Debates
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Composition of Parliament: see Minutes
 3. Guinea-Bissau (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 4. Sudan and South Sudan (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 5. EU trade agreement with Colombia and Peru (motion for a resolution tabled): see Minutes
 6. Preparation for the European Council meeting (28-29 June 2012) - Multiannual financial framework and own resources (debate)
 7. Voting time
  7.1. Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors (Iliana Ivanova - Bulgaria) (A7-0188/2012 - Inés Ayala Sender) (vote)
  7.2. 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly (A7-0186/2012 - Alexander Graf Lambsdorff) (vote)
  7.3. Scheme of generalised tariff preferences (A7-0054/2012 - Christofer Fjellner) (vote)
  7.4. Economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability in the euro area (A7-0172/2012 - Jean-Paul Gauzès) (vote)
  7.5. Monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficit of the Member States in the euro area (A7-0173/2012 - Elisa Ferreira) (vote)
  7.6. Extension of the geographic scope of the EBRD to the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (A7-0142/2012 - Slavi Binev) (vote)
 8. Formal sitting
 9. Voting time (continuation)
  9.1. Multiannual financial framework and own resources (B7-0303/2012 ) (vote)
  9.2. EU trade negotiations with Japan (B7-0297/2012 ) (vote)
  9.3. Guinea-Bissau (B7-0277/2012 ) (vote)
  9.4. Sudan and South Sudan (B7-0281/2012 ) (vote)
  9.5. EU trade agreement with Colombia and Peru (B7-0301/2012 ) (vote)
  9.6. EU Special Representative for Human Rights (A7-0174/2012 - José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra) (vote)
  9.7. Negotiations on the UN Arms Trade Treaty (B7-0276/2012 ) (vote)
  9.8. Follow-up of the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (B7-0280/2012 ) (vote)
 10. Explanations of vote
 11. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 12. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting: see Minutes
 13. European Semester (debate)
 14. Future of the Single Market Act (debate)
 15. Future of European company law (debate)
 16. Towards a job-rich recovery (debate)
 17. Major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (debate)
 18. Female genital mutilation (debate)
 19. Defective silicone gel breast implants made by French company PIP (debate)
 20. Agenda of the next sitting: see Minutes
 21. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: MARTIN SCHULZ
President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting opened at 09.05)

 

2. Composition of Parliament: see Minutes
Video of the speeches

3. Guinea-Bissau (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

4. Sudan and South Sudan (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

5. EU trade agreement with Colombia and Peru (motion for a resolution tabled): see Minutes

6. Preparation for the European Council meeting (28-29 June 2012) - Multiannual financial framework and own resources (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the joint debate on:

– the statements by the Council and the Commission on preparation for the European Council meeting (28-29 June 2012) (2011/2920(RSP) ), and

– the statements by the Council and the Commission on the multiannual financial framework and own resources (2012/2678(RSP) ).

 
  
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  Nicolai Wammen, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, the European Council meeting on 28 and 29 June is due to take important decisions on measures to help stimulate economic growth and employment. This is a key element of our overall strategy to ensure that Europe emerges from the current situation with increased growth and a stronger economic basis. To put it very simply, Europe needs growth and Europe needs jobs.

The informal meeting of Heads of State on 23 May, as well as the informal General Affairs Council meeting on 10 and 11 June, paved the way for the preparation of a comprehensive package of measures as part of the growth initiative for Europe. I would like to point to some of the various elements that can be included in this package.

On economic policy, job creation is a priority for all of us. Growth is not enough in itself. It must lead to new jobs and we need to do more. The Council welcomes the Commission’s employment package, which certainly contains many interesting ideas, not least to promote youth employment and labour mobility. Let me also give a couple of concrete examples of how some of the proposals already on the table can boost employment. First, adoption of the energy efficiency directive can create up to 400 000 new jobs. Second, new trade agreements with third countries may create about two million new jobs, and a reform of the single market will create even more millions of jobs. As you know, there are roughly the same number of unemployed people across Europe as we have small and medium-sized enterprises. If we could only create one more job in each of these SMEs, we would have taken a giant step towards addressing the unemployment issue.

The Danish Presidency has been committed to making progress on all legislative files which have the potential to deliver growth and employment. On a number of dossiers, we have advanced well and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Parliament for a very constructive partnership with the Presidency on this agenda. This applies, for instance, to the case of roaming regulation and standardisation, where the Council has been able to reach agreement with the European Parliament. We are also on track on issues such as venture capital and social entrepreneurship.

The June European Council will also conclude the European Semester through the endorsement of country-specific recommendations set out by the Commission in its proposal of 30 May. Our objective is to guide Member States in their structural reforms, employment policies and national budgets with the overall aim of ensuring that fiscal consolidation and growth go hand in hand. I would like to thank Parliament for the way in which it has offered strong support for the growth and employment agenda, as its motions for resolutions confirm.

We also need to step up efforts to boost the financing of the economy. I am very pleased that the Council and Parliament were able to agree on the project bond pilot phase which will start this summer. The Commission has also proposed a EUR 10 billion increase in paid-in capital to the EIB as part of a new EU growth initiative. Furthermore, efforts should be made regarding better targeting of Structural Funds to foster growth and convergence. The Commission will report on this issue later this month.

Another key element to our growth agenda is external economic policy. The European Council will discuss how the Union can better use a trade and investment relationship with key partners as an engine for growth.

The second major item on the June European Council agenda is the multiannual financial framework (MFF). As you know, the MFF package is a top priority for us and, from the very beginning of our Presidency, we have been aiming to make as much progress as possible on this dossier. We based our work on the mandate given to us by the December 2011 European Council, and that is to press ahead with the work aimed at developing a basis for the final stage of negotiations to be discussed at the June European Council. We have taken this mandate very seriously.

While the aim of the Presidency has not been to reach a final compromise on this package, all our efforts are directed towards preparing the ground for a first serious and substantial discussion in June and delivering a fully integrated negotiating box containing all the elements for the final agreement, which should help lead to the adoption of the MFF at the end of this year. The MFF dossier constitutes a great opportunity to make the EU budget respond better to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and needs. It is also essential that the next MFF is fully geared towards growth and job-enhancing policies.

In putting the box together, we have listened carefully to delegations in Council meetings. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Parliament’s representatives who have taken part in our work. We have excellent cooperation with the representatives of Parliament, and before every meeting at which the MFF has been on the agenda, we have met with Parliament’s representatives, we have told Ministers what Parliament’s views are and we have also met afterwards. It is also important to stress – and I want to make this very clear – that we must, of course, all follow the legislative procedures laid down in the Treaty, including with regard to codecision. It is also important to say that there is no final deal before there is agreement between the Council and Parliament.

In order to ensure further progress in the MFF negotiations, thereby fulfilling the mandate given by the European Council in December, the Presidency has put forward a proposal regarding the structure of the budget, including the placement of instruments that the Commission has proposed to place outside the MFF. It is very important for me to say today that this proposal on the structure of the MFF only relates to the placement of instruments. It does not in any way prejudge the size of the budget or decision-making procedures for those instruments, nor does it prejudge the expenditure level for the headings in which some of those instruments are included. Therefore, the Presidency’s proposal does not entail a reduction in the budget or in the degree of flexibility in the Commission’s proposal. The point of departure for the Presidency is that the proposed amounts for these instruments are transferred, with the instruments, into the relevant headings.

Just two days ago, we had a very fruitful discussion on this proposal for a balanced package and structure at the informal General Affairs Council meeting in Horsens in Denmark. I was particularly pleased that Members of the European Parliament were present and gave us very useful input in this regard. I noted the emphasis that the European Parliament put on ensuring a transparent budget where as many expenditure items as possible are subject to the Community method.

As a final note, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the good cooperation between Parliament and the Council on this dossier.

 
  
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  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. – Mr President, you have invited me to prepare the next European Council with you, and to discuss the economic situation and the multiannual financial framework (MFF). I welcome this choice of topics. The MFF is indeed a crucial part of our response to the challenges we face, as it is a tool for investing in jobs and growth, while reinforcing stability.

We are now in a defining moment for European integration and for the European Union. We are seeing that even when governments are taking the right steps towards reform, they can be negatively impacted by events beyond their control, or by the lack of a decisive and comprehensive long-term response. We must recognise that we have a systemic problem and we need to articulate the vision of where we need to go, and also a very concrete path for how to get there. I am not sure whether the urgency of this is fully understood in all the capitals.

The Commission has always maintained that a combination of immediate measures with medium and long-term steps is part of the comprehensive response we need to overcome the crisis. This was precisely the multi-track approach we developed further in our communication of 30 May.

The European Union has proven time and again that it is capable of taking immediate measures when necessary. Just last week, the euro area Member States, the Commission and the ECB decided unanimously to support Spain in its effort to recapitalise its banking sector. This has again proven wrong those critics who say that we do not tackle our problems. On the contrary, our ability to react quickly shows our determination to tackle them head on.

However, we also need the perspective of the medium and long term. In the medium term, we must continue to implement what has been agreed, from the programme for Greece – and let me state here again that I believe Greece should stay in the euro area, assuming that it respects its commitments – to our proposals to address the more systemic issues, from setting up financial backstops, proposing initiatives for growth and reforming the financial sector to building a real economic union for the future, namely, through the steps that we have been taking on economic governance – the ‘six-pack’, which this Parliament has already approved, and the ‘two-pack’ that I hope we will also endorse today. We have been making progress on all of these areas, but I believe that more should be done.

For the longer term, I will urge the European Council to take concrete commitments towards a fully developed economic and monetary union and a process that maps out the steps to take to get there. More than ever, we need a strong ambition for Europe – ambition for the structural reforms that we need now, and ambition for the deeper economic and monetary union that we need to build in the medium and longer term.

The European Council will focus on growth. I will urge it to endorse a decisive commitment towards sustainable and jobs-rich growth. This growth can only come from a combination of sound public finances, deep structural reforms and targeted investment. At national level, at the end of the second European Semester, I am encouraged that Member States have clearly taken last year’s country-specific recommendations seriously, at least more seriously than in the previous year. Great efforts have been made to implement last year’s recommendations. But more needs to be done.

To supplement national action on jobs and growth, the European level should also be playing its part, and indeed it is playing its part. On unemployment, the biggest social challenge we face, the Commission has taken a number of measures, including refocusing Structural Funds, our youth employment initiative and adopting a major employment package, which I presented to you here in April.

Implementation on the ground is very much in the hands of the Member States, and I will continue to urge them at the European Council to take the social emergency situation very seriously. In some of our countries, we have worrying developments in terms of the rise of poverty and social exclusion.

On growth, the European Council should agree a growth initiative, building on the ideas we have put forward and which were well received at the informal European Council of 23 May. This includes a number of elements.

First, the reprogramming of Structural Funds, focusing them on growth and competitiveness.

Second, boosting investment at European level through increasing the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank, and project bonds – ideas I set out to this House for the first time in my State of the Union address in September last year. Now – it was about time! – they are building momentum. Two weeks ago, we agreed on our project bonds proposal to unlock up to EUR 4.6 billion in a pilot phase and I expect a clear decision on the EIB at the next European Council.

Third, we need to realise the full potential of the single market. I would like to see swift approval in the Council and the European Parliament for the measures of the Single Market Act 1, and the Commission will, moreover, present a Single Market Act II in the autumn. As you know, just last week, we presented a communication on the governance of the single market and how to reinforce it, as well as an analysis of the implementation of the Services Directive.

I believe that if the Heads of State or Government agree to these strategic orientations set out in this growth initiative, we should go further in cementing this approach. Many of the decisions that we need in order to deliver results must be taken by the European Parliament and the Council together. That is why, today, I want to propose that we conclude an interinstitutional agreement on the growth initiative. Given the urgency of the situation, it is important to prioritise key decisions. An interinstitutional agreement would set a fast timetable and get things moving. It would also be a strong message about our partnership – the partnership between Parliament, the Council and the Commission. It would also be a strong message about our determination for growth in the European Union. Moreover, it would ensure the required democratic legitimacy and involvement of the European Parliament, without whom we cannot advance and without which the Commission does not want to advance. On these issues that are so necessary and relevant to our citizens, it is indeed unthinkable that this directly-elected body that is an expression of European democracy could be sidelined.

(Applause)

On the matter of growth, it is highly appropriate that you singled out the European Union’s future budget to debate today. Quick adoption of the MFF would send an immediate signal that Europe is ready to invest in its future, that we are really serious about growth. It would send a strong message on our commitment to stability and responsibility, given the clear link we have proposed between the MFF and the European Semester of budgetary coordination. In other words, adoption of the MFF is a key stepping stone towards the deepening of economic and monetary union, and towards sustainable growth in Europe as a whole. However, the path ahead will not be easy. With reduced spending power at home, some Member States view the MFF as an extravagance to be minimised, and a potential source of savings to repatriate. This is a great mistake. Our budget is a budget for investment and for growth and I believe that we all agree that in current times, we need to combine stability and growth.

We need to dispel the myth that the EU budget is a budget for ‘Brussels’, for the EU structures or institutions. No – the EU budget is money for our regions, our cities, our rural areas. It is money for our citizens, our students, our workers, our entrepreneurs, our scientists, our farmers, our innovators. It is money for the unemployed and those who are afraid of being unemployed. It is money for the future of Europe and for all those who want to have a future in Europe.

We have a strategy for growth – Europe 2020 – and indeed we are preparing new initiatives for growth. The important issue now is to link the MFF and the programmes under the future budget with our overall growth strategy. If we agree that for growth, targeted public investment is necessary to complement structural reforms, then this needs to be reflected in our budget.

In many of our Member States, EU funds are the biggest and most stable source of public investment. Just as an example, since 2009, cohesion policy has been equivalent to 97% of total public investment in Hungary, 78% in Lithuania, and over 50% in Poland. What would the situation in these countries be without the contribution of the European budget? It has provided stability in times of crisis, but also flexibility in times of need.

These figures show that the European Union budget has a major impact for growth. At the same time, the MFF is in line with sound public finances. At around 1% of EU GDP and less than 2.5% of all public spending in the European Union, the EU budget is focused on priorities, and indeed its impact on deficit positions of Member States is minor. A cut of the Commission’s proposal by ‘at least EUR 100 billion’ over the seven-year period, as some Member States are proposing, would have an effect of 0.084% of the EU GDP on public finances and deficits. This is an amount that certainly does not make or break sound public finances in Europe!

Thus, the proposed financial framework for 2014-2020 is an essential piece of a medium- to long-term European growth and competitiveness agenda. The new rules governing EU spending will ensure that smart fiscal consolidation, investment funding and structural fund reforms will go together. The proposed new own resources, including the financial transaction tax, will improve transparency and provide new opportunities for fiscal consolidation and growth. This is the best recipe for growth in Europe.

Can our project be improved? Certainly, and we are very open to listen to proposals. That being said, I am also concerned with some ideas that threaten to unbalance what we have proposed. Take the idea to squeeze all the ‘off-budget items’ into the budget, from ITER to GMES. I fear that this will ultimately lead to further pressure on our margin for growth-oriented investments. I fear that this will endanger the other programmes in the different headings, from competitiveness to cohesion. I can assure you: for all items outside the MFF, the European Parliament will keep its full institutional prerogatives through the normal annual budget procedure. I hope that Parliament’s resolution on the MFF will take this into account.

We are now approaching the phase when the big strategic questions will be considered. While figures matter, we first need a serious look at design, modernisation and simplification, as well as the added value of the budget. In this, the Commission shares plenty of common ground with Parliament, which will adopt a resolution tomorrow. We will continue to press for Parliament’s early involvement in the negotiations, as the outcome will have major implications for the Union’s ability to generate growth, to demonstrate solidarity and to deliver on its common Europe 2020 objectives. I know that these will not be easy negotiations, but we are defending – and will continue to defend – our proposals very robustly.

At the core of this European Council will also be a discussion on the building blocks for the future of economic and monetary union. As you know, the European Council asked its President, in close cooperation with the President of the Commission, the President of the European Central Bank and the President of the Euro Group, to prepare a report that should propose a way forward. This report will be the start, not the end, of a process – a process that will be vital for anchoring our current efforts to ensure stability and growth in the longer term and a process in which the European Parliament should be involved from the early stages.

Let me be clear: Member States must pursue the deep structural reforms that are indispensable for Europe’s competitiveness and growth immediately. The longer term vision should not be seen as a substitute for those reforms, and national leaders must leave no doubt about this. But without confidence in the irreversibility of economic and monetary union, our prospects are limited. Therefore, we need a clear and credible commitment to a vision for the deepening of the union, combined with a process which maps out the main steps towards this goal. The process should generate a progressive dynamic. It would start with steps that could and should be taken immediately, leading to medium and longer term steps which might require treaty changes. Greater solidarity and greater responsibility must go hand in hand. Each step towards further solidarity would be accompanied by a corresponding step towards greater responsibility, and vice-versa.

Such a commitment will send a clear signal that the Member States and the EU institutions consider economic and monetary union and the euro as indispensable assets for Europe’s future. The main building blocks include moving towards a banking union and a fiscal union. The timing and nature of the process will vary for each building block. Some elements will require a higher degree of political integration with, in parallel, measures to ensure increased accountability and democratic legitimacy. To this end, the whole process must have the Community method as its guiding principle to ensure ever greater coherence, both on principles and on methods and instruments.

Here, a fundamental point needs to be made. The Commission believes that it is essential to pursue this process as far as possible with all Member States. We advocate further integration within the euro area. It is now evident that this is indispensable for the sustainability of our common currency, and we are happy to see that also outside the euro area, in Europe and outside Europe, there is now a consensus that we need further integration in the euro area. But under no circumstances must this be seen as an alternative to the integrity of the single market, or indeed the integrity of the Union as a whole. It must be seen as a mutually reinforcing process. Our economic relations bind us all: euro area members and non-euro members alike, our futures are linked.

This is why the treaties are clear – and I have to say this because the Commission is the Guardian of the Treaties – there is only one Union; there is only one European Parliament; there is only one European Commission. This is so because fragmentation is not an option. Financial stability and economic prosperity through economic and monetary union, and within it through the euro as common currency, are common goals – for those who are already in the common currency as much as for those who are preparing to join it.

We must recognise that some countries do have opt-outs. These opt-outs must be taken into appropriate account in the future architecture. But they remain the exception, not the rule. Those who wish to advance must be able to do so. But enhanced cooperation or properly circumscribed derogations can allow for this without creating a risk to the integrity of the European Union.

Let me now briefly sketch out the main building blocks. Financial integration is one area where major progress could quickly be made, even without treaty changes. Thus, the creation of a banking union appears as a natural priority. I see two major steps. First, we should accelerate the adoption of proposals already on the table. That means adopting the Commission’s proposal for a single rulebook – the capital requirements rules – and beyond that, the proposals we have made concerning deposit guarantees and bank resolution, including provisions to introduce solidarity via obligatory mutual lending between national funds.

Second, by autumn, the Commission could be ready to come forward with key proposals to introduce more integrated banking supervision and common deposit guarantee and resolution funds.

The full benefits from deepening the economic and monetary union and from creating the banking union can, however, only be reaped with the development of the fiscal union. Here, the immediate step is building on the effective coordination of fiscal and economic policies through the European Semester, including through the swift adoption of the ‘two-pack’ proposals.

Going beyond that, three further steps can be identified. First, we should further refine our financial backstops – the EFSM, the EFSF and its successor, the ESM – to strengthen our potential to intervene in support of financial stability.

Second, we need a serious discussion about the joint issuance and mutualisation of national debt in the form of stability bonds. This includes agreement on their preconditions, namely, much more joint decision making in all economic and budgetary matters. We will not achieve stability bonds without a greater degree of integration. In its Green Paper of November 2011, the Commission made public its ideas on how the euro area can move technically towards joint issuance of debt. A road map and a timetable will need to be worked out that also takes into account the need to build the necessary political and democratic momentum.

Third, other options for a deeper fiscal integration also need to be explored. Fiscal union is much more than just stability bonds. For instance, it also means more coordination in taxation policy and a much stronger European approach to budgetary matters, both at national and EU level. I have already discussed the EU budget in the context of the MFF. In the longer term, stronger solidarity mechanisms could play an even more important role.

I have already referred to the need to link the development of fiscal union with the development of political union. A deeper economic and monetary union requires deeper accountability and legitimacy. Making the technical proposals is, ironically, the easier part. But if the technical proposals are made without proper support throughout the European Union, we risk a backlash. Decisions of historic dimension need to be prepared, and the citizens need to be involved in the debate. We must work together to ensure this and we can only ensure it if the Community method remains at the heart of our move forward. I am convinced that this House, directly elected by the citizens, must and will play a crucial role in this respect: the European Parliament is the basis of European democracy.

This is one of the reasons why I deeply deplore the recent orientation taken in Council on our Schengen proposals and the European Parliament’s involvement in the relevant legislation.

(Applause)

This is the wrong signal to send at the wrong time on a core area of European construction in terms of freedom of movement. We need more, not less, parliamentary democracy in our union.

(Applause)

Allow me to finish by saying a very brief word on the G20 meeting next week. The EU representatives will be able to report on how Europe is meeting its difficulties with determination. We are not complacent about our difficulties, we will be open about them, but, at the same time, I hope that we will be proud to say what we are determined to achieve. For instance, the proposal we put forward last week on a common framework for banking crisis management and resolution makes Europe the first jurisdiction in the world to be delivering on all the G20 commitments to strengthen the regulation and supervision of the banking sector.

We can expect others in the world to point the finger at the European Union and the euro area as the source of all the world’s problems, including their own. It is always easier to talk about the problems of others in order to distract attention away from one’s own problems. But in the end, we all have challenges. Ultimately, these are common challenges. We need to address them together, also on the global scale.

Europe’s contribution must be far-reaching reforms. We need reforms in Europe. Europe’s contribution must also be a big step for an ever closer, ever stronger Union of stability and growth. I believe we have the right case to make and I thank you for your attention.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Joseph Daul, on behalf of the PPE Group. (FR) Mr President, Mr Wammen, Mr Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, it is time that the Member States tackled the real problems and had the courage to answer the real questions. It is time for the European Council to finally adopt tough measures on 28 and 29 June, rather than settle for fall-back mechanisms that are immediately overtaken by events.

For the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), these real questions in actual fact boil down to one: are we ready to make the necessary political leap to make the European Union and the euro area work? This is a question that could not be asked two years ago.

Are we both clear-headed and politically courageous enough to defend and organise shared political sovereignty, or are we going to allow our laws, our policies, our societal choices to be dictated by the financial markets and banks, as we have been doing for two years now, lurching from one crisis Council to the next?

(Applause)

We must assume our responsibilities once and for all. What we want is a European Union with a social and fiscal model, and we need to show this. This is a difficult time and, in times of crisis, we move forwards and not backwards.

We have to face reality and stop deluding ourselves. The reality is that no country in Europe can tackle global challenges, whether economic, social, demographic, military or political, single-handedly. We see this every day. Each Member State says, ‘I do not need Europe, I do not need Europe,’ and, the next day, it asks for help.

Members of the Council, the reality is that, over the last 60 years, we have achieved peace and prosperity and that this has been possible thanks to a method, the Community method. I believe deeply in this method, just as I am convinced that Europe is the solution and not the problem.

So, ladies and gentlemen, on 28 and 29 June, notwithstanding such important issues as economic governance, the credibility of the euro, and financial perspectives, the PPE Group will, first and foremost, call on the Member States to make a choice, a major choice that will determine the rest: do you want to ensure a future for Europeans and to focus on what is really important, which is to ensure strong political integration through the Community method?

Or do you prefer to keep on pretending that you have economic sovereignty only to find, the day after each summit, the day after each meeting of Finance Ministers, that the decisions taken are inadequate and untimely and that we are heading for disaster? Do you prefer, as you did on 7 June in relation to Schengen, to withdraw to your borders and fall back on your intergovernmental arrangements?

If you go for the first option, Parliament will be happy to work with you to find lasting solutions to the problems of our fellow citizens. However, if the Council stubbornly refuses to agree on the main issues, we will not see the light at the end of the tunnel in the short term.

Those are my requests to the Council. I would also like to request that the President of Parliament be finally given the opportunity to debate with the Heads of State or Government all the subjects that will affect the future of Europeans. The President of the Commission has his place in the Council, as does the President of the Central Bank. Is the democratically elected President not as worthy as the President of the Central Bank?

(Applause)

The person who represents 500 million Europeans, presides over the only institution elected by universal suffrage, and who leads the institution that legislates with the Council is asked to leave the Chamber after he has given his presentation. What democracy, what transparency can we demonstrate to the outside world? European integration cannot be achieved without the democratic legitimacy embodied by the European Parliament.

Mr Barroso, I will end by saying – and I know that you repeat things time and again, as we do, in this Chamber – that we need to continue to make recommendations. We need to continue to table new proposals on social and fiscal union and we must not be afraid to publicise them. Go ahead – Parliament is with you. We are the driving force behind the proposals, and the Council needs us in the difficult crisis situation in which it finds itself. It needs to find solutions and we need to put them on the table, even more so than we have done so far. You can count on us.

I would also like you to go further and publish, every three months, an up-to-date table of the economic and social measures on the internal market taken by each of our governments, both on the right and on the left. Europeans need to know which Member States are making an effort to get their public finances back in shape and to promote growth and jobs and are not just talking about doing so.

All these proposals need to be continued. We are going to haul Europe out of the crisis. Ladies and gentlemen, what the PPE Group wants is honesty with regard to our fellow citizens and, above all, a great deal of political courage.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Verts/ALE ).(DE) Mr President, I would just like to say that, if ever a person has been liberated by an election, then Mr Daul has been liberated by the defeat of President Sarkozy.

 
  
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  Joseph Daul (PPE ). (FR) I think I have always had the courage to say what I think and I have had it all my life. It is the only thing I inherited from my father, who told me, ‘Take care never to be taken hostage,’ and whenever I was taken hostage, it never lasted more than two days, I assure you, Mr Cohn-Bendit.

 
  
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  Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Mr President, I hope that everyone who applauded Mr Daul today will provide evidence when it comes to the ‘two-pack’ that what Mr Daul said is also the opinion of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), for example, and that we really will find the solutions that we need to overcome the crisis. Mr Daul, we will see this afternoon how serious that applause was. Nonetheless, we applaud you for what you said.

(Applause)

Mr Barroso, you have offered us an interinstitutional agreement. My group is prepared to go along with that. There is no point in having an agreement, however, unless it has substance. If it amounts to nothing more than us saying that we now need completion of the internal market and austerity, and all that will bring growth – which remains the majority opinion to date, even among governments – then there is no point in such an agreement. Moreover, there is only a point to the agreement if we actually pass real measures at the time of the upcoming summit. After all, am I supposed to say to the many millions of young unemployed people that, although they do not have a job, we can give them an interinstitutional agreement? They will hardly be enthralled by that.

I do not want to mock what you have said; I take it seriously. I simply want to draw attention to what it is that we really need. We need swift decisions, and swift decisions in the coming days. We have a debt problem, the debts are growing and not reducing because our Heads of Government still have not grasped what this is all about and do not have the courage to tackle what you have proposed and what we have proposed in order to solve the debt problem together.

All of a sudden, there is talk of a banking union. If you recall, ladies and gentlemen, we proposed that two years ago. The Commission was moving in that direction, and the government officials and the finance ministers said ‘No, no, no, that is going much too far’ and ‘European supervision of the banks must be reduced – we need more national regulation’. It has taken the Heads of Government two years to think it over. At present, the Heads of Government need two years to arrive at the right ideas. The same is true of other things that you mentioned, Mr Barroso. That is the situation at the moment.

We recently had a large conference involving young people from all over Europe which was not linked to any political party. There were a great many young people there who had done something, rather than just complaining that nothing was happening. They had established small businesses, created start-ups. However, what they were asking was where there was currently any demand, where they could sell their products, who was now ensuring that there is growth, who was investing in infrastructure.

That is why I am saying that, yes, we can talk very earnestly about an agreement, but now is the time for action. Once again, I can only quote from The Economist . You will see it and recognise it. The ship is in deep water and the question is – a question I can only agree with:

Please can we start the engine now, Ms Merkel? Yes, we have to start the engine now and not in one or two years, when it is too late.

(DE) Let me now also say something about the budget, which, after all, is an element of the growth strategy. At the moment, a lot of people are saying, ‘We want the growth, but we do not want the budget – or we want a reduced budget’. What kind of nonsense is that? It is precisely in the many elements of the budget that we find aspects of a growth strategy – much more so than in national budgets.

I would like to quote somebody who is not a socialist, but rather a fellow Member of your party, Mr Lewandowski, and that is Poland’s finance minister, who said to me in conversation that everyone is talking about how we must invest more in research and development and not so much in infrastructure and the Cohesion Fund, but we also need resources for growth; we also need ways to invest in all the regions that are still in a very poor economic position.

(Applause)

That is why it makes no sense to simply cut this budget; instead, we have to use it more efficiently and sensibly. However, if we talk about being more competitive, if we say that we have to do something to make us competitive globally as well, then we cannot cut the budget – which is a small budget in any case, but which is an element of this strategy, and it is an element that we absolutely cannot do without. That is why we have to go down this road together.

I warmly welcome the fact that you attended the Friends of Cohesion summit in Bucharest, Mr Barroso – even if you came in for some criticism. The statement could have been somewhat more strongly worded, for, on one side, there are those who want to do nothing but cut and cut and cut again and, on the other, just words. However, a good initiative has been established, because we cannot just listen to those who constantly say that we have to cut resources – we also have to listen to those who are using these resources.

Moreover, a distinction is being made between net contributors and net beneficiaries, as if one were the good guys and the other the poor people receiving alms. The net beneficiaries are not being given alms; they are receiving a good share so that they can expand their economies. I am from Austria, a net contributor country, and I know very well that my country is also profiting a great deal from the fact that Hungary, Romania, Poland and many other countries are receiving EU funding. Let us therefore do away with this division into good net contributors and bad net beneficiaries.

(Applause)

Finally, Mr President, with just a few exceptions, we were unanimous yesterday in telling the Council that the way decisions were made on Schengen is not acceptable. I hope we can retain this unanimity when it comes to the budget, that we will send a clear message to the Council, and also to all those who blindly want to make cuts everywhere, that this is not acceptable. If we cannot reach agreement – I appreciate what you said, Mr Wammen – then we will just have to go to the 2013 budget and update it. We can live with that. I hope the Council can live with it too.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group. (FR) Mr President, I think that Joseph Daul pinched my text, because I do not have much more to say now after his speech. No, really, for the first time, I have almost nothing to add ...

(Exclamation from Mr Daul: ‘The groups are going to merge’.)

I do not know if they should merge. Rather, we are going to take the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) back from you. That seems like a good idea.

Let us be clear, the Council has just agreed on a bail-out of EUR 100 billion for the Spanish banks, and what is the consequence? Let us face it, because it is alarming: it is that the markets do not believe us. On Monday, yesterday, the spreads had gone up dramatically to more than 500 basic points, even nearly 600 basic points for Spain; nearly 500 basic points also for Italy. We have to ask what is happening. Are they mad or are we mad? Are we seeing things properly?

Well, I think we all know the answer in this House – maybe not the ECR and maybe not UKIP, but I think that everybody else can see that unless we find a structural and a global solution to the crisis, we will simply continue fire-fighting as we are doing now. Because that is what we are doing, fire-fighting, and fighting one fire after the other. Greece first, then Ireland, then Portugal, then Spain, and tomorrow, you may be sure, Italy. Not setting up a systemic answer, a structural solution to the crisis and not building a real firewall that can resist.

What do we need? We know what we need. Three things: a banking union with a deposit guarantee scheme, with a single supervisor – what this Parliament already asked for two years ago and was refused by the Council. This deposit guarantee scheme is a proposal on the table and yet the Council is not even able to agree on a common position on that proposal.

The second thing we know also: a fiscal union including a redemption fund – the one we will vote on today in the ‘two-pack’, so there is no need for an initiative from the Council or the Commission about that. They simply need to respond to the legislative proposal of the Parliament in the coming days and weeks.

Finally, we know what we really need, which is a political union with a real economic government. So my plea to you, Mr Barroso, is to say that speeches here, speeches in the Council and recommendations from the Commission are all very well, but what we need now are legislative proposals from your side put directly on the table of the Council and Parliament on a banking union, on a fiscal union and on a political union.

There is no need to wait for an agreement between France and Germany and Italy and Spain. You have the right of initiative; you can make things happen and move forward. Put your proposals on the table on a redemption fund, and put your proposals on the table for a real banking union. Do it now, in the next weeks, because I am not sure that on 28 and 29 June, our leaders in the Council will agree on a banking union and can agree on a redemption fund.

Finally, on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) and own resources, I regret one thing, which is that neither the Council nor the Commission have said one word, one phrase, on something that is the most crucial element of this multiannual financial framework which is, finally, to come back to the initial idea of the founding fathers and to make a direct link between the citizens and the European Union. There is no real democracy in Europe if you only have a parliament with no say in the resources of its institutions. In every parliament, in every country, in every democratic country in the world, the parliament has a direct say on the resources of the country, on the resources of the state. So that is what we need most now in these discussions and in this debate, and I can tell you that there will be no consent from our group to the multiannual financial framework if there are no own resources in this multiannual financial framework.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Roger Helmer (EFD ), Blue-card question. –Mr Verhofstadt, you say that we must not keep muddling through, that we need a systemic, comprehensive, universal solution to the problems which we face. I agree. You are absolutely right. But surely it is time to recognise that the euro has failed, that the European Union has failed and that the solution is to start to dismantle both. Why is it you call for more Europe, when you are surrounded by the ruin of Europe. Why are you trying to reinforce failure?

 
  
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  Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE ), Blue-card answer. – I am more of the opinion of David Cameron. Two or three days ago he said something like: ‘Oh, the eurozone needs to solve its problems. We need a real union and real union of the eurozone. We need an economic union in the eurozone; we need a fiscal union in the eurozone; we need a political union in the eurozone!’ That is what David Cameron said. He is now the best of federalists – outside the eurozone, naturally! He stays outside, but he has a message to give us.

What is Barack Obama saying? ‘Oh, the Europeans have to solve their problems. They have to create a union’. The problem is not Europe in this crisis, the problem is that there is not enough Europe – that is the real problem of the crisis today.

(Applause)

We shall only overcome that problem if we finally regain the courage to use the words and the message of Monnet and of Schuman, who worked for a real federal Europe. ‘Federal Europe’ is not a buzzword, Federal Europe is the solution.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Daniel Cohn-Bendit, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in this debate, in which everyone is talking about a political Europe and European sovereignty, I want to examine the definition of sovereignty. There will only be political sovereignty if Europe has financial sovereignty. Otherwise, it will not work. I would like to give you a brief, very practical, illustration based on the problem we are now facing. Mr Verhofstadt is right: we will only achieve financial sovereignty if Europe manages to obtain its own resources.

What does that mean? It simply means that, today, the Member States, including the French Government, are saying, ‘We can no longer increase the national contribution’. Fine! Let us accept the situation! It is up to them to decide.

However, if, as the Commission has proposed, as we have discussed, we have a financial transaction tax, a European carbon tax, a mobile phone tax, these three possibilities – and I could give you others – would bring in an extra EUR 40 to 50 billion for the European budget.

From this point on, the discussion becomes completely absurd. Now, we are told, ‘All right, if you have own resources, we will give all these resources back to the Member States’. The Commission’s much-vaunted proposal on the financial transaction tax posits a ‘two thirds/one third’ distribution. In other words, a third will be given directly to Member States, and the remaining two thirds to be allocated to the European Union will be deducted from national contributions.

Consequently, 100% is given back to the Member States. There is no own resource. It is a resource diverted to the Member States and not a resource for the European Union. This will not enable us to move forward. Furthermore, the Council then tells us, ‘And you are going to further reduce the European budget’.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an abstract debate. It is the very basis of the so-called political sovereignty of Europe. If we accept that own resources are resources for the Member States and not resources for the European budget, where do we go from here? We do not have to accept this sort of horse-trading. We do not have to say yes.

The only possibility for Europe to be able to invest in order to create jobs and to sustain the cohesion funds is through increasing the European budget. Let us accept that national contributions are unable to finance it. However, own resources are the way to increase the European budget precisely to sustain the deficits of the economies of the Member States. It is not for the European Parliament that we want own resources; it is for the citizens of Europe.

That is why I believe that the fight we are going to get into now, which will be a fight over the question ‘Do we accept that the budget should stay at its current level?’, would be a mistake. The truth is that, if there is no real increase in the European budget which will ensure that own resources become resources for the budget and not simply a return of resources to the Member States, if we do not have this power, this capacity, then, despite all the talk of European sovereignty and the need for more Europe, we will not succeed in delivering the necessary policies.

It is our legitimacy, it is our credibility as Europeans that we are defending. That is why, when it comes to financial perspectives, we must say to the Council and to the Member States, ‘Do not assume that, this time, Parliament is going to lie down. You will see that you will not have any financial perspectives if you do not move consistently. Otherwise, stay at home! You are spending too much money with your summits and that is pointless’.

 
  
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  Martin Callanan, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, Europe is facing yet another in its long line of crises, only this time, in my view, it is fast becoming a crisis of the legitimacy of the EU itself.

Many of us warned that a monetary union with a light touch, which was envisaged in the Maastricht Treaty, could not work and, for a single currency to succeed, significant centralisation of power would be required – a centralisation which, for many of us, was totally unacceptable. That is where the EU finds itself today. It is bringing more centralisation upon itself in what is an increasingly desperate attempt to get ahead of the crisis, which so far it has completely failed to do.

When the markets are unimpressed, when the Spanish banks are lent EUR 100 billion, then there is a clear signal that the failure is continuing. This latest Spanish bailout lasted barely 24 hours before it was, as Mr Verhofstadt said, being questioned on the markets. If I can use a somewhat crude analogy, it is a little bit like wetting your pants at the North Pole. At first it feels warm and comforting, but very quickly you realise just how much trouble you are in fact in.

Let me make two points. First, it would be unacceptable that the measures it is proposed we take should fall upon those who proposed originally to steer clear of this risky venture and, second, those countries who signed up to join a single currency with one set of governing rules should not now be obliged to join a single currency with a completely different set of governing rules. So those countries that are not yet in the euro should be released from their obligation to join.

Over the last 20 years, the EU has become ever more out of touch with public opinion, and that has shown in many recent elections and referendums. The people of Europe are becoming increasingly worried about centralisation, and about the remoteness of those who are gaining more power in the EU by the day. In no area is this seen more starkly than the management of the EU budget. The Commission talks about synergies, about investments, about added value, and the public just sees waste, mismanagement and fraud.

