Debates
Tuesday, 3 July 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 4. Review of the Danish Presidency (debate)
 5. Conclusions of the European Council meeting (28-29 June 2012) (debate)
 6. Voting time
  6.1. Request for consultation of the European Economic and Social Committee on establishing a European social mark (vote)
  6.2. Insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) (A7-0198/2012 - Sharon Bowles) (vote)
  6.3. Association of overseas countries and territories with the European Community (A7-0169/2012 - Maurice Ponga) (vote)
  6.4. Evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean (A7-0219/2012 - François Alfonsi) (vote)
  6.5. Single European railway area (A7-0196/2012 - Debora Serracchiani) (vote)
  6.6. Recording equipment in road transport (A7-0195/2012 - Silvia-Adriana Ţicău) (vote)
  6.7. Customs enforcement of intellectual property rights (A7-0046/2012 - Jürgen Creutzmann) (vote)
  6.8. Implementation of EU water legislation (A7-0192/2012 - Richard Seeber) (vote)
  6.9. eCall: a new 112 service for citizens (A7-0205/2012 - Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Olga Sehnalová) (vote)
  6.10. Attractiveness of investing in Europe (A7-0190/2012 - Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou) (vote)
  6.11. Trade aspects of the Eastern partnership (A7-0183/2012 - Miloslav Ransdorf) (vote)
 7. Explanations of vote
 8. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 9. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting
 10. Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement between the EU and its Member States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland and the USA (debate)
 11. 2013 budget - mandate for trialogue (debate)
 12. EU-Israel agreement on conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products (debate)
 13. Access to basic banking services (debate)
 14. Direct payments to farmers (debate)
 15. Common rules for direct support schemes for farmers - Support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development - Common organisation of agricultural markets and specific provisions for certain agricultural products - Financing of the common agricultural policy - Organic production and labelling of organic products - System of financing by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (debate)
 16. Agenda for next sitting: see Minutes
 17. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: MARTIN SCHULZ
President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting opened at 08.35)

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

3. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

4. Review of the Danish Presidency (debate)
Video of the speeches
MPphoto
 

  President. – The first item is the Council and Commission statements on the review of the Danish Presidency. In that connection, I would like to offer a warm welcome to the former President-in-Office of the Council, the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. I am also pleased to see the President of the Commission, Mr Barroso, here this morning.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Helle Thorning-Schmidt, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, President of the Commission, distinguished leaders of the political groups, Members of the European Parliament and Members of the Commission, it is a privilege and a great honour to address this Parliament again. When I last stood here, back in January, I ended my speech by saying that the economic crisis had put the European Union to the test. That was when we took over the Presidency at a time of unprecedented crisis in the history of the Union.

The gravity of the situation, the depth of the challenge, the severity of the predicament facing our Union could not, and should not, be underestimated, and I said this right at the beginning of our Presidency – not to lower the expectations for the Danish Presidency, but rather to make clear exactly what is at stake as the EU tries to work its way out of this crisis.

During the past month, the EU has been forced to take critical decisions which will lay the foundation for the Europe of tomorrow, of next year and of decades to come. This is no easy task in a Union as vast, diverse and complex as ours, but leaders throughout Europe must never lose sight of the core of the problem facing the EU today: that our very economic foundation, our future prosperity, the hopes and dreams and aspirations of our children are at risk.

The storm has not passed yet and we are still facing a number of different and intertwined challenges. So I am reminded at this time of the inspirational words of the first Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, who once said: ‘The unity of Europe was the dream of a few. It became the hope of many. Today, it has become a necessity for all of us’.

Those words have perhaps never been as true as they are today. The EU is a necessity to all of us. As representatives of the European institutions, we have and we feel an obligation to find the solutions which will bring our Union forward, and we know that we owe that to our citizens.

When I stood here in January, I proudly stated that I am a European at heart, and the past six months have only reassured me in my belief in the European project. I believe in our institutions, our cooperation and our common responsibility. If we seek to ensure solidarity, growth and prosperity, we must seek it together through common solutions to common problems.

And that is what our Presidency has been all about: ensuring solidarity, growth and prosperity together. We took upon ourselves the task of proving that the EU still works and is still capable of delivering necessary results for our citizens, and we did this inspired by someone that we all know. In 1950 he said: ‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity’. Of course, it was Robert Schuman who said this, and the subsequent history of European integration has proved him absolutely right.

There is an unequivocal truth in Schuman’s words. Our Union is built from its very foundation with bricks made of solidarity. Some stones have been small, some have been enormous but, brick by brick, we have strengthened our cooperation and solidarity with one another. This is to me the essence of our Union: and this is what we have tried to do – to work inch by inch in creating results.

Jobs and growth, financial responsibility, a greener economy and a safe Europe: these have been the priorities of the Danish Presidency. But priorities without tangible results are just empty words, and I believe that Europe has, in fact, delivered over the past months. The Compact for Growth and Jobs adopted last week in the European Council is the perfect completion of our Presidency. The Compact does not solve all Europe’s problems but it is a light in the dark for the many European citizens feeling the harsh effects of the economic crisis. For those outside the labour market, for those without opportunities, for those facing poor prospects, including not least our young generations, we are presenting a way forward.

It is a result of our persistent efforts to promote growth and new jobs in Europe but, of course, our work does not end here. We must be vigilant in transforming this Compact from a piece of paper into practical reality. We must find a way to ensure that together – Member States, the Commission and the European Parliament – we roll out the measures contained in the Compact.

We have a situation in which, for the first time in the history of the European Union, we cannot assume that the coming generations will enjoy more prosperity and better opportunities than we have enjoyed. That, of course, leaves us with a huge responsibility for the conditions of our citizens and businesses, which has been a top priority for our Presidency.

Let me highlight a few of the main results reached during our Presidency.

Under the headline of ‘a more dynamic Europe’, the Danish Presidency has pushed for robust EU measures in areas such as research and education, infrastructure and the single market, and we have done this to boost growth and to kick-start a job-rich recovery. I am particularly pleased that we have succeeded in achieving a historic compromise in the European Council on the patent reform, after more than 30 years of negotiations. This could mean drastic cost savings for businesses across Europe: savings that can be used to promote new jobs. We may not see eye to eye on all elements of this compromise, but I truly hope that we can work as colegislators to see the patent reform become a reality to benefit our companies.

I am also very pleased that we have adopted the Roaming Regulation. This regulation will lower prices significantly for cellphone users in Member States and will reduce costs to and the burden on companies. In short, it can contribute to growth.

Another important result is the regulation on the European system of standardisation. The agreement reached here will modernise the single market. Furthermore, we have reached agreement on the proposal on venture capital and social entrepreneurship funds. This will boost access to funding for European businesses and social entrepreneurs. Of course, this is also an important step in trying to create growth in the EU. We know that the single market has been one of the greatest achievements of the EU and, in order to realise its full potential, we must continue to reform and modernise it.

The second main objective of our Presidency was to ensure a more responsible Europe. The need for fiscal consolidation and greater budget discipline is crucial if we want to safeguard against the financial crisis of tomorrow. We have also taken important steps in this field during the Danish Presidency. The Council agreement on the ‘two-pack’ will enable stronger European monitoring of budgetary plans being drafted by members of the eurozone. Stronger common rules will reinforce the vigilance of Member States in avoiding large imbalances and unsustainable debt levels. We have come far, and I urge a rapid agreement between the Council and Parliament during the Cypriot Presidency.

A similar important step is the directive on capital requirements, on which the Council agreed its position last month. This directive will help minimise the cost and the risk of a financial crisis hitting us again as it did in 2008. Furthermore, we have worked for a stronger commitment by Member States to implement structural reforms. The completion of the first full round of the European Semester is a decisive step towards a more responsible Europe. All these results will help to increase confidence in Europe’s financial system, and I am in no doubt that these surveillance measures will lead to greater political accountability and stronger budget discipline.

Finally, we have been working hard to streamline the next EU budget so that it helps to create growth in the Union, and we took an important step last week in the European Council. Here too, I would very much like to thank Parliament for its constructive cooperation throughout.

It is our firm conviction that we need to direct more funds towards growth-enhancing areas such as research, education, energy efficiency and green technology. That has to be the way forward for the EU.

‘Measures that will inspire growth and stronger job creation’ has been the mantra for the Danish Presidency throughout these six months, and I am pleased to note that the European Council placed strong emphasis on this last week. As you also know, the transition to a green economy has been among the most important political priorities for the Danish Presidency, and I warmly welcome the common agreement reached on the Energy Efficiency Directive. This was a landmark result which required a good deal of flexibility, patience and hard work on both sides, and I would like to thank everyone here who was involved in reaching this significant milestone. Without you, we could not have done it.

This directive is of key importance in our efforts to achieve our two inter-related goals, of transforming Europe into a competitive, low-carbon economy and increasing our energy security, all at once. In addition, the directive will create up to hundreds of thousands of new jobs in Europe and it will, of course, ensure that the EU gets much closer to our target of 20% energy savings by 2020. I consider this an excellent result.

I would like to underline my appreciation of the dedication, high level of ambition, and willingness to compromise demonstrated by the European Parliament on this road to the green transition. Your continued engagement in making our economy greener will be ever more needed in the years to come.

Underpinning our aspiration for a dynamic, responsible and greener Europe is the need to ensure a safe Europe. Denmark’s Presidency has achieved a wide range of tangible results in this field. We have granted candidate status to Serbia and are opening accession negotiations with Montenegro, which will influence the regional dynamics and contribute to stabilising the Western Balkans. We have also reached agreement on essential elements of the asylum package, which will help ensure efficiency, legal rights and more uniform asylum procedures in the Member States.

Together with Parliament and the Commission, we have managed to conclude a lot of important business. And today I am pleased to say that we were able to reach important agreements only thanks to constructive cooperation with you – the Parliament, with the Commission and, of course, with the Member States in the Council. As I see it, the achievements of the Danish Presidency are also the achievements of the European Parliament.

We all play our part in realising the huge potential of the Community method. Having different responsibilities, playing different roles and, on some occasions, defending diverging interests, the Council and Parliament will not always share the same view. The heated debate on the legal basis of the Schengen evaluation mechanism was, indeed, a case in point, but I drew great encouragement from the fact that our negotiations over the past six months have been characterised by flexibility, a willingness to find common ground and, most importantly perhaps, a strong commitment to deliver on the needs and demands of the citizens. The relentless focus on results, stone by stone, brick by brick, represents the spirit of our cooperation within the EU. At the end of the day, as we strive to put Europe on a path for future growth and prosperity, we have to be guided by our vision for the society that we want to create. For me, this is what sets the Union apart and what makes our social model so unique.

That is what I believe in. That is what has made our economies so successful over the years and that is what we must fight to obtain and sustain and develop in the future. Moving Europe beyond this crisis is not about abandoning our social model. It is, in fact, the opposite. It is about bringing our countries through the crisis with our fundamental values intact – values such as solidarity, safety nets and equal opportunities for all. The difficult decisions we are taking today and tomorrow should not be a departure from solidarity. On the contrary, we are doing these things to protect our way of life, our European social model and our values, and we will continue to do so. The only way forward is through stronger cooperation among all of us. The answer to our current challenges facing the Union is more Europe, not less, and that has been the guiding principle for the Danish Presidency throughout.

(Applause)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. – Mr President, I would like to thank Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and her whole team, particularly Europe Minister Wammen, for a very engaged and dynamic Presidency. The Presidency programme was called ‘Europe at work’ and I think it is fair to say that you were a Presidency at work. You made a real effort to contribute to ensuring stability for Europe in these difficult times. I particularly congratulate you, Prime Minister, for your personal commitment to competitiveness and growth and to the green agenda, areas in which your country, Denmark, is a great inspiration for many of us in Europe, and indeed in the world.

The results of this work are, to a large extent, reflected in the conclusions of the European Council and cover the full range of the Union’s activities. Since we will be discussing the results of the European Council and the euro area summit in the following debate, in this speech I will only highlight a number of specific issues.

Let me start with the economy. We have almost completed the second European Semester. Very serious and in-depth work has taken place on the Commission’s proposals for country-specific recommendations and I am satisfied with the consensus that has emerged around them. This work cannot, of course, be separated from our agenda for economic growth. As the Commission has made very clear, growth can be achieved only through the combination of structural reforms and targeted investment. The Growth Compact, which has now been approved, recognises this and, indeed, paves the way for determined pro-growth action.

I therefore appreciate, in particular, the speedy and constructive manner in which the proposal on the pilot project bonds for transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure has been handled. I am very happy that we have reached a final agreement on the Commission proposal. The initiative will stimulate investment in infrastructure at European level.

I also appreciate the efforts to reach an agreement on the so-called ‘two-pack’, which is a central element in the EU-level drive to strengthen economic and budgetary surveillance. This would also represent a first step towards implementing important elements of the fiscal treaty. Thus, I welcome the general approach in Council and I strongly hope that Parliament and the incoming Cypriot Presidency can come to a final agreement before the end of this year.

Equally important is our progress in the area of financial markets and financial services. Agreement could be reached on our proposals on derivative markets and on the single European payment area. Very importantly, we are making enormous progress on the bank capital requirements package, as well as on credit rating agencies.

While the Commission proposal for a financial transaction tax has, unfortunately, not met with unanimous support from Member States, I would like to welcome the decision to start negotiations, under enhanced cooperation, for all Member States that wish to join the initiative. This is a very important development. After all, we have seen once again in recent months and weeks – both in the United States and in Europe, including in some of the major banking institutions – that practices which fuelled the financial crisis have not yet been eradicated from the sector. Once again, we have been confronted with reckless trading and market manipulation. It is time for these practices to stop once and for all, and for a sector that owes so much to taxpayers’ support to agree to hand back a fair share to society.

Regarding the very difficult negotiations on the proposed directive on energy efficiency, the agreement found by the colegislators at first reading will be a major step in delivering the objective of 20% primary energy savings in 2020. The Commission estimates that the outcome reached would allow the delivery of approximately two thirds of the total energy savings in the Commission’s original proposal. So, while we welcome what has been achieved, we must also say that further work on reaching our 2020 objectives will be needed.

I was very pleased by the agreement reached on the Roaming III Regulation. This is an example of legislation that truly benefits European citizens and consumers. The regulation entered into force on 1 July 2012. By putting a cap on data roaming, we are taking an important step towards protecting consumers against shock bills, and completing the digital single market.

Europe should be a global standard setter. Therefore, I also welcome the agreement reached on reform of the standardisation system, which will enable more efficient standard setting in Europe. Furthermore, the general approaches agreed in the Council on the accounting directives, on venture capital funds and social entrepreneurship funds, and on alternative dispute resolution will hopefully prove to be a good basis for reaching agreement with Parliament very soon. On the matter of professional qualifications, we could have wished for more progress, but work will continue.

It is, of course, necessary to make special mention of the debate on the European patent, something which has been under discussion for decades. There was a compromise on this between the participating Member States, but unfortunately it comes at the price of the deletion of important Community elements of the original Commission proposal. While recognising the great efforts made by the Danish Presidency on this difficult issue, and indeed thanking you sincerely for those efforts, Prime Minister, the Commission has therefore reserved its position, and I made this very clear to the Heads of State or Government during the European Council. The situation will now require an assessment by the three EU institutions. We are ready to work with you on this.

A central theme of the past semester was the effort made in bringing forward the multiannual financial framework (MFF). Last week, the European Council considered that the negotiating box prepared by the Danish Presidency provided a basis and orientations for the final stage of negotiation during the Cypriot Presidency, with a view to reaching an agreement by the end of 2012. In this respect, let me reiterate that the Commission is fully aware of and will call for full observance of the institutional prerogatives of all the EU institutions. It was the Commission, by the way, which strongly insisted on this point during the preparation for this European Council and, indeed, when its conclusions were adopted.

The debate on the MFF will now enter its decisive stage. The Commission considers that the negotiating box is still missing some important elements or, in our view, is not the appropriate answer in some areas. While fully recognising the very serious work done so far, the Commission will therefore continue to defend its proposals under the incoming Presidency. I believe it is now clearer that the European Union budget is an essential instrument for achieving sustainable growth and jobs through investment.

I am particularly happy that we managed to agree on a new Financial Regulation. I want to extend my thanks to the relevant players in Parliament and the Council who have worked closely with the Commission. I know we went through a process of long and difficult negotiations. The final adoption of the Financial Regulation before the end of the year will allow for proper implementation of all the sectoral programmes of the MFF. Thus, I strongly hope that the Council and Parliament, with the support of the Commission, will manage to reach agreement on the MFF by the end of this year. The European Union needs to send a signal that, until the end of this decade, it will have a strong budget for growth and cohesion. The European Union needs to show that it is able to take difficult decisions in difficult times.

In the area of justice and home affairs, there has been good progress on important issues. Let me mention the asylum package, notably the Dublin II Regulation and the Reception Conditions Directive. Negotiations have also advanced on the Asylum Procedures Directive, and reform of the Visa Regulation is on track.

However, the same cannot yet be said of another important issue, namely, the legal basis and nature of the Schengen evaluation mechanism. We are all aware of the sensitivity of this issue. As far as the Commission is concerned, we want solutions that can work. That is why we believe, together with this Parliament, that we need a Schengen evaluation mechanism with a strong European dimension. We are convinced that an intergovernmental peer review model does not deliver on the mandate set by the European Council of March 2011, and that it would have limited added value in practice. Since the Lisbon Treaty in particular, free movement of people has been a genuine Community concern. As I have said before, the Commission cannot accept the current outcome as final, and it will continue to work for a better solution.

Let me end with a look at the external dimension. The focus on internal European issues has always had to be combined with a broader perspective on Europe’s role in the world, and never more so than in relation to the preparations for, and decisions in, the Rio+20 Summit for sustainable development. Although a number of our most ambitious objectives were not fully achieved, the European Union remained committed and constructive throughout the negotiations, and our positions had a very important impact on the debate. I would like particularly to welcome the very good cooperation between the Commission and the Danish Council Presidency. In fact, both Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt and I were present at this Rio conference. And let me tell you that without European leadership in this conference, we would not have achieved what appears to me to be a significant outcome. Green growth is now explicitly and formally accepted by the international community as an indispensable part of our sustainable development agenda.

Important progress has been achieved during the past six months of the Danish Council Presidency. I wish to reiterate my thanks for what has been very good cooperation. However, we are only too aware of how serious the situation is and how much we still need to accomplish in the time ahead. I therefore count on the ongoing commitment and ambition of all the EU institutions in meeting our common challenges.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Krišjānis Kariņš , on behalf of the PPE Group. (LV) Mr President, Prime Minister, Commissioner, the most typical response during a crisis is to dedicate all efforts to solving that particular crisis, leaving everything else aside. As we are well aware, during the past half-year – and not only during that time – the main focus in general and the main subject of discussions in the press has been the financial and economic crisis. The Danish Presidency has been greatly tempted to devote all its energy and all of its efforts to these matters only, leaving everything else that is also important to us aside. However, it has not done so. Here, I have to say hats off (particularly considering that it is a small country) for being able to simultaneously devote attention to, shall we say, the main problems that we have, while addressing many other issues as well. I will not speak about the many other issues. They have already been discussed by Mr Barroso and will still be discussed by others; I wish to focus on energy in particular.

Thinking about our interests in the future, it is, of course, very important that we are moving toward a single European energy policy. That will make our energy supply more secure, help reduce CO2 emissions and – very importantly – help reduce our import dependence. Under the leadership of the Danish Presidency, matters connected with energy efficiency legislation have been addressed, as have matters connected with the legislation on energy supplies from third countries, on which we shall not be voting in this House, in Parliament, until September. With regard to this legislation on energy supply agreements with third countries, the Danish Presidency met with absolute resistance from the rest of the Council. Essentially, most of the Member States of the Council did not wish to adopt this legislation at all in any wording, and, thanks to the leadership of the Danish Presidency, a compromise solution has been achieved on which Parliament will be able to take a vote in September, bringing us one step closer to a common energy policy. Therefore, hats off and my thanks to the Danish Presidency, which has devoted energy and efforts not only to solving the economic crisis, but also to other issues that are important to us.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Mr President, Prime Minister, many thanks for your Presidency and, above all, for the list that you read out today of everything that took place under the Danish Presidency. It is an impressive list, I really must admit that. Of course, the Danish Presidency was overshadowed by two factors that did not make life easy for you. First of all, there was the economic crisis. I am very pleased – and I am sure we will come back to this – that, in the end, at the final summit, we managed to take a few positive steps in the direction of growth, as that is absolutely essential if we are to overcome the crisis. Then, of course, there were the actions of the European Council.

The Patents Directive has been mentioned. This House has been fighting for a European patent for years. The result will overcome the arguments and the animosities between individual countries. At the last moment, a few countries did manage to blemish this positive result, however. I actually find it very strange that, for example, the United Kingdom, which constantly criticises how we have three seats for the European Parliament, pushed for there to be three seats for the patent court.

(Applause)

That is clearly a position that is absolutely intolerable. What it does show us, however, is what many a government really cares about.

It was a similar story with the budget. Once again, the European Council got involved, although my fellow Members and the Danish Presidency managed to rescue the situation between them. The European Council – and I will also say this to Mr Van Rompuy – should concern itself with those things that are its responsibility. It should not be making out detailed legislation. That is not the job of the European Council – it is the job of the Council, together with the European Parliament, to legislate. That needs to be made clear at long last.

A second item that I would particularly like to emphasise is the Energy Efficiency Directive. This is not just a directive; it is a position, a direction. I am grateful to Mr Turmes and Ms Thomsen, and all those involved, for having fought for this in the way that they did. Of course, we wanted more – they also wanted more – but again, there were a few countries that prevented us from taking a really big step forward with this.

I hope, however, that, with your ongoing support as Denmark, the Member State, we will be able to bring about this energy switchover, that we will succeed in creating these thousands and even millions of jobs, for which there is a potential here. We are all asking where the work is and fearing that we are running out of jobs. No, we are not running out of jobs; especially if we concentrate on the energy switchover, if we aim to bring about the greening of the economy. This is about creating many, many jobs in Europe and, at the same time, reducing the dependence on imports of oil and gas. We have produced a very significant achievement here, and I hope that many countries which, at the moment, are still providing resistance will come to see that, in future, we will have to have truly mandatory provisions on energy efficiency.

Finally, Prime Minister, I would like to congratulate you on your choice of Mr Wammen as your Minister for Europe, as he really did an awful lot so that the Danish Presidency was able to succeed in many areas. I would like to thank you for that, Mr Wammen. You set a good example of how to act European but nonetheless represent the interests of your own country. If the Danish Presidency has many successes to list, that is down, above all, to you. Thank you for all your efforts.

(Applause)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(DE) Mr President, Prime Minister, Mr Barroso, we have heard a great deal about how the house of Europe is built of the bricks of solidarity, but houses must be built on solid foundations. That has been the distinctive line of the past six months: the link between solidarity and solidity. I would therefore have liked you to have said a bit more about solidity, Prime Minister, and to have talked about how we can exert better, stricter control over the situation that we are in – the debt crisis in the Member States that has dragged our currency down with it.

You mentioned the ‘two-pack’, and that indeed took place during your Presidency. In the case of the ‘two-pack’, we, as the European Parliament, called for a debt redemption pact. I believe we need to take a brave step forward if we want to be successful here. However, the Council’s decisions of last weekend leave a lot of questions unanswered. Mr Swoboda mentioned the growth pact. I know that it is something he is particularly concerned about. Der Spiegel called the whole thing a sham. A total of EUR 50-55 billion is supposed to come from the Structural Funds, but even Commissioner Hahn says he does not know how such figures are arrived at. I am not convinced that it is genuinely solid, that it will restore confidence among our citizens. Liability and control go together; that is the really crucial thing.

We want to liberate forces for growth, we want the European patent. However, and in this Mr Swoboda is absolutely right, what the Council has decided is completely absurd. A court that sits in three different places – London, Paris and Munich – is downright grotesque, and it shows that quite clearly the Member States are not capable of coming to sensible decisions on such an important, innovation-driving matter.

I have one question. A new system of banking supervision is now to be established on the basis of Article 127(6) of the Treaty. I thought we had a European Banking Authority. Are we now going to have a banking supervisory authority with two seats as well? Are we going to get two different banking supervisory authorities? Precisely what form does the Council imagine this is going to take? You will find it pretty difficult to explain the proliferation of seats of various organisations to this Parliament and get support for it.

In other respects, I would like to offer my sincere thanks for your committed Presidency. There are some other matters that you have progressed with real success. I have not mentioned Schengen, which was undoubtedly a sore point in your Presidency. However, the enlargement policy in respect of Serbia and Montenegro is undoubtedly one of the positive aspects.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Daniel Cohn-Bendit, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Mr President, Prime Minister, imagine that one day, a President of the Commission says to us after six months: ‘You all know what we have done. We have done a lot, it is true, and we have done it with zeal, but now we must tell you what is blocked’. The problem that we have here is that you had a proposal, but we still do not understand why it has not been possible to conclude it.

You spoke about the directive on energy efficiency. It is possible to lie to oneself? There are two countries who have blocked this: Germany and Poland. We must therefore look at how we can unblock Europe because while we are deluding ourselves by saying: ‘You see, we have done a good job, etc.’, we know very well that the decisions that we take are not up to the required standard.

The energy directive is a good thing but we all know that it is insufficient. It is not your fault, it is the way that Europe functions that is being called into question. There was talk of the patent. Of course it is absurd, but the public must really understand this. The problem is not simply what we tell ourselves here; it also what the public can understand. When you have this contradiction with Mr Cameron, who gives lectures to everyone, and who, in fact, is preventing Europe from developing, the European public must understand, taking the example of patents, what it is all about.

We could give other examples, in particular Schengen, which is self-explanatory, since, in the end, if we restore the opening and closure of borders, it marks the end of the European Community approach. It is very simple. All the interior ministers are responsible in this sense. Let us call a spade a spade, so that at least the public may understand what is at stake.

You talk about the integration of Serbia and Montenegro. Yes! Yet once again we are forgetting Sarajevo. We always forget Bosnia. Today, the only country that does not have a European perspective is Bosnia, a country that has previously fallen victim to nationalism in the Balkans. It is not sufficient to give ourselves gold stars – no doubt deserved – on the subject of Bosnia when we are talking about Serbia, because as long as we fail to find a solution for Bosnia, I personally will continue to have a guilty conscience.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Martin Callanan, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, I want to do two things this morning.

First of all, I want to wish the Secretary-General of Parliament a very happy birthday. I am sure he is delighted to be having to spend his birthday listening to us drone on in this Chamber. Secondly, and much more importantly, I would like to thank the Danish Presidency, their officials and ministers and all those whom we have dealt with over the last six months.

Of course, Prime Minister, as a Socialist while I myself am a Conservative, I am sure there are many issues on which we would disagree. However, I would like to pay tribute to the typical Danish efficiency and practicality which has been sorely needed in the EU over the last six months. In particular, your Presidency should be congratulated for burying the financial transaction tax as an EU-wide initiative. It would have damaged many of the EU’s financial centres, and many ordinary savers and investors as well.

Your administration should also be thanked for refusing to reopen negotiations on the Pregnant Workers Directive, which would have raised costs for businesses, reduced women’s choice and made it harder for many young women to find jobs. You should also be congratulated as a member of the EU net contributors club for pushing for budget restraint within the EU as well.

In fact, when I look at many of the policy areas, it seems there are many lessons that you could teach the wider Socialist family about the responsibilities of power should you ever choose to come back to this Parliament.

Regarding the row over the Schengen evaluation mechanism, I have to say you have my sympathy on this. After all, the decision to change the legal base was made unanimously by the Council – a Council which, as Mr Daul and others often remind us, is made up predominantly of leaders of the EPP. I think it is very unfair that the messenger should be shot over this incident.

That aside, I think the Danish Presidency’s overall relationship with Parliament has been extremely good and I would like to thank in particular your Europe Minister sitting behind you, Mr Wammen, for all the work that he has done. He sat there tirelessly day after day in this Chamber, having to listen to a lot of brickbats and criticisms. I think he has done it extremely well, extremely courteously, and I am sure he has a great future ahead in your government.

Prime Minister, overall, your Presidency has been a good honest broker between the institutions and we come away with a positive assessment of Denmark’s time at the helm.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Søren Bo Søndergaard, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DA) Mr President, last year, the Danish Presidency made the following promise in its programme, and I quote: ‘The return of growth and higher employment to Europe must be secured in both the short and long term’. Today, it is time to take stock, and it has to be noted that, in the short term at least, this promise has not been fulfilled. In fact, the opposite is the case.

We received the latest unemployment figures yesterday. They represent a human disaster – never in the history of the euro have so many people been unemployed – and this disaster is also a result of the EU’s demands for austerity, which the Danish Presidency supported from day one. Take Ireland as an example: on account of the fiscal compact, the Irish people will be forced to make excessive savings over the next few years. We are talking about savings that are so huge they will be equivalent to Ireland cutting out two thirds of its entire education sector.

The growth and jobs pact that the Council adopted last Friday will not fix these sorts of consequences of the austerity policy. It is like putting a plaster on an open fracture. We currently have more than 25 million unemployed in the EU, and the Council adopts a jobs plan without any concrete objectives with regard to the amount by which unemployment is to be reduced. It is simply not good enough.

When I spoke at the start of the Danish Presidency, I said that the people did not need more austerity measures dictated by the EU, but rather they needed jobs in order to improve our shared prosperity, and I said that the Danish Presidency now had to demonstrate whether it was part of the solution or part of the problem. Unfortunately, we have to concede today that, in this regard, the Danish Presidency was not part of the solution.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Morten Messerschmidt, on behalf of the EFD Group.(DA) Mr President, well, Ms Thorning-Schmidt, you did it! No one has ever before sold off the family silver on such a grand scale only to then throw the whole lot away. You said ‘yes’ to the fiscal compact. You declared yourself to be ‘European at heart’. You abolished border controls. You maintained agricultural aid. For six months, you ingratiated yourself with the EU’s non-elected elite. Nevertheless, your government has been booed out of the European Parliament. The other day, you had to cancel the referendum on the Danish opt-outs, and yesterday you threw out European patents.

What I thought would be an historic love story has turned out to be nothing but a soap opera. ‘Europe at work’, that was your slogan. Not since 1997 has unemployment in the EU been as high as it is today. The euro is not merely the Titanic after the iceberg; it is the Titanic at the bottom of the ice-cold Atlantic. Now the people of Europe are drifting around in the cold water in the hope that you, who sunk their ship, will come and save them. You will not do that, however, because you are fumbling around in the dark.

You have held 20 summits to rescue the euro, but the only thing you have rescued is a disgraceful monument to yourself, and you have left an economy in ruins. Therefore, let me say this very clearly – so clearly that even you can understand it: shame on you.

I have heard many people express their astonishment at the visionless Danish Presidency. You did not even meet your French socialist friends half way when they wanted to kick-start the economy. However, I know what lies behind this, because in reality, this has definitely not been an ordinary, proper sort of Presidency. It has been the longest job interview in world history – one long preparation for your pending defeat as Prime Minister in Denmark. In two and half years’ time, a new Commission and a new President of the European Council will be elected here in the EU. I am willing to bet that you will be a candidate for both posts. This is not for the power, but so that you can come home to your friends here in the EU. So watch out Mr Barroso and Mr Van Rompuy, watch out all of you sitting here ruling and governing without any popular mandate whatsoever. Here is a woman who will stop at nothing to get her way. That is something that the Danish people have experienced in great measure over the past six months. I therefore believe that I can safely say that I speak for the majority of Danes when I say: ‘Ms Thorning-Schmidt, please go home to the EU at last and let us have Denmark back’.

(Uproar in the Chamber)

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

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jens Rohde (ALDE ), Blue-card question.(DA) Mr Messerschmidt has completely surpassed himself, even compared to last time, and I would not have thought that possible. Perhaps he should have been looking at himself in a mirror when he said ‘shame on you’, as this speech was certainly not worthy of him. We will let that lie, however.

It is the patents that I just wanted to ask Mr Messerschmidt about, because he is clearly very concerned about the fact that the Prime Minister has thrown out the patents, but as far as I am aware, it is Mr Messerschmidt who wants a referendum on patents in Denmark and wishes to recommend – as I understand it – that we should not have a common patent court. Is that not correct, Mr Messerschmidt? What would you say, Mr Messerschmidt, to all those European and Danish companies that have been asking for a single European patent for 30 years in order to make it significantly cheaper for European companies to apply for patents and thereby increase their competitiveness?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD ), Blue-card answer.(DA) Mr President, thank you for the question, which has two parts. Firstly, there is the question concerning a referendum. I am a keen supporter of referendums, as Mr Rohde well knows. We insisted on one in connection with the most recent amendment to the Treaty, while Mr Rohde’s party insisted on the opposite. We insisted on one in connection with the Fiscal Compact, while Mr Rohde’s party insisted on the opposite. Therefore, now that we have the facility under the Danish constitution, it is actually not so strange for us to insist on a referendum.

I will turn, now, to the actual matter at hand. Well, our basic concern is the one that has also been expressed by the Association of Danish Patent Agents, and that is a concern about the rules on forum shopping. If it is the case that small patent holders can be forced to defend their patents at any national court, and from that court they cannot directly bring the case before the central authority, we have a problem in that this will potentially benefit the large corporations and their ilk, in other words, those that Mr Rohde will be keen to look after, but not the small patent holders.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Daniël van der Stoep (NI ). (NL) Mr President, the first half of 2012 has been characterised by the failure of the European Union, the failure of the euro and the loss of public confidence in the failed European dream. However, I also have some bad news for you. A number of southern Member States are on the verge of collapse. The coffers of unsuspecting taxpayers in northern Member States are being raided under the mantle of solidarity. Many citizens of the EU watched the recent developments surrounding the ESM with disquiet.

Mr President, if the trend of the past year continues, the question will simply be whether we will still be standing here in six months’ time. More and more voices are being raised in the Member States of the EU in favour of the abolition of the EU and the euro. They are very much welcome, as far as I am concerned. The EU is past its expiry date because you cannot play on a broken violin.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Lambert van Nistelrooij (PPE ). (NL) Mr President, representatives of the Council and the Commission, I would like to comment on the progress we have definitely achieved. For example, we have achieved an agreement on NSI efficiency. We also have an agreement on the Financial Regulation, which is another important matter. And that is exactly what Parliament wants: to achieve results.

However, as coordinator of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) for regional policy, I see too little progress in the process surrounding the multiannual financial framework. If we fail to achieve an agreement by early 2013, we simply will not be able to apply the new regulations and, in these times of crisis, we will have achieved nothing by 2014.

I do have to say, and I am addressing this to the Council, that we have actually made progress in terms of the regulation on the general provisions applicable to the Structural Funds. However, there is a flaw there. There are important elements that fall under colegislation with Parliament and that have been thrown into the mix and addressed there in connection with the MFF. I am talking about matters such as the categorisation of regions, which is the competence of Parliament, cohesion representatives, the position of the common strategic framework, the performance reserve, etc.

Look at Article 312 of the Treaty of Lisbon, as well as Articles 174 and 177, and you will see a flaw there, an architectural error. Since this will be important in the negotiations over the coming period, I ask the Council today: do you want to resolve this situation or will the consequence of it be the entire MFF falling under colegislation? A large group of members put questions about this to the Council on 18 June. You are not observing the Treaty of Lisbon and we cannot allow that! With the mandate of the Committee on Regional Development, after the 11 July vote, we want to get down to work straightaway in order to discuss issues over which we have the final say. We cannot allow this!

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Callanan was kind enough just now to congratulate the Secretary-General on his birthday. In so doing, you have robbed me of the opportunity to congratulate him at the end of this round. Thank you for your kind assistance.

However, I would have liked to congratulate the Secretary-General jointly with another Member of this House, and because the person concerned is such a remarkable Member, I thought I would wait until he was also in the Chamber, which he now is. Our former President, Jerzy Buzek, is celebrating his birthday today. Many happy returns, Mr President.

Jerzy, I actually wanted to congratulate you jointly with the Secretary-General because I love the fact that, until now, the Secretary-General and the President have shared a birthday. Now they have separate birthdays, now we have two reasons to celebrate – so that is some kind of progress.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Dan Jørgensen (S&D ).(DA) Mr President, Europe is in the midst of an economic crisis. Several countries have been on the verge of serious economic collapse. Unemployment is alarmingly high and growth is worryingly low. At such times, the EU needs to deliver concrete results. At such times, the Member States need to stand together to create prosperity and optimism. It goes without saying that this is no easy task, but it is an important one, and it is a task that the Danish Presidency has successfully fulfilled.

Does this mean that we have saved the world? Does it mean that the crisis is over and that Europe is now fully back on track? No, of course not, but it does mean that, over the last six months under Danish leadership, decisions have been taken that represent major steps in the right direction. Under the headings of ‘A responsible Europe’, ‘A dynamic Europe’, ‘A green Europe’ and ‘A safe Europe’, the Danish Presidency has delivered concrete results, political agreements and compromises which have direct significance for all European citizens.

With over 20 million unemployed in the EU, with an explosion in youth unemployment and with numerous reasons for despondency, it is the many initiatives for growth that are particularly impressive, the most recent of which, of course, is the European growth pact. This is a pact that will create tens of thousands of jobs, a pact that will set the wheels in motion, but that will do this in a way that does not detract from our responsibility and the need for economic consolidation. With regard to other concrete results, the Energy Efficiency Directive springs to mind. This is legislation that is not only ambitious from an environmental point of view, and it most definitely is ambitious – in fact, it is the most ambitious legislation of this kind in the world – it is also legislation that will create a huge number of jobs – getting on for 2 million by 2020.

We have seen more than 250 concrete results – 250 decisions that are important for European citizens. This is something that the EU can be proud of and that we here in the European Parliament can be proud of, and it is something that the Council, headed by the Danish Presidency, can rightly be very proud of.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GEORGIOS PAPASTAMKOS
Vice-President

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jens Rohde (ALDE ).(DA) Mr President, I also believe that there is reason to congratulate the Presidency on a job well done. In this regard, I would like to take the opportunity to convey this to our capable civil service, but also to the Prime Minister’s Minister for European Affairs, Nicolai Wammen, who has done a huge amount of work here in Parliament, which I believe is appreciated by everyone here in this House, irrespective of their political affiliations.

Not everything has been worthy of praise, however. There are also a few questions to be asked, as there are some things that surprise me. One of these is that, in her speech, the Prime Minister quoted Konrad Adenauer and said that she is ‘European at heart’. She also used part of her speech to talk about solidarity. It therefore surprises me that, in the Danish media during the last week, the Prime Minister has been quick to distance herself from a fiscal union, to say ‘no’ to Denmark being one of the countries that are to be responsible for the debts of other countries, which, in reality, we already are of course, and spent the week cancelling a referendum.

May I remind the Prime Minister of her own words in a speech she made not so long ago, when she asked: ‘What international organisation in the whole history of human kind has ever been able to do anything like what the EU has done in the past six months?’ These are grand words, it has to be said. They are extremely grand words. I am sure that we could mention some events that were perhaps grander than what has happened here. How, though, does this fit with the fact that you do not want a referendum in Denmark? If we have taken such major decisions in the EU, then it should result in a referendum and not the opposite, Prime Minister.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Emilie Turunen (Verts/ALE ).(DA) Mr President, Prime Minister, welcome back to the European Parliament. Last time you were here in this Chamber, you said something that I thought was very thought-provoking. You said that you had a very great understanding for the millions of young people who are battling with unemployment right now and with a lack of future prospects, just like your own generation did during the 1980s. The problem of youth unemployment has not gone away since January, but the good news is that, in contrast to only six months ago, there is now a much greater focus on creating growth and jobs for Europe’s young people. Six months ago, the mantra was cuts; now the mantra includes investment, growth and jobs. Now we also have a European youth guarantee included in the conclusions of the recent European summit. The Danish Presidency cannot take all the credit for this, but it can take some of it. Many thanks for that.

I now see that my time is running out all too quickly. I would just like to say that Denmark has passed its Europe exam. I believe that the Danish Presidency has delivered. Thank you for that.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Anna Rosbach (ECR ).(DA) Mr President, Denmark took over the Presidency at a difficult time. The European debt crisis meant that Europe’s leaders were using all their energy to discuss a fiscal pact and a fiscal union. There was talk of treaties, pacts and institutional changes instead of focusing on strengthening the internal market, eliminating subsidies that distort competition and quite simply boosting growth. The working conditions for the whole of the Presidency have been difficult, however.

