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Procedure : 2011/0815(NLE)
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Texts tabled :

A7-0064/2012

Debates :

Votes :

PV 18/04/2012 - 7.4
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0124

Debates
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

10. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
PV
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Milan Cabrnoch (A7-0043/2012)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, I have voted in favour of this report for the coordination of social security systems across the EU, as it introduces the necessary updates and amendments – ones that have already been introduced at national level – to the existing EU legislation. Whilst it is primarily a technical report, it clarifies the social security situation of those who pursue activities in different Member States. Similarly, it details how unemployment benefits would be distributed to self-employed individuals active in several Member States. These are both important measures that will facilitate the free movement of labour, which is an integral part of the single market.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Madam President, I support the report. Current social and economic realities in Europe demand that changes be made to the Member States’ social security legislation. Particularly in view of the citizens’ ever-greater cross-border mobility, national legislation ought to be coordinated. The definition of the ‘substantial part of the activity’ in relation to people who have two or more employers in different Member States is therefore an important provision. The report also discusses the question of unemployment benefits in relation to self-employed workers, and it gives attention to matters related to the work of aircrew members. On a procedural note, drafting the report and the amendments at the same time as holding negotiations with the Council was a good idea and has enabled an agreement to be reached at first reading.

 
  
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  Marek Józef Gróbarczyk (ECR).(PL) Madam President, I have endorsed this report because it is hugely important for securing the future of the people who live in the European Union. Attention has repeatedly been drawn to the situation of aircrew members, but a much greater problem is posed by seamen working at sea, who are often completely deprived of the benefits of social security. An example is the unacceptable way in which seamen are very often employed by EU ship-owners, often on conditions more usually associated with countries of the developing world. The lack of EU and compulsory regulation in this area has led to unhealthy situations which exclude seamen from the social security system. The occupation of seaman is of special importance because of its dangerous and extremely difficult nature, and it should be primarily protected by individual countries, but also by the European Parliament. The lack of measures to achieve this is an example of the unequal treatment of European Union citizens, and one which requires urgent intervention.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, the current scheme against the sovereignty of the democratic nation state comes not from armed revolutionaries but from well-intentioned liberals. Its inspiration is drawn not from Lenin but from Lennon. Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do.

Well, here is one consequence that would come from there being no countries: there would be no welfare states. The whole basis of social security is discrimination on the basis of nationality. There are many more needy people in the world than even the most needy citizens of EU Member States. The only moral justification for not giving the whole of our tax revenues to more desperate populations in poorer parts of the world is that we discriminate on the basis of nationality. In this report, you have the basis of effacing that distinction and thereby doing away with the origin of national states in their recognised form.

 
  
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  Csaba Sógor (PPE).(HU) Madam President, the coordination of Member State social security systems greatly facilitates the free movement of citizens within the EU. Since the 1970s, it has been the means that made it a practical possibility for citizens to take employment or become established in other Member States. The principle of the aggregation of periods, for example, actually represents the recognition of the existence of a united Europe and the internal market. National laws, however, are subject to continuous change. Therefore, the continuous alignment of regulations to the needs and demands of citizens is unavoidable. We, as MEPs elected directly by the citizens, must pay great attention to the amendments proposed by the Commission, and must not hesitate to make appropriate supplementations whenever necessary. This is what happened just now, and I therefore welcome the report of Mr Cabrnoch, which correctly points out some problematic points of the Commission’s proposal.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted in favour of this report on the coordination of social security. The report is a very technical one, but I believe that the outcome of the proposal put forward would be positive. I believe that the updates made to the regulation are worthwhile, given the constant changes to Member States’ national social security legislation and the huge increases in the cross-border mobility of our citizens.

The report ultimately gives clarification of the rules to those working across various Member States, including legislation for aircrew members and rules on unemployment benefits for cross-border self-employed workers. Clarification of these rules can only be a good thing for the single market. However, social security provision must ultimately remain a matter for the individual Member States.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Madam President, I, too, voted in favour of this report.

The subject of this report is the updating of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009, which are being implemented at regular intervals, in order to ensure a sensible coordination of national social security systems at EU level. The main basis for this constant updating is also the acceptance of EU citizenship by our citizens. One sign of this is increasing mobility. The citizens of the European Union perceive the Union to be their place of work and residence, and it is no longer unusual for people to switch between Member States for their work and residence. I view resolving these problems as a positive challenge and that is exactly what this report seeks to do. I also set store by the fact that this will not be the last time this report is updated.

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR). – Madam President, I voted against this report because I do not believe that the EU should be involved in social security matters. I think it is trespassing on international responsibilities, and it seems to be a world away from the trade agreement that the EU is meant to be about.

I am particularly concerned about one aspect. I was self-employed myself: I ran a consultancy. This report refers to paying unemployment benefits to the self-employed throughout the EU. This again is undermining our flexible economy. In Britain, when you are self-employed, you do things your own way and it gives people a lot of freedom. I think that is undermining this freedom.

This report may be about technical matters but I am totally against it on principle. The EU should keep out of social security, pension and benefit matters.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, I think that many people across the House will welcome the parts of the report that refer to cross-border coordination and mobility with a view to enabling workers to work throughout the single market. However, I think we all have to look at our social security systems. Unfortunately, they have got to a stage where they are no longer a safety net to help those who – through no fault of their own – cannot help themselves, but in some ways, they are actually acting as a barrier to people getting back to work. This is because the salaries that they can command are sometimes actually less than what they can get on benefits. We have to make sure that social security systems return to a situation where they are really providing a hand up rather than a hand out.

I think that the other thing we have to be very careful about is to ensure that this is not a slippery slope for Member States to start funding deficits in other Member States and for workers who cannot get a job in one country to move to another country and simply claim benefits with no intention of ever working in that country. As long as we have those provisions, we can cautiously welcome this report.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE). – Madam President, in these times of austerity, I think we all have to be sensitive to the social security needs of citizens in many of our countries. For that reason, I could not bring myself to vote against this report, so I abstained.

The reason I abstained is that there are issues of concern to Ireland contained in this report which have not yet been addressed and, while they are outstanding, I think it would make it difficult in the light of subsidiarity to fully support this report in its current format.

That, in general, was the reservation which I wished to express, not that there should not be solidarity with people who are in need – I strongly support that sort of approach.

 
  
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  Antonello Antinoro (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of this proposal because it seeks to update the 2004 and 2009 regulations to incorporate changes to Member State national legislation on social security and to keep pace with the changing social reality affecting the coordination of the security systems themselves.

The present proposal also incorporates proposals from the Administrative Commission for the Coordination of Social Security Systems, whose purpose is to improve, modernise and realise all of this, as set out in Article 72(f) of the previous regulation.

Indeed, the amendments in this proposal aim to ensure legal certainty for those concerned, as well as appropriate coordination at EU level between national social security systems. It also reflects the legislative changes that have occurred at national level, and had to be approved because it takes into account recent developments in cross-border mobility affecting the coordination of social security systems.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Elmar Brok (A7-0139/2012)

 
  
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  Ewald Stadler (NI).(DE) Madam President, I voted against this report simply because one element, already raised in this debate by Mr Silvestris, receives short shrift. First of all, we have the fact that the idea of the protection of the fundamental right to life – specifically from natural conception to a natural death – receives practically no mention at all in such a fundamental report on human rights. Then we have the fact that the issue of the fundamental right to freedom of religious expression, especially where this is under threat for Christians, is also given a raw deal in this report.

The most fundamental right that Europe has developed is the recognition of the right to live. This right to life begins with a natural conception and ends with a natural death. In between these two events, people have a right to be in the world, yet this fundamental right is not once mentioned in this report. Mr Silvestris raised what I believe to be a very sore point in this regard yesterday. As much as I share the other ideas expressed in this report as a matter of principle, this shortcoming in the report needs to be pointed out. I therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, the report rightly recognises the important role that the EU could play in promoting respect for human rights across the world and through its various policies. Nevertheless, I have deep concerns about the references the report has made, particularly in accusing my Member State – the UK – of adopting an obstructionist attitude concerning the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The UK’s main point is that, whilst we support the convention, we should make sure that we focus on real human rights abuses, as opposed to legal loopholes that many are exploiting.

Currently, the UK is being prevented from dealing with suspected terrorists and those inciting racial hatred as a result of the disproportionate emphasis in the ECHR on the right to family life. It seems a little illogical to be holding ourselves up as the global standard when we have not got the detail right in our own institutions.

Post-9/11, we have had to look carefully at the processes and mechanisms that we are using. We are still not there. We need to ensure that they really are fit for purpose, then we can look to influence human rights policy in the rest of the world. In the meantime, I have abstained.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, liberties, as Aldous Huxley wrote, are not given, they are taken. He was, of course, writing in the British political tradition where civic freedoms and political rights are seen as legal entitlements that come from specific moments and specific contracts – the Great Charter, the Bill of Rights, or whatever. They are not seen as imminent, inherent or universal.

The problem with that alternative vision is the lack of enforcement mechanisms. If rights are just assumed to be there for everybody rather than being enforced by elected representatives, they can be the finest and noblest principles in the world and, without the means to enforce them, they are meaningless. Look at the constitution of East Germany or the constitution of Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union. There, you see all these fine, high-minded freedoms and yet, as the peoples of those unhappy states realised, without democratic accountability, it is not worth the paper it is written on.

I will close by quoting Benjamin Disraeli, one of the few times the old adventurer got something spot on, when he said, ‘To the liberalism they profess, I prefer the liberties we enjoy, to the Rights of Man, the rights of Englishmen’.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the way to the EU’s credibility at international level and the effectiveness of its policies on human rights is surely through the condemnation of violations and abuses committed within and outside of armed conflict, disregard for women, minors, and the weakest members of society in general, and persecutions based on religions or beliefs. However, it is also of absolute importance to avoid any double standards between the EU’s policy on human rights and its other foreign policies, thus promoting democratisation and supporting the fight against social inequalities, especially in times of economic crisis like the present.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, I think actions must now match the fine words of this Parliament if it is not to make a mockery of itself.

The report recommends that whenever a gross breach of human rights is committed by a partner country with which there is an international agreement, such as the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the EU should take bolder steps, including possible temporary suspension of the agreement.

Surely this is the case with Kazakhstan, where 37 oil workers are currently facing show trials for their alleged responsibility in the tragic events in Zhanaozen last year. Members of the Zhanaozen-2011 Committee have said that several defendants in that trial had given false testimony under torture and under threats to their families, including Rosa Tuletaeva, who says that police hung her up by her hair and threatened her family, and Tanatar Kaliev, who claims he was beaten while in KNB detention and that his son was threatened.

Finally, Vadim Kuramshin is currently before the court as we speak. He is one of the country’s foremost human rights defenders; he has already spent more than 10 years in jail as a result of his courageous defence of prisoners’ rights and struggle for social justice. He was arrested on trumped-up charges at the moment that he was going to a press conference to reveal corruption in the general prosecutor’s office. He and the others should be released immediately.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Madam President, hristós anésti. I voted in favour of this report. Democracy, the rule of law, justice and responsibility are the best guarantees of human rights, fundamental freedoms, tolerance and equality.

The European Union should try to become a more credible actor in third countries. This will require consistency between internal and external policy. I am calling for more careful avoidance of double standards. Every country must be seen as an entity unto itself, and so the European External Action Service should draw up a human rights strategy for each individual country.

I also demand that the EU’s human rights policy should be comprehensive. Free, honest elections are only the first step in the transition to democracy. Europe needs to support democratic development. We cannot, however, impose democracy from outside: it always has to be generated through the will of the people. Steps have to be taken in Europe to ensure that civil rights and fundamental freedoms are not endangered or weakened because of the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Madam President, promoting human rights is an essential part of British foreign policy. EU Member States must ensure that human rights and international law are respected throughout the world.

This report identifies a number of key challenges. It condemns prosecution on the basis of religion, nationality or membership of a minority, or sexual orientation, it raises crucial issues related to women, such as forced marriages and female genital mutilation, and it underlines the importance of supporting a free and fair media as well as standing up for human rights defenders.

Yet, in a report on some of the world’s worst human rights abuses, I am shocked at the two countries which the rapporteur has decided to name and shame. Does the report criticise Belarus, Burma, Cuba perhaps? No, it chooses instead to deplore the attitude of the UK and France on EU accession to the ECHR. Until the rapporteur gets his priorities straight on which countries are really obstacles to human rights, I cannot support this report.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, I note that human rights clauses in partnership agreements and free trade agreements are asserted by the EU only sparingly and unsystematically. I consider another disturbing trend in the world, against which the European Union must take clear action, to be the violation of freedom of religion and belief, which is closely related to the spread of intolerance followed by violence against members of religious communities and minorities. We should not be afraid to state out loud that the victims include Christians around the world. I would also like to point out the inconsistency of the EU’s approach to the protection of human life, as manifested, for example, by the fact that the EU condemns cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, including forced abortions and forced sterilisations, and yet, at the same time, the EU financially supports programmes aimed at so-called sexual and reproductive health, which include the carrying out of abortions. Sadly, such programmes are a significant part of EU policy, and therefore I could not support this report.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR).(PL) Madam President, I could not endorse this report, although it does contain a number of interesting, important and necessary statements. We are all in favour of human rights, but the devil is in the detail, and some of the previous speakers are, of course, correct in pointing out that the report contains certain rather dangerous proposals and certain options which have been left open, and that, in the name of human rights, a move is, in fact, being made towards a downright curtailment of some people’s rights. I am afraid, too, of the double standards which appear in the report; I am afraid of a situation in which the European Union imposes certain measures while completely ignoring the cultural context and other aspects of the civilisation in which we live. I must warn against this. On pro-life and abortion issues, my position is similar to that of Mr Mikolášik.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, following the approval of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World and the resolution on the EU’s support for the International Criminal Court, the European Parliament voted to act in a manner consistent and in conformity with EU obligations concerning the protection of human rights. Implementing national strategies already drawn up in recent months will be an important step in this direction.

I agree with Mr Howitt’s proposal to call on the Commission to insert a ‘torture end-use’ clause into the 2005 Council Regulation concerning trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture, etc. This would enable Member States to acquire detailed information and decide whether or not to refuse the export of the goods and substances in question.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, the United Kingdom has a strong record on the protection of human rights, but I want to focus on one aspect of human rights which I think is increasingly coming under threat, and that is freedom of religious expression.

We hear of Christians being punished by employers for expressing their faith, or Christian businesses being fined for holding to their Christian principles in how they conduct their affairs. It is quite clear that what is happening is a relentless orchestrated campaign to remove or at least to silence the manifestation of the Christian message in today’s society.

Last week, Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, said in a written submission to the European Court of Human Rights that Christians are being vilified by the British courts and driven underground. It is my hope that in September, when faced with the opportunity to stand up for Christian rights in landmark cases before the European Court, Europe’s judges will do just that.

Many judgments are based on the grounds of equality law, and equality seems to protect all minority groups except for Christians in what is sometimes a skewed and perverse interpretation of the term.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE). – Mr President, I wish to say that I voted against the second part of Amendment 93, although I normally vote for sexual and reproductive health and have already put an explanation on the record of this Parliament regarding where I draw the line between that and sexual and reproductive health and rights, including abortion. However, I abstained in this case because I did not think it was necessary to stress, in particular, the need to promote sexual and reproductive health, having already dealt in the first part with the need for adequate gynaecological and obstetric care, as defined by the WHO.

I did not understand why this was taken out in particular, but I would also have thought that anybody sensitive to human rights issues in this House would look at the genocidal destruction of women, one hundred million of whom are missing from the population as a result of gender-based abortion. Surely that is something we are all against. Are human rights only politically correct human rights, or are we against women being destroyed because they are women? Where is the socialist and liberal voice in this House on this gendercide? Why are people so quiet about this? Why are women being destroyed because they are women, and where are the voices of those who say that they are interested in human rights?

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Madam President, it is very important that the European Union unequivocally stands by its own commitment and defends human rights in all situations and every person’s right to life. Unfortunately, the strongly pro-life point of view is not sufficiently apparent in this report. There were also many other aspects of it that do not specifically endorse the human rights dimension.

No matter: this report is better than nothing. It is good if, every now and then, we stop to consider these matters, which are so important to us, and try to see eye to eye on how to take human rights forward in countries that do not yet recognise them. Europe should also be more credible as far as its own actions are concerned. There are still many people here in the European Union who do not enjoy human rights. The Roma are one example of this, in many respects. We must therefore act more clearly and robustly to ensure that no violations of human rights take place within the European Union either.

Finally, I would like to say that religious minorities, Christians in particular, have been ignored. Many of them, especially in the Middle East, now feel that their human rights are being trampled on. The rapporteur could also have done more to take this into account.

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR). – Madam President, I abstained on this report, not because I do not believe in human rights – I very much do – but because Conservative MEPs and I all feel that human rights are really about balance and getting the balance right. I have to say that my colleague who wrote this report, Richard Howitt, did not show much balance when he supported the rights of illegal travellers on illegal pitches at Dale Farm, whilst ignoring the rights of those local people who were so badly affected by them. That showed contempt for the rule of law.

I am concerned that there is also a lack of balance in this report over things such as the European Convention on Human Rights. Just yesterday, the British Government acted – quite rightly – to arrest Abu Qatada, who is an alleged terrorist and a man who has actually praised the hijackers of 9/11, after eight years. It took eight years to do that because of human rights legislation. This report supports that move towards the EU Convention on Human Rights and EU support for it.

So, let us get the balance right. Human rights are good, but if the balance is not correct, it weakens the whole case for them.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Madam President, there is something irritating about Mr Howitt’s report, as some other speakers have pointed out. Aside from fundamental issues such as the right to life, it is the fact that we are promoting human rights everywhere around the world, almost as a substitute for putting our own house in order.

For example, in my own country of France, the freedom of expression that this report champions is greatly restricted. It is restricted in the field of history, on the grounds that it is forbidden to dispute crimes against humanity by virtue of judgments in which certain judges ought to have been among the accused. Freedom of historical research is practically non-existent when it comes to the Second World War and various other major events of modern history.

The same goes for politics. People no longer have the right to challenge immigration. If they say anything other than good about the subject, they lay themselves open to being prosecuted, judged, or sentenced with varying degrees of severity, on the pretext of incitement to racial hatred, which, of course, has nothing to do with speaking freely about the problem of immigration.

Lastly, it is the same situation with morality. Those who prefer a family consisting of a Mum and Dad to homosexual partnerships risk, like one French MP from the party currently in power, being summoned to court and heavily sentenced to boot.

I therefore think we would do better to put our own house in order, rather than thinking we can preach to the rest of the world.

 
  
  

Report: Anneli Jäätteenmäki (A7-0071/2012)

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is sometimes spoken of as a frozen war, but I am not sure that is the right metaphor. It implies a stability that is not there. It would be better to think of it as some kind of infection under the skin that festers and poisons the surrounding region. It does not just prejudice relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan; it is also prejudicing relations between Armenia and Turkey – indeed also with Iran, with Russia and not least with the European Union. It is extraordinary that so many years have passed without this issue being resolved.

It is not for want of trying. Virtually every international organisation has tried to mediate some sort of settlement. I just wonder whether the reason that we have not been able to reach an equitable and lasting peace is because the international mediation, run as it is by international diplomats, is based around the idea of multinational states and existing territorial borders.

A while ago, the former President of Armenia, Mr Ter-Petrosyan, said that if there has been a ceding of some of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, there might have been peace in 1997.

800 000 Azeris and 400 000 Armenians have been displaced. Surely it is time to look at some alternative to the multinational state, with some territorial readjustment if that is the way to bring lasting peace.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, I support this report and the negotiations between the EU and Azerbaijan as I believe it gives a fair and balanced account of the current state of play in that country. It currently recognises the urgent need for this country to make further progress on its respect for human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression, in particular, in allowing political opponents to voice their opinions of the current government.

Despite these reservations, the report also recognises that the country has become a strategic partner for the EU in terms of energy supply and looks to build upon this mutually beneficial relationship to enhance the development of relations between the EU and Azerbaijan.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Madam President, Azerbaijan is an important partner for the countries of Europe in terms of energy security. The Nabucco project for a gas pipeline that will serve as an alternative to Russian sources of gas reflects the need to diversify supplies, something which is vital to the interests of the entire Union. It is certainly true to say that developing economic cooperation based on energy is a key element of European strategy towards our Eastern neighbours. The endeavours of the authorities in Baku to promote and complete this project require our full support.

Efforts to improve policy in the area of protecting human rights are another important issue, and particular attention needs to be paid here to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Greater involvement of the Union in searching for a resolution to this conflict would seem to be necessary, and this includes calling on Turkey to play a constructive role in this process. Continued efforts within the framework of the Eastern Partnership to bring about political and economic rapprochement, coupled with influence in the sphere of European policy, will be of help to all those involved. This is why I support the report.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR).(PL) Madam President, Azerbaijan is an important country for Europe and the European Union, not just because of energy policy – although this is also very definitely the case, and the esteemed previous speaker has spoken about this – but it is also an important country from a geostrategic point of view. In other words, it is no secret that Russia is currently rebuilding its area of influence. Azerbaijan was formerly part of the Soviet Union, and if we do not want a kind of revival of the Russian Empire, we need to be active in the Southern Caucasus. Of course, the United States also wields an influence in the region, as do Iran and Turkey, but Europe must not be passive here. The closer the political and economic cooperation of the region with the European Union, the better – and I stress that it should be political cooperation and that it should include Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has made progress on human rights, although I have to make clear that we should not impose 100% European standards on this region or other regions of the world, because it will turn out that this is, in fact, asking too much.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Madam President, my thanks go to Ms Jäätteenmäki for an excellent report. The negotiations of the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement are an important means to bring about change, reform and modernisation. In the long term, cooperation promotes economic integration and the convergence of legislation with the EU. At the same time, it is also important to develop cultural relations. In this way, we can have a more comprehensive influence on democratic development.

The Eurovision Song Contest is to be held in Azerbaijan, and that will bring the attention of the media to the country’s situation, at least for a while. The European Union, too, should take every advantage of that opportunity, by calling for improvements to the country’s human rights situation at the same time.

Azerbaijan has continued to imprison youth activists and journalists for no good reason or on trumped-up charges. Thousands were also driven from their homes when whole residential areas were razed to the ground by the state. The European External Action Service should systematically monitor the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, and continue to do so after the television cameras have left there, when the Eurovision Song Contest is over.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted along with the ECR Group in favour of this report, as Azerbaijan is an important country and a major supplier of Caspian oil and gas to Europe.

I take a strong interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the fact that the wording, following the Landsbergis amendment, is no longer the same in both reports is, I think, rather regrettable.

I back the calls put forward for the de-escalation of tensions and the scaling back of military spending in the region as a whole. The recommendations put forward by the report in terms of improving the difficult human rights situation in Azerbaijan are also commendable.

It is particularly important that an improvement of relations through a DCFTA and an association agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan are dependent upon an improved human rights record in that country – which has a rather bad record in this respect – and especially on an improvement in the freedom of expression for political opponents of the government.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, in recent years, we have witnessed fast economic growth on the part of Azerbaijan, whose economic potential is obvious to all. We must also recognise that there has been a strengthening of the strategic role of that country as an Eastern partner, in particular, in the energy sector.

However, we must remember here that the gap in terms of democracy and the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights compared to the standards required by the European Union has not yet been completely bridged. I believe that these principles should be considered essential for the proper conduct of the negotiations and the stipulation of an association agreement with Azerbaijan.

I hope that the Council and the Commission will be urging the Azerbaijani authorities to adopt an anti-discriminatory legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Meanwhile, we should welcome the reforms made by the Azerbaijani authorities in the judiciary in the last year, which should ensure greater independence of judges, and eliminate corruption in this area.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, we are talking about the association agreement with Azerbaijan. I think that there is no doubt that this country, which has undergone major democratic changes recently and has even become a member of the UN Security Council for the period 2012-2013, is progressing towards transparency in its public administration and the fight against corruption and, last but not least, the efforts of Europe as regards the Eastern Partnership and good neighbourly relations make Azerbaijan a good partner that could be of benefit to Europe, including, for example, from the perspective of European energy self-sufficiency. We know that Azerbaijan has energy resources, and sensible cooperation with this developing democracy should continue. However, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijan and Armenia are still locked in an unfinished and unresolved conflict, still needs to be resolved with sensitivity, but I believe that a resolution will be found.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report. There was a slight problem with it. There were 50 Members standing here, but it went ahead anyway. I expect we will return to this again. We are all human and such errors happen.

Regarding the situation in Azerbaijan, I wish to say that I supported this report. Ms Jäätteenmäki, the rapporteur, has done an excellent and thorough job. It is vitally important to raise the issue of the human rights situation. I myself believe that, by supporting the development of human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan, we can also strengthen that country and its status as an international actor.

Azerbaijan is known for its oil reserves. The Azerbaijani administration has shown a desire to become westernised and to reject the legacy of communism, a system they long endured as a former part of the Soviet Union. In any case, cooperation is needed and much also needs to be done to try to resolve peacefully the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

 
  
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  Graham Watson (ALDE). – Madam President, I wish to seek closer relations between the Azeri people and those of the European Union, but this is increasingly frustrated by their government. Journalists, bloggers, politicians and others who dissent from the government’s opinion are regularly – indeed, almost routinely – harassed, imprisoned and maltreated.

Azerbaijan is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, yet frequently violates its provisions. It participates in our Eastern Partnership programme, and yet its elections 18 months ago came nowhere near meeting our standards. In hosting the Eurovision Song Contest, it wishes to be seen as a modern democracy, yet fails to allow its own citizens the freedom to sing their own songs. Azerbaijan would score nul points for freedom. The imprisonment of members of the Liberal Musavat party, the fate of the Aliev brothers, the harassment of Leila Yunus: these are among thousands of cases of blatant injustice. That is why I supported the excellent report by Ms Jäätteenmäki insisting on improvements in the respect of fundamental freedoms before any association agreement can be signed.

 
  
  

Report: Tomasz Piotr Poręba (A7-0079/2012)

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, there is always a danger of being fixated on some evil aspect of our past. History is important, but it should not be something that stands in the way of good relations with our friends in the present.

We are in danger, when we look at our relations with Armenia, of seeing everything through the prism of the unhappy events of the First World War. They were tangled and tragic happenings. No one – not even the most blinkered Turkish nationalist – denies that many guiltless Armenians, including many civilians, were killed. Similarly, no one – not even the most vengeful Armenian diaspora reparationist – denies that some Armenians died in Russian uniforms.

But by emphasising, above all, whether we define these events as genocide, it seems to me we not only prejudice our relations with Armenia, we also poison those between Armenia and Turkey – and we do no favours to the cause of the truth.

The past should be disinterred gently and reverently, with all the patience of an archaeological dig – instead of which we are taking the shovel and we are slamming it through. The dead, I think, deserve better. They have suffered enough.

 
  
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  Ewald Stadler (NI).(DE) Madam President, Mr Hannan, we cannot sacrifice our morals because we have a strong interest in energy security. I voted in favour of the Poręba report because I am in favour of association agreements in principle.

I have reservations, however, particularly in respect of the expectation on Armenia to unilaterally withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. The result of this would be to leave the Armenian majority population there unprotected. All this is against the backdrop of the historical debt that Europe actually has to bear. In 1915, Europe looked on as the first organised genocide was carried out by a state against a people, specifically the Armenian people. Given this backdrop, the principle of self-determination – the fundamental right of self-determination – must be weighed higher than Azerbaijan’s interest in territorial integrity. I am therefore in favour of us handling this issue considerably more sensitively and considerably more strongly, acknowledging Europe’s debt to the Armenian people, who were left high and dry by the whole of Europe in 1915. I therefore call on this House not to expect the unexpectable of the Armenians.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, the report on the negotiations on the EU-Armenia agreement is timely given that parliamentary elections are due to be held in a couple of weeks’ time. The report highlights the significant progress that still needs to be made in a number of areas, particularly stressing the pressing need to continue to fight corruption. Moreover it emphasises the need for Armenia to resolve the conflict and the land disputes that it is involved in so that it can work towards ensuring regional stability.

I sincerely hope that Armenia fulfils its pledge to hold free and fair elections for the benefit of all its citizens and that EU-Armenian relations can develop on a positive path over the coming years.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Madam President, the imminent parliamentary elections in Armenia are considered by European observers to be crucial. With this in mind, I hope the planned mission of Parliament will be fruitful and that it will result in a strengthening of democratic values and the application of international electoral standards. Much depends on the Armenians themselves, whose awareness and commitment can greatly help to prevent possible electoral violations. So it is all the more important that they are sure they have our full support.

I agree with the many recommendations, including, in particular, the need to support political, judicial and economic reforms. Another priority is action to fight corruption. The process of negotiating the association agreement should take account of the fundamental expectations of society and non-governmental organisations, agreed during extensive consultations.

