it is regrettable that this report, like others, was not made available in a timely manner in all language versions; specifically, the Portuguese version. Such situations jeopardise respect for the principle of multilingualism in the European Parliament and equality between Members, irrespective of their country of origin and native language.

 
  
  

Report: Sophia in ’t Veld (A7-0041/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) All European citizens should have full citizen’s rights. I am voting for this report, since it stresses that, despite our being one of the most prosperous and developed continents in the world, there is some way to go as regards gender equality, particularly in relation to seeking wage equality between men and women in the same posts.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report on the progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2011. Sensitive issues of today’s society are reflected and incorporated in the report: implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, abortion, the gender pay gap, the role of women in decision making and the use of quotas in company boards or in politics, and maternity leave. These are still under-solved and unequally treated problems in Europe and I believe, with improved support and further actions identified, Europe will improve the living environment for its citizens.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) It is not possible to fulfil the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy on creating an open, inclusive society, capable of providing considerable resources supporting the European Union’s sustainable development in the medium and long term, without adopting a resolute approach to tackling a number of problems which Member States’ societies are facing in terms of gender equality. In these circumstances, it is important for Member States to adopt legislative measures aimed at providing equal, effective economic independence for men and women in Europe’s societies. One issue directly linked to this objective is that of equal pay for men and women. In the absence of sustained efforts, the 17.5% gap between the incomes earned by men and women cannot be reduced.

Resolving the issue of gender disparity in decision making is just as important to the successful achievement of the European Union’s medium- and long-term objectives. At a time when 60% of higher education graduates are women, the fact that just 12% of members of the executive boards of the large listed corporations and only 3% of managing directors of large European companies are women provides further evidence of the systemic problems we are facing. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because, although equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the European Union, there is still huge gender discrimination in the labour sector. This situation, in 2012, is unacceptable. Women across the EU earn 17.5% less on average than men. I would like to underline that women represent 60% of new university graduates but continue to be under-represented in economic decision-making posts. Indeed, within the EU, on average, only 12% of the executives of the major listed companies are women, with only 3% female chairs. In times of economic crisis, strengthening women’s position in the job market is not only a moral imperative but also an economic necessity. For this reason, Member States must invest in affordable, high-quality facilities for the care of children, the elderly and other dependent persons, making sure that as many people as possible can combine professional and private life. I also would like to express my great concern about the legislation in some Member States which does not expressly forbid the handing of pre-signed resignation letters to employers when women are recruited, which has the effect of enabling maternity laws to be circumvented. Any further delay in that prohibition is intolerable.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Ms in ’t Veld’s report advocated the introduction of target quotas to increase the number of women on executive boards and to reduce the pay gap between women and men. In principle, all of this is in line with my commitments. However, I abstained on this report in order to express my disagreement with one of its proposals, which called on ‘the Commission and the Member States to elaborate proposals for the mutual recognition of civil unions and of same-sex families across Europe’. It should be pointed out that the European Union does not have the power to amend the family law of the Member States. I believe that the European Union should fully exercise those powers it does have, but it should not give the false impression that every subject falls under the EU’s jurisdiction.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The EU is making considerable efforts to promote greater equality between women and men in all EU policies. I agree that many issues still need to be addressed, particularly the proper evaluation of social employment, and the question of social security and pensions for people caring for children or elderly persons at home. I agree that it is essential to increase investment in affordable, high-quality facilities for the care of children, and in care homes for the sick, the disabled, the elderly and other persons requiring care, and to ensure recognition of length of service and social security for carers.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) In the yearly speeches on 8 March, everybody speaks in favour of equality between men and women, yet, in actual fact, this is a more delicate matter and attitudes are only slowly evolving. Discrimination against women persists, whether in terms of pay, the participation of women in decision making or their representation in politics. While supporting the action by Commissioner Reding, who has recently launched a consultation regarding the measures to be adopted in order to reinforce gender equality, the in ’t Veld report, which I fully endorse, seeks to go further and calls on the European Commission to propose legislation on the introduction of quotas for the executive bodies of companies in order to improve women’s representation. Quotas are never a panacea. Nevertheless, if used on a provisional basis, they can be precious tools for doing away with relics from a bygone era. Today, only 13.7% of women sit on the executive boards of listed companies in the EU. That is clearly not enough. Despite European conservative opposition, Parliament has demonstrated that it is, and will remain, fundamentally progressive on this issue.

 
  
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  Phil Bennion (ALDE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the report as a whole as it sends a strong message of our shared commitment to reduce inequality as a result of discrimination.

It is crucial, however, to stay firmly realistic in our objectives, and to work with Member States in order to achieve workable common goals.

For this reason, I had to abstain on paragraph 9 relating to the Pregnant Workers Directive – negotiations on which are ongoing. The wording implies that the Council should adopt the Parliament position on this. Whilst not all bad, the Parliament position contains some unrealistic demands for a ‘one size fits all’ maternity leave arrangement, which, if adopted, could perversely discourage employers from hiring women in the first place in some Member States, as compliance could prove too burdensome.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I could not vote in favour of this report because its content goes well beyond defending equal rights between men and women. Instead, it tries to promote outright positive discrimination at the expense of a meritocracy, which should be the only criterion taken into consideration, particularly with regard to jobs. As a result, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the European Union, enshrined in the Treaty on European Union. Despite the gradual progress in the area of gender equality, many inequalities between women and men still remain. Despite countless campaigns, targets and measures in recent years for equal pay, for equal work and work of equal value, the gender pay gap remains stubbornly wide. On average, women across the EU earn 17.5% less than men and there has only been a marginal reduction of the gender pay gap in the last few years. The Member States must therefore redouble their efforts to implement existing EU provisions with the aim of closing this gap. Violence against women still remains one of society’s most sensitive and severe problems. Therefore, the European Parliament calls on the Commission to present as a matter of urgency an EU-wide strategy to end violence against women, including a legislative criminal law instrument to combat gender-based violence as requested by Parliament in several resolutions. The European Parliament also calls on the Commission to establish 2015 as the EU Year to End Violence against Women.

 
  
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  Arkadiusz Tomasz Bratkowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) Equality between women and men is a fundamental principle of the European Union. It is guaranteed by a range of legal regulations aimed at ensuring equal levels of employment, wages and working hours, which, unfortunately, are not always observed in practice. Traditional social divisions between women and men which are deeply rooted in societies contribute to this, and they can be changed gradually – through media campaigns focusing on gender equality, for example. Discrimination against women in terms of payment for the same work is particularly striking, and it should be noted that it is harder for women to achieve a balance between work and family life. A fair policy of equality between women and men should be of fundamental importance not only socially, but also in terms of the economy, since it leads to the expanded production capacity of the relevant sector of the economy, and thus to an increase in the level of employment and greater competition in the labour market.

 
  
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  Zuzana Brzobohatá (S&D), in writing. – (CS) Although gender equality is one of the fundamental principles of the EU, fundamental differences remain between the sexes in many areas, whether differences of pay, employment opportunities, social security or representation in higher managerial or public positions. The report on gender equality in the EU, drawn up by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, strongly advocates a continuation of the intensive fight to eliminate these inequalities and supports a strengthening of the position of women in European society. In addition to this, it also calls for protection of the rights of people living in same-sex relationships, and for the promotion of equality and protection of the rights and dignity of women living beyond the borders of the EU, particularly in Muslim countries. I consider all of these elements to be very positive and desirable, and I have therefore decided to vote in favour of adopting the report.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) This report, which is drafted each year, addresses three sensitive issues. It goes well beyond the issue of equality between men and women in the European Union. I believe that this report is too general and does not take sufficient account of specific national circumstances. I regret that the amendment tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), which pointed out that the definition of ‘family’ falls under the subsidiarity principle, was not adopted. A majority of my colleagues have stated their approval of a uniform understanding of the concept of family by voting to uphold the original version of paragraph 7.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The report presents a weak analysis of the causes of the economic and social crisis and its impact on women and any objective in terms of changing the policies applied is therefore missing. Nonetheless, I voted in favour of the report because numerous measures are proposed to address gender-based inequalities. It calls for equal representation of women in social, economic and political life and proposes important improvements. Specific binding measures are proposed in order to protect and promote women’s rights, such as pension rights, maternity and paternity leave, access to health based on the gender aspect, protection from all forms of violence and equality in pay, political representation and promotion to positions of political and economic responsibility. One basic point in the report is the reference to women’s rights regardless of their social status, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity. The Commission is also called on to implement its commitment to mainstream gender equality into the Common European Asylum System. Finally, it quite rightly notes that families are diverse and comprise married, unmarried and partnered parents, different-sex and same-sex parents, single parents and foster parents, who deserve protection.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Despite gender equality being one of the fundamental principles of the EU, the problem of inequality still persists. The Commission has made countless proposals for combating this inequality – in particular, the Europe 2020 strategy – but progress has been too slow, unfortunately. It is even clearer at a time of economic crisis that improving the position of women in the labour market and making them more economically independent is an economic necessity, apart from being a moral imperative. Currently, 60% of new graduates are women. However, it is very difficult for them to enter professional life at their level of training and there is a wage gap that must be reduced: on average, women earn 17.5% less than men. It is also crucial to step up measures enabling the reconciliation of professional and family lives. Particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable groups of women, who are at greater risk of social exclusion, poverty and extreme human rights violations. I call on the Member States and all stakeholders not to limit themselves to advocating the use of words to achieve gender equality, but to make all necessary efforts and take all necessary action to prioritise it in both their social and their economic strategies.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE), in writing.(SV) It is important to initiate debate about, and draw attention to, the fact that we still have a long way to go on the road to equality. It is also good that the report emphasises the importance of taking a strong line against domestic violence. I voted against the report, however, as I regret the fact that it has, to a certain extent, been hijacked by family policy, which does not belong at EU level. We must show respect for different cultures, traditions and religions. Issues such as parental leave, budgetary measures and political priorities in respect of equality issues should be left to the Member States to decide at national level. What we can and should do instead is increase our commitment to enabling the increased participation of women, but creating legislation on quotas at EU level is not the way forward. We want to encourage women into leadership positions in all areas, but the way to get there is via jobs and by eliminating the exclusion of many immigrant women by increasing access to jobs.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – I very much welcome the emphasis placed in the EP’s resolution on taking much greater account – through gender impact assessments – of the effect on women of the economic crisis and the responses to it. The impact of the necessary fiscal consolidation must not fall disproportionately on the shoulders of women. There have to be clear gender dimensions to our growth and jobs strategies. I endorse the call for a European equal pay target of reducing the gender pay gap by 10% in each Member State. Gender pay differentials for work of equal value are transmitted into later generations in the form of lower pensions for women and higher poverty rates amongst older women. They need to be tackled now. I welcome the call for EU legislation, including quotas, to increase female representation on company boards to 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020 and for legislative measures at national level to ensure balanced representation of women and men in politics. In this context, I believe we can learn from the very active participation of women at Community level, work which should be more highly valued at both national level and EU level.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing.(RO) Although an extensive theoretical framework has been established providing guidelines for eliminating all forms of discrimination against women, inequalities remain in every area of activity. In the current financial and economic climate, strengthening the position of women in the labour market is not only an ongoing moral argument but also an economic necessity. There is the ever-growing risk of poverty and social exclusion, while the austerity measures adopted by some Member States in recent years have been imposed on top of the harsh reality of a lack of support mechanisms for women, in a climate of discrimination on the labour market and in society. Measures for supporting families and children have been abolished or reduced at a time when the health care and pre-school education systems are experiencing difficulties and there is a lack of utilities and medical care in rural areas, which has resulted in a sharp decline in the living standards of families with children.

Furthermore, salaries have been cut in budget sectors in which women predominantly work, such as education and health, which has led to a substantial drop in incomes. Against this background, we call on Member States to implement urgent support measures by creating effective mechanisms for tackling poverty and supporting families, with the aim of achieving gender equality.

 
  
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  Joseph Cuschieri (S&D), in writing. – Reference is herewith being made to the in ’t Veld report (A7-0041/2012) on ‘Equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011’. The abovementioned report contains certain clauses related to abortion (paragraphs 47, 57 (2/RCV-EFD), 58 (2/RCV-EFD, 59, 61 (2/RCV-EFD) and Recital R) which, in my opinion, fail to recognise that this is an issue of national competence, and which I did not vote for. Nonetheless, the gender equality report also contains other definitely positive clauses, which focus on barriers that prevent gender equality and which aim to end gender-based violence. There are also essential clauses which focus on gender dignity, integrity and the protection of women and their economic and political rights. Hence, I voted in favour of the final text of this resolution.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Since violence against women, including psychological violence, is a major obstacle to equality between women and men and a violation of their fundamental rights, remaining one of the most widespread human rights violations in the EU, I think that Member States and the European Commission must move towards individualised social security systems in order to improve women’s autonomy and position in society.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE), in writing. (FR) I am pleased that the European Parliament draws up an annual report on equality between women and men. Despite the ambitious and exhaustive nature of the 2011 report, which I welcome, I chose to abstain. This report covers the many aspects of the issue of equality between women and men. It accordingly proposes a range of measures relating to economic independence, equality in pay and decision making, the place of women in managerial positions and female entrepreneurship, as well as the combating of violence against women. However, some of the issues covered – I am thinking of issues relating to family policy – should not, in my view, be addressed at EU level and that is why I decided to abstain.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) By adopting the report by Ms in ’t Veld, we have opened the way for quotas of women in positions of major responsibility in companies. The report clearly calls on the Commission to draft legislation to increase the number of women on the executive boards of companies to 30% by 2015, and to 40% by 2020. If Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner responsible for fundamental rights, decides to introduce these quotas following the outcome of the consultation, she now knows that she will have Parliament’s support, and it is therefore a done deal. We should not forget that Belgium has been one of the trailblazing Member States on this issue. I welcome that!

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this motion for a European Parliament resolution on equality between women and men in the European Union because it represents a key priority of the EU for the coming years. The motion explains the crucial importance of overcoming gender disparities and any form of gender and sexual discrimination, also by explaining in clear and unequivocal terms the economic importance of gender equality for growth and in the fight against poverty. Europe 2020 contains in its priorities the goal of a 75% employment rate for women by 2020. Improvements have been achieved; however, because of the economic crisis, it is important to accelerate in this direction. This document tackles the problem through a pragmatic approach, underlines the current situation and calls on the European Union and its Member States to enhance their efforts, not only by providing sufficient funds to build a due balance between men and women in our societies, but also by being the promoters of a change in people’s mindset and traditions.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, which once again shows that promoting gender equality is a process made up of steps forwards and backwards. The difficulty of balancing family and professional lives, wage differences and the many other discriminations to which women are subjected constitute obstacles to women’s increased participation in the labour market and to their professional achievement. As rapporteur for the draft revision of the Maternity Leave Directive, I consider it crucial that the European Council take a position on the proposals adopted by the European Parliament; all the more so, since this legislation could make a significant contribution to promoting equality between men and women, and respond to the needs of European families and the economy itself.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The principle of equality is, along with freedom, one of the pillars of the democratic rule of law. It is because I believe in the importance of the principle of equality that I believe men and women deserve the same opportunities, and should both be in a position to achieve management and leadership roles in the world of business. However, this should be achieved by removing the barriers that still remain for women – such as, for example, the negative impact of motherhood on career progression – and not imposed through regulation and quotas. As I have had occasion to say numerous times, unless they are temporary, quotas only diminish women rather than guaranteeing them equal access to a profession, to public office, or to management and leadership roles in business. Moreover, in the field of private enterprise, the imposition of quotas could constitute an intervention limiting shareholder freedom and could, as such, be in breach of Article 16 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which sets out the principle of freedom to conduct a business. I therefore advocate adaptation to fit these two fundamental principles.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Ms in ’t Veld, analyses the report on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011. The role of women in so-called modern societies has, in recent decades, been increasingly valued owing, in large measure, to the greater open-mindedness of communities in the countries of northern Europe. On their own merit, women have gone from a position of subservience to and dependence on men, due to their dual position of mother and housewife, to a position of equality cemented by their emancipation, education and professional training. The principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ is not respected in all fields of work. Moreover, motherhood means that women are overlooked by many companies and are only able to achieve management or leadership positions at great cost, despite accounting for 60% of new graduates.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report highlights some of the main reasons for discrimination between men and women, which are directly related to their economic and work situation. Choosing to do this denotes the correct approach, which we view positively. The report proposes positive measures that promote economic equality and equality in working conditions between men and women. However, the European Union’s present political and social situation is an unavoidable aspect of this debate. If the so-called austerity measures advocated by the European institutions – the majority in this Parliament, in particular – are continued and enshrined in the treaties, as intended, they will lead to enormous steps backwards in terms of equality between men and women: the even further weakening of labour relations, with the watering down of the principle of collective bargaining; higher rates of unemployment; increasingly precarious jobs, which particularly affects women already; and a reduction in the public child care network, which is essential to alleviating the excessive burden that falls on women. Firmly rejecting this route, and defending and improving the rights of women workers, constitute a precondition for defending equality between men and women.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The EU is an important player in the fight for gender equality and against discrimination. Despite making every effort, gender equality has not yet been achieved in the EU. Legislation may have changed, but the traditional gender roles and gender stereotypes remain a significant obstacle to fundamental change. Economic independence for women and men is key to achieving gender equality. There is a risk that the current economic crisis will set us back a few years, since it ultimately affects women more than men.

I therefore consider that efforts to improve labour market participation and access to leading positions in, say, company boardrooms must remain a high priority on the political agenda. The difference in the status of men and women in some countries outside Europe is often dramatic. Women have fewer rights, or even no rights whatsoever. The EU and Member States must do much more to bring about an improvement and to rectify this situation. What is needed is not only sufficient financial resources, but also, I firmly believe, a radical change in mentality and traditions in particular.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – I voted against a number of clauses of the in ’t Veld report on ‘Equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011’, especially those relating to abortion, which, in my opinion, fail to recognise that this is an issue of national competence. I also abstained on a number of paragraphs which, in my opinion, were ambiguous. Having said that, however, the report highlights a number of issues and concerns, especially those relating to barriers that prevent gender equality. One example is the employment rate of women, which remains far lower than that of men; another is unequal pay for equal work. The report also contains essential clauses which focus on dignity and integrity, as well as an end to gender-based violence. In this respect therefore, and considering the abovementioned reasons, I decided to vote in favour of the final text of the resolution.

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D), in writing. (FR) Every year, the European Commission publishes a report on the state of gender equality in Europe. Unfortunately, the same findings recur every year: gender stereotyping, ancestral taboos and an outdated view of the division of roles between women and men persist, preventing any improvement in the circumstances of women in the European Union. In 2011, the crisis helped make the situation worse, since, in affecting women more severely than men, it undermined their economic independence. Employment, access to positions of political and economic responsibility, freedom and sexual health: all issues that still require a continuous struggle in order to achieve genuine gender equality. This also has to be a daily struggle, in everyday life as well as in the European Parliament, where, at every opportunity, almost one third of Members regrettably call into question the issue of access to contraception and abortion.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Every year on 8 March, politicians on all sides rush to point out that equality between men and women is absolutely vital. Yet here, once again, as is unfortunately often the case where equality is concerned, there is a significant difference between what is said and what actually happens. Inequalities persist, as well as discrimination. I also voted in favour of this report, which calls for the introduction of quotas in the decision-making bodies of companies in order to improve women’s representation. I repeat that quotas should not be the only response and systematic tool for fighting against discrimination. However, at the present time, this is the most efficient way of rebalancing the situation, as there are still too many anachronisms and barriers in our society.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) If we look at the state of equality between women and men in 2011, we see that the economic crisis has affected women more than men, further undermining their economic independence, which is often precarious. I therefore voted in favour of this report because it highlights the problem of the pay gap between men and women doing the same work and with the same skills, and suggests setting a European target to reduce the pay gap in each Member State by 10%.

Moreover, since voluntary measures do not lead to convincing results, the use of quotas is required in order to see more women access positions of major responsibility within companies. I also support the proposals that would enable increased representation of women on the executive boards of companies, so that this representation reaches 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. – There are many positive aspects to this report, in particular, the call to Member States to invest in affordable high-quality facilities for those who need care, as well as the proposal to ensure that men and women who are caring receive recognition by giving them individual social security and pension rights. Also, recognition and validation of skills acquired during care-related leave should be considered by Member States.

The report speaks of economic independence for women and this is linked to employment opportunities and equal pay for equal work of equal value. The fight against sexual violence is crucially important and needs to remain as one of the top priorities of the EU, and I believe the definition of family needs to be broad enough to include different types of households.

I cannot, however, support the rapporteur’s views on access to abortion as in conscience, I do not support abortion.

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE), in writing. (SV) We believe that the principle of subsidiarity must be respected. Matters such as possible legislation on quotas, parental leave, budgetary measures relating to equality issues and national policy priorities should therefore be decided at national level.

 
  
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  Mary Honeyball (S&D), in writing. – Labour MEPs voted for this report as we believe it outlines the many proactive measures that could be taken in bridging the gap between the position and status of women and men. Great strides have been made in creating gender equality in the EU; however, we still have lots to achieve. In order to create parity and fairness in the single market, we believe that these measures should be taken at EU level. We are disappointed that the British Conservative party sought to water down many parts of the report by putting the needs of small business ahead of the well-being of workers who are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breastfeeding. The EPLP will not vote to prioritise the needs of business over the safety of workers and will continue to work towards better safety standards across the board.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The European Union plays an important role in ensuring gender equality and combating discrimination. The aspiration to improve female labour market participation and access to positions of power, such as company boards, needs to stay high on the agenda. Nevertheless, despite this document’s positive aspects, I abstained from voting because I believe that the compulsory measures introduced, which should be taken by the business sector to increase female representation in all types of EU companies, are inadequate and would perhaps restrict freedom to carry on a business. We need to start with the public sector and share good practices with the business world. The business sector itself has to decide what is best for it, and it is not for us to set compulsory measures. Discussions about the economic crisis and its consequences continue, and we are seeking compulsory measures to constrain the business sector as much as possible. Instead, we should boost economic growth and entrepreneurship.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson, Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing.(SV) There is still a great deal to do in order for the EU to achieve an equal society in which men and women are given the same opportunities. We therefore welcome the fact that these two reports indicate successful measures and illustrate the many obstacles that still remain. However, even though we voted in favour of the reports as a whole, we would like to emphasise that we do not believe that the focus should be on the EU forcing companies and organisations, by means of legislation, to take on a certain quota of women. Instead, we believe that there are other ways to break with the ingrained attitudes that prevent the participation of women, for example, by increasing skill levels, the use of mentoring and better support for women who want to focus on a career.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) This report on equality between men and women in the European Union contains many positive points, in particular, the parts on pay equality and combating stereotypes. I endorsed the articles on safe and legal abortion and on reproductive and sexual health. However, this report also addresses issues falling under the subsidiarity principle and contains several inconsistencies. I therefore chose to abstain in the final vote on the resolution.

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE), in writing. (FI) I voted in favour of the report by Ms in ’t Veld. Although the European Union leads the world in the area of gender equality, we have to bear in mind that there is still room for improvement. It is indisputable that women are under-represented in leading positions throughout Europe. It is essential to put this right.

