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Procedure : 2011/2215(DEC)
Document stages in plenary
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Texts tabled :

A7-0122/2012

Debates :

PV 10/05/2012 - 9
CRE 10/05/2012 - 9

Votes :

PV 10/05/2012 - 12.39
CRE 10/05/2012 - 12.39
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0186

Debates
Thursday, 10 May 2012 - Brussels OJ edition

13. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – We shall now proceed to the explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Philip Bradbourn (A7-0094/2012)

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, this document concentrates on the importance of regional airports as potential vehicles of territorial, economic and social cohesion. These infrastructures can, and must, perform this role, especially for citizens living outside major urban areas.

The rule whereby the threshold for an airport to receive State aid was decreased to 200 000 passengers per year is good. Regional aviation can ensure that free movement in Europe is a reality not just for people living in major capital cities, but also for European citizens living outside of these areas, ensuring that these cities and regions enjoy not only the benefits brought about by greater mobility, but also by generating tourism.

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in my capacity as rapporteur for the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I voted in favour of the own-initiative report on regional airports, and I am sure it will serve as a basis for their further regulation.

This report shows the importance that the European Parliament attributes to these airports in the context of air transport and the important role that they play as a vehicle for territorial, economic and social cohesion within the European Union.

For the first time, the definition of a regional airport has been provided and an attempt has been made to limit the area of reference by sub-dividing regional airports into major and minor airports, also in relation to passenger throughput and the links provided by such airports.

It is certainly to be hoped that the Commission will then follow up with more stringent specifications for their definition. A special passage concerns recognition of the need to guarantee public service obligations for remote regions, islands and the outermost regions, as we are well aware of their handicap in terms of participation in the single market.

Finally, I believe that the definition establishing and specifying the negative view of the irrational proliferation of further regional airports is useful.

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE).(PT) Mr President, the model presently used for airports in many Member States encourages the concentration of central structures in major airports, thereby creating a radial structure. That is the case with Madrid airport, which sidelines the airports of my region, Galicia. This model therefore encourages centralism.

Small airports should be seen as economic agents that socially and territorially link regions. These airports should be wholly managed as a network that follows a radial but not centralised system; that is polycentric; that enables various air routes to be diversified on the basis of complementarity and interdependence between airports and railways, so that peripheral areas – areas considered socio-economically peripheral – will cease to be peripheral.

 
  
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  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, regional airports are important for improving Europe’s links and allowing its citizens to move around inside the Union, but these structures must be built and operated according to the European Union’s own environmental standards. We cannot allow air traffic, and with it regional airports, to further harm the European environment, our air quality and the well-being of our region.

In northern Italy, for example – I am thinking of the cities of Treviso and Verona – the airport structures have been expanded in recent years without due consideration for the contexts in which these airports operate on a daily basis. More air connections in Europe are fine, but not at the cost of Europe’s environment, air and land.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, I voted in favour of the resolution on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU because it lays down concrete formulae for optimising the use of these infrastructures, committing to their integration as a key element in European transport planning.

We are especially pleased with the strengthening of these airports’ intermodal connections – essentially rail and road connections – in order to avoid saturation at other more congested airports. Furthermore, the report includes contributions that are very important to us, such as how regional airports are treated in terms of goods transport by air. I believe, moreover, that it prevents ridiculous amounts of waste, such as we saw in Spain at Castellón and Guadalajara airports.

Lastly, it offers concrete solutions to the problems presented by unacceptable behaviour on the part of low-cost airlines such as the ‘one bag’ rule or the controversy over the State aid they receive to operate in some airports. We are also totally in agreement with the treatment of airports in the outermost regions.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, regional airports are essential transport nodes and factors that contribute to growth and territorial cohesion. Frequently, however, they only survive thanks to massive injections of public money. Nowadays, this is increasingly scarce, and therefore it is important that they should have a specific vocation in order to avoid a proliferation that would lead to non-utilisation or under-utilisation of the airport infrastructure.

A typical example of this is the scores of airports in northern Italy located just 20-30 kilometres from one another. At the moment, there is no precise definition for a regional airport, and the Commission should therefore set common criteria for a proper definition.

Finally, I am concerned about the formulation regarding the scope of application and, in particular, the exclusion of airports whose principal catchment area is a capital city. I do not think it is correct as a catchment area is not uniform and can change. Despite these critical points, I voted in favour in order to draw the Commission’s attention to these important airports.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D). (PL) Mr President, I supported the most important arguments in the report on regional airports in the European Union. For regions such as my own Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivodeship, the development of the airport in Bydgoszcz provides an opportunity for considerably greater mobility for local inhabitants and for many businesses to grow. It is also essential if greater numbers of tourists are to visit the region and visit attractive towns such as Toruń, Grudziądz or Chełmno. It also provides opportunities to regions such as Kujawy, Pałuki or Bory Tucholskie. I am speaking about this because, in this context, I would expect the European Commission to increase significantly the funds available for the development of regional airports. These airports should also receive assistance on a broader scale from their own countries.

 
  
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  Georges Bach (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I hardly need to emphasise the importance of regional airports. I abstained in the vote on this report because I have a problem with the definition of regional airports. The description given here, namely, to not include ‘airports whose principal catchment area is a capital city’ in the purview of this report, means that numerous smaller airports with relatively low passenger numbers would not be classed as regional airports. These include, for example, Lyon and Dresden, Prague, Dublin, Liège and even Luxembourg. In my opinion, work needs to be done here to find a suitable definition that is more in line with reality.

In my opinion, security is also an aspect that has absolute priority and has not been dealt with adequately.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because I support the need to create a functioning transport network in the European Union. This would make a substantial economic contribution and make travelling more flexible and safer. Regional airports and airline services are vital both for ensuring free movement and for developing the economy and local tourism. In light of this, I should emphasise how important it is to overcome the barriers facing the European air transport sector. It is important that all citizens can enjoy greater mobility, a situation which regional aviation can help achieve. I should mention how important it is for regional airports to be integrated into the transport network in order to reduce the congestion from passenger traffic and improve operational efficiency. In Romania, efforts are being channelled towards the efficient use of the existing infrastructure and developing new regional airport projects.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR). (PL) Mr President, I supported this resolution. I share the concerns that my fellow Members have raised, for example, during this round of explanations of votes, even though I myself voted in favour, as I believe that regional airports are an important issue. It is also an important issue for my own country and for the different regions within Poland, where the development of regional airports could prove to be of critical importance in two respects: first of all, it could make tourism more attractive and increase tourism in these regions, which is a great opportunity for Poland. Secondly, the growth of regional airports also increases investment and economic opportunities in these regions in a wider sense. If it is possible to reach a city or a region by air, this can often prove decisive in terms of how attractive it is, even for investment. For this reason, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this report on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU. I particularly welcome the suggestion that those regional airports which are consistently running at low capacity could be used to relieve the congestion in the main hub airports which are severely congested as well. I feel that this would help to create a more efficient EU aviation area as well as addressing the specific regional aviation issues.

I believe that better integration of regional airports into the transport network nationally and internationally really will bring added value in terms of encouraging other benefits for EU citizens. I also back the report’s claims that the imposing of heavy luggage restrictions, and especially the one bag rule imposed by some airlines and the addition of certain unavoidable charges, threatens revenue from vital retail sales at airports. This is particularly the case for regional airports, which often have to negotiate extremely competitive landing charges in order to attract airlines in the first place.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, in my view, it is very important that when we, as members of the European Union and Members of Parliament, consider European infrastructure, we opt for decentralisation rather than centralisation. That is why I voted in favour of this report.

It is very important to ensure that in remoter areas, connections are maintained and that people can also continue to earn a living. This applies to both businesses and the mobility of people. Environmental factors are also important. When reforms are being carried out and the European Union is undergoing development, it is very important to remember the regional, social and economic aspects. In my opinion, this report takes very good account of them. It is important to ensure that there are also adequate transport links in sparsely populated areas in different parts of Europe. With the growth in air transport, it should also be ensured that air transport is an option at those regional airports, now and in the future.

 
  
  

Report: Christofer Fjellner (A7-0102/2012)

 
  
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  Andrea Češková (ECR). (CS) Mr President, I voted against granting discharge to the Commission mainly for one reason, which is the fact that the European Court of Auditors was again unable to issue a statement of assurance.

Another reason is the fact that the Commission still supports what are, in my opinion, highly risky financial engineering instruments, and is even preparing for this in the next multiannual financial framework. In this case, I believe the criticism is well placed, as there are no clear rules here for the use of these financial instruments, and there are not even any rules on transparency.

In my opinion, if we do not know the names of the final beneficiaries and all the details, and we do not have rules on the submission of regular reports on these financial instruments, we should not support them.

I would like to end, however, by saying that I did vote in favour of the following report, in other words, I supported the special report of the European Court of Auditors on the management of the Commission, because I believe that that report and the management of the Commission in general were discussed in detail from these perspectives in the Committee on Budgetary Control, and that both the Committee on Budgetary Control and the rapporteur have taken a very critical position on this matter, which is something I agreed with.

 
  
  

Report: Boguslaw Liberadzki (A7-0120/2012)

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Mr President, I voted against this report because I do not believe in granting any discharge for any part of the budget until the budget as a whole has been signed off by the Court of Auditors. The Parliament is squandering money on propaganda.

The Visitors’ Centre costs EUR 20 million; it is neither on budget nor on time. We have set aside EUR 5 million for the House of European History. Let us make history today by putting a stop to this travesty. We have reduced the budget of the European Parliament by 14%, and yet it still costs us EUR 8 million a year. All this without mentioning the white elephant in the room: we must scrap Strasbourg. We are living in an age of austerity. It is our duty to tighten our belts and lead by example.

 
  
  

Report: Martin Ehrenhauser (A7-0100/2012)

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Mr President, British citizens donate millions of pounds each year to charities which help those living in developing countries. However, it is also our duty to ensure that official development assistance is spent wisely. The Commission’s own monitoring indicates that more than a quarter of EU projects are either not performing or performing with difficulty. I wrote to the Commission earlier this year to ask how many projects it had cancelled in 2011 due to poor performance. I was shocked to discover that it had not cancelled a single one. The EU needs to be more responsible with taxpayers’ money. Both EU citizens and the people whom we are trying to help deserve better.

 
  
  

Report: Monica Luisa Macovei (A7-0105/2012)

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE). (FI) Mr President, I wanted to vote in favour of postponement in this report. I think that postponement is necessary because we encountered certain difficulties with the European Environment Agency. The problem is that the Executive Director has, at the same time, been a trustee of an NGO and has financed projects to the tune of more than EUR 30 000.

I see the same problem with discharge in respect of the European Food Safety Authority. Two members and several other employees are said to have connections with the food industry. I would also refer to management staff meeting expenses, which were three times higher than those of the agency that claimed the second greatest amount in expenses. I was hoping that postponement would mean that we would really be able to straighten things out, and so achieve transparency in European policy making.

 
  
  

Report: Inès Ayala Sender (A7-0091/2012)

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, my group is deeply concerned by the ever-growing size of the EU’s budget and its lack of efficiency and accountability. We are thus reluctant for discharge to be granted for any part of the European Union’s budget until the budget in its entirety is approved by the Court of Auditors.

Given that this report proposes the granting of discharge, I voted against. Though the report calls for follow-ups of past audits to be included in the Court of Auditors’ future work programmes as a means of assessing progress – a proposal that my group backs – I cannot vote in favour of any discharge being granted until the budget as a whole has received a positive statement of assurance from the Court of Auditors.

I thus generally voted in favour of the reports proposing postponement of discharge and against those that proposed the granting of discharge. A few exceptions included the Environment Agency, the Food Safety Authority and the European Medicines Agency, which is located in my London constituency. However, in general, I am extremely sceptical about the whole discharge process for the EU budget.

 
  
  

Report: Monica Luisa Macovei (A7-0132/2012)

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Mr President, as a member of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, I see no added value in the European Institute of Gender Equality. The institute is an expensive folly with a budget of EUR 7 million. It duplicates the work of Member States, the work of the Commission’s DG Employment and, most shamefully of all, the work of another EU agency, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The British Government, when faced with austerity, promised a bonfire of quangos. Winding up advisory bodies and agencies in the UK is set to save that country over GBP 2 billion. The EU needs to light its own quango bonfire – and where better to start than the European Institute of Gender Equality?

 
  
  

Report: Angelika Niebler (A7-0149/2012)

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I welcome the new roaming regulations as they will provide tangible benefits to millions of consumers. Mobile phone operators have a tendency to apply the highest regulated tariffs. In Romania, current prices are too high for ordinary citizens to purchase mobiles, and yet we live in an age of mobility. Access to information and communication is a necessity, not a luxury. Last year, there was a 12% drop in the number of roaming calls made by Romanians. As MEPs, we spend most of our time in Belgium or France, but we have phone numbers from our home countries. This is therefore a problem that affects us all, which is why I support, yet again, the regulations on data transfer. This means that I, too, will avoid getting any phone bill surprises when I return home. I should also stress that we need to make even greater efforts to limit the undesirable consequences of inadvertent roaming.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the potential afforded by the new channels of communication is huge. In a world in which everything is digital, information is an asset for every European citizen.

The European Union needs to protect all end users and try to reduce the existing disparities between Member States on the European market to a minimum. I would like to point out that, as the promoter of a single internal market, the European Union must also implement an internal telecommunications market. The significant differences between domestic and roaming prices obviously make these difficult goals to meet.

I agree with Ms Niebler’s proposal. Each home provider must give customers clear and adequate information about the levels of consumption they have reached and agreed. Transparent information about the conclusion of contracts and the charges for data roaming services will be an appropriate means for protecting European consumers and I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, along with the rest of the ECR Group, I voted in favour of this report on roaming on public mobile communications networks. I believe that it is very important that the current gap between roaming and national telecom tariffs should be reduced, and I believe that the suggestions made in this report will make this happen.

Separating the sale of roaming services from the sale of national tariffs will mean that customers will be able to purchase roaming services from a provider other than the one which provides their national tariff. This will encourage more competition in the EU market. Keeping in place the price caps for retail and wholesale will also serve to offer opportunities for new entrants to the roaming market, which again I think is extremely important for our citizens. This is a rare, tangible example of where we can show the public that the EU is really doing something positive for our electorates.

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE). (FI) Mr President, I was responsible for this regulation on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and I naturally voted in favour of it. These days, we are not accustomed to expecting good news from the European Union, but this regulation that we have voted on is one piece of good news for EU consumers because it will be cheaper for them to use their mobile phones next summer. The regulation is to enter into force at the start of July and will cut price ceilings to at least half their current levels by 2014. It will introduce requirements for structural changes. From the beginning of 2014, consumers will be able to choose, if they so wish, a separate roaming operator, in addition to their home operator.

The regulation will also impose an obligation on telephone operators to inform consumers by text message when they are approaching the price ceilings that they themselves have set, even when they are outside the EU. In this way, we aim to prevent bill shock, something that has been unsettling EU citizens in recent years.

Some telephone operators have already acknowledged this necessity in the past year and have offered their customers cheap roaming packages. When structural changes take effect, there is good reason to hope that prices will come down with the creation of markets, and that new price caps will no longer need to be set in the future.

 
  
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  George Lyon (ALDE). – Mr President, for consumers across Europe who have been through tough times over the last number of years, today’s vote to cap roaming charges on text, phone and data charges will be a small piece of good news. As a result of our actions today, on 1 July, consumers can expect to see a reduction in their phone bills when they travel in Europe. The extension to include capping of data roaming charges will not only be a boost to holidaymakers but to those travelling on business. I am sure many of us can remember some very nasty experiences with the cost of data roaming and data download while working abroad. So, hopefully, families and businesses across Europe will no longer face the prospect of being ripped off every time they use their phones abroad and return to find astronomical bills waiting on them.

While caps may be effective in the short term, I also welcome the structural measures in the legislation which aim to stimulate better competition in the EU roaming market-place. That will hopefully deliver a well-functioning competitive market-place, which is the right solution to solve this problem in the longer term. By opening up market access to competitors and by decoupling roaming services from national providers, competition will hopefully improve and drive down prices even more. Good news in time for summer holidaymakers.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR). (PL) Mr President, I voted in favour of the resolution. More and more people are using various types of Internet-enabled mobile communication devices. The use of tablets or smartphones is widespread. Problems usually appear when they are used in areas covered by other operators, or, in other words, when travelling abroad. If the European Union is to be an area without internal borders, the very existence of roaming does not appear to have any justification. I am therefore wholeheartedly in favour of actions aimed at practically eliminating this practice over the coming few years.

An interesting solution at present is the proposal to sell separate roaming services, which would enable customers to select an alternative roaming operator. The new table of charges being proposed for the next two years looks attractive, particularly as regards data transmission. A reasonable level of retail and wholesale prices should provide some protection to consumers against unexpectedly high bills for telecommunications services.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, the roaming issue is very important and significant. This is one part of our work that European citizens will actually follow, and they will see the practical effects of our work reflected in their telephone bills.

When we speak about mobility in the European Union and actually try to strengthen the European internal market, it is very important that we also get closer to one another in telecommunications as a result of roaming charges. Very many European travellers have been surprised by how large their bills from different countries have been. Consequently, it will be good to find a more standardised system of charges in the common internal market area and thereby get closer to consumers.

This is an excellent reform, and an excellent step in the right direction. Moreover, as we all know, this could still be improved by means of greater cooperation in the field of telecommunications, resulting in genuinely competitive and even lower charges throughout Europe, so that telecommunications are not a barrier to trade and human relations.

 
  
  

Report: Cecilia Wikström (A7-0152/2012)

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because I support the introduction of a provision for establishing the law applicable to non-contractual obligations in the Rome II Regulation. This means that the basic principle should be supplemented by a foreseeability clause. Both the right to privacy and personality-related rights are of paramount importance in a democratic society. This is why I believe that it is vital to be able to have recourse to the justice system when a person’s freedom is violated. At the same time, I think that cross-border disputes should be settled amicably. This will guarantee a suitable balance between freedom of expression and privacy. I should also mention the importance of the benefits which could be gained from improving access to the justice system, in terms of ensuring the smooth operation of the internal market.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this report on the application of Rome II – the rules applied in conflicts of law in cases of non-contractual obligations. The report proposes changes to the regulation which would mean that it would also cover violations of privacy as well as rights regarding legal personality.

The report I have just voted on also takes into account the ECR Group’s concerns, in relation to the initial draft, that the proposals had the potential to impact negatively on press freedom. The report does highlight the fact that the UK is the most attractive jurisdiction in which to bring an action for defamation, as it is regarded as the most claimant-friendly in the world. Although this is currently being investigated by the UK Government, and I think some sense of rebalancing in this area is needed, we are understandably supporting or looking very carefully at the proposal that this type of action should formally come under the remit of Rome II.

 
  
  

Report: Niccolò Rinaldi (A7-0104/2012)

 
  
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  Ewald Stadler (NI).(DE) Mr President, although I voted in favour of this report, I would like to point out that I have considerable reservations about paragraph 17 of the general considerations. The appalling situation of the Christians in the countries that experienced the so-called Arab Spring is only mentioned in passing, in that it states that Parliament insists that respect for democratic institutions and fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and protection of religious minorities, be ensured. That is not enough! We must make it clear to these countries that they cannot treat the Christian minorities, which have been living there for hundreds of years, in the way that the Islamic fundamentalists, which are being elected to power and replacing the secular dictators that they overthrew, are currently doing, and that they cannot simply murder and kill these people.

In Tahrir Square, Muslims and Christians stood side-by-side. Now, as a result of elections, majorities are appearing that no longer have anything to do with these protests. The Christians are the losers in this Arab Spring, and we must protect them. This is what this agreement is intended to be used for in the future. The European Union must make it a condition that the Christian minorities there be protected before we conclude an agreement of this kind.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR). (PL) Mr President, the political consequences of the Arab Spring give us hope for unfettered cooperation and development within the Southern Partnership. Trade has always been one of the strongest pillars of the neighbourhood policy. Unlike various aspects of the common foreign policy, trade guarantees coherent action that brings benefits to Member States. The ‘more for more’ principle is the right way to establish wholly democratic rules for trade and economic policy, without the need to conclude agreements with oligarchs, as was the case in the past.

The governments of partner countries must, however, make a serious commitment to opening markets bilaterally. For this reason, I agree with the proposal to make greater efforts as regards countries that display a readiness to undertake concrete reforms. I am encouraged by the drafts under negotiation for in-depth and comprehensive free trade agreements with Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan. I am also counting on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development increasing investment in the Mediterranean area, and for this reason, I support the report.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because the proposals being tabled will help the European Union provide practical support to the development of democracy in the Southern Mediterranean. Improving economic and trade relations with the countries in the region has an extremely important role to play. However, this action must be carried out in accordance with the ‘more for more’ principle. I, too, call for the EEAS to present as soon as possible the criteria used for carrying out assessments in this area, according to Article 17. I should point out the need to provide suitable support to SMEs. They must become the main beneficiaries of the investment programmes run by the EIB and EBRD. I should mention the constructive role played by the EU-Israel Chamber of Commerce in developing trade relations. I feel that this model must be followed by creating bilateral Chambers of Commerce in other countries in the region as well.

 
  
  

Patenting of essential biological processes (B7-0228/2012)

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this resolution on the patenting of essential biological processes. Following several cases of certain smart breeding methods for plants being brought before the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office in Munich, I backed the conclusion of this resolution that the use of markers at molecular level should come under the exemption that precludes essentially biological processes for the production of plants. While I believe that the techniques used to create these markers may themselves be patentable, the simple fact of using a marker does not differentiate the process sufficiently from one that is essentially biological.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this resolution because legal clarity is required regarding essential biological processes. Patents provide an important tool not only for protecting intellectual property rights, but also for stimulating research and innovation. At the same time, the legislation in this area stipulates a justified exception for plant varieties and animal breeds. This aspect must be preserved, with the decisions taken by the European Patent Office on the ‘broccoli’ and ‘tomato’ cases playing a useful role to this end. On the other hand, a patent was granted last year for melons obtained by traditional crossing methods. I therefore call on the Commission to present a detailed analysis of the implications of these decisions featuring in its annual report on biotechnology patents. I should stress that a uniform framework must be provided, along with similar legal protection across the whole of the European Union.

 
  
  

Maritime piracy (B7-0226/2012)

 
  
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  Marek Józef Gróbarczyk (ECR). (PL) Mr President, I supported this resolution, as piracy is one of the most serious threats at sea. It is worth noting that sea transport is the primary method of transporting goods across the world.

Piracy along the African coast, however, is somewhat different in character from piracy in the South China Sea, particularly in the straits of Malacca. Its primary cause is a desperate economic situation with no hope of improvement, at least in Somalia, which is where this problem mainly originates. Solutions must be systemic in nature. We cannot, under any circumstances, deal with piracy by convoys or other methods of direct combat. There has to be a truly systemic approach in order to deal with the cause rather than the result, as an approach dealing with just the result will not deliver any results.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, I was shadow rapporteur for the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and I voted in favour of the resolution on piracy in the Indian Ocean because it puts forward fair, viable and sustainable solutions to tackle this problem.