As in the case of Azerbaijan, we must pursue a constructive policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Madam President, the European Union’s objective must be stability and democratic development everywhere in the South Caucasus region. The multilateral partnership offered by the EU should be developed at the same time as the negotiations of the association agreements take place. The Eastern Partnership will strengthen multilateral relations and offer excellent tools for the development of democracy, the rule of law and civil society.

Armenia is committed to the values and principles of the European Union. These include democracy, the rule of law, good governance and a respect for human rights. The unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, however, is impairing stability and security in Armenia and the whole of the South Caucasus region, and is weakening development there.

The EU’s new strategy as regards our neighbouring countries which are in a state of change is an important step towards more predictive conflict resolution. In addition to the new models for solutions, action must be stepped up and there must also be support for the current forms of negotiation. The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus has a vital role in the promotion of a peaceful solution to the conflict in the region.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR).(PL) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to remind the House, for which I have great respect, that Armenia is the oldest Christian country in the world, older even than Georgia. However – and we need to say this clearly – of all the countries of the Southern Caucasus, it is in Armenia that Russia currently wields its greatest military, political and economic influence. All the same, we should keep our fingers crossed for this country, which is moving along the rough, hard, rugged and sometimes uphill road to democracy. Let us hope the forthcoming parliamentary elections become a kind of watershed on that road. The European Union should support these efforts. In terms of its culture and other aspects of its civilisation, Armenia is part of our European heritage. This is all the more reason for us to support this country.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, Armenia is fundamental and strategic for strengthening bilateral relations in the South Caucasus. The renewal of the association agreements with the EU will be crucial in order to pave the way for strengthened regional cooperation. With the EURONEST delegation, I have had the opportunity to visit Armenia and to see for myself the progress that has begun to take place in democratically building the rule of law and respecting human rights on the basis of the partnership agreements initiated in 1999.

The participation of Armenia in parliamentary cooperation with EURONEST is an excellent indication of their willingness to adhere to European values and principles, for which there is broad consensus in civil society. I voted in favour of the association agreement and I feel that Armenia should commit itself to resolving the conflict in the south so as to avoid undermining the stability of the country.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, stability in the south Caucasus is a major concern for the European Union, as it is a region that has had a series of armed conflicts in the past and is today a major energy corridor linking Europe to the Caspian Sea. These conflicts have involved outside parties such as Russia and Turkey, and any escalation or return to hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan would be catastrophic.

Therefore, improved bilateral relations, via an association agreement and a DCFTA between the EU and both Armenia and Azerbaijan, are much in the European Union’s interests. It is also to be hoped that this will give the EU more leverage with the Minsk group of the OSCE to find a lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh question.

I am confident that the forthcoming Armenian parliamentary elections will be free and fair, and it is essential that all EU assistance be provided to this small, land-locked country. It is also to be hoped that Turkey will reopen its border with Armenia, which has now been unjustifiably shut by Turkey for more than 20 years.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because the negotiation of the association agreement provides us with the opportunity to develop relations with Armenia based on the commitment to democratic values. I, too, stress the need for the parliamentary elections on 6 May to be free, fair and transparent. I am confident that the authorities in Yerevan will make every effort necessary to achieve this. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict needs to be resolved to ensure the security of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as of the whole region. In fact, the EU must be more involved in settling unresolved conflicts.

I should mention that the Black Sea Rotational Force exercise is going on at the moment, involving soldiers from several countries, including the US, Romania, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Its aim is to increase the level of interoperability. However, it also offers a means of increasing trust between the Caucasus states.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Milan Cabrnoch (A7-0043/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of new rules that will improve the coordination of social security systems in Europe. As the internal market becomes increasingly integrated, workers’ welfare must be guaranteed, especially that of mobile workers. For example, the introduction of the ‘home base’ concept for aircrew members (airline pilots, air stewards and hostesses) will guarantee them social security benefits. The new rules will also clarify the situation for self-employed frontier workers.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal, since Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 need to be adapted in order to keep up with changes in national legislation and developments in society that influence the coordination of social security systems. Moreover, the competent committee has put forward significant proposals for improving the coordination system. Those proposals, together with other technical adaptations of the text, are incorporated in this proposal for a regulation.

Another positive point is that this proposal also updates and amends the references to national legislation in certain annexes to the regulations. Although the proposal focuses on cross-border issues as regards social security for the self-employed and for commercial aviation, it represents not only an essential step towards coordinating the national social security systems, but also a first step towards a single system of justice for workers throughout the European Union, who currently have to contend with major differences between Member States. I believe it is important to call for greater harmonisation in this area.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted for this report, which aims to guarantee adequate coordination of national social security systems at EU level and thus strengthen workers’ welfare. This means, for example, supporting provisions on unemployment benefit for self-employed workers and provisions on aircrew members. The report by Milan Cabrnoch also widens the scope of coordination of social security systems to include people who are unemployed, not yet working or no longer working. The proposal supports the introduction, in Member States that wish to introduce them, of new benefits such as paternity and early retirement allowances. Milan Cabrnoch, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, was responsible for this report, and once again this shows us that the socialists do not have the monopoly over social measures for citizens.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. Member States frequently amend their national social security legislation. As a consequence, the references in EU legislation coordinating social security schemes become outdated and create legal uncertainty for stakeholders. I welcomed the updating of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 on the coordination of social security systems to include amendments in national legislation and the latest case-law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Trying to exercise one’s rights as a mobile worker within the European Union is often an obstacle course, even though free movement of persons and the right to work anywhere in the EU are enshrined as fundamental rights of all European citizens. I therefore consider the adoption of new EU rules on the coordination of social security systems to be a good thing, provided that they genuinely guarantee nationals of a given country and EU citizens travelling to that country to work equal access to social security systems. There are two new provisions that I feel are a step in the right direction. The concept of ‘home base’ has been introduced in order to give aircrew members social security rights. Air stewards and hostesses will now come under the social security system of the country in which they start and end their duty period. In addition, access for self-employed frontier workers to unemployment benefits has finally been clarified, something for which we have been calling for a long time. This means that self-employed workers will now be able to claim unemployment benefits in the country in which they have been working if no such system exists in their frontier Member State of residence.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I abstained on this report.

On the one hand, at this particularly difficult time for European society, we definitely need to improve the functioning of the worker protection systems; however, on the other hand, considering how profoundly different the social and labour situation is in each Member State, the various social security systems should remain separate, thus avoiding any transnational interference such as the measures suggested by the report in question.

Any overlap between European systems, especially on specific issues such as unemployment benefits, is inadvisable. For these reasons, I abstained.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing.(RO) The key factor is the closest and most efficient possible cooperation between Europe’s social security institutions. The quickest and most reliable way for Member States’ institutions to exchange data is through electronic communications. All these procedures should be speeded up for the benefit of all those concerned. At the same time, I think that those affected must benefit from all the guarantees provided for by the EU provisions on protecting natural persons with regard to their personal data being processed and freely distributed. The actual aim of the measures and procedures envisaged in this regulation is to increase transparency with regard to the criteria which Member States’ institutions need to apply, on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against these proposals as I believe it is a matter for the airlines and nation states concerned rather than an issue that needs to be addressed by the EU. Despite the proposals making sense, I fear that the encroachment by EU legislation into the coordination of social security systems will establish a case-based incentive to homogenise social security systems in other fields of work throughout the EU. The legislation is also designed to cover cross-border self-employed workers. Social security systems are often idiomatic to the country in which they are drawn up and it is vital that this distinction is able to remain intact, especially concerning unemployment benefits. For example, the welfare payments in one Member State may be significantly higher than in another EU country, enabling legal loopholes allowing welfare tourism to be exploited. For example, I am particularly concerned by the part of the proposal that states that, if a self-employed person who works in another EU country returns to his or her home country which does not have unemployment insurance for the self-employed, then the country where he or she last worked should pay the unemployment benefits.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Member States are responsible for organising and funding their own social security systems. Coordination of social security therefore applies to cross-border situations in which no Member State can act alone. EU legislation has been adopted to simplify such coordination by replacing the various bilateral agreements that existed. However, since the Member States tend to introduce changes to their social security legislation quite often, the references to national legislation in the EU legislation that coordinates the social security systems – namely, Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 – naturally can become out of date, resulting in legal uncertainty for stakeholders when they implement the regulations. I therefore support this initiative, which seeks to update the regulations to take account of the national legislative changes and social transformations that affect the coordination of social security systems, as is the case with the recent development of cross-border mobility. The amendments proposed by the Administrative Commission to update, clarify and complete the meaning of certain provisions are equally important in my view, because that is the only way to ensure greater transparency and certainty for stakeholders and to provide citizens who have opted for mobility with more complete protection.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The free movement of persons within the boundaries of the European Union is one of the four fundamental freedoms guaranteed to citizens. In order to make this freedom effective, we must prevent, as far as possible, the decision of a European worker to move to another Member State from leading to a loss of acquired rights in their country of origin. To this end, in 2004, the European Parliament adopted a regulation aimed at improving the coordination of Member State social security systems. In order to reflect changes in legislative conditions and in the labour market, this regulation needs to be amended. I therefore voted in favour of this proposed amendment, which, amongst other things, clarifies the position of self-employed workers who receive unemployment benefit, and airline employees who work in several countries, who, as established by the new legislation, will be subject to the law of the State where the airline parent company is resident.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) The updating of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009, which we are approving at first reading today, thanks to the agreement already reached with the Danish Presidency – needed to reflect the changes in the legislation of Member States on social security and coordination of social security systems – is a text that is widely supported by this House as it has succeeded in accommodating the positive needs of the sector trade unions. The clarifications regarding some fundamental concepts in the aviation sector will help and will protect airline employees against the risk of frequent changes of legislation applicable to their contract due to work patterns in the industry and seasonal demand.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I think that special provisions must be granted for wholly unemployed self-employed frontier workers where no unemployment benefits system covering self-employed persons exists in the Member State of residence.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the draft European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004, because it adds important innovations to the regulation of work in the EU, with a focus on trans-border and frontier workers. It is clear that the changes in the current socio-economic realities and the new challenges deriving from the opening up of borders and the globalised market of services requires an adaptation of the provision on social security and working conditions. This legislative resolution adjusts social security provisions for workers going abroad through the coordination of certain key measures. A timely act, given the importance transport services and cross-borders workers hold for the European economy and society.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The aim of this proposal is to ensure adequate coordination of national social security systems at EU level by seeking to adapt to the latest developments in cross-border mobility and free movement of workers. It seeks to guarantee the right of self-employed frontier workers to unemployment protection and the rights of air crews to receive the benefits due in the country where the registered office or branch office of the relevant airline is located. I feel these measures are appropriate and proportional, especially in the current crisis affecting Europe, which has left hundreds of thousands of Europeans out of work and in added difficulties.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The geographical enlargement of the European Union, especially to include the countries of Eastern Europe, has helped increase the movement of people and goods, thereby consolidating a genuine European single market. The movement of people, particularly workers, has raised a number of issues concerning recognition of their social security rights. The situation therefore needs clarifying urgently.

The report in question, by Mr Cabrnoch, deals with the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004.

I welcome the adoption of this report, which recognises one of the basic rights of the EU: the right to live and/or work in any Member State. All cross-border workers, particularly those in aviation or maritime services and the self-employed, have their social rights safeguarded, even if they did not have them in their country of origin. The same treatment is thereby guaranteed for the same work, regardless of the Member State involved.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The aim of this legislative report is to amend Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 so as to incorporate recent changes to national social security in certain Member States. Another aim is to consider certain provisions of the regulation that have been amended, particularly the ‘portability’ of unemployment benefit for self-employed workers and the introduction of a special provision for air crew members. The report argues that a self-employed frontier worker who becomes unemployed is entitled to receive unemployment benefits in the competent Member State if no such benefits exist in the Member State of residence. This is an important and sensible measure. It is important, however, not to ignore the problem of false self-employed workers, who are, in fact, covertly employed. This is a sizeable problem in some Member States. Air crew members should be registered with social security in the area of their ‘home base’. We believe it is imperative to have some control over where businesses are registered, so that companies cannot register themselves in countries where social security costs are lower.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The Administrative Commission for the Coordination of Social Security has put forward proposals for the coordination of social security systems aimed at improving and modernising the acquis. The agreed proposals have been incorporated into the text of the regulation presented. Changes in society can have an effect on the coordination of social security systems. In order to react to these changes, amendments have been proposed in the area of the determination of the applicable legal regulations and unemployment benefits. The diversity and evolution of the conditions under which professional activities are pursued make it necessary to take into account the situation of highly mobile workers. New labour supply structures have become evident, amongst others, in the air transport sector. Creating a linking between the applicable legislation for aircrew members and the Member State where the registered office or place of business of the undertaking or employer employing him/her is situated is effective only if there is a sufficiently close connection to the registered office or place of business. I similarly believe that it is necessary to ensure that self-employed persons receive benefits in accordance with the laws of the competent Member State, and that they are offered the best prospects of reintegrating into the labour market when they return to their Member State of residence. Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 should therefore be amended accordingly.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) Whereas, on the one hand, protection against unemployment for self-employed frontier workers is a goal many would support, on the other hand, the proposal raises an issue of particular sensitivity regarding the social security system of each Member State. In order to protect frontier workers, the proposal is to harmonise and coordinate the social security systems of Member States, forgetting, however, that social policies also include the thorny issue of unemployment benefits and minimum income support on which the various legislations differ significantly. These are issues that are being hotly debated, especially in the current economic climate. For these reasons, I thought it appropriate to abstain.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report, which makes two noteworthy improvements to the coordination of social security systems within the European Union. The first is the clarification concerning access to unemployment benefits, enabling self-employed frontier workers to receive unemployment benefits in the country in which they have been working if they are resident in another Member State where there is no unemployment benefit system. The second is the introduction of the ‘home base’ concept for aircrew members (pilots, air hostesses, etc.), which will put an end to the social dumping that low-cost airlines practise against their personnel and thus guarantee fair social security for all aircrew personnel. As a native of a very ‘cross-border’ region, I fully support any initiative that strengthens the mobility of European citizens within the European Union, so that they can travel, move and work throughout the EU without administrative barriers.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) I very much welcome this report, as it takes account of the most recent developments in cross-border mobility that have an impact on the coordination of social security systems. The report relates to the updating of existing regulations on the basis of changes to legal provisions in individual Member States and of changes to mobility patterns.

It makes clear, amongst other things, that posted workers cannot be replaced by other posted workers once the period for which the first worker is posted abroad comes to an end.

In addition, self-employed cross-border workers will have better protection in the event of unemployment. If they were insured against unemployment in the Member State in which they were last working and then move back to their Member State of residence, where they are not insured against unemployment, they will still be able to claim benefits, specifically in the Member State in which they last carried out their self-employed work. I very much welcome this strengthening of the rights of cross-border self-employed workers. This will benefit EU citizens, especially in border areas.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing.(FR) This proposal is one of the regular updates to Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009, aimed at guaranteeing adequate coordination of national social security systems at EU level.

I voted for these amendments, which will solve the problems that some of our fellow citizens encounter. The diversity and evolution of the conditions under which professional activities are pursued do indeed make it necessary to take into account the situation of highly mobile workers.

New labour supply structures have become evident, in the air transport sector among others. In order to facilitate the application of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 for this group of persons, it is justified to create a special rule by using the notion of ‘home base’ as the criterion for determining the applicable legislation for aircrew members. According to these new rules, aircrew members such as air hostesses and stewards will therefore be governed by the social security system of the country in which ‘they start and end their duty period’.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Parliament has today voted to end the dubious practice whereby airlines were able to register their staff, for social security purposes, in countries offering the least level of protection. The closing of this loophole is a welcome step and will give the workers increased rights.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because it is aimed at carrying out adjustments to EU social security legislation, i.e. harmonising and adjusting concepts and definitions. This should bring greater clarity and certainty. I also welcome the provision that people who have become unemployed in one Member State have the right to go and live in another Member State and to continue to receive the unemployment benefit to which they are entitled.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported this report aimed at guaranteeing proper coordination of social security systems at EU level, which was adopted by a wide majority in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. This is an update of the existing regulations and takes into account changes in the legislation in Member States and in the law on cross-border mobility.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The amendment to Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 has become necessary for a more correct and appropriate treatment of social security systems for self-employed frontier workers. Indeed, the text aims to provide some guarantees for these workers who often find themselves caught up in events in which the legislative framework is not always clear, given that they work in a Member State that is not their country of origin, with different social security legislation that, in some cases, does not provide social welfare benefits or subsidies for self-employed workers. Managing to coordinate the social safety net for self-employed frontier workers by amending existing EU regulations bears witness to the attention we pay to the ever-changing variety of conditions in which European workers find themselves.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the adoption of this report, which strengthens and adjusts coordination of national social security systems within the EU. It takes into account changes in the social security systems of individual Member States and increased cross-border mobility. It makes it possible, for example, to recognise the rights of unemployed workers who completed periods of unemployment insurance in the Member State of their last activity.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report. The new rules will improve the functioning of the single market by enhancing the social protection of a high number of mobile workers in the EU, such as aircrew members and cross-border self-employed workers. The new regulation introduces the concept of a ‘home base’ for granting aircrew members access to social security rights. The home base is where pilots and cabin crews ‘normally start and end a duty period’ and ‘where the operator is not responsible for the accommodation of the crew member’. Legal loopholes in European legislation have, in the past, allowed a few low-cost airlines to apply social security systems that are deemed to be the least onerous, irrespective of the crew member’s home base.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report aimed at updating two EU regulations and thereby modernising cross-border coordination of social security systems. This report concerns self-employed cross-border workers, who will be able to benefit from unemployment insurance in the Member State of their last activity. Similarly, aircrew members, such as air stewards and hostesses, will be governed by the social security system of the country in which ‘they start and end their duty period’.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – In light of the current economic context, it is incumbent on us all to be sensitive to the social security needs of citizens across the EU. However, there are issues of concern to Ireland contained in this report which have not yet been addressed. I abstained from the final vote.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because it seeks to ensure that the various social security systems are coordinated at EU level, as is necessary. It updates the existing regulations, namely Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009, taking account of legal developments in the Member States and cross-border mobility.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The present update focuses mainly on the social security of self-employed workers and aircrew members. We have ensured that the applicable legislation for aircrew members will remain stable and that the ‘home base’ principle will not result in frequent changes of applicable legislation due to the industry’s work patterns or seasonal demands. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Social security may be defined as any programme of social protection established by legislation, or any other mandatory arrangement, that provides individuals with a degree of income security when faced with the contingencies of old age, survivorship, incapacity, disability, unemployment or rearing children. It may also offer access to curative or preventive medical care. As defined by the International Social Security Association, social security can include social insurance programmes, social assistance programmes, universal programmes, mutual benefit schemes, national provident funds, and other arrangements including market-oriented approaches that, in accordance with national law or practice, form part of a country’s social security system. Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 on the coordination of social security systems have been applied in all Member States since 1 May 2010. In order to ensure a sensible coordination of the national social security systems at EU level, this regulation needs to be adapted. I abstained from voting because the report does not make clear what improvement could be achieved by amending the regulation.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) In voting for this resolution, I am supporting the important step of guaranteeing adequate coordination of national social security systems at EU level. It reflects changes in national legal frameworks and in cross-border mobility. Furthermore, I consider this an important resolution as it also governs the rights of unemployed people who have completed periods of unemployment insurance in the Member State of their last activity. The rights of aircrew members are also covered by recognising the company’s ‘registered office or place of business’ as the ‘home base’.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) The free movement of persons is one of the principles of the functioning of the EU. This right is also an integral part of social guarantees relating to labour relations or which arise when these relations come to an end. Therefore, while welcoming this report, which ensures social guarantees in cases involving more than one Member State, at the same time, I wish to point out that in future, we will inevitably face the need to fundamentally review the current social welfare model due to the ageing EU population.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Globalisation gives rise to new kinds of mobility. I am thinking, in particular, of aviation, where enterprises offer their services in various EU countries from what is known as their home base. Where this is the case, we must not allow air crews to run the risk, in the worst case, of falling through the net when it comes to social security simply because they operate in various countries. However, it is essential that we do not give foreigners a basic right to receive social security – such as social benefits – without making contributions, because that would be an invitation to engage in a new kind of European social tourism in which people travelled to wherever they could expect to receive higher social security payments. I abstained from voting because the report does not define clearly what specific improvements are to be expected from amending the regulation.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this resolution because proper coordination of national social security systems will be guaranteed throughout the EU. It should be noted that the common rules will only regulate those aspects of national legislation that may have a negative impact on people who have used the right of free movement of workers and have faced differences in the social security systems of several Member States. By cooperating and, if necessary, acting together, the Member States would solve common problems more effectively. Furthermore, this will facilitate more effective application of EU legislation, will simplify the coordination of social security systems in the Member States, and will contribute to the protection of citizens migrating within the EU.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that the coordination of social security systems in different Member States is essential for achieving one of the EU’s key objectives – the free movement of workers. Until now, there have been cases where self-employed workers in one country pay taxes and have the right to unemployment benefit, but lose this right if they leave to seek work in another EU Member State. Such a practice demonstrates deficiencies in the legislation of individual EU countries, which should be eliminated as soon as possible. I therefore support the wish expressed by the rapporteur, the European Commission and the European Council to reach an agreement on the regulation at first reading. Then, the legislative provisions that are so needed would come into force in the near future.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of the report presented here. The fact that new social security systems must be set up to coordinate with the needs of new types of jobs that could be described as atypical requires us to study and propose criteria that are different from those usually followed. These criteria must, of course, be respected by all Member States and thus be drawn up in detail, in order to come up with a joint plan. This revision must provide employees with a sense of security that they can be reintegrated into the labour market of their country, even after a prolonged absence.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) This technical report on the coordination of social security systems, which I voted in favour of, comes at a time when social benefits and insurance systems in numerous Member States, especially Greece, are coming under pressure. Despite the fact that this particular report deals mainly with the procedure and practical application of the requirements of the regulation that existed before 2004, it contains important amendments of interest to Greece, such as arrangements concerning the safety and work of border workers and civil aviation workers; at the same time, it will help to create a more precise, fairer and more effective insurance plan in the event of accidents at work.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council seeks to update the regulation on the coordination of social security systems. The latest amendment to this regulation, which came into force on 1 May 2010, ensured coordination of the social security systems in all Member States. Over time, with the changes that the Member States have made to their national social security systems, the references made in the regulations to national legislation have resulted in this legal instrument becoming outdated and in potential legal uncertainty for stakeholders regarding the implementation of the regulations.

The present amendment seeks to reflect those legal changes at national level, as well as changes in society. I voted in favour of this report, since the changes will make it easier to implement EU legislation on social security coordination effectively and to improve protection for people who move within the Union.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The aim of this proposal is to update Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 so as to guarantee adequate coordination of national social security systems at EU level. The proposal reflects changes in national legislation and takes account of the latest developments in cross-border mobility. It thereby seeks to improve and modernise Union law, taking account of the constant changes in society.

The purpose of the proposal is essentially two-fold. First, it seeks to ensure that a self-employed frontier worker who becomes unemployed receives benefits, if he/she has completed periods of insurance as a self-employed person recognised for the purposes of granting unemployment benefits in the competent Member State and if no unemployment benefits system covering self-employed persons exists in the Member State of residence. Secondly, it seeks to protect the rights of air crew members.

I voted for this report for the aforementioned reasons.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today, during the plenary session in Strasbourg, we voted on Mr Cabrnoch’s report.

This report will improve the functioning of the single market by strengthening social protection for many mobile workers in the EU, such as airline crews and self-employed frontier workers. The regulation also focuses on the situation of self-employed frontier workers (an employee who returns to his home country at least once a week) regarding access to unemployment benefits.

In Italy, there is no provision for unemployment benefit for self-employed workers. However, according to the text, a self-employed worker working in an EU country other than their own, who pays the contributions needed for unemployment benefit, and who returns to his country, where such financial support does not exist, would also have the right to receive the subsidy, to be paid by the last country where he/she worked. This measure would, therefore, apply to Italy.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Among other things, the revised text establishes that: Annex III to Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91 of 16 December 1991 on the harmonisation of technical requirements and administrative procedures in the field of civil aviation defines the concept of ‘home base’ for aircrew members under Union law. In order to facilitate the application of Title II of the Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 for this group of persons, it is justified to create a special rule by using this notion of ‘home base’ as the criterion for determining the applicable legislation for aircrew members. On the other hand, the applicable legislation for aircrew members should remain stable and the ‘home base’ principle should not result in frequent changes of applicable legislation due to the industry’s work patterns or seasonal demands.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The text of the report aims to update the changes made by the national legislations of Member States relating to social security.

One of the most significant aspects of the proposal is the issue of self-employed frontier workers, for whom greater protection is required, as well as guarantees against the risk of unemployment in the Member State in which he/she last worked.

The part which we do not support concerns the management of social policies, as we believe that harmonisation is difficult to achieve in the short term. Member States with a greater number of immigrants run the risk of having to provide guaranteed minimum incomes. If Italy were to go down that road, it would become a magnet for all of the desperate people in North Africa. Due to these concerns, I abstained.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE), in writing. (IT) I support Mr Cabrnoch’s report on the coordination of social security systems because I believe that a revision, an update and a clarification of the social security conditions in the various EU Member States were absolutely necessary.

These are historic times, in which cross-border mobility has become an increasingly significant phenomenon and we really need coordination in this field in order to ensure security for our citizens and their future, and, of course, legal certainty for those concerned.

I therefore support the need to develop standard solutions so as to prevent discrimination from arising among EU citizens.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE), in writing. (DE) I welcome the further development and the harmonisation achieved by this legal text, because improving cross-border mobility of workers is very much in the interests of the internal market.

Those affected need clear rules that they can rely on, and a lack of red tape – but, at the same time, it is also good that it is being made clear that posted workers cannot be replaced by other posted workers after the first worker’s posting is complete; there must be no jobs merry-go-round.

It is also a good thing that self-employed cross-border workers are being given better protection from unemployment.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) As professional working conditions have diversified and evolved, we must take into account the situation of highly mobile workers.

The coordination of social security systems has ensured that all workers with Member State citizenship enjoy equal treatment as well as social security benefits, regardless of their occupation or place of residence.

I voted in favour, since this report provides a necessary update that transposes the content of national laws, bringing their individual amendments into European legislation. It also clarifies the conditions ensuring social security for those working in the various Member States. All this falls within the principle of freedom of movement for workers, which is an integral part of the internal market.

 
  
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  Monika Smolková (S&D), in writing. (SK) One of the greatest achievements of common Europe is, without doubt, the free movement of people. Related to this is frequent labour migration. Today, it is not exceptional for a person to work in two or more Member States for different companies and employers. For this reason, it is essential that the coordination of individual Member States’ social systems be amended and updated. I realise that there will continue to be cases of working and unemployed people whose complex conditions will not be covered by the legislation of a given State. I supported the draft resolution because it responds to the diversity and evolution of the conditions under which professional activities are pursued and takes the situation of highly mobile workers into account.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is purely technical and seeks to update European legislation in terms of guaranteeing appropriate coordination among the Member States’ social security systems. According to Article 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the EU shall support the Member States in the field of social security with a view to achieving harmonisation of the social systems that safeguard the protection of European citizens.

This proposal for an amendment specifically concerns self-employed frontier workers and civil aviation crew members as regards the ‘home base’ rule. It seeks to guarantee that self-employed workers in border regions are covered by the country in which they last worked, even if they no longer live there. They will thus be entitled to unemployment benefit if the Member State in which they reside does not provide it.