An even bigger budget is being requested. The public just wonders why it is that for 17 years in succession, the budget has been implemented with significantly high levels of illegal or irregular payments. People here are complaining that the concept of value for money is somehow getting in the way of European solidarity. The public just wonders how on earth one can justify wanting even more money when the money already being spent is spent so badly.

To win back public legitimacy and regain trust, the EU needs to take reform seriously, it needs to respond to the needs of the people and not impose ideas upon them. Make no mistake, when we are facing so many different crises on so many fronts, we are very fast running out of time.

(Applause from the ECR Group)

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  President. – Before I invite the first speaker to take the floor, I have a very pleasant announcement to make. Today is Mr Lewandowski’s birthday. I would like to wish him many happy returns of the day.

(Applause)

Mr Lewandowski, it is hard to imagine a more enjoyable present for your birthday than this debate!

 
  
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  Graham Watson (ALDE ), Blue-card question. – Mr President, Mr Callanan is among those who urge the European Union to get its act together. But does he not accept that if the European Union is going to be a success as a monetary union – without the UK, as seems to be the case – then it will need to do things which will have an impact on the United Kingdom. Therefore, it is illogical to call for the European Union to sort out the problems which it faces and yet to say that it may do nothing that will in any way impinge upon the single market.

Does Mr Callanan not accept that if the European Union is to do this, it will need an adequate budget to do so?

 
  
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  Martin Callanan (ECR ), Blue-card answer. – I accept that, for a single currency to work, there has to be a whole series of different measures. There have to be significant fiscal transfers from the richer states to the poorer states.

It is fine for me to say that as somebody who is quite happily outside the single currency. If I were a German taxpayer, I might have one or two concerns about it.

As for this issue of the budget – that somehow a euro spent at European level somehow magically appears from this magical money tree without any impact on national budgets – I just say one thing. It is surely illogical for the Commission – for Mr Lewandowski and Mr Barroso – to be saying to Member States: ‘you have to impose austerity, you have to reduce your budget, you have to get your fiscal balances under control – oh, but by the way, we want more of your cash taken to a European level to spend on your behalf because we know how to spend it better than you do’.

Member States are not sitting there with large piles of cash. They are all running fiscal deficits. What the Commission is saying to them is: ‘We want you to add to your fiscal deficit in order to give us more money because somehow our spending lots of money at a European level will solve the crisis’. Frankly, only a Liberal Democrat could believe that would be the solution to the crisis.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, another one bites the dust. Country No 4, Spain, gets bailed out, and we all of course know that it will not be the last.

However, I wondered over the weekend whether perhaps I was missing something, because the Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Rajoy, said that this bailout shows what a success the eurozone has been. I thought, well, having listened to him over the previous couple of weeks telling us there would not be a bailout, I have the feeling, after all his twists and turns, that he is just about the most incompetent leader in the whole of Europe – and that is saying something because there is pretty stiff competition! Indeed, every single prediction of yours, Mr Barroso, has been wrong, and dear old Herman Van Rompuy, well, he has done a runner has he not? The last time he was here, he told us we had turned the corner and that the euro crisis was over; he has not bothered to come back and see us since.

I remember being here 10 years ago and listening to the launch of the Lisbon Agenda. We were told that with the euro, by 2010, we would have full employment and, indeed, that Europe would be the competitive and dynamic powerhouse of the world. By any objective criteria, the euro has failed and, in fact, there is a looming impending disaster.

This deal makes things worse, not better. EUR 100 billion is being put up for the Spanish banking system and 20% of that money has to come from Italy. Under the deal, the Italians have to lend to the Spanish banks at 3%, but to get that money they have to borrow on the markets at 7%. It is genius, is it not! It really is brilliant.

So what we are doing with this package is actually driving countries like Italy towards needing to be bailed out themselves. In addition to that, we have put a further 10% on Spanish national debt and I will tell you – and any banking analyst will tell you – that EUR 100 billion will not solve the Spanish problem; it would need to be more like EUR 400 billion.

With Greece teetering on the edge of euro withdrawal, the real elephant in the room is that once Greece leaves, the European Central Bank is bust. It is gone. It has EUR 444 billion worth of exposure to the bailed-out countries and to rectify that there will need to be a cash call on Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy! You could not make it up, could you? It is total and utter failure. This ship – the Euro Titanic – has now hit the iceberg and, sadly, there simply are not enough lifeboats.

 
  
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  Gabriele Zimmer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Mr President, Mr Wammen, Mr Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, I do not agree with the prophesies of doom that have just been made. However, I would like to make it clear that a fiscal union based on the ‘two-pack’ is, in my opinion, tantamount to declaring the old European idea bankrupt. Once again, Parliament is having to catch up with events. That is my concern.

At the end of June, a summit will be held and we are preparing for it. It will go ahead, the family photos will be taken and people will behave as if everything will go on as before with a few minor changes. However, we are already right in the middle of the changes. We are still hearing the old fairy stories about the good old EU. It seems, and this is one point which I would like to highlight in particular, that the initiatives are contradictory. One amounts to the introduction of supranational structural policies and the other consists of the increasing renationalisation of policies during the course of the crisis. These are two sides of the same coin, in other words, a fiscal and banking union to allow the EU to continue as a neoliberal project on a new level. This is accompanied on both sides by massive cuts in social services, drastic reductions in public spending and more stringent sanction mechanisms. Part of the logic of this way of thinking is that the parliaments and, in particular, the European Parliament should be marginalised.

Therefore, I strongly support the protests against the separation and renationalisation of elements of the Schengen Agreement. For this reason, I am very much in favour of Parliament making a clear statement about the multiannual financial framework and not allowing itself to be pushed aside. The Community method must not be replaced by the Union method. This must not happen. The institutions rely on one another and if one institution tries to reduce the power of the others, the result will be the collapse of the idea of the European Union. I would like to make this clear in the light of the multiannual financial framework.

It is also important for us to talk about the fact that the original EU subsidy policy has now been reinterpreted. Funds which were intended to reduce the discrepancies between the Member States and the regions are now being used to create a multispeed EU – it is no longer possible to talk only about two speeds – and to increase the competition to attract new businesses between the regions within the European Union. The weak must remain weak and the funding will go to areas where global competitive strengths can be increased and market orientation is needed. This is why the macro-economic conditionalities are being introduced and why subsidies for the regions are being abolished if the Member States fail to meet the criteria of the Stability and Growth Pact. It is both absurd and cruel for you to penalise the people who live in these regions on several levels. You know exactly what I am talking about in this context.

Instead, we need sustainable growth which focuses on strengthening the public sector and on public responsibility. This is why I believe that you have the wrong priorities and the wrong conditions. This makes discussion about a different Europe more difficult. Why are you blackmailing the Greek voters? Why are you criticising all the serious initiatives and alternatives that come not only from those on the left but also from academics in several European countries. They are saying that we need to open up a window which will allow us to gain some time and to link the two serious concerns of the Greek people together. They want to stay in the euro area and they want conditions that will allow them to survive and to live normal lives. We in Parliament must commit ourselves to achieving this.

 
  
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  Lucas Hartong (NI ). (NL) Mr President, today we are debating the EU multiannual budget after 2013. The EU wants to spend more money, but that money simply is not there. The EU wants its own revenues – read taxes. In case you have missed it: we are in the midst of a crisis with severe consequences for our citizens.

So let us be absolutely clear: the Dutch Party for Freedom (PPV) is against the EU’s own resources and, along with other Member States, is demanding a drastic reduction in the EU’s multiannual budget of at least EUR 100 billion. If we follow this reasoning, we come to the conclusion that democracy is not guaranteed here , but in Member States, where it belongs. Fortunately, each of the Member States has a veto when deciding whether or not to approve the multiannual budget.

If it were up to the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, then all of them would continue to enjoy a nice snooze while the importance of Dutch sovereignty is frittered away. However, we do still believe in the nation state that decides if any, and how much, money will be spent outside the national borders.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  László Surján (PPE ), Blue-card question. – I should like to ask Mr Hartong whether he has read the Lisbon Treaty, under which own resources are not a wish, but an obligation.

 
  
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  Lucas Hartong (NI ), Blue-card answer. (NL) Mr Surján, thank you for your question. The answer is quite straightforward. The Dutch population previously rejected the Treaty of Lisbon with a large majority. We did not want it then, we do not want it now, nor do we accept it. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that Europe is going over the heads of Dutch citizens in making decisions and we do not want that any longer.

 
  
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  President. – Mr Hartong, unfortunately I have to inform you that the Dutch people rejected the constitution. They ratified the Treaty of Lisbon. Perhaps you should check this again.

 
  
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  Herbert Reul (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, about a year ago, Parliament decided by a large majority to adopt the ‘six-pack’. We were forging ahead with a strong sense of cooperation. We agreed that, in order to solve the problems, we needed to put in place active, realistic austerity measures. We are now in the process of adopting the ‘two-pack’ and the cooperation is suddenly no longer working. The compromise in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs has failed because some of the groups have stopped collaborating. All of a sudden, we are hearing people here saying things like ‘We simply need to spend more money and our problems will be solved’, but everybody knows that this is nonsense. Where will the money actually come from? There are limits to what can be expected of other groups of Europe’s citizens, in terms of how much they will be prepared to spend. On the other hand, is what Mr Cohn-Bendit just said true? In that case, we must raise taxes and ask the citizens to pay up once again. This is just the same old response, the same old story that has never worked.

No, we must take the difficult route, which means saving and making sure that the money we have – and we do still have money in Europe – is spent intelligently and in the right places. Is the money that we have being used where it is needed and is it having the impact that we promised ourselves? Where are the reports on what is happening, the checks and the consideration of whether we are doing the right thing? Qualification measures, spending money correctly, putting incentives in place, creating trust and taking a long-term approach are what is required.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot buy growth. That is simply ridiculous. We have to work for growth. We need to create the right conditions for growth so that people can bring it about and we need to make sure that we stay on the right track.

 
  
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  Ivailo Kalfin (S&D ). – Mr President, it makes absolutely no sense to talk about growth if we do not create the instruments for growth. The European Union budget is one of the strongest instruments for providing growth in Europe.

This is not like the national budgets. This is not just another tax burden for the citizens. The EU budget is not just another item of expenditure in national budgets. It is small but it is efficient. It creates economies of scale, it creates economies of scope and it can direct investments at European level at very targeted goals.

The EU budget is currently 44 times less than national budgets in Europe. It costs every European citizen a coffee per day. That is the cost of Europe to European citizens. At the same time, it has decreased over the last 20 years by 20% in relative terms, whereas national budgets have increased in recent years. In 2011, 23 out of 27 countries increased their national budgets. In 2012, 24 out of 27 countries increased their national budgets. So I would argue that, if anything, Europe is becoming weaker because the EU budget is becoming weaker and national budgets are becoming stronger. This is what has happened in recent years.

The European Union budget goes back to the Member States. Ninety-four percent of the EU budget goes back to the Member States. For example, I have met a Polish Minister who said that for every one euro invested in cohesion policy, nearly 70 cents go back to the old Member States, to the contributors. From the investments made in cohesion between 2000 and 2006, we have 0.7% growth in Europe and that might reach 4% later on. So when we speak about the EU budget, this is not a budget which is spent badly.

By the way, Mr Callanan, the European Court of Auditors said that the UK is one of the examples with the highest error rate in spending EU money. This is not a reason to decrease the EU budget. You have to fix the systems in the United Kingdom. When we speak about own resources, this means that we have to decrease national contributions. That would help the consolidation of the national budgets so we would very much insist on what …

(The President cut off the speaker)

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD ), Blue-card question. – I do not see how you can possibly say that the EU budget is efficient when the EU budget is a byword for corruption, waste and fraud.

 
  
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  Ivailo Kalfin (S&D ), Blue-card answer. – I have already mentioned that the Court of Auditors says that the error rate – or the fraud, in other words – occurs in several countries, including the UK. However, this is not the fault of the EU budget, it is the fault of the national systems.

And if that is indeed the image of the EU budget in the UK, then it is a pity.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Anne E. Jensen (ALDE ).(DA) Mr President, as a Member of Parliament’s negotiating delegation for the Medium-Term Budgetary Framework (MTBF), I would like to begin by thanking the Danish Presidency and its Minister for Europe, Mr Wammen, and his team for the sound, open and trusting collaboration that we have enjoyed. You have listened to us, and we have enjoyed a heads-up about what was on the way.

This is a major package. It is not, after all, just about the economic framework; it also involves almost 60 different legislative proposals that establish future agricultural policy, the rules for the Structural Funds, for research programmes, for educational programmes, for transport investments and investments in energy. It is thus an enormous complex that is now to be adopted, and it seems to me that you have handled it well.

It has been said many times today that the budget is an important tool to ensure growth and jobs, and it is important that we should have this multiannual framework in order to make it possible to plan investments and to provide certainty in respect of the common agricultural policy. But, and it is a big but, 2020, which is the year up to which the framework runs, is a long way away, and there has to be flexibility, as unforeseen events could happen before 2020. We need flexibility both in the shape of reserves and in the shape of the ability to re-jig funds if we find we want to change our priorities at some point in the future.

Let me illustrate using the example that, six months after the last time one of these budget frameworks was adopted, the Russians turned off the gas supply to Bulgaria, whereupon we discovered that we needed an EU energy policy. There was no money to support such an energy policy, however. We came up with a solution by finding unused money within the agricultural budget, but it is not certain that we will be able to do so in future. There is thus a need for flexibility, and that will continue to be the case in the future.

 
  
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  Helga Trüpel (Verts/ALE ).(DE) Mr President, Mr Wammen, Mr Barroso, we need to achieve three things in the European Union. We must consolidate our budgets, introduce structural reforms and take targeted measures to stimulate growth, for psychological reasons, so that we can give the citizens of Europe new hope and also overcome our common problems.

Mr Wammen began his speech today by saying: ‘Europe needs growth and Europe needs jobs’. At the same time, Denmark belongs to the club of net contributors who want to cut the European budget. How stupid, short-sighted and un-European! The multiannual financial framework is one of the instruments for growth that we urgently need. We must achieve our common goals: collecting taxes and introducing the financial transaction tax, because it is a fair instrument. We must finally get around to implementing it.

It is only fair for the banks at last to contribute to financing the crisis. That must not only be the job of the taxpayers. The responsibility for dealing with the crisis must not be unloaded onto them. The proposal made by Mr Lewandowski is a good one. You have finally realised that we need to make progress with the financial transaction tax now. Two-thirds of it must be used as own resources for the European budget. The Member States will have one benefit from this. They will need to contribute less money to the European budget and, in addition, they will have another incentive. They will be saving their own money and we will be able to finance our cross-border policies jointly.

Therefore, I would like to promote this idea once again. It is not a radical left-wing proposal, Ms Merkel. Mr Lewandowski belongs to your own group of parties and, what is so important, we can implement this proposal in 2012. If everyone were to join in, we would have EUR 47 billion of additional revenue by 2014.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ms Merkel and all the other Heads of State or Government, how can anyone be so stupid that they do not want to understand that the European budget is the democratic element which will stimulate growth in Europe, with the involvement of Parliament. We in Parliament and the Council must finally summon up the courage to implement this sensible policy.

 
  
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  Jan Zahradil (ECR ). (CS) Mr President, it feels distinctly sad to be sitting in a body, the majority of whose members have lost touch with reality, as is the case with the European Parliament. That majority still think, moreover, that they represent the citizens of Europe. The words spoken here by Mr Verhofstadt and Mr Cohn-Bendit are, unfortunately, not isolated views, but convictions clearly shared by the majority of the European Parliament. The majority here actually believe that it is possible to build some kind of unified, centralised federal state in place of the EU. The demands to introduce own resources for the European budget unfortunately belong to the rhetorical toolbox of this federalist tendency. Giving the European budget its own resources will clearly allow the European Parliament and the Commission to inflate the budget. It will weaken the link between Member States – which are the foundation stones of European integration – and the European level. It will also allow the Commission and the European Parliament to further circumvent the Member States. For this reason, such a principle is unacceptable. I hope that the European Council and those governments that still retain some sanity will say a clear and emphatic ‘no’ to this plan.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD ). – Mr President, an astronomical amount of taxpayers’ money has been given to Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain by the EU since 2010: EUR 285 billion. You heard me correctly – EUR 285 billion!

What has happened to this money? The EU’s failure to keep tabs on funding means that nobody can know for sure. Now, more money is wanted to waste on promoting deeper European integration.

The Lisbon Agenda was a disaster. Can anyone here say that Europe is the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world? Only if they are an ostrich.

Now the EU wants to pour billions more into the 2020 plan. The new own resources being proposed, namely the financial transaction tax, mean that this money will be even more unaccountable. This House, in approving this framework, is voting for a continuation of the last ten wasteful years. I shudder at that thought.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GEORGIOS PAPASTAMKOS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (S&D ), Blue-card question. – Mr President, does Ms Andreasen accept that she is totally wrong when she says that money has been given to Portugal, Greece, Ireland and the other countries bailed out. This money has not been given; this money has been lent. Even Mr Klaus Regling, the Head of the European Stabilisation Fund, has been saying that this money has been gaining interest for the countries which are lending, and outrageous interest!

(Applause)

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD ), Blue-card answer. – Mr President, Ms Gomes is wrong. She is talking about something different. The EUR 285 billion is the EU budget that was paid into these Member States. This money is not to be returned and it does not earn any interest.

Ms Gomes, you are confused. I am not talking about the bailout. I am talking about the EU budget that was supposed to grow the economies of the countries concerned and did not grow those economies.

 
  
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  Takis Hadjigeorgiou (GUE/NGL ).(EL) Mr President, economic union can only exist if the citizens of Europe, regardless of their home State, feel that their State is participating pari passu in such union. Participation pari passu means fair redistribution of European GDP. Participation pari passu means that German citizens and Maltese citizens participate pari passu in the election of Union leaders.

As regards States’ debts, where those debts accrued because the system generated debts for one State while, for the same reasons, generating profits for another State, the only solution is to write off those debts. It is also high time the European Central Bank started lending to States, rather than banks. The Union’s needs and objectives cannot be serviced by economies that decimate the prosperity of its citizens.

As regards the method of financing the Union, successive adjustments to the system have benefited the most wealthy Member States, because some such countries, which apparently are paying a contribution to the EU budget of over 10%, are, in fact, paying less than 1% of their per capita GDP. A budget financing system based on traditional own resources, in conjunction with the abolition of corruption and discounts, would be the most advantageous, because it is more in keeping with the principles of justice and solidarity.

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI ).(DE) Mr President, among many of us pro-Europeans, the mood is one of alarmed horror at what is currently happening in Europe. Nonetheless, it is pleasing that people are now speaking out much more clearly about what we are dealing with, and that we are not turning a blind eye to Italy either.

Members of the Commission – and these comments are addressed to the Council, too – you know yourselves that you are stuck in a number of traps, not just as regards debt and growth, but also as regards confidence, and in the power trap. I regret to say that, so far, you have, in fact, failed to tackle the central issue, which is that the financial sector has become detached from the real economy. Whatever we have decided here, the experts constantly counter this by saying that still no serious boundaries have been imposed on the shadow banking sector, there are still systemic risks, that the issue of ‘too big to fail’ has still not been appropriately addressed – and we need hardly mention the ratings agencies.

If you are currently preparing for the Council summit, then I can only urge and advise you to restore credibility in Europe by dealing seriously with the issue of the balance of power between the financial sector and the real economy. In plain terms, you need to be seen by Europeans to be at last working credibly to keep the banks in check, so that our citizens do not always have to bear the burden.

 
  
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  Alain Lamassoure (PPE ). (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would first like to acknowledge the excellent cooperation between the European Parliament delegation and the Danish Presidency on the budgetary framework and to extend my personal thanks to Mr Wammen.

The negotiations for the next framework will begin before Europe has emerged from the debt crisis. Contrary to what people think in some capitals, the European budget is not just one more problem. On the contrary, it contains part of the solution.

For, what is everyone clamouring for? Budgetary discipline? Long live the European budget! It is the only budget in the world to have always complied with the golden rule and, for ten years, it has increased less than all the national budgets.

Are we calling for national contributions to be reduced? Long live the financial transaction tax, which is to be allocated to the European budget to lighten national budgets accordingly!

Are we desperately searching for future investments? Long live the European budget! It enables us to achieve the critical mass in terms of scientific research, networks and renewable sources of energy that no country would achieve on its own. A euro well spent in Brussels saves several euro at national level.

Finally, in some capitals, we are even asking for an additional stage – that of a political Europe. Long live the European budget! The credibility of European professions of faith, which are heard here and there, will be measured by the position taken on the financing of EU policies.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ALEJO VIDAL-QUADRAS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Göran Färm (S&D ). – Mr President, the economic crisis is one of the reasons why a broad majority in this Parliament defends the EU budget. We are convinced that the budget is necessary to finance strategic investments in the internal market and its infrastructure, crucially needed in order to boost jobs, sustainable growth and competitiveness. I therefore very much welcome the broad agreement on my report on project bonds.

In this situation, we must avoid deep splits between institutions and Member States, particularly between richer net payer countries and the poorer ones. In this situation, we must build bridges, not dig trenches.

Let me focus on the negotiations on the financial framework. They are complicated, as several different procedures are involved. Codecision on sector programmes, consent on the MFF as such – meaning a veto for the European Parliament – a right for Parliament to be heard on own resources, and, on top of that, an interinstitutional agreement.

This is not easy, so let us speak clearly. This Parliament, elected to represent the citizens, will not accept that Member States’ leaders take decisions in areas subject to codecision such as Structural Funds, research, agricultural infrastructure, etc., without a full codecision procedure. That procedure can be finalised only when we have an agreement on the financial envelopes.

Two, the positions on the MFF agreed by the European Council must be negotiated between Parliament and the General Affairs Council in order to get our consent. A fait accompli will not be accepted.

Three, Parliament and Council should have fully-fledged negotiations on all MFF-related aspects and programmes before deciding on figures and finalising the MFF package.

To conclude, I agree with Mr Wammen: nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, but that includes MFF ceilings and legislative programmes as well as own resources. I am quite convinced that we will be able to find a reasonable solution as we know how important this is for the future of Europe. We simply cannot afford to fail.

(Applause)

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI ), Blue-card question. (DE) Mr Färm, you are from a country that declined to join the euro, mainly because it wished to retain the flexibility of devaluation, precisely in order to use it as a social policy instrument. In the light of current experience in Sweden, would you recommend to the Greeks that they also leave the euro area, so that they, too, can actively use devaluation as a social policy instrument?

 
  
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  Göran Färm (S&D ), Blue-card answer. – No, I would not, because I do not think that it is the euro that is the problem. It is the lack of policies to support the monetary union that is the problem. When we have those policies in place, I would recommend my own country to join the euro as well.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Carl Haglund (ALDE ). – Mr President, I want to congratulate the Danish Presidency for good progress with the negotiations.

There are many positive elements in the Presidency’s negotiating box. Let me note the fact that it has included ITER and Galileo and so forth in the MFF ceilings. This is a good idea and I am also happy about the proposals concerning RALs. Personally, I am also happy that the Presidency is critically scrutinising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. My colleagues here might not all agree with me on this, but personally, I think it is a good choice.

Allow me also to underline what my colleague, Göran Färm said, namely, that the Danish Presidency should not proceed with some of the programmes which are under codecision without properly involving Parliament. This is something that worries a lot of us, and it is something that could cause serious problems in the negotiations.

Finally, concerning own resources, speaking for the Liberal Group – and I am its coordinator in the Committee on Budgets – we have some key things we need to be included in order to vote in favour of this, and own resources is one of them. I hope this will be noted.

 
  
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  François Alfonsi (Verts/ALE ). (FR) Mr President, this debate on the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework is a debate of fundamental political importance, through which Europe, which is in crisis, is making the political choice to plan for the future.

For us, four priorities have been identified, the first of which is the establishment of the financial transaction tax. For many years, our group has defended the introduction of this tax, the aim of which is to regulate the speculative financial mechanisms which are largely responsible for the current crisis. This tax will bring in new resources without penalising economic or social equilibrium.

The second priority, made possible by the creation of this tax, is for the European Union to obtain substantial own resources as a substitute for the contributions of Member States. This will be a major leap forward for the European institutions, which will no longer be held hostage by any particular net contributor country. The EU will be able to commit its own resources in complete freedom.

The third priority is to ensure that an adequate budget is available, at least at the level of the debate of our Parliament on the report by its Special Committee on the policy challenges and budgetary resources for a sustainable European Union after 2013 (SURE). The creation of the financial transaction tax should have enabled us to go further, but, at the very least, we must avoid any regression. Less budget would mean less Europe, when what we need today is more Europe.

Finally, the fourth priority is to focus our budgetary resources on a central objective, that of accomplishing the ecological conversion of Europe in terms of its agriculture, its industry, its transport, its energy efficiency, and in many other areas. In dealing with the crisis, the European Union has a duty to move forward.

 
  
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  Richard Ashworth (ECR ). – Mr President, we all accept that jobs and growth are the most urgent priority for the European Union, and this multiannual financial framework, if it is used as an investment budget, presents us with a valuable opportunity to make a vital contribution to resolving the European financial crisis. So we do welcome investment in research and development in the single market and in cross-border infrastructure.

But there are three points which I have to make. First, the budget must be able to demonstrate real added value. Too many of the traditional spends in past budgets clearly have not, and we must understand that quantity of spend is no substitute for quality. Second, it must be fair: we are open to suggestions on new own resources, but I have to say that a financial transaction tax would not be acceptable, nor indeed would the abolition of rebates. Finally, this House would be mistaken to assume that we could increase the size of the budget at a time when all the rest of Europe is facing austerity, financial disciplines and hard times.

 
  
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  Mario Borghezio (EFD ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it seems to me that the debate is being held within the wrong frame of reference. The debate is not about having more Europe or less Europe. Current events force us to think about a completely different Europe: participatory, united, regional.

A century ago, a certain Luigi Sturzo, exiled in England and writing in the English newspapers, was more modern in his thinking than this House, which refuses to consider Europe’s problems from the point of view of territories and regions, which is to say the productive, hard-working world which is the reality for our people.

Today, I would like to represent the people of the industrial triangle of agricultural production of Mantua, Ferrara and Modena, where a major seismic event has caused serious problems for one of the most important productive centres in Europe. However, aside from a few visits by Mr Tajani and Mr Barroso, which I concede are important and which I must acknowledge, there has been no debate on practical issues. There is no central intervention on the ground that responds to the expectations of these communities. This Europe thinks in a Brussels way, like our centralist states!

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ).(ES) Mr President, I fervently hope that at the next elections, the Greek people will challenge and rectify the current economic course that is literally carrying us towards ruin.

The aim was to create a project – the European project – based on the deregulation of the market, which gave way to the biggest financial racket in our history, involving a single currency with no public treasury and a European Central Bank that does not issue that currency. We are therefore dealing with a financial racket that needs to be investigated. That is what we proposed in the Spanish Congress: a committee to investigate the racketeers.

It is costing EUR 100 billion to rescue them, but also to condemn the Greek people to a worse standard of living, to be denied good public services, to have to work for longer and to lower salaries and pensions. This is the result of the economic course that we wish to call into question.

We should not be paying the proportion of the sovereign debt that is the result of speculation. The speculators cannot be paid for the deals they have done, and we need to rescue the people of Europe and the European project rather than the racketeering bankers.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI ). – Mr President, paying for growth is not like paying for a product. You might pay your money without receiving what you have paid for. In the present MFF, 44% of the EU budget is being spent on sustainable growth. That will go up to 48%. Is it really being spent effectively? Does the EU really know how to spend Member States’ money better than they do?

The EU’s embracing of globalism and neoliberal economics, of open markets and maximised competition will defeat any strategy for growth. As Sir James Goldsmith said a decade ago, the only way the West would compete with the emergent economies in a free market would be by our wage levels equalling theirs.

It is all very well to think our research and development will make our industries more competitive, but innovation spreads by industrial piracy by the Far East and industrial treachery by western-based multinationals. The Commission’s Europe 2020 document waxed lyrical about Europe’s talented workforces, but that presupposed that the present populations of Europe would survive and would not be replaced by immigration.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, Mr Wammen, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, on the streets of Europe we are divided exactly as we are in this House, the only difference being that on the streets of Europe, those who do not believe in Europe grow in number day by day. However, they are not growing in number because of the good work done by Eurosceptics with their propaganda, but because those who say they believe in Europe are foolish and lacking in knowledge.

If the Council meeting of 28 and 29 June shows the same lack of awareness, we will strike a definitive blow to the credibility of all those who are counting on the success of the European project. I believe that the leaders of European institutions and of the Member States are at a crossroads and need to take on an enormous responsibility. In just a few days, we risk dispelling a legacy of peace and development which has defined our history. In time, the consequence of this approach and understanding of our own responsibility will result in conflict between our countries. I believe that we all need to understand that 28 and 29 June are important dates. Our time is running out and I would like each one of us to realise this.

 
  
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  Patrizia Toia (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, even though our budget is limited, a year’s budget adds up to a figure that can be wasted by the markets in a single day. The multiannual financial framework (MFF) is very important but only if the Member States do not see the budget as a source of expenditure to be cut like all public expenditure, but rather as a resource which can help the economy to grow – an investment – and not as a cost for citizens but as the way to produce tangible results. The figures represent programmes, projects, things to be achieved. Therefore, I say ‘no’ to short-sighted cuts and ‘no’ to infighting between countries, because growth is an opportunity for all European citizens.

In addition, the European budget should not be seen as separate, but as complementary to national budgets. A new approach is needed to strengthen links between the European budget and national budgets. In some ways, our budget is the 28th budget of the Member States. This is the only way we can create the global assets that can develop effective policies. We are asking for a more coordinated approach. The European Semester can also help with this.

Finally, as regards Parliament’s role, I say this to the Council: we will accept neither a fait accompli nor a ‘take it or leave it’ approach. We want a preliminary consultation before the formal proposal is presented for approval. Citizens, worried about the future of Europe, express themselves through us and we, as their representatives, want to play a part in taking decisions.

 
  
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  Sylvie Goulard (ALDE ). (FR) Mr President, Mr Wammen, Commissioner, I would simply ask you not to be schizophrenic at the end of this month.

I am deeply concerned that, when it comes to economic governance, we are now having a debate, which, I believe, is fair, on how growth can be created which would make the discipline sustainable and lasting and which would make it possible to have balance sheets that balance and to reduce the debt.

However, as far as our attitude to budgets is concerned, it is the least creative and the most blinkered that it is possible to have. It entails considering that any money spent at European level would be a bad thing and should be reduced. Nor is there any interest – as Mr Verhofstadt said – or at least not enough, in having own resources, which would enable the European Union to act. These concerns are shared by all of us.

Democracy is at stake here, not only as regards the procedure but also because, behind closed doors, the Member States have rights of veto and the decisions taken are not in the public interest.

 
  
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  Lajos Bokros (ECR ). – Mr President, the new French President said that we need not only austerity but also growth. That is common sense. Nobody wanted to have just austerity without growth.

On a professional level, however, it is clear that governments have much less direct leverage on growth. Austerity is a direct result of restrictive fiscal policies, but there is no such thing as a growth policy. Government action can have only a very indirect and stochastic impact on growth.

In a market economy, most productive investments are undertaken by the private sector. It is only the private sector which can create sustainable jobs leading to increased output and tax revenues. The government can only facilitate this process by creating a business-friendly environment and investing in physical and human infrastructure.

Budgets are important tools to support private sector activity. The MFF is considered as such. It can contribute to growth only if it concentrates resources on investments and initiatives to improve competitiveness and productivity. The MFF should envisage more spending on research and development, education and infrastructure, and cut back significantly on current subsidies, including on agriculture.

As I always emphasise, EU budgets are capital budgets and should not pretend to be similar to national budgets. They have to remain small and finance the future.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ).(DE) Mr President, surely I do not have to point out that, under the EU Treaties, the issue of own resources must be dealt with in the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020. The revenues from the financial transaction tax, for example, provide the Member States with the possibility of reducing their contributions to the EU budget by an equivalent amount. Doing this would clearly take the heat out of the eternal dispute between net contributors and net beneficiaries. Surely it is also clear that Parliament is defending three basic positions: more leeway in budgetary policy – in other words, flexibility; reform of the own resources system; and a stable budget that enables the EU’s political objectives to be financed.

Finally, a word to the Council. It is time, once and for all, for all the talking to be backed up by actions. Think of our citizens. We urgently need investment in education and the labour market.

 
  
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  Reimer Böge (PPE ). – Mr President, I would like to confirm at the very beginning that the cooperation with the Danish Presidency on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) has developed quite well, and I insist that the good experience in this sort of pilot project will finally lead to real negotiations prior to our getting a proposal on the MFF regulation and on a new interinstitutional agreement.

The resolution we will vote on today includes our key messages towards the meeting of the European Council at the end of June. Our basis for negotiations remains the Garriga report from the Temporary Committee on Policy Challenges (SURE). We say very clearly that we need adequate financial resources in the EU budget which are linked to better spending; we insist on the Community method; we say very clearly that we are not ready to agree on expenditure without a proper agreement on future own resources; we insist on the unity of the budget as an iron principle; and, of course, we are asking for sufficient overall flexibility.

Here, despite some positive elements in the negotiation boxes on the unity of the budget – although the details are yet to be negotiated and this must also include the additional means which are outsourced at this stage – we are talking about EUR 24.5 billion – the negotiation box on flexibility is still quite empty, and it has to be filled to come to a good solution. And, of course, we have to follow the rules in the consent procedure and to respect the codecision procedure of the 65 multiannual programmes.

I would like to say as well that the position of the President of the Commission is, in some ways, understandable, but, on the other hand, there is a huge risk concerning giving up the Community method and going back to national contributions in special instruments. This is a real danger in the long term and is working against the Community method.

I would like to say as well that we should not only talk about better spending in the budget. Concerning budget consolidation, it is also important that the Commission stop any proposal for EU legislation which means additional bureaucratic burdens and costs for Member States, for regions and local communities, and the legislator has to do likewise.

Finally, Mr President, I hope that the Commission will support Parliament’s position this time more than it did last time, in 2006.

 
  
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  Jutta Haug (S&D ). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in unity, strength. That is what they say. We ought not to be wasting our energy among ourselves, therefore, because the vast majority of us – Parliament, Council and Commission – are in agreement: Europe needs growth, and Europe needs jobs.

How, then, can we put this unity of analysis into action? That is where the European budget comes into play – the common budget that is a budget for investment with no compulsion for consolidation, because it has no debts. A European budget with adequate funds, an innovative structure and the necessary flexibility is quite simply our common instrument for leveraging existing growth potential in Europe, opening up new prospects and maintaining our position in the global competition for talent, technologies and market leadership. The common European budget represents our joint European opportunity, our added value. That cannot be that hard to grasp; even the Council can do so.

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D ), Blue-card question. (FI) Mr President, Mr Böge, you said that Europe should end all projects that require more money and increase bureaucracy. One might partly agree with that, but what is your opinion of those initiatives that do not require more money or bureaucracy? For example, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament had proposed that EUR 10 billion in unspent resources should be released from EU funds to combat youth unemployment, thereby creating almost 2 million jobs for young people, and that would be from unused funds. What do you think of this initiative?

 
  
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  Reimer Böge (PPE ), Blue-card answer. – Mr President, of course we have to make a very clear distinction, I was talking about legislative proposals. I stress also that within the package of the 65 multiannual programmes on cohesion and agriculture policy, the Commission did not fulfil the request of its own Secretary-General asking for a reduction in the bureaucratic burden, asking for simplification. If ministers in the agricultural sector are telling me that there is an additional bureaucratic burden of 15 to 20%, we have to correct this. We cannot ask for budget consolidation at Member State level and, at the same time, force them to spend more on bureaucracy because we have decided on complicated EU legislation. This is a very important element, in terms of consolidation and progress and legislation.

As far as the question of unspent resources is concerned, I would like to refer back to the Policy Challenges Committee. The question of carry-overs of unspent funds and reprogramming to obtain better spending for SMEs and to combat youth unemployment are very useful elements. We support this.

 
  
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  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE ).(DE) Mr President, firstly, congratulations to Mr Lewandowski. However, the person I really want to wish all the best is not you, but rather your namesake, Robert, of Borussia Dortmund – I hope he manages to score to take Poland into the quarter finals. That really would be something to celebrate.

We have just heard a few things about the Council and the future of Europe that this Council is to decide on, that are to be debated. Listening to what Mr Bokros has said here, I believe this to be very important. The crucial thing as regards everything that we are debating in relation to the multiannual financial framework, in relation to the budget, is whether the private sector is going to invest again, whether the private sector will regain its confidence in the European economy and its prospects. This is the decisive factor. Public budgets can only provide incentives at best. The Social Democrats sometimes need that explaining to them. You cannot buy growth; you can only enable growth.

That is why it is crucial that the structural reforms that President Barroso mentioned come about. The second really crucial thing is the debt redemption pact; a clear, effective debt redemption pact linked to clear conditions which will relieve the burden on the budgets in the Member States, which at present, despite all their efforts – in Italy, for example – simply cannot emerge from the constraints of their refinancing. We therefore need a clear and effective debt redemption pact.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE ).(FR) Mr President, Mr Wammen, Commissioner, finally, we have a European Council on growth. I am sorry that in December 2011, when the Heads of State or Government agreed on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance, the President of the European Council did not call a specific Council to look at growth, but we have got there in the end.

I think that we need to call formally on the 25 states to ratify this Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance, which sends out a message of confidence and solidarity, in terms of both the markets and the people. I appeal to the political powers in France to honour the signature of the French Republic without delay.

We have talked about growth, but I think that we also need to talk about competitiveness. We need to talk about the competitiveness of our continent: yes, we need a major infrastructure plan. We do not need EUR 10 or 20 billion; we need investments of between EUR 1 000 and 1 500 billion. We lack imagination when it comes to own resources. Why not establish compulsory contributions for digital measures, energy networks, roads, railways and water? I am proposing once again that we carry out an audit of public spending and pool military, diplomatic and research spending.

Finally, on an institutional level, I was pleased that our Chair, Mr Daul, reiterated the suggestion that the President of the European Parliament be invited to the European Council. However, Mr President, the President of the European Council himself needs to establish a relationship with our Parliament. Since the establishment of a permanent presidency, we have had no contact with the Heads of State or Government. We need political dialogue at the very highest level with the Heads of State or Government and with Mr Van Rompuy, who is absent from this House far too often.

 
  
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  Anni Podimata (S&D ).(EL) Mr President, we are talking about growth in Europe, and this is not the time for more speeches and promises. We urgently need decisions and action, European decisions and action because, as the course of events has demonstrated, we cannot get out of the crisis without a strong, targeted and cohesive European response.