As to the options available to us, we must be able to practise open assessment. There are huge differences between the Member States with regard to the position of women, so we firstly need to ensure that measures found to be positive and workable in the more advanced Member States are implemented across the Union. The impact of gender-linked factors in particular on a person’s career opportunities, such as starting a family or doing military service, must be taken into consideration.

It is nevertheless worrying that, even in countries which are very equal statistically or with respect to their legislation, there are obvious gender disparities in the number of those selected for positions, and particularly for managerial posts. The reasons for this need to be assessed. Without underrating the effect of the distortion caused by the ‘old boy’ networks, it is clear that an examination of the figures shows that we cannot just take into account those selected as managers compared to the entire population base: we also have to be able to see any gender disparities that might exist between those selected and numbers of applicants, and between numbers of applicants and the population base, and then arrive at the relevant conclusions. No quotas can provide any real solution, which is to say that selection of the most suitable candidates regardless of gender is the correct approach, as long as there continues to be a considerable difference between the sexes in their appetite for risk. That is why it is essential that both sexes, while still young, are also shown the importance of taking the initiative if they are to succeed in modern society. In the end, if you want something, you have to go out and get it.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The issue of equality between men and women is very sensitive and has to be tackled with the necessary precautions. Employment is more important than ever at times of crisis, given the concerning statistics we have seen on youth unemployment. One of the goals of our political activities, as part of the EU 2020 strategy, is to increase the employment rate among men and women aged 20-64 to 75%. We know that it is an ambitious target, but we have to do everything we can to reach it. Much remains to be done in terms of gender equality, especially in terms of employment, by trying to reduce the difficulties that women have in finding work and career opportunities. In future, we will also have to take action on compensation, where the gender gap remains very wide since, when men and women have the same job in the European Union, the men earn an average of 17% more than the women.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) Even though the issue of gender equality is discussed in ever more depth and ever more frequently each year and efforts are made and action is taken to change the situation of women in the European Union, traditional gender roles, taboos and stereotypes still ensure, to a great extent, that visible and far-reaching changes are impossible. In areas such as the economy and politics, men still hold the highest positions. It should therefore be stressed that equality between women and men is very important in order to achieve sustainable economic growth, employment, competitiveness and social cohesion. I would like to express my support for the reduction of gender-based wage differences, for an increase in the role of women in decision-making processes at all levels, and for the fight against gender-based discrimination and violence. I also believe that we should pay more attention to countries outside the European Union, where women have fewer or no rights. In connection with the above, I support the European Parliament’s resolution on equality between women and men in the European Union and voted for it.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – The European Union has an impressive record in fighting for gender equality anti-discrimination. Although I fully support the majority content of this report, I did not support paragraphs 47 and 58 and recital R, which refer to matters that are the competence of Member State governments.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Current economic and financial crises affect women more than men. Recovery projects that are under way focus on male-dominated jobs. The current gender pay gap is 17.5% even if women make up 60% of the new university graduates. Electoral quotas have been successfully introduced in France, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, Portugal and Poland says the voted report and therefore, it should be considered an option also for other Member States. I believe that it is necessary for the Commission to present an EU-wide strategy to end violence against women, including a legislative criminal law instrument.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I wanted to voice my strong opposition to this report, given that it contains numerous parts that are frankly unacceptable. It moves from recognising same-sex unions and families to assurances on protection for same-sex parents. I will never grow tired of repeating that there is only one kind of family: a father, a mother and any children they may have. I am not suggesting a ban on two people of the same sex living freely together, but the family is something else altogether and it must therefore have different guarantees and protective measures. The meaning of the terms ‘family’ and ‘parenthood’ derive from the very concept of humanity: indeed, only a union between a man and a women can lead to the conception of a new life and the continuance of the human race. We do not want to give in to these new ideas, which have sprung from nothing in recent years: human history and human nature cannot and must not be altered. Lastly, I would like to emphasise that the title of the report talked about equality between men and women, while all these references added to the text seem to be entirely different in content and significance.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) I chose to abstain on the report ‘Equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011,’ because, while I note many positive steps, there are aspects that made it impossible for me to support the text in full. One issue in particular influenced my decision, which was that regarding the definition of ‘family’. This is covered by the subsidiarity principle and, in my view, it falls under the competence of the Member States and not the EU.

 
  
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  Tiziano Motti (PPE), in writing. (IT) I did not vote on the report on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011 and I am sorry that I had to forego this right and duty. Many of its statements are principles that I have always supported and promoted: salary inequality is still unacceptable, with a 17.5% gender pay gap; the difficulty of staying in work after one’s first child is born; a more acute risk of poverty for women; the objective of the EU 2020 strategy to achieve a 75% employment rate for women; the need for a gender budget that takes account, in all public dimensions, of the different needs for equal rights between men and women. However, an opportunity has once again been missed. The true meaning of this resolution has instead been twisted into a demagogic wasteland in an attempt to make everyone happy, while actually not pleasing anyone, and going so far as to even deal with the adoption of children by same-sex couples, while lamenting the definition of the family and parenthood as ‘too restrictive’ in some Member States. I think these issues are worthy of extensive debate, as are the reflections on liberalisations regarding de facto couples, including same-sex couples. However, purely for reasons of political strategy, the text voted on today should not have been the place for it.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) I am very happy with the results of today’s vote on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2011. We have managed to achieve a more progressive equality agenda than ever before, which also addresses the sexual and reproductive health of women and women’s rights and access to affordable, high-quality contraception and safe and legal abortion. Just as great a success is the establishment of quotas for management and decision-making positions in business and politics, and the reduction of wage differentials for the same work.

I am pleased that we have a common goal, so that women will enjoy the same status, rights and opportunities as men in today’s society. While this is a relatively long process, we can help it along together.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I concur with the views expressed in this report and believe that it accurately reveals the circumstances that prevent the safeguarding of gender equality in the European Union. Today, it is clear that while the work that has been done to ensure gender equality is yielding results, it is doing so slowly. In order to ensure women’s active participation and full involvement in social life, politics and the labour market, bolder and more binding methods must be implemented than those that have been implemented hitherto. Before the implementation of such methods (for instance, election quotas, quotas regarding the representation of women on the boards of large publicly traded companies, etc.), however, a better overview must be obtained of the degree to which women are represented in different types of companies and of the voluntary or compulsory measures that have already been implemented. In addition to the gathering and presentation of such data, I consider that we should demand an analysis in all Member States of wages earned for equal or equivalent work (in addition to a comparison of average wages), for which purpose guidelines for the evaluation of equal or equivalent work must also be prepared.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) It should be noted that the guarantee of equal opportunities for men and women is a fundamental EU value. It is therefore very important for appropriate conditions to be created for both men and women to achieve a good work-life balance. The state should create opportunities and the law, but people have to make decisions themselves. The Member States should, as a matter of urgency, draw up legislative plans for the regulation of maternity and paternity leave in order to respond to the needs of European families and the European economy. Given the ever-increasing world population, family planning should be a priority on the political agenda. It is also very important for greater progress to be made to reduce the maternal mortality rate and to increase access to high-quality reproductive health services. Furthermore, the Member States should pay greater attention to social employment and ensure that it is recognised and rewarded appropriately.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I supported this report because equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the European Union, but many women still face discrimination, poverty and stereotypes in everyday situations. As the rapporteur pointed out, in the EU Member States, on average, only 12% of the executives of major listed companies are women, with only 3% female chairs. Furthermore, women earn 17%, and in Lithuania 19%, less than men for the same work. As mentioned in the debates, more progress has been made where the Member States have set quotas and other legally binding measures, and there is a much greater guarantee of gender equality. It is therefore essential to take action at both national and European level so that women have greater opportunities to participate in decision making in the public and private sectors and we need to improve the position of women in the labour market and increase their economic independence to reach a 75% employment rate for men and women in the EU by 2020. I also agree with combating violence against women and those calls to seek gender equality outside the EU.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) As a staunch advocate of equality between all human beings, irrespective of sex, ethnicity, age, religion, etc., I cannot support proposals fighting for positive discrimination in favour of women that is ever broader and more profound. I believe women’s sexual and reproductive health should be enhanced. However, I do not support the expression ‘reproductive rights’, which has been extended to the so-called ‘right to abortion’, when it should be restricted to desired family planning. I do not support this, since it ignores the rights of the unborn child. Having voted against the aforementioned items, I nevertheless voted for this report.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) Equality between women and men is a fundamental principle of the European Union and, in spite of the progress that has been made, many inequalities still remain between women and men. I call on European institutions and Member States to devise a clear strategy aimed at rectifying the gender pay gap, including a European target to reduce the pay gap by 10% in each Member State, thereby ensuring equal pay for women and men for the same work and the same qualifications. Member States must include female workers in particular in training and vocational training programmes for ‘green jobs’, which are regarded by the Commission as a ‘key growth segment’ of the European labour market.

The representation of women in the political decision-making process has not shown any improvement. The gender balance in terms of representation in national parliaments has remained unchanged at 24% for women and 76% for men, while the percentage of female members of parliament in certain Member States does not exceed 15%, with women accounting for 23% of ministers overall. The Commission must propose legislation, including quotas, in 2012 to increase female representation in corporate management bodies to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020, while taking account of specific economic, legal and regional features.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that the present economic crisis could affect more women than men, the Union needs to adopt a more proactive attitude, so as to reduce gender inequality within the EU. As such, the intention is to implement the practice known as ‘affirmative action’, so as to increase women’s participation in the labour market and their access to the positions of power traditionally occupied by men. I believe this report constitutes a crucial step towards greater equality between men and women, so I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D), in writing. (ES) In recent years, the situation of women in the Union has either stagnated in some aspects, or worsened in others. The economic crisis has had a negative impact on the position of women in the socio-economic domain, given that the cutbacks in social services, salaries and employment have hit women harder than men. It is paramount that gender equality continues to be promoted in the EU and that Member States are requested to make this a priority issue within their economic strategies. I therefore voted in favour of this report. The report is quite correct when it comes to female representation in all types of companies. It is vital to collect comprehensive data on female representation in the Union in order to be able to assess the measures taken by the business sector of the Member States with the aim of increasing this representation. The use of quotas is an effective tool and is still a necessity to increase female representation, given that it leads to advancements towards gender equality and somewhat alleviates the consequences of the economic crisis for women.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. (FR) One hundred and one years after International Women’s Day was first celebrated, there is one clear conclusion: inequality remains, and that includes the European Union. For this reason, this afternoon’s vote on the report by Sophia in ’t Veld on equality between men and women in the European Union in 2011 is important. Whilst there is no shortage of goodwill, mentalities have changed little and the ‘glass ceiling’ is as tough as ever.

I strongly support two of the published priorities. The first aims at ending violence against women. Its everyday occurrence in all forms (physical, sexual, mental or economic) is worrying. In Belgium, domestic violence is the number one cause of death amongst women aged 15 to 44. The other priority concerns the objective of equal pay for women and men for the same work and the same qualifications. There is no justification for women earning 17.5% less, on average, than their male counterparts.

I would also like to mention the policy on quotas advanced in the report. Even applied in small doses to corporate management bodies, I do not think that offsetting de facto inequality with legal inequality would be the right solution and one that would lead to a real change in mentalities. After all, this is the objective that we are striving to achieve.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The European Union has been an important player in fighting for gender equality anti-discrimination. However, in spite of the best efforts, gender equality in the EU is far from being achieved. Legislation may have changed, but traditional gender roles, gender stereotyping and taboos remain an important obstacle to fundamental change. The economic independence of men and women is key to gender equality. The current economic crisis risks putting us back years, as it may ultimately hit women harder than men. So, efforts to improve labour market participation, and access to positions of power such as company boards, need to stay high on the agenda. The gap between the position and status of women and men in some countries outside Europe is often dramatic. Women have fewer rights or no rights at all. The EU and its Member States need to do much more to improve the situation of these women, starting with their health. It is not only sufficient funds that are needed, but also a radical change in mentality and tradition.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) I am strongly opposed to the report. Instead of putting forward initiatives so that effective equality between men and women can be achieved democratically at work, in politics, in decision making and in terms of salaries, it sets out to bring in recognition of same-sex families and delves once again into the issue of the ‘necessity’ of abortion.

Another thing that confirms still further my choice to vote against the report is that it aims to guarantee the reproductive rights of women, regardless of their sexual orientation. This would mean that men who feel like women would be given the chance to have children or even adopt them. The report also contemplates the idea that families do not only include married parents, but also same-sex parents, thereby allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. A report that could have garnered comprehensive support for the rightful recognition of women’s rights has been transformed into a nonsensical series of statements about the presumed rights of so-called same-sex families who want the option to adopt children. I think that the family – in the strict sense of the word – can only be considered as such when it comprises a man and a women and any children they may have.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) Equality between women and men is a fundamental principle of the European Union, enshrined in its founding treaties, recognised by the case-law of the Court and regularly evoked by all the EU institutions. Yet, in practice, it is far from recognition: the pay gap remains, with women earning just under 20% less than men on average, they are under-represented in economic and political decision making, and still vulnerable to physical violence and verbal abuse. I voted in favour of this report as it highlights the areas in which the Member States still have to make progress, puts forwards tangible proposals and also considers the position of women outside of the European Union by advocating greater international cooperation. Gender equality should no longer be considered as a stand-alone policy, but should be fully integrated across all policy areas in order to produce tangible effects.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing. (FR) The facts are now clear: throughout their working lives, women still find it difficult to reach the top of professional hierarchies. On average, women in Europe still earn 17.5% less than men, only 12% of executives are women, and only 3% of executive board chairpersons are women.

Equality between men and women is not only a democratic imperative and a boost for the necessary fight against all forms of discrimination, but also an economic necessity and a social requirement. Thus, I support the measures contained in this resolution, notably relating to the adoption of new laws, if the Member States do not honour their commitments in terms of imposing quotas to consolidate female representation in corporate management bodies, with the aim of increasing this representation to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020.

Nevertheless, I had to abstain from the vote on this resolution, even though I share many of its conclusions, due to the doggedness of a number of my colleagues. They wish to forcibly impose opinions relating to the subsidiarity and culture of each Member State, whether on the sensitive issues of abortion or the definition of family.

 
  
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  Edward Scicluna (S&D), in writing. – I am happy to support the report by Ms in ’t Veld on gender equality. Even now, the gap between the position and status of women and men is wide in a number of European countries. We still have a gender pay gap, with women earning an average of 17.5% less than men, and a lack of representation of women in politics and on company boards. Only 12% of executives of major listed companies are women. These are problems which, if necessary, must be addressed through legislation and quotas. Targets and quotas should, however, respect the specificities of each country accordingly. The report contains several recommendations on abortion which I do not support, as can be seen from my vote on each of the respective amendments. However, I feel the report is an important and valuable contribution to advancing women’s rights and gender equality in society.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Even though the European Union has been working for years to combat discrimination between men and women, and regardless of the cultural progress that has been made, gender equality is far from being achieved for various reasons, one of which is economic. We therefore need to drive improvements in the working status of women. Efforts to improve labour market participation, and access to positions of power such as company boards, need to stay high on the agenda. The gap between the position and status of women and men in some countries outside Europe is often dramatic. Women have fewer rights or no rights at all. Through this vote, the EU commits to doing much more to improve the situation of these women, starting with their health. Not only sufficient funds are needed, but a radical change in mentality and tradition.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI), in writing. – I have consistently spoken out against quotas and positive discrimination. All discrimination creates victims. I cannot possibly support this report.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour and support the need for a maternity leave directive.

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR), in writing.(PL) This report is feminist bigotry. The European treaties never granted the European Union a right to interfere with the family law, labour law, or social security law of the Member States, particularly in the context of mutual recognition of homosexual unions. The pressure for European legalisation of abortion is contrary to the law of the treaties. The report adopted today undermines confidence in the process of European integration. Such an interpretation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights clearly shows that our concerns about the role that the Charter would play were entirely justified. The Left still fails to understand that the Member States never granted the European Union the authority to deal with abortion. The height of this feminist bigotry is to call on religious leaders to change their views on the protection of human life from conception or on contraception. This reeks of totalitarian restrictions on freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on equality between women and men in the European Union because gender equality is a fundamental principle of the EU and, in spite of the progress that has been made in this area, many inequalities still remain between women and men. I voted for Amendment 28 because I think that the definition of ‘family’ is a matter of subsidiarity. I voted for the call to Member States to use Structural Funds for the period 2007-2013 to develop child care services to enable both women and men to combine their professional and private lives. Given that women across the EU earn, on average, 17.5% less than men, we have called on Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the European measures with the aim of closing this gap. I voted for the call made to European institutions, Member States and social partners to devise a strategy for tackling the persistent gender pay gap. I voted in favour of introducing legislated parity systems and gender quotas both for parliamentary assemblies and for management positions in companies, public administration and political bodies, taking into account the good practices operating in states like France and Spain.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union has been playing an important role in the struggle for equality between men and women. However, and despite the great efforts that have been made, there is still much to do in this area. As such, there is a need to ensure equality in terms of economic independence and decision making, and of promoting equality between men and women outside the EU. In view of the amendments proposed by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I have voted against the report. As with many proposals, it represents a permanent breach of subsidiarity and takes the EU’s general over-emphasis on integration to new extremes. Combining a large number of paragraphs, only some of which are similar and have suitable content, gives the impression that everything falls under the heading of women’s rights. For example, there is specific mention of the fact that it is regrettable that many Member States provide support for families. In my opinion, supporting families is a fundamental political issue which I do not want to disappear. Incorporating political mistakes into the fabric of society, as the rapporteur suggests, will not make these mistakes any better.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Gender equality is far from being achieved in either Lithuania or the EU. The report states that although legislation has been changed, traditional gender stereotypes remain a serious barrier to fundamental change. The gender pay gap can be seen very clearly in Lithuania. The gender pay gap in Lithuania is over 21% – one of the highest rates in the EU, which has increased by 5% over the last six years. Consequently, the gender pay gap may reach 25% in a few years, unless appropriate measures are taken. The gender pay gap is more visible in the private sector where women are paid less than men for doing the same job. A report published by the Institute for the Study of Labour states that in the EU, the gender pay gap problem is not just a glass ceiling issue but also a sticky floor problem. For example, the gender pay gap is greater both among the highest earners and the lowest paid in Lithuania. In order to improve the situation, there should be more transparent pay scales in companies and more severe measures against companies that fail to comply with the principle of gender equality. Faced with the crisis, there should be an even greater focus on economic equality. Lower wages for women inevitably mean not just lower incomes, but lower pensions.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – Equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the EU. Therefore, it is vital that the Commission take tough initiatives to tackle inequality. I voted in favour of the report, which highlights that when national measures to ensure equality are inadequate, the Commission should propose legislation to reduce the gender pay gap and quotas to boost female representation on corporate boards and in political bodies. An EU equal pay target to reduce the gender pay gap by 10% in each EU country is a great initiative and places emphasis on the European Parliament’s commitment to the important issue of equality.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which gives a fairly comprehensive overview of the position of women.

In short, despite the unquestionable advancements made to everyday life, in particular, by our mothers and our grandmothers, equality between women and men is far from being reached. It seems to actually be losing ground in view of the policies pursued by certain Member States in relation to social rights or the fight against discrimination based on sex, notably within the context of the budget cuts imposed by the economic crisis, of which women are often the first victims, both in terms of work and health.

I am pleased that the Members of the European Parliament are reaffirming their commitment to the right to abortion, to contraception and to longer maternity leave and calling for a debate on the means to fight against gender stereotypes, notably through a non gender-specific education and the promotion of equality between women and men from the youngest possible age.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The key to gender equality is the economic independence of men and women. The current economic crisis mainly hits male employment, but cuts in public spending are expected to have a disproportionate impact on female employment. The rapporteur suggests that efforts to improve labour-market participation and access to positions of power need to stay high on the agenda, with which I fully agree. Its adoption will improve equality between women and men in the European Union.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – The ECR Group was unable to support this report due to the nature of its content. We feel that the bulk of this report would erode the individual Member States’ right to subsidiarity. We do not believe that the EU should be interfering in issues such as maternity leave, targets and quotas for women in business, pension and social security matters, redefining the family unit and other such references to social policy. Whilst the aims and objectives of this report are commendable, we do not believe this report addresses equality between men and women in a meaningful way, and have therefore voted against it.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report highlights some of the main reasons for discrimination between men and women, which are directly related to their economic and work situation. We do not agree with some of the measures advocated, such as the introduction of quota mechanisms for electoral, appointment and administrative bodies; the solutions that these provide for the problem of inequality between men and women can only be artificial. The report does, however, propose positive measures that promote economic equality and equality in working conditions between men and women.

Unfortunately, if the so-called ‘austerity’ measures advocated by the European institutions – the majority in this Parliament, in particular – are continued, they will lead to enormous steps backwards in terms of equality between men and women: the even further weakening of labour relations, with the watering down of the principle of collective bargaining; higher rates of unemployment; increasingly precarious jobs, which particularly affects women already; and a reduction in the public child care network, which is essential to alleviating the excessive burden that falls on women.

Firmly rejecting so-called ‘austerity’ measures is a precondition for defending equality between men and women and defending workers’ rights.