I think it is important for this legislation to be reviewed in two years’ time in order to adapt it to the changes that the Member States carry out. We have to ensure that European citizens’ rights are safeguarded, regardless of their nationality.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on the coordination of social security systems. The purpose of the proposal is to update Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 on a regular basis, with the aim of ensuring appropriate coordination of national social security systems at EU level. At a time when Member States are frequently amending their social security legislation, measures for coordinating social security systems are needed so that the freedom of movement enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) can be fully exercised. The diverse and changing nature of the conditions in which professional activities are carried out make it necessary to take into account the situation of highly mobile workers. New labour supply models have appeared, such as those in the air transport sector. The coordination of social security systems is aimed at cross-border situations where a Member State cannot act on its own. I think it is important that this regulation should facilitate the coordination of social security systems by Member States, and that those moving around the EU receive better protection in order to remove the risk of losing the social security rights already acquired in another Member State. This action is in keeping with the spirit of Article 48 TFEU, which stipulates that the European Parliament and Council must adopt the measures needed to provide freedom of movement for workers.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) I agree with the rapporteur that we urgently need common rules that would guarantee access to social benefits without penalising European workers who take advantage of the right of free movement. This issue is particularly important for the majority of Lithuanians. I believe that self-employed Lithuanians who have the right to receive unemployment benefit in the country where they are working should also receive it when they have returned to Lithuania. This is essential for encouraging young and talented Lithuanians to return home. The report also mentions a greater problem that is currently affecting Lithuania. The Lithuanian State Social Insurance Fund Board (SODRA) urgently needs to be completely restructured. Like the majority of Lithuanian state institutions, unprofitable spending has also weakened SODRA. This is a serious problem because last year, SODRA accounted for almost 70% of Lithuania’s national budget. According to media reports, nine out of ten SODRA branches in Lithuania are formally bankrupt. Analysis of the regional branches has revealed that 90% of the regions have more pensioners than working people. Revenue received in the poorest regions of Lithuania represents less than 40% of the amount needed to pay pensions.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I wholeheartedly support this report, which calls for better social protection for cross-border workers and those working in the aviation industry. So called ‘mobile’ workers will see their social protection enhanced by the introduction of the ‘home base’ concept. This measure means that airline staff will not have a different legal status every time their shift pattern moves to a new country. I welcome moves to improve the situation of unemployment benefits for self-employed workers who perform cross-border work on a regular basis. If a self-employed person working in an EU country and contributing to its unemployment schemes then moves to another country which does not have the same unemployment benefits for self-employed workers, the country in which he or she last worked should pay unemployment benefits. This measure will protect those who work abroad or who need to relocate and work in another EU country.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The modernised social security regulations resulting especially from the increase in negotiations between Member States are of high importance to the European Union and its citizens and therefore, this report has to be supported, which I did by my vote in favour. The need for modernisation came, among other things, from changes in national legislation and from the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Member States frequently amend their national social security legislation. As a consequence, the references made to national legislation in EU legislation coordinating social security systems can become outdated; this will create legal uncertainty for stakeholders when applying the regulations. The references in the regulations therefore need to be updated so that they correctly reflect legal changes at national level and changes in social reality.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE), in writing. (SK) The free movement of people is one of the basic pillars underpinning the idea of European integration. The possibility of working in any Member State of the European Union enables EU citizens to react more flexibly to developments in labour markets. It also gives people the opportunity to seek the best use of their education and skills, regardless of borders. On the other hand, it also creates a healthy pressure on employers in the smaller Member States because it exposes them to wider competition. The issue of social security is closely related to work. If a single labour market is to work in Europe, we need to coordinate the social security systems in the individual Member States at European level. This harmonisation of systems must, however, respond flexibly to changes in pension and social rules. The presented update to the regulation on the coordination of social security systems is based, above all, on comments raised by Member States, and therefore I supported it with a clear conscience. I understand the concerns of some of my colleagues about the abuse of social systems in their countries, but I firmly believe that the rejection of European harmonisation will not resolve this problem. Generous social support systems are not sustainable in the long term.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The primary aim of this report is to amend Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 so as to incorporate recent changes to national social security in certain Member States. A second aim concerns certain provisions in the regulation that have been amended: namely, the portability of unemployment benefit for self-employed workers and the introduction of a special provision for air crew members, which specifies that their ‘home base’ should be regarded as the registered office of their employers or their place of business, for the purpose of identifying the Member State in which they should pay their social security contributions. The report argues that a self-employed frontier worker who becomes unemployed is entitled to receive unemployment benefits in the competent Member State if no such benefits exist in the Member State of residence. This can be an important measure provided it is not applied to ‘false’ self-employed workers as a means of legitimising their use. According to the second amendment, workers register with the social security system of their home base. We believe, however, that there should be some control over where businesses are registered, so that companies cannot register themselves in countries where social security costs are lower.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Elmar Brok (A7-0139/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) I support the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. Accession to this treaty will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the region.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal for the European Union to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, an area that includes the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, since the purpose is cooperation with a view to promoting peace, stability and cooperation in the region.

The signing of this treaty on behalf of the European Union is an important step, since signing as the Union means that all Europeans will be able to benefit from this cooperation protocol. Given that economic growth is tending to become increasingly concentrated in Asia, this protocol also allows for economic cooperation whereby the European Union will be able to benefit from effective cooperation with the ‘Asian Tigers’, which may make us more competitive in this thriving market.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed by the original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 1976. Its purpose was to promote peace, stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia. While the treaty was originally designed to apply only to states within the Southeast Asian region, it was amended in 1987 to allow for states outside the region to accede to it. In July 2006, EU Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the treaty. I naturally voted, therefore, in favour of our accession to this treaty of friendship between our two regions.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this resolution because I welcome the fact that the European Union’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia will enable relations to be strengthened and cooperation increased with countries in the area, as well as the EU’s profile to be raised in the region. Given that, apart from the ASEAN states, other countries (Papua New Guinea, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Australia, France, East Timor, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, North Korea and United States) have also acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, this has created the conditions for inclusive cooperation involving all stakeholders. The EU’s accession will expand this format even more, thereby making the proposed framework more relevant, for the benefit of not only the Southeast Asia region, but also of all the parties to the treaty. I must say that I am pleased about the vote on this resolution during Parliament’s session in April, so that the instruments for the EU’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia can be signed during the ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting on 26-27 April 2012.

 
  
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  Phil Bennion (ALDE), in writing. – I am happy to vote in favour of the EU accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

The EU has many common interests with the ASEAN countries, with strong economic ties including large diaspora communities in European Member States and regions such as my own West Midlands constituency in the UK.

I welcome closer cooperation between the EU and Southeast Asia and am delighted to support the accession to a treaty which is so closely in line with the social and economic objectives of the European Union in promoting peace, stability and cooperation in the region through settlement of disputes by peaceful means. I also welcome the enhanced cooperation in economic, trade, social, technical and scientific fields and the expansion of trade and economic infrastructure which is of significant mutual benefit in the context of the current economic crisis.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) ASEAN is an extremely important international organisation. Its furtherance of the objectives of cooperation on economic growth and social progress, coupled with the promotion of peace and stability, make it a centre of power and influence in Southeast Asia. It is also currently a very good trading partner for the Union.

I think accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation is in our vital interests if our ambition is to reach our potential for a political role in this part of the world. Countries which unquestionably already are world powers are parties to the Treaty – the United States, China, Russia and Japan – and this very clearly shows how much their interests are at stake in this region. On the initiative of Brussels, the signatories have introduced a key change which enables an international organisation such as the European Union as a whole to accede to the Treaty.

In view of these points, I am absolutely sure that this is the right move and very hopeful that we will achieve tangible political and economic benefits, and I consent to the accession of the European Union to this Treaty.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the European Parliament recommendation on the draft Council decision on the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia because the purpose of this treaty is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia. The non-controversial nature of this accession will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in this region. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) was signed by the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1976, and, in July 2006, the European Union Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the TAC. This European Parliament recommendation is important because once Parliament has consented to the draft decision on the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, it will be possible for the HR/VP to sign the EU’s accession instruments on the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting of 26/27 April 2012.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report as the EU should not, in my opinion, have a unified presence in foreign affairs. The current signatories to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) are all nation states. Indeed, the treaty must be amended in order to allow the accession of non-state entities. Whilst I fully support the aims of the treaty, it is for the United Kingdom to sign independently and not the preserve of the EU to become a signatory on behalf of the 27 Member States to any international agreements.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, since the purpose of the treaty is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region. Moreover, this accession will strengthen the EU’s presence and visibility in Southeast Asia.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I cannot fail to support the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. The region has become increasingly important on the international scene. Therefore, as the treaty has been amended to allow partners from other parts of the world to join, it would make no sense for the European Union not to follow the example of powers such as the United States and China and forego the chance to develop closer relations with the countries of Southeast Asia. I hope that the Union can soon accede to the treaty and that the treaty will benefit all concerned.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union tries to take its values of upholding human rights, freedom and democracy to every corner of the world. Throughout its existence, it has concluded a number of protocols and signed treaties with many states and organisations that share these principles.

In July 2006, the Member States decided to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These proceedings were significantly delayed because of the need to amend the TAC to allow for the accession of non-state entities. As the ASEAN ministerial meeting is due to take place on 26/27 April, I agree with the urgency request by the Council to hold the vote on this recommendation today so as to enable the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission, Baroness Ashton, to sign the accession instruments during that meeting.

I voted for this recommendation because I believe that signing this treaty will enhance the EU’s visibility in the region, promote social and cultural exchange between the EU and Southeast Asian countries and thereby help to consolidate peace and stability in that part of Asia.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The treaty to which this report refers – the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), which was signed into force by the original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1976 – lays down principles that we value highly, such as mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations, and the right of every state to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion. The state signatories to the treaty set up a free trade zone in 1992, which was concluded in 2008. The ASEAN countries have a population of 600 million people. ASEAN collectively generates a GDP of some USD 1 500 billion and is our third largest trading partner outside the EU, with trade in goods and services worth over EUR 206 billion. While we support the signing of this treaty on account of the principles it enshrines, the truth is that we neither hold nor encourage any illusions as to the reasons why the EU is signing it. It is a political and diplomatic manoeuvre aimed at creating more favourable conditions for its goal of setting up a free trade zone between the EU and ASEAN.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed in February 1976 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since the date of signing, many other countries have also become signatories, including the United States of America, Turkey and Canada. The Treaty aims to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region. To that end, it calls for disputes to be settled by peaceful means, peace to be maintained, conflicts to be prevented, and security to be strengthened in Southeast Asia. The rules and principles laid down in the treaty correspond to the objectives of the European Union as regards the common foreign and security policy. I think that, just as it does in matters concerning joint efforts towards international peace and stability in the region, the treaty should also promote active cooperation in the economic, social, technical, scientific and administrative fields, the acceleration of economic growth in the region, the expansion of trade, and the improvement of the economic infrastructure, so that all these efforts lead to the mutual benefit of the countries concerned.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Article 2 of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation outlines the fundamental principles within which it operates and, of these, the first is a ‘mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations’. I wholeheartedly endorse that principle and welcome this House’s overwhelming decision to do likewise.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament recommendation on the draft Council decision on the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) because its purpose is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region. In view of the non-controversial nature of this accession, which will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the region, the Committee on Foreign Affairs invites the European Parliament to consent to the decision authorising the Union to join the TAC. Furthermore, it supports the urgent request by the Council to have the vote during the April 2012 part-session to make it possible for the HR/VP to sign the EU’s accession instruments on the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting of 26/27 April 2012.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) was signed into force by the original members of ASEAN in 1976. Its purpose is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia. While the TAC was originally designed to apply only to states within the Southeast Asian region, it was amended in 1987 to allow for states outside the region to accede to it. Besides the Member States of the ASEAN, the following countries are parties to the treaty (in chronological order of accession): Papua New Guinea, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Australia, France, East Timor, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, North Korea, United States. In July 2006, EU Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the TAC. However, the TAC first had to be amended further to allow for the accession of non-state entities. Given the non-controversial nature of this accession, which will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the region, I supported this report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) was signed into force by the original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1976. Its purpose is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia. In July 2006, EU Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the TAC. However, the TAC first had to be amended further to allow for the accession of non-state entities. In view of the benefit of acceding to this treaty to increase the EU’s visibility in Southeast Asia, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Member States agreed to start proceedings paving the way for accession of the EU to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in July 2006. However, the treaty should first be amended in order to allow the accession of non-state entities. I consider it to be controversial so I abstained.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Southeast Asia is a market of the future. The goal of promoting peace, stability and cooperation with this part of the world is a good one. It is to be hoped that in future, we will hear many positive things about stronger economic relations between the EU and Southeast Asia. Formula 1 is represented in Southeast Asia, for example, and is happy with this market. This shows that in this region, there is a willingness to open up and make itself heard. The vote in the relevant committee makes it all too clear that people want this treaty and take a positive view of it. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia is therefore to be welcomed, which is why I am voting in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) The purpose of the EU’s treaty with Southeast Asia is to promote peace, stability and cooperation, and to demonstrate the EU’s greater economic engagement with this market of the future. The vote in the relevant committee clearly shows that the EU is continuing its intensive efforts in respect of Southeast Asia, pursuing its aims of strengthening its economic presence, promoting stability, promoting the economic development of poorer regions, and promoting the development and consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. I welcome the treaty, which is why I am voting in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I believe that it is advisable to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the purpose of which is to spread peace, stability and cooperation. The treaty promotes economic, financial and technical cooperation with developing countries and countries that are not signatories to the treaty. It should be noted that accession to this agreement will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the Southeast Asian region. It will also create a favourable environment for the EU to be more actively involved in the dialogue on the security of East and Southeast Asia.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The foreign policy of the European Union plays a role of fundamental importance, especially as regards trade agreements that can be entered into with other parts of the world. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia is principally intended to promote cooperation and development between the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN countries) and third countries acceding to the treaty. I believe it is very important that Parliament has succeeded in speeding up the bureaucratic procedures for the approval of the text so as to allow for accession to the treaty as quickly as possible. This is a treaty to which the EU will be the first signatory that is a non-state entity.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the recommendation on the draft Council decision on the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the purpose of which is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region. In view of the non-controversial nature of this accession, Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs has invited Parliament to consent to the decision, which will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the region.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) came into force in 1976 with the aim of promoting peace, stability and cooperation in that region. While the TAC was originally designed to apply only to states within the Southeast Asian region, it was amended in 1987 to allow for states outside the region to accede to it.

In July 2006, EU Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the TAC. This became possible because the TAC was first amended to allow for the accession of non-state entities. Since I believe this accession will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the region, I voted for the decision authorising the Union to accede to the TAC.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D), in writing.(ES) In 2006, the Member States of the European Union decided to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). In this plenary session, Parliament has authorised the EU to join the TAC. This is an important event, because the purpose of the TAC, signed by the original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1976, is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia. By consenting, Parliament has paved the way for the EU to join a treaty that calls for the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts, and maintaining peace. Furthermore, the treaty defends stepping up economic, trade and social cooperation. I therefore voted in favour because we are talking about values and principles that are very much a part of our own experience of European integration. In addition, accession would allow the EU to strengthen its relations with a regional organisation with which it shares principles and goals. Parliament’s consent will make it possible for Baroness Ashton to sign the EU’s accession instruments on the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting of 26-27 April 2012.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing.(IT) Today, in the plenary session in Strasbourg, we have voted in favour of the recommendation by Mr Brok on the draft Council decision on the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC).

The TAC, originally designed to apply only to the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN countries) of the Southeast Asian region, with the aim of promoting stability and cooperation between them, was amended in 1987 so as to allow for the accession of other states and, in July 2006, Member States of the European Union also initiated accession procedures, although the treaty had not been amended further to allow for the accession of non-state entities.

Nevertheless, with the view that accession could only enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the Asian region, the Committee on Foreign Affairs has invited the European Parliament to consent to the decision authorising the Union to join the TAC.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) was signed into force by the original members of ASEAN in 1976. Its purpose is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in Southeast Asia. In view of the non-controversial nature of this accession, which will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the region, the Committee on Foreign Affairs invites the European Parliament to consent to the decision authorising the Union to join the TAC. Furthermore, it supports the urgency request by the Council to have the vote during the April 2012 part-session so as to make it possible for the HR/VP to sign the EU’s accession instruments on the occasion of the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting of 26/27 April 2012.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) The first parliamentary contacts between the European Parliament and the ASEAN countries took place in 1976, but it was only in 1979 that regular meetings between Parliament and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation were inaugurated. They now take place annually, alternating in location between the EU and an ASEAN country.

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, on which we are voting today, is designed to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region, and provides for the peaceful resolution of disputes, the preservation of peace, conflict prevention and the development of security in Southeast Asia. In July 2007, ASEAN opened trade negotiations between the European Union and seven member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In December 2009, the European Commission decided to conduct the negotiations on a bilateral basis.

Currently, negotiations are being held with Singapore and Malaysia, but Vietnam has also signalled that it wishes to open a dialogue on this issue. Given the importance of this region for the EU, this morning’s signature is extremely important and formally confirms Europe’s desire for friendly relations with ASEAN.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed into force by the original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1976. Its purpose is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region. In July 2006, EU Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the treaty. Accession will enhance the EU’s presence and visibility in the region, and I voted for the decision of Parliament approving it.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the decision on the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia. The purpose of the TAC signed by the original members of ASEAN in 1976 is to promote peace, stability and cooperation in the region. The treaty was originally designed to apply only to states in the region, but it was amended in 1987 to allow states outside the region to accede to it. Apart from ASEAN Member States, the other countries which are party to this treaty include China, India, Japan, Russia, Australia, France and the US. In July 2006, Member States agreed to initiate proceedings towards the accession of the EU to the TAC. With this in mind, the TAC was modified considerably to allow the accession of non-state entities. The treaty supports the peaceful settlement of disagreements, peacekeeping, conflict prevention and the consolidation of security in Southeast Asia. The regulations and principles enshrined in the treaty are in keeping with the objectives of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. At the same time, the contracting parties make every effort to cooperate as closely as possible and to offer each other assistance in the form of training and research facilities in the social, cultural, scientific, technical and administrative spheres.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia is very important for the economic and political cooperation between Southeast Asia and the EU, including the ASEAN Member States. It would strengthen their trade partnership and improve their diplomatic relations as a whole. Therefore, I voted in favour of it and I underline the necessity of new partnerships in this period of economic crisis and recession.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing.(IT) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed in 1976, with the aim of promoting peace and political stability.

Originally reserved for countries in that geographical area, it was subsequently extended to other nations (including France, Russia, Australia and the United States), helping to secure and develop political and commercial cooperation at the international level. I therefore welcome the European Union’s accession to the treaty and I am certain that this will further enhance Europe’s presence and visibility in that region.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), which was signed into force by the original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1976, lays down very important principles, such as mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations, and the right of every state to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion. The state signatories to the treaty set up a free trade zone in 1992, which was concluded in 2008. The ASEAN countries have a population of 600 million people. ASEAN collectively generates a GDP of some USD 1 500 billion and is our third largest trading partner outside the EU, with trade in goods and services worth over EUR 206 billion. We support the signing of this treaty on account of the principles it enshrines, but we neither hold nor encourage any illusions as to the reasons why the EU is signing it. It is a political and diplomatic manoeuvre aimed at creating more favourable conditions for its goal of setting up a free trade zone between the EU and ASEAN. The EU demonstrates every day, and in everything it does, that it treats these principles as dead letters.

 
  
  

Report: Paulo Rangel (A7-0065/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I have voted for this recommendation on the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

This is due to the fact that the Heads of State or Government had already reached an agreement at the June 2009 European Council to provide reassurance and to respond to the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon. Since the Heads of State or Government have already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol and the issue has already been politically settled, this decision does not seem to justify signing a convention.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) Ireland faced tremendous trouble in its ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon: the first referendum produced an overwhelming ‘no’, whereas the second only authorised ratification provided that certain conditions imposed by the Irish Government were accepted on subjects such as the right to life. As the European Union is also about being united in diversity and respecting each other’s cultural differences, it was agreed that at the time of the conclusion of the next accession Treaty, they would set out the provisions of the decision in a protocol to be attached to the Treaties.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. (GA) I welcome this report that attempts to respond to the concerns of the Irish people on the right to life, family and education, on taxation, and on security and defence matters. It recognises an Irish petition to implement ‘appropriate legal guarantees’ in terms of the Treaty of Lisbon.

It is clear that these guarantees are explanatory, that they aim to address the concerns of the Irish people and that they do not change in any way the main content of the Treaties. However, official recognition in writing must be given to Irish concerns and I welcome the compact on signing and ratifying the protocol in relation to the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon alongside the Croatian Accession Treaty.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the European Parliament recommendation on the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. At the European Council on 19 June 2009, the Heads of State or Government agreed to take a decision in order to provide reassurance and to respond to the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, as well as security and defence. As it was decided that the provisions of the decision would be set out in a protocol at the time of the conclusion of the next accession Treaty, I welcomed the European Parliament recommendation not to convene a separate convention on this issue.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) A decision of the European Council made three years ago provided the Irish people with legal guarantees in response to their concerns in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation and, in particular, security and defence. In view of the fact that the Heads of State or Government also declared that the decision was legally binding and would take effect on the date of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and that they had also agreed the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol, the Council’s proposal not to convene a convention seems justified. The provisions of the protocol provide clear regulation of the most important issues covered in the understandings, so I welcome the decision in favour of examining the amendments to the Treaties.

I endorsed the recommendation on consent to the proposal not to convene a convention, and also the report on consultations concerning the draft protocol. I think that all political understandings reached in Council in relation to ratification of the Lisbon Treaty must be respected.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing.(IT) Ireland’s position, following the negative outcomes of previous referendums in the Republic, presents a delicate problem from a political, institutional, cultural and governance point of view.

Moreover, it presents a challenge that many have long deceived themselves could be put off indefinitely, as regards developing models of governance that, in the context of institutional cohesion, could show themselves capable of valuing the cultures of Member States, respecting each European people’s sensitivities and responding to their legitimate concerns, whenever these might arise, on individual issues of a political, social or cultural nature.

In this sense, the choice made by the Heads of State or Government to acknowledge the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence by means of a legally binding decision embodied in a subsequent and specific protocol must be seen as responsible and courageous. This assumption of political responsibility enables us to adopt a tailor-made approach as an alternative to a special convention. I am therefore voting in favour of the draft decision under scrutiny today.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I have abstained from this vote as voting against the convention would amount to consenting to the decision to not convene on a draft protocol. I am in favour of an open democratic event such as this. However, there are elements of the protocol such as Article II covering taxation which I find hard to believe. The article states that ‘nothing in the Treaty of Lisbon makes any change of any kind, for any Member State, to the extent or operation of the competence of the European Union’.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Council of 19 June 2009 registered the various concerns of the Irish people, including those relating to taxation policy, the right to life, family and education, and the traditional policy of military neutrality. In this context, and in order to provide reassurance and give the Irish people guarantees, the European Council adopted three annexes to the Treaty, Annex 1 consisting of a legally binding decision of the Heads of State or Government that would take effect on the date when the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force. It was also agreed that the provisions of the decision would be set out in a protocol to be attached to the Treaties at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty. The signing of the Croatian accession treaty on 9 December 2011 made it necessary to add the planned protocol. Since the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol has already been debated, resulting in political agreement at the European Council in 2009, I see no need to convene a convention for the addition of this protocol to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I therefore support the recommendation to consent to the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – Almost three years ago, the European Council gave a commitment to the Irish people that they would address their concerns regarding the Lisbon Treaty to safeguard the right to life, family, education, taxation and security and defence. This proposal represents the culmination of that promise. I therefore welcome its adoption, and its eventual ratification alongside the Croatian accession treaty.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this protocol, having regard to the agreement reached at the European Council on 19 June 2009 responding to the concerns of the Irish people in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. Since the Heads of State or Government have already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the protocol, so that the issue has already been politically settled, I do not think it is justifiable to convene a convention.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation, drafted by Mr Rangel, proposes adopting the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

On 20 July 2011, the Irish Government sent a letter to the Council on a proposal for the addition of a draft protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the TEU and TFEU. The Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States had already made a decision on this subject with the necessary legal guarantees on 19 June 2009, in order to provide assurance and respond to the concerns of the Irish people in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence.

Since the issue has already been politically settled, and in view of the request for consent not to convene a convention submitted by the European Council and the recommendation of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, I am voting for this report.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The adoption of this report comes in the wake of the shameful blackmailing and manipulation of the Irish people in order to impose the Treaty of Lisbon by anti-democratic means. The approval of what has been termed an ‘additional protocol responding to the concerns of the Irish people’ is nothing more than an attempt to legitimise something that, according to the most basic democratic principles, cannot be legitimised. The Irish were the only people not to be prevented from expressing their views in a referendum, due to a constitutional requirement. Their rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon was undeniably an obstacle to the attempt – involving unacceptable chicanery and flagrant trickery – to impose a draft treaty that had previously been rejected, thereby disrespecting and seeking to bypass the will of the peoples of France and the Netherlands. No amount of manoeuvring can legitimise a treaty that results from an anti-democratic process and that, as circumstances have shown, has created the conditions for stepping up the attack on national sovereignties and reversing the rights and victories of the common people.

This and previous treaties need to be rescinded in order to safeguard democracy and uphold the effective participation of citizens. It is essential to defend national sovereignty and the role of national institutions so as to promote effective democracy instead of devaluing it.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) At a session of the European Council in June 2009, Heads of State or Government agreed to take a decision in order to provide reassurance and to respond to the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. They also declared that the decision was legally binding and would take effect on the date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. They further declared that, at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, they would set out the provisions of the decision in a protocol to be attached to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As a matter of fact, the Heads of State or Government, at the June session of the European Council referred to above, had already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol, so that the issue has already been politically settled and does not justify convening a convention. I therefore agree with Parliament’s proposal not to convene a convention.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) Not surprisingly, Parliament has approved, through its consent procedure, the proposal for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people. This protocol is a result of the agreement entered into at the European Council on 18 and 19 June 2009. It covers various areas: the right to life, protection of family and education, taxation, security and defence, as well as workers’ rights and social policy. Parliament has also decided not to convene a convention since the protocol’s provisions do not warrant it.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this recommendation on the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This matter has been referred to Parliament for approval purposes. The report was adopted by an overwhelming majority within Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO).

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this recommendation supporting the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As the amendments to the Treaties are really quite minor, a simplified revision procedure that provides more flexibility and saves time should be used.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I supported this report, which decided against the calling of a convention. The Heads of State or Government at the European Council on 19 June 2009 have already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol, so the issue has already been politically settled and does not justify convening a convention.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 19 June 2009, the European Council considered the concerns of the Irish people, including those relating to taxation policy, the right to life, family and education, and the traditional policy of military neutrality. In this context, and in order to restore the Irish people’s confidence in the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council adopted three annexes to the Treaty, Annex 1 consisting of a legally binding decision of the Heads of State or Government that would take effect on the date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Since the provisions proposed in the draft protocol have already been amply debated, resulting in political agreement at the European Council in 2009, I see no need to convene a convention for the addition of this protocol to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I therefore agree with the approval of the European Council’s recommendation not to convene a convention.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The Heads of State or Government agreed to take a decision in the European Council in June 2009 in order to provide reassurance and to respond to the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon concerning the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. The Heads of State or Government had already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol, meaning the issue has already been politically settled. Therefore, this decision does not seem to justify convening a convention. I abstained.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States have agreed that the concerns of the Irish people expressed in the context of the amendment of the Treaty of Lisbon will be taken into account through the addition of a protocol to the Treaty. These concerns are in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. The matter has already been dealt with at a political level in the agreement reached at the meeting of the European Council on 19 June 2009. There is thus no need to convene an extra convention in respect of this. For that reason, I am voting in favour of this report. In my opinion, a convention on the Treaty of Lisbon should have been convened in any case, as was the case in connection with the planned constitution for Europe – but that was not what this report was about.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) I support the proposal by the European Council not to convene a convention to consult on Ireland’s concerns in relation to the Treaty of Lisbon. In this case, there is absolutely no need to do so, since the Heads of State or Government have already reached agreement at the European Council, and thus a political resolution has already been achieved. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) My approval of this draft protocol on the concerns of the Irish people is in line with one of the fundamental rules of our Union, that is, respect for all the peoples that belong to it. The position taken by the Heads of State or Government in response to the concerns of the Irish people in relation to family, education, taxation, security and defence – subjects dealt with in the Treaty of Lisbon – is correct. A convention will nevertheless be called to reassure those who are still sceptical, although the proposed measures have already been adopted as from the Treaty’s entry into force in 2009.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The ‘no’ vote in the Irish referendum on the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon in June 2008 highlighted the concerns of the Irish people about a series of issues which were not provided for or adequately protected in the new European Treaty. As unanimity is required before a new Treaty can enter into force, the decision by the European Council to examine the proposed amendments to subsequent Treaties, in the form of new clarifications, in order to include the references requested by the Irish, such as the right to life, family, taxation, security and defence, are a welcome political compromise by the European Parliament. Consequently, I voted in favour of this recommendation.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Parliament, through its Committee on Constitutional Affairs, adopted the recommendation on the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Parliament thereby consents to the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention. In view of the fact that the Heads of State or Government at the European Council on 19 June 2009 had already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol, so that the issue has already been politically settled, I am voting for this decision as I do not believe there is any justification for convening a convention.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the adoption of my report, which came about as a result of the agreement of the Heads of State or Government at the European Council of 19 June 2009 regarding the concerns of the Irish people in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence.