The President of the European Commission said in his speech that Greece should stay in the euro and respect its commitments. I completely agree and my answer is that Greece wants to stay in the euro and will respect its commitments to restructure its public finances and implement structural changes in the economy and State. However, if that is our common objective, if we are to succeed, we must also jointly reject the dogmatic approaches that are bringing the economy and society to its knees and, of course, the populist approaches that promise what are vaunted as easy solutions and question the essence of the rules governing the European Union. Greece and Europe as a whole need to isolate dogmatism and populism, because that is the only way we shall move forward together.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Dehaene (PPE ). (NL) Mr President, as a member of the negotiating team for the multiannual financial framework, I, in turn, would like to thank the Danish Presidency for the cooperation it has shown. The result of this cooperation has been the negotiation box, among other instruments, in which the relationship between expenditure and income was retained, in keeping with Parliament’s express demand, and which makes this a precondition for the final solution.

It is also valuable that the negotiating box will now be included on the Council’s agenda, where growth, but also the European Semester and hence fiscal consolidation at Member State level, will be discussed. Because, thanks to our own resources, the proposal before us allows Member States to reduce their contributions and, therefore, to make more room in their own budgets to contribute, with their own resources, to a growth budget, which is essential for the European budget going forward.

It is therefore time that we lay down basic principles that will ensure both growth and budgetary orthodoxy. The budget can make an essential contribution to that. I hope that the meeting of the European Council will also be an opportunity to send out a structural signal to the euro and the euro area. We do, indeed, need a banking union, a political union, and we need to take structural measures if we want to be credible.

 
  
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  Catherine Trautmann (S&D ).(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we need to give our fellow citizens concrete proof of our capacity to resolve the crisis, first and foremost, through growth fuelled by investment.

Can you justify, in these times of precarious employment, doing away with the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which is supposed to support workers who have lost their jobs because of globalisation, especially when we have to reinvent an industrial policy for Europe? Solidarity and insecurity are affecting a new population of young people, unemployed workers, women and pensioners. Yet those same people who were unable to manage this crisis would choose to do away with the European food distribution programme? Mr President, I ask that it be maintained beyond 2013, without doing away with any other essential programmes.

The last aspect is cohesion. The regions must not be held responsible for the poor management of the Member States. We reject the strengthening of macro-economic conditionality because, in a time of crisis, we need to be able to adjust the support policies where economic growth is regional and where jobs can be provided. We therefore stand alongside the trade unions and NGOs that are fighting for solidarity, and alongside the regions, which must play a key role in the vitality of the territories in order to promote more growth, employment and social justice.

 
  
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  Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (PPE ). – Mr President, I am not going to speak about competitiveness, growth and fiscal discipline. I want to go beyond economics because on that, nearly everything has been said.

I want to speak on the cost of shrinking Europe and the cost of there being a half Europe on the horizon, and on the collateral damage being done to the Union itself and its future and its unity.

Five points. One: we witness the birth of two levels of solidarity for those inside and those outside the eurozone – compare Spain and Hungary – with a shrinking budget for the EU27 and generous handouts for eurozone Member States only. Eventually, proposals for a separate parallel growth budget of up to 1% of GDP for the eurozone only, which will be equipped with a separate parallel eurozone Parliament along with a eurozone summit and administrative Councils.

Two: we witness two standards of treatment and macro-economic conditionality of Member States, different for big and small countries, and once again different for eurozone Member States and non-eurozone Member States.

Three: we witness a two-speed Europe, not just expanding, but becoming more and more acknowledged and approved, irrespective of the wishes of President Barroso. This threatens the very integrity and unity of the Union.

Four: we witness the mounting erosion of the Community method with intergovernmentalism and national egoisms resurging.

Five: we witness the political weakening of the EU on the international scene and we risk a security vacuum and geostrategic threats if Greece or anybody else falls out.

How does one measure the collateral political damage? What is the cost of a shrinking Europe and the cost of Europe? How many billion euro is it worth?

How does one find a solution for all of Europe and not half of Europe?

 
  
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  Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D ).(ES) Mr President, last weekend, we had two different types of news on the same problem. The bad news was that the Spanish Government needs to ask for aid to rescue part of its financial system. The good news was that thanks to the fact that we belong to the EU and to the euro, Spain and its financial system can have access to this aid immediately.

The banks should indeed be rescued, but this should not cause more damage to the social rights and living conditions of the Spanish people; the banks should be rescued, but it should be done in order to save a whole generation of young people from ruin; the banks should be rescued, but with parliamentary control over how this is implemented and its effects. This does not, however, solve the problem of growth. In order to grow, we need a strong European budget, a debt redemption fund, eurobonds, more involvement from the European Investment Bank and more activity from the European Central Bank. In short, we need more Europe, a fiscal treaty, banking union and a European treasury.

 
  
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  Marian-Jean Marinescu (PPE ).(RO) Mr President, it is 2012, not 2005. The procedure for adopting the budget has changed. All horizontal policies are adopted using the codecision procedure. I am saying this primarily for the benefit of the Danish Presidency, which does not seem to have read the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr President, you said that you have enjoyed excellent cooperation with Parliament. Please demonstrate this and withdraw from the proposal for (unintelligible ) for negotiating all the items which need to be decided by codecision between Parliament and the Council. I believe that your efforts needed to be directed towards reaching an agreement between Member States, first of all, on own resources and then on the budget amount, and not towards items which will be decided by codecision.

We are discussing economic growth and jobs at a time of crisis. The European budget is one of the resources which can help achieve this growth. Ninety-five per cent of the EU budget is geared towards investment and generates economic growth and jobs in all Member States, both contributors and beneficiaries. The forthcoming budget must at least be the same size as the current one and geared towards economic growth and jobs. This can only be achieved through horizontal policies.

I believe that Parliament needs to take the initiative and start negotiating with the Council on all policies in order to table a concrete proposal to the European Council, including even the figures and financial proposals.

 
  
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  Constanze Angela Krehl (S&D ). (DE) Mr President, this morning we have talked a great deal about targeted growth in the European Union. The cohesion policy is a European investment programme that we have at our disposal for creating growth. For this reason, we need at least as much money in the future budget as we have had available to date. The Friends of Cohesion are not against better spending of the money. However, I am not sure whether the friends of better spending in the Council really want good cohesion policy, which is something we need in order to overcome the crisis.

There is a second point I would like to mention. In the negotiation box, which has also been mentioned frequently here, 90% of all points in the area of cohesion policy are basically decided with the European Parliament in the ordinary legislative procedure. Please would you accept that this time, for the first time, Parliament is involved in the ordinary legislative procedure for all areas of cohesion policy. The negotiations in committee will be complete in mid-July. We will then have a mandate and be able to negotiate. I hope that the Council will be prepared to do the same at that time.

 
  
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  Jaime Mayor Oreja (PPE ).(ES) Mr President, the seriousness of the situation undoubtedly means that the forthcoming European Council to be held on 28 and 29 June will be perceived differently by Europeans, as a starting point in the efforts to build a new structure for the European Union. It cannot therefore simply involve the proposed freezing of a series of measures and initiatives that people do not understand. Instead, we need to be able to find sufficient symbols and unequivocal signs in this Council that a new era is dawning in the European Union.

A plan needs to be decided upon, with a timetable and priorities, and, above all, short-term measures need to be as important as medium and long-term measures.

We are all aware of the areas where action needs to be taken. The Spanish Prime Minister, Mr Rajoy, has recently sent the President of the Council and the President of the Commission an action plan with five measures. What we wish to highlight, however, is the need for a new European structure that can bring an end to the instability and turbulence that we are currently experiencing.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D ). – Mr President, in this time of deep economic crisis, we need to use every opportunity to change direction.

The MFF gives us the chance to completely reassess how the EU spends its money and how we prioritise spending for creating jobs and growth. We need a balanced strategy, not one relying entirely on austerity, because it is clear to us all that this approach is just not working. Our challenge, though, is not just to find more money, but to use what we have more efficiently and more effectively, focusing on job creation to ensure that we tackle the huge problem of unemployment throughout the EU.

Let us take the chance to shape our approach and seize this opportunity not just to protect the status quo, but to ensure we do whatever is needed to give hope to our citizens, particularly our young people, who sadly have very few prospects in sight.

 
  
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  Georgios Papastamkos (PPE ).(EL) Mr President, the Union faces crucial economic, demographic, social and environmental challenges. The Member States are under unprecedented pressure from immigration. The position of the Union within the global economy is being tested. The solution is more Europe and stronger common bonds, by which I mean common European policies, with obvious European added value. European economic governance and economic and social union are being promoted as an urgent need. The multiannual financial framework must be a strong and effective instrument in the recovery of the European economy and in creating sustainable growth and jobs, stimulating investments, promoting research and innovation and achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion. We need a link between targets and European funds and to place the EU 2020 strategy within a strong multiannual financial framework. For example, if the agricultural sector is to increase its contribution to the production of public goods for the benefit of Union citizens, we need a strong budget for the CAP. Ambitious targets need ambitious funding.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  László Surján (PPE ), Blue-card question.(HU) Mr Papastamkos, it is all over the media, and it has also been mentioned constantly in this debate, that Greece has received substantial aid from the European Union. What happened to that aid? How has it been utilised so far? What is the situation? Is it worthwhile pouring further funds into countries in difficulty?

 
  
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  Georgios Papastamkos (PPE ), Blue-card answer.(EL) Mr President, it is true that Greece has not made use of available European funds. This is the sad reality for my country. Greece needs an overall fast-forward growth plan. It needs pioneering changes of an institutional, organisational and structural nature. It needs an unwavering and ambitious, realistic and democratic plan for restructuring the country, based on the maximum possible social and political consensus. Above all, Greece needs direction from the political leadership and decisive action, which has been missing from the Greek system of governance. This is the proposal for the elections on 17 June: a strong, European, reform movement.

 
  
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  Danuta Maria Hübner (PPE ). – Mr President, I am also among those who hope that the Council, at the end of June, will make a decision on an ambitious and very bold action on growth for Europe. Our duty in Parliament is to see that this new multiannual budget invests in new sources of growth, but also in restarting the EU-wide competitiveness machinery and relaunching convergence forces.

There is a lot of catching up to do in Europe, because the EU machinery for convergence in the areas of the economy, trade and finance has clearly slowed down. This is dangerous, because divergence can become a force for break-up. Without a doubt, the EU budget must focus strongly on genuine investment policies and competitiveness for all.

This leads me to the reformed cohesion policy and its founding tools. We must see that they target the most effective sources of growth. We must ensure that the well established pro-catching up capabilities of cohesion policy work for all of Europe and we must also ensure that this policy-powerful convergence machinery works towards reducing competitiveness gaps between south, north and east.

Let me conclude by emphasising the need for us here in this House to stick to Parliament’s commitment to give the EU the budget level it needs.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in recent years, we have talked more and more in the European institutions about rules for budgetary surveillance of Member States, which is certainly the right thing to do, but this is now no longer sufficient in the economic situation we are in.

The European economy as a whole and the economies of some Member States are slowing down, which is why we should pay increasing attention to growth, competitiveness and development. At the forthcoming European Council meeting, the Member States must make brave and ambitious choices to tackle the path for development together. In many countries, Europe is now seen as the problem; instead, we must make strong and courageous choices to make it clear that Europe is the solution. Therefore, eurobonds, project bonds, strengthening projects and planning for small and medium-sized enterprises must be the issues covered. We cannot put off the problem any longer. Europe must be, and is, the solution to all the problems caused by the crisis.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ).(PT) Mr President, I should like to state clearly here that we consider the Council taking place at the end of June crucial and that what is really essential is that a European solution to the crisis be sought. We think the problem up to now has been tackling each issue as it arises, individually and in isolation. The time has come for us to have a comprehensive solution for Europe; a solution involving – as Mr Daul made clear, in fact – more integration, more cooperation, European policies that are more in step with one another and a reassessment of the Community method. It is crucial that we have growth alongside stability, but that we do not abandon stability concerns. This will require a comprehensive European solution, not a different response for each Member State or region experiencing problems.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE ). – Mr President, firstly, I think that we need to draw a line under bailouts. If any other countries need a bailout, they should come out now and say so. This endless speculation about who is going to be next – they will, they will not – has to stop; it has to stop at the next summit.

Secondly, we need a jobs and growth strategy that can be implemented immediately at the next summit, not some Hy-Brasil at the end of the rainbow. For that we need real leadership, not self-serving, nationalistic interests. The Danish Presidency – whom I compliment – mentioned some of the things that we can do immediately, such as the Energy Directive which, if implemented, would create 400 000 jobs, save energy and help combat climate change. We should also help SMEs.

Finally, I want to say that I agree completely with President Barroso that we need own resources. I would ask our leaders to show statesmanship in allowing us to have own resources and put an end to this endless speculation about the multiannual financial framework.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D ).(HU) Mr President, European citizens, including Hungarians, blame the austerity measures that have been going on for years on the EU; it is therefore extremely important to have strong cohesion policy at our disposal in the future, because if citizens were to see results in terms of job creation and investment under the cohesion policy, it would reinforce their trust in the EU. I believe it is a major problem with cohesion policy that my home country could lose one-fifth of the support it receives. Therefore, where ‘capping’ is concerned, it is extremely important to define not only an upper ceiling, but also a minimum level, that is, a limit for the amount of funding a Member State can lose, because in the case of Hungary, we are talking about a 20-30% loss, which would be very difficult for the country to handle.

 
  
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  Danuta Jazłowiecka (PPE ).(PL) Mr President, for many months now, there has been disagreement over cohesion policy and the multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020. The people of Europe are finding this discussion increasingly difficult to understand. It may be that many of the Member States’ Heads of Government are tired by the crisis, but are they so tired that they do not see that the European budget is, in fact, one of the most important instruments for stimulating growth? It is the European budget which makes Member States allocate own resources for investment. Every EUR 1 channelled through Structural Funds means that a further amount of between EUR 2 and EUR 5 has to be invested in the Member States from public and private own resources.

Furthermore, the example of cohesion policy proves that the traditional dispute between net payer countries and those which make greater use of EU funds does not have a raison d’être . Recent research shows clearly that a large proportion of every euro spent on cohesion policy in the EU’s Member States comes back to western Europe in the form of increased consumption, higher exports or greater demand for modern technologies and services. So all attempts to reduce the European Union budget do no more than provide only apparent savings and, as a consequence, contribute to a reduction in the competitiveness of the entire Union. I hope that Parliament and the Commission will not give up their efforts to defend cohesion policy and the size of the EU budget.

 
  
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  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D ).(ES) Mr President, the next Council must decide on the financial aid requested by the Spanish Government to rescue part of its financial system. It is an inevitable decision in view of the inability to finance through bonds at close to 7% interest and 500 points’ difference from the German bonds.

This reminds us, however, that a change of tack is required, which means that political union is not solely limited to banking surveillance, but rather a need to reassess the deficit review schedule, mutualisation of the debt, and a budget with the resources to fund strategic investments that stimulate growth and create jobs.

It also means preventing a messy exit from the euro by Greece, which is an issue we must resolve within days rather than weeks. Furthermore, it means changing Europe’s image, which is increasingly identified with the so-called ‘men in black’, who threaten sanctions and use a stick, but no carrot, with no stimulant for growth and no hope for young people.

It is essential to change not only that Europe, but also that idea about Europe, for which we are facing a race against time.

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen (ECR ). (NL) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, who is not here today by the way, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Leuven on 1 June. In his inaugural speech, Mr Van Rompuy argued that Europe must cross the Rubicon. Europe must move towards a monetary union.

Mr Van Rompuy has made a profound statement, because what actually happened when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon? He staged a coup, he was killed a few years later and then Rome struggled with civil war for 15 years. The young doctor could not have made a worse comparison.

With this approach, the mountain of debt in Europe, which already amounts to thousands of billions of euro, continues to grow. So do not cast the dice! It is time for a study of a two-speed Europe. This would allow the southern Member States to keep the euro and the countries around Germany can introduce a euromark. Now that offers a future.

 
  
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  Isabelle Durant (Verts/ALE ).(FR) Mr President, Minister, Commissioner, we obviously need an ambitious multiannual financial framework (MFF), a solid budget and own resources, but I understand that you are preparing to reintroduce into the budget amounts that were previously outside the budget. So be it. Why not? It might even be a good idea.

However, if you do not raise the ceilings in proportion to what you have put back into the budget, we can expect a double cut, because the Council today, Minister, is unable to identify its negative priorities. The SURE report asked for them but there has been no response.

I would add one word of warning here: with the SURE report that we adopted, we cannot hope for a 2020 strategy, the new competences of the Treaty of Lisbon and a smaller budget with a double cut at the same time. Otherwise, the 2020 strategy will suffer the same fate as the Lisbon strategy and be a bitter failure.

Personally, I have absolutely no desire to see the 2020 strategy become a bitter failure. We have to be careful about this particular issue. It is very important.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, as a former Member of this House, I know what it means to speak when voting time is coming. Therefore, I will make only two short points.

Firstly, a general one. We are all under the shadow of a crisis, but it should not overshadow the basic truths nor justify some unfounded points I could hear on the margins of this very good debate in Parliament. The European Union, which still holds a 20% share of world trade – with the share of Japan and the United States clearly declining – does not deserve the metaphor of a Titanic.

We do face problems. They are not national. Therefore, a national answer is not enough. We should transform the emerging mantra of growth and jobs into reality by a more systemic response to banking and fiscal union, which is emerging, including through today’s votes in Parliament.

My second short point concerns the multiannual framework, which is part of the solution, not part of the problem. I can illustrate this empirically with a credible paper from the UK Treasury indicating where taxpayers’ money is going. The UK middle-income taxpayer contributes GBP 28 to the European Union, which is the same as for the fire service. National debt interest servicing is GBP 363 rather than GBP 28. This is the problem.

The European budget is not the answer to the problem, but could be part of the solution, via investment to act as a carrot via the Structural Funds – nobody denies this and it was also part of the anti-crisis resistance in my country of origin – with the stick of conditionality enforcing structural reforms. This part of the answer concerns own resources. Mr Zahradil was wrong. This is not about expanding the budget but about changing the proposal, fully respecting the fiscal autonomy and the sovereignty of the national parliaments.

This is the design for the future: more Europe under the Lisbon Treaty with the same amount of money. I am happy to see Parliament’s resolution going in the same direction. Jutta Haug is right. Einigkeit macht stark .

(Applause)

 
  
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  Nicolai Wammen, President-in-Office of the Council.(DA) Mr President, Commissioner, honourable Members, I am going to take my inspiration from Commissioner Lewandowski, whose birthday it is today, to make this quite short. I would like to thank you all for a really productive debate with the European Parliament, in which it is quite clear that, in the run-up to the meeting of the Heads of State or Government at the end of this month, we must, together, do everything possible to create growth and job initiatives that can unite the European Parliament, unite the Commission and unite the Member States. The Members of this House have provided a great deal of healthy inspiration today.

In respect of the multiannual financial framework, I would like to offer my thanks, once again, for the constructive cooperation that we enjoy. In particular, I would like to thank Mr Lamassoure, Ms Jensen, Mr Kalfin, Mr Färm, Mr Haglund, Mr Böge, Mr Dehaene and Mr Kelly for their very kind words about the collaboration with the Danish Presidency and about the importance of finding the right solutions together in respect of the future budget. In light of that, the Danish Presidency will continue its close cooperation with Parliament. Thank you all for the many examples of constructive input we have had so far and I look forward to numerous sound joint solutions in future.

 
  
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  President. – I have received three motions for resolutions(1) tabled in accordance with Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place immediately.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE ), in writing.(GA) In the current difficult economic times, it is easy for us to understand the delay in discussing and finalising the multiannual financial framework budget.

It is difficult, however, to accept an increase in the contributions of Member States to the EU budget when European countries are being forced to cut their own budgets and to implement stringent measures. It is also implied that cuts to the budget of the common agricultural policy (CAP) are being considered, since it is on the CAP that most of the EU budget is spent. Nevertheless, European leaders should not make significant reductions in the CAP.

The CAP represents value for money for European taxpayers, especially in the following areas: security of food supply, high-quality affordable food that complies with high environmental standards, sustainable management of natural resources and measures to deal with climate change.

We face a major challenge: a growing shortage of water, energy and arable land; and, by 2050, nine billion people to feed. To that end, it would be a mistake to reduce the CAP budget and to weaken the ability of European farmers to produce and compete.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing.(LT) Today, Europe is committed to changing direction and is ready to adopt complex but necessary decisions which hitherto have been adopted too slowly and hesitantly. With investor confidence in the market in decline and the new Member States queuing up for financial assistance, there are still doubts over the need for such solutions as a debt redemption fund or eurobonds. I congratulate the Commission on the proposals put forward on a banking union and its determination to seek a balance between budgetary discipline and long-term growth and job creation. However, the essential commitment – combating fraud in the Member States – is missing. The situation that has come about is unjustifiable because the Commission does not know the true scale of corruption as the Member States are not providing the necessary data. The fight against fraud must be strengthened and the Commission must take responsibility for the illegal use of funds and their return to the EU budget. While discussing economic recovery, we must not forget that we need to protect our markets from too much third-country influence. Economic operators in third countries take advantage of the openness of the EU market while our economic operators in those countries operate under much more difficult conditions than local operators. We have thus reduced our competitiveness and narrowed the labour and business market for our own citizens. I believe that combating fraud and market protection must become one of the foundations of future cornerstone initiatives and strategies, which would help ensure a more stable and speedy economic recovery in the long term.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI ), in writing. (RO) I am not only fairly moved, but I am also concerned by our debate today. I am concerned, like anyone in our countries, about all the reforms and austerity measures that have been adopted. We can see for ourselves that we are in an almost unprecedented social situation. We certainly need growth to generate millions of jobs which young people in Europe, and not only them, are waiting for in every corner of our European Union. These young people will truly believe that we are making this our duty and that the EU budget is not a budget for Brussels when they find a job for which they are qualified and which will allow them to have a start in life. The situation which we have been in for too long requires the utmost urgency. I am only going to mention this point: it is vital that Europe stops being a noble, but empty project, which is disconnected from the lives of a generation that wants to continue the idea.

 
  
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  Ivo Belet (PPE ), in writing. (NL) We will not solve the crisis in Europe through Greece’s exit from the euro area. Such a scenario will only lead to socio-economic disaster and a heavy loss of prosperity, for all Europeans. Besides, the departure of Greece from the euro would mean a humiliating defeat for the European integration project. Basically, it is not an option. The only way out of this crisis is to move forward. Only by deepening European cooperation can we emerge stronger from this crisis.

There is, therefore, an urgent need for common management of (a part of) the debt of Member States in a European debt redemption fund. Put differently: economic growth and sound finances, these are the two sides of the same euro coin. ‘We still have three months’, said Christine Lagarde of the IMF, ‘to save the euro’. I assume that she knows what she is talking about. Three months is more than enough time for us to do what must be done. It is purely a matter of political courage. Parliament is setting out a number of clear beacons here. At the summit of 28 June 2012, the Heads of State or Government must take responsibility and continue.

 
  
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  Zuzana Brzobohatá (S&D ), in writing. (CS) The new multiannual financial framework (MFF) is an instrument that should come into use from 2014 and last for seven years. The budget estimate is about EUR 1 000 billion. The new MFF has a number of welcome changes compared to the MFF for 2007-2013. It has a pro-growth orientation, and it is aimed at supporting the European economy. The financial instruments within the new MFF can also support further cofinancing from private and public investors. I very much welcome the orientation of the new MFF towards growth, development and a sustainable environment. The creation of new, green jobs is important as well. I also welcome the retention of the European funds, especially the Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund, which contribute not only to the strategic and long-term development of Member States, but also short-term, rapid and targeted support addressing the consequences of the crisis. I firmly believe that, with the correct setup for the financial instruments, the MFF 2014-2020 will contribute towards responsible growth in the EU economy.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – As one country goes bust, calling to be rescued by the others, more and more economies are dragged deeper into the mire as they add repercussive economic impacts and bailouts onto the burden of national deficits. The Commission’s programme for more money to be sent to the centre, bound by tighter regulation, with the impetus of closer economic union, forces cash flow to be circulated around the eurozone pulling Member States into a maelstrom of economic destitution and political control. It is the concept of more Europe that has exacerbated, if not created, the entire crisis. If the EU’s reactions have been, as both President Barroso and Prime Minister Rajoy of Spain proclaimed, successful, then the crisis would surely be over. Yet the EU’s actions have been successful in forcing the European project along at a pace by furthering state capitalism. In the USSR, highly centralised government and economic policy inflicted poverty on millions of voiceless citizens. The echoes are chillingly familiar. The only difference is that the EU has not used tanks to subsume countries by force, but masterminded the use of subversive bureaucracy alongside the prolongation of the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing.(PT) More than just Members of the European Parliament, we are citizens of the various Member States striving for a better Europe. Europe’s response to the challenges of our time will only become effective if anchored in a robust budget that ensures adequate funding for the EU’s political objectives; in a budget that is flexible and rational, and makes dynamic use of the funds spread across its various headings; and in a political agreement on reforming own resources. I refer to a budget that will not cost the taxpayer any more but is ambitious and innovative. I believe that only a budget that is simpler and more flexible will have an impact on Europeans’ lives. In particular, I would stress the important role of science and innovation, which will help make European industry more competitive, not least small and medium-sized enterprises.

 
  
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  Frédéric Daerden (S&D ) , in writing.(FR) The European budget is vital as a powerful investment tool, a vehicle for cohesion and solidarity among states, a balanced budget, and a source of savings for national budgets through the pooling of expenditure.

We need a budget that is, for the most part, funded by own resources. The financial transaction tax (FTT) and VAT reform should help to increase the European budget, reduce the contributions from the Member States and give Europe budgetary sovereignty. The guidelines laid down by the former SURE Committee must be followed, particularly the increase of at least 5% and the creation of regions in transition for the Structural Funds. The Council’s ‘negotiating box’ cannot reduce the European Parliament’s negotiating capacity. It must be able to play the role of colegislator enshrined for it in the Treaties. I would pay particular attention in this document to the regions in transition (to ensure the cohesion of Europe as a whole), the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) (to help workers who have been made redundant find work) and the food distribution programme.

I hope that the Belgian Government will defend these issues in the Council because we are defining the EU’s budgetary framework for the next seven years, so this is a key moment for the European project.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing.(PT) The guidelines that emerge from the European institutions on the course of the integration process translate to a simple equation. One the one hand, they want to go further with everything that has been leading to divergence between the Member States: free competition in the internal market, the now-reinforced Stability and Growth Pact, the liberalisation of international trade and common policies created to suit only the few. On the other, they want to weaken instruments that could mitigate or even, ideally, overcome inequalities; the EU budget plays a key role in this. There can only be one outcome: more divergence, more inequality between Member States and less cohesion. What is happening in the Council is a disgrace. The greatest beneficiaries of the internal market and common policies now want to reduce even further their contributions to the EU budget by forcing the compression of the next multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. They want to cut the budget and cut cohesion funding. They also want to seek a greater share of this cohesion funding. That is what results from conditionality proposals, from ‘transition regions’ and from changing the weighting coefficients associated with cohesion. For the others – the weaker economies – the damage from this integration is ever greater while its benefits are ever fewer.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE ), in writing.(HU) The rapid pace that has been set recently is foreboding. Yesterday, we were debating the rewriting of the Schengen Agreement and the total exclusion of the European Parliament’s involvement, whereas the topic of today’s debate is that there seems to be some form of banking union in the making, and while efforts and demands in this respect did emerge in the European narrative, we know neither their exact practical planning and effects, nor even the consequences they would entail. I am pleased to note that today’s statements by the Council and the Commission already showed moderation, because with such a tense mood, it is questionable whether the European summit can be successful. Still, I respectfully ask the members of the European Council to carefully review the efforts made so far, and to only commit themselves to a higher level of integration if it involves openness and preparedness throughout Europe, and especially if, while securing the long-term functionality of the European banking system, it serves the actual interests of at least 500 million citizens.

 
  
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  Zita Gurmai (S&D ), in writing. – As pointed out in Parliament’s motion for a resolution, a better and more efficient use of the EU funds must be safeguarded, while ensuring that the EU budget is drafted in a transparent way. We also need sufficient budgetary flexibility in order to ensure that budgetary means are properly aligned with evolving circumstances and priorities. Moreover, the EU budget should be a strong investment budget. We won’t be able to exit this crisis and restore sustainable growth and employment without an ambitious budget that gives Europe the means to achieve the targets set in the 2020 strategy. It should also guarantee fairness in distributing the resources and sustainability. Therefore, it is important to ensure that Cohesion Policy continues to receive adequate funding. Moreover, I am also worried by this new tendency within the European Commission to reduce funding for citizenship programmes. The decrease in funding also concerns gender-related issues, which is a very negative development in the light of the need to combat discrimination and promote equal opportunities policies. I strongly believe that fairness and sustainability of budgetary programming may only be achieved by means of introducing gender budgeting in the EU budget procedure.

 
  
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  Edit Herczog (S&D ), in writing.(HU) The Competitiveness chapter and its research and development lines are among the most important tools of the EU budget. The Council should not encumber these lines with the costs of major infrastructural investments. I would like to remind my fellow Members that a popular metaphor likened the COMECON in its final years to 12 emaciated cows milking each other. Today, the European Council must not be allowed to share the same fate; the 12 yellow stars should shine with the light of excellence and progress. We need an EU budget that is able to stand on its own feet and is supportive of growth; a budget in which ITER (the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) and GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) are financed from outside the seven-year financial framework. However, if the Council decides otherwise, then it should also allocate the proper financial conditions, and should not once again draw away the necessary funds from R&D lines. I believe that to entrust the Council with the supervision of the disbursement of funds is like setting the fox to watch the geese. Indeed, the decision taken last week by the Council of Ministers demonstrated that the ministers for finance are capable of cutting down the amount of research disbursements for the ongoing year with a single, parochial decision taken by a close circle, even without the knowledge of the ministers for development. I must therefore once again stress: the Council must not be allowed to jeopardise Europe’s competitiveness.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D ), in writing.(RO) Negotiating the forthcoming multiannual financial framework is a complex, delicate process, which will lay the foundations for the EU’s political and economic activities for the next seven years. Seven years which we hope will be seven years of growth and economic recovery. This is why we need an investment budget which is as substantial as possible and offers solidarity to all Member States. Regional policy, the common agricultural policy, research policy, Erasmus, support for SMEs – these policies have nowadays become the basic pillars of the European economy and are actually the real driving forces of the single market. However, in order to implement them, we need a budget to tackle the following challenges: globalisation, climate and demographic change and the transformation of the economy into one based on new technologies. Negotiation is the art of compromise. However, when it comes to the next financial framework, Parliament has set itself a number of minimum criteria which we will not budge from: • Maintaining the budget at least at the 2013 level • A higher quota of own resources • Parliament must be acknowledged as a genuine negotiating partner. We are all aware that we need this budget, and I firmly believe that we will ultimately find a happy medium.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete (PPE ), in writing.(LV) The EU budget makes up only a relatively small portion – just 2% – of all public spending in the EU. Therefore, it must facilitate the achievement of the common EU policy goals. It will not be possible to achieve them without adequate financing from a stable European budget. That is why I support the requirement – which is also set out in the European Treaty – to ensure adequate revenue obtained from resources that are truly Europe’s own. Before we approve the multiannual financial framework, we must achieve a political agreement on a reform of the own-resources system that would ensure its transparency, fairness and sustainability. Furthermore, in determining expenditure under the European multiannual financial framework, we must strictly adhere to the principles of solidarity, balanced territorial development and fair competition. This particularly applies to the common agricultural policy, where subsidies that distort fair competition are most obvious.

 
  
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  Jan Kozłowski (PPE ), in writing.(PL) The challenges currently facing Europe mean we need a guarantee of efficient, effective and reliable instruments which will enable us to meet these challenges. Hard times require difficult but emphatic decisions – we cannot continue to be torn between our ambitions and the need to make savings. I would like to stress that the EU budget should be a budget for investment. The right level of investment, based, in particular, on cohesion policy, will allow us to overcome the crisis and ensure that Europe enjoys growth, competitiveness and an accompanying high level of employment. I am certain that a strategic, transparent and sustainable budget will allow us to achieve these goals. By basing the EU budget to a large extent on own resources, in particular on a financial transaction tax, and by moving away from rebates and correction mechanisms, we will be able gradually to reduce the burden on national budgets while also making the EU budget fairer and more transparent.

 
  
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  Marine Le Pen (NI ), in writing.(FR) The European Council on 28 and 29 June will endorse the European Commission’s annual recommendations to France to reduce its public debt and regain, so to speak, its competitiveness.

Those recommendations will become binding after the adoption of the new legislative texts, particularly those on the EU’s economic governance. The recommendations include, in particular, the continuation and exacerbation of the liberalisation of public services, the end of regulated professions, a more flexible labour market and measures that make it easier to make workers redundant, otherwise known as the dismantling of the Labour Code.

Add to this the end to the restrictions on distribution outlets, the threat to reduced VAT rates, the increase in consumption taxes and even the creation of new environmental taxes. Those are some of the measures that Brussels is forcing on us to ensure the viability of the euro area.

The worst part is that François Hollande and his Finance Minister will, of course, approve them unreservedly, going back on his campaign promises just a few weeks after winning the election. The French people will certainly appreciate that.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE ), in writing.(RO) As representatives of Europe’s citizens, it is our duty to provide a well-financed, transparent and fair budget which will be results-orientated. This is precisely why I think that the European Union needs investments in its priority areas more than ever. I think that channelling the expenditure into policies which have a proven, really successful track record, such as the cohesion policy, can continue to offer real added value, while boosting the European Union’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

 
  
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  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE ), in writing.(PL) A European Council summit is to be held in June, and the main item of business will once again be the crisis in the euro area. Putting the economic situation back on its feet requires measures which are effective in macro-economic terms but which are also acceptable politically. The many aspects of the financial crisis and the lack of a firm political response at the outset mean that there is not now an easy and painless way out of this difficult situation. The euro area is still in need of urgent reforms. Some of them have already been carried out – the ‘six-pack’ should be mentioned here, as well as the ‘two-pack’, on which work is currently in progress. However, these pieces of legislation are only an answer to some of the institutional problems involved, and their effect will only be seen in the long term.

Meanwhile, the way the financial crisis is continuing to get worse requires action which will have an immediate effect, because the crisis of confidence and pressure from the market are today seriously impairing the Member States’ ability to refinance their debt. The forthcoming summit is an excellent opportunity to make bold decisions. First and foremost, measures should be adopted which do not require treaty changes, that is, steps to make the process of fiscal adaptation more flexible and to improve the firewall to give greater protection to the financial systems of peripheral states. The next stage should be institutional reform of the euro area, by which I mean creation of a common system of recapitalisation and restructuring for banks and a common system for protecting deposits, and development of a plan for at least the partial mutualisation of public debt.

 
  
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  Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE ), in writing. (FI) The financial framework for drafting the EU’s annual budgets for 2014 to 2020 represents one of the biggest political battles between the Council and Parliament this year. It is good that Parliament should insist on greater flexibility, clarity and transparency, especially in the forthcoming budget, and adopt a position on own resources, as they are known – on reforming the system in such a way that funds would be amassed directly in the EU’s own budget and, at the same time, the contributions from the Member States could be reduced accordingly. A reformed budget is needed as part of a more integrated monetary policy. A more integrated monetary policy is not at all as novel an idea as one might sometimes think, reading the headlines. When the notion of a European monetary and economic union was only in its infancy, a work group led by the British economist, Donald McDougall, was set up to consider the structures involved in a single currency. The McDougall report, as it is referred to, states that, in general, areas using a common currency guarantee the value of their currency by means of a central or federal budget, which is largely funded by taxes collected by a central administrative body. The report says that, depending on the level of integration, the joint budget should account for between 2.5% and 7% of the Union’s combined GDP. The Union’s present budget accounts for not much more than 1%. The US federal budget, for example, amounts to a good 20% of GDP. Although, for Member States struggling with financial difficulties, calls for an increase in the joint budget understandably sound virtually impossible, we should insist on an open and creative attitude on the part of the governments of countries towards the joint EU budget. It takes adequate resources to implement uniform policies. A commitment to common objectives means that one is also prepared to commit the resources needed to realise them.

 
  
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  Georgios Stavrakakis (S&D ), in writing.(EL) We understand the budgetary restrictions on the Member States and reiterate that the EU’s long-term budget is a strategic instrument for investment, for stimulating growth and competitiveness and, of course, for creating jobs throughout Europe. As far as cohesion policy is concerned, the message is clear. That policy is the only pan-European development policy and, as such, should continue to be available to all regions of Europe. Cohesion policy is the main means for responding to the crisis, as it makes a decisive contribution to growth and to job creation. Cohesion policy is worthy of and entitled to adequate resources. The Commission proposal is NOT the minimum for us as regards cohesion policy. If we want to achieve growth, as cohesion policy is a development policy, if we want to find effective answers to the crisis, THEN we need the resources to achieve it. For cohesion policy, the minimum is the current financing level, as clearly decided in the SURE report. We do not support an increase in the cohesion policy budget; if we maintain current budget levels and use modern, thematic targeting and are guided by the results of cohesion policy, we shall achieve a great deal more.

 
  
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  László Surján (PPE ), in writing.(HU) For the first time, we are about to draft a financial framework in such a way that is not a matter of free agreement but a constitutional obligation. Our choices have become narrower; we can say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the framework. Thanks to the work of the Hungarian, Polish and Danish Presidencies, we are continuously in touch with the Council so as to prevent a ‘no’ by Parliament from turning over a hard-fought consensus, seeing as how there are some red lines that cannot be crossed according to Parliament.