 
  
  

Report: Sirpa Pietikäinen (A7-0029/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I agree with the main conclusions of this report, despite its claim that there has been a significant change in women’s representation levels, including in the most senior positions. It is entirely justified and an important requirement for the balanced operation of a democratic society that principles of equality be adopted in this area.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this important resolution on the imbalance in participation by women and men in political and public decision making, political parties and social partners. I support the invitation to the Council, the Commission and the Member States to design effective gender equality policies for achieving parity in participation in political decision making and leadership at all levels. I believe that Member States should introduce in their legislation gender quotas for elections. As an instrument to improve gender balance, I support the initiative for the Member States to set targets based on parity between sexes for the political parties as a prerequisite for funding. I also support the suggested measures for the European institutions and their political or administrative bodies to follow the same pattern.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This week, the European Parliament fought for a cause that is dear to me, through two reports on equality between men and women. In the first proposal, my fellow Member, Sirpa Pietikäinen proposed the consolidation of the participation of women in political decision making through the introduction of quotas and targets. Indeed, I think that quotas are henceforth a necessary evil in order to remedy inequality that has no place in the 21st century. Therefore, it was without hesitation that I supported my colleague’s proposals.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) In spite of current legislation and International Women’s Day, the participation of women and men in political and public decision making remains completely uneven. Women are under-represented both in posts that are filled through election and those that are filled through nomination. The European Parliament itself must also be reformed since, given that only 35% of its Members are female, it still has a long way to go before equality is achieved. The Pietikäinen report, which I voted in favour of, calls for the introduction of a quota system for candidate lists for party bodies and elections. It is time for the political parties to accept their responsibilities and to recognise the extent of their role as key actors in the promotion of parity. Nevertheless, regardless of what national situations may be, the Member States should consider introducing legislative measures, such as positive action measures, as well as also implementing effective sanctions. At the same time, the media and education also have an important role to play as it falls to them to make a change by promoting efforts to eliminate stereotypes and encourage the portrayal of positive images of women in managerial positions and by running awareness-raising campaigns.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) Women are still under-represented in political decision-making assemblies across the European Member States. Women account for 24% of the members in national parliaments, while in the European regions, the gender balance in regional assemblies has hardly changed since 2004. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Commission to look into the fact that these percentages appear to be static and that no improvements are being seen. This phenomenon could be explained by the traditional barriers that women face, such as the lack of financial resources, stereotypes, and difficulties in managing family and political life. I therefore support one of the measures put forward by the rapporteur, which involves designing and implementing effective strategies at EU and national level for increasing women’s engagement and participation in decision making and leadership, through quantified targets, regular monitoring mechanisms and clear action plans. I also think that active and tangible measures should be promoted in order to ensure gender balance in all governing bodies and public appointments. In my opinion, in order to enhance women’s political participation, there is a need to address structural barriers that prevent women from participating actively in politics.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) This report on the representation of women in political decision making is not worthy of support. In fact, we need to carefully consider the call made in the report on adopting special measures to boost the political representation of women from ethnic minorities. Secondly, I cannot support the idea of imposing a pre-determined quota for women in national and EU government roles, since this rule would violate all meritocratic ideals.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because there is an imbalance in participation by women and men in political and public decision making and clear under-representation of women in elected and nominated political positions at European Union and Member State level. The persistent under-representation of women is a democratic deficit that undermines the legitimacy of decision making at both EU and national level. The European Parliament therefore invites the Council, the Commission and the Member States to draw up and implement effective gender equality policies and multifaceted strategies for achieving parity in participation in political decision making and leadership at all levels. Moreover, the Council, the Commission and the Member States should enforce parity at all levels by sending clear anti-discrimination messages, by providing appropriate resources, by using specific tools, and by promoting necessary training for civil servants responsible for preparing budgets in gender budgeting. In its report, the European Parliament also calls on the Council, Commission and Member States to enable women and men to take an active part in political decision making by promoting reconciliation and a balance between family life and working life by means of measures such as sharing the costs of parenthood equally between both parents’ employers and ensuring accessible and adequate care services for children and the elderly, for instance.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) Political parties play a vital role in encouraging the participation of women in politics. Political parties have the right to recruit, select and appoint candidates, irrespective of the electoral system. We must therefore address the issue of women’s under-representation in politics and guide political parties and their positions and strategies so that they apply principles enabling greater participation of women when setting up decision-making bodies. I appreciate that this report calls on political parties in the Member States to adopt measures for the greater participation of women in politics, but I do not agree with the call to establish quotas. On the contrary, I am a supporter of looser forms of regulation in the form of targets and more general rules for determining the ordering of candidate lists for national elections and elections at EU level. One possible incentive might be an obligation for parties to fulfil certain targets in the area of equal representation as a precondition for the granting of funds to the party. In these circumstances, I consider it important to note that the European Parliament, comprising 35% women and 65% men, has the most balanced gender representation.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this own-initiative report on women in political decision making. The report highlights the large disparity with regard to the position of women throughout the Member States. I think that the EU institutions should set an example on the subject of parity and I hope that this report will allow a process promoting the participation of women in politics to be set in place in the other Member States. It is through concrete measures that we will succeed in changing mentalities.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The active participation of women in political decision making, on an equal footing with men, is essential if sustained equality, development and democracy are to be achieved. Gender balance is a question of equality, but also a guarantee of a better quality of democracy, since it contributes to decisions in which there is greater diversity and participation. The European Union’s commitment to this cause has been well known, particularly through measures like the ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’. This report emphasises traditional obstacles to women accessing public posts, such as financial difficulties, a predominantly male culture, reconciling family and political life, and the stereotypes that still predominate in the media. As such, there is a need for concrete and structural measures to make the political participation of women a clear reality, particularly through a commitment to training, guaranteed equality of opportunity in accessing campaigns and presenting a positive image of women as leaders. The political parties also have a crucial role to play in combating the under-representation of women in political decision-making assemblies across the EU Member States. I am therefore voting for this report.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the great majority of Member States, women are still under-represented in the public and political decision-making processes, especially in the most senior positions. This is all the more significant when we consider that women account for almost 50% of the workforce and that more than 50% of recent graduates are women. This inequality casts a shadow over the majority of Member States, as well as at European level. In this Parliament, 35% of Members are women, whilst one third of the Commissioners are female. These are positive signs that need urgent encouragement to become more widespread. The persistent under-representation of women constitutes a democratic deficit, with the end result being that the legitimacy of decision making at national and EU level is weakened. I am therefore voting for this report, which seeks to encourage the setting out of strategies and the adoption of concrete measures to promote the balanced representation of women at all levels of political and public decision making. I have serious doubts that the quota system is the best solution, so I am abstaining on the related items.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE), in writing. (SV) I voted against the report because I do not believe that quota systems are the solution to the equality problem. It is important that we commit ourselves to strengthening the position of women, but women must progress on the basis of their competence and skills and by means of a change in social attitudes. It is by educating our children and young people that we can change the view of the role of women in the long term and overcome stereotypes. Men and women must have the same opportunities when it comes to political decision making, and appointments must be made on the basis of merit, not gender. Quota systems and dictating from above will not resolve the imbalance. The way to make progress must instead be based on freedom of choice. Financial independence is the way to equality. For example, we must make it easier for women to become entrepreneurs and create the conditions for women to have the courage to start their own business.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) A set of data published by Eurostat in connection with International Women’s Day highlights the fact that in the European Union, women are much more vulnerable to the risk of poverty and social exclusion than men, and the most severe cases of this are encountered in Romania and Bulgaria. Mothers, especially single mothers, elderly women and women in rural areas are the main victims of the effects of the economic and financial crisis.

The representation of women in the political decision-making process has not shown any linear improvement in recent years and in certain Member States, the number of women in national parliaments does not exceed 15%. Women are noticeably under-represented in political positions across the whole European Union, and the lack of parity is prevalent in every sector of activity. The active involvement of women is an economic necessity in the current climate. This is why it is vital to create mechanisms for implementing gender policies aimed at achieving parity with regard to involvement in the political decision-making process, thereby ensuring that these measures are effective.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Since women’s participation and representation in senior positions in the political decision-making process are still affected by various obstacles such as the absence of a supportive environment in political institutions and in society’s welfare structures, the persistence of gender-based stereotypes and the consequences of the recent economic crisis and its negative repercussions on gender equality issues, I think that Member States and the Commission must encourage women’s networks and promote mentoring, adequate training and exchanges of good practices, and relevant programmes, with a particular focus on women policy makers embarking on their career.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE), in writing. (FR) In order to encourage the still too slow progress of parity in politics, this report sets out a number of concrete proposals which I support unreservedly. Notably, it stresses the key role played by political parties on this issue and, to this end, it proposes the use of quotas during elections, as is already the case in a number of European countries. The report also rightly addresses the required parity in nominated positions, especially at European level.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) In adopting the report by Ms Pietikäinen today (by 508 votes to 124, with 49 abstentions), we have called on the Member States and the Commission to take legislative measures to establish parity between men and women, and we have asked the European institutions to extend it to all levels. The proportion of women involved in political decisions has not changed in recent years and, in some decision-making bodies, has even gone down. The report therefore calls on national governments, after the 2014 European elections, to simultaneously put forward a man and a woman as their candidates for the office of European Commissioner. We also believe that the role of the European Institute for Gender Equality should be strengthened. The result of the vote shows that Parliament has the political will to take active measures to increase parity, and that is something I am very happy about.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the motion for a European Parliament resolution on women in political decision making – quality and equality – because it addresses a clear and fundamental problem in our political practices. Women, despite the broad and shared acknowledgement of the need for equality in gender balance – especially in power and decision making – still face strong differences and barriers in their access to politics and public administration positions.

It is worrying that during recent years, no real and consistent improvements have been achieved as regards this crucial issue. The motion calls on the Commission and the Member States to elaborate clear measures to be implemented, such as a system of quotas to be applied by the Member States at all levels of policy making, including the areas of macro-economic policy, trade, labour, budgets, defence and foreign affairs.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because it advocates the introduction of gender quotas to European legislation and the political systems of the EU Member States. In order to guarantee parity between men and women in the political decision-making process, including on electoral lists and in the EU’s top jobs, there is a need for binding measures and penalties at national and European level. I would also argue that, following the 2014 European elections, the national governments should put forward a man and a woman to occupy the post of European Commissioner.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) While I am a firm advocate of the principle of equality, I do not think greater representation of women in politics should be achieved by means of strict quotas. Without this solution, and on the basis of their own merit, there have been extraordinary women who have left their mark on the histories of their countries and the world; with no pretence of an exhaustive list, I recall Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Indira Ghandi. I also recall Simone Veil, the first woman President of this House. In view of this, I do not believe that strict quotas guarantee women equal access to a profession, to political office, or to management and leadership roles in business. It is more important to guarantee women equal resources and opportunities. In conclusion, I would re-emphasise that initiatives in this area should be a Member State competence and that the principle of subsidiarity should be respected.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Women’s present lack of involvement in political life stems from ethno-cultural issues. The less developed a society is, the worse the situation of women regarding respect for their rights. Even in societies where their emancipation has earned them citizenship rights, gender equality continues to be an illusion. While there are areas, such as education, health care and social work, in which women are, little by little, rivalling or exceeding the number of men, there are others, like politics, where their involvement is increasing only timidly and through imposing legislation. While use of a quota system could jeopardise selection based on the principle of merit, it has nevertheless contributed to this increase. Despite the progress that has been made in recent times and the support policies implemented in the EU, much remains to be done. Across the EU countries, only 5% of the members of the various parliaments and 10% of ministers are women.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report starts by noting a fact: women are under-represented in elected and appointed posts in bodies under national sovereignty and in the European Parliament itself, as well as in what it calls the ‘top jobs’ in general. In order to solve this problem, it advocates using legal means to impose quota systems promoting parity in these areas. The approach followed by the rapporteur is reductionist and shorn of aspects critical, firstly, to a proper understanding of the problem and, secondly, to its fair solution. The civic and political participation of women in various areas – associations, trades unions, culture, inter alia – is made more difficult by limitations in terms of accessing education, culture and public services that result from economic difficulties caused, to begin with, by the wage inequalities of which they are victims and by the precariousness of their jobs. These are the issues underlying gender discrimination, which cannot be ignored and which limit the social, political and cultural involvement of women. It is these structural problems, which are expressions of class inequalities, that need to be combated. The solution cannot simply involve establishing artificial, formal and administrative equality, whilst forgetting the real problems of the overwhelming majority of women and keeping them off limits. We also reject any interference in the internal affairs of parties.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) At the level of the European Union and its Member States, there is an imbalance in the participation of women and men in political and public decision making, and women are clearly under-represented in elected and appointed political positions. Equal representation of women and men in the political decision-making process is a question of human rights and social justice, and a vital requirement for the functioning of a democratic society. The persistent under-representation of women is a democratic deficit that undermines the legitimacy of decision making at EU and national level.

I consider it important and justified to establish a favourable environment for women to participate in political life at all levels. At EU level, the harmonisation of professional, private and family life is recognised as an important priority in order to achieve gender equality, and women should be given the opportunity to participate in political life.

It is important to bring about the participation of women from different backgrounds in decision-making positions. Promoting gender-balanced representation in policy making in external relations, the fight against the marginalisation of women in political life – I firmly believe that these should be the aspects that must be taken into account in EU external relations, and that the appropriate financial and technical assistance should be provided.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Gender equality is, unfortunately, still a target for Europe and not a well-established practice. Simply by way of example, women are still under-represented in political decision-making assemblies across the European Member States, accounting for just 24% of members in national parliaments with varying – but all equally disheartening – percentages in the Member States. Even though theoretical equality has already been achieved in our legal systems, there are still many insidious cultural and practical barriers that too often prevent women from realistically aspiring to the positions of responsibility held by men. What goes in politics applies equally to the public administration, private business, teaching and the armed forces, and in all walks of society that involve a measure of responsibility and prestige. In a highly competitive global context like today’s, it is no longer acceptable that gender discrimination can have such a profound effect not only on professional prospects but also on the dignity of all women.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) Ms Pietikäinen’s report is really edifying. It is primarily based around the imposition of quotas of women, at all levels of decision making, and measures to compel positive discrimination. It is as if women can only see their merits recognised through sexist measures of this kind.

I will watch the votes of my French socialist fellow Members with amusement. A few years ago, their party was not gentle with their official (female) candidate for the presidential election. To move from there to believing that the designation of Mr Hollande rather than Ms Aubry is part of a chauvinist plot, is a step that I hesitate to take … I will also look at the votes of my fellow Members in the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) to see if they match their attitudes and reactions to the fate of certain female elected representatives in Paris, for instance, who have been asked rather discourteously to give way in favour of male colleagues who have been parachuted in.

In my area, in the Rhône, out of 14 constituencies, 12 are held by men. I remember the way in which Mrs Thatcher was treated here when she was prime minister of her country. Granted, she had attributes that many current politicians do not possess, and which must make them jealous of her. In short, I voted against this report.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Women must be better represented in political decision making. For years, this statement has been repeated, but the situation does not change. While the European Parliament shows its modernity in terms of equality between men and women, many political institutions, such as those in France, are lagging too far behind. Thus, I have supported this text, which calls for quotas to be established to strengthen participation by women in decision making. While I am not in favour of quotas, for the moment, this is the only way of ensuring that women are better represented.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) When will women have equality in politics? It is highly regrettable that the proportion of women involved in political decisions has not changed in recent years and, in some decision-making bodies, has even gone down. It is therefore a matter of urgency to take proactive measures for achieving parity in participation in political decision making and leadership at all levels.

Governments ought therefore, after the 2014 European elections, to simultaneously put forward a man and a woman as their candidates for the office of European Commissioner. The Member States and the Commission would also do well to take legislative measures to establish parity between men and women, and the European institutions ought to extend it to all levels. Above and beyond this political equality that we must defend, however, we must strive to achieve equality between the sexes in general. For, without these changes to political representation, there will be no way to change the outlook currently taken towards the public, economic, social and domestic spheres.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. – I strongly support the rapporteur in this report. Time-framed gender based quotas are an excellent idea and have been shown to work in many Member States. It is crucial that the untapped potential of women is integrated into political and economic decision making. I also support Commissioner Reding’s view that the public consultation which will take place should not be about whether we need greater numbers of women in decision-making processes, but about how to achieve that aim.

 
  
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  Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE), in writing. (BG) I supported this European Parliament resolution because gender equality is a fundamental principle of the European Union, and I sympathise with the need to increase the role of women in the political decision-making process. Although women have demonstrated their qualities in government, at the moment, they do not enjoy sufficient representation in political bodies and institutions at EU and national level. In this respect, measures have already been adopted in some Member States, but there is a considerable imbalance on the whole. I feel that electoral systems which take into account gender equality are a positive development, and I think that the actions in favour of this should be continued. I support the stance that specific measures need to be implemented to achieve equality when it comes to elected offices in national parliaments and the European Parliament because the level of representation of women in these bodies is currently less than a quarter for the EU. The same problem also applies with regard to gender equality in the executive of Member States and the European Commission. I share the view that European and national institutions must make efforts to achieve a gender balance at every level, both through legislative measures and through sending clear anti-discrimination messages.

 
  
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  Dan Jørgensen (S&D), in writing. (DA) I have today used my vote to support the desire for greater equality between men and women in politics in the EU Member States. With regard to municipal, regional, national and European Parliament elections, as well as elections to internal party positions, I do not believe that we need legislative measures or additional supervisory bodies to promote greater equality. Thus, we do not support compulsory gender quotas for elections in Denmark, as, in the Danish electoral system, the electorate – in contrast to the vast majority of other EU Member States – can already vote personally for the nominated candidates.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) This report stresses the imbalance in participation by men and women in public and political decision making. It also finds that participation by women in this sphere varies significantly from one Member State to another, and calls for effective gender equality measures to be developed in order to move towards parity in participation in political decision making. In addition, it welcomes the systems for parity and gender quotas for elections introduced in some Member States, including France. I endorsed this report during the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete (PPE), in writing. – I supported this resolution because it is important that women in the European Parliament are aware that the ideological differences of political parties and political groups should not overshadow the common goals and objectives of gender policy. Women in the European Parliament must unite in their fight for gender equality and women’s rights, not only outside the European Parliament, but within its walls. Because of our political ideologies and beliefs, we may have different political views in many areas, but working together we can achieve the important goal of improving women’s representation in the leading structures of the European Parliament, such as Committee Chairs and the Chairs of political groups.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR), in writing. – Although this INI report seeks to increase the number of women in political life and the aim of this report is commendable, my group is unable to support the report’s content. I do not agree with the report’s intent to create targets and quotas which Member States would have to impose on national political parties. Although I am not against national governments, political parties, and companies setting quotas at the national level (if they chose to do so), I am not in favour of targets and quotas being established at the EU level.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) I have voted in favour of the report because, despite the fact that women are in a majority in the population as a whole, they are still under-represented in political decision-making processes. Currently, only three EU Member States have female Heads of Government. Only 23% of the ministries in all the Member States are headed by women. The European Parliament, where 35% of the Members are women, stands out in this respect, but it is still a long way from achieving a genuine balance. Equality in society must be preceded by equality in politics and vice versa. The female members of the population must feel that they are adequately represented in the field of politics, which is why I strongly support the call for genuine equality of the sexes in political decision-making positions. It is time for us to recognise that voluntary systems do not work. A system of alternating men and women in all lists of electoral candidates, which will guarantee a balance between women and men in political positions, is the starting point for dismantling obsolete structures. This resolution is a concrete measure and, therefore, an important step towards providing active support for women.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) Although women account for 51.2% of Europe’s population, they only occupy 34% of seats in the European Parliament. I voted for this own-initiative report, which proposes very specific measures for increasing participation by women in political decision making and leadership at all levels. The report proposes that parity should be achieved within the European Commission and the European Union’s political and administrative bodies. It makes the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and the appointment of the next European Commission a key time to move forward on parity.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing. (FR) I wished to support the report by Ms Pietikäinen on women in political decision making, a few days after we celebrated International Women’s Day. The report backs the promotion of the principle of parity and the recommendation of quotas for women in the political sphere, which is already in force in some Member States, including France. This system of quotas for women could be implemented when drawing up the electoral lists of candidates for regional, national or European elections. The report also calls on the European Commission and the Council to work to achieve more parity in recruiting officials to high-level positions in their administrations.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which says that to ensure gender parity in political decision making, including electoral lists and top EU positions, binding measures and sanctions are needed at national and EU level.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The equal participation of women in power and decision making is not only promoted at international level by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but also at EU level by the Strategy for equality between women and men – 2010-2015. Gender equality in decision making is a question of quality and equality. There is no doubt that more balanced gender participation contributes to more diversified and better decisions. Women are still under-represented in all European Member States. This is down to a number of factors, including: a lack of financial resources, a predominantly male culture, stereotypes, and difficulties in managing family and political life. Through this report, we are aiming to encourage national parties to put measures in place to increase women’s participation.

We consider that active and concrete measures should be promoted at national level in order to ensure gender balance in all governing bodies and public appointments. Indeed, promoting gender-balanced representation in politics is a precondition for stable and transparent democracies.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Europe 2020 strategy includes the headline target of aiming to raise to 75% the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64. At times of economic crisis, strengthening the position of women in the labour market and economic independence is an economic necessity. The full inclusion of women in the European labour market must be a priority from this moment onwards, which is why I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The presence of women on the political scene is a real priority in achieving genuine equality between men and women. It is therefore important to take measures to help women to achieve a work-life balance and remove the obstacles that prevent them from getting involved in politics.

It is important, too, not to ignore the importance that the media can play in promoting women’s access to politics. They should eliminate stereotypes and encourage the positive portrayal of women as leaders.

Finally, it is crucial to encourage the participation of women from ethnic minorities, who are often edged out because of their gender and ethnic background. A balanced representation of men and women is essential for a stable and transparent democracy.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Women are still under-represented and constitute only 24% of the members in the national parliaments, 31% at regional level and 35% at European level. The Nordic countries have the highest level of elected women in the national parliaments in the EU, 42%. The rapporteur underlines the fact that the percentages are stagnating and that no positive trend can be noticed. Member States should consider introducing legislative measures such as positive actions to achieve parity between sexes, the voted report says. National parties should implement quota systems in those electoral systems where applicable and apply rank ordering rules to electoral candidate lists for regional, national and EU elections. The best way of improving women’s participation in politics is to have women candidates alternating with men at the top of electoral lists. I disagree with that because I believe that the most important thing in politics is the personal qualities of the candidates. Gender is not related to personal qualities.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) This report, which aims to increase the proportion of women taking part in decision-making processes, is, unfortunately, a complete failure. Instead of carrying out an objective analysis of the situation and proposing sensible, practical measures, it has deteriorated into a left-wing feminist tract. In addition to completely disregarding the subsidiarity of the Member States’ authority, it calls for mandatory quotas for women in management positions (boards of directors, supervisory boards, etc.). This type of measure is otherwise only familiar to us in the context of communist dictatorships and it contradicts the principle of private autonomy. Companies and other organisations, including public bodies and political parties, must be free to choose the person they appoint to a particular position. The decision should be made primarily on the basis of qualifications and not gender. Quotas for lists of candidates for European, national and regional elections are not practical because some Member States do not use the system of proportional representation, and they also make no sense. We must not restrict the freedom of voters to make their own decisions. They can use a preferential vote, for example, to choose the candidate they want. In addition, the various parties have different structures. A party with a majority of female members will nominate more women and vice versa. Finally, it is clear that the principle of supply and demand produces good results in this area, while mandatory measures dictated by the EU do not. This is why I have voted against the report.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted against this report because I think introducing quotas in relation to the representation of women in politics is absolute unnecessary. It is true that until a few decades ago, women were at a distinct disadvantage, but luckily, equal rights and opportunities for men and women have been in place in this part of Europe for at least 50 years.

There are rather a lot of examples of women in politics who reached the upper echelons of power through merit. This only came about because of their capabilities, and certainly not as a result of any special allowances. I think a quota system is also counterproductive for women, since merit would not be the focus, merely the numbers game. I am in favour of equality, in all senses: everyone should be able to take part in a competition, men and women alike, with the same rights and without any form of discrimination.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on women in political decision making because I believe that women must be given a more important role in the political world. Today, only through a policy of quotas and binding targets, like those applied in France, are women able to participate in political life on a larger scale. I support the proposals aimed at ensuring a better work-life balance in order to facilitate women’s access to decision-making roles and the obligation on political parties to pay attention to female representation. This is an important report, which must meet with a genuine response in all of the Member States.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I agree entirely with the spirit of the resolution; we must increase women’s involvement in important decision making in politics and business. However, we will not solve the problem with quotas that are introduced artificially. I believe that the attempt to establish quotas for elected political posts is contrary to the spirit of democratic elections. The Member States should therefore decide freely for themselves whether the introduction of such quotas should be considered and would be beneficial. In Lithuania, the country I represent, there is still a lot to be done in terms of improving women’s involvement, and reducing labour market segregation and the gender pay gap. However, there are areas where Lithuania exceeds the EU average, such as the number of women on the boards of major companies. In terms of the highest political posts, in Lithuania, women head two of the three branches of government – we have a female President and Speaker of the Seimas. In the Lithuanian Government, women are in charge of finance and defence. There needs to be more attention to gender equality aspects in the middle of the decision-making chain.