At that time, it was envisaged that the provisions of that decision would be set out in a protocol to be attached to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty. That is precisely the amendment that is now being considered. Therefore, and since the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol had already been politically settled, we have reached the conclusion that there is no justification for convening a convention.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. At the European Council on 19 June 2009, the Heads of State or Government agreed to take a decision in order to provide reassurance and to respond to the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. Then, they declared that the decision was legally binding and would take effect on the date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. They also declared that, at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, they would set out the provisions of the decision in a protocol to be attached to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As a matter of fact, the Heads of State or Government at the European Council on 19 June 2009 had already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol, so that the issue has already been politically settled and does not seem to justify convening a convention.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) When the Irish people vetoed the Treaty of Lisbon in the referendum on its ratification, the Heads of State or Government agreed to take account of Ireland’s concerns on issues such as the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence, by attaching a protocol to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to be included at the time of the next accession treaty. This draft report, which is purely technical, does not require the convening of a convention because agreement on the provisions proposed in the draft protocol was reached at the June 2009 European Council. That is why I am voting for this recommendation.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the decision of the European Parliament on the European Council’s proposal not to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. At the European Council on 19 June 2009, the Heads of State or Government agreed to make a decision in order to provide guarantees and address the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. The Heads of State or Government also declared that the decision was legally binding and would take effect on the date when the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force. At the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, they were to include the provisions of the decision in a protocol to be attached to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As the Heads of State or Government at the European Council on 19 June 2009 had already agreed on the substance of the provisions proposed in the draft protocol, we think that the issue has already been settled politically and does not seem to justify calling a convention.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This recommendation claims that the addition of a protocol to the Treaty of Lisbon ‘has already been politically settled and does not seem to justify convening a convention’. It thereby seeks a swift conclusion to the tortuous and anti-democratic process that led to the Irish referendum being re-held after the victory of the ‘No’ camp, a process that effectively blackmailed the Irish people. In contrast to this process, we assert and uphold the right of every people to hold an informed debate on the content and objectives of the EU Treaties and to express a decision thereon through a referendum.

 
  
  

Report: Paulo Rangel (A7-0064/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this draft protocol and am in favour of the European Council decision to examine the proposed amendments to the Treaties. Since the Heads of State or Government have already come to a political decision within the European Council, and since the protocol already explains the areas that are of concern to the Irish, everything seems to be settled. There remains, however, the issue of the country’s military neutrality, which is more complicated because of the powers conferred by the Union.

Nonetheless, it is important to consider the position adopted by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, which holds that the obligation to provide mutual assistance under the Treaty of Lisbon can be safeguarded, as each Member State can choose what kind of assistance to deploy.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) As recommended in the report, we felt that there was no need to convene a convention for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the European Parliament’s consent to the European Council’s decision to examine the proposed amendments to the Treaties as requested by Ireland. At the European Council on 19 June 2009, the Heads of State or Government agreed to take a decision in order to provide necessary legal guarantees responding to the concerns of the Irish people in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, security and defence, and agreed that they would, at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, set out the provisions of the decision in a protocol, and attach clarifications of certain provisions to the existing Treaty of Lisbon so that it would not need to be reviewed.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing.(IT) The report expresses a positive opinion on the European Council decision under discussion on the proposed amendments to the Treaties to be made by way of this protocol.

The concerns of the Irish, which were not without influence in the outcome of the 2008 referendum, will be answered in the document annexed to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. At that time, progress will be made on the difficult terrain represented by compliance with the respective constitutional requirements and the specific concerns expressed by the Irish Government, from which the request for a new protocol derives. I am therefore fully in agreement with the thrust of the report.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In view of the negative result of the referendum held on 12 June 2008, Ireland was not in a position to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. The European Council of June 2009 highlighted the importance of adopting the Treaty, since it provides a better framework for EU action in a large number of areas, so that the necessary decisions can be taken to tackle swiftly and effectively the wide range of challenges imposed by the deepest global recession since the Second World War. Given the unanimity requirement for the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, agreement was reached on legal guarantees responding to the concerns of the Irish people, thus paving the way for the Irish to be consulted once again. Reflected in a legally binding decision (Annex 1), they guarantee that certain concerns of the Irish people, relating, for example, to taxation policy, the right to life, family and education, and military neutrality, will not be affected by the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. It was agreed that, at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty, which took place in December 2011, the provisions of the decision would be set out in a protocol to be attached to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I therefore support this draft protocol, which reflects the political agreement reached in 2009.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report in view of the agreement of the Heads of State or Government at the European Council of June 2009 responding to the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. The report also approves of the European Council’s decision.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report by Mr Rangel deals with the draft protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon (Article 48(3) of the Treaty on European Union). In order to restore confidence and respond to the concerns of the Irish people in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence, the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States made a decision at the European Council on 19 June 2009 to provide the necessary legal guarantees to safeguard these areas of concern.

On 20 July 2011, the Irish Government sent a letter to the Council on a proposal for the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Bearing in mind the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, and having regard to the need to respect the previous political understandings between countries and the European Council decision in favour of examining the proposed amendments, even though the draft protocol refers only to the situation of Ireland, I am voting for this proposal.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The adoption of this report comes in the wake of the shameful blackmailing and manipulation of the Irish people in order to impose the Treaty of Lisbon by anti-democratic means. The approval of what has been termed an ‘additional protocol responding to the concerns of the Irish people’ is nothing more than an attempt to legitimise something that, according to the most basic democratic principles, cannot be legitimised. The Irish were the only people not to be prevented from expressing their views in a referendum, due to a constitutional requirement. Their rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon was undeniably an obstacle to the attempt – involving unacceptable chicanery and flagrant trickery – to impose a draft treaty that had previously been rejected, thereby disrespecting and seeking to bypass the will of the peoples of France and the Netherlands. No amount of manoeuvring can legitimise a treaty that results from an anti-democratic process and that, as circumstances have shown, has created the conditions for stepping up the attack on national sovereignties and reversing the rights and victories of the common people. This and previous Treaties need to be rescinded in order to safeguard democracy and uphold the effective participation of citizens. It is essential to defend national sovereignty and the role of national institutions so as to promote effective democracy instead of devaluing it.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In 2008, the Irish Government decided to hold a referendum on ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon. Given the negative result of the referendum held in June 2008, however, Ireland was unable to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. Given the requirement of unanimity for the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Irish Government was expected to find a solution to the situation that was brought about by the decision to hold a referendum and its subsequent rejection. At a session of the European Council on 19 June 2009, Heads of State or Government agreed to take a decision in order to provide the Irish people with the necessary legal guarantees and thus to respond to their concerns in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. They agreed that they would, at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, set out the provisions of the decision in a protocol to be attached to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as clarifications of the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon with respect to the Irish concerns. Although the content of the draft protocol refers only to the situation of Ireland, I believe it would be appropriate to review the proposed draft amendments to the Treaties. It is equally important to respect the previous political understandings between the governments.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report on the draft protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon as it supports the European Council’s decision to examine the proposed amendments to the Treaties and provides for the addition of a protocol to the Treaties advocating the ratification of the accession treaty of Croatia to the European Union.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) During ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Irish people had expressed a number of concerns about how some of their own specific circumstances were being called into question. In order to reassure them, it was agreed that a protocol offering assurances to the Irish people on matters such as the right to life, taxation, and safety and defence would be added to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. On the strength of this undertaking, I supported the adoption of this report, which paves the way for adding the protocol to the Treaties, while welcoming the decision of the European Council to examine the amendments to the Treaties.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which points out that Article 1 of the draft protocol – when stipulating that nothing in the Treaty of Lisbon affects the scope and applicability of the protection of the right of life, the protection of the family and the protection of the rights in respect of education provided by the constitution of Ireland – refers to matters which do not constitute areas of Union competence under Articles 4 and 5 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 2 to 6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, or for which the Union has only a complementary role (Article 6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing.(IT) During the European Council meeting of 19 June 2009, the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States decided to provide the necessary legal guarantees in response to the concerns of the Irish people on certain specific issues, such as the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence, and agreed on the possibility of concluding a future ad hoc protocol to be annexed to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

We therefore welcome the preparation of the text of this protocol, in the belief that it is necessary to comply with previous political intergovernmental agreements and that the contents of the draft protocol refer exclusively to the situation in Ireland.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – In June 2009, the European Council adopted a decision on the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon, which included guarantees and assurances on the questions of the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. These guarantees were intended to be for clarification and explanatory purposes, and did not change the substance of the Treaties. The objective of the Irish Protocol is that it would be ratified alongside the Croatian accession treaty, though it is a separate legal instrument. In substance, the protocol would simply restate, without modification, the language of the June 2009 guarantees. I welcome the clarification of these guarantees and voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In view of the result of the Irish referendum in 2009, the European Council deemed it necessary to draft three annexes to the Treaty of Lisbon. Thus, on 19 June 2009, the European Council considered the concerns of the Irish people, including those relating to taxation policy, the right to life, family and education, and the traditional policy of military neutrality. In this context, and in order to restore the Irish people’s confidence in the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council adopted three annexes to the Treaty, Annex 1 consisting of a legally binding decision of the Heads of State or Government that would take effect on the date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Since the provisions proposed in the draft protocol have already been amply debated, resulting in political agreement at the European Council in 2009, I see no need to convene a convention for the addition of this protocol to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I therefore agree with the approval of the European Council’s recommendation not to convene a convention.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The report expresses a positive opinion with regard to a European Council decision in favour of examining the proposed amendments to the Treaties. I abstained from voting on that issue since I believe that more analysis is needed.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States have agreed that the concerns of the Irish people expressed in the context of the amendment of the Treaty of Lisbon will be taken into account through the addition of a protocol to the Treaty. These concerns are in relation to the right to life, family and education, taxation, and security and defence. I see no objections to this, which is why I am in favour of the addition of the protocol. However, certain wording has been quite skilfully incorporated into the report – wording which, in my opinion, is not correct, and which I do not want. For example, it states that nothing in the Treaty of Lisbon makes any change as regards tax matters, but then says that further progress towards enhanced economic coordination in the Union is not ruled out. That, however, is contrary to the Treaty and represents clear interference with the budgetary authority of the Member States, which is something I reject. I was therefore unable to vote in favour of the report, although I am happy to allow the Irish their derogations.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 19 June 2009, the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States, meeting within the European Council, adopted a decision on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to the right to family life, education, taxation, and security and defence.

The inclusion of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon requires a revision of the Treaties. However, the Heads of State or Government also declared that that would only take place at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty. In accordance with that decision, on 20 July 2011, the Irish Government sent the Council a draft revision of the Treaties in respect of the addition of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon. It may be concluded from the content of that protocol that none of the concerns expressed in the protocol conflicts with the text of the Treaty of Lisbon and that they refer solely to Ireland.

For these reasons, I voted for the European Council’s decision in favour of examining this proposed amendment to the Treaties.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am extremely pleased to see this report on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon adopted by a large majority. The Irish Protocol is a document containing the concerns voiced by Ireland on issues regarding the right to life, family and education, taxation, and also security and defence policy.

This protocol, however, is simply a clarification of the Treaty of Lisbon and refers only to the situation of Ireland. It was previously negotiated at the European Council of 19 June 2009 so as to provide the necessary legal guarantees to respond to the Irish people’s concerns following the ‘No’ in the 2008 referendum. Consequently, I believe that Parliament should agree with a European Council decision in favour of examining the proposed amendments to the Treaties.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. In 2008, the Irish Government decided to hold a referendum on ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon. Because of the negative result of the referendum of 12 June 2008, Ireland was not in a position to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. The European Council, at its meeting on 11 to 12 December 2008, upon the request of the Irish Government, agreed that a decision would be taken to the effect that the Commission will continue to include one national of each Member State after 2014. The EP agrees with a European Council decision in favour of examining the proposed amendments to the Treaties.

 
  
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  József Szájer (PPE), in writing. (HU) I voted in favour of the approval of the protocol on the concerns of the Irish people because it serves as an explanation to the Treaty of Lisbon in view of these concerns. The document explains that the Treaty of Lisbon does not concern the effect and applicability of the protection of the right to life, family and education, as provided for in the Irish constitution, in any way, because, according to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, these areas do not fall within EU competence. It is welcome that in adopting this protocol, the European Parliament finally made a clear statement that within the EU, the regulation of abortion belongs to the Member States’ national competence.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since the negative outcome of the Treaty of Lisbon ratification process in Ireland meant that the requirement of unanimity for the entry into force of the new Treaty was not met, it was decided to add a protocol to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I am voting for this report since I believe the content of the protocol does not affect the areas of Union competence or the values of solidarity that the Member States agree to adopt.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – After signing the accession treaty with Croatia, the European Parliament asks for the political commitments adopted by the European Council to be respected, including the guarantees given to Ireland through the addition of a protocol to the Treaties, while pointing out that this protocol only concerns this country. I voted in favour of this report because its purpose is to revise the Treaties with respect to the inclusion of a protocol on the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) It is clear that the Irish people’s rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon was an obstacle to the attempt to impose a draft treaty that had previously been rejected, thereby disrespecting and seeking to bypass the will of the peoples of France and the Netherlands, who had rejected this Treaty in referendums. Adopting this report now is going to endorse the anti-democratic imposition of the Treaty of Lisbon. The so-called ‘added protocol to respond to the concerns of the Irish people’ seeks to legitimise a procedure packed with anti-democratic tricks. In stark contrast to this whole procedure, we defend the inalienable principle of national sovereignty and the role of national institutions in promoting true democracy.

 
  
  

Report: Paulo Rangel (A7-0064/2012, A7-0065/2012)

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) After France and the Netherlands rejected the EU constitution by referendum in 2005, the Irish rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon by referendum in 2008 was another major setback for the European Union. Rather than respect the people’s decision, once again, our leaders decided to force it through with no concern for democratic legitimacy, this time conceding to the Irish people a few meagre legal guarantees regarding the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon which, in their eyes, were inadequate. As far as I am concerned, the failure to respect the European people’s vote is something that only goes to increase the EU’s democratic deficit and has only widened the gap between citizens and Brussels. This amounts to ignoring their vote and a pick-and-mix Union acquis, as some countries have been made exempt, through a protocol, from complying with certain provisions. So yes, we are voting to add this protocol to the existing Treaties negotiated in 2009 but no, we are definitely not fooled into thinking that this will alter the Irish people’s perception of the EU.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Irish Government’s ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon was a delicate matter, involving a referendum in June 2008, in which the Treaty was shot down, followed by another referendum, which approved a constitutional change that finally enabled ratification to take place. Moreover, at the European Council on 19 June 2009, the Heads of State or Government agreed to provide Ireland with the necessary legal guarantees to safeguard the right to life, family and education, as well as taxation, security and defence. This agreement with Ireland thus means concluding a protocol stipulating that nothing in the Treaty of Lisbon affects the scope and applicability of the protection of the right to life, the protection of the family and the protection of the rights in respect of education provided by the constitution of Ireland, as well as provisions in relation to taxation and the independence of the security and defence policy of the Irish State.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) I welcome the European Parliament’s decision to ratify the protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon. The protocol is a legal instrument covering issues such as the right to life, the family and education, along with taxation, security and defence matters. This decision is the wish of the people of Ireland. It is clearly stated in the protocol that the Treaty of Lisbon has no impact on what is laid down in the Irish constitution in relation to the family and the right to life. The protocol recognises the Member States’ competence in terms of taxation. It is particularly important due to the ongoing issue of corporation tax. On top of that, Irish military neutrality is protected in the protocol. All Member States will ratify the protocol when Croatia accedes to the European Union on 1 July 2013.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing.(FR) Of the two reports written by Mr Rangel, I voted against the one calling for no European convention to be convened to discuss the protocol on the concerns of the Irish people regarding the Treaty of Lisbon, but not against his report on the approval of the protocol itself.

The reason for this is that we would then have to have a convention to discuss the legitimate concerns of all citizens faced with European integration as it currently stands. We would then have to discuss the ultra-liberal and anti-social merits of the European policies set in stone in this Treaty. We would then have to discuss the role of the European Central Bank and the state of the euro. We would then have to obtain justice for the French and Dutch ‘No’ campaigns, whose concerns leaders did not see fit to consider, imposing on them a copy of the European constitution. Ireland has successfully safeguarded its family law, its tax system and its military neutrality.

We would have liked Nicolas Sarkozy to have taken this opportunity to begin to implement reforms of those things he criticises in Europe. He did not. This is clear proof that his campaign promises are, as they were in 2007, essentially demagogic.

 
  
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  Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the Rangel reports on the protocol on Ireland, not only because this protocol confines itself to incorporating into EU constitutional law the political commitment that the other Member States made to the Irish Government prior to the referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, but also because the report states explicitly that the protocol has no effect other than on Ireland’s rights and obligations within the Union context. I would stress, therefore, that although the protocol may mean a one-off derogation from the Treaties for Ireland, it does not imply any kind of restrictive interpretation of the Treaties, particularly where security and defence policy is concerned, as is made clear in the reasoning included in the draft protocol. Therefore, no other Member State can make use of the special treatment that the protocol grants to Ireland as if it were a straightforward interpretation of the Treaties. Since its effects are restricted to Ireland, the protocol leaves the interpretation and implementation of the Treaties completely open with regard to the other Member States.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I abstained on the two reports on the insertion of the so called Irish ‘guarantees’ into the EU Treaties. I could not vote in favour as these ‘guarantees’ were nothing more than a cynical attempt to deceive the Irish people. These ‘guarantees’ were put together in an attempt to give some political cover to the Irish and EU establishment, to undemocratically cast aside the will of the Irish people and re-arrange a second referendum to force the Treaty through. These ‘guarantees’ were also used to give the impression that the concerns of the Irish people were listened to and the Treaty’s content was changed in some way. This was a lie. The content of the Lisbon Treaty is completely unchanged. The Treaty remained a treaty that undermines workers’ rights, supports privatisation, erodes democracy and further militarises the EU. The political establishment also lied in saying that Lisbon ratification will create jobs and economic recovery. Since the referendum, we have seen the continued haemorrhaging of jobs, with 80 000 jobs being lost and continued destruction of the economy and people’s lives due to the implementation of neoliberal austerity policies which the Lisbon Treaty supports.

 
  
  

Report: Nuno Teixeira (A7-0084/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) Due to their specific characteristics (remoteness, insularity and so on), European rules and programmes cannot be applied to the so-called ‘outermost’ regions (ORs) in the same way as they are for the rest of Europe. They therefore enjoy a special status allowing them to adopt a ‘territorial’ approach.

This own-initiative report aims to analyse the role of the future cohesion policy in the ORs within the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy. By voting for this report, I reiterate my support for the ORs and strongly condemn the European Commission’s proposal to reduce the specific additional allocation awarded to the ORs by 40%.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal, since I consider it essential and a priority to take into account the uniqueness of the outermost regions when drafting future cohesion policy, since these regions are subject to permanent constraints derived essentially from being isolated and distant, which justifies European Union measures.

We should remember that Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union enshrines the specific situation of these regions and the need to adapt European policy to their specificities; if not, they will be distanced even further from EU economic and social cohesion. The Europe 2020 strategy is an opportunity to pay attention to the outermost regions in terms of priority areas and to make use of the advantages they have to offer.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The report on the role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy highlights the need for these regions to be approached differently within the EU cohesion policy, and supports the implementation of European policies being adapted in priority sectors which can contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It is of paramount importance that these regions are supported in keeping with their specific needs so that they can help meet the Europe 2020 strategy objectives. Indeed, this can only happen by making the cohesion policy instruments more flexible. I believe that the potential of these regions must be leveraged so that they truly become an asset to Europe. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing.(IT) The principal aim of cohesion policy and of the policy on the internal market is to organise policy initiatives directed towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, encouraging an economy with a high rate of employment that favours social and territorial cohesion.

Nevertheless, the initial conditions in which the outermost regions (ORs) find themselves present an obstacle to, and a brake on, achieving the objectives that have been set, in particular, in the Europe 2020 strategy. As the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides, the ORs have a right to be treated differently, which enables them to benefit from the maximum level of aid, irrespective of their level of development.

In this sense, I welcome the Commission’s plan to include a budget line for ‘Outermost regions and regions with a very low population density’ in the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. I fully agree with the advisability of outermost regions pursuing the main objectives defined in the Europe 2020 strategy. However, I consider that we must emphasise the need to modulate the objectives in accordance with each outermost region’s own situation, taking into account their regional diversity, their structural conditions and their potential benefits.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) The outermost regions of the European Union (the Canary Islands, the Azores, Madeira, Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion and Saint Martin) benefit from a special allocation under cohesion policy because of their specific situation. Yet, the European Commission is currently establishing a new plan for these regions and plans to cut the funds allocated to them. We have therefore pointed out that it is essential to compensate for the structural handicaps of the outermost regions as we do for those of other regions in Europe. Thanks to my experience with cohesion policy funds, I can confirm that the subsidies in favour of the economic diversification of these regions are necessary and that it is just as important to support the European citizens living in these regions.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report aimed at examining how the EU 2020 objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved in the European Union’s outermost regions (ORs). The ORs of the European Union comprise a set of regions which, due to the specific characteristics associated with their physical and structural conditions and resulting from their remoteness, insular locations, difficult topography and climate, constitute a specific group of regions recognised by the Treaty of Lisbon. The EU’s ORs currently consist of Madeira, the Azores, the Canary Islands, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, French Guiana and Saint Martin. These regions possess a special status enshrined in the Treaty, which permits a derogation from the rules of the Treaty and the adjustment of these rules to the ORs, by virtue of their particular characteristics and conditions. I welcomed the proposals set out in the report to take due account of these regions’ uniqueness, with special emphasis on cohesion policy as the main instrument for action on their small economies, to adjust the application of EU policies in the ORs, which would better achieve the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion in these regions and would contribute towards the accomplishment of the EU 2020 objectives, and to facilitate better integration of these regions into the European Union.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I think that the future cohesion policy must take into account the special status of the outermost regions in order to attain the EU 2020 strategy objectives. To achieve smart, inclusive growth, we need to bear in mind these regions’ small area, difficult climate and relief, as well as their economic dependence on a small number of products. I should highlight the importance of respecting fundamental principles when it comes to the actions the EU carries out in relation to the outermost regions. A balance needs to be maintained between the internal and external aspects of the EU’s policies, as well as between adapting their implementation and adopting new, specific instruments. I should mention the important role played by the cohesion policy in the proposal on a new European strategy for the outermost regions, as well as the need to make cohesion policy instruments more flexible with a view to securing significant investment.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The outermost regions (ORs) of the EU suffer from serious economic disadvantages, due to their small size, remoteness and difficult topography and climate. They possess a special status enshrined in the Treaty. As these regions’ constraints and difficulties are permanent and distinguish them from other European regions, the EU rules and programmes cannot be applied in the same way as in the rest of the EU territory. Their implementation has to be guided by a territorial approach. The Teixeira own-initiative report, which I supported, underlines the need to examine, in relation to the future cohesion policy of the outermost regions, how the EU 2020 objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved in these European regions, which possess permanent characteristics and constraints arising mainly from their remoteness from the heart of Europe. However, this differentiation does not merely mean paying special attention to compensation, but also, and above all, including them in an appropriate strategy that provides a development model capable of taking advantage of their strengths, in the interest of greater competitiveness, increased growth and job creation.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) I voted against. The outermost regions recognised by the Treaty are overseas territories of three Member States: France, Spain and Portugal. This is not, therefore, an area which directly concerns the whole Union. So I do not think it has become necessary to accord these regions a privileged status in relation to the many other regions of continental Europe which have a much lower economic status.

One does not have to be an expert in economics to see a difference in the economic potential of the Canary Islands and the Polish region of Mazowsze. In relation to this, the proposal to strengthen agricultural support measures, which will lead to a rise in expenditure under the first pillar, is, to say the least, highly inappropriate. I do not agree with the proposal to open a special budget line for these regions in the next programming period.

I am definitely against using the provisions of the Treaties on outermost regions because I support equal and solidarity-based treatment of all regions with lower GDP and think we should ensure they benefit from fairer implementation of cohesion policy.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I wanted to support Mr Teixeira’s report because I am convinced that cohesion policy in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, focused on the outermost regions (ORs) of the European Union, can only be effective if structured into tailor-made programmes taking into account the specific characteristics of such areas and territories.

The ORs differ from other regions of Europe due to constraints in terms of their environment, logistics, social characteristics or permanent problems. At the same time, these can be turned into strengths due to their reduced economies of scale. In particular, I believe that the historic relations that ORs have developed and consolidated with non-EU countries over the years should not be underestimated, as these can act as a source of ideas and good practice for the development of new opportunities in the future.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because cohesion policy should be aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy and the outermost regions (ORs) are prepared to cooperate in the implementation of the five goals with regard to employment, innovation, education, social inclusion, climate and energy to be achieved by 2020. The ORs rightly have a special status enshrined in the Treaty because there are specific difficulties in these regions associated with their physical and structural circumstances, mostly resulting from their remoteness, insular locations, difficult topography and climate. The starting conditions in the ORs to achieve the cohesion policy objectives are more severe than in some regions and the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy need to be directed towards exploiting their potential and the growth of sectors of excellence. Cohesion policy must remain one of the main instruments of European Union action to reduce disparities in all European regions, particularly ORs, in terms of the internal market and with a view to achieving the EU 2020 goals, because European funds are key instruments for achieving these objectives. They are not just assistance but compensation for the disadvantages of the region. However, we should not forget that this European policy cannot, by itself, resolve all of the difficulties facing the ORs.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report as, sensu largo, I oppose affording legislative intrusion on the EU’s outermost colonies. Whilst it is important many smaller colonies of the 27 Member States are protected and helped to develop, it is the symbiotic responsibility of political agreement between the nation state and the colony on how legislative power is devolved and which policies would best suit the colony concerned.

 
  
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  Ole Christensen, Dan Jørgensen, Christel Schaldemose and Britta Thomsen (S&D), in writing. (DA) We, the Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament, have voted in favour of the Teixeira report on the role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of EU 2020.

The report contains an array of good initiatives with a view to achieving intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU’s outermost regions, as described in the Europe 2020 strategy. However, we do not support paragraph 10, which concerns the need, among other things, to adjust European taxation policies with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of the outermost regions’ economies. The wording of this paragraph is vague and could be interpreted as meaning that the EU can enact legislation concerning countries’ taxation policies. However, the Treaty sets clear limits for the EU’s competence in the area of taxation, and we believe these limits should be respected.

The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament does not support paragraph 14, either. This paragraph proposes that the special arrangements for the outermost regions in connection with the common agricultural policy (CAP) be retained. We believe that improving conditions for the EU’s outermost regions is not the purpose of the CAP as established by the Treaty. In practice, this means that agricultural policy funds are being used for general regional development, including the promotion of general employment, which is not the primary purpose of the CAP.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The specific legal status of the outermost regions enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union clearly states that they must be treated in a differentiated way, in order to take into account their geography and their unique structures. The consequences of the economic, social and financial crisis have affected all EU regions, but have hit the outermost regions particularly hard, thereby accentuating even further the structural shortcomings of their economies and their dependence on the outside.

European investment in these regions does not only involve a policy of recovering from backwardness and of compensation: it also seeks to create the added value necessary to address the sustainable development and competitiveness challenges facing this region in particular, and Europe in general. I am therefore voting for Mr Teixeira’s excellent report, which is intended to contribute actively to finding a more balanced European response to the challenges facing the outermost regions in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy. To this end, there is a need to pay particular attention to setting out and implementing cohesion policy, as well as to establishing a renewed EU strategy for the outermost regions.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) The report deserves to be supported, especially because it underlines the fact that cohesion policy – by its very nature – has to take into account the specific characteristics of regions and of outermost regions, but, more generally, that it has to take into account all specific features. The very existence of funding for the ‘cohesion’ of regions with different levels of development in fact presupposes the need to operate in situations that are structurally diverse, in terms of their geographic features or socio-economic gap. To deny this basic fact would be to deny the very aims of cohesion policy, and the report also needs to represent a reminder when the regulations for the future 2014-2020 cohesion policy are being defined. Alongside the need to focus efforts on objectives that are considered to be fundamental, it is important to remember that, in order to achieve these very objectives, the different starting conditions of the areas in which the instruments are actually operating have to be borne in mind. If this is not done, efforts could be not only in vain, but even counter-productive. In addition, the report is also an opportunity to reiterate that future funding must absolutely not be less than at present. We can only get through the crisis by revitalising investment and, even more so in disadvantaged areas, the EU institutions have a duty to prepare the ground in order to make this possible.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) The European Union must take into account the importance of the fishing sector to the inhabitants of the outermost regions, both in terms of regional development and employment for local populations. Fishing is the main gainful economic activity for all the inhabitants in these regions, which is why the potential of these regions should be reflected in concrete measures promoting a genuine marine economy. On the other hand, the potential of the tourist sector must not be overlooked, which can supplement the incomes of the region and ordinary citizens who can promote specific traditions, including local cuisine.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) The outermost regions form a distinct group in a particular situation within the European Union, and require increased attention not only due to their remote location, but also because their integration into their own geographical surroundings must represent a common interest for the entire European Community.