One such red line is the matter of cohesion policy. Since developmental disparities between the regions of the EU are stronger than ever, Parliament demands efficient and effective cohesion. EU funds spent on cohesion policy must not be reduced; we must maintain at least the level of 2007-2013. This is a difficult task, as the European Commission’s proposal is already envisaging an almost 5% cutback in the total framework, with Member States only being allowed to draw funding to the amount of 2.5% of their GDP. What is more, the basis for calculating the 2.5% ceiling is not future economic growth but the period between 2008-2010, where Hungary suffered serious economic downturn under its socialist governments.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing.(PT) The EU multiannual financial framework (MFF) 2014-2020 is increasing by EUR 49 billion compared with the MFF 2007-2013. This means it will total EUR 1.025 trillion, with cohesion policy accounting for the largest share, exceeding the common agricultural policy for the first time. The European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions accept some aspects, such as the intermediate regions, the increased allocation for territorial cooperation projects, the creation of the Common Strategic Framework, and continued Cohesion Fund support for countries with a GNI less than 90% of the EU’s GNI. It is important to stress that the June European Council is the first time that the MFF 2014-2020 and the new cohesion policy regulations will be discussed. I consider it essential that cohesion policy levels be kept at the same level as for the last programming period – 2007-2013 – and that the outermost regions have enough funding from the additional specific allocation to tackle their natural constraints.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) The European Council taking place on 28-29 June will deal with economic policy issues, the multiannual financial framework, as well as with the governance of the Schengen system and asylum. In defining and implementing its policies and actions, the EU must take into account the requirements in terms of promoting a high level of employment, guaranteeing adequate social protection, combating social exclusion, as well as the requirements for a high level of education, vocational training and health protection. I think that the EU needs a common agenda on economic growth and job creation, with a particular focus on youth employment. We call on Heads of State or Government to set out and adopt this agenda. In this context, the multiannual financial framework is an effective tool which helps achieve economic growth in the EU. With regard to the governance of the Schengen system, we call for the codecision process to be used and for Parliament to be involved in all the decisions relating to the free movement of persons, one of the EU’s greatest achievements. We are also in favour of Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen area, given that both the Commission and Parliament have acknowledged on several occasions that both states meet the necessary technical criteria.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ROBERTA ANGELILLI
Vice-President

 
  

(1)See Minutes


7. Voting time
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  President. – The next item is the vote.

(For the results and other details on the vote: see Minutes)

 

7.1. Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors (Iliana Ivanova - Bulgaria) (A7-0188/2012 - Inés Ayala Sender) (vote)

7.2. 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly (A7-0186/2012 - Alexander Graf Lambsdorff) (vote)

7.3. Scheme of generalised tariff preferences (A7-0054/2012 - Christofer Fjellner) (vote)

7.4. Economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability in the euro area (A7-0172/2012 - Jean-Paul Gauzès) (vote)
 

Before the vote on the legislative resolution:

 
  
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  Jean-Paul Gauzès, rapporteur. (FR) Madam President, I would like to thank my colleagues for their support and I propose that the report be referred back to committee so that we can start the trialogue discussions and try to reach an agreement at first reading.

 
  
 

(Parliament approved the request)

 

7.5. Monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficit of the Member States in the euro area (A7-0173/2012 - Elisa Ferreira) (vote)
 

Before the vote on the legislative resolution:

 
  
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  Elisa Ferreira, rapporteur.(PT) Madam President, as well as thanking all those who contributed to this result, I would like to ask that the final vote be postponed so that we can immediately negotiate at trialogue level.

 
  
 

(Parliament approved the request)

 

7.6. Extension of the geographic scope of the EBRD to the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (A7-0142/2012 - Slavi Binev) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Slavi Binev, rapporteur. (FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the shadow rapporteurs for their help and cooperation in preparing this report on the extension of the geographic scope of the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. I believe that when society expresses its desire for democracy, particularly as the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries have done, politicians must listen to the voice of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the European Union is in the midst of an economic crisis, but those who have a right to criticise also have a duty to help. I would encourage all of my colleagues to pay close attention to freedoms in certain Member States, such as Bulgaria, so that we are not ashamed when we criticise the regimes in totalitarian countries.

 
  
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  President. – That concludes the first round of voting.

(The sitting was suspended for a few minutes)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MARTIN SCHULZ
President

 

8. Formal sitting
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  President. – Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for rising from your seats in honour of the President of the Republic of Peru, President Humala, whom it gives me great pleasure to welcome to the European Parliament.

(Applause)

Mr President, the European Union’s relations with Latin America are particularly important to us. The European Union and this Parliament have traditionally had close transatlantic ties with the United States of America and with Canada, but transatlantic relations also include relations with the Latin American part of the American continent. It is clear to us all that cooperation with the countries of Latin America is becoming increasingly important for the European Union. Peru is a country which, under your Presidency, is putting particular efforts into the idea of regional integration. As President of Peru, you made it clear from the time you took office that you see cross-border cooperation with the states and peoples of Latin America as the way of the future. That is exactly the same idea as that on which the European Union is based: overcoming what separates us and seeking to bring about cooperation between states and peoples in common institutions in order to make economic, ecological and social progress. That is what you have just embarked on, including through your Pacific cooperation. I would therefore like to give you a warm welcome to an institution that shares precisely this spirit of regional cooperation.

President Humala, you and your country are in the closing phase of important negotiations on a tree trade agreement with the European Union, which will have to be ratified in this Parliament. We have made progress and we all hope that this agreement will be able to be concluded to the satisfaction of both sides – that means also to the satisfaction of the Members that you see here.

Finally, Mr President, I am delighted that a man who is standing up for democracy and the rule of law in his country is a guest of a Chamber that is greatly concerned with defending the individual basic rights of all people, wherever they are in the world. Consequently, the European Parliament constantly keeps a very close watch on the human rights situation in all countries. We hope that, in this common spirit of peaceful cooperation between regions of the world, we will be able to build on and expand relations between the European Union and its individual states and Latin America and its individual states – in this case, Peru.

I would now like to give you the floor, Mr President. Welcome to the European Parliament.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Ollanta Humala.(ES) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would first like to express my satisfaction at being here, in the European Parliament, the manifestation of the melting pot of different communities and cultures that make up Europe, a Europe with which Peru has strong ties.

Peru, a multilingual and multicultural country with age-old history, has been involved in intercultural dialogue with European traditions since the 16th century. I would like to highlight the efforts of distinguished Europeans to Peruvian causes and issues, such as the learned Italian Antonio Raimondi, the French admiral Petit-Thouars, the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt, and the German researcher Maria Reiche. They are just some of the European names who have supported Peru and the solid bond between our country and the European continent, an undertaking that has lasted through the years and which we value in its current scope.

The European Union is currently Peru’s second most important trading partner, being the main destination for our exports and one with significant investments in Peru.

During this century, marked by the increasing globalisation of resources, goods and services, as well as the breathtaking rate of development of new technologies, Peru and the European Union share the common objective and challenge of moving forward down the path of cooperation by acknowledging individual values, identities and projects, whilst sharing the same ideals.

Peru is a representative democracy in which macro-economic policies, along with the stable legal framework, have translated into sustainable economic growth and quite a notable social outcome as regards the reduction of poverty, the reduction of inequality, the increase in employment rates, and general compliance with the Millennium Development Goals.

Our gross domestic product tripled during the last decade, with growth for this year projected at close to 6%, and our aim is to maintain this same level of growth for the next five years, despite the difficult international climate. Different studies have led to the same conclusion: that this trend will continue in the coming years, which will lead to Peru becoming one of the leading regional economies.

In this context, my government has set social inclusion as a priority objective, which will come with economic growth; the profits Peru has been reporting, its favourable climate for business, trade openness and investment, will extend to the entire Peruvian society and the poorest sectors of our country in particular.

We need to include the most disadvantaged populations in the economic loop of creating wealth and worthwhile employment through the modernisation and diversification of our manufacturing, promoting local innovation and using advanced knowledge, supporting our people in education and providing them with the tools to be more competitive.

My government proposes to consolidate democracy so that it is able to resolve the problems and needs of the entire Peruvian society, but with a particular focus on the minorities that have been left out or forgotten by the state.

Let us be clear: there cannot be development, a democracy or an economy that causes inequality, poverty and exclusion. The big transformation that my government has pledged to bring about is based on the process of social inclusion, which was our main commitment to the Peruvian people. That is, to transform economic growth into development and well-being, to transform wealth into quality of life.

Peru is a country with a population of just over 29 million people. Poverty rates have been reduced from 54% in 2001 to 27% in 2012. My government aims to lift over 3 million Peruvians out of poverty by 2016, that is, to reduce the poverty rate to below 20%, and reduce the extreme poverty rate, which currently stands at around 7% in Peru, by as much as possible. My government is committed to a proactive public policy on social investment and development to achieve this. Despite having achieved the Millennium Development Goals, we therefore continue to make the greatest efforts to continue reducing the differences in equality.

As such, the budget allocated to social and human capital in 2012 has been increased by 20% compared to 2011. Social inclusion means that a human being can become a citizen and we have created the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion for this undertaking. Through this, we aim to transform social programmes through a single social inclusion policy for our government, where we will clearly establish a set of multi-sector programmes with a view to improving efficiency and focusing attention on the most needy.

Within this framework, a set of social programmes have been developed that cover early childhood (Programa Cuna Más) , through to young people (Programa Beca 18) , up to the retirement age (Programa Pensión 65) , and the conditional transfer programme for the most vulnerable families (Programa Juntos) and the mobile emergency medical service (SAMU, Sistema de Atención Móvil de Urgencias) have been extended.

Cuna Más is an early childhood programme which is already being implemented. This year, it will attend to over 90 000 children up to the age of three in the poorest regions of the country, supplying them with food and nursery services, education and comprehensive health care.

Programa Beca 18 will provide higher education to qualified young people with fewer resources. It is aimed at skills training and the appropriate assimilation of science and technology that needs to be transferred to diversify our manufacturing model. The objective for our first year of government is to reach 5 000 interns and provide 3 000 grants for masters and doctorate courses abroad.

Programa Pensión 65 provides an economic subsidy to adults over 65 years of age who are in poverty or extreme poverty.

As part of this programme, my government has approved the first list of beneficiaries, comprising 126 787 adults in more than 14 regions throughout the country.

This year, my government plans to spend over USD 790 million on social programmes run through the ministry. Other programmes include the Cooperation Fund for Social Development (Fondo de Cooperación para el Desarrollo Social) , which promotes the development of local manufacturing, and the Qali Warma food programme (‘child with energy’ in Quechua), the main objective of which is to ensure that food is provided to children in public primary education centres from the age of three years old.

It is essential to increase the efficiency and coverage of Programa Juntos given that it is a programme that directly delivers monetary incentives to households in poverty or extreme poverty, on the condition that the mothers representing the household fulfil the commitment of ensuring that their younger children attend health care and education centres. We have extended this programme from 350 000 to 450 000 families this year.

Within this framework, the Peruvian State is making efforts to ensure that all sectors of society benefit from the trade agreement with the European Union. The agreement is a significant opportunity for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in both the European Union and Peru. In Peru, these types of companies represent 98% of the total number of companies; they employ 75% of the working population, and generate 42% of national GDP.

In addition to economic growth with social inclusion, a second aspect I would like to highlight is the sustainable development of our natural resources and the promotion of responsible mining.

My government’s main interest is to promote a responsible policy for the use of our natural resources, particularly water resources, which aims to resolve the just concerns and demands expressed by the population in different ways, due to the fears generated by the operation of certain mining projects. We have been working on building a new relationship between the state and the mining sector. This new relationship will mean the involvement of communities and towns in the areas affected by the mines, and will allow us to manage the legitimate uncertainties and doubts that an area’s population may have in a clear and inclusive manner. We will use dialogue as the main tool for resolving conflicts, as well as strengthen our environmental and sustainable development policy, for which we have created the Ministry of the Environment.

Latin America in general, and Peru in particular, has specific challenges to ensure social and environmental sustainability through its development model. Some of the most important challenges include: changing manufacturing and consumption patterns; promoting agribusiness and a rural economy that adapts to climate change; integrated management of natural and water resources; a land use regulation policy that ensures security and the integrity of indigenous villages and communities in harmony with national protected areas; and the promotion and development of clean technologies that fit the needs of each of the many ecosystems we have. My country has ratified the main international agreements on the environment. Given that the country is extremely diverse and highly vulnerable to climate change, policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change, to conserve and use the Amazon rainforest sustainably, and to protect biodiversity are deemed to be high priority.

Lastly, as well as a being a full member of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and having ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, we have endorsed the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources, which is currently undergoing legislative approval, and we have recently approved a law that has set a 10-year moratorium on the introduction and production of modified living organisms, destined for cultivation and breeding, based on the precautionary principle of the protection of human, animal and vegetal health and the environment. Peru, however, has been particularly affected by indecision on, and breaches of, the 1992 Rio Treaty.

Industry in Peru, including mining, currently operates under a legal framework that protects the environment and includes indigenous communities in decision making by means of a prior consultation mechanism. The law for this was unanimously approved by the Congress, and I know we are the first country in the world to establish a prior consultation law for communities.

(Applause)

Accordingly, the drafting of this regulation, which has already been passed, involved the participation of organised civil society and the indigenous communities in particular. As such, the indigenous populations will take part in the evaluation of the measures that may affect them. They will be able to express their concerns and their voice will be taken into consideration. This aims to implement improved practices that combine prior consultation with the promotion of private investment.

In addition, we have adopted specific measures for a greater state share in income generated from the extraction of our mineral resources. A new levy on mining was approved in September 2011 after constructive dialogue with mining companies. Those additional resources will be used for infrastructure works in the poorest areas of the country that do not receive benefits from the mining levy. To strengthen the social inclusion policy, the government will promote the creation of social inclusion funds as part of mining or oil investment projects, which will serve to develop education, health, sanitation, drinking water, public services, electricity and agricultural infrastructure.

We will continue to call on private enterprise, alongside the state, to develop human resources in the regions and generate employment for all Peruvians. The development of a major mining project can take at least four years, which is enough time for the aforementioned companies to set up specialised technical training centres in the project’s area of influence. We also consider it to be necessary for mining companies to allocate an insurance fund that would be used should environmental damage occur. We need to strengthen the corporate social responsibility of all the mining and extraction companies that come to my country.

Respect and protection of human rights will be a cornerstone of the Peruvian State’s policy, not only internally, but also in foreign policy. Peru has signed up to, and strictly complies with, the eight main international human rights treaties. My country is currently a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2011-2014 period. We are committed to building a culture of peace, not only to ensure that acts of terrorist violence are not repeated, but also to initiate a process to establish trust and peace in the country, as well as the consolidation of democracy. Thanks to the support from the European Union, and from countries such as Germany and Sweden, as well as the United Nations Development Programme, and the resources allocated by my government, we hope to complete the construction of the ‘Memorial’ museum (Lugar de la Memoria) by the end of this year.

Furthermore, Peru has ratified 67 International Labour Organisation (ILO) agreements on employment. My country is strongly committed to promoting opportunities for worthwhile jobs under conditions of freedom, security and equality, as well as improving social security, strengthening dialogue and driving guarantees for workers’ rights and the freedom of association. There is fluid and constant interaction between the state, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association and the ILO Conference Committee on the Application of Standards. I would also like to highlight the fact that the country has different national mechanisms to ensure the implementation, monitoring and inclusive dialogue on such issues, such as the National Human Rights Commission, the National Labour Council and the recently established Economic and Social Council. With this support, in our first year, we have managed to increase the minimum wage, a commitment we made during the electoral campaign.

The trade agreement with the European Union clearly reflects that commitment in this sense given that it contains disciplines developed under a sustainable development and trade approach, which reaffirm the ILO’s main agreements. I wish to emphasise that my government is firmly committed to working in a concerted manner with the democratically elected local authorities and civil society institutions.

My government is firmly committed to that objective and has declared that it will tackle head on issues that affect security, such as narco terrorism and drug trafficking. Peru allocated around USD 100 million of its own resources to combating this phenomenon in 2011. Peru has reduced the growth rate of coca leaf plantations by 2.2%, which, in recent years, had reached an average annual rate of 5%. Peru has also put alternative sustainable development programmes in place that have already benefited 84 000 families, at a cost of over USD 100 million a year.

Peru is constantly involved in the fight against drugs and we have to work in unison with the European Union.

Ladies and gentleman, Peru is a country that respects its commitments and maintains a legal stability that breeds confidence. The agreement concluded between Peru and the European Union, which is about to be signed, is an essential alliance of multiple and reciprocal benefits that will help to promote development with social inclusion, looking to the future of this century.

This is an appropriate moment to express my appreciation and gratitude to the European Parliament for adopting the report on defining a new cooperation policy with Latin America. With the support of 640 MEPs, Parliament has acknowledged the need for coordinated cooperation that takes account of each country’s situation and is also based on the most extensive indicators measuring income levels. In the case of Peru, this will contribute to the efforts my government has been making.

To close, I would like to inform you that this multilateral agreement process began in the Andean Community of Nations several years ago. Due to several problems, it has been reduced down to two countries: Colombia and Peru. Today, there is a window of opportunity. Latin America is undergoing very significant economic growth, but not everything is perfect. We have our own issues, and one of our weaknesses is that we are countries that export raw materials. We citizens of Latin America need to break down this barrier, to stop being raw material-exporting countries, and to embark on the route you started decades ago: industrialisation, and the fields of science and technology. For that reason, it is important for us that this agreement ensures technology transfer and fair and reciprocal trade to Peru; that both parties gain from this agreement, not in terms of economic lobbies, but that our citizens benefit; that this agreement is a significant step towards the integration of America with Europe. It needs to be understood that America is not only the United States. America is Peru, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico and many other countries, and that America is currently in good shape and an investment opportunity.

We empathise with the serious crisis that the European Union is currently experiencing. We can say today that we hope that the dark cloud that is blighting European skies does not reach Latin America. We are blowing from our country to prevent the cloud from reaching us, but we have already prepared for it. We are ready to tackle this crisis and that is important; that is, with this multilateral agreement, we also provide, we bring something to the table, and we wish to work in a transparent, open, and cooperative manner for our mutual benefit, so that both parties benefit. It is a two-way street, rather than a one-way street. That is important to me and that is why I have come here today, because I, Ollanta Humala, have always been critical about free trade agreements. Today, however, having been president for ten months, I have to respect state policies and we have to do well. That is why I firmly believe that signing this agreement will be in our collective interests.

I firmly believe that we may progress faster if we go it alone, but that we will progress further if we work together.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Thank you very much, Mr President. I would like to express our sincere thanks for your most impressive words. May I reiterate that I am sure that the Members of the European Parliament listened very attentively to your closing remarks. We would be delighted if everyone who came into government were to act like you, by taking what they had previously rejected and then implementing it as Head of Government. Perhaps there are certain areas in which we, in the European Union, could learn from you.

Many thanks for your visit, Mr President.

(Applause)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ROBERTA ANGELILLI
Vice-President

 

9. Voting time (continuation)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the continuation of the vote.

 

9.1. Multiannual financial framework and own resources (B7-0303/2012 ) (vote)
 

After the vote:

 
  
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  Alain Lamassoure (PPE ).(FR) Madam President, the negotiations on the next budgetary framework began a few months ago, but the Heads of State or Government will only meet to discuss it for the first time at next week’s European Council.

The resolution that Parliament has just adopted on the proposal by five groups, which was adopted by a majority of five-sixths, is a precise, clear text: it highlights Parliament’s ‘red lines’ in these negotiations, it will act as Parliament’s formal mandate to President Schulz when he meets the European Council next week, and it will be the mandate for the remainder of our negotiations. It was therefore very important that it be adopted by a large majority. I thank my colleagues for that. The real negotiations are about to start.

(Applause)

 

9.2. EU trade negotiations with Japan (B7-0297/2012 ) (vote)

9.3. Guinea-Bissau (B7-0277/2012 ) (vote)

9.4. Sudan and South Sudan (B7-0281/2012 ) (vote)

9.5. EU trade agreement with Colombia and Peru (B7-0301/2012 ) (vote)

9.6. EU Special Representative for Human Rights (A7-0174/2012 - José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra) (vote)
 

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (S&D ). – Madam President, the negotiations on this took place only this morning and it is with sincere thanks to Mr Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, and also to his colleague, Mr Grzyb, and Mr Donskis from the ALDE Group, that we have managed to come to an agreement.

To get consensus on this, I am withdrawing all the wording from the S&D amendment after the words ‘Human Rights’ and from the words ‘in the light of their agreement in 2011 and the priority…’ That is a different split from the one that we discussed with session services earlier on. I am sorry about this, but it is something that we have agreed with Mr Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra. I withdraw the second half of this amendment, but ask Parliament to support the first half.

 

9.7. Negotiations on the UN Arms Trade Treaty (B7-0276/2012 ) (vote)

9.8. Follow-up of the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (B7-0280/2012 ) (vote)
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  President. – That concludes the vote.

 

10. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
 

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Christofer Fjellner (A7-0054/201 )

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the Commission has proposed a review of the scheme of generalised tariff preferences that the Union has granted to goods entering the European market from developing countries since 1971. Although the new criteria put in place in order to benefit from the preferences will reduce the number of beneficiaries by about half, I believe that this system continues to represent a real opportunity for these countries to increase their international trade, generating revenue which can be used to increase income and implement policies for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we are happy with the arrangement reached in trialogue negotiations for the new scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP), due to both the complexity of the regulation and its political worth and the differences which have characterised the debate. In the current climate, European small and medium-sized enterprises that share industrial sensitivities, particularly in the areas of textiles, tanning and agriculture, must be given the chance to compete in international markets through careful evaluation of the different kinds of preferential treatment given to our main partners by the Union.

We cannot allow countries that have shown they have a competitive economy, like Brazil, Russia and Argentina, to receive help entering the European market by means of reduced tariffs at the expense of our manufacturing sector, which, for years, has been suffering the consequences of the financial crisis and protectionist choices on the exports and contracts of these third countries.

We are therefore in favour of greater monitoring of differentiation, thus avoiding showing favouritism to countries with offensive interests in strategic European sectors, and we welcome strengthening of the safeguard clause to also cover textile products. We would also like to thank the rapporteur for his excellent work.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate that the number of countries benefiting from this scheme is notably reduced. It is right and proper to offer support through favourable trade policies only to those states that truly find themselves in difficulty, concentrating it where our intervention could be of the greatest benefit.

According to current calculations, Pakistan should be one of these new beneficiaries. This is a country with a highly developed textile sector, partly thanks to economic and social rules which heavily penalise our businesses. I come from Prato, a city that was one of the main textile districts in Europe and which, in recent years, has seriously suffered from unfair competition from Asia. I am therefore opposed to this agreement including Pakistan, just as I was opposed to cutting import duties for this country because of the 2010 floods. Aid for trade must be targeted, but it absolutely cannot cause the decline of entire manufacturing sectors in Europe, which could occur with the recent invasion of textile products from Pakistan.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR ). – Madam President, I voted in favour of this proposed update to the scheme of generalised tariff preferences. This is a key instrument being used to help developing countries participate in international trade. Trade is vital for growth. Without income from exports, developing countries cannot put into place either the physical or democratic infrastructure which is necessary for sustainable democratic growth.

If resources are not available through trade, this funding is only available through aid. Trade, not aid, is the right way forward. Of course, this report is not perfect, but I support the general message from Parliament that trade preferences with developing countries should be maintained and developed.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Madam President, I, too, voted in favour of this report on generalised tariff preferences as a means of promoting economic growth through trade in developing countries. I strongly believe that, since it came into force in 1971, it has had an overall positive impact.

It is extremely encouraging that the least developed countries are able to participate in international trade in this way and are thus able to support their own poverty reduction schemes and their own sustainable development projects through the additional export revenue that this generates and by easier access to EU markets.

Of course, it is also important that we also reasonably defend EU industries, at the same time as providing benefits to third countries. So we must remember to create the right balance in this regard with a level playing field. Politically, I generally support the idea that trade preferences rather than aid handouts are an extremely useful tool for promoting economic development and growth in those less developed countries outside the European Union.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). – Madam President, it was only last July that we had the stress tests of all the European banks and we were told that there was no problem in Spain – certainly none that the national government could not look after.

We have now had a bailout of EUR 100 billion and Spanish ten-year bonds were at their highest level since the single currency was launched, so the only impact of this bailout has been to burden every Spanish household with a further EUR 15 000 debt that they did not have last week. Where does the money come from? It has come from the other members of the eurozone, including Cyprus and Italy and so on.

Europe is giving itself a transfusion; it is taking blood from one arm and pumping it into the other arm, but the tube is leaking. The liquid is coming out en route. My friends, when are we going to understand that you do not solve a debt crisis with more debt? The euro is the problem, not the solution. We are treating the tumour when we should be treating the patient.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Madam President, I was happy to support my group on all aspects of this report. It was readily accepted in the end, and that is good. I am pleased that the European Union is giving so much aid to developing countries, and that is greatly to our credit. One of the ways we do this is through trading.

And with regard to trading, I think the changes here are desirable. Certain countries are coming off the list, I think about 80 out of 120 are remaining on it, and certainly some of those countries should have been taken off the list before now, particularly at a time of economic crisis – and Mr Hannan referred to the difficulties in many countries at the moment – when we have to think of our own SMEs, our own companies. Having reduced numbers in this scheme is good for those countries and it is good for the European Union.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I, too, voted for this report because it proposes a suitable approach for revising the scheme of generalised tariff preferences. The GSP is one of the main tools which help the EU achieve its foreign and development policy objectives. We must therefore ensure that the latest reform enables it to retain and fulfil even better the specified role. With this in mind, I support the rapporteur’s position on preserving the structure of the proposal tabled by the Commission.

I agree, in principle, to reducing the number of countries eligible for generalised tariff preferences. However, I think that a special clause is needed for states which have signed a free trade agreement. I also support the mandatory review of the regulation after 10 years. This is a suitable period of time to allow an effective evaluation of the system’s operation.

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR ). – Madam President, I voted for this as I believe that trade, rather than aid, is a better way to assist less developed countries to prosper.

However, I want to make a wider point about tariff reduction and trade agreements relevant to all of us. Here, we see preferential access to the EU single market being given to nations which are not members of the EU but which get reduced – or even zero – tariff walls from the EU customs union. Yet they do not have to sign up to financial contributions to the EU or to a whole body of law, the acquis , and can trade pretty freely. It goes to show how far we have travelled from the 1970s world of high tariffs and menacing trade walls and how much has been achieved by the WTO and GATT in reducing barriers to trade around the world. We can all benefit from much looser trading relations and lower tariff walls.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR ). – Madam President, one of the biggest myths about trade and international trade is that countries trade with each other.

Countries do not trade with each other. It is people and businesses who trade with people and businesses in another country for mutual benefit. What can governments do? They can either get in the way or they can facilitate that trade. The best way of facilitating that trade is by simply getting out of the way. But what do governments and what do institutions such as the EU do? They get in the way with tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers.

Surely the best way to help people in less developed countries is to remove all these trade barriers and to make sure that entrepreneurs in those countries can create wealth. Otherwise, if we stop them creating wealth in their own countries, they lose hope and they seek to leave those home countries and they emigrate to our countries, and then we complain about immigration.

As a development economist once said to me, either you take our goods and services, or you take our people, so let us help entrepreneurs in poorer countries.

 
  
  

Report: Jean-Paul Gauzès (A7-0172/2012 )

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, today’s vote in Parliament completes the package on European economic governance approved at the end of 2011. The continuation of the crisis affecting the whole of Europe has made it necessary to strengthen economic and budgetary surveillance of those Member State whose financial stability in the euro area is at risk, giving the Union’s supervisory bodies the power to intervene with appropriate preventative instruments if necessary.

 
  
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  Ewald Stadler (NI ).(DE) Madam President, doing the right thing at the wrong time is wrong too. The rules that are being proposed here should have been passed at least 15 years ago for there to be any point to them. It is clear that they are no longer of any use today. It is too late for Greece and Cyprus, it is too late for Portugal, it is too late for Spain, and it is probably too late for Italy. It is no use continuing to gloss over the issue: the euro has failed. That is not just my opinion, but apparently it is also the opinion of Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, who gives the euro no more than three months at most. What good is this resolution today going to do? I had no hesitation in voting against this resolution, quite simply because it comes too late, it is wrong and it can no longer mask the failure of the euro project. The euro, as an historical project of this European Union, has failed. By now, we ought to have reached the stage of admitting that economic facts cannot be politically denied any longer.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, this legislative proposal gives rise to confusion because it would give the Commission greater powers of control over the fiscal policy of euro area countries, but with no greater democratic control in return. Greater powers mean states have less sovereignty and this is all very well, but not if control is not transferred to Parliament. The democratic deficit will increase if Parliament does not have a stronger role.

The second reason for confusion is the budget cuts and the rigid austerity policy imposed by the executive, with no investment proposals designed to create growth and development except for the amendments which luckily were passed in this Chamber. We have established that up to now, the policy has been disastrous: tax increases, reduced consumption, increased unemployment, collapse of businesses, young people out of work, and so on. It would be irrational and harmful to continue in this direction. Consider the Delors White Paper of 1993: 19 years have passed since then and we are worse off than before.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of this report because I believe that it is still important for Parliament to have its say on a document which I hope can be brought to the attention of governments at the forthcoming important meeting on 28 and 29 June. With the vote on Mr Gauzès’s report, we, as Parliament, have said that we cannot accept increasingly strict surveillance without balancing out these powers in the direction of democratic participation. Parliament must be involved. It is important and commendable that the link between surveillance and conditionality of financial aid programmes should be strengthened, but it is just as important that the conditions for this to happen are established in collaboration with those who represent the people of Europe.

 
  
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  Petri Sarvamaa (PPE ). (FI) Madam President, without a strong and decisive integrated approach to economic policy in the European Union, the entire European mission of peace and well-being is doomed to failure.

In the last two years, we have seen how individual measures are inadequate. We need a structural solution. The report drafted by Mr Gauzès on the economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States experiencing difficulties in the euro area is part of this greater and vitally important structural solution.

We are going through an historically difficult stage on the path to a better tomorrow. On this path, we now need everything we can obtain to take us towards greater joint responsibility. The Member States cannot tackle the problems in the global economy alone, so we must implement all solutions that promote economic integration. For these reasons, crucial as they are from the perspective of Europe’s future, I voted in favour of this report and for the deeper economic integration that it supports.

 
  
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  Gianluca Susta (S&D ). (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to explain my vote also in relation to Ms Ferreira’s report, because it seems to me that it is the right time to overcome the contradiction between growth and austerity, which is at risk of becoming outdated.

Today, we have spoken in favour of growth and, at the same time, in favour of recovery. There is a contradiction when we say that we do not want to adopt a report like Mr Gauzès’s, on which I abstained for reasons I will explain, and then at the same time we call for a consolidated European budget and fiscal union. We need fiscal union, we need to monitor the budgets of Member States and, at the same time, encourage growth with the amendments we have presented and voted for in Ms Ferreira’s report.

I therefore believe that we have done something important. We have done it even though Mr Gauzès’s report contains an article – Article 10 – which sends a negative message to the markets, as it concerns controlled default procedures, which we should not even talk about at the moment because we have to show the European public that we want to move forward with the euro and with greater integration.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of this document, as well as the other document with which it forms the ‘two-pack’, because I believe that they could be important in creating both stability and growth. However, these alone are not enough. In any case, we believe that at a time of serious crisis such as that which the European Union is facing, Parliament should take on an even more courageous role than it has so far, and we believe that development, employment and the labour market go hand in hand with a mechanism for surveillance of the budgetary policy of each Member State, because discipline is extremely important.

The European debt redemption fund could prove to be a useful tool, as could the annual coordinated public debt issuance framework. The European Investment Bank has a greater role in order to achieve budgetary, political and fiscal union, which are the essential objectives for growth and development, the need for which we are fully feeling and noticing at the moment.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, the European Union is a community project; it is an economic union, a political union and also a union of values. It goes without saying that if someone has got into trouble, then the countries of the European Union should help each other out. Naturally, that requires clear rules of engagement. I believe that the rules of engagement are important not just for the recipient of the assistance, but also for the party giving the assistance. Naturally, we also have to be in a position to check up on the conditions and the rules of engagement decided on.

I think it is also equally important that we establish what actually happens if, for whatever reason, the rules that we previously set are not adhered to. This may mean that some Member States, if they want to receive assistance, then have to relinquish certain of their own powers or that the Commission can intervene where necessary. That is why, in the final analysis, I voted in favour of this report, this motion, because for me, it is an important part of the overall solution.

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI ).(BG) Madam President, I also voted for the Gauzès report for one sole reason.

Our current practice is to apply double standards to the countries which are members of the euro area and those countries which are Member States but do not use the euro by imposing the requirements for a moderate deficit on their budgets, as the Commission is able, under the procedure for admitting new countries to the euro area, to punish those countries which still use their national currencies, whereas there have been no such cases so far involving the countries which have already adopted the euro.

It also transpires that those of us still outside the euro area are paragons of financial discipline, while the problem countries which are broke and now need to take out loans turned out to be inside the euro area.

This is also why I supported this report, thinking that it will remove these double standards between both groups, and I hope that we will also continue to operate like this from now on.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR ). – Madam President, I abstained from voting on this report today because I do not believe that as a representative of a non-eurozone Member State, I should be interfering in the internal economic functioning of those countries which are part of the eurozone. However, I do believe that those countries which are part of the eurozone should start to get themselves sorted out.

I also believe that it is important that my delegation encourage eurozone countries to act responsibly. It is, of course, too late. The eurozone needs to sort itself out, but there is no sign that this is happening with anything like the urgency which is required.

There is no better example of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted than the way European leaders have behaved during this crisis. Rules which should have been in place years ago are changed on a daily basis. We see magnificent examples of shirking responsibility, cries of ‘not me, it was him’ that would be more appropriate in a kindergarten playground. I hope it works, and it gives me no pleasure to say that I doubt it will.

 
  
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  Daniël van der Stoep (NI ). (NL) Madam President, a monetary union made up of 17 different societies is doomed to fail. That is exactly what we now see happening. Financially well-functioning countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany and Finland, are paying for complete mismanagement, corruption and self-enrichment from the southern Member States.

The Netherlands should leave the euro immediately and introduce its own currency next Friday, after the markets close. Such a currency would have to be pegged one-to-one to the euro until the following Monday morning, after which we should be looking for a more stable currency to peg it to. Transferable transactions could then immediately be pegged to pound sterling or the US dollar. Anything is better than the euro.

Monetary sovereignty is of national interest for the northern Member States if we do not want to keep paying the southern Member States’ debts until the end of time.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ).(ES) Madam President, the Spanish 10-year bonds have reached their highest level since Spain’s entry into the euro. It is clear that the markets have not received the bailout as simply as was hoped. The rescue has achieved something, however: that the Spanish now owe EUR 100 billion more than they did last week. The Spanish people are perfectly aware of something that bureaucratic pride stubbornly wishes to ignore. The rescue will lead to the same outcome as in Greece and Ireland: more poverty, deflation and despair.

The Spanish are going to see how the value of their savings drops and how their debt totals rocket. Despite the fact that Brussels enjoys opacity and people not asking questions, here is a query: Madam President, when are those who accept the risk of jumping from an aeroplane without a parachute going to be left to fall?

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because suitable measures need to be taken to restrict the levels of excessive debt and avoid future crises. I welcome it against the backdrop of the financial crisis and sovereign debt facing the states in the euro area. The Stability and Growth Pact needs to be strengthened further to safeguard financial stability and economic growth within the euro area. I should stress the importance of protecting Member States from the potential adverse impact of serious financial upheaval. Combining the ‘six-pack’ with the two new reports is intended to achieve precisely this result.

I also think that the economic and social problems caused by the crisis need to be looked at as a whole. Therefore, not only should Member States’ budgetary situation be taken into consideration, but also the investment required to improve it.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR ). – Madam President, when you look at the make-up of the eurozone, what we have is an economic project that was actually doomed to failure from the start – a bankruptcy machine, as some have called it. You have 17 countries, one currency, one set of interest rates, but 17 different spending decisions.

If you look at the lessons from successful currency unions, what keeps them together? You have fiscal transfers from the richer parts of the currency union to the poorer parts of the currency union. Therefore, we have a choice. We can keep the eurozone together in its current form, but then you have to have the transfers from the richer countries, Germany and the Netherlands, to the poorer countries. But what will the voters in those countries say? They will ask why they should pay for the less disciplined countries.

The other choice is to allow those countries that cannot economically viably stay in the eurozone to leave in an orderly fashion. The eurozone then does not break up altogether and you have a smaller, more viable eurozone. Failing to choose either course could lead to a disorderly break-up. Actually, it is a course that could be avoided if politicians were to act responsibly.

 
  
  

Report: Elisa Ferreira (A7-0173/2012 )

 
  
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  Markus Pieper (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, I rejected the report on the ‘two-pack’, but not because I do not believe in the need for stricter, clear rules on the path to fiscal union. Naturally, if the EU wants to survive, then it needs a new basic framework of confidence and stability. No, I rejected the report because this debate is being misused by those who think it can be used to pass a road map for the communitarisation of European debt and to bring in eurobonds at the same time.

Ladies and gentlemen, debt redemption funds and eurobonds will prevent national reforms and extend the agony of debt. That would poison European cohesion. The glue that holds us together has always been freedom, values and reciprocal responsibility. We cannot have the EU unilaterally imposing burdensome responsibilities on a few countries. The population of Austria, of the Netherlands, of Finland and Germany will never accept that, and candidate countries for the euro will also see it as a great deterrent. I am genuinely in favour of stability, but I am against unilateral burdens.

 
  
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  Ewald Stadler (NI ). (DE) Madam President, the same as I said regarding the Gauzès report applies to this report, mutatis mutandis – particularly as regards its virtuality. Mr Kamall of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group is absolutely right when he says that this euro currency was doomed to failure from the start, simply because economies with vastly differing trade balances – think, for example, of Germany, Austria and Greece – were bundled together in a currency area. No country has ever been destroyed by devaluations or revaluations. There are, however, countries in economic history that have been destroyed by their debts coupled with a trade deficit. That is the problem that this report by Ms Ferreira is not in a position to resolve.

We simply have to recognise what Paul Krugman said two days ago, when he commented in an American newspaper that the political élites of Europe are always ready to take action to protect the banks, but are not willing to adopt a policy that protects their citizens and puts the economy back at the service of people. That is precisely what is clearly expressed in this report. For this reason, I voted against.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, unlike my colleague, Mr Pieper, and for precisely the opposite reasons, I voted in favour of this report. With the two proposed regulations presented last November, the Commission said that if we want to achieve real risk sharing, we need to share more responsibility beforehand.

Through the votes cast in this Chamber on Ms Ferreira’s report, in particular, on the amendments with which we have started to pave the way for the redemption fund, project bonds and the separate consideration of investments, Parliament has reaffirmed the same concept, simply in the reverse order. If greater sharing of responsibility is what we want, we must share the risks. In other words, if we want strengthened governance and budgetary surveillance, we must also introduce forms of issuance which are tied to public debt and the risk must be shared.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, unfortunately, I was unable to vote in favour of this report. Nobody doubts that we need budgetary consolidation and a programme for growth and employment. So far, so good. However, the impact of new instruments should be checked before they are used. I find it extremely regrettable that this review mission for eurobonds and the debt redemption fund was more or less deleted from the report. It seems to me that a lack of knowledge is being covered up with actionism, and actionism can lead directly to disaster.

My second point concerns honesty. Naturally we need a programme for growth – nobody is objecting to that; but we should deal with this honestly. If people write that they want to invest 1% of gross domestic product every year in a growth programme – in other words, that we would yet again have to pay something alongside the European budget – then they are quite simply not being honest with our citizens. That is why, unfortunately, I had to reject this report.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D ). (The speech began mid-sentence as the microphone was off) (FI) ... has become a crisis for the euro and for European integration as a whole, one that is affecting not just ordinary people, but also the reputation of all of Europe. Closer monitoring and coordination of economic policy are essential measures if we are to avoid such crises in the future.