 
  
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  Tiziano Motti (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today, we have finally tackled an issue that posits the central role of women in a context which, for too long, has been seen as a male domain: political decision making. However, it also marks the start of a journey towards modernity. Allow me to explain: for us, modernity does not mean women’s quotas being enforced on Member States, regional authorities and so on down to company boards of directors. The women we support in politics are not simply puppets put up for election just to comply with regulations, but people who have made a conscious and deliberate decision to play an active part in politics. To these motivated, passionate women who manage their family lives, social lives and professional lives so that they might help to build a better society, whether public or private, we give our backing and the means to follow their inspiration. In some Italian regions, if two candidates are being voted for, then one of them must be a woman. This ‘Double Preference Gender Vote’ is a right afforded to anyone wanting to cast more than one vote. It seems to be the only way to allow good, educated, competent and generous women who want to serve in politics to succeed in doing just that.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report as it highlighted the fact that women are under-represented in leading political decision-making bodies. This under-representation is a reflection of the structural discrimination against women in capitalist society. Women are mainly responsible for child-rearing and caring duties and are more likely to take time out of work to fulfil these roles. This leads to discrimination against working women who are less likely to gain promotions, leading to women being concentrated in lower-paid and precarious jobs. Sexism and stereotyping is also a real and serious barrier to women in capitalist society and impacts on women taking leading positions in organisations.

I abstained on the separate votes in this report on gender quotas. I do not believe that gender quotas will fundamentally alter discrimination against women in capitalist society. To tackle this discrimination there need to be measures such as state-run, quality, free child care, together with state investment in public services, a significant increase in the minimum wage, the right to a living wage, paid maternity and paternity leave. Quotas will, at best, just give an image of equality without altering the reality for millions of working-class and poor women.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) I am totally opposed to this report. Over the last year, three scientific studies have been published by the University of Konstanz, the University of Michigan and the University of Cologne which confirm that: 1. Companies with diversity in top positions do not perform better. 2. The quota imposed in Norway, for example, has caused significant damage to the companies affected. 3. A quota in both the private and the public sector represents a breach of current legislation. Therefore, I have voted against the report. Quotas involve the risk that the principle of equal treatment will be suppressed, because in my opinion, any form of quota represents discrimination. In addition, quota regulations are counterproductive because they result in highly qualified women being branded as quota fillers. The decision to appoint a person to a position should be made only on the basis of their qualifications and not their gender.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) The measures listed in Ms Pietikäinen’s report are of vital importance in eliminating persistent inequality in various appointed and elected political positions. I believe that political parties, which have the authority to compile lists of election candidates, have the biggest role to play in solving this problem. The compilation of gender-balanced lists of election candidates is of decisive importance in ensuring that women have equal access to leading positions in society. In addition to its effectiveness, the implementation of voluntary, agreed or compulsory quotas in the compilation of lists of election candidates is also the least painful way to raise women to a position where they can compete equally with men – no men are deprived of their positions by the introduction of quotas, but women are instead given a fairer starting position in relation to men. In addition to quotas, awareness campaigns regarding the inequality between women and men and its manifestations can help overturn deep-rooted and outdated gender stereotypes. It is still a common view (among men and even among women themselves) that equality between the genders is a pseudo-problem. This societal attitude is, for instance, intensified by the misinterpretation of the topics of the wage gap or gender quotas in the media. As a result, we should allocate additional funds for education and awareness on the issue of gender inequality, for instance, through campaigns. As a result of improved awareness and women’s equal competitive opportunities, we can achieve fairer participation for women in political decision making.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I believe that gender equality policies should be implemented throughout the EU, which would ensure parity in participation in political decision making at all levels and proper implementation of the principle of equality. It is very important for the Member States to send clear anti-discrimination messages and to facilitate women’s networks and to promote mentoring, adequate training and exchange of good practices and programmes. It should be noted that sanctions against political parties or organisations are not an appropriate means of encouraging women to participate actively in political life. Furthermore, it is neither appropriate nor right to set and link gender equality targets for the political parties as a prerequisite for funding.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The percentage of women involved in political decision making is unchanged – only 24% of the representatives of Member State parliaments are women, while the percentage of female ministers does not exceed 15% in certain Member State parliaments and, in all, only 23% of ministers are women. I therefore agree with the rapporteur that in addition to voluntary measures, we need legal instruments in this area. Both the EU and individual Member States must resolve and make a commitment to increase women’s opportunities to participate in political decision making. I agree that action programmes are required – the exchange of Member States’ best practices, legislation and sanctions for non-compliance.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I abstained on all the items relating to quotas for women because I believe that they diminish women and run counter to the principle of merit to which I subscribe for the appointment of people to positions and/or roles, on the one hand, and because I recognise that they can provisionally be a useful strategy for promoting women’s equality in society, on the other. Nonetheless, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Council of Europe recommendation on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making, adopted on 12 March 2003, puts forward a set of measures, including positive action measures to facilitate a more balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making. Women are still under-represented in political decision-making assemblies across the European Member States, making up 24% of the members in national parliaments. I am therefore voting in favour, so that effective multifaceted strategies are implemented at EU and national level for increasing women’s engagement and participation in decision making and leadership, through quantified targets, regular monitoring mechanisms and clear action plans.

 
  
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  Alojz Peterle (PPE), in writing. (SL) I voted for this report as a necessary expression of respect for the principle of equality and in the belief that the consistent equality of women in political decision making also enriches the political decision-making process.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) Gender equality in decision making is a question of quality and equality. More balanced gender participation contributes to more diversified and, therefore, better decisions being adopted. In order to enhance the participation of women in politics, there is a need to address the structural barriers that prevent women from participating in politics. Creating an environment enabling women to take part in political life at all levels is another measure required. Establishing a work-life balance is recognised at EU level as an important priority for achieving gender equality and facilitating the opportunities for women to take part in political life. The Commission and Member States must design and implement effective gender equality policies and strategies aimed at achieving parity in terms of participation in political decision making and leadership at all levels, especially in the areas of macro-economic policy, trade, labour, budgets, defence and foreign affairs. This should include assessing the impact and providing the public with appropriate equality indices and indicators, ensuring quantified targets, clear action plans and regular monitoring mechanisms, followed up with binding corrective actions and their monitoring where the targets set have not been met by the deadlines.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The role women play in political decision making is crucial to the very quality of democracy. However, there is still a long way to go before this goal is achieved, since the lack of financial resources, the predominantly male culture of politics, stereotypes and the difficulty of balancing family life with political life constitute serious obstacles. As such, there is a need to pursue affirmative action in this area, specifically by adopting special temporary measures intended to speed up the establishment of genuine equality between men and women, in order that the proportion of political posts occupied by women might be similar to that in Scandinavian countries. As such, the Member States and the political parties themselves should create an environment that encourages women’s involvement in the world of politics, both through education and through funding general public awareness campaigns on gender issues, and the elimination of gender stereotypes and of preconceptions about women.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. (FI) Firstly, I want to thank Ms Pietikäinen for her commendable work. It is very obvious that, if it is to be truly established, democracy depends on the representation of both sexes in political decision making. That is why the participation of women in politics must be promoted at regional, national and European level.

The means to achieve this, however, should not involve artificial legislative measures. People’s personal merits should be the basis of the nomination and selection of candidates. Quotas would easily lead to massive opposition and, to my mind, they belittle women.

We should try to discover the real reasons for the low representation of women. We need actively to influence attitudes to women and gender roles, and the stereotypes associated with them. This process must begin at school. It is especially important to provide children with diverse role models to support their development. Women should be encouraged to get involved in politics from an early age. It is also important to monitor the media closely, to be able to identify cases of gender discrimination, and to be able to do something more positive about it.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D), in writing. (ES) Female participation in political activities involving decision making is alarmingly low. I have voted in favour of the report as it proposes a change to the current situation and promotes gender parity in decision-making processes. For this objective to be achieved, there should be direct involvement of the political parties in Europe through the introduction of quota systems for candidate lists and elections, for example, or through a system that alternates the first position on the list between female and male candidates. The report also stresses the need for national parliaments and the European Parliament to adopt specific measures to promote gender parity. I believe that the Commission’s actions to this effect represent great progress. To ensure that these actions are implemented satisfactorily, however, resources have to be provided to the political parties that wish to undertake campaigns to promote greater female participation in decision making. Given that next year will be devoted to European citizens, it is a tremendous opportunity to promote and fund actions that defend women’s rights in the Union.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to reiterate that the new measures boosting the participation of women in economic and political life are essential for European democracy.

I note, in particular, that as it stands, 35 per cent of MEPs are women, but the average level of female representation in the national parliaments of the EU stands unchanged at 24 per cent. Only 23 per cent of government ministers are women. We must therefore strive to improve the gender balance within the political decision-making process.

 
  
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  Jean Roatta (PPE), in writing. (FR) The report underlines the importance of taking concrete steps to achieve gender parity in elected offices in the national parliaments and in the European Parliament. We should aim to achieve parity in electoral lists. The report also proposes measures designed to ensure parity within the European Commission, the EEAS and other political and administrative bodies. It is because I am conscious of the importance of parity for the exercise of democracy in Europe, and the current imbalance in that regard, that I voted in favour of this report, in the hope that progress will at last be made.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Among other things, it welcomes the parity systems/gender quotas for elections introduced by legislation in some Member States; calls on the Member States to consider introducing legislative measures, such as positive action measures, to make progress towards parity and ensure the efficiency of these measures, when compatible with the electoral system and when the political parties are in charge of the composition of the electoral list, through zipper systems, monitoring and effective sanctions in order to facilitate more balanced participation of women and men in political decision making.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The report emphasises the importance of achieving diversity in political decision making by women playing an active role in the process. On a European level, it is important to put in place effective initiatives and strategies for achieving balanced participation, ensuring that women are able to reconcile their family lives, private lives and professional lives. Unfortunately, structural barriers prevent women from rising to top-level positions. It is regrettable that the report needlessly focuses on women from ethnic minorities that are under-represented in European political assemblies, for whom, it is argued, special measures should be adopted. That is why I voted against the report, since, once again, we are seeing an attempt to protect and defend the rights of non-Europeans at the expense of EU citizens.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Pietikäinen because I consider that the participation of women in the decision-making process on equal terms with men is an important factor in achieving equality, viable growth, peace and democracy. I also consider that promoting balanced representation of the sexes in politics and foreign relations will contribute to stability, transparency and democracy.

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing. (RO) Unfortunately, although women make up 60% of higher education graduates, they are still under-represented in the European Union in positions of responsibility in the economy. I believe that more support needs to be given to the initiatives and campaigns targeted against the stereotypes about women’s low level of efficiency in the workplace or their lack of management skills. On the other hand, I should emphasise the importance of programmes providing women with professional training relating to working in management positions. Finally, I would like to call on Member States to adopt measures setting mandatory targets for ensuring a balance in terms of the number of women and men in management positions in companies, public administration and politics.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I support the principle of gender equality in political decision making. I would like women’s representation to be equal to that of men in the compilation of lists of election candidates and in the filling of high-level European Union positions. If these principles cannot otherwise be implemented, I also approve of the idea that in future, each Member State will submit both a woman and a man as candidates for the position of Member of the European Commission. Women’s political participation is one of the foundations of democracy and is essential in achieving sustainable development and peace, as recognised in the joint declaration issued at the 66th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. Since Ms Pietikäinen’s ‘Resolution on women in political decision making – quality and equality’ emphasises the abovementioned principles, I voted in favour of the resolution.

 
  
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  Horst Schnellhardt and Birgit Schnieber-Jastram (PPE), in writing. (DE) I am voting in favour of the introduction of quotas for women in management positions in companies, public bodies and political organisations. Quota regulations are never satisfactory. Voluntary changes would be a better solution in every case. However, during many years of political activity in this area, I have realised that the so-called ‘old boy’ networks can only be broken down by introducing quotas. It is true that these networks are not established in order to keep women out of management positions. Instead, they develop automatically in the course of people’s careers. However, their effect is precisely that. Women find it difficult to penetrate these circles. I am also in favour of legal authorisation for abortion. In this case, too, it would be better if abortions did not take place. However, the reality is somewhat different. Therefore, women must be guaranteed a certain level of legal certainty. If we were not to do this, the consequence would not necessarily be fewer abortions. Instead, women would go to third countries for abortions where there are no controls and, in some cases, not even proper medical standards.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing.(PL) I voted in favour of the report on women in political decision making. The number of women who are politically active is growing, and women’s issues occupy an increasingly important place in the programmes of political parties. Nevertheless, women do not enjoy parity in political decision making. In EU countries, on average, there is one woman for every four members of the national parliament and government; in the business world, the proportion of women to men is lower at each decision-making level, and the situation is similar in the science and research sector. Gender disparities in this sector are considered to be the main obstacle to achieving greater competitiveness and to maximising potential in the science sector globally. The need for balanced representation of women and men is not just a feminist political slogan, but a necessity. Without parity, policies cannot be efficient and effective. Equal participation of women and men leads to better results in the public sphere, and creates better, more balanced decisions.

Only greater involvement of women in politics can ensure that expenditure under state and local budgets is structured properly, because – contrary to appearances – budgets are gender sensitive. Diversity contributes to improved quality in decision-making processes, in terms of diversity of opinions, style of politics and ideas. This cannot be achieved without sufficient participation in politics by different groups, including, in particular, parity of women’s participation.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The equal participation of women and men in power and decision making is strongly promoted by the European Union. In particular, women’s political participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace. Women are still under-represented in political decision-making assemblies across the European Member States. Women constitute 24% of the members in national parliaments.

This vote reaffirms that the active participation of women, on equal terms with men, at all levels of decision making, is essential to the achievement of equality, sustainable development, peace and democracy. In order to enhance women’s political participation, there is a need to address structural barriers that prevent women from participating in politics. To create an enabling environment for women to take part in political life at all levels is another required measure. The reconciliation of work, private and family life is recognised at the EU level as an important priority for achieving gender equality and thereby making it easier for women to participate in political life.

 
  
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  Laurence J. A. J. Stassen (NI), in writing. (NL) The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) has voted against this report because it calls for a binding quota for women in leading positions. In this way, Brussels is trying to use European legislation to force a women’s quota on Member States. As far as the PVV is concerned, Dutch companies should have control over their own staff policies and the EU has no business interfering with that. This quota is not wanted, either by Dutch men or Dutch women. The women’s quota is another typical example of meaningless European interference.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Gender equality in decision making is a question of quality and equality. More balanced gender participation contributes to decisions that are more diversified and, therefore, better. Gender equality is also a question of equality, guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It is therefore essential to improve the representation of women in elected and appointed posts, and to implement measures intended to promote women’s participation in political life. I voted for this text for these reasons.

 
  
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  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE), in writing. (PL) In a modern representative democracy, it really is hard to come to terms with the fact that the average participation of women in the national parliaments of the Member States is 24%. There are still too many reasons behind this disturbing phenomenon. Discriminatory party nomination procedures are often an obstacle to women’s involvement in politics, closing the door to politics for women at the very outset. It is extremely difficult to balance public life with family life, responsibility for which still lies mostly with women. This needs to change; we need to take action to promote women’s participation in politics, for the benefit of us all. Statutory quotas are undoubtedly a catalyst for change in our society, in particular, those connected with the perception of women’s role in society. We must strive to achieve a breakthrough level of 30%. When the participation of women in a parliament, board or any other kind of organisational unit exceeds 30%, women begin to be treated equally, because 30% female participation in a group means that the visible gender division disappears.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on women in political decision making – quality and equality, because equal representation of women and men in political decision making is a matter of human rights, social justice, sustainable development, as well as being a vital requirement for the functioning of a democratic society. Gender balance is guaranteed in the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights. The purpose of gender equality is to provide better political representation for women. Women’s representation in political decision making has stagnated in recent years, with the gender imbalance in national parliaments across the EU remaining unchanged (24% women and 76% men), with women accounting for only 23% of ministers. The Nordic countries have the highest level of female representation in national parliaments, with 42.3%. In the European Parliament, 35% of members are women and 65% men. I call on the Commission to submit a yearly report to the European Parliament on the progress of gender equality in political decision making in the European Union. I also call on the Commission and the Council to commit to meeting the parity target in all their decision-making bodies by establishing and implementing quota systems when recruiting high-level officials.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The promotion of the equal participation of women and men in power and decision making to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, as well as the adoption of ‘temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women’, are in the focus of this report. In the view of the rapporteur, it is important to promote the presence of women from different backgrounds in decision-making positions. Therefore, this report has to be supported.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – The ECR Group strongly opposes all calls at EU level for legislation to establish targets and quotas for women in political parties and institutions and all sectors for that matter. We recognise the need to increase female representation across all sectors but do not believe that legislative measures or prescriptive targets set at EU level are helpful. The ECR Group has therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report notes the under-representation of women in elected and appointed posts in bodies under national sovereignty and in the European Parliament itself, as well as in what it calls the ‘top jobs’. In order to solve this problem, it advocates the introduction of quota systems promoting parity in these areas. We believe women’s political participation is about the various areas of women’s lives: their participation in organisations, trades unions and culture, and in their daily lives. Women have greater difficulties participating in these areas owing to problems accessing education and culture, but also due to the economic difficulties that are the immediate result of the wage inequalities of which they are victims. Moreover, the result of precarious jobs is that they have little time for social and political participation. The lack of public child care services is another factor contributing to the overburdening of women. It is these structural inequalities that should be combated rather than establishing artificial equality, whilst keeping the real problems of the majority of women off limits. Furthermore, we do not accept any intervention in parties’ internal affairs, as advocated in items 5, 6 and 7; this is a matter that concerns only their members.

 
  
  

Reports: Sophia in ’t Veld (A7-0041/2012) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (A7-0029/2012)

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE), in writing. (SV) We believe that men and women should have the same opportunities when it comes to political decision making. Appointments must therefore be made on the basis of competence, not gender. Thus, quota systems will not resolve a potential imbalance.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson, Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing.(SV) There is still a great deal to do in order for the EU to achieve an equal society in which men and women are given the same opportunities. We therefore welcome the fact that these two reports indicate successful measures and illustrate the many obstacles that still remain. However, even though we voted in favour of the reports as a whole, we would like to emphasise that we do not believe that the focus should be on the EU forcing companies and organisations, by means of legislation, to take on a certain quota of women. Instead, we believe that there are other ways to break with the ingrained attitudes that prevent the participation of women, for example, by increasing skill levels, the use of mentoring and better support for women who want to focus on a career.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Every year, the European Commission reports to the spring European Council on progress regarding equality between men and women in the Member States, as well as presenting the challenges and priorities for the future. The context of this own-initiative report is the release of the latest Commission communication on this issue, published in February 2011. Equality between men and women constitutes one of the fundamental principles of EU law and that is the commitment that needs to be renewed, thereby consolidating gender equality in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy. However, this report tackles very sensitive issues, such as mutual recognition of civil unions and families comprising same-sex couples, abortion, the role of women in political decision making and the use of quotas, and even the Maternity Leave Directive. I therefore believe there is a long way to go in this regard, given that the strategy for achieving the proposed objectives also involves there genuinely being greater concentration and focus on the issue of equality between men and women in the European Union, distracting us from other issues that, while related, could nevertheless obscure the true scale of this problem.