I note with regret that in its proposal for the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020, the Commission envisages cuts that also concern supplementary funding to the outermost regions.

At the same time, I believe that the flexibility of cohesion policy instruments must be improved so as to allow the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy to be fulfilled even under special geographical and population circumstances, and that it should be a cohesion policy goal to establish a sustainable economy that aims at inclusive growth and is characterised by regional cohesion.

Cohesion policy must continue to serve as one of the primary means of European action, and must therefore also play a key role in reducing inequalities among European regions, and specifically the outermost regions.

I am pleased to note that the Commission intends to allocate a separate line in the budget to ‘Outermost regions and regions with a very low population density’ under the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020, as this will clarify the connection between the support foreseen for these regions and the objectives of such support.

It is important to stress that there is a need for regional cooperation in respect of the outermost regions, and for the continuation of relevant projects of common interest, as well as for better utilisation of available support in this regard.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the motion for a European Parliament resolution on the role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of EU 2020 because I believe that reducing any form of existing disparities in the regions of Europe should be a top priority of the EU. This report, by addressing the issue of the outermost regions (OR) of the Union, represents one of the many important steps forward that we must progressively undertake in order to achieve both the goals of Europe 2020 and a territorially and socially cohesive Europe. In particular, I positively welcome the integration of the suggestions presented by the ITRE opinion concerning the need to overcome the structural and infrastructural gap which is detrimental to the economic growth of these areas. It is fundamental that stress is put on the development of small and medium enterprises, on the need to connect the achievement of 2020 goals with research and innovation programmes and, in particular, by showing the importance of a flexible approach.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report ‘on the role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of EU 2020’ because I believe there is a need to take the uniqueness of the outermost regions duly into account when drafting future cohesion policy, so that these regions might be able to respond to the challenges they face and achieve the Europe 2020 strategy objectives.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats in the European Parliament support the report on the role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of Europe 2020 and the important issues for consideration that it discusses. However, we do not support the passages concerning an increase in agricultural aid through POSEI for EU producers in the outermost regions of the European Union. We believe that the EU’s agricultural aid should be phased out.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The outermost regions suffer from geographic isolation and have to work extra hard to keep up with development on the mainland. The Europe 2020 strategy is, therefore, an opportunity to shorten distances and work on differentiated polices suited to the outermost regions’ characteristics, particularly as regards cohesion policy. Finally, I should like to congratulate my colleague, Mr Teixeira, who has worked so hard and fruitfully on this brief relating to the outermost regions.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that ‘the Council, on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, shall adopt specific measures aimed, in particular, at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties to those regions, including common policies’. This constitutes provision for the special status of what are known as the outermost regions, whose geography – isolation, difficult terrain and climate, and insularity – means they comprise a specific group. This report analyses what the role of European Union cohesion policy should be in the outermost regions, in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy; that is, how these regions will be able to meet the established objectives of ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. I voted for this report, since I agree with the priorities mentioned by the rapporteur: positive discrimination towards these regions and development strategies geared towards increased competitiveness, more growth and higher employment; particular attention for specific areas like fishing, agriculture, renewable energies, information technologies, tourism, etc.; and emphasis on these regions in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy, fostering their relationships with third countries through more effective governance and increased integration with the EU.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) If we are talking about the future cohesion policy of the outermost regions, it is necessary and desirable to analyse how the EU 2020 objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved in these European regions, which possess characteristics and permanent constraints arising mainly from their remoteness. These special characteristics justify the adoption of specific measures by the European Union. The Cayenne Principles of 1999 are the foundations of the EU measures benefiting the outermost regions and, according to these principles – the principle of equal opportunities, the principle of value in potential, the cohesion principle and the partnership principle – the European approach must ensure the conversion of the potentials of the outermost regions into real economic growth factors. I support the differentiated and holistic treatment for the outermost regions by the EU. This differentiation does not merely mean paying special attention to compensation for the effects of their remoteness, but also including an appropriate strategy providing a development model capable of taking advantage of their strengths in the interest of greater competitiveness, increased growth and job creation. Last but not least, I consider it important to adjust the application of European policies in these regions, since it is only through the specific framework of EU policies that these regions will be able to better achieve the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion and contribute towards the accomplishment of the EU 2020 objectives.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing. (HU) I voted for this report because I find it crucial that we treat the EU’s outermost regions with the same priority as the core Member States. EU policy, especially when it comes to cohesion policy, can only be successful if it is applied consequently and without discrimination, continuously supporting the small and the needy, and follows the principle of solidarity. Just as the new Member States needed help at the time of their accession, and many of their regions require the support of the common funds to this day, so must we promote the various opportunities for the development of the outermost regions, whether it is about any part of the Europe 2020 strategy or more complete Community coherence in respect of this programme. It is an important step forward that a separate line is planned to be allocated to these outermost regions in the new budgetary cycle, and it is also appropriate to always bear in mind that they play a particularly important role in the protection of the EU’s borders, in the maintenance of economic and cultural relations with third countries, and in the geographical continuity of the implementation of the single market.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union is one of the richest regions in the world, but there are considerable differences in levels of prosperity between and within the various Member States.

The enlargement that took place in 2004 further reinforced this phenomenon. It is no coincidence that almost all the funding from the Cohesion Fund goes to the 12 most recent EU Member States.

In addition to these countries, the European Union also has eight outermost regions (ORs), regions that are geographically remote from the European Union but an integral part of the Member States to which they belong. Very often, however, the starting conditions in these regions are well behind those of other European regions. This makes it difficult for them to achieve the objectives of EU programmes.

Therefore, the application of European policies needs to include an adjustment for the specific conditions of the outermost regions of the EU, since it is only through a programme that takes their specific characteristics into account that these regions will be able to achieve the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion and contribute towards the accomplishment of the EU 2020 objectives.

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D), in writing. (FR) While the debates on the future of the post-2014 cohesion policy have just begun in the European Parliament, which has been granted power of codecision on this matter under the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament wanted to point out the specific nature of the outermost regions (ORs) – including the French overseas departments and territories – and the need to grant them adequate resources for their economic and social development. On account of their remoteness, their insularity and their extreme climatic conditions, these territories do actually need differential treatment, both for the viability of local agricultural and industrial production and for the successful implementation of the various EU programmes and remits. As such, the Commission’s proposal to halve the budget allocated to offset the additional costs on these territories is highly regrettable. What is more, I had proposed amendments on this subject in the opinion that the Committee on Budgets issued on the Teixeira report, and I had pointed out the need to include the accession of Mayotte to OR status in the 2014-2020 financial forecasts for these regions. In 2014, Mayotte will actually become the fifth outermost French territory recognised by the European Union.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Given their situation, their characteristics, their geographical distance, the structural weaknesses of their economies and their dependence on the outside world, etc., the outermost regions (ORs) of the European Union should be granted special treatment under the European Union’s cohesion policy, so that their unique features are adequately considered and protected. At a time when we are negotiating the new EU budget programming with the EU institutions, our Parliament has strongly objected to the Commission’s proposal to reduce the specific allocation for ORs by nearly half, pointing out that these regions should receive special treatment. In this resolution, which I supported, we also insist that the specific characteristics of the ORs are taken into account in all European Union policies: fisheries and maritime policy, transport, the environment, etc.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing.(FR) The European Parliament has adopted by a large majority the report on the role of the cohesion policy in the outermost regions (ORs) in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy and I welcome that. On account of their physical and structural characteristics, and because of their geographic remoteness and isolation, the ORs enjoy a special status and, therefore more than deserve differential treatment, as evidenced by the report. Like other regions in the European Union, the ORs should be aiming to achieve the Europe 2020 strategy goals. Their development and growth are dependent on these. However, given their characteristics and their specific constraints, European policies must be applied appropriately to the ORs, on both internal and external matters. The European Commission should take these regions into account when negotiating trade deals with third countries as they may have a strong impact on their economic development. The ORs have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the European Union to find the right balance in the implementation of its policies, in its approach to governance, and in promoting their integration into the geographical regions to which they belong.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Cohesion policy is one of the main instruments of European action to reduce disparities in the European regions in general, and in the outermost regions (ORs) in particular, with a view to enabling them to integrate into the internal market and assert themselves in their respective geographical areas, promoting the economic development and convergence of these regions with the EU mainland and pursuing the EU 2020 targets. European funds are key instruments, but I believe that this European policy cannot, by itself, resolve all of the difficulties facing the ORs. I therefore abstained from voting on the European Parliament resolution on the role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of EU 2020.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I have given my support to the own-initiative report that addresses the definition and implementation of European policies in the outermost regions for 2014-2020, taking into account the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy. In particular, this report rejects the European Commission’s proposed reduction of the specific additional allocation for the outermost regions.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) In the context of EU 2020, cohesion policy must increasingly take into account the specific needs of the outermost regions of the European Union (ORs). The ORs need special attention, which varies from case to case, and is based on assessments of their individual requirements and problems which are useful for implementing the best and most appropriate political strategies for growth and development in these territories. In this regard, both the reform of the new common agricultural policy and the ongoing definition of the new multiannual financial framework have a crucial role to play. A two-speed Europe, or a Europe that looks at ORs holistically, without specific economic policies to encourage their growth, is unthinkable. Therefore, I believe that in order to have a truly effective EU 2020 strategy, the objectives that have been set need to be achieved by Europe as a whole.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) We are voting in favour of this report in view of the vulnerable situation that many of these regions find themselves in and because the report clearly advocates a reform of fisheries policy. Despite the presence of certain negative elements, such as criticism of the reduction in the cohesion policy budget, these are outweighed by the positive aspects.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) In addition to the regions in the new Member States, the outermost regions typically have a very low level of competitiveness, which means a special effort needs to be made to tackle this as part of the cohesion policy. Based on the Europe 2020 strategy, the main priorities for these regions must continue to be improving accessibility, boosting economic competitiveness and regional integration. As the main instrument for achieving the 2020 strategy objectives, cohesion policy must remain one of the main resources for European action aimed at narrowing the disparities between Europe’s regions and, by extension, between the outermost regions, thereby promoting the development and economic convergence of these regions with mainland Europe. I also think that cohesion policy must take into account all the existing specific regional attributes and allow these regions the right to be treated differently.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution because I consider that the cohesion policy must remain one of the main instruments of European action to reduce disparities in the European regions in general, and in the outermost regions in particular, with a view to enabling them to integrate into the internal market and assert themselves in their respective geographical areas in order to promote their economic development. I believe that the various proposals outlined in the resolution are adapted to the specific reality of these regions and contribute to the finding of a more balanced response, in terms of European action, to the challenges faced by the outermost regions of the European Union within the scope of the EU 2020 strategy objectives. Finally, given that Romania also has a significant number of regions that could benefit from a decrease in economic or social disparities, I am a strong supporter of EU cohesion policy in general.

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy because these regions have specific features and needs that differ from all the other regions in the EU, which must be handled and resolved as such. It is of paramount importance for the regional and local authorities in these areas to be actively involved in devising and implementing European programmes and policies as part of multilevel governance, in partnership with the private sector. This will give us the assurance that the actual problems which these regions are facing will be taken into account at every level in the decision-making process, while also giving them a higher profile at European level. As far as the forthcoming programming period is concerned, I think that the proposal to cut the amounts allocated to the outermost regions is unjustified, especially as the financial input for implementing the EU 2020 strategy requires access to at least the same amount of European aid as in the current financial framework.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I supported this report. The outermost regions of the European Union comprise a set of regions which, due to the specific characteristics associated with their physical and structural conditions, and as a result of their remoteness, insular locations, difficult topography and climate, constitute a specific group of regions recognised by Article 349 of the TFEU. These regions possess a special status enshrined in the Treaty, which permits a derogation from the rules of the Treaty and the adjustment of these rules to the outermost regions, by virtue of their particular characteristics and conditions. As the constraints and difficulties facing these regions are permanent and distinguish them from other European regions, the EU rules and programmes cannot be applied in the same way as in the rest of the EU’s territory. Their implementation has to be guided by a territorial approach. It is therefore necessary and desirable to examine, in relation to the future cohesion policy of the outermost regions, how the EU 2020 objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved in these European regions, which possess permanent characteristics and constraints – arising mainly from their remoteness – which justify the adoption of specific measures by the European Union.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report drafted by Mr Teixeira because I think that we need to focus our attention on promoting balanced, sustainable development in all European regions, in keeping with the objectives of economic and social cohesion. We all want a harmonised European Union, without any economic imbalances or differences in standard of living; in other words, a European Union where all citizens are equal. In this respect, I regard as timely the increase in the level of accessibility of the outermost regions through infrastructure improvements. Access to ICT in the EU’s less well developed regions is also just as important. Furthermore, the considerable contribution made by the Structural Funds in the process of integrating at regional level regions with weak development potential has proven to be beneficial, and I support a more effective use of these instruments. Particular attention must be focused on boosting economic competitiveness in the regions by creating an environment conducive to the development of the entrepreneurial spirit and businesses. In order to achieve these objectives, an ambitious, active partnership is required between the European Union, Member States, civil society and the regional authorities, in keeping with the principle of multilevel governance.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The outermost regions of the European Union comprise a set of regions which, owing to the specific characteristics associated with the physical and structural conditions resulting from their remoteness, insular locations, and difficult terrain and climate, constitute a specific group of regions recognised by Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It is therefore necessary and desirable to examine, in relation to future cohesion policy for the outermost regions, how the Europe 2020 strategy’s objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved in these European regions, which possess permanent characteristics and constraints, arising mainly from their remoteness, that justify the European Union adopting specific measures.

I am voting for this report because it is important in the development of my country’s outermost regions, specifically, the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I think it is necessary to take into account the specificities of outermost regions in designing the future cohesion policy. These regions are subject to permanent particularities and constraints arising mainly from their remoteness and which justify the adoption of specific measures by the European Union. This relates primarily to Latgale, the eastern Latvian region which Latvian politicians remember only on the eve of elections.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The outermost regions means those regions which, due to their particular social and economic situation, such as remoteness or economic dependence on just a few products, are conferred a kind of special status. Specific measures and privileges have been adopted for these, which represent derogations from provisions of European law that would otherwise apply. Despite these derogations, these regions are valuable parts of the EU’s territory. I voted in favour of the report because the outermost regions of the EU should be given particular support.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) No region in the Europe Union should be left out when the steps are taken to achieve the cohesion objectives. While the report we have voted on today refers to the outermost regions, we must not forget that some regions – located at the very heart of Europe – can be regarded as facing the same challenges due to extreme isolation, altitude, as well as difficult living and economic production conditions. For example, mountainous regions are just as disadvantaged as those located a great distance away from the mainland. This fact must be noted not only by the cohesion policy, but also by the agricultural policy, whose objective must be to guarantee an agricultural sector which develops harmoniously across the whole of Europe.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) The outermost regions have been hit particularly hard by the worsening of economic conditions resulting from the economic, social and financial crisis. This has highlighted the structural weaknesses of their economy and it is now particularly important that European investment in these outermost regions is seen as an investment that will benefit and be advantageous to the European Union as a whole. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on outermost regions (ORs), which has adopted many of my proposals. On my initiative, Parliament calls on the European Commission to fight against the high cost of living in French overseas departments, and draws the attention of the European Commission to the monopolies, abuse of dominant positions and cartel offences which have the unfair consequence of high living costs. Parliament therefore calls for a study on pricing in the ORs. Another of my amendments has led to Parliament denouncing the reluctance shown by the European Commission to take into account the specific characteristics of the ORs when negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), and urges the Commission to continue to seek compromises that respect the interests of the ORs concerned when it comes to EPAs. The almost unanimous adoption by the European Parliament of this own-initiative report on the ORs is good news, but in no way does it remove the threats that exist to reduce the amount of Structural Funds allocated to ORs and to the poorest European regions, and Member States are still calling for the European budget to be revised downwards for 2014-2020.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) The European cohesion policy must be in harmony with the Europe 2020 strategy, and therefore I also supported this report, which is also based on the strategy. In order to make Europe’s peripheral countries more competitive and to transform restrictive conditions into growth potential and opportunities, Europe must make a greater contribution to the development of these regions. I am extremely concerned by proposals to reduce foreseen budgetary allocations for peripheral countries and regions with low population density in the 2014-2020 budgetary period, which conflicts with the objectives specified in the Europe 2020 strategy. In order to ensure that peripheral countries are able to use existing support, cofinancing rates for the outermost regions should be 85% for all support intended for them, and the budget implementation deadline should also be extended, or else some ‘smart official’ will once again report that the peripheral countries have not shown any interest in the support offered, and the funds will become a budget surplus. If the criteria and bureaucratic procedures are too difficult, we must review them, instead of casually abandoning the development of Europe’s peripheral countries; in other words, European unity.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Cohesion policy must be aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy in order to properly and effectively implement this strategy’s objectives. Although, geographically, they are far from the EU Member States, the outermost regions (ORs) are very important economically. EU cohesion policy is aimed at promoting the economic development of these regions and their convergence with the EU mainland. I believe that the EU’s rules and programmes should be applied in the same way throughout the territory of the EU. Clear criteria must be set out so that assistance is allocated to those who really need it. Furthermore, it is very important for assistance to be granted with due regard to the GDP and development level of each region.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – The EU respects two principles: harmony and specificity. European cohesion policy promotes prosperity of all the regions by taking advantage of their strengths. In the context of EU 2020, the outermost regions of the EU need a specific approach to help them to reach the objectives. I voted in favour of this report because the European policy towards the outermost regions needs a strategic approach. On the one hand, the outermost regions have to be managed in a specific way, based on their particularities. On the other hand, these regions cannot be excluded from transverse European policies. In view of success already achieved, specific measures should be developed in different sectors, promoting the growth and cohesion of these regions. A very important measure to ensure their cohesion is the promotion of partnership relations with both neighbouring regions and more remote territories.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report by Mr Teixeira, for which I voted, lists the measures to be considered as priorities in order to adapt the EU 2020 strategy to the outermost regions of the European Union (ORs). These regions possess a special status because of their remoteness and topography, and therefore require special analyses in order to integrate them into EU programmes and manage to achieve the EU 2020 strategy objectives of social inclusion, cohesion (the best instrument for their small economies) and growth. It is necessary to assess how the objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved in these regions. It is only through the specific framework of EU policies that they will contribute towards the accomplishment of the EU 2020 objectives.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The own-initiative report refers to areas which, because of their particular natural and structural characteristics, form a specific group that comes under Article 349 TFEU, and which needs to be differentiated in terms of the EU rules and programmes applied, by following a territorial, rather than a strictly technical, approach. Within this framework, the EU 2020 strategy needs to take account of these peculiarities by focusing on cohesion policy, which is a basic driving force to stimulate small-scale economies. At the same time, European policies need to be adapted to the outermost regions of the European Union so that they can improve the implementation of economic, social and territorial cohesion and help to achieve the EU 2020 strategy objectives. This motion for a resolution, which I supported, moves in this direction, by taking account of the above characteristics.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report – by my Madeiran colleague, Mr Teixeira, whom I would congratulate on his excellent work – is of the utmost importance because it constitutes the first specific pronouncement during this session of the European Parliament on the outermost regions, and because it is designed to influence the communication on the outermost regions that the European Commission should be publishing in May as the commitment to these regions by this College of Commissioners.

I therefore worked hard on the final draft of this report, cooperating closely with the rapporteur and the Azores branch of the Portuguese Social Democratic Party (PSD) on including proposals that meet the specific needs of the Azores; in particular, a future POSEI transport programme and extending the archipelago’s exclusive economic zone. These two issues have been safeguarded, although I fought for a more decisive wording as regards the POSEI transport programme.

However, as regards restricting access to areas identified as biogeographically sensitive so that only local fleets are allowed there, the adopted text paves the way for strengthening the Azores’ demands for an exclusive fishing area beyond the present 100 nautical miles. I voted for this report for all these reasons.

 
  
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  Franck Proust (PPE), in writing. (FR) Once again, we have just shown our commitment to a strong but sensible cohesion policy. To my mind, it goes without saying: economic recovery hinges on the dynamism of our regions. I trust in good ideas and in entrepreneurship. Europe has a key role to play: offering our regions intelligent and pragmatic support for their initiatives. The creation of a new intermediate category of regions, which will benefit Languedoc-Roussillon, is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, some policy makers do not share my opinion and are challenging this idea. I will therefore put it very clearly, as an elected MEP of Nimes working on the ground for over 20 years: our regions need to feel supported. Europe should be going forward with ambition, not backwards.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The outermost regions of the EU comprise a set of regions which, owing to the specific characteristics associated with the physical and structural conditions resulting from their remoteness, insular locations, and difficult terrain and climate, enjoy a special status under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This report calls for a territorial approach and proposes analysis of how, with regard to future cohesion policy in the outermost regions, the objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth enshrined in the Europe 2020 strategy can be achieved in these European regions.

The most important of the priorities to be taken into account in this context are as follows: the need for differentiated treatment of the outermost regions as a whole within the EU, that takes into account their uniqueness and makes use of their potential; the adaptation of how European policies in a number of strategic areas are implemented in the outermost regions; and the outermost regions’ increased integration with the EU, involving more efficient government, territorial continuity to improve access to the benefits of the single market and the development of their incorporation within the context of regional neighbourhood plans. I voted for this report because I agree with this approach.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The outermost regions (ORs) of the European Union are marked by their remoteness, insularity, difficult topography and climate. They have to face a major challenge: to transform their constraints into growth potential. Unfortunately, the economic, social and financial crisis has hit ORs particularly hard, highlighting the structural weaknesses of their economies and their dependence on the outside world. Against this background, EU measures that benefit them are more vital than ever. The text in this report stresses, in particular, the need to adjust European taxation and customs policies in order to enhance the competitiveness of the outermost regions’ economies, as well as the importance of supporting small and medium-sized enterprises through the allocation of Union funds, with the aim of developing the productive fabric of the ORs. It also draws attention to the importance of the tourism sector for these regions and calls on the Commission to speed up the implementation of the European Action Plan in this field, ensuring more effective coordination of the existing funding lines. Given that European investments in the ORs not only involve a policy of making up for delays and compensating for disadvantages, but that they are also carried out for the benefit and to the advantage of the whole of the European Union, I offer my support to this report.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The outermost regions of the European Union comprise a set of regions which, due to the specific characteristics associated with their physical and structural conditions and resulting from their remoteness, insular locations, difficult topography and climate, constitute a specific group of regions recognised by Article 349 TFEU. These regions possess a special status enshrined in the Treaty, which permits a derogation from the rules of the Treaty and the adjustment of these rules to the outermost regions, by virtue of their particular characteristics and conditions. As these regions’ constraints and difficulties are permanent and distinguish them from other European regions, the EU rules and programmes cannot be applied in the same way as in the rest of the EU’s territory. Their implementation has to be guided by a territorial approach.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this text because I believe it is crucial to adapt the implementation of European policies in the outermost regions of the European Union (ORs) in order to assist them in achieving the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion, thus contributing towards the accomplishment of the EU 2020 objectives.

In fact, European investments in the ORs not only involve a policy of making up for delays and compensating for disadvantages, but also investments carried out for the benefit and to the advantage of the whole of the European Union. In order to assist ORs, the implementation of EU policies has to be guided by a territorial approach, in order to pursue the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) The European Union’s outermost regions are a body of regions that possess a special status specified in the EU Treaties, which makes it possible to make exceptions in the provisions of the EU Treaties and adjust those provisions for the outermost regions due to the distinctive features and conditions of those regions. Since there are permanent restrictive and aggravated circumstances in these regions which mean they are recognised as being different from other European regions, EU legislation and programmes cannot be implemented uniformly over the entire territory of the EU; rather, their implementation must be based on a territorial approach. I support the rapporteur’s position that European policy measures should be adjusted when implemented in the outermost regions of the EU, because those regions will only be able to better achieve the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion through specially adapted EU policy measures, while they can contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. It should certainly be noted that the special measures of the Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity (POSEI) have been successful in agricultural and fisheries policy, making it possible to consider the possibility of launching other programmes of this type in other potential sectors such as energy and renewable energy sources, transport and information and communications technology. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with the rapporteur’s position that support for the outermost regions must be continued regardless of their level of development, which is generally expressed as GDP per resident. I believe that if a given region is doing well enough to manage on its own, it is no longer necessary to allocate as much EU support to that region. In conclusion, I supported the adoption of the report.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The outermost regions of the European Union (ORs) are characterised by physical and structural conditions resulting from their remoteness, insular locations, difficult topography and climate.

In order to deal with these disadvantages, these regions possess a special status enshrined in the Treaty, which permits a derogation from the rules of the Treaty and an adjustment of these rules. This vote will lead to efforts towards better integration of the ORs into the EU. This objective will be achieved through more effective governance through a governance system at various levels, territorial continuity to improve access to the benefits of a single market and development of their incorporation in the context of regional neighbourhood plans.

It is not just financial support, it is an appropriate strategy providing a development model capable of taking advantage of their strengths, in the interest of greater competitiveness, increased growth and job creation.

 
  
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  Monika Smolková (S&D), in writing. (SK) I voted for the resolution on the cohesion policy in the outermost regions because any financial support under the cohesion policy is about solidarity, assistance where the need is greatest. On the other hand, however, I would like to ask why only the most remote islands should have special benefits. My country also forms part of the Schengen border, and the region from which I come is directly on the border, which gives it peripheral status. Therefore, it should also merit special attention. The crisis has also affected my region, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Slovakia. Two-thirds of my region is spread out on the fertile soils of East Slovakian lowlands, and yet agricultural production is not competitive due to EU agricultural policy vis-à-vis the Eastern countries. I do not know whether this is supposed to constitute cohesion policy if the Eastern countries will be lagging behind until 2028, even though we have all the prerequisites for agricultural primary and secondary production. I therefore wish to bring to your attention the EU’s subsidy policy, especially since our country used to be self-sufficient in food production, but today the figure stands at only 48%.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The outermost regions are a set of regions of the European Union which, by virtue of their characteristics resulting from insularity, distance, small size and serious dependence on a small number of products, have been conferred a special status enabling differentiated treatment as regards European actions and policies in these regions, pursuant to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The purpose of this report, which I wrote, is to establish the European Parliament’s proposals for a renewed strategy for the outermost regions, taking into account the important role of cohesion policy in the outermost regions and their contribution to achieving the Europe 2020 strategy objectives. These measures demonstrate these regions’ main needs, which the European Parliament has today recognised as meriting particular treatment.

 
  
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  Patrice Tirolien (S&D), in writing.(FR) I welcome the position adopted by Parliament today. I would like to address two key points in this report. It was important that Parliament spoke out strongly against the Commission’s proposal to reduce the specific allocation for outermost regions (ORs) by almost half. This cut in funding is all the more unfair in that it affects the money set aside to compensate for the disadvantages of these regions which, by definition, are not decreasing. They are described as structural and permanent in our Treaties. Consequently, these regions would be the only territories, and I mean the only ones, under the cohesion policy that would see a cut in their funds, which would not be justified by growth effects or a change in category of regions.