Firstly, it maintains the protection of all vessels, including fishing vessels, in this area. Furthermore, it denounces the harmful effects that piracy also has on the local population and supports interventions on the ground to resolve the kidnapping problem at source, neutralising the logistical bases of the kidnappers and preventing it from becoming a simple and viable trade. This is, moreover, a complementary measure to the measures maintained with regard to humanitarian aid and political and social stabilisation in the area by the European Union.

Lastly, I am calling the Member States’ attention to this because the resolution calls on them to ensure that the measures on the protection of fleets comply with the recommendations of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). In terms of value for money, professional military escorts are more efficient than private companies, due to their experience, legal status and integration with the Atalanta operation.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the approval of this resolution is a very important political signal in the fight against maritime piracy.

Paragraph 30 of the resolution I proposed specifies that in the event of disputes between countries following military action aiming to combat piracy attacks in international waters, the national jurisdiction of the flag state shall be applied on the ships concerned as well as on the military staff employed aboard, as provided by international law. This aspect is crucial for avoiding future controversies like the one currently ongoing between Italy and India, and to defend the prerogatives of military personnel deployed in Operation Atalanta and as Vessel Protection Detachments (VPDs) on merchant vessels.

I dedicate the approval of this text to Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the two Italian sailors unjustly detained for almost three months in prison in India waiting for India to decide to acknowledge Italian jurisdiction and to allow these two soldiers to be judged by the Italian courts. I hope that European diplomacy will renew its support for Italy in this battle of civilisation.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Vital Moreira (A7-0140/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because it advocates fairer trade relationships between European producers and the producers worldwide who do not follow the same rules as those imposed on our own producers. The study behind this report shows that Article 9.5 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 of 30 November 2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community – the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation – was inconsistent with Articles 6.10, 9.2 and 18.4 of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Anti-Dumping Agreement and Article 16.4 of the WTO Agreement. According to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), Article 9.5 of the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation provides that individual exporting producers in non-market economy countries which do not receive market economy treatment pursuant to Article 2(7)(c) of the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation will be subject to a countrywide duty rate unless such exporters can demonstrate that they meet the conditions for individual treatment laid out in Article 9.5 of the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation (the DSB finding on Article 9.5 of the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation).

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the proposal to amend the regulation on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community. Certain provisions did indeed run counter to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Anti-Dumping Agreement as well as Article 16.4 of the WTO Agreement itself. My vote shows my commitment to compliance with WTO standards. However, while the European Union believes that there is unfair competition from certain foreign companies, we are not prepared to accept everything, for our companies depend on this, and therefore suppliers who import from countries which do not respect market economy rules will suffer financial sanctions.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing.(FR) On the basis of the report by Portuguese MEP Vital Moreira, I voted for the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the 2009 regulation on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community. On 28 July 2011, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) adopted the Appellate Body Report in the case ‘European Communities – Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Iron or Steel Fasteners from China’. In the reports, it was found, inter alia, that Article 9.5 of the Council Regulation of November 2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community was inconsistent with WTO rules. This legislative proposal aims to implement the DSB recommendations and rulings. I hope that the Commission and the Committee on International Trade have indeed respected the principle of reciprocity.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcome the idea of amending Article 9.5 of Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 because it is inconsistent with the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement. I welcome the fact that the Committee on International Trade applied the simplified procedure so that the EU could respect its agreement with China and so that the article in Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009, which is inconsistent with the WTO Agreement, would be eliminated.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted to amend the regulation on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community, given that Article 9.5 of the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation is inconsistent with Articles 6.10, 9.2 and 18.4 of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Anti-Dumping Agreement and with Article 16.4 of the WTO Agreement. I welcome the amendment since the proposal complies with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and respects the principle of proportionality. The WTO agreements do not contain any legal basis for supporting the provisions of Article 9.5. Exporting producers in non-market economy countries should not be forced to demonstrate that they meet certain criteria in order to be able to receive individual treatment. However, certain special situations need to be taken into account when determining the degree of compatibility with the articles in order to impose a dumping margin and a single anti-dumping duty. This means that, although exporters are separate entities in legal terms, sometimes they must be treated as a single entity.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I did not support Mr Moreira’s report. At a time like the present, when uncontrolled relocations and the economic crisis are causing Western Europe serious difficulties, and all the basic principles of the common trade policy should be overhauled, the fact that the Word Trade Organisation (WTO) has decided to accept a claim from China against an article of the anti-dumping regulation applicable in the European Union, Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community, clearly demonstrates that on a global level, there is no desire to protect our production and industry, and that the Commission has still failed to understand that anti-protectionism does not benefit European businesses and consumers, but rather unfair conduct by third countries.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Dumping must be distinguished from simple practices of low-price sales resulting from lower costs or greater productivity. The key criterion in this respect is not, in fact, the relationship between the price of the exported product and that on the market of the country of import, but the relationship between the price of the exported product and its normal value. A product is therefore considered to be dumped if its export price to the European Union is less than the comparable price for a like product established in the ordinary course of trade within the exporting country. The application of any anti-dumping duty presupposes the presence of a second key element: significant material injury to an EU industry, be it injury caused to an industry established in the EU, the threat of injury or substantial retardation of the establishment of such an industry. I do not think that anti-dumping measures can be applied if it is considered not being in the EU’s interest to implement them. With this in mind, all EU interests must be taken into account as a whole, including those of EU industry, users and consumers. All stakeholders will have the opportunity to make their views known.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted for the report on the proposal for a regulation amending a previous regulation on protection against dumped imports from countries not within the European Community. The prior regulation was inconsistent with the Anti-Dumping Agreement forged under the auspices of the WTO and, as a result, must be amended to ensure compliancy.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report with a view to implementing the Dispute Settlement Body’s (DSB) recommendations in relation to European anti-dumping provisions. I approve of the amendments to the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation proposed by the rapporteur, and I welcome the adoption of this report, as it is possible to meet the deadline for implementing the DSB recommendations. I should like to point out that while the European Union has a duty to respect agreements reached at the WTO, we must ensure that we develop our trade with China while respecting the principle of reciprocity.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the ‘proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 of 30 November 2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community’ because I consider it of the utmost importance that EU legislation on this issue respect the commitments it has made to the World Trade Organisation.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which will allow us to combat unfair competition on the part of certain foreign companies. Suppliers who import from countries which do not respect market economy rules will have to pay higher customs duties at European borders. We must protect our businesses against this distorted competition, which we can no longer tolerate.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, which proposes to implement a legislative proposal recommended by the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), so as to bring European legislation in line with what has been agreed with the WTO.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following the ‘European Communities – Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Iron or Steel Fasteners from China’ case, the purpose of this legislative proposal is to implement the recommendations of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and set out a reasonable timetable for this to take place, as agreed between the EU and China on 19 January 2012. I consider it in the EU’s interests to resolve this conflict and adapt its legislation to the agreements concluded and in place within the framework of the WTO.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Mr Moreira, concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 of 30 November 2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community. This draft amendment has emerged following the adoption by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of the Appellate Body Report in the case ‘European Communities – Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Iron or Steel Fasteners from China’, which pointed out inconsistencies between Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 and the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement. Given that the EU and China agreed on the timetable for implementing the DSB’s recommendations and decisions on 19 January 2012, and that the Committee on International Trade has already used the simplified procedure to adopt the draft resolution, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the proposed amendment to this regulation, which the Committee on International Trade has decided to adopt using the simplified procedure, is to incorporate the decision of 28 July 2011 by the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) into EU legislation, specifically, the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation. The EU-China dispute resulted from the provision in EU legislation for discriminating against individual exporting producers in ‘non-market economy countries’, which breaches the rules of the WTO itself, specifically, the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement. This is significant. Examples of provisions being scrapped include those requiring that, in exporting producers, ‘the majority of the shares belong to private persons’. The purpose of this report is an amendment intended to bring EU legislation in line with the rules of the WTO, which is an organisation whose actions and principles we oppose. However, it remains significant and interesting to note how, in this case, the EU is overtaking the WTO itself in its overwhelming mercantilism and neoliberal fundamentalism.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Moreira’s report on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community. In order to promote the development of world trade, the 27 Member States drew up a common trade policy with third countries in an attempt to abolish trade restrictions and excessive tariffs. This trade liberalisation does not imply the non-respect of rights and obligations by commercial partners operating on an international level. I believe it is crucial to apply real reforms and to be seriously committed to tackling problems relating to market distortions in order to ensure consistency between corporate conduct and the rules applying to free international competition.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In July last year, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation adopted the Appellate Body Report and the Panel Report as modified by the Appellate Body Report in the case ‘European Communities – Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Iron or Steel Fasteners from China’. The issue as to whether or not it is contrary to the articles of the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement to set a unified dumping margin and a unified anti-dumping duty for certain exports will depend on the specific circumstances. These can include the existence of corporate and structural links between exporters, such as common control, ownership and management, for example, as well as the existence of corporate and structural links between the state and exporters. On 19 January 2012, the EU and China agreed that a reasonable period of time for implementing the DSB recommendations and rulings would be 14 months and two weeks from the date on which the DSB adopted the report. The reasonable period of time will therefore expire on 12 October 2012. In order for the EU to be able to respect the reasonable period of time for implementing the DSB recommendations and rulings that were agreed between the EU and China, I consider it right and proper that the Committee on International Trade has adopted the motion for a resolution in simplified procedure.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. – I would like to thank the rapporteur and all the shadow rapporteurs, who worked so diligently in order to reach this satisfactory agreement. I voted in favour of this report and I welcome the adoption of this report by a huge 559 votes in favour. The purpose of this resolution is to implement the recommendations of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation agreed by the EU and China on 19 January 2012. On 18 August 2011, the EU notified the DSB that it intends to implement the recommendations and rulings of the DSB in this dispute in a manner that respects its WTO obligations. The Commission is therefore proposing to amend the wording of Article 9.5 of the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation and introduce the wording of the WTO Anti Dumping Agreement. On 19 January 2012, the European Union and China agreed that the reasonable period of time for implementing the DSB recommendations and rulings would be 14 months and two weeks from the date the DSB adopted the reports and this period will expire on 12 October 2012.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing.(FR) Parliament adopted by an overwhelming majority the report aimed at clarifying measures to combat imports subject to subsidies by countries not members of the European Union. This provision actually seeks to align EU measures for combating ‘dumping’ with the recommendations and rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Indeed, on 19 January 2012, the European Union and China agreed to implement these recommendations within a reasonable period of time, which expires on 12 October 2012.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) In the case ‘European Communities – Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Iron or Steel Fasteners from China’ the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation found that a Council Regulation on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community was inconsistent with certain articles of the World Trade Organisation Anti-Dumping Agreement. I voted in favour of the report because it guarantees that a reasonable period of time for implementing the DSB recommendations and rulings, which was agreed between the European Union and China, will be respected by the European Union. Only prompt implementation can ensure protection of the domestic internal market against dumped products and thereby counteract a distortion of prices.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) In the context of a globalised market and in the light of the recent opening up to trade with the countries of the ‘Arab Spring’, paying attention to illegal trade practices such as dumping is more relevant and important than ever in order to protect European businesses. Strengthening the network of safeguards for our businesses does not mean closing in on ourselves because of fears of competition. Instead, it allows an approach to the global market based on clear and legitimate conditions for both European and non-European competitors. I therefore voted for the report, which includes measures to combat dumping, a practice that risks giving some import companies advantages over others, leading to market distortion.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report approving the Commission’s handling of ‘Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Iron or Steel Fasteners from China’.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report by Mr Moreira. I am in favour of adopting the Commission’s proposal. I agree, in particular, with the text of the new Article 9.5 because an anti-dumping duty must be ‘imposed in the appropriate amounts in each case, on a non-discriminatory basis on imports of a product from all sources found to be dumped and causing injury’.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) This report and its supporting amendment provide no protection from abuse. All it does is maintain and codify discrimination towards those States that do not subscribe to a market economy. They target nations which have an important influence on prices and production as well as companies in which the State is the majority shareholder.

The European protectionism offered here promotes free trade rather than serving the interests of the citizens of Europe and third countries. It does not contain a single word against social and environmental dumping or against the abusive use of devaluation. In my view, that is the crux of the issue. The only matter at issue here is our refusal to give in to the laws of the market economy and free and undistorted competition.

I voted against this text.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) European companies have to meet a series of requirements laid down in European legislation that often put them in situations of unfair competition with other, non-EU countries which practise the various forms of dumping. The adoption of this report means that companies importing from countries that do not respect the rules and do practise the various forms of dumping will be obliged to pay higher prices within Europe. This measure is very important and necessary for protecting our companies against a severe distortion of competition. Industry in my country, Portugal, suffers from this type of unfair competition, specifically with textile imports from Pakistan. I have been highlighting this situation for some time.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing.(ES) I voted against this report because it proposes applying customs duties to products from countries with non-market economies.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – This draft legislative resolution is aimed at the implementation of WTO recommendations so that EU legislation is in line with agreements with the WTO. I think that we should cooperate in this dimension more efficiently.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The anti-dumping procedure carried out by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with regard to certain iron or steel fasteners from China brought to light the fact that parts of the European Union’s Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation are apparently inconsistent with WTO law. In the dispute, the European Union intends to implement its WTO obligations, which, due to time constraints in meeting the agreed deadline, are to be implemented by means of a resolution in a simplified procedure. I do not agree with this course of action and have therefore voted against it. See Minutes.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing.(FR) By voting for this report, I am supporting the clarification that is needed of the measures to combat imports subject to subsidies by countries not members of the European Union. This report recommends aligning EU measures for combating ‘dumping’ with the recommendations and rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This provision will allow us to protect our businesses better against unfair competition on the part of certain foreign companies, and that is why I voted for it.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Following China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), there have been numerous complaints against the People’s Republic, the vast majority on account of price dumping. Almost all of the complaints come from competitors who feel they have been placed at serious risk as a result of the low prices. On 28 July 2011, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) adopted the Appellate Body Report and the Panel Report as modified by the Appellate Body Report in the case ‘European Communities — Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Iron or Steel Fasteners from China’(1). In the reports, it was found that Article 9.5 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 of 30 November 2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community (the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation)(2) was inconsistent with Articles 6.10, 9.2 and 18.4 of the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement and Article 16.4 of the WTO Agreement. On account of these findings relating to the inconsistency of parts of the European Union’s Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation with WTO law, I would like to express my clear opposition to this.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – The European Union, as a member of the WTO, respects its commitments to WTO agreements. We regret that European legislation did not conform to them and welcome the modifications. This case is particularly important concerning China, which is a huge trading partner for the EU, but, unfortunately, is not entirely governed on market-economy principles. Current European rules impose strict duties on individual Chinese exporters, who are already disadvantaged in their own country by market regulation. I support amendments incorporated into European legislation on this topic because I consider the efforts that the European Union should make to support non-state economic actors in non-market economies, such as China, to be important.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I consider guaranteeing legal certainty of the utmost importance, so I voted for the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 of 30 November 2009 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community in order that EU legislation on this issue will respect commitments made to the World Trade Organisation.

 
  
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  Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. (IT) The economic crisis currently affecting Europe is so serious that it is necessary to take more decisive action to protect our industry and our small and medium-sized enterprises, especially when they are subject to dumping or other unfair conduct by operators in countries where there is no rule of law and the safeguarding of social and environmental rights is effectively non-existent. The fact that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has decided to accept a claim from China against the already rather unambitious anti-dumping regulation in force in Europe is, instead, a step in the other direction, which makes it harder to safeguard our businesses and our jobs. Therefore, I cannot agree with the content of this regulation, which could further compound the difficulties of our businesses.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report argues for increased controls on and protection against dumped imports from non-EU countries. As regards imports of certain iron or steel fasteners from China, it has taken into account the fact that the Council’s Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation was inconsistent with certain provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Anti-Dumping Agreement. So as to facilitate EU compliance with the period of time set out for implementing the recommendations and decisions laid down by the WTO and, more specifically, its Dispute Settlement Body, the Committee on International Trade has used the simplified procedure to adopt the draft resolution. I voted for this report for the aforementioned reasons.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. It was necessary to amend Article 9.5 of the Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation with a new text: ‘An anti-dumping duty shall be imposed in the appropriate amounts in each case, on a non-discriminatory basis on imports of a product from all sources found to be dumped and causing injury, except for imports from those sources from which undertakings under the terms of this regulation have been accepted. The regulation imposing anti-dumping measures shall specify the duty for each supplier or, if that is impracticable, the supplying country concerned. Suppliers which are legally distinct from other suppliers, or which are legally distinct from the State, may nevertheless be considered as a single entity for the purpose of specifying the duty. For the application of this subparagraph, account may be taken of factors such as the existence of structural or corporate links between the suppliers and the State or between suppliers, control or material influence by the State in respect of pricing and output, or the economic structure of the supplying country’.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini (EFD), in writing. (IT) I want to vote against this measure and I would like to explain the political reasons that led me to make this decision. We need to give a signal to the European Commission so that it will represent us effectively at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Yet another European defeat in a dispute with China at the WTO would today force Parliament to delete an article in our Basic Anti-Dumping Regulation. It is wrong not to stand up more strongly to international bodies like the WTO. It is wrong not to defend our industry. It is wrong not to ask China for reciprocal openings for our products and services.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The European Union and China discussed new solutions and strategies in order to tackle the problem of lack of fairness, safety and hygiene of products coming from this Asian country. I firmly believe that it is necessary to implement the DSB recommendations and rulings as soon as possible. Therefore, I supported this report with my vote.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD), in writing. (PL) The anti-dumping measures implemented in the European Union are aimed at protecting our internal market against unfair trade practices. At this point, it is worth differentiating between dumping and the normal practice of selling products at low prices, where the low prices are a consequence of low production costs. It is therefore important that the anti-dumping measures used by the European Union should be applied fairly and objectively. Account should also be taken of the fact that tariff and trade wars could, under present circumstances, aggravate the current economic crisis. On the other hand, closing boundaries to external goods would be a mistake since, in the long term, such action leads to the shrinking of national economies. However, it is worth pointing out here that unfair competition also causes economic losses. For this reason, such practices should be monitored carefully and appropriate steps should be taken where justified by circumstances.

 
  
  

Report: Robert Sturdy (A7-0085/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because I believe that, since Russia became a World Trade Organisation (WTO) member last December, the EU has lost the right to apply quotas to imports of steel and such products from Russia. This regulation adopts European Union legislation according to Russia’s WTO accession. The European Commission estimates that this regulation represents approximately EUR 107 million per year in exports and that the EU steel sector will become more competitive due to reduced export duties. As such, implementing this legislation will bring economic opportunities to European producers, which is essential at a time of crisis and particularly in a market that is geographically close to us.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Within the framework of the partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA), the European Community and the government of the Russian Federation concluded an ‘Agreement on trade in certain steel products’ in 2007, and set quotas. However, as you know, Russia recently joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO), after almost 20 years of negotiations. We therefore no longer need to impose steel import quotas, particularly as keeping these quotas in force would constitute a violation of the WTO rules. That is good news for the international community, including the European Union itself. Indeed, the Commission estimates that additional European exports of iron and steel products will be worth approximately EUR 107 million per year.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcome the proposal to repeal Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007. Given Russia’s accession to the WTO, the regulation and quotas for imports into the EU of steel originating in Russia must be repealed. I am delighted that, with Russia’s accession to the rules-based multilateral trade system of the WTO, the EU can expect to benefit from more liberal access to the Russian market. Any remaining barriers to bilateral trade in steel products that could still apply should be minimal and applicable only within the clear remits of the WTO rules that govern tariffs, trade defence measures, technical standards, specific customs/clearance procedures, etc.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted to repeal the regulation on administering restrictions on imports of certain steel products from the Russian Federation because maintaining volume limits for these imports breaches World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulations, given that the Russian Federation became a member of the WTO in 2011. I think that with Russia now being a member of the WTO, this will give a significant boost to trade between Russia and the European Union, and the situation will evolve in keeping with the existing provisions in bilateral agreements. This will enable the EU to enjoy freer access to the Russian market, thereby increasing the volume and value of exports. Furthermore, the decrease in export duties will increase competitiveness, which consumers will benefit from. I support the need for closer supervision and for lifting the other barriers still in place preventing trade between Russia and the EU.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report by Mr Sturdy because, since Russia became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU can no longer set quotas for imports from WTO countries into the European Union, as had been the case with steel originating from Russia. Furthermore, this measure could encourage trade relations between the European Union and Russia, which would be very useful for our country and our businesses, as the Russian market is growing rapidly and is very dynamic.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Bilateral relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation are based on the fundamental values and principles of democracy, human rights, legislation and the market economy, with its legal basis being provided by the partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA). The agreement came into force in 1997 for an initial period of 10 years, and has been automatically extended every year since 2007. This defines the main common objectives and institutional framework for bilateral contracts and calls for activities and dialogue in a number of areas. The provisions of the PCA are supplemented by a number of sectoral and international agreements, as well as by other cooperation mechanisms. Steel processing and textiles are the main sectors covered by bilateral trade agreements. The last steel agreement stipulated that it would be terminated if Russia became a member of the World Trade Organisation, which happened on 16 December 2011. In light of what has been stated, I support the rapporteur’s position on this draft resolution.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted for this agreement repealing the quota set on importations of steel from the Russian Federation as, if left unaltered, it would put Member States at risk of legal actions from Russia as the quota limits would be a violation of WTO rules. Russia acceded to the World Trade Organisation in December, meaning it has liberalised its market, allowing greater exportation and importation globally. The initial item of legislation must be rewritten to avoid a failure on both sides to obey WTO rules.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which repeals Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007 on the trade in certain steel products from the Russian Federation. I note that European steel import quotas cannot be maintained after Russia becomes a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). I hope that the liberalisation of bilateral trade in steel products can improve the competitiveness of the European steel industry. I believe that the repeal of this regulation could allow businesses in the European Union to improve their access to the Russian market.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The restrictions on Russian steel imports stopped making sense once the country had joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Lifting these restrictions will also enable increased trade with Russia, not least, exports of European steel and iron to that country. It will be possible to solve potential breaches of the applicable WTO rules by either party through the WTO’s existing conflict-resolution mechanisms. I voted for this motion for a resolution for these reasons.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The approval of this report acknowledges Russia’s recent accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2011. The European Union must maintain and develop its trade relationship with that country, and this relationship should be governed by mutual respect for the commitments undertaken within that agreement. This decision should not, however, prevent us from remaining alert to any potential obstacles to future trade, both in Russia and the European Union.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which draws conclusions from Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In line with the rules of that organisation, it aims at totally removing barriers to trade, and henceforth the European Union and Russia will have to adhere scrupulously to this. There will now finally be reciprocity of advantages and restrictions with this economic partner.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since it proposes to repeal the restrictions on imports of certain steel products from Russia. The present application of these restrictions no longer makes sense, now that Russia is a World Trade Organisation member.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) involves scrapping the tariff quota on EU steel imports from that country. Retaining it would represent a breach of WTO rules and would leave the EU open to Russian legal challenges. More liberalised access to the Russian market could benefit the EU and should be extended to other areas of trade within the framework of the WTO, which is considered the best way of ensuring that a multilateral trade system is in place.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 1 December 1997, the partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, on the one part, and Russia, on the other part, entered into force, leading to the establishment of the Agreement on trade in certain steel products from the Russian Federation, pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007. This report, by Mr Sturdy, concerns a new proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing the aforementioned regulation on administering certain restrictions on imports of certain steel products from the Russian Federation. Although the Russian Federation’s steel exports to the EU are significant, representing 24% of all imports of steel products, the PCA provided that the agreement would have to be repealed and the quota scrapped if Russia ever joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Therefore, notwithstanding the interest in strengthening EU-Russia trade relations, I agree with the rapporteur that ‘the WTO remains the best guarantor of a rules-based multilateral trading system’, so I voted in favour.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The European Union and the Russian Federation have in place, since 2007, an agreement on trade in certain steel products, concerning managing certain restrictions on imports of certain steel products originating in Russia. However, Russia becoming a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2011 means that the European Union has lost the right to apply the aforementioned quota.