 
  
  

Report: Sven Giegold (A7-0432/2011)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing. (FR) Created in 2003, the Statute for a European cooperative society aims to contribute to the development of the transnational activities of cooperative societies. Arrangements concerning the involvement of employees were also adopted. On account of the fact that they give priority to social and environmental repercussions over profit, cooperatives are crucial for the social economy. However, just 17 European cooperative societies have been created. The existing rules must be revised. I therefore voted in favour of the Giegold report.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. In addition to being an important issue from the labour-rights point of view, it is crucially important that we realise that the conditions of the workers are reflected in the company’s results. The more involved workers are in their company’s decision-making processes, the more motivated and committed they are in their work, which has a knock-on effect on their productivity and the company’s competitiveness.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) In my opinion, promoting the European cooperative society, which today represents an interesting option in terms of entrepreneurship, is absolutely crucial. I therefore supported this report, which, while taking into account their specific characteristics, promotes the development of the transnational activities of cooperatives by providing them, in particular, with appropriate legal instruments. The report also seeks to promote the format of the European cooperative society through educational programmes addressed to advisers in cooperative law and social actors. It is absolutely essential to encourage cooperation between cooperative societies at cross-border level right across Europe and to view them as an opportunity for potential job creation and growth.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. Cooperative societies play an important role in boosting development of rural areas as well as social, economic and territorial cohesion. There are 160 000 cooperatives in the EU with around 5.4 million employees. However, only a small proportion of these cooperatives have chosen the Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE). By 2010, only 17 SCEs had been established in the whole of the EU, with 32 employees. Such a situation is unsatisfactory because cooperatives and other social economy enterprises are an important part of the European social model and they must be recognised and supported at Member State and EU level. The adoption of the SCE in 2003 is a major step facilitating the development of such companies in the EU, but its revision has revealed that it is not entirely suited to the specific circumstances of cooperative societies. I welcome the report’s calls for the existing Statute to be reviewed and amended so that it meets the needs of the market and for an autonomous and clear legal framework for SCEs to be established.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Although the cooperative and voluntary sectors have clearly demonstrated their resilience during the crisis and the opportunity to set up a European cooperative society (SCE) has existed since 2003, recourse to them continues to be relatively rare ... and that is a euphemism! Hence, the importance of this report on the specific case of the SCE and the involvement of employees. As the Statute was not adapted to the special characteristics of the SCE, it is essential to revise the corresponding regulation in order to guarantee fair competition between cooperative societies and investor-driven companies, and to contribute to the development of the transnational activities of cooperative societies. Through this report, I support the call for EU policies in all areas to recognise the specificities and added value of social economy enterprises, especially SCEs, by adapting the legislation on public procurement, State aid and the Financial Regulation accordingly. There is absolutely no doubt that the Member States must become more involved and foster, finally, more favourable conditions for cooperatives, such as access to credit and tax incentives.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) After a decade of studies, research and investment regarding the implementation of a Statute for a European cooperative society, and in the light of widespread negative remarks from European citizens and the internal market on its value and feasibility, I felt unable to vote in favour of this report. Indeed, the text is based on principles that only lead to a mere ideological hardening of its substance, instead of proceeding with a helpful and objective assessment of this initiative’s economic value for EU citizens.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because cooperative enterprises promote the interests of their members and users as well as solutions to societal challenges, and seek both to maximise benefits to members and ensure their livelihoods by means of a long-term and sustainable business policy and to put the well-being of clients, employees and members in the entire region at the centre of business strategy. Cooperatives are an important pillar of the European economy and a key driver for social innovation because they help to preserve infrastructure and local services, above all, in rural areas and conurbations. At present, legislation regarding cooperatives and employee participation varies substantially across the European Union and the Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE) is, thus far, the social economy’s only legal instrument at EU level. The European Parliament highlights the potential of the SCE for promoting gender equality through the implementation of policies and programmes at various levels, paying particular attention to education, vocational training, action to promote entrepreneurship and ongoing training programmes. Furthermore, gender equality in decision making at various levels is economically beneficial and also creates favourable conditions enabling skilled and talented people to carry out management and supervisory duties. Some aspects of cooperative work provide flexibility that makes it easier to reconcile family and professional life; therefore, the Commission should design a mechanism for the exchange of the best gender equality practices between the Member States.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Since just 12 Member States have transposed the directive by the deadline specified in the directive (18 August 2006), with the last implementing provisions only being adopted in March 2009, the Commission has launched proceedings against 16 Member States for failing to fulfil their obligations, followed by three complaints submitted to the Court of Justice of the European Union. In almost every Member State, the transposition process has been carried out by adopting legislative provisions preceded by a consultation with the social partners, using procedures that have reflected the specific conventions in each country. The cooperative movement has been involved in this procedure in most Member States. The main way to achieve this objective is by means of an agreement negotiated between the management of the companies involved and the workers’ representatives. If they fail to reach an agreement after six months (which may be extended by common consent to 12 months), the directive stipulates a number of reference provisions. Moreover, the workers’ representatives may decide not to initiate negotiations or to end negotiations and refer to the rules about informing and consulting workers applicable in the Member States in which the SCE has workers.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) I firmly believe that cooperatives and other social enterprises are part of the single market, and therefore deserve support. Cooperatives have the potential to help towards completion of the EU single market, and we should therefore eliminate existing cross-border obstacles in order to boost their competitiveness. Unfortunately, the European cooperative society (SCE) project, created in 2003, is not yet a success, given its limited use – by 2010, only 17 SCEs had been set up, with a total of 32 employees. This modest figures show the Statute to be poorly suited to the specific circumstances of cooperative societies in Europe, even though entrepreneurs have expressed an interest in setting up SCEs. I welcome the fact that an in-depth assessment of the Statute has been conducted in order to ascertain why it has proven unattractive, why it has had such little impact and what can be done to overcome the lack of experience in implementation and other obstacles. Unfortunately, use of the SCE is often restricted to second-degree cooperatives consisting of legal persons only, by mutual societies which lack a European statute but wish to use a legal status associated with the social economy, and by large companies. For the small cooperative societies which constitute the major part of the cooperative movement in Europe, access to the SCE remains difficult, and the EU should therefore take steps to improve the situation.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I decided to vote in favour of the Giegold report, which calls for a revision of Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003 on the Statute for a European cooperative society. This initiative is necessary given the complexity of the current framework governing SCEs, which prevents these structures from being set up. I also welcome the desire to harmonise the legal framework of cooperative societies. This will facilitate the development of their activities outside their country of origin. Moreover, the rapporteur raises the question of the application of Directive 2003/72/EC with regard to the involvement of employees of European cooperative societies. I agree with the rapporteur that we need to inform and consult the employees of these cooperatives. However, I must point out that, first and foremost, we need to clarify the issue of the SCE Statute before amending the directive. A premature revision of the directive would be counterproductive.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) The vote on this own-initiative report gives us the chance to emphasise the need to plan and open a Commission initiative to re-launch the Statute for a European cooperative society as soon as possible. We have to see the adoption of this report as an incentive to take action in the shortest possible timeframe and not fail to grasp the important opportunity provided by the UN having declared 2012 to be the International Year of Cooperatives. The fact that only 17 cooperatives out of around 160 000 in Europe have signed up to the Statute shows the urgency of intervening to make the Statute more attractive, though without losing sight of its most important and positive aspects. The value of cooperatives in the European economy is common knowledge and, during our debate, it became clear just why cooperatives have managed to withstand the economic crisis better than other business types. It is therefore our duty to support them and to work vigorously and consistently to promote the European cooperative society as a positive framework for the development of European cooperatives.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing.(RO) Since the financial and economic crisis has shown that the attractiveness of a legal form is not a matter that can be considered solely from the shareholders’ point of view, I believe that a company, as a social organisation, has responsibilities towards shareholders, employees, creditors and society, a fact that must be taken into account in such evaluations. I also think that cooperatives need to have some input in the social dialogue at European Union level.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the motion for a European Parliament resolution on the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees because it brings to the attention an issue which, in my opinion, deserves a much higher position in the European agenda. The model of cooperative societies, especially in a period of economic crisis, represents a virtuous example for sustainable development, social and financial responsibility, a catalyst for workers’ rights and a very useful tool for tackling local and regional development. This document urgently calls the Commission for greater concern as regards to the SCEs by asking measures to have the implementation of Directive 2003/72/EC supplementing the Statute for a cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees respected by the Member States, and by stressing the disappointing scarcity of funds that are minimising the impact of SCEs. I strongly believe that the European Social Model is not dead. Cooperatives enhance the work sector and embody the virtues of fair and responsible workfare. They deserve much more.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The regulatory framework for the European cooperative society (SCE) is laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003 of 22 July 2003 on the Statute for an SCE and Directive 2003/72/EC supplementing the Statute for an SCE with regard to the involvement of employees. Despite being in existence for almost a decade, this scheme cannot be considered a great success: by 2010, only 17 SCEs had been created, employing a total of 32 workers.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This own-initiative report, drafted by Mr Giegold, concerns the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees in this form of commerce that we can call social. There are currently over 160 000 cooperatives in Europe, employing around 5.4 million people and guaranteeing local supply, particularly in rural areas. During the present economic and financial crisis, in which we have witnessed an unprecedented decline in public spending and significantly increased rates of unemployment, a social model for the economy founded on cooperatives is of benefit to society. In reality, cooperatives, which are not-for-profit, do not just supply goods and services at more competitive prices, but they also promote programmes of education, vocational training and lifelong learning, as well as fostering entrepreneurship. I therefore support the proposal that the Commission launch the ‘European Year of Social Economy’ and welcome the adoption of this report, for which I voted, which not only acknowledges the role of cooperatives in economic growth and job creation, but also encourages the expansion of their scope and number, with a view to achieving the targets set in the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report focuses on advocating improvements to cooperative workers’ right to participation and the inclusion of this issue in the revision of the regulation on the Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE), and not just in Directive 2003/72/EC with regard to the involvement of employees. The promotion of the social economy and the cooperative sector will be important in strengthening productive systems, particularly those associated with local and regional needs and situations. Moreover, the ways in which cooperatives are managed should incorporate concerns about the fairer and more equitable redistribution of these organisations’ products across their members and workers.

As such, we consider it positive that the report demonstrates the importance of the transposition by the Member States of the directive’s articles concerning workers’ rights, and that measures are being taken to encourage the development potential of cooperatives, particularly in times of economic crisis, like we are currently experiencing. However, we do not agree with the position that the future SCE statute should encourage the development of the EU internal market within the specific framework in which it is currently developing; in other words, that of free capitalist competition.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Cooperatives are an important pillar of the European economy, a key driver of social innovation and, in particular, help to maintain the infrastructure and local supplies especially in rural areas and large conurbations. Since we are talking about some kind of attractiveness of a legal form, the financial and economic crisis has shown that it cannot be addressed from the sole point of view of shareholders, but that the responsibilities of an enterprise as a social organisation should be taken into account. Legal regulations on cooperatives and employee participation across the EU are fundamentally different. The Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE) is, thus far, the only social economy legal form available at EU level. As a result, the SCE is closely interlinked with the directive supplementing the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to employee involvement. Some Member States have transposed articles of the directive relatively successfully, others less so.

I think it would be appropriate for the Commission to develop instruments to facilitate the ownership of cooperatives by employees and users. The participation of employees in enterprises should be taken for granted in all EU Member States and there should be greater employee participation in cross-border forms of enterprise rather than remaining at the lowest level.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) I think that the promotion of European cooperative societies is fraught with problems, which fall into three main categories. Firstly, quite obviously, there is the meagre number of societies created since the entry into force of the directive. Given the insufficient number of workers involved in them and in light of the results of the Commission’s research, you can see that there is a basic lack of interest in this area. Secondly, the feasibility of these societies is seriously hindered by the diversity of the economies and legal frameworks of the Member States, which prevents the necessary harmonisation for creating trans-European societies. Lastly, the report holds that these societies are a paragon of social economy and stand in contrast to the capitalist system, which could help Europe get out of this crisis. I disagree on this argument and it has been proved wrong by research undertaken in Italy, where such societies were created for the sole purpose of simplifying the administrative requirements of company management. For these reasons, I will be voting against the report.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) Although its creation gave rise to a great deal of enthusiasm in the social economy sector, the reality has, in the end, proved highly disappointing. With just 17 European cooperative societies set up since the implementation of this Statute in 2006, we have to acknowledge that the current Statute is poorly suited to the specific circumstances of cooperative societies in Europe. We therefore need to simplify this instrument, which is the only social economy legal form available at EU level. We also need to make it more user-friendly and better applicable in order to guarantee the rights of information, consultation and participation to all employees. This will be a first step before the revision of the directive relating to the involvement of employees, which could offer workers the option to be both owner and employee of the same enterprise.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. (SV) I voted in favour of the report. The Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE) was adopted in 2003 and this report strengthens the rights of the workers. I personally believe that cooperatives should be established from the bottom up. The fact that there are only a few isolated European cooperative societies within the EU is due to the fact that such projects cannot be created in a top-down approach from Union level. For those few SCE cooperatives that already exist, however, it is important that the rights of the workers are strengthened. The fact that there is no passage concerning full trade union rights for employees of cooperatives is very regrettable, but, as the report nevertheless entails a step in the right direction, I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. – I support the idea that cooperatives and other social economy enterprises deserve strong recognition and support. The EU has over 150 000 cooperatives which provide work for more than 5 million employees. It is very important to support cooperative banks and cooperative financial institutions and, of course, in this I include credit unions. Owner-managed, not-for-profit institutions have shown high levels of sustainability and resilience during the financial crisis and it is crucial that any regulation for cooperative financial institutions is proportionate and supports their ethos fully.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE) is not yet a success given its scarce use – up to 2010, only 17 SCEs had been established, with a total of 32 employees. These figures show the Statute to be poorly suited to the specific circumstances of cooperative societies in Europe even though entrepreneurs have expressed an interest in setting up an SCE. A revision of the directive should address the specific needs of employees in cooperatives, including the option to be both owner and employee of the same enterprise. I believe that owing to its complexity, the Statute only partially meets the needs of cooperatives and that it should be simplified, made intelligible to all and easier to apply, thus ensuring the rights of information, consultation and participation of all employees without affecting the quality of the Statute. The Statute should provide for an autonomous legal framework for SCEs alongside existing national law on cooperatives and direct harmonisation would therefore not take place. The Member States must ensure more favourable conditions for cooperatives, such as access to credit and tax incentives, etc. Cooperatives are an important pillar of the European economy and a key driver for social innovation and contribute, in particular, to preserving infrastructure and local services, above all, in rural areas and conurbations.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) This report supports the establishment of a Statute for a European cooperative society. The eventual goal is to create a harmonised legal framework to allow cooperatives in the various Member States to plan and reorganise their activities at European level. I supported this report in plenary.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) In addition to creating cross-border cooperatives, involving employees in the decision-making process in European cooperatives is one of the main objectives behind introducing them into the legal system. It is a step towards cooperatives functioning as entities which realise the needs of their members and users. I am extremely surprised at the low level of implementation of provisions regarding this involvement, in particular, in those countries with a long and rich tradition of cooperatives. I am even more surprised as the European cooperative offers significant potential for economic growth, combining as it does the traditional values of cooperative participation and employee involvement. In the absence of implementation of the relevant provisions, the small number of cooperatives and workers’ groups formed comes as no surprise.

Cooperatives as such, and European cooperatives in particular, provide some remedy at times of crisis, which is confirmed by the increase in their turnover and the lower level of bankruptcies and redundancies compared to other legal persons. It should be stressed that the development of European cooperatives in the border areas will deepen their economic integration and allow for faster development. The introduction of European cooperatives into the legal system is an institutional manifestation of the need to link up the activities of individuals and legal persons struggling with financial problems and capital guaranteed by members who are investors.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR), in writing. – I am not opposed to SCEs in principle and favour a simplification and clarification of their statute; however, I have reservations concerning notions that cooperatives are a key driver for social innovation and that a SCE is a milestone in the recognition of the cooperative business model at EU level. Also, for the time being, I do not see a need for urgent improvements within the Commission in terms of organisation and the resources devoted to the social economy. For these reasons, I have chosen to abstain.

 
  
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  Martin Kastler (PPE), in writing. (DE) Today, I have voted in favour of the resolution on the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees. It is good that we are focusing specifically on the subject of cooperatives in the European Parliament, as this is the International Year of Cooperatives. In the European Union, there are around 160 000 cooperatives, which are owned by more than a quarter of all Europeans and employ about 5.4 million people. In my home region of Bavaria alone, there are over 1 200 cooperatives and cooperative enterprises with more than 2.7 million members. Cooperatives are one of the cornerstones of our economy. Their achievements are even more obvious in times of crisis, because cooperatives involve taking joint responsibility. For example, during the financial crisis, cooperative banks demonstrated how sustainable and resilient they are as a result of their cooperative business model. They have not lost billions in the crisis like other banks. On the contrary, their balance sheets show an increase in revenue and growth. They provide 5.4 million high-quality, crisis-proof jobs throughout Europe. Cooperatives have their roots in the regions where they are located. They represent a model for the future, for our regions and for Europe. If we promote the cooperative model as part of EU development policy, we can make a contribution which will really help people, actively involve them and encourage them to be independent. We need more incentives for cooperatives.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Cooperative societies have a significant presence in Europe, numbering 160 000 and providing jobs for around 5.4 million workers. However, as it stands, the Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE) is still scarcely used by European societies. We therefore need to take action to improve this instrument through initiatives that simplify it and – crucially, for the future of cooperatives – involve workers in drawing up the document. Working on these issues to extend the reach and proliferation of the SCE is one of the most important ways to stimulate growth and safeguard European cooperatives, which are a major asset for the EU’s economy.

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I voted to adopt this report, given that European cooperative societies (SCEs) can provide a means for increasing the economic clout of SMEs on the market. However, by 8 May 2010, there were only 17 SCEs registered in nine Member States, none of which had a significantly large number of workers. Although the 21 million SMEs in the EU are a major asset to sustainable growth and creating jobs, the difficulty SMEs have in accessing funding is a considerable obstacle preventing them from launching new products, strengthening their infrastructures and taking on more employees.

Indeed, Member States need to foster conditions which are more conducive to providing access to loans and tax incentives. In actual fact, providing SMEs with access to funding is a principal objective proposed by the Commission as part of the 12 levers to boost growth and strengthen the confidence of citizens by ‘working together to create new growth’, included in the Single Market Act. The key action proposed by the Commission involves implementing legislation intended to facilitate the possibility of venture capital funds set up in one Member State investing in any other Member State without any barriers or supplementary conditions.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. Cooperatives are an important pillar of the European economy and a key driver for social innovation and thus, in particular, preserve infrastructure and local services specifically in rural areas and conurbations. Europe has 160 000 cooperatives, owned by more than a quarter of all Europeans, which provide work for around 5.4 million employees. Cooperative banks have shown high levels of sustainability and resilience during the financial crisis, thanks to their cooperative business model. Thanks to their cooperative business model, they increased turnover and growth during the crisis with less bankruptcies and redundancies. Cooperative enterprises also provide high-quality, inclusive and crisis-resilient employment, often with high ratios of female and migrant employment and contribute towards the sustainable economic and social development of an area by providing local, non-relocatable jobs. Cooperatives can be seen as a successful and contemporary approach to the social economy and can contribute to providing secure employment prospects and allow employees to plan their life flexibly at their place of origin, especially in rural areas.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) Social economy enterprises deserve our recognition and huge support. The review of the Statute must develop the standing of this type of society in the EU, since it now plays a central and indispensable role in society. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Anthea McIntyre (ECR), in writing. – British Conservatives are very supportive of the contribution cooperatives make to local communities. As Conservatives, we have a strong belief, for example, in the huge benefits of communities working together and indeed the invaluable work of the voluntary sector and the social economy. While we strongly believe in the completion of the single market and any effort to improve cross-border business activity, we have a number of concerns with the Statute for a European cooperative society. First, in addition to its complex and bureaucratic nature, most firms who choose to operate as a cooperative tend to be anchored within their own local community and not on a pan-European level. The purpose of a cooperative is, after all, to serve the members who participate directly in the democratic management of the firm. Secondly, an overwhelming majority of cooperatives are small businesses operating within national borders and therefore, there is very little advantage to or added value from a European Statute. Taking these concerns into account, along with a number of recommendations within this report for new measures at European level, including calls for a European Year of Social Economy, we have decided to abstain from this report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Cooperative enterprises, as well as promoting the interests of their members and users, also promote important solutions to societal challenges, thereby playing an important part in local development, which is a decisive factor in generating genuine social, economic and territorial cohesion. They are an important pillar of the European economy and have considerable economic power on globalised markets. The purpose of revising the regulation on the Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE) is the need to defend workers’ rights to take part in cooperatives. I voted for the report, but I am bound to stress that the SCEs have clearly not had much success, as demonstrated by the fact that only 17 SCEs had been established as of 8 May 2010. This failure is particularly stark in Member States with a long-standing tradition of cooperatives. I would warn of the need to rethink measures intended to promote SCEs, making them better known and encouraging cooperatives in different countries to work together.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – This report presents a review of Directive 2003/72/EC supplementing Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003 establishing a Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE), with regard to the involvement of employees, with the aim of providing for arrangements for the involvement of employees in every SCE, thereby ensuring that the establishment of an SCE does not entail the disappearance or reduction of the practices of employee involvement that exist within the entities participating in its creation. After reading the report, I was surprised how the time of Members of the European Parliament can be wasted on different kinds of demagogy. I abstained.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Membership of a cooperative is based on mutual loyalty between the cooperative and the member. There have recently been some interesting developments and court judgments concerning cooperatives which have highlighted a whole range of practical problems relating to housing cooperatives, for example. There were significant variations in the individual verdicts. For instance, there are problems concerning the continuation of the right to use a property if the user is no longer a member of the cooperative or if cooperative housing is sold to a local authority or even a private company. The report does not deal with these problems, or at least not adequately, which is why I have voted against it.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) By voting in favour of this report, I am emphasising the importance of cooperative societies for the social economy. The current situation is worrying: 16 Member States did not implement in time Directive 2003/72/EC on the involvement of employees. In some Member States, no appropriate measures have been taken to avoid abuse of the European cooperative society, the Statute for which was established by Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003, eventually resulting in workers being deprived of their rights as regards involvement or being refused those rights. Finally, Directive 2003/72/EC does not contain any provision regarding the enforceable nature of the agreement on the involvement of workers. With this vote, I am also calling for consideration to be given to the reasons why so little use is made of the EU’s legislative framework on cooperatives.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcome this resolution because we must eliminate barriers so that European cooperative societies can function effectively. The current Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE) is not an effective instrument, its application is complex, and it does not meet the needs of these societies. A new autonomous legal framework for SCEs is an effective measure enabling legal persons, whose activities are not limited to satisfying purely local needs, to plan and carry out their business according to common rules throughout the EU. I believe that in order to achieve the objectives set, we also need to take into account the specific needs of the employees of cooperatives, increase opportunities for employee participation in cross-border societies and give them the option to be both owner and employee of the same enterprise.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, which creates a legal statute for the European cooperative society. This statute guarantees equal conditions for competition between cooperative societies and limited companies, and aims to contribute to increasing the cross-border activities of cooperative societies.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) Cooperatives and other social economy enterprises are part of the European social model and the single market and must be given strong recognition and support. Cooperatives could mark another step towards completing the EU internal market, with the aim of reducing existing cross-border obstacles and enhancing the EU’s competitiveness. In fact, the specific characteristics of social economy enterprises need to be recognised and taken into account in European policies. Measures need to be taken to ensure that the European Observatory of SMEs includes social economy enterprises in its surveys. Dialogue with social economy enterprises needs to be stepped up, and the legal framework needs to be improved for these enterprises in Member States.