Secondly, I would like to focus on our call for a comparative analysis of pricing in these regions. Economic mechanisms that go against the principles of the single market seem to be at work here and often lead to extremely worrying social movements. In this area, we need to have better informed and targeted action to meet this urgent demand of the people.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – I agree on the main points of the renewed strategy for the Union’s outermost regions (ORs), which faces some structural difficulties. The points I appreciate the most are the development of synergies between the Research Framework Programme Horizon 2020 and the Structural Funds, the support to small and medium-sized enterprises, and the encouragement of the participation of fledgling units of excellence and increased investment. That is why I am in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the role of the cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union in the context of the EU 2020 strategy. I think that Member States need help to secure full access for the inhabitants of these regions to the information sources and communication media provided by new technologies, such as broadband technologies and infrastructure and wireless technologies, including satellite, so as to promote economic growth and more efficient administration through the digitisation of services. I call on the Commission and Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that all the inhabitants of the outermost regions have access to broadband Internet by 2013. The areas of research and innovation, transport, telecommunications and tourism require particular attention in terms of applying European policies in the outermost regions. The Connecting Europe Facility should include specific references to the outermost regions. I should emphasise the importance of integrating the outermost regions into the TEN-T network. It is important to support SMEs by allocating funds from the EU and Member States, with the aim of developing the production structures in the outermost regions and promoting workers’ skills, thereby helping to enhance region-specific products and the local economy.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) The majority of the issues mentioned in this report on the European Union’s outermost regions (ORs) also apply to Lithuania. Significant social and economic disparities between Lithuania and other regions of the European Union can still be observed. According to Ismeri Europa and a report by the European Commission on the achievements of cohesion policy in Lithuania, it can be said that a lack of clear priorities is still limiting the effectiveness of this policy. Cohesion policy is being pursued slowly in Lithuania, partly due to poor leadership. In Lithuania, Structural Fund applicants still complain about inflexible administrative mechanisms and questionable transparency: the application procedure often lasts more than a year, and following their initial application, applicants are unable to change any terms or conditions. Given the rapidly changing business environment, more flexible and free conditions should be introduced to revise drafts that have already been submitted. If cohesion policy was applied properly, it could give Lithuania enormous potential.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – This motion for a resolution values the cohesion policy in the outermost regions of the European Union to make it possible to achieve the goals of the 2020 strategy there. It is important to take into account their specific characteristics and it is necessary to foster their strong points and strengthen their weaknesses. That is why I supported this report with my vote. To get the best integration of these regions in the EU, the adoption of particular measures and funds available for these areas is of crucial importance. Unfortunately, the prevision for the period 2014-2020 is that these funds will be reduced.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D), in writing.(PL) Today, the European Parliament has looked at cohesion policy in relation to the Union’s weakest regions. In my opinion, it is necessary to apply other, more favourable criteria to these regions for the allocation of Structural Funds. Cofinancing rates should also be higher and should be 85% as standard for all instruments providing aid. In relation to this, I want to object to the European Commission’s plans for a 5.1% cut in EU expenditure on cohesion policy in the period 2014-2020, because this will hit at the least-developed regions, including the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The main problem with this report is a fundamental one: its argument for the specific nature of the outermost regions is framed by compliance with the guidelines of the Europe 2020 strategy and by the internal market. We consider this strategy harmful to the outermost regions’ development, as it exacerbates many of the constraints weighing down on them. However, we are bound to highlight some positive ideas: specifically, it clearly advocates differentiated treatment for the outermost regions, in line with their uniqueness and their permanent natural constraints; it criticises the Commission proposal of reducing Cohesion Fund and European Regional Development Fund support; it advocates an 85% cofinancing rate for all aid instruments; and it argues for a framework on State aid that is not degressive or time-limited. We also agree with the idea that the per capita GDP criterion should be complemented with other human and social development indicators.

 
  
  

Report: Richard Howitt (A7-0086/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since I believe there is a need to reinforce the idea that the European Union cannot have criteria that are different or duplicated between human rights and other external policies, between its internal and external policies, and in the conduct of its relations with third countries. The same principles should be the basis for all political action. I also advocate the need for a more systematic approach, which should include individual efforts by each country and a human rights strategy that includes clear deadlines, actions and responsibilities that can be implemented. However, I regret that some of the proposals by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament were rejected at first reading, specifically, those referring to minorities and gender equality.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union has stood out in the last two decades as one of the main contributors to stability and one of the main global actors that have encouraged the peaceful transition of several states to democracy and a market economy. Against this background, it is important that the EU, which is also currently still the biggest global donor, is up to accomplishing its historic mission and has a coherent programme for supporting human rights and the task of establishing democracy, especially at a time when the European Union is rooted in support and protection for fundamental rights and freedoms. I think that in the current global climate, a major emphasis must be placed on the specific situation of Christians in the countries neighbouring the EU. It is also important that the EU’s foreign policy and neighbourhood policy focus on the recently created European Endowment for Democracy as an instrument.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because it is a comprehensive text that underlines the need for the EU to avoid double standards between its human rights policy and other external policies. I am particularly pleased for the huge victory achieved in this Parliament by the cause of the Sahrawi population. The text adopted condemns the ongoing repression of the Sahrawi people in the occupied territories, calls for the release of 82 political prisoners belonging to the Polisario Front, and strongly supports the path of self-determination of Western Sahara in accordance with UN resolutions. I am proud to have campaigned for this success today. The rights of the Sahrawi are those of us all, and this position will have a bearing on the EP’s negotiations to end the last case of colonial oppression in Africa.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) I warmly welcomed Baroness Ashton’s statement in favour of appointing an EU Special Representative on Human Rights. Through this vote, I wanted to stress that, as pointed out by the rapporteur, for the EU to be a ‘credible actor’ in external relations, ‘it must act consistently’, but also be ‘exemplary’ and avoid ‘double standards’ between its human rights policy and other policies, whether internal or external policies. It must step up efforts to cooperate with civil society and social networks, enforce women’s rights, freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this report. The European Union is committed to having its external actions guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity and the rights of minorities, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. The EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy is very important for analysing and evaluating EU policy on these issues. I welcome the criticism expressed in the report regarding the content of the annual report, which still remains descriptive rather than evaluative. In order to ensure consistent and effective EU external policies on human rights and democracy, it is essential to set comparable criteria to evaluate the progress made by third countries in these areas. I believe that in her drafting of future annual reports, the Union’s High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission must consult comprehensively with the European Parliament and present the annual report on the human rights situation to the plenary, something which did not happen this year.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I share the position of the report by Mr Howitt on the Annual Report on Human Rights.

It carries out an analysis that looks at all areas of the problems relating to human rights throughout Europe, and provides interesting suggestions for its improvement and future implementation. I believe the section on freedom of religion, which highlights, in particular, the problem of the persecution being suffered by Christians all over the world, is fundamental.

Without the certainty that the European project and its partners in third countries are guarantors of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression that come from our Christian roots and the safeguarding and respect of our cultural identity, it would not make sense to be part of it. The obligation to include binding clauses on the protection of human rights in relationships between the EU and all third countries is a turning point in EU policies and one we cannot afford to do without.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are not compromised or diminished in times of economic crisis. The European Union should continue to increase its efforts, mainstream more effectively human rights and democracy across development cooperation and ensure that EU development programmes contribute to the fulfilment by partner countries of their international human rights obligations. The European Parliament welcomes the landmark convention by the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, creating a comprehensive framework to prevent violence, protect victims and end impunity, and calls on all Member States and the EU to quickly sign and ratify this convention. The European Parliament condemns all forms of human rights violations, where people were discriminated against on the basis of work and origin, and limited access to justice for victims. Furthermore, the EU and its Member States should endorse the draft UN Principles and Guidelines for the effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent. As far as freedom of expression and speech is concerned, the EU should increase support for media freedom, protect independent journalists, reduce the digital divide and facilitate Internet access.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Although the situation regarding human rights in the EU is good, I do not think that we can rest on our laurels. The European Union supports the efforts in combating racism, xenophobia and other kinds of discrimination based on religion, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation, with particular attention being focused on respect for human rights in the area of asylum and immigration. With the aim of promoting human rights worldwide, the EU finances the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, which has a budget of EUR 1.1 billion for the 2007-2013 period. The initiative finances not only projects devoted to gender equality and child protection, but also supports joint actions taken by the EU and other organisations involved in defending human rights, such as the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Based on what has been stated above, I think that the EU must remain a major player in this area.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this as I do not believe the EU should have, or indeed does have, other than self-professed, authority to act as an arbiter of human rights. Most of the judgment calls made by the ECHR that France or the UK chose to defy were controversial decisions that left nations incredulous at the ineptitude of the judicial process carried out by unelected judges in Strasbourg. It is somewhat onerous that the EU has applied for accession to the ECHR in its own right and this can be seen as prescriptive for what is likely to come. The revelation that the EU wishes to set out punitive measures against Columbia, and also send Baroness Ashton to Gaza on a fact-finding mission, suggests the EU is asserting diplomatic and peacekeeping powers upon itself that it is in no way, shape or form entitled to claim. We do not want the EU attempting to usurp the powers of the UN or NATO and it is abhorrent that a supranational body with such a democratic deficit believes it can be an intermediary actor on the global stage.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the aforementioned report because I am firmly convinced of the indissoluble link between the respect for, and promotion of, human rights and the development and consolidation of democratic societies.

To take a particular example, recent events in the Mediterranean countries show that the local populations are crying out for human rights to be safeguarded. Therefore, the EU institutions are being called upon to commit themselves to protecting democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms by setting specific, achievable and time-bound objectives in their development programmes with third countries.

I welcome the comprehensive section on the rights of the child and on violence against women, as well as the priority given to supporting efforts towards the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. I believe in fact that the work of women is at the heart of the economy in many areas of conflict around the world, and that they must therefore be more involved and their rights recognised as being full priorities when negotiations seeking to bring peace to these areas are launched.

Finally, I applaud this report because it supports the new, freely elected Members of Parliament in activities that encourage the respect and promotion of these inalienable rights.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU’s policies should not only be consistent and exemplary within the EU, but should also be coherent and in line with fundamental values and principles, in order to maximise the EU’s global credibility and the way in which policies relating to fundamental rights are implemented. Over the last decade, from 9/11 to the Arab Spring, profound changes have taken place, causing new challenges to emerge that demonstrate the vital importance of human rights and democracy. It is crucial to redefine and enhance the EU strategy, as well as the instruments used, so as to be able to respond more effectively and comprehensively to current challenges to human rights and democracy worldwide. I call for rapid, transparent and inclusive progress towards an ambitious common strategy for the EU, with clear actions, timetables and responsibilities, and for all stakeholders to contribute fully to the creation thereof. I also hope that Parliament can be given a more prominent role in promoting transparency and accountability in implementing the EU human rights strategy, since this annual report does not, in itself, constitute an accountability mechanism.

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD), in writing. – Amendment 7 – UKIP deplores violence against LGBT people. However, we do not feel the EU can order Britain to grant asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation. We also note the fact it is very easy to lie about sexual orientation in the context of fraudulent asylum applications. Amendment 11 – UKIP opposes torture. However, we object to the EU speaking in our name on this topic.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) What the European Union’s foreign policy really needs, first and foremost, is to promote the values that made Europe what it is today. That is why I supported the adoption of this report as it defends republican and humanist values, but also controls the correct allocation of EU funds in this area. It is crucial that we promote our values but equally important to control the budget allocated to this. However, I could not bring myself to support certain points as they misinterpreted the role played by France in the negotiations.

 
  
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  Philippe de Villiers (EFD), in writing. (FR) The European Parliament has spoken out again on the EU’s external relations.

Parliament is, indeed, deeply concerned by the many violations of human dignity, but the fact remains that the report as a whole is ideological and it calls for European action that is inherently inefficient and bureaucratic.

The proposals on ‘digital diplomacy’ and ‘sustainable democracy’ may leave us somewhat guarded, to say the least. The support in principle for ‘bloggers’ and other ‘activists’ (the new heroes of human rightism), is a double-edged sword.

To Parliament’s credit, far removed from the euphoric speeches of some leaders on the democratic aspirations of the Maghreb and the Middle East, it is clearly, albeit belatedly, concerned about the persecution of minorities, in particular Christians, in these regions of the world.

However, diplomacy and international relations must remain under the exclusive competence of the Member States.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the document concerning the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy, because it presents a balanced opinion of the current state of play and the improvements to be implemented to the EU’s action as a global player and within its internal governance, with regard to the human rights discipline. In particular, I strongly support the need for the European Parliament to be recognised, and to further enhance its role, as a key actor in the shaping of the implementation of the European Union’s human rights strategy. For this reason, I strongly believe that the Council and the Commission should systematically take up the Parliament’s resolutions and communications, by providing substantive responses to the impulse received from the democratically elected body of the EU. The report addresses the fundamental issues of the death penalty, arms control, torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, women and human rights, freedom of religion, discrimination, children’s rights, freedom of expression. The guarantee of the highest standards of human rights must imperatively guide the EU’s action, in its external and internal policies.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because it considers that the EU should enhance its credibility on the international stage and continue to set an example of respect for and defence of human rights. It should therefore avoid double standards regarding human rights and in its relations with third countries. Moreover, the report calls for speed and transparency in developing a common EU-level human rights strategy.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This resolution is the European Parliament’s response to the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the EU’s policy in this regard, published by the European External Action Service, which includes an extensive overview of how the European Union tries to involve itself in many particularly sensitive issues, as well as an evaluation of the activities in this area of the main European institutions and agencies.

This evaluation could be very useful as a means, not only of assessing which are the best practices and of establishing the best criteria for resolving the problems raised by the EU’s strategic approach to human rights, but also of suggesting pathways and solutions. The centrality of human rights to the European Union should be reaffirmed. The European Union has been increasingly committed to putting democracy and human rights on the global agenda. It is right that it should evaluate whether it will be properly tackling the problems it faces and not neglecting others. A Union that wants to demonstrate its ability to ask questions of itself, and to seek to improve its answers, could emerge stronger from this exercise.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) One of the European Union’s flagship policies that has won recognition from huge numbers of countries and states is its uncompromising defence of human rights. The European Parliament started analysing its Annual Report on Human Rights in the World in 1983. This report, drafted by Mr Howitt, analyses the annual human rights report and EU policy in this regard. Never before have human rights been as important and led to as many changes, as happened in the ‘Arab Spring’, when men and women, young and old, demonstrated a willingness to give their lives in defence of human rights. However, there is still a long way to go, particularly within the UN, before certain human rights violations, such as the death penalty, are brought to an end once and for all. It is also necessary that the freedom won in the countries with Muslim majorities does not transform itself into the persecution and massacre of minority communities, such as Christians. At a time when we are faced with the news that the Argentine Government, with which the EU has cooperation agreements, has nationalised a Spanish company, it is crucial to review EU strategic policy in this regard.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report includes a number of positive points – for example, regarding Guantánamo or acknowledgement of EU complicity in certain regimes; it is no accident that these have already fallen at the hands of their peoples – but that does not change the fact that it is overwhelmingly negative. Yet again, we are witnessing human rights being put to use; being viewed as a pawn in the political game and used in the interests of the major EU powers and the large companies and financial sectors thereof. As with previous annual reports, there is absolutely no mention of the flagrant human rights violations in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, occupied Cyprus or Western Sahara. These are violations in which EU Member States and/or their allies – the US, Israel, Turkey or Morocco – have undeniably been complicit. On Libya and the military aggression suffered by its people, with tragic consequences that can still not be fully determined, they only regret not having intervened sooner. They advocate new, enhanced instruments for open intervention in the domestic affairs of sovereign states similar to instruments that the US has been using for a long time, in breach of the letter and spirit of the UN Charter. This is a shameful and intolerable demonstration of the imperialist impetus behind EU actions.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The founding Treaties commit the Union to having its external actions guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity and the rights of minorities, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. I firmly believe that it is important to learn from the European Union’s past failures in re-shaping its external action. For the EU to be a credible actor in external relations, it must act consistently, in accordance with treaty and acquis obligations, and avoid double standards between its human rights policy and its internal and external policies, and its relations with third countries. It is essential that appropriate measures be taken to ensure that civil rights and fundamental freedoms are not compromised or diminished in times of economic crisis. The EU’s policies should also be consistent and exemplary, as well as coherent with fundamental values and principles. This would maximise the EU’s credibility globally and the effectiveness of its human rights policies. It is important to strive for the more effective mainstreaming of human rights and democracy across development cooperation and, at the same time, to meet the international commitments in this area. Democracy, the rule of law, justice and accountability are the best safeguards of human rights, fundamental freedoms, tolerance and equality.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The thing I most appreciate about this Annual Report on Human Rights is the breadth of the treatment, which does not just look at the specific problems of individual countries, but deals with every relevant aspect of human rights across the board. In view of the importance of including binding clauses on human rights in all the EU’s relationships with third countries and the need to implement the EU’s human rights policy in all other EU policies, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) The European Union needs to have a genuine common strategy on human rights. As outlined in this report, this new strategy must be based on clear actions, a pre-determined timetable and an efficient allocation of responsibilities, which, in particular, will involve clarifying the roles of the Council and the European Parliament on the matter. ‘Double standard’ attitudes between human rights and external policies should best be avoided, in particular, with regard to asylum policy. The integration of human rights safeguards into the various EU policies, especially in its external actions and its cooperation and development strategy, is still far from perfect and will require greater collaboration with civil society. Finally, we can only welcome the prospect of the future accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights, as an autonomous entity.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. (SV) I voted in favour of the report, which highlights important principles in relation to human rights. In particular, I would emphasise the report’s criticism of the EU for failing to defend human rights consistently and for supporting authoritarian regimes. This was very clear, for example, in the democratic revolutions of the Arab Spring. I am pleased that the LGBT issues have been included and that matters concerning women’s reproductive health and rights have been clarified. The report contains a few federalist wordings with which I do not agree. However, as the report focuses on human rights and the importance of being consistent, I am giving it my support.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The EU has an important role to play globally in the promotion of human rights and I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – I would like to welcome the fact that the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter dedicates a full chapter to the human rights situation of women, taking a firm standpoint in condemning the gravest abuses of women’s fundamental rights, such as sexual violence. In this regard, the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development for the period 2010-2015 and the Commission’s Women’s Charter promoting gender equality at international level are very important steps. The Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence must also be promptly signed and ratified.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Jeggle (PPE), in writing. (DE) During yesterday’s vote in plenary on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2010, I voted in favour of the full texts of paragraphs 93 and 101 respectively, and thus against the position of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats). I am very concerned that women in crisis regions are given general access to the public health care system, to medical information and to appropriate educational programmes. Sadly, in armed conflicts, the rape of women is often used as a weapon against the entire population. Like many of my colleagues in the PPE Group, I am personally opposed to abortion in principle. In this report on human rights, however, we were not voting in principle on access to health services; rather, we discussed specifically the possibility of abortion following rape in situations of war and conflict. In this context, I consider the woman’s dignity to be the overall objective, and that is what I would hope to uphold by voting the way I did.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported this report, which refers to the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2010 published by the European External Action Service (EEAS), and which reviews EU policy in this area (in particular, the EU action in the UN, trade and human rights, etc.). I also supported the two paragraphs in this report defending the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE), in writing. (FI) I voted in favour of the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World because it deals with issues that are very important for both Parliament and the EU as a whole. Parliament’s power in matters of human rights has increased substantially with the Treaty of Lisbon, especially as a result of the adoption of trade agreements. We Members must take responsibility for this. I would like, in particular, to emphasise the importance of two whole areas. Much has happened in our neighbourhood recently. I visited Egypt in November and talked to people who were worried about their personal inviolability and their freedom under the new regime. As the Arab Spring has shown, the EU needs to support the individuals and groups who want to build their society as one that respects democracy and human rights. The representatives of civil society must gather around the table in accordance with the principles of good governance. This kind of systematic participation could be promoted by the civil society monitoring mechanism that we are proposing. I would also like to focus special attention on the section on human rights defenders. Members of Parliament have doggedly shown their support by making statements, following legal proceedings and paying visits to prison, and in many other practical ways. Now, however, it is time to implement the EU’s guidelines on human rights defenders, and Baroness Ashton needs to follow the process closely. We Members of Parliament will contribute to the debate by tackling especially glaring cases against individuals in our urgent human rights resolutions.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Howitt because I believe that the text approved today by Parliament puts forward some positive suggestions for dealing with the difficult issue of human rights. The delicate area of human rights covers various issues and needs to be tackled by the EU not only from a European and a political viewpoint, but also in its relationships with non-EU countries. The EU must therefore continue to take action to safeguard civil rights, such as freedom of expression, gender equality and actions to support pluralism and democracy. This Parliament has already done much and must continue to do much with regard to safeguarding human rights. There is still a long way to go, and the good work on the issue in EU policies needs to be extended and improved in the area of non-EU relationships, without losing sight of developments in the social and political context.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the adoption of this own-initiative report, which I supported. Based on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2010, published last September by the European External Action Service (EEAS), it provides a constructive analysis of EU policy in this area. I fully agree with the findings of this report, which calls on the EU to pursue a more concrete policy for the defence of human rights, in particular, through the European Neighbourhood Policy.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) I congratulate the rapporteur, who managed to obtain the consensus of all the political groups on this report. It is important that this report emphasises from its very first paragraph how vital it is for the European Union to act consistently in its external relations and to avoid having two coexisting sets of rules, either with one for its human rights policy and the other for other external policies, or with one for domestic policies and the other for external policies. This will allow the European Parliament to send a clear-cut message to the foreign ministers who will be meeting in June to adopt the declaration on a new human rights strategy.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which stresses that, for the European Union (EU) to be a credible actor in external relations, it must act consistently, in accordance with Treaty and acquis obligations and avoid double standards between its human rights policy and other external policies, between internal and external policies, and in the conduct of its relations with third countries, combining this approach with the challenge of developing the human rights country strategy papers and implementing action plans, which must also cover democratisation, reflecting the specificity of each country as regards impact, and making full use of the EU’s relevant instruments

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) We believe that the European Union should renew its commitment to support the protection of human rights and democracy by making it central to all of its policies.

In order to maximise its credibility globally, the EU must act consistently, in accordance with Treaty and acquis obligations, but, above all, it must avoid double standards between its human rights policy and other external policies, between internal and external policies, and in the conduct of its relations with third countries.

We recall that economic and social rights have also been an integral part of human rights, since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. We believe, therefore, that the EU must help to implement these rights in less advanced and developing countries with which it signs international and trade agreements.

The goals of development, democracy, human rights and good governance are intertwined; we reiterate the need for all EU external actions to combine a political dimension that supports pluralism, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, and a development dimension that focuses on socio-economic progress.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report as a whole and support the many positive measures within the text. The European Union’s policies should be consistently exemplary within the EU, as well as being in line with fundamental values and principles. I could not vote against Amendment 7 outlining positive action in respect of LGBT rights and combating human rights’ violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in some parts of the world. I abstained from the vote on the second part of paragraph 93 as I did not believe that it was necessary to stress, in particular, the need to promote sexual and reproductive health, having already dealt in the first part of the paragraph with the need for adequate gynaecological and obstetric care, as defined by the World Health Organisation.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Credibility is key in the field of foreign relations, so the European Union must act consistently, in accordance with the Treaty and EU acquis obligations. The EU should therefore avoid inconsistencies between its human rights policy and other external policies, between internal and external policies, and in the conduct of its relations with third countries. Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that civil rights and fundamental freedoms are not compromised or diminished in times of economic crisis. The Union’s policies should not only be consistent and exemplary within the EU, but should also be coherent and in line with fundamental values and principles, in order to maximise the EU’s credibility globally and how human rights policies are implemented.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In order to be a credible actor in external relations, the EU must act consistently and in accordance with its Treaty and acquis obligations. There is a need for the EU to avoid double standards between its human rights policy and other external policies, between its internal and external policies, and in the conduct of its relations with third countries. Furthermore the drafting of future annual reports should take a more systematic approach, which should include the use of benchmarks for individual countries. It is also necessary to achieve swift, transparent and inclusive progress towards an ambitious final EU common strategy for human rights, which should include clear actions, timetables and responsibilities. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report because it points out that the focus should be on human rights, democracy and the rule of law when preparing EU policy and in any relationship or cooperation between the EU and third countries. The report also encourages Member States to keep up their efforts in this time of economic crisis. By voting for this report, I am reminded of the EU’s exemplary role in fighting for human rights and urge the EU to meet the expectations of its citizens.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In its founding Treaties, the EU undertakes to be guided by principles such as human rights and the rights of minorities when acting on the international stage. The European Union is all too keen to take the moral high ground and point the finger at other countries, even when it has yet to put its own house in order. Two prominent examples of this are the CIA overflights and the CIA’s secret prisons. There is also still some work to do in respect of minorities in a large number of EU Member States, not to mention the question of unlawful legislation like the Czech Beneš decrees or the regulations of the Anti-Fascist Council of the People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ), which are still in existence and which the European Union regularly considers itself not competent to deal with. Moreover, Mr Howitt’s report is a work that is completely overloaded with left-wing ideology and humanitarian rhetoric. For example, it is greatly concerned with the rights of homosexual and transgender people in developing countries, but, at the same time, fails to recognise that minimum standards of human rights first need to be established in these countries. Overall, the EU does not acquit itself well in this report, which is why I voted against it.

 
  
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  Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the Howitt report on the EU’s human rights policy, which honours the European Parliament with its ambition and clarity. However, I do not support a specific point: the proposal to include a human rights chapter in all international trade treaties, which seems unsuitable and excessive to me. Defending and promoting human rights is not an intrinsic and specific goal of EU external trade policy. Trade policy must certainly be consistent with the other aspects of external and internal policy, starting with human rights, so we cannot conclude a trade agreement with a country characterised by systematic human rights violations, such as China or Belarus. Nevertheless, we cannot make international trade conditional on the EU’s high human rights standards. What we can and must demand is that trade treaties be positive on balance, rather than negative. I fully agree, however, with the proposal for strengthening the chapter on labour and environmental standards, which is incorporated in the EU’s external trade treaties. It is a case of defending the EU’s very economic and commercial interests, by combating social and environmental dumping in trade relations.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), in writing.(FR) I welcome Mr Howitt’s report and I am pleased that it has been approved by my fellow Members. I voted in favour of this report for the simple reason that the European Union has always been committed to the defence of fundamental rights, the very cornerstone of our Union.

I voted for this report because EU policy in this area needs to be more specific and I look forward to the appointment of the Special Representative for Human Rights. In fact, society and people are hungry for democracy, freedom and guaranteed rights, as the Arab Spring has shown us: the European Union must meet the expectations and respond to the hopes of these people.

Lastly, I voted for this report because defending human rights means defending and guaranteeing the rights of women around the world because it is women who are the real driving force behind progress, development, democracy and freedom.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. – Since I work closely on human rights, democracy, rule of law, civil liberties and gender equality, I endorse Richard Howitt’s report. Those values are the cornerstones of the European Union and it is important that we imprint them on every policy field, from energy and development to environment and trade. The activities of the EU must be consistent and coherent, keeping in mind the interests of the citizens of the Union as well as its international credibility. As human rights are such an integral part of what the EU stands for, I would insist that it reflects on our relations with third countries, especially with strategic partners. Unfortunately, not all of them share the same values, which, in my opinion, casts a doubt as to whether use of the term ‘strategic partnership’ is, in those cases, justified.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the EU must pursue a coherent and consistent policy to support and promote human rights throughout the world. I believe that the recommendations on the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners need to be implemented as a matter of urgency. The Member States should address more effectively their complicity in the worldwide violation of human rights in the context of the US rendition and secret detention programme, and in accompanying domestic human rights’ violations. Only through joint efforts can we stop secret detention disguised as counter terrorism. The EU Member States cannot continue to be used for the secret transportation and illegal detention of prisoners. To achieve a strong and transparent political Union and an effectively and coherently functioning framework for the protection of human rights, the EU must complete the negotiation process and accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. I welcome the new European Neighbourhood Policy. Greater support must be given to partners engaged in building deep and sustainable democracy and supporting inclusive economic development. There should also be continued support for democratic movements, NGOs and civil rights advocates in the Eastern Neighbourhood.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – The EU is acting all over the world to promote respect for human rights, which is an integral part of EU foreign policy. I voted in favour of this report, because it emphasises that human rights is a fundamental EU value, and that economic and political priorities should not be the be-all and end-all. EU cooperation with third countries has to be based on the real performance made by the countries towards better human rights implementation. Special attention should be paid to our immediate neighbours. In our external action, we should remember that there are more than 10 political prisoners in Belarus, and politically motivated cases in Russia and Ukraine. I agree with the rapporteur that it is extremely important to be aware of work which is being done by local actors in third countries defending human rights and to have a possibility to support it. The bottom-up approach needs improved communication with the top, information sharing and cooperation between civil societies in third countries, the EU and other actors involved in the protection of human rights. For this reason, the European institutions should cooperate more closely with organised civil societies in third countries.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of the report presented on the subject of human rights given the importance of the subject in question. The EU must continue its support consistently in order to ensure that, especially in countries with authoritarian regimes, the subject of human rights may overcome the obstacles that still persist and achieve a global position of respect. The protection and promotion of democracy has always been one of the key points of our European policy, given the effective results achieved over the years. The EU must undertake additional efforts to integrate relations with partner countries more effectively and achieve a position of guarantee and support to citizens.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of this report; however, my opinion differed on certain points in it. I supported the inclusion of phrases that strengthen the text and the EU’s commitment to human rights, such as the reference to the need to promote public health and health education programmes in third countries and to strengthen European humanitarian aid programmes on gender equality and children’s protection. I also supported the reference to the disappointment expressed by the European Parliament on the conduct of certain Member States and their unwillingness to adopt the European Treaty on Human Rights.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I agree with the main thrust of it; specifically, as regards the European Union’s duty to ensure that its development policy actions promote and enhance peacebuilding, conflict prevention and international security.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is in response to the EU’s 2010 Annual Report on Human Rights in the World, published by the European External Action Service, and provides an overview of EU policy in this regard. The main points tackled by this report are as follows: EU action in the context of the United Nations and in the International Criminal Court; EU policies to support democratisation; human rights dialogues; consultations with third countries; and other issues such as the death penalty, arms control and torture. Its provision for a more effective approach in which development cooperation plays a key role is to be welcomed, as is the intention of extending human rights issues to all EU policies. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Broadly speaking, I share the overall outline of the Howitt report and its emphasis on the potential of the Internet to expose the truth and the triumph of freedom. This is one of the great achievements of the Arab Spring. On the other hand, the protection of religious minorities in the world deserved more attention. Defending freedom of religion is a modern and secular struggle, which primarily affects Christian minorities around the world: Coptic Christians in Egypt, minorities in Syria, northern Mali, Nigeria and Kenya, Laos and Vietnam, and so on.