I would particularly like to thank the Minister for European Affairs, Nicolai Wammen, who has been very visible here in Parliament, and who has worked very hard to involve Parliament in the Presidency’s activities. Thank you for that, Mr Wammen. I am particularly pleased that the Presidency put antibiotics resistance on the agenda, and I am pleased with the Council’s positive conclusions. Of the most important results achieved by the Presidency, I would like to highlight the agreement concerning improved safety in relation to hazardous chemicals.

There are also a few flies in the ointment, however. I am disappointed that the Council has decided to reduce the Commission’s proposals for a reform of the common fisheries policy. The Council has, in fact, decided that European fisheries do not need to be made sustainable. I am deeply disappointed that this has happened during the Danish Presidency.

All in all, however, I would like to thank the Danish Government for a well-executed and professional Presidency.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Andreas Mölzer (NI ).(DE) Mr President, we all know that the majority of people throughout Europe have long regarded the EU as a kind of Brussels-based bureaucratic behemoth – a behemoth in which decisions are made over people’s heads behind closed doors. In this respect, Denmark’s attempt to restrict the right of access to the files of the administrative and governmental apparatus in Brussels would undoubtedly have been a bitter setback to efforts to achieve greater transparency. Thankfully, it was given up at the eleventh hour.

Talking of renationalisation in connection with the reform of Schengen is, however, undoubtedly an exaggeration, because ultimately, it falls within the competence of the Member States, which, in the final event, have to answer to their citizens in this regard. We are therefore not talking about an anti-European decision by the Council Presidency; instead, in this case at least, the craze for centralisation emanating from Brussels has been halted for once. However, Turkey should never have been granted visa facilitation as a reward for failing to cooperate on combating illegal immigration.

When it comes to allowing the EU Member States to set their own financial policy, however, Copenhagen – which has always seen itself as building bridges between the euro and non-euro countries – has given in to the mania for centralisation and paved the way for a debt union. While the Danish Presidency was thereby more or less digging a debt trap for the net contributors, it was taking great care not to fall into it itself. That is probably why the referendum on closer ties between Denmark and the EU and the euro has been postponed.

Overall, it has to be said that all the efforts of the Danish Presidency towards sustainability will come to naught in a European debt union.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, firstly, I would like to sincerely congratulate the Danish Presidency on its excellent work and on the significant results achieved in the context of the European Semester. In particular, I offer my congratulations on its excellent negotiating skills which helped, albeit in a somewhat convoluted manner, to end the vulgar and absurd diatribe concerning the location of the European patent court.

As rapporteur, I agreed, with regret, to postpone the final vote following the Council’s unilateral proposal to amend the proposal for a regulation, but I must point out that this way of operating is unacceptable. It seriously undermines the constitutional balance of the EU, especially in an area and a measure that are fundamental to boosting economic growth in the European Union in key sectors such as innovation. This is a measure in which Parliament took a programmatic, constructive approach.

I would therefore like to express my deep bitterness over what happened and call on the Council of Ministers, represented by the Cypriot Presidency that has now taken over, to find a solution with regard to the substance and the procedure as soon as possible. It will not be Parliament that causes a project that we have been working towards for over 30 years to fail, nor shall this Parliament allow the rules governing interinstitutional relations to be unilaterally modified by any institution.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D ).(ES) Mr President, Prime Minister, there were high hopes for the Danish Presidency, in the hands of a recently elected government at the worst point in the worst crisis the European Union has ever faced. Six months later, however, while acknowledging the progress made in terms of energy and in terms of the response to the crisis, the evaluation of the Presidency cannot be a satisfactory one because a shadow has been cast over it by the decision adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council to re-governmentalise the Schengen evaluation mechanism.

This means not only ignoring the area of freedom, security and justice as a European policy in which Parliament is the ordinary legislator; it also means ignoring the fact that Parliament represents 500 million people as the sole body that is directly elected by them; it also means ignoring the fact that, as was stated at the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Copenhagen, solidarity, which is enshrined in Article 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, does not consist of re-establishing the internal borders of the European Union but rather of helping to establish joint management of its internal and external borders.

I will therefore conclude by saying two things. The first it that this has affected the entire asylum package and the entire Schengen package. The second thing, however, is that political union cannot be identified with banking union or with guaranteeing deposits, but rather with rescuing the people, free movement of people and solidarity within the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE ).(DA) Mr President, I would also like to take this opportunity to say just one thing. Like so many other people, I am very happy with the Danish Presidency, and I would like to take this opportunity to express this and, in particular, to thank Nicolai Wammen for his excellent cooperation. One thing that I was slightly annoyed about is the fact that the Presidency has not done a bit more with the many ideas that are currently being put forward concerning what will happen after the crisis and how we can make headway in terms of creating popular legitimacy.

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Mr Løkkegaard, you raised a blue card and I have given you the floor. Ask your question. A blue card means that you have a question for the previous speaker. It is not a catch-the-eye procedure, unless you raised the wrong card.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ivailo Kalfin (S&D ). – Mr President, I would like to thank and congratulate the Danish Presidency, and particularly Minister Wammen, for dealing with the difficult and delicate matter of the multiannual financial framework. I know that there are many controversies among Member States, but what happened during the Danish Presidency was a streamlining of the debate, creating a good basis for future understanding and agreement, and putting on the table some of the very important issues for Parliament, such as that of own resources, which has been thoroughly discussed for the first time. I would like to see further results here and I am optimistic that we can move ahead on that issue.

I would also like to express my warm thanks for the very good interinstitutional cooperation with the Council during the Danish Presidency – including giving Parliament, for the first time, the opportunity to speak at the General Affairs Council and present its views on the multiannual financial framework – and for the very good support from the Danish Presidency for the Council conclusions. I think that what the Danish Presidency has achieved is a good basis for agreement on the MFF in the future.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ingeborg Gräßle (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, Prime Minister, as rapporteur for the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Budgetary Control, I completed two procedures under your Presidency: the Financial Regulation – providing a set of rules for the forthcoming multiannual financial framework (MFF) period – and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) procedure. This regulation had been stuck in a queue in the Council since November 2008, and building on the results of the Polish Presidency, you took this procedure to its conclusion. I would therefore like to thank you for two really very committed financial officials who worked on these dossiers, and I would also like to thank Denmark’s ambassador, Mr Tranholm-Mikkelsen. I will miss you; we will miss your efficient negotiation. You have really served the financial interests of the European Union well. Thank you very much.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Zita Gurmai (S&D ). – Mr President, six months ago, I said here that we had high expectations of the Danish Presidency, not only because we had a Presidency led by a woman, but because of its ambitious agenda in a period where Europe has multiple challenges to address.

Six months is a short period to meet such expectations, but recent developments, such as the outcome of last week’s European summit, give us reason to believe that with the political will and the necessary unity, much can be achieved. I am referring here to the investment package and the financial transaction tax. The Danish Presidency put investment, growth and competitiveness as priorities, and I believe that package should help meet those objectives. I would like to thank the Danish Government, and especially Minister Wammen, for their hard work.

I would like to highlight the commitments that the Danish Presidency has made towards gender equality. Progress has been made on some of them, such as increasing women’s participation in boardrooms. I regret, however, that despite the efforts of the Presidency, no agreement could be found at Council level regarding the Maternity Leave Directive.

As Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt underlined, it is our duty to take our countries through the crisis without abandoning our values and the European social model. Let us not forget that.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Mr President, I, too, wish to commend the Danish Prime Minister and Government for their outstanding work in the Presidency. Naturally, I followed all the discussions, which were very intensive, and we made great progress. I commend them particularly for fixing roaming charges. That will make a big difference to citizens across the whole of Europe; they were outstanding also on energy. That, too, was very important. This time next year, my own country, Ireland, will be completing its six-month Presidency of the Council, and I hope that we will excel and do things the right way like Denmark. So, I will finish by commending Denmark on the good job it did, and expressing our appreciation.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE ).(DA) Mr President, thank you, I will try again. As I just said, I am pleased with the way the Danish Presidency has gone. I think it achieved a great deal, and I would commend everyone for that. I also think the Danish Minister for European Affairs, Nicolai Wammen, has done a really good job – as others have said. There was just one thing lacking in my opinion, and I also pointed this out a few times during the course of the Presidency. There has been a debate in Europe over the last six months, particularly in Germany, concerning how we can move forward and how we can create legitimacy among our citizens. I think it is a pity that the Danish Presidency did not really want to enter into this discussion. I had hoped that it would take the opportunity to engage in this debate, too. However, I can hope that, looking to the future – and the Prime Minister will hopefully confirm this – you will perhaps work together with Parliament in order to move forward in this discussion.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI ). – Mr President, those who advance the European project see themselves as good Europeans. In fact, the project itself is geared towards the destruction of Europe’s distinct identity. This can be seen clearly in the programme of the Danish Presidency.

Denmark sought to advance the candidature of Turkey, a country that is not ancestrally, culturally or religiously European. It sought to facilitate legal immigration, claiming that Europe is somehow in need of yet more immigrants. In January, it promised that immigrants would be ensured smooth and non-bureaucratic access. They have certainly kept their word about that. It has paid lip service to a returns policy for illegal immigrants, but we know from Frontex that they are not detained long but are released and given an order to leave that is neither checked for compliance nor enforced.

The peoples of Europe are not arbitrary collections of peoples who can be airbrushed out of the future and replaced by people from the third world.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MARTIN SCHULZ
President

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D ). (FI) Mr President, it must seem strange to the outside world that we have been congratulating one another so very much, particularly as the markets are still nervous and ordinary people are angry about this crisis.

I think that the summit last weekend was, quite honestly, a disaster. It was appalling to witness the sort of unprecedented information war that various Member States engaged in from their own point of view, and in which they spoke of their own objectives. The messages that came out of the summit were highly contradictory. The worst of it was – and this has been evident here with regard to the patent issue, for example – that, once again, new policy was laid down on what were often very technical and detailed questions in the dead of night.

Researchers have found that if a person stays awake for 24 hours at a time, it equates to a blood alcohol content of one per mil, and that is the point at which driving a car is a crime. When people take decisions after staying awake so long like this, these sorts of problems arise. For that reason, and as you are such a creative person so full of ideas, Prime Minister, what does your experience tell you about how practices might be improved in the wake of this summit?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE ).(RO) Mr President, unfortunately, the Danish Presidency was overshadowed by the unprecedented institutional crisis which resulted in Parliament being excluded from setting up the Schengen evaluation mechanism. Since this is a transnational system with a direct impact on Europe’s citizens, it would have been preferable, in the post-Lisbon era, for Parliament not to be deliberately excluded from making such important decisions.

Denmark has demonstrated in a traditional manner transparency in making decisions, but this episode means that, as the European Parliament, our assessment is not positive. This is why I hope that the Cypriot Presidency will enjoy more success in completing this project and will bear in mind the democratic process which involves Parliament in the decision-making process.

 
  
  

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, I think this very rich debate clearly demonstrated what was mentioned by several speakers, that the Danish Presidency was hard-working, dynamic and practical, and delivered a lot. I think that progress on many files was very clear, and we in the Commission highly appreciate that.

Despite the efforts, it is clear that further work is needed on energy efficiency, the European patent and Schengen. In all of these very important areas, we need more ambition, more Europe, and a clear respect for the Community method. I particularly appreciate the Danish Presidency’s efforts and results, and the method used in organising the discussions and negotiations on the multiannual financial framework.

Prime Minister, your Presidency delivered a ‘negotiating box’ which is a good base on which we all can work to conclude negotiations by the end of 2012. You have been very clear on the importance of close cooperation with the European Parliament delegation. You continued regular meetings which, I am sure, will pave the way for good cooperation on this very important file and increase the chances that we will be able to conclude these very important talks by the end of 2012.

I would also like to highlight that with the opening of accession talks with Montenegro, the granting of candidate status to Serbia and the progress in cooperation with other Western Balkan countries, your Presidency sent a very strong signal of solidarity and cooperation from the European Union to the Western Balkans and showed them the way forward in mutual cooperation.

To conclude, I appreciate the personal involvement of Minister Wammen, and the highly professional performance of the permanent representative, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, because they helped me achieve progress on the file which has been on our table for more than three years, namely, how to better manage the agencies in the future.

We worked very hard with the European Parliament delegation under the leadership of Jutta Haug and I am absolutely convinced that our common approach on the principles will help us to avoid the situations we are facing now with the European patent. We will be able to manage the discussion on what we will need to establish as regards agencies in the future in a much better and well organised way.

My thanks to the Danish Presidency for its great effort and great results.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Helle Thorning-Schmidt, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President of the European Parliament, Mr President of the Commission, leaders of political groups, honourable Members of this House, thank you very much for this debate. First of all, allow me to thank you for your kind words, particularly to our Minister for Europe, Nicolai Wammen. I think that it is a very good sign that at the end of a Presidency, you are all on first name terms with Nicolai and appreciate the hard work he has done.

I have listened very carefully to your remarks and noted that we share the fundamental commitment of getting Europe back on track, a commitment to restore growth and create new jobs for the too many unemployed. Our Presidency has tried to do just that at a very difficult time, not least thanks to the work done in this House. We have taken big steps in the right direction and now we need to make sure that we continue to deliver together and we will continue our efforts in the Council to do that.

No doubt, when European citizens look at us – if they are looking at this debate at all – what they expect from us is that we will pull through the crisis together, and create new growth and new jobs in Europe. As I see it, this requires full use of the Community method. What does this mean? Well sometimes it means that we have heated debates about lines of division. That is how it will always be and this is how it has also been during the Danish Presidency.

We should not be scared by that because that is how it is when you make compromises. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we do not. But we always share a common goal of serving Europe and serving its citizens. Let me try to address some of the main topics which you have raised today.

Many of you have rightly pointed out that we still are in a dire economic crisis, and you are right. It has been the case, and will continue to be so for some time, that we act every day against a heavy backdrop of the economic crisis, with thousands and thousands unemployed in Europe. That is why I am so happy that many of you have shared my concern in pushing for the implementation of the Growth and Jobs Pact. This is important. Some thought this Growth and Jobs Pact was not enough, and perhaps you agree, but nevertheless this is a small light in the dark that will create some hope that we can create growth and jobs in Europe again.

We discussed this also at the European Council on Thursday and Friday and, as I said there, I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending to the Council that we strengthen cooperation with the Parliament in doing this: strengthen cooperation in terms of creating growth and jobs and perhaps fast-track some of the decisions that we need to take.

It is, of course, important that at every step we take in the development of the Union, we respect the role of the European Parliament, and I have stated this very clearly in the European Council. I hope that we can all agree to urgently deliver on this Compact. European citizens have the right to expect that from us.

I would very much like to thank some of those who have mentioned the multiannual financial framework and I would warmly thank everyone who has participated in this House in these discussions. We have had a very close and constructive dialogue on the negotiations, and we have had that throughout the Presidency at all levels.

We have done our utmost to fully respect the powers granted to the European Parliament and we have put great emphasis from day one on hearing your views and bringing them to the floor of the Council. I dare say that on this dossier, we have had the closest cooperation between any Presidency and the European Parliament ever seen. We all know that the negotiations ahead of us will be very difficult, but I hope that the involvement of the European Parliament will continue in the same constructive atmosphere as it has started.

Some of you have mentioned the Patent Regulation and, of course, I have taken good note of your remarks concerning the patent. Let me remind you that Europe has waited more than 30 years for a solution, and when you wait for 30 years, you know that a solution will require a compromise. I understand that the European Parliament will continue to discuss this in September and I hope that the European Parliament will live up to its responsibility and help reach a final agreement for the sake of creating growth and jobs in Europe.

Some have said: ‘This is not good enough; we want it differently’. I have no problem understanding that this is the position of the House, but again I would urge that we do not end up in a situation where we make the best the enemy of the good.

One of the things I was particularly pleased to hear about in our discussion today was the many mentions of the green agenda. All of you here know that it has not been easy to push the green agenda in a time of crisis, but I am proud of the results that we have achieved together in this area, particularly when we talk about energy efficiency.

Let me also extend special thanks to the Commission, to Commission President Barroso, when it comes to continuously promoting a green economy. He did that very well in Rio, he has done that throughout these six months, and I know that he will continue to do so. Mr Barroso’s devotion and commitment is crucial and I thank the Commission for it.

The European Union is the best framework imaginable to overcome the challenges facing us today and tomorrow. The crisis we have right now, and the solutions we find, show that, even though we did not always agree, we did not give up on each other. We showed solidarity and we should continue to do so. Everyone here knows that Europe still faces a severe crisis, but the decisions that we take together will lead us step by step out of the crisis to a better future.

I believe that we will be judged on our capacity to cooperate and find compromises. Political leaders of today are judged by their results, not their intentions, and what European citizens expect from us is results. They expect solutions and we have tried to live up to that obligation over the last six months. We will continue to do that in the future so that Europe, after the past gloom and pessimism, can again see an area of growth, progress and optimism. I believe that this is possible, but it is only possible if we are committed to doing it together. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

(Applause)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL ), in writing.(EL) The review of the Danish Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2012 satisfied the euro-unifying bodies and the political face of the monopolies in the European Parliament. Under the Danish Presidency, the anti-grassroots regulations on ‘enhanced economic governance’ were pushed forward and became euro-unifying legislation and the ‘fiscal compact’ was signed, adopting measures to abolish collective agreements, cut wages and pensions and increase retirement ages in all the EU Member States. EU/US/NATO imperialist intervention was stepped up in Syria and Iran, in order to exploit the wealth-producing resources and people in the region. This was the work of the ‘leftist’ Danish Government.

The interests of the monopoly groups were promoted, together with capitalist restructurings and anti-labour measures throughout the EU, and the last vestiges of labour, insurance and social rights were demolished, causing poverty and misery to increase day by day. This is how ‘leftist governments’ and the ‘leftist’ management of capitalism serve the plutocracy: by satisfying the requirements and aspirations of the monopolies, in an environment of ‘social peace’, self-delusion and hope that prove to be resoundingly false, leaving the workers at the mercy of fatalism, compromise and subjugation to the union of capital, to be delivered bound hand and foot to the barbarity of capitalist exploitation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D ), in writing.(PL) Six months ago, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who had just been elected Prime Minister of Denmark, made a presentation to the European Parliament outlining the Danish Presidency’s priorities for the first six months of 2012. Looking at Copenhagen’s achievements today, we can congratulate Denmark on its successes in many areas, such as the EU budget, the multiannual financial framework for 2012-2020, climate policy and energy policy. Denmark deserves recognition, in particular, for its superb work on numerous legislative dossiers related to the digital agenda and intellectual property rights. As rapporteur responsible for the report on permitted uses of orphan works, I can only report positive experiences from our work together.

However, recent steps taken by the Danish Presidency concerning proposals to reform Schengen and the possibility of the Member States restoring border controls have provoked considerable controversy in Europe, in particular, the proposal to deprive Parliament of its current right to vote and participate in the legislative procedure concerned. This matter is going to be given further consideration by the next Presidency, but it has cast a shadow over current perception of the results of Denmark’s leadership of the EU.

In summary, bearing in mind the fact that the Danish Presidency came at a politically difficult time in the EU in connection with the economic crisis and the financial problems of yet more Member States – now to be joined by Cyprus – the results of Copenhagen’s achievements would appear, on balance, to be positive.

 
  
  

(The sitting was suspended for a few moments)

 

5. Conclusions of the European Council meeting (28-29 June 2012) (debate)
Video of the speeches
MPphoto
 

  President. – The next item is the Council and Commission statements on the conclusions of the European Council meeting (28-29 June 2012).

As you know, ladies and gentlemen, at the informal summit on 23 May 2012, I proposed a growth pact to the European Council which involves all three EU institutions working closely together in order to take all the measures necessary to overcome the crisis in the coming six to twelve months.

I am grateful to the President of the Commission, Mr Barroso, who took up this idea in the form of an interinstitutional agreement and put this to Parliament at its last sitting. Parliament then mandated me, by a broad majority, to present this idea to the European Council jointly with Mr Barroso.

Unfortunately, the European Council did not accept our joint proposal for an interinstitutional agreement. I feel it is appropriate to comment on this. I make no secret of the fact that there was overwhelming support for our proposal in the European Council. By far the majority of the Heads of Government of the European Union advocated this interinstitutional agreement.

At the same time, however, it became apparent that the European Council has a structural weakness, and that is its unanimity principle. In my opinion, we will not emerge from the crisis while this unanimity principle exists.

I would like to thank the Commission for its support. I should like to propose to you that the two institutions, the Commission and Parliament, stick with the idea of working in close, constructive cooperation towards expedited legislation – if that is what is desired – while completely safeguarding the rights of the European Parliament.

There is no doubt that the compromise reached in the area of the European patent, for example, does not set a good example of how to proceed. We are firmly convinced that together, in the interests of the people of Europe, we should do everything we can to emerge from this crisis swiftly and stronger than before.

I should like to pass on one piece of positive news. The European Council has accepted the human rights pact and the associated action plan, for which we as Parliament have fought long and hard. I believe that as the European Parliament, we should very much welcome this decision, since this package declares human rights and democracy to be a central element of European external policy.

All of us here are convinced that the human rights package provides an extraordinarily good basis for making more effective, more coherent human rights and democratisation policy. We are looking forward to making the public aware of this human rights package through a formal interinstitutional declaration and documenting the support that this has from all three institutions.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. – Mr President, last week’s European Council was about combining short-term action to stabilise the markets and medium-term action to stimulate growth, together with a longer-term vision on the way forward to strengthen our Economic and Monetary Union.

It was a sometimes difficult but in the end fruitful meeting. It was another step on the long road to overcoming the financial and economic crisis and correcting the structural flaws of the euro area framework.

The steps we took last week were important on a number of fronts. First, we put together and decided on a Compact for Growth and Jobs. It will mobilise EUR 120 billion for immediate investment, which will boost the financing of the economy and help create jobs.

A EUR 10 billion increase in the capital of the European Investment Bank will increase the bank’s overall lending capacity by EUR 60 billion. The other EUR 60 billion comes, first, from the Structural Funds which will be devoted to growth-enhancing measures in the current period (EUR 55 billion) and, second, from the pilot phase of project bonds that will be launched this summer and will go to key initiatives such as energy, transport and broadband infrastructure.

The Compact for Growth is not just about injecting money. It contains a number of elements: work to be done individually by the Member States, which have already undertaken a number of commitments in that respect, and work to be done together as a Union, including deepening the single market, negotiating good trade agreements, working together on tax matters, and strengthening the European Research Area. Several Member States will launch a request for enhanced cooperation regarding a financial transaction tax with a view to its adoption by December 2012.

As I have said before, the European Council has not suddenly discovered the virtues of economic growth. Relaunching growth and creating jobs has been a constant concern, from the very first meeting under my Presidency in February 2010 right up until now. I am happy that this European Council has been able to give it a real push.

The growth and jobs agenda requires a structural approach, but also short-term actions for financial stability. A return of confidence for consumers and investors will itself lead to more demand and growth.

My second main point is that, as eurozone leaders, we reaffirmed our strong commitment to do what is necessary to ensure the financial stability of the euro area. In particular, we affirmed that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns, and we reached a number of important agreements to this effect among the eurozone Member States, the 17.

We urged the rapid conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding attached to the financial support to Spain for recapitalisation of its banking sector. We agreed that the financial assistance to Spain will be provided by the EFSF until the ESM becomes available, and that it will then be transferred to the ESM, without gaining seniority status.

The Commission will shortly present proposals for a single supervisory mechanism for the financial sector, on the basis of Article 127 of the Treaty, so involving the European Central Bank. We ask the Council and Parliament to consider these proposals, as a matter of urgency, before the end of the year. When an effective single supervisory mechanism is established, involving the ECB, the ESM would, for banks in the euro area and following a regular decision, be able to recapitalise banks directly, of course under certain conditions and in certain circumstances.

The aim is clearly to avoid this recapitalisation impacting upon public debt. This single supervisory mechanism was a key proposal in our recent report ‘Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union’. It is a breakthrough. It also shows a clear link between the longer-term measures we are proposing and the short-term actions we are taking.

The Euro Group will examine the situation of the Irish financial sector, with a view to further improving the sustainability of Ireland’s well-performing adjustment programme.

To ensure the financial stability of the euro area, we agreed to the possible use of existing EFSF/ESM instruments in a flexible and efficient manner, in order to stabilise markets for Member States which are complying with our common rules, recommendations and timetables. The short-term measures in both areas respect the fundamental approach of the eurozone’s policies ever since the start of the crisis: responsibility and solidarity. We need both. We tasked the Euro Group to implement these decisions.

The third important point concerns further deepening our Economic and Monetary Union. At their informal dinner of 23 May, the Heads of State or Government asked me to prepare, in close cooperation with the Presidents of the Commission, the Euro Group and the European Central Bank, a report on the future of the Economic and Monetary Union. The financial and debt crisis has exposed structural weaknesses in the EMU’s original design, which must be addressed. The stakes are high.

My report was not a final blueprint or master plan but offered a perspective on how to strengthen the EMU. It provided the main building blocks and a working method. It proposed an architecture based on more integrated frameworks for the financial sector, for budgetary matters, and for economic policy. It underlined the importance of strengthening, at the same time, the democratic legitimacy and accountability of decision making within the EMU.

The European Council has asked me to continue this work, again in close cooperation with the Presidents of the Commission, the Euro Group and the European Central Bank, and associating the governments in this process. It will also ensure that our Parliament’s views are taken into account, and I look forward to working with you on this.

In my view, we first need to exhaust all possibilities under the current treaties, then explore which avenues could require treaty change. The October report will focus on the first type of proposal. Some solutions will be tailor-made to the members of the eurozone and those who are expected one day to join the euro. But the actions will matter for all Member States.

This European Council also discussed other matters. We had our first discussion during a European Council on the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020, a discussion to which your own President made a significant contribution. Under the Treaty, this is a matter for the Council of Ministers and for your Parliament. However, we all know from past experience that this is one of the areas in which the European Council will inevitably be called on to fulfil its role, under Article 15 of the Treaty, of defining ‘the general political directions and priorities’.

In having a discussion on the principles and priorities without specific figures, it was my intention to focus attention not on national advantages and disadvantages but on the strategic priorities for the Union as a whole. The European Council agreed that the MFF needs to be at the service of a strategy: jobs and growth throughout the Union. Hopefully, we will finalise the work before the end of the year at the level of the Council. Your Parliament, which adopted an important resolution on the MFF, will, of course, be involved in this process.

The European Council found – finally – a solution to the question of the European patent. The last outstanding point, the seat of the Unified Patent Court, was solved. After decades of unsuccessful attempts, this is a truly historic agreement. I call on your Parliament to finalise the agreement with the Council. I thank the Danish Prime Minister for the close cooperation we had in this respect, which led to our joint appeal to our colleagues’ sense of compromise.

We endorsed the decision to open accession negotiations with Montenegro – a signal to the Western Balkans as a whole that they may have a European future if reform processes are maintained.

This concludes my report on a European Council meeting that achieved some significant results and took us a few more steps down our journey towards economic recovery. We dealt with short-, medium- and long-term problems. We found a balance between responsibility and solidarity. We worked on growth and jobs, on the one hand, and on financial stability, on the other hand. We need reforms in our Member States and collective action at the level of the EU and the eurozone. All this has to go hand in hand. It takes time. It demands courage. It will be implemented step by step. The agreements of Thursday and Friday are steps in the right direction.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. – Mr President, the President of the European Council has just made a comprehensive presentation of the results of the European Council conclusions. I would therefore like to focus my presentation on the economic and financial issues, many of which I have presented to this House and discussed with Members previously.

This European Council and euro area summit has delivered results. It has delivered a set of measures which should strengthen confidence in Europe’s financial stability and pave the way for the substantial work which is still needed.

It has done this at a very difficult moment. As I have said before, this is a defining moment for Europe, and indeed the sense of urgency was very present throughout the European Council, even if different governments were under pressure for different reasons. And as the causes of the pressure differ, so do preferences for potential solutions.

Yet, despite those difficulties, this European Council and euro area summit has, for the first time, tackled all the elements of a comprehensive response in one and the same meeting: namely, by agreeing on measures to boost growth and jobs, by setting out the next steps for further deepening of Economic and Monetary Union and by deciding on short-term stabilisation measures.

The Commission, as you know, has always argued that consolidation must be accompanied by sustainable growth created by structural reforms combined with targeted investment. It was therefore important that Heads of State or Government decided on the Compact for Growth and Jobs. This compact is based, very largely, on proposals put forward by the Commission and on ideas defended by this House, some of them since last year or even some years before. It turns intentions into concrete action with financing commitments, and sets out the levers for mobilising policies and funds – both at European level and at national level.

I am very pleased that elements I have long been advocating at EU level are now becoming reality, namely: boosting the lending capacity of the European Investment Bank – you will remember, when I mentioned this here in the State of the Union address in September last year, Member States opposed this, but now they have agreed; launching the first phase of project bonds – this Commission proposal that was initially received with great scepticism has now been approved; and redirecting a certain amount of Structural Funds towards supporting, in particular, SMEs and young unemployed people. Indeed, the unemployment situation in Europe is by far the most worrying and urgent issue we should be able to address.

At the same time, there is the recognition that we have important work to do to realise the full potential of the Single Market, particularly in digital and network industries. Following the Single Market Act, the Commission will bring forward a further package of measures in the autumn, the Single Market Act II, so that this work can continue uninterrupted.

This, of course, is not the end of the efforts that need to be made. Legislation needs to be proposed, adopted and implemented. Action will be needed not from one institution on its own; all of us, Commission, Parliament and Council, need to work together, and work together fast.

This was recognised last week, and the conclusions acknowledge the need to improve cooperation to ensure the timely implementation of the Growth Compact. This will hopefully allow us to move towards an interinstitutional agreement to prioritise and speed up the relevant pieces of legislation, as I proposed in this House some weeks ago and as the European Parliament President made very clear in his offer to the European Council. I really expect such an agreement to be swiftly concluded. It would be an additional element of commitment and credibility on the delivery of our policy plans.

The European Council also generally endorsed the country-specific recommendations effectively closing the 2012 European Semester. This year, the semester has come of age with a real multilateral discussion. It is only natural that on some issues, there was a vigorous discussion, even when the evidence of loss of competitiveness inside the single market and internationally makes a clear case for action in the interest of our citizens and their jobs. The debate shows that the exercise is not just a technical and economic one. It is truly political.

Through the debate in the European Council, the awareness among many Heads of State or Government that we cannot separate the debate on growth from the debate on the European Union budget has also increased. The EU budget is our most important instrument for targeted investment and is an indispensable tool for growth and jobs in Europe.

A long and complex negotiation is still ahead of us, but there is now momentum for a substantial outcome in reasonable time. This House has a full and vital role to play in this process, and the Commission will continue to work very closely with you.

It would indeed be a strong political and economic signal if we could reach agreement on the MFF by the end of this year. I am aware that this Parliament will want to work not only on the expenditure side, but also on the revenue side. I have already spoken about the overall developments on the financial transaction tax in the previous debate. Let me just reiterate in this context our conviction that moving to enhanced cooperation on the FTT does not mean that the debate on the FTT as an element of a new own-resources mix is closed. On the contrary.

Looking to the future, this European Council was able to define, on the basis of the report prepared by its President, together with the Presidents of the Commission, the European Central Bank and the Euro Group, the direction that further work must take on the creation of a genuine Economic and Monetary Union. We all know that this is an undertaking that has to be built step by step over several years. This European Council has now asked for a specific and time-bound road map to be worked out by the end of the year. And it has endorsed this aspiration collectively, even if it is clear that not all Member States will want to be part of the ultimate outcome of the process. A stable euro is in the interest of the Union as a whole. The process must therefore combine the necessary deepening of the euro area and its openness towards the Member States who want to join the euro with the necessary safeguards for those who have an opt-out.

In the Commission’s view, we should start making the genuine EMU a reality as quickly as possible. We must, in particular, explore all that can be done on the basis of the existing treaties as a matter of urgency. In support of this, Heads of State or Government gave a clear commitment to the realisation of what the Commission has been calling a ‘banking union’ and we have done it already in our European Semester communication.

The ‘banking union’ will be designed to fully address the structural shortcomings in the institutional framework for financial stability. As the aforementioned report puts it, addressing these shortcomings is particularly important for the euro area, given the deep interdependences resulting from the single currency. This must, of course, be done and must preserve the unity and integrity of the single market in the field of financial services, whilst allowing for specific differentiations between euro and non-euro area Member States on those parts of the framework that are preponderantly linked to the functioning of the EMU and the stability of the euro area rather than to the single market.

Let me emphasise that these differentiations cannot go just in one way. Because it is so important, I want to make it crystal clear: they must respect the opt-outs from the euro area but they must also respect the fact that other Member States not yet in the euro will want to join as soon as they meet the conditions.

During the European Council, I confirmed that the Commission will bring forward proposals under Article 127 regarding the conferral upon the European Central Bank of banking supervision tasks. The strengthening of bank supervision became a central element of the consensus around this agenda. We will work out the detailed approach and its place in the wider architecture as a matter of priority and look forward to discussing it with all stakeholders, including, of course, this Parliament.

I believe a banking union is an indispensable step. But a genuine EMU must go further. We need to build a fiscal union, a reinforced economic union, and take steps towards a political union. This is the logical consequence of the need for deeper integration to match our growing interdependence and need for financial stability.

As we recognise that this greater solidarity requires greater responsibility, we also understand that this requires more democratic legitimacy and political accountability. I need not repeat what I said about this matter to you just a month ago. The Community method and the role and tasks of the EU institutions must be the starting point for all further improvements in this respect – and, let us be frank, it would be strange to say the least, when we are discussing the future of our Union, including its democratic and accountability aspects, for the democratic institution that directly represents European citizens, the European Parliament, not to be closely or directly associated with our decisions.

It would not have been credible to address medium-term and long-term issues and not address the short-term challenges we face. Here, the euro area statement takes great significance. Let me underline the importance of this statement having been endorsed by all 27 Member States. This is a strong message and has been perceived as such by the outside world.

The first measure is to allow for direct recapitalisation of banks by the ESM under appropriate conditions once a single supervisory mechanism for the euro area is in place. The Commission’s intention to swiftly adopt a legislative proposal on the basis of Article 127 is also key in this regard.

Secondly, we reached an agreement to waive the seniority of future loans for Spain’s financial sector recapitalisation under the ESM.

Thirdly, we agreed on the possibility of the flexible and effective use of all instruments for all Member States respecting their obligations under the European Semester, that is to say, the country-specific recommendations, the rules under the Stability and Growth Pact and the macro-economic imbalances procedure. These decisions represent the result of the recognition of the need for solidarity with responsibility. The Commission will work without delay on implementing them over the coming weeks and months.

After this European Council, provided that all Member States stick fully to the commitments that were made, we will be better equipped to face the serious challenges ahead. However, let us recall that all of this is work in progress. There is no quick fix, no magic fix, and there will be no magic solutions. The magnitude of the agenda of the European Council illustrates the magnitude of the work that is still ahead.

This European Council has pulled together many separate ideas which have been discussed in the past, and I believe the result is greater than the sum of its parts. It does not mean that the crisis is over, far from that, but it does mean that there is now an expression of the political will to move ahead, to respond to pressing short-term issues, as well as to map out a vision of Europe in the longer term. The contributions this House has made to this end have been great and we welcome them. This is why I count on our close and intense cooperation also in the times to come.

Let me end on this. While there was progress in recognition that there is a need for a stronger Europe, there was also very significant resistance to further steps forward, but there is a resistance precisely because there is movement. I want to reiterate my confidence that together, we will be able to make the European Union emerge stronger from the crisis and be able to better respond to the aspirations of its citizens.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Joseph Daul, on behalf of the PPE Group.(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today we are discussing the thirtieth European Council dedicated to the crisis. Although, in comparison to previous meetings, we are closer to reaching the desired solution, the road map towards European political integration is still not forthcoming.

Of course, this time, substantial progress has been achieved. Following the country-specific economic recommendations proposed by the Commission, the document presented by Mr Van Rompuy is a step in the right direction, as it finally refers to political Europe as the ultimate aim. He mentions a preparation period spread over 10 years. Yet, each of us knows that Europe will not survive between now and 2022 without budgetary, fiscal and social integration.

I often wonder what political development the Twenty-Seven will judge sufficiently serious in order to consent to shared sovereignty. I wonder what graver problems are necessary, other than unemployment, the difficulties experienced by our companies, the prohibitive interest rates that our Member States must pay, in order to prove that a single currency must include a common economic policy.

Having said that, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) is satisfied with the advances contained in the Growth and Employment Pact, even though this contains some of the long-standing proposals already put forward by this Parliament and the Commission. In this respect, I would like to say to you, Mr Barroso, that you must continue, together with Parliament, to put whatever is needed on the table, because when the Heads of State or Government come together, they are unable to find a solution. For each of them, it is a question of survival in their own countries. Therefore, we need Parliament, together with the Commission and Mr Van Rompuy, to come forward with, and put on the table, concrete proposals so that when governments find themselves strangled by the markets and suchlike, they may have a solution, as was the case with the ‘six-pack’ and the ‘two-pack’.

My group supports the system of banking supervision, the proposal for a European guarantee and the European banking union project. Our fellow citizens must know that their savings are protected at all levels and that the instruments used to guarantee them are going in the right direction. Here too, we must strengthen protection. We need to guarantee the savings deposits of people who have worked all their lives, and you know we have problems with this issue at the moment. What now remains is the implementation of the instruments. That is why I again call upon the Commission, the Guardian of the Treaties, to ensure this happens.

The PPE Group also supports the EUR 10 billion increase in capital from the European Investment Bank (EIB). Indeed, we must ensure that the 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can finance their projects, keep their employees, in the first instance and, above all, be able to hire new staff. Although the provisions on the single market remain insufficient, project bonds, which were decided upon last Friday, are a step in the right direction. I welcome this move, insofar as it does not consist of supplementary funds that no longer exist, but rather better use of existing European funds.

I would like to highlight here that last month, the Latvian Prime Minister once again came to speak to our group in order to tell us that, faced with the imperative of budgetary cuts that were being forced upon him, he has only been able to restart his country’s economy thanks to European funds. This is an example that must be repeated. The Latvian Prime Minister did it and he informed his citizens. Thanks to European solidarity, combined with the courage of its leaders, this country has restored growth and employment. Just because it is a small country does not mean that we cannot emulate this example. We do not talk enough about these amazing examples for Europe.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, once again we see that the solution to the majority of our problems lies in having more Europe. It is for that reason that my group places so much importance on the next multiannual financial framework, which is presently under discussion, as it will allow us to continue to finance our common policies. These funds constitute the base of European solidarity and are an essential instrument for growth and employment.

In the 1950s, European integration was necessary to guarantee peace and security in our continent. Today, this same integration is essential in order to protect our European social model which we have patiently constructed. It is essential in order to defend our common interests in international trade. It is essential for the promotion of our values and our humanist ideals, human rights, human dignity, transparency and the rule of law.

That is why I repeat my call for a politically integrated Europe, not an intergovernmental Europe, as was supported by the Council in the Schengen case, or again last week concerning the issue of patents. For as long as the Community method is not our governance rule, nor that of the Council, Europe will lose ground. I know you have a difficult job, Mr Van Rompuy, but fear not! Make proposals with us, with Parliament and the Commission, to these Heads of State or Government who, as I said, do not have the capacity for reflection as they are obligated to manage their very difficult issues on a daily basis in each of their respective countries. We need a much more integrated Europe. We must compare what works, the countries that cope – because there are some – and apply their example to those that work less well.

There you have what I want us to put on the table, Mr Barroso, during the next two months. We will reflect further on this during the holidays and then we will make proposals in September, if the markets allow us to do so.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the S&D Group. (DE) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, it is possible that this summit could go down as a turning point in the history of the European Union and of the euro area. A lot of things were decided that could take us forward in a positive way, if they are now also approved by the Heads of Government which decided them – and I will come back to that – and if the Commission and this Parliament now also turn the specific proposals into legislation, for example, on the banking union.

We are saying goodbye, goodbye to Merkozy, goodbye to a structure in which two parties – let me correct that: one party – believed they could decide what would and would not happen in Europe. I am very grateful to President Hollande for having strengthened the voice of social democracy. I am likewise very grateful to Mario Monti, who has shown though the same persistence as Chancellor Merkel, that things cannot continue as before. I would also like to thank Mr Rajoy, because Mr Rajoy has also commented that there need to be changes in Europe if we are not to end up with a fatal crisis of the euro area and of Europe as a whole. We can now see light at the end of the tunnel, although people are right to say that we have not yet come through the tunnel. Nonetheless, we can see light. It is now a matter of moving towards that light.

There are two possible economic cycles that we must decide between. One is austerity, which reduces growth and investment and increases the deficit. That is the cycle we are in. The other cycle is growth and investment, which reduces the deficit and improves budgetary equilibrium and thus, in turn, growth and employment. The figures today show that we have the highest unemployment rate in the euro area, so it is high time that we implemented what we decided at the summit and do even more besides. We must promise the unemployed that we really will implement these things, because they deserve it.

This does not mean abandoning reforms. Would anyone say that Mr Monti is not carrying out reforms in Italy? If so, they should come out and say it here. Would anyone say that Mr Rajoy is not carrying out reforms in Spain? If so, they should say it here. What use are reforms, however, if there is no growth to support the reforms? What was decided at the summit is actually the only chance we have of enabling the reforms to succeed at all, which is why it is the right thing to do.

Let me be quite clear, however, in saying that there are two prime ministers – as I understand it – who have already backed down from what was decided at the summit, who have said that they will not be able to support it. I have some questions for the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Finland. Were you asleep? It was late at night, so perhaps you were. Did you not understand what it was about? Or do you want to say something different at home to what you say in Brussels? Whichever way, it is scandalous. Mr Van Rompuy, I ask you to call on the two prime ministers to acknowledge the outcome of the summit.

(Applause)

I ask the Commission to now submit swift proposals for the banking union and much more. The Commission and the European Parliament indicated as far back as two years ago how important it was to have real European banking supervision. Back then, the Council and its members said it was all much too much, we have to shoulder the responsibility – not knowing or not wanting to know how the financial systems are linked together and networked and that we need this European supervision.

We could have had all this already. All of which leads me onto another essential point, Mr Van Rompuy, and that is the relationship of the Council and some prime ministers or ministers with the European Parliament. Let me start with Schengen. What was done is scandalous. We have made this quite clear to the Council Presidency. It is not acceptable. I am very grateful to you, President Barroso, that today you reiterated quite clearly your support for this.

The European patent: exactly when, Mr Van Rompuy, did the European Council start making legislation at midnight? That is not the Council’s job. The Council is mandated to make legislation with the European Parliament, but not on its own. Most prime ministers, and I do not blame them for this, do not even know in detail what you took out of the regulation. Is it really such a great solution – I am still waiting for an answer from Mr Callanan on this – for the United Kingdom to now propose three seats? Perhaps the UK would also like to have an additional seat of the European Parliament in London – that is quite possible too, before or after the referendum. I do not know what Mr Cameron has in mind.

(Applause)

I very much appreciate what the President of the Commission said on this. As I have already said, we could have had the banking union long ago. I still do not understand – perhaps that is not your fault, Mr Van Rompuy – why the President of Parliament was not invited to the deliberations. We are not talking about detailed legislation here; we are talking about the future of Europe. You are debating the future of Europe without a representative of the only directly elected body in the European Union. I consider that scandalous. It is an attitude that I find unacceptable.

(Applause)

Discuss with us, invite us! As the example of the banking union shows, nearly all the groups of this House come up with good ideas – we just think of them earlier than the Council. It might not be a bad thing for the Council to come up with these ideas earlier for once, too, through discussions with the European Parliament. Listen to the European Parliament a bit more and invite the President of Parliament to attend your deliberations.

(Applause)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, let us first of all welcome a number of decisions that have been taken by the European Council. First of all, I think we should welcome the growth package that has finally been decided and the necessary provision for tightening the budget in the Union.

There is also the decision on a single banking supervisor. I should say: finally a decision. You will remember that two years ago, the Member States and the Council refused to go in that direction, as Parliament requested at that time. The Commission advised caution and said that we could do it later. Well, it is later now and I think it is a good decision. The only thing we should ask is that, if we create this new agency, we do not split it across three Member States. It has to be a real single supervisor with powers to close down banks in any Member State, and with no exception.

Mr Van Rompuy, I will not discuss the third decision: more flexibility for the EFSF and the ESM. Apparently, a number of Member States today have another opinion – mainly Finland. My question to you is what has been really decided now? Is Finland’s opinion and statement the right one? Is it necessary to have unanimity or not?

I think this is a key question. Why is it a key question? Because already today, if you look at the markets, you can see the effect of this attitude. The Spanish spreads had gone up again to 491 by mid-morning – that is almost 500 basic points – so we are not out of this crisis.

The main thing that we did in this European Council was to successfully borrow time again. How much I do not know. Is it days, is it weeks, is it months? But we must use this time in a good way. Why? Not like previous occasions, not like in December 2011, for example, when the European Central Bank performed two operations and injected EUR 1 trillion into the banking system. Some of us thought that the crisis was behind us, that the crisis was over. Well I think that we wasted time at the beginning of this year. Apart from the Fiscal Compact, no structural solution was found to the crisis at that time.

So my message today is that we should not waste time again. Is it really necessary to wait for an interim report in October and then for a final report by the end of the year? This is not an interim crisis. We need fundamental action now. I think it is better not to wait until October and then wait until the end of the year to take action.

We need to use the positive spillover from Friday’s decisions to launch directly the economic and political union we desperately need so we can show the outside world – our friends in the G8 and the G20 and the markets – that we have learned our lesson. So action is needed and, Mr Barroso, action means concrete legislation. My plea to you is very clear. We now have a window of opportunity only of a few weeks, not more than that – and if Finland continues in this way, it will even be destroyed within a few hours.

We must come forward, before September, with a concrete legislative package. I agree with Mr Daul that we have until September to do that and to put a legislative package on the table with three elements: firstly, a real banking union – not only supervision but also a deposit guarantee scheme and a joint resolution fund; secondly, a real integrated budgetary framework, including eurobills and a redemption fund – this crisis is not over if there is not at least the beginning of a redemption fund and a partial mutualisation of the debt; and, finally, democratic transparency and accountability.

So, Mr Barroso, use your right of initiative. Do not wait until the end of the year. Put this legislative package on the table for the Council and for Parliament.

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

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Joseph Daul (PPE ), Blue-card question. (FR) Mr President, Mr Verhofstadt, allow me to ask a question as I, like you all, am very worried.

If you look at the statistics, they show that from September onwards, we will increasingly see a situation in which some countries will have made unswerving efforts over a period of several years, and other countries will not have made such efforts. These countries will refuse to continue and will no longer be able to pay for solidarity because things are going badly for them.

Therefore, in the Democrat groups, we must also, from August onwards, discuss the formulation of real proposals. For we cannot spend money that we do not have.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE ), Blue-card answer. (FR) Mr President, Mr Daul, I would simply like to state that we cannot say that Spain or Italy have not made any efforts. They have made efforts. However, the problem is very simple. Mr Monti can take any measure and implement any cuts that he wishes, but half of his efforts will be eaten up by shareholders and by interest rates that stand at, and will continue to stand at, around 6-7%.

(Applause)

This problem will only be resolved when the Council recognises the need to partially pool the debt via the use of eurobonds and sinking funds, which Mr Van Rompuy refers to in his note and which has still not been accepted by the Council, and if the Commission introduces a proposal along those lines.

I do not see any Head of Government who will be able or who will have the courage to turn down such a proposal once the Commission introduces it, given that the proposal will also have a positive effect on interest rates and the markets.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Rebecca Harms, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DE) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, the first thing I must say is that if, following the European Council and the decisions against the crisis, we keep discussing whether Chancellor Merkel has been toppled, whether President Hollande or Mr Monti have won, whether the south is marching on the north or vice versa – so long as we do that, then I do not think we are on course to overcome the European crisis.

(Applause)

I also have to tell you that I find all these jabs based on football analogies quite repellent in these times of crisis, because all we know politically at this point in time is that if we do not manage to come together as a European team, then we will fail.

In this connection, I did find comfort in some of the things that have been communicated from the Council corridors. Indeed, one might get the impression that the Council has actually learnt something from these difficult recent sessions. I got the impression that it has at last understood that we are not dealing with a sovereign debt crisis, but with a crisis of our common currency, because the euro can only function as a common currency if, in fact, we also have a common fiscal policy. This recent recognition that it will also only work if we construct common supervision of the banking sector and a common banking union is something that I found a comfort, because in the final event, whether or not the Council has learnt these fundamental things is absolutely crucial.

I also thought it very good that it seems increasingly to be grasping the fact that the euro can only work if the countries in the euro area are prepared to take on debts and risks within this common currency area. I was pleased to see that this realisation has grown, even though in the days leading up to the summit, Chancellor Merkel made it a matter of life and death. In this connection, it was also very important that, as regards Spain and Italy, it was decided that it was essential to separate bank risk from sovereign risk, and that in fact, we must not allow countries to be dragged deeper and deeper into the abyss because they have to try to provide guarantees for bankrupt banks. Unfortunately, these insights that I have described, and which gave me some comfort as I observed the Council, were not then sufficiently incorporated into the decisions. What was decided in respect of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is highly conditional, just as before.

At this point, I should like to support what the previous speaker, Mr Verhofstadt, said. If you wait until the end of the year, then I would venture to say to anyone living outside our continent who has always wanted to come here: visit Europe while it still exists! If you and the Commission do not put proposals on the table for September concerning how we can now construct the banking union as quickly as possible; how we want to work in a fiscal union with eurobills, a debt redemption fund and then the prospect of eurobonds; if you do not make it clear how we actually want to communitarise all the crisis instruments, including the ESM and EFSF; if you do not present a convincing pact for lasting economic recovery and development; if you do not make it clear how you wish to develop and implement the financial transaction tax; if you do not put forward a really convincing programme to combat youth unemployment – then we will not get far with restoring confidence in the European Union.

Mr Barroso, it is you who, together with the European Parliament, must exert pressure to ensure that the next decisions are genuinely ready for debate in September. Mr Van Rompuy, I realise that you and I are different kinds of people, but the sedate way that you notify us of the Council’s inadequate decisions time and time again is something that is simply beyond my comprehension.

(Applause)

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

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE ), Blue-card question.(DE) Mr President, I should like to ask Ms Harms whether what she describes as a comfort – the prospect of joint liability, common risk – does not necessarily also entail shared political control, or should be viewed in parallel with this. After all, the debts for which we are jointly liable today are the taxes of tomorrow. No taxation without representation. That is a very important point.

My second, very specific, question is as follows. You said that bank risk should be separated from sovereign risk, and that we have now succeeded in this. However, the European Stability Mechanism, which is currently recapitalising the banks, is borne by sovereign states. In other words, sovereign risk is being distributed differently, but it is still there. What is your assessment of this? I take a very critical view of it, and where the conclusion of the Euro Group is concerned, I am decidedly sceptical as regards how vague it has been kept and what impact it will have in practice.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Rebecca Harms (Verts/ALE ), Blue-card answer.(DE) Mr Lambsdorff, if you have followed the debates, then you will know that my group has always advocated a process based on the formula of solidity plus solidarity. The fact that we have not moved forward in both these areas simultaneously has had a devastating effect on the situation in Europe and has heightened the European crisis; instead, we have concentrated solely on budgetary solidity – particularly because of Germany’s attitude – while at the same time demanding of countries that they take on significant risks. I believe that, with the fiscal pact, we have laid the basis for us now to increase efforts in respect of the instrument of solidarity.

My answer to the second question is that I am not in favour of banks being rescued unconditionally. What we actually have to achieve in the banking union is not just supervision, but also intervention, influence on what has gone wrong in the banking and financial sector.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Martin Callanan, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, firstly let me also congratulate Spain on their great victory on Sunday night. Clearly, Germany is not the most competitive European country at everything. Of course at least, it allows Spain to boast of some success from the Euros – well they are certainly more successful than France were at the games, anyway.

When we look under the surface of last week’s summit, we find that, in reality, the decisions taken were, of course, just another set of short-term stopgaps. Perhaps they relieve the immediate pressure points but it was hardly the game-changer that the Irish Prime Minister claimed. Using the bank recapitalisation and buying bonds may give Spain and Italy some breathing space. However, I find it slightly ironic that the same people in this House who want to bash the bankers and propose a financial transaction tax – to punish the bankers at every opportunity – are the same people that are perfectly happy for the risks and profligacy of those same bankers to be transferred on to the backs of taxpayers through these bailout funds.

Initially, the markets responded positively on Friday – finally perhaps they had seen some signs of life from EU leaders. However, as is usual in these things, already the deal seems to be unravelling. Countries like Finland and the Netherlands are challenging the new roles for the bailout funds that they seemed to have agreed to in the summit on Thursday night. When the dust has settled, the small print is read and the details are finally discussed, I fear that the outcome of this summit could be far less seismic than many in this House want to believe.

That is because, yet again, the fundamental questions have not been answered. The lack of competitiveness of many countries has not been addressed. The possible mutualisation of debts has yet again been avoided. Relying on the ESM and the EFSF is no long-term solution to this crisis because they are not bottomless pits of money with the power to grant our every wish. If they are being committed to bank bailouts and used for secondary bond purchases, will there, in fact, be anything left over for the sovereign bailouts for which, let us remember, they were originally, intended?

Let us not pretend that even this relatively small shift in German policy was arrived at with great harmony. Even for these few small concessions, it seems that Italy had to hold the proverbial gun to Germany’s head. In reality, what we saw in the Council highlighted that, even for countries in the euro, the mentality is still one of maximising national interests. Now do not get me wrong, I fully support national governments fighting their corner, but let us also be clear that the euro was never a tool aimed at helping countries to defend their national interests. As Margaret Thatcher remarked in 1990, the single currency is about the politics of Europe. It is about a federal Europe by the back door.

The great irony of it is that this very tool that was intended to unify the peoples of Europe is, in fact, now driving them further apart, because it was always inevitable that permanent fiscal transfers would be required from the north to the south, with Germany acting as the paymaster of less competitive countries. It was also inevitable that we would see the supranationalisation of economic policy, effectively rendering national democracy defunct within the eurozone. In the future, will there, in fact, be much point in holding elections in many eurozone countries if their budgets and fiscal policies are going to be rewritten by Brussels every time? This is not a small point that should be brushed under the carpet; it is a fundamental issue of accountability of government to the peoples in their own democracies.

At the moment, we face an impasse: Germany wants to supplant economic policy at EU level; the Mediterranean countries want Germany to underwrite their debts. I am reminded of the story of the two politicians. One says to the other, ‘OK, let’s be honest with each other’; the other one says, ‘all right, but you first’. Inevitably, someone has to move first – but let us never forget that there is an alternative. It is for the eurozone to reduce in size so that some countries have the ability to devalue their way back to relative competitiveness. That would be a political disaster for the euro’s cheerleaders, but for some countries, it remains the least worst option and a possible way out of this crisis.

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

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ana Gomes (S&D ), Blue-card question. – Mr President, Mr Callanan is very worried about those who are bashing the bankers, but does he not accept that scandals such as that involving Barclays Bank and others actually demonstrates that bankers have behaved like ‘banksters’ – like gangsters – and that it is not enough to fine them, they must be criminally prosecuted as well, be they housed in Barclays Bank, Deutsche Bank or any other?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Martin Callanan (ECR ), Blue-card answer. – Of course, I do not disagree at all. If they have committed criminal acts, they should be prosecuted. It is not me who wants to give them unlimited amounts of taxpayers’ money to bail them out from the costs of their own profligacy. This is the policy of the Socialists and others that want to throw unlimited amounts of taxpayers’ cash at the very same bankers that you keep telling us you want to criticise.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Gabriele Zimmer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Mr President, Mr Callanan’s opening remarks have made me consider something. There is one reason why I am pleased that Germany did not get to the final, because if you continue with this analogy, it suggests that whoever becomes European champions becomes one of the most indebted countries – Greece in 2004, Spain in 2008 and 2012. I do not know what would have happened in Germany, but I am glad we have been spared that fate.

Mr Van Rompuy, at the end of the G20 summit, you stated that the economic union should exist by the end of the year. These were empty words, however, which have not been fulfilled even now after the summit. I therefore have to agree with those who say we should stop rushing from one summit to the next, and that we should ensure, once and for all, that together – and that means the people of the European Union and their directly elected representatives in the European Parliament, the national parliaments and the other European institutions – we talk about what should actually follow and where the journey will lead us. It can only be a joint debate, and it must start now. We need concrete ideas now.

The Head of Government’s statement kept talking of a breakthrough. I doubt that it is really a breakthrough. Influenced by election campaigns and elections in Greece and France, those in power have, in fact, decided more or less hesitantly, half-heartedly, or even inconsistently, on greater stability and security, and on the configuration of the European Union. They have not passed the regulatory measures that have been recognised as being needed, however.

In short, I would say that the EU, the Member States and also the euro area remain in crisis because there has been no change in their priorities and because there has been no shift away from the path of global competitiveness, neoliberal deregulation and the privatisation of public services and social security systems. Admittedly, there has been some relaxation of the strict line of German austerity policy, in that access to aid funds from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is being eased without the countries affected having to submit additional reform programmes. In this connection, I should like to say that we should be grateful to the Greek population and to the Syriza party and Alexis Tsipras for having drawn attention to precisely this sore point, and we should now renegotiate with the Greek Government in the interests of the Greek population.

However, the fully announced pact for growth and jobs is still not specific enough and lacks the necessary goals. The revenues required to finance such a programme are limited to the money created by the European Central Bank and to European Investment Bank credit. It is likely that we will have to wait some time before the financial transaction tax becomes effective, too. The other sums included in the EUR 120 billion package seem to have been counted twice. They were already available anyway, and essentially it has now simply been confirmed that these funds will be made available swiftly.

The answer to the important question of which investments and spending programmes are to receive these funds promptly remains relatively vague. The idea put forward by the French to use 1% of GNI for such a growth and employment programme does not sound bad in itself, but what is dubious is what Chancellor Merkel highlighted at the press conference, which is that it is to be used mainly to promote public private partnerships. In other words, what we are selling as an employment programme is ultimately also a programme to maximise the profits of private companies and corporations. In the final event, that will only make it more difficult to introduce concrete regulation of the financial sphere. In doing this, we are putting the next stumbling block in place for ourselves.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, that is the 19th crisis summit that Mr Cameron has been to. As the Rolling Stones might say, the 19th nervous breakdown, and that is reflected I think by the funereal mood in this Chamber this morning.

Yes, on that Friday morning ‘breakthrough’ was cried, and indeed Mr Van Rompuy parroted the word this morning: ‘breakthrough’. Nobody believes you. The wheels are coming off.

This European Stability Mechanism, your new bailout vehicle, is doomed before it starts. We have legal challenges in Ireland and in Germany. We have the Estonian Justice Minister saying it will not fit their constitution but – most fun of all – the Finns and the Dutch seem to have broken the agreement that was made in the middle of the night. Perhaps they were excluded from this, perhaps the little countries do not have a say in Europe at all any more. It is not credible. The euro crisis now looks to me to be frankly insoluble.

There is also a massive crisis of leadership. It is lovely to see you, Mr Van Rompuy. You have not been here for many months; it is delightful to have you back. Last time you were here, you told us we had turned the corner, that the worst of the crisis was over. With every one of your predictions, it goes on getting worse. I am sorry, sir: you do not have the presence, the credibility or the standing for the international markets to believe that you can provide a solution. And Mr Barroso here: at the G20, he stood up at the press conference and said that we do not need any lessons in democracy – said the unelected President of the European Commission. I mean, he went on to say that the eurozone’s problems had been caused by unorthodox practices in North America.

You have made yourselves an international laughing stock. You do not have any credibility. But one piece of helpful advice from me: do not this summer go on any billionaires’ yachts on extended holidays, because the markets guarantee we will all be back here in August.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Barry Madlener (NI ). (NL) Mr President, Mr Farage is absolutely right. The state of affairs surrounding the ESM Treaty is obviously unacceptable and undemocratic. I will explain to you why that is the case, Mr Van Rompuy.

The Council has approved two major amendments to the ESM Treaty. Under the first amendment, support will, from now on, be granted directly to banks and will no longer have to go to Member States. The second amendment is that, from now on, loans from the ESM will no longer enjoy preferential status.

Mr President, the Council has thus proposed such a crucial amendment of the text of the treaty that the treaty must be ratified again. The Netherlands is required to contribute EUR 40 billion to this. We are talking about a substantial amount here, namely, more than EUR 5 000 per Dutch household. It goes without saying that such a treaty, with such financial implications, requires a careful ratification process.

Our democracy requires that, Mr Van Rompuy. Parliament is currently in the final stages of ratifying the ESM. However, our members have wrongly assumed that no direct bank support was possible. Even the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte has said that it would be undesirable for the ESM to provide direct support to banks. And now, all of a sudden, it seems that that will take place nonetheless. This means that Parliament has been misinformed or Mr Swoboda is perhaps right in saying that Prime Minister Rutte is saying one thing in Brussels to you, Mr Van Rompuy, and another at home. I would like clarification on that, Mr Van Rompuy.

Mr Wim Voermans, who is Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at the University of Leiden, has also investigated the legal implications of this. Quote: ‘Direct payment to banks is not possible under the current treaty. The treaty would have to be changed and re-ratified’. Unquote. Article 12 of the ESM is crystal clear: ESM stability support may only be provided to ESM Members and, therefore, not to banks.

The second amendment, too, which means that the ESM loans to Spain no longer have preferential status, represents a crucial change in the conditions of the treaty. Parliament has been put on the right track. To conclude, Mr President: the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) is of the opinion that this approach is undemocratic, unlawful and unacceptable.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Mario Mauro (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, ladies and gentlemen, I understand that Ms Harms of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance is a little tired of comparisons with football, but I think that one in particular might help us. Euro 2012 ended with a clear result: Spain won. The European Council ended but the results are not clear, because if we read the papers in the various Member States, each country is claiming a different result, and each prime minister of the participating Member States is claiming a different result.

Mr Van Rompuy, can you tell us what you agreed on? Do you think that 500 million European citizens have the right to know what you agreed on? Please tell us, President of the Council, but think carefully, because how the markets open tomorrow, too, depends on what you say. Think carefully, because the survival of my country’s government depends on what you say. For a long time, the survival of our countries’ governments has depended on what you say.

I think also that 60 million Italians who, via the Prodi and Berlusconi governments, have made budgetary adjustments amounting to EUR 145 billion, and who, via the Monti government, are making sacrifices amounting to several billions of euro, have the dignity and the right to be given precise answers. We therefore want to know, in specific detail, what was agreed in the Council and what obligations there are for the Member State governments, which are today bombarding us with contradictory statements. Is Finland bound? Is the Netherlands bound? Are we bound by what we set out as an agreement or not?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Catherine Trautmann (S&D ). (FR) Mr President, Presidents, ladies and gentlemen, the decision taken in Brussels is a welcome breath of fresh air, and even if there remains a lot to do, the conclusions of this summit mark the end of an era and represent the first stage of a revival for our citizens, that of a Europe that gives itself the means to be fairer and show more solidarity.

The issue of growth is no longer taboo and the discussion about the broad economic guidelines is now under way. The European Union will not be able to emerge from the rut of the crisis without breaking the vicious circle of austerity, which could condemn Member States to an endless recession. I am delighted that this sound political sense can at last be found in the conclusions and I am glad that France and its President, Mr Hollande, have contributed to this political rebalancing and are committed, out of solidarity, to the path of integration.

However, although hope is essential, full implementation is what will restore confidence permanently. With EUR 120 billion having been mobilised within the framework of the Growth and Employment Pact, and EUR 10 billion of recapitalisation from the European Investment Bank (EIB), these will allow bonds to be issued for the purpose of financing projects. The European Parliament must be heard concerning a coherent financial framework and own resources. The mobilisation of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the launch of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which we would have liked to see granted a banking licence, is the most urgent matter for Spain and Italy, without forgetting the Greek citizens who have been hit hard by the crisis.

The quick implementation of a banking supervisor for the euro area is only the first step towards banking union, which Parliament strongly advocates. Moreover, we cannot content ourselves with a limited tax on financial transactions, even if its implementation within the framework of enhanced cooperation could constitute a first step. In this way, we expect a lot from the next European Council, where the group of four – four Presidents, of course – will have to propose an ambitious road map in order to advance economic and monetary union and to enable the definitive resolution of the sovereign debt crisis and the instability of the euro area.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Sylvie Goulard (ALDE ). (FR) Mr President, Presidents, this European Council has attempted, for the first time – as you said, Mr Van Rompuy – to have a vision which shifts from the short term to the long term. It is something that we have often called for here and we thank you for this. There are both vital measures concerning the banks and the spreads, and the vision that you have displayed. Point duly noted, thank you. However, there are two tragic contradictions. The first has just been mentioned, in particular, by Mr Mauro: we must be serious with respect to the markets. Whatever you have decided, find an agreement from the outset on its communication. I have a request for you, Mr Van Rompuy, silence them. Silence them! Speak in the name of the European Council. Let us stop this shameless cacophony. What company, human group, family, even, would tolerate the fact that after a meeting, each person goes and talks about who knows what. What is at stake here is the destiny of southern Europe. Mr Van Rompuy. Silence them!

Secondly, concerning democratic legitimacy, the last point, but a very important one, regarding your paper: I observe, nonetheless, an enormous discrepancy between the goodwill shown on paper and what happens in reality. The only point on which you have made progress concerning banking union is with regard to supervision. That affects an area in which this Parliament has fought together with the Commission against the Council, which was dragging its feet, in order to have European supervision. Perhaps it is a good thing that the European Central Bank (ECB) takes charge of this, I have nothing against the idea, but, Mr Van Rompuy, Mr Barroso, this must be debated in a democratic forum. You cannot withdraw competences that were granted to Parliament, and concerning something that we have worked on together.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Sven Giegold (Verts/ALE ).(DE) Mr President, Mr Barroso, I would like to address two specific points. It is important that a growth pact has now been decided on by this Council. However, much of it is built on sand. Of the EUR 120 billion, EUR 55 billion is supposed to come from Structural Fund monies. I do not yet understand how this is supposed to be mobilised in the short term without the Member States making additional short-term payments into the EU budget. I would like to hear you state exactly and categorically whether these payments exist – what commitments were made there to allow this EUR 55 billion to actually now flow into sustainable growth?

The second question that I would like to ask relates to the banking union. You have proposed that we proceed on the basis of Article 127(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). That means unanimity in the Council and thus also a right of veto for the United Kingdom and other opponents. I can only urge you to make this banking union, but to make it on the basis of the Community method, and that means on the same basis as has already been negotiated here for common banking supervision. The democratic rights of the European Parliament must not be eroded here. I would ask you to proceed on this basis.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Derk Jan Eppink (ECR ). – Mr President, welcome to the blackmail zone, better known as the eurozone, but officially now a no-growth zone.

The latest European summit was appalling. What we saw was, as the German press wrote, a brutal act of blackmail. Apparently, European integration is all about money while prostituting the word ‘solidarity’. What we perceived was Mr Monti acting as a mob leader to get at easy money. Blackmailing Germany is not difficult. Just refer to the past and their knees will weaken.

The ESM Treaty was changed, although many national parliaments had ratified it. So what is now applicable law? We simply do not know. The ESM Treaty is not a treaty, but is it a piece of paper, perhaps waiting for the shredder, or is it, Mr Van Rompuy, a piece of scrap paper? Are you the scrap-paper President?

Mr Monti made a fatal mistake. He galvanised the sentiment of resentment in northern Europe. People feel fooled, robbed and they will resist. Look at Finland and Holland. In Mediterranean Europe, we spread the feeling that there is access to more money, so the pressure for reform will drop and people will ask: why should we suffer if fresh money is on the way? There is only one solution and it is regaining competitiveness. There is no substitute for it and no short cut to a transfer union. The more you push for a transfer union, the sooner the euro will break up.

Finally, where are our colleagues from the German Christian Democrats? I see hardly anyone from the CDU/CSU. Mr Pöttering has already disappeared. Where are they? They should defend their country, but they are absent. The German press will know. They will write about it so that everybody knows in Germany.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Mario Borghezio (EFD ).(IT) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, ladies and gentlemen, if we are about to hold the euro area’s funeral, we must admit that you, just like our Prime Minister, Mr Monti, have exactly the right look and physique for the part. This agreement sounds strange. We wanted to send a reassuring message, but this debate shows that it is built on shaky foundations, perhaps on nothing.

For Italy, unless the European Stability Mechanism’s role as a panacea is fully supported by the ECB – something that remains to be seen – Mr Monti’s victory will be exactly like Italy’s football win against Germany: a Pyrrhic victory. Perhaps we can be saved from this danger of a future debacle by Our Lady of Fátima, but certainly not by your indecision, uncertainty or by pulling the wool over our eyes.

Is what came out of the corridors of your summit true or not? Namely, the fear of Heads of State or Government that there will be a massive collapse in the banking sector which holds billions of derivatives thanks to your inattention, to tax havens, to everything that you allowed to happen. Why then, are you not straight with us about the heart of this problem: not state securities, but the great banking and financial collapse of the derivatives market, of financial speculation, given free rein by a certain world of finance that rules in Europe, and unfortunately also in my country now? Shame on you!

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ewald Stadler (NI ).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is simply grotesque. The wrong European monetary policy produces a crisis, and the 19th crisis Council then decides that the solution to the crisis is more Europe. That means that an incorrect policy is now, so to speak, to be further institutionalised by a fiscal union, an economic union, a political union, a kind of remodelled EUSSR. All of this is down to the paper from this gang of four which is preparing a cold coup and wants to be a crisis profiteer, namely, a political profiteer from the current crisis.

Tell me what solidarity is supposed to mean in the European currency area. Solidarity means transferring prosperity from the countries with a positive balance to those countries that cannot manage to balance their budgets. Tell that to the people, and then we will see what the people say about it. If you want democratic legitimisation, these people will tell you that they reject it, because they are not prepared to accept the liability for banks and their speculative activities.

The pact for growth and employment is a mishmash of slogans – slogans and catchphrases that have been heard from summits plenty of times before. Neither I, nor other people in Europe, therefore have any confidence that you will solve this crisis.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Giuseppe Gargani (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, ladies and gentlemen, I, too, have to say that I had got a somewhat different impression of the conclusions of the summit from reading the newspapers from my own and other countries yesterday and the day before. This morning you, Mr Van Rompuy – and you more than Mr Barroso, in fact – have dashed those hopes and have cast doubt on a solution that had been touted in the papers and all the statements as a turning point, a new approach and a chance for Europe to rebuild and restore real confidence.

I agree with Mr Barroso that it is a very important basic principle to make it clear in the various statements and in the final document that monetary stability in a modern economy can only lead to financial stability. Someone called it an historic statement; I see it as a basic premise to start from.

If the state bailout fund gives the virtuous countries that have access to the fund the chance to recapitalise, then there is a real prospect, a real possibility. The term ‘possible’ dominates the final document; of course I join those who are laying a huge responsibility on your shoulders right now. In your reply, you must explain effectively and decisively whether the Member States can really put plans into action and be confident that it is not merely a general, abstract reversal of a trend that is not going well and is not enough for the markets.

Everyone is said to be making do because we need to reach the end of the tunnel. I believe we are a very long way from the end of the tunnel and so, as regards putting plans into action, we had imagined that all the uncertainty of the previous year in Europe might be swept away by a real, effective decision to be reached at the Brussels Summit. Should we feel disappointed on this point? Should we wonder why it has not come true? Please tell us, Mr Van Rompuy, so we can avoid all these misunderstandings.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D ).(ES) Mr President, the Council last week showed signs – although they are still only signs – of a positive change of course towards a more balanced, fairer and therefore, potentially, more effective response to combating the crisis; a response that will really make it possible to combine austerity with growth, which is essential.

Parliament had already made this change of course a few months ago, and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament had made it a couple of years ago. We therefore welcome this new course.

This Council is seeing, and will see, in my view, the decline of the high-handedness of the two leaders’ pact and of the dogmatic high-handedness of those who have simply proposed tough measures and punishments and have not in any way taken into account their social consequences. This decline of high-handedness does, in fact, represent a return to reality. The reality is that, without growth, there will be no jobs, and we now know that unemployment is at the highest level the European Union has ever seen.

The reality is that, without growth and jobs, the social crisis will explode and the legitimacy of the European project will collapse. Let us therefore ensure that the signs that the Council is showing become a reality in the coming months, let us support the countries making real sacrifices, such as Italy and Spain, and let us put pressure on those countries which, having made a decision, are now throwing up obstacles: Finland and the Netherlands.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Wolf Klinz (ALDE ).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have a massive crisis of confidence, and therefore expectations of the last summit were relatively high. The summit was scarcely any different from earlier summits, with one exception: seldom have the negotiating tactics – which sometimes bordered on blackmail – and the differences between the negotiating partners been played out so clearly to the outside world as this time. In the end, agreement was reached on Friday morning.

However, it turns out that, when it comes down to it, the consensus reached was only a formal compromise, which was then called into question again just 72 hours after being reached. The Dutch and the Finns have already announced that they do not support the buying of government bonds on the secondary market. The markets, which had, until then, reacted positively, are now also beginning to question and smear the result.

I expressly welcome the fact that it was decided at the summit to get serious about creating a real banking union. If we have a common economic area and currency area, then we also need a genuine functioning internal market for financial services. Naturally, that includes bank supervision, but it also includes a banking resolution and rescue fund, and ultimately it also includes a deposit guarantee system.

All that will take time, and I hope that the European Parliament will be adequately taken into consideration at least in the first step, the construction of supervision at the European Central Bank, and things will not continue as they have done recently.

This summit was definitely not the great breakthrough. It was not a great act of liberation. The citizens are just as uncertain as before, and I fear that we will continue to muddle along. I can only hope that we have enough time in which to find the ultimate solution.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Rolandas Paksas (EFD ). (LT) Mr President, if it really is believed that stronger centralisation of government and decisions is the only way for Europe to survive as an economic and financial Union, then communities and nations should be immediately informed about this so that they can decide themselves about relinquishing part of their sovereignty. I doubt whether talk of a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) and the review of the Savings Tax Directive is the way to overcome the crisis. The European doctrine for overcoming the crisis should be built on three pillars: firstly, the promotion of production and adequate consumption; secondly, savings not at the expense of public revenue but bureaucratic state apparatus and state banking sector spending; thirdly, effective use of European Union funds, also for critical social reforms.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Françoise Grossetête (PPE ). (FR) Mr President, this summit marks the first steps for Europe towards a banking union, and the potential recapitalisation of banks with difficulties in those countries presently in turmoil, such as Spain and Italy, is definitely a step forward. Direct aid from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to the banks can only take place once a European banking supervisor has been set up. That is also a step forward.

Despite this, Mr Van Rompuy, let us not be naïve. Some crucial issues remain unresolved. We will still need a good many more EU summits in order to try to provide the answers of economic and monetary integration in the euro area, put simply, political integration. For we cannot guarantee a growth model that is based on public spending without the consolidation and cleaning up of public finances. There cannot be financial solidarity without budgetary, fiscal, and social harmonisation. The premise is simple: we do not pay off debt by creating more debt. We know that by pooling the debts of countries that do not have the same economic and budgetary policies, we will endanger some Member States by committing them to guaranteeing debts that they do not control.

Naturally, I hope that France will very quickly ratify the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance, which was signed last January and could not, of course, be renegotiated. However, Mr Monti has operated very well. However, it should strengthen the bonds of trust between Member States, since it is not desirable to provoke them, nor is it desirable to strongly oppose Germany. It serves no purpose. The Franco-German psychodrama is not in anyone’s interest and this is not the best way to address Europe’s future at this difficult time.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Udo Bullmann (S&D ).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, indeed, the summit has turned around the debate. However, Mr Van Rompuy, the Member States have not yet dared to make the leap. Indeed, it is a major breakthrough to say that we want to make the European Stability Mechanism more active. That is only right and proper. If we do not, we will not really be able to halt the crisis. However, it is also entirely clear to me why the first Member States are already backing off again, why the first heroes of their troops are already disappearing back into the bushes. Why? It is because they forgot to clarify how the stability mechanism would be financed so as to be able to afford this.

That takes us to the problem at the heart of this debate. Europe faces a challenge. We will only overcome the crisis if we are able to make a great qualitative leap: more Europe, better ways of working and more joint action. However, we cannot make a run-up to this great leap while at the same time slamming on the brakes. That is what is constantly demonstrated by Member States.

I can also say, as regards the second topic, that it is right to say that we want to create a programme for growth. The growth programme is essential. You have opportunities to do so, Mr Van Rompuy, as does Mr Barroso. Simply show us the figures, however, for how much this growth programme can generate. Will it be 0.1%, 0.2%, 0.6% of gross national income? What will it cost to implement the rules of the fiscal pact, which are still too rigid? Perhaps 1%, 1.5%? What is the bill? We need to do more in this direction if it is to work.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Carl Haglund (ALDE ).(SV) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, last week’s meeting demonstrates once again that EU leaders only take decisions when they have a knife held to their throat. In many ways, we could say that last week’s decision paves the way for a positive development in which those countries with economic problems will have time to adjust. That is all very well. At the same time, the meeting left a number of open questions that have also been discussed here in the Chamber today, and it is clear that there are those who choose to interpret the meeting’s decision in a way that will come across as opportune to their home public.

This is understandable for political reasons, but it is regrettable all the same. For example, it has been implied that an agreement has been reached to the effect that the rescue fund is later to operate on the so-called secondary bond market. As far as I understand, this is not the case. If it were the case, it would certainly be stated very clearly in the minutes of the meeting, and it is not.

With an eye to the future, I believe that it is wise to stick to what we have actually agreed and not make a whole lot of digressions and interpretations, as this will only lead to those countries that are already standing there with their purses open distancing themselves even more from the decisions, and that is not desirable in a situation in which we are making joint sacrifices in order to get ourselves out of this difficult economic situation.

Mr President, I would also like to take the opportunity to thank my fellow Members for their excellent cooperation. This will be my last speech here in plenary, as I am leaving Parliament. Thank you very much.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (PPE ). – Mr President, important steps have been taken in the right direction and growth packages welcomed, and stabilisation measures for the euro debt crisis are coupling both flexibility and conditionality. The move towards banking union is to be welcomed, and the road map for genuine monetary union is a good starting point. However, closer integration should preserve the unity and integrity of the Union of 27 and its single market. Agreed initial measures – some would say half-measures – should evolve into full measures of banking, fiscal and political union. Measures addressed to the EU of 17 only – some would say half-union solutions – should evolve and be open for all members, at least those which are willing.

We should avoid being satisfied with half measures for a half Union. We should not accept the logic of differentiation and a two-speed integration of the EU. Eurozone ‘ins’ and future ‘ins’ are, and should remain, in the same boat. Only those who opt out should practise derogations. Advanced integration of 17 at the expense of the disintegration of 27 is not an acceptable solution. We need an inclusive, not exclusive, format. We should preserve and cherish a single institutional framework and avoid having 17 restricted institutions in parallel, separate for ‘ins’ and ‘pre-ins’, resulting in interinstitutional cleavages. We should avoid dual-level solidarity, two parallel budgets and double macro-economic standards.

Collateral political damage done to the European project by half-Europe anti-crisis measures would be great. There is huge potential for growth in the EU maintaining integral economic and political unity. Unravelling this unity will not bring us closer to winning the battle with the crisis.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  David-Maria Sassoli (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the focus is usually on the pre-summits when the summits themselves count for nothing, but in this case, we are forced to focus on the post-summit because we had understood that something important had happened. Mr Van Rompuy, if you had gone into a national parliament in any country in Europe and made the speech that you made here today, I think people throughout Europe would have understood precisely the opposite of what they had read in the newspapers three days ago, that you had made Europe take a giant step forwards.

I think it is essential to come here to this House not only to tell us what happened at the summit, but also to say what the Council intends to do after this summit. If you do not tell us that, you will be throwing away the chance to tell the European public that we are working towards a united Europe and to getting a step closer to rescuing the countries in difficulty.

In your reply, Mr Van Rompuy, I would also like you to tell us exactly what you think of the position taken by the Dutch and Finnish Governments. It is your duty to say what your thoughts are on that, because otherwise we will have the impression that the Council ended with a statement that does not correspond to any genuine political will. You should be very careful about this, as I hope not too many journalists heard it, because you know how much influence the media has these days on the fate of countries and the evolution of their spreads.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Luis de Grandes Pascual (PPE ).(ES) Mr President, it has been said that, in order for things to get better, sometimes the chaos needs to get worse. The feeling of powerlessness was such that Europe was forced to react, and it did so for the good of everyone, because the big winner of this summit was the euro. This triumph has revived the hope that Europe is emerging from its paralysis, moving from thought towards action. Ladies and gentlemen, it was essential to adopt short-term measures at this summit, in order to guarantee financial stability, along with long-term measures, in order to solve the Union’s shortcomings. In this case, immediate action was essential in order to continue working towards what is important. The imperative result was to send a message that the euro is a joint, irrevocable and irreversible project.

Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome such important decisions as giving the European Stability Mechanism the facility to recapitalise banks directly, which will break the vicious circle between banking debt and sovereign debt; incidentally, the current Spanish Government has always advocated this theory. It will also help in terms of intervening in markets to support the public debt of the countries that are fulfilling their public deficit and reform commitments. These decisions were necessary in order to guarantee financial stability, which must be the European Union’s highest priority in the short term.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the time for some countries to resort to nationalist maxims and throw up obstacles. As I have already said, it is the time to support Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen, Spain is providing and implementing, in record time, the most ambitious reform agenda in the history of Spanish democracy, which includes major employment reforms. It is also carrying out a financial reform, based on complete transparency, all of which demonstrates its commitment to fiscal consolidation and hitting its deficit targets.

We also welcome the decision to launch a process for greater economic integration, using four building blocks: banking union, fiscal union, a common economic policy framework and enhanced democratic legitimacy.

Mr President, the history of first the Community and then of the European Union has always shown that, not only do we overcome crises, but also we emerge from them stronger. I am delighted that, once again, we have achieved this.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Elisa Ferreira (S&D ).(PT) Mr President, President Van Rompuy, President Barroso, the last meeting of the Council seemed finally to be starting to go in the right direction, but some details are lacking, and without them, nothing can be concluded.

In the first place, it is good that it is finally being recognised that budgetary discipline is only effective if it is accompanied – not followed, accompanied – by growth and employment. However, the growth and employment initiative will only yield results if it is able to correct the internal imbalances within the EU, which are the cause of the crisis. It will only be effective if it opens up employment and business opportunities, in particular, for economies that have repeatedly lost out with the functioning of the internal market and the single currency, and if it contributes to emerging from the crisis, above all, for those countries.

Second, it is good that breaking the spiral of contagion between Member States’ debt and that of the banks is now central to the agenda. While there are new proposals, it is not politically acceptable for banks in crisis to end up benefiting from greater European assistance and less stringent restrictions than those imposed on the Member States. Banks and Member States can hardly compete for access to the same public funds, especially if such funds are clearly inadequate, as is the case with the European Stability Mechanism.

If a bank fails, it should not be the case that the taxpayers pay more than shareholders, nor that bank resolution funds come predominantly from the public purse, rather than from the banks themselves. Finally, depositors should not have their savings in euro put in jeopardy by the crisis. It is vital to ensure that this is all made impossible as a matter of urgency.

One last thing, before I finish, Mr President: the key thing is missing, namely, ensuring that the Member States do not meet their ends at the hands of the markets. The proposals that Parliament has tabled in the so-called ‘two-pack’ on protecting sovereign debt are absolutely crucial to the survival of Europe at this time. I hope that the Commission and the Council will respond favourably to Parliament’s proposal on this matter.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. (NL) Mr President, I would like to say a couple of words about the questions that have been put to me.

First of all, about the report on the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. We will be coming up with a report on this in October and December. It is my intention to talk in October mainly about what can be implemented from the existing treaties. In that sense, it is not really an interim report. It is interim because it is a stepping stone to possible treaty changes. However, it is important in itself because what we can do within the framework of existing treaties can, in itself, be valuable.

We need to discuss with the President of Parliament how we can organise cooperation between Parliament and those who are responsible for drawing up the report, that is, the Presidents of the four European institutions. We will be getting in touch with them about that soon. It goes without saying that I am ready, as we have done in the past – I am talking about the report on the task force – to cooperate intensively with Parliament on that.

If I have talked about there being a breakthrough, I did so in one specific sense, and I usually express what I want to say quite carefully, even if I am quoted wrongly afterwards. That does not mean, though, that I am going to correct every wrong quote; I am not going to take up my time with that. If I spoke of a breakthrough, what I was referring to was the fact that we can agree on single banking supervision, that we have decided that we can agree on single banking supervision in the context of the recapitalisation of banks in a direct way through the European Stability Fund.

Therefore, I consider such a breakthrough towards a single watchdog as one of the Council’s main achievements last Thursday and Friday. At the same time, this is the first stage of implementation, if I may say so, of the report that the President of the Commission, I and two other colleagues have put forward in connection with the deepening of economic and monetary union. Thus, we can talk of a breakthrough in that specific sense.

With regard to the decisions made by the Council and the summit about the euro area, well, these decisions are always taken unanimously. There can be no decisions other than unanimous ones. That is, unfortunately, the kind of decision making we have – some find that a pity, others a good thing. We have taken decisions unanimously. I assume that these decisions, too, will be respected. These are times of responsibility. We are going through a very deep crisis that has dragged on for a long time and that we are trying to overcome step by step. Everyone, each member of the Council, each country must take its responsibility, especially when it comes to the implementation of decisions taken unanimously. Fortunately, on one specific point, the new emergency fund, the ESM, provides, in such a decision-making procedure, that no single country or, in some cases, even a group of countries, can alone block decisions.

In any case, I would like to thank you for the debate we have had in the sense that we have, unlike on other occasions, effectively said on a number of points that we have made progress. The major work remains still to be done when it comes to the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. However, I understand that a very strong agreement is possible on the big picture, the building blocks, at least between those who have written the report and Parliament.

You know, however, that we live in a Community, in a Union of 27. We must all reach agreement on this. That requires effort and also implies that a step-by-step approach is the only possible way to get ahead, whether we like it or not. As I have said, though, I consider the most recent Council meeting last Thursday and Friday as a step forward in the right direction. I wish to thank all of you who have confirmed that.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Mr Van Rompuy, perhaps I could make a comment, if you will allow me to do so, since you are still here. I consider it only right that you are telling us that you want to work closely with the European Parliament on the follow-up of the proposal that you, as President, submitted to the four institutions. On behalf of this House, however, I have to remind you of two things.

Firstly, it was a mistake that you did not invite the European Parliament from the outset. Secondly, the European Parliament has greater legitimacy than the European Central Bank to speak for the future of Europe.

I therefore assume that the President of the European Parliament will be invited to participate equally in such work in the future. We can decide among ourselves how we work at working level, but I would say to you – not personally, but on behalf of this House – that it is not acceptable for there to be two different types of European institution: those that meet together there, and us. We are the deciding European institution and I therefore demand, on behalf of this House, that you invite me to participate in this work.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Elmar Brok (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, Mr Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the outcome of the summit was balanced. The principle of control and liability was maintained in the short-, medium- and long-term measures, which take us in the right direction to solve the crisis, to control the crisis, and which also sent out a clear political signal that this European Union still stands together and will not allow itself to be driven apart by the crisis. That is the most important message.

I therefore consider it a good thing that now, for example, we are creating a banking union, and I assume that the Commission will table a legislative proposal for this swiftly and that this will also be associated with more flexible use of the European Stability Mechanism. These two things, however, belong in a particular context. We have to make it clear that this is not merely a sovereign debt crisis, but a financial crisis that has driven the sovereign states into debt. This must also become clear while giving particular consideration to the financial sector and its regulation.

Mr President, I am of the opinion that on matters of institutional development, in particular, the paper that Mr Van Rompuy submitted along with Mr Barroso, Mr Juncker and Mr Draghi takes us in the right direction in the medium and long term, and from Parliament’s point of view, I would like to thank Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso in particular, as well as Mr Juncker, for their helpful work.

It must be clear that the crucial thing in the future remains the Community method, with the full involvement of the Community institutions. It must be made clear that we cannot allow the crisis to result in an institutional split in the European Union between the 17 on one side and the rest on the other. It has to be clear that, in this, the European Parliament is the parliamentary assembly at European level and that the national parliaments and the European Parliament are constantly strengthened at their respective levels. I would also like to thank you for the fact that it was expressly pointed out that cooperation takes place between the national parliaments and the European Parliament based on Protocol 1 to the Treaty of Lisbon. That is the appropriate line, and this provides a good basis for it. I would like to express once again my warm thanks for the cooperation on this matter.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: OTHMAR KARAS
Vice-President

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Göran Färm (S&D ). – Mr President, Europe stands before one of the most difficult challenges ever: to get out of the worst economic crisis of the post-war period and, at the same time, take the European project forward. This is not an easy task; if it is to succeed, the EU and its Member States must start conducting a more balanced economic policy – single-minded austerity is not enough.

The EU must also seriously attack the problem that, for decades, we have set aside insufficient resources for growth-enhancing investments. Therefore, I am very happy with the broad support for my report on project bonds, to be issued tomorrow. I am also happy about the European Council conclusions on the Compact for Growth and Jobs and the detailed guidelines for the Union’s own actions and budget in this context. EUR 55 billion will be devoted to growth-enhancing measures in the current period.

However, there is still a question mark: to have concrete effects on the ground, the EU budget will need payments. These EUR 120 billion, with very concrete proposals for EUR 55 billion, must lead to concrete projects with rapid effects on jobs and growth, particularly in the most vulnerable regions in Europe. But for that to happen, the Council and the Member States must change their rigid position on the payments level in the European Union budget, because otherwise – unfortunately – this will be another round of empty promises.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marian-Jean Marinescu (PPE ).(RO) Mr President, the European Council’s decision on the Compact for Growth and Jobs is extremely positive. However, its success depends on its implementation. No concessions must be made during the process of implementing the specific recommendations for each Member State. Member States must implement the single market legislation urgently. The procedures for approving the redeployment of the Structural Funds must be implemented as quickly as possible to achieve a rapid result. On the other hand, the notion of a two-speed Europe must not be supported in any form. All Member States must apply, in one way or other, the measures on economic and monetary union.

Unfortunately, the conclusions from the European Council on the MFF are not satisfactory. The Danish Presidency did not make the expected progress on a matter which is of paramount importance to the EU’s future. There is not even a forecast for the size of the European budget. The negotiation boxes do not include what the European Council should have proposed, but references to the very important aspects of the horizontal policies which come under the codecision procedure. Such an approach, which can only lead to Parliament deciding against the MFF 2014-2020, is unacceptable.

I expect the Cypriot Presidency to amend this approach and urgently initiate discussions with Parliament. Parliament has already made its position very clear in the report from the Temporary Committee on Policy Challenges, which the Council must take into account. If we look at the conclusions, there is a huge discrepancy between the conclusions on economic growth and jobs and those on the MFF. Ninety-five per cent of the European budget is targeted at investment, which generates exactly what is desired: economic growth and jobs.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Anni Podimata (S&D ).(EL) Mr President, the decisions by the European Council are, of course, a step in the right direction, but clearly a great deal still needs to be done before these general undertakings can be translated into specific, reliable and effective decisions and acts.

I wish to raise two points: the first concerns the financial transaction tax. The European Parliament would obviously prefer a decision to be taken at EU27 level. However, as that appears to be impossible, we feel that the conditions and requirements should be put in place as quickly as possible for those who can and want to move forward, via enhanced cooperation, while respecting the basic characteristics of the tax, which should apply to as many financial institutions as possible and cover as broad a range of financial transactions as possible. The European Parliament supports the financial transaction tax, not stamp duty.

My second point concerns the decision taken by the European Council, and not a moment too soon, to break the vicious cycle between the banking sector and the debt crisis. This is a good beginning that should apply to everyone, regardless of why the banking sector has been recapitalised in each country.

May I ask you, Mr Barroso, to assure us today that this principle of equality and justice will apply and that every country which is in a programme and is demonstrably applying it can expect such equal treatment in this matter?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Paulo Rangel (PPE ).(PT) Mr President, President Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to simply state the following: I believe that for us, all of whom believe in Europe, this Council was marked by two pieces of good news. The first is that we have more time and the second is that we have been given reason for some hope. However, I believe that the results are meagre. We could and should have gone much further, but the fact is that, for the first time, I believe that steps have been taken in the right direction, in a clear way. Moreover, they have been framed within a kind of road map.

I would also congratulate the Commission, as the fact is that, at summit after summit, Council after Council, proposals presented a year and half, two years or six months ago, which had been rejected no sooner had they been presented, have finally been adopted. In spite of everything, as the Commission itself is behind this road map, a road map for greater integration, I have some hope – that is why I used the word ‘hope’ – that some of the proposals made by the President of the Commission and some of those that he made in conjunction with the Presidents of other institutions might be followed and might finally put us on the path to greater stability and security for the times ahead.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Edit Herczog (S&D ).(HU) Mr President, it is a political success that after so much travail, a constructive direction has been set for the EU in the spirit of the founding fathers. It is a political failure, however, that contrary to the spirit of the founding fathers, it is not offered to all EU citizens. This is how it could transpire that on Monday, the Hungarian Prime Minister recounted the summit to the Hungarian Parliament as follows: Hungary has won, and the EU has bowed to Hungarian economic policy. It is disappointing that while Gyula Horn, who will be turning 80 years old tomorrow, had the strength to cut through the Iron Curtain while standing in the shadow of two world orders, you are silently assisting in the erection of a new Iron Curtain. It is disappointing that you, the leaders of the major powers that came out as the winners of the greatest political and economic transformation since World War II, are unwilling to recognise the consequences. If the dream of a united Europe is replaced by another bipolar world order, the consequences could be tragic and unpredictable. Our political responsibility to preserve and further enhance peace is universal and indivisible. This is what I would like to remind you of after the summit.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marietta Giannakou (PPE ).(EL) Mr President, in keeping with its tradition, the European Parliament must say, as it does every time, that it is not happy with the Council decisions: that it wanted more, that it wanted a bigger step.

However, if we consider the essence, there can be no doubt that the decisions taken are positive decisions, especially the agreement on growth and job creation, which suffices in order to focus on specific ways and means of stimulating growth so as to achieve the results we had with the Lisbon guidelines.

The decisions on the debt crisis and the recapitalisation of the banks, which appear to be of interest mainly to Italy and Spain, are also important decisions. However, these decisions should concern every country applying the programme agreed on equal terms, such as Greece, given that it would relieve my country from a very hefty EUR 50 billion burden, and would be fair and correct towards the new government that will be called upon to apply the agreed programme.

The financial transaction tax is also important in addressing the problem, as is the use of enhanced cooperation, as there are some countries that do not want it. However, this is the wish of the European Parliament, which has repeatedly said as much, and it is massively important, given that it could be linked to the European Union’s own resources.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Anna Záborská (PPE ). (SK) Mr President, the results of the summit have set my mind at rest, as it seems that Europe’s future growth is secure. And it will cost only EUR 120 billion. Of this, half will come from the European Investment Bank and we will find the other half in the Structural Funds.

What does it matter that some countries will not receive anything from the first half. For example Ireland, despite ongoing reforms, will not be able to apply for funds from the European Investment Bank, as its rating and the rating of Irish banks do not meet the conditions to qualify for a loan. And there are perhaps other examples as well.

However, what is worse is that all the funds intended to boost growth are earmarked for cofinancing projects. That is to say, they count on the financial support of the Member States and/or private investors, such as banks. It is because of this that the Member States and the banking sector now have the biggest problem with funding.

Mr Barroso, I would therefore ask you to confirm once again that the better future of the European Union is already in sight. Because if not, then the whole pact for growth is only a symbolic gesture, and I believe that the accountable European politicians should not make gestures, but should instead seek realistic solutions to the problems.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MARTIN SCHULZ
President

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marianne Thyssen (PPE ). (NL) Mr President, I have three points to make. First of all, I would like to congratulate the President of the European Council, as well as the President of the Eurogroup and the President of the European Central Bank, for the position paper on the Economic and Monetary Union which they prepared together for this summit.

It is excellent that the position paper makes a choice for a fully-fledged banking union, a budgetary union and economic union because it shows that you are working together for a sustainable solution. That is the only way to eliminate the centrifugal force that has been putting our system under major stress for years.

Secondly, I would also like to congratulate the President of the Council – though somebody will have to pass this message on to him – on the specific results that came out of the summit. Thanks to them, this summit really was one where we won back ambition, ambition which can form the basis for winning back trust in Europe. The country-specific recommendations, the Compact for Growth and Jobs and, above all, a single supervisory framework and the decision to break the vicious circle between banking problems and national budgets give hope. Hope, Mr President, that we can now work on a road map with just as much ambition, conviction and dynamism towards genuine economic and monetary union and a strong European Union, because we need both.

Thirdly, it has struck me – as some Members have already observed – that the President of the Council is particularly interested in democratic legitimacy. I would like to thank you, Mr Van Rompuy, for the comments you have made on this score and I have nothing further to add to that. Mr Van Rompuy will now surely recognise that he has a loyal partner and a solid ally in us in order to move towards a strong Europe, sticking together, responsible inwardly and strong outwardly in order to defend our values globally.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Gay Mitchell (PPE ). – Mr President, I welcome the steps towards banking union which came out of this meeting. I also welcome the steps on bank borrowing.

In fairness, I say to the President of the Commission that Ireland’s position does need special attention. I do not think that we should ask any Member State to carry an undue burden and, where there is responsibility, there must be solidarity. I want to thank Anna Záborská for what she said in support of Ireland and the European Investment Bank.

I welcome also what was said by President Van Rompuy when he spoke about mastering this step by step. This is not easy when you need unanimity, but this makes the case for more Europe, not more intergovernmentalism.

What we need right now are the skills of a fisherman, not of a publicist. When you have got a fish on the line, you need the right breaking strength. If you try to land the fish too soon, the line breaks and the fish gets away. If you let the line loose, the fish gets off and the fish gets away. This requires the skills of an angler, not the skills of a publicist. So far, we have done very well in that regard.

I want to see, please, more emphasis on growth, jobs and hope. I welcome the change in emphasis that has come about in that regard.

In time, it is possible if we turn this around that people will look back on Europe and say: that was a golden era. The Berlin Wall came down and we incorporated those Member States into the Union. We did not repeat what happened in the first half of the last century when 60 million people died. The biggest financial crisis came our way and we dealt with it.

It is possible for us to make this a golden era. I welcome the steps that have been taken so far.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ioannis Kasoulides (PPE ). – Mr President, two points from the debate. The EMS is composed of taxpayers’ money. That is true. When states borrow from the EMS to capitalise their banks, their taxpayers shoulder the debt in turn. When the banks can borrow directly from the EMS, the banks owe to the EMS; the moral hazard is far less. Decoupling sovereign debt from the recapitalisation of the banks ends the spiral of excessive debt and increased mistrust from markets.

Secondly, the growth stimulus package is fine, but we are not reinventing the policies on growth. What is the scoreboard of Member States’ compliance on the Europe 2020 strategy? How far have Member States gone in implementing proposed policies on the Single Market? What about the Services Directive, for instance? Why do we create illusions and false dilemmas for public opinion? ‘Stability and Growth’ is the name of the pact that has existed for years: these are the two faces of the same coin. Let us stop sloganeering and get to work.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Othmar Karas (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, Mr Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, it takes too long for the Council to decide on what has been recognised as being necessary and urgent, and has been called for by the European Parliament and the Commission for years.

I therefore urge firstly resoluteness, resoluteness in the preparation of the political union, seriousness in the implementation of the decisions made and frankness in the communication of the decisions to the citizens. The President has mentioned democratic legitimacy and cooperation following the statement made by the President of the Council. We do not have to put up with the decisions either. For each decision, we should table an own-initiative report by autumn containing the existing decisions and our demands.

Secondly, we should make it clear – as has been done – that the road map timetable and content can only be credibly and successfully drawn up with the European Parliament, and not without us.

Thirdly, by December at the latest, we should table a clear proposal for the convention on preparation for political union – in terms of content, timetable, human resources and how civil society will be politically involved. Credibility will only be created if we take action. We have had enough Council communiqués. They take us in the right direction, but it is high time we got on with it.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Goerens (ALDE ). (FR) Mr President, in my native language, the term ‘conseil ’ can have two meanings. Firstly, as with most of our working languages, it can mean ‘council’. Secondly, ‘conseil ’ can also mean ‘riddle’. Indeed, after the last Council, one has to guess what was decided, particularly with regard to the EUR 55 billion of Structural Funds intended to stimulate growth. One then has to guess the impact of the decisions relating to the European Stability Mechanism.

As Mr Van Rompuy, who unfortunately is no longer here, was informed of how the conclusions of its last meeting were interpreted by those involved, perhaps he could have answered my questions.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ). (LT) Mr President, last Friday’s decisions really are very important. Certain decisions were taken on banking sector supervision and bank consolidation, something that we discussed a few years ago. To be truthful, even at that time, it was widely known that the banking sector’s activities do not at all comply with any state policies in either the economic or financial field and these decisions are therefore very important. Secondly, Europe today is experiencing not just financial problems, but a problem of solidarity. Today, the European Union is only understood as a means of obtaining additional money and greater benefits for one’s country, and we see that from the actions of certain specific states if we are talking about the legitimisation of the Fiscal Treaty, if we are talking about the financial transaction tax and many other areas, and I therefore wish that the European Union becomes much more cohesive in future.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Zofija Mazej Kukovič (PPE ). (SL) Mr President, congratulations to the Council on the conclusions, especially those that are related to growth and jobs.

However, there is still the issue of how to address youth unemployment and, at the same time, extend the working lives of older people. This is a challenge for the whole of Europe. Continuing to build confidence is a challenge too. Confidence and not division, dividing the EU into 17 and 27 Member States. We will only be competitive with the outside world if we manage to stick together and if we stop constantly bandying words of division.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL ).(PT) Mr President, President Barroso, the issue of growth and employment has been included on the Council’s agenda for the first time, and the Compact for Growth and Jobs has also been presented for the first time. Now, if we really analyse what has been proposed, we cannot reach any conclusion other than that this has been not a bang but a whimper. If we compare both the content and the total amount, we are talking about EUR 120 billion. We note that if we compare this with the assistance that has been given to the banks and bank recapitalisation, we are talking about a risible package. I would very much like the public to get an explanation as to why the amounts for banks are higher, and why there is greater support with far fewer conditions, and why far less is asked for in return. Why is this not being explained to the public? Why is there no explanation as to why, when we talk about assistance, it is the public that is going to pay again? These issues needed to be clarified, because we are tired of austerity.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ). (SK) Mr President, during the summit, the Council focused primarily on the issue of growth, which is undoubtedly crucial for the future direction of the European Union. However, it is extremely important that we finally come to specific solutions following on from discussions and statements, because only these are currently moving us further. It is essential that we have a clear strategy to promote real growth and can create new jobs. It is only through closer integration that we can have a chance to overcome the current crisis.

I therefore propose that we end these Eurosceptic discussions and start working towards a better and unified Europe for everybody. The adoption of anti-crisis measures should be done in a spirit of mutual solidarity. I cannot therefore agree with budget cuts that affect European Union citizens, but I am in favour of focusing on financial institutions that should finally bear their share of the blame for the current situation.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
MPphoto
 

  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. – Mr President, regarding the questions put to the Commission, let me just clarify some of the points.

First of all, the assessment we made of this European Council was a balanced one. It represented real progress, but much still has to be done. We should be under no illusions: the crisis is far from over and we need to continue our work. In fact, this European Council addressed, at the same time, short-term measures and a vision for the future, and tried to combine the need for stability with growth.

It is false to say that the conclusions are only one-way. In fact, there was also strong emphasis on the need for reform for competitiveness. At the same time, there was recognition of the need for solidarity. It is in this context that we should analyse the results of this European Council.

Regarding growth, as the Commission has been stating, we need to combine structural reforms at national and European level with investment, and a package for investment was thus approved. This was the maximum the Member States could agree on at this stage. Regarding the Structural Funds relocation, let me state that EUR 20 billion has already been reprogrammed, and a further EUR 55 billion will be devoted to growth enhancing measures in the current financial period.

In response to some of the questions, I would like to say that it is now critically important that all the governments stick to the agreements once they have been made, and ensure that they are fully and swiftly implemented. We will strongly emphasise the need to respect agreements and to implement them. I would like to reassure this Parliament by telling you that the Commission is determined to come up with proposals very soon. But let me remind you that a number of very important proposals are already on the table.

These include proposals on key elements of the banking union, deposit guarantees and resolution mechanisms for example. We now hope that, with the stronger consensus we saw in the European Council, we can even go further and reinforce those proposals.

Regarding the issues of the Commission proposals, let us be clear; I have to disappoint some of you. The simple fact that the Commission makes proposals does not, in itself, lead to quick agreements.

Maybe this is because there are too many political forces which say one thing in Strasbourg and something else in the capitals of our Member States.

(Applause)

So, when we are concerned, as some of you expressed the concern today that governments go to Brussels and say one thing, then go back to their capitals and say something different, it is also very important that political parties do not say one thing in Strasbourg and then say a different thing in their capitals.

(Applause)

One important and interesting point was made by the British Conservatives today, and some kind of satisfaction was expressed with the situation in the euro area. I would like to tell the Conservatives that it is puzzling that you seem to delight in the difficulties of the euro area. This is in stark contrast to the position taken by your leader, Prime Minister Cameron.

(Applause)

It would be good in terms of accountability to your public for you to say the same thing here that you say in London. The reality is that there is now a consensus, that includes those states outside the euro area, on the need to strengthen the euro area. It would be a mistake, a complete mistake, to try to divide the euro area from the rest of the European Union.

I am also very puzzled at the ease with which some of you recommend that some Member States should leave the euro. Once again, this is in complete contrast to the position taken by the British Prime Minister, who explicitly said at the G8 summit in Camp David, for instance, that it was in his national interest that Greece stays in the euro area.

So it is very important that we agree on a common approach for the European Union, including countries both inside and outside the euro area.

Some of you are suggesting that Europe’s current economic problems are the result of the euro area, and that, for instance, you disapprove of the big bailout programmes in the banking sector in the euro area. Let me just put the facts straight.

The country that has spent the most money by far on its banking sector is Britain, more than any other country in the European Union. Let me give you the figures. Since 2008, the United Kingdom has committed EUR 82.9 billion – equivalent to almost 4.9% of GDP – in recapitalisation measures. In asset relief interventions alone, it has committed EUR 40.41 billion – equivalent to 2.38% of GDP – and EUR 158 billion in guarantees, more than 9% of British GDP. So the country in the European Union that has committed by far the most taxpayers’ money to save its financial sector has been Britain. This is not a specific euro area problem; this is a problem that affects the European Union as a whole.

(Loud applause)

And then I come to my final point: we either solve this together, and we win together, or we will all be defeated together. My final point is this: I did not at all like the atmosphere following the last European Council when I saw some claiming victory over the others.

This is not the way to do things in Europe: either we win together or we will be defeated together. What we need is a strong European team. It is true that there are in Europe different financial cultures, different perceptions and different sensitivities. But let us be honest; sometimes, this is not a matter of differences between the North and the South – sometimes you find these differences in the very same country.

But I am worried when I see some people speaking about the North and the South, making some kind of easy generalisations, because those of us who know European history know how negative a role was played by prejudice and the superiority complex of one part of Europe over the other.

(Applause)

All the countries of Europe – and some of us have been countries for many, many centuries – have had the greatest moments of glory and very dark moments in our history. We should be humble when we speak about history. And we should not forget that the European project was made precisely to avoid the divisions of the past and the demons that existed in European history.

That is why I do not like it when I see Heads of Government coming out of a European Council and saying that they won against the others. This is exactly the wrong message. This is precisely the road to defeat. The message that we together – the European institutions, the Commission and the European Parliament – have to send is that we are in this together, and together we will be able to overcome this crisis.

(Loud and sustained applause)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Rebecca Harms (Verts/ALE ).(DE) Mr President, unfortunately, the debate is already over, but in view of the great support for what you said, Mr Barroso, I would wish that you address the Council with equal clarity and for there not to always be this gap between how clear you are here and how vague you become in Brussels when the Heads of State or Government meet.

(Loud applause)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – That was actually …

(Heckling)

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Cohn-Bendit, one moment please. Ms Harms, firstly, that was not a point of order, but a personal comment. Secondly, I would like to tell you something: I was at the last European Council and the one before that, and Mr Barroso said exactly the same in the European Council as he said here.

(Applause)

I think I can say that, in the past, I have not always been the easiest person for Mr Barroso to deal with. I can tell you, however, that as President of this House, I have no stronger ally at present in the European institutions than Mr Barroso.

Sometimes, I might wish that the rapporteur who was here previously would support our concerns with the same intensity as does the President of the Commission.

(Applause)

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Wednesday, 4 July 2012.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Elmar Brok (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, I have a request. Please could you ask the President of the Commission to make the figures that he gave for the United Kingdom available in writing, so that we can use them?

 
  
 

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL ), in writing. – Sinn Féin welcomes any increase in investment in job creation and reduction in the cost of the debt burden. But the European Council is still not serious about growth. There is only EUR 10 billion of new investment. Austerity remains a key pillar of the EU’s approach to the crisis. Yet the EU continues to pour billions into the banks that are still operating largely unregulated and are gathering billions in personal wealth, storing it far from the reach of the public purse. The failed policy of austerity and bank bailouts to financial vampires who sucked the life blood from our economies needs to end. We need greater flexibility for Member States to implement policies suited to their specific needs, we need investment in jobs to generate economic growth and assist in deficit reduction, and we need debt reduction to enable indebted Member States to return to the markets at normal rates.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Bastiaan Belder (EFD ), in writing. (NL) The Heads of Government have taken steps to combat the euro crisis: European banking supervision, support to European banks and the buying up of government bonds from the emergency fund. This is nothing short of a major step towards a European banking union. It is unfortunate that the situation in the euro area is such that many economists consider this substantial step necessary. I have three questions for the Council with regard to the outcome of the summit. Firstly, does direct European support to banks not weaken to too great an extent the incentive to the weak euro countries to put their affairs in order, both in the banking sector and in public finances? Secondly, the ESM Treaty. The German Chancellor and the Commission argue that direct support may be provided under Article 19 of the ESM Treaty without renewed ratification by national parliaments of any amendments to ESM. Does the Council take the view that direct support to banks does not require renewed ratification? Finally, to what extent is it realistic to assume that Europe will have an effective system of banking supervision as early as six months from now? That is a prerequisite for responsible spending of money from the emergency fund.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Ivo Belet (PPE ), in writing. (NL) The key element in President Van Rompuy’s report is most probably point 4: we will only be able to strengthen the EU if we have people’s support. Currently, that support is crumbling at a rate of knots. That is why shock therapy is becoming necessary. The most efficient way we can respond to this is by the direct election of the President of the European Commission. That would be a major step forward. Because Europeans from Stockholm to Nicosia would be able to choose the President of Europe themselves. Let us choose this course of action, preferably as early as 2014. It would trigger a lot of emotion, positive and undoubtedly also negative. However, it will definitely not leave people indifferent. That is an essential part of democracy, is it not?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Minodora Cliveti (S&D ), in writing.(RO) The Heads of State or Government have decided on a Compact for Growth and Jobs which includes the actions which Member States and the European Union need to take to kick-start economic growth, investment and employment, as well as to boost Europe’s competitiveness. Specific recommendations have been approved for each country to guide Member States’ policies and budgets.

Particular attention must be focused on investments in future-oriented areas as well as on ensuring that pension systems are sustainable. The obvious priority is to increase employment among both genders, and especially among young people and the long-term unemployed. It is important to encourage the redeployment of older workers. The Council will examine the proposals included in the Employment Package and will have to decide on them, with the focus on creating good-quality jobs, structural reform of the labour markets and on investment in human capital. It is vital to tackle youth unemployment, especially through the Commission’s initiatives on youth guarantees and the quality framework for traineeships.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing.(RO) The analysis of the outcome of the European Council ought to start with the record unemployment rate across the European Union – 25 million unemployed, which is 2 million more than last year. The unemployment rate has passed the 11% mark for the first time since the euro area was established. We can talk about the anti-crisis strategy being successful only when the unemployment figures show a significant drop in the number of job-seekers. For us to judge the situation only based on the extremely capricious vagaries of the ‘markets’ would mean that we are deluding ourselves.

I regard as encouraging the agreement on the package of measures worth EUR 120 billion for stimulating economic growth and creating jobs throughout the EU. However, we need to see how this money will be allocated and what type of activities will be funded so as to achieve the maximum economic and social impact. Confidence in the ability of politics to resolve people’s problems is lower than ever. The rise of radical and extremist political movements is a reality, and I believe that the prospect ahead of us is not promising. We need to watch out that when the banks win, democracy does not lose.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing.(PT) This European Council meeting has marked another step along the road to forming a political and institutional framework whereby the EU institutions can impose a steely grip on each Member State, destroying national sovereignties and challenging the most basic democratic principles and values, all in order to intensify exploitation and the attack on the rights and living conditions of workers and peoples, and to prolong the extortion of national resources. The so-called European Semester has closed, endorsing the ‘country-specific recommendations which Member States will translate into their forthcoming national decisions on budgets, structural reforms and employment policies’. If we look at these ‘recommendations’, which the Commission has published and now wishes to implement, we can see the purpose and goals of this European Semester. With regard to Portugal, the Commission advocates lowering wages and reducing the duration of unemployment benefit. This is in a country that has among the lowest wages in the EU, where unemployment has hit historic levels, and where long-term unemployment is on the increase because of the policies imposed by the EU and the IMF. Once again, the interests of the economic and financial groups have taken centre stage, as also shown by the decision on the possibility of giving direct assistance to banks.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE ), in writing.(IT) Finally, after several months spent trying to paper over the cracks – caused by the financial crisis – in the budgets of many Member States, we have officially started talking about growth in the EU again. The package amounting to EUR 120 billion launched by the Council is not only a victory for the Italian Government, which had been pushing for this for some time, but is also an important step for the European economy towards growth and recovery. While not forgetting that out of the total EUR 120 billion, only EUR 14.5 billion is new resources (the remainder consists of reallocations of funds already budgeted), it is significant that the European Union has gone back to using language in line with the expectations of European businesses. Without underestimating the importance of the measures adopted to tackle the financial crisis (such as direct access by banks to State rescue funds as a means to control the spread), the adoption of the growth package must signal a turning point in European policy which complements economic rigour with prospects for growth.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Kinga Göncz (S&D ), in writing.(HU) The Socialists welcome the decisions taken at the EU summit as regards the creation of a banking union, the intention to create a financial and political union and the specific measures for job creation. The Heads of State or Government finally showed willingness to act and decided on a range of long overdue steps that the European Parliament and, in particular, the Socialists have been urging ever since the eruption of the crisis. These include recognition of the fact that consolidation of the treasury must be accompanied by an economic policy conducive to growth and investment. It is also welcome that quite a number of Member States voted for the European-level taxation of financial transactions and, indirectly, the promotion of investments aimed at revitalising the economy. The tightened economic, financial and political integration decided on by the euro area Member States must not lead to the European Union splitting in two. It is the national interest of Hungary to have a part in the decision-making process that lays the new foundations of the EU. The Heads of State or Government have finally brought themselves to engage in crisis management. Just as important as the preservation of the common currency is the protection of the fundamental values of the EU. Tighter political integration must be accompanied by an extension of the competence of Community institutions, and not just in economic and financial matters, but also in respect of the functioning of democratic institutions and the enforcement of human rights and the rule of law. The European Parliament, as the only directly elected institution of the EU, cannot be left out of this process.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jan Kozłowski (PPE ), in writing.(PL) The constantly rising level of unemployment is the most dramatic indication of the difficulties Europe faces. So I consider the parts of the Council conclusions which are directly related to supporting employment and the growth of enterprise to be crucial. I think the National Job Plans are an important step towards effective implementation of reforms which will improve the situation in the labour market, especially for young people. I think that linking national strategies with the initiatives included in the Employment Package can help improve the situation.

Further removal of barriers from the single market, agreements concerning social entrepreneurship funds and progress on the question of the recognition of qualifications are also things which I think are very important. I also share the view that both the European Union and the Member States should make strenuous efforts to reduce the administrative burden and move from excessive to ‘smart’ regulation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Antonio Masip Hidalgo (S&D ) , in writing.(ES) I am still feeling the emotions triggered by coming across seeing the miners’ march on Madrid at the weekend. The Spanish Government should pay attention to this march, as it is a representation of courage and endurance, as the writer Armand Gatti once said.

The Spanish Government, meanwhile, had the good judgment to meet with Mr Monti and Mr Hollande for a successful summit, as recommended by the faithful opposition – the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) – and expressly by Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

Let us intensify the wisdom and prudence of the summit and conclude the issues that have not yet been resolved, of which there are too many. Also, domestically, let us overcome and rectify the disaster of employment reform and the punishment of the sick and pensioners.

Thanks, in particular, to President Hollande, a new Europe is to be born. It is to be more unified and stronger, as President Barroso has said; a Europe of solidarity, as Ms Trautmann has said. Let us support it!

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing.(DE) The only sensible result of the summit is the planned central banking supervision, for the fact that the banks will continue to receive money in future from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) bailout fund shows once again that the debt crisis in the euro area is, in large part, to do with credit institutions that went to the wall because of irresponsible managers. Despite the fact that levelling everything down has led to disaster, centralism is still being heralded as a cure-all. Italy and France have long been working on forcing the net contributors, particularly Germany, into a debt and liability union. The role of Germany as EU paymaster-general is to be incorporated into the Treaties so that the German economic giant can be permanently subdued. It is a kick in the teeth to the economically successful euro area countries that candidates for bankruptcy will de facto receive funds from the EFSF or from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) without having to make any cuts. If the troika is to exercise no control over adherence to the budgets set, it represents a licence for all kinds of fraud and cheating. The Greek example shows where countries end up if there is not adequate control. The latest summit decisions have opened the way for a debt union, making the flow of money from countries such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands to candidates for bankruptcy such as Spain, Portugal, and perhaps also Italy, a permanent state of affairs.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE ), in writing.(PL) At the European Council in June, ambitious declarations were made about reforming the institutional structure of the euro area. However, only determination in implementing what was decided will demonstrate the Council’s significance in terms of strengthening the euro area. The Member States supported the proposal to establish a single banking supervisor for the euro area. This is a very ambitious challenge, considering both the deadline set – the end of October 2012 – and the protracted process of negotiations on supervisory requirements for the banking sector under the CRD4/CRR legislative package. The arrangements made about the requirements for granting financial assistance to Member States are another important matter. Among other things, it was decided that Italian bonds will be bought using European rescue funds, but without the application of rigorous monitoring programmes. Furthermore, a guarantee was agreed that loans made to Spain from the fund will not be classified as unsubordinated debt, which should increase confidence and demand from private investors in the debt market. The spectacular nature of the declarations formulated at this Council has brought an enthusiastic reaction from the financial markets, despite the fact that the level of rescue capital has not been changed. I think establishing a single banking supervisor and a bank recapitalisation fund will increase financial stability in the euro area. Since we are in a crisis, the new institutions could follow the example of the American federal institutions in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and carry out immediate recapitalisation of financial institutions in order to prevent a knock-on effect.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE ), in writing. (FI) The decisions made at the European Council meeting last week meant that, at last, important steps were being taken towards more effective crisis management and, at the same time, long-term economic growth. There is a fateful connection between acute crisis management and longer-term measures: neither will work without the other, and both are needed. The decisions served to establish a development in the right direction towards a comprehensive banking union within the EU. It is now time to sever the link between national debt and the debts accrued by banks. It is one that has proven extremely toxic and has encouraged the crisis to escalate. This can be achieved by means of the remedies decided upon by the Council last week. An integrated financial framework and the establishment of a common, robust European Banking Authority both have this particular aim in mind. Such a development does not mean that there should be no limit to the injection of cash made available to the banks in addition to over-indebted countries. On the contrary, this is specifically about the fact that, in future, taxpayers will no longer have to foot the bill for errors or abuse on the part of any one bank, but, instead, the parties liable will be those who incurred the costs in the first place – the banks themselves. It is important that the process starts to be built now, in a logical order and as a workable whole. An essential part of this process must be a banking authority with strong powers that has the wherewithal to restructure banks that have got into difficulties, as well as a Common European Fund, which could be a way to guarantee the protection of deposits and to minimise costs to EU citizens as a result of any possible collapse of the banks. The Commission should comply with Parliament’s demands and propose a legislative package covering the Council’s decisions by the autumn.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D ), in writing.(HU) We are rightly cautious in our evaluation of last week’s European Council meeting because there has already been a point, in December, where one could have believed that the EU’s descent had stopped. Journalists often exaggerate when evaluating a meeting. It is a crucial point that as a result of this summit, the financial pact is now supplemented with a growth agreement, even if the sum concerned is modest and the manner of its utilisation still requires clarification. Over the next few months, we will need to address issues that were not covered at the summit, such as the introduction of eurobonds. A decision should finally be taken on the EU-wide introduction of a financial transaction tax. This step would provide the EU budget with essential resources and would, at the same time, ensure the regular functioning of the financial markets. Either we are capable of creating a completely new European Union or Europe will forever be marginalised in global competition. In the course of implementing the necessary reforms, we must establish a political union in addition to the economic policy union and must set up new democratic institutional and decision-making frameworks. It is crucial that all 27 Member States be involved in the reform; none of them must be allowed to be worse off as a result of the growth pact. We should urgently set up a European Parliament special committee to reflect on issues concerning the future of the European Union. The European Parliament should review our options for strengthening the democratic legitimacy and institutional and decision-making frameworks of the EU. More Europe and an increased spirit of Community can be achieved and consolidated only through completely new democratic legitimacy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL ), in writing.(EL) The speeches by EU President Van Rompuy and Commission President Barroso and the positions taken by the chairs of the political groups and parties in plenary on the conclusions of the EU summit prove once again the escalating conflict and tension between the bourgeois classes in the EU Member States. The EU and its institutions, the bourgeois governments of the Member States – both centre left and centre right – and the political spokesmen of the plutocracy in the European Parliament have again presented a united front on one thing: the war they have unleashed on the life and rights of the working class and grassroots classes in all the EU Member States. The stand taken by all the political forces of capital and of the European one-way street was a declaration of subjugation of the workers to the anti-grassroots policy being implemented by the EU and national governments to save the profitability of the monopoly groups. They are calling for a policy ‘mix’ with the ‘architecture of competitiveness’, meaning the profitability of the euro-unifying monopolies, as its common denominator. Everyone remained deathly quiet on the decisions by the summit to step up imperialist intervention in Syria and Iran, committed as they are to their imperialist plans that harbour huge dangers for the people.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Niki Tzavela (EFD ), in writing.(EL) For Greece, the greatest success of the recent summit was, without doubt, the fact that it was represented at the negotiating table by a government with a consistently pro-European line, a government whose head has written to its European partners, clarifying that Greece intends to abide by its commitments and obligations towards them. The Greek people demonstrated with their vote that they trust their allies in the EU and that they are dedicated to the European vision. I urge the Commission to help the new Greek Government, so that the country can regain its political and economic stability. As such, it would be very important, at the next summit, to decide on a road map for Greece that will allow Greek banks to join the new permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Iuliu Winkler (PPE ), in writing.(RO) We are going through a crucial period when efforts are focused on not only the EU’s rapid emergence from the crisis, but also on building the future in the EU. These two processes go hand in hand. We cannot be the architects of the future Europe as long as we are struggling in the clutches of the crisis, and we cannot emerge from the crisis if we do not clearly set out the path along which we want to progress. We will be able to really assess the importance of the decisions adopted at the last European summit only at the end of this year, after the meetings involving Europe’s decision makers in October and December. In October, we will have the interim report on the implementation of the measures agreed last week, while in December, the Heads of State or Government will adopt, based on the final report, the specific timetable with deadlines set for stabilising EMU.

I believe that the least productive response is for us to look for winners or losers from last week’s summit and to analyse a hypothetical French-Spanish-Italian victory over the much denigrated German inflexibility. I believe that European solidarity must go hand in hand with responsibility from all EU Member States. The way to reduce the democratic deficit is to apply the Community method to counter perpetual intergovernmental rivalry, with Parliament being the institution which needs to take the leading role in this process.

 

6. Voting time
Video of the speeches
MPphoto
 

  President. – The next item is the vote.

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

 

6.1. Request for consultation of the European Economic and Social Committee on establishing a European social mark (vote)

6.2. Insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) (A7-0198/2012 - Sharon Bowles) (vote)

6.3. Association of overseas countries and territories with the European Community (A7-0169/2012 - Maurice Ponga) (vote)

6.4. Evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean (A7-0219/2012 - François Alfonsi) (vote)

6.5. Single European railway area (A7-0196/2012 - Debora Serracchiani) (vote)
 

Before the vote:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Debora Serracchiani, rapporteur.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would ask my fellow Members to pay attention to two points of reference in particular. In the text, you will find two articles: Article 2(2), Amendments 12, 91, 94, 95 and 99; and Article 17(1), Amendments 40, 96 and 105. It is very important to vote against these two sets of amendments, or else the agreement with the Council will fail, the recast will not be closed and, above all, this House will not be able to deal with the fourth railway package. I appeal to my fellow Members’ sense of responsibility.

 
  
 

Before the vote on Amendment 12:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Debora Serracchiani, rapporteur.(IT) Mr President, could you please state clearly which article and which amendments we are voting on? After the first block, the second block and the subsequent articles lapsed. As you only said ‘five amendments’, it is not at all clear which ones you meant.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Very well, after paragraph 2, we have five identical amendments: Amendment 12 by the Committee on Transport and Tourism, 91 by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), 94 by the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group, 95 by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group and 99 by the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left.

After the vote:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Maroš Šefčovič, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, the Commission would like to thank the rapporteur and her colleagues for all the good work and enormous efforts which were necessary to reach this compromise. I would like to congratulate Ms Serracchiani for having brought this compromise to a successful conclusion.

I am sure that this directive will improve the functioning of the rail transport market and will significantly contribute to making rail transport more competitive and more attractive for passengers and freight users. The Commission will continue to work on the reform of the rail sector and, to do so, will submit to this Parliament a new package of proposals in the coming months.

 

6.6. Recording equipment in road transport (A7-0195/2012 - Silvia-Adriana Ţicău) (vote)
 

Before the vote on Amendment 95, with regard to Amendments 124 and 133:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, rapporteur. – Mr President, I should like to say that Amendment 124 and Amendment 133 should be voted as an addition so they are not incompatible with Amendment 94.

 
  
 

Before the vote on Amendment 95:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, rapporteur. – Mr President, in the voting list there is a mistake. We asked for a split vote on Amendment 95 because there was a discussion between the shadows.

The first part should be rejected. The first part is from ‘For control purposes’ to ‘rest or break’. And the second part is the rest of the text.

For the first part, we are voting against, and for the second part, we are voting in favour.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Ms Ţicău, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament had asked for a split vote, but the services rejected the request because it was inadmissible. I cannot say anything else and defer to what the services have decided. Hence, I am putting the amendment to the vote as a whole and not in parts. Please cast your votes on Amendment 95.

 

6.7. Customs enforcement of intellectual property rights (A7-0046/2012 - Jürgen Creutzmann) (vote)
 

Before the vote on Amendment 111:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jacky Hénin (GUE/NGL ).(FR) Mr President, I understand your concern to get through things quickly, but bear in mind that people can watch us online and think about the image that we are conveying of the European Parliament.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – Look, Mr Hénin, it seems to me we are putting out an image of people who are hard at work. I do not think there is really the slightest doubt about that! We are working through dozens and dozens of votes. I have only had you cast your votes quickly because I did an initial check on one amendment and the check showed a majority, which was then repeated vote after vote. Therefore, I have not done anything superficially. I am very careful not to disrespect or underrate the work of Parliament.

(Applause)

 

6.8. Implementation of EU water legislation (A7-0192/2012 - Richard Seeber) (vote)
 

Before the vote on the third part of Amendment 2:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ).(PT) Mr President, I would like you to consider the possibility of a roll-call vote in the next round of voting, in the third part.

 
  
 

(The request was accepted)

 

6.9. eCall: a new 112 service for citizens (A7-0205/2012 - Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Olga Sehnalová) (vote)

6.10. Attractiveness of investing in Europe (A7-0190/2012 - Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou) (vote)

6.11. Trade aspects of the Eastern partnership (A7-0183/2012 - Miloslav Ransdorf) (vote)
 

Before the vote:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ). – Mr President, I have two oral amendments.

The first one: I would like to ask you – and I would like colleagues to agree with me – to replace ‘an adequate trade agreement (i.e. in the form of a DCFTA)’ with ‘other strategies […] with the countries concerned’; because I believe that a self-standing DCFTA with our eastern neighbourhood is not a good solution. That is why we should have a full association agreement.

The second one: because Georgia has serious issues relating to the implementation of the Labour Organisation conventions on the freedom of association and, more importantly, on the elimination of child labour, I would like to add the words ‘including with regard to the implementation of international labour rights conventions, in particular, those concerning the elimination of forced child labour’.

 
  
 

(The oral amendments were accepted)

On the second oral amendment:

 
  
MPphoto
 

  József Szájer (PPE ). – Mr President, the votes should be in two parts and the objections also should be checked for both parts.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  József Szájer (PPE ). – Mr President, regarding the second amendment, the EPP Group has an objection.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – The amendment is not admissible, and so I am putting paragraph 61 to the vote without the oral amendment.

That concludes the vote.

 

7. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
 

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: François Alfonsi (A7-0219/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Guido Milana (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this is the fourth time I have had to give an explanation of vote – which does not happen very often – under these conditions. The report by Mr Alfonsi that we have adopted today is of particular importance, especially for the Adriatic region in our country. The macro-regional strategy has a considerable impact both on European planning and on its implementing acts.

I believe regional strategies will be extremely important for the implementation of these rules, not least for the sector that I personally am involved with – fisheries – during the revision of our fisheries policies. Unfortunately, this sector is not given due coverage in this report, although that does not make it any less important. Besides, the constraints of the Mediterranean are well known; these constraints in both the management and the implementation of certain policies often jeopardise Europe’s comprehensive strategies. I do not think I can say anything else in all this uproar.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE ).(RO) Mr President, I voted for the report on the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies because its aim is to open up a new area for the cohesion policy in Europe with a very clear objective: territorial development. We are aware that macro-regional strategies need to be based on multi-level governance, which therefore involves the local and regional levels right from the pre-legislative stage.

Both the Commission and Council are expected to give further support to the approach taken with the Danube basin, which must be evaluated regularly and receive suitable financial resources. Last but not least, I support the idea that both the Commission and Member States should consider a process of reflection and consultation for the future macro-regional strategies, so that we ensure that they will really produce substantial added value in Europe.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Roberta Angelilli (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the macro-region as a form of cooperation is useful because it strengthens the consistency and coordination of actions, streamlines the use of financial resources, and enhances the role of local bodies by amply involving civil society.

To give an example, the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region involves eight EU and non-EU countries, has the added value of focusing attention on the western Balkans and helping pre-accession countries join the European Union, gives the regions a chance to promote themselves, and speeds up the European integration process. The EU’s recognition of the macro-regional strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian area is an invaluable opportunity to share policies and to draw Europe’s attention to its south-eastern flank.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR ). – Mr President, the EU has a strategy for the Baltic, a strategy for the Danube and now this report calls for a strategy for the Mediterranean. Soon there will not be a single European body of water without its own strategy. The economies of the Mediterranean from Cyprus to Portugal are in trouble, but are we fools if we believe another strategy will solve the problem? EU regional funding is simply another layer of bureaucracy which is preventing, not promoting, growth in the economy. EU funds are about compliance, not performance, and many regions, including those in the Mediterranean, have been failing to deliver results year after year. And what does the Commission want to do? It wants to increase the budget for regional funds by 8%. There is no value added in this and the main strategy should be to realise the full potential of the single market.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Salvatore Caronna (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted for this report and I would like to congratulate Mr Alfonsi once again, because I believe macro-regional strategies can be a tool for creating added value for the whole of Europe. That is why it is important to continue along this path, though subject to certain specific conditions.

Macro-regional strategies have to be developed around a well-defined geographical area with specific, uniform characteristics. In addition, strategies must be functional and stakeholders must be willing to push forward the integration process. Essentially, the regional approach should guide local communities towards integration at a higher level in order to address and overcome challenges that they would be unable to tackle otherwise, if they did not cooperate.

With regard to the Mediterranean area, I think it is important that the report envisages one strategy for the western Mediterranean and another for the eastern basins, in other words, the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. In particular, it is significant that there is already a very high degree of coordination in the Adriatic and Ionian region. I therefore believe the Commission and the Council should follow up this important report.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, until now, the Commission has been financing programmes such as MED 2007-2013 and the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument for cross-border cooperation in the Mediterranean Sea basin.

Now that the 2007-2013 financial programming period is coming to an end, I think we need to ask the Commission to start a process of dialogue and consultation in order to define future macro-regional strategies. Priority areas to be targeted by future support still have to be identified, and that must be done while taking into account the need to strengthen existing cooperation, particularly between areas of Europe belonging to different Member States but sharing the same services and working area.

I voted for Mr Alfonsi’s motion for a resolution because I consider the Mediterranean to be a coherent whole, a single cultural and environmental area in which joint priorities such as crops, renewable energy sources and tourism can be shared.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Julie Girling (ECR ). – Mr President, I voted against this report on the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies, with particular reference to the Mediterranean. Not because I have any particular problem with the Mediterranean and those countries working together if they should wish, but I fundamentally object to being required to make decisions based on an attempted evaluation where insufficient evidence is provided.

I oppose the report’s suggestion that regions should be forced to use some of their Structural Funds to fund any macro-regional strategy. This should most definitely be a decision left to Member States. If joint work between Member States and joint funding is appropriate, then good. Go ahead. But they should make that decision bilaterally.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, there can be no doubt that a report on the evolution of macro-regional strategies is extremely important because the frame of reference is certainly not just Africa, but all the continents that look out over this crucial area.

It is an area that needs resources, infrastructure, partnership and cooperation, through an integration policy that must be developed further in light of what has happened in the area bordering on southern Europe – the so-called Arab Spring, with all the undeniably genuine freedom movements that have not always led to what we would have wished.

Lasting stability is still required, however, and could be achieved through a partnership aimed more at young people. Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci programmes with a Euro-Mediterranean focus will provide those areas with a further opportunity for growth and enable many young people to develop work there.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Francesco De Angelis (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, now that the European Union’s first two macro-regional strategies in the Baltic and Danube regions have materialised, there has been growing interest in this aspect of development. A macro-regional strategy ensures better cooperation among the EU’s various intervention mechanisms, going beyond the appropriations allocated to cohesion policy.

I believe that the regions of the Mediterranean basin that share the same natural environment and the same history and culture have every interest in cooperating in this way. Significant opportunities exist in southern Europe, which can best be seized with the coordination and overview permitted by the definition of a macro-regional strategy. I am referring to the proposal for an Adriatic-Ionian macro-region in particular.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Adam Bielan (ECR ).(PL) Mr President, the successfully operating Baltic Sea macro-region and the related EU strategy are a source of tangible benefits to the entire Union. This is because of the cooperation taking place between partners at national, regional and local levels, which allows clear priorities to be defined and effectively implemented. This cooperation creates a series of opportunities in the area of cohesion policy, and this, in turn, contributes to the success of action taken in the area of services and on work-related issues. Built in this way, the strategy has often allowed greater complementary funding of investments to be achieved, and this has stimulated macro-regional growth. Similarly, enormous opportunities exist in the countries of the Mediterranean. However, the large geographical size of the area means that in order to make use of these opportunities, all the parties involved need to coordinate their policy. The dynamics of development of such a macro-region could be the ideal driving force for the European economy.

My endorsement of the resolution means I support the incorporation of macro-regional strategies into the process of planning the budget. I think that measures not covered by cohesion policy are of particular importance here, such as cooperation with non-EU countries. The experience gained from the Baltic macro-region gives us a formula for the development of similar initiatives.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the Mediterranean area has always played a major geopolitical role in European history. The latest example, the Arab Spring, has highlighted the strategic potential of the social and political links between the two sides of the Mediterranean. I therefore consider it right to support the implementation of a macro-regional strategy in the Mediterranean basin as the best way of addressing common challenges and encouraging development and integration among its peoples. Although I think the macro-regional strategies need better alignment of funding and more efficient utilisation of existing resources, they are undeniably an essential tool for Europe’s cohesion policy.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marco Scurria (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the report on macro-regional strategies, especially with regard to the Mediterranean. Macro-regions have given a good account of themselves, which is why, at an historic time such as this, the Mediterranean, too, needs to be given a major development boost. The Mediterranean can become a place where culture, education, training, tourism, trade, environmental protection, transport and fishing can all come together to make this area take off, in conjunction with the ensuing Arab Spring.

Tourism brings wealth, as does trade; education brings democracy and job creation; while culture, with its artists, shows us how we are all united and gives us a view of what we could become. All these factors make the Mediterranean important, particularly for all the other areas of Europe and the Middle East in general.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE ).(RO) Mr President, I support this resolution. Implementing a well-devised macro-regional strategy offers a number of benefits, including coordinated investments and greater involvement from the EU’s intervention mechanisms. Consultations establishing the problems on the ground must be used for devising macro-regional strategies.

I am in favour of drawing up a road map for European macro-regions and I believe that the funding must come from the territorial cooperation area of the cohesion policy. We certainly need to ensure, at the same time, that the money is not lost through fraud and corruption. I would like the successful strategies which have been deployed in the Baltic macro-region and which are now being devised for the Mediterranean to be implemented in the Danube macro-region, too, which also includes my country, Romania.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Mr President, I was happy to back this report as well. It stands to reason that there should be cooperation between regions where conditions are similar.

Mr President, my esteemed colleague, Ms Yannakoudakis, expressed her disapproval at the fact that there is a Baltic strategy, a Danube strategy and now a Mediterranean strategy. I am sorry to disappoint her, but we hope to have an Atlantic strategy soon as well.

For me, it makes sense, because if there are shared synergies, then there should be shared policies. This way, we can coordinate better and get better results for our people, particularly in relation to the sea, and not just in terms of fishing. We are also looking at the potential of marine energy – which is very important – and the growth of marine tourism, which is a great opportunity for us to get out of the economic crisis and to grow jobs, etc., within the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Giancarlo Scottà (EFD ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the report we have adopted today proposes the creation of a single working and services area for the maritime, mountain and lake areas of the Mediterranean basin, with the participation of national governments and, above all, local and regional authorities.

This project rekindles the political ideal of a Europe of the regions, in line with the founding fathers’ original vision for Europe. To highlight the importance of macro-regions, I would like to highlight and bring to your attention an initiative that came about, in part, as a result of the work and ideas of my party’s representatives. It is the agreement to create the macro-region of the Alps, signed in St Gallen, Switzerland, on 29 June by regions belonging to France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. The leaders of the three northern Italian regions of Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont took part in the meeting.

I hope this initiative will soon come to fruition, not least in this Chamber, thereby helping Europe evolve towards a genuine Europe of the people and of the regions. That is the only way to overcome the current financial crisis, to add value to our regions and their special quality products, to revive the economy in real terms, and to fully implement the principle of subsidiarity. That is why I voted for Mr Alfonsi’s report.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ). (LT) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report and, in this context, I would like to welcome the success of the strategy for the Baltic Sea, the idea for which was born a few years ago in the European Parliament, and which, in spite of three ‘noes’, has managed to live up to expectations. Today, this strategy is one of those examples of how it is possible to cooperate successfully in a macro-economic context. The success of such strategies is firstly based on the initiative of stakeholders themselves, and the need for closer cooperation among the European Union countries concerned. The main common goal is to increase European Union growth and competitiveness and to enhance the European Union’s internal market. As for the Baltic Sea strategy, at this stage, when priority areas are clearly defined and needs and specific projects are set, the Commission should draw up a list of recommended European Union programmes and indicate which programmes will be eligible in the new multiannual financial framework. I believe that a European Union macro-regional strategy coordinator would be a useful consolidating factor, ensuring coordination and visibility. I would also like to stress that these macro-regional strategies do not represent a requirement to obtain more money. They represent a requirement and need for enhanced mutual cooperation.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Debora Serracchiani (A7-0196/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Carlo Fidanza (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the agreement reached with the Council has resulted in some significant improvements. I am thinking of the establishment of strong, independent national regulators to guarantee fair and non-discriminatory access to the market, which is one of the key points of the recast; the minimum five-year term for contracts between Member States and infrastructure managers, which will allow for better long-term investment planning; and the major focus on safety, both in terms of rolling stock maintenance, an important distinction being made between light and heavy maintenance, and in terms of the technological modernisation of infrastructure and trains to improve safety (particularly through the European Rail Traffic Management System).

In short, the net outcome is positive overall, although one crucial point for the completion of the single rail market remains unresolved, which is the opening up of national rail passenger traffic. I hope the Commission will keep up the momentum it developed a few months ago and will put forward a new proposal in that respect by the end of the year.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, after long and difficult negotiations, an agreement has been reached that provides Europe’s rail infrastructure with the right balance between financial transparency and the flexibility needed to secure adequate investment. In particular, the minimum five-year term for contracts between Member States and network managers guarantees the medium- and long-term investment planning that is vital for the rail sector. I would, however, have thought it worthwhile to include measures on the opening up of the national rail passenger market so as to complete the European single market and not to penalise those companies that already operate in open markets.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Hubert Pirker (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, I am convinced that in creating a single European railway area, we will achieve the following: firstly, a better service for customers; secondly, optimal utilisation of the European corridors; and thirdly, an increase in the competitiveness of the railways. To do this, however, we need a strong regulatory authority that ensures greater competition and makes decisions swiftly. To achieve that, we need to open up the market for national passenger rail transport, and for that we need, above all, technical harmonisation in the areas of power supply, safety equipment and track gauges. On the whole, this is a very positive report that I am happy to support.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Roberta Angelilli (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I agree with Ms Serracchiani on ensuring financial transparency and the separation of accounts between rail transport companies and rail network managers, and then liberalising rail services to achieve a truly open and competitive market with better and more extensive freight and passenger transport services.

The rail system still cannot match other means of transport, partly because many Member States have neglected railway funding. We should consider the fact that freight transport by road has risen to 45.9%, with a resulting increase in traffic and, of course, in road accidents as well. The fact is that lorries can cross borders without difficulty, whereas trains encounter technical and legal obstacles that have to be removed. In conclusion, we should ensure fair and non-discriminatory access to the market, while planning investment to modernise and create quality infrastructure and services.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, I, too, voted in favour of this report because reform of the railways is a logical part of the internal market. I would just like to make two comments. Firstly, it is, of course, important that the national regulatory authorities are networked with each other and that a European regulatory authority also emerges. I would simply like to raise the point that this does not have to take the form of setting up additional new authorities; instead, we can simply network the existing authorities better with each other, because we have enough authorities already.

Secondly, I should like to point out – as the previous speaker also emphasised – that we need to get serious about the internal market, and we also need to get serious about cross-border rail transport between the Member States. It is high time that we started getting rid of apparent obstacles. The issue of technical standards is generally brought up, and the railways – and thus also our goods and citizens – are not able to move about as freely as they ought to be allowed to.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the creation of a single European railway area provides a major opportunity to support economic recovery and make the single market more competitive.

The variety of national railway systems hampers this process: numerous legislative barriers slow down development in the sector and limit the competitiveness of rail transport. We should establish transparent rules on access to rail-related services and service facilities, such as freight terminals, maintenance facilities and marshalling yards. Ms Serracchiani’s report is a step in that direction, and that is why I voted for it.

The Council is calling for too long a period – up to 36 months – for this new directive to enter into force. Accordingly, I endorse the rapporteur’s request to set a period of 12 months for the transposition of the entire directive.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Mr President, I voted in favour of the proposal on a single European railway area. It seems to be quite apposite to consolidate existing directives on European rail policy while moving towards a necessary further liberalisation.

Current international services in Europe are still often run by complex joint ventures formed for this purpose and requiring unnecessary expenses and delays. A free market in rail services will surely be a boon to the European traveller and haulier. A gradualist model of strengthening national independent rail regulators, with a view to the establishment of a pan-European regulator, is the right approach. I must also say, as a London MEP, that my constituents are eager to see Deutsche Bahn run their ICE 3 through the Channel Tunnel, ferrying passengers from London to Cologne and Frankfurt. They have been disappointed at the bureaucratic delay to this project.

I am a great supporter of the rail sector and of new infrastructure building, such as the new High Speed 2 set to be constructed in the UK. Anything that can be done at European level to establish proper funding models and set high standards on issues like noise emissions is very welcome.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL ). – Mr President, the recast of the railway package represents a further step towards the full liberalisation of European railways. I stand with European rail workers in opposing this because it is all about developing the railways into a nice profitable treat for the private sector to gobble up. It runs against the interests of both workers and consumers.

The so-called rail maintenance facility, for instance, will lead to further privatisation and outsourcing of maintenance in many EU countries. This will lead to further redundancies and further attacks on workers’ wages and conditions. But it will also be a serious threat to safety, as the pressure to keep profits high overshadows any concern for safety. Nevertheless, the EU has been spearheading this drive like an oncoming train, disregarding all legitimate opposition. This is something that the activists of the ‘No TAV’ movement in Italy know about all too well. Thousands upon thousands of people in the Val di Susa have opposed the destruction of their beautiful valley solely in the interests of profits with no benefit for the people in the area. Their movement has been met with massive oppression. One year ago, two thousand policemen attacked a peaceful protest camp, injuring many people. There have been many other incidences of repression since.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR ). – Mr President, I voted against this report as I find the notion of a single European railway area a ridiculous, unnecessary and unwelcome intrusion into domestic affairs. There is no need for Fritz the Tank Engine or for a single EU Fat Controller for our railways.

It is true that international, rather than regional, agreements are valuable for air and maritime transport, as are single market measures for rail suppliers. But the United Kingdom is a large island with only one rail connection with continental Europe and it has no road connections at all. So for road and rail, it does not work.

I think this proposal does nothing but confuse priorities and drive up costs. In East Anglia, my constituency, hard-pressed rail users do not stand on platforms demanding a single European railway area. They need better services, less crowding and reasonable ticket prices. This is a silly single rail area proposal and it should not be allowed. It should not leave the station.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). – Mr President, it may, outside the portals of this institution, strike people as odd, given what is happening, that we are devoting all this time to discussing a single European railway area, but then again there is, I think, an appropriateness in this topic, both literally and figuratively; literally because it is precisely such harmonisation, such uniformity, such micro-management that led Europe to its present discontent, and figuratively because the train is the ultimate European metaphor.

When the euro was launched, we were forever being told that we would miss the train and that this was a terrible danger, and we can now see exactly where the train that we missed has ended up. It is hurtling out of control under its own momentum: bailout-and-borrow, bailout-and-borrow, bailout-and-borrow. As we look, we can see that there is still theoretically time to throw the switches. You could still deflect it on to a different course. You could allow an orderly dismantling of the eurozone and countries to export their way back into the market, but the terrible grisly truth dawning on us is that there is no one in the engine. It is out of control and it is going to hit the buffers and, when it does, the shockwaves will be felt around the world.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Syed Kamall (ECR ). – Mr President, I have to say, having listened to the previous colleagues, that this should have been a priority in the first place.

We should have been looking at completing the single market rather than focusing on trying to complete a eurozone without actually getting it right in the first place. Having one currency, 17 different spending decisions, and one set of interest rates was a project that was always going to get into trouble: it would either be derailed or actually hit the buffers. That is what we were going to find that project.

What we are finding with the single European railway area is a drive towards more competition, and this is what we want to see. We want to see more competition so that passengers benefit from this; they can have a choice of carrier. We should also encourage open-access carriers as much as possible, so that we do not see monopolies of carriers on the same piece of track.

It is interesting when we look at this that we are asking for more competition in a single market. Yet when it comes to the eurozone, we are saying no competition when it comes to currencies because if you have a market, you have to have the same currency. We have to get the message right.

 
  
  

Report: Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (A7-0195/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Carlo Fidanza (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the text we have adopted today provides a good basis for starting negotiations with the Council. I am certain that this innovative instrument will lead to improvements in road safety, drivers’ working conditions and competition in the sector.

I am particularly pleased regarding the amendment that I tabled on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) on joint liability. I believe it should be possible to hold any operator in the transport sector liable for infringements of the regulation in question, and not just road haulage companies and their drivers.

The text also calls for smart tachographs to be fitted to all vehicles, old and new, by 2020. This requirement will certainly entail a major effort by companies in the sector, but it is equally important to remain ambitious and gradually install digital tachographs even in those vehicles that use analogue ones.

A final critical point is, I believe, the definition of ‘daily working period’. In my view, it is not consistent with other definitions given in existing legislation, particularly with regard to a driver’s rest periods or breaks, which would remain part of the working period according to this definition.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Hubert Pirker (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, I am convinced that the smart tachograph will result in greater safety and a reduction in red tape and administrative costs. It will improve safety because driving times will be adhered to and this can also be checked remotely, which will undoubtedly reduce accidents; and it will also improve safety because it will help prevent thefts or enable goods vehicles to be found again by providing location information. I am also convinced that red tape and administrative costs will be reduced precisely because it allows external control and therefore goods vehicles do not have to stop if they are complying with the rules.

I am very pleased that there will be exemptions for reasons of practicality, namely, that handicraft businesses will be exempt from the obligation to use a tachograph within a radius of 100 kilometres, and likewise that transport of materials to and from building sites is exempted. This is a practical solution in the interests of the construction sector. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have been legislating in Europe since the late 1960s to improve the situation of our roads and hauliers’ working conditions. The situation has deteriorated drastically in recent years, however, as there is an ever increasing number of companies that infringe the regulations in force. In particular, failing to comply with minimum rest periods and maximum driving times results in driver fatigue and potentially greater risks for road safety.

I therefore voted in favour of Ms Ţicău’s report as I think it may improve the implementation of social legislation and ensure fair competition among haulage companies.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jim Higgins (PPE ). – Mr President, I want to pay a special tribute to Ms Silvia Ţicău and her staff, including Elena Podariu, together with the secretariat, especially Elvira Ramírez Pineda, who have worked so hard behind the scenes to ensure that we put this report before plenary today. I have pleasure in voting for it.

There were two problems. The first is in relation to the social rules that have been breached. According to data provided by the Commission, on average, 9% of the controlled vehicles are found breaching the social rules. Roughly a quarter of them are found breaching the tachograph regulations in particular. Secondly, on average, at any one point in time, around 45 000 vehicles are in breach of EU tachograph rules. Non-respect of the minimum breaks, rest periods and the maximum driving times can lead to fatigue for drivers and cause a potential risk to road safety. Heavy goods vehicles are potentially lethal weapons.

Finally, professional drivers and transport companies operate in a highly fragmented market and a fiercely competitive environment. What we need to do is tighten up. That is exactly what this tachograph report does today.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Julie Girling (ECR ). – Mr President, I voted against this report on recording equipment in road transport with particular reference to tachographs. I know how important tachographs are. I think we can all agree that they have road safety benefits and transport operators use them without complaint these days.

New technology should, of course, be embraced, particularly when it is aimed at combating fraud, but I cannot agree with the suggestions in this report that extra expenses should be imposed on European transport operators by agreeing to mandatory introduction of new technology without a clear cost-benefit analysis, and by that I do not mean an analysis of people not complying. I mean an analysis of the results of people not complying, which seem to be significantly missing. I am particularly concerned about the extra cost to transport operators of the requirement to retrofit into vehicles new technology by 2020, which seems to be an unnecessary expense and one which will disadvantage many in the transport sector.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, I struggled for a long time over how to vote on this proposal, but in the end I abstained. On the one hand, I quite understand the notion that drivers should abide by the rules on driving and rest times. I am also aware that this has to happen on an EU-wide basis, and that there must be no distortion of competition as a result.

On the other hand, however, I am always mindful of proportionality and practicality. Everything that we do must also be proportional, and we must not constantly impose new constraints on regional business, on the little man, on small and medium-sized enterprises – which essentially we want to support – and hinder them in their work. It is precisely this second aspect that I feel has not been given anywhere near sufficient consideration in this report. It is simply a matter of transport undertakings that operate regionally also needing protection. They do not need tachographs, they do not need evidence – they simply want to do a job. In future, we should allow them to do so, so that they can continue to secure jobs.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, by improving the harmonised control of driving time and rest periods, digital tachographs can play a vital role in ensuring that the internal road haulage market functions properly, which will greatly benefit road safety.

A number of recent police reports from certain Member States have shown that fraudulent use of these devices has risen, and therefore a change to the regulation in force is urgently required. According to the Commission, the increased cost of purchasing a new tachograph is expected to be around EUR 5 per vehicle, which is negligible compared with the potential benefits that could accrue.

I voted in favour of Ms Ţicău’s proposal because I believe tachographs and vehicle satellite tracking systems should be synchronised to make services more efficient and more reliable. The ability to transmit tachograph data remotely will also lead to better control and a substantial improvement in road safety.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Mr President, I voted against the proposal on recording equipment, namely tachographs, in road transport. I am concerned that this proposal violates the principle of national subsidiarity. I am in broad agreement with the Commission’s goals in formulating the policy generally, especially the attempt to reduce the administrative burden of manual checks, and indeed the safety principles on which previous directives and regulations are based.

While, in general, I am unafraid of surveillance measures, this proposal raises serious privacy concerns that are surely best dealt with at national level. The prospect of a remote surveillance organ for the whole of the EU, accountable only to the EU institutions, is a step too far in my view. The Commission’s assurances on data protection are also insufficient, and – as has been pointed out – fraud is an increasing problem. I appreciate that in the field of road transport, some European harmonisation is necessary. However, complete harmonisation goes far too far.

Another pressing concern is the requirement to retrofit vehicles by 2020. This will be very expensive and will be an additional burden on a road haulage industry already suffering in the current economic crisis.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Diane Dodds (NI ). – Mr President, when I speak to road hauliers in my own constituency, they tell me two things. Firstly, the economic situation has left their business on edge and they are often working simply to cover costs. Secondly, they are weighed down by levels of bureaucracy and red tape. Many have genuine concerns for the viability and sustainability of their business.

Hauliers are responsible people and this Parliament should treat them as such. Yet some of what is suggested here seems to treat them with mistrust. The intrusive level of monitoring with the proposal for satellite tracking of vehicles is something I cannot agree with.

I also oppose the merging of tachograph records and driving licences. Furthermore, by seeking to bring more vehicles into the remit of these requirements, we would close small businesses, and therefore weight thresholds should not be altered.

We ought to be working to ensure our haulage industry survives these difficult times, not to add to their costs and regulation just because we can.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Mr President, may I first commend the rapporteur, Ms Silvia Ţicău, for her good work and, in particular, my own colleague, the Quaestor Jim Higgins, who did a fine job on behalf of my group. There can be no doubt that more people than ever are travelling across Europe and more goods are being transported. Therefore, there is a need for common rules across Europe. Tachographs help here. They were introduced in 1970, we had to amend them in 1985 because of the analogue tachograph, and now we have smart tachographs which hopefully will be fitted to all vehicles by 2020. To use them correctly, however, proper training must be given to the officials who will be in charge of implementing these rules, and that must be done without increasing the red tape one finds all over Europe. If we succeed in doing so, it will be of great help in this matter and as regards road safety.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Martin Kastler (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, there is a German rhyme: Ein kleines Dorf im Frankenland ist durch sein gutes Bier bekannt , which tells of regional pride in a brewery, and this demonstrates a problem that we have created today. If this brewery or its distributor is 107 kilometres away from where I live, then in future, it will no longer be able to supply me with its products unless it buys a new tachograph and complies with new red tape. That is why I voted against this resolution today, because in my view, we should not be overburdening our small and medium-sized enterprises.

There are many points that we have managed to incorporate which were positive. After all, it was planned that a radius of just 50 kilometres should be accepted for regional suppliers. The Commission was being quite absurd there. A distance of 100 kilometres may be just about feasible. However, what if the distance is more than this? I therefore consider it to be excessive.

One final aspect: as a representative of an employees’ organisation in the German CSU party, I would also say that this regulation represents complete control of workers. Why? It is because the entire working day of those distributing construction materials or drinks from the breweries is completely controlled via GPS. For data protection reasons, too, therefore, I feel that what we have decided today is highly questionable, and I emphasise once again why I voted against it.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Albert Deß (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, as one of the few people in this Chamber to have actually been a lorry driver myself, I voted against this today, even though Mr Higgins has done some good work. There were two main reasons for this. Firstly, it was because Parliament voted in favour of Amendment 134, which lowered the tonnage limit of the vehicles from 3.5 tonnes to 2.8 tonnes. I consider that excessive; it was not necessary.

Above all, in the end I voted against the motion because Amendment 129 was rejected. This amendment called for the radius for approved exemptions to be extended to 150 kilometres. I am from the Upper Palatinate. Munich is 130 kilometres away. My tradesmen work in Munich a great deal, and now they have to install tachographs because they work in Munich. I am particularly annoyed that the only other Member from the Upper Palatinate region, Ismail Ertug, voted against the interests of tradesmen in our region on these two points. I have great hopes that this will be corrected again at second reading, so that tradesmen who work in areas some distance away from their own will not be disadvantaged.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Phil Bennion (ALDE ). – Mr President, I just want to explain why the ALDE Group could not support this motion, despite the fact that we are very much in favour of the introduction of digital tachographs.

We put forward a lot of amendments to reduce the burden on small businesses, including the one which Mr Deß has just referred to on increasing the exemption area. None of these amendments were passed. We also had some destructive amendments from elsewhere which actually made the burdens greater. Therefore, we were unable to support this motion as a whole.

There were also some issues from the Greens – which thankfully were rejected – which would have brought the weight down to 1.5 tonnes. This would have included all farmers’ pick-up trucks. Thankfully, that did not go through.

Overall, we are in favour of the digital tachograph but we need to make sure that it is not a great burden on small and medium-sized enterprises. Therefore, we did not support this report.

 
  
  

Report: Jürgen Creutzmann (A7-0046/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jim Higgins (PPE ). – Mr President, it is a great pleasure to actually support this draft proposal. I think the six things that it sets out to do are sensible.

It sets out, first of all, to broaden the scope of the existing regulation, which needed to be broadened. Secondly, it seeks to maintain the ability for customs to have control, for the purpose of enforcement of intellectual property rights, in all situations where goods are under supervision. Thirdly, it introduces procedures to have goods which have been abandoned destroyed without having to undergo formal or costly legal proceedings. It simplifies the procedure for dealing with IPR infringing goods sold on the Internet and it sets out very clear rules in respect of actions by both rights holders and owners of the goods.

Finally, it clarifies the position in respect of goods in transit: customs should only act if it is likely that the goods are destined for the EU market. So the new regulation is good. It provides stronger, clearer and modernised legislation which customs administration can implement as part of their role to help cope with IPR infringements on borders.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, intellectual property right infringements and the global trade in counterfeit goods are an ever growing concern, in terms of both the economic consequences for Europe’s industry and the risks to consumers’ health and safety.

Parliament has, for some time, been speaking out on the need to regulate the flow of goods from third countries, which, in the absence of efficient, harmonised customs control, is liable to be the unwitting channel for the traffic in products that are harmful to consumers and prejudicial to fair competition in the market.

For some time, I have been calling for the customs systems to be harmonised to make Europe more competitive, a subject that today, at last, lies at the heart of the political debate, together with tax setting. We welcome the Creutzmann report because it simplifies the existing regulatory framework and strengthens the measures used to counter unfair competition.

In the Committee on International Trade, we are working on the reform of the customs code in order to provide operators with greater certainty on the destination of goods in transit and to allow for swift action on false statements of origin, a problem that would have been resolved already if the Council had adopted the regulation that this House adopted in October two years ago.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Adam Bielan (ECR ).(PL) Mr President, innovation and the unhindered development of new technologies are possible on the basis of respect for intellectual property rights. Appropriate protection for these rights is essential to be able to compete effectively in world markets and for European products to be able to compete with their foreign counterparts. The cost of piracy – only in financial terms – being borne by European businesses is estimated at over EUR 0.25 billion a year and calls for a determined reaction.

In addition, serious consequences to the public may be caused by the sale of counterfeit food items, toiletries and medicines. Recently, we were appalled by the case of industrial salt being used in food products. The report recognises that counterfeit goods intended for private use also break the law. In this context, the measures proposed in relation to small consignments are of crucial importance. The clarifications provided with regard to the treatment of suspect goods from third countries engender hope that a more effective policy will also be adopted when these controversial issues are discussed at the WTO. I support the resolution.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Mr President, I have always supported strengthening the enforcement of intellectual property rights, and I welcome this overdue Commission proposal. My country, the UK, is particularly strong in this area. Tolerating the siphoning off of the profits of European wealth creators and inventors defeats the logic of the single market. I hope that the measures proposed will go some way towards furthering the stalled EU 2020 strategy. In particular, I am pleased with the prospective new capacities for involved third parties, such as carriers, to receive compensation from law breakers.

It is also necessary to increase the legal pressure on copyright violators. Of course, I share the concerns of some Members of this House with regard to generic medicines, but let us not forget the profit motive, on the basis of which most medical advancements are made in Europe by our pharmaceutical companies. My group has previously expressed concerns that additional responsibilities placed on already strained national customs authorities should not be too onerous, so therefore I would hope that any forthcoming amendments will avoid encumbering them more than is necessary.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Mr President, my colleague, Jim Higgins, has explained what these proposals involve, so it surprises me that 259 Members voted against them, although 397 Members voted in favour. But be that as it may, I was happy to vote with the latter.

When one considers that counterfeited goods, piracy, etc. are costing the European Union billions and billions every year, costing us thousands and thousands of jobs, and damaging the health and safety of our adults and children, it is quite clear that we need to take firm action, particularly in dealing with IPR, and at border control. It is far easier to deal with this as goods come into the European Union than trying to do it within the European Union on the borders of Member States. For that reason, I welcome the proposals here. The sooner we can put a stop to this terrible injustice, the better for our economy and for our people.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). – Mr President, I consider the issue of intellectual property to be one of the most finely balanced that we have to deal with in this Chamber. It is not as clear as Left or Right; free market or dirigiste; Europhile or Eurosceptic. In all of the areas which come under this broad heading – patenting, trademarking, copyrighting – you have to strike a balance between competition and the rights of creators, and between diversity and property. The more difficult it becomes to define what you mean by property, the harder it is to strike that balance.

I would just say two things. First of all, I am very disappointed that, on the strength of what seems to have been simply a reaction in principle against what was seen as a concession to David Cameron, we have withdrawn the vote that was scheduled to be held tomorrow on the European patent. Secondly, in its current form I think that the ACTA proposal is, on balance, disproportionate and I intend to oppose it.

 
  
  

Report: Richard Seeber (A7-0192/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, water is life; water is a precious public asset that we have a duty and an interest in conserving and managing sustainably in order to safeguard ecosystems and the very survival of the human race. This important report takes stock of the implementation status of EU water legislation ahead of the ‘Blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources’, which the Commission has announced for this autumn.

Much has been done in the 12 years since the Water Framework Directive entered into force, but there is still a huge amount left to do, especially in many southern European countries such as Italy, which is to appear before the Court of Justice because of delays in implementing the directive.

We have to ensure sufficient availability of good-quality water, bearing in mind that water resources in Europe are distributed unevenly, and consequently we must mainstream this issue in all European policy areas. It is unacceptable that as much as 70% of the water supplied to our communities may be lost through leakage due to the poor state of repair of our water systems. We must reach the target of a green economy and equip ourselves with locally developed water plans that strictly combat waste and encourage water saving, reuse and recycling, whether for irrigation or for domestic use, and across all sectors of the economy.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ewald Stadler (NI ).(DE) Mr President, I have voted in favour of Mr Seeber’s report. However, I would like to say that the report does, of course, highlight the fact that some Member States have been slow to transpose the Water Framework Directive, which has already been in force for 12 years. Mr Seeber’s and my own home country of Austria should have changed its charging schemes a long time ago. This is clear, in particular, from paragraph 37 and paragraph 15. I believe that it is an appalling anachronism that in his own native country, of all countries, in the majority of provinces, the charges for water and wastewater are still being calculated on the basis of a property’s floor area. This method of charging has nothing to do with saving water.

Therefore, I am calling on the Commission and, in particular, on Mr Seeber himself to ensure that Austria finally complies with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and changes its charging scheme to a system that promotes water-saving measures. Overall, I welcome this report. I hope that it applies additional pressure to ensure that this unfair charging system, which also, of course, encourages people to use water wastefully and produce larger quantities of wastewater, is finally changed.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Patrizia Toia (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, water is increasingly being seen as a public asset, a precious resource for the whole of humankind. It is vital, therefore, to develop an integrated, efficient strategy for the wise use of this finite resource.

Measures at EU level must address our continent’s current and future water challenges, and therefore the ‘Blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources’ to be published in November is more important than ever to ensure – as has been said – sufficient availability of good-quality water for sustainable and equitable use. I regard this as an important aspect of the EU 2020 strategy.

Water is linked to food or, rather, water is part of food, and a small amount of food contains a huge amount of water, so a water strategy is also a strategy to ensure food security for Europe and the world. Water can lead to wars, but it can also be a factor for development and peace; I therefore strongly support the proposal contained in the report to devote 1%, for example, of water tariffs to decentralised cooperation measures and growth projects around the world. I hope this legislation, which already exists in some Member States, will spread like good practice to other countries to become law in all the Member States of the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Seeber’s report is Parliament’s contribution to the preparation of the ‘Blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources’, in which the Commission will be taking stock of what has been achieved since the Water Framework Directive, which has been one of the main pillars of European water policy since 2000.

We voted for this report, which casts light on the challenges to be faced and the gaps to be filled, particularly in relation to the target of sustainability in terms of ecological, chemical and quantitative ‘good status’, which the framework directive says must be achieved by 2015.

Among the measures suggested are the mainstreaming of water issues in all EU policy areas; the development of a holistic approach that examines all water uses and their implications; promotion and support for efficiency and sustainability in the management of this basic asset; and the achievement of water supply security, not only regionally but also internationally.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Emer Costello (S&D ). – Mr President, I welcome the recognition that water is a public good, that access to water constitutes a fundamental and universal right and that there has to be a strong social dimension to water pricing. I also welcome the emphasis on water conservation in this report which, alarmingly, points out that 70% of water supplied to cities across Europe is lost through leakages. Indeed, in my own constituency, Dublin, around 100 million litres – or 30% per day – is lost through leakages. A European-funded replacement programme throughout our older cities could be part of a stimulus package, and would create much needed employment and replace infrastructure that is over a hundred years old.

As water is a fundamental right, I believe that it is important that water utilities remain in public ownership, and that income from charges levied must be ring-fenced for the upgrading of the infrastructure. Moreover, in order to ensure that the vulnerable and less well-off are protected, there should be a quota for households for basic use before charges are applied. This would be in keeping with the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

Finally, I welcome the call to raise awareness of the importance of water conservation among the general public, and I would emphasise the role of local and regional authorities in this matter.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Roberta Angelilli (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, water is central to ecosystems and climate and is decisive for the growth and development of many sectors of the economy. Today, we are witnessing ecosystems becoming unbalanced because of indiscriminate water use. The water exploitation rate sometimes exceeds 40%, resulting in high levels of water stress.

I agree with Mr Seeber: we should establish strict European water legislation that supports the green economy based, in part, on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, with transparent and effective pricing schemes, as well as incentives and investment for the use of treated wastewater, grey water and rainwater; we should also implement a quality audit on the state of the European water network to prevent as much as 70% of the water supplied to European cities from being lost as a result of leaks in the water system.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Julie Girling (ECR ). – Mr President, I welcome this report on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. The results of implementation across Europe are, of course, varied. I am not one of those in this place who express dismay, disgust or even surprise at this. Member States progress at different rates, in slightly different ways. That is the whole point of it being a directive, so if it were all uniform, I would be most surprised. Yes, water is a precious resource; yes, we need to make efficiency gains; yes, we should look at Member States cooperating across their borders.

There is all good stuff in this report, but let us keep it simple. Let us not complicate the issue discussing shale gas and most particularly let us not complicate the issue with amendments on soil directives. As ever, a simple report on implementation was turned into a rambling wish-list by Members of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and, for this reason, I have had to abstain.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Mario Pirillo (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, water is an essential and vital public good, which must be protected by means of an holistic approach to preserve it and rationalise its use.

Improving efficiency and sustainability is a duty that we must not shirk, not least in view of the challenges of climate change. The target that we have set ourselves of achieving ecological and chemical ‘good status’ for our water by 2015 is a sine qua non of Europe’s environmental policy and a commitment to be strictly monitored.

The European Union’s water legislation needs to be enforced and stricter penalty measures should be introduced. Some 20% of water in Europe is lost due to obsolete infrastructure, which it is crucial to improve if we want efficient water resource use and sustainable water management that can address the problems of water shortages and drought.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL ). – Mr President, an environmental disaster is waiting to happen in Aughanish, County Limerick, Ireland. The Rusal Alumina plant refinery produces alumina powder, in a chemical process which leaves behind toxic waste.

The company and the Irish Government have incredibly classified this as non-hazardous, despite the fact that, when a similar plant had a serious breach in Hungary in 2010, it released highly toxic caustic sludge. Between 20 million and 50 million tonnes of this hazardous waste sit in an area of over 250 acres on the banks of the Shannon estuary in a pond which has never been properly lined. This waste has already become airborne, damaging the health of people in the region and damaging the farmland. If there is a major spillage, it would see the water, air, soil and livestock of the area destroyed.

Ordinary farmers in the region are being forced to pay thousands of euro to install new septic tanks at their homes. Yet we have the biggest septic tank in all of Europe sitting there, without proper regard to the massive environmental dangers it poses.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Mr President, water policy is one of the areas in which EU coordination can be highly beneficial for our consumers if done properly. Water security and environmental standards, e.g. the ‘polluter pays’ principle, key goals of the Water Framework Directive, must be preserved and furthered, and this report, unfortunately, casts light on the slow progress of the directive. That many EU water bodies will not have achieved good status by 2015 is, of course, a disappointment and it is distressing to read that even the basic information on European water quality and quantity, which we evaluate our progress from, still remains poor.

I welcome, however, the conclusion that the regional dimension must be addressed more closely and that water policy should be mainstreamed into all policy areas. I am in favour, however, of acting at international global level wherever possible, and the report notes correctly that there needs to be more focus on the international angle. Europe is not an island and water scarcity in the rest of the world will inevitably cause problems for all of us in the future, not least with regard to conflicts, displaced persons and mass migration.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Diane Dodds (NI ). – Mr President, water is a precious commodity that we should not take for granted. Therefore, it is essential that mechanisms are in place throughout each individual Member State to safeguard this vital resource. I am pleased to report that in my own constituency of Northern Ireland, water quality standards are improving year on year. In 2011, standards at the tap were 99.8% compliant; with regard to wastewater quality in 2010, our targets were exceeded, with 88.6% of works compliant with current regulations.

I would also like to draw attention to the impact of EU water legislation on the agricultural sector in Northern Ireland, where concerns have been raised in relation to the Soil Framework Directive. Although farmers in Northern Ireland are very much in support of the need for action, in order to maintain their land in good condition ensuring long-term fertility and productivity, the challenges faced in protecting agricultural soils vary across Europe. Therefore, I believe that a harmonised approach is not the best way to safeguard resources. Any further interference by Europe will only result in increasing costs and red tape while reducing the productivity of the agricultural sector.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Anna Záborská (PPE ). (SK) Mr President, the quality of drinking water cannot be taken lightly. As a doctor, for many years I have been monitoring how laboratories have been finding that water for daily use is indirectly enriched with hormones which are hazardous to human health, and particularly to fertility in women and men.

This finding is also explicitly stated in the report on which we voted, and which I supported, for which I congratulate my colleague, Mr Seeber. In its resolution, Parliament calls upon the Commission to continue to monitor this issue. We note that residues of antibiotics, other drugs and hormones from birth control pills are found in the water.

Permitting the pollution of water by the presence of hormones is a criminal act. The European Commission should ensure that controls be intensified, thus ensuring that substances that not only pollute the water and endanger health, but also have a direct effect on the worsening demographic situation, are eliminated from our water.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ). (LT) Mr President, without doubt, water is fundamental and the most important thing in all our lives and today, I voted in favour of the legislative proposal on water and the assessment; in other words, I voted in favour of this report. This document is very broad and comprehensive, discussing not just water quality, but resources and their proper management. It is important for all citizens in the European Union to have access to water and that means suitable infrastructure. In some Member States, we currently face the situation where being connected is not enough. I have in mind both plumbing and wastewater pipe trunk systems. Sustainable use of water is another important aspect. The situation varies considerably across the European Union. In some places, there is a surplus of water, in others, there are shortages. However, here we have to think not just about saving water, but about saving resources and money, and at this point it is very important to talk about innovation and investment in innovation, and in terms of technology we could draw from the experience of the most advanced countries in these areas of innovation, such as Israel for example.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Syed Kamall (ECR ). – Mr President, I think we all agree that water is an essential resource and I have heard a number of speakers say that today, but we have to remember that, despite what many on the Left say, water is not free. The water that ends up in our home and in our workplaces is not free. The water that comes from the sky may be free, but it has to be collected, it has to be stored, filtered and pumped to homes, offices and other places. All that costs money. So it is essential that we have the right legislative framework in place to allow companies to do that, to provide us with clean running water, and to make sure that they can actually provide what we as consumers want at the end of the day.

Recently – well in fact a couple of years ago – we had a problem in my constituency of London with Thames Water not fixing enough of their broken and leaking pipes. When I challenged them about this and asked why they were not spending more resources on it, one of the reasons they gave – not the only reason, but one of the reasons they gave – was that they were spending too much time adhering to EU directives rather than actually fixing the problems they wanted to fix. An EU regulation like this can sometimes allow companies to take their eye off the ball and we have to ensure that they concentrate on providing clean running water to our constituents.

 
  
  

Report: Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Olga Sehnalová (A7-0205/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Sergio Gaetano Cofferati (S&D ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the health and safety of European citizens is one of the main objectives of our work and action. I believe the report we have adopted this morning is very important. Of course, eCall does not anticipate accidents or reduce them, but it does provide much more rapid response procedures. Once activated, they can ensure an appropriate response to ease victims’ suffering or even save their lives, and all this is very important.

Proper, consistent implementation by all stakeholders, the Member States, companies and the system managers will now be decisive, but I think it will be very important to move on from a voluntary, experimental phase, such as we have already had, to this new mandatory regulation. We have introduced a measure that can mitigate many people’s suffering and save the lives of many others.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jim Higgins (PPE ). – Mr President, I come from Ireland and I dread turning on my radio station on a Monday morning because I hear that three young people or two young people have died in single-car accidents, where they hit a tree, a wall or a river, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Essentially, the situation is that they die in the early hours of the morning probably because of speeding, sometimes because of alcohol. In such a situation, particularly with a single-car accident, time is of the essence. The sooner the police, the medical services and fire services arrive on the scene, the sooner we have a life saved.

For many of those people who are found dead on a Saturday morning, a Sunday morning or the early hours of a Monday morning, they would have been saved had the fire services, the police services or the medical services got to them in time.

This is what this eCall system is doing. It will coordinate, it will identify the location and it will get all of the emergency rescue services to the scene in time. We need it on a pan-European level. We have a Europe now without borders and this certainly will save lives. I want to, in particular, compliment Dieter Koch who has put a lot of work into this over a ten-year period.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Emer Costello (S&D ). – Mr President, I, too, fully support this resolution urging the Commission to draft legislation requiring car manufacturers to fit the eCall device in all new cars from 2015, and to require Member States to ensure that their emergency services are able to handle the eCall system.

The technology has been available for a number of years, but so far less than 1% of cars in the EU are fitted with it, and these are normally at the higher end of the market. It is now clear that mandatory legislation is required.

When a serious road accident occurs, every minute is crucial. The driver or passengers may be unconscious or unable to call emergency services due to a language barrier. They may be travelling in a country or in a terrain they are completely unfamiliar with. A car fitted with the device would be able to make an automatic emergency call and transmit data about the location and time of the crash to the nearest emergency response unit.

It is estimated that, when the system is rolled out, emergency teams would make it to the scene 40% quicker in urban areas, 50% in rural areas. This could result in saving 2 500 lives across Europe, approximately 25 lives in Ireland. No doubt serious injury would be averted in many instances as well. I welcome the resolution.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Roberta Angelilli (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, back in 2002, road safety experts regarded an EU-wide eCall service available in all vehicles as a priority, because after an accident, the people involved may be in a state of shock, may not know their location or may simply be unable to communicate it.

Particularly in accidents, the speed of the emergency response is crucial for saving lives. Based on the 112 call platform, the eCall system cuts emergency response times to the accident scene, thereby saving up to 2 500 lives a year and reducing the severity of injuries by up to 15%. eCall can cut emergency response times by about 50% in rural areas and up to 40% in urban areas, and can also help reduce the congestion caused by road traffic accidents by up to 20%.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Tannock (ECR ). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this proposal.

The eCall system builds substantially on the EU’s previous decision to establish the common emergency telephone number of 112 of which I remain a supporter. This is alongside the existing national systems, such as the 999 dialling in the UK. The implanting of emergency services’ telecommunications devices within the private motor vehicle has the potential to save thousands of lives by automatically relaying the information about accidents and their whereabouts.

Although I realise that a voluntary approach to implementing this has largely failed, I am still worried that moving to a mandatory approach may impose significant, although unknown, costs on the Member States. I accept that this should not be a prime concern when human lives are at stake.

I was, however, pleased at the committee stage that the ECR Group was successful in guaranteeing a technology-neutral approach whereby private eCall systems can compete with a public eCall, as this is most in accordance with the principles of a single market and also competition.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ewald Stadler (NI ).(DE) Mr President, I have, of course, also voted in favour of the Koch report. No sensible person would have any fundamental objection to an eCall system which, in the event of a serious accident, automatically notifies the emergency services.

However, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a problem with another emergency number. On the basis of a recommendation by the Council of Europe, a proposal has been drawn up for all the members of the Council of Europe to introduce a standardised Europe-wide emergency number for children who are the victims of abuse and violence. There are still some countries which have not yet implemented this emergency number, including Austria, unfortunately. Therefore, I am calling on all the Members of this House to remind their governments about this emergency number, which will prevent violence and help children who are the victims of violence and abuse, so that we can finally resolve this problem.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Diane Dodds (NI ). – Mr President, we hear all too often about the tragic loss of life on our roads and quite rightly, in the wake of these tragedies, it is often asked whether anything could have been done to save that life which was lost. I have no doubt that the eCall system has a great deal of merit and has the potential to save many lives, and from this perspective I can, of course, support it.

However, I do have concerns and would like to see this remain optional rather than mandatory. I believe that Member States should focus their attention very much on the attempts to educate driver behaviour and so try to minimise road deaths in this way as well. It is a terrible scourge in my constituency – we have lost many young lives to deaths on our roads – but we must also look at the impact of speed, the impact of alcohol and drugs and of driver behaviour, as well as at these kinds of measures.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE ). (SK) Mr President, with regard to the eCall system and the new 112 service for citizens, it should be said that 40 000 people die in road accidents each year and 150 000 people suffer permanent disability. Integrating the eCall system in on-board computers in cars can save up to 2 500 lives annually and reduce the severity of injuries by 10 to 15 percent.

As this concerns the saving of human lives, I believe that eCall should be free of charge and the system should be easy to use, accessible to all EU citizens, irrespective of social status, and regardless of whether such services are covered by private services or other state emergency services.

I urge automobile manufacturers to include a system capable of triggering eCall during production so that mobile network operators can transmit the eCalls to emergency call response centres.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). – Mr President, when my constituents discover that I am a Member of the European Parliament, they respond in many and varied ways. Some of the things they say are not suitable for repetition in this Chamber. But one thing that they have never said, in the 13 years that I have been doing this job, is that they want a common European number to dial in emergencies.

Once again, though, there seems to be a metaphorical aptness in what we are discussing. The emergency has been caused by precisely such harmonisation as this. If people were to dial their national emergency number – 999 in the case of the UK – they would at least find a responsive national mechanism on the other end that might do something about it. But if they dial a common number expecting the fire brigade, they will instead find the arsonists.

Europe is the problem and not the solution. The earlier we recognise that, the better for everybody.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Request for consultation of the European Economic and Social Committee on establishing a European social mark

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – It is imperative that the EU does not seek to create a one size fits all social policy. The UK does not want EU involvement on social matters. The idea of creating a new social mark in order to promote ‘social aspects’ of the EU would only serve to make Member States more attractive to illegal immigrants and allow people coming from poorer EU countries to move to the UK to take advantage of a more generous UK social security system.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), founded in 1957, is a consultative body of the three EU institutions – the Commission, the Council and Parliament – to which it provides its opinions on legislative proposals. According to Rule 124 of the Rules of Procedure, where the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for consultation of the EESC, the President shall, without prior discussion, initiate the consultation procedure and inform Parliament thereof. In view of this, I voted for the request to consult the EESC on creating a European social market.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing.(FR) Parliament has welcomed the request for consultation of the European Economic and Social Committee on establishing a European social mark. This mark will let consumers know that the product or service they are purchasing is part of an investment intended to improve the social model. I supported this request, which was accepted by all of my fellow Members, and I welcome that.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this consultation of the European Economic and Social Committee on establishing a European social mark.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – According to rule 124 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, parliamentary committees may request to organise debates with the European Economic and Social Committee on general and specific issues. Such requests are approved by the European Parliament without debates. I voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Sharon Bowles (A7-0198/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal, as I believe that in order for there to be a stable system, it is necessary to ensure conditions for the effective protection of citizens’ rights and for cases to be processed swiftly. In my view, postponing transposition of the directive until October 2013 is completely justified, given that if we want the Solvency II package to be effective, it is necessary to ensure that the Solvency I package is properly adapted and implemented. Otherwise, we will be taking a step backwards in terms of all the work that the EU has already carried out in this area, which is of vital interest to the European public.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing.(FR) We are regulating the world of insurance and reinsurance as we did for the banks. The Solvency II Directive, currently under review in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), of which I am a member, aims to ensure that the own funds that insurance and reinsurance companies must hold are better adapted to the risks they face in their activities. We must ensure that companies are well managed, that they are able to calculate and stay in control of their risks and that they are well capitalised. I have supported the postponement of this report to January 2014, as recommended by the Chair of the ECON Committee, Sharon Bowles, as it gives Member States more time to transpose the directive into our national legislation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. This proposal amends Directive 2009/138/EC on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) in order to adapt it to the new supervisory architecture for insurance and namely, the establishment of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority. The proposal also amends the deadline for transposition of the directive, postponing it to 30 June 2013 and setting a later date for its application. A new date of repeal of the existing insurance and reinsurance directives collectively referred to as Solvency I is also set accordingly, being postponed until 1 January 2014. This has been done in order to ensure the legal continuity of the provisions of the current Solvency I Directive until the Solvency II Directive is in place. I welcome this proposal because we need to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime and avoid legal uncertainty.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report because I welcome the proposal tabled by the Commission concerning a risk-based, state of the art system for regulating and monitoring European insurance and reinsurance companies. I also think that these new rules and regulations are needed in the current climate to be able to guarantee greater security for the insurance sector. This means that the whole economy will gain because the long-term investments will provide the sector with greater stability. At the same time, I would like to stress that the Commission’s proposal is sufficient as the modification must also take into account the new framework for monitoring the insurance sector. I should highlight the need for coordinated actions between EU institutions so that the new regulation is implemented efficiently and without delay.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Regina Bastos (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Directive 2009/138/EC , Solvency II, establishes regulation and monitoring of the business of insurance and reinsurance in the European Union. This new legislation is essential in order to ensure robustness and security in the insurance sector. The directive’s transposition deadline is 30 October 2012. Nonetheless, the Commission recently proposed an amendment to the directive with the aim of adopting a new design for monitoring the insurance sector, also proposing an extension of the initially set deadlines for transposition, repeal and application. The proposal to extend the deadline until 30 June 2013 is essential, given that other legislation will enter into force prior to this directive, and that it is not certain that these deadlines can be met, as is the case with the Omnibus II Directive. Bearing in mind that supervisory authorities and (re)insurance companies need time to prepare for the implementation of new legislation, an extension is also proposed for the start date of the Solvency II package until 1 January 2014. I voted for this report as I agree with the proposed measures.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the Bowles report in that it deals with amending Directive 2009/138/EC on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) as regards the deadline for its transposition, postponed from 31 October 2012 to 30 June 2013 in order to prevent a legal vacuum.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because this proposal is aimed at amending Directive 2009/138/EC on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) in order to postpone the date for transposition of the directive until 30 June 2013, instead of 31 October 2012, and the date of application until 1 January 2014. As current negotiations on the Omnibus II Regulation relating to the common commercial policy, which would have an impact on the new supervisory structure of Solvency II, are still ongoing, the implementation of measures for Solvency II cannot be tabled. It is therefore necessary to extend the deadline for the transposition of Solvency II in order to ensure the legal continuity of the Solvency I Directive until the full application of Solvency II. This proposal does not provide for any amendments to the content of the directive.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Boulland (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II). The insurance sector is currently experiencing legal uncertainty as a result of the discrepancy between the legal system of the European Union (Solvency II) and that of the Member States (Solvency I). This report is in line with a desire to regulate and monitor European insurance companies. Thus, the establishment of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority would enable us to improve the solidity of this sector.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – This is a purely technical postponement of the expiry date of existing insurance legislation pending the entry into force of a replacement Solvency II ‘quick fix’ directive in order to extend the deadline for the implementation of the new Solvency II regime, which is still being debated almost 15 years later. However, micro-management of the insurance sector is an unwelcome power grab by Brussels and renders the industry uncompetitive. In my opinion, existant legislation should be removed, rather than extended, while the Council and Commission debate further additions to its remit.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) as I support the proposal to amend Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II). It seeks to extend the deadline for transposition until 30 June 2013, instead of 31 October 2012, and to extend the start date until 1 January 2014. I believe the deadline for the transposition of Solvency II needs to be extended, in order to ensure the legal continuity of Solvency I until Solvency II has been implemented in full. Doing nothing at this stage would create a situation of legal uncertainty for the insurance sector.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2009/138/EC as regards the dates of its transposition and application and the date of repeal of certain directives. The date of 31 October 2012 marks the deadline for the transposition of this directive, which sets out new rules for regulating and monitoring insurance and reinsurance companies within Europe, in order to ensure the soundness and security of this sector, granting it greater stability and strengthening consumer confidence. In January 2011, the Commission adopted an amendment to the aforementioned directive, specifically regarding the creation of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, as well as the extension of the deadline for transposition, repeal and application, taking into account the need for prior approval of the Omnibus II Directive. I voted in favour of postponing the transposition of Directive 2009/138/EC until 30 June 2013, and of postponing the entry into force of the Solvency II package until 1 January 2014, thereby avoiding a legal vacuum from 31 October 2012 and ensuring timely preparation for its operation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This report aims to propose a directive postponing the transposition dates of Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II) and the repeal of the directives currently in force in the area of insurance and reinsurance, scheduled for 31 October 2012. This is because, in January 2011, the Commission adopted a proposal to amend Directive 2009/138/EC ‘in order to take into account the new supervisory architecture for insurance and namely the setting up of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA)’, called ‘Omnibus II’. As the trialogue on Omnibus II is still ongoing, the Commission believes the entry into force of Directive 2009/138/EC, without the ‘important adaptations foreseen in Omnibus II’, could place a heavy burden on the Member States. It also considers those rules important for a smooth transition to the new system. In order to become operational, Solvency II requires the inclusion of delegated and implementing acts by the Commission. The report therefore calls for the transposition of Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II) to be postponed and the directives to be repealed until 1 January 2014. The content of this report is therefore highly technical. In view of our critical position on the EIOPA, we abstained.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Directive 2009/138/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 2009 on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) provides a modern, risk-based system for the regulation and supervision of European insurance and reinsurance undertakings. These new rules are essential in order to ensure a safe and solid insurance sector that can provide sustainable insurance products and support the real economy through long-term investments and additional stability. In January 2011, the Commission adopted a proposal to amend Directive 2009/138/EC in order to take into account the new supervisory architecture for insurance, namely, the setting up of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) (Omnibus II). This proposal also includes provisions to extend the transposition, repeal and application dates set out in the directive. In order to avoid overly burdensome legislative obligations for Member States under the directive and later on under the new architecture envisaged by the ‘Omnibus II’ proposal, it is appropriate to extend the transposition deadline for the directive. At the same time, given the very short period of time left before the expiry of the deadlines laid down in the directive, this directive should enter into force without delay.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Ashley Fox (ECR ), in writing. – I voted in favour of this Solvency II ‘quick fix’ directive in order to extend the deadline for the implementation of the new Solvency II regime which we are still debating in trialogue. This is an extremely important piece of legislation that has been almost 15 years in the making, and we must get it right. The original Solvency I regime comes to an end on 31 October 2012. Therefore, in order to avoid a legislative vacuum, we have decided to extend the Solvency I regime to 1 January 2014. The extension should allow Parliament and the Council sufficient time to reach a compromise that protects policy holders and strengthens our prudential regime, and also keeps our insurance industry globally competitive.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Marian Harkin (ALDE ), in writing. – I support this report and the commendable work undertaken by my colleague, Sharon Bowles. The report should prove a tangible step towards a more sustainably efficient European insurance sector, particularly through an increased emphasis on long-term investment. While I believe that these proposals make sense at the current point of negotiations on Omnibus II, I do not think that they should be brought into full legal force until EU agreement has been reached on this package. I wish the Cypriot Presidency every success in ensuring a smooth and timely implementation of these rules in the coming months.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II) provides a modern, risk-based system for the regulation and supervision of European insurance and reinsurance undertakings. These new rules are essential in order to ensure a safe and solid insurance sector. The deadline for the transposition of the directive into national law was 31 October 2012. However, in order to take into account the new supervisory architecture for insurance, namely, the setting up of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, it is very important to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime. In order to become fully operational, the Solvency II regime also requires a high number of delegated and implementing acts by the Commission, providing important details on different technical matters. It is therefore proposed that the transposition date of Directive 2009/138/EC be extended to 30 June 2013.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing.(FR) Parliament and the Council have already adopted Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II), which establishes a modern, risk-based system for regulating and monitoring European insurance and reinsurance companies. This report aims to postpone the transposition deadline and the entry into force of the directive to 31 December 2012. This postponement is entirely justified, given the need to ensure the legal continuity of the provisions of the Solvency I Directive until the implementation of the entire Solvency II package. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted in favour of this amendment of Directive 2009/138/EC on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II).

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – The Solvency II is an EU directive that codifies and harmonises the regulation of insurance in the EU. When the Omnibus II Directive is approved by the European Parliament, Solvency II will come into effect on 1 January 2014. Solvency II will significantly reduce the risk of insolvency of insurance companies. Therefore, I voted in favour.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The share crisis of 2001 to 2003 gave a boost to so-called risk-free capital investments, in other words, government bonds. The interest rate on government bonds was used to assess whether or not an insurance company had sufficient funds to meet its liabilities to its customers. In the recession which followed, when the interest on 10-year federal bonds could no longer compensate and the value of liabilities went through the roof, because they were being offset against bonds with a very low interest rate, various attempts were made to rectify the system. The Commission is now concerned that the current crisis, together with the new solvency rules, could prevent the insurance industry from acting as a long-term investor and guarantor. Therefore, it wants the old regulations from Solvency I to continue to apply to existing insurance contracts (after eight years of negotiations on new rules for capital adequacy and the regulation of the industry, which are referred to as Solvency II). As some questions have not yet been fully answered in this area, for example, whether the old rules will turn the insurance companies into investors again, I have abstained from voting.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE ), in writing.(PL) Directive 2009/138/EC on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance provides a common regulatory framework for the whole European Union, suitable for modern financial markets, for the management of risk and the supervision of insurance and reinsurance undertakings. It is an important directive from the point of view of the security and stability of the financial system because it strengthens the supervisory framework for the insurance sector. In addition, it introduces mechanisms which mean that the insurance sector will offer better support to a real area of the real economy by encouraging long-term investments. However, in January 2011, it became necessary to revise the directive as a result of changes to the institutional structure of European supervision. In relation to this, provisions concerning postponement of the transposition deadline and the date of first application of the 2009 directive were included in Omnibus II. The complicated nature of the Omnibus II proposal, however, means that the legislative process will not end before the date of first application of Directive 2009/138/EC. I support the proposal to change the transposition date of the Solvency II Directive because it will allow us to avoid excessive legislative responsibilities for Member States and will enable better preparation of the new system provided for in the Omnibus II proposal. The complex nature and the economic importance of the legislation being drafted additionally require that the supervisory bodies and insurance and reinsurance undertakings are allowed a sufficiently long period of time to prepare to operate under the new regulatory regime.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siiri Oviir (ALDE ), in writing. (ET) I supported the speedy amendment of Directive 2009/138/EC, which extended the deadlines for transposition into domestic law in order to ensure a smooth transition to the new system and avoid a legal vacuum. The amendment of the directive is also important in connection with the European Commission’s proposal of 19 January to take the creation, on 1 January 2011, of the new supervisory system for insurance – the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) – into consideration in drafting legislation. I think that it is totally reasonable that Solvency II, a modern, risk-based system for the regulation and supervision of European insurance and reinsurance undertakings, should only be launched from 1 January 2014, in order to guarantee high-quality drafting and implementation of the legislation. The new guidelines are an important step towards establishing a strong and secure insurance sector that can offer sustainable insurance products and support the real economy through long-term investments and added stability.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Rolandas Paksas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution. The new rules enshrined in the Solvency II Directive will ensure that the insurance sector functions safely and solidly. Given the negative consequences of the economic crisis and the importance of this directive, I believe that it is right to postpone the deadline for transposition of the directive to 30 June 2013. All Member States must make every effort to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime preventing market distortion. Furthermore, it is very important for the Commission to also contribute to its implementation by adopting delegated and implementing acts, which would allow the implementation of a phasing in/phasing out process.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II) establishes regulation and monitoring of insurance and reinsurance companies in the European Union. The Commission recently proposed an amendment to the directive aimed at adopting a new design for monitoring the insurance sector, also proposing an extension of the initially set deadlines for transposition, repeal and application. This new legislation is considered essential to ensuring robustness and security in the insurance sector. I voted for this report because I broadly agree with its proposed measures.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Aldo Patriciello (PPE ), in writing. (IT) This directive establishes a new and modern solvency regime for insurers and reinsurers in the European Union. It provides for an economic risk-based approach which provides incentives for insurance and reinsurance undertakings to properly measure and manage their risks. These new rules are essential in order to ensure a safe and solid insurance sector. The proposal to amend Directive 2009/138/EC ensures a smooth transition to the new regime. Given the very short time before the expiry of the previous regime and, hence, the need to avoid a legal vacuum, I voted in favour of the proposal.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II) establishes regulation and monitoring of insurance and reinsurance companies in the European Union. This new legislation is essential in order to ensure robustness and security in the insurance sector. The directive’s transposition deadline is 30 October 2012. Nonetheless, the Commission recently proposed an amendment to the directive with the aim of adopting a new design for monitoring the insurance sector, also proposing an extension of the initially set deadlines for transposition, repeal and application. The proposal to extend the deadline until 30 June 2013 is essential, considering that other legislation will enter into force prior to this directive and it is not certain that these deadlines can be met, as is the case with the Omnibus II Directive. Bearing in mind that supervisory authorities and (re)insurance companies need time to prepare for the implementation of the new legislation, an extension is also proposed for the start date of the Solvency II package until 1 January 2014. For these reasons, I voted for this report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – In favour. This is a purely technical postponement of the expiry date of existing insurance legislation pending the entry into force of a replacement.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Commission has tabled a new directive on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II), in particular, as regards the dates of its transposition and application, and the date of repeal of certain directives. The aim of this directive is to create a new design for monitoring the insurance sector, establish the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and propose the extension of the transposition deadline for the Solvency II Directive until 31 December 2012. I agree with this draft legislative resolution, which adopts Parliament’s position at first reading, adopting the Commission’s proposal, which may be subject to amendments.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on amending Directive 2009/138/EC on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance (Solvency II) as regards the dates of its transposition and application and the date of repeal of certain directives. Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II) provides for a risk-based, state of the art system for regulating and monitoring European insurance and reinsurance companies. The deadline for transposing this directive is 31 October 2012, while the existing directives on the insurance and reinsurance sector, which are known as the Solvency I package, will be repealed from 1 November 2012. Based on the amendments tabled and approved, the deadline for transposing Directive 2009/138/EC is being changed from 31 October 2012 to 30 June 2013, and the date for repealing the Solvency I package from 1 November 2012 to 1 January 2014. These amendments were necessary in order to take into account the new supervisory framework in the insurance sector and, specifically, for creating the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), to enable the Solvency II system to become fully operational and ensure a trouble-free transition to the new system, and to prevent a legislative vacuum occurring after 31 October 2012.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D ), in writing.(PL) I welcome the European Parliament directive on the taking up and pursuit of the business of insurance and reinsurance. These rules are essential for the safe and reliable performance of the insurance sector. It is important that insurance undertakings and the bodies which supervise them adopt this package, which guarantees the solvency of insurers. This will give both the public and business a greater sense of legal certainty. We cannot, however, keep moving the date when the new EU directive on this matter comes into force. In my opinion, the directive should finally come into force on 1 January 2014, bringing an end to its temporary character.

 
  
  

Report: Maurice Ponga (A7-0169/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal, which changes the status of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of a country or territory associated with the European Union. I agree with the proposal’s objective, as it aims to maximise economic and social development in this remote region of the European Union by consolidating its relations with regional players, including the Caribbean’s other overseas countries and territories, and its outermost regions. It will thus help to disseminate the European model and European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing.(FR) Saint-Barthélemy, a French island in the Lesser Antilles, was dependent on the overseas department (DOM) of Guadeloupe until 1 January 2012, when the island officially became an overseas collectivity (COM). The French Republic had been expecting this change in status and asked the European Council to adopt a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, in order to change its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union (PTOM). Following the change in status at national level, it was consistent to review the European status of this French COM. By adopting the status of a country and territory associated with the European Union, the island will now enter into a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union that suits its specific characteristics without prejudicing its membership of the European family. PTOM nationals are European citizens, but they are not part of the European Union and are not bound by European law. The island will keep the euro as its currency and its citizens will remain European citizens. Its bonds with the European Union will therefore remain intact.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The proposal’s objective is to change the status of the French island of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the EU. As the Commission’s proposal satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the island without prejudicing the interests of the EU, and as Saint-Barthélemy will be able to help disseminate the European model and European values, I welcome the proposal.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this resolution because it ensures that the decision adopted by the Council on 29 October 2010 is implemented, whereby, following the request made by France, the French collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy changed its status from an outermost region to an overseas country and territory associated with the European Union from 1 January 2012. I think that this change of status will benefit Saint-Barthélemy, according to its specific characteristics and needs.

At the same time, its link with the European Union is maintained, thanks as well to the euro currency continuing to be used, and its inhabitants will retain their status as European citizens. The decision does not prejudice the interests of the European Union and incorporates relations with Saint-Barthélemy into a new partnership and cooperation framework. At the same time, the new status will allow the collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy to develop its relations with other regional players. Amending Annex IA to Council Decision 2001/822/EC by inserting a new indent to include Saint-Barthélemy in the list of overseas countries and territories is the natural consequence of changing the status of the French collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I voted for the Ponga report, which seeks to change the status of the island of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of an overseas country and territory. This change in status has already been passed unanimously by the European Council and will benefit this territory by enabling it to consolidate its relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states and outermost regions in the Caribbean.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because, pursuant to Article 355(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), by letter of 30 June 2010, the French Republic requested that the European Council, after consulting the Commission, unanimously adopt a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, in order to change its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. Pursuant to the TFEU, the European Council may, on the initiative of the Member State concerned, adopt such a decision that would make Saint-Barthélemy the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. Furthermore, by adopting the status of overseas country and territory, Saint-Barthélemy would enter into a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union that suits its specific characteristics without prejudicing its membership of the European family. Saint-Barthélemy would keep the euro as its currency and its citizens would remain European citizens. Saint-Barthélemy’s bonds with the European Union would therefore remain intact. This change in status would enable Saint-Barthélemy to consolidate its relations with regional players, including the other overseas countries and territories, ACP countries and outermost regions of the Caribbean, thus helping to disseminate the European model and European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Boulland (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of Mr Ponga’s report on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Community. This report follows on from the letter of the French Republic addressed to the Council requesting that it change the status of the island of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of an overseas country and territory associated with the European Union. This new association framework would enable Saint-Barthélemy to enter into a more reciprocal and lasting partnership which would take better account of its specific characteristics.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – Changing the status of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union would make the 26th country and territory enter into a new reciprocal partnership with the European Union and force Saint-Barthélemy to consolidate its relations with regional players, including the other overseas countries and territories, ACP countries and outermost regions of the Caribbean. The most significant motive for this decision is in order to channel more money to the French colony and grant Brussels autonomous powers over a territory that currently is under French control.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alain Cadec (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I support the change in status of the island of Saint-Barthélemy. By becoming an overseas country and territory (PTOM) associated with the European Union, the island of Saint-Barthélemy will have a framework that is better suited to its specific characteristics. This new partnership with the European Union will allow for greater flexibility in the implementation of Community standards. I am pleased with the adoption of this report as it endorses the decision taken by the Council in October 2010.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for the amendment of Annex IA to Council Decision 2001/822/EC to include a new indent adding Saint-Barthélemy to the list of overseas countries and territories, changing the island of Saint-Barthélemy’s status from that of an outermost region to that of a country or territory associated with the European Union, with effect from 1 January 2012. This change in status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy, without prejudicing the interests of the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the decision on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Community. This makes Saint-Barthélemy the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. By adopting the status of overseas country and territory, Saint-Barthélemy is entering into a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union which suits its specific characteristics, without prejudicing its membership of the European family. In actual fact, Saint-Barthélemy will keep the euro as its currency and its citizens will remain European citizens. This will maintain its bonds with the European Union. This change in status will enable the collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy to strengthen its relations with regional players, especially with overseas countries and territories, ACP countries and outermost regions of the Caribbean, thereby helping to disseminate the European model and European values more effectively.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I concur with this amendment because I think that it suits the needs and specific characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy without jeopardising the EU’s interests.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text, which takes note of the change in status of the French island of Saint-Barthélemy, which, in 2010, became the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. This new status will enable our overseas territory to renew its relations with other EU territories and consolidate its relations with its immediate neighbours in the Caribbean, while holding on to the euro and European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the ‘association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Community’ to welcome the Council and the Commission’s decision to change the status of Saint-Barthélemy island from an outermost region to that of a country or territory associated with the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Pursuant to Article 355(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and on the initiative of the Member State concerned, in this case, the Republic of France, the European Council was requested to adopt such a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, in order to change its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country or territory associated with the European Union. Consequently, to give effect to that decision, the Council must, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting Parliament, amend its decision on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union. I therefore believe that this change in status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy, without prejudicing the interests of the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the proposal for a Council decision amending Council Decision 2001/822/EC on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Community, following the request made by the French Republic. Pursuant to Article 355(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and by letter of 30 June 2010, the French Republic has requested that the European Council adopt such a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, in order to change its status from that of an ‘outermost region’ to that of a ‘country and territory associated with the European Union’. According to the rapporteur, this change in status will ‘satisfy the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy without prejudicing the interests of the European Union’, keeping the euro as its currency and its citizens remaining European citizens. Saint-Barthélemy has become the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. I voted for this proposal as it corresponds to the legitimate aspirations of the inhabitants of Saint-Barthélemy, allowing it to strengthen partnerships with its neighbouring states – countries belonging to the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, and outermost regions of the Caribbean – without prejudicing the interests of the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that the Council may, on the initiative of the Member State concerned and acting unanimously, amend the status, with regard to the European Union, of a Danish, French or Netherlands country or territory. As such, France has requested that the Council change the status of the island of Saint-Barthélemy, changing it from that of an outermost region to that of a ‘country and territory associated with the European Union’. Consulting Parliament is a necessary step in this process. As the rapporteur says, this change in status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy. We respect the wishes and the legitimate and sovereign choices of the peoples of these territories. The struggle against European colonialism, in which many are engaged today, should not be forgotten, and it is a struggle that we support. It is a struggle for the possibility to decide their own destinies in a free and sovereign manner.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) The Council Decision of 27 November 2001 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Community establishes the legal framework for promoting the economic and social development of the overseas countries and territories and for enhancing economic relations between them and the European Union. This decision applies until 31 December 2013. Annex IA of that decision must therefore be amended to take account of the change of status with regard to the European Union of the island of Saint-Barthélemy, which became an overseas country or territory as of 1 January 2012. I believe that this change in status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy without prejudicing the interests of the European Union. I therefore consider it reasonable to approve the Commission’s proposal. This change in status will enable Saint-Barthélemy to consolidate its relations with regional players, including the other overseas countries and territories, ACP countries and outermost regions of the Caribbean, and will thus help to disseminate the European model and European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Brice Hortefeux (PPE ), in writing.(FR) On Tuesday, 3 July, Parliament recognised the change in status of Saint-Barthélemy, which would make it the 26th overseas country and territory (PTOM). I am pleased with this decision, which was enacted during the conclusions of the European Council of 27 October 2010. Saint-Barthélemy, which was previously considered an outermost region, will now enter into a new and renewed relationship with the European Union but also with the other PTOM in the region. This change in status will better satisfy the needs and special characteristics of the island. In addition, this change in status will have no impact on two aspects which are essential for the proper functioning of the island: Saint-Barthélemy will keep the euro as its currency and its inhabitants will remain European citizens.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour because in 2010, the French Republic requested that the European Council adopt a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy in order to change its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. The European Council therefore adopted Decision 2010/718/EU amending the status of the French collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy, with effect from 1 January 2012. In this case, Saint-Barthélemy is added to the list of overseas countries and territories, making it the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. By adopting the status of overseas country and territory, Saint-Barthélemy would enter into a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union that suits its specific characteristics without prejudicing its membership of the European family. Saint-Barthélemy will keep the euro as its currency and its citizens will remain European citizens. Its bonds with the European Union will therefore remain intact. This change in status will enable Saint-Barthélemy to consolidate its relations with regional players, including the other overseas countries and territories, ACP countries and outermost regions of the Caribbean, and will thus help to disseminate European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing.(FR) The French Republic requested that the European Council adopt a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, in order to replace its current status of an outermost region with that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. By adopting this status, the island would enter into a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union. This partnership would take account of its specific characteristics without prejudicing its membership of the European family. I supported Mr Ponga’s report, which was adopted by a large majority, and I welcome that.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ), in writing.(PL) I voted to endorse the Commission proposal for Saint-Barthélemy to become the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. I share the opinion that the change of status will enable the island of Saint-Barthélemy to consolidate its relations with regional partners and the ACP countries, and will thus help disseminate the European model and European values. I am certain that by adopting the status of overseas country and territory, Saint-Barthélemy will enter into a new reciprocal partnership with the European Union. Saint-Barthélemy will keep the euro as its currency and its citizens will remain European citizens. It is very important that its bonds with the European Union remain intact.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Giovanni La Via (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted for this resolution, which will include the French Caribbean territory of Saint-Barthélemy among the overseas countries and territories. This change will have obvious structural and economic benefits for this territory. A higher level of political and institutional relations, such as that provided by the status of overseas territory, will allow for greater attention to be given to Saint-Barthélemy’s needs at all levels of the economy and local representation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this proposal as I believe that this change in status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy without prejudicing the interests of the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Véronique Mathieu (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on the change in status of the territory of the French collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy. It approves the Commission’s proposal to give effect to the change in status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union from 1 January 2012. The European Union’s influence in the region could therefore be strengthened.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – Pursuant to Article 355(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), France requested that the Council, after consulting the Commission, adopt a decision amending the status of the island of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. This change will have effect from 1 January 2012. To give effect to that European Council decision, the Council must, under Article 203 TFEU, act unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and, after consulting the European Parliament, amend its decision on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Rolandas Paksas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I welcome the proposal to grant the island of Saint-Barthélemy the status of a country and territory associated with the EU. This would form the basis of a new mutual and strong partnership and close economic relationship between this island and the EU. Furthermore, it will give Saint-Barthélemy an excellent opportunity to further develop and consolidate its relations with regional players and improve economic and social development.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The French Republic has requested that the Council adopt a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, changing its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. This status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy without prejudicing the interests of the European Union. By adopting the status of overseas country and territory, Saint-Barthélemy is entering into a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union that suits its specific characteristics without prejudicing its membership of the European family. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Aldo Patriciello (PPE ), in writing. (IT ) By letter of 30 June 2010, the French Republic requested that the European Council adopt such a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, in order to change its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. To give effect to that decision, it is therefore proposed that Annex IA to Council Decision 2001/822/EC be amended to include a new indent adding Saint-Barthélemy to the list of overseas countries and territories. I voted for the proposal in order to consolidate relations with the overseas territories and to help to disseminate European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report was drafted following a request made by the French Republic to the Council to change the status of the island of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. Saint-Barthélemy thus becomes the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. By adopting the status of associated overseas country and territory, Saint-Barthélemy is entering into a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union that suits its specific characteristics without prejudicing its membership of the European family. Saint-Barthélemy will keep the euro as its currency and its citizens will remain European citizens. Its bonds with the European Union will therefore remain intact. I voted for this report as it aims to consolidate Saint-Barthélemy’s relations with regional players, in particular, the other overseas countries and territories, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the outermost regions of the Caribbean, as well as contributing to the better dissemination of the European model and European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – In favour. Pursuant to Article 355(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Council may, on the initiative of the Member State concerned and acting unanimously after consulting the Commission, adopt a decision amending the status, with regard to the Union, of a Danish, French or Netherlands country or territory referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 355.

By letter of 30 June 2010, the French Republic requested that the European Council adopt such a decision with regard to the island of Saint-Barthélemy, in order to change its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Licia Ronzulli (PPE ), in writing. (IT ) By adopting the status of overseas country and territory, Saint-Barthélemy is starting a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union, a choice that will enable it to meet its specific needs while fully complying with international law.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) By means of Decision 2010/718/EU of 29 October 2010, the European Council agreed to change the status of the French collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. That decision will take effect when the Council, under Article 203 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, amends its decision on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union. By voting in favour, this House agrees to amend Annex IA to Council Decision 2001/822/EC to make Saint-Barthélemy the 26th overseas country and territory associated with the European Union. This will enable the aforementioned island to consolidate its relations with the other overseas countries and will help to disseminate European values and expand European trade.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Marc Tarabella (S&D ), in writing.(FR) As long as there is no threat to the interests of the Union and this change in status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy, and provided the bonds with the European Union remain intact, there is not the slightest reason to reject the rapporteur’s text. Furthermore, this change in status will enable Saint-Barthélemy to consolidate its relations with regional players, including the other overseas countries and territories, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the outermost regions of the Caribbean, and will thus help to disseminate the European model and European values.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Pursuant to Article 355(6) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Council may, on the initiative of the Member State concerned, adopt a decision amending the status with regard to the EU of a country or territory referred to in this article. The French Republic has requested that the Council adopt a decision to this effect with regard to the status of the island of Saint-Barthélemy, changing its status from that of an outermost region to that of a country and territory associated with the European Union. I agree that these territories should have the possibility of choosing to become outermost regions or overseas countries and territories, choosing the most appropriate status for them. I therefore voted for Parliament’s position.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing. – I believe that this change in status satisfies the needs and special characteristics of the territory of Saint-Barthélemy without prejudicing the interests of the European Union, and therefore I supported it with my vote.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD ), in writing.(PL) I fully agree with the decision to amend the status of the French collectivity of Saint-Barthélemy. The change is the right one in view of the needs and specific nature of the island. Saint-Barthélemy will thus become the 26th country and territory associated with the European Union. By adopting the status of overseas country and territory, the island will enter a new reciprocal and lasting partnership with the European Union. It will keep the euro as its currency, its citizens will remain European citizens and its bonds with the European Union will remain intact.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR ), in writing. – This report recommends the change of status of Saint-Barthélemy from an outermost region to a territory associated with the European Union. This means that Saint-Barthélemy will join the eleven British territories associated with the European Union, including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands.

Saint Barthélemy, like the Falkland Islands and other British territories in the South Atlantic, traces its ties with Europe back to the seventeenth century. While not part of the EU, these territories are indivisibly linked to Europe. This report is about providing support to the various territories associated with the EU. I certainly support the Falkland Islanders in the face of recent aggressive threats from Argentina, and as we mark the thirtieth anniversary of repelling an Argentine invasion, it is vital that we continue to defend the overseas countries and territories that have constitutional ties with our Member States, including the Falklands.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Today’s vote has made the Caribbean island of Saint-Barthélemy the 26th overseas territory associated with the European Union; however, the euro remains its official currency and its citizens will continue to be Europeans. The change in status will bring economic and political benefits in particular, enabling Saint-Barthélemy to consolidate its relations with the other overseas countries and territories, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and outermost regions of the Caribbean, and will thus help to disseminate the European model and European values.

 
  
  

Report: François Alfonsi (A7-0219/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report as I believe that macro-regional strategies can bring enormous benefits for the regions. This also involves a number of Member States and their respective regions, the strategies for the Danube and the Baltic Sea being good examples. I believe that this type of strategy undoubtedly brings results. However, the European Union should strengthen multi-level governance in all institutional procedures, not only as part of the strategies, but in all areas of political action, in order to facilitate the creation of new macro-regional strategies, as is the case with the possible strategy for the Atlantic, which will bring enormous benefits to the regions. In the specific case of the Mediterranean, as the rapporteur states, the fact that several Member States and regions share the same basin and natural environment, and that their shores are connected by the same history and culture, could bring great benefits to the synergies to be created not only between the Member States and the European Union, but also with neighbouring states.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) The Greek Communist Party voted against the European Parliament report on the development of macro-regional strategies in the Mediterranean, because it moves in the reactionary direction of support for euro-unifying monopolies in the Mediterranean basin. The proposal to create an Adriatic-Ionian macro-regional cooperation zone does not relate to ‘financing actions’ to meet the grassroots needs of workers in the area; it is designed to deepen the single capitalist market on the islands and strengthen large business groups with hot money from Community funds, by which I mean workers’ money. It reinforces political and economic intervention by the EU in the Western Balkans and North Africa, on the pretext of democracy and human rights. The report, which is faithful to EU policy, does not propose aid with additional resources; it proposes targeted channelling of financing to projects which are highly profitable for capital, involving limited numbers of temporary jobs which are lost on completion of the project. Once again, the winners will be the large monopoly groups and the losers will be the workers, who are being called upon to make sacrifices to support and augment the profits of the plutocracy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Antonello Antinoro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Macro-regional strategies put together a coherent approach to territorial cooperation and meet territory-based investment needs in Europe in a new way. They help to restore links and cooperation. The report is in favour of macro-regional strategies based on the principle of multi-level governance in order to ensure collaboration between local, regional and national bodies. It calls for greater coordination among the various funds and calls on the Commission to conduct a dialogue on the future of a macro-regional approach in Europe so as to identify the priority areas that should be involved in the new strategies, especially where there is a lack of cooperation between neighbouring territories, which is evident in several of the Member States. In that respect, I welcome the implementation of a macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean basin.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Pino Arlacchi (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution to sustain the great opportunity represented by the EU macro-regional strategies. First of all, macro-regional strategies frame the EU’s neighbourhood policies in a way that encourages renewed dialogue and new prospects for territorial cooperation projects supported by cohesion policy. The Baltic Sea strategy is a perfect example of that. When it comes to the Mediterranean, we must consider that the entire basin shares the same natural environment, and its shores are connected by the same history and culture. In terms of developing potential, maritime traffic must be placed at the heart of a transport strategy for the whole area, particularly for goods. A macro-regional strategy can provide tailored responses to these objectives. The Mediterranean, due to its 500 million inhabitants (less than one third of whom live within the European Union), represents the main ‘neighbourhood prospect’ for Europe. For this reason, I believe that a development dynamic based around the Mediterranean could drive forward the whole European economy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing.(FR) Some regions bring together countries that share the same natural environment and the same history and culture. Europe has therefore defined macro-regional strategies which offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects. These strategies are also supported by cohesion policy, one of the European Union’s finest tools. I therefore approved the strategies in this report, which can contribute towards achieving EU objectives and ensure better coordination between regional programmes and the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies offering new prospects for territorial cooperation projects. The creation of regional policy is essential for addressing economic and environmental problems and achieving the goals set by Europe 2020 through strategic measures. I welcome the Commission’s proposal to use a macro-regional approach to create a strategy for the Mediterranean and agree that the macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea adopted in 2009 is an excellent example of how to do this. The Mediterranean represents the main neighbourhood prospect for Europe, due to its 500 million inhabitants, a third of whom live within the EU, but cooperation between the EU and this region remains rather poor. I welcome the proposal to establish a macro-regional strategy for this region because a development dynamic based around the region could drive forward the whole European economy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing.(FR) Looking at the Baltic Sea and Danube examples, it seems clear that macro-regional strategies, new forms of territorial cooperation, have contributed to improving the effectiveness of the EU’s regional development policies and to enhancing synergies between regions and Member States. The EU must urgently offer such prospects for the Mediterranean, an area vital to Europe’s future. The implementation of a macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean basin would enable us to offer common prospects for addressing the challenges facing the Mediterranean countries and to give structure to this key area for Europe’s development and integration. After the failure of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), it is high time we sent a message of hope to the Mediterranean area as a whole, which is currently feeling the effects of the crisis, but which is also being turned upside down as a result of the successive revolutions on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. Given that Parliament has strongly expressed its support for this initiative in the Mediterranean and intends to make it a political priority, it is now up to the Commission to lend its support and it is up to Cyprus to take advantage of its Presidency to make progress in this area and to lay the foundations for this strategy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I am voting in favour of Mr Alfonsi’s report. It acknowledges and highlights the undeniable existence of a web of historical and cultural factors linking the Mediterranean countries together. On this basis, it seeks to establish a common political and services infrastructure subdivided into macro-regions (western Mediterranean, central Mediterranean and eastern Mediterranean), which would create synergies providing a new, enhanced input to the coordination among Member States and more effective resource distribution and reinvestment.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because macro-regional strategies offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects supported by cohesion policy. Several macro-region projects are at a fairly advanced stage. The macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea was adopted in 2009 and, when discussing this strategy, the Commission has stressed ‘the value of this new way of cooperating’. The Union for the Mediterranean is currently being developed and its potential as a catalyst in the region is increasing. The Mediterranean has played a major geopolitical role in European history. However, within the EU, the Mediterranean area is unstructured. Its performance in terms of cooperation and interconnection is very poor. Outside the EU, those populations living in the Mediterranean region have very low standards of living at all levels: economic, social, environmental and political. The development of these societies is essential for them, and an opportunity for Europe to capitalise on greater security, more sustainable control of immigration flows and direct participation in this growth area. This would positively impact on the performance of its own economy. A macro-regional approach would thus enable an overall project to be set out in this area vital to the EU’s future, with a view to emerging from the present crisis and responding to the expectations of all its neighbours, particularly those in the southern Mediterranean.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) Macro-regional strategies play an important role in the EU since they offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects funded by the cohesion policy. To avoid projects which fail to make any important contribution to macro-regional development, I think that strategies need to be developed based on wide-ranging consultations, defining as clearly as possible the problems identified on the ground.

The pre-development phase is an important stage, when the main strategic areas will be identified and the bases for future governance will be defined. If we fail to attach greater importance to this stage, there is a chance that future projects will not resolve the problems identified and it will be difficult to implement them. In addition to the Baltic Sea macro-region, another macro-region whose strategy will help improve the living and working conditions of millions of European citizens is the Danube macro-region. This strategy will establish a genuine platform for dialogue between the 14 countries bordering this river.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Boulland (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on ‘the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean’. I believe that European macro-regional strategies offer good prospects for cooperation projects with the territories surrounding the Baltic Sea. This report highlights the EU’s interest in pursuing the cohesion policy strategy, particularly in the field of inter-sectoral cooperation. Furthermore, I believe that it is important to have a more precise definition of the projects that satisfy the local needs of the Baltic people.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – The creation of new ‘macro-regions’ to establish macro-regional identity equates to ‘social and financial engineering.’ It allows Brussels to increase funding for regions who are unable to comply, or spend/invest responsibly and would include funding for Maghreb countries, which are already benefiting from EU Neighbourhood Policy and the EU Mediterranean Association pact and who, in my opinion, should not become automatic recipients of EU funding derived from EU taxpayers during times of such financial difficulty. It enables the EU to spread its scope and power via handouts, not passed by the public. In the light of these proposals, we are likely to expect an Atlantic strategy, Carpathian strategy, Balkan strategy, and so on, representing a large cost to EU Member States without prior consultation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alain Cadec (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted for the adoption of this report, which highlights the need to develop macro-regional strategies at EU level. As rapporteur on the Atlantic strategy for the European Parliament, I share the rapporteur’s vision on the need to follow a multi-sectoral approach. In my view, it is important to support and develop territorial cooperation projects. These projects are relevant as they enable us to respond to local problems more effectively. I also support the initiative to develop a macro-regional strategy in the Mediterranean. This is a welcome development following the ‘Arab Spring’ and the democratic transition in the countries along the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report as I believe that the implementation of a macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean basin should be supported in order to offer an action plan for addressing the common and problematic challenges facing the Mediterranean countries and regions. I also believe that the major areas of intervention for a Mediterranean macro-region should include energy networks, scientific cooperation and innovation, networks for culture, education and training, environmental protection, sustainable maritime transport, maritime security and safety and the protection of the marine environment against pollution, overfishing and illegal fishing through the creation of an integrated network of reporting and surveillance systems for maritime activities, the strengthening of good governance and effective public administration, so as to foster job creation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  David Casa (PPE ), in writing. – Macro-regional strategies promote development based on groups of territorial location. This is logical because states in the same region share certain historical and cultural bonds that can be instrumental for cooperation. Because macro-regional strategies are to the mutual benefit of all parties implicated and the Mediterranean would profit greatly from such a scheme, in regards to the economy as well as social and environmental issues, I have voted in favour of this resolution.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D ), in writing. (IT) The entire Mediterranean basin shares the same natural environment, and its shores are connected by the same history and culture. Significant opportunities exist in southern Europe, which cannot be seized without coordination or vision. The ‘Mediterranean climate’ results in similar ecotypes: the same types of agricultural product are produced and form a single, albeit diverse, range of products. Likewise, environmental problems are the same all over. Mediterranean biodiversity is particularly abundant, but also under serious threat. Appropriate, synergistic responses are called for. Within the EU, the Mediterranean area is unstructured and its performance in terms of cooperation and interconnection is very poor. Moreover, outside the gates of the EU, those populations living in the Mediterranean region have very low standards of living, despite last year’s events. The development of these societies is an essential requirement for them, and an opportunity for Europe as it could capitalise on greater security, more ‘sustainable’ control of immigration flows and direct participation in this growth area. This would positively impact on the performance of its own economy. For these and many other reasons, it is important to support the establishment of a Mediterranean macro-region.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour because, outside the EU, the populations living in the Mediterranean region have very low standards of living at all levels: economic, social, environmental and political. The development of these societies is an essential requirement for them and an opportunity for Europe, as it could result in greater security, more ‘sustainable’ control of immigration flows and direct participation in this growth area. All these aspects would positively impact on the performance of its own economy. This means that the events of spring last year which took place along the southern shores of the Mediterranean provide a powerful incentive for developing new, active neighbourhood policies. By incorporating them, at least in part, into a macro-regional strategy, they could take on a specific territorial dimension ensuring greater effectiveness. EU Member States and regions in the Mediterranean area must commit to a reinforced cooperation approach, which must be opened up to all partners in this area that is essential to the future of Europe. The macro-regional strategy is the best way of achieving this objective.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) It was with satisfaction that I noted that this own-initiative report on the part of the Committee on Regional Development fits perfectly within the strategy previously set out by this Parliament for the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), for which I was the rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Whilst highlighting the importance of the Mediterranean as a decentralised area of cooperation, and more broadly in terms of strengthening cross-regional decision making and the sharing of good practices, the report proposes the development of a macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean basin – similar to the strategy for the Baltic, for example – as part of a broader framework which includes the western Mediterranean, the Adriatic-Ionian and the eastern Mediterranean. The report takes the view that an overall policy for the whole Mediterranean basin can be implemented that is in synergy with the priorities set out by regional and international organisations, in particular, those defined by the European Union for the Mediterranean, and best practices that can contribute towards achieving the objectives of EU strategies can also be implemented. I consider emphasis on civil society participation, on the principles/areas of activity to develop and deepen, and on updating the approach to migration in view of the ‘Arab Spring’ excellent additions to the two reports on the ENP for which I was Parliament’s rapporteur.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I supported this text, which encourages the development of so-called ‘macro-regional’ strategies to coordinate the efforts of several territories in order to address common challenges. While there is strength in numbers, Parliament will ensure respect for the responsible management of European funds, preventing these macro-regional strategies from becoming ‘high-spending contraptions’, as the rapporteur puts it. Let us hope that the principle of responsibility, seen here as a ‘three noes rule’ (no more money, no more institutions, no more regulation) and a ‘three yeses rule’ (more complementary funding, more institutional coordination and more new projects), will now apply to all EU policies.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D ), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats in the European Parliament support the report on the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean. We have a positive view of macro-regional strategies as a tool for promoting the EU’s territorial cohesion and development. However, we do not support the wording concerning increasing the threshold for de minimis aid for islands, nor do we believe that the scope of the de minimis aid should be extended within the transport sector, or to also include the agriculture and fisheries sectors.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Macro-regions, of which the Baltic is the first, are a logical consequence of countries’ increasing interdependence and their similar or common characteristics, with a sense of belonging to a given geographical and cultural space, which transcends borders but still continues to be delimited by borders. A macro-regional approach allows common problems to be addressed and shared, problems tackled, cohesion promoted and solutions sought which are able to benefit all stakeholders. It also gives the European Union an overall view which enables action to be taken in the most appropriate way. I believe that this option, if well managed and adeptly coordinated with the Member States, respecting their sovereignty and promoting and respecting their specific characteristics, could be successfully replicated in various areas. The turbulent times it is experiencing mean the Mediterranean deserves smart involvement by the EU and the seeking of stabilising solutions involving both its shores.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Like the macro-regional strategies for other geographical areas of Europe, such as the Danube basin and the Baltic Sea, macro-regional strategies are now being put forward for the Mediterranean or, more specifically, for the area of the Adriatic and Ionian. The experience with implementing the Baltic macro-region demonstrates that this is a good initiative which enhances development for the peoples of these regions. EU economic policy is based on regional cooperation. Therefore, especially in the wake of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, it is clearly of interest to maintain good relations with the peoples of the southern Mediterranean, and to enhance the development of trade and tourism by utilising existing resources, in particular, maritime traffic and sustainable energies. Moreover, it is an excellent opportunity to promote interregional cohesion and strengthen relations between peoples. I voted for Mr Alfonsi’s report on EU macro-regional strategies for the Mediterranean and I hope that, with the support of the next multiannual financial framework, the EU will continue to collaborate in democratisation processes in the African countries of the Mediterranean basin, so as to achieve greater stability and economic growth in the region.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) We consider it crucial to promote policies encouraging effective economic and social cohesion in the European Union, especially in a situation of profound structural crisis, huge social inequalities and regional asymmetries. Promoting cohesion can, and must, involve cooperation between countries and regions with differing affinities, which includes intervention aimed at preserving ecological balance and promoting fair, balanced and sustainable development. This vision is, in part, included in the report and in the approach to drawing up macro-regional strategies. However, the EU often subverts the concept of cohesion, in particular, through the ‘renationalisation’ of the costs of EU polices, a lack of funds for cohesion or by imposing conditions, tying countries to strategies, such as the Europe 2020 strategy, whose aims and objectives run counter to the desired cohesion. We appreciate the number of good intentions found in this report, but we cannot fail to express our concern about some of these points. Moreover, we have serious reservations about some of the points in the report, which are similar to the EU’s vision as a hegemonic power in the Mediterranean region, revealing undisguised imperialist ambitions.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) The Baltic Sea macro-region created in 2009 brings together a coherent set of territories that wish to cooperate in order to find better solutions to the economic and environmental problems facing them. This cooperation has taken the form of a macro-regional strategy designed to coordinate the existing extensive sectoral cooperation and based on four pillars – environment, prosperity, accessibility and security – and an action plan setting out 15 priority areas and 80 flagship projects. Macro-regional strategies offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects supported by cohesion policy. They can assist the broad EU strategies, such as trans-European transport networks or the integrated maritime policy. They can ensure better coordination between regional programmes and the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. The Mediterranean basin shares the same natural environment, and its shores are connected by the same history and culture. Significant opportunities exist in southern Europe, which cannot be seized without the coordination and overview permitted by the definition of a macro-regional strategy. A development dynamic based around the Mediterranean could drive forward the whole European economy. I believe that the EU Member States and regions in the Mediterranean area must commit to a reinforced cooperation approach. This must be opened up to all partners in this area which is essential to the future of Europe. A macro-regional strategy is the best way of achieving this goal.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Macro-regions meet the criteria of simplification and coordination which have always inspired the EU’s regional policy. United by their geographical proximity, Member States, regions and local bodies see macro-regions as the ideal institutional framework in which they can interact to solve their common problems and implement shared policies. Operators in the Mediterranean basin deserve to be given a similar opportunity, given that the area is obviously important for tourism, trade and the economy. Unfortunately, within the EU, the Mediterranean area is not structured effectively enough, with the result that its performance in terms of cooperation and interconnection is very poor. Subdividing the Mediterranean into three large macro-regions (western, Adriatic-Ionian and eastern) would not only make our Mediterranean policies more consistent and operational, but would also encourage greater coordination between the various intervention instruments available to the EU. Establishing a Mediterranean macro-region would therefore be an opportunity for the entire Mediterranean area to adopt coordinated policies aimed at development and growth. It would be a mistake for the European Union not to grant that.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Bruno Gollnisch (NI ), in writing.(FR) This is the latest hare-brained scheme to come from Brussels: the European macro-region. Well, it is certainly ‘macro’, but we will have to see about the ‘European’ part. For the macro-region aims to bring together regions (not states) around a common project (a sea, a river, etc.), even if those regions do not belong to a Member State of the EU. The aim is clearly to encourage us to bypass nation states and to promote the blurring of external borders. On the basis that one cannot leave the creation of such entities to spontaneous initiatives, one then asks the Commission to come up with a list of all of the macro-regions that it can imagine and, of course, to encourage their creation. As a result, Mr Alfonsi’s report proposes two macro-regions in the Mediterranean, bringing together areas to the north and south of this sea. This is a precursor to these countries, which are today, for the most part, threatened by Muslim fundamentalism, being included in the European single market and the free movement of people between the two shores. What next? An Atlantic ‘macro-region’ to promote the implementation of a vast transatlantic market? We must put a stop to this madness!

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Brice Hortefeux (PPE ), in writing.(FR) On Tuesday, 3 July, Parliament approved, by a large majority, the report on EU macro-regional strategies. This unique form of cooperation has already proven its mettle in the Baltic Sea, which will, from now on, serve as a reference framework for other initiatives, such as the strategy launched last year in the Danube or the plans for a strategy at Mediterranean level. This strategy breaks away from traditional cooperation at national or regional level as it brings together all of the institutional actors and partners, such as universities, research centres and regional organisations, from a wider area which are facing the same territorial challenges in terms of the environment, the economy, migration and culture. Defining a strategy in the Mediterranean is entirely justified because of the existence of common characteristics and problems, and European policies could be implemented more effectively at this level. This report proposes useful recommendations for future strategies by drawing on the experience gained in the Baltic Sea. We have an interesting mechanism to use here and that is why I decided to support this report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because macro-regional strategies offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects supported by cohesion policy. They can assist the broad EU strategies, such as trans-European transport networks or the integrated maritime policy. They can ensure better coordination between regional programmes and the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. Within the EU, the Mediterranean area is unstructured. Its performance in terms of cooperation and interconnection is very poor. The EU Member States and regions in the Mediterranean area must commit to a reinforced cooperation approach. This must be opened up to all partners in this area, which is essential to the future of Europe. Macro-regional strategy is the best way of achieving this goal.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing . – (FR) Parliament has adopted Mr Alfonsi’s report by a large majority and I welcome this. This report aims to take stock of present practice within the framework of EU macro-regional strategies in order to define the prospects of such strategies. In this context, we must provide a reference framework relevant to cohesion policy and encourage inter-sectoral cooperation. The macro-regional strategy in the Mediterranean has a great deal of potential, not only because of the shared natural environment, but also because of a shared history and culture. For that reason, a point of honour must be made to boost the southern dimension of the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy, guaranteeing greater management of migration flows.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ), in writing.(PL) Macro-regional strategies offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects supported by cohesion policy, while also offering more effective solutions to the economic and environmental problems facing the region concerned. The beneficial effects of this kind of strategy can be seen in the Baltic Sea macro-region, which was launched in 2009. I think that a similar situation should also exist in southern Europe. We should bear in mind that the Mediterranean area has 500 million inhabitants, less than one third of whom live within the European Union. Therefore, while not forgetting the importance of the Baltic Sea macro-region, we must also support a macro-regional strategy in the south, because this is what will do most to foster cooperation between the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. I think a development dynamic based around the Mediterranean could drive forward the whole European economy. This is why I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Giovanni La Via (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The implementation of the EU’s macro-regional strategies has resulted in positive outcomes – as in the Baltic – and certainly ranks among Europe’s best practices in the field of interinstitutional cooperation. I voted in favour of Mr Alfonsi’s report, which aims to develop that strategy further and implement it in those regions where cooperation has shown signs of failing. Application of the macro-regional strategy to the Mediterranean basin is certainly functional, since it fills the communication gap at the various institutional levels and is designed to improve the participatory process so as to raise the level of development in the area it covers. We must therefore work hard to make these strategies more and more effective and efficient in their planned application.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The strategies which have already been developed, such as those for the Baltic Sea or Danube, have been important because they have provided both an integrated framework for tackling the challenges and opportunities present in the relevant region and pilot projects for future macro-regional strategies. Given their success, I think that the European Union can use these models to develop future strategies. Apart from the Mediterranean region mentioned in this report, I would also like to give the example of the Black Sea region, which is well-known for its strategic importance deriving from its great wealth of natural resources and a potential market of more than 350 million consumers.

Unfortunately, Black Sea cooperation plays a fairly modest role in the European Union’s current plans, but I think that the EU should play a significant role in this region by devising a European strategy for the Black Sea. Any strategy will generate major benefits, not only for the states in the Black Sea basin, but also for the whole EU, thereby establishing a real bridge between Europe and Asia.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE ), in writing.(PL) The adoption of macro-regional strategies creates many opportunities. They promote faster territorial-based development, increase social and economic cohesion, concentrate on the challenges and problems of the region concerned and emphasise the role of links between urban and rural areas.

They are also an innovative form of inter-regional and supranational European cooperation, and they contribute to greater cohesion and better coordination of policy in a variety of sectors, as well as supporting job creation and ensuring sustainable growth. Finally, macro-regional strategies enable the establishment of fruitful and constructive relations in EU Neighbourhood Policy, the exchange of good practices and progress built on territorial-based development.

I am a very strong supporter of creating new macro-regional strategies, and I hope that new macro-regions will be established in the near future, including a Carpathian macro-region. For these reasons, I voted in favour of the Alfonsi report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this report. Macro-regional strategies offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects supported by cohesion policy. They can assist the broad EU strategies such as trans-European transport networks or the integrated maritime policy. They can ensure better coordination between regional programmes and the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Véronique Mathieu (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on ‘the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean’, which recognises the added value of the macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea and of these strategies in general. Macro-regional strategies enable the competent authorities from several Member States to come together in order to define similar frameworks for the same mountain range, maritime area, and so on. Thanks to these strategies, investments can be shared between the various actors, priorities can be coordinated and regional funding can be developed using an integrated approach.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Iosif Matula (PPE ), in writing. (RO) Macro-regional strategies provide new platforms for territorial cooperation supported by the EU’s cohesion policy. Although there is no standard definition for macro-regions at the moment, they include territories from several countries or administrative regions which have one or more characteristics in common. Macro-regional strategies were launched three years ago with the strategy for the Baltic Sea macro-region, which set as its objective to target cooperation between the regions in the states around the Baltic Sea in the following areas: environment, prosperity, accessibility and security. This was followed by the strategy for the Danube macro-region, which covers the regions in the Danube basin, with a population of more than 100 million inhabitants and extending over a fifth of the EU’s area.

The Commission was initially reluctant to support these initiatives on the grounds that it would put a strain on the administrative structure, increase costs and be ineffective. However, I think that macro-regions provide European added value and can help implement trans-European energy and transport projects. I supported this report because territorial cooperation between macro-regions can bring benefits to the initiatives from the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs), thereby ensuring the involvement of local and regional authorities, in addition to representatives of civil society, in making decisions aimed at utilising their joint potential efficiently.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because it establishes the basic principles that should guide the EU’s territorial policy process. The criteria established for the Mediterranean region must be the same as those governing the creation of an Atlantic macro-region. Of the population living in the coastal areas of Europe, 60% live on the Atlantic coast. This region is made up of five Member States and more than 35 sub-state entities, with varying levels of political autonomy. It is also a source of wealth, growth and diversity. We should propose the same thing as is happening with the Mediterranean coast for the Atlantic coast, in its maritime dimension as well as its territorial dimension, which, up until recently, was regrettably not part of the Commission’s communication. Consequently, including this region in the development of major European policies regarding infrastructure, such as the trans-European transport network, and maritime policy will generate significant benefits for European citizens.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – I voted in favour because I believe that reinforced cooperation in the Mediterranean area, opened to all partners through a comprehensive macro-regional strategy, is essential for the best use of Structural and Cohesion Funds with more added value for all regions as well as Europe as a whole.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The aim of the Baltic Sea macro-region, which was established in 2009, is to provide better solutions for the economic and environmental problems in this area. On the basis of the experiences acquired here, similar frameworks have been created jointly for different macro-regions in Europe which have common features, such as maritime areas, mountain ranges or river basins, in order to open up new opportunities for territorial cooperation projects as part of cohesion policy. Macro-regional projects may, in principle, have a positive impact on EU Neighbourhood Policy, but a separate macro-regional strategy does not appear to be necessary. There is the risk that the result will simply be to create a large and inefficient system which turns into a bottomless money pit. The argument that an intergovernmental solution should definitely be avoided when organising the macro-regions is hard to understand. I prefer the spontaneous forms of cooperation that we have seen in the past, for example, in the Danube region, to bureaucratic solutions that are set in stone. Therefore, I have voted against the report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Claudio Morganti (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report, not so much because of its Mediterranean Sea dimension, although that is important, but because of the underlying idea of going beyond the now anachronistic divisions associated with the nation states. Reality clearly shows that there are areas and peoples that have all kinds of affinities with one another, even though they belong to different countries. The Baltic experience is typical of what can be a useful process of European integration from the bottom up, in other words, a process initiated in order to share common interests and feelings and not one imposed from above, which, unfortunately, has happened all too often in Europe’s recent history. To refer to the Italian dimension, we have southern Italy, for example, which can and should be included in a Mediterranean macro-regional dimension, and northern Italy, which naturally looks towards the Alps as its frame of reference for development. In that regard, the Presidents of the Alpine regions of Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria met on 29 June in St Gallen, where they laid the foundations for what could become the future macro-region of the Alps. The peoples of Europe, who are all too often sidelined in the European decision-making process, should play a leading role in this macro-region.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Franz Obermayr (NI ), in writing. (DE) In principle, the creation of macro-regions based on common geographic features, such as maritime areas, mountain ranges or river basins, can bring about synergies and valuable improvements in cooperation between neighbouring countries across national borders. Nevertheless, I do not believe it is necessary to establish a separate, institutionalised macro-regional strategy. We must oppose new bureaucratic structures, not least because they involve additional costs and administration. Instead, we should continue to allow macro-regions to form where this seems sensible and, in particular, we should enable the Member States to take the initiative themselves. For this reason, I have voted against this report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Rolandas Paksas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution. I believe that EU macro-regional strategies are an excellent example, helping to address issues that are relevant for the entire region, particularly those related to harmonious and sustainable development, implement cohesion and EU Neighbourhood Policy territorial cooperation projects and use EU funds more effectively. Only by coordinating the positions of the Member States is it possible to exploit the region’s full development potential. I am pleased that the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region launched this process, during which the projects being implemented will not only help to reduce physical distances between people, but will promote creativity, the mobility of ideas and a common regional identity.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE ), in writing. (EL) As territorial cooperation programmes supported by cohesion policy, macro-regional strategies have generated important economic and development benefits for numerous Member States, including Greece. We must not forget that this type of cooperation helped, among other things, to modernise and reconfigure our national road networks and to develop an integrated maritime policy. Obviously, Greece wishes these strategies to continue with maximum support. This report, which I voted in favour of, is a move in that direction and places particular emphasis on the geographical area of the Mediterranean, by proposing, among other things, a clearer macro-regional mechanism than the existing mechanisms, the creation of which is something that our country should pursue, as it harbours important opportunities for economic growth and job creation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I agree with the idea that macro-regional strategies must be developed through wide-ranging consultations that can define the problems on the ground in order to avoid projects that are vague or simply based on immediate or opportunistic political considerations. I voted for this report, as I agree that a ‘pre-development phase’, which organises a round table between the partners involved, identifies the main strategic areas and defines the bases for future governance, is essential for each macro-region, as the rapporteur states.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Franck Proust (PPE ), in writing.(FR) The innovation that macro-regional strategies represent is interesting and the initial results in the Baltic Sea and the Danube are encouraging. I am in favour of this text as it shows Europe’s interest in looking towards the South, the region in which I myself was elected. However, I should like to point out that developing a macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean will be much more difficult than for the rest of the European regions, as the Mediterranean region is a very distinctive area. It is a meeting point, but it is also a border. It is a border for people who share a history, culture, sometimes even the same origins, but whose average income per inhabitant is five times higher in the north than in the south. That is the most marked discrepancy across borders anywhere in the world. It is a border for countries that do not share the same characteristics. Some countries in the south are experiencing a return to democracy with the Arab Spring while others are confined to autocracy. So yes, we must develop a macro-regional strategy. However, we must do it in stages, starting with our closest partners, using culture, tourism, biodiversity, entrepreneurship and so on, and by aligning various existing instruments, such as the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the European Neighbourhood Policy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies, in particular in the Mediterranean, advocating a macro-regional approach which would enable an overall project to be set out in this area vital to the EU’s future, with a view to emerging from the present crisis and responding to the expectations of all its neighbours, particularly those in the southern Mediterranean. In my opinion, this approach makes perfect sense, since the Mediterranean is a coherent whole, constituting a single cultural and environmental area, and sharing several common characteristics and priorities: the same crops, abundant renewable energy sources, particularly solar energy, the importance of tourism, the same natural disaster risks, including fires, floods, earthquakes and water shortages, and risks from human activity, in particular, maritime pollution. A development dynamic based around the Mediterranean could drive forward the whole European economy, a powerful incentive to develop new and active neighbourhood policies, as the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ has highlighted the strategic potential of the geographic, political and economic links between the two sides of the Mediterranean.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jean Roatta (PPE ), in writing.(FR) Launched in 2009, the Baltic Sea macro-region brings together a coherent set of territories that want to cooperate in order to find better solutions to the economic and environmental problems facing them. This cooperation has taken the form of a ‘macro-regional strategy’, designed to coordinate the existing extensive sectoral cooperation and based on four pillars – environment, prosperity, accessibility and security – and an action plan setting out 15 priority areas and 80 flagship projects. The entire Mediterranean basin shares the same natural environment, and its shores are connected by the same history and culture. Significant opportunities exist in southern Europe, which cannot be seized without the coordination and overview permitted by the definition of a macro-regional strategy. In terms of developing potential, maritime traffic must be placed at the heart of a transport strategy for the whole area, particularly for goods. The report also underlines the possibility of boosting the southern dimension of the EU’s Neighbourhood Policy, taking on a concrete territorial dimension which would guarantee greater management of migration flows and impact positively on the performance of the economies of the countries concerned.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – In favour. Launched in 2009, the Baltic Sea macro-region brings together a coherent set of territories that want to cooperate in order to find better solutions to the economic and environmental problems facing them.

This cooperation has taken the form of a ‘macro-regional strategy’, designed to coordinate the existing extensive sectoral cooperation and based on four pillars – environment, prosperity, accessibility and security – and an action plan setting out 15 priority areas and 80 flagship projects.

This experience has inspired other projects. One of these – the Danube macro-region – has taken its first steps. Further projects are envisaged. The institutions concerned, Member States, regions and local authorities are working together to define similar frameworks for other European macro-regions that share common traits: same maritime area, same mountain range, same river basin, etc.

Macro-regional strategies offer new prospects for territorial cooperation projects supported by cohesion policy. They can assist the broad EU strategies, such as trans-European transport networks or the integrated maritime policy. They can ensure better coordination between regional programmes and the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Licia Ronzulli (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Macro-regional strategies offer new prospects for territorial cooperation, which is the basis for the trans-European transport networks and the integrated maritime policy, by providing a reference framework relevant to cohesion policy. Such a framework can influence the respective priorities of every regional development plan, ensuring greater involvement and better cooperation among the EU’s various intervention mechanisms. Macro-regional strategies also pool the resources of regions and Member States through multi-level governance, the only mechanism that can ensure the complementarity of Europe’s regional development policies.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD ), in writing. – A macro-regional strategy in the Mediterranean as a whole, or in sub-regional areas as the Ionian Adriatic region, is important for the development of these regions and for the implementation of adequate tools and measures to create European added value.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE ), in writing.(FR) The macro-regional strategies in the Baltic Sea and the Danube have proven the usefulness of coordinating policies at functional territory level. In the wake of the Arab Spring, rebuilding our relations with the countries of the Mediterranean is an historic necessity. Yet, experience has clearly shown that multilateral relations at local and regional level have just as much impact as broad bilateral agreements. Let us use European experience to help these regions in their democratic transition. There are various advantages to a macro-regional approach: addressing common challenges, linking neighbourhood policy with regional development policy and rethinking multi-level governance and subsidiarity in the Mediterranean area. Consolidating an area of peace, democracy and prosperity around the Mediterranean is the next challenge for the European Union. We must meet the expectations raised during the Arab Spring to revive a Euro-Mediterranean partnership of proximity and projects.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea was adopted in 2009 and was clearly of interest to the Commission, because this new way of cooperating aims to open up a new area for cohesion policy in Europe, the goal being territorial-based development. This strategy seeks to heal the divisions historically created by borders, thereby furthering the integration of new Member States and their regions. Such a macro-regional approach would enable an overall project of Union cooperation to be set out with a view to emerging from the present crisis and offering a concrete response to our neighbours, particularly those in the southern Mediterranean. By voting in favour, therefore, I uphold the importance of territorial cooperation projects, as they would enhance synergies with the major EU strategies, such as the trans-European transport network or the integrated maritime policy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Georgios Stavrakakis (S&D ) , in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report on macro-regional strategies, which help to promote cooperation, enhance synergies with major social Community policies and create real European added value. These strategies should be based on the principle of multi-level governance, in order to safeguard cooperation between local, regional and national authorities. Establishing a macro-regional strategy in the Mediterranean could help the participating states to improve the way in which they address problems caused by the characteristics of certain areas, such as drought, maritime pollution and the development of tourism. As far as the islands are concerned, the Commission should apply a strategic plan to address the structural weaknesses of island territories and make island territories as competitive as mainland territories, so as to reduce the gap between different levels of development among European regions and ensure their effective integration in the single market. This could best be ensured through the allocation of appropriate resources and the adoption of an integrated approach in the fields of transport and energy. We must also hope that the Commission will take a positive stand when considering State aid which constitutes legal compensation with respect to the handicaps of insularity.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report as I support the macro-regional approach to territorial cooperation policies between territories belonging to a services and working area. I believe that macro-regional strategies have opened a new chapter in European territorial cooperation by applying a bottom-up approach and spreading cooperation to more and more areas. I also maintain that, in view of their clear European added value, macro-regional strategies should receive more attention within the framework of European territorial cooperation from 2014 to 2020.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on the evolution of EU macro-regional strategies: present practice and future prospects, especially in the Mediterranean, because I think that macro-regions provide a framework that is conducive to pooling existing initiatives and optimising the use of resources. Parliament’s own-initiative report mentions the status of the current macro-regional strategies, such as the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea and for the Danube region, identifies the priority areas for future macro-regional strategies, and makes recommendations for an EU macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean. We should emphasise that major areas of intervention for a Mediterranean macro-region should target appropriate sub-regional levels for cooperation on specific projects. The major areas of intervention should include energy grids, scientific cooperation and innovation, cultural networks, education and training, tourism, trade, environmental protection, sustainable maritime transport, maritime security and safety and the protection of the marine environment against pollution, overfishing and illegal fishing, strengthening of good governance and effective public administration for encouraging job creation. I think that a macro-regional strategy in the Mediterranean must coordinate existing EU funds, particularly those in relation to the neighbourhood policy, cohesion policy and territorial cooperation policy in order to implement projects addressing common challenges.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE ), in writing. (IT) As rapporteur for the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I actively assisted in drafting the macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean. I see it as a territorial cooperation tool that will achieve greater synergy between the various intervention instruments through multi-level governance. In this respect, the strategy for the Mediterranean may hinge on the need to develop an integrated maritime transport system covering the whole Mediterranean basin and the development of renewable energy.

A fundamental issue that I have worked for in this dossier is to address the island question at a European level and to ask the EU institutions to implement Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by adopting an ad hoc strategy that takes account of the handicaps faced by islands.

Another feature of the dossier is the provision that the Commission, in collaboration with the forthcoming Cypriot Presidency of the EU, will adopt a strategic plan for islands that creates the conditions for economic growth in these territories while ensuring their full territorial continuity. A particularly significant point is the call for the Commission to adopt measures, such as increasing the threshold for de minimis aid for islands in the transport, agriculture and fishery sectors, which will make the islands equally competitive with the mainland territories.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Derek Vaughan (S&D ), in writing. – I support this report, which calls for the economic and environmental problems facing EU regions to be addressed through macro-regional strategies with multi-level governance. These strategies, involving local, regional and national authorities working together, can create new ways of using cohesion policy towards territorial cooperation projects.

This can help work towards broad EU strategies such as trans-European transport networks or integrated maritime policy. It is vitally important that the economic needs of regions are addressed and I hope that these strategies, following on from successful strategies in the Baltic Sea and Danube areas, can bring together territories to find solutions to the problems they face.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL ), in writing.(FR) The Committee on Culture and Education communicated its opinion on the macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean to the Committee on Regional Development. I particularly welcome the adoption of my amendment, included in the text adopted in plenary, on the need to facilitate mobility of artists and the arts in the Mediterranean area by simplifying procedures for granting visas and by optimising programmes of free movement and support for cultural actors, as well as on the importance of the implementation and mutual recognition of the status of artists.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR ), in writing.(CS) I abstained from the report on macro-regional strategies in the Mediterranean. The main reason was the proposed breaking of the ‘three noes rule’, which is essential, in respect of implementation, for avoiding increases in European bureaucracy and the European budget.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing. – I acknowledge that macro-regional strategies put together a cohesive approach for territorial cooperation, meeting the demand for investing in Europe on a territorial basis in this new way. Macro-regional strategies also help in rebuilding links and cooperating in a new fashion. In this regard, the rapporteur supports that macro-regional strategies should be based on the principle of multi-level governance, in order to ensure collaboration among local, regional and national bodies. However, he also recognised that macro-regional strategies are a complex structure in terms of governance and harder to coordinate and facilitate cooperation with. I agree and therefore I supported this report with my vote. I support the implementation of a macro-regional strategy for the Mediterranean basin, in order to structure this essential space for the future of Europe.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD ), in writing.(PL) I think that the EU Member States and regions in the Mediterranean area must commit to a reinforced cooperation approach, and that this must be opened up to all partners in this area which is essential to the future of Europe. Macro-regional strategy is the best way of achieving this goal. The entire Mediterranean basin shares the same natural environment, and its shores are connected by the same history and culture. Significant opportunities exist in southern Europe, which cannot be seized without the coordination and overview permitted by the definition of a macro-regional strategy.

Within the EU, the Mediterranean area is unstructured. Its performance in terms of cooperation and interconnection is very poor. The challenges that must be tackled by the Mediterranean’s political authorities could be better identified within a comprehensive plan and consultation.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Debora Serracchiani (A7-0196/2012 )

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for and I welcome this report, as it highlights the scope of the negotiations between Parliament and the Council which have achieved fundamental changes, in particular, regarding rail sector services, specifically relating to their modernisation and interconnection. More important still is the proposal’s final aim, which is the opening of the domestic rail passenger market and the separation of transport operation management infrastructure, which would undoubtedly not only bring everyone in Europe closer together, but also consolidate the principle of freedom of movement for people in Europe.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution on the single European railway area. This proposal for a directive establishing a single European railway area is a merger of three directives in force and contains provisions regarding the adequate financing of and charging for rail infrastructures, the conditions of competition on the railway market, and the organisational reforms needed to ensure appropriate supervision of the market. I support an adequate, transparent and sustainable funding of the infrastructure, better predictability of the infrastructure development and access conditions, as well as the improvement of the competitiveness of rail operators vis-à-vis other transport modes. It is important that a strong and independent national regulatory body would be established which would exchange information within a network with other national regulatory bodies. Finally, for the successful liberalisation of the railway market, it is necessary to introduce transparent rules for the calculation of track access charges and promote technical harmonisation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing.(FR) Adopted in 2001, the first railway package aimed to improve the attractiveness of rail transport. That reform did not come about. Ten years later, the rail transport sector still has not managed to catch up with other forms of transport. This failure stems primarily from differences between national regulations and the fact that the Member States failed to implement the first railway package. I therefore voted in favour of the recast version of the European railway package, which aims to create a single European railway area. As the fruit of two 10-year periods of bitter negotiations, I particularly supported non-discriminatory access to the railway network, fair competition between railway undertakings, the merging of technical standards, and additional harmonisation in the area of national and cross-border rail transport.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. In order to boost investment in the rail sector, there need to be long-term strategies and multiannual contractual agreements between the state and infrastructure managers so that it is easier for market players to predict how infrastructure will be developed. To attract investments in greener technologies, new charging rules need to be applied and charges need to be differentiated according to the noise emission characteristics of the train for European Train Control System-equipped trains. I agree that we should extend the competence of national regulators, strengthen their powers in areas such as sanctions, audits and investigations carried out on the institution’s initiative, and ensure their independence from other public authorities. It is also important to enhance competition in the rail market through more transparent market access conditions and by providing easier access. I agree with the proposals set out that there should be improved access to services such as maintenance facilities, terminals, passenger information and ticketing facilities, etc., and that explicit rules on conflicts of interest and discriminatory practices should be established.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I think that the regulatory framework for the railway sector in Europe needs to be modified to make it simpler and clearer. This will boost competitiveness, improve the conditions for investment and tighten supervision of the market. I should emphasise that greater transparency regarding the conditions for accessing the market will lead to fair competition for railway companies. At the same time, cooperation between national regulatory authorities will help remove the remaining obstacles preventing access to railway services. This will enable the market to function more efficiently, making it easier for passengers and goods to cross borders.

We must still consider developing the sector with a view to establishing a single European railway area. Railway transport retains its potential for development. However, I believe that the regulations ought to be tightened and harmonised to make it even more attractive.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Regina Bastos (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Since January 2012, a delegation from Parliament has been in informal negotiations with the Council and the Commission to prepare an agreement at second reading on a single European railway area. This recommendation supports the amendments adopted at first reading in plenary, in order to defend Parliament’s position in the ongoing trialogues with the Council, which was adopted with a large majority. It advocates the need for independent regulators to establish a level playing field between large and small railway companies. It proposes that, in the long run, a European regulatory body should be established to oversee cross-border transport. It rejects the Council’s proposals to reduce the duration of the multiannual contractual agreement to three years, and suggests that a duration of seven years should be proposed instead. It advocates the need for transparent rules on access to rail-related services and service facilities to ensure that transport operators can operate their services. I voted for this recommendation for the aforementioned reasons.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing.(FR) Last November, in the vote at first reading, I voted against this recast of the railway package. I still believe that, while progress has been made in terms of transparency, strengthened cooperation between national authorities and multi-year programming of infrastructure projects, these are not enough for me to support this second reading. My main reason for not supporting this package is the commitment it makes to continuing down the path of liberalisation, particularly the repeated, sustained commitment to opening up passenger transport to competition. In this package, the Commission and Parliament have also committed themselves to continuing with plans to separate infrastructure managers and transport services, while in our respective countries, particularly in France, we have seen that this separation causes many problems, and that we ought to go back to the drawing board in order, perhaps, to envisage something other than ever increasing liberalisation.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Phil Bennion (ALDE ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the second reading agreement on the recast of the first railway package as I was convinced that this recast will contribute to improving the functioning of the internal railway market. Establishing a single European railway area has always been an ambitious goal of the European Union, and remains a key instrument of the internal market and the reduction of C02 emissions while remaining an important challenge given the disparities between Member States. Establishing a single railway area requires, in particular, strong and independent national regulators to establish a level playing field between big and small railway companies but also a European regulatory body to ensure a more integrated regulatory oversight of international services. I hope that the European Commission will soon come up with proposals on the fourth railway package that I hope will help us move forward in establishing this single European railway market.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sergio Berlato (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The various national railway systems leave the sector hampered by national boundaries which considerably limit the development of the sector and the competitiveness of rail transport vis-à-vis other modes of transport. In light of that, I would argue that establishing a single European railway area should be one of the European Union’s top priorities. Independent regulators are, in my view, crucial for furthering the construction of a single European railway area and establishing a level playing field for both large and small railway companies. Ultimately, national regulatory bodies should become entities whose decisions are reliable and timely. I agree with the rapporteur that in the longer run, a European regulatory body should be established to oversee cross-border transport effectively. Lastly, I welcome the fact that Parliament has adopted changes to the original text of the proposal to increase the transparency of financial flows, particularly in integrated undertakings that provide rail transport services and infrastructure management.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) A single European railway area should continue to be our objective since having more than 20 national signalling and speed-control systems, which are not compatible with each other, greatly restricts the sector’s development and railway transport’s competitiveness vis-à-vis other means of transport.

To achieve this single area, I believe that two elements are vital. I am referring in this case to the regulatory body and to the key functions of the infrastructure manager. In the long term, I think that a European regulatory body should be created to supervise cross-border transport. To lay the foundations for such a body, a network of national regulatory bodies needs to be set up which must become trusted entities that can take quick, effective decisions. With regard to the infrastructure manager, this person’s key duties should also include the development of the network as he or she is more familiar with the requirements of the entire sector.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Boulland (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the Serracchiani report on a single European railway area. At a time when the Union’s railway area is being divided up, it is vital to legislate by moving towards greater convergence of national regulations. Adopted in 2001, the first railway package aimed to improve the attractiveness of rail transport, but, 10 years later, we find it has not been implemented. In order to compensate for the inadequate development and maintenance of infrastructures, this report proposes to make rail transport – the main mode of transport – an economic vehicle for developing the European territory. Indeed, these structural reforms aim to boost private and public investment so that new operators can enter a more ‘open’ railway market. It is also necessary to safeguard the rules of a fair and non-discriminatory railway market. In addition, fair competition should be guaranteed between rail companies, as should access to reliable, safe and efficient services. I believe that railway transport can be a showcase for European technology around the world.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Arkadiusz Tomasz Bratkowski (PPE ), in writing.(PL) The establishment of a single European railway area undoubtedly creates many opportunities throughout the EU due to the harmonisation of Member States’ legislation. I would therefore like to thank all those involved in drafting Parliament’s position.

With respect to the amendment to Article 2(2)(a), which I support, I would like to point out that creating derogations from a general rule is not necessarily inconsistent with European interest. All the EU institutions highlight the need to create jobs, help small and medium-sized enterprises and create special conditions for areas of reduced competitiveness and outermost areas. It is against this background that I would like to justify the way I voted on this report and the amendment to which I refer. This is particularly the case because I do not understand why the idea of establishing a single railway area should mean ending the operations of a smaller firm – a profitable firm, and one which provides numerous jobs in four regions of high unemployment in Poland.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  John Bufton (EFD ), in writing. – The proposed legislation fails to take into account real practicalities like variances in track size between Member States. In the UK, the high speed networks in St Pancras and Euston also would not match. It would also involve establishing unpopular EU controlled regulatory bodies to enforce the rules. The privatisation of railways in the UK caused many problems and users still suffer from higher prices while operators suffer from delays due to issues regarding track maintenance. This legislation, in effect, would put control of UK rail networks into the hands of Brussels, making services even less accountable to users, despite Brussels arguing the opposite. Whilst it is important that industry is aided by a strong transport network across Europe, Member States should have the freedom to control their own railway networks and work in cooperation with one another.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE ), in writing. (RO) I supported the adoption of the new directive on the single European railway area because the technical incompatibilities between states are a major obstacle hampering the rapidly growing rail freight market where cross-border traffic offers the best potential. They are also hindering the development of a broader European transport network. Increasing interoperability will mean that trains have to be able to operate throughout the whole trans-European network and will help cut operating costs significantly. I strongly support the vision presented by this directive on a European research and innovation policy for transport based on joint efforts striving towards a competitive, resource-efficient transport system.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Antonio Cancian (PPE ), in writing. (IT) During last month’s part-session, the subject of strengthening the single market was amply debated and this Chamber agreed that the operation of the internal market needed to be expanded and implemented by ensuring that the Member States transposed European legislation promptly and in full.

In line with this aim, yesterday, we discussed the recommendation for second reading of the report on the single European railway area. In my view, however, that is just a small step towards creating a genuine European railway market. For too long, we have been hearing about the potential positive effect that fully establishing the single market could have on the EU economy, but then we all dig in behind nationally advantageous positions whenever the chance arises to carry out sectoral reforms to fully establish it.

Without going into detail on the individual provisions, I would point out that we are still prolonging the life of the recast text while awaiting a Commission position that could really lead to full liberalisation of the market, which would, in any case, be impossible today, not to mention the fact that we have given ourselves a good 30 months to transpose the legislation. That is time we can ill afford if we want the internal market to get us out of the crisis.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The existence of independent regulators is crucial for establishing a level playing field between large and small railway companies. The decisions of regulatory bodies should be reliable and timely. In the long run, a European regulatory body should be established to oversee cross-border transport. Meanwhile, regulatory bodies should operate in networks. Parliament has adopted changes to increase the transparency of financial flows, in particular, in integrated undertakings that provide rail transport services and infrastructure management. The wording of the legislation currently in force has led to major differences in interpretation and, consequently, to a number of pending cases at the European Court of Auditors. The need to improve the text on this point to ensure greater clarity is therefore obvious. As I agree with the aforementioned points and with Parliament’s other proposals referred to in this document, I voted for this report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  David Casa (PPE ), in writing. – I am in agreement with the rapporteur that a single European railway area would be beneficial to our Union. It is important that neither national boundaries nor lack of development impede this goal. Due to the fact that they will lead to a strengthening of the overall infrastructure of the EU, for example, by calling for timely implementation and security of funding for these measures, I have voted in favour of these amendments.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) I voted against the report because I disagree totally with the attempt by the European Council and all the political groups in the European Parliament, with the exception of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, to privatise the European railways. I categorically disagree with parameters that create a framework for redundancies and for private companies to assume responsibility for the safety and maintenance of the railways. The privatisation process, especially a process moving in a common European direction, will deprive the Member States of the potential to rationalise, modernise and upgrade public rail networks, so as to improve services to the public and increase public revenue. The complete liberalisation of the railways, especially under the indirect guidance of the European institutions, will do nothing to ensure that they are upgraded. On the contrary, competition between private undertakings will increase the risks still further and, ultimately, society itself will pay the cost of any malfunctions.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Tadeusz Cymański (EFD ), in writing.(PL) I support the idea of a single European railway area. However, both in the Committee on Transport and Tourism (I was deputising for one of its members) and at today’s sitting, I voted for adoption of the special derogation for the Broad Gauge Metallurgical Railway Line in Poland. Despite the efforts of the Polish delegation, this provision was rejected by the majority in Parliament. Stimulating competition in a particular area cannot be done without taking account of disparities between particular countries and regions or without reference to prevailing social conditions.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) In a Europe where citizens are travelling ever more frequently, both for personal enjoyment, whether on holiday or visiting family or friends, and for business, the provision of railway transport services via the European infrastructure should enable railway companies to offer better services to all users, whether dealing with freight or passenger transport.

Therefore, it is vital not only that all partners are given non-discriminatory access to the relevant infrastructures, but also that the most uniform charging scheme possible is devised. I think that the European executive should carry out a study on the method for calculating the charges applied in Member States with the aim of defining a standard calculation method in order to establish an affordable charging system at EU level.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing.(FR) At a time of free movement of goods, capital and people within the European Union, it is only natural that harmonised rules on the use of railway networks should be established at European level. This will improve transparency in the allocation and management of slots and will promote transnational coordination at all levels: available capacities, investments, infrastructure works, operational management and so forth. The creation of a one-stop shop should also allow companies to deal with a single contact, symbolising rail corridor management placed in a European perspective. This regulation is therefore a strong signal in favour of a real European transport and infrastructure policy. It is an essential step towards quicker and more reliable rail freight, and therefore a credible and ecological alternative to long-distance road transport. A real European approach was all the more necessary, as it is on this scale that the rail freight market is relevant.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text, which seeks to improve the mobility of our citizens by ensuring the creation of a more efficient, more competitive and safer railway network across the EU. Parliament is therefore committed to encouraging the development of modern infrastructures and quieter, safer trains that will carry passengers to the four corners of the EU at competitive prices.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on a ‘single European railway area’, which reflects the positive outcomes of negotiations with the Council and the commitments reached, namely, in the area of access to rail transport services, such as the creation of an independent national network of regulatory bodies and an increase in the transparency of financial flows between the infrastructure manager and rail transport companies in integrated undertakings.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D ), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats have a positive view of investing in rail transport in order to make it simpler and faster to travel by train in Europe. However, we do not believe that a single railway area based simply on deregulation and competition can solve the problems that we are facing. Bad examples of overly severe deregulation of railways in Sweden and other countries, for example, demonstrate this. We do not believe that a further opening up of the domestic rail passenger market, for example, will benefit Europe.

What Sweden and other European countries need are increased investments in infrastructure and a common approach to travellers. In order to deal with the cross-border capacity problems, new tracks, reduced vulnerability to disruption and more up-to-date electrification using new technology are needed.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The need to establish a single European railway area stems from a decline in rail transport and aims to reverse this trend and to promote this mode of transport for people and goods, which is quick, safe and less polluting than those running on fossil fuels, particularly air transport. The Member States should closely monitor the implementation of the European railway area and promote the use of this mode of transport domestically, as well as encouraging connectivity between the railway lines of the various Member States. A Europe with a single railway area will be more environmentally friendly and better supplied with goods and services. Following many months of discussion, it has now been possible to reach an agreement with the Council and I would congratulate the rapporteur and the shadow rapporteurs on their work on this report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Ms Serracchiani has presented us with a recommendation for second reading, following the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council which establishes a single European railway area. The construction of a single market at EU level implies a broad set of uniform standards, which often require the elimination of technical barriers, as is the case with rail infrastructure. The need to change carriages at specific borders when travelling between the Member States puts people off and is one reason why this type of transport is underused. It is therefore urgent to standardise the railway gauges of European rail networks. I welcome the fact that, after long and difficult negotiations, it has been possible to reach an agreement on the creation of a single European railway area. Rail service liberalisation will benefit European citizens and companies. I welcome the adoption of this report, as it is a proposal that enhances the functioning of the single market and will bring huge benefits for citizens and companies. Moreover, it constitutes an excellent alternative to road traffic, with huge benefits in terms of energy and the environment.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This directive is yet another episode in the ongoing attack on public rail transport services. The intention is clear: to privatise the profitable areas and leave to the state areas that require significant finance, like building and maintaining infrastructure. The proposed fragmentation is tailored to the sector’s multinationals, which are taking over railway transport and colonising related service markets in various countries. Those who today endorsed this directive will tomorrow be answerable to the workers who lose their jobs, and to those whose working conditions will be downgraded, wages reduced and working hours increased. They will also be responsible for populations deprived of services considered less lucrative, who will pay more for a service of poorer quality. Finally, they will have to respond to worrying threats to the safety of rail travel, because this directive requires the safety standards set out by national authorities to be subject to competition rules.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing.(SK) After enjoying great prosperity during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the railway sector fell into decline due to the increasing popularity of road and air travel and is now becoming less and less popular. In order to curb this decline, the European Union has adopted a number of legislative measures aimed at reviving the railways by gradually creating a single European railway area. In recent years, it has introduced several packages and guidelines by which it has signalled its desire to reform the regulatory framework to ensure the railway sector’s integration at European level and to enable it to face up to the competition from other transport modes on the best possible terms. The transport policy of the European Union has set itself the goal of building an internal market, in particular, by developing common policies in order to achieve competitiveness in the transport sector as well. I firmly believe that it is desirable to make the necessary effort to build a comprehensive and integrated European railway area. In my opinion, the common interests of the EU as a whole – if we are talking about the railway sector – should take precedence over the interests of individual Member States. We need to build a true European railway area in which we should not forget to comply with safety requirements, and this should play a greater role in the licensing of railway undertakings.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Developing the European railway sector to the full is an essential step towards completing the single market across the continent. Maximum freedom of movement and the ability to ship goods without barriers can make the difference between an operational, expanding economic system and a chaotic one that just limps along. At the same time, this process of development needs to be guided by the same principles that regulate the single market, in other words, free competition and transparency. The measures adopted are on the right track in this respect because they aim to stimulate the provision of freight and passenger transport services and ensure fair competition. Establishing strong, independent national regulators coordinated by the European Commission so as to encourage mutual collaboration is the best way to ensure the rules are properly applied, while the requirement for railway companies and infrastructure managers to draw up separate, transparent accounts should prevent any illegal transfers of public funds between these two kinds of body. At the same time, the separation of managers’ and companies’ accounts should stimulate competition, providing the necessary balance between transparency and flexibility to ensure adequate investment.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE ), in writing.(FR) After many months of negotiations, we have at last adopted the recast of the European railway legislation. Although it does not regulate everything, it nevertheless allows rail transport to be strengthened in the EU, particularly by clarifying the roles of the various actors in the rail transport sector. The flagship measures include strengthening the independence of the national regulators and establishing a European network of regulators in order for there to be a uniform interpretation and application of the legislation. Another vital aspect of this recast is the clarification of financial flows between the infrastructure manager and railway undertaking. This vote does not signal the end of the reform of the European railway market. Indeed, next year, the Commission should present new legislative proposals, particularly on the thorny issue of the liberalisation of national passenger transport and on the separation between the infrastructure management and transport operations.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) Officially, it is stated that the amendments to the directive proposed by the European Commission came about in order to develop the rail sector system and establish a single transport market. However, there is concern that some of the proposed provisions may have very negative consequences or be damaging to the Lithuanian rail system. In Lithuania, as in the other Baltic States, the situation in the rail sector is specific due to rail track that does not conform to European standards, and which is largely still integrated into the market of the CIS countries. In this project being discussed, compromises that would be more favourable to Lithuania are put forward. The requirement to separate rail infrastructure from the carriage of passengers and freight, which caused most dissatisfaction, has gone. However, other requirements on guaranteeing the independence of freight terminals, stations, refuelling, route allocation, etc., remain and these cause Lithuanian rail workers just as much concern. Consequently, there may be major problems in future because guaranteeing the independence of these divisions within one undertaking will be practically impossible and then the EU may begin to demand their separation. There are also many doubts about the proposal to make it possible to impose a higher infrastructure levy for the transportation of freight from third countries. It is not clear how this provision would be implemented in practice, especially as there is no doubt that the Commission will demand that levies be reduced and the difference covered by the state budget. The European Parliament will debate the Rail Directive again in the autumn. I hope that it will be possible to find convincing arguments, which lead to wording in the directive that is favourable to Lithuania and guarantees the continued functioning of its rail system.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing.(FR) The establishment of a single European railway area has the aim of improving rail services by increasing competition, strengthening the powers of national regulators and enhancing the framework for investments in this sector. In this perspective, it is vital to guarantee, on the one hand, non-discriminatory access to train paths and service facilities and, on the other, transparency of prices set by independent national regulators. It is also necessary to separate and control accounts so as to ensure that railway undertakings, structurally linked to infrastructure managers, do not have an advantage over their competitors. I supported this report at second reading of the ordinary legislative procedure.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR ), in writing. – I am disappointed that the Parliament has rejected Amendment 12 (Article 2 – paragraph 2a (new)). Although this amendment had initially been supported by the EP, it was dropped in the trialogue. This may have negative consequences for the Polish LHS (Linia Hutnicza Szerokotorowa). This paragraph would have allowed the exemption of the LHS from certain provisions of the directive. The LHS operates a 400-kilometre long broad-gauge railway from the terminal in Sławków in Silesia to the Polish-Ukrainian border. Without this amendment, the directive may be detrimental to the line’s operations. This issue cannot be ignored in the new directive.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE ), in writing.(SK) The EP encourages ambitious proposals with a view to establishing a single European railway area. National railway systems separated by national borders severely restrict the development and competitiveness of the sector compared to other modes of transport. The Council has weakened these proposals in its text. However, the proposed text reinforces the role and powers of national regulatory bodies. The creation of a European regulatory body to oversee cross-border traffic is proposed in the long-term. This would be preceded by a network of national regulators. The EP also calls for the creation of conditions for greater stability in the financing of rail infrastructure and also to increase the transparency of financial flows, particularly in integrated undertakings that provide services and also infrastructure management. I support Parliament’s position.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Constance Le Grip (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report by my colleague, Ms Serracchiani, on establishing a single European railway area. This agreement, designed to optimise the supply and quality of transport services for freight and international travellers, is another step towards integrating rail transport. We have reached an agreement that ensures better use of public funds by monitoring financial flows. In addition, the directive provides for the establishment of independent national regulators so as to make sure that the rules are applied in the Member States. This is therefore another step towards creating a single European rail area.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D ), in writing. – I strongly supported the directive on establishing a single European railway area (recast). Unfortunately, however, the vote on the derogation for the Polish Linia Hutnicza Szerokotorowa line (LHS) was not in favour. The LHS is a 400-kilometre long broad-gauge railway from the terminal in Sławkow in the Upper Silesian Basin to the Polish-Ukrainian border. Having a gauge other than the EU standard one, it constitutes a special case for which the general provisions of the directive do not fit. Since 6% of the entire Polish railway transport performance in 2011 (54 billion tonne-kilometres) were transported on the LHS, the lack of support from the Members of the European Parliament shown today will seriously harm its performance and thus weaken the second largest rail freight market in Europe.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this report and welcome the fact that Parliament has insisted from the beginning on establishing a compulsory mechanism to reduce railway noise emissions caused by trains. Noisy trains have negative effects on people’s health and therefore on their acceptance of rail transport and are ultimately harmful to the development of the sector. An effective noise reduction scheme should therefore be found.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Clemente Mastella (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The establishment of a single European railway area should still be our main objective because the various national railway systems leave the sector hampered by national boundaries which heavily limit the development of the sector and the competitiveness of rail transport vis-à-vis other modes of transport.

We believe independent regulators are crucial for establishing a level playing field for large and small railway companies. We should continue our efforts to achieve a more stable funding situation for railway infrastructure and to increase the transparency of financial flows, in particular, in integrated undertakings that provide rail transport services and infrastructure management.

We therefore insist on establishing a compulsory mechanism to reduce noise emissions caused by trains. Noisy trains have negative effects on people’s health and, therefore, on their acceptance of rail transport and are ultimately harmful for the development of the sector. To increase the role and responsibility of the infrastructure manager is another important goal so that network management can focus more on free competition in the sector.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Véronique Mathieu (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of new rules to increase transparency in the financing of rail infrastructures. The aim is to make the railway area more open to competition and thus offer better services to passengers and freight users. It is necessary to specify the methods of financing this infrastructure, the conditions of competition and the rules for monitoring the market. This is why the national and independent regulatory bodies, which have been given more wide-ranging powers, should exchange information within a European network of regulators. Similarly, the prohibition on transferring public funds from one area of activity to another should ensure healthier competition.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. – This report covers the following changes: 1. the national regulatory body will be much stronger and more independent and there will be a network of national regulatory bodies to coordinate their decision making: 6 weeks maximum for an ordinary complaint procedure. 2. A future European regulatory oversight is envisaged. 3. Another important point is the agreement on stable financing of the infrastructure manager. The multiannual contractual agreement has a minimum duration of 5 years (instead of 3 years) and there is a provision making it compulsory for Member States to balance the infrastructure manager’s accounts over a period of a maximum of 5 years. 4. A major opening of the market of rail-related services compared to the Council’s intention was achieved.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vital Moreira (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for Ms Serracchiani’s report on recasting EU rail transport legislation because it consolidates two key objectives: (i) to make progress in creating a cross-border European railway market, without which a true internal market cannot exist; (ii) to strengthen conditions for rail transport efficiency and enable competition with road and air transport, which do not internalise their extra environmental costs. I also believe that a single European-level railway market cannot be effectively regulated in a fragmented way between national regulators. The creation of a pan-European regulator is therefore required. Hence, the solution put forward of a Board of National Regulators, chaired by the Commission, must be seen as an intermediate solution, as a step towards the creation of a future EU railway regulator, without harming national regulators as decentralised bodies at national level.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ), in writing. (LT) The establishment of a single railway area is an important step towards further EU integration, not just generally improving rail travel in future, but hopefully leading to lower rates for carrying freight and passengers. It is regrettable that the second reading did not take into account those Member States which, in all areas of infrastructure – electricity, gas transmission, rail travel – remain part of the system of the former Soviet Union. The document adopted does not take into account the broad-gauge track used in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland, or important provisions regarding the fact that they need additional funds in order to become full members of the single railway area.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D ), in writing.(PL) Adopting the recast of the first railway package will improve international rail transport. It is extremely important to begin regulating the railway market efficiently. Passengers and businesses involved in the transportation of goods and people should benefit from this.

However, the rejection of the amendment excluding Poland’s Broad Gauge Metallurgical Railway Line from some of the directive’s provisions is worrying. This line is the longest broad-gauge railway in the European Union. It runs 400 km from Poland’s border with Ukraine at Hrubieszów to Sławków railway station in Upper Silesia. This non-electrified single-track route, which uses a Russian broad-gauge track, is one of only a few broad-gauge railways anywhere in the Union, and the general provisions of the package do not take this kind of railway into account.

I regret that the majority of fellow Members did not demonstrate an appreciation of the specific nature of this railway. The final text of the recast railway package may be detrimental to the operation of the line, which has 1 300 employees. However, in view of the package’s other provisions, which I welcome, I decided to vote for its adoption. It is a document which will help develop the international railway transportation market.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Rolandas Paksas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) The implementation of this directive will cause many serious problems, not just for Lithuania, but for the other Baltic countries as well. I believe that the implementation of the provisions on the separation of infrastructure and infrastructure charges will cause a lot of confusion. Above all, this directive does not set out specific requirements for the separation of infrastructure. In order to ensure the development of competition, continued investment and the cost effectiveness of service provision, I believe that different divisions or entities within the same undertaking should manage infrastructure and transport services. It should be noted that the exception provided for in the directive regarding the possibility of imposing a higher levy for the carriage of cargo from third countries is doubtful and difficult to implement in practice. The Commission should, as a matter of urgency, prepare a comparative analysis of the methods for setting the amounts of the levies in the Member States in order to establish a uniform method of calculation to determine the amount of the levies.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) This report is another important step towards a common EU rail system. The document sets out the areas of responsibility and financial liabilities of the managers of the transport systems of the EU and its Member States. I voted in favour of this report because it makes it easier to create greater competition in this sector, promotes increased investment in environmentally friendly rail transport programmes and creates more transparent procedures for financial accounting in the sector. There should be a detailed discussion on whether rail infrastructure managers should be separated from operators. This would also give rail companies from third countries a presence in the EU rail market, whose interests may not necessarily coincide with the goals of EU transport policy. In some EU Member States, it would pose a certain threat to security. Furthermore, when considering the issue of a single European railway area, we should effectively continue to strive to reduce the specific characteristics of the rail systems of certain EU Member States. Rail track in the Baltic States, for example, does not match the standard used in many EU Member States.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE ), in writing. (EL) It is a fact that the relatively slow progress in negotiations between Parliament and the Council to reach agreement on this particular directive is delaying an important EU reform initiative which will potentially generate economic benefits for numerous Member States, including Greece. However, Parliament has no intention of adopting a text which waters down the basic targets of the directive in question, such as access to rail transport-related services, infrastructure financing, infrastructure charges and the powers of the regulatory body.

It is a fact that Parliament and the Commission have adopted a more ambitious political stand and want the directive to be transposed promptly into the national laws of the Member States (within 12 months), compared with the Council, which wants most provisions of the new directive to enter into force within 36 months. The European Parliament therefore decided not to cede on these crucial points. I supported that position by voting in favour of this report.