Member States must foster conditions which are more favourable to cooperatives, such as providing access to loans and tax incentives. The Commission has to provide an open method for coordinating the social economy, including cooperative enterprises, involving both Member States and stakeholders, in order to encourage exchanges of good practices and bring about a gradual improvement in the way that Member States take into account the nature of cooperatives, in particular, in the areas of taxation, loans, administrative burdens and business support measures.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I applaud Mr Giegold on his work. Having regard to Articles 4, 54, and 151 to 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the report adopted today shows that Parliament has not forgotten that cooperatives and other social economy enterprises are part of the European social model and the single market and therefore clearly deserve greater recognition and support, as provided for, in any case, in the constitutions of some Member States and various key EU documents. Furthermore, I think it is very important for it to be stressed that, owing to its complexity, the Statute only partially meets the needs of cooperatives. Indeed, it needs to be made more user-friendly, thus guaranteeing all employees’ rights of information, consultation and participation without, however, causing a drop in quality.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Cooperative societies embody many of the principles to which I am strongly attached, notably, collective management, the emphasis on local development and the pursuit of the well-being of employees and clients. The relevance of these societies has also been proven by their considerable sustainability and resilience during the financial crisis. I therefore voted in favour of the report by Sven Giegold on the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees. This Statute is entirely necessary to facilitate the development of the transnational activities of cooperatives, ensuring that they are not faced with administrative burdens. However, it has been shown that this Statute, in its current form, is not suited to the specific circumstances of these societies, which explains why so few European cooperative societies have been created. This report thus proposes simplifying it and making it more user-friendly so that it becomes more attractive, but without undermining the rights of employees. In this regard, I supported the request for provisions on the participation of employees to be included in the Statute itself. Finally, I welcome the call for greater gender equality in management positions.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Our key points were maintained. These included: the importance of cooperatives and other social economy enterprises as part of the European social model with 160 000 cooperatives for around 5.4 million employees; strong criticism of the Commission for lack of resources (staff, coordination, activities) and action in the field, with a call for urgent improvement; the need for EU policies in all areas to recognise/respect the specificities and added value of social economy enterprises; criticism of the shortcomings of the Statute (SCE) and its lack of use with a call for more action/improvements; and an insistence that all stakeholders be involved in the revision process on the future of the Statute. The social economy stakeholders have followed the report attentively and fed into this. Sven Giegold has been seen as one of the key actors in this field. He called for an open method of coordination for the social economy, for a European Year of Social Economy and for better business support measures (consulting, training, funding access), especially for employee buy-outs. He stressed how Parliament’s recommendations on cooperatives were being largely ignored by the Commission and recalled that Parliament had previously called for the specificities to be recognised, the SME Observatory to include social economy enterprises in its surveys, for better dialogue and for a better legal framework.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because I think it is essential to protect cooperative societies, which are structurally linked to the area in which they operate and therefore play an important part in accelerating local development, which is a decisive factor in generating genuine social, economic and territorial cohesion under the Europe 2020 strategy. As it stands, legislation regarding cooperatives and employee participation varies substantially across the Member States and the Statute for a European cooperative society is currently the only social economy legal form available at EU level. Its introduction would therefore represent a milestone in the recognition of the cooperative business model at EU level.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) I am against the text because Mr Giegold calls for the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure full application of EU legislation on European cooperative societies (SCEs). The proposal sees these societies as an effective way to get the EU economy moving, but there are significant problems, such as the harmonisation required across Europe given the different economies and legal frameworks of the Member States. Another thing that confirms my opposition to this report is the desire to employ high ratios of migrant workers in SCEs.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Cooperative enterprises, by their nature, are structurally linked to the area in which they are based and therefore play an important part in accelerating local development and genuine social, economic and territorial cohesion. In addition to the capacity of social cooperatives to build unity and solidarity, cooperative banks have shown high levels of sustainability and resilience during the financial crisis, thanks to their cooperative business model. In fact, they increased turnover and growth during the crisis, with fewer bankruptcies and redundancies This vote affirms that cooperatives deserve strong recognition and support, as provided for in the constitutions of some Member States and various key EU documents. We particularly welcome the fact that employee participation provisions are considered a core element in European cooperative societies.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (S&D), in writing. – I have long supported the idea of a Statute for cooperatives and mutuals. The recent economic and financial crisis has made more effective the arguments used to promote cooperative societies involving employees. This report does many good things I could support, but a key vote on the issue of reducing the numbers of participants is not acceptable to me, and therefore I voted against it. I would have thought the Greens would have wanted participation whatever the numbers involved.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that ‘‘Companies or firms’ means companies or firms constituted under civil or commercial law, including cooperative societies’, while Article 152 of the same Treaty stresses that ‘The Union recognises and promotes the role of the social partners at its level, taking into account the diversity of national systems’. I agree with the majority of the submitted report, since I consider it crucial to acknowledge the role played by cooperatives and other companies of the social economy in building the European social model and the single market. I also agree that there should be more encouragement for workers to participate in the active life of companies. However, I would express my opposition to the adoption of quotas of 30% women at senior management levels and on the boards of public and listed companies by 2015 and 40% by 2020, since I do not consider this the proper way to promote the merit, ability and knowledge acquired by women over the years. Finally, I believe that cooperatives play a very important role in regional cooperation, since they bring producers far closer together at local level, thereby fostering increased social, economic and territorial cohesion.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on the Statute for a European cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees because more than 160 000 cooperative societies across Europe provide jobs for approximately 5.4 million people. Cooperative societies create jobs that are of high quality, local, inclusive and resilient to the impact of the crisis, and which, in theory, cannot be relocated. We call on the Commission and Member States to encourage cooperatives to step up their efforts to implement diversity policies in order to guarantee gender equality in professional life and, in particular, increase women’s access to senior management positions. With this in mind, we urge the Commission to include European cooperative societies in any potential European regulation aimed at guaranteeing better representation for women at management levels and on the boards of public and listed companies, in the event that companies do not voluntarily achieve the targets of 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020. Member States must also promote business support measures, in particular, business consultancy, employee training and access to funding.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this own-initiative report that calls for recognition of a European cooperative society and the introduction of provisions on employee participation. The statute currently in place is in need of revision to allow the specific needs of cooperative societies to be addressed. The EU must show recognition and support for social economy enterprises, and a harmonised legal framework is essential for European coordination in this sector. I welcome the suggestion for the Commission to simplify the regulation and include provisions on employee participation in the statute.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Sven Giegold, Vice-Chair of the Social Economy Intergroup, on the involvement of employees in the framework of the Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE).

This report provides a mixed assessment of the application of the Statute, but it is promising from the point of view of European economic and social integration. The revision of the legislation on European cooperatives is necessary as the first Statute was too closely modelled on that of the European company.

I am nevertheless opposed to any change that undermines the social standards inherent in cooperatives, particularly the role of employees, which we might fear in the Commission proposal and which is underlined by the European Trade Union Confederation. I would point out that a cooperative is a type of entity that can allow the creation of other forms of enterprises that are linked to their territory and thus vectors of local development, but are also often at the forefront of democratic matters.

This report also denounces the insufficient action on the part of the Commission to support cooperatives and all of the social economy families, especially mutual societies and associations. The Commission must translate its commitments into action and establish a legal and economic framework that genuinely promotes the social economy.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – This report highlights that cooperative societies should be one of the instruments to overcome the actual situation of crisis in Europe. However, it has not been a success and, on top of that, some Member States have not transposed articles of the directive referring to employees’ rights, including the gender-specific provisions. The cooperatives should be enhanced as also the involvement of its employees in order to strengthen Europe’s economy.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report calls for improvements to workers’ right to participation and the inclusion of this issue in the revision of the regulation on the Statute for a European cooperative society (SCE), and not just in Directive 2003/72/EC with regard to the involvement of employees. It is clear to us that the promotion of the social economy and the cooperative sector could be an important factor in strengthening productive systems, particularly those associated with local and regional needs and realities. It is also true that the ways in which cooperatives are managed should create fairer and more equitable means of redistributing these organisations’ products across their members and workers. As such, we consider it positive that the report demonstrates the importance of the transposition by the Member States of the directive’s articles concerning workers’ rights, and that measures are being taken to encourage the development potential of cooperatives, particularly today, in times of economic crisis. However, we do not acknowledge the premise that the future SCE statute should encourage the development of the European Union’s internal market; that is, of a market that promotes the free movement of capital, goods and services within a framework of capitalist competition.

 
  
  

Report: Luigi Berlinguer (A7-0035/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing. (FR) Launched in 1999, the Bologna process seeks to make higher education in Europe more competitive and attractive and to promote student mobility. The introduction of the LMD system encourages the recognition of a degree throughout the EU. However, more resources are needed today to consolidate the process. I therefore voted in favour of the Berlinguer report.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report and welcome the objectives achieved to date, with a view to harmonising higher education at European level. However, the objective of the process has not yet been achieved: any student at any European university should have their qualification recognised at European level. Only then will we be able to talk about the success of the Bologna process. To that end, we need to increase awareness amongst all stakeholders, from Member States to higher education organisations, about working towards the achievement of these objectives as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution which aims for the further improvement of the ambitious process set in motion by the Bologna process – a student enrolled in a European university has the right to graduate and to see his qualification recognised throughout the EU. However, aspects such as mobility, recognition of qualifications and the qualification framework, quality assurance, the social dimension, employability, a bachelor degree and better cooperation between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area should be scrutinised and improvement measures applied. I also agree that the increase of funding both for public and private universities is essential.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The main priority of the Europe 2020 strategy is to re-launch the European economy over the next decade by investing in employment, innovation, education, social integration and climate/energy. Without education, growth is impossible. By signing the Bologna Declaration, the Member States have put in motion a series of necessary reforms to make European higher education more compatible, comparable, competitive and attractive for Europeans and students from other continents. I do not deny the success that has been achieved, but I also completely agree with Mr Berlinguer when he talks about ‘unfinished governance’. Essentially, we cannot fail to notice the many barriers to mobility faced by students, not only in territorial terms, but also horizontally (between degree cycles) and vertically (within degree cycles), and especially in the recognition of diplomas and qualifications. Accordingly, it would be a good idea to move ahead with modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The development of the European Union and the process of overcoming the effects of the global economic and financial crisis require European integration to continue through the Bologna process. Support for learning and education from national and European institutions is also an integral part of the Europe 2020 strategy aimed at creating a more open society and actively promoting social inclusion. The continued provision of European or national support to ensure easy and fair access to education and to increase the representation of disadvantaged social groups is vital to the strategy’s success in this area.

I support the decision made by the European authorities to promote at the level of Member States’ education systems policies for linking the content of the education programmes to developments on the European labour market. The process of developing the research sector is just as important. I regard it as vital to creating an economy capable of supporting sustainable development based on innovation and competition. At a time when an ever increasing number of young Europeans are choosing to study in a country other than that whose citizenship they hold, creating a European society that is united in its diversity is not possible without making national education systems more compatible.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Launched in 1999, the Bologna process has helped to build a European Higher Education Area, make teaching more competitive and attractive, and promote student mobility. This major programme allows the degrees of European students to be recognised outside the European Union, in 47 states in fact. I am strongly in favour of this common framework, which will be increasingly crucial for our children. I therefore voted in favour of this report, which calls for a larger budget and a greater contribution from the European institutions, universities and Member States. The measures that need to be strengthened include the recognition of degrees across Europe, the harmonisation of university standards, and the promotion of mobility, employability and social cohesion. Now that the process has been launched, it must be consolidated and respond to the growth objectives laid down in the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing.(GA) The Bologna process has greatly benefited the people of Europe, in particular, in terms of mobility and mutual recognition of qualifications. Students and graduates most have freedom of movement between Union Member States so that they can add to the economic recovery of Europe. I agree with the rapporteur that there is a need to do more so that qualifications are mutually recognised by Member States. I support what is in the report in relation to funding for third-level institutes and increasing the number of research and educational courses for the purposes of encouraging a knowledge-based economy in the EU. Clear, accessible information should be available to all the people of Europe on training courses and qualifications. I commend what is in the report in relation to accessibility of information on improving university, professional and training courses, and that specific information be available in relation to the mobility of qualifications in the EU. The great work of the Bologna process must be continued so that there is more harmonisation and cooperation among EU education systems in order for young Europeans to benefit from the education and employment opportunities available.

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. (HU) I voted in favour of the report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process because quality higher education is one of the basic pillars of the future of the European Union. I am of the opinion that the objective of the report to ensure compatible higher education that is also attractive to third-country students is an important step towards the mobility of employees with appropriate language competences. This type of mobility can substantially reduce unemployment, including, in particular, frictional unemployment. Furthermore, it should be noted that the forms of cooperation resulting from this process make a major contribution to the exchange and practical use of experience, and to research and development. It is therefore especially important for the higher education institutions of Member States to be able to engage in suitable cooperation with their third-country counterparts as well, an additional reason for this being that such relations promote the preservation and proliferation of culture. It is very important to make quality education and the opportunities provided by the Bologna process accessible to citizens in all Member States. I therefore find it worth considering in future to develop a single, objective system for the selection of students allowed to pursue studies abroad.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this report. The Bologna Declaration was signed in 1999 in order to enhance the competitiveness and attractiveness of higher education in Europe and encourage student mobility and employment opportunities by ensuring comparable learning programmes and degrees. Over the years, the Bologna process has been expanded to incorporate lifelong learning, non-formal education, teacher training and many other important issues. Although a lot has been achieved, the Member States have so far delayed addressing the issue of mutual recognition of qualifications and mutual trust, which is preventing the creation of a European market in higher education. I agree that the Commission must take on a more active role in this process and draw up a clear action plan providing for a final deadline for the mutual recognition of qualifications and diplomas, and must ensure that the Member States respect the deadlines set.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Almost 13 years after being launched, and now implemented in 47 countries, the Bologna process, which seeks to make higher education in Europe more attractive and to increase student mobility through the creation of a European Higher Education Area, is, on the whole, a success, even though the mutual recognition of qualifications sometimes proves difficult and the mobility rate remains relatively low. Despite the far-reaching reforms already carried out, further progress is still required. That is why I voted in favour of the Berlinguer report, which calls for rapid consolidation of this process, in particular, through greater harmonisation of university standards, better recognition of degrees across the Union and increased student mobility. It is not enough to decree this; the means also have to be provided. It is therefore evident that, in order to achieve this, the European universities need a larger contribution from the European institutions and a clearer commitment on the part of the Member States.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) I think that strengthening the whole Bologna process is functional to the growth objectives established in the Europe 2020 strategy: it is a requirement for the full integration of the internal EU market and an indispensable tool for tackling the challenges provided by the economic and financial crisis. The current financial crisis is likely to entail a further reduction in financial resources available across the education sector. The economic context should compel us to encourage acceleration in the process, and to study new financial frameworks which allow for a more effective implementation of the objectives of growth and excellence of European universities. In my opinion, the first goal of the Bologna process remains a fundamental requirement: a student enrolled in a European university has the right to graduate and to see his qualification recognised throughout the EU. The ministerial conference of the Bologna process will take place in April 2012. It is of paramount importance that the formulation of the new commitments for the three years that separate us from the next ministerial meeting should not be limited to the establishment of a list of benchmarks, but rather include concrete measures to promote the full realisation of the goals of the Bologna process in every university and Member State.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) Since the goal of the Bologna process is to establish a quality European Higher Education Area, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Berlinguer. Like never before in recent years, Europe needs to encourage a revolution in its education systems so that the academic world moves into line with the actual needs of the labour market, thereby becoming an effective tool in combating unemployment.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The Bologna process has entailed far-reaching higher education reforms for all the states involved, highlighted by changes in legislation and the reassessment of the basic principles of the education process for a knowledge-based society. European universities have not only radically revised and reorganised their teaching activities in the three-level framework established by the Bologna process, but they have also strengthened their social role with activities better suited to what is known as the ‘third mission’ of the university system. It is worth us mentioning that there has not always been a good connection between this system and the labour market. As a result, the statement made in the Lisbon document – ‘European universities, despite a reasonably good quality of teaching, are unable to express their full potential in order to promote economic growth, social cohesion and the improvement in the quality and quantity of jobs’ – still holds. Based on what has been mentioned previously, I think that it is vital to strengthen the entire Bologna process so that the growth targets envisaged in the Europe 2020 strategy are achieved.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because the Bologna process is essential for eliminating the barriers which still prevent people from moving to another country in order to study or work and for making higher education in Europe attractive to as many people as possible. The Bologna process and the European Higher Education Area play a key role in the Europe 2020 strategy because priorities set out in the Bologna process – mobility, recognition and employability – are necessary conditions for guaranteeing that every student enrolled in a European university has the right to quality education, to graduate, and to see his qualification recognised in any EU country. The role of higher education is to provide a learning environment open to everyone without discrimination, promoting autonomy, creativity, access to quality education and the broadening of knowledge, and, to this end, it is essential to guarantee the involvement of the academic community as a whole, particularly students, teachers and researchers, in developing the various stages of university education. Support for the Bologna process needs to be increased at EU level, in particular, with regard to the mutual recognition of academic qualifications, the harmonisation of academic standards, the promotion of mobility, increasing employability, active democratic participation, analysis of implementation of the Bologna principles, and the elimination of administrative obstacles.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report. The creation of an open European Higher Education Area has been a major achievement and it represents the broad institutional framework for the implementation of the ambitious process set in motion by the Bologna process. Strengthening it is functional to the growth objectives established in the Europe 2020 strategy, while also being a requirement for the full integration of the internal EU market and an indispensable tool for tackling the challenges posed by the economic and financial crisis.

Mobility, recognition of diplomas and qualifications, greater funding and more effective dialogue between universities and business are the priorities that we must focus on to re-launch and modernise higher education in Europe. The current financial crisis will result in a further reduction in the financial resources available across the education sector, but the economic context should, in any case, compel us to encourage acceleration in the process, and to study new formats and financial frameworks which allow for a more effective implementation of the objectives of growth and excellence of European universities. The only way to create new leaders and new jobs is through a competitive educational system.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) I welcome the Commission’s proposal to increase significantly the funds devoted to European education and training programmes, provided that a significant portion of these funds is devoted to supporting the modernisation of higher education and the modernisation of university infrastructure in accordance with the aims of the Bologna process and the EU programme for modernising higher education. The Commission should also find solutions that enable access to these programmes on the part of students also experiencing financial difficulties. I would like to draw attention in this context to the strong link between the Bologna process and the Professional Qualifications Directive, and to stress the need for coordination by the Commission. The connection can be further strengthened by providing students with all the relevant practical information concerning the recognition of diplomas obtained abroad and the job opportunities which training abroad opens up. Within the framework of revision of the Professional Qualifications Directive, and in order to make progress towards a real European Higher Education Area, it is necessary to compare the national minimum training requirements and to have more regular exchanges between the Member States, competent authorities and professional bodies.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I would like to congratulate Mr Berlinguer for the clarity and conciseness that he has demonstrated in drafting this report. Education plays a key role in providing European citizens with access to an internal market without barriers. The Bologna process provides some generally recognised benefits, such as the introduction of transferable ECTS credits and facilitating the recognition of diplomas in every EU country, a step which will therefore also allow professional qualifications to be recognised within the EU. I am pleased to note the achievements of this process which has provided many young people with the opportunity to study in different EU countries. I think that the reforms aimed at implementing it need to be continued.

I concur with the ideas expressed by the rapporteur, and I support increasing the number of beneficiaries receiving grants to study abroad, making it easier for the qualifications obtained to be recognised and extending these programmes within the post-university system as well. I am aware of the importance of education and the effects that gaps in the system could cause. The youth unemployment rate is the clearest indicator of this. This is why I support the EU contributing and getting involved as much as it can, so as to ensure that our children have the best possible academic future.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I agree with the rapporteur that it is essential to consolidate the process launched by the European Union following the Bologna conference of June 1999. Two aspects are crucial, in my opinion: student mobility and the recognition of degrees in the different Member States. They help to improve the employability of young Europeans. I am in favour of consolidating and ensuring broader use of these two principles in order to complete the creation of the European Higher Education Area. I also welcome the agreement on increased financial support for public and private universities, and I support the proposal to step up cooperation between the education and research sectors.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process since I agree with the significant structural reforms already put forward and implemented. However, I am strongly of the view that it is just as necessary as before to persist in completing this project, which aims to increase access to higher education and, therefore, the education of young Europeans.

Drawing up a common European framework that will enable international and Europe-wide recognition of university degrees awarded in the countries taking part in the process, on the basis of an efficient system for certifying the quality of higher education on offer, is a necessary reform in the process of EU harmonisation. Indeed, increased standardisation of curricula vitae would contribute to mutual recognition in the labour market and thereby facilitate graduate mobility. Above all, this is a key way to encourage enterprises to get involved in university science programmes and also to convince the Member States to dedicate at least 3% of their gross domestic product to education and science during this time of crisis. I think it is also worth noting the fact that the final agreement emphasises the need to boost funding for public and private universities alike, with the ultimate goal of increasing access to higher education.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Higher education should offer an accessible learning environment for accessing high-quality education, without any discrimination. The Bologna process has made it possible for Europe’s higher education systems to be compatible, and has enabled the removal of still existing barriers to cross-border mobility. However, its application has not been successful in all the Member States, both because of the current situation of economic crisis and because of the lack of mechanisms for keeping all those involved in higher education informed, and for monitoring and supporting them. Reinforcing this process is essential to realising the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. There is an urgent need for all the Member States to be involved, whether by increasing the budget or by fully implementing already existing European programmes, such as the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. I am voting for this report because I believe the measures provided for therein will contribute to the successful implementation of the Bologna process, with undeniable benefits for the European higher education system, and all its students, academics and officials.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against this motion for a resolution because I am opposed to the continuation and completion of the Bologna process, which promotes the application of neoliberalism in higher education and turns universities into institutions that serve the interests of businesses and the market. The ‘competitiveness / mobility / employability’ triptych is designed to create a flexible scientific workforce without protected labour and professional rights; at the same time, it reinforces class barriers in higher education by opposing the free State education that they should provide. The Bologna process turns education from a public good into a commodity and homogenises diplomas and courses, on the basis of market needs, rather than social needs. At the same time, the ECTS system for first degrees (bachelor’s), the procedure proposed for post-graduate studies (master’s degree), and lifelong learning programmes such as those proposed, is an attempt to alter the global, scientific knowledge provided to young scientists by providing them simply with fragmented and specialist knowledge based solely on the interests of their employers. Finally, the text conceals the fact that all the reforms being applied within the framework of the neoliberally-oriented Bologna process are resulting in under-funding of scientific research in the EU Member States.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for the Berlinguer report on the Bologna process. Europe should set the standard in terms of the quality of education and training and should ensure that education and training systems are compatible, so as to enable mobility throughout the EU; not just in the geographical terms of within and between countries, but also horizontally between study stages, and vertically within study stages. I welcome the relationship established between Bologna and the targets for growth based on knowledge and innovation under the Europe 2020 strategy, as well as the importance of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) to creating and developing genuine European citizens. I regret that some European universities seem reluctant to contribute to strengthening the EHEA, which is crucial to increasing the competitiveness and quality of the knowledge they produce. I agree that the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System should be more transparent and provide the possibility of establishing more precise comparisons between qualifications and degrees. I welcome the Commission proposal to increase substantially the funding for European education and training programmes, and I hope it will help with enabling students with financial difficulties to access these programmes.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE) , in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the own-initiative report on the consolidation of the Bologna process. I think that its principles will help to improve prospects for economic growth in the Union, as well as fitting in with the Europe 2020 strategy. In particular, the proposal will help make it easier for students to get into work and improve their mobility – laudable aims in themselves, both in the wider context of combating the financial crisis and youth unemployment. In my opinion, the recognition of diplomas in all Member States is a necessary condition for ensuring true freedom of movement within the EU. Moreover, I am convinced that the proposal will facilitate this recognition and help harmonise and improve academic standards, thereby contributing indirectly to the improvement process set out in the Professional Qualifications Directive, currently under discussion in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO). While congratulating Mr Berlinguer on his excellent work, I would like to take the opportunity to point out the importance of April’s ministerial conference in Bucharest, since I believe that this meeting will help towards the definition of an action plan for the near future.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Like the rapporteur, I believe the creation of a European Higher Education Area is, without doubt, one of the outstanding achievements of EU history. Unfortunately, this reform is unfinished, which is very much because of a lack of genuine involvement from all the stakeholders – the education sector/legislators – in implementing the Bologna process. The rapporteur identifies a number of problems. First off, the top-down approach; that is, the imposition on universities by the Member States/the EU of models developed in advance without the full involvement of the main players in the education process. Other problems identified are the lack of links between higher education establishments and the labour market, higher education students’ lack of mobility within the EU, and the problems with mutual recognition of university degrees within Europe. Unfortunately, the economic and financial crisis can currently be added to the aforementioned problems, which has led many Member States to cut their education budgets. Nevertheless, I consider reinforcing the Bologna process absolutely crucial to achieving the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. Naturally, the EU must play a key role in its effective implementation. That is why I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which consolidates the Bologna process on the recognition of qualifications within the European Union by increasing mobility, making young people more employable, and improving cooperation between the higher education sector and the research sector in Europe. Given that the crisis has had serious repercussions for our national economies and a negative impact on unemployment figures, it is important for the European Union to take action to promote employment, growth and training for young people.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) I welcome the adoption of this report. The main objective of the Bologna process is to ensure that a student enrolled in a European university has the right to obtain a degree and have it recognised throughout the Union. The creation of an open European Higher Education Area is a great success, which must be consolidated.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the motion for a European Parliament resolution on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process because I strongly believe that, in order to reach the goal of becoming ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world’, the EU must give itself a common framework for the Higher Education Area and, more importantly, a truly European system for mutual recognition of diplomas.