Keeping this regulation in place, thereby retaining the import quotas for steel products, would constitute a breach of WTO rules and would expose the EU to Russian legal action. The EU therefore has to repeal the agreement currently in force. The rapporteur states that Russia’s entry to the WTO will benefit the EU by providing more liberal access to the Russian market. Even though the report is essentially a technical adaptation, the philosophy and thinking underlying it are subject to WTO rules and the international trade vision that inspires it, with which we disagree.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The partnership and cooperation agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Russia, of the other part, entered into force on 1 December 1997. In October 2007, within the framework of this agreement, the European Union and the Russian Government concluded an ‘Agreement on trade in certain steel products’. The agreement established quotas for imports into the EU of steel originating from the Russian Federation. After Russia’s accession to the rules-based multilateral trade system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU can expect to benefit from freer access to the Russian market. Any remaining barriers to bilateral trade in steel products that could still apply should be minimal, and applicable only within the clear remits of the WTO rules that govern aspects such as tariffs, applicable trade defence measures, technical standards, specific customs/clearance procedures, etc. In my opinion, it is reasonable to examine and eliminate trade and investment barriers which might persist on both sides following Russia’s accession to the WTO. At the same time, I firmly believe that it would be beneficial to both interested parties for trade relations between the EU and Russia to develop in full accordance with the commonly adopted provisions of the applicable bilateral agreements.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007 on administering certain restrictions on imports of certain steel products from the Russian Federation contains a clause according to which the provisions of the regulation no longer apply from the day of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). As this took place in December 2011, it has clearly become necessary to repeal a regulation which is now obsolete. It should also be mentioned that the European Union does not have the right to apply import quotas to other WTO countries, and that if it did so, it would be subject to sanctions or appeals. Finally, in view of the fact that Russia’s accession to the WTO could also represent an important opportunity for our businesses, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007 on administering certain restrictions on imports of certain steel products from the Russian Federation because, on 16 December 2011, the Russian Federation became a member of the WTO and since, the day of Russia’s accession to the WTO, the EU no longer has the right to apply steel import quotas. With Russia’s accession to the rules-based multilateral trade system of the WTO, the EU can expect to benefit from more liberal access to the Russian market. The European Commission estimates that additional exports will be worth approximately EUR 107 million per year in the iron and steel sector. It also foresees that the competitiveness of the EU steel sector will be increased due to the reduction in the export duties on ferrous scrap from 15% today to 5% within five years from the date of accession, and also due to adjusted gas prices for domestic industrial consumers in Russia.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of this report, as certain adjustments need to be made in the area of steel imports into the EU as a result of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, so that a legal framework is in place and no disadvantages arise for the European economy. In addition, the EU can benefit from liberal access to the Russian market, and the competitiveness of the EU steel sector will be increased due to the reduction in export duties.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE), in writing. (SK) In 2010, Russia was the largest exporter of steel to the EU, with more than 6.5 million tonnes, representing 24% of EU steel imports. With Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 16 December 2011, however, the EU no longer has the right to apply quotas on imports of steel. Following Russia’s accession to the WTO, it is expected that the EU will benefit from freer access to the Russian market. The export of iron and steel products to Russia may grow at an annual rate of about EUR 107 million. The growth in exports of these products from the EU to Russia may also be helped by a reduction in export duties on ferrous scrap from the current 15% to 5%, which should be introduced within five years of Russia’s accession to the WTO. I therefore supported a repeal of Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007 on administering certain restrictions on imports of certain steel products from the Russian Federation.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I strongly believe that the WTO remains the best guarantor of a rules-based multilateral trading system and express the hope that both its new member – Russia – and the EU will live up to all their commitments within the WTO. I also wish to see the EU-Russia trade relationship develop in full compliance with jointly agreed provisions of existing bilateral agreements. For these reasons, I voted to give consent to the proposed repeal of Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I agree with the repeal of the previous regulation as Russia is now a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). I also agree with the rapporteur’s hope that the EU-Russia trade relationship develop in full compliance with jointly agreed provisions of existing bilateral agreements. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This report endorses the abolition of import quotas on Russian steel products in Europe. In doing so, it favours large groups such as Arcelor Mittal, which relocate to Russia and close blast furnaces in France and Belgium. Clearly, no economic or social consideration has been given to this decision.

I am voting against this text, which conflicts with the ecological planning that I promote, and against the relocation of the steel industry that it implies.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) With Russia’s accession to the rules-based multilateral trade system of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU could benefit from more liberal access to the Russian market. Additional exports could be worth approximately EUR 107 million per year in the iron and steel sector alone. From now on, any remaining barriers to bilateral trade in steel products that could still apply should be minimal and applicable only within the clear remits of the WTO rules governing aspects such as tariffs, applicable trade defence measures, technical standards, specific customs/clearance procedures, etc. Russia’s accession requires more oversight and the careful removal of any trade and investment barriers that may remain on the Russian side. I strongly believe that the WTO remains the best guarantor of a rules-based multilateral trading system. I also hope that both its new member – Russia – and the EU will live up to all their commitments within the WTO. I would also like to see the EU-Russia trade relationship develop in full compliance with jointly agreed provisions of existing bilateral agreements.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing.(ES) The EU and the Russian Federation have had an agreement since 2001 on trade in certain steel products, with regard to administering certain restrictions on imports of certain Russian steel products. Given that, in December 2011, Russia became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the EU lost the right to apply these restrictions. Keeping this regulation would constitute a violation of the WTO rules, and so the EU proposes to repeal it. The report states that Russia’s accession to the WTO will entail benefits for the EU as it will then have a more liberal access to the Russian market. Furthermore, lifting the restrictions and fully opening up the market will mean an increase in relocations as steel products produced in Russia will be cheaper in Europe. For all of these reasons, I have voted against.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – As Russia became a member of the WTO in December last year, the EU no longer has the right to apply steel import quotas on such products from Russia. This regulation brings EU legislation into line with Russia’s WTO accession. The Commission estimates that this will be worth approximately EUR 107 million per year in exports and that the competitiveness of the EU steel sector will be increased due to the reduction of export duties. I support Russia’s accession to the WTO and hope it will stand by the commitments it has given in that regard.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Following on from the existing partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia, an Agreement on trade in certain steel products from the Russian Federation was concluded in October 2011. This established quotas for imports of steel into the EU. With Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, the EU no longer had the right to apply these quotas, as the multilateral trade regulations, which govern aspects such as tariffs, applicable trade defence measures, technical standards, specific customs/clearance procedures, and so on, naturally apply. In order to comply with the WTO rules, the EU therefore intends to repeal the EU-Russia Steel Agreement. In this case, I do not consider the WTO rules to be sensible. On account of the expected impact on the European steel industry – for the protection of which, the EU has not put in place any appropriate measures – I have voted against this report as an act of protest.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) On 16 December 2011, the Russian Federation became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Despite this accession to the WTO, however, the EU’s current import quotas for steel absolutely must remain in place. In order to comply with the WTO rules, however, the EU now intends to repeal the steel agreement between the EU and Russia. I do not consider the WTO rules to be adequate. The remaining barriers to trade and investment must be subjected to further careful monitoring in order to protect the European steel industry, as the EU is yet to take any measures to protect this industry. On the basis of these considerations, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – The EU very much welcomes the fact that the Russian Federation has joined the WTO. It is big step forward which means significant progress in Russia’s move towards a market economy and worldwide trade without barriers. WTO rules forbid protectionism and unfair trade practices (such as dumping, etc.), making the economy more open, liberal and competitive. I voted in favour of this report because Russia’s membership has even greater importance, since this country is finally taking a big and long awaited step towards liberal evolution. Russia’s membership of the WTO carries significant importance for the EU as the Russian Federation is the EU’s largest trading partner in many sectors. The EU respects its WTO free trade commitments and welcomes the removal of existing import quotas for several steel products from the Russian Federation. Since the steel sector is important as regards both EU imports and exports, we envisage bilateral benefits for the EU-Russia trade system, significant growth and increased competitiveness.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) means that the European Union has to adapt to the new market situation – the opening up to the Russian Federation with a consequent reduction in restrictions. More specifically, the text repeals the quotas for steel imports into the European Union, as provided for by the 1997 partnership and cooperation agreement. This opening up is undoubtedly positive and, given that the rules to follow will be those set by the WTO, it will be possible to improve the European Union import-export situation.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution lifting restrictions on steel imports from Russia as they no longer make sense now that Russia has acceded to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Lifting these restrictions will also enable increased trade with Russia, not least, exports of European steel and iron to that country. It will be possible to solve potential breaches of the applicable WTO rules by either party through the WTO’s existing conflict-resolution mechanisms.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Agreement on trade in certain steel products was concluded in 2007, within the framework of the EC-Russian Federation partnership and cooperation agreement concluded in 1997. This agreement was implemented in the EU in the form of a regulation which, in addition to setting a quantitative limit on steel imports, also laid down the condition that the agreement would be repealed if the Russian Federation acceded to the WTO before it expired. Owing to Russia’s accession to the rules-based multilateral trade system of the WTO, retaining the regulation as European legislation and, thereby, retaining the import quotas for steel products, would constitute a breach of WTO rules and would expose the EU to possible Russian legal action. However, the EU can expect to benefit from a more liberal access to the Russian market, which would stimulate competition and result in lower consumer prices. I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. With the accession of Russia to the WTO in December 2011, the EU needs to align specific regulations it maintained bilaterally with the prevailing WTO law. One such regulation concerns quantitative limitations on imports of certain steel products, especially flat-rolled sheets, from Russia which have been in existence since 2007 (EC Regulation 1342/2007). Steel imports from Russia account for about 25% of all EU steel imports, half of which are semi-finished products input into the EU steel industry. In turn, half of this half has so far been subject to import quotas (around 1.5 million tonnes of steel). Quantitative restrictions were in place to protect the EU steel industry. The end of quantitative import restrictions will reshuffle the EU’s steel industry landscape somewhat, since Russian flat-rolled sheets are less expensive than sheets made in the EU. However, this will be compensated for by better access to steel scrap from Russia and lower tariffs for EU exports of finished steel products to Russia.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini (EFD), in writing.(IT) My vote in favour of this measure is not just a duty. In actual fact, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules require the European Union to remove the rules imposing restrictions on the import of products from other members of the WTO. Since Russia has now become a member of the WTO, unless we had voted to repeal certain rules today, we would have been subject to certain sanctions which would have damaged our production and our businesses.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Since Russia became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 16 December 2011, the EU no longer has the right to apply steel import quotas according to Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2007, and therefore preserving these quotas would constitute a violation of the WTO rules and expose the European Union to legal action from the Russian side. I voted for the text, as it is very likely that with the repeal of the European regulation, the European Union can expect to benefit from a more liberal market access to the Russian iron and steel sector. There will still be minor restrictions to bilateral trade, but these should not, in my view, constitute barriers within the remit of the WTO rules. It is estimated that additional EU iron and steel exports could be worth EUR 107 million per year, which would benefit our companies working in the sector.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – There will always exist trade and investment barriers between the Russian Federation and the European Union. The WTO is the best advocate of a rules-based multilateral trading system. The accession of Russia in the WTO can benefit the EU and this is the focus of this report to which I fully agree. Therefore, I voted in favour of it. Its adoption will improve the trade relationship between the Russian Federation and the European Union to reach full compliance.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD), in writing. (PL) The Russian Federation is an important trading partner for the European Union. Previous restrictions on imports of certain steel products from Russia were a result of the fact that the Russian Federation was not part of the World Trade Organisation. As you know, the principal task of the World Trade Organisation is liberalisation of international trade in goods and services, as well as supporting trade and resolving any disputes that arise in this area. States that are members of the WTO must adapt their internal laws to the standards set by the Organisation. Russia’s accession to the WTO in late December 2011 has meant that the European Union cannot apply quotas for the abovementioned goods. Trade liberalisation, particularly at this time of economic crisis, could certainly have a positive impact on relations between the EU and Russia and will also help, to some extent and over the long term, to improve the economic situation of both parties.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Since Russia became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2011, the European Union has lost the right to apply the Agreement on trade in certain steel products, concerning managing certain restrictions on imports of certain steel products originating in Russia. Keeping this regulation in place, thereby retaining the import quotas for steel products, would constitute a breach of WTO rules and would expose the EU to Russian legal action. The EU therefore has to repeal the agreement currently in force. We do not agree with the political principles underlying this report; that is, subjection to WTO rules and the entire international trade philosophy implicit therein.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Zbigniew Ziobro (A7-0087/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because I share the rapporteur’s view that the Council text promotes a positive reform of how the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is published, increasing legal certainty and providing better public access to European Union legal acts. Nowadays, practically all users consult only the electronic form of EU legal acts. The fact that electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding is unacceptable in itself, and creates uncertainty as to the precise content of the EU legal acts currently available in the EUR-LEX database. Moreover, consulting paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming, costly process, and is carried out by very few users. The reform will thus increase legal certainty and decrease access costs for citizens and businesses. All these reforms should be warmly welcomed in the EU. A European Union that is less bureaucratic, more available and more accessible will only promote economic progress.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcome this draft regulation. Equating electronic publication of the Official Journal (OJ) to valid publication of the OJ is a welcome reform, giving citizens better access to the legal acts of the EU, increasing legal certainty and reducing access costs for citizens and businesses. Currently, just about everyone only consults the electronic form of EU legal acts, and the fact that electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding is unacceptable and creates uncertainty as to the precise content of the legal acts of the EU currently available in the EUR-LEX database.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this resolution as broadening access to EU legislation is an important aspect of ensuring transparency and communicating with citizens. The upshot of regarding the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version will be greater legal certainty. At the same time, this action will help avoid the hefty costs involved in publishing the paper version of the OJ, which is a welcome saving for the EU budget. Given the current economic climate and the difficulties facing both a number of Member States and ordinary citizens, it is important for European institutions to eliminate unnecessary and avoidable costs, while identifying practical ways to make savings. The electronic publication of the European Union’s OJ is an example which should also be followed by other similar measures and initiatives.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is published every day in all the official EU languages and contains all EU decisions and draft laws in hard-copy and electronic format. The 2007 judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which stated that legal rights cannot be claimed and obligations cannot be enforced on the basis of the electronic version of the OJ, raises suspicions about the exact content of the EU legal acts currently available in the EUR-LEX database. Consulting the paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming, costly process and is, not least, carried out by very few users. I think that any reforms aimed at increasing legal certainty and reducing access costs for citizens and businesses are welcome, especially during the current economic crisis affecting the EU.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) Independent research shows that the digital divide has largely been overcome in all age groups, adding value to education and increasing interaction. We live in a world with over 600 million websites, and much of the interaction with government and public departments is now conducted on the Internet. According to Eurostat, in 2009, at least 65% of European businesses used e-government tools, a percentage that rises to 83% for big companies. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has often indicated the development of e-government as a major requirement for perfecting transparency and simplification processes. Forcing time-consuming and complex consultation of paper documents on a society that now lives with, communicates and gets information digitally, as well as entrusting essential areas of its life – from the financial markets to telemedicine – to the Internet, appears out-of-date and in need of urgent updating, especially given the widespread negative repercussions, for example, on the economy and on business, due to legal uncertainty and the consequent curb on investments, trade and growth. Therefore, I approve the recommendation and I hope that the new Council regulation will soon come into force.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is crucial that the European public have simple and reliable access to European Union legal acts. The electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) enables this type of access and is a crucial instrument for information on the EU. Consulting paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming, costly process, and very few users do it. The situation of electronic versions of legal acts not being legally binding must be overcome since it creates uncertainty as to the precise content of EU legal acts. I voted for this motion for a resolution because it contributes to legal certainty and to reducing the cost of accessing European Union legal acts for citizens and businesses.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) European integration also takes place through recognition of the role played by the European Union institutions. In my view, the actions promoted by these institutions do not enjoy sufficient visibility on a national level. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to make an effort to promote policies of transparency, and to make the official documentation easily accessible to all European citizens. The Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is already published electronically, and this is the primary reference format. However, the Court of Justice has specified that where there is no legal basis, electronic publication does not have legal value, and therefore the associated rights and obligations cannot be claimed or enforced. Giving the electronic version of the OJ legal value means a significant increase in transparency because it will be immediately accessible to everyone free of charge, and all the information it contains will be reliable and binding. I believe it is right to make official information accessible to as many people as possible, and therefore I voted in favour of the report on the electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union. I would also like to take the opportunity to underline the importance of implementing the Digital Agenda referred to in the Europe 2020 strategy, in order to promote access to high-speed Internet for all European citizens.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing.(FR) For the sake of efficiency, administration should move into the digital age. This guarantees a fast, accessible and secure administration for all European citizens. It is also a way of limiting the cost of administrative procedures. By approving the draft regulation, Parliament is allowing the online edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) to be an ‘official and authentic source’. This will make procedures easier for citizens, and that is why I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) will now be legally binding. This is an important step forward for European democracy, showing proof of our desire to make visible the legislative texts of the EU, which, from now on, will be accessible to a greater number of people. This innovation, which simplifies the work of the EU, also allows for savings to be made by removing paper copies, guaranteeing greater efficiency in the management of financial resources.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported this new regulation, which establishes the electronic edition of the Official Journal (OJ) as the only authentic version of the OJ, replacing the paper version. Indeed, this text favours better access on the part of citizens to European law by recognising the major role played today by new information technologies, such as the Internet, for the dissemination of European law. The reduction in the number of paper copies of the OJ that will come about as a result of this will also allow, in time, for savings to be made, and for the environmental impact of the activities of the European institutions to be reduced.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this recommendation because I believe the Council text provides for a positive reform of how the Official Journal of the European Union is published that contributes to improving the European public’s access to EU legislation.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal is intended to make the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. These amendments are merely technical in nature and I believe they are to be welcomed. Making the OJ official and authentic will provide better public access to European Union legal acts, thereby increasing legal certainty and reducing access costs for citizens and businesses, since online consultation of an official and authentic version will always be free.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Data transfer and the circulation of official information over the Internet, as well as environmental awareness of the need to reduce logging intended for the paper industry, have led many businesses and public bodies to reduce their paper communications at the expense of electronic means. However, a number of reservations have been voiced about the legal validity of these notifications, owing to the lack of legislation permitting this. A 2007 judgment by the European Court of Justice states that ‘legal rights cannot be claimed and obligations cannot be enforced on the basis of the electronic version of the [Official Journal of the European Union]’ (OJ). To overcome this problem, on 4 April 2011, the Commission tabled a proposal intended to increase legal certainty by increasing access to EU legislation and allowing anyone to use the OJ as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. I voted for this draft Council regulation on the electronic publication of the OJ since the amendments are technical in nature, increase legal certainty, and enable better public access to EU legal acts.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report proposes that the electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) become the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version rather than the printed edition, which will have legal value only in the exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption to the electronic publication. This proposed amendment to a regulation increases legal certainty.

Currently, the majority of users consult only the electronic form of EU legal acts. As the rapporteur mentions, the fact that electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding is problematic in itself, and creates uncertainty as to the precise content of the EU legal acts currently available in the EUR-LEX database. He adds that consulting paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming and costly process, so very few users do it.

Moreover, the proposal has undeniable environmental benefit. Whilst this amendment is positive, it does not change the need to continue improving the whole population’s access to important official documentation, given the difficulties and limitations that still persist in this regard.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing.(SK) The Commission presented this proposal in April 2011 with the aim of enhancing legal certainty by broadening access to EU law and enabling everyone to rely on the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. The proposal therefore specifies that electronic publication will equate to valid publication of the OJ, although in exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption of the electronic publication, the printed edition would have legal value. Electronic publication of the OJ was one of the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency between January and July 2011, with reference to the importance of public access to Union legislation. Due to reservations in the Council regarding national parliamentary scrutiny, however, the formal request from the Council for the consent of the European Parliament was not sent until 13 March 2012. The Council text provides for a welcome reform of the way in which the OJ is published, as it provides for increased legal certainty and better access on the part of citizens to European Union legal acts. Currently, almost everyone consults just the electronic form of EU legal acts. The fact that electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding is unacceptable. The consultation of paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming, costly process, and is carried out by very few users. The reform will thus increase legal certainty and reduce access costs for citizens and businesses. In my opinion, the EU should welcome all such reforms.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) I believe that this report should be fully supported, in the name of the transparency and closeness to citizens that is so often asked of the European institutions. Making the electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union binding as well, giving it true value and allowing it to have legal effect, will ensure quicker and more economical access and help promote the digital internal market. Furthermore, in view of the fact that the report does not neglect the aspects relating to protection of the authenticity, integrity and impossibility of altering the electronic publication of the Official Journal, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which improves accessibility for citizens to the EU’s bodies and increases legal certainty.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the resolution on the draft Council regulation on the electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union. As we know, the Commission presented its proposal on 4 April 2011 with the aim of enhancing legal certainty by broadening access to EU law and enabling everyone to rely on the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. The proposal therefore provides that electronic publication will equate to valid publication of the OJ. However, in exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption of the electronic publication only, the printed edition would have legal value.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The introduction of an equivalent legal basis for the legal value of documents published in the electronic Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is undoubtedly a step towards making the public institutions more accessible to their citizens. Closing this gap gives greater value to the other initiatives undertaken by Parliament in order to make its operations, and those of other European institutions, as transparent as possible for EU citizens. I believe that a common legal basis for the OJ legal documents was necessary in order to fully acknowledge the social and technological changes that are taking place increasingly quickly and requiring prompt responses from the institutions.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Anyone can see from the events I have supported that I wholeheartedly encourage the use of modern technology, especially given the rapid rate at which society is evolving and the constant need that EU citizens are showing to be informed about the decisions adopted by these institutions. The publication of an electronic version of the Official Journal is a timely proposal and reflects public demand. It would be nothing short of a mistake to delay a decision like this. I should emphasise that it is not only having instant access to documents that is important, but also the lack of uncertainty regarding their content. Anyone consulting the electronic version must be certain that the information is authentic and true. In fact, I think that the key aspect of this proposal is to do with giving texts published electronically the same official stamp as the paper version that has appeared until now.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I consider that the Council text provides for a welcome reform of the way in which the OJ is published, as it provides for increased legal certainty and better access for citizens to legal acts of the European Union. Currently, almost everyone consults only the electronic form of legal acts of the EU. The fact that electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding is unacceptable in itself and creates uncertainty as to the precise content of the legal acts of the EU currently available in the EUR-LEX database. Moreover, the consultation of paper versions of the Official Journal is a time-consuming, costly process, and is carried out by very few users. The reform will thus increase legal certainty and decrease access costs for citizens and businesses. All such reforms should be very welcome in the EU.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) We welcome this draft Council resolution with the aim of enhancing legal certainty by broadening access to EU law and enabling all citizens to rely on the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. Electronic publication will equate in legal terms to valid publication of the OJ. However, in exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption of the electronic publication only, the printed version would have legal value. We are convinced that this regulation will allow a welcome reform of the way in which the OJ is published, as it provides for increased legal certainty and better access for citizens to European Union legal acts. The reform will also increase legal certainty and reduce access costs for citizens and businesses.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This recommendation increases legal certainty by allowing anyone to use the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. Moreover, it improves access to legislation by allowing the public better access to European law and, consequently, to the European Union itself, thereby strengthening European citizenship. It was for these reasons that I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is a fact that almost everyone consults the electronic form of EU legal acts. It is therefore time to get up to date. Publication of the Official Journal of the European Union online will provide for increased legal certainty and make it easier for citizens to access the legal activity of the European Union. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I fully support this new regulation, as it provides for increased legal certainty and better public access to European Union legal acts, stipulating that electronic publication will equate to valid publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. In fact, this text promotes better public access to European legislation, acknowledging the important role played today by new information technologies, including the Internet, in disseminating European law. This innovation also introduces significant savings, as well as reducing the European institutions’ environmental impact.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) With the adoption of the regulation on authenticity of the electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union, we are taking another step towards bringing the work of the EU institutions and, in particular, the results of legislative work, closer to EU citizens. The legislative process, whose parliamentary phase we have concluded today, started in 2011 as one of the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency. In today’s accelerated world, money, energy and time can be saved by official texts being accessible in reliable electronic form, and EU documentation is no exception. For the time being, the paper version of the Official Journal of the European Union is the publication format that is official and may be cited by all. That hinders the authorities’ and citizens’ procedures. The content of the electronic version is for information purposes only. The number of citizens interested in the results of legislation keeps on growing, which is why it is important that readers can rely fully on the texts published in the electronic version of the Official Journal. As the Official Journal of the EU has also been available in electronic form since 1998, the number of subscribers to the paper version has decreased considerably. Through the electronic Official Journal becoming authentic, legal security will increase, the work of the EU institutions will become more transparent, and the lives of citizens working with EU law will become simpler, while public administration efficiency will also improve. I voted in favour of the report as its shadow rapporteur from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats).

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing.(ES) This report proposes that the electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) should become the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version instead of the printed version, which will have legal value in exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption of the electronic publication only. This change proposed in the report enhances legal certainty, as well as having a significant positive impact on the environment, and that is why I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The proposal suggests that electronic publication of the EU’s Official Journal is consistent with actual publication of the Official Journal and that the electronic version is considered as the official, updated and full version. In exceptional cases and temporary unforeseen disruptions of the electronic issue, the printed version will have legal force.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The Official Journal of the European Union is a printed product that is published daily in all languages of the EU. It comprises two related series (series L ‘legislation’ and series C ‘information and notices’) as well as a supplement (series S ‘public procurement notices’). Series C also includes an exclusively electronic part, the OJ. EC documents that appear in the OJ are only published electronically. 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) The Commission’s proposal, which enhances legal certainty and improves citizens’ access to European Union legal acts, has been approved by a large majority. The electronic edition of the Official Journal (OJ) will constitute the valid publication and the official and authentic version of the OJ. The European Union must be transparent and facilitate European citizens’ access to the legislative measures that it adopts because Europe affects its citizens directly.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. – (ET) I gave my approval to the draft regulation, which states that the electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union should be granted equal legal force to that possessed by the printed version. Today, the majority of users of the European Union’s Official Journal submit their queries through its electronic environment (EUR-LEX), and it is strange that although we have an online database through which all European Union legislation is available, citation of the Internet version has no basis in law. This means that one must seek information about current legislation in the printed version of the Official Journal, which is a time-consuming, costly and outmoded option. Adopting this resolution as soon as possible will make it easier to navigate EU legislation, and will avoid the unnecessary duplication of searches.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The draft Council regulation on the electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union is based on free access for citizens to information and the dissemination and publication of European legislation. Easier access to EU law will facilitate understanding and legal certainty for all citizens. Furthermore, texts published electronically will have legal value and be accessible at any time. It is an excellent idea for informing European citizens more quickly and clearly about the work of the institutions.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The democratic deficit in Europe is due, in large part, to the fact that insufficient use is made of the potential provided by new technologies and, hence, e-government. However, there has been a delay in electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union for reasons of legal basis. In order to overcome these obstacles and give the public direct access to European decisions, the European Parliament has proposed that we should apply the flexibility clause (Article 352 TFEU) as an appropriate response to the legal questions raised by the Member States. Of course, as far as the European Parliament is concerned, electronic publication of EU legal instruments, which, for the moment, are available in the EUR-Lex database, is more than welcome and we are convinced that this reform will increase legal certainty and reduce access costs for citizens and companies alike. That is why I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Transparency is a key to the success of the European project and to public involvement therein. Indeed, it is crucial that the European public have swift and reliable access to European Union legal acts. The electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) enables this type of access and is a crucial instrument for information on the EU. In order to be able to make progress with this process, it is important to overcome the fact that the electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding. This situation creates uncertainty about the exact content of European Union legal acts. I voted for this motion for a resolution because of the facts that it highlights and because I believe that the purpose of this regulation is to contribute to legal certainty and to reducing the cost of accessing European Union legal acts for citizens and businesses.

 
  
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  Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. (IT) I congratulate Mr Ziobro on his work on this new regulation which provides for the electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) in order to ensure quicker and cheaper access to official information. While it is true that it is important to establish rules ensuring the authenticity, completeness and inalterability of the electronic publication of the OJ, it is also true that in the age of the Internet and the digital revolution, European citizens cannot be denied unlimited access to the laws in all the official languages.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report essentially concerns the proposal by the Committee on Legal Affairs that electronic publication should equate to valid publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ), with the printed edition having legal value only in the exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption to the electronic publication. It is noteworthy that the background to this proposed change is a 2007 judgment by the European Court of Justice stating that legal rights cannot be claimed and obligations cannot be enforced on the basis of the electronic version of the OJ. This is, therefore, a positive reform of how the OJ is published, as it provides for increased legal certainty and better public access to European Union legal acts because practically all users consult only the electronic version of EU legal acts nowadays. Moreover, consulting paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming, costly process, and is carried out by very few users. The reform will thus increase legal certainty and reduce access costs for citizens and businesses.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Consent should be given to this proposal for a Council regulation in order for it to enter into force as soon as possible. The Council text provides for a welcome reform of the way in which the Official Journal is published, as it provides for increased legal certainty and better access for citizens to legal acts of the EU.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this text because I believe that enhancing legal certainty by broadening access to EU law and enabling all citizens to rely on the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is a priority. Considering that currently, almost everyone consults just the electronic form of EU legal acts, it is unacceptable that this version should not be legally binding. Moreover, the consultation of paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming, costly process, and is carried out by very few users. Therefore, I believe that the reform could increase legal certainty and reduce access costs for citizens and businesses.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is necessary to enhance legal certainty by broadening access to European Union law, putting everyone in a position to rely on the electronic edition of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. This vote establishes the principle under which electronic publication will equate in legal terms to valid publication of the OJ. However, in exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption of the electronic publication only, the printed version would have legal value. This will provide for increased legal certainty and better access for citizens to EU legal acts. Currently, almost everyone consults just the electronic form of EU legal acts. The fact that electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding is unacceptable in itself, and creates uncertainty, which must be removed.

 
  
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  József Szájer (PPE), in writing. (HU) The electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union was also among the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency last year because of the importance of public access to EU legislation. I consider it unacceptable that the electronic version of the legislation is not legally binding. That creates legal uncertainty regarding the precise content of the EU legislation currently accessible in the EUR-LEX database. It is regrettable that this report has only now gone before the plenum of the European Parliament owing to the debates surrounding the procedure’s legal basis. It is unquestionable that the EU also needs to adapt to the expectations of the digitised world. I voted in favour of the motion concerning electronic publication coming into force within the shortest time possible.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on the draft Council regulation on the electronic publication of the Official Journal of the European Union. The proposal for a regulation stipulates that electronic publication will equate to publication of the Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union in accordance with legal requirements. In 2011, the Commission adopted the proposal for a regulation with the aim of enhancing legal certainty by broadening access to EU legislation and allowing everyone to rely on the electronic edition of the OJ as the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version. The proposal also deals with the technical conditions under which electronic publication equates to valid publication and establishes the remit of the Publications Office of the European Union (OPOCE) in this area. However, in exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption to the electronic publication, the paper version will have legal value. I think that legal certainty needs to be increased and better access provided for citizens to European Union legal acts. Currently, almost everyone consults just the electronic form of EU legal acts. Consulting the paper versions of the OJ is a time-consuming, costly process and is carried out by very few users.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The ‘implied competence’ theory is not used very often. On the other hand, the EU mainly uses the ordinary legislative procedure. The rapporteur states that there is no legal basis applicable (in the case of publications for the Union) which provides for the use of a specific decision-making procedure. He therefore, suggested the use of the ‘flexibility clause’ as in Article 352 TFEU and therefore this report has to be supported. Its adoption will improve the electronic version of the OJ, as electronic versions of legal acts are not legally binding and will eliminate the paper versions of the OJ.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report proposes amendments, merely technical in nature, to make the electronic version of the Official Journal of the European Union the official, authentic, up-to-date and complete version rather than the printed edition, which will have legal value only in the exceptional and temporary cases of unforeseen disruption to the electronic publication. This new procedure could be positive in terms of guaranteeing better public access to information; EU legislation, in this case.

 
  
  

Report: Cecilia Wikström (A7-0151/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since the letter of 7 October 2011 from the Romanian authorities declares that ‘given that Mr Tudor has not been detained, arrested or searched, the need does not exist to seek the agreement of the European Parliament. Since the facts of the case are not connected with his votes or with his political opinions expressed in the exercise of his office, and he has not been detained, arrested or searched, it has not been considered necessary to request the waiver of Mr Tudor’s immunity’.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) I think, as has been highlighted by my colleagues, that the circumstances surrounding the acts of Corneliu Vadim Tudor ‘do not have a direct, obvious connection with Mr Tudor’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament’, and, consequently, I have decided not to defend his immunity. This decision means that legal proceedings can continue.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I do not believe Corneliu Vadim Tudor should be granted the opportunity to seek parliamentary immunity regarding this case. The eviction of the România Mare party and the surrounding circumstances do indeed constitute, respectively, civil and criminal matters which do not have a direct, obvious connection with Mr Tudor’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament. Mr Tudor’s request relates to criminal proceedings in which he is accused of committing acts of violence and attempting to obstruct the execution of a legal decision in the context of the eviction of his party from its premises in Bucharest. Parliament would be setting a dangerous precedent by allowing immunity in matters such as this, where resultant behaviour cannot be excused.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report by Cecilia Wikström concerns the request for defence of the immunity and privileges of Corneliu Vadim Tudor and was tabled on 14 April 2011, following the proceedings being brought against him by the Public Prosecutor attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania. Mr Tudor is ‘charged with contempt of court, behaviour contrary to good morals and breach of the peace’, having threatened a bailiff and some police officers as they sought to implement a court judgment as part of proceedings evicting the România Mare party from its premises in Bucharest. The rapporteur takes the view that the circumstances surrounding the România Mare party’s eviction are exclusively civil and criminal matters and have nothing to do with Mr Tudor’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament, meaning that Articles 8 and 9 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union cannot be invoked. In view of this, and taking into account the report by the Committee on Legal Affairs, I am voting for the report recommending the waiver of Mr Tudor’s parliamentary immunity.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing.(SK) The MEP Corneliu Vadim Tudor has requested the defence of his parliamentary immunity in connection with proceedings at the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania. His request relates to criminal proceedings in which he is accused of having threatened a bailiff and some police officers, committing acts of violence against them, insulting them and generally attempting to obstruct the execution of a legal decision in the context of the eviction of the România Mare party from its premises in Bucharest on 4 January 2011. In those criminal proceedings, Corneliu Vadim Tudor is charged with contempt of court, behaviour contrary to good morals, and breach of the peace. The eviction of the România Mare party and the circumstances surrounding this actually constitute civil and criminal matters which do not have a direct and obvious connection with Mr Tudor’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament. Mr Tudor did not, however, avail himself of the opportunity to explain to the competent committee his request for the defence of his immunity, and I believe it is therefore right that Parliament has decided not to defend his immunity and privileges further.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution in which Parliament decided not to defend the immunity and privileges of Corneliu Vadim Tudor.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Defending the independence of the mandate of Members of this House is the responsibility of Parliament, and that independence cannot be jeopardised. According to Article 8 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties. However, the facts of the case relate to criminal proceedings, in which he is accused of having threatened a bailiff and some police officers, of committing acts of violence against them, of insulting them, and of generally attempting to obstruct the execution of a legal decision in the context of the eviction of the România Mare party from its premises in Bucharest on 4 January 2011. In those criminal proceedings, Corneliu Vadim Tudor is charged with contempt of court, immoral behaviour and breach of the peace. The eviction of the România Mare party and the circumstances surrounding this do indeed constitute, respectively, civil and criminal matters which do not have a direct, obvious connection with Mr Tudor’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament, so I voted to waive his parliamentary immunity.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Corneliu Vadim Tudor, a Member of the European Parliament, is accused of threatening a bailiff and some police officers, committing acts of violence against them, insulting them and generally attempting to obstruct the execution of a legal decision in the context of the eviction of the România Mare party from its premises in Bucharest on 4 January 2011. As Mr Tudor did not avail himself of the opportunity to explain to the competent committee his request for the defence of his immunity, Parliament has decided not to defend the immunity and privileges of Corneliu Vadim Tudor. I voted against since I respect people who are ready to oppose the lawlessness of authorities. In general, I am against making immunity a matter of bargaining between Parliament and EU Member States.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Our fellow Member, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, has requested the defence of his parliamentary immunity in connection with the proceedings opened against him by the Public Prosecutor attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania. Given that the proceedings in question, the eviction of the România Mare party from its premises, are a matter of civil and criminal law, without a direct, obvious connection with Mr Tudor’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament, I followed the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs in voting to waive his parliamentary immunity.

 
  
  

Report: Philip Bradbourn (A7-0094/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, which also highlights the need for a public service obligation for any air services of economic and public interest that are not economically viable. In the context of the trans-European transport network, this is extremely important as regards equitable treatment for the outermost regions, which are repeatedly excluded and kept in isolation. However, this report advocates a balanced approach to revising aviation guidelines and warns of the ‘proliferation’ of new regional airports, which could result in an economic burden on regions that have chosen to have one without having sufficient traffic to feed it. Existing regional airports need to integrate better with Europe’s interlinked transport network. Finally, the more rigorous security measures implemented in regional airports should be paid for out of normal taxation. This report sends a strong message to the Commission to review certain issues linked to regional aviation in Europe, so as to make regional airports and the services they provide more attractive to passengers and services.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I totally agree with some of the principles expressed in the report by Mr Bradbourn in helping regional airports, especially those located in remote areas or on islands, to develop and strengthen existing links in order to avoid them becoming the exclusive domain of low-cost airlines. It is right to carry out cost-benefit analyses beforehand in order to draw up a national plan for airports and, if necessary, to construct new ones. Good planning can only bring benefits and responses to social and local needs, hence, to the creation of new jobs and services, improving the quality of life of citizens as well as of businesses and, to an even greater extent, of tourism. Let us not forget that tourism is the European Union’s third largest socio-economic activity, representing 10% of GDP and 12% of jobs. In line, moreover, with the strategy on the future of tourism adopted on 27 September 2011, this report makes a considerable contribution to stimulating competition in the tourism industry and to consolidating Europe’s image and visibility as a tourist destination. Finally, I think it is appropriate that regional airports should also be included in the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) guidelines on the same level as ground transport systems, and that they, too, should be eligible for private and public funding.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) European regional airports are too often underestimated. They must be supported and better integrated as a matter of urgency. As Mr Bradbourn highlighted, there is a tendency by the Commission to neglect the opportunities regional airports represent in terms of the integration and prosperity of the EU. You already know my commitment to the development of European regions. These airports can contribute to the revitalisation of local economies, which Europe desperately needs. Through this resolution, I am calling for better integration of small airports in the European central transport network, as they enable regions to become more dynamic and are a source of job creation. Using regional airports more would also take pressure off large airports, reducing their congestion. Furthermore, I have also pointed the finger at airline practices that involve adding charges during the online ticket reservation process, which amounts to tricking consumers while disadvantaging regional airports.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcome the proposal to stress the importance of regional airports and their contribution to the EU transport network, and thus promote the creation of a strong, competitive and economically viable EU aviation area. The movement of people and goods between regions and the smooth running of the EU’s single market are essential generators of the EU’s economic growth. Airports play an important role in increasing territorial, economic and social cohesion in the Member States by connecting regions. Suitable air transport links would enable the regions to cope with their inherent geographical handicaps and would help develop the local economy and tourism by attracting investors. I welcome the calls for the Commission to guarantee the correct application of European and national legislation on airlines’ social conditions and terms of employment and agree that the scope of any future studies must be extended to regional airports. Encouraging sector representatives to develop multimodal through-ticketing between the rail and air sector is one of the most important recommendations in my opinion.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) It is through land management that we can strengthen social and territorial cohesion within the EU. I therefore welcome this report, which recalls the key importance that regional aviation plays in the development of European regions. Ensuring a tight network across the EU; that is our ambition. Nevertheless, this report also recalls that we must take care not to encourage the proliferation of regional airports, as this tendency would ultimately run counter to the initial objectives, in economic terms (costs that are too high to bear), environmental terms, or even in terms of geographical logic (not enough traffic). Furthermore, this report is also an opportunity to point out certain abusive practices on the part of low-cost airlines. The restrictions these airlines apply to baggage, for example, should be better regulated, along with the charges added to the initial ticket price. Consumers should enjoy a high-quality service, regardless of the airlines they use. This report is a step in the right direction. It is now up to the Commission to make regional airports key elements in an efficient European transport network covering the whole of the EU.

 
  
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  Phil Bennion (ALDE), in writing. – I voted in favour of Philip Bradbourn’s own-initiative report on regional airports and air services because it managed to strike a good balance between the important role regional aviation plays in regions’ economic development, in terms of boosting competitiveness and promoting territorial cohesion within Europe, and the warning against proliferation of regional airports. However, I strongly disagreed with paragraph 13 of this report in two respects. Commercial and retail activities can have perverse effects by cross-subsidising landing charges. This can leave the busiest airports being able to offer lower landing charges, thus making it more difficult for regional airports to compete. Moreover, restrictions on hand baggage granted by budget carriers are not a breach of competition law and conversely have stimulated competition.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. (PL) Regional airports are becoming an important factor for economic growth, stimulating development in the cities and regions they serve. They also extend transport routes. Unfortunately, the Union’s policy in this area to date, which has focused mainly on key transport hubs, did not bring benefits to smaller centres. It is, however, in the interest of individual regions to increase the profitability of these centres. The proposals put forward in the resolution to make the European Aviation Area more effective will encourage regional development. For example, regional airports may turn out to be very effective at reducing traffic and congestion at large hubs. Another excellent idea, with clear benefits to passengers, is the proposal to develop multimodal travel by selling joint tickets for air and train travel. In addition, by eliminating some of the burdensome practices of cheap carriers, we can also improve passenger comfort. Regional air travel may turn out to be key for the free movement of citizens and to improve the flow of goods and services. I support the resolution.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I support Mr Bradbourn’s resolution, which asks the Commission to pay greater attention in EU legislation to the situation of ‘regional airports’, whose function is primarily linked to the local area. They need to be included in trans-European transport network planning in order to offer them greater accessibility and ensure the fair distribution of time slots to different air carriers, thus guaranteeing proper competition that will serve the interests both of the airports and of the consumers who use them.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Regional airports make a vital contribution to territorial cohesion and the EU’s social and economic development. I think that they are able to attract new business, while offering numerous opportunities for regional tourism, as well as for specialised cargo transport. Integrating regional airports into the TEN-T will create opportunities for private funding for airport infrastructures and will encourage Member States to invest in integrated ground connections with large airports. With a view to improving the overall quality of services, certain practices adopted by low-cost airlines, such as certain unavoidable charges applied to the basic price of their airline tickets, or the enforcement of extremely harsh rules regarding the number and size of hand luggage items, must be regulated.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report looks at the problems, outlook and developments in the air transport market, which have delicate implications, especially with regard to economic growth and consumer rights. It is appropriate that we should discuss these in depth and intervene with the tools at our disposal, calling on the relevant local bodies to look at the issue themselves. I would like to draw attention to four main issues. The first is territorial cohesion, which involves delicate issues of citizenship rights and problems in the capacity of the local economies in the surrounding areas. Then there are the practices of low-cost airlines, which are only partly linked to the low margins of this sector, and should involve consideration of consumer rights, especially in view of the intervention by the Spanish Government. Then there is the role of regional airports in the local economies, and structural weaknesses that expose them to the pressure of dominant powers. Finally, and above all, there is the need to bring regional airports within the sphere of attention and action of the European legislator, through simplification and alignment of the laws, and incentives to build integrated systems and networks that successfully exploit multimodality. I approve and support the report, which paves the way to a vision more aware of the role that air transport plays in our society.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I abstained from this vote as, while the proposals amount to a sensible defence of regional airports from heavy-handed regulation, little is offered by way of a solution. The EU is prone to gearing legislation towards major air hubs while regional airports struggle to adapt to a litany of regulation from Brussels. In Wales, we have one primary airport serving the country. It is not a major hub and is exactly the sort of airport that is adversely affected by over-bureaucracy that makes it harder for it to compete alongside other larger local airports across the border.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted for the Bradbourn report, which aims to make regional airports more attractive. I am delighted that this text recognises the role of airport infrastructures as generators of growth and regional development. I believe it is important that the Commission takes into account the specific nature of regional airports in legislative proposals relating to the air sector. Two elements, in particular, caught my eye: the need to reduce congestion at major hub airports and the need to encourage the interlinking of areas. This objective goes hand in hand with the rationale behind the Atlantic strategy, for which I am rapporteur.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution because I consider European regional airports to be key elements in creating an efficient and well-functioning EU transport network that facilitates trade and ensures mobility for a greater number of people, and because I believe there is a need to tackle the practice of some low-cost airlines of levying improper charges that could threaten the activity of regional airports.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regional aviation can play a vital role in realising free movement in the EU, providing better connectivity for the public, businesses and the products of the various EU regions, particularly in the case of more remote, harder to access regions, or of the outermost regions. It will therefore contribute significantly to these regions’ territorial cohesion, and to their social and economic development. It is important, particularly at a time of economic crisis, to prevent the proliferation of regional airports, which would meet neither efficiency nor sustainability targets. However, it is also crucial to maintain and strengthen existing ties with regions affected by less favourable geographical conditions, as well as to promote better links between regional airports and neighbouring cities, which could bring clear benefits in alleviating the excessive burden on central airports. It is crucial to adopt the measures needed to facilitate improvements to regional airports’ operational and economic effectiveness, as well as to improve the conditions offered to passengers using such infrastructure and services. A clear and concrete definition of ‘regional airport’ should be set out, and clear and transparent criteria established for obtaining subsidies and public funds.

 
  
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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 European citizens. A comprehensive transport network that is not restricted to the major capitals needs to be set up in order for this right to be effectively guaranteed. Parliament therefore has the responsibility of adjusting the direction taken by the Commission, which is too focused on developing hubs, and shows little interest in the potential of regional airports. The full development of the latter is, in fact, fundamental for guaranteeing the aforementioned freedom of movement, and for promoting economic development in the areas where these airports are built, because their expansion would also alleviate the problems of congestion at hubs, and consequently make the transport system more sustainable from an environmental point of view as well. For the above reasons, I therefore voted in favour of this report on the future of regional airports. Finally, I hope that Malpensa airport will be developed to its full potential and go back to being an international hub, because, as the economic capital of Italy, Milan and its businesses need to be properly linked to other Member States.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing.(FR) This report has the merit of highlighting in a clear and efficient way the added-value of regional airports as generators of growth. Offering multimodality and interconnections, these airports are the beating heart of regional economic activity. Giving them the importance they deserve in European legislation is what this report aims to do. Parliament, which must vote over the coming weeks on the ‘airport package’, is, from today, sending a strong message to the Commission.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of this text, which aims to grant special legal status to regional airports and air services. The European institutions have finally understood the importance of supporting our regional airports, which actively contribute to strengthening local economic fabric and promoting our regions. We cannot legislate without taking into account the specific nature of each airport and the expectations of the citizens. We are also sending a strong message to the Commission by calling for some regional airports to be included in major infrastructure projects that could receive European funding via the European central transport network.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) Regional airports and air services are not only essential as transport nodes, helping to facilitate the smooth running of the EU’s single market by moving people and goods between regions, but they are also essential as generators of economic growth in their own right. In this respect, I am delighted with the adoption of this report, which clearly calls for a balance with international airports and for the role of regional airports to be strengthened. On this matter, I would like to highlight some of the text’s strong demands: improving connectivity with other modes of transport; prohibiting the ‘one bag’ rule, which has a negative impact on airports’ commercial activities; improving the development of a network of regional airports, which should offer an alternative in case of congestion in major hubs. Efficiency, accessibility and profitability should be priorities for regional airports, which must not, under any circumstances, become the plaything of local politics.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe regional air services’ promotion of the cities and regions they serve is essential to the smooth running of the single market. The proposed recommendations seek to improve airports’ operational and economic effectiveness, which must be considered key elements in creating an efficient and well-functioning EU transport network.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this report is to find a definition of regional airport, of State aid and support for airlines, of price transparency, and of restrictions applicable to passengers that have a direct impact on competition and commerce in regional aviation, such as the ‘one bag’ rule. I share the rapporteur’s view that European regional airports should be considered key elements in creating an efficient and well-functioning EU transport network that plays a crucial role in the territorial, economic and social cohesion of the Member States and the EU.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) When properly located, and provided with security conditions and a network of connections with other modes of transport, regional airports play a key role in the European Union’s territorial, economic and social cohesion. It is easy to understand that not all cities can have an airport. However, there are regions, especially the outermost regions, or peripheral or island regions, where airports are the only effective means of linking them to the rest of Europe. EU policy in this regard should be to promote the supply of rigorous public services that prioritise security. It should not permit the proliferation of regional airports but should create an interlinked system that makes the market more competitive and promotes regional development, by accelerating the implementation of the European air traffic management system (SESAR), the Clean Sky initiative and the enforcement of Single European Sky legislation. I voted for this report because, in the context of the economic crisis and the budgetary consolidation efforts through which we are living, it appeals to common sense for achieving a balance between the social and territorial needs of a given region, and each airport’s need for competitiveness and financial balance.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report recognises the importance of regional airports and air services for economic development in the regions, particularly – but not exclusively – in the outermost regions. It also acknowledges, to a point, the role of public policy in promoting this development. However, it then advocates market supremacy, reducing Member States’ room for manoeuvre and even jeopardising their intervention and regulation; these are essential to organising these services and linking them to an idea of public interest and development promotion. The fact that it argues for the Single European Sky and, hence, for the sector to be market-facing, is also very enlightening. There are various apologies for free competition – which is above criticism – and for the resulting limitations on state intervention throughout the text. Moreover, even security issues are subjugated to the free competition principle: according to item 37, measures in this regard are limited by this principle. This is a vision with which we cannot agree, for the reasons we gave during the debate. A few comments about the role of low-cost airlines and a handful of positive related proposals do not counter the more negative aspects of this report.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Regional airports and air services are essential not only as transport nodes, helping to facilitate the smooth running of the EU’s single market by moving people and goods between regions, but also as generators of economic growth. Together, they expand the horizon of traditional trading routes, and provide a significant boost to the cities and regions they serve. I believe it is important to adopt measures that could improve the operational and economic efficiency of regional airports and air services in general, as well as improve the experience of passengers using these facilities and services. It is important that we create an aviation area that is strong, competitive and economically viable. European regional airports and air services need to be considered as key elements in creating an efficient and well-functioning EU transport network that facilitates trade and ensures mobility for a greater number of people. Regional aviation can play a vital role in ensuring that free movement in the EU is a reality not only for people living in major capital cities, but also for EU citizens living outside these areas, ensuring that these cities and regions enjoy not only the benefits brought about by greater mobility, but also by generating tourism. I firmly believe that it is also important to make an effort in this way to provide access to new markets and attract greater inward economic investment.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) Regional airports are increasingly taking a backseat in EU legislation, despite the growing difficulties they are facing. The difficulties are caused by their monopolisation by low-cost airlines and the unfair practices employed by the latter, as well as isolation from the remainder of the transport network and infrastructures which force passengers to change means of transport several times before reaching the regional airport. All of this cancels out the original advantage sought by the traveller, inevitably leading many potential passengers to prefer travelling with major airlines via the larger and more functional hubs. Therefore, I believe that this report, which aims to ensure adequate competition between air carriers and better access to such airports, deserves my complete support. For these reasons, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing. (HU) The competitiveness of the regions in the European Union is in line with regional economic growth. Those regions that have all the capabilities that an airport can provide are more competitive and better able to attract capital. Today, a regional airport is a prerequisite for an investment location. It is vital for modern logistics and is also one of the most effective regional development factors. Serious investors are unlikely to be interested in regions where there is no airport or where the airport does not operate appropriately. The expansion of low-cost carriers was another factor that highlighted the role of smaller airports. Since such carriers focus on keeping their costs low, they prefer using smaller airports provided with appropriate infrastructure, rather than large, crowded airports. They can then use transfer services to transport their passengers to the larger cities in the vicinity. This method has worked in Western Europe and, in my home country, for instance, there is already an example of such cooperation in the town of Debrecen. In conclusion, I believe that European regional airports and flights need to be seen as key factors in creating an effective, smoothly operating EU transport network that will promote trade and provide mobility for a wider public. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – I welcome the adoption of the Bradbourn report on regional airports. The report underlines the importance of regional airports to business, tourism and economic development. I fully support paragraph 1 of the report, which stresses that existing public service obligations should be maintained into the future.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Air transport is fundamentally important both in terms of transport and as a generator of economic growth. However, the European Commission has a tendency to underestimate the impact that some of its laws have had on regional airports while, at the same time, focusing its attention almost exclusively on major hubs. This tendency is unjustified and affects airports that already have to face obstacles related to the impact of aviation on the environment, congestion, and competition from the major airports. This report presents these problems to the European Commission along with various proposals (shifting part of air traffic to regional airports, adding them to the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), and the creation of a universally accepted definition of regional airport) in order to improve the current situation.

 
  
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  Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) I voted against this report, as it calls for special attention and financial support for regional airports, without a single condition with regard to security or even the environment. Before the vote in the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance proposed various amendments aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving multimodality (better coordination with rail transport) and developing better cooperation between regional airports that are geographically close to each other but are situated in different (cross-border) countries. These amendments were all rejected, leaving me with no choice but to vote against the report.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) At a time when the crisis and the disparities between regions are being accentuated within the European Union, territorial cohesion must be at the heart of EU policies now more than ever. It is this basic principle that I wanted to reaffirm by voting for this report. Indeed, regional airports have a key role to play in the economic development of the most remote regions by attracting companies, in particular, and also by enabling the development of tourism. Furthermore, as we are currently discussing the review of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), it would be appropriate, in this debate, to grant regional airports an important place alongside other major European transport nodes. In my view, this seems essential in order to achieve an optimal network across the EU.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) While I endorse the idea of drawing up a resolution on regional airports, it would have to be coherent and set out approaches to tackling the problems of regional airports. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the motion for a resolution on which we are to vote, and I therefore did not vote in favour.

Regional airports are of major importance for territorial coherence and for the economic and social development of the regions. They have an important role to play as transport hubs and they contribute to economic growth. Measures taken need to be specially adapted to these airports.

Although it is right that a definition of regional airports should be produced, that definition should not – as called for in this resolution – exclude airports whose principal catchment area is a capital city, as this would result in the exclusion of many current regional airports from the scope of the definition.

Furthermore, air freight is particularly important to regional airports. This area received too little attention in this resolution as, with a few exceptions, it concentrates instead on passenger volumes and interests.

Moreover, the aim here, as the resolution points out, is not the proliferation of regional airports per se, but preventing inefficient and, more than anything, unprofitable regional airports. When considering the economic burden, the focus must therefore be on long-term profitability, as regional airports are often not profitable at first but are able to become self-supporting in the long term, and so do represent considerable added value for the entire region.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. (GA) I wholly welcome the work done by Mr Bradbourn in this report. It is very important that we have a strategy for the future of regional airports.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing.(FR) Guaranteeing the future of our regional airports is essential for two obvious reasons: firstly, they are strategic transport nodes that allow us to expand the horizon of traditional trading routes and, secondly, they contribute to regional development and strengthening local economic fabric. That is why I am delighted that Parliament has adopted by a strong majority the report on regional airports and air services, which aims to define the special legal status of regional airports, and to clarify some sensitive issues such as State aid and start-up aid for airlines, the issue of price transparency, the ‘one bag’ rule and any other restrictions that affect competition.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report which rightly stresses the importance of air transport, particularly to outlying areas. A number of the Members of this House are opposed to the report on the basis that greater priority should be given to other forms of transport, such as rail. Whilst this may be a valid argument in some parts of the EU, it ignores the geographical and demographic realities of other parts, such as the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the resolution on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU because regional airports and air services are not only essential as transport nodes, helping to facilitate the smooth running of the EU’s single market by moving people and goods between regions, but they are also essential as generators of economic growth in their own right. Together, they expand the horizon of traditional trading routes and provide a significant boost to the cities and regions that they serve. These infrastructures and services are important for people living outside major urban areas and to the EU as a whole. When proposing legislation in the field of aviation, there is a tendency by the European Commission to focus attention on major hub airports. This report seeks to redress this balance and bring attention to the manner in which regional airports and air services have often been unintentionally, yet disproportionately, affected by some EU legislation. We also need to look for ways of improving the operational and economic efficiency of regional airports and air services as well as the experience of passengers using these facilities and services.

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE), in writing. (FI) I supported the report on airports, but would like to remind everyone that legislative coordination would be required in this case. We have fundamentally impaired operating conditions for regional airports with rules governing air traffic emissions trading, which favour large aircraft and key routes. Furthermore, the emissions trading scheme in question was part of a unilateral climate policy that does not just harm our competitiveness but the environment also, while putting European airlines that have managed their business well at a competitive disadvantage. Now that the weaknesses in the unilateral climate policy have been recognised, it is now unlikely that such legislation will get through this House. Unfortunately, the EU would appear to lack the political humility to withdraw this failed legislation.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE), in writing. (SK) European regional airports and air services need to be considered as key elements in creating an efficient and well-functioning EU transport network that facilitates trade and ensures mobility for a large number of people. Regional aviation can play a vital role in ensuring that free movement in the EU is a reality not only for people living in the big cities, but also for EU citizens living outside these areas. It brings benefits to regions through greater mobility and by generating tourism, as well as by providing access to new markets and attracting investment. I therefore support this initiative and the submitted recommendations, the aim of which is to restore some kind of balance and improve the operational and economic efficiency of regional airports and aviation services.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The development and growth of regional and peripheral airports offers an opportunity to expand local economies and zones which are currently the least developed in Europe. Airports currently under-used or not efficiently used are different and it is to be hoped that there will be specific action to improve their efficiency. Local economies would, in fact, benefit considerably, especially the tourism industry. However, in order to work in this direction, there needs to be market regulation, especially with regard to low-cost companies, limiting their decision-making powers as far as fares and hand luggage weight limits are concerned. With this resolution, we are asking the European Union to continue to increase its support for regional airports and to take a serious look at the economic opportunities they offer to the areas in which they operate.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report. It stresses the importance of regional airports in the context of air transport and their important role in contributing to territorial, economic and social cohesion, both within the Member States and throughout the Union, by connecting regions; points out that existing public service obligations should be maintained, and that any such obligations agreed in the future should be justified by the need to guarantee the accessibility and territorial continuity of regions, such as the outermost regions, peripheral or island regions, and central areas not lying on the main transport routes, given that suitable air transport links would enable them to cope with their inherent geographical handicaps

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) With this report, we wish to underline the important role played by regional airports and related air services, as they not only contribute to ensuring that the EU’s single market works effectively by transporting people and goods between the regions, but are also capable of producing economic growth themselves, attracting greater economic investment. Often however, they have been unintentionally, yet disproportionately, affected or excluded by some EU legislation.

We therefore call on the European Commission to pay special attention to regional airports and air services, as they risk being priced out of the market in the face of greater consolidation among major airports, airlines and airline alliances. An uncompetitive and monopolistic market-place would not only be extremely harmful to regional aviation but also to EU citizens who would be faced with less choice and rising prices. We therefore call for greater commitment to developing the new-generation European traffic management system (SESAR) and the Single European Sky, as their completion could lead to huge economic and environmental savings brought about by greater efficiency, as well as allowing some smaller regional airports to benefit from new investments and technology.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) Regional air transport plays an important role in the development of the EU’s regions, thanks to the numerous economic and social benefits it brings through developing the economy and tourism, increasing citizens’ mobility and creating jobs.

Regional airports are the open gateways to regions both inside and outside the EU. They improve connectivity and access to the EU’s regions, while helping make them more attractive. At the same time, regional airports can help reduce traffic congestion at crowded airports.

Intermodal transport solutions help improve the transit between airports. The Commission and relevant authorities should make it a priority to give consideration to existing regional airports. Streamlining and developing their operation by improving the necessary infrastructure would also yield short-term benefits in terms of investment costs.

The importance of diversifying regional airports lies in increasing passenger safety. The priority for airport authorities in the EU must be to have alternative airports available in the event of worsening weather conditions or for ensuring safety for take-off and landing.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is important to avoid a proliferation of regional airports. We must avoid the creation of unused or not efficiently used airport infrastructures which would result in an economic burden for the authorities responsible. I agree with the need to strengthen existing links, especially in areas suffering from geographical handicaps. I voted in favour of the report on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This report rightly states that the proliferation of regional airports should be avoided. It also calls for the construction or enlargement of any regional airport to be subject to local and regional consultation, as should be the case for Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport, for example. I agree with the report on this point.

However, the text also promotes goods transport by air. It advocates free competition between airports and explains that this should not be restricted, even for security reasons. It even calls for European regulation not to be too restrictive in order to stop companies from relocating. I cannot support such a text. I voted against.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is vital to create an EU aviation area that is strong, competitive and economically viable, thereby facilitating trade, ensuring mobility for a greater number of people and realising freedom of movement within the EU. Regional airports constitute a significant economic contribution to the regions where they are located, through the benefits that result from increasing mobility, from promoting tourism, from accessing new markets and from attracting greater inward economic investment. I welcome the adoption of this report, for which I voted.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing.(ES) I voted in favour of this report because it calls for putting a stop to the proliferation of regional airports which are unnecessary and inefficient. This practice has been very common, particularly in Spain; public authorities have implemented huge projects in recent years, building regional airports that are now ghost airports, with the increase in the public deficit that this has entailed. Furthermore, the text calls on national authorities to monitor possible abusive commercial practices and the working conditions of airport staff. Indeed, the report calls for guaranteeing the correct application of European and national legislation on airlines’ social conditions and terms of employment, so that staff employed at a regional airport do not become victims of social dumping. For all of these reasons, I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Regional aviation plays a key role in boosting the regions’ competitiveness and promoting territorial cohesion within Europe, especially as far as the outermost and underdeveloped regions are concerned. There is a need for a public service obligation for air services which are not economically viable. However, a balanced approach to revision of the aviation guidelines is needed. The report warns against a ‘proliferation’ of new regional airports which could result in an economic burden for the regions opting to have one without having sufficient traffic to feed it. It will send a strong impulse to the Commission to revise certain aspects linked to regional aviation in Europe in order to make regional airports and the services they provide more attractive to passengers.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) There is a general tendency in the EU towards centralisation and the neglect of aspects such as infrastructure in rural areas, and this tendency also manifests itself in the field of aviation, for example, in the concentration on airport hubs. Within the EU, there are a multitude of regional airports of various sizes which also vary in the services offered, the markets in their catchment area, and in their air services. To place a disproportionate burden on regional airports and air services through EU legislation is to underestimate the importance of their role as key transport interchanges that make a considerable contribution to smooth transportation within the EU’s internal market and to the advent of a more efficient air space for the EU. I took this into consideration when voting.

 
  
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  James Nicholson (ECR), in writing. – I wholeheartedly welcome my colleague Mr Bradbourn’s report on regional airports. This has received widespread support in Parliament, which is a testament to the importance of the issue. In regions such as my constituency of Northern Ireland, which could be deemed as being somewhat peripheral, the services provided by regional airports are of vital importance to individuals, businesses and the local economy in general. For me, the crucial point of this report is the call for regional airports to be given some protection and security in relation to their access to larger ‘hub’ airports. This crucial aspect of ‘connectivity’ can be put at risk if airlines decide to reallocate slots to more profitable routes. As another airline has recently decided to pull out of Belfast City Airport – resulting in a further reduction of air services for Northern Ireland – the issues raised in this report are very timely.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for the Bradbourn report, especially because of the call made to the Commission to simplify the ways in which airports handling fewer than 500 000 passengers per year can access State aid. I also endorse the inclusion of a larger number of regional airports in the TEN-T. This kind of measure can stimulate economic growth in Europe’s regions. At the same time, I think that the provision in Recital A, which excludes the measures being proposed from being applied to regional airports that mainly serve a capital city, is questionable, to say the least. These airports must enjoy similar terms, as any other situation is an act of discrimination.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Europe’s regional airports and the corresponding air services are key to the creation of an efficient and optimally functioning EU transport network. People are travelling more often, and their mobility must be safeguarded. Regional aviation can play a crucial role and it must be ensured that mobility in the EU is not reserved for people in the metropolises, but is also for everyone outside these European capitals in remote, outlying areas and rural communities. These often neglected regions, too, need to be allowed to enjoy the benefits of greater mobility. These benefits result from tourism and better access to new markets and, in turn, from the increased inward flow of economic investment. I take the view that if we were to better integrate our regional airports into the transport network as a whole, we could stimulate the economy to produce further benefits for European citizens. I considered and balanced all of these factors when voting.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing.(ET) I supported this report because I consider the development of regional airports and air services to be very important in guaranteeing the free movement of people and the more uniform economic development of different regions. In my home country of Estonia, which has many islands, regional airports are extremely important, especially because, for several small islands, the aeroplane is the only means of transport offering a connection with the mainland during the winter. Regional airports also play an important role in reducing traffic at hub airports. In order to ensure the sustainability and increase the efficiency of small airports, the latter must have reliable connections to larger airports, and investments must be made to improve their infrastructure.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The issue of air transport in EU policy is increasingly a hot topic, because under cohesion and development policy, the EU has to regulate the funding allocated to airports. These are divided into two types, regional airports and hubs. As far as regional airports are concerned, the text for which we voted underlines how European institutions are too focused on the major airports, leaving the funding and safety of most of the so-called regional airports to be managed merely by national governments. The EU should focus more on managing the funding for these national airports, which are fundamental for local, economic and social cohesion.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) This own-initiative European Parliament report may not be binding, but it is very important for Greece and I voted in favour of it. Regional airports and air services are valuable to our national tourist product and in providing services to Greek citizens, given the geography of our country. In this report, the European Parliament makes certain recommendations on policy options which, if adopted by the Commission and the Member States, would improve the operational and economic efficiency of regional airports and air services. Some of them, such as defining regional airports and promoting them to important partners of national air networks and completing Single European Sky projects, are important in terms of developing and promoting Greek regional airports. The government formed following the electoral process in Greece should apply this specific report, for the benefit of our regional airports and services.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union has revolutionised air services by enabling low-cost airlines to use secondary airports, thereby making unprecedented mobility in Europe possible. This proposal is based on the same mobility objectives and is intended to legislate on the definition of a regional airport and to prevent abusive practices, such as levying improper charges based on classifying the airport in question differently. These charges could even threaten the activity of regional airports. In fact, European regional airports are key to creating an efficient and well-functioning EU transport network that facilitates trade and ensures mobility for a greater number of people. I voted for this resolution for all these reasons.