I would also like to mention the ‘biased view’ of human rights embodied in a whole host of new amendments. Condemning ‘the security vigilance’ of Colombia, Israel or Morocco is missing the point. What these three countries have in common is they have never traded in the security of their citizens and they have all achieved results in the fight against terrorism. These three States have combined freedom and security and share the same values as the European Union. It is through standing firm on the ideals of tolerance and freedom, but also by carefully choosing its allies, that the EU will have a greater voice on the international stage.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The resolution stresses, for instance, that, for the European Union (EU) to be a credible actor in external relations, it must act consistently, in accordance with Treaty and acquis obligations and avoid double standards between its human rights policy and other external policies, between internal and external policies, and in the conduct of its relations with third countries, combining this approach with the challenge of developing the human rights country strategy papers and implementing action plans, which must also cover democratisation, reflecting the specificities of each country as regards impact, and making full use of the EU’s relevant instruments.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this document because I believe that for the EU to be a credible actor in external relations, it is crucial that its policies are consistent and exemplary, in line with guiding values and principles, in order to maximise its credibility globally and the effectiveness of its human rights policies.

The EU should undertake additional efforts, more effectively mainstream human rights and democracy across all development cooperation, and ensure that EU development programmes contribute to the fulfilment by partner countries of their international human rights obligations.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) European hypocrisy regarding the right to life of embryos must not continue. The time has come to face and debate the issue without any prior censorship.

During this morning’s plenary session, we once again discussed human rights worldwide. I asked for an amendment to be added to the report presented by the British MEP Mr Howitt, to include the right to maternity among women’s rights, underlining in my speech in the Chamber that, in the future, it would also be desirable if specific attention were also paid to the rights of the unborn child.

An unborn child is a human being and deserves every protection from institutions and social protection networks. Whatever the technique used, termination of pregnancy is both a trauma for the woman and a choice that cannot be reversed. My position is clear: we should ask for official recognition of the right to life from the very first days after conception.

 
  
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  Michèle Striffler (PPE), in writing.(FR) I welcome the adoption of the Howitt report on human rights in the world and the EU’s policy on the matter. The European Union needs to continue relentlessly promoting human rights on the international stage under the provisions of the European Treaties. I personally supported Amendments 7 and 8, which encourage EU institutions to defend the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people in their bilateral relations with third countries, in international forums and through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. In this respect, I also call on the Commission to encourage the removal of gender identity from the list of mental and behavioural disorders during negotiations for the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), published by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. – The UK Conservatives wholeheartedly believe in human rights and equality for all, regardless of sex, age, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation; and therefore there is much in this annual report which we strongly support.

However, we strongly believe that health, immigration and security are the prerogative of individual EU Member States.

For these reasons, the UK Conservatives could not support this report.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Human rights are indivisible values enshrined in the EU’s founding Treaties. Therefore, EU policy, both internal and external, should take their pursuit into account. They should be applied uniformly, thereby demonstrating the role of the EU as an example of respecting and safeguarding human rights. There are still failings, naturally, but the EU and the Member States should use these to work on reformulating their policies and strategies. This report tackles a number of key issues; specifically, EU policy action in the context of the UN and the International Criminal Court, policies to support democratisation, and the EU’s financial support instruments. I should like to stress the need for cross-cutting inclusion of this matter in the EU’s various policy areas. We have also witnessed the shortcomings of the EU’s approach to external policy. Finally, I consider it extremely important that we continue supporting democratisation and development. The various programmes being implemented need more technical, financial and political support. We cannot provide third countries with the proper aid if funding is scarce. This is an issue of unparalleled importance that enables the public’s quality of life to be developed and increased and in relation to which annual reports must use transparent criteria.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – I am a Catalan, from a minority nation in Spain which has been discriminated against for hundreds of years and that has always been fighting for freedom and democracy. The Catalan people have been demanding respect for their rights peacefully and constantly, even in the worst moments of our history, the civil war and under Franco’s fascist regime only 40 years ago. I therefore understand and share the fears and problems of all people harassed and oppressed by their own government around the world. That is why, through the tools I have as a Member of Parliament, I think, I try to make the voices of all dissidents and non-violent opposition and the people who stand and fight for freedom and democracy heard as much as possible. I always try to denounce publicly the violations and abuses of human rights that take place all around the world and I call for the European Union to stop ‘business as usual’ in its relations with many authoritarian regimes around the world. That is why I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy. EU development aid programmes should include specific, substantial reforms to ensure respect for human rights, transparency, gender equality and anti-corruption measures. I condemn all forms of human rights violations and the limited access to justice for victims. I welcome the conclusion by the EU of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the adoption of the European disability strategy 2010-2020. I should point out that the Internet, together with social media, have become one of the most important vehicles which individuals are using to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, and that they play a crucial role in promoting human rights, democratic participation, accountability, transparency, economic development and new forms of public access. I welcome the creation of UN Women, and call on the EU to work closely with this institution at international, regional and national level to enforce women’s rights. I welcome the adoption of the landmark convention by the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, thereby creating a comprehensive framework to avert violence.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) This report is overdue. I would like to draw your attention to two important issues mentioned in this report. Firstly, the report recalls that the founding Treaties commit the EU to having its external actions guided by the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Secondly, the report states that for the EU to be a credible actor in external relations, its policies must be consistent and exemplary within the Union itself. It must act consistently in accordance with the Treaty and avoid double standards between its human rights policy and other external policies. The EU is failing in both areas. The European Parliament does not have a moral right to lecture others when it has even worse human rights violations and even crimes perpetrated in its own Union, when people are handcuffed, thrown into a cell, held under house arrest during elections, prevented from meeting voters, and when illegal searches are carried out, funds seized, parties’ activities blocked and people are slandered on state television. The worst thing is that the European Parliament is failing to draw attention to, and is even concealing, crimes perpetrated by European Union Member States against opponents. Cases are being falsified and the opposition is being drawn into trials; year after year, people are being hauled before the courts. A mechanism has been created that only allows you to prove your case after 10-15 years when your political career is already over. This is a sham of democracy.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR), in writing. – I am a strong supporter of genuine human rights and have campaigned vigorously for them in regard, for example, to Burma and Zimbabwe – but there is no mention of either country in the report. It contains much with which I can agree but inevitably, it is distorted by political prejudice. The Left, as reflected in this report, seems to think that just about everything is a fundamental human right, that all policies should be subordinated to ‘human rights’, that migrants should have special treatment, and that terrorist suspects are particularly deserving of protection. It displays a particular obsession with gender issues. Curious legal interpretations of the European Convention on Human Rights have seriously distorted the convention’s original purposes, yet the report seeks to encourage accession by the EU to the Convention and ‘deplores’ any efforts by the UK and France to thwart this. I abstained in the final vote.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I am fully supportive of this excellent report, which outlines the Parliament’s response to the Council’s annual human rights report 2010. The concrete recommendations made by the report look at improving the coherence and effectiveness of human rights policy. The emphasis placed by the report on more effective human rights dialogues, support for the International Criminal Court, better election support and stronger human rights and democracy clauses in trade agreements is particularly important. The EU must be effective and influential in issues such as combating torture and eradicating the use of the death penalty, and I believe that this report, which calls for a new EU Special Representative on Human Rights, will increase the EU’s influence in the UN Human Rights Council and at the International Criminal Court.

 
  
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  Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy. I strongly believe that the universality of human rights can only be ensured by active cooperation between different human rights systems. We all acknowledge that the responsibility to protect human rights is one of the most substantial duties of a state. I am convinced that, in order to fulfil this duty properly, it is crucial to review the situation regularly. This report reflects current problems which affect Union citizens and also those living elsewhere. Active engagement in monitoring the situation in other regions of the world is indispensable if the European Union wants to be regarded as a responsible and powerful partner on the international scene, not only in the economic field, but also as regards conflict prevention. Moreover, I regard this as our responsibility to promote values of democracy and the rule of law, understanding that this is the best way to ensure peaceful development and the raising of living conditions.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing. – I have voted in favour of 2011/2185(INI) on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy. This document provides an excellent outline for what we as a Parliament need to continue working toward. It is quite evident that over the years, the EU has not always been consistent in its dealings with third countries with regard to policies and the role that human rights plays in those policies. Thus, this document provides a foundation for improving the consistency in the said dealings and pushes the EU to even expand upon the importance of human rights policy. We are, in fact, a union of 27 different countries with different cultures; however, we have worked tirelessly as a whole to establish fundamental rights for all of our citizens, as it is our duty to protect them. This concept should not end with us but should be granted to all citizens around the world and we should play our part to ensure this is achieved.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D), in writing.(PL) I support the Howitt report on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter. In my opinion, it is a document which is comprehensive in including both an assessment and essential recommendations for ongoing and future actions taken by Parliament, the Commission, the Council and the recently established European External Action Service in the area of human rights and supporting democratisation processes throughout the world. I agree with the general idea of the report that the effectiveness of EU policy in this area requires full commitment from the Member States to the process of strengthening the system of international justice, including the concepts of the universality and indivisibility of human rights.

It also requires an increase in EU funds available for the implementation of European support mechanisms for democracy and the protection of human rights throughout the world, as well as the establishment of clear and more detailed criteria for the EU when awarding budget support to third countries.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This document concerns the 2010 Annual Report on Human Rights in the World. The document is geared towards deepening the EU’s intervention policies, towards turning the idea of human rights to the EU’s advantage, towards silence on crimes against human rights – which we also understand to include social, cultural and economic rights – committed by countries allied to the US and EU, and towards advocating enhanced mechanisms enabling the EU to step up its interventionism rapidly. As with previous annual reports, there is absolutely no mention of the flagrant human rights violations in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, occupied Cyprus or Western Sahara, in which EU Member States and/or their allies – the US, Israel, Turkey or Morocco – have played a leading role. On Libya, they only regret not having intervened sooner and they praise the ‘Arab Spring’. The stance of intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries shamelessly rears its head with the assertion of the need to use various means – particularly financial – to promote ‘transition’ to democracy, so as ‘to support civil society capacity for democratic opposition ... in a mutually safe and, where necessary, deniable manner’. Obviously, we voted against this hypocritical use of the concept of ‘human rights’.

 
  
  

Report: Anneli Jäätteenmäki (A7-0071/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) Since 1 July 1999, the EU has been tied to Azerbaijan by a partnership and association agreement. The vote on this resolution has enabled the European Parliament to make recommendations on the ongoing negotiations with Baku. As a member of the delegation to the EU-Armenia, EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Georgia parliamentary cooperation committees, I welcome this agreement, which will strengthen relations between the EU and the South Caucasus. I have campaigned for a peaceful and lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We must give the Minsk Group a leading role in conducting the peace negotiations.

On this point, I am keen to emphasise the major role played by France, a long-standing partner in the region, in the work of this group and how vital it is that it continues to play its rightful part in future negotiations.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since I consider it in the European Union’s interests to develop close relations with Azerbaijan, which is a geostrategically important country for the European Neighbourhood Policy – East. However, I consider it important to consider a number of worrying issues in the country at the moment, regarding the deteriorating situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In view of this situation, this agreement will be important in that it calls for safeguard clauses relating to respect for and promotion of human rights, and to freedom of expression, association and assembly to be included in the agreement with Azerbaijan, which will satisfy the requirements for Azerbaijan to become a partner.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I support this report because I value the closer association of Azerbaijan with the EU as a fundamental step for the EU Eastern Partnership initiative. The report acknowledges Azerbaijan as a strategic partner of the EU, but, at the same time, it criticises the Azeri Government for its still insufficient democratic standards. In addition to that, thanks to our proposal, the progression of the association agreement is linked – as in the report on Armenia – to the resumption of negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The current status quo, which involves the illegal occupation of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenian forces, bloody incidents on the contact line and inflammatory rhetoric, is incompatible with European values.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) The European Union and Azerbaijan are currently negotiating an association agreement to follow on from the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). This association agreement will considerably enhance Azerbaijan’s political association and economic integration with the European Union. However, there are still several issues, such as the energy question, that have yet to be resolved. Yet, I think that human rights should be a prerequisite to any association agreement, especially as the country does not belong to the World Trade Organisation. Lastly, just like in the resolution on Armenia, we are calling on the country to act to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a destructive conflict that has been ongoing since the fall of the USSR. We have condemned the militarisation of the region and the significant military expenditure of the two countries, and call on their leaders to tone down statements and avoid inflammatory declarations in order to pave the way for a genuine dialogue.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations of the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. Azerbaijan plays an important role in the context of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, which provides the political framework for strengthening bilateral relations by means of new association agreements. Azerbaijan has progressed rapidly in the field of ICT, in particular, with regard to e-governance, which increases the transparency of public administration and helps to combat corruption, and the government of Azerbaijan has shown itself ready to cooperate actively with the EU and take the necessary reforms to promote the development of democracy. I welcome the European Parliament’s recommendations to incorporate in the association agreement clauses and benchmarks on the protection and promotion of human rights, to emphasise the importance of guaranteeing citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right of assembly and association, and private property rights, the development of civil society, the rule of law, the continued fight against corruption, political pluralism and the independence of the media and the judiciary, to fully comply with the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, and to welcome the reforms made by Azerbaijani authorities in the judiciary.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted for this report on the signature of an association agreement with Azerbaijan, despite the numerous problems involving this country, in particular, its historical, cultural and political proximity to Turkey and its conflict with Armenia.

However, the EU’s political activity in the Caucasus region is crucial for safeguarding our strategic interests (particularly in terms of energy supplies), and therefore requires agreements with problematic political entities such as Azerbaijan, which has an undisputed key role in terms of the energy resources in the Caspian Sea.

In the same way, we must include Azerbaijan in cooperation with the EU in order to slow down and, if possible, completely eliminate, the risk of a new conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh area, as new destabilisation in the Caucasus would have disastrous effects not only for Asia, but probably for the entire planet. I therefore decided to vote in favour.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because parliamentary cooperation, within the framework of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership and bilateral programmes, is a key element in developing advanced political cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan plays a positive role in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and contributes to the solution of the EU’s energy security problems. It is therefore important to ensure that the association agreement is a comprehensive and forward-looking framework for the future development of relations with Azerbaijan, one which enhances political association, economic convergence and legal approximation and strengthens the relationship that both the European Union and Azerbaijan have decided to develop. It is crucial to incorporate in the association agreement clauses and benchmarks on the protection and promotion of human rights, especially with regard to freedom of the media and the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, which reflect the principles and rights enshrined in the constitution of Azerbaijan and the highest international and European standards. It is especially important to build and develop a strong youth sector and welcome in this regard the various state programmes offering scholarships for studying abroad. Furthermore, the necessary action should be taken to incorporate in the association agreement provisions enabling Azerbaijan to participate in Community programmes and agencies, as a tool for promoting European integration at all levels.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – While I support efforts from the international community to recognise and ultimately address ongoing conflict in Azerbaijan, and while it is paramount that ethically sound trade deals and third country negotiations take into account such problems in their creation, I cannot endorse EU negotiations in Azerbaijan as I do not acknowledge the European Union as an entity that should have an individualised and unified approach to foreign affairs. While the report recognises the deficit in democracy, restrictions on individual freedoms and the stifling of expression as administered by the ruling party, it is not the duty of the European Union to highlight and address these issues but of supranational organisations elected to represent the voice of its members in the field of international relations and the sovereign prerogative of nation states themselves.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report, which aims to strengthen our relations with Azerbaijan. I note that the process is running its course in accordance with the procedures determined by the European Union and the guarantees provided by Azerbaijan. I would also like to point out that the association agreement is the next logical step in the partnership and cooperation agreements already in place between the EU and Azerbaijan. Two points in particular caught my eye: the need to ensure compliance with EU requirements and the recourse to regional cooperation to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The recommendations voted for today in the context of the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement, which replaces the EU-Azerbaijan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, significantly deepen Azerbaijan’s political association and economic integration with the EU. I am voting for the conclusion of this report because I believe Azerbaijan plays an important role in the EU Eastern Partnership. There are mutual benefits to concluding these agreements because of political stability and the EU’s strategic interest in the region’s democratic development; of the noteworthy economic growth of its domestic market; and of the energy issue, since it is an important energy supplier for the EU, although the energy issue has still not been broached in the negotiations.

I consider it extremely important to stress human rights and the citizens’ fundamental freedoms – political, association, expression, press and personal self-determination – in the negotiations, along with respect for the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the highest international and European standards. It will also be important to mention the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as part of the efforts within the Eastern Partnership to achieve political reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Bearing in mind the negotiations between the European Union and Azerbaijan aimed at concluding an association agreement, I think that this association agreement should bring tangible benefits and opportunities to the people of Azerbaijan and the European Union, with a view to promoting a sustainable economy, and will ensure greater transparency in the energy sector and also guarantee that this sector is developed in accordance with international environmental standards.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the adoption of this new association agreement with Azerbaijan as it is a key partner for the EU and a major player in the Caucasus. I welcome the solid relationship established with our Azerbaijani partners, which has led to the signing of an agreement encouraging the strengthening of exchanges. However, as pointed out in this text, Azerbaijan needs to sit at the negotiating table with other countries in the region to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has gone on far too long to the detriment of the people.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe Azerbaijan plays an important role in the EU Eastern Partnership. The agreement is intended to make the region more secure by promoting a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It also advocates the primacy of the law and freedom of expression for the political opponents of the present government, and expresses particular concern at rising military spending.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union and Azerbaijan are currently negotiating an association agreement which will replace the partnership and cooperation agreement currently linking them. This new agreement will be intended to deepen and strengthen political and economic ties between the EU and Azerbaijan. The energy chapter has yet to be tackled and there remain sensitive issues such as Nagorno-Karabakh and the human rights situation. I hope that the EU and Azerbaijan moving closer in this way, which is crucial to the Eastern Partnership, will enable this country to recognise in its European ally an example of consistency and a model for voluntary subordination to Western values, and that it will be the country itself that commits to convergence therewith.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) One of the EU’s concerns has always been the European Neighbourhood Policy. Political and social stability have been strategic priorities of the EU since its creation, so it has established cooperation agreements with neighbouring countries. This report, by Ms Jäätteenmäki, includes recommendations by the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations for the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. This is the first time that the EU has been involved in negotiations with Azerbaijan, which is under a cloud because of the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Although Azerbaijan is an important partner for the EU, particularly as a supplier of energy, but also of other products, we cannot accept continuous human rights violations, such as the raiding of people’s homes and detention of individuals without formal charge. Notwithstanding the progress made since July 2010, I voted for this report and I call on the Azerbaijan authorities to put a stop to the human rights violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The mandate for negotiating the agreement with Azerbaijan cannot be viewed in isolation from that for negotiations with Armenia. Both are bound up in the EU’s energy dependence and the acknowledged strategic importance on the Caucasus as a productive and transit region for important energy resources. That is the central reason for updating the existing deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, and for the pressure on the country to join the World Trade Organisation, thereby obliging it to open up its energy market and put a substantial part of its sovereignty over its natural resources – energy, specifically – at the mercy of the multinationals of Europe and other regions in this important sector.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Azerbaijan plays an important role in the context of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, and the level of economic growth that the country has recorded in the last few years has been noteworthy. Parliamentary cooperation, within the framework of the EU’s Eastern Partnership and bilaterally, is a key element in developing advanced political cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan. It plays a positive role in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and, inter alia, contributes to the resolution of the EU’s energy security problems. In this connection, association agreements constitute the appropriate framework to strengthen relations, by enhancing political association, economic integration and legal approximation with the EU and developing cultural relations, thus having an important impact on the democratisation process. Azerbaijan’s active commitment to assert shared values and principles, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights, is the basis for taking the process forward and for making the negotiation and subsequent implementation of the association agreement meaningful. The association agreement should bring tangible benefits and opportunities to the people of Azerbaijan and the European Union. I firmly believe, however, that it is both necessary and justified to establish clear benchmarks for the implementation of the association agreement and provide for monitoring mechanisms, including the submission of regular reports to the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) As with the report on the EU-Armenia association agreement, this report places great focus on the unresolved conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and it, too, mentions a certain imbalance in the recommendations to the parties involved for settling the conflict. The gap between the texts setting out the European Parliament’s recommendations could be sorely perceived by the parties to the conflict and runs the risk of the European Union losing its image of neutrality. That is why I voted against this report.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which aims to clarify the European Parliament’s position in ongoing negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. The purpose of this agreement is to strengthen political dialogue and economic integration between the parties (without providing a free trade area as Azerbaijan is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)). Parliament also expressed its support for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this own-initiative report, which advocates the European Parliament’s position in ongoing negotiations on entering into an association agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The object of this agreement is to strengthen the political association and economic integration of Azerbaijan without creating a free trade area as this country is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The adoption of the report is also an opportunity for Parliament to discuss the worrying situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and to point out that, first and foremost, it is crucial that international standards be met.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome the paragraph in this report which urges the Azerbaijan authorities to step up implementation of the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR), in writing. – I am delighted to be in a position to vote in favour of the report on negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. This follows a number of welcome recommendations in the report which I feel are essential if EU-Azerbaijan relations are to continue on the road to a final agreement. For example, the protection and promotion of human rights is, of course, vital in this regard and reflects principles already enshrined in the constitution of Azerbaijan. The report gives an important reminder that deeper relations with the EU depend on adherence to the rule of law and the importance of freedom of expression for political opponents. This ties in with concerns expressed over the registration of NGOs and political parties and, of course, a resolution to this problem must be found if EU standards are to be met. Civil society organisations must also be given room to hold government to account. These recommendations form the basis of a free and fair society and must be taken on board by the Council, Commission and External Action Service in their negotiations with Azerbaijan.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The association agreement being negotiated between the European Union and Azerbaijan will replace the partnership and cooperation agreement currently in force. The purpose of these new negotiations is to deepen and strengthen political and economic ties between the EU and Azerbaijan. Despite everything, there are still a few issues not tackled in this report, notably energy. There are also very controversial issues such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as the human rights situation in the country. Let us hope that these issues will be resolved in the best possible way for all parties. I also eagerly expect this new agreement to be a major step forward in EU relations with Azerbaijan, which is a very important country as regards the Eastern Partnership.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – We are interested in developing closer relations with Azerbaijan, a strategically important country of the Eastern Neighbourhood. However, in order to deepen these relations, Azerbaijan should effectively address concerns about the deteriorating situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country. I totally agree with the rapporteur and I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Relations between the EU and Azerbaijan have been defined by a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement since 1999. Under the enlargement of the EU, the European Neighbourhood Policy was also launched, of which Azerbaijan became a part. The European Union and Azerbaijan are currently in the process of negotiating an association agreement, which should become the successor to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The signing of the association agreement would lead to a substantial strengthening of relations with the European Union. Azerbaijan was also one of the first members of the Eastern Partnership. Despite the close cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, the country faces many challenges and problems. These are issues in the areas of human rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law. Another problem it faces is the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is marked by many years of conflict and war. I firmly believe that these conflicts can be overcome, and I also support the conclusions of the rapporteur, Ms Jäätteenmäki.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. – I voted in favour of Anneli Jäätteenmäki’s report as I find it to be balanced and sound. In particular, I support the reference to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, which has been stated very clearly in the report. The frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh has been casting a gloomy shadow over the South-Caucasus region and intimidated the relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan for far too long. Armenia must respect international law, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and therefore withdraw its forces from occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh and return them to Azerbaijani control.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I supported the report prepared by my colleague from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, as well as the principles referred to therein. Given Azerbaijan’s significant role in safeguarding the European Union’s energy security and its geographical location, it is an extremely important strategic partner. Nevertheless, Europe should not neglect its fundamental values while pursuing cooperation with Azerbaijan, and it must continue to demand that the latter respect human rights and promote democracy, end the persecution of the opposition and release political prisoners. Despite the many shortcomings with regard to the promotion of a democratic society, Azerbaijan has made progress, for instance, in increasing the transparency of public administration by implementing the principles of eGovernment. The peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is also important, and I am concerned by Azerbaijan’s bellicose rhetoric and the large increase in defence expenditure. I believe that the role of the European Union, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey is very important for the successful resolution of the conflict.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Relations between the EU and Azerbaijan have deepened steadily in recent years and there has been closer cooperation, particularly in the energy and transport sectors. Azerbaijan plays an important role in the context of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership. To ensure that the association agreement becomes a comprehensive and forward-looking framework for the future development of relations with Azerbaijan, the country must implement reforms more effectively and address particularly sensitive issues that exist in the country. Above all, it is necessary to strengthen the rule of law, democratic checks and balances, as well as stop corruption, fraud and human rights violations in the country. I believe that in the interests of security, the Azerbaijani authorities should sign and ratify the convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and the convention on cluster munitions.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) Azerbaijan is an important partner of EU Member States in the trade in energy resources. However, the implementation of the values of democracy, human rights and freedoms in this country is just as important. Today, we are hearing that in Azerbaijan, people are continuing to be arrested because of their political convictions, that forced evictions are taking place, and that people’s property rights are being violated. I welcome this report, which, above all, calls for the safeguarding of human rights in the country on its road towards the European Union. Negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement are also being overshadowed by the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Minsk Group, made up of Russia, France and the US, is mediating in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but as yet, this group’s achievements are insufficient. Brussels is concerned by the slow progress of conflict resolution and calls on both Azerbaijan and Armenia to implement the Minsk Group’s recommendations as a matter of urgency. The EU is ready to continue to provide assistance in deepening democracy, ensuring the implementation of human rights and resolving conflicts. I hope that the association agreement will become the main driving force for the implementation of these objectives.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I fully support the work carried out by the EU in the negotiations of the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. Azerbaijan has a certain amount of importance in the Eastern Partnership and agreements need to be developed for growth that will undoubtedly benefit both parties, both economically and politically. As Azerbaijan is an important energy supplier for our continent, we need to develop our dialogue and maintain this diplomatic approach in order to deliver ever greater advantages, including by way of benefits and opportunities for citizens.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, which includes recommendations by the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service concerning the negotiations relating to the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. The most important of these recommendations is to ensure that the association agreement is a comprehensive and forward-looking framework for the future development of relations with Azerbaijan; one which enhances political association, economic convergence and legal approximation, and which reflects the relationship that both the European Union and Azerbaijan have decided to develop.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement, in the context of the EU Eastern Partnership. The EU Eastern Partnership is the political framework that strengthens bilateral relations by means of association agreements, taking account of the specific situation, the mutual benefits, and the EU’s strategic interest in the region’s stability and democratic development. Its noteworthy economic growth means that Azerbaijan has been playing an important role in the Eastern Partnership, as well as in solving the EU’s energy security problems. As such, the negotiations under way are to be welcomed. They are intended to strengthen EU-Azerbaijan bilateral relations, translating to increased political association, economic convergence and legal approximation with the EU. However, we cannot fail to call on the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee greater respect for both the primacy of the law and the political opposition’s freedom of expression, so that we can say that this is a genuinely democratic process that is under way.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. It is very important that the joint amendment calling for the ongoing construction of buildings linked to the Eurovision song contest to be carried out in line with legislation, and expressing concern at government criticism of human rights activists, is adopted.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because I believe that the association agreement can bring tangible benefits and opportunities to the people of Azerbaijan and the European Union.

Azerbaijan, in fact, plays an important role in the context of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, which provides the political framework for strengthening bilateral relations, taking into account mutual benefits and the EU’s strategic interest in the stability and democratic development of the region. Furthermore, it has become an important energy supplier for the EU as well as an important transit country for energy resources from Central Asia in particular.

Finally, Azerbaijan is making progress in shared values and principles such as democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing.(FR) The European Parliament has encouraged continued negotiations of the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. MEPs pointed out that such an agreement would bring tangible benefits and opportunities to the Azerbaijani people and to the European Union. Azerbaijan is actually in a position to help solve the problems related to energy security in the EU. In return, the EU helps the country’s socio-economic integration by providing it with technical and financial assistance. However, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia is a major obstacle to the progress of negotiations. Stability in the South Caucasus is our ultimate goal but the EU cannot get closer to Azerbaijan or Armenia without a regional dynamic being introduced. What is more, Azerbaijan needs to continue with its democratic reforms to ensure the fundamental rights of its citizens.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Azerbaijan, which, in the last few years, has experienced excellent levels of economic growth, plays an important role in the context of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership.

Furthermore, it has become an important energy supplier for the EU as well as an important transit country for energy resources from Central Asia in particular. At the same time, the EU is a major energy market for Azerbaijan.

This vote intends to enhance economic convergence and also legal approximation with the European Union. Therefore, it is necessary for negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Armenia association agreements to be linked to credible commitments to making substantial progress towards the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Confidence-building measures are necessary, such as the withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact, the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh and their return to Azerbaijani control, and the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their home settlements and properties.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union and Azerbaijan are negotiating a future association agreement to replace the present partnership and cooperation agreement. The future agreement will significantly deepen political and economic integration with the European Union, but it will not include a free trade area because Azerbaijan is not a member of the World Trade Organisation. I am voting for the recommendations included in this report. I would stress that the important chapter of the negotiations concerning the energy issue has still not been broached and that human rights should be a key element of this agreement.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – I agree with the effort that the European Union is making on the eastern countries on their way to democracy, freedom and implementation of human rights. I will support this process of political cooperation.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the EU-Azerbaijan association report because the association agreement provides the appropriate framework for deepening relations, by enhancing political association, economic integration and legislative harmonisation with the EU, and by developing cultural relations, thereby exerting a major impact on the democratisation process. Guaranteeing citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right of assembly and association, private property rights, the development of civil society, the rule of law, the ongoing fight against corruption, political pluralism and the independence of the media and the judiciary are fundamentally important with the prospect of an EU-Azerbaijan association agreement. I must express my concern about the increasing number of human rights activists being arrested and the difficulties encountered with regard to the registration of NGOs and political parties. I should stress the importance of building and developing a strong framework supporting young people. In this regard, I welcome the various State programmes offering scholarships to study abroad. The association agreement is a comprehensive, forward-looking framework for the future development of relations with Azerbaijan. This should foster political association and convergence.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The relations between the EU and Azerbaijan are becoming increasingly important as Azerbaijan improves economically and politically. The main points of this cooperation are the stability and democratic development of this Central Asian area and consequently of Euronest, which is highly influenced by, and involved in, economic and political cooperation with the EU. The EP welcomes the association agreement as it fosters cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan. The EU would have more access to Azerbaijan in terms of assessing and monitoring cases involving human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are not fully respected in Azerbaijan. In addition to this, it would help the Asian country to make commitments related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the respect of political opponents and refugees.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report by Ms Jäätteenmäki because I believe that the agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan is an excellent opportunity to deepen and develop the political and commercial relationships with the Azerbaijani Government. I also believe that this agreement can ensure greater protection for human rights in Azerbaijan.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The mandate for negotiating the agreement with Azerbaijan cannot be viewed in isolation from that for negotiations with Armenia, and both are bound up in the EU’s energy dependence and the acknowledged strategic importance of the Caucasus as a productive and transit region. This is the central reason for updating the existing deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, and for the pressure on the country to join the World Trade Organisation, thereby obliging it to open up its energy market and hand over a substantial part of its sovereignty over its natural resources – energy, specifically – to the multinationals of Europe and other regions in this important sector. Guaranteeing access to and domination of natural resources – particularly energy – is becoming crucial to the EU which, facing a serious crisis, is stepping up its policy of interference. It is also strengthening all its political, economic, diplomatic and other mechanisms for weakening sovereignty, and for subordinating it to the interests of the major EU powers and of the capitalist monopolies lusting after new markets and greater exploitation of the workers, so as to generate the enormous profits that they need to emerge from their profit crisis.

 
  
  

Report: Tomasz Piotr Poręba (A7-0079/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) Since 1 July 1999, the EU has been tied to Armenia by a partnership and association agreement. The vote on this resolution has enabled the European Parliament to make recommendations on the ongoing negotiations with Yerevan. As a member of the delegation to the EU-Armenia, EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Georgia parliamentary cooperation committees, I welcome this agreement, which will strengthen relations between the EU and the South Caucasus. I have campaigned for a peaceful and lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We must give the Minsk Group a leading role in conducting the peace negotiations.

On this point, I am keen to emphasise the major role played by France, a long-standing partner in the region, in the work of this group and how vital it is that it continue to play its rightful part in future negotiations.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal because it is important to recognise Armenia as a European partner and acknowledge its European aspirations. At the same time, the progress made with the required reforms in this country must be stressed: they facilitate the association agreement, despite concern about corruption and tolerance. However, the most serious concern is about the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, which is covered by this agreement and involves Armenian forces withdrawing from the territory.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report because it recognises Armenia as a key partner of the EU and acknowledges the progress made by this country in the reform process. Nonetheless, it also stresses the need to further step up the fight against corruption and the promotion of tolerance. As in the report on Azerbaijan, we succeeded – thanks to an S&D amendment – to link the negotiation on the association agreement to credible progress being made on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including confidence-building measures such as general demilitarisation, withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact and the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. I also strongly support the need to advocate the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their home settlements and properties.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) Talks on an association agreement between the EU and Armenia are on track. I therefore welcomed the motion for a resolution which hails the reforms carried out in Armenia to integrate best practices and the recommendations of the European Union in the areas of justice, freedom and security, including tangible results in terms of migration. However, we expect the parliamentary elections of 6 May in that country to be free and fair. Nevertheless, I have every confidence in Armenia and its willingness to cooperate with the European Union. However, just like in the resolution on Azerbaijan, we are calling on the country to act to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a destructive conflict that has been ongoing since the fall of the USSR. We have condemned the militarisation of the region and the significant military expenditure of the two countries, and call on their leaders to tone down statements and avoid inflammatory declarations in order to pave the way for a genuine dialogue.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the conclusion of the EU-Armenia association agreement. Association agreements constitute the appropriate framework for deepening relations, by enhancing political association, socio-economic integration and legal approximation with the EU, and developing cultural relations with third countries. Armenia’s active commitment to shared values and principles, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights, is essential to take the process and negotiations forward and to ensure the subsequent implementation of the association agreement. Although the Armenian authorities have repeatedly stated their willingness to adhere to these values and have invoked Armenia’s European ambitions, the pace of reforms has not always matched reality. I agree that the association agreement with Armenia must incorporate clauses and benchmarks on the protection and promotion of human rights which reflect the highest international and European standards and guarantee the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of assembly and association, the development of civil society, the rule of law, the continued fight against corruption, ensuring market competitiveness, and the independence of the media.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this report on an association agreement with Armenia. This nation has always had strong cultural ties with Europe, despite the latter’s geographical distance, and it is important that the EU should acknowledge these ties by formalising its political relations with Armenia.

On a secondary level, the EU should strengthen its political presence in the Caucasus, which is a region of enormous strategic importance, and one where it is crucial to maintain stability. If these agreements can serve these purposes, then it is right to support them, and I therefore voted for this report.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the EU-Armenia association agreement would be a comprehensive and forward-looking framework for the future development of relations with Armenia and would enhance political association, economic convergence and legal approximation. This association agreement should emphasise the importance of guaranteeing the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of assembly and association, the development of civil society, the rule of law, the continued fight against corruption, and the independence of the media. It is also important to ensure that civil society and non-governmental organisations in Armenia are regularly and systematically consulted throughout the association agreement negotiation process and to ensure that their recommendations are noted and taken into account wherever appropriate. It is particularly important to stress the independence of the judiciary, transparent public procurement procedures, the separation of politics from business and the need to dismantle oligarchic structures within the economy, reliable court procedures that guarantee a fair trial and access to justice for all citizens, a safe environment for investigative journalism, access to information and independent and social media. The association agreement should incorporate clauses and benchmarks on the protection and promotion of human rights, which reflect the highest international and European standards, drawing to the fullest possible extent on Council of Europe and OSCE frameworks and the ongoing EU-Armenia Human Rights Dialogue.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – While I support efforts from the international community to recognise and ultimately address ongoing conflict in Armenia, and while it is paramount that ethically sound trade deals and third country negotiations take into account such problems in their creation, I cannot endorse EU negotiations in Armenia as I do not acknowledge the European Union as an entity that should have an individualised and unified approach to foreign affairs. While the report recognises the deficit in democracy, restrictions on individual freedoms and the stifling of expression as administered by the ruling party, it is not the duty of the European Union to highlight and address these issues but of supranational organisations elected to represent the voice of its members in the field of international relations and the sovereign prerogative of nation states themselves.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I agree with the rapporteur that we generally need to strengthen dialogue with our various partners. The European Union must support Armenia in its efforts to strengthen democracy, promote economic development and increase the efficiency of its institutions. I also believe it is crucial to demand that Armenia show its willingness to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by continuing the negotiation process initiated by the Minsk Group. Stability in the Caucasus is an important issue for the European Union and it should provide answers to the refugee problem. I also note that Parliament will be informed of the implementation of the association agreement.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Bearing in mind the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Armenia aimed at concluding an association agreement, I think that Armenia’s active commitment to shared values and principles, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights, is essential for continuing the process and making the negotiations and subsequent implementation of this association agreement a success.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text which enables a free trade area to be established facilitating the export of European products to the region. As highlighted in the text, in view of the upcoming elections in Armenia, it is vital that EU partners respect the democratic values that we hold so dear. In the same vein, we recall here the importance of respecting the principles of international law in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has been going on for far too long. Like all players in the region, Armenia must make efforts to quickly find a negotiated solution within the framework of the Minsk Group so that people can enjoy a lasting peace.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I consider Armenia an important partner of the EU with European aspirations. The rapporteur acknowledges the need for further reforms combating corruption, thereby facilitating negotiations on the association agreement. Concern about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the requirement for Armenia to withdraw its forces from occupied Azerbaijan territory are legitimate.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Armenia is a nation with a long history, tradition and culture, and was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its religion. The Armenia people suffered for a long time during their domination by the Ottomans and Soviets, and are now taking steps to institutionalise Western-style democracy and rule of law. The association agreement will contribute to bringing Armenia even closer to the European model and will cause it to converge with the EU. It falls to Armenia’s leaders and people to follow this path and to the European Union to support this effort, which we hope will be substantial and fruitful. The upcoming presidential elections will constitute an important test of how steadfastly Armenia is opting for Europe and how committed it is to the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. As with Azerbaijan, there are still sensitive issues here, such as that of Nagorno-Karabakh, in which both countries are involved and which will not be definitively resolved without commitment from both parties.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) One of the EU’s concerns has always been the European Neighbourhood Policy. Political and social stability have been strategic priorities of the EU since its creation, so it has established cooperation agreements with neighbouring countries. This report, by Mr Poręba, includes recommendations by the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations for the EU-Armenia association agreement. Throughout the negotiation process, Armenia has demonstrated a level of openness to and interest in moving closer to EU values. However, much remains to be done, particularly with regard to combating organised crime, corruption and human rights violations, as well as to the armed conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where Armenia still has troops. It is becoming essential that both countries – Armenia and Azerbaijan – urgently adopt the Minsk Group initiatives. I voted for this report and would urge the Armenian authorities to continue with reforms, particularly as regards human rights and freedom of expression, promoting fair and free elections in May.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As with other agreements of this type, the mandate for negotiating an association agreement with Armenia is replete with unacceptable points. The text does not just concern open interference in the domestic affairs of this country: it also attempts to follow the example of the majority of the EU’s agreements with third countries in which it has interests and conclude a free trade area. As always, it insists on creating conditions for increased exploitation of workers, for opening up markets, for colonising countries, and for attempting to expropriate their national resources. There is a perfunctory reference to the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, which is nothing more than using the parts thereof that serve the interests that the EU is pursuing in the region, ignoring or sidelining aspects that are of no use to them; specifically, those on non-intervention in countries’ domestic affairs, on respect for their sovereignty, on respect for international law and on respect for the inviolability of borders. The stance adopted regarding the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh could pave the way for further fragmentation of the region, thereby increasing instability and danger in the region.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Association agreements constitute the appropriate framework to strengthen relations, by enhancing political association, socio-economic integration and legal approximation with the EU and developing cultural relations. Armenia’s active commitment to assert shared values and principles, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights, is the basis for taking the process forward and for the subsequent implementation of the association agreement. The Armenian authorities have repeatedly expressed their willingness to adhere to these values​​. The resolutions do not always accord with reality, however, especially regarding the progress of reforms. Nevertheless, negotiations on the agreement continue at a good pace and are stimulating domestic reform. In my opinion, it is important to ensure that the association agreement is a comprehensive and progressive framework for the future development of relations with Armenia, which will strengthen political association, economic convergence and legal approximation. It is important to incorporate into the agreement a strong parliamentary dimension to ensure that the National Assembly of Armenia and the European Parliament are fully involved in its implementation and monitoring. Similarly, it is necessary to assist the Armenian Parliament technically and financially so that it can fully develop its constitutional functions, bodies and services, including the creation of fully-fledged standing committees and better interaction with civil society. At the same time, I believe that it is equally important to provide for monitoring mechanisms, including the submission of regular reports to the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) The 20-year old unresolved conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh figures prominently in this report. However, in the recommendations on Nagorno-Karabakh, there appears to be some disparity in the treatment of allegations against the Armenian authorities. While these recommendations are intended to promote a speedy resolution to the conflict, they could have a counterproductive effect, breaking the parallelism of the European language towards Armenia and Azerbaijan. That is why I voted against this report.

 
  
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  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE), in writing.(PL) Association agreements are an important instrument for building and strengthening bilateral relations. Thanks to bilateral contacts, it is not just the EU which can more clearly defend its strategic interests, but the partner country concerned also has the opportunity to present its situation in more detail, adjust bilateral relations to it and, if necessary, develop and improve its political and economic situation. An important aspect is the possibility to enhance political association and socio-economic integration and to develop cultural relations. Armenia has European ambitions and is a country committed to values such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Examples of this are Armenia’s participation in multilateral parliamentary cooperation in the framework of Euronest and the good pace of reforms being carried out in Armenia. I think it is essential to provide more advanced stimulation of the development of relations with Armenia, so I welcome the report the European Parliament has adopted today, which contains appropriate recommendations for the Commission, the Council and the European External Action Service which, amongst other things, underscore the necessity of creating a framework for the future development of relations with Armenia. The association agreement which is being negotiated will be just such an instrument, one which will enhance political association and will also be a catalyst supporting human rights and democracy. However, during the negotiation process itself, the parties should attend to and strive for solutions to the most urgent questions, such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, encouragement to hold systematic consultations with society and the need for democratic elections.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which aims to clarify the European Parliament’s position in relation to the negotiation of an EU-Armenia association agreement. The purpose of this association agreement is to strengthen political dialogue as well as economic integration between the parties (through the introduction of a free trade area). The report urges Armenia to continue its democratic reforms and supports the resolution of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this own-initiative report, which advocates the European Parliament’s position in ongoing negotiations on entering into an EU-Armenia association agreement. This agreement seeks to strengthen the political and economic ties between the EU and Armenia and to create a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). In addition, the report highlights the efforts made by Armenia in terms of respect for human rights, and calls on it to be particularly vigilant during the upcoming presidential elections in 2013.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) Armenia is a country which receives EU assistance and is part of the Eastern Partnership. The perspectives for Armenia’s further economic development are, to a great extent, dependent on finding solutions to the country’s many internal problems, and also on its European partners. I think the negotiations on the EU-Armenia association agreement are very important, and they should be based on stability and the democratic development of the region. In view of the fact that the Armenian authorities are giving great emphasis to their European goals and the need to propagate democratic values and principles, I endorsed the Poręba report on the negotiations concerning the EU-Armenia association agreement.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution because I believe the European Union must continue its good cooperation with the Armenian authorities. We must show support for the implementation of reforms, in particular, concerning the judiciary and law enforcement institutions. The EU should help Armenia on its way towards deeper democracy. This transformation cannot take place without implementing good laws to fight corruption, money laundering, and organised crime, or without a functioning and responsible judiciary. The test for politicians, prosecutors and judges is the high level of corruption cases, so these should be a priority. Transparency of income and expenditure should also be a top objective. The upcoming elections on 6 May are a test for Armenian democracy. The European Parliament must continue to monitor the situation and call on the government to ensure a level playing field for all political parties. We should also support the continuation of confidence-building measures in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations. A successful resolution of this conflict can only take place within the framework of international law.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this resolution, which calls for the incorporation into the association agreement of clauses and benchmarks on the protection and promotion of human rights which reflect the highest international and European standards, drawing to the fullest possible extent on Council of Europe and OSCE frameworks and the ongoing EU-Armenia Human Rights Dialogue.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR), in writing. – An association agreement between the EU and Armenia is in the interests of both parties. We in the EU have a stake in a stable and democratic Armenia, while Armenia has European aspirations of its own. Therefore, this report is important for laying the foundations of negotiations. A crucial factor in these negotiations are the elections, which are to be held on 6 May of this year, and it is right that the proper conduct of these elections plays a vital part in the future development of EU-Armenia relations. However, as the report points out, this also includes plurality, freedom of political discourse, free speech and media and freedom of assembly throughout the entire election process. A second important factor must also be the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and I am happy that this report addresses that issue. I fully support confidence-building measures such as demilitarisation, as well as human rights measures such as the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes. I am therefore happy to vote in favour of this report, which is based upon such strong recommendations.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Armenia is today taking important steps towards establishing itself as a Western-style democracy under the rule of law. The purpose of this association agreement is to contribute to Armenia becoming an economically and politically stronger country. The upcoming presidential elections will be crucial for Armenia to attest to its desire to stick to the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Like with Azerbaijan, there are still sensitive issues here, such as that of Nagorno-Karabakh, in which both countries are involved and which will not be definitively resolved without a firm commitment from both involved parties.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – As a shadow rapporteur, I welcome the progress made by Armenia in negotiations on the association agreement and the calls on it to deepen reforms in order to fulfil the European aspirations of the Armenian people. It is necessary to develop the negotiation process with Azerbaijan and endeavour to resolve the problems by diplomatic means only. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. – I voted in favour of Tomasz Piotr Poręba’s report as it outlines the importance of resolving the frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh, just like Anneli Jääteenmäki’s report. It is pivotal that the conflict is resolved before the EEAS goes on with the EU-Armenia association agreement. Armenia must respect the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and cease the settlement-building programme in the occupied territories of Nagorno-Karabakh. Artificial increasing of the Armenian population in the occupied territories is an alarming signal and Armenia should, in any case, avoid adding fuel to the fire.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I supported this report, which clearly cited the advances and areas of concern in the negotiations over the association agreement with Armenia. I am still very concerned about the high level of corruption prevailing in Armenia and the explosive situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is sad to see that the already long-dead Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, is still able to provoke various conflicts through his unjust division of borders between republics, hence my appeal to refuse to obey the wishes of the Red Executioner, and to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict using peaceful means. Here, I believe that the role of the European Union, the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation as peace mediators is an important one. As regards the criticism of Armenia concerning its friendly relations with the extremist Iranian regime, this is certainly reprehensible, but also partly understandable for pragmatic reasons, since Armenia is surrounded by Turkic peoples who have established an extensive blockade of the country. The narrow Georgian trade corridor is, unfortunately, too small for Armenia to be able to manage independently and emerge from isolation. I hope the various parties will be able to move forward without excessive emotions and concentrate on the future and not the past. A conflict-free situation would be beneficial to all of the countries in the region.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) In order to ensure that negotiations between the EU and Armenia are successful and that an effectively functioning and mutually beneficial association agreement is concluded, it is essential for Armenia to carry out political, economic and judicial reforms in its country. I welcome the proposal calling on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to behave more responsibly and to tone down statements and refrain from inflammatory declarations in order to pave the way for a constructive dialogue at all levels of society. I also believe that Armenia should reduce its military spending and allocate more funds to such important issues as poverty reduction, social security and economic development.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcome the congratulations given to Armenia over the implementation of democratic reforms, greater freedom of speech and human rights in the country and the ambitious goal of organising the freest elections in the country’s history on 6 May. Armenia is showing that EU integration is becoming an increasingly clear priority for the country. As the greatest project for implementing peace and social justice, the European Union is also an example to Armenia, showing that peace can also be achieved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has been going on for 20 years. The resolution of the conflict should begin with an agreement between the EU and Armenia to build relations on the basis of shared values. I invite the EU to call on Armenia to act more constructively to resolve the conflict, to withdraw military forces from the occupied territories, and to let forces from the international community maintain peace there. I welcome the report because it proposes EU and Armenian visa liberalisation to develop people-to-people contacts as soon as the country fulfils the EU’s democratisation and conflict resolution requirements.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) As I have pointed out, I am in favour of this agreement as far as the state of Azerbaijan is concerned. The development of negotiations relating to the EU-Armenia association agreement will encourage progress towards a more democratic way of life, and another major goal will be to achieve effective economic and social collaboration. Following this type of cooperation, the EU may also take a stronger position in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has been the subject of a dispute between the two countries for some time.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, which includes recommendations by the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on negotiations concerning the EU-Armenia association agreement. I am doing so because association agreements constitute the appropriate framework for deepening relations, by enhancing political association, socio-economic integration and legal approximation with the EU, and by developing cultural relations; it is also because I agree with most of the content of the recommendations tabled.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the negotiations on the EU-Armenia association agreement. These association agreements are the proper framework for deepening relations, both through efforts at political association and socio-economic integration, and through increasing judicial approximation with the EU. Armenia’s desire to establish the bases for genuine regional cooperation as envisaged in the underlying principles of the European Neighbourhood Policy is welcome, as are the country’s efforts to respect democratic values, the rule of law and good governance practice, and to promote respect for human rights. However, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict needs to be resolved quickly and peacefully, since any threat of the use of force jeopardises the international community’s joint efforts. I voted for this report for the aforementioned reasons.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I applaud Mr Poręba for his work on this report.

With the approval of this motion for a resolution, given the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Armenia on the association agreement and the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Armenia and the European Union, which entered into force on 1 July 1999, the European Parliament recognises Armenia’s aspirations and considers them a necessary catalyst for implementation of reforms and public support for these reforms aimed at strengthening Armenia’s commitment to shared values and the principles of the rule of law, respect for human rights and good governance.

With this report, Parliament wants to encourage the Armenian authorities to continue to develop the defence of human rights, in particular, by providing additional financial and human resources and supporting the newly established regional offices.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The two joint amendments asking the EU to replace France as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and expressing concern at Armenia’s high military expenditures were adopted.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The negotiations on the EU-Armenia association agreement constitute the appropriate framework for deepening relations with Armenia by enhancing political association, socio-economic integration and legal approximation with the EU, and developing cultural relations and stimulating internal reforms.

It is important to recognise Armenia’s active commitment to shared values, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights, which are fundamental elements for making negotiations on, and the subsequent implementation of, the association agreement a success.

Finally, I hope the forthcoming parliamentary elections due to take place on 6 May 2012 will be properly conducted, as these will be of the utmost importance for the development of EU-Armenia relations.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing.(FR) The association agreement that I supported in plenary aims to strengthen ties between the EU and Armenia. Armenia’s European aspirations are an excellent lever for promoting democratisation and should be exploited to speed up the pace of reforms. For, in accordance with the ‘more for more’ principle, European integration of Armenia will continue apace if this condition is met. Sectoral cooperation between the EU and Armenia is intended to strengthen political dialogue, but also socio-economic integration and legal convergence. EU-Armenia rapprochement is also a regional matter. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has a major negative impact on development and stability in the South Caucasus. Above all, the tensions that it generates isolate Armenia and motivate it to adopt a policy on Iran that is out of sync with EU policy. I would say that the alternative, European integration, has got to be the best answer.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am pleased that here in Parliament, we are talking about the EU’s relations with Armenia, and that the report on which we voted clearly indicates what I consider to be a fundamental problem in relations with the country, and that is the unresolved problem of Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is increasingly common to hear talk of war in Karabakh. Talk of this kind has come from representatives of the political leadership in Baku, political scientists and experts. Karabakh is internationally recognised as being part of Azerbaijan. The fact that, by creating an atmosphere of fear and periodically threatening the renewal of hostilities, Azerbaijan can present the simple fact of not attacking and not conceding anything else to Armenia as a compromise is the political strategy we have been seeing for quite some time now.

Azerbaijan works hard to make sure the threat of war is constantly present, in order to ensure that not fighting still appears to be a concession. This is no longer a secret; it is openly talked about. Therefore, I think it is important to remember that the demilitarisation of the region and withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories are essential conditions for maintaining the dialogue and negotiations in the context of Euronest.

 
  
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  Monika Smolková (S&D), in writing. (SK) The strategic interests of the EU, stability and democratic development in the region, and the active commitment of Armenia to consistently follow the rules in the assertion of common values ​​can be a good basis for implementing the association agreement. The Armenian authorities repeatedly express their willingness to adhere to these values​​ and confirm the European ambitions of Armenia. In these efforts, however, Nagorno-Karabakh resonates very strongly, and I expect both parties to make significant progress in resolving this conflict as a result of this agreement. I voted for it because I expect the more than 20 years of suffering of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to end soon, and displaced persons and refugees to be able to return to their homes and to be able to use their property and start to live their lives in free and peaceful conditions.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Armenia association agreement is intended to deepen relations between both parties by enhancing political dialogue, boosting economic integration, and establishing an agreement with a view to a free trade area and sectoral approximation. As regards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it is important to insist on respect for the principles of international law and the need to enhance the European Union’s ability to resolve the conflict.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – I agree on the effort that the European Union is doing in this negotiation with Armenia, and I hope they can find their way to democracy, freedom and implementation of human rights, transparency, and independence from the judiciary and fight against corruption. I encourage this Eastern country to keep on joining the European values, though the way is not going to be easy. That is why I will vote in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report concerning negotiations on the EU-Armenia association agreement. This agreement is a comprehensive, forward-looking framework for the future development of relations with Armenia, promoting political association, economic convergence and legislative harmonisation. Armenia’s active commitment to shared values and principles, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights, is vital for continuing the process and making the negotiations and subsequent implementation of this association agreement a success. Armenia must, as part of the negotiations, treat youth and academic mobility as a priority with the aim of signing agreements for facilitating a visa waiver. Armenia must also improve its national higher education legislation, with a special emphasis on the legal regulation of student internships in accordance with the Bologna process. We call for the transparent management of public finances and the improvement of public procurement legislation with a view to ensuring good governance and a transparent decision-making process.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – Armenia is a prominent area for the peaceful cohabitation of Central Asian peoples. Its position in the South Caucasus enables it to be at the centre of the strategic dialogue on the crisis in Georgia, South Caucasus and Nagorno-Karabakh. The EU therefore stresses the importance of an association agreement with Armenia. Close cooperation between the EU and Armenia could be an effective tool to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and develop stability and peace in this area bordering Azerbaijan. Furthermore, it would represent an additional way to call on Armenia to stop the illegal activities carried out by Armenian troops in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, namely, regular military manoeuvres, the renewal of military hardware and personnel and the deepening of defensive echelons.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD), in writing.(PL) I welcome the fact that this important report was drafted by my fellow countryman, Tomasz Poręba, who, like every Pole, knows very well how important the Eastern Dimension is in the European Neighbourhood Policy. It is good that the European Parliament is working to develop the Eastern Partnership. We are all very well aware of the importance of strengthening bilateral relations between the EU and Armenia with an association agreement, and we also know what the consequences of this will be for the development of the entire region of the Southern Caucasus. We are making efforts to enhance political association, socio-economic integration, legal approximation and even development of cultural relations. I personally think, however, that at the moment, we must lay the greatest emphasis on the question of security, which means taking specific action to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. When we have overcome that problem, we will be able to talk about other aspects of cooperation, and even about cooperation on culture and entertainment.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Despite some situations, like the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, which are hindering stability and development in this geographical area, I believe that the association agreements are an appropriate instrument for deepening and improving political and commercial relations and developing cultural relations with Armenia and the countries of the South Caucasus.

Armenia’s European ambitions are also the right lever and necessary catalyst for strengthening the Armenian Government’s commitment to shared values and the principles of the rule of law, in particular, respect for human rights and good governance, and for helping to ensure a successful outcome for the association agreement with the EU.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The mandate for negotiating an association agreement with Armenia is replete with unacceptable points for a text that does not just concern open interference in the domestic affairs of this country, which is already serious enough: it also attempts to follow the example of the majority of the EU’s agreements with third countries in which it has interests and conclude a free trade area. As always, it insists on creating conditions for increased exploitation of workers, for opening up markets, and for colonising countries and their national resources. They mention the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act as if they respected them, but what they are doing is nothing more than using the parts thereof that serve the interests that the EU is pursuing in the region, relegating or sidelining aspects that are of no use to them; specifically, those on non-intervention in countries’ domestic affairs, on respect for their sovereignty, on respect for international law and on respect for the inviolability of borders. Instead of contributing to resolving the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, they pave the way for further fragmentation of the region, by implicitly supporting its independence, thereby increasing instability and danger in the region.

 
Last updated: 16 July 2012Legal notice