I want to underline how this issue closely intertwines these two fields of action. In fact, not only would a more integrated European university system provide evident benefits for research and industry in Europe, but it is only possible if the EU is able to strengthen the mobility of its citizens within the Union and if it enables the goal of social cohesion in Europe. The targets of the Bologna process are able to trigger this virtuous circle. This document delivers a clear message from Parliament to the Member States involved in the Bologna process: we need more.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the Bologna process because I believe there is a need to evaluate and increase the compatibility of higher education systems in Europe, as well as to remove the still existing barriers to the cross-border mobility of citizens intending to study or work in another country.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) A few days before the ministerial conference on the Bologna process, recognition should be given to the progress on the accessibility of education, which is a basic right of all students. European universities have reorganised their activities using a framework of the three stages set out in the Bologna process, with a view to the so-called ‘third mission’ of the higher education system. The recognition and standardisation of the education systems throughout the European Union are encouraging the mobility of students, fostering European integration, in general, and growth and jobs, in particular. A few days before the ministerial conference on the Bologna process, therefore, there is a need to formulate concrete measures to promote full compliance with its objectives in all the universities of all the Member States, to the ultimate benefit of European professional training and competitiveness.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The University of Bologna, founded in 1088 and with the motto Alma Mater Studiorum, is Europe’s oldest university and celebrated its 900th anniversary in 1988; it remains a centre of higher-education excellence. In 1998, on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the University of Paris, a group of European ministers signed the Sorbonne Declaration, with the intention of harmonising the European higher education system. On 19 June 1999, 30 European countries signed the Bologna Declaration, the objective of which was to establish, by 2010, a European Higher Education Area that is coherent, compatible, competitive and attractive to students from Europe and third countries; an area that promotes European cohesion through the knowledge, mobility and employability of its graduates, so as to ensure that Europe will perform better in the world. Through the mutual recognition of academic qualifications by the various universities of the signatory countries, the Bologna process enables the greater mobility of persons, in general, and students, in particular. I welcome the adoption of this report and I am sure it will be a major incentive to continuing this process and that it will contribute to achieving the objectives of Education and Training 2020 and the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The rapporteur’s apologist vision seeks to obscure or minimise some of the most serious consequences of the Bologna process. These include, inter alia, the creation of economic barriers to accessing and attending higher education; the commercialisation of education, driving away those without the financial means to ‘buy’ the ‘products’ that the various ‘stages’ of higher education have now become; and the attack on the social role of the state in this area, which is enshrined in the constitutions of countries like Portugal, although this is not respected. Education as a right that should be guaranteed to all, irrespective of individual financial circumstances, has been called into question. The role of the education system in overcoming social inequalities has been called into question, replaced by a knowledge ‘market’ and a new business opportunity that ensure the reproduction of social inequalities. Those are some of the consequences of the Bologna process. The proclaimed objective of student mobility has fallen by the wayside, since mobility rates are low, as the report itself acknowledges. The harmonisation of curricula ignores the specific characteristics of each country’s education system, in a trend towards training for the workplace rather than integrated education. Quality is declining and many students are obliged to indebt themselves in order to access a fundamental right.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The creation of an open European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has been a major achievement and represents a broad institutional framework for the implementation of the ambitious process set in motion by the Bologna process. Intergovernmental cooperation and the strategies set out by the European institutions have been the stimulus for a far-reaching structural reform of the European higher education system. European universities have deeply revised and reorganised their teaching activities, while also strengthening their social role.

It must be noted, however, that the connection between this system and the labour market has not always been successful. For this reason, the strengthening of the whole Bologna process is of fundamental significance. The first goal of the Bologna process remains the basic requirement that every student enrolled in a European university has the right to complete his studies and to see his qualification recognised across the EU. The European institutions and the Member States play a crucial role here, especially in the recognition of qualifications and mobility policy. At this stage, however, the EHEA is not fully developed.

I am of the opinion that it is important to enhance its potential to the maximum and to address the many open questions such as the role of government regulation, budgetary constraints, quality control, and national accreditation. Consequently, those participating in the Bologna process – universities, students, teachers, trade unions, the business sector – have a crucial responsibility to ensure that the process is actually rooted in the academic body concerned.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) Including in my capacity as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education, I completely support this report, which sets out to assess and push forward the European institutions’ contribution to the consolidation and development of the Bologna process. This process will facilitate mobility through mutual recognition of academic diplomas and the harmonisation of university standards, getting rid of the many administrative barriers that restrict it. Its ultimate goal is to improve the quality of European universities and the relationship between the education system and the labour market. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing.(GA) I fully support efforts at EU level to improve third-level education courses. Higher education must be strengthened in order to achieve the aims of the Europe 2020 strategy. Irish universities, third-level institutes, graduates and students will benefit from the provisions accepted today in relation to mobility; mutual recognition of qualifications and the qualifications framework; quality assurance; the social dimension; employability; and better cooperation between the EHEA and the European Research Area.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) The creation of a more integrated education system has been a goal of the Member States for a number of years already. In fact, the Bologna Declaration was signed in 1999, committing the Member States to working together to build a European Higher Education Area that will enable convergence among the different education systems. It is hoped that this will help increase employment levels and mobility, as well as promote European higher education across the world. Great progress has been made over the years, but the process is still far from complete. There are still sectors where the task of convergence has not been pursued with the necessary energy and determination. That is why the time has come for the institutions to make a proper commitment to giving the educational integration process the impetus it needs.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) At a time when the focus of many discussions is on stability and growth, unrestricted freedom of movement for students would be an initiative which requires no financial investment, but which would support one of the most sustainable measures to promote Europe’s knowledge base. Allowing students to take a degree in any EU country is a logical consequence of European integration policy and represents a milestone in its progress.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) The Bologna process introduced a degree system with three cycles (bachelor, master, doctorate), quality assurance, and mutual recognition of qualifications and study periods. However, there are still many administrative obstacles to the recognition of degrees and to the harmonisation of university standards.

That is why I voted in favour of the report by my colleague, Luigi Berlinguer, which sends a strong signal to the Biannual Ministerial Meeting of the Bologna process, to be held in Bucharest on 26 and 27 April, in favour of greater support for EU involvement in the process, in the form of incentives for European universities and the creation of joint programmes. These measures should be accompanied by an increase in public investment in higher education with a view to re-establishing sustainable growth, based on expert skills and knowledge and the promotion of partnerships between universities and businesses.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. (SV) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution tabled by my group, the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, because I am critical of parts of the Bologna process and, above all, because the Bologna process pays far too much attention to the needs of the companies and the markets instead of realising the importance of the independence of education and of universities.

I would also emphasise the importance of taking forceful action against the social misrepresentation in the recruitment of people to higher education, which, in the current serious crisis, is in danger of becoming even worse.

Lastly, I would stress that each country has its own specific history and education tradition that must be respected, even though I obviously support an extensive exchange of students and opportunities to study in other countries, as well as the efforts to find common criteria to be able to evaluate the education received in different countries.

 
  
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  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE), in writing.(PL) People wishing to relocate in order to undertake periods of study or work experience abroad, outside their country of origin, still face obstacles. These obstacles make it harder to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy concerning the creation of a knowledge-driven, innovative economy. Thanks to the Bologna system, we can speak of a European higher education system, and I consider this to be a huge achievement in our progress towards the compatibility of education systems in Europe.

The Bologna process is a challenge because it initiated enormous changes. Education reform has not only enabled students to make use of educational programmes at foreign universities, but also increases the role played by universities in society. It is now important to strengthen the Bologna system in order to make it possible to realise in full the proposal that a student who studies at a given university is entitled to receive a degree, and that his qualification should be recognised throughout the EU. In other words, we have to create a learning-friendly environment and increase student mobility. Strengthening and developing the Bologna process, in particular through the recognition of qualifications, the harmonisation of academic standards and the promotion of mobility are the right way to achieve this objective. Therefore, I am pleased that, in the report adopted today, MEPs have called for more involvement at Union and national level and by all key entities participating in the Bologna process. Subsequent obligations taken on by Member States relating to the Bologna process should be specific and should aim to promote the full realisation of the process.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this report because the main goal of the Bologna process remains a fundamental requirement: a student enrolled in a European university has the right to graduate and to see his qualification recognised throughout the EU. Most of the Bologna process countries have not implemented national qualification frameworks linked to the qualifications framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The objective of social cohesion has become a central part of the EHEA. It is a prerequisite, which must be met for the EHEA to be consolidated. More importance should be attached to equitable access and to the completion of higher education at all levels. One of the most important goals of the EHEA should be to establish and develop a system of European degrees with recognition everywhere in Europe so that any student who completes his/her university education in Europe will obtain a qualification recognised and valid throughout Europe.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. (RO) The new EU 2020 strategy supports skills development through greater cooperation between education, the business sector and governments. The strategies devised by European institutions have encouraged extensive structural reform of the European university system. We need to harmonise academic standards at European level. However, numerous problems are prevalent in the European Union’s university systems, the biggest being the link between universities and the labour market. We must keep a close eye on these problems. The report emphasises that European universities have not only radically revised and reorganised their teaching activities in the three-level framework established by the Bologna process, but they have also strengthened their social role. I support this report and I urge universities to be more transparent in relation to their students.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) The Berlinguer report seeks to support the consolidation of the Bologna process. It highlights the elements that still need to be improved, particularly as regards mobility, the recognition of qualifications, employability and, finally, cooperation between the higher education sector and the research sector in Europe. I supported this report during the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR), in writing. – I share the position of my group that education is primarily the responsibility of the Member States and that diverse and varied approaches to education are the foundations of cooperation in the field of the European Higher Education Area. Although I could support cooperation with third-country universities or progress toward the establishment of an effective Higher Education Area for countries involved in the Eastern Partnership, the report proposes several measures which are of concern to me, notably, the call on Members States and the EU to determine whether courses of study could include a compulsory training period to be completed at a university in a Member State other than the student’s home country. Such policies should remain within the competence of the Member States. For this reason, I have voted against it.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) By signing the Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999, France, together with 28 other countries, undertook to build a European Higher Education Area by 2010, the main objective of which was to give all graduates of European universities the right to have their degrees recognised throughout the European Union. Although significant progress has been made, the mutual recognition of certain degrees is not yet perfect. I welcome the fact that Parliament has adopted this report, which calls for the creation of a European qualification system in order to achieve complete mutual recognition of the university degrees of each Member State, which is an essential precondition for the creation of a genuine European Knowledge Area.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing.(RO) The Bologna process has brought about fundamental changes within the higher education sector in Europe. Remarkable progress has been made in many areas, but further efforts are required to ensure that all the Bologna objectives are fully met during the next decade. The institutions should be supported with the aim of improving the recognition and transfer of credits by implementing the ECTS, academic results, the Diploma Supplement and the Lisbon Convention on the recognition of qualifications in a comparable and fair manner across the whole of Europe (for example, using a European user guide on recognition and European training seminars funded by the Commission). The signatory countries must ensure that the national qualification frameworks are introduced fully and in a comparable manner, in accordance with the qualification framework of the European Higher Education Area, which is urgently needed to facilitate mobility, recognition and lifelong learning. With the aim of promoting Europe to the rest of the world as an attractive destination where they can come and study, the European Commission could promote the activities within the European Higher Education Area globally.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which says that the guiding aim and fundamental requirement of the Bologna process is to allow any student studying anywhere in the European Union to graduate and see their qualifications recognised throughout the European Union. The report argues that the European institutions must provide more support to the Bologna process and seek to strengthen the European Higher Education Area. It highlights the key tools which can provide such support: improving the mutual recognition of qualifications; the definition of common university curricula and standards; and the evaluation of universities across the Member States.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The creation of a European Higher Education Area represents the necessary institutional framework for the implementation of the ambitious process set in motion by the Bologna process. Structural reform of the European higher education system has, in recent years, become a necessity. European universities have deeply revised and reorganised their teaching activities in the three-level framework established by the Bologna process. The results are still not totally satisfactory.

We are convinced that strengthening the Bologna process is functional to the growth objectives established in the Europe 2020 strategy: it is a requirement for the full integration of the internal EU market and an indispensable tool for tackling the challenges provided by the economic and financial crisis. The current financial crisis is likely to entail a further reduction in financial resources available across the entire education sector. European-level action is increasingly necessary to improve results and overcome the unresolved issues. The task of modernising and strengthening universities belongs to the Member States, to the European institutions and to all stakeholders (businesses, universities, students). Europe must have the means to ensure a more efficient system both through a policy of incentives as well as through links with the European Research Area.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) Launching the Bologna process has enabled us to successfully achieve an important objective for the European Union and its partner countries: creating a common higher education framework in Europe. The principles underlying this commitment have largely been implemented, whether it is the two-stage university structure, the transferable credit system or student and teaching staff mobility. We need to make further efforts not only to continue improving the competitiveness of European higher education globally, but also to integrate European citizens into the labour market. The number of places on Master’s courses needs to be tailored to existing demand, bearing in mind that in some Member States, a Bachelor’s degree offers low employment prospects. At the same time, the status of pre-Bologna process students in those countries where they are disadvantaged in terms of enrolling in Masters’ programmes needs to be regulated.

On the other hand, universities in the signatory states must recognise the practical internships completed as part of the mobility programmes supported by the European Commission, while creating a sufficient number of traineeships for students, so as to facilitate their future entry into the labour market.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Bologna process sets out goals that are still extremely important, namely: enabling compatible systems of higher education in Europe; doing away with the barriers which still prevent people from moving to another country in order to study or work; and making higher education in Europe attractive to as many people as possible. I agree with Mr Berlinguer on the need to meet these goals and to strengthen the Bologna process.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process. In fact, the creation of a European Higher Education Area represents the final stage of the ambitious system launched by the Bologna process. The wide-ranging structural reform of the European higher education system has not had the expected and hoped-for success. Nevertheless, it represents a major target to hit in order to enable the growth set out in the Europe 2020 strategy, a major requirement for the complete integration of the EU market, and one of the only tools available to defy the economic and financial crisis that Europe is undergoing. I call for the increased involvement of all stakeholders, since the minimal respect for the guidelines of the process by some European universities demonstrates the need to implement new teaching strategies, as well as to identify new measures to support this process.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) The primary objective of the Bologna process is to create a compatible system of higher education in Europe, and to eliminate the barriers preventing people from pursuing studies abroad. Involving the academic community in designing such an educational system can contribute to the effectiveness of the process. Special attention must be paid to the mutual recognition of diplomas because there have been problems in this regard in a number of Member States. We must make sure that university diplomas obtained in the EU are recognised and usable on the labour market without discrimination. A vital condition for implementing the process is to make the right to study economically accessible to everyone. Particular attention must be paid to vulnerable groups in order to facilitate their access to fair and better job opportunities. Common action at European level is needed to improve results and overcome unresolved issues; the EU has the means to ensure the creation of a more efficient system. Since the report intends to remedy the aforesaid issues I, too, voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The Lisbon document presents a worrying situation: European universities offer high-quality teaching but do not manage to promote economic growth or develop employment. This assessment is of particular concern in the light of the current economic circumstances.

Moreover, the European Union’s objective is to become ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’. With that objective in mind, it is vital to consolidate the Bologna process and to achieve the goals laid down by the Europe 2020 strategy. We need to resolve this matter so that we can tackle the economic and financial crisis.

 
  
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  Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR), in writing.(PL) Although I support the idea of the Bologna process and some paragraphs of Mr Berlinguer’s report, I voted against adopting the entire report, since it calls on several occasions for harmonisation of academic standards, whereas I believe that education issues must remain the responsibility of Member States, and for financial support for agreements on common core curricula. The report also calls on Member States and the Union to determine whether courses of study could include a compulsory period of education to be completed by the student at a university in a Member State other than the home country. This issue should not be subject to such far-reaching regulation, but should be entirely voluntary.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The Bologna process remains a work in progress, the final objective of which is to enable any student enrolled in any European University to graduate and have the qualification thus obtained recognised throughout the European Union. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Cooperation between countries and a range of different strategies are intended to act as an incentive for the development of an open European Higher Education Area. In fact, this involves a number of difficulties which have not yet been resolved. For example, the Netherlands requires many German students attending Dutch universities to make compensatory payments. Austria has raised similar problems in the Council. Hungary, in particular, has seen an influx of German students wanting to study medicine. In contrast, Germany claims that it accepts more students from other countries within the EU than it exports. The idea of introducing quotas to prevent an overflow of students from EU Member States was rejected by the Court of Justice of the European Union as being illegal. In the light of the oversubscribed courses at some universities, the Bologna process should not be applying the principle of encouraging students who cannot get a place at a university in their own country to move to another country where they will take the places of local students. For this reason, I have abstained from voting on this report.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report and praise the effectiveness of the rapporteur, who sought a compromise and managed to resolve all of the conflicts that might have arisen as a result of this report, thereby achieving a clear agreement on an increase in the funding of public and private universities. The proposals in this report focus primarily on student mobility, the recognition of qualifications and the qualifications framework, quality assurance, the social aspect, employability and the bachelor’s degree, and finally, improving cooperation between the higher education sector and the research sector in Europe. It puts the recognition of a national degree at European level at the heart of the debate. The creation of an open European Higher Education Area is becoming the broader institutional framework for the ambitious project launched with the Bologna process.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) I would like to congratulate the godfather of the Bologna process, Mr Berlinguer, on this own-initiative report, in which he wanted to draw attention back to the important issue of youth mobility for educational purposes. It was important to recapitulate the shortcomings and problems arising from the implementation of the Bologna process that slowed it down, so that we can quickly achieve its goal – that the academic qualifications and education of students at any European university are recognised and valid throughout the European Union in order to create a genuine European university citizenship and to strengthen employability.

Education is a public responsibility of the Member States, EU institutions, and other key players, so it is essential to keep funding and improving education for young people across Europe, including in the context of their mobility. It is also necessary to create some sort of common core curriculum, establish uniform academic titles throughout Europe, and recognise credits obtained by students from their studies with regard to their mobility in the EU.

Mobility should be for everyone and should be the basis for the reform of higher education. In this context, it is also essential to establish the common European Qualifications Framework and, subsequently, to implement it effectively at the national level. I therefore continue to keep my fingers crossed for this project and hope that this new report will contribute to the improvement of the Bologna process as quickly as possible and that we can count on 100% support from all stakeholders.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) The Bologna process has, in fact, made no progress for several years. The aim of creating a European Higher Education Area has remained a vision. It is high time that concrete measures are taken concerning the recognition of diplomas and degrees. In order to achieve this, we need to promote freedom of movement within national university systems, because in Austria, for example, students’ qualifications are often recognised in one province and not in another. In addition, the Bologna process cannot be implemented without incurring additional costs, which means providing financial support for the universities. The money should be used to develop national education systems further, so that we can fully exploit the potential of the European Higher Education Area. In addition, we urgently need to reduce the amount of red tape. For example, in order to get a place at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, prospective students first have to overcome the hurdle of access restrictions on medical courses and then demonstrate that they have studied the relevant subjects (physics, biology and maths) in their last two years at school. However, these additional points will only be recognised if the school-leaving certificate confirms that the student has studied these subjects. Other official certificates are not recognised, purely for bureaucratic and discriminatory reasons. As Austrian and French school-leaving certificates do not contain this information, students from these countries are put at a disadvantage and this amounts to discrimination. As the report does not mention this, I have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing. (PL) Removing the barriers that prevent students from studying in all the Member States of the European Union is one of the EU’s greatest achievements, and one which directly affects the lives of millions of Europeans. Like the Schengen Area, the Bologna process is the best showcase of European integration. However, this report correctly identifies areas where there is still much to be done in order for the most important objective of the Bologna process to be achieved. These include the mutual recognition of degrees, the mutual recognition of qualifications and the harmonisation of core curricula. I also welcome the rapporteur’s emphasis on the social dimension of the Bologna process. The Union must accord the utmost importance to fair access and to higher education for all groups within society. Access to education cannot be contingent on the financial, cultural or social capital of young Europeans’ families. Considering all these aspects, I decided to endorse the report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because the Bologna process is an important political factor and impetus for change in countries’ higher education systems. Above all, it creates excellent opportunities to promote the harmonisation of academic standards, the mutual recognition of academic qualifications and mobility, and ensures the quality of higher education and better cooperation between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area. I believe that the Member States should pay particular attention to employment opportunities, and there should therefore be student and lecturer exchanges and an effective dialogue between universities and business representatives. Universities should also form partnerships for the exchange of best practices. Meanwhile, regional university brands need to be created in order to strengthen university prestige internationally.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – The creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) must be supported at the European level because the challenges EHEA faces cannot be solved by the individual Member States. The Bologna process is not only about recognition of diplomas across Europe. It is a very comprehensive tool to tackle such important issues as youth unemployment, which is about 20% nowadays. European youth need the means to become more mobile. 53% of young people in the EU are worried about the absence of jobs in their city or region. 42% refer to the lack of good job opportunities and the same number considers that jobs are poorly paid and that salaries are not adequate for a reasonable standard of living. I urge the Member States and the EU to provide more support for students willing to study abroad. Two major problems have to be tackled: the lack of funds and lack of information on studying and scholarship opportunities. 65% of young people finance their stay abroad with their private funds and savings. Currently, more than 4 in 10 (44%) of young people are not willing, or would not like, to work in another European country. Support for studies will significantly promote European citizenship, cultural diversity and foster intercultural dialogue.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report. In light of the forthcoming Council meeting next month, at which developments will be discussed and new objectives will be set for achieving the objectives set out in the Bologna process, certain general findings need to be formulated. Twelve years after the Bologna Declaration, the climate in the EU is very different. Firstly, the economic crisis affecting numerous Member States, which has resulted in millions of Europeans, trained Europeans, young people with diplomas, being made unemployed requires a very fast policy on recognition of their skills, so as to encourage their mobility, among other things. Secondly, unlike the previous decade, the trend today in numerous Member States is to reduce spending on education by up to 10% compared with 2009. This should not be overlooked. Strong education and strong research in Europe are objectives set in the EU 2020 strategy. This requires robust, not sub-standard education. This reference must not be omitted from the forthcoming Council and it must not be divorced from the objectives of the Bologna process.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Bologna process has made it possible for Europe’s higher education systems to be compatible, and has enabled the removal of still existing barriers to cross-border mobility, so as to enable study in other countries and make European higher education more attractive. However, its application has not been uniform or successful in all the Member States, both because of the current situation of economic crisis and because of the lack of mechanisms for keeping all those involved in higher education informed, and for monitoring and supporting them. I voted for this report, which provides for measures to improve this process. This process is essential to realising the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. There is an urgent need for all the Member States to be involved, whether by increasing the budget or by fully implementing already existing European programmes.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D), in writing. (ES) Given that the right to education is one of the basic values of the EU, the Bologna process has a key role in reinforcing that value. The provision and promotion of mobility, recognition and employability between the Member States is essential for fulfilling the employment and growth objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. I have voted in favour of this report as it highlights the EU’s commitment to young Europeans, ensuring they have the opportunity to enjoy a multicultural education and comprehensive recognition, irrespective of their origin or economic resources. The importance of the Bologna process and the consolidation of the EHEA in aiding Europe to counter the current period of economic instability must also be highlighted. For this reason, it calls for the need for the Member States and the EU to support this process by increasing public investment in higher education and promoting grants for students. The functions of research and innovation in European universities also need increased investment from the Member States and the EU, given that they are vital for the future development of the Union.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. (FR) By 2020, 20% of graduates will have carried out a study or training period abroad. That is the student mobility goal laid down by the European Commission within the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy: an ambitious, if not unattainable, objective given the reality of the current figures.