 
  
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  Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. (IT) The Commission should not underestimate the importance of ‘regional airports’, which are distinct from ‘hub airports’ in that their function is mainly tied to the area in which they are located. Unfortunately, these airports are increasingly neglected by EU legislation and have been given secondary importance in recent proposals on the development of the EU transport network. I share Mr Bradbourn’s stance on the monopolisation of many regional airports by individual airlines and their isolation by the transport network. We need to block unfair practices, such as the ‘one bag’ rule imposed by airlines, which cuts passenger spending in airports by up to 70%, with repercussions on the local economies linked to regional airports.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regional airports and air services are not just essential as transport hubs facilitating the smooth running of the EU single market, but they are also key generators of economic growth. As a whole, they expand the horizons of traditional trade routes and contribute to boosting significantly the cities and regions they serve. Aviation is an industry of small margins, so it is vital that we create an EU aviation area that is strong, competitive and economically viable. However, in addition to the economic barriers we face, we are also confronted with obstacles related to aviation’s impact on the environment, congestion and security itself. I believe European regional airports should be considered key elements in creating an efficient and well-functioning EU transport network that facilitates trade and ensures mobility for a greater number of people. They can play a vital role in ensuring that free movement in the EU is a reality. Moreover, they will also play an important role in promoting tourism, in accessing new markets, and in attracting more foreign economic investment.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today’s plenary session saw the vote on the report by Mr Bradbourn on the importance of regional airports, a driving force behind the development of regional tourism and specialised freight transport, which are crucial for the territorial cohesion and economic diversification of the Union, especially in regions where other means of transport are lacking. However, the crisis has badly hurt regional airports, which are now uncompetitive, leading to stronger ties between major airports and airlines, resulting in less choice and higher prices for customers. The inclusion of regional airports in the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) guidelines could facilitate access to private funding and encourage Member States to invest in better ground transport networks – especially high-speed trains. In any case, in order to improve the general quality of the services, we need to tackle a number of practices adopted by the major low-cost operators, such as excessive booking charges and hand luggage restrictions that discourage travellers from buying products at the airport.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this resolution, which stresses that European policy in terms of air transport does not currently pay enough attention to regional airports. Yet these airports have real growth potential. We must speed up work on the Single European Sky initiative and take better account of the special role of regional airports in our transport networks. They are an important source of social and economic development in the regions – especially in regions where other forms of transport are lacking, they attract new companies and can boost regional tourism. The report also deals with an important point on consumer protection: the issue of certain practices by the main low-cost airlines, namely, abusive reservation charges or hand luggage restrictions, which discourage travellers from buying goods in the airport. By attacking the so-called ‘one bag’ rule – by setting common upper limits for weight restrictions or capping the charges for excess and overweight baggage – we will boost retail sales in regional airports and indeed in the regions themselves.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Against. In the framework of a Commission communication on airport capacity, linked to the airports package, the British part of the ECR insisted in the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) on producing an own-initiative report on regional airports, i.e. to demand more support from the EU for regional airports. The report does indeed put the focus on more support for regional airports, such as considering them in the TEN-T Regulation, but not applying the EU’s safety and security or environmental rules. It stresses the economic importance of these airports for the regions concerned, repeating the motto of ‘growth and jobs’. We (Greens/EFA) tabled amendments on 2020 targets for CO2 emissions, connecting regional airports as much as possible with rail therefore, with the intention of obtaining a modal shift towards rail. We also proposed more coordination, cooperation between trans-border airports in close proximity to each other and better insight in EU cofunding in their favour. Unfortunately, our formulations were rejected by the TRAN Committee. No amendments being possible for the plenary vote, we were forced to vote against this report during the single vote in plenary (Rule 138).

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because I think it is essential to strengthen the role of regional airports in facilitating the smooth running of the EU’s single market by moving people and goods between regions and generating economic growth in its own right. I strongly believe that European regional airports and air services need to be considered as key elements in creating an efficient EU transport network that facilitates trade and ensures mobility for a greater number of people. Lastly, I hope that regional aviation can ensure that EU citizens living in these areas can enjoy not only the benefits brought about by greater mobility but also by generating tourism, providing access to new markets, and by attracting greater inward economic investment

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing.(ET) Today, I supported the adoption of the resolution on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU because this is an important motion regionally, sub-nationally, and from the viewpoint of the internal market. Regional airports make a great economic contribution to society, and thus it is important to guarantee access to them, not only by airbridge, but also by land via public transport.

I agree with the rapporteur that the European Union’s regional airports and air services have a central role to play in the creation of an effective and functioning EU transport network, facilitating trade and ensuring the mobility of greater numbers of people. Regional aviation can play an important role in ensuring that free movement within the EU becomes a reality not only for people living in large capital cities, but also for citizens living outside those regions. It is important to note that these cities and regions would not only benefit from the greater opportunities for mobility, but also from the development of tourism, enabling access to new markets and attracting more domestic economic investment.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) There is currently no definition for the term ‘regional airport’, but major and minor airports, on the basis of the types of links provided by such airports, passenger volume and links with major cities and major airports. Once the criteria and parameters for defining regional airports have been established with a view to efficient intermodal mobility, they will be able to contribute considerably to better access to the regions, to business, tourism and the development of related services, and to the spread of economic prosperity. This vote brings into focus the way in which regional airports and air services have often been unintentionally, but disproportionately, hurt by EU legislation. We really must improve the operating and economic efficiency of regional airports and air services, as well as improve the experience for passengers who use these facilities and services.

 
  
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  Alf Svensson (PPE), in writing. (SV) The European Parliament recently voted in favour of an own-initiative report on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU (2011/2196(INI)). I, personally, chose to vote against the report. The report highlighted the many positive aspects of regional airports. However, instead of helping these regional airports, which are often used by low-cost airlines, measures were proposed that will severely limit the competitiveness of these airlines. Through a host of rules regulating hand luggage, charges for voluntary payment by credit card, the option to employ staff through employment agencies, the rug is being pulled from under the feet of many low-cost airlines (paragraphs 42 to 45 of the report).

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU because regional airports contribute to economic development, revitalising industry and generating employment in their regions. Regional airports with high-volume connectivity with third countries and intra-European traffic, and which contribute to multimodal transport in their region, as well as regional airports which can be used to relieve bottlenecks, should be included in the TEN-T planning. We are concerned about the ‘one bag’ rule and other hand luggage restrictions imposed by some airline companies. Such practices end up diminishing the quality of services to passengers, breach competition law, as well as the duty of transparency with regard to the charges applicable to tickets. We call on the Commission to take a balanced approach when revising aviation guidelines in order to provide for a socially and economically viable development of regional air services. Consideration should be given to the development of the infrastructure needed to ensure intermodality, while also making these services accessible to EU citizens and taking into account the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – I very much welcome today’s vote on the future of regional airports. As a Catalan with an important ‘regional’ airport like Barcelona and other minor ones such as Lleida, Girona and Reus, I believe that the role of such airports should be recognised fully. However in these times of severe economic crisis, I would like to underscore the importance of cost-benefit analyses when constructing new regional airports in Spain, as public investments should display a certain relationship between the amounts of money spent and the number of passengers using these airports. I strongly believe that regional airports should not be tools to enhance public deficits and should be economically sustainable in the mid-term.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report recognises the importance of regional airports and air services for economic development in the regions, in a number of territories, and in the outermost regions. While it acknowledges the role of public policy in promoting this development, it then advocates market supremacy, reducing Member States’ room for manoeuvre and even jeopardising their intervention and regulation. Throughout the report, there are arguments for the Single European Sky and for the sector to be market-facing; we are profoundly opposed to both approaches.

 
  
  

Report: Christofer Fjellner (A7-0098/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, which I believe lists four major priority areas in which the Commission should take new measures: monitoring of the use of financial engineering instruments; improving the reliability of the accountability chain; pre-financing; and sanctioning mechanisms in the area of cohesion policy. Both I and my colleagues in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament consider it necessary to improve checks on auditing mechanisms and to encourage the Member States to take more responsibility in the field of shared management. I also consider it relevant to bring the various mechanisms used by the Court of Auditors in line with those used by the Commission, so as to prevent errors.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Discharge is the final approval of the EU budget for a given year. Following the audit and the finalisation of the annual accounts, it falls on the Council of the European Union to draw up a recommendation and then it is up to us, the MEPs, to decide whether or not to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for the preceding financial year. This decision is based, in part, on a review of the annual accounts and on the Court of Auditors’ annual report. Discharge is therefore the political dimension of the external audit of the implementation of the budget. In Parliament, we voted this week on whether or not to grant discharge to the European institutions and agencies for 2010. We approved the Commission budget for 2010. However, we are calling on the Commission to reduce the error rate, which reached 7.7% in the areas of cohesion, energy and transport.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of discharge to the Commission on the basis of the report by my excellent colleague, Christofer Fjellner, who has accomplished an immense task in difficult conditions. I do not understand why the European Court of Auditors and the 27 national courts of auditors do not work together enough. With regard to the consolidated accounts, it is not normal to present them with negative equity and not include the EU’s ownership over the Members States in terms of staff pensions, the debt for which is, moreover, provisioned as a liability.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed discharge. The Commission is responsible for executing the EU budget and managing programmes and it is therefore vitally important in this difficult economic and financial crisis for the Commission to be an example by ensuring good public management. Good public management is an essential factor for maintaining citizens’ confidence in the European Union. The continuing financial and budgetary crisis in Member States also poses a risk to the Union budget, particularly due to financial risks in relation to loans granted to Member States. I welcome the European Parliament’s calls for the Commission to present an Action Plan for the achievement of priority actions such as closely monitoring the use of financial engineering instruments, improving and strengthening accountability, reconsidering the increased use of pre-financing and creating an effective sanctioning mechanism in the area of cohesion policy.

 
  
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  Bastiaan Belder (EFD), in writing. (NL) The Fjellner report cannot count on my support. The European Court of Auditors has noted that, for 2010, the number of errors in the policy area which has had the highest error rate for years, namely the Structural Funds, and which we know as cohesion policy, has increased. The European Parliament’s report rightly addresses requests to the European Commission. For example, I am pleased that my amendment which calls for the Emergency Fund to be monitored in respect of the legality, regularity and efficiency of spending, has been adopted. On the other hand, an opportunity that has been missed is that the discharge has not been made conditional on progress in national statements of assurance. These ensure that Member States are more aware of their responsibility to spend the EU funds they manage prudently. That would help reduce the error rate, because a substantial number of the errors could have been prevented or corrected if Member States had been sufficiently alert. It is ironic that ministers of countries with problems have turned down the European Parliament’s invitation to discuss improvements. To put it briefly, the European Commission will only be able to enforce the sensible demands made in the report if discharge is postponed. I regret that the Committee on Budgetary Control did not want to take that step.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, on behalf of the Commission, has just shown goodwill by finally making a commitment to further implement the interinstitutional agreement. What we were calling for, above all, was for the Commission to publish the annual reports forwarded by the Member States with regard to their accounts. There is a regulation that aims to improve public access to the documents of the European institutions. This is a battle, which we are waging in Parliament, for greater transparency and closer cooperation between the institutions. It is therefore good news that the Commission has heard our requests. However, we are remaining vigilant and we will ensure concrete improvements in the distribution of documents, as it has been too long since the interinstitutional agreement should have come into force and since we should have had a real insight into the implementation of the EU budget.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report as it is utterly inconceivable that Parliament should grant any discharge for even a part of the budget until the budget as a whole has been signed off by the Court of Auditors, something which has never to date happened without significant tweaking and deception.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the Commission. I note, however, an increase in the error rate for expenses relating to cohesion policy and also for energy and transport. I am completely in agreement with the report with regard to increasing the transparency and efficiency of the budget. I am, moreover, committed to the use of different control mechanisms in order to ensure the sound management of European funds on the part of the Member States.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Parliament has approved the Commission’s budgetary expenses for 2010 after having received commitments for greater transparency. More effective management and control systems must be established. In future, national political bodies will be obliged to sign national management declarations making them accountable for the way in which EU funds have been spent in their countries. The financial crisis that is currently shaking Europe also has implications for the EU budget. We cannot tolerate any scandal or mismanagement of funds.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the European Commission, as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. The discharge report draws attention to the fact that in the field of cohesion policy, the estimated error rate in 2010 increased to 7.7%, which is higher than the 2009 value. The discharge report highlights, among other points, the need to place more emphasis in future on more effective control of financial planning tools. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to grant discharge and to close the accounts for 2010, and I supported the granting of discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since it grants the Commission discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010. It is extremely important that the EU sets a leading example for good public management, which is necessary in order to retain the AAA rating that is key to honouring its commitment to provide EUR 60 billion in guarantees for the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism.

 
  
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  Göran Färm (S&D), in writing. (SV) For the first time since 2006, the annual report from the European Court of Auditors showed an increase in the proportion of errors made in the implementation of the EU budget – from 3.3% (in 2009) to 3.7%. This increase is extremely worrying and must not be allowed to recur.

It is the Commission that is ultimately responsible for the use of EU funds. Nevertheless, the Court of Auditors’ criticism is not directed at the Commission first and foremost, but at the Member States. For around 80% of the EU’s expenditure, management of the funds is shared between the Commission and the Member States, and it is the Member States that are responsible for the payments. It is also within these expenditure areas that the error percentage increased most during 2010. We therefore believe that the Commission should be granted discharge, and that the Member States should instead discuss within the Council measures to deal with these errors.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Despite the favourable opinion of the Court of Auditors, I am bound to mention the disconcerting increase in the error rate for payments made between the budgets implemented in 2009 and 2010. Moreover, it is important to re-emphasise the need for the Commission to table a plan for close monitoring of the use of financial engineering instruments; for improving and strengthening the reliability of the accountability chain; for reconsidering the increased use of pre-financing; and for creating an effective sanctioning mechanism in the area of cohesion policy. This will enable the Commission to accept fully its final and overall responsibility for implementing the budget. Finally, in the context of the economic and financial crisis that the EU is experiencing, it is important that EU budgetary policy gives due consideration to the specific situation in the Member States, particularly when this affects not only EU own resources but also cofinancing and the need for financial assistance provided under the Treaties, the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism and the European Stability Mechanism.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Mr Fjellner, concerns discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010, Section III – Commission and executive agencies. Pursuant to Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission executes the budget and works with the Member States to manage programmes, according to the principles of sound financial management. In view of the crisis we are experiencing, I consider it crucial that the EU sets an example of sound management of public funds, which is a prerequisite for retaining the AAA rating that is crucial to meeting commitments relating to the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism. As such, and in light of the report by the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the relevant committees, I am voting for this report.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report and the annexed resolution includes many points with which we do not agree. The rapporteur raises suspicions about and makes accusations against the Member States, plays down their role in budget execution, disrespects certain fundamental principles of their sovereignty and advocates close ‘policing’ of them by the Commission. The rapporteur highlights that there has been an increased error rate relating to management of EU funds – the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Social Fund, energy and transportation – and that this has been caused by the Member States mismanaging such funding. It therefore suggests that the Commission sanctions non-conforming Member States ‘with different tools’. These tools range from interrupting or suspending fund payments to the external authorities that the report advocates. It also stresses that these payments may only be restarted ‘if sufficient appropriate audit evidence gathered on the spot proves that weaknesses were remedied’. At the same time, it does not elaborate – as it could and should have done – on some of the causes motivating a variety of types of non-conformity.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) As we know, by granting discharge, the European Parliament recognises that an institution or agency has executed its budget correctly. Today, it is clear that Europe is faced with a severe budgetary and financial crisis, which can lead to a crisis of confidence in the European Union, and it is vitally important for the European Union to be an example by ensuring good public management, through the Commission, which implements the European Union budget. More than 90% of all errors were identified outside the Commission at Member State authority and final beneficiary level. I welcomed discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Commission budget, which accounts for more than 80% of all EU expenditure. However, I believe that faced with the situation today, the European Union needs a strong, independent and efficient external auditor more than ever. There are many problematic questions to which EU citizens must receive answers.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson, Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) We consider it unacceptable that not all of the Member States’ annual summaries have been made available as part of the budgetary control process for the Commission’s 2010 budget. This is contrary to the current interinstitutional agreement and it will do nothing to promote an open and transparent EU or to increase confidence in the Union’s institutions among EU citizens. We had therefore originally intended to vote in favour of a postponement of the decision on discharge in respect of the Commission’s 2010 budget.

Shortly before the vote, however, Commissioner Šemeta made his promise that all of these annual summaries will now be made available. We welcome this news, but, at the same time, we would emphasise that this is a decision that ought to have come much earlier in the process. The promised publication has come far too late for us to be able to support the granting of discharge to the Commission. Given this situation, we are therefore choosing to abstain from the vote on this point.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – While, of course, having doubts about some aspects of EU expenditure in 2010, I felt overall able to vote to give discharge to the Commission for the general budget.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) In terms of discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010, Section III – Commission and executive agencies, I would like to reiterate the view expressed in the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, whereby the external action of the Union could become even more efficient and effective if Union delegations’ staff, regardless of their institution of origin, cooperated closely and flexibly. The Commission and the High Representative/Vice-President must not wait to implement all necessary administrative and regulatory measures in order to facilitate and improve cooperation between all Union staff working for the Commission or the European External Action Service (EEAS) within Union delegations.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) All European institutions that depend on the EU budget have to be thoroughly audited by the Court of Auditors and by all entities with that function. It is necessary to assess whether Union funds are being used effectively, whether these institutions are meeting the objectives outlined, and whether any resources are being wasted. Generally, we can say that the institutions in question – with only a few exceptions, to judge by the audits that we have already seen – are using the funds available to them properly and meeting the proposed objectives. That is why I voted for the report on discharge for the general EU budget.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The Commission bears ultimate responsibility for the execution of the EU budget. I think that here are the challenges of the budget execution within the shared management between the Commission and the Member States. The Commission and the Member States should work together to decrease the error rate in cohesion policy and other big spending areas of the EU budget by making their monitoring and control systems more effective.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing.(ET) Despite various shortcomings in the implementation of the budget for 2010, I supported the adoption of this report, which thoroughly examined the many shortcomings and contained corresponding recommendations to improve the situation. I find it regrettable that various payments have been significantly influenced by errors, and that oversight and control systems are only partially effective. It is also unacceptable that there is insufficient information concerning the utilisation of present financial engineering instruments, and this influences all areas of policy. As a member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, I think it is important that the Court of Auditors assess the implementation of the budget from a gender perspective, if possible. Unfortunately, these annual accounts do not contain the Court of Auditors’ observations or the Commission’s responses regarding expenditures connected with gender issues. An audit of the budget which includes a gender perspective is a prerequisite for preparing a budget with a gender dimension, and hopefully this will be taken into consideration in the preparation of subsequent annual accounts.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The new Chapter 8 on ‘Getting results from the EU budget’ in the annual report is part of a new model for Europe’s public accounts, which I consider crucial. A policy to that end, combined with reliable data, constitutes the basis for sound management. Europe is facing a serious budgetary and financial crisis, which could cause a crisis of confidence in the EU, and it is crucial that the EU sets an example of sound public management. Therefore, and in line with the European Parliament’s recommendations, I voted to approve the accounts submitted by the European Commission and to discharge the 2010 accounts.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The EU budget discharge procedure offers an important way to ensure that European money is spent with the utmost respect for taxpayers. At times of economic crisis, when all Member States are required to pursue economic austerity, we must ensure that the EU uses its resources carefully and keeps waste and fraud to a minimum. Aside from the report on horizontal issues regarding financial management and controlling the agencies, this morning we also voted on 24 decentralised bodies. Discharge was granted for 21 agencies, but postponed for three of them: the European Medicines Agency in London, partly for refusing to establish a new payment system; the European Food Safety Authority in Parma, due to the need for drastic spending cuts on board meetings, as well as conflicts of interest among staff and members of the management board; and the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, due to conflicts of interest. Our vote is a call for clarity from those agencies not granted discharge, including out of respect for the public money of EU citizens.

 
  
  

Report: Christofer Fjellner (A7-0102/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. Every year, the European Court of Auditors publishes over a dozen of what are known as ‘special reports’, focusing on a wide variety of very specific policy issues. The Court of Auditors uses the performance audit approach when drawing up these reports to analyse the effectiveness of certain policies and programmes. The European Council and Parliament should take the recommendations by the Court of Auditors into account during the discharge procedure.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Any budget with an error rate greater than 2% is considered by the Court of Auditors to be vitiated by material error. I believe, however, that the Commission is not solely responsible, as the Member States have the necessary instruments to detect some of the errors. Systematic sanctioning is not a constructive step; I chose instead to vote in favour of the discharge and to give the Commission the resources to correct the errors.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. I welcome all of the Court of Auditors’ special reports, which reveal the positive side of the Commission’s work as well as the problems the Commission faces when executing the EU budget and managing EU programmes. I welcome the conclusions and recommendations presented by the Court of Auditors in these reports and the calls for the Commission and the Member States to fully take these recommendations into account. As the member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats responsible for dealing with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) issue in the Committee on Budgetary Control, I would like to draw particular attention to Special Report No 2/2011 of the Court of Auditors entitled ‘Follow-up of Special Report No 1/2005 concerning the management of the European Anti-Fraud Office’. Of particular concern are the observations by the Court of Auditors that average case duration at OLAF is over two years, which indicates that problems remain with OLAF’s management system and the allocation of tasks. A cooperation agreement was signed in 2008 between OLAF and Eurojust, which seeks to combat fraud more effectively, but given the number of cases passed by OLAF to Eurojust (OLAF sent information about five cases in 2008 and only one case in 2009), it is clear that the cooperation between these two offices is not working. I agree that it is essential to improve OLAF’s management structure and reduce the time taken to investigate cases, which would enable us to combat financial crime and fraud more effectively throughout the EU.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report and, hence, in favour of granting discharge on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the Commission discharge, since the analysis carried out by Mr Fjellner has not thrown up any major problems or controversial points.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report as it is utterly inconceivable that Parliament should grant any discharge for even a part of the budget until the budget as a whole has been signed off by the Court of Auditors, something which has never to date happened without significant tweaking and deception. I also believe that it is a disgrace that Parliament continues to waste money during a time of strict austerity on projects such as a visitor’s centre, the House of European History, the LUX prize and other such awards designed to promote the EU’s erroneous values which simply function as vehicles to push forward Brussels’ agenda. As such, it is using taxpayers’ money to afford propaganda when hundreds of thousands of citizens in Europe are hostile to the machinations of the European Union in their home countries and suffering terribly as a result of the failed single currency project. It also brings about the subject of holding Parliamentary plenary in Strasbourg, which is not only a profligate waste of money, but goes against the EU’s purported carbon reduction values. The agreement to have Parliament in Strasbourg was to satiate calls from the then French Government, calls which are outdated and smack of preferentialism.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the 2010 special reports of the European Court of Auditors on the European Commission, as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. The European Court of Auditors calls on the European Commission to act more effectively with regard to the Member States and to regroup more officials to control state subsidies without delay. It urges the Commission to consider whether it can use the lessons learned from successful management of the financial crisis to simplify work carried out under ‘normal’ circumstances. I support the recommendations of the European Court of Auditors that measures taken within the framework of the supervisory and coordination powers of the Commission need to be reinforced. The discharge report found that the financial audit had been completed properly and that the inspection had revealed no major deficiencies. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to grant discharge and to close the accounts for 2010. I supported the granting of discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since it grants the European Commission discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010. The special reports by the Court of Auditors are very important to Parliament in the performance of its role as discharge authority.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the evaluation carried out by the Court of Auditors in these special reports, since they will give us clearer access to information on how funds are spent, as well as on the need to reassess or readapt programmes and projects. All the information provided by the Court of Auditors should be taken into consideration by the EU, particularly the Commission, as the main executive and management body responsible for the EU budget.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Mr Fjellner, concerns analysis of the special reports by the Court of Auditors in the context of the 2010 Commission discharge. The European Court of Auditors has to submit an annual report on the financial year to the European Parliament. The special reports by the Court of Auditors provide Parliament with information on how funds are spent, thereby qualifying it for its role as discharge authority. Following analysis of this report, I agree with the rapporteur that the Commission needs to make changes to procedure, in line with the proposals set out in the reports, whilst informing the European Parliament so as to guarantee legal certainty to all those involved in the reports. As such, and in light of the report by the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the relevant committees, I am voting for this report.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the resolution on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the 2010 Commission discharge because, pursuant to Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union, the Commission shall execute the budget and manage programmes and shall do so, pursuant to Article 317 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in cooperation with the Member States, on its own responsibility, having regard to the principle of sound financial management. The special reports of the Court of Auditors provide information on issues of concern related to the implementation of funds, which are therefore useful for Parliament in exercising its role of discharge authority. Parliament’s observations on the special reports of the Court of Auditors form an integral part of Parliament’s Decision of 10 May 2012 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010, Section III – Commission.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. I find unacceptable the way in which the Commission recourses to budget support within ENPI, treating it as the preferred aid modality in the three countries, without a detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of the available tools; stresses in this context that sector budget support is often related to a low visibility and occasional motivation by the governments, and is deeply concerned by the Court of Auditors’ conclusion that the suitability of an area for sector budget support became an important factor for determining assistance in the 2007 annual action programmes; urges the Commission to follow the Court of Auditors’ recommendation to choose sector budget support more selectively by considering all available options in ENPI and to develop a more balanced deployment of the different tools; stresses the need to increase the access of NGOs and the private sector in the beneficiary countries to the assistance provided

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) All European institutions that depend on the EU budget have to be thoroughly audited by the Court of Auditors and by all entities with that function. There is a need to verify that EU funds are being put to good use, that the institutions are meeting their established objectives, and that no resources are being wasted. The Court of Auditors has drafted a number of special reports for the Commission, according to which we can generally say that the institutions in question – with only a few exceptions, to judge by the audits that we have already seen – are using the funds available to them properly and meeting the proposed objectives. I am therefore voting for this report.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The European Court of Auditors publishes every year more than a dozen of the so-called ‘special reports’ that focus on very specific policy issues and topics. In producing these reports, the Court uses the performance audit approach to analyse the effectiveness of particular policies and programmes. The Court’s recommendations are taken into account by Parliament during its discharge exercise. More efficient work in this direction is necessary. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing.(ET) I supported this report, as I agree with the special reports of the Court of Auditors regarding the implementation of the budget for the year 2010. I share the view expressed in the Court of Auditors’ recommendation in Special Report No 7/2010 that it is important to implement a reform of the accounts clearance procedure and the discharge procedure, which would help reduce the duration of procedures and establish a clear relationship between sums recovered and the actual illegal payments. As regards Special Report No 14/2010 on the safety of imported meat, I am completely in agreement with the Court of Auditors’ recommendation calling on the Commission to endeavour to eliminate the different treatment of Member States in third countries, which amounts to discrimination.

For instance, the Russian Federation has introduced an import ban on pigs and other animals from European Union Member States, which essentially only affects Estonia and Latvia, because exports of live animals from these countries form the majority of exports of live animals to Russia from the EU. The misinterpretation of food hygiene requirements is a sordid method for achieving other political objectives and should be condemned at the highest levels of the European Union.

In Special Report No 07/2011, I think it is important to establish more clearly targeted rural development programmes in Member States, because the objective should be to actually implement them and not to prepare them simply because they are required by European Union bureaucracy.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The special reports by the Court of Auditors provide information on issues that concern it regarding how funds are spent. These reports are useful, therefore, when Parliament is performing its role as discharge authority. I would highlight the fact that the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) make more use of its investigative powers, for example, by carrying out on-the-spot checks and interviews, or by focusing on more serious and complex cases. For this reason in particular, but on the basis of the recommendations tabled by the European Parliament and taking into account the Council recommendation and the aforementioned reports by the European Court of Auditors, I voted to approve the accounts submitted by the European Commission and to discharge the 2010 accounts.

 
  
  

Report: Boguslaw Liberadzki (A7-0120/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, which is particularly focused on discharge for 2010, specifically, for the implementation of that year’s budget. Considerable details have been added on finance for Parliament’s prizes over three years. It is important to block the scheme of closing EuroparlTV and return to the rapporteur’s original call for a cost-benefit analysis in the first instance. Finally, it is important to welcome the initiative of examining possible cost reductions in Parliament, as requested in the resolution on the 2013 budget. As the European institution directly representing the European public, Parliament has a duty to economise at a time when Europeans are experiencing severe economic and financial constraints.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) We, the MEPs, are asked to vote on the discharge of the other institutions and agencies of the European Union. We must also take charge of our own self-assessment and, on this occasion, we have approved our own accounts. Within our budget, and by way of example, we have EuroparlTV, Parliament’s television channel launched in 2008, which, unfortunately, does not attract enough European citizens. We also have a budget dedicated to welcoming tens of thousands of visitors (283 000 last year). Each MEP can sponsor 110 visitors per year. You can consult my website http://www.sophieauconie.eu" for further information.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Parliament. I welcome the relatively positive evaluations by the Court of Auditors and agree with all the conclusions and recommendations it has presented. It is important for Parliament to take due account of the Court of Auditors’ recommendations, particularly when improving public procurement procedures and reconsidering control mechanisms for public procurement in order to guarantee the most competitive prices for the goods and services that are offered and to use EU taxpayers’ money effectively. Like last year, I agree that Parliament should only have one workplace in the same location as the other Union institutions.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report as it is utterly inconceivable that Parliament should grant any discharge for even a part of the budget until the budget as a whole has been signed off by the Court of Auditors, something which has never to date happened without significant tweaking and deception. I also believe that it is a disgrace that Parliament continues to waste money during a time of strict austerity on projects such as a visitor’s centre, the House of European History, the LUX prize and other such awards designed to promote the EU’s erroneous values which simply function as vehicles to push forward Brussels’ agenda. As such, it is using taxpayers’ money to afford propaganda when hundreds of thousands of citizens in Europe are hostile to the machinations of the European Union in their home countries and suffering terribly as a result of the failed single currency project. It also brings about the subject of holding Parliamentary plenary in Strasbourg, which is not only a profligate waste of money but goes against the EU’s purported carbon reduction values. The agreement to have Parliament in Strasbourg was to satiate calls from the then French Government, calls which are outdated and smack of preferentialism.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of granting Parliament’s discharge for the financial year 2010. I share the opinion of the rapporteur with regard to the need for better allocation of the available funds and the need to avoid useless expenditure. I take note of the difficulties that EuroparlTV has encountered. However, I would like to remind you how important it is to have adequate communication tools to keep citizens informed of Parliament’s activities.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the European Parliament as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. The audits carried out by the Court of Auditors found all payments to be free from material error and the inspection related to the assessment of the oversight and control systems’ compliance with the Financial Regulation did not reveal any deficiencies either. It is to be welcomed that the Internal Audit Service conforms to the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing to the highest possible degree. The discharge report found that the financial audit had been completed properly and that the inspection had revealed no major deficiencies. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to grant discharge and to close the accounts for 2010. I supported the granting of discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report attached to the discharge of the European Parliament’s budget highlights the failure of the EuroparlTV project and, in view of the low number of direct users, calls on the Secretary-General to present proposals to the competent committee for the closure of the operation. The report also quantifies the enormous waste related to maintaining Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg, which cost in excess of EUR 50 million in 2010, while it is estimated that establishing a single seat would deliver savings of approximately EUR 180 million. In addition, the report underlines the fact that Parliament has already expressed its view on this, declaring itself in favour of closing the Strasbourg seat. Wasting public money is never acceptable, but it is even more heinous in times of recession like the present, as Member States are being forced to ask sacrifices of their taxpayers. In the hope that the competent institutions will make an effort to reduce or eliminate these and other sources of waste, I voted in favour of the report on the discharge of the budget of the European Parliament for 2010.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) This vote was an opportunity to re-open the debate on the location of the seat of the European Parliament. However, this situation is based on historical references and on legal texts which cannot be called into question by often erroneous attacks on costs or damages relating to the fact that the premises of the European Parliament are widely dispersed. The issue of Strasbourg or Brussels does not arise here since, under the treaties historically establishing our Union, Strasbourg is the rule and Brussels the exception.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since it grants the President of the European Parliament discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010. The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon has increased Parliament’s competences and volume of work, so there is a need to highlight Parliament’s efforts to overcome budgetary challenges by adopting concrete measures to improve the cost-efficiency relationship.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I should like to start by welcoming the conclusion of the Court of Auditors that there are no material errors in the payments and that no material weaknesses were found when assessing the compliance of the oversight and control systems with the Financial Regulation. This report makes an exhaustive analysis of Parliament’s budgetary situation, drawing attention to some important issues that urgently require review with regard to how Parliament operates, to security, and to buildings management. However, I would once again highlight that discharge is not the time to propose or discuss budgetary measures. To the contrary, I think the European Parliament should start reflecting deeply on how it operates and is managed, without giving in to populism, and should ensure the effective, reasonable and parsimonious management of the resources allocated to it.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Mr Liberadzki, concerns discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010, Section I – European Parliament. The audit that the Court of Auditors conducted on Parliament’s administrative expenditure in 2010 concluded that all the institutions had satisfactorily complied with the oversight and control systems required by the Financial Regulation. Although I believe transparency rules need to be improved so as to be very clear about which singular, collective or public institutions benefit from European Union funding, and given that, on 16 June 2011, the Secretary-General certified that Parliament’s budget was properly implemented and that the principles of sound financial management were respected, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) In general, the rapporteur believes there are sufficient guarantees that the European Parliament budget has been implemented in line with the principles of sound financial management. However, the rapporteur makes some specific criticisms and some suggestions, which we support for the most part, notwithstanding some specific disagreements – that we highlighted during the vote – and a different view of some of the issues included in the resolution. Particularly important are the references to potential savings from better rationalisation of missions between the three sites in Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg; the delays with and considerable increase in the cost of Parliament’s new visitor centre; the cost and lack of clarity associated with the House of European History; and the costs relating to the travel agency. It is noteworthy that the rapporteur proposes abolishing prizes such as the LUX Prize for cinema and also mentions scrapping the Prize for Journalism, but says nothing about the future of the Sakharov Prize, which is the most expensive and has been increased by EUR 352 348 since 2009.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I abstained from voting on the resolution accompanying discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Parliament’s 2010 budget. While I support the general guidelines contained in this resolution, I strongly oppose two clearly anti-Strasbourg amendments (Amendments 6 and 15), which were tabled and incorporated into this resolution. The debate and the attacks on the location of the seat of the European Parliament resurface with increasing regularity, and I am very mindful of this. Although it was long a symbolic issue, today it has become a predominantly legal and political one. I remain firmly committed to this permanent fight to keep the seat of the European Parliament within our beautiful European capital. Moreover, I voted against Amendment 4, which wanted to abolish the LUX Prize. Awarded each year by the European Parliament, the LUX Prize rewards films that go to the heart of European public debate and illustrate the universality of European values, cultural diversity and the process of European integration.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010, Section I – European Parliament because the audit of the Court of Auditors stated that, as regards administrative expenditure in 2010, all the institutions satisfactorily operated the oversight and control systems required by the Financial Regulation and 93% of the 58 payments audited were free from material error. On 16 June 2011, the Secretary-General certified his reasonable assurance that Parliament’s budget has been implemented in accordance with the principles of sound financial management and that the control framework put in place provides the necessary guarantees as to the legality and regularity of the underlying operations.

 
  
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  Astrid Lulling (PPE), in writing.(FR) The resolution accompanying discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Parliament’s 2010 budget again contains its fair share of contradictions, errors and crackpot ideas.

Consequently, I am opposed to this text, while I have no problem voting for the discharge, like my colleagues.

I cannot understand why our legal service does not declare some of the amendments and also a number of paragraphs that have nothing to do with the discharge, such as paragraph 96, which is inconsistent with paragraph 95, inadmissible. How is it possible for a committee to scoff at the opinion of the legal service when it points out to it that an amendment is inadmissible?

One of the most ludicrous requests is to seek the opinion of the Court of Auditors on the subsidy scheme for visitors’ groups.

Indeed, the Bureau has, in fact, just changed this scheme. There is no risk of undue payments because these lump sums barely cover expenses.

I also need to correct paragraph 68, which states that 2.3% of staff are Luxembourg nationals, which is relatively high.

This figure is incorrect. There are 117 Luxembourg officials in total out of 5 540 posts…

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170)

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which ‘Notes the reply given by Parliament’s Secretariat to the effect that the annual cost of Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg stood at precisely EUR 51 500 000 in 2010, comprising EUR 33 500 000 in infrastructure costs and EUR 18 000 000 in operating costs for the 12 monthly part-sessions; points out that these official figures are far lower than the estimates previously put forward, which ranged from EUR 169 000 000 to EUR 203 000 000’.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of granting the European Parliament discharge because the European Court of Auditors did not express any reservations regarding either the reliability of the accounts or the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions. I congratulate the rapporteur on his work.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of granting the European Parliament discharge in respect of the implementation of Parliament’s budget for the financial year 2010. I supported amendments in favour of greater budget transparency and for the opportunity to make further savings by designating a single seat for Parliament.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) All European institutions that depend on the EU budget have to be thoroughly audited by the Court of Auditors and by all entities with that function. There is a need to verify that EU funds are being put to good use, that the institutions are meeting their established objectives, and that no resources are being wasted. Generally, we can say that the institutions in question – with only a few exceptions, to judge by the audits that we have already seen – are using the funds available to them properly and meeting the proposed objectives. That is why I voted for the report on discharge for the general EU budget.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Bogusław Liberadzki focused the discharge report for 2010 as much as possible on the budget implementation for that year (previous rapporteurs have tried to expand the scope of the discharge report far beyond budget implementation for the year in question, to include wider budget issues and call into question projects or initiatives agreed by the Bureau). A very good job, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The audit by the Court of Auditors concluded, as regards 2010 administrative expenditure, that all the institutions had satisfactorily implemented the oversight and control measures required by the Financial Regulation and that 93% of the 58 audited payments did not contain material errors. Moreover, on 16 June 2011, the Secretary-General of the European Parliament certified that he is sufficiently sure that Parliament’s budget was implemented in line with the principles of sound financial management. Furthermore, the system of checks provides the necessary guarantees concerning the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions. I therefore voted to approve the accounts submitted by the European Commission and to discharge the 2010 accounts. In fact, by granting discharge to a particular institution or agency, Parliament is declaring that the spending thereof was in line with EU rules and closing the budget. If the application breached the existing rules, Parliament could either refuse or postpone discharge. That has not happened in this case, in which discharge has been granted to the EU accounts for the financial year 2010, Section I – European Parliament.

 
  
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  Alf Svensson (PPE), in writing. (SV) When the EU is demanding budgetary constraint and austerity of the Member States, it is not a credible situation to allow, at the same time, millions of euro to be spent on the travelling circus that is continuing between Brussels and Strasbourg. I have therefore voted in favour of granting discharge in respect of the implementation of Parliament’s budget for 2010 and of the resolution as a whole, but I also voted in favour of the passages that point out the unreasonable nature of the situation. It is also important to point out that, where this travelling circus is concerned, it is not Parliament that is blocking change. The decision rests with the Council and the representatives of the individual Member States there.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing.(FR) I am in favour of a single seat and of it being, in the future, in Brussels. I abstained on Amendment 6. If it is just a poll, then there is no problem; I am ‘for’ everything being centralised in Brussels. However, is a vote just a poll and does this incredibly important issue have to be raised through an amendment? I cannot vote positively on this issue without being able to vote on the consequences of such a decision. That would be tantamount to buying a pig in a poke. What about the distribution of institutions following the transfer from Strasbourg to Brussels, or the domino effect, which could turn out to be financially painful if bad decisions were made? Neither would I wish it to be a disaster for Belgium, or for anyone for that matter. We need to reflect in advance on the impact on direct or indirect jobs, and not after the fact, when it is too late. Here we are, facing the same scenario. When all the implications for jobs, the implications for Brussels and the real financial implications are planned in the same vote, we will then be able to have a real discussion and, above all, a real vote.

 
  
  

Report: Martin Ehrenhauser (A7-0100/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since I believe the main concern should be for the European Development Funds (EDFs) to come under the European Union budget because, as they are not included, it is not possible to analyse them in exactly the same way as other expenditure. The message should be to call on the European Commission to include the EDFs in the discharge report. The principle of transparency should never be called into question in the European Union, which aims to be a political bloc promoting a very high level of democracy and to set an example to the world.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) We voted this week in the European Parliament on whether or not to grant discharge to the budgets of European institutions and agencies for 2010. I voted in favour of discharge for the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds in respect of the 2010 budget. Discharge is the final approval of the EU budget for a given year. Following the audit and the finalisation of the annual accounts, it falls on the Council of the European Union to make a recommendation and then it is up to us, the MEPs, to decide whether or not to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union for the preceding financial year. This decision is based, in part, on a review of the annual accounts and on the Court of Auditors’ annual report. Discharge is therefore the political element of the external control of budget implementation.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds. In the opinion of the Court of Auditors, the final annual accounts of the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth EDFs represent fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the EDFs in 2010, and the revenue and commitments are free from material error. Staffing constraints are a concern. I welcome the fact that the Financial Management Toolkit was disseminated in order to improve knowledge of financial management and eligibility of rules by implementing organisations. As for Special Report No 11/2010 of the Court of Auditors, I agree with the audit and the constructive recommendations contained therein. I believe that General Budget Support (GBS) is a very valuable instrument of aid delivery, which can potentially increase the ownership and responsibility of recipient governments.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. It is necessary for the European Commission to obtain further information regarding the implementation of the EDFs at national and regional level and to ensure better visibility for all Union-funded activities overseas. It gives reason for concern, however, that, in 2010, the oversight and control systems were once again only partially effective when providing payments from the EDFs; still, the discharge report concluded that the financial audit had been completed properly and that the inspection had revealed no major deficiencies. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to grant discharge and to close the accounts for 2010. I supported the granting of discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report granting discharge for the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds for the financial year 2010. The EDFs are EU financial instruments for development cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). The main objectives of the Cotonou Agreement with the ACP and the overseas countries and territories are to reduce poverty and to integrate them gradually into the global economy.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Development Funds still constitute the EU’s main instrument for granting development aid to African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Despite Parliament’s repeated requests, they remain outside the Commission budget. They therefore urgently need to be included in the EU budget, so as to increase the democratic control, accountability and transparency of funding. It is noteworthy that the Court of Auditors takes the view that there is still a high frequency of encoding errors which, while not having a material impact on the annual accounts in 2010, could potentially affect the reliability of EuropeAid financial management data. Therefore, the Commission should continue its efforts to improve the system of checks and oversight for EuropeAid, so as to achieve positive results as regards accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Mr Ehrenhauser, concerns discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds (EDFs) for the financial year 2010. The EDF constitutes the European Union’s main financial instrument for development cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. I welcome the EDF’s sound financial implementation, particularly as regards gross payments and the commitment rate of almost 50%. However, in light of the report by the Court of Auditors, I am bound to express my concern about how budget support payments were processed in the first half of 2011. As such, and in light of the report by the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the relevant committees, I am voting for this report.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report criticises the fact that the European Development Fund (EDF), as the EU’s main financial instrument for development cooperation, is not included in the EU budget. The rapporteur calls on the Commission to propose including the EDF in the EU budget during discussions on the upcoming multiannual financial framework; that is not happening with the present Commission proposal, for now. There have been demands for this change for some time. It would provide EU development cooperation and development aid policy with funding that would be more robust and predictable, as well as making it easier for the institutions responsible for approving the budget to scrutinise. However, we do not share the view that the European External Action Service should ‘fully exercise its political role by active participation in developing the political goals of the recipient countries’. We are also unable to accept the paragraphs mentioning that ‘sound and well-functioning trade relations in line with [World Trade Organisation] principles is [sic] key’ to developing countries’ social and economic development, and those calling on the Commission to resolve outstanding conflicts concerning the proposed economic partnership agreements and free trade between Europe and African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the European Parliament’s resolution with observations forming an integral part of its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds for the financial year 2010. In the Court of Auditors’ opinion, there is still a high frequency of encoding errors. It should be noted that the Court of Auditors found that although these errors did not have a material impact on the annual accounts in 2010, they can potentially affect the reliability of EuropeAid financial management data. According to the Court of Auditors, the revenue and commitments are free from material error, but there is great concern about the significant frequency of non-quantifiable errors affecting commitments in terms of compliance with tendering rules and legal deadlines for the signature of contracts. There is particular concern about the increase in badly performing projects in 2010 (12.6% versus 11% in 2009) and the persistently high frequency of errors in commitments under decentralised management.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, in which Parliament reconfirms its position of supporting EDF budgetisation; strongly believes that this is an indispensable step towards strengthening the democratic control, the accountability, and the transparency of funding and towards providing more coherence in Union policy concerning ACP countries; underlines that budgetisation would reduce transaction costs and would simplify reporting and accounting requirements by having only one set of administrative rules and decision-making structures instead of two; expects the Commission to ensure that the budgetisation is not made on the expenses of a loss of predictability of ACP funding.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) All European institutions that depend on the EU budget have to be thoroughly audited by the Court of Auditors and by all entities with that function. There is a need to verify that EU funds are being put to good use, that the institutions are meeting their established objectives, and that no resources are being wasted. Generally, we can say that the institutions in question – with only a few exceptions, to judge by the audits that we have already seen – are using the funds available to them properly and meeting the proposed objectives. That is why I voted for the report granting discharge to the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The biggest concern of the S&D Group is that the European Development Funds do not come under the budget of the European Union and therefore cannot be fully scrutinised in the same way as other expenditure. I think that ‘budgetisation’ of the European Development Funds is necessary.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The reports by the European Court of Auditors on the European Development Funds (EDFs) for the financial year 2010 and the Council recommendation conclude that the final annual accounts of the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth EDFs faithfully reflect all significant aspects of the EDFs’ financial situation on 31 December 2010. In view of this, I voted to approve the accounts submitted by the European Commission and to discharge the 2010 accounts.

 
  
  

Report: Inès Ayala Sender (A7-0095/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, despite the difficulty of working on this issue because the Council has, yet again, refused to provide any information in response to written questions. These focused mainly on transfers between budgets and on the possibility that funds intended for one purpose were used for other ends. The report by the Court of Auditors criticised the Council for diverting interpretation/translation funding into the Residence Palace project and the Council’s response was that it had abandoned this practice. The European Parliament wants the various institutions to be individually specified in the negotiations on the Financial Regulation, so as to avoid such ambiguity in future and to give Parliament a strong mandate for separate discharge for each body. Inevitably, the Council is not prepared to accept this clarification. The European Parliament scrutinises its own budgetary implementation and wants to reach a position whereby there is an equivalent process for all the institutions, so as to prevent Council spending. Parliament’s services have provided the information demanded by the competent committee, thereby enabling it to reach an informed decision on budgetary discharge. We want to be able to reach a conscious decision on discharge for the Council.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) We voted this week in the European Parliament on whether or not to grant discharge to the budgets of European institutions and agencies for 2010. Discharge is the final approval of the EU budget for a given year. Following the audit and the finalisation of the annual accounts, it falls on the Council of the European Union to make a recommendation and then it is up to us, the MEPs, to decide whether or not to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Union for the preceding financial year. This decision is based, in part, on a review of the annual accounts and on the Court of Auditors’ annual report. Discharge is therefore the political element of the external control of budget implementation. We asked the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union to answer a few additional questions. Discharge must be based on ‘transparency and mutual responsibility’. The report on the adoption of discharge has been adopted. However, I think discharge could have been granted.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing.(FR) I did not vote for the proposal to postpone discharge to the Council proposed by the report of my Spanish colleague, Inés Ayala Sender. By mistake, I did not vote for discharge in the Committee on Budgetary Control. As last year, my intention was to do so. I note that the European Court of Auditors did not comment on the management of the Council. I am also disappointed that my proposal for a legal study of the power of the European Parliament to grant discharge to the Council was rejected. That would have identified, in particular, the consequences for discharge of the creation of the European Union as a legal entity by the Treaty of Lisbon. I think these debates between the Council, which thinks that, unlike the other EU institutions, it is not responsible for the use of the funds made available to it, and the statement that granting discharge to the Commission equates to granting discharge for the entire EU budget, including the parts of the budget used by the Council, are derisory. All these debates do not reflect well on the Committee on Budgetary Control. I hope things will quickly become clear.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted against granting the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the 2010 budget. I take a negative view of the Council’s refusal to attend any official meeting of the Committee on Budgetary Control related to its discharge. Furthermore, the Council has failed to provide in writing all the documents required for discharge, including the full 2010 internal audit and annual activity reports. The financial transparency of the EU institutions is very important for maintaining citizens’ confidence in the European Union. I welcome the European Parliament’s call for the Secretary-General of the Council to provide comprehensive answers to the questions posed in the European Parliament’s report along with the relevant documents as soon as possible, so that the Committee on Budgetary Control can consider granting the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the 2010 budget.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The European Parliament is the budgetary authority of the EU, on an equal footing with the Council. There are some who still find this truth difficult to accept. By not voting in favour of granting budgetary discharge, we want to push the Council towards greater transparency. Replying to the questionnaire we send out every year and attending public meetings and hearings are gestures embodying the good interinstitutional relations we expect from the Council. Cooperation is not self-evident, whilst the European Parliament shows responsibility by voting each year for budgetary discharge for each EU institution and for each EU agency – an action that is far from being superfluous, as we see each year. It is ultimately up to the Council to enter fully into this relationship of cooperation between two institutions that are on an equal footing in budgetary matters.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the Council as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. In its annual report for 2010, the Court of Auditors concluded, based on its audit work, that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2010 for the administrative and other expenses of the institutions and bodies were free from material error. The discharge report found that the financial audit had been completed properly and that the inspection had revealed no major deficiencies. However, the Council failed to make a number of documents necessary for the completion of the discharge procedure available to Parliament and the Committee; without these, the financial year 2010 cannot be closed. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to postpone the granting of discharge. I supported the postponement of granting discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report granting the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget for the financial year 2010. I regret, however, that the Council refused to take part in the official meetings of the Committee on Budgetary Control relating to the Council discharge. I would reiterate the view that European taxpayers have the right to expect that the Union budget should be subject to strict public scrutiny.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the name of transparency and rigour, which the public needs to see, I do not consider the Council exonerated from its responsibility to publicly account for the funds made available to it. I therefore agree with the rapporteur’s decision to postpone the decision on granting the Council discharge for its accounts until it has supplied the information and documents requested by the rapporteur. Lastly, I regret that the Council has yet again failed to cooperate with this House with regard to our scrutiny of its budgetary implementation.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report by Ms Ayala Sender concerns discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section II – Council. The mission of the Council of the European Union is to approve EU legislation, coordinate economic policies, ensure cooperation between courts and police forces, sign agreements between the EU and third countries, approve the EU’s annual budget and draw up foreign and defence policies. In addition to its powers, the Council also has obligations, particularly in relation to interinstitutional cooperation with Parliament. This applies, above all, to our scrutiny of its budgetary implementation, and the Council cannot refuse to provide the clarifications requested by Members of this House. Consequently, in view of the report by the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the relevant committees, I am voting in favour of this report, which seeks to postpone granting the Secretary-General of the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the Council budget for the financial year 2010.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The rapporteur proposes that Parliament postpone granting discharge in respect of the implementation of the Council budget, in keeping with its power to make use of the two deadlines in the discharge timetable; the purpose, in this case, is to explore the possibility of reaching an agreement with the Presidency-in-Office. The grounds for this postponement are the Council’s lack of transparency and failure to account for its spending, which have led to the dispute that has been dragging on between the two institutions – Parliament and the Council – for a long time. The entire report criticises the Council’s position, as it is refusing to submit documents relating to implementation of its budget, to meet, or to answer Parliament’s questions on that matter. As a result, Parliament has no knowledge of the Council’s accounts, even though it takes part in the discharge procedure. The rapporteur also puts forward a number of questions for the Council to answer on administrative issues (including some on the European External Action Service) and on the Common Foreign and Security Policy/Common Security and Defence Policy tasks, amongst other matters. We voted for this report.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because in its annual report for 2010, the Court of Auditors concluded, based on its audit work, that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2010 for the administrative and other expenses of the institutions and bodies were free from material error. I welcome the provision that an in-depth assessment of oversight and control systems in the Council must be carried out, similar to the assessments carried out in relation to the Court of Justice, the European Ombudsman and the European Data Protection Supervisor in the course of preparation of the Court of Auditors’ annual report concerning the financial year 2010. European taxpayers have every right to expect that the entirety of the Union budget, including all the funds managed autonomously by its separate institutions and agencies, should be subject to full public scrutiny. It is wrong that, unlike the other Union institutions, the Council does not consider itself responsible for the use of the funds made available to it.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution in which Parliament ‘Postpones its decision on granting the Secretary-General of the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the Council’s budget for the financial year 2010’.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on the decision on granting the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2010 because I believe that Parliament has not received the necessary facts from the Council to enable it to perform its role of monitoring that institution correctly.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) All European institutions that depend on the EU budget have to be thoroughly audited by the Court of Auditors and by all entities with that function. There is a need to verify that EU funds are being put to good use, that the institutions are achieving their established objectives, and that no resources are being wasted. Generally, we can say that the institutions in question – with only a few exceptions, to judge by the audits that we have already seen – are using the funds available to them properly and meeting the proposed objectives. In the case of the Council, however, there are some gaps in the Court of Auditors’ report, leading us to postpone the discharge procedure for the 2010 budget.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Parliament scrutinises its own budget implementation and I support the idea of getting to the position where there is an equivalent process for the Council’s spending. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Interinstitutional cooperation between Parliament and the Council is of the utmost importance in overseeing implementation of the EU budget. I therefore endorse the recommendations put forward by Parliament and reiterate the request for the Council to provide answers to the list of questions that Parliament has submitted to it. In view of this, I voted to approve the accounts submitted by the Commission and to grant discharge for the accounts for 2010, Section II – Council.

 
  
  

Report: Inès Ayala Sender (A7-0088/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. I applaud the initiative taken by the Court of Justice, which, in late March 2011, submitted to the two branches of the legislative authority a proposal to reform its statute providing, inter alia, for the creation of 12 additional posts for judges at the General Court. This initiative should be implemented in the most cost-efficient manner possible. I hope it will be possible to adopt these structural measures in early 2012, with a view to their implementation as early as possible this year. The next annual activity report should also, in my view, include a comprehensive table of all the human resources that the Court of Justice has at its disposal, showing their category, grade, gender, participation in professional training and nationality. I welcome, however, the in-depth information on staff management already provided by the Court of Justice in its annual activity report and in its response to the additional questions that Parliament asked on this matter.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) We voted this week in the European Parliament on whether or not to grant discharge to the budgets of European institutions and agencies for 2010. I voted in favour of discharge for the 2010 budget of the Court of Justice. Discharge is the final approval of the EU budget for a given year. Following the audit and the finalisation of the annual accounts, it falls on the Council of the European Union to make a recommendation and then it is up to us, the MEPs, to decide whether or not to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the EU budget for the preceding financial year. This decision is based, in part, on a review of the annual accounts and on the Court of Auditors’ annual report. Discharge is therefore the political element of the external control of budget implementation.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Court of Justice for 2010. I welcome the Court of Auditors’ conclusion that the payments for administrative and other expenditure were free from material error. I share the Court of Auditors’ concern that the number of new cases (631 in 2010) has increased considerably, although there was no major change in the number of cases completed.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report and, hence, in favour of granting discharge to the Court of Justice, since the report by Ms Ayala Sender has not thrown up any problems or controversial points.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the European Court of Justice as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. In its annual report for 2010, the Court of Auditors did not raise any objections in connection with the 2010 financial management of the Court of Justice. Based on its audit work, the Court of Auditors concluded that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2010 for administrative and other expenditure of the institutions and bodies were free from material error; the most likely error rate for administrative expenditure as a whole was assessed as 0.4%. The discharge report found that the financial audit had been completed properly and that the inspection had revealed no major deficiencies. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to grant discharge and to close the accounts for 2010. I supported the granting of discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) Report by Ms Ayala Sender on discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section IV – Court of Justice (COM(2011)0473 – C7-0259/2011 – 2011/2204(DEC)); Committee on Budgetary Control. I voted for this report granting the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010. I support the initiative taken by the Court of Justice in submitting a proposal for reform of its statute, which will lead to a better cost-benefit ratio.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the fact that, based on its audit work, the Court of Auditors concluded that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2010 for administrative and other expenditure of the institutions and bodies were free from material error, while also stating that ‘The Court has no observation to make on the Court of Justice’.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Ms Ayala Sender, concerns discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section IV – Court of Justice. The Court of Justice has the task of ensuring that the legislation adopted by the European Parliament is applied in the same way across all the Member States. Moreover, it resolves not only disputes between national governments and the European institutions, but also conflicts involving companies, private individuals and organisations that feel unfairly treated by a European institution. The Court of Justice’s budgetary implementation was faultless. Therefore, and having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control, I am voting for this report with a view to granting the Registrar of the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of its budget for the financial year 2010.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The rapporteur proposes granting the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of its budget for the financial year 2010, which means recognising that this body complied with the European rules in its budgetary implementation and considers its budget closed. The Court of Auditors has drafted its report and found that there are no significant errors. There is, however, one aspect that deserves to be highlighted and which is included in the resolution adopted: it is obvious that the number of new cases brought before the Court of Justice has increased considerably. There were 631 in 2010. The way the EU rides roughshod over national sovereignties finds expression in many fields, including the legal field. The new – or old in the ideology that inspires it – Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union is symptomatic of the attack on the sovereignty of national institutions, including in legal terms, given the unprecedented powers it assigns to the Court of Justice. That may exacerbate the trend mentioned by the rapporteur even further. It is an unacceptable path that we reject and will fight.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour because this grants the Registrar of the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of its budget for the financial year 2010. The budget of the Court of Justice is purely administrative, with 75% spent on people working with the institution and 25% on buildings, furniture, equipment and miscellaneous operating expenditure. The in-depth information on staff management already provided by the Court of Justice in its annual activity report and the response the Court gave to the additional questions Parliament asked on this matter should be welcomed. The progress made is viewed positively.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, in which Parliament ‘Grants the Registrar of the Court of Justice discharge in respect of the implementation of its budget for the financial year 2010’.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) All European institutions that depend on the EU budget must be thoroughly audited by the Court of Auditors and by all entities with this function. There is a need to verify that EU funds are being put to good use, that the institutions are achieving their established objectives, and that no resources are being wasted. Generally, we can say that the institutions in question – with rare exceptions, to judge by the audits that we have seen – are using the funds available to them properly and achieving the proposed objectives. That is why I voted for the report on the Court of Justice.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I think that the European Court of Justice should be granted budget discharge.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) In 2010, the implementation rate for the Court of Justice’s commitment appropriations was 97.9%. In addition to this indicator, I would stress the fact that the recommendations made in previous years in the interest of transparency have been acted on. I would also highlight the development of the ‘e-Curia’ application, enabling procedural documents to be lodged and served electronically, and I hope more Member States can join this scheme. For these reasons, I voted to approve the accounts submitted by the European Commission and to grant discharge for the accounts for the financial year 2010, Section IV – Court of Justice.

 
  
  

Report: Inès Ayala Sender (A7-0091/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this report, since the draft future Financial Regulation provides that, after consulting the Court of Auditors, agencies can appoint an independent external auditor to check whether their budget implementation complies with the provisions of the Financial Regulation. I also commend the initiative taken by the Court of Auditors, which, in 2011, launched a pilot project with Eurofound (the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions). In this respect, however, it would be preferable, in future, to avert misunderstandings of the kind that has occurred in connection with the current discharge report on the agencies, which arose from the discrepancy between what was predicted by the relevant Court of Auditors’ official at the start of the financial year and what was presented before Parliament as the final result. I would encourage the Court of Auditors to perform an in-depth assessment of oversight and control systems in the Council before the end of 2012, as mentioned in Parliament’s resolution on discharge for 2009 (paragraph 8).

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) We voted this week in the European Parliament on whether or not to grant discharge to the budgets of European institutions and agencies for 2010. I voted in favour of discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Court of Auditors. Discharge is the final approval of the EU budget for a given year. Following the audit and the finalisation of the annual accounts, it falls on the Council of the European Union to make a recommendation and then it is up to us, the MEPs, to decide whether or not to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the EU budget for the preceding financial year. This decision is based, in part, on a review of the annual accounts and on the Court of Auditors’ annual report. Discharge is therefore the political element of the external control of budget implementation.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed discharge. I welcome the fact that the Court of Auditors has revised the Code of Conduct for its Members, which provides that declarations of Members’ financial interests must be published on the Internet. It is very important that, following reorganisation, the Court of Auditors has reduced the annual cost of security services by EUR 500 000, while ensuring more effective delivery of services and better risk control.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, and I also decided in favour of an amendment calling on the Court of Auditors to draw up a special report on the implementation of the budget of the European Parliament with regard to efficiency, effectiveness and savings, and to point out the areas in which good financial management could be improved even further.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the European Court of Auditors as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. The report found that in order to enhance the efficiency of the Court of Auditors’ activity, as high a percentage of the Court’s officials as possible should be performing audit tasks exclusively. The auditors primarily examined whether financial operations had been properly recorded and disclosed, as well as legally and regularly executed and managed, so as to ensure economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The discharge report found that the financial audit had been completed properly and that the inspection had revealed no major deficiencies. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to grant discharge and to close the accounts for 2010. I supported the granting of discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report since it grants the Court of Auditors discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010. However, it also calls for improvements to be made to the summary of the number and type of internal audits carried out, and also for future audits to consider performance indicators and objectives.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the analysis carried out by an external consultant confirming that the financial statements of the European Court of Auditors give a true and fair view of its financial situation, and also that funds were correctly used for their intended purposes.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Ms Ayala Sender, concerns discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section V – Court of Auditors. The mission of the Court of Auditors, which was set up in 1975 and has its headquarters in Luxembourg, is to oversee the European Union’s finances or, in other words, to check how public funds are used. The external audit of the Court of Auditors’ financial statements for 2010 found that they ‘give a true and fair view of the financial position of the European Court of Auditors as of 31 December 2010’. While I agree with the rapporteur’s recommendations in that I would like future audits to examine performance indicators and objectives as well, I realise that the Court of Auditors’ budgetary implementation has been faultless. Therefore, and having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control, I am voting for this report with a view to granting the Secretary-General of the Court of Auditors discharge in respect of the implementation of the Court’s budget for the financial year 2010.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section V – Court of Auditors, because discharge is granted to the Secretary-General of the Court of Auditors for the implementation of the Court of Auditors’ budget for the financial year 2010. I welcome the steps taken by the Court of Auditors to improve its role in line with Parliament’s request, with a view to having a broader and deeper impact so that its opinions and reports are more effective and useful and its systems and procedures more reliable, thereby strengthening the synergies between the two institutions.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I am relieved that Parliament is able to grant discharge to the Secretary-General of the Court of Auditors for the implementation of the Court of Auditors’ budget for the financial year 2010.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) As the principal body responsible for auditing all the European institutions, the Court of Auditors also has to be audited itself. I would emphasise that the audit carried out by an external body has proved to be highly positive. The internal auditor’s report was also positive, with the majority of its recommendations having been accepted and applied in advance in a number of action plans. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – There were some amendments tabled criticising the European Court of Auditors (ECA) for its failure to carry out certain tasks in respect of the agencies. I do not think that the discharge report for the ECA is the right place to raise these questions. I voted in favour of granting budget discharge to the ECA.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The audit of the Court of Auditors’ financial statements for 2010 was carried out by an external auditor. However, I agree with the rapporteur’s request for the next financial year’s audit to include performance indicators and objectives as well. For these reasons, and particularly in view of the fact that the number of posts dedicated to audit tasks has increased by 6%, I voted to approve the accounts submitted by the Commission, thus granting discharge for the 2010 accounts, Section V – Court of Auditors.

 
  
  

Report: Inès Ayala Sender (A7-0092/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this report and am pleased with the results revealed by the mid-term review of the functioning of the administrative cooperation agreement between the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee. I believe the establishment of joint services has allowed the two committees to make budget savings and the committees should implement the recommendations relating to staff (greater harmonisation of rules), social and medical services and internal services. I will finish by stressing the need for enhanced compatibility of the priority budget lines of the two committees, which will lead to greater savings and even stronger interinstitutional cooperation.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) We voted this week in the European Parliament on whether or not to grant discharge to the budgets of European institutions and agencies for 2010. I voted in favour of discharge for the 2010 budget of the Economic and Social Committee. Discharge is the final approval of the EU budget for a given year. Following the audit and the finalisation of the annual accounts, it falls on the Council of the European Union to make a recommendation and then it is up to us, the MEPs, to decide whether or not to grant discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the EU budget for the preceding financial year. This decision is based, in part, on a review of the annual accounts and on the Court of Auditors’ annual report. Discharge is therefore the political element of the external control of budget implementation.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the Economic and Social Committee (EESC). I welcome the Court of Auditors’ recommendations that the EESC should limit increases to its budgets in the coming years to an absolute minimum and finance new and extended activities primarily through savings. I welcome the call for a comprehensive spending review of all areas of activity to be undertaken with urgency to ensure that all expenditure is delivering value for money, and for particular attention to be paid to the Court of Auditors’ observations concerning the reimbursement of travel expenses to EESC members and the awarding of contracts based on a restricted procedure.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) Following the presentation of the European Court of Auditors’ annual report for the financial year 2010, the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control carried out the financial audit of the European Union general budget in respect of the Economic and Social Committee as part of the 2010 discharge procedure. The Committee’s primary responsibility is to ensure and verify that the Community budget is implemented in a regular and efficient manner. In its annual report, the Court of Auditors concluded, based on its audit work, that the payments of the Economic and Social Committee as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2010 for the administrative and other expenses of the institutions and bodies were free from material error; the most likely rate of error in the ‘administrative expenses’ section in general was 0.4%. The discharge report found that the financial audit had been completed properly and that the inspection had revealed no major deficiencies. At its meeting in late March, the Committee decided to grant discharge and to close the accounts for 2010. I supported the granting of discharge at both the Committee vote and the vote in plenary.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since it grants the Secretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2010. The EESC should follow Parliament’s lead and devote additional efforts to management so as to keep any increases to its budget in the coming years to an absolute minimum.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The budgetary implementation rate of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in 2010 was 98%, and the Court of Auditors has concluded that the payments as a whole for the year ended 31 December 2010 for the administrative and other expenses of the institutions and bodies were free from material error. The EESC should, however, undertake with urgency a comprehensive spending review of all areas of activity to ensure all expenditure is delivering value for money and to identify savings that will reduce the pressure on the budget in this period of austerity.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Ms Ayala Sender, concerns discharge in respect of the implementation of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2010, Section VI – European Economic and Social Committee. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative assembly composed of representatives of employers’ organisations, workers and interest groups – trade unions – the mission of which is to forward its opinions to the Council, the Commission and Parliament. It issues about 170 opinions a year. While I agree with the rapporteur’s recommendations in terms of improving the quality of the summary of the Internal Audit Service’s activities, I welcome the high rate of budgetary implementation and am pleased with the EESC’s decision, taken on 24 April 2012, to carry out an assessment of its work, given that its budgetary implementation has been faultless. Therefore, and having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control, I am voting for this report with a view to granting the Secretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee discharge in respect of the implementation of the Committee’s budget for the financial year 2010.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) With this report, Parliament grants the Secretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2010, which means recognising that this committee complied with the European rules in its budgetary implementation and considers its budget closed. The resolution accompanying this act mentions that the implementation rate of the budgetary appropriations in 2009 was 98%, 70% of which was for staff and 30% for operating expenditure, buildings, furniture and equipment. The Court of Auditors has drafted its report and found that there are no significant errors. Moreover, the EESC Bureau has decided to undertake a reform of the system for reimbursing expenses to members, including reimbursement of transport tickets on the basis of real costs only, since it was surprised at the large number of long-distance flights they had taken. The report finds ‘the fact that 12.3% of the interpreting service requested was cancelled’ to be of concern. We abstained on the decision to grant discharge because of the ambiguous points I have mentioned, but we voted for the resolution setting out our concerns and suggestions to improve this committee’s activities and performance.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I abstained from voting because the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is encouraged to limit increases to its budgets in the coming years to an absolute minimum and to finance new and extended activities primarily through savings. It is also stressed that the EESC must undertake with urgency a comprehensive spending review of all areas of activity to ensure all expenditure is delivering value for money in order to identify savings, which will reduce the pressure on the budget in this period of austerity. The high number of flights invoiced by members of the EESC in 2010, and their long/medium distance (average: 2 000km) is surprising. The EESC is therefore asked to provide a detailed list of all flights invoiced in 2010, indicating the departure airport, stops en route, destination, length of flight and cost incurred by the European taxpayer.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which ‘Notes with satisfaction that the EESC Bureau decided, on 6 December 2011, to undertake a reform of the system for reimbursing expenses to members, including reimbursement of transport tickets on the basis of real costs only, which brings the daily allowances and travel allowances into line with those paid by Parliament and provides for allowances to compensate for the time spent by members in performance of their duties and for the related administrative costs, taking into account the fact that EESC members do not receive any form of remuneration or pension from the EU budget’.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) All European institutions that depend on the EU budget must be thoroughly audited by the Court of Auditors and by all entities with this function. There is a need to verify that EU funds are being put to good use, that the institutions are achieving their established objectives, and that no resources are being wasted. Generally, we can say that the institutions in question – with rare exceptions, to judge by the audits that we have seen – are using the funds available to them properly and achieving the proposed objectives. That is why I voted for the report on the European Economic and Social Committee.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The European Economic and Social Committee has made good progress in