More stringent budgetary discipline is a welcome sequel to the ‘six-pack’ adopted last December. In order to get through the crisis, we need to implement measures that promote growth and employment. For this reason, it is important that the recommendations for the budgets of the Member States are not detrimental to investment that creates growth, nor should the requirements for growth be allowed to water down the objectives agreed for budgetary discipline.

A crisis always has its social dimension, which should be taken into account. It is important to safeguard education and health care. At present, the priority agenda should be the promotion of employment, and it is for this very reason that I supported the report.

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI ).(BG) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report for the very same reasons I also gave a short time ago for the Gauzès report, in other words, to get rid of the double standards being applied between various Member States.

At the same time, however, I wish to state that I support what Mr Callanan, Chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, said this morning to the effect that Member States, or at least their governments and peoples, must have the opportunity to express their opinion as to whether they want to continue being part of the single currency system with the euro, or whether they would prefer to go back to their national currencies and, therefore, with a more flexible policy now, look for other ways to resolve their problems.

This right that European citizens have, citizens of every single Member State, must be guaranteed, and no country should be made to remain in the euro area at any cost. When its citizens make such a decision, it must be left of its own free will to quit the euro area and pursue its own independent financial policy.

 
  
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  Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou (PPE ).(EL) Madam President, budgetary discipline is necessary for the stability of our common currency and the credibility of the euro area if we are to achieve viable growth and employment. The Gauzès and Ferreira reports strengthen this framework, especially the preventive aspect. The current crisis in the euro area proves how important it is that we prevent budgetary derailment in the Member States. That is why the New Democracy group voted in favour of these reports. At the same time, our group voted in favour of Amendments 27 and 67 on eurobonds and the creation of a redemption fund for joint debt coordination and management, with responsibility shared among the Member States. The creation of a growth facility is an important element in those amendments. It is high time for, and we urgently need, ambitious policies and instruments at European level that will stimulate investment and growth initiatives and generate exponential value and stability in the Member States’ initiatives and policies to increase growth and employment rates.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR ). – Madam President, I took the unusual step of voting rather than abstaining on this eurozone report for several reasons. Most of all, I really wanted – yet again – to use the opportunity to express my opposition to a financial transaction tax which – yet again – found its way into a report before this Parliament. There are, I am sure, some good things in this report, but Parliament is talking about tidying up the system and ignoring the real issue.

We hear that the Commission is busily preparing plans to cope with eurozone membership default. We hear Commissioners dropping hints in the media and Parliament is, as usual, completely behind the curve, proving yet again its irrelevance in these matters.

Why are we not discussing the real point here, which is how we are going to go forward? We are like rabbits in the headlights. We are just not seizing the agenda, and are just following the bureaucrats.

No doubt people will be beating their breasts and wailing in this Chamber in months to come about how we have dealt with the issue of default countries, and yet we are just not taking the opportunity to deal with it at the right time.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ).(ES) Madam President, it is painful to see a vibrant and joyful country consumed by the deepest social depression. Despite this, I would like to send my most heartfelt hopes to the Spanish people. Spain, there is a way out; you can experience another golden age, one in which dreams are fulfilled. The way out is through confidence in your citizens and in your entrepreneurs. The way out is a greater culture of effort, and fewer rewards and bailouts for those who have not wanted to take responsibility for disastrous investments; the way out involves less and not more state involvement.

I do not believe in spending a large amount of everyone’s resources to save just a few, nor do I believe in a macro-state that means another level of bureaucracy. Madam President, I believe in Spain.

 
  
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  Sampo Terho (EFD ). (FI) Madam President, the ‘two-pack’, like the ‘six-pack’ before it, will not work in the way that was hoped for. The ‘two-pack’ will not cure the present crisis. Instead, it will promote undemocratic surveillance, control over Member States from above, and joint accountability for debt, resulting in loss of morale and transfers of income within the Union. In a word, the ‘two-pack’ will promote the development of federalism.

I myself cannot support the notion that the EU should move in a direction for which I know we would not have a mandate from the citizens of Europe.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Madam President, undoubtedly, this was a controversial report. That was clearly to be seen in the debate we had in the EPP Group last night, and again today in what my colleagues said. Be that as it may, it contains good points, and I hope that a good solution is found when it goes forward for further discussion.

There is an urgent need for discipline in the countries, especially as regards financial expenditure. Therefore, I was delighted that my own country passed the referendum two weeks ago by a large majority: 60% in favour. I think that great credit is due to the three major parties – Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil – for the leadership they showed. I hope that the other countries will ratify the Treaty soon also and that we will succeed in resolving the euro’s problems.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR ). – Madam President, first we had the ‘six-pack’ and now we have the ‘two-pack’. Some say that adds up to the ‘eight–pack’ but, whatever it means, actually we have not really done anything, have we?

We need look no further for inspiration than the rapper of the same name – 2Pac. He actually had some very interesting things to say about this. In his song ‘Changes’ he says: ‘Come on, come on, I see no changes’. Some people in some countries suffering at the moment ‘wake up in the morning and … ask … is life worth living?’.

2Pac said ‘you see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do what we gotta do to survive’. If only the leaders of the eurozone countries would do what they ‘gotta’ do: either go for a full Union with fiscal transfers from the richer countries to the poorer countries, or allow those countries which cannot viably stay in the eurozone to leave. But, as 2Pac himself said, I see no changes.

 
  
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  Martin Kastler (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, I voted against the Ferreira report for a number of reasons. Reading our newspapers in Germany – only today, one of the big dailies says that the German chancellor is asking whether anybody still sticks to the rules in Europe, or they say that Cyprus is the next candidate for a bailout – I ask myself: ‘What next?’. Just as the previous speaker said that after the ‘six-pack’ comes the ‘two-pack’, I believe that after the ‘two-pack’ will come the ‘zero-pack’, because we no longer know how it is actually supposed to work. I am very concerned that we, the elected representatives, will be the last to find out the secret plan that the European Commission and the institutions have for how we carry on with Europe. I am firmly convinced that in the future, we will have to consider how we carry on at all.

The mood among the population of my constituency is so bad that it is clear: we want to help, but we also want to have rules, and those rules should be adhered to and checked. I cannot therefore vote for further debt, for a Europe of debt, a transfer union, which is what we already have in many areas. I am against eurobonds. I am also against project bonds, because I do not think that they will help us to act usefully in this area in the future and make progress together. I hope, however, that at some point, the European institutions will tell us transparently and openly about this so-called secret plan, so that we find out what it involves.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: B7-0303/2012

 
  
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  George Lyon (ALDE ). – Madam President, today, I and my colleagues voted for this resolution on the multiannual financial framework (MFF).

I want to make it clear that we do support a substantial reform to how the EU is funded, including a move to own resources, allowing a substantial cut in Member States’ contributions – although we do not believe the flawed Commission proposal for a financial transaction tax is part of that solution and we voted against that particular line. However, I want to make it very clear that we do not support any reduction in the UK rebate on a unilateral basis.

The MFF is an important tool for investment and growth across Europe, with 94% of spending taking place in Member States’ backyards. However, the size of the budget must take account of the tough financial times that we live in.

We need a budget that is realistic and able to tackle the problems Europe faces. If we are to have a tight budget, it is essential that the EU has greater flexibility on how we manage it to allow us to incentivise more efficient and more effective spending. Our priorities are clear: a realistic MFF budget with the flexibility to spend it effectively and efficiently on boosting growth across Europe and creating jobs.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, I voted in favour of the report, quite simply because it also represents the basis on which serious negotiations can be resumed not just with the Commission, but also, and above all, with the European Council. Quite simply, I consider it unfair the we, as Parliament, are, on the one hand, set off down the route of having to decide on new reforms in the new financial period of 2014-2020 as regards the Cohesion Fund, as regards – in particular – also European agricultural policy, without knowing exactly how much money is actually in the war chest. I do not consider this particularly fair and, quite simply, I expect this resolution to jolt things into action, so that the Member States tell us once and for all how much money is actually available. Reliable funding is, after all, the basis for being able to plan reliably and bring about any kind of stable reforms.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR ). – Madam President, governments across Europe are trying to bring public spending under control. So why do the European institutions think they should be exempt from tightening their belts?

A British think-tank recently revealed that the Commission now employs more officials to deal with education and culture than to work on the internal market. That is a disgrace.

The European Union must refocus its efforts on the single market and ensure that EU taxpayers are getting a fair deal.

I have explained to this House many times my opposition to the EU financial transaction tax. I am equally opposed to the introduction of EU VAT. More Europe is not the answer to the current crisis. More taxes are never the answer to any crisis.

I cannot support this report.

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI ).(BG) Madam President, when we were debating the multiannual financial framework at earlier stages in this very Chamber, the Commission declared to us that it would make those who were responsible for the financial crisis pay for inflicting it on the peoples of Europe. It was stated and promised that this would be achieved through a financial transaction tax, which I support.

At the same time, we can, nevertheless, see that there is also the intention now in this resolution, which is obviously still at a very early stage, to impose a new EU VAT. However, when VAT is levied, its burden basically falls on the very ordinary man in the street, in other words, on those who have the fewest resources. This means that we have debated financial transactions for years on end, yet, all of a sudden, it has turned out that the own resources burden will again not be shouldered by those who caused the crisis, but yet again by the ordinary European taxpayer. However, since both these points appeared together (one which I support and the other which I firmly oppose: the introduction of VAT), I abstained on this report.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR ). – Madam President, regrettably, I was unable to vote for this resolution today and, regrettably, the rest of the House was unable to vote for the resolution from my Group. We find ourselves, as ever, at an impasse.

I always try to look at this sort of issue from the point of view of my constituents. My constituents want a few questions answered. They want to know why the Commission is not preparing a significant reduction in its expenditure when it is calling for fiscal austerity throughout Member States. My constituents want to know why this Parliament, which they have elected me to attend, is not calling for a significant reduction in its expenditure. They want to know why we are living in a different universe, and they are going further and further away from accepting that there is any relevance at all, or any benefit at all, to being part of either the European Union or this Parliament. That is regrettable.

 
  
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  Daniël van der Stoep (NI ). – Madam President, the multiannual financial framework is something to be cherished. It gives the Member States ultimate control over this money-hungry Parliament. The Heads of Government have more realistic views on priorities than the unelected Members of the Commission and Members of this Parliament.

I hope that we will see a drastic decrease in funding for the failed EU project and that more money will come back to the taxpayers. Dutch citizens and taxpayers have, for too long, been the ATM machine for dysfunctional Member States. As the largest net contributors per capita, we are more aware than any other country that the system needs to change. This Parliament has to realise that it is not fictional money it is spending, but money brought up by the peoples of Europe, who are sick and tired of this puppetry Parliament and its continuous desire to spend more and more money on bogus projects.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). – Madam President, almost exactly 100 years ago, from the city of Southampton in my constituency, the Titanic made her maiden voyage. It is an irresistible message for many in this House and to many observers outside.

There are so many natural similes to draw about icebergs and scrambles for lifeboats and the hubris of saying that a vessel was indestructible and so on, but you know me, you have heard me in this Chamber many times before: I abhor the cliché, I disdain the easy metaphor.

Let me instead focus on a different aspect of the sinking of that vessel, which was the behaviour of the band leader, Wallace Hartley, who, we are told from several witness accounts, played a hymn as the ship went under the water, the old hymn ‘Nearer my God to thee’, which had been introduced by his father, who was a Methodist choirmaster, to their Lancashire congregation.

I wonder whether the reason he did that was not because he was soothing himself. In times of great panic, some people run around like ants, but others go back to what is familiar and there he was playing his elegy, his funeral threnody with the notes he had learnt as a boy.

Are we not doing something similar? Hundreds of millions of euro are being withdrawn in a bank run across the Mediterranean. The system is about to crash and we are legislating about a common definition, upon the phobia about company boards having quotas of women and so on. Why are we doing it? Because it makes us feel good. Regulation is what makes us feel good. Regulation is what makes us feel comfortable. Therein is our tragedy.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Madam President, I was happy to support this report, but I and my colleagues in Fine Gael then abstained in connection with item 3 of the votes because we are concerned about tax matters.

At the same time, there were 517 Members in favour and 74 against. That is a large majority in favour. The sooner the talks produce a result, the better.

The sooner we have definition and certainty regarding the MFF, the better, particularly for the CAP, CFP, Horizon 2020, etc. We also need some clarity regarding own resources. President Barroso was again talking about it this morning.

As the former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, said, it is time for us to take the Community approach rather than a nationalistic approach. To paraphrase the rapper, Mr Kamal, I might say ‘come on, come on, we do need to see some changes’.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution as the EU budget is an important tool which generates growth and new jobs. It can put the European economy back on the right track, while also fostering economic and social cohesion. I think that the budget needs to play a strategic role, reinforcing the EU’s position as a global player. At the same time, I would like to emphasise how important it is as part of achieving the EU’s political objectives.

I must highlight that there should be a balance between the income from own resources and expenses. The multiannual financial framework must be flexible enough to adjust the budget’s resources to the current circumstances. In this context, reforming the own resources system could result in greater fairness, thereby helping create a transparent, predictable and accountable framework.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR ). – Madam President, at a time when governments not only in the EU but across the world are struggling with enormous debts and having to tighten their belts and looking at ways they can cut their spending – and rightly so, because we have all allowed the debt to grow out of control – we have all forgotten the lesson of Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s, who said that we should all remember the housewife’s rule that we should never spend more money than we have coming in.

Governments across the EU, and governments across the world, forgot that lesson and thought that the solution to more problems was to carry on spending more money than they actually have. As we reflect on the crisis, as we reflect on the problems in our Member States, what do we see the EU doing while countries tighten their belts? We see the EU asking for more money from taxpayers, asking for it to spend more taxpayers’ money that they do not have, hoping that it will solve problems when all it will do is increase the mountain of debt. It is time we learnt the lessons.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: B7-0297/2012

 
  
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  Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE ).(DA) Madam President, I abstained from the vote on the resolution on EU trade negotiations with Japan just now, not because we in the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe do not want to see the agreement in question, but because we believe that the resolution adopted will actually help delay the process.

For us in the ALDE Group, there is no doubt that the way out of the crisis is growth and trade, free trade, and now is therefore the time that the EU must get started with the negotiations with Japan on a trade agreement.

Today, Parliament voted on a joint resolution proposed by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), and the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance. We believe that this resolution, in the form in which it has ended up, will delay the start of these negotiations, which is to the benefit of neither the EU nor Japan.

Rather than discussing interinstitutional disputes, we Liberals would like to get the negotiations under way with Japan about this trade agreement based on the mantra that growth is something that you trade, rather than buy, your way to. A free trade agreement with the world’s third largest economy has an enormous potential, and I hope that all parties understand that, so that we can get started on negotiating a trade agreement right away.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report, quite simply because trade can also be a factor in adding value, if it is conducted fairly. I think this motion for a resolution clearly underlines once again the fact that trade must naturally be of benefit to both sides. Quite simply, it is also a matter of both sides making a few concessions. As far as I am concerned, this requirement is met in the motion, and I therefore voted in favour and I now also hope that the negotiations will be conducted successfully so that a so-called free trade agreement is not solely detrimental to the European Union. I expect our partners in Japan to make significant concessions too.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Madam President, I voted against this progress report on EU trade negations with Japan as I do not believe that our negotiations in this regard should be delayed any further. The scoping exercise which was carried out relating to the potential for EU-Japan free trade agreements has identified many key areas on both sides. Both sides are now prepared to start discussions and this has shown clearly that Japan is ready to commence negotiations.

Indeed, Japan has already delivered on a number of non-tariff barriers by eliminating them. So, given the fact that Japan has already embarked on negotiations with ASEAN and the USA in these matters, any further delays by the European Union now would mean running the risk of being seriously left behind once negotiations actually start. EU FTAs with countries as far apart as Mexico and South Korea have been a great economic success story, so I hope that the European Union can now conclude FTA deals with India and Japan, which are the two great democracies of Asia.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE ). – Madam President, I voted for this particular resolution today. I think the first thing we have got to do is to congratulate the people of Japan on their resilience and the manner in which they have bounced back after the earthquake and the tsunami of March 2011. As a highly developed economy and as a major global trader and investor, Japan is an important partner for the EU. Japan is the world’s third largest national economy, accounting for around 1.3% of the world’s population and around 9% of the world’s GDP.

However, it is important – and I stressed this when we discussed negotiations on trade relations with China – that Japan remove regulatory barriers to trade as a precondition for launching further negotiations on the EU-Japan trade agreement. I agree with the previous speakers, I agree with Mr Jahr, I agree also with the other two speakers, that what we need to do is to get down to business immediately.

Trade is crucial if we are to rescue ourselves out of the economic morass in which we find ourselves at present, so I welcome the resolution. Today is a good day, but let us get on with the business.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE ). – Madam President, I have always been fascinated by Japan. I think its people’s sense of industry, enterprise and willingness to face calamities – as my colleague Mr Higgins mentioned in regard to the earthquake and tsunami last year – are most admirable. Of course, as the world’s third largest national economy, it is important that we trade with them. They are our sixth largest trading partner. We are their third largest trading partner. So obviously the closer the ties are, the better.

In the last ten years, there have been four important agreements with Japan. This needs to be developed into a full FTA. There are issues regarding IPR, public procurement and maybe investment that need to be looked at, but Japan has shown a willingness to deal with all these issues. It is important now that we have an openness of approach and that we try to reach a full FTA with Japan, in the interests of our own economy, in the interests of their economy and in the interests of democracy.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution because a trade agreement can provide substantial benefits to both parties. However, the interests of European industry must be taken into account and protected in this process. Therefore, before initiating negotiations, a number of problem issues need to be resolved. I am referring, in particular, to the non-tariff trade barriers applied by Japan which create an imbalance in relations with European economic operators. The car industry is among those hardest hit.

This is the reason that I, too, endorse the proposal for postponing the decision on initiating the negotiations for a trade agreement. I believe that Parliament must have the chance to express its view on this subject, following an analysis carried out within the specialist committee. I call on the Council to respect the point of view expressed by Parliament.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR ). – Madam President, as the shadow rapporteur for the ECR Group on the EU-Japan negotiations, I thought it was very important that we send a strong signal that we want to commence negotiations with Japan.

Of course there are concerns about whether Japan has tackled some of the non-tariff barriers and whether they are able to do so, but surely the best way forward would have been to start negotiations because we always have the option of saying that the Japanese have not done enough and therefore we will not sign the agreement.

All we do by adopting the stance that we have adopted in delaying the start of negotiations is create bad will, or not enough goodwill, between us, and we have to make sure that we do not use that option too often, because Japan has other areas to negotiate with. It has started to negotiate the TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – with the United States, and it is negotiating with other Asian countries.

Let us make sure that after this delay, hopefully in the autumn, we give the Commission the mandate to start negotiating so we all benefit from the free trade. It is time that governments got out of the way and allowed people in businesses in the EU to trade with people in businesses with Japan.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: RC-B7-0277/2012

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, ever since Guinea-Bissau gained independence in the 1970s, the county’s political situation has been marked by permanent instability, chaos and constant conflict between the civil authorities and the military. This has resulted in a profound crisis which has affected the whole country and caused high levels of poverty among its citizens. A further cause for concern is April’s military coup, which was carried out on what was practically the day before the presidential election and made conduct of the election impossible.

I would like to condemn this shameful incident, and I would like to ask the European institutions to use diplomatic means to stabilise the situation in Guinea-Bissau and restore the civilian administration. Only democratically elected representatives of government can expect international recognition and support for the process of building a healthy state from the bottom up. Upholding constitutional order and bringing peace to Guinea-Bissau is vital to Europe’s interests because of the need to block the international drug smuggling route which runs through the country from South America. I support the resolution.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, I very rarely agree with Mr Bielan, but this time it is with a certain amount of surprise that I realise we have a very similar attitude to what is happening in Guinea-Bissau. I, too, support this resolution, and voted for its adoption.

Guinea-Bissau is a country which is, unfortunately, a very important link in a certain chain – a chain used by drugs cartels to send drugs to Europe. If only for this reason, it is a country which must attract the particular interest of the European Union, although it should also attract our interest because – as I have often stressed in my speeches, and this is something we probably too often forget – for many people throughout the world, the European Union is a symbol of freedom and democracy. We must be – and people in very different countries expect this of us – an international organisation and a Union which sets standards in democracy.

The military coup we witnessed recently in Guinea-Bissau, which brought a halt to the presidential election, is a sad consequence of all that has happened since Guinea-Bissau achieved home rule and became independent from Portugal. Since that time, a constant conflict has been in progress between soldiers loyal to military governments and attempts to reactivate or to establish civil society.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: RC-B7-0281/2012

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D ). (FI) Madam President, I supported the joint resolution. The recent culmination of tensions between Sudan and South Sudan has driven the countries to the brink of war.

The issue of how commercial advantages and raw materials might be divided up in the countries’ border regions was left mostly unresolved when South Sudan gained independence. The countries must be persuaded to sit down at the negotiating table. Above all, a political solution to the crisis needs to be found.

The United Nations must propose a viable, comprehensive solution in the form of the road map published in May. The ball is now in the court of these two countries, but the presence and visibility of both the UN and the EU in the region is necessary. The European Union should closely support regional and international actors, so that the terms and conditions of the UN road map, in particular, can be implemented without delay. The EU must stress the importance of ending the violence in both countries.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, all of us in the House know that President al-Bashir is the subject of an arrest warrant charging him with genocide. The international community still does not know what to do about the fact that Sudan is headed by a man who should not be allowed to function in a normal democratic world. On the other hand, South Sudan – a country which has huge natural resources and opportunities for development which frankly are probably unrivalled throughout Africa – is still a country where the incidence of infant mortality, poverty and other tragic circumstances is among the highest in the world. Therefore, I think it is important for the European Union to take action to mitigate a situation which today has reached a critical state. Armed hostilities and exchanges of fire at the border between South Sudan and Sudan are increasing, although, of course, we all considered the peaceful separation of the southern provinces of Sudan and their declaration of independence to be a success. I think, therefore, that this resolution is a good one, and I voted in favour of its adoption.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: B7-0301/2012

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL ). – Madam President, the negotiation and conclusion of the EU free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru has rightly caused great opposition from trade unionists and from civil society organisations in both Europe and in Latin America. The human rights and workers’ rights situation, particularly in Colombia, remains extremely alarming, despite the claim from President Santos that his government represents a major departure from the vicious anti-worker and anti-indigenous peoples government of President Uribe.

Colombia still remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for a trade unionist to be active: 55 human rights defenders were killed or disappeared in 2011 alone, an increase of 40% compared with 2010. For example, Manuel Ruíz, leader of the Curvaradó peasant community, who was included in the special protection programme by the government, was murdered together with his 15 year-old son on 23 March of this year.

The resolution which has been approved by Parliament is meant to raise some of its concerns before giving consent to the free trade agreement. I obviously share those concerns. However, this resolution cannot serve as a fig leaf for giving consent to an FTA which will largely benefit European corporations.

 
  
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  Metro Repo (S&D ). (FI) Madam President, I supported the resolution. The European Union is the second largest trading partner for Colombia and Peru. A trade agreement will be of enormous benefit to both countries in the field of industry and fishing, as the Peruvian President said today.

The European Union is a community of values, based on a respect for the principles of human rights and democracy. This obligation also extends to the Union’s trade policy. It is vitally important that the EU implements its foreign and trade policy with reference to its values. Business is not just about business: the situation in the countries that we trade with must be taken into account as a whole.

Both Colombia and Peru need to continue their work in acknowledging and implementing human rights obligations and environmental protection. These are not obligations imposed by the European Union: they are each country’s own international obligations. The trade agreement with Colombia and Peru is becoming an important example of what sort of trade partnerships Europe is prepared to agree on and on what terms and conditions.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, trade relations with the countries of South America are an important factor in EU economic policy. In addition, a commitment to promote human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law – a commitment of this kind is also mentioned in the resolution – is always an important condition for effective dialogue with foreign partners. This means that the efforts of these countries’ governments to establish a legal framework and mechanisms of dialogue with civil society – where such things do not exist – should be supported. All the measures being taken by the Peruvian and Colombian authorities to combat poverty, violence, corruption and drug trafficking deserve recognition. Therefore, I voted to adopt the resolution.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE ). – Madam President, what is in this agreement? Well, what we have in this agreement basically deals with tariffs, investments, public procurement, services and sustainable development. What is the advantage? Obviously, there is a mutual advantage for both sides. It will certainly have a positive advantage in terms of trade for both parties. The EU will increase its presence in these dynamic and growing markets, which have produced an increase in GNP of around 1% in each country.

However, I abstained on this particular vote today. I abstained because, as has been said previously, there is a major human rights problem in the shape of the murder of trade unionists, particularly in Colombia. The situation is that trade unionists have been murdered and are being murdered by the day. Yesterday, my colleagues Gay Mitchell and Mairead McGuinness and I met with the Colombian Attorney General. We emphasised the fact that something would have to be done. He quoted the figure that between 2010 and 2011, there was a 50% reduction in trade union murders. Much done, but an awful lot more to do.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, I endorsed the agreement because, having observed Colombia for many years, I think it is a country which should be held up as an example of how to cope with enormous problems effectively. Colombia today is a truly different country from the one it was 10-15 years ago. This is, in large measure, due to the very effective Presidency of President Uribe, whose leadership brought peace and the opportunity for development to a great many Colombians. I think that our free trade agreement with Colombia opens the way to opportunities for still faster growth of the country, faster reduction of poverty and also – something which should be stressed here, because we must not close our eyes to Colombia’s problems – an effective fight against what is still the greatest problem in Colombia today, the country’s huge production of drugs. If opportunities for trade with the European Union allow many of the people of Colombia’s villages and rural areas to change from producing drugs to some other activity – something we will enable them to do by opening European markets – this will also contribute to fighting effectively against the terrible evil of drug production in Colombia.

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR ). – Madam President, I abstained on this report as it is another classic case of the right idea but in the wrong place.

Of course we all want to see better human rights records around the world. I personally raised the issue of human rights with President Santos of Colombia last year and I was impressed with his commitment to improve human rights in a country which has suffered from 50 years of guerrilla warfare.

But this is to confuse political agreements about political measures with trade agreements, which should be about jobs and market access. Trade agreements are not trade agreements when they become weighed down with non-trade issues.

No matter how worthy those issues are, it is not desirable or effective to confuse the two, nor can you switch trade agreements on and off like light switches, as this report suggests, so that every accusation on human rights leads to the suspension of the agreement.

That is a recipe for chaos, confusion and misery, for lost jobs and lost opportunities, and we cannot afford that, especially not at this time.

 
  
  

Report: José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (A7-0174/2012 )

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the proposal to appoint a Special Representative for Human Rights comes from the Treaty and from a series of requests made by Parliament. Although the appointment will be made by the Council at the proposal of the High Representative, it is essential that Parliament and the Commission also have their say on this matter. We are also asking to be able to participate in the election procedure and to have responsibility for monitoring the representative’s conduct through hearings before the competent committee. The Special Representative for Human Rights should have to provide an annual report on their activity to the Council, the Commission and Parliament. However, I hope that the new representative appointed will know how to separate the protection of human rights from financial interests, because I do not believe the overly tolerant behaviour of many states towards China is acceptable – for example, the attitude towards human rights violations in Tibet – just because China is an economic power.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D ). (FI) Madam President, the EU’s foreign policy has been adrift for the last few years. This is partly due to the establishment of the new European External Action Service.

The European Parliament has repeatedly called for the appointment of a special EU representative for human rights. Nevertheless, I fear the worst: that the candidate who is actually the most qualified for the position will not be chosen once again. Europe deserves a human rights representative selected on the basis of his or her qualifications and not because he or she has the right political connections or as a result of political wrangling. The Finnish Government has a capable woman for the job: Astrid Thors, an honorary Member of the European Parliament.

The role will be a particularly responsible one. The special representative must be expected to improve the visibility and consistency of the Union’s human rights policy. The EU’s human rights profile needs a global figurehead; it needs a face to represent it. For this reason, I also voted in favour of this important report.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Madam President, I abstained on the report on the appointment of an EU SR for human rights. I remain uncertain about the need for the creation of such a new post, as important human rights dialogues are already frequently being held by the EU with all our global partners. Of course, there might be benefits to having a dedicated EU representative appointed to promote the strengthening of democracy, international justice and freedom of expression throughout the world, but, in my view, the case has not yet been fully made.

However, I am also concerned that the recommendations by Parliament are too broad, and that the mandate that they will provide for will be too flexible and too far removed from the original proposals submitted by the Council. I am also concerned that the creation of such a position would have implications for the EU budget, especially at a time when we need to be making cuts, rather than creating new posts and spending more money.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because the new EU Special Representative for Human Rights must live up to the expectations he or she generates. With this in mind, he or she needs a clear, comprehensive mandate to ensure that European policies in this area are consistent.

I endorse the idea that the special representative should chair high-level dialogues on human rights. This will guarantee a coherent, uniform approach in the EU’s relations with other countries. I also think that the person taking on this function must become the natural point of contact for the other international and regional organisations. At the same time, there must be a close relationship with Parliament. By this, I mean primarily not only organising the initial hearing, but also exchanging opinions on an ongoing basis as part of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: B7-0276/2012

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union has always accepted all international agreements regarding the arms trade. I believe that we should regulate the sector by giving operators a clear and common regulatory framework. It is also important and necessary to distinguish between weapons for military use or possible military use, which must be regulated separately, and weapons for sporting or recreational use. If this is not done, the European manufacturing sector, in particular, that of civilian and sporting weapons, will be penalised.

Once again, Europe risks failing to protect our small and medium-sized enterprises which export arms all over the world and which could see more constraints applied unilaterally by legislation that puts a weapon for sporting use and a tank in the same category. Fortunately, this morning we rejected an amendment by a political group proposing a ban on exporting any type of weapon, without considering in the slightest the damage this choice would have done to our economy.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, we come across instances of illegal arms trading on a regular basis. The conspicuous lack of transparency and specific international legal measures concerning the transfer of conventional weapons or their components is sure to lead to political instability and the escalation of armed conflicts, as well as to terrorist attacks and a growth in the significance of organised criminal groups. All the above factors result in unnecessary loss of life and the suffering of millions of people throughout the world. In view of the fact that practically every country in the world is involved in the arms trade, and because the value of this trade is steadily rising in spite of the crisis, it is essential to regulate this area at global level. I therefore support the very important call in the resolution for the speedy negotiation, and urgent adoption and entry into force, of a comprehensive UN treaty on this matter. However, irrespective of the result of these negotiations, the European Union should consistently support action which leads to stabilisation of the arms trade, with the help of diplomatic measures, consultations and an appropriate information policy.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Madam President, I voted in favour of this resolution on negotiations on the UN Arms Trade Treaty as I believe the arms trade can only be properly regulated at a global level.

It is important to note that the arms trade plays a significant role in contributing to economic growth and creates many jobs in the European Union, including in my country, the United Kingdom. However, the arms trade in its unregulated and non-transparent state seriously threatens local, national and international peace and stability and also undermines democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development through fuelling, tragically, armed conflict, organised crime and terrorism.

The creation of internationally agreed standards to ensure that conventional weapons are only imported, exported and transferred for appropriate use would, I believe, have a very positive impact. Thus, I back these calls for a resolution that is legally binding, in order to establish common international standards. It is revealing that the only UN member opposed to this move is Zimbabwe.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, the arms trade is a serious moral problem for civilised nations. On the one hand, the production of weapons is an important factor in the economies of many of the European Union’s Member States and is the source of many jobs, because we know of course that weapons are simply a necessity – democratic countries need these weapons to ensure protection from the evil which still exists in our world. On the other hand, however, we are aware that a large part of the arms trade today also supplies a variety of dictatorships and terrorist organisations – organisations which are nothing more than criminal groups. For this reason, global control of the arms trade would appear to be essential, and so it was with complete conviction that I endorsed the resolution.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution: RC-B7-0280/2012

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE ).(HU) Madam President, I myself was part of the European Parliament delegation to the Election Observation Mission dispatched to Kinshasa on 28 November 2011 to monitor the legislative process and presidential elections in the Congo. I was there to personally observe the votes. I can state on the basis of my own experience that there were serious problems with the electoral process, namely, irregularities and fraud. Voter registration was lacking, the counting of votes lacked transparency, and there were incidents of violence in some places. Following its stay in the Congo, our Election Observation Mission formulated recommendations intended for the provincial and municipal elections, which, to this day, have not taken place. I find it crucial for the legal framework of elections to be respected, especially in a country with such a large population and in which the massive turnout at the November elections was proof of the demand for free elections.

The publication of the results was followed by uproar in the streets of Brussels as well, where Congolese citizens living in Belgium gave voice to their disagreement through vandalism.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Madam President, I voted in favour of this resolution on the follow-up of the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has succeeded, five months after holding elections – that admittedly were of questionable conduct and fairness – in forming a new government. However, all things said and done, the Congolese people did turn out to vote in huge numbers, which demonstrates their deep enthusiasm for the building of a genuine democracy in their large nation.

But it is not just the election process that is necessary for the building of a true democracy. The new government, led by President Kabila, must now commit itself to the social and economic development of this vast mineral-rich country and to upholding the population’s basic human rights. With the reports of continued human rights violations, in particular, mass rapes, the DRC still has a long way to go and must start to make significant progress in the criminal investigations into these atrocious crimes and the enforcement of criminal justice.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, free and fair elections are the foundation of democratic governments. The presidential and parliamentary elections held in November last year, despite the assistance of the European Union and the involvement of a large number of observers, have given rise to numerous doubts both among the people of Congo and in international opinion. It is also disturbing to hear of violations of human rights, particularly those which have taken place with the involvement of members of the Congolese army. While I do accept the results of the recent elections, I would like to draw attention to the need for continued commitment to the process of establishing a fully democratic political system in Congo. I appeal to the Republic’s current authorities to give attention to the recommendations for reform of the electoral mechanism referred to in the final report of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission, reforms which are being demanded by the opposition. All the irregularities revealed during the course of the elections should be unequivocally condemned. I would also like to call the attention of the Congolese authorities to the urgent need to bring an end to the violence among the civilian population, and to guarantee security and the rule of law. I voted to adopt the resolution.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, the European Union provided a fairly large sum – over EUR 50 million in total – to finance the monitoring and conduct of the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, unfortunately, while we do accept the results of the elections, we are not able – unfortunately we are not able – to verify that the results are genuine. This is a fundamental problem when it comes to what is, in many ways, a very important country from our point of view. However, there are other problems which are, in fact, more important. I refer to the mass rapes being committed in the Republic of Congo, which we are told are being committed – and this is reliable information – with the involvement of the Congolese army. So it would appear that this resolution was a necessary one. I think the resolution was also hoped for by very many people in Congo, who would like the country to move in a democratic direction – the direction it deserves, and as indeed is deserved quite simply by every country in the world.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution because Congo has not emerged completely from the spiral of violence and instability which has been affecting it for so long. Clashes continue in the eastern part of the country between the rebel groups and armed forces. The security situation has deteriorated again, causing the civilian population to be displaced. As I have confirmed in other similar cases too, under these circumstances, the priorities must be to stop the acts of violence and deliver emergency humanitarian aid. In order to achieve this, full compliance with the arms embargo is vital.

Democratic progress must also be encouraged in Congo, along with the process of stabilisation. In this regard, the recommendations made by the EU Election Observation Mission must be implemented in full so as to avoid a recurrence of irregularities at future elections.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Inés Ayala Sender (A7-0188/2012 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this appointment because the Committee on Budgetary Control has evaluated the qualifications of the proposed candidate, with particular reference to the conditions laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and because, at its 4 June 2012 meeting, the Committee on Budgetary Control held a hearing for the Council’s proposed candidate for the Court of Auditors.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I feel that Iliana Ivanova has the qualifications and experience required to perform the function of a member of the Court of Auditors of the European Union in an effective and suitable manner. Ms Ivanova has considerable experience in auditing, management and financial reporting in both the public and private sectors. This experience is supplemented by her work in Parliament, especially as a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control. At the same time, I think that Ms Ivanova gave convincing, well-argued answers to the questions in the specific questionnaire, including on topics relating to independence and integrity. I think that they guarantee the impartiality and objectivity with which she will perform her future function. Last but not least, I feel that the experience gained by Ms Ivanova as an MEP will prove to be conducive to interinstitutional communication and coordination at EU level.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because the Committee on Budgetary Control welcomed the nomination of Iliana Ivanova as a Member of the Court of Auditors. The Committee evaluated the credentials of the nominee, in particular, in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Iliana Ivanova has 12 years of professional and political experience in the public as well as in the private sector related to financial management, auditing and reporting. She was mostly dedicated to matters of financial management and reporting and further developed her professional experience at premier banking and financial institutions. In 2009, Iliana Ivanova became a member of the European Parliament and full member and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control. She also worked as rapporteur on a number of dossiers in the Committee on Budgetary Control: the 2010 EIB annual report, the regulation on the Hercule III Programme to promote activities in the field of the protection of the European Union’s financial interests, the regulation on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy, the opinion on innovative financial instruments in the context of the next multiannual financial framework, etc.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE ), in writing. (HU) Iliana Ivanova was nominated for Member of the European Court of Auditors by the Bulgarian Government. A Member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Ms Ivanova has been an MEP since 2009, and has been Vice-Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control, Vice-Chair of the Special Committee on the Financial, Economic and Social Crisis, Vice-Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China, a member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and a substitute member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

In the Committee on Budgetary Control, this Bulgarian MEP has demonstrated her competence on several occasions, having been rapporteur for the following reports: the 2010 Annual Report of the European Investment Bank, the regulation on the Hercule III Programme to promote activities in the field of the protection of the European Union’s financial interests, and the regulation on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy. Within the Committee, this Bulgarian PPE Member was responsible for the opinion on innovative financial instruments, and the study concerning the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism and the European Stability Mechanism.

Between 2007 and 2009, Ms Ivanova was Municipal Councillor of the city of Sofia and a member of the Committees on Budget and Finance, European funds and Environment. Previously, she had worked in the United States, and prior to that she had been Coordinator for international financial institutions in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Bulgaria between 1999 and 2002.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control heard Ms Ivanova at its meeting of 4 June 2012 and, at the subsequent vote, the vast majority of Committee Members supported the Bulgarian candidate.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I wish Iliana Ivanova every success in her mandate for the important task entrusted to her, and I am convinced that she will carry out the duties for which she is being appointed with great dedication and skill.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), constituted by the courts of auditors of the Member States, is to verify the sound financial management of the funds provided for the EU by taxpayers, within the rules laid down in EU law. The Court comprises a representative of each Member State, who choose their president from amongst their number. It is currently chaired by the Portuguese Dr Vítor Caldeira. This report by Inés Ayala Sender recommends that we approve the appointment of Iliana Ivanova to the post of member of the Court of Auditors. In view of the training and experience of the candidate nominated by the Council and of the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control, I am voting for the appointment of Bulgaria’s Iliana Ivanova as a member of the ECA. In view of the importance of the ECA’s role in the transparency of European accounts, I hope the new member’s mandate will go well, since her success will be a success for the European public as a whole.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Since 2009, Iliana Ivanova has been Vice-Chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control, Vice-Chair of the Special Committee on the Economic, Financial and Social Crisis, Vice-Chair of the Delegation for Relations with China, a member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and a substitute member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. In the past, she has acted as Councillor on the Sofia Municipal Council, and has also worked at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Bulgaria as a coordinator for international and financial institutions. In the past, she also worked in a number of foreign institutions and companies as financial analyst and business development expert. The Committee on Budgetary Control considered the qualifications of the proposed candidate. The European Parliament delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Iliana Ivanova as a Member of the Court of Auditors and, at the same time, instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, to the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE ), in writing. (HU) In the light of the financial crisis, major national supervisory institutions, as well as the European Court of Auditors and the European Parliament, should endeavour to cooperate closer than ever before, in order to be able to appropriately assess the quality of the utilisation of EU funds. I voted in favour of the appointment of Iliana Ivanova because it was she who, as a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control, initiated that hearings be held regarding matters of budgetary control concerning financial instruments (EFSM, ESM, EFSF) that affect the aforementioned institutions. I believe that this could represent a first step in the right direction. Since controls of the new instruments aimed at combating the credit crisis were performed, in part, by national control institutions, sometimes through the European Court of Auditors, and since it is the responsibility of the European Parliament to represent democratic scrutiny on behalf of the public in this process, it seems self-evident to hear all viewpoints that outline the major challenges Europe must face in connection with the aforementioned stability mechanisms at a common discussion. Additionally, my Bulgarian colleague has earned the respect of our fellow Members through her comprehensive work and excellent reports, and has demonstrated through her professional competence that she is fit to fill the position to which she has been appointed. I congratulate Ms Ivanova, and wish her all the best for her work in Luxembourg.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report on the nomination of Ms Ivanova as a Member of the Court of Auditors for six years. This nomination, approved by a large majority of the European Parliament, follows the regulatory procedure, that is to say, prior consultation of the European Parliament before any Council decision, which will be based on the proposals made by each Member State.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the nomination of Iliana Ivanova as a Member of the Court of Auditors.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Court of Auditors is an institution that monitors the European Union’s income and outgoings to verify their legality, as well as verifying sound financial management. It operates with complete independence. In this spirit, the appointment of the individuals of which it comprises must be governed by criteria of capability and independence. As such, on the Council’s initiative, individuals from several EU countries have been put forward for the Court of Auditors. The candidate has submitted her curriculum vitae, completed a written questionnaire and been interviewed by the Committee on Budgetary Control. She argued her case well enough to demonstrate that she would perform her duties capably and independently if appointed to the Court of Auditors. I therefore voted for the appointment of Iliana Ivanova.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – Unfortunately, neither her biography nor work experience convinced me of Iliana Ivanova’s ability to fulfil her responsibilities efficiently. I abstained.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the appointment of Iliana Ivanova to the post of member of the Court of Auditors. My decision is based on all the information presented for this choice, including her answers to the questionnaire for candidates for membership of the Court of Auditors, annexed to this report, as they show she complies with the criteria laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the need for members of the Court of Auditors to be fully independent. I therefore welcome Iliana Ivanova’s appointment.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Section 7 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the Court of Auditors as one of the EU institutions. It was created in 1975 to audit the European Union’s accounts and improve its financial management. The Court of Auditors can carry out audits of any person or organisation with responsibility for managing EU funds and present its conclusions in the form of written reports, which are sent to the Commission and to the governments of the Member States. The Member States present a proposal to the Council, which approves the list of members of the Court of Auditors following consultation with Parliament. I am voting for the appointment of Iliana Ivanova as she fulfils all of the conditions set out in Article 286(1) TFEU.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Despite her youth, Ms Ivanova has gained professional experience in banks, multinational companies and the Bulgarian Government, which has allowed her to acquire skills in financial management in both the public and private sectors. Considering her curriculum vitae and her work as Vice-Chair of Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, I believe she is ideal for nomination as a Member of the Court of Auditors.

 
  
  

Report: Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (A7-0186/2012 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for these recommendations because I agree with their substance as regards the EU’s role in the UN, particularly as regards global governance; peace and security; reform of the Security Council; development issues, including sustainable development; climate change; human rights; justice; and support for democracy. However, it is regrettable that no agreement has been reached on setting up a parliamentary assembly for the United Nations.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. I welcome closer cooperation between the EU and the UN General Assembly, which enables the EU to strengthen its global role by putting its views across more clearly and effectively. I welcome the proposals set out that we need to develop a long-term strategy targeting the UN’s membership and thus enhance the visibility of the EU’s actions, involve civil society and international and regional organisations in cooperation between the EU and the UN General Assembly and mainstream human rights in all aspects of the UN’s work. It is also important to build partnerships in the area of conflict prevention and civilian and military crisis management with the UN, the OSCE, the African Union and the Arab League, and to ensure that the share of overall European aid earmarked for development is not reduced and retains a poverty focus.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because, as a global player with major responsibilities, involvement and visibility, the European Union must adopt clear, coherent positions coordinated at UN level, enabling it to achieve the fundamental objectives in terms of peace and security, human rights and development. The EU needs to be constantly involved in reinforcing global governance by supporting the UN as a key aspect of effective multilateralism. At the same time, the process of reforming the UN needs to continue with the aim of ensuring greater legitimacy, efficiency and responsiveness. I should stress the importance of strengthening the operational partnership to guarantee the effectiveness of the peacekeeping and building missions, especially in cases where the civilian capabilities of the common security and defence policy (CSDP) offer support to UN missions. I think that the EU needs to continue to develop its mediation capacities in order to maximise its constructive impact in preventing and resolving conflicts. I call on the High Representative and the EEAS to pay more attention to this area. I welcome the provisions on the gender aspect and on the involvement of women at every stage of the peace process, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1325/2000. I believe that the EU must be involved even more actively in implementing it globally, including via partnerships with other states.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because, in an international organisation like the United Nations, there is a growing need for common rules and decision-making mechanisms in order to jointly address emerging global challenges and the negative impact of the global economic crisis. In order to remain a key player in an increasingly multipolar world in need of global concerted action, in accordance with the Treaties, the European Union Member States are obliged to coordinate their action in international organisations and at international conferences. The European Union is also committed to effective multilateralism with a strong United Nations at its core, since this is essential in order to address global challenges. Justice and the rule of law are pillars of sustainable peace, guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms. A solid and stable EU-UN partnership is therefore fundamental to the work of the UN under all three pillars – peace and security, human rights and development – and is also key to the EU’s role as a global actor.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The United Nations is naturally subject to scrutiny which is sometimes tainted by partiality or by political prejudices. However, it is impossible to downplay the recurring problems of legitimacy and adequacy in light of the established episodes of maladministration and the history of weakness regarding global challenges and the need for coherence concerning universal values such as peace and civil, religious and economic freedom.

The report directly addresses these two issues, working on the commendable premise that a stronger partnership with the EU could strengthen the United Nations in a wide range of activities such as cooperation, conflict prevention, peacekeeping and promoting models of governance, which, while preserving different cultural traditions, respect human and civil rights, with the positive effect of global stabilisation.

With regard to the United Nations, the EU, despite the difficulties of the integration process, is more cohesive in terms of culture, philosophy of government, constituent values and strategic interests. In this regard, it seems reasonable that the EU, considering its financial and operational contribution to the United Nations, should work to take on a more assertive role on the international stage. I therefore voted in favour of the report’s recommendations.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted for this resolution, which calls for greater international efforts aimed at ensuring that all human rights agreed under UN conventions are considered universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. We must also better integrate support for democracy into the EU’s external action and support democratic governance through its different financial instruments.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which calls for European diplomacy to have a stronger influence on United Nations decisions and actions. Our common commitment to human rights, and to the values of peace, security and freedom, should enable the European Union to contribute to the development of democracy, peace and prosperity throughout the world, working in a complementary and coordinated manner with the Member States.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The United Nations does not reflect the reality of 1945 but that which the winners of the Second World War still thought existed at that time. Its inability to change means the UN will run the risk of its survival being called into question. While it is true that the worlds of the Cold War and of the period of US dominance could coexist with a Security Council devoid of true military, demographic, economic and cultural representativeness, its ability to carry on in present times is far more doubtful. The attainment by vigorous states in the South and East of the status of emerging powers, along with the speed of the media and the ease of their access by the peoples, demand a new approach. The best way of symbolically enshrining this new understanding may involve expanding the number of permanent members of the UN Security Council, and strengthening the way in which the European Union operates and its Member States cooperate within the UN.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report by Mr Lambsdorff, of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, concerns a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). EU participation in the UNGA is always an important moment of political involvement in an international-level coordination and supervisory institution, so preparations for it should be equal to this huge responsibility. I voted for this report because it aims to improve the conditions under which the EU participates in the UNGA, whose widely supported Resolution 65/276 reinforces the EU’s observer status. It is also crucial to provide information about the commitments made by the Member States on the United Nations Human Rights Council institution building package and the outcome of the review process. I hope EU participation will contribute decisively to preparing a post-2015 development framework in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, of international level sustainable development and of international humanitarian aid for populations whose survival is at risk for political or climate reasons.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This is a report from which obvious contradictions emerge. Although it is true that it defends international law, the UN and its ‘global governance’ role are hard to square with the positions advocated by NATO, the G8, the G20, the IMF and the WTO. These forums, amongst others, pervert the world order for which the UN’s creation paved the way and seek to establish a new order dominated by the major imperialist powers. Advocating ‘respect for, and the promotion and safeguarding of, the universality and indivisibility of human rights’ cannot be squared with complacency about Israel’s state terrorism against the Palestinian people or the occupation of and killing of civilians in Afghanistan, to name but a few. We reject the well-worn aspiration of some, expressed more than once here, of obtaining a seat for the European Union on an expanded Security Council, designed to confer on the EU state legitimacy that it does not have.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing.(SK) Common international values and norms aim to ensure peace, the protection of human rights, security and prosperity in the world, and to share the benefits of globalisation among all on a more equitable basis. There is a growing need for common rules and decision-making mechanisms in order to jointly address emerging global challenges and the negative impact of the global economic crisis. I am of the view that the European Union needs to strengthen its cohesion in order to remain a key player in an increasingly multipolar world in need of global concerted action. A solid and stable EU-United Nations partnership is fundamental to the work of the UN under all three pillars – peace and security, human rights and development – and is also key to the EU's role as a global player. The European Union and the UN are natural partners in peace and state building, and together provide a framework for collective peace and state building efforts. However, I also believe it is important to better integrate democracy support into European external action, and to support democratic governance through its different financial instruments using the resources of the EU delegations whenever possible. It is equally important for the EU to work with the UN and other partners globally and locally to enhance the rule of law, foster independent media and build and strengthen democratic institutions that can deliver.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) By adopting the report containing a proposal for a recommendation to the Council on the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the European Parliament is affirming its desire to create a solid and stable partnership between the United Nations and the European Union. I welcome that desire. It is essential that we coordinate the EU’s action to the fullest extent possible, by putting across unified positions and strengthening the coherence and visibility of the EU as a global actor at the UN, and by consolidating its contribution to the work of the UN.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which calls for action to strengthen international efforts aimed at ensuring that all human rights agreed under UN conventions are considered universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated; to help strengthen national capacities for the fulfilment of international human rights obligations; and, in this connection, to stress the need to secure the right of freedom of religion and belief for all.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE ), in writing. (IT) We are calling on the Council to implement any kind of initiative to strengthen the coherence and visibility of the European Union as a global actor at the United Nations and we call on it to work closely with the Member States towards improving coordination, transparency and the exchange of information.

To advance effective multilateralism in foreign policy is not only one of our main goals but also one of the Union’s overriding strategic concerns. Therefore, we must engage more actively with strategic and other bilateral and multilateral partners, especially the USA, in order to promote effective solutions to problems which affect both EU citizens and the world at large, including the poorest and most vulnerable.

We must therefore strengthen the operational partnership and promote the strategic coherence and effectiveness of peace building efforts in order to strengthen EU mediation and dialogue capacities. Our international efforts must be aimed at ensuring that all human rights agreed under our Treaties and under United Nations conventions are considered universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report. In particular, I agree with the need to strengthen international efforts aimed at ensuring that all human rights agreed under United Nations conventions are considered universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. We should also help strengthen national capacities for the fulfilment of international human rights obligations. Lastly, it is right to stress the need to secure the right to freedom of religion and belief for all.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) At this time of crisis we are experiencing, the EU needs to step up its cohesion and be a cornerstone of the international political scene. Given the importance of a solid and stable EU-UN partnership to the work of the UN, the EU must fight on all fronts to strengthen the international criminal justice system, to guarantee better protection and recognition for human rights, to promote the culture of democracy and the rule of law, and to assume a leading role on climate issues, supporting biodiversity and protecting the climate in developing countries.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – The report put forward the annual EP recommendations to the Council regarding the 67th UN General Assembly; notably, the role of the EU at the UN, global governance, peace and security, reform of the Security Council, development issues, including sustainable development and climate change, and human rights, international justice and democracy support.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The Middle East peace negotiations that took place in Washington in autumn 2010 are further evidence of the EU’s dwarf-like status in external policy. Although it is officially part of the so-called Middle East Quartet, alongside the US, the UN and Russia, we do not even have a place at the negotiating table, let alone being allowed to speak. This insignificance does not seem to bother Brussels any longer, because Europe has long enjoyed playing the role of paymaster. It seems that the principle of ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’ does not apply to the EU, which is always ‘concerned’ or ‘shocked’ at the risks to peace that arise or at existing injustices. Rather than imagining ourselves to be a giant in external policy in the context of the Treaty of Lisbon, it would have been better at the outset to clarify issues surrounding appropriate representation of the European Union at the United Nations, including the speaking rights of its main representatives or the tabling of motions. After all, the European Union is not a country, and the people of Europe do not want it to become one. Since the EU does not deal with these basic problems, I abstained from voting on this report.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D ), in writing. – I support the report containing detailed recommendations for improvement of the global governance helping to promote EU values, preserve our world and improve quality of life for millions of people. The European Union is one of the world’s biggest democracy, peace, human rights promoter and development supporter. We have to use opportunities offered by the UN at the global level to strengthen our foreign policy and achieve its goals more effectively. On the other hand, the EU can increase the effectiveness of the UN. The EU should take advantage of its experience, take a leading role in strengthening cooperation between different UN organs and other stakeholders and put this common potential into action. The joint global action is needed in many fields in many places in the world.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for the European Parliament’s recommendations to the European Council on the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly because I agree with their content, particularly strengthening the coherence and visibility of the EU as a global actor at the UN, thereby meeting the expectations of UN members regarding the ability of the EU to act and deliver in a timely fashion.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report includes a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. It concerns various issues, but the most significant is that regarding EU-UN relations. The intention is to step up further the EU’s role in the UN, both through increased representation in its specialised institutions and agencies, and through the development of stronger public diplomacy. It also focuses on issues relating to maintaining and consolidating global peace and human rights. As regards the former, the intention is to promote the role of ‘mediation’ and strengthen the international criminal justice system. With respect to human rights, it provides for greater efforts at international level to ensure that all the human rights accorded under the UN conventions are considered universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. Finally, it aims for greater integration of EU development policies at all levels, always taking into account protecting human rights and environmental protection. I voted for this report for the above reasons.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – Deemed adopted without a vote (Rule 97(4)).

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The European Union and the United Nations (UN) share common values and norms aimed at ensuring peace, security and the protection of human rights around the world. Moreover, the EU and its Member States are the largest financial contributors to the UN, funding 39% of its regular budget and more than 40% of its peacekeeping operations. However, cooperation between the two organisations is still not clearly defined. In the report adopted in plenary this week, which I supported, we called on the Council to clarify and strengthen the EU’s relations with the UN, in particular, with its General Assembly, which will meet for its 67th session at the end of the year. That international meeting will be the EU’s opportunity to affirm its role as a leader in a world in which concerted action is increasingly necessary.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D ), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the resolution on a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly. I consider the defence of human rights to be of particular importance. Efforts should be made to achieve the adoption in 2012 of a resolution banning female genital mutilation worldwide and on continuing efforts in relation to the call for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. It is also important for there to be continued support for action on the rights of the child, free media, religious tolerance and to eradicate torture, including adoption of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Torture. The Union should emphasise its commitment to the work of the UN Human Rights Council by co-sponsoring statements and declarations. The appointment of an EU Special Representative for Human Rights will raise the Union’s status in the international arena in the field of human rights. Therefore, at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Union should announce this appointment and say that the special representative’s mandate will include cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council.

I would also like to draw attention to the need for women to be involved in building and maintaining peace around the world. With regard to this, we should strive to achieve the implementation by all UN Member States of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which addresses the issue of gender in the context of conflict prevention, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) With regard to the proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on EU priorities for the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, I believe that a post-2015 international global framework should be set out with the following essential objectives: to improve the implementation of innovative financing mechanisms to meet climate change goals, assessing first the successes and failures in respect of the current goals achieved and not achieved; to make a wholehearted commitment to the goals set at Rio+20; to reiterate the commitment to food security in member countries and to stimulate productive capacity in agriculture, infrastructure, new businesses, access to technologies, human and social development in least developed countries; to support fully the core role played by the United Nations, and particularly by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In the report adopted today, the European Parliament makes some recommendations to the Council regarding the European Union’s position in the United Nations system, with particular emphasis on issues of global governance, of peace and security, of international justice, of human rights, of support for democracy, of development, and of climate change, environmental protection and sustainability. I would also stress Parliament’s insistence to the Council that a common interpretation be reached regarding how the European Union participates in the work of the General Assembly and that progress be made towards a consensual reform of the Security Council, so as to make it more legitimate. I voted for this report for those reasons.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the 67th session of the UN General Assembly. The EU needs to strengthen its cohesion in order to remain a key player in an increasingly multipolar world in need of concerted global action. I think that the EU needs to coordinate actions to the maximum possible extent, present common positions and improve its coherence and visibility as a global player at the UN. The EU and its Member States are among the largest financial contributors to the UN system. The EU27 fund 39% of the UN’s regular budget and more than 40% of UN peacekeeping operations. I think that it is important to ensure that the share of overall European aid channelled through the EU budget is not reduced and retains its focus on combating poverty and hunger. Taking into account the EU’s support for the ‘Education for All’ initiative and its commitment to playing a role in global health, 20% of all EU assistance needs to be earmarked for basic social services, with a special focus on free, universal access to primary health care and education.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR ), in writing. – This report sets out the case for the EU as an independent actor at the UN, which I and fellow British Conservatives have consistently opposed. The EU is neither a nation state nor a member of the United Nations, and the EU’s intention (in the words of the report) ‘to develop a long-term strategy targeting UN membership’ goes completely against UK Government policy and the wishes of the British people. Under no circumstances should European Member States of the UN, still less members of the Security Council, allow the EU to demand (in the words of the report) ‘the defence of the positions and interests of the EU in the UN Security Council’ by those Member States which are members of that body. As a matter of principle, I therefore opposed this report.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing. – The EU needs to strengthen its cohesion in order to remain a key player in an increasingly multipolar world in need of global concerted action. The EU is committed to effective multilateralism with a strong UN at its core, since this is essential in order to address global challenges. A solid and stable EU-UN partnership is fundamental to the work of the UN under all three pillars – peace and security, human rights and development – and is also a key to the EU’s role as a global actor.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) At a time of crisis like the one we are experiencing, the European Union needs to strengthen its cohesion in order to remain a key player in international politics. Considering the importance of a solid and stable EU-UN partnership to the work of the United Nations, the Union needs to commit itself on several fronts in order to strengthen the international criminal justice system, provide better protection and recognition of human rights, promote the culture of democracy and the rule of law and to take the lead in global climate governance by supporting biodiversity and climate protection in developing countries.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) As it is not possible to highlight all the – many – important issues included in this report, we would underline the hypocrisy of those claiming to defend international law, the UN and its ‘global governance’ role, at the same time as they support its perversion and hijacking, specifically through the role of NATO, the G8, the G20, the IMF, the WTO and other forums aimed at rolling back the democratisation of international relations represented by the creation of the UN and at a world order dominated by the major imperialist powers. Once again, they are hypocritically invoking ‘respect for, and the promotion and safeguarding of, the universality and indivisibility of human rights’ and the need to strengthen them at international level, when they violate these rights or are complicit in the violation thereof every day, through their support for Israel’s state terrorism against the Palestinian people, and the occupation of and killing of civilians in Afghanistan, to name but a few. They support the ‘responsibility to protect’, which can be translated as deepening the processes of intervention, aggression and violation of national sovereignty whenever the interests of the major world powers are at stake. They also defend a state legitimacy that the EU does not have, with the already tired aspiration of obtaining a seat on the expanded UN Security Council.

 
  
  

Report: Christofer Fjellner (A7-0054/2012 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because the European Union has been awarding non-reciprocal trade preferences since 1971, in the form of reduced duties for goods imported into the European market from developing countries through the generalised system of preferences. However, in this area, it is particularly important to draw attention to the fact that the new legislative proposal is intended to focus on the import preferences of the developing countries in greatest need. In practice, this means that preferences are withdrawn from some countries, thereby increasing the value of the preferences for those who remain in the scheme, a process which could be called ‘preference consolidation’; that seems like the most suitable approach to me, in fact.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The existing generalised scheme of tariff preferences (GSP scheme) dates back to 2008 and I therefore believe that it should be improved and adapted to today’s realities. The aim of this trade instrument is to enable developing countries to participate more fully in international trade and thereby generate additional export revenue. Several important changes to the scheme should be adopted, with the aim of concentrating import preferences on those developing countries most in need. I agree that preferences should be withdrawn for countries which have an alternative preferential arrangement and countries which are classified by the World Bank as high-income countries. I also believe that the GSP scheme should not apply to certain products if they become too competitive on the EU market. As for poorer countries, I agree that preferences for these should be increased and product coverage extended. On the subject of GSP+, I agree with the new criteria laid down by the Commission and it is important for more countries to be involved in the GSP+ scheme.

 
  
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  Erik Bánki (PPE ), in writing. (HU) The purpose of the scheme of generalised tariff preferences is to use preferential customs tariffs to allow access to the EU market for those developing countries that need it the most. The current regulation, however, essentially covers all non-European countries other than the developed member countries of the OECD. Among the countries covered there are several that have more competitive economies than the EU or which are granting their own export companies subsidies contrary to WTO rules. Coming into effect in 2014, the new system will cut down the number of countries eligible for reduced customs tariffs to less than half. This will allow us to ensure that it is developing countries truly in need that can enjoy preferential treatment. This is why I, too, voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because the generalised scheme of tariff preferences (GSP scheme) is one of the EU’s trade instruments for promoting sustainable development and poverty reduction in developing countries, and ensuring respect for human rights. The European Union has granted non-reciprocal trade preferences in the form of reduced tariffs for goods from developing countries when entering the European market through the GSP scheme since 1971. It is part of its common commercial policy. The aim of this key trade instrument is to enable developing countries to participate more fully in international trade and thereby generate additional export revenue to support income growth and the implementation of their own sustainable development and poverty reduction policy strategies. The latest scheme dates back to 2008 and is now due for review. While maintaining this general structure, the new legislative proposal introduces several changes to the import scheme from developing countries, with the aim of concentrating import preferences on those developing countries most in need. In practice, this means that preferences are withdrawn from some countries, thereby increasing the value of the preferences for those who remain in the scheme.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The EU’s scheme of generalised tariff preferences was introduced in the 1970s, with the aim of the preferences granted being for the common trade policy to complement the development cooperation policy for the benefit of the developing countries, providing a system of preferential tariffs granted unilaterally by the EU to products originating from these states. The generalised scheme of tariff preferences (GSP) is based on three fundamental rules: the preferences are general, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory. This means that the EU offers low customs duties or duty exemptions to 178 countries and territories, granting special benefits to the least well developed 50 countries and to states which implement the labour and environmental protection standards. The GSP system may have a longer-term impact inasmuch as it makes the countries eligible for preferences more attractive as locations for inward processing, encouraging foreign direct investors who would like to export to the EU market in the future. In general, trade experts have found it difficult to identify another positive impact from the trade preferences on GSP exports, apart from the transfer of the revenue which comes with the duty-free import of goods.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The report, which I support, completes the brave step of rationalising and adapting the scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) to changed economic and geopolitical circumstances, while also protecting their inherent incentives for development and cooperation, and therefore, ultimately, for stability and security. While, for many countries, GSP beneficiary status has been bypassed through free trade agreements with the EU, in other cases, being a GSP beneficiary was clearly an outdated legacy no longer in line with the goals of the system.

The sensitive issue of the so-called GSP+ countries remains, but this can be dealt with in the light of our experience of this reform, just as there will be ongoing changes to the enforcement of the provisions of the delegated acts, including during the five-year review. Likewise, it is desirable for all possible care to be taken in regional monitoring of the implications of the possible inclusion of parties to free trade agreements and countries with GSP status. I am sure that any shortcomings will be quickly identified, partly thanks to careful monitoring of thresholds and the competition posed by imports. Overall, this instrument has come out leaner and more transparent than before, and is certainly in step with economies undergoing relatively rapid change.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE ), in writing. (CS) The generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) should, first and foremost, be a tool for development and, in that context, I consider it right that the new GSP regime submitted by the Commission no longer covers high-income or upper middle-income countries. It therefore excludes most Latin American countries and countries such as Algeria, South Africa, Gabon, Namibia and most of the Caribbean islands. Meanwhile, economies as powerful as those of India, China, Indonesia and Thailand would continue to be eligible for the GSP, albeit temporarily. Accordingly, it seems unfair to make GDP per capita the sole eligibility criterion for the GSP, thereby penalising small countries despite the high levels of poverty they may face. The Commission should therefore, in my view, give serious consideration to using a combination of more indicators and criteria. The Commission should also, in my opinion, clearly identify the parties authorised to provide further information on monitoring mechanisms, introduce a transparent system of benchmarks, carry out a clear human rights impact assessment, adapting EU trade policies to protect those rights, and take greater account of the specific role of EU delegations.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – While I wholeheartedly applaud global efforts to lift developing countries out of poverty via the establishment of strong trade links, the difficulty with establishing a pan European model is that it denies individual Member States the ability to adapt markets and charge importation tariffs that meet their individual needs

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I welcome the fact that Parliament adopted the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences without distorting the original structure proposed by the Commission. I note that the trialogue with the Council and the Commission helped us to move in the same direction and meet Parliament’s objectives, particularly for the most sensitive issues, such as the clauses on the textile sector.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe the European Union should support developing countries which share a common need for development, which are at similar economic development levels, and which are not classified by the World Bank as high-income or medium/high-income or do not have a very high or high human development index. The generalised system of preferences will certainly contribute to these countries achieving higher levels of development. Moreover, this scheme will ensure greater consistency between internal and external EU policy.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which reviews the scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP). The European Union has granted trade preferences to developing countries since 1971. These provisions are regularly adapted to take account of each country’s economic growth. Today’s vote is the first review of this system under the codecision procedure. In fact, we could barely have hoped for the compromise agreed with the Council, given the vastly differing positions of the Member States. For French Socialists, this text succeeds on two key issues: ensuring that the large emerging countries no longer benefit from preferential access to the EU market and facilitating exports from the poorest countries. This new trade regime will therefore enable us to provide better support to developing countries and it will be a step forward in our fight for fair trade as it will officially exclude the emerging countries almost entirely.

 
  
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  Ole Christensen (S&D ), in writing. (DA) My reasons for voting in favour of the Fjellner report on tariff preferences for developing countries are set out below.

In order for these countries to benefit from what they grow or produce, this access is necessary. The slimming down to the 80 poorest countries has many positive aspects, as it bolsters the economies and competitiveness of those countries. At the same time, the agreement supports the implementation of those countries’ own strategies for sustainable development and combating poverty.

The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament managed to have a longer transitional period instituted for those countries leaving the scheme. We attempted to obtain a majority in favour of a somewhat more flexible scheme that would take greater account of the inequality in the countries (the Gini coefficient) and other development criteria (the human development index) when deciding which countries to include in the scheme.

The agreement represents the best possible compromise, and it is important that negotiations on the agreement have been completed. When it comes to countries that are no longer covered by the scheme, negotiations are to be carried out directly between the EU and these countries. It is, furthermore, a positive thing that the scheme is flexible, so that countries can join if their poverty conditions deteriorate.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the legislative resolution on applying a scheme of tariff preferences as I feel that this framework needed to be revised. Removing high-income and upper middle-income beneficiary states from the list, along with those which already have a preferential bilateral agreement with the EU, means that we can ensure that countries which have achieved a high level of development are not given an unfair advantage.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I think that the aim of this key trade instrument – the generalised scheme of tariff preferences – must be to enable developing countries to participate more fully in international trade, thereby generating additional export revenue to support income growth and the implementation of their own sustainable development and poverty reduction policy strategies.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) In order to allow the poorest countries to participate in global trade, the European Union has applied a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) since 1971. This mechanism allows products from less developed countries to enter the European market at lower prices by exempting them completely or partially from customs duties. However, the global economy has changed a great deal in the past 40 years. Some emerging countries that previously benefited from the GSP, such as Brazil, China and Russia, no longer face the same problems in terms of participating in trade. The new mechanism will concentrate on the countries that are most in need, so it is a step in the right direction. A second major advance is the establishment of an incentive arrangement known as ‘GSP+’. It will benefit the countries that work to ensure sustainable development and promote human rights.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which seeks to make the customs benefits offered by the European Union more effective by focusing efforts on 80 developing countries rather than the 170 it covers today. The application of these preferential tariffs should help to promote the global trade, economic growth and social development of the countries that are most in need, while preventing other foreign companies from benefiting as a result and competing unfairly against European products on the internal market.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The European Parliament has endorsed the proposal for a regulation put forward in spring 2011 by the Commission to update the EU’s scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) in order to reflect the changes that have taken place to the structure of global trade. The next GSP, which will enter into force on 1 January 2014, will no longer grant tariff preferences to countries classified as high-income or middle-income countries on the World Bank index. Consequently, countries whose per capita income has exceeded USD 4 000 for four years will no longer benefit from reduced or zero tariffs for exports to the EU: they include countries that produce and export oil (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.). The review reduces from 176 to 75 the number of countries that can benefit from preferential access to EU markets. I welcome the adoption of this report, which I believe to be fair: the next GSP will exclude high-income countries and pay more attention to the most deprived countries. Those are the countries that we must help first and foremost.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the draft European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences because it improves the coherence and coordination of the Union’s aid for the development of the poorer countries in the world. I positively welcome the interconnection made between the concessions granted to those countries and the need for improvements, on their side, concerning human rights, labour rights and sustainability. This represents, in my view, the best way to guarantee the delivery of help to the people, by building up, at the same time, more trustworthy governance systems in their countries, which will result in a better future and more reliable partnership. Unfortunately, the suggestion made by the S&D Group to include more low-income countries in the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) did not get enough support from other political groups. This report, nevertheless, is the result of a good compromise, which I am confident will manage to deliver a significant contribution to the development of those countries more in need.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D ), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats believe that it is right for the EU not to give trade preferences to wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Russia. However, we do not believe that it is fair for GDP per capita to constitute the only condition for whether or not a country is to be included in the generalised scheme of tariff preferences (GSP). We do not consider the classification by the World Bank to be adequate. The EU should instead also take account of other factors indicating how vulnerable the countries are when classifications are made, such as diversification, integration into world trade and ranking on the United Nations Development Programme’s human development index. We support the fact that those countries covered by the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) scheme, which is aimed at the 50 or so countries that the UN designates as the world’s least developed countries, are not affected by the amendment of the GSP.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Since 1971, the European Union has been awarding non-reciprocal trade preferences, in the form of reduced duties for goods imported into the European market from developing countries through the generalised system of preferences. This method is an integral part of the common commercial policy, in line with the general provisions governing EU external action. For this very reason, and because aid to developing countries in the form of lower tariffs should affect the maximum possible number of countries needing it, I advocate keeping the same calculation criteria for identifying beneficiaries.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In 1968, the United Nations conference on trade and development recommended the creation of a generalised system of preferences (GSP) under which countries considered more developed would support developing countries by granting trade preferences. The European Community was the first to implement a GSP scheme in 1971 and it has proved to be one of the key means of cooperation on poverty reduction relating to international trade. Around 176 countries have benefited from the GSP, but there is a need to revise it by introducing new rules, new conditions and more incentives. This report by Mr Fjellner concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council for applying a new scheme of generalised tariff preferences. I voted for this proposal because, without jeopardising the EU’s economic interests, it supports developing countries that defend EU values by incentivising their exports. Although its scope as regards products covered has now been increased, the new programme (GSP+) includes tougher requirements, such as the 27 relating to respect for human rights and environmental protection.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) For decades, the EU has been guaranteeing developing countries the chance to export products to the EU without reciprocity. This was not motivated solely by development but also by self-interest, since it stabilised the prices of essential goods, particularly agricultural products and so-called ‘commodities’, in general. Developments have been taking place and distinctions made within this system, seeking to benefit the less developed countries more. However, all this has been jeopardised by submission to the rules of the World Trade Organisation, one of the institutional pillars of international level neoliberalism, and by the emergence of free trade as a means of colonising the economies of developing countries.

The new regulation now being proposed will see the EU move from a wider ranging system of trade preferences between industrialised countries or blocs to a more restrictive one. Many countries will be excluded from the non-reciprocal preferences system, which is not unconnected to unacceptable pressure and blackmail to force acceptance of free trade agreements, as is happening with Ecuador. On the other hand, in the interests of the EU powers, benefits are being expanded for some countries, which could have a negative impact on countries like Portugal, where sensitive sectors, such as textiles or clothing, carry significant weight. We voted against.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing.(SK) The European Union has granted trade preferences to developing countries through the generalised system of preferences (GSP) since 1971. This system is one of the key EU trade instruments assisting developing countries in their efforts to ensure core human and labour rights, reduce poverty and promote sustainable development and good governance in developing countries. Thanks to increased trade, many developing countries and export sectors have successfully integrated within the global marketplace. In order to ensure a better safeguarding of the EU’s financial and economic interests and to enhance legal certainty, stability and predictability, the administrative procedures for safeguard mechanisms are being improved. The new regulation is premised on enhanced transparency and predictability, including applicable procedures and rights of defence. I am confident that it will better safeguard the EU’s financial and economic interests and will enhance legal certainty and stability. It is important to bear in mind that preferential access to the EU market is one of several enablers that sustain development through trade. What the new GSP Regulation seeks to achieve is greater simplicity, predictability and better targeting of the EU GSP scheme so as to maximise its effectiveness; all of the proposed modalities are also in line with the United Nations’ priorities for combating global poverty.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I fully supported the review of the scheme of generalised tariff preferences, which was examined for the first time since 1971 under the codecision procedure. This text succeeds on two key issues that are particularly important for Social Democrats: ensuring that the large emerging countries no longer benefit from preferential access to the EU market and facilitating exports from the poorest countries. I am therefore pleased that this new trade regime will, in the long run, enable us to provide better support to developing countries as part of our fight for fair trade, as it officially excludes the emerging countries almost entirely from this scheme. I welcome this message to the ultra-liberals as it goes against the approach that promotes excessive competition, which must now give way to the sound and balanced development advocated by the Socialists.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The scheme of generalised tariff preferences offers preferential duties, notably customs duties, for developing countries. This system, set up in 1971, is a necessary mechanism in an increasingly competitive global economic and trade environment. While Europe is in the midst of an incredibly dramatic crisis, some developing countries have been experiencing significant growth and become very competitive. That is why we need to update the scheme by focusing on the least developed countries and tightening up the eligibility criteria, e.g. compliance with 27 international conventions on human, labour and environmental rights. It is now up to the Commission to apply this tool and ensure a fair balance, in line with the realities on the ground, rather than focusing solely on a mechanical application of the criteria laid down in the different regimes (GSP, GSP+, Everything But Arms).

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I supported the report by Mr Fjellner reviewing the scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP). Through this trade agreement, the European Union will offer 80 countries and territories preferential access to the EU market in the form of reduced customs duties on the products they export to that market. It is an essential tool for our external and development policies. I also welcome the extension of the GSP+ criteria, which make trade benefits subject to the ratification of basic conventions on human, labour and environmental rights. This is an essential and effective means of promoting the European Union’s values.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE ), in writing.(SK) The European Union has granted non-reciprocal trade preferences in the form of reduced tariffs for goods from developing countries when entering the European market through the generalised scheme of tariff preferences since 1971. In 2009, the value of EU imports under this scheme amounted to around EUR 60 billion, representing 4% of total EU imports. New rules approved by the Lisbon Treaty under the ordinary legislative procedure should reduce the number of beneficiaries from 186 countries to 80. The so-called more advanced developed countries, which are currently the biggest beneficiaries, accounting for around 40% of preferential imports into the EU, will be removed. The new regulation will also include a set of safeguard and surveillance measures, and the procedures that trigger the safeguard clauses and decision-making procedures have been redefined. I fully support the proposal.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The scheme of generalised tariff preferences required clarification in order to improve the current situation and standardise the enforcement of these procedures, while also being sensitive to the particular characteristics of the individual Member States. As such, it is important to introduce assessment and monitoring mechanisms that allow the tariff preferences to be applied and adapted according to changed economic, social and technological circumstances. My vote in favour is therefore intended to offer encouragement to continue down this road, as well as not to lose sight of the changing conditions in our increasingly globalised markets. This way, it will be possible to avoid favouring or disadvantaging Member States, which could find themselves in really tough competition.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which aims to concentrate the benefits of the GSP scheme in the poorest countries in the world.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Even though we must monitor the effects of these measures closely in future, I support Mr Fjellner’s proposal that the review of the GSP scheme should seek to extend benefits to poorer countries which remain in the scheme in order to increase the development potential.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this new generalised system of preferences (GSP) for imports from developing countries because it is a more balanced and more demanding scheme than the current one. The main improvements are halving the number of beneficiary countries to concentrate on the countries in the greatest need and toughening up the requirements for benefiting from GSP+, which is a more beneficial scheme. Despite these positives, I am bound to express here my opposition to easing the conditions for accessing GSP+, which will enable large economies like Pakistan, which are very competitive in some sectors, to access it – if they meet the other conditions relating to human rights and the rule of law – at the expense of poorer countries and to the cost of Europe’s own textile industry, particularly in Portugal.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – For the first time, this regulation will be subject to the ordinary legislative procedure, following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Therefore, it will enable developing countries to participate more fully in international trade and thereby generate additional export revenue to support income growth and the implementation of their own sustainable development and poverty reduction policy strategies. Preferences will be withdrawn from some countries, thereby increasing the value of the preferences for those who remain in the scheme, a process which could be called ‘preference consolidation’. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) As far back as 1964, there were loud calls from some developing countries for trade preferences to improve their economic situation. In 1968, after an agreement was reached, a generalised system of preferences (GSP) was introduced. The European Economic Community introduced the GSP in 1971 and other nations like the United States followed suit. The temporary granting of trade preferences sought to achieve the following goals: an increase in developing countries’ export revenues through diversification of the exported products, promotion of industrialisation and an acceleration of economic growth in the developing countries. Furthermore, the GSP was intended to ensure that the products favoured originated in developing countries. To date, the GSP represents one of the most important EU instruments in the area of trade and it is monitored by the European Commission. However, I am unable to vote in favour of the report because the amendments proposed do not seem to be fully thought out.

 
  
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  Vital Moreira (S&D ), in writing. (PT) The delegation from the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) voted for the new generalised system of preferences (GSP) for imports from developing countries since it is a more balanced and more demanding scheme than the current one because, first, it halves the number of beneficiary countries to concentrate on the countries in the greatest need and, second, it toughens up the requirements for benefiting from GSP+, which is a more beneficial scheme. This positive overall stance does not, however, mean we have abandoned the objections we have been expressing since the start to relaxing the conditions for accessing GSP+, which will enable large economies like Pakistan, which are very competitive in some sectors, to access it – if they meet the other conditions relating to human rights and the rule of law – at the expense of poorer countries and to the cost of Europe’s own textile industry. Although the special safeguard clause obtained by Parliament for textiles and clothing satisfactorily defends European industry, we believe, on principle, that European generosity towards third countries cannot come at the cost of the economies of the less competitive Member States.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) As this is the first time that the regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council applying a generalised system of preferences is being adopted using the ordinary legislative procedure, and in view of the major changes being proposed, I share the rapporteur’s aim of providing for a revision thereof five years after it comes into force and a limited duration of 10 years, rather than the unspecified duration proposed by the Commission. That will, in fact, be a significant improvement on the current situation, since this period is long enough to ensure stability and predictability for economic operators. As such, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Since 1971, the European Union has been awarding non-reciprocal trade preferences, in the form of reduced duties for goods imported into the European market from developing countries through the generalised system of preferences (GSP). The latest scheme dates back to 2008 and is now due for review. For the first time, this regulation will be subject to the ordinary legislative procedure, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The purpose of this important trade instrument is to enable developing countries to participate more fully in international trade, thereby generating additional export revenue to support income growth and the implementation of their own sustainable development policy and poverty reduction strategies. I therefore voted for this report.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I congratulate Mr Fjellner on his work. The adoption of this report, having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Development, represents Parliament’s desire to introduce several changes to the import scheme from developing countries, with the aim to ‘concentrate import preferences on those developing countries most in need’.

The product coverage should therefore be extended to some products of particular value to developing countries, while taking care to avoid eroding the preferences of the least developed countries on products essential for them. Furthermore, the proposed reform highlights two basic requirements: the need for a more targeted graduation system and further promotion of core human and labour rights, and principles of sustainable development.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – Against. Greens/EFA amendments related to adding vulnerability criterion, longer transition periods, deleting exclusion if country restricts raw materials exports, deleting frogs legs and nuclear machines from beneficiaries of GSP were all rejected.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Developing countries need to participate in international trade, since an increased presence would allow them to generate additional export revenue to support income growth and the implementation of sustainable development and poverty reduction strategies. This review must now extend the benefits to poorer areas above all others, increasing the development potential and incorporating products of particular value to developing countries.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The scheme of generalised tariff preferences (GSP) has existed in Europe since 1971 and its benefits have been clear for all to see. All that remained was to adapt it to the global economic situation: some countries that were classified as less advanced have become very competitive in recent years. The new GSP criteria mean that they will no longer be able to benefit from preferential tariffs, while the least developed countries will be able to profit more from them. That is why I voted for the amendments at this part-session. I also welcome the improvements to the follow-up and monitoring of the GSP+, under which the additional tariff preferences are now subject to 27 basic conventions on human, labour and environmental rights. This is an issue that I raised in my November 2011 report: trade can be a means of promoting the EU’s essential values if, and only if, the EU has the ability to ensure that they are respected. The review of the mechanism for withdrawing preferences takes the right approach. The adoption of this report will also allow the proposal to be finalised and enter into force by the end of the year.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I voted against Mr Fjellner’s report, even though the Commission’s proposal is, without doubt, an improvement on the previous scheme of generalised tariff preferences, and despite the fact that the Council introduced a number of additional restrictions for the GSP+ scheme during negotiations with Parliament. Unfortunately, however, a country such as Pakistan – a serious threat to EU textile businesses, which continue to hold strong – would soon be able to benefit from the GSP+ scheme. I do not think that is a good thing. We ought to have further limited access to these trade preferences. That is why Lega Nord voted against.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Since 1971, as part of its common commercial policy, the European Union has offered preferential trade tariffs (GSP) to certain developing countries in order to stimulate their economic growth. However, some emerging countries are now competing with Europe on the global markets so those benefits are no longer justified. The updating of the GSP will reduce the number of countries benefiting from preferential access to EU markets from 176 to around 75. It will also reduce the total value of imports under the preferential scheme by some EUR 20 billion. We are also strengthening another special regime, known as the GSP+, which offers additional benefits but with conditions: the countries will have to prove that they comply with 27 international conventions on human rights and sustainable development. In adopting this proposal for a regulation, our aim is to help the countries that really need our help, encouraging them to adopt our values, but also to reinforce our trade defences against our direct competitors.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The Commission has proposed to revise the scheme of generalised tariff preferences, which has been in force in the EU since 1971, with regard to non-reciprocal trade preferences for goods that enter the EU market from developing countries. Despite the fact that the new preferences criteria will cut the number of beneficiaries by around 50%, I think this system does act as a real lever to increase the gross domestic product of developing countries and results in actions to deal with the problems in these countries, while also genuinely tackling poverty.

 
  
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  Francisco Sosa Wagner (NI ), in writing. (ES) I completely abstained from the vote as I did not have time to review the amendments and the voting list. They were not available for review until the end of the day prior to the vote.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Since 1971, the European Union has been awarding non-reciprocal trade preferences, in the form of reduced duties for goods imported into the European market from developing countries through the generalised system of preferences (GSP). The purpose of this trade instrument is to enable developing countries to participate more fully in international trade, thereby generating additional export revenue to support income growth and the implementation of their own development policy and poverty reduction strategies. The proposed revision of this system provides for important changes, not least reducing beneficiaries to 80 countries, excluding countries whose annual income per capita exceeds USD 4 000 for three consecutive years, introducing a system of grading products by sector and extending the GSP+ to a greater number of countries. I support the new architecture that has been proposed, and I voted in favour in the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE ), in writing. – The European market with more than 500 million citizens is the biggest in the world, bigger than the USA or Japan. That gives us more political power and strengthens our position as a soft power in the world in negotiating with third countries under better conditions. Having said that, it is important for me to use this tool to better implement what we think is better for third countries – democracy, freedom of the press or greater separation of powers – while opening up our markets to their products. That, of course, should not be against our industry and agricultural activity, which should be protected to compete on an equal footing with third countries. All initiatives that go in the direction described above, which give more power to the EU to protect and defend our living standards in the rest of the world, should be backed.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE ), in writing. (LT) I very much agree with the rapporteur’s proposal to promote aid for the poorest countries and, at the same time, tighten safeguard measures intended to protect the EU’s textile and clothing industry against cheap imports from third countries. This is long overdue and, as the rapporteur observes, it is the first time that the European Parliament has used the power conferred on it by the Treaty of Lisbon to legislate on the generalised scheme of tariff preferences. Lithuania’s textile industry, which employs 25 000 people, continues to rank among the cheapest manufacturers in the EU. The changes proposed in the report would help the Lithuanian textile industry to increase its competitiveness. Lithuanian textile manufacturers play an important role in our economy – they export more than 80% of their production. Nevertheless, in recent years, they have not exploited their full potential. The tradition of high-quality industrial production in Lithuania is linked to strategic transport and logistics infrastructure and this means that the Lithuanian sector could do better. I very much agree with my colleague from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe that we need to update the tariff scheme so that it reflects the latest changes in the global economy, for example, by withdrawing preferences for EU imports from countries on the World Bank’s per capita income list (including Brazil, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar).

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) Since 1971, the European Union has granted tariff preferences to certain developing countries to make it easier for them to export some of their products to the EU, without any reciprocal arrangements. More recently, the EU established a system known as the generalised scheme of tariff preferences (GSP+), under which the countries that commit to a certain level of respect for human, democratic and environmental rights obtain additional trade benefits. This system does not actually benefit the EU from a trade perspective, but it would be a political choice to destroy it in order to comply with WTO rules and another step closer to allowing market forces alone to prevail. Clearly, they cannot tolerate any more exceptions, even when the aim is to support the poorest countries on the planet. This new GSP+ scheme is therefore going to restrict the number of least developed countries (LDC) that benefit from it and it will no longer include the particularly fragile small island states, which is something that my Reunionese colleague, Younous Omarjee, strongly denounced. I therefore voted against this report in order to condemn this new hypocrisy of the European Union in the area of development.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) Adoption of this regulation will see the EU move from a wider-ranging system of trade preferences between industrialised countries or blocs to a more restrictive one. This means that many countries will be excluded from the non-reciprocal preferences system, which is not unconnected to unacceptable pressure and blackmail to force acceptance of free trade agreements. On the other hand, in the interests of the EU powers, benefits are being expanded for some countries, which could have a negative impact on countries like Portugal, where sensitive sectors, such as textiles or clothing, carry significant weight.

 
  
  

Report: Jean-Paul Gauzès (A7-0172/2012 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. Despite the austerity measures the Commission intends to implement, great progress has been made. Some of the significant achievements of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament in ensuring that austerity would not be as unjust or harsh as was being proposed include: only the Stability and Growth Pact being obligatory rather than the benchmark of 0.5% of the deficit; the inclusion of multiple clauses, under which social dialogue must be respected; the need for profound analysis of procedures relating to macro-economic imbalances; and the Commission’s obligation to verify the consequences of taxation.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) As indicated by the recent development in the euro area, the increasing interdependence between European states as the effects of the recession deepen is the main challenge which the European Union needs to face up to in the short term. The possibility of economic and fiscal problems in one state having an extremely severe impact across the whole EU is a major vulnerability which must be resolved by means of a set of pragmatic, effective public policies. The current number one priority is to restore the credibility of monetary union, and several of the solutions proposed in these reports may make a crucial contribution to achieving this desired objective. At a time when the experience of recent years has shown the paramount importance of decisive measures which have been taken promptly, adopting procedures for supervising the financial stability of states facing economic problems is one of the solutions expected from the European authorities by the international markets and investors. The legislative package must be bolstered by the procedures put forward by MEPs, aimed at ensuring the stability and credibility which European states need, and preventing promptly the difficulties from potentially spreading to other economies. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. Excessive national debt can have dramatic consequences, both within the countries concerned and for the other Member States of the European Union. In order to avoid serious economic and social consequences and ensure financial stability and economic growth in the euro area, there is a need for serious measures and I therefore agree that the ‘two-pack’ debated here should also be adopted alongside the ‘six-pack’. I believe that the Member States should consult with the Commission in advance on important economic or fiscal policy reforms to make it possible to assess the potential impact for the euro area as a whole. It is important to align the preparation of national budgets by setting a common timetable for all countries, which should ensure that countries drawing up budgets take the European recommendations and national reform programmes into account in a timely manner. Furthermore, a euro area member that is experiencing significant economic difficulties should present the Commission with a detailed borrowing plan.

 
  
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  Erik Bánki (PPE ), in writing. (HU) I voted in favour of the two additional economic governance packages that are part of the system of economic governance because, in addition to further reinforcing the timely supervision of the draft budgets submitted by euro area Member States, in particular, by Member States in financial difficulty, they also allow for the operation of a pre-emptive crisis prevention mechanism. The packages intend to achieve this by requiring, among other things, reinforced information provision in order to ensure that Member States with financial stability issues and excessive deficit report on the development of their budget deficits in time. The aim of this mechanism is to prevent negative financial situations from rippling over to the entire European Union economy.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Commission proposals to complete the economic governance package are intended to ensure the conditions for enhanced supervision and protection of the Member States targeted with financial assistance and/or threatened with difficulties or instability. Following on from the financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis that have debilitated Europe, this report learns lessons and proposes solutions for stability and growth based on preventative measures enabling early resolution of the problem instead of fixing already established problems. It stipulates that, when a Member State is experiencing grave difficulties, it should have enhanced supervision – which will depend on the severity of the financial difficulties and the assistance accorded to countries – and everything possible should be done to prevent contamination of other economies. Any countries failing to comply should also have the guarantee of legal protection and will have an adjustment programme that will be monitored by the Commission and other competent bodies. I voted for this report, since it is an element of reinforcing stability and confidence in euro area countries, which are pivotal to a sustainable recovery and to laying the foundations for growth in Europe.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI ), in writing. (RO) The experiences which our countries have gone through between 2008 and now indicate to us that our rapporteur is right when he suggests that the states in the euro area require increased supervision. In addition, speed is of the essence and measures need to be adopted promptly. We are aware that the procedures in our institutions are lengthy and take up a great deal of time. This is why I voted in favour of responsibility being restored to the Commission and of the Council being able to repeal the decision by a simple majority vote within 10 days.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE ), in writing. (CS) I essentially approve of the Commission proposal that a Member State whose currency is the euro be subject to enhanced surveillance when it is experiencing – or is at risk of experiencing – severe financial disturbance. Such a state should be swiftly returned to a normal situation and the other euro area Member States should be protected against possible negative spillover effects. The decision-making procedure should be adapted. In order for action to be taken swiftly, it should be the Commission’s responsibility to take the necessary decisions, including placing a Member State under the enhanced surveillance procedure. The Council should be able to repeal such a decision by a simple majority vote within 10 days. I also agree with the proposal to create a system of legal protection applicable to a Member State which is at risk of being, in the near future, in a persistent state of default. The Commission should have the possibility, after consulting the Council, of deciding to place the Member State under a legal protection arrangement which would entail, in particular, the suspension of ‘close-out netting’ or ‘credit event’ provisions.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – Thus far, all responses to the eurozone crisis have only deeper entrenched afflicted Member States in the mire, spread the credit issues virally by inter-relating economies and co-managing bailouts and exacerbated the lack of manoeuvrability held by any one country to steer out of economic turmoil. I strongly opposed the ‘six-pack’ controls brought forward by the Commission and also vehemently reject the latest ‘two-pack’ response which seeks to strengthen EU control of Member State finances via intrusive surveillance. The ongoing economic problems are enabling the European project of federal integration to be forced along at a pace and are being exploited, if not extenuated, to this end. Whilst I agree that growth should be the focus to enable single currency members to climb out of fiscal crisis, I do not believe this can be done with the euro intact and believe the aim now should be to relinquish the single currency, dismantle the eurozone and release Member States to forge necessary and nation-specific courses of action to redevelop trade and industry and tackle unemployment.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE ), in writing. (IT) In order to achieve economic stability within the euro area, we have adopted the ‘two-pack’: two reports which, together with the ‘six-pack’ adopted last September, complement the package of European austerity and governance reforms.

I voted in favour of the report by Mr Gauzès, which I consider crucial for achieving genuine growth. It must be Europe that sparks this growth, not only in order to launch a finance facility for the industries that drive EU growth, such as infrastructure and research, but also in order to allow Member States to maintain their commitments. The instruments for growth are: forms of debt mutualisation which could take their lead, for example, from the European redemption fund proposed by the German Council of Economic Experts in November 2011; bonds issued by the EU financial institutions, for investment in infrastructure subject to a golden rule excluding them from deficit calculations; the creation of a European system of bank deposit insurance, avoiding ‘runs’ on euro area banks. This vote is an important step towards a true monetary, economic and political union.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I support the European economic governance – the so-called ‘six-pack’ – adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in 2011, and because I think the grave economic and social situation in which certain Member States find themselves could have been avoided had it been possible to trigger early and specifically guided action.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The consequences of the financial crisis in terms of financial stability and economic growth have been very serious, contributing to a severe deterioration of the public deficits and indebtedness of the Member States. Unfortunately, a growing number of Member States are needing bailouts, so there is an urgent need for enhanced supervision. It is a shame that this ‘two-pack’ was not adopted before, since prevention by means of early action specifically aimed at preventing a Member State’s indebtedness would have been preferable to correction with robust austerity measures, which can have serious consequences for economic growth and job creation.

We have to learn lessons from the financial and sovereign debt crisis we are facing and propose solutions. This proposal is another initiative to increase budgetary discipline, intended to complete the economic governance package, and stipulates that a Member State in difficulties should be targeted with enhanced supervision, thereby helping to ensure its quick progress towards normality. As the intensity of the economic supervision should be proportional and appropriate to the severity of the financial difficulties, there should be a guarantee of legal protection and Commission monitoring.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the ‘two-pack’ because I believe that to ensure the euro works for everyone, we do need better economic governance at European level, and a good compromise on this has been reached between the political groups, with which we can now negotiate with Council. We have to reduce our debts and deficits but one-sided fiscal consolidation will not end the crisis and must be combined with growth. I therefore welcome the support for a growth instrument mobilising 1% of GDP each year for infrastructure investment, and the emphasis on prioritising investments in education, health and areas that have growth and jobs potential. I welcome the support for a debt redemption fund and a eurobonds road map, the requirements to respect national practices and institutions for wage formation and the right to take collective action (the ‘Monti clause’), the role of the social partners and civil society, and on tackling bankers’ bonuses. I have set out my positions on the FTT on 23 May 2012 (A7-00352/2011 ) and on the CCCTB on 19 April 2012 (A7-0052/2012 ) and I refer to those explanations of votes in relation to the ‘two-pack’ resolutions.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D ), in writing. (IT) I decided to vote against the report by Mr Gauzès because, once again and for the umpteenth time, it employs a rationale that I did not and do not think is valid and that, as time has gone on, has played a crucial part in the worsening of Europe’s economic and social situation.

I have fought and I contest the theory that the underlying cause of the crisis is to be found in the high number of countries that have been unable to put their budgets in order. On the contrary, the facts demonstrate that this is a crisis of growth and of a lack of investment. Confronted with this reality, the recipe put to us once again is mistaken and will once again prove to be counterproductive. In the past, we have fought hard against this outlook, opposing and voting against the ‘six-pack’. Since then, faced with a deterioration in the economic and, above all, social situation, rather than championing a change of direction and a radical change of gear, we have been going backwards, casting out the economic analyses which, in reality and in contrast to those from the right which have put us in this situation, we know to be right and potentially capable of putting a stop to what is becoming an irresistibly slippery slope.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report in keeping with the group line and the political understanding reached between the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) to support both the Gauzès and Ferreira reports.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This proposal which, together with the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficit of the Member States in the euro area, constitutes what is known as the ‘two-pack’, enhances the previously adopted ‘economic governance package’. The purpose of this specific regulation is to ensure the conditions for enhanced supervision and protection of the Member States targeted with financial assistance and/or threatened with difficulties or instability, using preventative measures that enable resolution of the problem in advance. This is another step in the right direction. This represents more Europe and more integration; a course towards a common future. It is the path of shared economic and environmental growth and development, peace, prosperity and happiness, like the last 55 years. The vast majority of the European public do not seem to have grasped this reality, however, because of the times of economic, financial and fiscal crisis we are experiencing.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of this measure, which strengthens the surveillance of countries in the euro area that are experiencing difficulties. The Commission and the governments of the euro area must be aware of the exact situation in neighbouring countries that are in crisis so that their financial assistance can be as tailored and effective as possible. Stronger surveillance is also a means of ensuring that the countries in question are properly implementing the reforms needed to stabilise their situation and to prevent any threat, because of their lack of responsibility, to the euro area economies as a whole.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE ), in writing. (HU) As the Member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) responsible for the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on the report, I believe that the protracted economic and financial crisis has resulted in some Member States finding themselves in extremely difficult situations. In order to combat the imbalances that have developed, the European Union intends to introduce reinforced economic and budgetary control for these Member States, which will be able to ensure that the Member States concerned can solve their economic and budgetary problems. However, we must not forget that the new, stricter control procedures to be introduced could easily entail side effects that could put the economies, societies and labour markets of the Member States concerned in an impossible situation.

The application of the new procedures must always be subject to comprehensive consideration of the economic and social problems caused by the crisis. We must prevent existing problems from escalating even further and leading to even greater budgetary problems or causing a slowdown in the growth of the Member States affected and, by extension, the entire EU. The motions for amendments which I submitted in relation to the report, as well as my votes in Committee and plenary, were based on this consideration. After all, we cannot focus solely on the budgetary situations of countries; we must also take into account labour market and social implications, and must bear in mind all fundamental EU documents and all objectives of the EU, including the need to implement the targets for employment rates and for the fight against poverty set out in the Europe 2020 strategy.

Withdrawing funding from countries in difficult budgetary positions could result in the retention of the discrepancies between core and peripheral countries, and such a decision could impact the growth outlook of the entire EU. Any unfounded suspensions and sanctions are contrary to the fundamental values of the European Union and, in particular, the idea of solidarity. Member States should by no means be punished for macro-economic imbalances with withdrawals of funding, and sanctions should only be applied if the European Commission has ascertained through thorough case-by-case investigations that the Member State in question failed to fulfil its obligations. In the absence of a careful and comprehensive examination of the problems, the withdrawal of any amount of Community funding is unacceptable, as it punishes those Member State beneficiaries that hold the key to economic recovery and growing employment.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The economic and financial crisis has forced the Member States to adopt measures restricting consumption, cutting wages and postponing the retirement age. Some EU Member States have not managed to emerge from the crisis by these means alone and have had to request financial help from the European institutions to obtain the support of certain bodies, such as the European Financial Stability Facility, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. The crisis is an ‘octopus’, whose tentacles threaten to reach a number of European countries. After Ireland, Greece and Portugal, it went on to Spain and is now hovering over Italy. Measures urgently need to be created to check its advance, since we know that the consequences of one Member State’s indebtedness can have an impact on another, and even globally, because the corrective measures are slow acting. I voted for this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability in the euro area, which sets out new procedures, such as enhanced powers for the Commission and the qualified majority rule.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This report is part of the so-called ‘two-pack’, presumably, a complement to the previous ‘six-pack’, and concludes the legislative framework of what is known as economic governance. It sets out provisions for strengthening the ‘economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability in the euro area’.

What is incredible is how they admit to being in the process of transposing provisions from the recent fiscal compact to EU secondary legislation. It should be recalled that the fiscal compact still has not even been ratified and is, furthermore, a legal aberration, drafted outside the law of the EU itself, despite the fact that it encompasses the European institutions. The rapporteur believes that ‘it should be the Commission’s responsibility to take the necessary decisions, including placing a Member State under the enhanced surveillance procedure’. As with the other report in this ‘two-pack’, the intention is clear and out in the open: to bring the Member States even further under control, in such a way as to lead to the establishment of colonial style relations. Naturally, we voted against.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing.(SK) The financial crisis that has hit the world over the last three years has seriously damaged economic growth and financial stability and provoked a strong deterioration in the government deficit and debt position of the Member States. The serious economic and social consequences which are currently being experienced by many countries could have been avoided in the past by the adoption of effective measures. However, at that time, the European Union did not have the necessary instruments. This situation must be put right with a combination of six pieces of legislation from 2011 – the package on European economic governance – as well as two new pieces of legislation, the so-called ‘two-pack’. We need to strengthen the original legislation. I believe that preventive action is, in any case, preferable to taking corrective measures. A Member State with significant financial problems should be subject to enhanced surveillance, even if such problems are still only a threat. Surveillance must be commensurate to difficulties already encountered or impending and should take due account of the financial assistance received. We should ensure a smooth return to a normal situation for a country that is experiencing or threatened with severe financial disturbance. The consequences of excessive national debt can be frightening. I firmly believe it is important to be able to prevent a Member State with financial difficulties from transferring its problems to the rest of the euro area. To ensure financial stability and economic growth, the ‘six-pack’ should be amended accordingly.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this resolution. I must say that I am very sad to see the negative repercussions of this social depression, if we can call it that, and I am firmly convinced that we must act promptly to avoid a worsening of the global economy. The Treaty requires economic matters to be seen as an issue of common interest, with policies inspired by the need for healthy finances that cannot compromise the functioning of the economic and monetary union. The Stability Pact itself highlights the need to create incentives for prudent budgets, obviously avoiding excessive public deficits and strengthening surveillance. This surveillance allows us to identify risks as well as possible and take responsibility promptly. As the Commission has said, the EU must take shared responsibility, which I think also involves risk sharing. That is the only way we will be able to ensure coordinated and well monitored budgets.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE ), in writing. (HU) This report on the economic surveillance of euro area Member States experiencing serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability fits well into the common system of economic governance, as I truly believe that after the ‘six-pack’ on economic governance, the second economic governance package, which further elaborates on the practical aspects of fiscal discipline, is timely and essential for giving Europe a chance to initiate long-awaited growth. The crisis management experience of the past months has clearly revealed that without fiscal discipline, not only can we not talk about actual economic growth; we cannot even talk about actual economic performance. The report tabled before us foresees not only the fulfilment of minimum requirements but also financial assistance to Member States in difficulty through the European Stability Mechanism, and although the final vote was postponed in order to allow the commencement of the trialogue with the Council and the Commission on the text adopted at first reading, I supported the amended text just as I did at the Committee vote.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE ), in writing. (DE) This report and the whole subject make it clear that a coordinated financial and economic policy is of great importance for the EU.

It is very important to reach agreement at first reading, in order to save valuable time. We need to make it clear to the citizens of Europe that we must all consider it important that the clear rules on budgetary discipline are respected, but also that initiatives are taken to promote growth.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I abstained on this report because, although the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament succeeded in removing the ‘golden rule’ and the 0.5% structural deficit limit, proposed by Mr Gauzès in his initial report, the widespread use of reverse qualified majority voting is an unacceptable risk: it gives the Commission too much power, allowing it to decide alone which countries should be subject to surveillance.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because excessive national debt can have dramatic consequences, both within the countries concerned and for the other Member States of the European Union. What is at risk is the euro area’s reputation, rather than its existence. The Commission’s proposal complements the package on European economic governance (the so-called ‘six-pack’) adopted by Parliament and the Council in 2011. The broad thrust of the proposed regulation is that a Member State whose currency is the euro should be subject to enhanced surveillance when it is experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing, severe financial disturbance. This should ensure its swift return to a normal situation and protect the other euro area Member States against possible negative spillover effects.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The two reports known as the ‘two-pack’ were put to the vote in plenary. I voted for both of them during the voting on 13 June 2012. The ‘two-pack’ is further progress in the area of budgetary surveillance. It complements the ‘six-pack’, a legislative package adopted by the European Parliament in September 2011 that contains measures to strengthen economic governance. The first report, by Jean-Paul Gauzès, relates to the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability in the euro area. It states that once a state is placed under protection, it cannot be declared to have defaulted. In addition, the country’s creditors must make themselves known to the Commission within two months. Loan interest rates will also be frozen.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE ), in writing. (SK) This draft regulation on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States experiencing serious difficulties is set against the background of the financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis now confronting the European Union. The Commission’s proposals complement the ‘six-pack’ on European economic governance adopted by Parliament and the Council in 2011. The broad thrust of the Commission proposal provides for a Member State, whose currency is the euro, to be subject to enhanced surveillance when it is experiencing – or is at risk of experiencing – severe financial disturbance. In order for action to be taken swiftly, it should be the Commission’s responsibility to take the necessary decisions, including placing a Member State under the enhanced surveillance procedure. The Council could repeal such a decision by a simple majority vote within 10 days. I supported the draft as amended by the EP.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The first anniversary of the Arab Spring was marked a few months ago. The nascent democracies of Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt are still struggling to find their own forms of democracy and the necessary legitimacy among their people. The difficulties faced by the economies of these countries require Parliament and, in general, the European Union, to adopt policies in line with our values of solidarity. In the past, I have spoken out against actions to help these countries by abolishing duties on certain agricultural products, as in the controversial issue of the EU-Morocco agreement. However, I am criticising the method, not the end goal. Accordingly, in this particular case, I voted in favour because I think that extending the geographic scope of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s operations is an important step. That, however, is contingent on us keeping in mind the real needs of these countries, providing a level of investment that does not have negative repercussions on the economies of the Member States.

 
  
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  Marine Le Pen (NI ), in writing. (FR) The two proposals for regulations known as the ‘two-pack’ were adopted this morning in the European Parliament by a large majority.

The European Commission’s powers of budgetary surveillance of the Member States have been strengthened. That is called taking over. The national budgets will thus be examined by the European Commission and the other EU Member States and the structural reforms needed to consolidate the public accounts will have to be carried out.

Member States that do not cooperate with what Brussels decrees will be automatically fined. This is the end of the States’ budgetary sovereignty, the next logical step after losing their monetary sovereignty.

As Mr Barroso said, we now need to build the political union if we do not want to collapse. The tone has been set. The political coup d’état of the Brussels technocracy, with the complicity of Parliament and the European governments, is under way. The people, powerless to act, are going to witness the end of their freedom. Obviously, I am opposed to the adoption of these two proposals for regulations.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE ), in writing. (RO) Drawing up measures for monitoring the economies and budgets of the states in the euro area facing financial turmoil is undoubtedly an important step as part of averting situations involving a serious, long-term, financially destabilising impact which automatically have an adverse ‘domino’ effect on other Member States, whether inside or outside the euro area. However, what I regret is that these measures ought to have been taken much earlier. As a result, situations could have been avoided or remedied in some Member States experiencing financial imbalance, such as Greece at the moment, which is going through a crisis, along with severe economic and budgetary difficulties, but which will be hard to resolve without having a strong impact on other countries too. At the same time, I think that stringent legislation with this aim in mind encourages dialogue between the various European institutions so that they can decide in a responsible, coherent manner on the most suitable means of financial aid to be provided to the states in trouble.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE ), in writing. (RO) This regulation is appearing against the backdrop of the financial and sovereign debt crises which the European Union is currently facing. Several Member States (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and, this week, Spain too) have requested financial assistance. I support the Commission’s proposal which stipulates that a Member State which uses the euro as its currency must be subject to increased supervision when experiencing or at risk of experiencing severe financial upheaval. The situation needs to be quickly restored to normality and the other Member States in the euro area need to be protected against any negative spillover effects.

My country, Romania, is not part of the euro area yet, but its economy is closely bound to that of the countries which have adopted the single currency. Therefore, any imbalance in the euro area is also felt immediately on the Romanian markets. This is why I think that the countries which are not part of the euro area or are in the process of joining (Romania would like to join the single currency) must also be involved in the codecision process.

 
  
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  Thomas Mann (PPE ), in writing. (DE) Last year, Parliament, the Commission and the Council agreed on the ‘six-pack’ in the conciliation procedure. This tightens up the rules in the Member States in favour of effective debt reduction and limitation of new debt. Today, this significant step is followed up by another: the ‘two-pack’. More effective coordination and control of national budgets provides a basis for avoiding economic imbalances. We do not need less Europe, we need more of it – in the interests of all the euro area countries. A uniform timetable must be developed for all budget planning which is harmonised with the European Semester. The fiscal pact, the ‘six-pack’ and the ‘two-pack’ belong directly together. They cannot be subject to variations in mood or opinion polls. The defamation of the necessary path of austerity, which was reached by consensus, and the glorification of a growth path is pure polemic. Only when budgets have been cleaned up and reforms implemented can we invest effectively for the medium and long term. The Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) has supported growth thinking for years, and this was and remains the basis of the Europe 2010 and Europe 2020 strategies. In other words, this is nothing new at all. We can only sensibly invest our citizens’ money in training, education, infrastructure and the fight against unemployment when we have a sound budgetary basis. We need growth with substance that is not financed on tick.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution. The worsening financial situation worldwide caused a marked downturn in growth in the Union and serious budgetary problems for its Member States. But while coordinating the Member States’ economic and social policies may well be one solution to these problems, a certain number of principles must be observed in the process.

Coordination cannot focus solely on the Member States’ budgetary situation and must take into account investment in the labour market and in improving the social situation. State investment in training or research to make a country more competitive, an effective social protection system and social minima are all ways to fight poverty and maintain internal consumption – and thereby better resist crises – and should be viewed positively.

Coordination must be consistent with the democratic principles of the Union. Parliaments wherein sit elected representatives, whether the European Parliament or national parliaments, must be kept fully and regularly informed in the same way as the Commission or the Council.

Coordination cannot run counter to national and EU principles on social dialogue. Fundamental rights to collective bargaining and to strike action cannot be called into question by the structural reforms and job market reforms advocated by the Member States.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the ‘two-pack’. I agree with the text put forward by this House’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. Preventive checks on Member States’ budgets are necessary: it is right to demand greater austerity. This also applies to the redemption fund and the separate consideration of investments.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ), in writing. – I abstained both on the referral back to Committee and on the final vote of this report. Although I am in favour of the so-called ‘two-pack’, I abstained due to concerns in relation to Amendment 26, which states that the Commission shall examine, and the Council shall address, the negative spillover effects generated by other Member States, which would include the field of taxation. It is also unclear whether or not Amendments 8, 49 and 54 are aimed at such taxation policy matters, which remain the competence of Member States.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This report exacerbates the provisions of the ‘six-pack’ and the Treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism that is currently being ratified. It gives the European Commission, an unelected body, the power to subject any Member State in the euro area to austerity plans and surveillance missions, which it alone will determine. The Council will only be able to repeal these decisions within 10 days and by qualified majority.

The text sets out the broad guidelines for the future adjustment programmes, too. They will also have to promote free competition, particularly in the area of public procurement. To cap it all, this text would apply to the countries that already receive ‘financial assistance’ and it therefore changes the conditions under which those countries could free themselves from the supervision of the troika.

As regards the ‘legal protection’ proposed, it would only come into effect in 2017 and would focus on reimbursing the countries’ debt interest without any legitimate grounds. I voted against this report and I condemn it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) With the vote on this report and the report by Elisa Ferreira, Parliament is completing the European economic governance package, adopted at the end of 2011. This crisis that continues to afflict the whole of Europe requires the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States to safeguard the stability of Europe and, principally, the euro area. Approval of these rules strengthens the EU’s power of intervention, enabling it to intervene where necessary and making available to it adequate means for doing so.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) I voted firmly against this report as it will exacerbate the conditions that were already imposed through the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. It provides the Commission with the power to control whether or not euro area Member States comply with the austerity plans. The text also details the next austerity plans, which should promote free competition, especially with regard to public services.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – The enhanced surveillance consists mainly of reporting on the financial situation of its financial institutions, on the carrying out of stress tests, and on providing further information on macro-economic imbalances. The risk of the Greek scenario will diminish to the maximum extent. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE ), in writing. – The Fine Gael MEPs abstained both on the referral back to Committee and on the final vote. Even though we are in favour of the ‘two-pack’, we had no choice but to abstain due to our concerns in relation to Amendment 26, which states that the Commission shall examine and the Council shall address the negative spillover effects generated by other Member States, including in the field of taxation. It is also not clear that Amendments 8, 49 and 54 are not aimed at such taxation policy matters, which remain the competence of Member States.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) What has already been said regarding the Ferreira report also applies in this case. New rules to limit debts in the euro area countries will achieve just as much as the old ones; in other words, nothing. Moreover, one cannot pass regulations telling a sovereign state how much debt it can have at any particular time. Of, course, it must also be liable for this debt – something that has been suspended since the euro crisis. These rules are designed solely as a basis for joint and several liability in the euro area and, consequently, they are to be rejected in their entirety. Nor is it the task of the EU or of other northern EU states to pass various measures associated with the ‘surveillance’ of budgets that could result in or have already resulted in civil war-like conditions in the southern Member States. We have to deal with the root causes of the problem, which means dissolving the euro in its present form and/or restricting it to the more stable countries. All the other countries could then reintroduce their original currencies and then decide on and implement those measures that, although they will undoubtedly be hard, offer the country in question a chance of recovery. The euro provides no possibility of recovery for the deficit countries. It is merely prolonging the agony and dragging healthy states down into the abyss with them.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I voted against this report on surveillance of Member States experiencing financial difficulties because we cannot permit unrepresentative third-party institutions lacking any democratic legitimacy to even think about setting the Member States’ economic and financial policies, even including legal safeguards in this area.

The Commission should limit itself to pointing out which road to take and which objectives need to be achieved, while the various Member States must remain free with sovereign control over how to act, because there are major differences between them and Brussels cannot possibly have a solution that is right and fair for all of them. Moreover, this is another proposal on economic governance, which comes just a few months after similar measures on the same subject. We are continuing to up the dose in an attempt to save this ailing euro area, but I really do not think this can be the right prescription.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE ), in writing. (ET) I supported the adoption of this report as I consider it important to improve supervision over countries suffering from financial difficulties. The rapporteur’s proposals to simplify supervisory procedures, giving the Commission a larger role in decision making, and to create a system of legal protection for Member States that are threatened by default or suspension of payments, are an important addition to the Commission’s proposals. I would point out, with regret, that Europe should have implemented these measures several years ago, as we would then have been able to avoid the problems that some countries are unfortunately experiencing. Better late than never, of course, and there is hope that with the implementation of this regulation and the European economic governance package (the package of six legislative proposals) approved by the European Parliament and Council in 2011, Europe will emerge from this economic crisis stronger than before.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I agree, for the most part, with the Commission proposal, which provides for a euro area Member State being the subject of enhanced supervision when affected – or threatened – by severe financial disturbances. These are measures to re-establish normality quickly and protect the other euro area Member States against potential negative consequences.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a regulation on the economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability in the euro area comes against the backdrop of the financial crisis and sovereign debt crisis currently being faced by the European Union, taking lessons from it and proposing possible means of solving it. The package of six legislative acts needs to be strengthened to ensure, simultaneously, financial stability and economic growth in the euro area. As such, the intention is for euro area Member States to be the subject of enhanced supervision when affected – or threatened – by severe financial disturbances, and for a legal protection scheme to be created to apply to any Member State at risk of being, in the near future, in an enduring state of default or suspension of payments. Excessive national debt can have dramatic consequences, both within the countries concerned and for the other Member States of the European Union. Preventative action at an early stage is preferable to corrective measures that intervene in the process late; perhaps too late.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Today in plenary, we adopted Mr Gauzès’s report on a plan to strengthen economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability in the euro area.

Mr Gauzès notes that the serious economic and social consequences being experienced today by certain Member States could have been avoided if early, targeted and preventive action could have been taken. At the time, however, the European Union did not have the necessary instruments, but this will now be put right with a combination of the package on European economic governance (the ‘six-pack’) and two new pieces of legislation (the ‘two-pack’), providing for a Member State whose currency is the euro to be subject to enhanced surveillance when it is experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – severe financial disturbance. It should be the Commission’s responsibility to take the necessary decisions, but the Council could repeal them by a simple majority vote within 10 days. The report also proposes the creation of a system of legal protection applicable to a Member State which is at risk of being in an enduring state of default or suspension of payments.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE ), in writing. (FR) In 2008, a financial crisis in the United States led to a global economic crisis. Today, we must not allow Greece’s difficulties to ravage the euro area. Moreover, and most importantly, we must not allow the Greek crisis to happen again. We have the same currency. Our economies are much too closely linked for decisions to be taken unilaterally. We therefore need economic governance of the euro area. These reports lay down measures that strengthen the Commission’s powers as regards the surveillance of the national budgets and enhance democratic control by consolidating the role of the European Parliament. In addition, a new rule would empower the Commission to place a country on the verge of default under legal protection in order to give it more clarity, stability and predictability in tackling its problems. By adopting this proposal for a regulation, we are sending a clear signal to the Council. The time for short-term measures and last-chance meetings is over.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The economic and financial crisis that began in 2008 requires deeper reflection on the economic and social problems that it has caused. The procedures for budgetary and economic surveillance of Member States must take account of the marked downturn in growth in the Union and the serious budgetary problems for its Member States. By voting in favour, I therefore offer my support for the goals that the entire EU must pursue, not focusing solely on the budgetary situations of the Member States, but instead using this mechanism to drive investments in the labour market and public investment in training and research in order to boost Member States’ competitiveness, as well as consumer incentives to maintain a steady gross domestic product to better resist the crisis.

 
  
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  Alda Sousa (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This report is one of the famous ‘two-pack’, part of the economic governance package. The report being debated is the expression of the ideas behind an intergovernmental treaty enshrining an ideological dogma and makes anti-cyclical policy illegal, replacing it with a technical selection criterion that is controversial and very easily manipulated. That is why I voted against.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D ), in writing. (FR) How can we adopt a text that does not even attempt to resolve the capital flight in the banking sector and the financing of debt? Without that, Europe will never recover. It is true, however, that the text offers some progress, especially the section on eurobonds, thanks mainly to the campaigning of the European Socialists.

However, I noticed during the debates that the philosophy of blind austerity, of ‘finance is everything’, of an almost dehumanised economy is still firmly entrenched in the minds of many of my colleagues with different political leanings.

How much longer do we have to wait and how many more lives will be ruined before some people face up to their responsibilities and agree to combat speculation effectively, establish a tax on financial transactions and a ratings agency that is not controlled from afar by the multinationals, and protect pension funds?

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In November 2011, the European Commission tabled a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council with the goal of setting out measures to strengthen the economic and budgetary surveillance of euro area Member States experiencing or threatened with serious financial stability difficulties and/or receiving, or potentially in receipt of, outside financial assistance. I am voting for this report, since I consider enhanced supervision of the euro area countries necessary in order to prevent the financial stability difficulties of one Member State from contaminating the rest of the euro area and the EU as a whole. I believe the Member States should give the Commission and the Council advance warning of their plans to issue public debt, so that the European Commission will be able to coordinate better and work towards a more coordinated economic policy. Finally, I agree with the rapporteur on not suspending the Structural Funds in the period 2014-2020 if a Member State fails to comply with its adjustment programme, since there are other economic and financial mechanisms that should be adopted to this end.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE ), in writing. – I have voted in favour of this legislation as I am satisfied with the final text we achieved during the negotiations. It strengthens the economic governance framework of the EU and continues to frame in our legislation the utmost importance of fiscal discipline, and enhances surveillance for those countries experiencing financial assistance. I am satisfied also by the major role for the Commission and Parliament’s increased participation in the surveillance process.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE ), in writing. (FR) At a time when Greece and Spain can no longer finance themselves adequately on the markets, their European partners must understand that they can no longer spend recklessly and that the control of their sovereignty and their future is now at stake. Our political family succeeded in ensuring that this common sense principle prevailed in this text, which endorses the new crucial deficit control objectives, contained in the Stability and Growth Pact. From now on, Member States in the euro area that do not abide by their commitment to limit debt to 60% of GDP and adopt reasonably balanced budgets will be subject to greater surveillance and a public accounts consolidation programme. In my view, this new method of supervising budgetary discipline and correcting deficits will be our saving grace in many respects. It will ensure a climate of financial stability that is essential for restoring confidence, which is the real driving force behind growth. Finally, it will prevent future generations from having to bear alone the brunt of a debt that they did not incur and give them the chance to control their own destinies.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD ), in writing.(PL) The current economic crisis, which has had a huge effect not just on the EU, but also on the entire world economy, has been a major factor in slowing economic growth. The European Union is currently trying to tackle the difficult economic situation. However, the effects of these efforts vary depending on the Member State concerned. The biggest struggle with the crisis is so far being experienced by the peripheral countries of the EU, or what are known as the PIGS countries – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – as well as Ireland and also Cyprus, which is more and more often being mentioned in this connection.

The ever greater budget deficits and the growth in bond yields of particular Member States (Greek bonds have now reached a level of nearly 30%), as well as the problems facing the banks, have prompted these countries to ask the European institutions for financial assistance. These requests have made the authorities in Brussels decide to introduce greater economic and budgetary supervision of Member States which need financial assistance to help them fight the crisis. The ‘two-pack’, or legislation tightening the Commission’s supervision of national budgets, will mean the European Commission will have very great powers in setting these budgets.

In my opinion, the placing of ever greater powers in the hands of a single body may, in the long term, prove to be a very dangerous trend. I think that when budgets are controlled at national or even regional level, they are managed more effectively. Furthermore, the proposed measure is somewhat belated and will not deliver what is expected of it. That is why I am voting against the resolution.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) Like the Ferreira report on the other component of this ‘two-pack’, this report also proposes several amendments to setting out that, ‘in defining and implementing its policies and actions, the Union is to take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment’. These intentions are nothing more than a dead letter when included in the logic of the policies of which this ‘two-pack’ is part: making ‘austerity policies’ permanent by cutting public investment and public services, cutting wages and benefits, and promoting privatisation. Those are the exact opposite of the growth in employment and the economy that is required. Moreover, the so-called ‘enhanced surveillance procedure’ is nothing more than an anti-democratic coup d’état against the democratically elected institutions of national sovereignty, which therefore lose the ability to make decisions on economic instruments as important as budgetary policy.

 
  
  

Report: Elisa Ferreira (A7-0173/2012 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because I am very much in favour of introducing a new chapter entitled ‘Establishment of a road map for enhanced economic policy coordination, a growth facility and a framework for enhanced debt issuance’. This chapter calls for the Commission to table a proposal for a counter-cyclical instrument of 1% of GDP to increase growth and to present a report establishing a road map towards euro area stability bonds. It also calls for the immediate establishment of a requirement for the Member States to report ex ante on their public debt issuance and sets out a proposal for a European redemption fund based on joint liability.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. I agree that further Union mechanisms for the coordination and surveillance of Member States’ budgetary and economic policies need to be put in place. I agree that the Member States must comply with the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) and improve coordination of their fiscal policies. Member States should follow prudent fiscal policies in good times to build up the necessary buffer for bad times.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I think that Member States’ budgetary decisions require additional monitoring. Consolidating economic governance in the EU, especially in the euro area, is vital at the moment. In this context, detecting and remedying macro-economic imbalances must be carried out promptly. I welcome a common budgetary timeline and rules-based budgetary frameworks being established. It is also important to have synchronised monitoring of policies, in keeping with the excessive deficit procedure, so as to consolidate budgetary discipline. I should also point out that budgetary surveillance must comply with the European Union’s overarching objectives. This means that consideration also needs to be given to providing suitable social protection, and greater importance has to be attached to the level of employment. I should stress that the EU’s budgetary policy must be in line with the Europe 2020 strategy so as to ensure smart, sustainable growth.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the rapporteur’s proposal. A common budgetary timeline, rules and supervision are all needed.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE ), in writing. (CS) I am not an enthusiastic supporter of the idea that Member States should be obliged to submit reports to the Commission and the Eurogroup in advance concerning their plans for issuing government bonds. Under the approved proposal, the submission of reports is to be harmonised in terms of form and content and specified by the Commission in cooperation with the Member States, with the Commission having the main role and the last word. In my view, this measure would amount to substantial interference in national powers in the budgetary area. It would be a definite step towards budgetary union, and this would constitute qualitative change on such a scale that, in my opinion, it would require an amendment of the Treaties. In any case, I have doubts as to whether the Commission is the right body to supervise the issuing of government bonds. If this process is introduced, the supervisory role should be assigned to a body that can guarantee independence and unquestionable competence.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – This legislative proposal paves the way for an unprecedented shift of fiscal power centrally to Brussels, enabling the Commission to set budget thresholds, opening up the potential of euro area debt instruments, encouraging EU-wide taxation, bringing forth a financial transaction tax that would seriously damage the City of London and render Europe globally uncompetitive and forging binding rules on Member State budgets and EU bonds. No single EU citizen has voted for, this, no single EU citizen wants this and it is abhorrent that legislation, which, in effect, would render the eurozone a federal super state, has occurred above any democratic recourse to the hundreds of millions of people it would negatively affect.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the ‘two-pack’, which, together with the ‘six-pack’, complements the austerity and governance package for economic stability. I also supported a number of important – I think vital – amendments on real and effective growth, which must begin in Europe in order to allow Member States to maintain their commitments to Europe. These measures for growth include: forms of debt mutualisation, a European redemption fund as proposed by the German Council of Economic Experts in November 2011; bonds issued by the EU financial institutions, for investments in infrastructure that would be subject to a golden rule excluding them from deficits; a European system of bank deposit insurance. This vote is an important step towards a monetary, economic and also political union.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I agree with the amendments to the text tabled in committee, which set out common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of the excessive deficits of the Member States in the euro area.

 
  
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  Daniel Caspary (PPE ), in writing. (DE) I would like to second what Thomas Ulmer said in explanation of his vote.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE ), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Conservatives and Christian Democrats voted today in favour of the proposal for a regulation concerning new rules for budgetary monitoring among the Member States in the euro area. The proposal contains many important tools for ensuring budgetary discipline among the Member States of the euro area, the importance of which has been highlighted, in particular, by the developments of recent years. During the process, proposals concerning common borrowing and an EU fund for investments corresponding to a percentage of GDP have been introduced, which will only lead to a further build-up of debt. We voted against these particular parts. The proposal from the Commission, on the other hand, concerns tools and frameworks on which it is important to take a decision, particularly given the current situation. We therefore voted in favour of the remaining parts of the proposal. We trust that those parts concerning increased debt, which do not belong here, will not come up again in Parliament’s final reading. We therefore voted in favour of the proposal for provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive euro area Member State deficits.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the ‘two-pack’ because I believe that to ensure the euro works for everyone, we do need better economic governance at European level, and a good compromise on this has been reached between the political groups, with which we can now negotiate with Council. We have to reduce our debts and deficits but one-sided fiscal consolidation will not end the crisis and must be combined with growth. I therefore welcome the support for a growth instrument mobilising 1% of GDP each year for infrastructure investment, and the emphasis on prioritising investments in education, health and areas that have growth and jobs potential. I welcome the support for a debt redemption fund and a eurobonds road map, the requirements to respect national practices and institutions for wage formation and the right to take collective action (the ‘Monti clause’), the role of the social partners and civil society, and on tackling bankers’ bonuses. I have set out my positions on the FTT on 23 May 2012 (A7-00352/2011 ) and on the CCCTB on 19 April 2012 (A7-0052/2012 ) and I refer to those explanations of votes in relation to the ‘two-pack’ resolutions.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D ), in writing. (IT) I decided, albeit reluctantly, to vote against the report because I think it is totally insufficient and inadequate for dealing with the pressing and mounting problems that this social and economic crisis has forced upon us. I decided to vote against because I think the growth measures that the report introduces are completely insufficient. Without even considering that the golden rule, albeit in a minimalist and even innocuous form, was rejected, the other growth measures also do not seem much compared with the straitjacket of austerity and the blind respect of budgetary restraints.

The redemption fund, the groundwork for eurobonds and Heading 3 have been approved by a very narrow majority, due to the staunch opposition of conservatives, who, having obtained approval for austerity measures, have done everything to boycott all references to investment. That says a lot about what the Council’s attitude will be. We must find the courage to relaunch our ideas and initiatives with fresh vigour. If not, we will be complicit in the vacuity of the conservatives and their inability to improve Europe’s future prospects.

 
  
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  Jürgen Creutzmann (ALDE ), in writing. (DE) The German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament has spoken out clearly in favour of the introduction of a debt redemption fund. However, participation in such a fund must be associated with clear and strict rules, such as were contained in the proposal made by the German Council of Economic Experts to the German Government in autumn 2011. Watering down the criteria for participation is neither productive nor effective. Linking the introduction of a debt redemption fund with the eurobonds project and the treatment of economic imbalances is unfair, and is rejected by the FDP in the European Parliament in the strongest possible terms.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the Ferreira report, in keeping with the line followed by my political group, so that we should remain consistent with our vote on the ‘six-pack’. We support the same principles: we are against austerity and in favour of investment in human capital by creating new jobs. At the same time, I find it disappointing that the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) has decided to vote against the ‘golden rule’ proposed by my colleague, Elisa Ferreira, which would no longer have been used to calculate public investments to measure the deficit and debt of a country within the Stability and Growth Pact. This would have allowed states to invest more without being afraid of being penalised.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report sets out measures ensuring greater coordination of the Member States’ budgetary policy. It therefore stresses the need for robust public finances and financial stability as a means of increasing price stability, and strong, sustainable growth if the EU’s sustainable growth and employment goals are to be achieved. I completely support the priority identified, which is ensuring that the economic policies of certain Member States will not negatively affect the others and that the Economic and Monetary Union runs smoothly. The report is positive overall and there is consensus about its importance for the euro area and the EU as a whole. I would only stress that some issues, such as European debt mutualisation and the specific measures for fostering investment and growth in Europe, while crucial, should be discussed in the documents produced for those ends and not in this report. The ‘two-pack’ adopted today represents one of the fundamental pillars of building economic and financial stability in Europe, founded on a new policy for generating prosperity and growth in the euro area and the European Union as a whole.

 
  
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  Luigi Ciriaco De Mita (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The ongoing global crisis has made clear the lack of political involvement in supra-national economic governance, especially in the European Union. When, way back in 1988-1989, European leaders took the brave decision to begin convergence of the Member State economies with a view to the single currency, both by completing the internal market and by coordinating the Member States’ economies, it was made very clear, from a pro-EU point of view, that this objective could only be fully achieved by twinning the pillar of monetary governance, under an autonomous European Central Bank, with the pillar of economic governance exercised by Commission, Council and Parliament. Only the two pillars together could underpin the future of the European Union. However, this sharing of responsibilities has to be combined with the sharing of opportunities and economic results. Just as, at the national level, varying rates of regional economic growth are balanced out by single-state governance, including by joint participation in the public debt, the same should happen at European level in relations between Member States, which should evolve, making shared, cooperative and reciprocal destinies a reality. I think that this report and the amendments that have been adopted are in line with this view.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Several advances should be highlighted. The debt pooling objective has been clarified. With the redemption fund, initially proposed by the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the States will transfer any debt amounts over 60% of GDP. These pooled sums, totalling EUR 2 300 billion, will be repaid over 25 years, allowing for the creation of eurobonds, which we have desired for many months.

Parliament has proposed establishing a growth instrument to mobilise 1% of Member States’ GDP over a period of 10 years, that is to say, around EUR 100 billion, to be invested in European infrastructure. Although some people talk about financial stability and fiscal consolidation and others talk about growth, we really need both. The Member States are massively in debt and the European Union therefore needs to invest in order to become competitive once again. It should go further, for example, by calling for European savings.

We ensured that these tools were effective by reintroducing the Community method. As with the ‘six-pack’, economic dialogue with the European Parliament has been established. That restores democratic legitimacy to the decisions which, for a long time, were taken between governments.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, drawn up the Socialist MEP Ms Ferreira because it supports the draft regulation establishing a golden rule for the Member States’ public finances.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE ), in writing. (HU) As the Member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) responsible for the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on the report, I find it important to point out that the European Commission is expecting Member States to take steps which, if not taken with due caution, could lead to a downturn in economic growth and employment in these countries. We are living in difficult times, but we must not forget about such common goals as Europe 2020 or the EU employment and job creation strategy. Both the Commission and the Council treat employment and growth as priorities, since they are the key to enabling Europe to recover from the crisis while implementing strict fiscal measures. The responsibility to find a solution for managing the employment-related and social tensions caused by the crisis also lies with us here in Parliament.

Harmonisation and stricter control of the budgetary policies of euro area countries is essential to ensuring the long-term viability of the monetary union. However, as I already stressed in my opinion, it is also vital for Member States to be able to retain their budgetary sovereignty, which is one of the most important tools for Member State economic governance. It is exceptionally important for euro area accession to remain a clear goal for all Member States not using the euro, but the stricter budgetary control and coordination should apply to them only after their accession to the euro area. As regards the practice of budgetary monitoring, it must be emphasised that non-euro area countries, too, should be involved in the procedure. It is crucial that the reports be discussed at fora where all 27 Member States are represented; the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs would be a suitable choice for this role.

It is welcome that some Member States, including Hungary, have already incorporated a sovereign debt ceiling in their constitutions; the Hungarian Constitution states the following: ‘Parliament shall not adopt a State Budget Act that would result in sovereign debt exceeding half of GDP’.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of the excessive deficits of the Member States in the euro area. The Member States’ concern for fiscal discipline and correcting excessive deficits has been leading to reduced consumption and, as a result, to many companies going out of business, to the loss of tax revenues, to increased unemployment and, necessarily, to an upsurge in the numbers of newly poor. I voted for this report because, amongst its suggestions, enhanced supervision to monitor and assess the Member States’ plans to prevent excessive debt levels and contagion – because prevention is better than cure, not least because of the sluggish effects of the measures adopted – sits alongside the need to change the direction of the agenda, until now geared towards austerity, towards economic growth and job creation. The creation of eurobonds, the advocating of an ambitious investment plan in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, and the strengthening of the Community method will stimulate smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, so I welcome them.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This report is part of the so-called ‘two-pack’, presumably a complement to the previous ‘six-pack’, and concludes the legislative framework of what is known as economic governance. It aims to control the Member States’ budgetary and economic policies, unacceptably pursuing the withering of sovereign national institutions.

This is an unusual and profoundly anti-democratic concentration of economic and political power in the EU institutions, particularly the Commission. It is being backed by the usual suspects: the right and the centre-left. With this report, the latter is once again making its now commonplace attempts to label with the word ‘growth’ policies and strategies that are the very antithesis of growth and, above all, the antithesis of any prospect for sovereign, just, or sustainable development. In this context, the proposals concerning stability bonds – following the pattern already proposed by the Commission and even taking the same name – and the redemption fund are more for propaganda purposes than proposals with any practical effect, or at least none that is not going even further with the Commission’s original proposal on obligations to be met by the Member States regarding their budgetary processes. In other words, the intention is to bring the Member States even further under control, in such a way as to lead to the establishment of relationships of dominance with a veritably colonial air.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this regulation. The main reason for doing so was that, for the first time, we saw a legislative text that really lays the groundwork for new and essential mechanisms for securing sovereign debts and building towards growth. Here, contrary to the view of my group – the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) – I had no hesitation in voting in favour of eurobonds and the redemption fund. I voted in favour of the amendment on the golden rule, which would exclude investments from deficit calculations, and I regret that it was not carried. The way things are now, it is time to take urgent action: no more blind austerity; we have seen that it cannot work by itself. We need to mutualise debt while calling for austerity and, above all, we need to support growth before it is too late. The EU must take shared responsibility which, I think, also involves risk sharing.

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark, Anna Ibrisagic and Alf Svensson (PPE ), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Conservatives and Christian Democrats voted today in favour of the proposal for a regulation concerning new rules for budgetary monitoring among the Member States in the euro area. The proposal contains many important tools for ensuring budgetary discipline among the Member States of the euro area, the importance of which has been highlighted, in particular, by the developments of recent years. During the process, proposals concerning common borrowing and an EU fund for investments corresponding to a percentage of GDP have been put forward, which will only lead to a further build-up of debt. We voted against these particular parts. The proposal from the Commission, on the other hand, concerns tools and frameworks on which it is important to take a decision, particularly given the current situation. We therefore voted in favour of the remaining parts of the proposal. We trust that those parts concerning increased debt, which do not belong here, will not come up again in Parliament’s final reading. We therefore voted in favour of the proposal for provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive euro area Member State deficits.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing.(SK) The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union requires that Member States regard their economic policies as a matter of common concern, that their budgetary policies be guided by the need for sound public finances, and that their economic policies do not risk jeopardising the proper functioning of Economic and Monetary Union. The Treaty allows the adoption of specific measures in the euro area which go beyond the provisions applicable to all Member States in order to ensure the proper functioning of the Economic and Monetary Union. Setting up a common budgetary timeline for Member States whose currency is the euro should better synchronise the key steps in the preparation of national budgets, thus contributing to the effectiveness of the European Semester for budgetary policy coordination. Biased and unrealistic macro-economic and budgetary forecasts can considerably hamper the effectiveness of budgetary planning and consequently impair commitment to budgetary discipline. By contrast, forecasts from independent bodies can provide unbiased and realistic macro-economic forecasts. At the same time, closer monitoring should ensure early correction of any deviations indicative of the excessive deficits of the Member States. I also believe that with a gradually enhanced monitoring procedure, it will be possible to contribute to better budgetary outcomes to the benefit of all Member States whose currency is the euro.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE ), in writing. (HU) This report concerning the fiscal discipline of euro area Member States with excessive deficit fits well into the common system of economic governance. I truly believe that after the ‘six-pack’ on economic governance, the second economic governance package, which further elaborates on the practical aspects of budgetary discipline, is timely and essential for giving Europe a chance to initiate its long awaited economic growth. The text discusses important details, including not only additional data provision and reporting obligations for Member States suffering from serious budgetary imbalances, but also positive technical assistance for these countries, such as ‘reinforced surveillance’ by the Commission and timely Commission recommendations for flawed draft budgets. I did not support the motions for amendments on individual stability bonds and on a redemption fund because, on the one hand, I did not consider them to be closely related to the subject of European fiscal discipline and, on the other, they proved to be exaggerated and not well enough elaborated on several points. The report tabled before us foresees the fulfilment of minimum requirements, and although the final vote was postponed in order to allow the commencement of the trialogue with the Council and the Commission on the text adopted at first reading, I supported the amended text just as I did at the Committee vote.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Elisa Ferreira because it incorporates proposals that were long rejected by the European conservatives, such as growth facilities and the implementation of a road map for the introduction of eurobonds, which are needed now more than ever to curb speculation. I regret, however, that due to the opposition of the conservatives and liberals, it was not possible to adopt an amendment allowing public investment expenditure to be excluded when calculating the debt and deficits of economies under pressure.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE ), in writing. (FR) On Wednesday, 13 June, the Members of the European Parliament voted on the two reports known as the ‘two-pack’, which complement the package of six legislative acts aimed at strengthening economic governance. The text by Ms Ferreira, which gave rise to most debate, seeks to strengthen the Commission’s role in examining the budgets of the Member States. As a result, the Commission will be able to ask a Member State to present a new budgetary plan if its trajectory strays too far from the requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact. The adoption of both reports should allow us to provide broad guidelines for the two rapporteurs who will have to negotiate the regulations with the Member States and the Commission. Nevertheless, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, using unseemly tactics, succeeded in incorporating amendments on the creation of a redemption fund for countries’ debt amounts above 60% of GDP. While the debate on debt pooling remains open, some Members have expressed their support for a mechanism that is unclear. The European Parliament must now impose a principle that, nevertheless, is far from having unanimous support in this House.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because each of the Member States whose currency is the euro should consult the Commission and other Member States whose currency is the euro before the adoption of any major fiscal policy reform plans with potential spillover effects, in order to make it possible to assess the possible impact for the euro area as a whole. They should consider their budgetary plans to be of common concern and submit them to the Commission for monitoring purposes in advance of the plans becoming binding. The Commission should be in a position, if necessary, to adopt an opinion on the draft budgetary plan which the Member State and, in particular, budgetary authorities should be invited to take into account in the process of the budget law adoption. Member States whose currency is the euro and which are subject to an excessive deficit procedure should be monitored more closely to secure a full and timely correction of the excessive deficit. A closer monitoring should ensure early correction of any deviations from the Council recommendations to correct the excessive deficit.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The two reports known as the ‘two-pack’ were put to the vote in plenary. I voted for both of them during the voting on 13 June 2012. The ‘two-pack’ represents further progress in the area of budgetary surveillance. It complements the ‘six-pack’, a legislative package adopted by the European Parliament in September 2011 that contains measures to strengthen economic governance. The second report, by Elisa Ferreira, lays down common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficits of the Member States in the euro area. This report aims to make it compulsory for the 17 Member States to consult the Commission before taking any economic measures with potential spillover effects on their neighbouring States.

 
  
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  Wolf Klinz (ALDE ), in writing. (DE) The German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament has spoken out clearly in favour of the introduction of a debt redemption fund. However, participation in such a fund must be associated with clear and strict rules, such as were contained in the proposal made by the German Council of Economic Experts to the German Government in autumn 2011. Watering down the criteria for participation is neither productive nor effective. Linking the introduction of a debt redemption fund with the eurobonds project and the treatment of economic imbalances is unfair, and is rejected by the FDP in the European Parliament in the strongest possible terms.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE ), in writing. (SK) In November 2011, the European Parliament and the Council formally adopted the legislative package aimed at reinforcing economic governance in the EU and the euro area. This package was made up of six proposals: Four of them deal with fiscal issues, including a reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, while two new regulations aim at detecting and addressing emerging macro-economic imbalances within the EU and the euro area. The Commission's proposal for a regulation sets out additional monitoring requirements for national budgetary policies, in particular, the provisions relating to the setting up of a common budgetary timeline, rules-based fiscal frameworks as well as the strengthened surveillance of Member States subject to an excessive deficit procedure. I voted in favour of the proposal.

 
  
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  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Britta Reimers and Michael Theurer (ALDE ), in writing. (DE) The German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament has spoken out clearly in favour of the introduction of a debt redemption fund. However, participation in such a fund must be associated with clear and strict rules, such as were contained in the proposal made by the German Council of Economic Experts to the German Government in autumn 2011. Watering down the criteria for participation is neither productive nor effective. Linking the introduction of a debt redemption fund with the eurobonds project and the treatment of economic imbalances is unfair, and is rejected by the FDP in the European Parliament in the strongest possible terms.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this report but consider the following amendment to be vital: ‘the Commission shall present a report establishing a road map towards euro area stability bonds. It shall also present a proposal for a euro area sustainable growth instrument aiming at mobilising approximately 1% of GDP per year over a period of ten years, including an increase in the capital of the EIB and project bonds, to be invested in European infrastructure including science and technology. The instrument shall aim at creating the necessary conditions for sustainable growth in order to ensure the proper functioning of economic and monetary union and to safeguard the stability of the euro and thereby the sustainable coordination of Member States’ budgetary discipline’.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ), in writing. – Although I supported this report, I voted against Amendment 31, which contains references to a financial transaction tax and the CCCTB, since taxation matters remain the competence of the Member State.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This report proposes that all of the Member States in the euro area be monitored by the European Commission. It makes all States with excessive deficits subject to enhanced surveillance by it. It requires all States to list for the Commission all of the provisions in their draft budgets. The Commission will be able to amend them. Its amendments will have to be adopted by the national parliaments or they will have to pay a fine. The text also includes many provisions of the budgetary pact that is currently being ratified. It thus requires the States to submit all investments to the Commission for validation and establish ‘automatic correction mechanisms’ if they do not comply with the budgetary adjustments envisaged by the Commission. In addition, the report establishes the ‘economic partnership programme’ provided for by the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance for all countries that are subject to an excessive deficit procedure. I voted against this barrier to democracy.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) With the vote on this report and the report by Jean Paul Gauzès, Parliament is completing the European economic governance package, adopted at the end of 2011. This crisis that continues to afflict the whole of Europe requires the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States to safeguard the stability of Europe and, principally, the euro area. Approval of these rules strengthens the EU’s power of intervention, enabling it to intervene where necessary and making available to it adequate means for doing so.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) I voted against this report as it proposes that the Commission monitor euro area Member States. It places Member States with an excessive deficit problem under the increased surveillance of the Commission, obliging them to specify budgetary provisions, monitoring as such, and to modify them if the Commission does not agree. As it stands, countries will lose their national sovereignty. To my understanding, this is a fully-fledged coup that I cannot accept under any circumstances.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – This Commission proposal aims at setting up a common budgetary procedure and timeline for Member States and to go beyond the ‘six-pack’ by further monitoring Member States whose currency is the euro and that are in excessive deficit procedure (ex ante and ex post reinforced surveillance). In future, it will allow avoiding counterfeiting of accounting documents of EU Member states. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE ), in writing. – The Fine Gael MEPs voted in favour of this report. We agreed with our group and voted against Amendments 27 and 67. In Amendment 27, it is not clear that it is essential that a redemption fund be established. There are a number of ways in which sovereign debt instruments can be supported at EU level. Also, the formulation of debt issuance plans as proposed in Amendment 67 is not practical, as Member States’ debt issuance offices need to maintain discretion in choosing when to access markets. However, we voted against Amendment 31, as it contains references to the FTT and the CCCTB.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The proposal for a regulation tabled by the Commission contains additional provisions regarding surveillance of the budgetary policy of the Member States and sets out a common budget timetable as well as stricter surveillance of the budgetary decisions of the Member States. This sounds good, but it is old wine in new bottles. The Stability and Growth Pact, which, moreover, was the condition on which Germany consented to the euro, had the same objective. So far, this has been breached more than 80 times. Why should things be any different with the new objectives? The wording alone, which states that ‘the enforcement of budgetary surveillance should always be subject to overarching objectives of the EU and, in particular, to the requirements of Article 9 TFEU related to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection’, expressly bears witness to the fact that, right from the outset, there has been no consideration of this whatsoever. The countries concerned will always find a reason why they should not meet the objectives. Moreover, the sanction mechanisms are entirely ineffectual. The regulation is therefore not worth the paper it is written on.

 
  
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  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE ), in writing.(PL) The legislative proposals being put to the vote today are a continuation of the process of increasing the economic integration of the Member States in the euro area and represent a significant improvement in the system of economic governance. Tightening both budgetary supervision and the Commission’s role in this supervision, particularly in relation to the Member States included in the excessive deficit procedure, as well as harmonising and increasing the transparency of the process for adopting budgets in the Member States in the euro area, will help enhance the credibility of national fiscal policies, which will improve economic coordination in the euro area and secure it against further shocks which may come in the future. It should also be noted that the benefits resulting from implementation of the proposal under discussion will not be felt for some time. Therefore, we should not stop looking for short-term measures. One such measure is definitely the establishment of a redemption fund. Establishing such a mechanism would mean indirect mutualisation of the public debt of the Member States in the euro area, which, as a result, would reduce market pressure and make it easier to refinance the countries concerned. However, in view of the significance of its consequences, this idea needs to be formulated in greater detail and subjected to closer analysis.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I should like to salute the commitment and dedication that the rapporteur demonstrated in producing this report, seeking consensus amongst the 27, but not failing to protect the interests of her home country. The work she has done was necessary. Several of the measures proposed urgently need to be implemented and we all hope they will make a decisive contribution to improving the economic situation throughout the EU.

 
  
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  Herbert Reul (PPE ), in writing. (DE) I and many of my colleagues in the German conservative group (CDU/CSU) of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) voted in favour of the ‘two-pack’ in order to ensure that the central issue of budgetary consolidation, and thus the stemming of the sovereign debt crisis, becomes binding on everyone, once and for all. However, we decisively reject paragraphs 27 and 67 because they are irresponsible. Eurobonds are not appropriate; on the contrary, they jeopardise budgetary discipline. Debt redemption funds and growth funds make equally little sense.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I think this regulation is a good idea because it sets out a number of additional monitoring requirements for national budgetary policies, proposes a common timeline and calls for closer monitoring of budgetary decisions of Member States subject to an excessive deficit procedure. Budgetary policy should be in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, whose goal is to overcome the crisis and drive the economy towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, combined with high employment, productivity and social cohesion.

 
  
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  Petri Sarvamaa (PPE ), in writing. (FI) In order to prevent a future financial and economic crisis similar to the current one, we need a more coordinated policy in the euro area. To prevent imbalances in the public finances of the Member States, it is especially important to obtain adequate information in sufficient time on how budgets are being drafted. The fundamental idea that an independent agency outside the Member States (the European Commission) is needed to monitor budgets is understandable and acceptable, in the light of events in recent years.

The report by Ms Ferreira, which is part of the ‘two-pack’, tries to achieve this aim. However, some strange elements were incorporated into the fundamental idea during the Committee preparations for Ms Ferreira’s report. These include the call for the creation of a redemption fund (Amendment 27) and, in particular, the call for a growth fund, for which an investment of up to 1% of GDP (EUR 140 billion) over ten years is being proposed (Amendment 67). I voted against Amendments 27 and 67, but in favour of the report as a whole, because of its important basic aim to achieve more stringent financial discipline in the euro area. I was also confident about voting for the report as a whole because I do not believe that Amendments 27 and 67 have much chance of success in the trialogue negotiations between Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) In total, the legislative package designed to strengthen EU and euro area economic governance, as adopted in November 2011 by Parliament and the Council, contains six proposals. Four of the proposals are on financial issues, while two relate to current macro-economic imbalances in the euro area. I voted in favour of measures on increasing surveillance of countries with a major budget deficit and the Commission’s request to step up the provisions on national budget policies. In addition, I would emphasise the need for these changes to be aligned with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, which is partly designed to help overcome the crisis in the EU and drive its economy towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

 
  
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  Alda Sousa (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The report makes timid statements of intent about a road map towards the hypothetical introduction of eurobonds. I support these aspects of the proposal but, with things moving at this rate, they will be clearly insufficient for providing an alternative to austerity-based adjustment programmes. I voted against for these reasons.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In November 2011, the European Commission tabled a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council with the goal of setting out measures to improving monitoring of budgetary policies in the euro area that complement the measures already set out in the European Semester, the multilateral supervision system for budgetary policies and the procedure for correcting Member States’ excessive deficits. I am voting for this report, since I think there is a need to improve conditions for price stability and promote increasing financial stability that will contribute to realising the EU’s growth and employment goals. I am in favour of setting a joint budgetary timetable for the euro area Member States that will lead to increased synergies, will facilitate the coordination of economic and financial policy, and will enable the European Commission to draft recommendations intended to eliminate existing macro-economic imbalances.

 
  
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  Alexandra Thein (ALDE ), in writing. (DE) I was unable to vote in favour of the Ferreira report because of Amendments 68, 27 and 67. In its proposal to the German Government in autumn 2011, the German Council of Economic Experts demanded clear and strict rules on participation in a debt redemption fund (Amendment 67). Whatever one’s general position on such a debt redemption fund, which was not even foreseen in the Commission proposal, these participation criteria have been greatly watered down in the report that has now been adopted. Moreover, linking the introduction of a debt redemption fund with a road map for eurobonds or stability bonds and the treatment of economic imbalances is unfair and inappropriate.

 
  
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  Marianne Thyssen (PPE ), in writing. (NL) The European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) is pleased that the ‘two-pack’ has been approved. We are hoping to get the negotiations with the Council off to a quick start now in order to finalise the dossier even before summer. My group is also satisfied that essential elements of the fiscal treaty have been included in the ‘two-pack’ and that the Growth and Stability Pact will remain in full force. Budgetary vigilance remains necessary in order that we can restore trust, but also in order that we do not leave our debts of today for tomorrow. Parliament will not only vote today on the strengthening of budgetary coordination; it will also send out a signal that it is time to make progress in the field of budgetary integration as well.

A debate on the merits of feasibility and timing of, and conditions for, instruments for joint debt issuance – eurobonds, temporary redemption fund or variants thereof – is in order. We welcome this debate if it is conducted seriously and if the proposals do not lead to more problems than they solve. Confidence will remain the keyword for the coming months and years, the required bridge between savings and growth. Persisting with a European strategy of confidence, i.e. a commitment to sound public finances, a healthy banking system, economic growth and employment and a socially just society: that is the best way out of the crisis.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of the excessive deficits of the Member States in the euro area. In defining and implementing its policies and actions, the EU takes into account the requirements in terms of promoting a high level of employment, guaranteeing adequate social protection, combating social exclusion, as well as the requirements for a high level of education, vocational training and health protection. I think that proper attention must be paid to the EU’s strategy for economic growth and employment and how it is implemented by Member States via their national reform programmes. The medium-term fiscal plans contain an updated projection of multiannual expenditure as a percentage of GDP for public administrations and their main components, as well as for multiannual targets and commitments on expenditure, with the aim of achieving the objectives included in the EU strategy for economic growth and employment. It is essential that the common budgetary plan timeline is compatible with the Member States’ budgetary timeframes. Furthermore, strengthening economic governance should include closer and more timely involvement from the European Parliament and national parliaments.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE ), in writing. – I am very much pleased to say that I have voted in favour of this report. Besides reinforcing fiscal discipline and European coordination, it includes some ideas that I have pushed forward like making all Member States put in place independent fiscal councils to audit public budgetary execution, undertaking cost-benefit analysis on all reforms and investments projects. What is more, the European redemption fund has been adopted. This was the key issue for me, as it is a realistic instrument to mutualise part of the debt from Member States and make the euro an irreversible currency. To put in place the ERF is fundamental to solve the debt crisis.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE ), in writing. (DE) I have voted in favour of the report for now, out of solidarity with my group. The final vote has yet to take place, and I will then vote against it if it has not by then been made unambiguously clear that a debt redemption fund and eurobonds will not be introduced by the back door. The current review must clearly show that the Member States’ own liability is not eroded. We cannot allow those who are prudent and conscientious to be penalised, while those with no discipline benefit from this. We need to deal with the roots of the problems that caused the crisis, which are debt and a lack of budgetary discipline or anarchic conditions in some countries, with taxes not being collected. As a result, the long-term future of the entire Union is in question.

 
  
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  Johannes Cornelis van Baalen (ALDE ), in writing. – Hans van Baalen of the