Student and teacher mobility in Europe is still in its infancy: fewer than four students out of 100 make use of it at present. Mr Berlinguer’s report, adopted at lunchtime today, comes just at the right time. It points out that there are still too many obstacles when it comes to the recognition of degrees and the ease of studying abroad, and it makes some interesting suggestions. The European Parliament calls on the Member States to redouble their efforts to enhance the consistency of the Bologna process.

That covers everything from cooperation between universities and the mutual recognition of ECTS credits and university degrees to increased financial support. Access to education is a universal value. It must be guaranteed throughout the territory of the European Union. A mobility rate of 3.5% is shameful and could lead to disillusionment among the Erasmus generation.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I applaud Mr Berlinguer for his work. Having regard to Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and, in particular, Article 14 thereof, Parliament feels it necessary to stress the strategic importance of education for cooperation between Member States, in order to achieve essential EU 2020 jobs and growth targets and much-needed economic recovery. Furthermore, for the purposes of achieving successful cooperation, there can be no denying the fundamental importance of the call to develop an effective, bottom-up approach, fully involving universities, trade unions, professional organisations, research institutions, the business sector and, first and foremost, teachers, students, student organisations and university staff.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The aim of the Bologna process was to create a common framework for higher education in Europe by 2010. Its objectives have, for the most part, been met, but efforts are still needed. The report by Luigi Berlinguer, which I supported, lists the areas of action where we should focus our efforts in order to benefit fully from this initiative’s potential. I welcome, first and foremost, the recognition of the key role played by higher education, reinforced by the Bologna process, in achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy in terms of employment and growth. In this regard, all of the actors must be involved: teachers, students and businesses in particular. This is essential to improve what is offered by universities and provide job opportunities for students. I share, in particular, the desire to strengthen the dialogue between businesses and universities in order to provide more opportunities for work experience throughout university courses and thus make it easier for young graduates to enter the job market. Finally, I welcome the desire to increase student mobility within Europe. In this regard, I believe, too, that it is vital to ensure that student grants and loans are completely portable in order to prevent any discrimination against disadvantaged students.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Among other things, the report mentions that one of the factors that have slowed down progress in terms of results is the top-down nature of the process. The process was first created by the political will of national governments; only in the second phase did it progressively involve leaders of academic institutions within the European University Association (EUA), and the process has yet to be fully integrated into European universities, students and families. A radical change and more complete involvement of all the stakeholders in the management of its goals, and in identifying new measures to support it, are therefore required.

Another aspect of the ‘unfinished governance’ of the process is the fragmented actions taken by individual Member States. The small budget provided for achieving the objectives is one reason for part of that same criticism: the illusion that the Bologna process could be achieved at no cost.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because I attach huge importance to the Bologna process’s contribution to enabling compatible systems of higher education across Europe. The process will help do away with the barriers that still prevent people from moving to another country in order to study or work, and make higher education in Europe attractive to as many people as possible, including those from third countries.

The Bologna process and the European Higher Education Area play a key role in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy, since they contribute to achieving growth based on knowledge and innovation, especially in the context of the current economic crisis. Lastly, the creation of this European area provides the necessary institutional framework for the full integration of the internal EU market and for tackling the challenges posed by the recent crisis.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Berlinguer because I consider that the contribution of the European institutions to promoting the Bologna process will continue to act as a driving force behind the reform of the European higher education system. I also believe that cooperation between the Member States will help to create the European Higher Education Area, which will help in efforts to improve employment and growth and achieve the other objectives of the EU 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing. (FR) Europe has always put student mobility at the heart of its priorities since the creation of the Erasmus programme in 1987. In 2010, more than 2 million students had benefited from European funding to go and study in another Member State of the European Union.

However, there is little point in encouraging young people to study or work abroad if the countries do not recognise the degrees and experience they gained during that period. Therefore, the Bologna process, launched in 1999, was designed to eliminate, by 2010, all of the administrative obstacles to the recognition of degrees and ensure the harmonisation of university standards. Unfortunately, some countries have been slow to act and countless students now find themselves in inextricable situations due to the absence of effective harmonisation. This situation harms not only those involved but also the image of the European institutions, which are accused of being inconsistent.

Parliament is today assessing the efforts that need to be made to consolidate the progress of the Bologna process. It is now up to the Member States and the universities to step up to the mark and meet the very high expectations of our fellow citizens.

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing.(RO) I voted for Mr Berlinguer’s report because it highlights the need to tailor education systems to the relevant demands of the market. In the current socio-economic climate, it is of paramount importance to consolidate the entire Bologna process in order to achieve the economic growth targets stipulated in the Europe 2020 strategy. On the other hand, this consolidation is one of the requirements for the total integration of the EU internal market and an essential tool for tackling the challenges posed by the economic and financial crisis.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) One of the principal objectives of the Bologna process is to create a so-called European Higher Education Area, mainly by harmonising standards for academic degrees and quality assurance throughout Europe. The problem that European universities do not recognise each other’s academic degrees, academic titles or the duration of periods of study still exists today. Luigi Berlinguer’s report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process is one step towards the solution of these problems, and therefore I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE), in writing. (DE) The Bologna process has, unfortunately, not developed in the way that was originally intended. This is disappointing for the many young people who see the European internal market as their future. For this reason, there is an urgent need for action.

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection is working on introducing an important improvement as part of the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. However, this is not enough. The Member States must also become more heavily involved in this area.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D), in writing. – (CS) I supported the adoption of the report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process because I can see the fundamental importance of the European Higher Education Area as a platform for increased support for the mobility of young citizens. Any instrument contributing to greater employment for young graduates clearly deserves such support. I also welcome the social dimension of the report, which openly calls for equitable access and the completion of higher education at all levels. I am pleased that I was able to get a call included in the report for greater transparency concerning the information provided to students regarding the conditions for completing foreign traineeships, as well as support for teacher mobility.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Twenty-nine countries signed the Bologna Declaration on 29 June 1999. They therefore committed to work together to create, by 2010, a European Higher Education Area that would enable convergence among the European education systems, thus increasing the employability and mobility of EU citizens, and to promote European higher education across the world.

I am completely in favour of the text that we voted on in plenary this morning, but I would like to emphasise in particular that the Member States’ commitment to provide greater funding for higher education by increasing public investment could help combat the economic crisis and encourage growth based on enhancing knowledge. This increased national commitment to funding should also be accompanied by an effective, bottom-up approach, fully involving all key actors such as universities, trade unions, professional organisations, research institutions and the business sector.

Lastly, I feel I must stress that measures to promote employability, such as lifelong learning, are absolutely necessary for achieving more effective cooperation between universities and the labour market with a view to developing more relevant curricula. This may also help ensure the availability of a sufficient number of traineeships for students, so as to further facilitate their joining the job market. These initiatives must therefore be seen as a priority.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The goal of creating a European Higher Education Area is crucial to establishing a European society genuinely based on knowledge and innovation, as set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. To this end, the Bologna process was launched in 1999, with the objective of enabling a student matriculated at a European university to have the right to be educated and have their qualifications recognised throughout the EU. The system launched by the Bologna process, which created three stages and the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System, has hit a number of obstacles in institutional and applicability terms. There is a need to step up intergovernmental cooperation and increase the involvement of the main players in the process: universities, students and companies. As such, consideration needs to be given to physical, horizontal and vertical mobility; to recognition of qualifications and the framework of formal, non-formal and informal qualifications; to guaranteeing the quality of the institutions; to the inclusiveness and social cohesion of university teaching; to university/business cooperation; and to university involvement in creating innovation. Eliminating the obstacles outlined above will turn Europe into an area of teaching excellence.

 
  
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  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE), in writing. – The Bologna process has been vital in making student, researcher and teacher mobility in the EU possible. Nevertheless, the numbers of those who study or teach in another Member State are still very low. Targeted support is needed from the EU institutions to assist Member States and higher education institutions to meet Bologna requirements. Renewed efforts by education institutions and national organisations themselves are also essential in implementing reforms needed to close implementation gaps so that a true European Higher Education Area becomes a reality. Problems with the mutual recognition of academic qualifications, the calculation of ECTS and grades, core curricula, the recognition of Erasmus and practical experience gained abroad continue to act as barriers to students wishing to study in another EU Member State.

I fully endorse Mr Berlinguer’s report. EU support for the Bologna process will ensure we meet the EU 2020 goals for jobs and growth, as mobility among students will lead to greater labour mobility. The revision of the Professional Qualifications Directive will complement the Bologna process by providing assurances that qualifications gained in another Member State will be recognised across the EU.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process because this consolidation must apply to the support for reciprocal recognition of university qualifications, the harmonisation of academic standards, the promotion of mobility, the social aspect and employability, active democratic participation, and to eliminating administrative obstacles preventing the implementation of the Bologna process principles. I voted for Member States to reiterate their commitment to the Bologna process by strengthening the funding system in order to achieve the growth targets set by the Europe 2020 strategy. I voted for paragraph 26, which emphasises that measures to promote employability (for example, lifelong learning and the development of a broader range of skills suitable for the labour market) must be top priorities in order to achieve sustainable growth and prosperity targets. In this regard, we support exchanges of university teachers and students, dialogue between universities and businesses, apprenticeships and the skills passport. We stress the need for specific actions and for more effective cooperation between universities and the labour market with a view to developing more relevant curricula, bringing greater consistency to education and enhancing employability by establishing similar criteria for admission to the various professions.

 
  
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  Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The report highlights the difficulties experienced by the capitalists in achieving full application of the Bologna process, due to contradictions in capitalist growth between Member States and sectors. At the interim review stage, and in the midst of the global capitalist crisis, it emphasises ‘mobility’ in order to serve the profitability objectives of capital. ‘Mobility’ needs to be safeguarded as soon as young people become students, so that they learn to roam around acquiring skills that will enable them to move between low-paid jobs with no rights, rather than acquiring scientific knowledge. The capitalocrats want a minimum level of knowledge, so that graduates can then chase after training and certificates. These same people are seeking to consolidate courses so that they can extend class barriers to education. They fund lifelong learning/exploitation programmes and cut spending on social and student care. They insist on equivalence between diplomas and a single qualification certification system, in order to guarantee cheap specialised workers, so as to increase the competitiveness of the alliance of euro-wolves over other imperialist States and unions. The Greek Communist Party has always taken the view that diplomas should be the only precondition in terms of accessing professions because they are based on solid study and on clearly scientific subjects. The only way to achieve this is through real people-friendly growth, outside the EU, and only the power of the working class and its allies can achieve that.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – The Bologna process has been vital to increasing student mobility and developing the European Union’s higher education sector. I am fully in favour of this report, as it attempts to highlight the importance of European institutions showing collective support to the Bologna process to ensure that it continues to develop and strengthen. The link between the Bologna process and the labour market is highlighted by the report as an area in need of further support; increasing recognition of degrees and developing a joint degree system will go a long way to addressing this. The call to recognise the doctorate level throughout the EU is also vitally important; PhD degrees must be recognised, as they are often a brilliant example of academic-business cooperation, which is important for economic growth.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) The quality of the education of young Europeans is an imperative that must guide our action. I therefore support this report assessing the Bologna process, launched in 1999 with a view to establishing the framework for high-quality higher education in Europe. My hope is that we can achieve a genuine single market for higher education, based on the far-reaching structural reform known as ‘LMD’. However, I regret that there are still obstacles between the university world and the world of employment. Our House is thus sending out a strong message about the need for better integration of higher education and the job market. With the Europe 2020 strategy, Europe aspires to be the world’s most competitive knowledge-based economy. That is obviously dependent on high-quality teaching, the recognition of degrees and qualifications, and mobility, not to mention student employability. I therefore support the efforts to encourage the business world to be more open to students, through traineeships and work-linked training. Our growth and our competitiveness depend on the level of education of Europe’s young people and their integration into the workplace. The Bologna process must ensure that this gamble pays off.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The full realisation of an open European Higher Education Area is a requirement for the full integration of the internal EU market and an indispensable tool in terms of growth and employment for overcoming the current period of general economic insecurity. Indeed, the European Union’s recovery depends on: greater interaction between universities, trade unions, professional organisations, research institutions and the business sector; more effective measures on joining the labour market; and supporting policies from Member States designed to encourage professional mobility in Europe along with student mobility. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report attempts to remedy or obscure the most serious consequence of the Bologna process: the increased difficulty of accessing higher education for those facing more severe financial situations, who are unable to buy the products that higher education packages have now become. The paradigm of education as a right that should be guaranteed to all has been inverted, so that there is now a knowledge market and a new business opportunity. The much-trumpeted objective of student mobility has fallen by the wayside, since mobility rates are low, as the report itself acknowledges. It ignores the specific characteristics of each country’s education system in its attempts to harmonise the structure of knowledge and even of content, in a trend towards training for the workplace rather than integrated education. The quality of education is declining, whilst many students are obliged to indebt themselves in order to access a fundamental right.

What is needed, as we argue in our alternative motion for a resolution, is for there to be cooperation between Member States in terms of higher education, but for this to be created whilst guaranteeing the right of all to state-run, free and high-quality higher education.

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE), in writing. (SL) I am pleased the report on the contribution of the European institutions to the Bologna process has just been adopted at the plenary session by a large majority. The rapporteur, MEP and former minister for education, Luigi Berlinguer, has done an excellent job and I worked closely with him while preparing an opinion for my political group, the European People’s Party. I therefore also voted in favour of the Berlinguer report. Since the signing of the Bologna Declaration, the European Higher Education Area has harmonised considerably. All the associated countries have established three stages of higher education studies. However, at the end of the first decade of reform, many issues still remain unresolved. The three-stage system has caused considerable problems in some countries, since this new concept of university has not yet been fully embraced. Unfortunately, most countries have still not implemented national qualification frameworks linked to the European Qualifications Framework. This greatly inhibits the progress of the Bologna process. The Berlinguer report points out that in its second decade, the main aim of the process remains the mutual recognition of diplomas from any university in the EU in all EU Member States. I hope this report helps to remove remaining obstacles as effectively as possible and that the European Higher Education Area becomes an increasingly effective element of European economic recovery.

 
  
  

Report: Edward Scicluna (A7-0037/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing. (FR) The sovereign debt crisis has highlighted the importance of the reliability of the statistics provided by the Member States. Reflecting the realities of a country, the quality and independence of these statistics are two crucial factors in the preparation of effective European policies. The Scicluna report, which I supported, calls on the European Commission to offer its expertise to the Member States.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since I support the gradual harmonisation of measures for revising statistics and their codes of conduct, so as to bring about greater transparency and fewer discrepancies between the Member States, and to make the European statistics system more credible. All these efforts are important, since the statistics sector provides a picture of government, providing it with crucial analysis instruments for decision making.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution which aims at improvement of the quality and reliability of statistical data in the EU. The availability of correct statistics would have made it possible to trigger correction mechanisms at an early stage. I support the European Commission’s intention to give Eurostat greater investigative powers. I also support the greater coordinating role of the European Commission in providing assistance and expertise to the Member States to help them tackle research constraints and major methodological obstacles. Both internal and external audit mechanisms should be strengthened.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is common knowledge that you have to rely on statistics in order to understand whether the various sectors of our society are doing well or badly. The reason for this is that looking at numbers is the only way to work out which are the critical issues to be resolved and which are the ones we may face in future. I agree with the requests put forward by Mr Scicluna on the need for independent, high-quality, precise and exact statistics which can also be accessed easily by the public. Since I am personally concerned with social policies and especially issues affecting children, I could not fail to note the huge gaps concerning some of the vulnerable sections of our society. I have, on several occasions, raised the need to develop a methodology that is capable of providing quantitative and qualitative indicators, as well as comparative standards, that refer specifically to children who have disappeared, are unaccompanied, are victims of physical and psychological violence, or who are disabled. We also need to improve the comparability, objectivity and reliability of European statistics on minors across a series of indicators.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I support this resolution because the debt crisis in the eurozone has highlighted the dangers of statistical inaccuracy and fraud arising from sloppy statistical governance arrangements. It is of fundamental importance to have independent statistical bodies throughout the EU in order to maintain the credibility of statistical data. Statistical offices should not only be statutorily independent, but should also have mechanisms in place to ensure the total separation from the political process. For this reason, all Member States must formally adopt a commitment to take all necessary measures at national level to maintain confidence in public statistics and to allow for more rigorous enforcement of the European Statistics Code of Practice. The provision of accurate, high-quality statistics is crucial for sustainable regional development.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) As a member of the EP’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I have followed closely the report by my fellow Member, Edward Scicluna, on European statistics. Accurate, relevant and high-quality statistics are essential for assessing our demographics or analysing the data relating to our economy. They are necessary at European, national and even regional level because they can influence political decision making. If we prepare statistics using more uniform, more accurate and more reliable methods, the EU’s policies will be in a better position to react to the economic, social or even environmental realities of our everyday lives. I am therefore in favour of the enforcement of the European Statistics Code of Practice.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this report. Reliable, accurate and high-quality statistics are essential for a correct and objective assessment of Member States’ economic, social, financial situation, etc., as well as for ensuring effective economic and budgetary policy making at Member State and EU level on the basis of these statistics. At present, approximately 350 statistical regulations apply to all Member States, public accounting systems are not standardised and there are no binding rules regarding the production and accuracy of statistics. There is therefore a danger that data provided by the Member States may be inaccurate and may not reflect the true situation in the Member States, which may prevent the effective implementation of the economic governance package and reduce Member States’ opportunities to revive their economies and boost growth and employment. I agree that we must move towards quality management of European statistics, particularly public finance statistics, establish uniform and binding principles for the production of statistics, and introduce standardised public accounting systems in all Member States.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The issues affecting Greece and the Commission’s financial services, as well as the importance of being able to rely on solid economic indicators to monitor fiscal policies, are the factors that have led Europe to reflect carefully on the measures that need to be taken in order to avoid mistakes, oversights or fraud being used to hide what is actually going on in a Member State. The principle of shared responsibility must be strengthened by the right to transparency and accuracy common to all statistical monitoring systems. In light of this, I voted to support Mr Scicluna’s initiative.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because reliable and accurate statistics are essential to allow effective economic and budgetary policy making by the Member States at European Union level. European users of statistics should be supplied with relevant, timely and accurate data, which is collected and compiled by national agencies in accordance with the principles of impartiality, objectivity and professional independence. The European Parliament therefore supports the Commission’s intention of proposing amendments to the Statistical Regulation in order to establish a proactive approach to monitoring and assessing public finance data at an early upstream stage in order to allow for corrective action at the earliest possible juncture, and welcomes the proposal to establish a legal framework aimed at reinforcing the governance framework, especially with regard to the professional independence of national statistical authorities and Eurostat. All Member States should also be required to formally adopt a commitment to take all necessary measures to maintain confidence in statistics and to allow for more rigorous enforcement of the European Statistics Code of Practice. Eurostat should look at ways to make its publications, particularly those online, more user-friendly to the average citizen and non-professionals, especially with regard to the use of graphs. Eurostat’s website should allow easier access to comprehensive long-term disaggregated data and include intuitive and comparative graphs in order to give more added value to citizens.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Statistical information is generated from the statistical production processes carried out within the entire European Statistical System (ESS). The users of European statistics should be able to use this information with confidence with a view to making decisions. In this regard, the relevant statistics must be fit for purpose. It is vital that users regard the statistics as being relevant, appropriate, accurate and compliant with the principles of official statistics, such as professional independence, impartiality and objectivity. This is applicable to the whole ESS, including Eurostat.

The overall quality of statistics at European level depends, to a large extent, on the adequacy of the entire production process used to obtain these statistics. If the quality of the data supplied by Member States is unsatisfactory, this has an adverse impact on the quality of European statistics. To prevent situations like this from arising, the quality of the ESS needs to be managed in a comprehensive and reliable manner. This systematic approach to quality will benefit from the results generated as a result of reforming the method for producing European statistics, since it is expected that this will streamline the entire statistical production chain.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Scicluna’s report because, in light of the economic and financial crisis, we now need independent statistics organisations to ensure data reliability so that we can take the right economic policy decisions, while it is also well worth giving Member States tangible assistance in eliminating the biggest methodological barriers in this area.

Bearing this in mind, I agree with Mr Scicluna on the need to provide Eurostat with greater investigative powers that will allow it, in line with the Member States’ own competences, to monitor public finance figures. It is also important to ensure greater transparency in terms of the personnel assigned to this task and to make it easier to consult publications, while promoting online solutions that are also easier for less expert citizens to access.

The provision of accurate, relevant and high-quality statistics is of key importance to sustainable and balanced regional development within the context of Europe 2020 strategy implementation. Furthermore, precise and exact data must be a basic requirement for obtaining detailed information on individual areas such as demographics, the economy and the environment.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) In my opinion, Eurostat should consider a reform of the method of producing European statistics and a gradual transition from a corrective approach to a preventive approach to the quality management of European statistics, in general, and public finance statistics, in particular. The first step is to introduce rules of a binding nature regarding the production, and verification of the accuracy, of European statistics. I would like to emphasise that having independent statistical bodies is essential to maintaining the credibility of statistical data. It is a fact that providing accurate statistics can, in many cases, involve collecting and collating data from numerous sources. In this regard, I would therefore like to add that shortening timetables for publication of statistics may, in some cases, reduce the reliability or accuracy of statistics or increase the cost of data collection. In considering best practice in this area, the balance between timeliness, reliability and cost of preparation should be carefully considered. Eurostat should also look at ways to make its publications, particularly those online, more user-friendly to the average citizen and non-professionals, especially with regard to the use of graphs. Eurostat’s website should allow easier access to complete long-term data series and should include intuitive comparative graphs in order to give more added value to citizens.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report stresses the need for thorough, reliable and high-quality statistics, since they constitute a knowledge base essential to decision making and to adopting economic, social and territorial policies suited to the reality at both national and regional level. It is widely accepted that accurate statistics are crucial to the formulation of appropriate policies, so their impartiality, objectivity and independence should be guaranteed. The report sets out the preconditions for preparing high-quality statistics, and details the failings and shortcomings in both their preparation and their oversight. It highlights the need for statistics to be standardised and to be published at opportune times, as well as the key role of Eurostat in compiling statistics and making them available. It also suggests making it easier and more intuitive for statistics to be made available, so that all members of the public can have simplified access to all data. I am voting for this report, since this is of benefit to the European public and to political decision makers, and contributes clearly to improving the decision-making process, particularly in the context of implementing the priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy.