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Procedure : 2011/2309(INI)
Document stages in plenary
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Texts tabled :

A7-0284/2012

Debates :

PV 20/11/2012 - 11
CRE 20/11/2012 - 11

Votes :

PV 21/11/2012 - 5.13
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0444

Debates
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

6. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
PV
 

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Eva Lichtenberger (A7-0330/2012)

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE). (RO) Mr President, I wish to explain my vote in favour because I believe that monitoring the application of Community law is one of the important tools that allows the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council to combat the effects of the crisis. In my opinion, the obligations in the EU Treaties have not been fulfilled correctly and the procedures were preferential and biased.

Articles 258 and 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union state that if a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaty, they may be subject to infringement proceedings. Unfortunately, this has not happened, and that is why I believe that it is absolutely necessary to revise the regulations.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE). (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I agree with the report and in particular with the rapporteur in noting that the national courts play a vital role in applying EU law. I therefore fully support the Union’s efforts to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges, legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations. Action in this area should also be stepped up in order to live up to the concept of a Union based on the rule of law.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE). – Madam President, I voted for this report. The correct application of EU law is primarily a task for the Member States’ administration and judiciary. Greater access to information on complaints, infringement files and other enforcement mechanisms must be provided. The Commission must follow more closely and with severity the transposition of directives before the end of the transposition deadline. Member States with a bad record should be named and shamed.

We have experienced significant differences among Member States on their political will to transpose EU directives, as well as their capacity to do so. If we continue in this way, the trust of Member States in one another and the trust of their citizens will decrease, with a negative impact on trust in the Union’s capacity to enforce the application of its own laws. Trust unites us and mistrust divides us. Let us stay united.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). (GA) Madam President, I was also pleased to support these proposals and, without a doubt, in the absence of legislation, one cannot have stability and order throughout Europe. However, it is extremely important that the rules should be monitored properly and implemented fairly. As well as that, the Commission should act more promptly in imposing fines on countries or in bringing them to court for not implementing the rules or the laws. Nevertheless, there is another side to the story: sometimes the authorities in those countries are too severe, especially with regard to individuals like farmers and fishermen when they make a minor mistake: terrible penalties are imposed on them, even though the blunders may have been the result of an accident rather than on purpose. Therefore, monitoring should be carried out throughout the whole of Europe so that the laws are uniformly implemented.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, in my own constituency of London there are many people who feel that there is simply too much law coming from Brussels and far too much EU law. But they are also very upset by the fact that, when we have law, it is not implemented properly and that we implement the rules quite early but other Member States do not.

For example, we can look at the completion of the single market, which is essential if we are going to achieve growth in Europe, rather than simply tighten our belts and cut our spending – although that is also essential to get the budget under control. We want more growth and it is essential that we complete the single market to make sure that our companies can trade across national borders. At the same time, it is also important that countries that are fined by the European Court of Justice actually pay their fines rather than avoid doing so, as the French did when they were blockading British beef. So, if you want to talk about the application of EU law, make sure you are consistent and make sure we all stick to the rules.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, sitting through this morning’s debate was a bit like George Orwell’s two minute hate – or rather two hour hate – the subject being the budget and the target being Britain. No one would have gathered, listening to the debate this morning that at least eight and, on some definition, 12 of the 27 national governments have threatened to veto the financial perspective. All of the sneering was directed at us, led as always by Mr Verhofstadt, but with applause coming from every quarter of the Chamber.

I am afraid it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we are simply not popular. I do not mean us politicians, but the people who return us here, which is why the single best reason for us to change our relations with the EU, to become an independent country again, is to improve our relations with our neighbours and take this poison out of the relationship between Britain and the continent. You would lose a bad tenant. You would gain a good neighbour.

 
  
  

Report: Bogusław Sonik (A7-0283/2012)

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE). (RO) Mr President, I abstained from voting on this report, even though I find it balanced. I believe, however, that there is no scientific data to assess the impact of hydraulic fracturing used in shale gas extraction. I also believe that in the European Union, even though there are some relevant specific regulations, the impact on the environment is crucial and all types of exploitation must take it into account. I agree that this method is harmful. This was proved by United States mining impact assessments, which recorded aggressive environmental damage. Unfortunately, no such assessment has been carried out in the European Union, even though the resources are there. We call on the Member States to pay particular attention to how this hydraulic fracturing technology is regulated.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE). (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, in recent years the extraction of ‘unconventional’ hydrocarbons, notably shale gas but also shale oil, has led to unprecedented and radical changes in global energy markets. In order to respond to this situation, Europe will have to rely less on imports of hydrocarbons and more on potential indigenous shale gas. To this end, a number of Member States have permitted shale gas exploration and are preparing for extraction if discoveries allow. In this context it is important to monitor regulatory regimes on shale gas extraction within the EU, so that its effects, which are certainly positive in economic terms, do not create environmental problems due to potential leakages of harmful substances into aquifers and into the atmosphere.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE). (ES) Madam President, with our vote we wished to support a very clear concept: there must be no exploitation and no exploration, using any technology, be it fracking or whatever, unless we can ensure that it complies with the environmental laws and meets the rigorous environmental protection standards.

Europe needs alternative energy sources, but it is also committed to a development model based on sustainability.

Unconventional gas reserves are an opportunity today – that is true – but if Europe wants to remain at the forefront of researching and discovering technologies that allow us to exploit this resource without putting the environment at risk, there must be no exploitation and no exploration, until we improve on existing technologies.

 
  
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  Marek Józef Gróbarczyk (ECR). (PL) Madam President, the original version of the report on shale gas extraction has been rendered completely unrecognisable by changes that reveal the real aim of the proposed regulation. Development, economic growth, energy security – everything that could provide an opportunity for many European Union Member States – will be blocked as a result of today’s decision. This is all happening amid a clamour for deeper European integration and more Europe in Europe. At the same time, under the shale gas programme in the United States, the price consumers pay for this fuel has fallen to USD 70 per 1 000 m3 while we in Europe have to pay eight times as much to Russia, which is the only country to benefit from this absurd situation. The final version of this report is damaging to the sovereignty and security of individual countries, circumstances to which we can never agree.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, in the time of economic downturn energy prices are under the microscope. We therefore have to consider all sources of energy available to us while respecting, of course, environmental concerns. We must also explore all our options and I therefore could not support this report in its existing form. This report may focus on regions and countries that have introduced a moratorium on shale gas. However, there are plenty of regions that are on their way to becoming more energy efficient and self-sustaining because of responsible exploitation of this resource.

We need to balance the debate. If the EU is to compete with other areas of the world who are busy exploiting this resource in a responsible way we need to learn from them, particularly from the US in this regard, and without delay in order for us to be economically competitive too.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE). (IT) Madam President, Mr Sonik had a long and complex task, and overall we should welcome his report. However, it is clear that there are still many doubts about extraction of shale gas and oil. The other speeches we have heard also share this view, in particular with regard to environmental and public health protection. I therefore welcome the series of studies undertaken by the European Commission on potential risks resulting from shale gas extraction. Only on the basis of their results will we be able to give a clear answer and be in a position to adopt a new EU framework Directive for regulating mining activities.

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE). (IT) Madam President, there are two aspects to the measure that we have adopted, one geopolitical and the other environmental. Geopolitically the introduction of shale gas extraction could have a positive effect for Europe, since it might reduce our dependence on Iranian and Russian resources, but there are strong environmental concerns. This apparently harmless gas may have a severe impact on the environment, on nature and on the coming generations. The resolution we have adopted therefore takes a cautious approach and introduces a moratorium. However, we will have to return to the question to assess the environmental effects.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, the dangers of fracking to the environment and to public health are so serious in my opinion that they cannot be regulated for. That is why I signed the amendment seeking a total ban, and when that amendment was defeated I voted against the report as a whole.

Incredibly, the water used for one single well for fracking would supply 10 000 Europeans with water for a whole year, and a recent German study states that the global warming footprint of shale gas extracted at a depth of 1 000 metres is 30 % larger than for natural gas, and it is twice as large for gas obtained 2 500 metres down.

This environmentally dangerous practice must be banned. It is precisely the same big oil and big gas companies that have already made super profits, and that have already endangered our environment, who now tell us that shale gas is safe and that there is no problem. They simply cannot be trusted. Instead of relying on them, the public sector must become the spearhead of investment into research and development and infrastructure to develop green energy production. This can be financed through taking the massive accumulated profits of big oil into democratic public ownership.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report. It is important for us to discuss shale gas and oil here from the perspectives of industry, energy and other viewpoints, and of course it is important that we discuss them bearing in mind the environmental considerations, because we in the European Union and the Member States are committed to sustainable development and sustainable growth, and for this reason it is very important that we consider how best to use European energy resources when we look for these new forms of energy and new technologies.

However, when we talk about better use, this must not merely be regarded as financial benefit and financial profit, but we must also look at environmental values. I must say that it is very important in this respect to emphasise precisely this aspect of the report; new technologies and investment are needed, and we can thus develop our mining industry in a sustainable way.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Madam President, I must say I regret that the amendment I co-signed, requesting Member States to act on the precautionary principle and not to authorise any fracking, was not carried. While I understand that this is a Member State competence, nonetheless I believe it would have sent a strong signal from this Parliament.

I think we need to take into consideration the views of the Commissioner for the Environment, who just yesterday evening spoke in this Parliament He said that there are gaps in European legislation and he confirmed that the Commission will carry out an impact assessment in 2013 – part of which will be a public consultation. At least that will give citizens and the public a chance to have an input and to make their views known.

In my own constituency, there are plans to drill exploratory wells for fracking and many people have real concerns about the environment and about human and animal health. The poor record of fracking in the US gives us every reason to be concerned, and there is no proper framework in place to ensure the protection of the environment and the protection of human and animal health.

 
  
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  Paweł Robert Kowal (ECR). (PL) Madam President, today is the day we dispelled illusions, in particular the illusions of those who thought that Parliament could make a positive contribution on the subject of shale fuels. We know, from listening to the debate, what end this report will serve. I therefore call on all Members whose intentions are honest and who wish Poland and other countries to make use of the opportunity represented by shale gas and oil not to agree to any further regulation in this regard. I abstained from this vote in order to make the point that it is not a matter for the European Parliament; it is a matter for the Member States and their governments and should be left to them to decide.

The effects of today’s vote will include lagging competitiveness in shale gas and oil extraction in Europe (allowing the United States to increase its lead further still) and slowness in Poland and other European countries to seize the opportunity to generate revenue from shale fuels (others will get there quicker), leaving us without any benefits and allowing Parliament to be sucked in by all manner of ideological arguments and nonsense peddled by the European Left against the prospect of development in those countries for which shale extraction offers an opportunity.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR). (PL) Madam President, I am firmly opposed to the final version of this report. I mistakenly voted in favour of it and would like to correct that now. I was, am and will remain against it, especially as the series of amendments tabled has undermined the report’s effectiveness. I believe that the problem here is a complete misunderstanding of the situation. I do not wish to get into the workings of the nuclear energy lobby or the Gazprom lobby or any other pressure Group. I have the impression, however, that many of my fellow Members lack any empathy with or understanding for the issue at stake. It is my firm belief that Parliament’s decision today is extremely damaging and does nothing to strengthen the authority of the EU institutions.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, cheaper energy is the chief motor of human economic progress. Every great advance in our living standards, from the Industrial Revolution onwards, has been accompanied by a fall in energy prices that allows production prices to fall and makes us more competitive. It allows us to get more out of less. The revolution which happened with oil was a huge improvement. It allowed one barrel to do the work of hundreds of men and all of us are benefiting from the consequent rise in our living standards.

Shale oil is a providential gift to this part of the world. Instead of having to carpet our hills with wind farms and dam our estuaries with turbines, here is a discreet way of getting at more power and ending our reliance on some unpleasant and autocratic regimes. It is crazy that we are thinking of applying the same regulatory model to shale gas extraction that the European Union has already unsuccessfully tried to apply to offshore oil extraction. Our customers, our people deserve better than this.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, actually shale gas and shale oil are nothing new. Shale oil was actually used to light the streets of Modena in Italy in the 17th century so this debate is not new. But what is important is that we consider the impact not only on the environment but also the impact of the environmental movement on this. It is often said that if the modern combustion engine was invented today the environmental movement would have killed it and we have to understand that we have to get the right balance between technological progress and saving our environment and protecting our environment.

At the same time, however, we must not also forget the geopolitical implications. I can understand the frustration of my Polish colleagues who are fed up of dependence on Russia and hear no sympathy in this Parliament from the other political groups. They see shale oil and shale gas as a way of reducing that dependence, so that they can be self-sufficient and not have to depend on an overbearing neighbour, and that should seriously be a consideration in this debate.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because shale gas is increasingly viewed as a viable resource. It is still too early to predict if Europe can undertake in large-scale exploitation of this type of gas, even though some Member States have already allowed for exploration with a view to extracting this resource.

Each Member State has the right to choose its own energy supplies. In my view, there is no reason not to allow the extraction of shale gas, as long as environmental standards are respected, and I would like to reiterate that shale gas mining falls within the national competence of each Member State.

 
  
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  Kristian Vigenin (S&D). (BG) I voted for the report on the environmental impact of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. With this report the European Parliament insists on a number of regulations for the energy industry extracting shale gas. The most important of them, defended by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, are the following: European Union funding for research and innovation in the field, compulsory environmental impact assessment, fracking fluids to be considered hazardous waste, and fracking in areas with drinking water to be banned. The adoption of the report should not be seen as a green light for shale gas extraction in the EU Member States or indicative of the European Parliament’s support in this direction. First and foremost, it lays down restrictions and standards that should be observed in the countries where such extraction is permitted. I, personally, am in favour of the complete ban on shale gas extraction through fracking and hope that Bulgaria will remain one of the countries where such extraction is prohibited.

 
  
  

Report: Niki Tzavela (A7-0284/2012)

 
  
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  George Lyon (ALDE). – Madam President, I voted for both the Sonik and the Tzavela reports on the impact of shale gas. I am very pleased that Parliament rejected the calls for a moratorium, not least because it certainly is a Member State responsibility and not an EU one.

Given the energy needs of Europe and our reliance on imported gas from Russia, it is essential that we explore all the options that are available to us, while ensuring that we have proper environmental controls and regulations to put in place to ensure that the environment is properly protected. We need to get that balance right or else we may choke off the potential that this new technology offers to us.

This also has to go hand in hand with further investment in renewables as part of an energy mix that secures the future of EU energy needs going into the future.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE). (RO) Mr President, I abstained. Even though the report mentions scientific data on shale gas mining, there are still many unknowns. I accept that Europe is not competitive when it comes to energy resources. I also accept that the cost and the dependence on gas imports are high. However, we must strike a balance between our energy needs and environmental damage, which can be disastrous, in the medium and long term. We have yet to see an analysis of the impact on water and soil quality, flora and fauna, natural resources and agriculture, and on all economic activities in general.

I welcome this report, however, and I call on the European Environmental Agency to complete the scientific analysis of these potential impacts. Sadly, many Member States wishing to avail of shale gas extraction do not yet have the technological capability to assess its environmental impact. In our drive to resolve a problem of the present, we should consider how this may affect the future.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, unlike the previous report emanating form the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, I can support this report, as it makes clear that it is up to each Member State to make responsible decisions concerning shale gas. Yet it is clearly within the EU’s wider goals of enhancing energy independence to be open to exploiting this resource further.

The energy aspect to this issue is one thing. But the research aspect is also to be considered, as many of the techniques involved in safely accessing shale gas have led to leaps forward in research as new innovative techniques have been developed and continue to be developed as the technology matures. The wider usages for these technologies are yet to be explored but should be considered a priority for EU research and innovation funding too.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE). (DA) Madam President, I voted in favour today. The price of gas in the US is one-fifth of the price of gas in Europe, and therefore we must naturally not exclude new forms of energy. Of course, there cannot be any doubt that we must strive to ensure that the environmental conditions are appropriate. I think we have heard the left come up with some scare campaigns in this area today. I can tell you that this technique, which is in use, is not very different from the technique used today and which has been used for many years in the North Sea, where we look for oil. It is actually the same technique that is used, and the running of scare campaigns in this area must therefore be stopped. Europe needs more energy supplies.

 
  
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  Eduard Kukan (PPE). (SK) Madam President, I supported Niki Tzavela’s report on the extraction of shale gas in today’s vote.

I think that, despite the fact that such extraction is associated with many risks for the natural environment, it is necessary to examine and determine the potential this source of energy represents for the energy industry in the European Union. In the present situation, when it is essential to find a way to diversify energy sources, we should look at this option too. I also agree that this case calls for the use of the principle of subsidiarity, so that Member States have the option of determining their own energy mix. I also suggest that any extraction should take account of European environmental standards.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Madam President, I voted against this report. It is largely supportive of fracking and sees fracking as a core element of the European energy mix. The report does not consider the precautionary principle and is way too optimistic in regard to fracking. Just yesterday in this Chamber, the Commissioner for the Environment himself spoke about the risks from fracking and said that they were higher than those from conventional gas exploration. He also said that there are significant gaps in EU legislation in regard to fracking.

In my view these gaps include the need for a mining directive, the necessity to expand the remit of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and gaps in the Water Framework Directive. In my own constituency there are very serious concerns in regard to fracking and its consequences for animal and human health, the destruction of the landscape and damage to our clean, green image.

Finally, we are facing a fossil fuel cliff globally. Shale gas may have postponed the awful day, but our energy mix in the future will not be fossil fuel based. We need to direct our energies and our resources to sustainable renewable energy sources.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). (GA) Madam President, I was here in Parliament yesterday for three hours or more when this subject – shale gas – was being debated. I did not succeed in having any input through ‘catch the eye’ although another Member managed to do so two or three times because, I believe, he misused the ‘blue card’. Be that as it may, I voted with my group on the votes here today.

Having listened to the debate yesterday, so many diverse points were made that it was very difficult to come to a balanced conclusion. Certainly there are concerns, particularly regarding the environmental aspects of shale gas, but I think, of all the speeches I have heard, the one by Kay Swinburne was probably the most balanced. It is a matter for the Member States. We have to allow for research and development. That is why I particularly welcome the oral amendment today where all stakeholders are to be consulted before the Commission makes its report next year.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, there were moments today during the debate when one felt as if one was in an Ionesco play. All these wonderful speeches about how we needed more money to stimulate the economy and get people working again. Of course, where it is all going is higher entertainment allowances, protected pensions, higher salaries. Even if we though that it was a good idea for the EU to have a redistributory role in finance, do you know which Member State of all the Member States is the biggest per capita net recipient from the EU budget? Luxembourg!

Although of course common humanity bids us recognise an obligation to the poorest people on the planet, no one has ever explained to me why it is right to give four times as much support to wealthy French farmers as to poor African farmers. But the delicious moment of irony came right at the end. After all the speeches about how we needed more money to make us more efficient and we were cutting out all the waste and we were really focusing on growth, the EU spent EUR 600 000 awarding its own film prize.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, we all know that our constituents are worried about higher fuel prices, whether home fuel or petrol prices, so they welcome the view that we are looking for alternatives. It is important that we do not stop technological progress. Quite often technological progress leads to cheaper fuel for everyone.

It is absolutely right that we have the environmental impact assessment and that we understand that there are different types of ways of extracting shale gas and shale oil, but think of the geopolitical issues. Think of the fact that it reduces dependence on some states on which it would be very useful for us to reduce dependence. Think of the fact that countries such as Poland will no longer be dependent on Russia for their energy needs. Think of the potential for the United States and other countries to no longer be dependent on oil from some of the most unpleasant regimes in the Middle East.

A reason for which we used to support some of these dictatorial regimes was that we wanted their oil. So it is important that we understand all these impacts and give as much support as possible to the promotion of shale gas extraction, as long as we get the right balance between the benefits and the environmental concerns.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE). (RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because Europe needs alternative energy resources. Romania has at present authorised some shale gas exploration by the American company Chevron. If the gas resources are there, Romania would be able to secure its energy supply.

If gas resources are found in the Black Sea region, Romania will certainly ensure that the environmental standards are respected. The reputation of the exploration company indicates that the best technologies will be used and that environmental damage will be avoided.

Jobs can be created through the exploitation of a state’s own natural resources, not only through foreign investment, which is why greater public awareness of shale gas activities and a political debate on them is necessary.

 
  
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  Jacek Protasiewicz (PPE). (PL) Madam President, it was probably a mechanical error that prevented the registration of my vote in favour of Ms Tzavela’s report, because I strongly support making use of the opportunity presented by shale gas, both in order to achieve a low-emissions economy and for the sake of economic growth itself. I would like to say, however, that I do not dismiss the concerns about shale gas extraction, in particular with regard to hydraulic fracturing, referred to by Mr Sonik. I am aware that there are fears, and possibly even actual risks, which it is why it is good for gas extraction to be carried out in accordance with strict environmental standards. I do not share the views of my colleagues in the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, as paragraph 2 of Mr Sonik’s report clearly states that competence for shale gas extraction and energy matters lies with the Member States, not the European Union. I welcome the fact that a moratorium was rejected. I invite all those who have concerns, but are curious to learn what shale gas extraction looks like, to the exhibition taking place right now, where they can find out about the facts, not the threats or myths.

 
  
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  Jacek Olgierd Kurski (EFD). (PL) Madam President, today Parliament has issued two contradictory messages: a ‘yes’ to shale gas in the report drafted by Niki Tzavela and a ‘no’ to shale gas in the report drafted by Bogusław Sonik. I am astonished by the behaviour of Members on that side of the Chamber, who are doing everything to ensure that Europe becomes weaker both economically and in terms of its energy supply. I am astonished that Members on that side of the Chamber, who voted against the report drafted by Niki Tzavela, should act contrary to the principle of energy solidarity within Europe and the principle of a competitive Europe. Europe will become competitive only when it has access to cheap energy resources of its own. The United States became even stronger than before once it went from being a net importer of gas to an exporter of gas to the world thanks to its own shale gas resources. It is for these reasons that Niki Tzavela’s report deserved to be supported. I am proud that Ms Tzavela was able to present her report in Poland at a special seminar organised by Solidarna Polska and that this report has successfully opened the way for the industrial exploitation of shale gas in Europe. Let us hope that it becomes a reality.

 
  
  

Report: Giles Chichester (A7-0240/2012)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Mr President, I have to admit that I am not always sure how effective petitioning the EU is. The work of the Committee on Petitions I leave in the capable hands of my colleague and today’s rapporteur, Giles Chichester.

However, this year I am really glad that he has chosen to highlight the issues faced in Spain with regard to the operation of coastal laws. One of the small things my constituents do not understand is why the EU cannot do more in ensuring that their rights are upheld when they choose to invest in property and live in another EU Member State. The arbitrary application of certain planning laws by regional governments is an issue that I am glad the Petitions Committee is seeking to highlight, and hopefully address.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR). (PL) Madam President, the Committee on Petitions is an extremely important tool for ensuring that the public is able to draw the attention of the European Union institutions to administrative irregularities in the Member States. Each year Parliament receives an increasing number of complaints from Poland, including those submitted via MEPs, among which instances of blatant discrimination by authorities in other Member States stand out in particular.

I would like to refer here, primarily, to the activities of the German Child and Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt), whose care policy is a source of great controversy. I welcome the fact that the Committee on Petitions has taken action in this regard and I hope to see some results.

A considerable number of petitions concern matters relating to the activities of the internal market, which also shows how important it is for us to work on systematically improving how it operates and on increasing the level of protection enjoyed by citizens.

I support the call for decisive action with regard to waste management, including in the aim of preventing the emergence of illegal waste dumps in cross-border areas. I am in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Madam President, since 1997 over 20 000 petitions have been assessed by the Committee on Petitions and every year several hundred petitioners attend the committee and speak on their petitions. That certainly indicates that there is a genuine link between the citizens and the EU institutions. However, the reason that they are there in first place is because there are issues in relation to either the transposition or the implementation of European legislation.

Many petitions have been presented this year but one particular issue has been highlighted again and again, and that is the issue of access for EU citizens. That might be in the area of recognition of their professional qualifications, the portability of social security rights etc.

One particular issue relates to persons with a disability. In theory they are entitled to free movement, to travel, to work and to live in another Member State but if they require a personal assistant then that is a particular obstacle and the whole idea of free movement means nothing because personal assistants are not available in all Member States. If that issue were to be dealt with then I think the idea of free movement would be a reality for those people.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). (GA) Madam President, not only was I present at the debate yesterday but I was given the chance to speak as well. I praised the committee’s work and I voted for all of the motions for resolutions tabled here today by Mr Chichester.

I would like to thank the rapporteur, Giles Chichester, and also my Irish colleague Marian Harkin for their good work. I think sometimes we do not give them enough credit for the many hours they put in, dealing with issues of a very personal nature but of a very important nature for those who make the petitions.

I have seen that on a personal basis, in particular in relation to Haulbowline in Cork. Shortly I will be having another petition coming forward by a citizen who has concerns about the side effects of a drug he was prescribed.

I think it is one way where citizens can really see the European Union working and taking care of them and getting justice they could not get if they were not members of the European Union. I think we should advertise that more.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR). (PL) Madam President, the Committee on Petitions really does act as a transmission belt for the petitions, complaints and problems referred by citizens, taxpayers and voters in the EU Member States to the European Union as such. It genuinely plays a crucial role. I would remind you of its work during the last term, when it handled such important political issues as the Nord Stream gas pipeline and the withdrawal of licences from Catholic radio stations in Spain, matters that were followed up, as well as issues affecting the lives of ordinary citizens, such as additional taxation on vehicles imported into Poland. Last year, the number of petitions submitted to the committee increased, which is a good sign. I hope that it will continue its work with regard to the German Child and Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt), an authority that sadly very often reaches controversial decisions concerning the children of mixed-nationality couples, whether Polish-German, Franco-German or Italian-German.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, one of the issues which came before the Committee on Petitions, which I think has exercised Members from across the Chamber and from all Member States, was the abuses of Spanish property law, particularly in the Comunidad Valenciana. I cannot be alone in having had so much traffic from constituents who had had property expropriated or threatened. It was actually easier in the end for me to go to Valencia, rather than trying to pursue them all individually from my end. It was a good example – let me fair about this – of the European Union tackling a real problem in a practical way, drawing to the attention of a member government that it could do something better without any coercion. Although we did not solve that issue a hundred percent, I think we got much of what we wanted.

It would be nice if we extended a similar readiness to listen to petitions to other issues. You will have heard this morning, one after another, my colleagues standing up and saying that we need bigger and bigger budgets and then the Commissioner responding and saying that he had listened to the debate and that it showed how much we were all in touch with the citizens of Europe. I would suggest that it shows precisely the opposite. I hope that we will be able to use this petitions procedure for people to be able to ask for less Europe, rather than just for the existing institutions to do other things.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, one of the issues which has come before the Committee on Petitions – and an issue which affects us all in this Chamber because a number of acquisitions are affected – concerns those who have sought to buy properties – particularly those who have sought to buy in Spain and who have been affected by the Spanish coastal laws.

This actually goes back to an earlier debate today: the discussion on the application of EU law. Because one of the things my constituents say to me is: Hold on a minute – we are supposed to be in this EU; we are supposed to have free movement of people; we are supposed to be able to buy property elsewhere yet, when we buy a property in Spain, the regions in Spain use local laws to undermine our ability and to actually demand even more money from us. How is it that the EU, at the same time as encouraging free movement of people, cannot do anything about corruption at the local level in Spain?

I think it is important that this issue is brought to the Petitions Committee so we can demonstrate right across the spectrum that MEPs in this House are concerned about issues like that. Hopefully we will find a resolution whereby the Spanish Government and the Spanish regions will finally tackle corruption at the local level.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Appointment of new Commissioner

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted against this appointment. France is preparing to make crucial progress on equal rights by adopting a law on marriage for all, at last joining several other Member States who have done the same. I believe that Tonio Borg’s appointment would contradict that progress in France and in Europe. His proposed portfolio – European Commissioner for Health – is fundamentally incompatible with his past statements and actions on contraception, abortion, and homosexual and transsexual rights. The holder of this position is meant to work for all European citizens, irrespective of their sex and their sexual orientation. Against a backdrop of particularly vicious comments and acts by extremists in France, appointing Tonio Borg would mean that Europe can accommodate such deviations. It is clear to all French Socialists that fundamental rights are not a matter for subsidiarity: they are universal. Irrespective of competence, this is an ethical matter: the European citizens have the right to expect Europe and the European Commissioners to defend these values without fail.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I welcome the appointment of the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Tonio Borg, and I wish him success in his new role.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Tonio Borg has just been appointed Commissioner responsible for health and consumer policy. During his hearing before the European Parliament, he assured the Members of the European Parliament that he would put respect for European law before his own personal beliefs on abortion and homosexuality. He promised, in particular, to respect fully the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. We have taken note of that promise, but we will remain vigilant. From now on, we expect the new Commissioner to exercise this discretion in all of the areas covered by his mandate, starting with health and including sexual and genetic rights.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) After the resignation of Commissioner Dalli, it was essential to quickly appoint a new Commissioner to take over a number of urgent issues, such as the Tobacco Products Directive, genetically modified organisms and cosmetic testing. I am therefore pleased that Parliament voted in favour of Tonio Borg’s appointment. At his hearing with several parliamentary committees, he demonstrated extensive knowledge of the issues covered by his portfolio. While I will pay close attention to the positions he adopts, I wish Commissioner Borg every success in his role.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted against the appointment of Tonio Borg as Commissioner for the remainder of the term of office, because I consider that he would be unable to guarantee impartiality and independence in the performance of his duties, not only as Commissioner for Health, but also as a Member of the Commission when decisions on the sexual and reproductive rights of women are required.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) At the sitting of 21 November, I supported the candidacy of Tonio Borg of Malta for the post of Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. His appointment was approved by 386 votes in favour, and I welcome that result. After John Dalli’s resignation, Tonio Borg attended a hearing on 13 November with the members of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection. At that hearing, he emphasised his political competences. He also answered all of the questions on the legislative matters under negotiation, thus demonstrating a good knowledge of his portfolio. Finally, he promised to get the negotiations on the Tobacco Products Directive back on track directly after his appointment.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted against the appointment of Tonio Borg as a European Commissioner.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted against Mr Tonio Borg’s appointment as European Commissioner for several reasons.

Mr Borg has expressed and applied policies in his own country that contradict a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body. I refuse to condone such policies.

He has demonstrated time and time again his fierce opposition to equal rights, either between women and men or between heterosexuals, homosexuals and transgender people. I condemn this refusal to recognise the equality of every human being before the law.

Nor is Mr Borg very clear when it comes to genetically modified organisms and food in general, which is unacceptable for someone who is preparing to become the Commissioner responsible for health and consumer protection; not to mention his indifference towards the conflicts of interest in the European agencies.

Finally, he leans towards the right and the far right at that. For all of these reasons, I absolutely refuse to support his appointment.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. I am sure that Mr Borg would be a good Commissioner. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I congratulate the Commissioner who is coming to work at a difficult time and is receiving a substantial portfolio of unfinished jobs. I hope that the new Commissioner for Health will continue the jobs begun and will be as principled as his predecessor on matters of both food safety and public health. I hope that he will also soon present the promised legislation in these fields (here I am referring above all to the regulation of novel foods and tobacco products).

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing. (PL) Tonio Borg has, on numerous occasions, publicly voiced radical opinions on the issues of abortion and same-sex relationships. Particularly shocking was his statement that Maltese law should protect only those who ‘deserve’ protection, in the context of a discussion on granting same-sex couples the right to apply for social housing. This is in addition to his strong opposition to divorce, which was recently the subject of a referendum in Malta. Tonio Borg is the Commissioner-designate for health. This is an area of political activity that is particularly susceptible to the influence of a Commissioner’s personal convictions. Mr Borg’s beliefs concerning abortion and homosexuality are of special relevance in this regard. The matter of abortion is, of course, governed by national law. However, the Commission and individual Commissioners can contribute to the climate in which that legislation is enforced.

Poland’s abortion legislation is unusually restrictive. Worse still, in many cases in which abortion is permitted, access to it in practice is made difficult or even impossible. That is why the appointment of a staunch opponent of abortion to the position of Commissioner for Health should set off alarm bells.

The same is true with regard to same-sex couples. I am particularly concerned here with access for same-sex partners to information about their partner’s state of health. In many Member States, the practice in this regard is incompatible with the principle of respect for human dignity. In view of the above, I decided to vote against Tonio Borg’s appointment as Commissioner.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) As all the procedures established for the public hearing and scrutiny of the new Commissioner have been completed, I voted for the appointment of Tonio Borg as Commissioner for the remainder of the Commission’s term of office, which will end on 31 October 2014.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) I voted against. Today’s vote clearly reflects a lack of agreement over Mr Borg’s ability to be a European Commissioner. There are serious reservations about his appointment, since he was unable to clear up a number of serious concerns about his beliefs on some moral issues linked to his portfolio. Our group voted against this appointment, but now hopes that he will be proactive in promoting policies based on the European Union’s fundamental values, and this is something that the European Commission and the European Parliament will have to monitor and ensure. Mr Borg must become an ardent supporter of robust European legislation on tobacco products. The controversy surrounding this issue, heightened by Mr Dalli’s resignation, has raised serious concerns about the influence of the tobacco lobby. Mr Borg must ensure that this draft legislation is published as soon as possible and that his priority is the protection of human health, not the profits of the tobacco industry. We would also emphasise his promise to launch the inter-service consultation as soon as he takes up his post. Tobacco is the leading cause of death in Europe: ensuring tougher European rules on labelling and other aspects clearly has to be a priority.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Schroedter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (DE) I did not vote for Tonio Borg’s appointment as Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. His appointment is likely to herald a rollback in citizens’ fundamental rights. I believe he lacks the willingness to engage with and lobby for the fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter. However, this is the very area where we need progress, not setbacks. As part of his portfolio, he must also campaign for the rights of same-sex couples and women’s right of self-determination. Will he do so, however? I can scarcely conceal my disappointment that he has, nonetheless, secured majority support in the House. It will now be up to us, as Members of the European Parliament, to limit his conservative influence over European legislation.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) I believe that Mr Borg is fully qualified for the portfolio of Commissioner for Health. In his letter of two days ago, Mr Borg clarified and reassured Parliament on some concerns that had been raised with regard to his designation. At last week’s hearing, he confirmed his commitment to areas I view as important, such as agriculture, the environment and the internal market.

I think it is essential to underline Mr Borg’s professional qualities, since he has considerable experience in health and consumer protection. We should judge these aspects, which relate to the protection of citizens, when it comes to designating a Commissioner. I also take a favourable view of his stance on genetically modified organisms, labelling, indications of origin, food safety, and his commitment to an important legislative proposal on tobacco.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing. (FR) I regret the choice for this role. Through his words, Mr Borg has shown throughout his career that he is a man of exclusion, not inclusion, trampling on gender equality and women’s rights, stigmatising homosexuals and rejecting those who do not share his beliefs.

European Commissioners are supposed to represent all Europeans. It is a mistake and an aberration to propose a man whose positions throughout his career represented a step backwards for women’s rights and even human dignity, especially when the crisis is already excluding many citizens. As we are in favour of a Europe for all Europeans, not just a few, we must vote against this appointment.

 
  
  

Report: Francesca Balzani (A7-0381/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report, as Draft amending budget No 5/2012, which relates to the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations, is essential in order to mitigate the effects of a series of earthquakes that occurred in Italy (Emilia-Romagna) in May 2012. It is right to quickly release this financial assistance through the EUSF for those affected by natural catastrophes, and I therefore welcome the prompt submission by the Italian authorities of their application for financial assistance from the EUSF, as also the prompt presentation by the Commission of its proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I deplore the attempt by some states, led by the United Kingdom, to obstruct the budget in general and solidarity and cohesion payments in particular, including the attempt to block appropriations relating to the series of earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna. It is worth remembering that Italy is a net contributor to the EU budget, paying more than it receives. If we have to find somewhere to cut the budget, perhaps we should start with the rebate that the UK has received for more than twenty years and that must be viewed as an unjustified and outdated privilege. At a time of economic crisis, Europe should show itself to be a useful instrument for helping citizens, enterprises and regions in difficulty.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This text, which was broadly supported by the European Parliament and which I voted for, seeks to provide financial support for the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which was the victim of a natural disaster and which needs reconstruction assistance after a series of earthquakes that affected its population in May 2012.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal to grant the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy an amount of EUR 670 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. On 20 and 29 May 2012 there were two strong earthquakes in this region during which 27 people were killed, 350 injured and a further 45 000 evacuated. These record amounts of money granted from the Solidarity Fund are aimed at covering the costs relating to the reconstruction of particularly important infrastructure, the restoration of the provision of emergency services and the protection of the region’s cultural heritage. Accommodating the thousands of the region’s inhabitants who were left homeless remains a priority. The Solidarity Fund was established following floods in Central Europe in 2002. Since then money from the Fund has been granted to support the victims of 49 natural disasters – floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and droughts. I welcome the calls for all parties involved in the Member States to further improve the coordination of the use of funds in the future with a view to accelerating the mobilisation of the EUSF as much as possible.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. − (RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because I support the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund in response to the earthquakes of May 2012 in the Emilia Romagna region in Italy. I believe that financial assistance should be released as soon as possible for communities affected by natural disasters. All European, local and regional authorities must be involved. We need better coordination for future requests for assistance from this Fund. At the same time, we need to eliminate all obstacles and unjustified delays that prevent the funds from being released promptly.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I support Ms Balzani’s report on Draft amending budget No 5/2012. This budget relates to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund in the amount of EUR 670 192 359 relating to the series of earthquakes that struck Northern Italy on 20 and 29 May 2012, leaving 27 dead, over 350 injured and estimated damage of EUR 13 273 736 063.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on Draft amending budget No 5/2012 of the European Union for the financial year 2012 (which the Commission submitted on 19 September 2012). I believe that it is very important to release financial assistance through the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural disasters as soon as possible. It is important to point out that Draft amending budget No 5/2012 relates to the mobilisation of the EUSF for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations relating to the series of earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna, Italy in May 2012. This financial assistance will help the Member State to deal with an important and urgent matter.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report on Draft amending budget No 5/2012 concerning the Solidarity Fund response to earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna and modification of the budget line for the preparatory action for the European Year of Volunteering 2011. Although the current lack of payment appropriations is delaying the implementation of many European programmes, we must not postpone our decisions on matters as urgent as the assistance to victims of natural disasters. I am therefore in favour of rapid mobilisation of the European Solidarity Fund for Emilia-Romagna.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as it is very important to quickly release financial assistance through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural catastrophes.

 
  
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  Joseph Cuschieri (S&D), in writing. I would like to express my concern at the lack of decisiveness from some quarters particularly from a number of Member States in relation to the budget targeted for ESF aid to help repair earthquake damage in Italy.

I believe that a declaration of political support showing solidarity with earthquake victims is not enough in the circumstances.

I appeal to the Council and in particular to the Member States that are blocking approval of the required budget to allow the necessary funds to become available in the interest of all EU citizens.

I also appeal to Member States and the Council to move away from the rhetoric of austerity to justify lack of reasonable funding for just causes.

Such an approach to the EU budget is an obstacle to the implementation of EU policies during 2013 that is in contradiction with the declarations made by Member States in the recent past.

I reiterate my support for the position of this Parliament to support the Commission’s proposal to add EUR 8.9 billion to the 2012 budget to allow the Commission to reimburse Member State authorities for funds they advanced to beneficiaries in their countries and to ensure that programmes such as Lifelong Learning including Erasmus, Rural Development, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the 7th Framework programme for Research and Development are given the necessary funding to operate as planned.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE), in writing. (FR) I am pleased that, although we are in the middle of difficult budget debates, Parliament as a whole has supported the mobilisation of this essential assistance for Italy. It will enable our Italian friends to deal with the enormous costs and the problems caused by the earthquakes it suffered this year.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report proposes amending the budget in order to accommodate the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in favour of the Emilia-Romagna region. In line with my vote for report A7-0380/2012 on the mobilisation of the EUSF to help the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, I also voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) In May 2012, the region of Emilia-Romagna (Italy) was hit by severe earthquakes that resulted in serious human, economic, cultural and industrial losses. Thus I felt that it was essential for the European Union to show solidarity with that devastated region. As a result, I am pleased that Parliament has demonstrated the necessary budgetary flexibility to release aid from the Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 670 million to help those affected.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I believe that financial assistance must be released as quickly as possible, through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), for those affected by natural catastrophes, such as, in this case, those affected by the earthquake in Emilia-Romagna, in Italy.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report by Francesca Balzani concerns Draft amending budget No 5/2012: European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) response to earthquakes in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which the Commission submitted on 19 September 2012, and modification of the budget line for the preparatory action for the European Year of Volunteering 2011. The aim of this Draft amending budget, which provides for the mobilisation of EUR 670 192 359 from the EUSF, is to formally enter this budgetary adjustment in the 2012 budget, and to modify the budget line 16 05 03 01 – Preparatory action – European Year of Volunteering 2011. I welcome the approval of this Draft amending budget, as it is vital that this financial assistance quickly reaches those affected by the earthquakes which occurred in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. I voted in favour of this report because it is essential to find the amounts needed to help Italy following the natural disasters that have struck the country. This is also a way for the Member States to show their solidarity and for everyone, particularly Eurosceptics, to realise the importance of being part of the European Union.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This Draft amending budget aims to release the funds needed to support the people of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, which was struck by a series of earthquakes in May 2012 that caused several deaths and serious damage to homes, factories, agricultural land and over 100 historically significant structures. The Commission has proposed assistance for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. It is therefore also proposed to enter this amount in the budget line created with a view to mobilising this fund. Although this mobilisation has been quicker than on previous occasions (when it took around a year to release the assistance), the fact is that there is still a significant and unjustified time lag between the disaster occurring and the EU assistance being released. In this case, the time lag was over six months. The Regulation on the European Union Solidarity Fund needs to be amended to ensure greater flexibility and quicker and more timely mobilisation. This assistance must now reach the people on the ground as quickly as possible. The report also proposes modifying the budget line intended for the preparatory action for the European Year of Volunteering 2011. We voted in favour.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Draft amending budget No 5/2012 relates to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations relating to the series of earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna, Italy in May 2012. Its aim is to formally enter this budgetary adjustment into the 2012 budget and to modify the budget line 16 05 03 01 – Preparatory action – European Year of Volunteering 2011 to replace the ‘dash’ for payments on the line with a token entry (p.m.), in order to allow the final payments to be made. The European Parliament considers of great importance the quick release of financial assistance through the EU Solidarity Fund for those affected by natural catastrophes, and therefore warmly welcomes the prompt submission by the Italian authorities of their application for financial assistance from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), as well as the prompt presentation by the Commission of its proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF. It also calls on the Council not to harm these efforts towards a prompter delivery of Union assistance through any undue postponement of its decision on such a sensitive and pressing issue.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today we have finally seen an end to the ongoing disagreement between the Commission and Parliament, on the one hand, and the Council. This has allowed mobilisation of EUR 670 million for the earthquake victims in Emilia-Romagna, following approval by the Committee on Budgets on 15 November of Italy’s application.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because Draft amending budget No 5/2012 relates to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations relating to the series of earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna, Italy in May 2012. The quick release of financial assistance through the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural catastrophes is of great importance, and I therefore welcome the prompt submission by the Italian authorities of their application for financial assistance from the EUSF, as well as the prompt presentation by the Commission of its proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) At the sitting of 21 November, we voted in favour of the Draft Amending Budget No 5 and the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 670 million to assist the region of Emilia-Romagna, which was hit by a series of earthquakes. On 20 May 2012, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale affected wide parts of northern Italy and caused severe damage in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May, a second earthquake occurred: 27 people died, 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. Francesca Balzani’s report was adopted by a large majority: 661 votes to 17, with 6 abstentions. I welcome that result.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this proposal which considers of great importance the quick release of financial assistance through the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural catastrophes, and therefore warmly welcomes the prompt submission by the Italian authorities of their application for financial assistance from the EUSF, as well as the prompt presentation by the Commission of its proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the Balzani report, which seeks to provide assistance totalling EUR 670 million to the victims of the earthquakes in Italy. On 20 May 2012, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale caused severe damage in northern Italy. On 29 May, a second earthquake occurred. There were enormous human and material losses. The direct damage is estimated at EUR 13 billion and the situation meets the criteria for mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) The uncertainty surrounding mobilisation of assistance has been causing confusion and unease among citizens. It is now essential that Parliament release these payments swiftly in order to support economic recovery in a whole region of Italy. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted for this report as it seeks to mobilise funds to mitigate the serious effects of the May 2012 earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna (Italy). This mobilisation of funds is a gesture of solidarity among the people of Europe through political action and economic cooperation. In this case, the European budget is being used to deal with the emergency situation after the earthquakes and to help the people of Emilia-Romagna in the process of rebuilding and repairing the damage caused by this natural disaster. I voted for this report because the aid will help to relieve the suffering caused by this disaster.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) After this natural disaster that caused severe damage, it is important to act to ensure that this region can rebuild its infrastructure and get back on its feet. It is by no means easy for the regions and countries directly affected to cope with these types of unpredictable situations. The Solidarity Fund was rightly set up to intervene in such cases. I believe that it is extremely important to ensure that the financial assistance from the Solidarity Fund reaches the victims of natural disasters as quickly as possible, and I congratulate the Italian authorities on the speed with which they submitted their request for financial support from the Solidarity Fund and the rapid presentation of the Commission proposal for mobilisation of the Fund.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. This draft amending budget 5/2012 relates mainly to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund in Italy for a total amount of EUR 670 million in commitments and payments. I think that we should support each other. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) The European Parliament is finally approving the draft amending budget that will allow EUR 670 million to be mobilised for the areas of Emilia-Romagna affected by last May’s earthquake. The EU Solidarity Fund was mobilised more swiftly on this occasion than in the past, even though there is room for further reform and improvement. Agreement on the EU budget as a whole was endangered by insensitive opposition to this amendment by some Member States. We often hear the word ‘solidarity’ bandied about at European level, but when it comes to concrete action, everybody looks to their own interests. This assistance from Brussels will help stimulate full economic recovery and a return to normal life for this hard-hit region. I hope similar assistance can soon be provided to my native Tuscany, where the damage caused by recent flooding is still very evident.

 
  
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  Tiziano Motti (PPE), in writing. (IT) As an Italian MEP from the region of Emilia-Romagna, these recent days have been full of apprehension, as we waited for approval by the Council of our assistance to the victims of the earthquake. ‘United in diversity’ is the EU slogan but it is all too often forgotten by Member States who refuse to offer help when others are in difficulty. The European Parliament has finally managed to approve, with an overwhelming majority, the mobilisation of EUR 670 million for the reconstruction of the towns and villages of Emilia-Romagna that were destroyed in a series of earthquakes that started on 20 May 2012, leaving 27 dead, over 350 injured and over 45 000 evacuated. The measure was approved on 21 November, the day on which nearby Venice celebrates the feast of the ‘Madonna of Health’, who is popularly held to have saved the city from a devastating epidemic in 1630. European and Italian citizens who visit Parliament are right to believe strongly in this institution that once again has shown that it is willing to fight on behalf of and stand side-by-side with the citizens it represents, overcoming the egotism and indifference of certain Member States.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (ECR), in writing. (IT) The delay by the Council in approving commitment and payment appropriations through the EU Solidarity Fund for the earthquake victims of Emilia-Romagna has been widely condemned in the Italian press. Large amounts are allocated without hesitation for any cause that can gain political support in any part of the world, but when humanitarian needs arise in Italy following a violent earthquake, countless reasons can be found for reducing assistance.

The Council’s attitude is specious and the resolution is right to deplore both the delay and its unjustified nature. Winter, bringing harsh weather and difficult circumstances, is now almost here and is feared by the population as if it were another disaster. The children in tents that stand in for schools, the elderly, the sick and the workers in damaged factories have no insight into the bureaucratic and formal reasoning of the Council, but they do know that they will be bearing the brunt of any delay. This is both wrong and incomprehensible. Indeed – although I would not like to think this – this deplorable episode also represents one of the many points of discordance that have marked the life of our Union.

 
  
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  Vojtěch Mynář (S&D), in writing. (CS) I view the release of EUR 670 million to assist the area affected by a series of devastating earthquakes as proof of solidarity. Indeed, solidarity is one of the fundamental principles of the European Union. If a Member State is forced to face the consequences of extraordinary situations, as was the case in the summer in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, the EU is ready with effective instruments of assistance. The rapporteur, Francesca Balzani, points out that, in such situations, it is very important to act as quickly as possible and calls upon the European Council not to delay its decisions unnecessarily on such urgent matters. In all these respects, I support Francesca Balzani and therefore I shall vote for her report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this proposal, as I consider the quick release of financial assistance through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural catastrophes to be of great importance. I therefore welcome the prompt submission by the Italian authorities of their application for financial assistance from the EUSF, as well as the prompt presentation by the Commission of its proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution. It is very important to ensure that the adoption of such important decisions is not delayed. Union assistance must be provided efficiently and promptly. In this case the Council should act more constructively. Natural disasters come unexpectedly and therefore the effects of these must be eradicated swiftly because hesitating can have particularly painful negative consequences.

 
  
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  Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. (IT) Italy applied for financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund following the series of earthquakes that struck on 20 May 2012. A heavy earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale affected wide parts of Northern Italy and caused severe damage in many towns and villages, in particular around the epicentre, mostly in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May, a second strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale occurred with the epicentre slightly to the west. Both events were followed by several serious aftershocks. The earthquakes caused 27 deaths, an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. The Italian authorities estimated total damage at EUR 13 273 736 063. Despite the financial difficulties affecting the 2012 budget, I think it is necessary and right for Parliament to send a signal to the victims of these disasters to help them at this difficult time.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Draft amending budget relates to the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations, in order to mitigate the effects of a series of earthquakes that occurred in Italy (Emilia-Romagna) in May 2012. This concerns approval of the formal entry of this budgetary adjustment into the 2012 budget, which will modify budget line 16 05 03 01 – Preparatory action, in order to allow the final payments to be made to the region affected by the disaster. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. In favour. We consider of great importance the quick release of financial assistance through the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural catastrophes, and therefore warmly welcome the prompt submission by Italian authorities of their application for financial assistance from the EUSF, as well as the prompt presentation by the Commission of its proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF. All involved parties in the Member States (i.e., both at local and regional level) and national authorities need to improve assessment of needs and the coordination for future potential applications to the EUSF in a view to accelerating, as much as possible, the mobilisation of the EUSF.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The victims of the earthquake in Emilia-Romagna will finally receive the EUR 670 million in EU assistance that had been held up by disagreement between the three main European institutions. Now that the unjustified opposition to the measure has been overcome, the assistance can be released swiftly.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The European Commission must decide once and for all whether it wants to have a Solidarity Fund that responds to serious natural disasters and shows solidarity with those affected rapidly and promptly or whether it wants to indulge in some form of worthless public image exercise. We are dealing here with measures for European civil protection that require prompt provision of assistance to those in difficulty and the European Commission is not capable of releasing the financial assistance to help the earthquake victims of Emilia-Romagna.

The proposal to obtain funds through redeployment, from sources that currently amount to EUR 13 million is ridiculous and the Commission should be ashamed of it. I also wish to underline that the European Commission is currently deciding whether to demand that enterprises return the assistance they received for flooding in 1994 and paid out to them by the Italian government, without realising that this would mean certain bankruptcy. I think that the Commission should seriously rethink its position, because it seems to have no knowledge whatsoever of the problems that are being discussed here today, or what it means to be affected by natural disasters.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report. Italy presented an application for financial assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) following the series of earthquakes that struck on 20 May 2012 in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Draft amending budget No 5/2012 relates to the mobilisation of the EUSF for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in order to assist the affected areas.

 
  
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  Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (PPE), in writing. (PL) Within the framework of the 2012 budgetary procedure, Parliament has approved a Draft amending budget granting assistance under the EU Solidarity Fund to the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which was hit by an earthquake in May 2012. In spite of the difficult negotiations on the EU budget for 2012 and 2013, the approval of this Draft amending budget by Parliament and the Council demonstrates that the EU budget continues to play a strong role in providing support. Following floods in 2011, Poland also received Solidarity Fund assistance of EUR 105.5 million, which was earmarked, in particular, for the rebuilding of infrastructure.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Italian region of Emilia-Romagna was struck by a series of devastating earthquakes. Italy then applied for mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF). The EUSF was set up precisely to provide help for European citizens affected by natural disasters. I therefore voted in favour of this report to ensure that the fund would serve the purpose for which it was created. This will allow Emilia-Romagna to recover both economically and socially. The region is in real need of external assistance and I am sure that any assistance that is released will be well spent. Within a few weeks, EUR 670 million will be released in assistance to the region, and the money will be used to finance rebuilding of the electricity network and infrastructure. This is certainly an important step towards relaunching the local economy, which in turn has always played a crucial role in Italian industry. I am glad that initial reservations have been overcome and that a strong message of solidarity between the Member States can be sent.

 
  
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  Georgios Stavrakakis (S&D), in writing. (EL) I voted for the report on Draft amending budget (DAB) No 5/2012, for mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund following the earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and modification of the budget line for the preparatory action for the European Year of Volunteering 2011. I regret that during the conciliation period the Council sought to include this particular amending budget in the negotiation package for the EU budget for 2013. By doing this, it caused unjustifiable delay in mobilising the Solidarity Fund which is associated with the amending budget, and consequently delayed the provision of immediate relief to residents in the earthquake-stricken region. It was only the stance maintained by the European Parliament – which insisted on not making mobilisation of the fund conditional upon the outcome of negotiations on the EU’s 2013 budget – that led the Council to approve DAB 5, and it only did so after the negotiations on the 2013 budget had reached a deadlock. This is incontestable proof of the responsible attitude maintained by the European Parliament, but it raises the question of why the Council insisted on including DAB No 5 in the negotiations on the 2013 budget.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Believing that it is very important to quickly release financial assistance through the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural catastrophes, and as the Italian authorities promptly submitted their application for financial assistance from the EUSF, I voted in favour of the document and agreed with the European Parliament strongly reiterating its call to the Council not to harm these efforts towards a prompter delivery of Union assistance through any undue postponement of its decision on such a sensitive and pressing issue.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on the Council’s position on Draft amending budget No 5/2012 of the European Union for the financial year 2012, Section III – Commission. Draft amending budget No 5/2012 relates to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations relating to the series of earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna, Italy in May 2012. It allows the final payments to be made, given the overall shortage of payment appropriations in 2012. The quick release of financial assistance through the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for those affected by natural catastrophes is necessary, and we therefore welcome the prompt submission by the Italian authorities of their application for financial assistance from the EUSF, as well as the prompt presentation by the Commission of its proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF. We call on all the parties involved in the Member States, both at local and regional level, and the national authorities to further improve the needs assessment and coordination for potential applications to the EUSF in the future, with a view to accelerating, as far as possible, the mobilisation of the EUSF.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. I am pleased that a decision on funding for the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna has finally been taken following earthquakes in the region in May.

More than 45 000 people were evacuated from the area and widespread damage was done to residential buildings, infrastructure, businesses and industry. It is vital that Emilia-Romagna is provided with the financial means to start repairing the severe damage that was done by those earthquakes.

I am disappointed that this funding has been so severely delayed and I do not agree with the UK government’s decision to vote against this funding in the Council. I am however pleased that Parliament has given its full support to mobilising the Solidarity Fund for Italy.

 
  
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  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D), in writing. (DE) A positive solution to the amending budget for 2012 is long overdue. Some Member States are not conducting themselves in a manner which is conducive to a solution. Ultimately, this is about the implementation of programmes that have already been approved and must now be funded. They include programmes to create jobs and growth and to promote education and research; in other words, they are projects that invest in our young people, such as Erasmus. It undermines Europe’s credibility if students have to worry whether the funding that has been promised will actually materialise. We need a clear commitment here, for this is one of the EU’s most successful programme. It has enabled almost three million young people to study abroad over the last 25 years and we must ensure that it continues. A swift agreement on the amending budget is also essential because otherwise, it will not be possible to conduct meaningful negotiations on the 2013 budget. I fail to comprehend the position of some Member States, especially given that much more than 90 % of EU funding is channelled back to the Member States anyway, where it exerts substantial leverage. A more pragmatic and less ideological approach to budget issues is therefore urgently needed.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I welcome today’s vote ‘unblocking’ assistance for the earthquake victims of Emilia-Romagna. After the difficult negotiations in the Council, with five countries guilty of deplorable obstructionism, finally today we have released EUR 670 million to those affected by the earthquake. As a native of Emilia, I would like in particular to thank the members of the Committee on Budgets who have worked so hard to remove the uncertainty regarding the appropriation and to send help to the people of my region as quickly as possible. The European Union – despite the selfish reasoning we heard last week – has through its urgent action shown solidarity with the victims of the disaster.

 
  
  

Report: José Manuel Fernandes (A7-0380/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report bearing in mind that, in parallel with this proposal to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) in favour of Italy, the Commission has presented a Draft amending budget (DAB No 5/2012 of 19 September 2012) in order to enter in the 2012 budget the corresponding commitment and payment appropriations as foreseen in point 26 of the Interinstitutional Agreement. The gravity of the situation demanded this action, as the earthquakes caused 27 deaths, an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. There was also serious damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and cultural heritage. Accordingly, I not only support the mobilisation of the EUSF, but welcome the quick intervention of the Italian authorities and the European Commission, as was justifiable given that this disaster qualifies as a ‘major natural disaster’ and thus falls within the main field of application of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This text, which was broadly supported by the European Parliament and which I voted for, seeks to provide financial support for the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which was the victim of a natural disaster and which needs reconstruction assistance after a series of earthquakes that affected its population in May 2012.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal to grant the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy an amount of EUR 670 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. On 20 and 29 May 2012 there were two strong earthquakes in this region during which 27 people were killed, 350 injured and a further 45 000 evacuated. These record amounts of money granted from the Solidarity Fund are aimed at covering the costs relating to the reconstruction of particularly important infrastructure, the restoration of the provision of emergency services and the protection of the region’s cultural heritage. Accommodating the thousands of the region’s inhabitants who were left homeless remains a priority. The Solidarity Fund was established following floods in Central Europe in 2002. Since then money from the Fund has been granted to support the victims of 49 natural disasters – floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and droughts. I welcome the calls for all parties involved in the Member States to further improve the coordination of the use of funds in the future with a view to accelerating the mobilisation of the EUSF as much as possible.

 
  
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  Erik Bánki (PPE), in writing. (HU) Based on the scale of the earthquakes in Italy in May 2012 there can be no doubt as far as the European Union is concerned that providing immediate financial support from the Solidarity Fund is justified. This natural disaster resulted in serious human losses and material damage on a massive scale. In view of this, I cast my vote in favour of the report. However, I also think it is important to highlight that it is not only natural disasters that can have severe consequences on EU territory; industrial disasters, whether unleashed by human error or adverse natural events, can also have this effect. In such cases, however, the Solidarity Fund cannot provide support to the country affected. In my view we need to change this situation and establish a Union instrument that can provide immediate and effective financial support to Member States in the event of industrial disasters.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because I support the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for Italy in response to the May 2012 earthquakes. Several regions in that country were struck by major earthquakes and suffered serious damage in both urban and rural areas. Businesses, buildings, infrastructure, agriculture and cultural heritage should receive prompt assistance so that the impact on the local population is alleviated, and the Fund will contribute greatly to this.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 allows the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. Italy applied for assistance under the EUSF following a series of earthquakes in that country in May 2012, which caused 27 deaths, with an estimated 350 people being injured and over 45 000 people having to be evacuated. There was also serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and the important cultural heritage sector. The application made by the Italian authorities complies with the eligibility criteria of Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002. The Commission has proposed to mobilise the EUSF for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. For those reasons, I supported this report, which recommends approving the Commission proposal.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) One of the Union’s basic values is solidarity among its members. I believe that it is essential to mobilise the Solidarity Fund, in this case to help Italy to cope with the damage caused by the earthquake there on 20 May. That earthquake destroyed homes and infrastructure in Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. I therefore voted for this report, which expresses, with much more than words, our active solidarity with those affected.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Fernandes’s report on mobilising the EU Solidarity Fund for a total amount of EUR 670 192 359 in appropriations in favour of Italy following the earthquakes that struck Northern Italy on 20 and 29 May 2012.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report in light of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management, I welcome the decision annexed to this resolution. The Interinstitutional Agreement allows the mobilisation of the Fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. Italy submitted an application to mobilise the Fund because of a disaster caused by a series of earthquakes and at the request of the Italian authorities a sum of EUR 670 192 359 is being granted in commitment and payment appropriations, which in this case is essential for the Italian regions, within the EU’s annual ceiling.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Mr President, the EU Solidarity Fund was created in response to the devastating floods in Central Europe in 2002. Up to March 2012, the fund was mobilised for 48 cases to assist victims of major natural disasters, amounting to EUR 2.5 billion across 23 states. Italy’s requested assistance in response to the May 2012 earthquakes, which resulted in 27 deaths, 350 wounded and 45 000 evacuations. There was serious damage to buildings, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and cultural heritage. Mobilising the Fund will assist Italy in dealing with the aftermath of this event.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund. Following a series of earthquakes in May 2012, Italy requested support from the Fund. I am therefore in favour of rapid mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund for Emilia-Romagna.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the Fernandes report on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund for Italy. Italy requested support from the Fund after a series of earthquakes in the north of the country in May 2012. In addition to the human losses, the earthquakes caused serious physical damage to housing, industries, farms, cultural sites, and so on. I am pleased that the Members of the European Parliament voted to mobilise the Fund, demonstrating dignity and solidarity.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because I consider that mobilising the European Union Solidarity Fund in response to the disaster caused by a series of earthquakes in Italy is justified.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was created with the aim of assisting Member States affected by a crisis or struggling with damage caused by natural disasters. As such, I welcome its mobilisation, provided that funds are carefully monitored and controlled to ensure that the assistance reaches those affected. I voted in favour of this report, which provides for the mobilisation of EUR 670 192 359 from the EUSF in favour of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which was struck in May 2012 by two violent earthquakes which caused 27 deaths and 350 injuries and resulted in destruction leading to the evacuation of over 45 000 Italian citizens. Despite the difficulties in negotiating the budget and the widespread sense of financial restraint in the EU, I consider that there are some ‘expenses’, such as these, which cannot and should not be avoided. I would add that Europe’s citizens will have a better understanding and perception of the EU’s added value if a greater proportion of the budget is allocated to the EUSF and other funds supporting European citizens, instead of being channelled, for example, to Houses of European History or unnecessary trips to Strasbourg.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The earthquakes that struck Italy in May 2012 left a trail of death and destruction, which still today cannot fail to move us. The extreme devastation suffered by certain areas in northern Italy cannot therefore fail to invite our solidarity and motivate our action. The European Union must intervene in situations of this magnitude, and seek to reduce their impact on those affected. The mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) is therefore a logical consequence to this readiness – which we must all demonstrate – to remain united in adversity. I hope that the assistance provided by mobilising the EUSF can truly help to alleviate some of the suffering of those most affected by the earthquakes.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As on other occasions, following natural disasters of huge proportions causing significant damage and loss likely to have a lasting impact on the lives of those affected, we approved the decision of the European Parliament and of the Council to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF). This particular case concerned assistance for the people of the Emilia-Romagna region, which was struck by a series of earthquakes in May 2012 that caused several deaths and serious damage to homes, factories, agricultural land and over 100 historically significant structures. Although this mobilisation has been quicker than on previous occasions, the fact is that there is still a significant and unjustified time lag between the disaster occurring and the EU assistance being released. In this case, the time lag was over six months. This is one reason, among others, why we have been calling for the Regulation on the EUSF to be amended. We again repeat the need for this amendment.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Union has created a European Union Solidarity Fund to show solidarity with the population of regions struck by disasters. The Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 allows the mobilisation of the Fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. Italy submitted an application to mobilise the Fund, concerning a disaster caused by a series of earthquakes in Italy. Within the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012, after assessing the application and taking account of the maximum possible financial support from the Fund and after taking account of the extent of redistribution of budgetary resources within the sphere in which additional expenditure is required, the Commission proposes to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund for a total amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The region of Emilia-Romagna suffered widespread destruction as a result of the earthquakes that struck on 20 May 2012. Total direct damage represents 0.86 % of Italy’s gross national income and exceeds by almost four times the threshold to be applied to Italy in 2012 for mobilising the EU Solidarity Fund. Since there are no problem areas in the report and in view of the fact that the series of earthquakes suffered by Emilia-Romagna may be defined as a ‘serious natural disaster’, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I am pleased that, thanks to the support of the European Parliament, the Council has agreed to release EUR 670 million to support the reconstruction efforts in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy, which was hit by a series of earthquakes in May 2012. The adoption of this report is like an initial victory in the battle between Parliament and the Member States over the 2013 budget. Parliament’s approval is subject to a solution being found for a number of European programmes (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, research programme, Erasmus) whose payments have stopped. I would point out that a number of local authorities that receive Structural Funds will only be reimbursed if the Member States reach an agreement quickly.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal. Italy applied for assistance from the Fund following a series of earthquakes in May 2012. These earthquakes affected wide parts of Northern Italy and caused severe damage in many towns and villages in particular around the epicentre, mostly in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. The earthquakes caused 27 deaths. An estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. There was serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and to important cultural heritage. As this disaster qualifies as a major natural disaster that has caused great damage, I welcome the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund in favour of Italy.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) At the sitting of 21 November, we voted in favour of the Draft Amending Budget No 5 and the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 670 million to assist the region of Emilia-Romagna, which was hit by a series of earthquakes. On 20 May 2012, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale affected wide parts of northern Italy and caused severe damage in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May, a second earthquake occurred: 27 people died, 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. Francesca Balzani’s report was adopted by a large majority: 672 votes to 19, with 7 abstentions. I welcome that result.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. (PL) In May 2012, Italy suffered a great tragedy, which requires us to take the necessary action to offer assistance and solidarity. We cannot ignore the problems of this Member State, which is having to contend with the effects of a powerful earthquake. It is clear that Italy’s application for assistance must be granted a favourable response and it is essential that the European Union Solidarity Fund be mobilised. Many now no longer have a roof over their heads, but we should also remember that the earthquake hit a particularly industrialised region that generates the largest share of Italy’s GDP. Northern Italy will be dealing with the consequences of this natural disaster for a long time to come. It affects the country’s overall economy, which means that the EU will also suffer. I therefore hope that the proposed assistance of more than EUR 670 million will help to repair the damage caused, both to agriculture and infrastructure and to other important sectors in Italy, and, accordingly, to our European economy as a whole.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) This vote was of the utmost importance in terms of the credibility of the EU. Europe is based on real solidarity and not just words. Today Parliament and the Council have demonstrated this fact, despite the difficult negotiations leading to agreement. We have managed to achieve the goal of mobilising the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) in favour of the Italian regions (Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Lombardy) affected by a series of earthquakes for a total amount of EUR 670 million, after some opposition in the Council that might actually have blocked assistance to these regions in the name of austerity. I firmly believe that certain principles are not negotiable and therefore joined the House in supporting mobilisation of the EUSF, calling on the Member States to separate these funds from others in the EU budget for 2013, precisely in order to ensure its immediate release.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Mr President, the May earthquakes in Italy resulted in 27 people being killed, 350 being injured and another 45 000 being evacuated, making these some of the most tragic events in the European Union’s recent history. I believe that the European Union was right to release the funds to Italy to demonstrate its solidarity. I am, however, appalled at the procedural aspects of this Fund, especially the length of the mobilisation period. I call for more efficient and prompt administrative procedures. The requirement for three European institutions to be involved in these procedures certainly delays the approval and release procedures, and slows down the response in the Member States affected by natural disasters.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this proposal. Italy applied for assistance from the fund following a series of earthquakes in May 2012. On 20 May 2012, a heavy earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale affected wide parts of northern Italy and caused severe damage in many towns and villages, in particular around the epicentre, mostly in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May, a second strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale occurred with the epicentre slightly to the west. Both events were followed by several serious aftershocks. The earthquakes caused 27 deaths, an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. There was serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and to the important cultural heritage sector.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted for this report as it seeks to introduce good financial practices for the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund. It is essential to prevent possible diversion of funds, corruption, fraud, falsification, and so on in the mobilisation of these types of funds. Given the potential risk, the introduction of these financial rules is a guarantee that the funds released are actually used to mitigate the effects of the damage caused by the earthquakes in Italy. These types of disasters need financial support to be provided urgently to help the population, but without adequate financial control it can prove worthless. I voted in favour of this report to show my strong support for the control of these funds.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. This application relates to the earthquake that affected the region of Emilia-Romagna in May 2012, causing the death of 27 persons and leaving more than 350 injured, and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. There was serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructures, businesses, cultural heritage and agriculture and the disruption of major transport links and essential public infrastructure networks.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Italy. It should be noted that Italy experienced severe and wide-ranging damage as a result of the earthquakes and it is therefore necessary to provide the required assistance more swiftly and efficiently. The granting of support from the EU Solidarity Fund is thus a kind of expression of solidarity from the whole of Europe to the disaster-stricken people of Italy.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following a series of earthquakes in Italy, the Italian authorities applied for assistance. Having verified that this application complies with the eligibility criteria of Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, the Commission has proposed to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for a total amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. As the requirements have been met, I voted in favour of this report, which recommends approving the Commission proposal regarding the decision annexed to this report on mobilising the EUSF in favour of Italy.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 allows the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. Italy applied for assistance under the EUSF following a series of earthquakes in that country in May 2012, which caused 27 deaths, around 350 injuries and the evacuation of 45 000 people. There was also serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and the important cultural heritage sector. The application made by the Italian authorities complies with the eligibility criteria of Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, which is why the Commission has proposed to mobilise the EUSF for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. (FI) I voted in favour of this important report. It is important that the European Union can reach agreement on urgent matters relating to the budget in an emergency and in the name of solidarity.

The Solidarity Fund has proven to be an important and sufficiently rapid form of aid that enables the EU to offer specific help to a Member State or region to repair the economic damage caused by major natural disasters. Italy has requested aid from the Fund for the severe damage caused by the earthquake in May 2012.

Instead, the quarrelsome budget negotiations have tarnished the public image of the Union more than ever. It is strange that Parliament is regarded more and more as some sort of necessary evil. It is only listened to reluctantly and under duress. This is not a sustainable operating model from the perspective of European democracy. The multiannual financial framework is not a show of strength between the institutions. A resolute, logical and credible economic policy is needed now. A balanced budget policy is needed, as well as sufficient active stimulation. Europe and Europeans need jobs, investment and growth now.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. In favour. The Commission proposes to mobilise the European Solidarity Fund in favour of Italy on the basis of point 26 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006. The IIA allows the mobilisation of the fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. This is the second proposal to mobilise the fund in 2012. In parallel to this proposal to mobilise the Solidarity Fund in favour of Italy, the Commission has presented a draft amending budget (DAB No 5/2012 of 19 September 2012) in order to enter in the 2012 budget the corresponding commitment and payment appropriations as foreseen in point 26 of the IIA. Italy applied for assistance from the fund following a series of earthquakes in Italy in May 2012. On 20 May 2012, a heavy earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale affected large parts of Northern Italy and caused severe damage (...) in particular around the epicentre, mostly in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May 2012, a second strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale occurred with the epicentre slightly to the west. Both events were followed by several serious aftershocks.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) After the efforts we have made to negotiate the amendments to this year’s budget, in particular with regard to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) following the earthquakes in Emilia-Romagna, I strongly urge that the amounts agreed be released swiftly so that our work will not have been in vain. A series of very severe earthquakes struck my country and all Member States must be aware of their commitments in a common European context. The disaster qualifies as a ‘major natural disaster’ and thus falls within the main field of application of the EUSF. Following detailed impact assessment and breakdown of estimated direct damage suffered by sector in the present case it is quite evident that mobilisation of the EUSF in favour of the victims is a matter of urgency. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Georgios Stavrakakis (S&D), in writing. (EL) Firstly, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on his report and welcome the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for the earthquakes in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, which in May 2012 caused the deaths of 27 people, injury to 350 people, and the evacuation of more than 45 000 residents from the area. At the same time, considerable damage was caused to basic infrastructure, businesses, agriculture and cultural heritage. The priority from now on is to restore normal living conditions as quickly as possible for those who were affected by the earthquakes, and to ensure the rapid recovery of economic activity in that area. The EU Solidarity Fund is once again proving its importance in responding to major natural disasters by providing financial aid to the countries affected. However, I can only express my regret that it took six months to complete the process of mobilising the Fund. The three institutional bodies must therefore work to ensure that interventions by the Solidarity Fund become quicker and more flexible. In this way, we will be able to ensure the real added value of this instrument.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR), in writing. The Earthquake in Italy earlier this year caused huge amounts of damage and suffering. It is one of the cases that should be supported, no matter what your position on single percentage points in the EU budget. I think people both in my own country and across the EU would have more understanding of the added value of the EU mobilizing resources collectively if a higher proportion of the budget were allocated to natural disasters, as opposed to Houses of History and pointless treks to Strasbourg.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. Although we live in financially constrained times, there are certain expenses which we cannot, and would not wish to, avoid. Italy, a country I know and love, and which hosted many happy years of my childhood, suffers the misfortune of being one of the most earthquake-prone countries in Europe, as the wrecked buildings of Emilia Romagna can testify. The EU Solidarity Fund is designed to help partners in times of crisis to repair the damage from major natural disasters, and as such, we welcome its implementation – provided that the funds are carefully monitored and policed in order to combat fraud and corruption. As the EU bodies make clear, Italy meets all the requirements to draw on these funds; I send its affected communities my sincere sympathy, and wish them well with their reconstruction work.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing. (FR) Italy requested the mobilisation of the Fund following a series of earthquakes there in May 2012.

On 20 May 2012, a heavy earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale affected wide parts of northern Italy and caused severe damage in many towns and villages, in particular around the epicentre, mostly in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May, a second equally strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale occurred with the epicentre slightly to the west.

Both events were followed by several serious aftershocks. The earthquakes caused 27 deaths, an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. It is Europe’s duty to help that region after these event.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Having verified that the application made by the Italian authorities, following earthquakes in Italy in May 2012, complies with the eligibility criteria of Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, the Commission has proposed to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for a total amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. The European Parliament recommends approving the Commission proposal to mobilise the EUSF, for which I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted for the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund in favour of Italy, in response to the country’s request for assistance due to the consequences of the spring 2012 earthquakes. On 20 May 2012, a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter scale affected wide parts of Northern Italy and caused severe damage in many towns and villages, in particular around the epicentre, mostly in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May, a second strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale occurred. Both events were followed by several serious aftershocks.

The earthquakes caused 27 deaths, an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated. There was serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and to the important cultural heritage sector.

As the estimated total direct damage exceeds the threshold, the disaster qualifies as a ‘major natural disaster’ and thus falls within the main field of application of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002. The Commission proposes the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. I welcome the Commission’s proposal on the prompt mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund to assist the citizens in the affected regions of the Modena and Ferrara in Italy.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE), in writing. (DE) Italy sustained very severe damage as a consequence of a major earthquake, with extensive damage to buildings, infrastructure, industrial facilities, agriculture and important cultural heritage sites. This damage must be repaired as quickly as possible so that normality can be restored for the people of Italy. Against this background, it is quite understandable that the EU Solidarity Fund should play a role here.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Italy applied for mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) following a series of earthquakes in May 2012 that affected wide parts of Northern Italy and caused severe damage in many towns and villages, in particular around the epicentre, mostly in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara in the region of Emilia-Romagna. On 29 May, a second strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale occurred with the epicentre slightly to the west. Both events were followed by several serious aftershocks. The earthquakes caused 27 deaths, an estimated 350 people were injured and over 45 000 people had to be evacuated.

There was serious and widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, businesses, industrial facilities, agriculture and to the important cultural heritage sector. After verifying that the earthquake constituted a ‘serious natural disaster’, the Commission, following negotiations with the Council, proposed to mobilise the EU Solidarity Fund for a total amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. In the name of the Italian citizens affected by the earthquake, I would therefore like to thank those who have voted in favour of the proposal.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted in favour of the decision of the European Parliament and of the Council to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for the people of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, which was struck by a series of earthquakes in May 2012 that caused several deaths and serious damage to homes, factories, agricultural land and over 100 historically significant heritage sites. The European Commission has proposed assistance for an amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations. We obviously supported this proposal.

 
  
  

Reports: José Manuel Fernandes (A7-0380/2012) and Francesca Balzani (A7-0381/2012)

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the reports by Ms Balzani and Mr Fernandes because the reconstruction of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto, where the earthquakes of last May caused severe damage, is also the responsibility of the European Union. Today we voted on a fundamental proposal, confirming the agreement already reached in the Council on the Commission’s proposal to mobilise the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) for a total amount of EUR 670 192 359 in commitment and payment appropriations following a series of earthquakes in Northern Italy in May 2012. The EUSF will help cofinance reconstruction of the affected areas and economic recovery in one of the most important, representative and productive industrial and agro-food regions in Italy.

This is the largest mobilisation of the EUSF since it was set up and, especially in view of the initial stalemate reached at the Competiveness Council last week, it sends a positive signal of how seriously the European Union takes its commitments. The earthquakes that for weeks devastated the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy, causing damage to all economic sectors, constituted a natural disaster to which Europe could not remain blind.

 
  
  

Report: Vital Moreira (A7-0351/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report as an implementing regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 needs to be adopted in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. This need to amend the current Regulation is more than justified by the need to increase the level of protection of the European Union.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Like a large majority in the European Parliament, I supported this text, which updates the rules governing our trade relations with Brazil and Thailand. This report notes the changes that have taken place in the poultry import and export sector. This vote validates the result of several years of negotiations and ensures greater reciprocity between trading partners.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal on the implementation of provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. When foreign exporters took advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection, in 2007 there was a sudden increase in imports of processed poultry meat in the European Union, which had a negative impact on the EU poultry industry. I agree that we need to remedy this defect and stop customs evasion. Under these Agreements the EU will offset the increase in binding duty rates by allowing the introduction of tariff quotas and allocating Brazil and Thailand a large share of these. I welcome the alignment exercise, which is aimed at adopting a mutually acceptable solution for both trading partners.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted for this report as I believe it constitutes an acceptable solution for all trading partners involved. I believe that the adoption of this resolution will result in a satisfactory compensation agreement for all the parties involved. At the same time, raising the tariff concessions will even things out. Protection levels should also be increased so that the European Union’s trading partners can benefit via tariff-rate quotas. I wish to draw attention to the fact that a consistent policy is needed with regard to the substitution effects of imports affecting the Union’s poultry industry. I also suggest that the EU should simultaneously notify both countries upon conclusion of its internal procedures.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this report because it was necessary to amend Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 to be able to apply the agreements signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012 on processed poultry meat.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Moreira’s report on ‘implementation of the Agreements concluded by the EU following negotiations in the framework of Article 28 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994’, in order to implement provisions on the modification of concessions for processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand. The European Commission identified a loophole in the existing regulations that worked to the advantage of exports of poultry from the above-mentioned countries to the EU, favouring foreign producers and seriously damaging the European market. The present proposal involves adjusting Regulations to remove this loophole.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because having regard to Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure and the report of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0351/2012), adoption of an implementing regulation amending Regulation No 2658/87 is needed in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. Implementation of the agreements envisages an increase of out-of-quota rates for processed poultry meat products and allowing Brazil, Thailand and other WTO members to begin to use tariff quotas. In this way it is aimed at adopting a mutually acceptable solution for both trading partners and supporting an adequate rebalancing exercise in order to increase the level of protection for the EU poultry industry.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Mr President, in June 2012, the European Union signed agreements with Thailand and Brazil relating to the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat. The implementation of these agreements requires the adoption of an implementing regulation that would amend Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87. I believe an increased level of protection is necessary as the surge in prepared poultry meat imports has negatively affected the European poultry industry. At the same time, the EU’s trading partners must be adequately compensated via tariff-rate quotas.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report on the implementation of the agreements concluded by the European Union following negotiations under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994. This report relates to the essential modifications of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat between the European Union and Brazil, and the European Union and Thailand.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree with its reasoning.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 needs to be updated in order to implement the provisions of the new concession agreements with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. As a result of this update, it will be easier to reduce the substitution effects of imports affecting the EU poultry industry.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU has witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry meat imports, which is harming the Union’s poultry industry. In order to address this situation, the Commission has renegotiated concessions under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 with Brazil and Thailand. I hope that this renegotiation and the Agreements that we have approved will benefit European producers and allow consumers to maintain the quality and quantity of poultry meat at their disposal.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The report by Vital Moreira, rapporteur for the Committee on International Trade, concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the implementation of the Agreements concluded by the EU following negotiations in the framework of Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, amending and supplementing Annex I to Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff (modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat). This regulation needs to be adopted in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. These agreements provide for an increase of out-of-quota rates for seven tariff lines of processed poultry meat products and the opening of tariff quotas for these tariff lines to Brazil, Thailand and other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). I voted in favour of this report because it rebalances trade, increases the level of protection and compensates the EU’s trade partners via tariff rate quotas.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We have serious doubts about this proposal. The deepening crisis in Europe requires policies of investment, support and reinforcement of national production in each country, investment in small and medium-sized enterprises, and job creation, and not continued trade liberalisation which has caused so many difficulties for businesses in the weakest economies, such as Portugal. As a result of the agreement on poultry concluded in 2007 under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, the EU has witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports, which has negatively affected the European poultry sector. The harmful consequences of the liberalisation and deregulation of international trade are now recognised, as always after the fact and without the appropriate conclusions being drawn. Yet once again the same approach is being advocated. This report approves the conclusion of an agreement which provides for the opening of tariff quotas for processed poultry meat (and an increase of out-of-quota rates). These represent potential additional difficulties for a sector that has already suffered significantly from the difficulties associated with the costs of adapting production facilities to more specific EU legislation.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Adoption of an implementing regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 is needed in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. A mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustment offsetting the increase in bound duties was found under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994. The Annex to the Regulation on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff should reflect the agreed modifications of concessions for processed poultry meat (chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature). Implementation of the agreements envisages an increase in out-of-quota rates for 7 tariff lines of processed poultry meat products and the opening of tariff quotas for these tariff lines to Brazil, Thailand and other World Trade Organisation (WTO) members. The autonomous duties set in Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff are higher than the current tariffs bound in the WTO and therefore the ‘pre-Uruguay Round’ autonomous duty rates should be increased to the level of the conventional duty rates. I am of the opinion that this rebalancing of duties ensures a mutually acceptable solution for all trading partners. It is also necessary to bring up the level of protection in order to address substitution effects affecting the EU poultry industry.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) Due to a loophole in EU regulations, imports of processed poultry meat products have greatly increased, with negative effects on European industry. In order to put an end to the situation, this report calls for implementation of provisions of agreements, in accordance with World Trade Organisation rules, signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand, since these were the countries most affected by adjustment of tariff levels for the products in question. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal because adoption of an implementing regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 is needed in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. A mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustment offsetting the increase in binding duties was found under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994. I supported the adequate rebalancing exercise, which is aimed at adopting a mutually acceptable solution for both trading partners. It is also necessary to increase the level of protection in order to address substitution effects affecting the EU poultry industry. At the same time the EU’s trade partners must be adequately compensated via tariff rate quotas.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this proposal because adoption of an implementing regulation amending Regulation No 2658/87 is needed in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. A mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustment offsetting the increase in bound duties was found under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of approving these EU agreements with Brazil and Thailand, which will provide better protection for the European poultry industry. The agreements provide for an increase in the meat content of processed poultry imports.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I could not vote for this report due to the lack of precise information on the effects of the Agreement and because its implementation requires technical measures. This report seeks to amend the rules to make it possible to implement the previous report, A7-0350/2012. That strictly technical report contains very little information on the topic from the Commission. It relates to tariff aspects of trade in processed poultry meat products and its aim is to protect European farmers. That will mean higher cost for developing countries that wish to export their products. On the other hand, however, Brazil has an extensive agri-business sector, and if we do not provide any protection for European farmers from those large producers, Europe’s primary sector could suffer as a result. I did not vote for the report because of this lack of information.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) It is important to adopt an implementing regulation for the provisions of the agreements relating to the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat, which the European Union signed with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. Under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustments were found to offset the increase in bound duties. It is important to take measures, on the one hand, to develop international trade and, on the other hand, to regulate and harmonise it so that all of the Union’s trading partners are in a mutually beneficial position. Moreover, as the autonomous duties set in Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff are higher than the current tariffs bound in the World Trade Organisation, ‘pre-Uruguay Round’ autonomous duty rates should be increased to the level of the conventional duty rates.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. Adoption of an implementing regulation amending Regulation No 2658/87 is needed in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. Very useful report. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution. In order to maintain strong, long-term trade relations it is very important to adopt solutions that benefit both trading partners and to remove existing barriers. It should be noted that trade policy can and must begin to create jobs and boost growth and sustainable development. I believe that in order to address substitution effects affecting the EU poultry industry it is appropriate to increase the level of protection and provide trading partners with appropriate compensation for losses by applying tariff quotas.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This instrument amending Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 needs to be adopted in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. A mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustment offsetting the increase in bound duties was negotiated under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994. The Annex to the Regulation on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff should reflect the agreed modifications of concessions for processed poultry meat (Chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature). The implementation of the agreements envisages an increase of out-of-quota rates for seven tariff lines of processed poultry meat products and the opening of tariff quotas for these seven tariff lines to Brazil, Thailand and other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). As provision is made for the compensation of the EU’s trade partners, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) A regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 needs to be adopted in order to implement provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. The implementation of the agreements envisages an increase of out-of-quota rates for seven tariff lines of processed poultry meat products and the opening of tariff quotas for these seven tariff lines to Brazil, Thailand and other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The rapporteur supports the rebalancing exercise, which ensures a solution that is mutually acceptable to the trading partners. He also highlights that, in order to address substitution effects affecting the EU poultry industry, the level of protection of the European internal market must be increased and the EU’s trading partners must be adequately compensated via tariff rate quotas. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Following negotiations in the framework of Article 28 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 launched in mid-2009 with Brazil and Thailand and concluded in 2012, we must today adopt a Regulation for implementing the provisions of these recent agreements. These are extremely important measures with regard to import agreements between the EU and Brazil and the EU and Thailand aimed at addressing substitution effects affecting the EU poultry industry. I am keeping a close watch on the implementation of these agreements that are necessary to bring up the level of protection in order to address the said substitution. Implementation of the agreements envisages an increase of out-of-quota rates for seven tariff lines of processed poultry meat products and opening of tariff quotas for these tariff lines to Brazil, Thailand and other countries. I very much welcome these agreements for raising the level of protection and eliminating any regulatory loopholes in the area. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that the agreements between the EU, the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Kingdom of Thailand were negotiated based on tariff codes that were subsequently merged into one, this merger must be reflected in the implementing regulation. I therefore voted in favour of this report (A7-0351/2012) as it proposes an amendment to the tariff and statistical nomenclature and to the Common Customs Tariff in order to reflect the agreed modifications of concessions for processed poultry meat. Adoption of this report will enable rapid implementation of the result achieved in the negotiations held within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva between the contracting parties.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the legislative resolution of 21 November 2012 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the implementation of the Agreements concluded by the EU following negotiations in the framework of Article XXVIII of GATT 1994, amending and supplementing Annex I to Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff. On 25 May 2009 the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations under Article XXVIII of the GATT 1994 (COM proposal 8615/09 WTO 72 AGRI 166) with a view to the renegotiation of concessions on poultry meat tariff lines under Chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature. The negotiations have resulted in Agreements in the form of exchanges of letters initialled with the Kingdom of Thailand on 22 November 2011 and with the Federal Republic of Brazil on 7 December 2011. Pursuant to Article 1 of the Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87, Part Two of Annex I (Schedule of Customs Duties) shall be amended with the duties shown in the Annex to this Regulation. The autonomous duties shall be set at the level of the conventional duties.

 
  
  

Report: Vital Moreira (A7-0329/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report because it is right that, given its accession to the World Trade Organisation, the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw wood products. This alteration will allow, on the one hand, tariff-rate quotas to be allocated to the European Union and, on the other hand, the EU share of tariff-rate quotas to be managed by the European Union and Russia. It is vital that, in its global relations, the European Union constantly adapts and that, as new industrialised countries increasingly capture global market share, in direct competition with the European Union, the EU can protect European producers and manufacturers from the rest of the world, as only in this way can we have a competitive and growth-oriented Europe.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU. Under this Agreement the EU will reduce customs duties for wood imported from Russia. This will help wood processing enterprises obtain cheaper wood from Russia, which is the largest exporter to the EU (wood imports from Russia account for 60 % of all imports to the EU). Another important aspect of this Agreement with Russia is the protection of wood importers. Under the provisions of this Agreement, Russia will be unable to unilaterally increase customs duties on wood exports. I would like to believe that Russia will comply with this Agreement and will show that it can be a reliable partner for the EU.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Adopted in the European Parliament with my support, this report takes into account the Russian Federation’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It seeks to regulate tariff-rate quotas and export licences for wood exports in order to ensure fair trade while maintaining a high level of sustainability in this sector.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal on tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU. In the last few decades Russia has supplied 60 % of all the wood imported to the EU. Under the new EU-Russia Agreement export duty rates for wood will be applied by Russia at a significantly reduced level and certain Russian wood species (spruce, pine) will therefore become cheaper. The EU has a strong interest in the tariff-rate quotas, which provide for significant advantages for exports of wood from Russia, with in-quota duties significantly reduced compared to current ones. The Agreement establishes the rules regarding the management of the export tariff-rate quotas and provisions on the cooperation of the competent authorities of the European Union and the Government of the Russian Federation necessary to ensure the proper operation of the system. I agree that this Agreement should help avoid a situation where Russia unilaterally increases export duties because this has a negative impact on EU manufacturers.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted for this recommendation because I agree with the Commission’s proposal to allocate tariff-rate quotas to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Moreira’s report on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union. The report proposes that the Commission should be empowered to adopt the necessary provisions for the management of the quantities of the tariff-rate quotas allocated to exports to the EU by means of an implementing act, as argued in the report by Ms Vaidere, also voted in this plenary session.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because, in accordance with Article 294(2) and Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0215/2012), the Commission proposal was approved at first reading in the European Parliament. The Commission will refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas to exports of wood from Russia to the European Union. This report is a legislative annex to the trade agreement between the European Union and Russia, which ensures better trade conditions for many European producers that obtain supplies from Russia. This is the first time that the European Union has managed a third country’s export quotas.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree with its reasoning.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In May 2011 the Committee on International Trade recommended approving the agreement with Russia in the context of the latter’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. This agreement concerned tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU. Under this agreement, the Russian Federation can issue export licences based on the documentation issued by the EU, with the latter managing the tariff-rate quotas. Further to this agreement, the Commission has proposed a revision of the current quota system, which is now being assessed by Parliament.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union. The Russian Federation is an important partner of the EU, with which it has various partnership agreements although, despite its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the rule of law and respect for human rights are not duly observed by Russia’s leaders. The EU imports large quantities of raw wood from the Russian Federation, and the Commission has therefore negotiated a new agreement under which Russia will reduce or eliminate export duties on raw wood. In the context of the negotiations regarding Russia’s accession to the WTO, the Commission has negotiated with Russia an Agreement relating to the administration of those tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood and a Protocol on the technical modalities in accordance with the Agreement. I voted in favour of conferring implementing powers on the Commission in order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of the Agreement and the Protocol following their entry into force, which will happen on the day of the regulation’s publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The conclusion of this bilateral agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation stems from the latter’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Following 18 years of negotiations, Russia – which is an important source of raw materials for the EU – was officially accepted as a WTO member in December 2011. Huge pressure was placed on Russia to comply with all the WTO rules, resulting in the removal of all ‘protectionist barriers to trade’ with the EU. In this context, Russia has had to reduce export duty rates on wood products, particularly some coniferous wood species. This involves removing all ‘prohibitive’ barriers to trade with the EU, given its ‘strong offensive interest in this agreement’. Once again, it is the big business interests in the EU which are exerting their influence to reduce the costs of importing this raw material. Our vote on this report has to be in line with our basic position on the WTO’s role in the liberalisation and deregulation of international trade or, in other words, the orientation of international trade towards the large corporations rather than towards defending the interests of the people.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In view of the economic importance of imports of wood for the European Union and the importance of the Russian Federation as a supplier of wood for the Union, the Commission has agreed undertakings with the Russian Federation relating to the reduction or removal of the export tariffs currently imposed by the Russian Federation on wood. The undertakings, which, following the accession of the Russian Federation to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), form part of its list of concessions, include tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of certain kinds of coniferous wood, some of which are allocated for export to the Union. In connection with the negotiations for the accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO, the Commission, on behalf of the Union, concluded an agreement with the Russian Federation in the form of an Exchange of Letters relating to these tariffs-rate quotas applied to the export of certain coniferous wood from the Russian Federation to the Union. In order to provide the economic entities with legal certainty and continuity, the legal effects of these measures, which were adopted on the basis of implementing Regulation (EU) No 498/2012, should be retained by means of new implementing acts to be adopted in accordance with this Regulation.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) Following the Russian Federation’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, some legislative changes need to made and new agreements signed between the EU and Moscow, in this case concerning exports of wood. Since this is a measure that will be of benefit to the European paper, furniture and construction industries, I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because given the economic importance for the Union of imports of raw wood and the importance that the Russian Federation has for the Union as a supplier of raw wood, the Commission negotiated with the Russian Federation commitments by the latter to reduce or eliminate export duties on raw wood. In the context of its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its current export duty rates on raw wood products. For certain types of wood, namely some coniferous wood species (i.e. spruce and pine), Russia has agreed to open tariff-rate quotas for exports of those products and allocate a specific quota share to the European Union. Export duty rates within the tariff-rate quotas will be applied at a significantly reduced level.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) At the sitting of 21 November, I supported the report by Vital Moreira on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU. This report was adopted by a large majority: 599 votes to 11, with 88 abstentions. I welcome that result. The adoption of the report in plenary confirms the Committee on International Trade’s consent of May 2012.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I welcome this agreement. Since 2007 Russia has continually increased wood export duties, which has affected the price and trade flow of wood products for European importers. This agreement will regulate this to bring stability to trade flows, which should benefit EU producers.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I could not vote for this report because it is a step backwards in the EU’s policy on the accumulation of natural resources. It concerns legislation that favours importers of natural resources, who are calling for price certainty for imports of this raw material. The World Trade Organisation’s mandate requires an end to taxes on imports of raw materials and, since 2007, many producers have been affected by the quotas set by Russia. These interests of European producers clash with the political position of my parliamentary group, which calls on the EU to implement a proactive environmental policy that moves towards a reduction in imports of raw materials so that we can reduce the environmental footprint of our consumer system. That is why I did not vote for this report.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. In the context of its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw wood products. This agreement establishes general provisions on the implementation of the specific quota shares allocated to the EU. Since the Agreement provides that quantities of the EU share of the tariff-rate quotas shall be managed by the EU, and that the Russian Federation shall issue export licences based on the relevant import documentation issued by the EU, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because the tariff-rate quotas will provide significant advantages for exports of wood, with duties reduced. Russia is very important for the European Union as a supplier of raw wood and in the context of its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has agreed to reduce its export duty rates on raw wood products. It should be noted that with the entry into force of this Agreement, export duty rates within the tariff-rate quotas would be applied at a significantly reduced level. Furthermore, the EU itself will manage the EU’s share of the tariff-rate quotas and Russia will issue export licences according to import documents issued by the EU.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) When Russia joined the World Trade Organisation negotiations began on trade quotas and reducing duties. During the negotiations the Russian Federation agreed to reduce the tariff-rate quotas that had hitherto been set for raw wood products for export. The report summarises the provisions under which EU-Russian timber trade relations and quota reductions will be conducted in this area.

I voted in favour of this report because it redefines EU-Russian timber trade relations and establishes a precedent for further cooperation based on mutual respect.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this draft European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union, bearing in mind the favourable opinion of the Committee on International Trade. As this is an issue on which we must consent, the European Parliament adopted its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a regulation on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union aims to apply the bilateral agreement concluded with Russia in the context of the negotiations for its accession to the World Trade Organisation. According to the agreement, the Russian Federation must issue export licences based on the EU documentation and must manage, together with the EU, the latter’s share of the tariff-rate quotas. This proposal for a regulation on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU contains provisions (Articles 3 and 4) from the original report on the Council Decision, as suggested by the Committee on International Trade, in order to ensure the necessary institutional balance. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. (FI) I voted in favour of this important report, which was already discussed in connection with Russia joining the WTO. The agreement that has now been reached will reduce Russia’s export duties, especially for wood products. This is a significant step forward, because Russia has applied wood duties since 2007.

Thanks to the Treaty of Lisbon, consultation of Parliament in matters relating to international trade is an established principle that works well. The activities of the EU in the field of international trade are no laughing matter. The European Union is the world’s biggest trader. It has a 20 % share of global imports and exports.

The EU is undeniably the world’s biggest economic area. This is why it is important that the EU holds onto its own values and the rules that unite the Member States when it conducts trade with third countries. The EU is primarily a community of values that endeavours to preserve the competitiveness of Europe and to establish internationally agreed trade rules.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. Abstention. Greens in INTA regard export duties as a legitimate policy tool of countries to stimulate domestic processing of raw materials, to reduce the use of raw materials or to control their outflows. Export duties, moreover, are consistent with WTO rules. Therefore, Greens in INTA were strongly opposed to the EU policy to make the accession of Russia to the WTO dependent on their withdrawal of all export duties, which held up the Russia WTO accession for more than three years. Eventually, the need to present a success for the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva last December made it that the EU gave in on a couple of its demands, so that Russia could be celebrated as a new WTO entry. However, the EU succeeded in negotiating the above protocols on a certain amount of wood imports from Russia under tariff-rate quotas. These quotas are set so high that they are not even used. Hence, these quotas will increase wood imports from Russia into the EU. Given Greens general policy to reduce the use of raw materials, but welcoming that a compromise had been found to accelerate the WTO membership of Russia, which Greens support, we abstained on both files in Committee.

 
  
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  Petri Sarvamaa (PPE), in writing. (FI) I voted in favour of this report. Although it concerns a change to tariff quotas as a consequence of Russia’s membership of the WTO, I think this is a welcome development. Co-operation with Russia is important from the perspective of the European Union’s economic development; it is important not only for the European Union but also for the states bordering Russia.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the proposal for a regulation on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union. This introduction of tariff-rate quotas stems from the bilateral negotiations between the Russian Federation and the EU in the context of the former’s negotiations on its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). I voted in favour of this report as, in the context of the WTO negotiations, the Union’s interests have been protected.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted for the report on the proposal for a regulation on the allocation of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union. Considering the economic importance for the Union of imports of raw wood and the importance that the Russian Federation has for the Union as a supplier of raw wood, the Commission negotiated with the Russian Federation commitments by the latter to reduce or eliminate export duties on raw wood. These commitments, which became part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Schedule of Concessions and Commitments on Goods of the Russian Federation upon its accession to the WTO, include tariff-rate quotas for the export of specified types of coniferous wood, a share of which has been allocated for exports to the Union.

In accordance with the terms of the Agreement, the Union is to manage the share of tariff-rate quotas allocated to it in accordance with its internal procedures. Decision 2012/105/EU stipulates that the Commission is to adopt detailed rules on the method of allocating quota authorisations pursuant to the Protocol, as well as any other provisions necessary for the management, by the Union, of the quantities of the tariff-rate quotas allocated to exports to the Union.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Vital Moreira (A7-0350/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report given that tariff concessions for foreign exporters have brought them savings, mainly due to the lack of safety requirements. This means that the European processed poultry meat industry has suffered significant damage, which, in my opinion, forces the European Union to revise this tariff regime. Bearing in mind that, in this type of trade relationship, our trading partners Brazil and Thailand will be most affected, I agree with the introduction of temporary compensation.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Like a large majority in the European Parliament, I supported this text, which updates the rules governing our trade relations with Brazil and Thailand. This report notes the changes that have taken place in the poultry import and export sector. This vote validates the result of several years of negotiations and ensures greater reciprocity between trading partners.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal on the implementation of provisions of agreements concerning the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed by the European Union with Brazil and Thailand in June 2012. When foreign exporters took advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection, in 2007 there was a sudden increase in imports of processed poultry meat in the European Union, which had a negative impact on the EU poultry industry. I agree that we need to remedy this defect and stop customs evasion. Under these Agreements the EU will offset the increase in binding duty rates by allowing the introduction of tariff quotas and allocating Brazil and Thailand a large share of these. I welcome the alignment exercise, which is aimed at adopting a mutually acceptable solution for both trading partners.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report because I support the agreements with Brazil and Thailand. I, too, believe that we need increased levels of protection to avoid the existing loopholes. At the same time, I believe that the EU’s trading partners and the WTC members must be compensated adequately via tariff-rate quotas. I would stress that we need to find adequate solutions that are deemed acceptable by all trading partners. In this context, retaining a general level of reciprocal and mutually-beneficial concessions for all parties involved is a must. Consequently, by respecting the WTO system of norms, the increased level of protection will be offset by adequate compensation.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. (PL) The significant rise in imports of processed poultry meat has negative consequences for European producers. Furthermore, the imported products often have a low meat content, which obviously affects their quality. In attempting to reach beneficial agreements with Brazil, Thailand and other countries, we must keep in mind European food producers, as their performance has a direct impact on the economic performance of the Member States.

I welcome the fact that, thanks to the Commission’s efforts, a mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustment offsetting the increase in bound duties has been found. I am in favour of all measures to improve the level of consumer protection and fully agree with the proposals to close the legal loopholes and put an end to existing methods of circumventing the rules. I support this recommendation and, therefore, the conclusion of the agreements.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted for this report because I support the agreements with Brazil and Thailand as I believe that they are of strategic importance given the regions in which both countries are located and the role they play in those regions. I also believe that it is necessary to increase our level of protection and compensate the EU’s trade partners and the members of the World Trade Organisation through quotas.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I agree with the report by Mr Moreira on the conclusion of an agreement relating to the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat signed between the EU and Brazil and Thailand. Due to the insufficient protection afforded by the existing Regulations, Thai and Brazilian poultry exporters have gained unfair economic advantage to the detriment of the European industry. In order to rebalance the situation, the Commission took the necessary regulatory steps, increasing duties on exports of poultry to the EU. At the same time, the existing agreements between the EU and third countries involved also needed to be renegotiated in accordance with World Trade Organisation rules.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of the Rules of Procedure, the recommendations of the Committee on International Trade and relying on the draft Agreements in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union, Brazil and Thailand pursuant to Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 relating to the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat provided for in the EU Schedule annexed to GATT 1994, I welcome the conclusion of the Agreements.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report on the modifications of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat between the European Union and Brazil and the European Union and Thailand. In order to protect the European poultry sector, it is important to amend Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 in order to prevent an increase in processed poultry imports.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree with its reasoning.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE), in writing. (FR) With this report, we are protecting the European poultry industry. This decision benefits both our producers and our consumers. I support the EU’s clear ambition to guarantee a high level of protection for all, while maintaining strong and open relations with our Brazilian and Thai partners.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this text, which protects the European poultry industry from huge processed poultry imports, which do not always meet the standards of protection required within the Union. We must protect this sector, which helps to promote our products throughout the world. This is a public health issue: it is essential to ensure compliance with the European standards of protection so that our citizens can be assured that they have quality meat on their plates and our poultry farmers do not have to cope with unfair competition. An open market is one where the same rules apply to everyone.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Not only as a member of this House, but also as a citizen and consumer, I believe that it is extremely important for the agreements in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and Brazil, and between the EU and Thailand, to be concluded so that the poultry sector in Europe is better protected. Following negotiations concluded in 2007 on poultry, under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, the EU witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports. Foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection by reducing chicken meat/offal content in preparations to under 57 %, thus qualifying for a bordering tariff line. Consequently, there was a surge in prepared poultry meat imports that has negatively affected the European poultry industry. I therefore agree that it is necessary to bring up the level of protection in order to close the loophole and preclude circumvention.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation by Vital Moreira, rapporteur for the Committee on International Trade, concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreements in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and Brazil, and between the European Union and Thailand, pursuant to Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 relating to the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat provided for in the EU Schedule annexed to GATT 1994. I voted in favour of consenting to these agreements, the implementation of which envisages an increase of out-of-quota rates for seven tariff lines of processed poultry meat products and the opening of tariff quotas for these tariff lines to Brazil, Thailand and other World Trade Organisation (WTO) members, in order to bring up the level of protection by precluding circumvention and benefiting the EU’s trade partners and the whole WTO membership.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As a result of the agreement on poultry concluded in 2007 under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, the EU has witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports, which has negatively affected the European poultry sector. The harmful consequences of the liberalisation and deregulation of international trade are now recognised, as always after the fact and without the appropriate conclusions being drawn. Yet once again the same approach is being advocated. This report approves the conclusion of an agreement which provides for the opening of tariff quotas for processed poultry meat (and an increase of out-of-quota rates). We have serious doubts about this proposal. The deepening crisis in Europe requires policies of investment, support and reinforcement of national production in each country, investment in small and medium-sized enterprises, and job creation, and not continued trade liberalisation which has caused so many difficulties for businesses in the weakest economies, such as Portugal.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Following negotiations under Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 concluded in 2007 on poultry, the EU has witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports. As the surge has negatively affected the European poultry industry, the Commission was authorised by the Council to negotiate the modification of concessions on poultry meat under Chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature. Article XXVIII of the GATT 1994 on the ‘Modification of Schedules’ is the main provision governing the renegotiation of tariff concessions. The Commission negotiated in parallel with Brazil and Thailand, whose exports would be most affected by the modification of concessions. Two-year negotiations have resulted in Agreements in the form of Exchanges of Letters, initialled at the end of 2011 and signed with both partners at the end of June 2012. A mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustment offsetting the increase in bound duties was found. Under the agreements, the EU would offset the increase in the bound duty by opening tariff rate quotas and allocating their substantial shares to Brazil and Thailand. I support the adequate rebalancing exercise which ensures a mutually acceptable solution to the trading partners. The increased level of protection will be offset under the rules-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) system, maintaining a general level of reciprocal and mutually advantageous concessions.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour because it is necessary to increase the level of protection in order to close the loophole and preclude circumvention. At the same time, the EU’s trade partners and all WTO members must be adequately compensated via tariff-rate quotas. Following negotiations under Article XXVIII of GATT 1994 concluded in 2007 on poultry the EU has witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports. Foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection by reducing chicken meat/offal content in preparations to under 57 %, which is the minimum allowable rate in the tariff line. In future, similar substitution effects are likely to take place under other tariff lines, covering other types of processed poultry. As the surge in prepared poultry meat imports has negatively affected the European poultry industry, the Commission was authorised by the Council to negotiate the modification of concessions on poultry meat under Chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature (CN).

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) Vital Moreira’s report on the concessions with respect to processed poultry meat in the agreements between the European Union and Brazil and between the European Union and Thailand was adopted by a large majority. I welcome that result. The report aims to tackle the dramatic surge in processed poultry imports into the European Union. This increase in imports has put the European poultry industry at a serious disadvantage. As a result, Parliament has just approved the modification of the agreements with Brazil and Thailand, which are the EU’s main suppliers of processed poultry meat.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. (PL) The legal loopholes that allow the circumvention of provisions governing the import of processed poultry meat should be closed. This is the aim of the recommendation by the Committee on International Trade concerning the agreements signed with the main suppliers of poultry to our market, Brazil and Thailand. It is essential to increase duty rates in order to reduce the negative impact of processed poultry meat imports on our market. The tariff rate quota introduced in the agreements as a means of offsetting the increase in bound duties in respect, chiefly, of these two main exporters, will limit any adverse effects the changes may have for both countries and will ensure the continuation of good trade relations with both Brazil and Thailand. At the same time, the rise in duty rates will protect the EU from excessive processed poultry meat imports, why is why, in the interests of our markets, Parliament should support the conclusion of these agreements and adopt this recommendation.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. Following negotiations under Article XXVIII of GATT 1994 concluded in 2007 on poultry, the EU has witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports. Foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection by reducing chicken meat/offal content in preparations to under 57 %, thus qualifying for a bordering tariff line. In the future, similar substitution effects are likely to take place under other tariff lines, covering other types of processed poultry. As the surge in prepared poultry meat imports has negatively affected European poultry industry, the Commission was authorised by the Council to negotiate the modification of concessions on poultry meat under Chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature (CN). I welcome the agreements with Brazil and Thailand.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I could not vote for this report due to the lack of precise information on the effects of this trade Agreement. This strictly technical report contained very little information on the topic from the Commission, despite the fact that it affects various aspects of the trade in these products. Some sources suggest that this Agreement will mean higher cost for developing countries that wish to export their processed poultry products. On the other hand, however, Brazil has an extensive agri-business sector, and if we do not provide any protection for European farmers from those large producers, Europe’s primary sector could suffer as a result. I did not vote for the report because of this lack of information.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. The EP is asked to give its consent to the re-negotiation of tariff concessions in the framework of Article XXVIII and agreements reached with Thailand and Brazil on the import of poultry meat which result from this renegotiation. The EU had to renegotiate these tariff concessions because foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection by reducing chicken meat content in preparations to less than 57 %, thus qualifying for different tariff lines. In the future, similar substitution effects were likely to take place under other tariff lines, covering other types of processed poultry. As the surge in prepared poultry meat imports has negatively affected the European poultry industry, the Commission was authorised by the Council to negotiate the modification of concessions on poultry meat. I voted against, because experiments which result in such effects tells us that documentation should be prepared thoroughly.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Following negotiations under Article XXVIII of GATT 1994 concluded in 2007 on poultry, the EU has witnessed a dramatic surge of processed poultry imports. Foreign exporters seemed to take an advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection in the EU by reducing chicken meat/offal content in preparations to under 57 %, thus qualifying for a bordering tariff line. In the future, similar substitution effects were likely to take place under other tariff lines, covering other types of processed poultry. The surge in prepared poultry meat imports has negatively affected the European poultry industry. The increase in bound duties for the main importers, Thailand and Brazil, is therefore an important measure to protect EU companies. However, I do not support the proposal for the EU to offset the bound duty by opening tariff rate quotas and allocating their substantial shares to Brazil and Thailand. These countries have benefited from a legal loophole in EU law for many years, to the detriment of European companies. They had an unfair competitive advantage and therefore should not be granted concessions, especially at a time when Europe is in crisis and needs viable companies in Europe to sustain local growth and jobs. I have therefore abstained.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution. In order to maintain sustainable and long-term trade relations it is very important to constantly aim to adopt a solution that is mutually acceptable for the trading partners. It should be noted that in future it is crucial to ensure an adequate level of protection, to close all loopholes and preclude circumvention. Furthermore, an effective compensation mechanism should be established which would allow the introduction of tariff-rate quotas in certain specific cases.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the recommendation on the draft Council decision on trade agreements between the EU and Brazil, and between the EU and Thailand, pursuant to Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 relating to the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat provided for in the EU Schedule annexed to GATT 1994. Following the GATT agreement in 2007, the EU witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports. Foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection by reducing chicken meat/offal content in preparations to under 57 %, thus qualifying for a bordering tariff line. These prepared poultry meat imports negatively affected this sector, which led the Commission to react and obtain authorisation from the Council to negotiate the modification of concessions on poultry meat under Chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature (CN). This was essential in my opinion. Supporting the adequate rebalancing exercise, which ensures a solution that is mutually acceptable to the respective partners, is vital for the EU’s external trade relations policy.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union witnessed a dramatic surge in processed poultry imports, due to substitution effects which negatively affected this industry. Foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the level of legal protection by reducing chicken meat/offal content in preparations to under 57 %, thus qualifying for a bordering tariff line. Similar substitution effects were likely to take place under other tariff lines, covering other types of processed poultry. For that reason, and as this surge in prepared poultry meat imports negatively affected the European poultry industry, the Commission was authorised by the Council to negotiate the modification of concessions on poultry meat under Chapter 16 of the Combined Nomenclature (CN). As I consider that these modifications are beneficial to the EU, I voted in favour of concluding these agreements.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. Greens regret the lack of facts and figures provided by DG Trade to inform this dossier. We criticise that since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, an enormously increasing number of co-legislative dossiers is transmitted for vote very often without an extremely narrow timeline for consideration and with an absolutely insufficient provision of data (e.g. DG Trade just sent the draft Council decision, with even registration numbers of dossiers not filled in. The text of the new agreement was not included in the INTA website). Parts of the lacking dossier received from other sources revealed that no impact assessment has been made nor is foreseen for the current agreement. Unfortunately, AGRI did not give an opinion, which could have produced more insight. The Article 138 procedure makes it impossible to state disagreement in a debate. We have abstained in order to show disagreement with obscure negotiations and decisions with unclear repartition of interests and profits.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The surge in prepared poultry meat imports from 2007 was due to the fact that foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the level of protection by reducing chicken meat/offal content in preparations to under 57 %, which negatively affected the European poultry industry. Given this negative effect on the European poultry industry, the Commission was authorised by the Council to negotiate a new agreement, in order to protect the poultry industry in the single market, with Brazil and Thailand, which are the main exporters to be affected by the modification of concessions. The agreement signed between the EU and those countries stipulates that the EU must offset the increase of the bound duty by opening tariff-rate quotas and allocating substantial shares of these to Brazil and Thailand. I voted in favour of the recommendation by Vital Moreira given that the compensatory adjustment satisfies all the parties involved and offsets the increase of the bound duty.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat between the European Union and the Federal Republic of Brazil, and between the European Union and the Kingdom of Thailand. Following negotiations pursuant to Article XXVIII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994), the EU recorded a dramatic import surge of processed poultry meat. Foreign exporters seemed to take advantage of a relative gap in the EU level of protection, substituting poultry preparations containing more than 57 % of poultry meat with preparations containing less than 57 %, under a similar tariff line.

In order to address the substitution effects of imports affecting the EU poultry industry caused by the dramatic import surge of processed poultry meat, the Commission was authorised by the Council to renegotiate the concessions on poultry meat. The Commission negotiated in parallel with Brazil and Thailand, each of them holding principal supplying and/or substantial interests in several of the tariff lines concerned. The negotiations resulted in Agreements comprising a mutually satisfactory compensatory adjustment offsetting the increase in bound duties. The date of entry into force of the regulation should be the same as the date of entry into force of the two agreements, thus after receiving notifications from both Thailand and Brazil.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the proposal by Mr Moreira on the agreement with Brazil and Thailand for the modification of concessions with respect to processed poultry meat by the EU to these two countries. The agreement aims to raise the level of protection in order to close existing loopholes. Increased levels of protection will be offset under the rules-based World Trade Organisation system, maintaining a general level of reciprocal and mutually advantageous concessions.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Vital Moreira (A7-0318/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report. Bearing in mind the history of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement, which liberalised trade with countries in this area of the globe, including Israel, and as only one error was detected with regard to customs duties on one Israeli product imported into the European Union, I have no objections to the modification raised by the negotiations which were planned from the start, as this is simply a minor problem that can be quickly overcome.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Adopted by a large majority in the European Parliament, this report, which I supported, is a simple update of the Association Agreement between the European Union and the State of Israel. There are no changes to the substance apart from a correction relating to several problems involving customs duties under the previous version of this Agreement between two trading partners.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Moreira on amending the Annexes to Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between EU and Israel. The amendments will bring about greater liberalisation of trade between the EU and Israel in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. The agreement brings obvious benefits since Israel offers an interesting development opportunity to our enterprises, while firm guarantees are also given in terms of compliance with EU production, environmental and social rules and standards.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because having regard to the Agreements in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the State of Israel, the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0318/2012) and Rules 81 and 90(7) of the Rules of Procedure, by a Joint Order we are instructing the President to forward Parliament’s position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the State of Israel.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on the amendment of the Annexes to Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part. These amendments aim solely to remedy potential errors in the technical interpretation of the Agreement.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree with its reasoning.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR), in writing. (PL) The case for these changes is clear. They will stabilise relations between the EU and Israel, which is greatly needed right now.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report, which is, in essence, purely technical and simply corrects an unintentional error by the Commission. Following the signature and entry into force on 1 January 2010 of the Protocols of the association agreement between the EU and Israel on agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products, the Union started to inadvertently apply the same duties on imports of chemically pure lactose. On identifying and recognising this error, the Commission initiated negotiations with Israel in order to correct this error and comply with the provisions of the Protocols. In the current international context, these modifications are needed, aside from the obvious reason, in order to help stabilise relations between the EU and Israel.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Trade between the European Union and Israel has gradually become increasingly liberalised. However, a problem was detected with regard to customs duties charged on imports into the Union of chemically pure lactose originating in Israel. This problem, which was previously recognised by the Commission, has not yet been technically corrected. Furthermore, technical changes are also needed in order to comply with the commitments on market access of agricultural products and processed agricultural products under the previous Agreements.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation by Vital Moreira concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part, amending the Annexes to Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part. Israel is a state with which the EU has partnership agreements despite the whole controversy surrounding that country due to the constant conflict with its neighbour, Palestine, as we have recently seen. I would therefore argue that the issue of respect for human rights and for the principle of non-violence should be tackled in bilateral meetings between the EU and Israel. I voted in favour of this recommendation because it concerns a Council decision which has already been validated and which received a favourable opinion from this Parliament’s Committee on International Trade.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Despite the main aim of this report being to approve certain technical changes to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement, this cannot be dissociated from the central issue inherent in this Agreement. As we had the opportunity to state when the Protocol on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (CAA) was approved, we strongly condemn this Agreement. We condemn the EU’s deplorable and hypocritical attitude of total complacency with regard to the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. We are again discussing this Agreement at a time when the State of Israel is conducting a series of violent attacks on the Gaza Strip, which have already resulted in tens of deaths, including those of civilians and children. The hypocritical ‘human rights’ clauses which the EU includes in its agreements serve no purpose in such cases. Not once have they been applied in order to suspend the Agreement, as was necessary given the systematic violations of human rights by Israel. This EU policy of double standards becomes clearly apparent when you consider the human rights violations that are cited in order to impose various types of sanctions on other states.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Parliament, having regard to the draft Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part, amending Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Union and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part, has consented to the conclusion of the Agreement and instructed its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the State of Israel.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The amendments to the EU-Israel Protocols are aimed at achieving greater liberalisation of trade between the two partners in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. Considering that Israel presents no threats in terms of plant health controls on its products and provides many guarantees in terms of compliance with production, environmental and social standards, and that the agreement offers an interesting development opportunity to our enterprises, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) This resolution consents to the amendment of the Annexes to the Protocols to the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel. These purely technical amendments do not pose any problems as such. I voted against this resolution, however, because the vote in itself is a very bad signal from Parliament at a time when the Gaza Strip was being bombed by the State of Israel as part of Operation Pillar of Defence.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the report by Vital Moreira on the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part. This report was adopted by 542 votes to 113, with 31 abstentions. This purely technical report seeks to amend the EU-Israel Association Agreement on agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products, which entered into force on 1 January 2010.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I abstained on this proposal. Although this was a mere correction of a technical error I did not feel the climate was right to vote in favour of any agreement with Israel.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted against this report because, despite the fact that it is a technical report on trade, I feel that it is impossible for any agreement with the State of Israel to be neutral and apolitical. We opposed this Euro-Mediterranean Agreement because it means that, for agriculture and fishery resources, the liberalisation of these markets will open them up to large companies that will threaten the survival of small farmers and fishermen on both sides. Over and above the strictly economic impact of the Agreement, we must take into account the current political situation. The serious war crimes against the people of Gaza, which will be neither prosecuted nor punished in Israel, make it impossible for enhanced trade relations with that country to be seen as neutral. In fact, they are an affirmation of political collaboration with its illegal settlement of territories and with its war crimes. I voted against this report to express my opposition to Israel’s criminal policy.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. This report is a technical change to a mistake in existing legislation. It is not to be confused with the recently adopted CAA agreement. In November 2005, the Council authorised the Commission to conduct negotiations within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement in order to achieve greater liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products with certain Mediterranean countries. The Israeli Embassy signalled a technical problem with customs duties charged on the import of chemically pure lactose originating in Israel. After analysing this, the Commission services agreed that, during negotiations to align the agreement with the WTO definition, the Commission had unintentionally withdrawn an existing tariff concession. I am surprised by these debates and results. Such problems to be solved more attentively. I abstained.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour. The first Association Agreement between the EU and Israel was concluded in 1995. In 2005 the decision was made to launch negotiations with certain Mediterranean countries on greater mutual liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products. Negotiations with Israel ended in 2008 and the Agreement was concluded in 2010. These amendments are more of a technical nature, concerning the implementation of the Agreement, but are much needed to open up greater opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Israel, and new trade opportunities for EU enterprises operating in the fishery and agricultural sectors.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI), in writing. (HU) How many more children have to die in Gaza, how many Palestinian homes have to be demolished to make way for the construction of illegal settlements, how many years will the occupation continue in violation of international law before the European Union takes seriously its own fundamental principle that human rights must be respected not only by Member States but also by states that have an association with the EU? How often will Israel be able to flatten Gaza, and how many times will the damage wrought by the aggressor be paid for out of European taxpayers’ money and aid, and public buildings and homes rebuilt before the EU finally brings its influence to bear to induce the Jewish state to end the destruction? How long will Israel be able to keep Gaza, the world’s biggest prison, under total blockade before the EU finally says enough is enough. The European Union – which takes such pains to ensure that the rule of law, legal principles and legislative provisions are comprehensively applied, for example when it concerns regulation in Hungary – should suspend the current association agreement with Israel with immediate effect until that country is prepared to abide by the EU’s binding principles concerning human rights. The vote today concerned an agreement which, on the contrary, expressly extends the rights of the aggressor country as an associated state. As someone who respects human rights I therefore had no option but to vote no.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution. It is very important to remove barriers stopping the development of liberalised mutual trade in agricultural products and processed agricultural products as soon as possible. I believe that the technical amendments planned will properly address existing problems and that there will continue to be systemic compliance with commitments as regards market access for agricultural products and processed agricultural products under previous agreements.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Bearing in mind the favourable recommendation of the Committee on International Trade, I voted in favour of the draft European Parliament legislative resolution on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the State of Israel amending the Annexes to Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part.

 
  
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  Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. (IT) I support the adoption of this trade Protocol between the EU and Israel, not just because Israel offers an interesting development opportunity to our enterprises in the fishery and agricultural sectors, but more particularly because I am opposed to exploiting trade relations with Israel for political ends. Bringing political pressure to bear in matters of trade on the one hand damages the interests of our enterprises and on the other gives an increasingly one-sided image of the EU in the Middle-Eastern conflict, undermining its credibility. I hope that this protocol, like the Agreements on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of industrial products, will be approved as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Israel Protocol on agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products entered into force in January 2010. It was only noted at a later date that the EU had incorrectly started to charge customs duties on imports of chemically pure lactose originating in Israel. The Commission recognised the error, since when a revised agreement has been negotiated with Israel. In order to comply with the specific commitments on market access of agricultural products and processed agricultural products, and to avoid a possibly incorrect interpretation of the Agreement, I voted in favour of amending the Annexes to Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. Against. In the Committee on International Trade (INTA), the Greens supported the Moreira line to keep the dossier frozen, as this seemed to be the most promising way to keep a majority together in that committee.

In the opinion from the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), the Greens called for an interim report, which should have laid down the conditions for an acceptable CAA. As Moreira failed with his approach in the leading committee (INTA), he first proposed an interpretative declaration to be adopted at plenary level in an attempt to remedy this failure in a less comprehensive way. Then he proposed to send back the file to INTA, as the consultation of Parliament is not included in the revised Council decision on CAA.

During the vote in plenary, we called for a postponement but failed. Therefore we voted against this resolution.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part, amending the Annexes to Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part refers to a series of reciprocal agreements between countries to increase liberalisation. These measures have indeed brought about greater liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products with certain Mediterranean countries. I believe that amendment of the protocols in question will bring benefits to the said sectors, both with regard to traditional and new categories of product. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under the EU-Israel Protocol on agricultural products, the EU inadvertently charged customs duties on imports of chemically pure lactose originating in Israel. The Commission therefore decided that the Protocols should be revised in order to avoid their misinterpretation and, at the same time, to comply with the rules on market access of processed agricultural products, as previously agreed and signed between the EU and the State of Israel. For those reasons, I voted in favour of the recommendation made by the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted for the amendment of the Annexes to Protocols 1 and 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the EC and Israel. In 2005, the Council authorised the Commission to conduct negotiations in order to achieve greater liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products with certain Mediterranean countries. The negotiations with Israel were successfully concluded in 2008. The results of those negotiations are contained in an Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Community and the State of Israel concerning reciprocal liberalisation measures on agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products, the replacement of Protocols 1 and 2 and their Annexes and amendments to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part.

After the 2010 Agreement entered into force, the European Commission and Israel held a number of technical meetings relating to its implementation. Those meetings showed that some technical adjustments to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement were necessary in order to comply with the commitments of the previous agreements between the European Communities and the State of Israel, which came into force in 2000 and 2006. On 19 September 2011, the Commission and Israel concluded the negotiation of the necessary technical adjustments.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The aim of this report is to approve certain technical changes to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement. However, the central issue inherent in this Agreement is the EU’s deplorable and hypocritical attitude of continued support and establishment of relations with Israel, a country that is systematically violating the rules of international law and the most basic rights of the Palestinian people to dignity and self-determination. At the same time, the EU is imposing sanctions on countries such as Iran, on the pretext of their violation of human rights and possession of nuclear weapons. We are again discussing this Agreement at a time when the State of Israel is conducting a series of violent attacks on the Gaza Strip, which have already resulted in tens of deaths, including those of civilians and children. The majority of Parliament who have approved this report seem to be unconcerned about all this.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Inese Vaidere (A7-0177/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report because I consider, first and foremost, that the European Union has a strong interest in this agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. In order to avoid consecutive increases in the duties applied to wood products by Russia, which have affected many European producers, it is paramount that the European Parliament gives its consent to the rapid conclusion of this agreement.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report, because I believe that the Protocol on the administration of tariff-rate quotas will increase the stability and reliability of trade relations. It is crucial for the Russian Federation to avoid further consecutive increases of customs duties on wood exports. Over time, these have affected a great number of European Union producers. I also consider that the EU has a strong offensive interest in this agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. The agreement is welcome as it brings more predictability and better trade conditions.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. (PL) The reduction in Russian export tariffs will bring clear benefits for Polish importers. The rate applicable to spruce, for which there is particular demand, will now be 13 %, which represents a decrease of almost 50 % in relation to current out-of-quota duties. A significant, albeit lesser, reduction will also apply to export duties on pine.

I consider the conclusion of the protocol on technical modalities for the administration of tariff-rate quotas to be extremely welcome. It also provides for detailed consultation and dispute settlement procedures, which, in trade relations with countries such as Russia, affords vital protection, as well as strengthening the stability of mutual economic ties. I count on favourable and full cooperation from Moscow with regard to the sale of the aforementioned raw materials, in particular in respect of those countries neighbouring Russia. I support the conclusion of an agreement by the Council.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) Europe must protect is productive sectors and provide a sound framework for these types of trade relations in particularly sensitive markets.

The text adopted is positive because it is crucially important to prevent Russia from increasing export duties again as this would harm European producers. The Agreement will balance the situation and improve trading conditions.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I supported Ms Vaidere’s report on the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Russian Federation relating to the administration of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood. The Russian Federation’s accession to the World Trade Organisation required some new agreements to be signed and legislative changes to be made between the EU and the Russian Federation, such as lowering of export duty rates on wood raw materials and the management by the EU of Russia’s share of tariff rate quotas. This is a measure that will be of great benefit to European enterprises, particularly in the furniture, construction and paper industries.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the EU-Russia protocol on administration of the tariff-rate quotas is an important asset for the stability and reliability of trade relations with Russia. In this case, in the context of the process of its accession to the World Trade Organisation, the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its export duty rates currently applied to wood products, etc. This bilateral agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation defines the general provisions on the implementation of the share of the tariff-rate quotas and conditions which both parties agree to follow when achieving their respective part of the quota management and cooperating if necessary (procedures for consultations and dispute settlement are provided for as well). I believe that this agreement is important because it is not only aimed at avoiding increases of wood export duties applied by Russia but ensures more guarantees and better trade conditions for many EU manufacturers.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) On Wednesday, 21 November, I voted in favour of the report on the proposal for a regulation on the agreement between the European Union and Russia on the management of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood. In the context of its accession to the World Trade Organisation, Russia introduced tariff-rate quotas for wood and, given that a considerable share of those quotas are allocated to the European Union, it was necessary to define the general provisions of this bilateral agreement.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree with its assumptions.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE), in writing. (FR) Russia was already an important trading partner of the Union. Now that it is a member of the World Trade Organisation, there is a whole range of new possibilities for our relations. We voted in favour of an agreement that will enable European wood producers to increase their exports to Russia. That is good news for European producers and good news for our economy. This new agreement is another step towards ever closer cooperation with our Russian partner.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Russian wood today accounts for 60 % of European imports by the paper and pulp manufacturing sector. The EU-Russia agreement on imports of Russian wood will thus enable European companies to import, at preferential rates, Russian spruce and pine wood into the European Union. In the past, the European forestry industry had been faced with restrictions on imports imposed by Russia. This new agreement will thus help to revitalise this sector. It is also an import step towards a more stable and more predictable relationship with Russia, but also towards the affirmation of Europe’s trade position because it is the first time it will manage a third country’s tariff-rate quotas.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This is a bilateral agreement with Russia in the framework of its accession process to the World Trade Organisation. Parliament’s consent is a prerequisite for the Council to officially conclude this agreement. Under this agreement, the Russian Federation can issue export licences based on the import documentation issued by the Union, with the latter managing the tariff-rate quotas. The Union has a strong interest in this agreement, which will bring more predictability and may even improve trade relations between the parties. This could be beneficial to those industries connected with wood, construction, paper and furniture.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation by Inese Vaidere concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Russian Federation relating to the administration of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union and the Protocol between the European Union and the Government of the Russian Federation on technical modalities pursuant to that Agreement. The abovementioned bilateral agreement between the EU and Russia, which was negotiated in the framework of Russia’s accession process to the World Trade Organisation, needs the European Parliament’s consent in order to be signed by the Council. The Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw materials, including wood products, and has allocated to the EU a specific share of the quotas, while keeping the power to issue export licences. I voted in favour of this draft decision because the import of wood from Russia is in the interests of the Member States and because this agreement will avoid consecutive increases of wood export duties applied by Russia since 2007, which have adversely affected many EU producers.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The conclusion of this bilateral agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation follows on from the latter’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In this context, Russia has had to reduce export duty rates on wood products, particularly some coniferous wood species. This involves removing all ‘prohibitive’ barriers to trade with the EU, given its ‘strong offensive interest in this agreement’. Once again, it is the big business interests in the EU which are exerting their influence to reduce the costs of importing this raw material, which is crucial to industries such as the paper, construction and furniture industries in many EU countries. Russia, like any other country, has the right to exercise its sovereignty over its natural resources, and to impose those export duties that are deemed most appropriate to its own interests, regardless of the WTO provisions or the EU’s interests.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) This bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation was negotiated in the framework of the accession process of the Russian Federation to the World Trade Organisation. The European Parliament has been seized for consent, which is a prerequisite for the Council to officially conclude the agreement. In the context of the process of its accession to the WTO, the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw materials, including wood products. For certain types of wood, Russia has introduced tariff-rate quotas. A Protocol between the EU and Russia foresees the detailed technical modalities of this shared management of the tariff-rate quotas. This Protocol contains a set of guidelines which the EU and Russia agree to follow when achieving their respective part of the quota management and to cooperate if necessary. Procedures for consultations and dispute settlement are provided for as well. The EU has a strong offensive interest in this bilateral agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. I consider it extremely important and justifiable to avoid a recurrence of the consecutive increases of wood export duties applied by Russia since 2007, which affected many EU producers. The agreement brings more predictability and better trade conditions.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because in the context of the process of its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its current export duties on raw materials, including wood products. For certain types of wood, namely some coniferous wood species, Russia has introduced tariff-rate quotas. Lower duties on exports from Russia are applied for quantities exported inside quotas, and higher – let alone prohibitive – duties for products falling outside the quotas. I believe that the protocol on administration of the tariff-rate quotas is an important asset for the stability and reliability of trade relations. The EU has a strong offensive interest in this agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. The agreement brings more predictability and better trade conditions.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) At the sitting of 21 November, I supported the report by Inese Vaidere and I welcome its adoption. The European Union must now manage the tariff-rate quotas for wood from Russia following its accession to the World Trade Organisation. This report aims to bring more predictability and better trade conditions. Since 2007, the European Union has had to cope with increases of wood export duties applied by Russia, which have affected many EU producers that obtain most of their supplies from Russia.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report. This is one of first direct opportunities, after Russia joined the WTO, to apply rules under the WTO. Considering that Russia almost immediately after WTO accession broke the rules, it is crucial to monitor very closely the implementation of agreed tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU. The protocol was part of WTO accession negotiations and both the EU and WTO need to make sure it is applied without delay.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this proposal. The EU has a strong offensive interest in this agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour. It is paramount to avoid a recurrence of the consecutive increases of wood export duties applied by Russia since 2007, which affected many EU producers. I hope that this agreement brings more predictability and better trade conditions.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. The report recommends that the European Parliament gives consent to the conclusion of this agreement relating to the administration of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU. The EU has a strong offensive interest in this agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. It is paramount to avoid recurrence of the consecutive increases in wood export duties applied by Russia since 2007, which affected many EU producers. It is known that Mrs Vaidere is a Russophobe and therefore she prepared an inapt report.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because the agreement reached is a particularly important guarantee of stable and reliable trade relations. The supply of wood from Russia and trade conditions will also be improved. It should be noted that it is unprecedented for the EU to be managing a third country’s export quota, establishing a framework for the functioning of this system in future.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation was negotiated in the framework of its accession process to the World Trade Organisation. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament has been seized for consent, which is a prerequisite for the Council to officially conclude the agreement. The EU has a strong interest in this agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. Economic operators in the sector consider it paramount to avoid recurrence of the consecutive increases of wood export duties applied by Russia since 2007, which affected many EU producers. In this context, given that the agreement brings more predictability and better trade conditions, I voted in favour of consenting to its conclusion.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under this agreement, the Russian Federation must issue export licences based on the relevant import documentation issued by the European Union, while the latter will manage the quota authorisations. In the framework of its accession process to the World Trade Organisation, the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw materials, including wood products. The EU has a strong interest in this agreement as it provides for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. The tariff-rate quotas with reduced export duty rates will also help the EU’s wood industry and its downstream operators such as the paper, construction and furniture industries. I voted in favour of concluding the agreement and the shared management protocol, which transfers quota management and authorisation to the EU, clearly benefiting the stability and reliability of the trade relationship.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to thank Ms Vaidere for her work. By approving this text on the draft Council decision (16775/2011), the European wood industries, including those supplying downstream enterprises in the construction and paper sectors, will be able to import pine and fir wood from the Russian Federation at reduced prices. The EU took advantage of the reduction in export duty on these types of wood by the Russian Federation, signing a trade agreement that will bring savings of up to 70 % for Member State industries.

This agreement will bring considerable benefits to enterprises operating in the sector in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Germany and Poland, which had all halted imports following the 80 % increase in wood export duties applied by Russia in 2007. In Italy, the furniture and interior decoration sectors will benefit most from reduced raw materials costs.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw materials, including wood products. For certain types of wood, namely some coniferous wood species, Russia has introduced tariff-rate quotas. Lower duties on exports from Russia are applied for quantities exported inside quotas, and higher and even prohibitive duties for products falling outside the quotas. The EU aims for significant improvement in the supply of wood from Russia. This vote will allow the EU to manage the quota authorisations, while the Russian Federation will keep the power to issue export licences based on the relevant import documentation issued by the EU.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation was negotiated in the framework of its accession process to the World Trade Organisation, with the Russian Federation having agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw materials, including wood products. Lower duties on exports from Russia are applied for quantities exported inside quotas, with higher duties for products falling outside the quotas. A specific share of the quotas has been allocated to the EU, with these quotas having been set at a level that is relatively large for the EU, at least in consideration of expected demand in the short term. This bilateral agreement defines the general provisions on the implementation of the share of the tariff-rate quotas. While the EU will manage the quota authorisations, the Russian Federation will keep the power to issue export licences based on the relevant import documentation issued by the EU. For those reasons, I supported the agreement.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted for the report on the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Russian Federation relating to the administration of tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from the Russian Federation to the European Union, and the Protocol between the European Union and the Government of the Russian Federation on technical modalities pursuant to that Agreement. The Russian Federation has committed to reduce its currently applied export duties, including for raw wood. The Russian Federation has introduced tariff-rate quotas for the export of specified types of coniferous wood. Low duties are applied on exports from the Russian Federation for quantities inside the tariff-rate quotas allocated and higher, even prohibitive, duties are applied to products falling outside those quotas. The quotas have been set at a level that is relatively large for the EU, at least in consideration of expected demand in the short term. This bilateral agreement defines the general provisions on the implementation of the share of the tariff-rate quotas. I welcome the Agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation on the detailed technical modalities of the management of the tariff-rate quotas.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Following its accession to the World Trade Organisation, the Russian Federation has agreed to reduce its currently applied export duty rates on raw materials, including wood products. For certain types of wood, namely some coniferous wood species, Russia has introduced tariff-rate quotas. Lower duties on exports from Russia are applied for quantities exported inside quotas, and higher and even prohibitive duties for products falling outside the quotas.

A specific share of the quotas has been allocated to the EU. The quotas have been set at a level that is relatively large for the EU, at least in consideration of expected demand in the short term. This bilateral agreement defines the general provisions on the implementation of the share of the tariff-rate quotas. While the EU will manage the quota authorisations, the Russian Federation will keep the power to issue export licences based on the relevant import documentation issued by the EU.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Vital Moreira (A7-0329/2013), Inese Vaidere (A7-0177/2012)

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Adopted in the European Parliament with my support, this report takes into account the Russian Federation’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. It seeks to regulate tariff-rate quotas and export licences for wood exports in order to ensure fair trade while maintaining a high level of sustainability in this sector.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal on tariff-rate quotas applying to exports of wood from Russia to the EU. In the last few decades Russia has supplied 60 % of all the wood imported to the EU. Under the new EU-Russia Agreement export duty rates for wood will be applied by Russia at a significantly reduced level and certain Russian wood species (spruce, pine) will therefore become cheaper. The EU has a strong interest in the tariff-rate quotas, which provide for significant advantages for exports of wood from Russia, with in-quota duties significantly reduced compared to current ones. The Agreement establishes the rules regarding the management of the export tariff-rate quotas and provisions on the cooperation of the competent authorities of the European Union and the Government of the Russian Federation necessary to ensure the proper operation of the system. I agree that this Agreement should help avoid a situation where Russia unilaterally increases export duties because this has a negative impact on EU manufacturers.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I could not vote for this report because it is a step backwards in the EU’s policy on the accumulation of natural resources. It concerns an Agreement between both parties to protect the interests of importers of natural resources, who are calling for price certainty for imports of this raw material. The World Trade Organisation’s mandate requires an end to taxes on imports of raw materials and, since 2007, many producers have been affected by the quotas set by Russia. These interests of European producers clash with the political position of my parliamentary group, which calls on the EU to implement a proactive environmental policy that moves towards a reduction in imports of raw materials so that we can reduce the environmental footprint of our consumer system. That is why I did not vote for this report.

 
  
  

Report: Carlos Coelho (A7-0368/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report as I consider that SIS II (the second generation Schengen Information System) is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area and, at the same time, ensure more effective intergovernmental management of the system, which will considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals. This report therefore allows the European Union and its citizens, and the States and citizens of the Schengen Area outside the European Union, to take advantage as quickly as possible of the benefits of this new system.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. I voted in favour of this resolution as in an enlarged Europe with 27 Member States we need to reinforce security. I believe that SIS II will provide more rigour in border controls, improve biometric data and allow a more efficient use of data through their possible interconnections. Moreover, that with SIS II, individual rights will be better and more rigorously protected and data protection rules will be improved in order to avoid errors such as unjustified arrests or refusals at borders. I support the call of the European Parliament on EU Member States, and in particular Finland, to assume their responsibilities in this process and prevent further delays in SIS II, asking the Council and Commission what they intend to do to overcome this setback, so that SIS II can come into force as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the largest integrated database created to improve cooperation between the police and judicial authorities on crime and to improve implementation of policies on visas, immigration and the free movements of persons. The second generation SIS (SIS II) represents a particular improvement of the system that makes it possible to add new data, new types of indication and new functions that must however be protected and supervised. It is important that the schedule for the switchover to the new system is observed, in order to avoid any further delays and to make the second generation system finally operative. I share Mr Coelho’s regret that, despite the importance of the SIS for the citizens of the EU, Parliament has been given only a consulting role.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen area. I therefore supported its update, which involves the integration of biometric data from identity documents. This text has also made it possible to strengthen data protection for European citizens and to define the arrangements for financing this information system, which is essential for the security of European citizens.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice. The second generation SIS (SIS II) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information. The migration to SIS II is scheduled to start in early January next year. The SIS II is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area and end intergovernmental management of the system. For several years, the European Parliament has upheld the need for a clearly Community solution and rejected the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. This is one of the reasons why we support SIS II. Despite supporting the European Commission proposal, this report, which merited my backing, considers it essential to strengthen the rules on data protection and to ensure an efficient supervision of the complex migration.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the second generation SIS (SIS II) can not only increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts, but makes it possible to use new types of indication and new functions. Under codecision, the Council and the European Parliament agreed that the Schengen Area, which is rightly considered the backbone of a Europe without borders (i.e. an area of freedom, security and justice) will be implemented immediately and start applying to the Member States participating in SIS 1+ as of the date to be fixed by the Council, acting by the unanimity of its Members representing the governments of the Member States participating in SIS 1+. The switchover of all Member States is scheduled to take place towards the end of March 2013.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (including the United Kingdom and Ireland). SIS II makes it possible to add new data, such as biometric data, new types of indication and new functions to strengthen the area of freedom, security and justice in Europe. The report lays down the data migration arrangements, according to the existing plan: thus, the approach adopted is that the legal framework for SIS II will enter into force from the moment the first Member State completes its switchover to the new system.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Despite the numerous problems and delays that have affected SIS II (the second generation Schengen Information System) project in recent years, the European Parliament has always supported SIS II, by upholding the need for a clearly Community solution and rejecting the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. The SIS II should also help to increase security and ensure a higher level of data protection than currently exists. Parliament accepted the Council’s proposal to divide the Commission’s initiative, thus creating a second proposal which more accurately reflected the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland. This resulted in the need for the EP to also express its opinion on this second proposal. The specific position of the United Kingdom and Ireland stems from the fact that these Member States only partly participate in Schengen, particularly with regard to measures in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Neither country participates in the current SIS 1+, but they will both participate in SIS II, which is why their special position needs to be clarified, as they cannot take part in the aspects covered by the SIS II Regulation (former first pillar), but only in the aspects covered by the SIS II Decision (former third pillar).

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE), in writing. (FR) Protecting Europe means, first and foremost, guaranteeing our security. Thanks to this evolution of the Schengen Information System, the cornerstone of our security system will become more effective and more complete. This new system will enable us to make border controls more effective, in particular through new biometric data. The information will be better protected and better utilised: that means fewer difficulties, fewer errors and more efficiency. I voted in favour of this report because it pays special attention to data protection, in particular: that is the way to ensure greater confidence among the citizens; that is the way to ensure its success.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The SIS (Schengen Information System) is the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area. The SIS II (the second generation SIS) makes it possible to add new data, new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. The migration of SIS 1+ to SIS II is governed by two legal instruments: Council Regulation 1104/2008 in the former first pillar and Council Decision 2008/839/JHA in the former third pillar. This Commission proposal seeks to recast the two legal acts in one, thereby reflecting the abolition of the pillars. The Council suggested dividing the original proposal into two parts, one in which the United Kingdom and Ireland are taking part, in order to reflect their particular positions. This is what has been put to the vote. The importance of the Schengen Information System to the security of European citizens and the need for this migration to proceed with the utmost caution and care in terms of respecting people’s rights can never be overstressed.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report concerns adding new aspects to the Schengen Information System (SIS), with a view to its extension. The migration to SIS II (the second generation SIS) means that new authorities will have access to the system, with interconnected alerts between them. New categories of data (such as arrest warrants and biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs) and a technical platform for sharing information with the Visa Information System will also be added. In addition, this report suggests going much further in the removal of powers from the Member States with the migration to SIS II, which will accentuate its federalist nature. This process will add new information to a database that is accessible to many people, without an absolute guarantee of confidentiality or non-sharing of this data with other people or organisations. We once again denounce the serious threats to the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens posed by the creation of the Schengen Area. The migration from SIS I to SIS II confirms this approach and therefore merits our firm rejection.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is by far the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area, which is rightly considered the backbone of a Europe without borders and an area of freedom, security and justice. The SIS II (the second generation SIS) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. However, the new system needs to be tested before it can come into force, especially with respect to its solidity, availability and performance. The migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II should start once the tests have all been successfully concluded, probably in January 2013. For several years, Parliament has upheld the need for a clearly Union solution and rejected the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. I believe that this is one of the reasons why we support SIS II. I am convinced that this is an important instrument for increasing security in the Schengen Area, ending the intergovernmental control of the system and greatly improving data protection and fundamental human rights. It should therefore enter into force as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), unlike its predecessor SIS 1+, is not a simple information system, but will be used in investigations by the police authorities, in antiterrorism and in control of immigration. Given the importance of this role, I think the United Kingdom and Ireland should take part. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document. Parliament wishes to migrate to the second generation Schengen Information System as a matter of urgency and therefore proposes concluding two separate acts: one with the UK and Ireland and another with all the other EU Member States. The SIS II is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area, end intergovernmental management of the system and considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals. The SIS II should, therefore, enter into force at the earliest possible date. The proposal is split into two parts. This does not change anything regarding the UK’s and Ireland’s participation but provides for a more transparent solution, which is to be welcomed.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing. I would like to insist on the crucial role of SIS II in building a Europe without borders and increasing the security of the Schengen Area. I support the Commission’s proposal related to the migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II. In parallel to its intention to apply the legal framework for SIS II from the moment the first Member State completes its switchover to the new system. I welcome the Commission’s proposal to provide for the possibility to cofinance certain national activities related to the migration up to 75 %. Nevertheless, given the political importance of the issue and its significant budget, I regret that the European Parliament is only limited to a consulting role.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I congratulate the Commission on its proposal, which clarifies the legal framework applied to the migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II, and particularly applauds the application of the legal framework of SIS II from the moment the first Member State completes its migration. This proposal reinforces legal certainty and prevents unnecessary expenses in the Member States.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour. The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area. SIS II should therefore enter into force at the earliest possible date to end intergovernmental management of the system and considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) This report aims to speed up the actual establishment of the Schengen Information System II (SIS II). I am opposed to this change to the SIS. It allows us to arbitrarily retain biometric data and send them to security bodies in third countries. I voted against this text.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. The SIS II is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area, end intergovernmental management of the system and considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals. The SIS II should, therefore, enter into force at the earliest possible date. I totally agree with that.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution. The second generation Schengen Information System will ensure a greater degree of security for the Schengen Area, for data protection and fundamental personal freedoms and will also reinforce legal certainty. Attention should be drawn to the fact that migration to SIS II is a complex process. In order to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid any gaps in the supervision in practical terms it is important that all the authorities with responsibilities are closely involved in the entire migration phase. Furthermore, we should ensure that Member States do not incur further unnecessary expenses. Particular attention must also be paid to setting up a mechanism for protecting EU citizens and third country nationals. In order to prevent a delay to the transition to SIS II, I believe that it is appropriate to set a final date for the termination of the migration and for the expiry of the Regulation.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The SIS (Schengen Information System) is the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area, and is rightly considered the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice. The SIS II (the second generation SIS) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. The SIS II is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area, end intergovernmental management of the system and considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals. For those reasons, I voted in favour of this report so that SIS II can enter into force at the earliest possible date, as desired in the EU, including the United Kingdom and Ireland. I congratulate Carlos Coelho on his work.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. In favour. The rapporteur mainly addresses the concerns raised by EDPS (in particular, the mechanism of supervision of data processing during the migration, verification of data before the migration, deletion of old data after the migration). He also maintains the deadline for the transition in the migration instrument: 30 June 2013, otherwise another solution should be found. The Council decided to split the proposal into two almost identical documents, in one of which Great Britain and Ireland can participate (police cooperation), and in the other they cannot (refusal of entry, etc.). On 5 October the Parliament was consulted on the splitting, therefore it was decided to apply a simplified procedure in accordance with Rule 46(2). Since only one Member objected within a set time limit, both reports are deemed adopted without vote on particular amendments. Our group can support the initiative, since our concerns (data protection and final deadline) are fully taken into account (as we did in September 2008 while supporting migration instruments and in May 2010 when the current migration instruments were being amended).

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) An area of freedom, security and justice between the States party to the Schengen Agreement can be achieved only through effective instruments, such as the first and second generation Schengen Information System (SIS I and II). I voted in favour of this proposal to migrate from SIS I to SIS II as I believe it is vital to move from an intergovernmental system to a Union system, in which the protection of citizens’ data must remain an essential element of the proposal.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on a regulation on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). The objective of this proposal is to recast in a single legal instrument Regulation (EC) No 1104/2008 and Council Decision 2008/839/JHA. This proposal provides for a revised legal regime for the migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II, which enables the Member States to use SIS II with all its functionalities from the moment of the switchover from SIS 1+ to SIS II. The development of SIS II should be finalised no later than 30 June 2013.

Bulgaria and Romania are participating in this process in accordance with Article 4(2) of the 2005 Act of Accession and Council Decision 2010/365/EU of 29 June 2012 on the application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis relating to the Schengen Information System in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania. In addition to the recording of automated searches, the Member States and the Commission must ensure that, during the migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II, the applicable data protection rules are fully respected.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE), in writing. (DE) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is by far the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area, which is considered the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice. The second generation (SIS II) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. The migration should start in January 2013.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) We are all aware that the Schengen Information System (SIS) is by far the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area, which is rightly considered the backbone of a Europe without borders and an area of freedom, security and justice. The second generation SIS (SIS II) makes it possible to add new data, new types of indication and new functions that can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts.

The new system needs to be fully tested before it can come into force, to verify whether SIS II fulfils the necessary technical and functional requirements and to confirm its solidity, response capability and performance. I voted in favour because I think that SIS II is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area, end intergovernmental management of the system and considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals. I consider that SIS II should therefore enter into force at the earliest possible date.

 
  
  

Report: Carlos Coelho (A7-0370/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report, and would start by congratulating the Commission on this proposal, which clarifies the legal framework applied to the migration from SIS 1+ (Schengen Information System) to SIS II (the second generation SIS). I particularly applaud the application of the legal framework of SIS II from the moment the first Member State completes its migration. In my opinion, this proposal reinforces legal certainty and prevents unnecessary expenses in the Member States. Another equally positive aspect is the provision for Community cofinancing of expenses which may be incurred by the Member States during the migration process. However, I regret the delay in the Commission’s presentation of this initiative.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen area. I therefore supported its update, which involves the integration of biometric data from identity documents. This text has also made it possible to strengthen data protection for European citizens and to define the arrangements for financing this information system, which is essential for the security of European citizens.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice. The second generation SIS (SIS II) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information. The migration to SIS II is scheduled to start in early January next year. The SIS II is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area and end intergovernmental management of the system. For several years, the European Parliament has upheld the need for a clearly Community solution and rejected the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. This is one of the reasons why we support SIS II. Despite supporting the European Commission proposal, this report, which merited my backing, considers it essential to strengthen the rules on data protection and to ensure an efficient supervision of the complex migration. In view of the political importance of the file and its significant budget, it is regretted that Parliament only has a consulting role.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the second generation SIS (SIS II) can not only increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts, but makes it possible to use new types of indication and new functions. The migration of the SIS 1+ currently used to SIS II is governed by two legal instruments: Council Regulation (EC) No 1104/2008 in the former first pillar and Council Decision 2008/839/JHA in the former third pillar. According to the current Commission proposal the two legal acts are recast in one, thus taking into account the abolition of the pillars (COM(2012)81).

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (without the United Kingdom and Ireland). SIS II makes it possible to add new data, such as biometric data, new types of indication and new functions to strengthen the area of freedom, security and justice. The report lays down the data migration arrangements, according to the existing plan: thus, the approach adopted is that the legal framework for SIS II will enter into force from the moment the first Member State completes its switchover to the new system.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Despite the numerous problems and delays that have affected SIS II (the second generation Schengen Information System) project in recent years, the European Parliament has always supported SIS II, by upholding the need for a clearly Community solution and rejecting the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. The SIS II should also help to increase security and ensure a higher level of data protection than currently exists. These proposals reinforce legal certainty and prevent unnecessary expenses, as the legal framework of SIS II must be applied from the moment the first Member State completes its migration. They also provide for Community cofinancing to ensure timely migration by the Member States. I tabled amendments to strengthen the rules on data protection, ensuring efficient supervision of this complex process and a smooth transition to the new system, to ensure that Parliament is kept informed throughout the process and on the final outcome, and to ensure the quality and accuracy of the data, with any data that has not been migrated being deleted. Any further delays are unacceptable, which is why Parliament does not agree with removing from the proposal any reference to the date for the entry into force of the system, which is proposed for June 2013.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The SIS (Schengen Information System) is the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area. The SIS II (the second generation SIS) makes it possible to add new data, new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. The migration of SIS 1+ to SIS II is governed by two legal instruments: Council Regulation 1104/2008 in the former first pillar and Council Decision 2008/839/JHA in the former third pillar. This Commission proposal seeks to recast the two legal acts in one, thereby reflecting the abolition of the pillars. The Council suggested dividing the original proposal into two parts, one in which the United Kingdom and Ireland are not taking part. This is what has been put to the vote. Despite the criticisms levelled at it, the Schengen Area is an important achievement for Europe’s citizens. Having an information system that effectively ensures security within the area contributes towards its durability.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The United Kingdom and Ireland are not included in this instance. However, our position is clearly the same as for the previous report (in which these two countries are included). We voted against. The migration to SIS II (the second generation Schengen Information System) involves adding new aspects to the system. Access will be extended to new authorities, with interconnected alerts between them. New categories of data (such as arrest warrants and biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs) and a technical platform for sharing information with the Visa Information System will be added. These aspects give rise to increased concern about a system (and the area which it serves) that, since the start, has posed serious threats to the rights, freedoms and guarantees of individuals.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is by far the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area, which is rightly considered the backbone of a Europe without borders and an area of freedom, security and justice. The SIS II (the second generation SIS) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. The migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II should start once the tests have all been successfully concluded, probably in January 2013. Following discussions between Member States, the Council considered it more appropriate to split the Commission’s proposal into two texts: one in which the United Kingdom and Ireland are taking part and one in which they are not taking part. The resulting two texts of the Council practically correspond with the Commission’s original proposal. Parliament was also informed of this step. For several years, it has upheld the need for a clearly Union solution and rejected the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. I believe that this is one of the reasons why we support SIS II. I am convinced that this is an important instrument for increasing security in the Schengen Area, ending the intergovernmental control of the system and greatly improving data protection and fundamental human rights. It should therefore enter into force as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report in order to support the effort to improve the legal framework for migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS I+) to SIS II. The European Parliament is showing here its strong desire to ensure that the migration takes place in the best possible conditions and to enable the Member States who require financing to obtain it from the 2012 budget. Several amendments are also needed to guarantee better data protection during the migration. I regret, however, that for an issue such as this, which is so important for our citizens and for the security of the Schengen area, Parliament is only being consulted. Finally, double standards still apply when it comes to the treatment of Bulgaria and Romania in this regard. I hope that this approach will soon be a thing of the past.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document. The Schengen Information System (SIS) is by far the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area, which is rightly considered the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice. The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), use new types of indication and new functions, which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. The legal framework of SIS II will apply from the moment the first Member State completes its migration. This will reinforce legal certainty and prevent unnecessary expenses in the Member States.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the report by Carlos Coelho on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (without the United Kingdom and Ireland). This report was supported by a broad majority: 604 votes to 53, with 35 abstentions. I welcome that result. The Schengen Information System is by far the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen area, which is the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice. SIS II will make it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions, which will increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing. The European area of freedom, security and justice relies on the Schengen Information System (SIS).

With SIS II, the system’s second generation, data will be better secured and shared information used more efficiently. The migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II will be challenging and should take place as early as possible. In this respect, I welcome the Commission’s proposal to apply the legal framework for SIS II from the moment the first Member State completes its switchover to the new system. This will reinforce legal certainty and prevent unnecessary expenses in the Member States.

However, if we want SIS II to reach its full potential, we must make sure that it receives data of high-quality. Prior to the start of the migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II, Member States must verify that all the personal data to be migrated to SIS II are accurate, up-to-date and lawful in accordance with Decision 2007/533/JHA. The success of the migration will be determined by the Member States’ cooperation.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. For several years, Parliament has upheld the need for a clear Community solution and rejected the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. This is one of the reasons why I support SIS II.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report refers to the same issue as report A7-0368/2012, but does not include the United Kingdom and Ireland. In fact, following discussions between Member States, Council considered it more appropriate to split the Commission’s proposal into two texts: one in which the United Kingdom and Ireland are taking part and one in which they are not taking part. The SIS II (the second generation Schengen Information System) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and new functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information through interconnected alerts. The SIS is also recognised as an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area, end intergovernmental management of the system and considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals, which are all reasons why I voted for this report. I congratulate the rapporteur, Carlos Coelho, on his work.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The aim of the Schengen Agreement is to create a common European area without internal borders for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital also required the introduction of various more stringent rules on cooperation with the police and judicial authorities. The architecture of the new system will increase security and, through the possibility of adding new data, will lead to more effective information gathering. I believe that by switching over from one system to the other cooperation between supervisory authorities in the Member States will be improved, freeing us from an intergovernmental approach, through common management of border controls. I hope that, in order to ensure data protection and safeguarding of the fundamental rights of individuals, the second generation Schengen Information System will enter into force at the earliest possible date. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) For the sake of legal certainty, the Council decided that this proposal should be split into two, one in which the United Kingdom and Ireland are taking part and one in which they are not taking part. An area of freedom, security and justice between the States party to the Schengen Agreement can be achieved only through effective instruments, such as the first and second generation Schengen Information System (SIS I and II). I voted in favour of this proposal to migrate from SIS I to SIS II as I believe it is vital to move from an intergovernmental system to a Union system, in which the protection of citizens’ data must remain an essential element of the proposal.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The migration to SIS II (the second generation Schengen Information System) involves adding new aspects to the system. Access will be extended to new authorities, with interconnected alerts between them. New categories of data (such as arrest warrants and biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs) and a technical platform for sharing information with the Visa Information System will be added. In addition, this report suggests going much further in the removal of powers from the Member States with the migration to SIS II, which will accentuate its federalist nature. This process will add new information to a database that is accessible to many people, without an absolute guarantee of confidentiality or non-sharing of this data with other people or organisations. For our part, we have always stood and will continue to stand with those who, from the start, have denounced the serious risks to the rights, freedoms and guarantees of individuals posed by the creation of the Schengen Area. The migration from SIS I to SIS II confirms this approach and therefore merits our firm rejection.

 
  
  

Reports: Carlos Coelho (A7-0368/2012) and (A7-0370/2012)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). The SIS was established to coordinate the abolition of border controls in Schengen Area countries. This system facilitates the exchange of information between Member States and provides users (police departments, embassies and consulates, migration bodies, etc) with real-time access to the data they need to perform their functions. The SIS II is an instrument for ensuring greater security in the Schengen Area, more effective data protection and fundamental human rights. The second generation Schengen Information System makes it possible to add new data, use new types of indication and perform new functions. I welcome the proposals to ensure an efficient supervision of the complex migration process and the call for the European Data Protection Supervisor and the Member States’ authorities to cooperate more closely when implementing this migration.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I consider a clearly Community solution to this matter to be necessary, and reject the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. I also consider that the application of the legal framework of SIS II (the second generation Schengen Information System) will reinforce legal certainty and prevent unnecessary expenses in the Member States.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which strengthens the protection of the Schengen area through the use of new IT tool that will ensure better coordination among the Member States. Europe must equip itself with reliable instruments in order to improve its cohesion and the effectiveness of its internal policies. The European Union has enabled every European citizen to move freely within the Schengen area. This real progress has a direct impact on our fellow citizens and their mobility, but it is essential to be able to monitor migratory flows so that the EU does not become a sieve. The new technological tool will help to increase the confidence of European citizens that they belong to a Europe that protects them.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because I consider that the European Parliament must help to ensure that the implementation deadlines for Schengen Information System (SIS) II are met, and this regulation is part of the process of migration to the new SIS. Reports on the migration to SIS II were adopted in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs through a simplified procedure so as to give the Commission and the Member States the legal instruments and the funds needed to migrate to the new generation SIS. I hope that the Commission and the Member States will fulfil their commitments and responsibilities and abide by the SIS II implementation schedule.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I must start by congratulating Carlos Coelho on his excellent work in preparing the reports on the draft Council regulation on migration from the Schengen Information System (SIS 1+) to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). The SIS is the most important instrument for the security of the Schengen Area, which allows a Europe without borders or, in other words, an ‘area of freedom, security and justice’. The SIS II is a system for controlling our borders, which will replace the current system. It introduces a series of new aspects (such as the use of biometric data) in order to respond to the increasing number of requests and resolve the issues that have led to complaints. It is a more secure system which will enable more efficient use of the available data.

 
  
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  Mariya Gabriel (PPE), in writing. I supported the two reports on the migration from SIS 1+ to SIS II, because I consider these reports a step forward. SIS II is one of the most important tools for the Schengen Area. The European Parliament rejects the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. It has always supported the evolution of the Schengen Area and the establishment of SIS II, which will be a truly European System. SIS II will make it possible to add new data (e.g. biometric data) and new functions, which can increase security across the EU and try to stop eventual threats to the overall security of the Schengen Area. SIS II will be a useful tool to fight organised crime, to detect criminal networks and to find missing persons. That is one of the reasons why I also appreciate the work that has been done by colleagues in the LIBE Committee. Finally, I voted for the report, because it aims to foster the area of freedom, security and justice, but more importantly because SIS II is an essential instrument that will considerably improve data protection and the fundamental rights of individuals.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of these two texts on migration from the Schengen Information System (1+) to SIS II. Our first message is clear: this migration was decided on several years ago, it is very delayed and it is now time to ensure that it is implemented effectively and efficiently in the all of the Member States. We therefore urge the Council to get this system up and running without any further delay. Moreover, the SIS is a vital component of the Schengen system and Europe’s internal structure for the fight against organised crime and for internal security. This second version will modernise this database and, above all, provide a central structure under the Community system. The migration and, more generally, the database are subject to one absolutely fundamental principle (which is reiterated in both texts): stringent rules on the protection of personal data.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted against this report because migration from the SIS I+ information system to SIS II is taking place without any guarantees of complete security for the information it contains. The proposal contains some positive points concerning legal certainty when extending the legal framework of the SIS II system to the period allowed for the national systems to adjust to SIS II, thereby preventing unnecessary expenditure in the European budget. Nevertheless, I already had serious reservations about data security and protection in SIS I+ and the migration to the new SIS will involve the introduction of new data, new types of indication and new functions without any complete guarantee of secure data protection. Given this gap in the security of European data, I could only vote against this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the backbone of a Europe without borders and the area of freedom, security and justice. The second generation SIS (SIS II) makes it possible to add new data (biometric data, in particular), new types of indication and other functions which can increase security and lead to a more intelligent use of information. The migration to SIS II is scheduled to start in early January next year. The SIS II is an essential instrument with which to increase the security of the Schengen Area. For several years, the European Parliament has upheld the need for a clearly Community solution and rejected the continued use of an intergovernmental structure. This is one of the reasons why we support SIS II. Despite approving the European Commission proposal, this report, which merited my backing, considers it essential to strengthen the rules on data protection and to ensure an efficient supervision of the complex migration. Finally, the rapporteur regrets that the European Parliament is only given a consulting role, in view of the political importance of the file and its significant budget.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing. (FR) For a number of years we have stressed the need for an openly Community solution as opposed to the continuation of an intergovernmental structure. That is one of the reasons why we have always supported the Schengen Information System II. Nevertheless, we are still displeased and somewhat bitter that we, as European parliamentarians, are only consulted, given not only the political importance of this issue, but also its considerable budgetary implications.

 
  
  

Report: Eva Lichtenberger (A7-0330/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report and am pleased that it places European citizens at the heart of infringement procedures, given that these play a vital role in ensuring compliance with European Union law. I believe it is necessary for the Commission to present a proposal which includes administrative procedures in cases of infringement. In my opinion, we must emphasise, as necessary, the fundamental nature of the law, the principle of legal certainty, transparency and proportionality in order to guarantee timely and correct application of the law. I therefore feel that a guide containing clear guidelines is essential in order to avoid misinterpretation of European Union law.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This report, which was adopted by the European Parliament and which I supported, deals with several recent communications from the European Commission. This report on monitoring the application of EU law assesses the relations between the European Union and the citizens when complaints are submitted. Parliament has emphasised, in particular, the rule of law, the principle of legal clarity and the requirements of transparency.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal on the Commission’s 28th report on monitoring the application of EU law (2010). Proper application of EU legislation by the Member States is an essential condition for the functioning of the European Union and I therefore welcome the goal of simplifying its implementation, application and enforcement in the Member States. The EU Pilot system has played a vital role in reducing the number of possible infringements in the application of EU law. This system is designed to deal with enquiries and complaints from citizens and business raising a question of the correct application of EU law. EU Pilot is used when clarification is required from Member States of the factual or legal position: solutions are to be provided by Member States within a short timeframe to correct infringements of EU law. I welcome the proposal to indicate in the system the rights or protection measures conferred on the complainant. The Commission should also ensure more effectively that the Member States transpose timely and correctly EU environmental legislation where the highest number of infringements takes place during application. We need to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges, legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations applying EU legislation.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I abstained from voting on the report by Ms Lichtenberger. Although I agree on many items, I believe that the position of the rapporteur is too critical of the Member States and that the solution should not be to attempt to strengthen EU control as an end in itself, but to strive for greater cooperation and coordination between the European institutions, the Member States and in particular the national courts, which play a fundamental role in the application of EU law.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because this proposal is aimed at aligning 10 regulations in the field of trade policy with the new provisions of primary law under the Treaty of Lisbon. More specifically, it is aimed at aligning regulations with the provisions of Article 290 under which delegated acts are included in European Union law for the first time. This Article allows the legislator to delegate to the Commission the power to adopt non-legislative acts of general application to supplement or amend certain non-essential elements of a legislative act. In this case I believe that it is necessary to amend the recitals of the basic acts in order to explain the use of delegated acts and to precisely define the objective, content and scope of the delegation. It would also be useful to ensure that Parliament experts have the opportunity to participate in meetings of experts organised by the Commission before preparing and implementing delegated acts.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on monitoring the application of European Union law. This report emphasises the importance of the primacy of European law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the fact that European citizens are not satisfied with the extent to which their rights are respected. This evaluation is regularly discussed in the Committee on Petitions, of which I am a member. The European Commission must have the resources it needs to ensure that EU law is correctly applied throughout Europe. This monitoring strategy must include preliminary support from the European Commission to the Member States for the transposition of directives and a posteriori financial sanctions for late transposition of EU law. To this end, infringement procedures must be initiated following an investigation on the ground into the correct application of the provisions.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the Lichtenberger report on monitoring the application of European Union law. I believe that the European Parliament must emphasis the rule of law and the principles of legal clarity and transparency. Additional efforts are needed to enhance and coordinate judicial training for legal professionals in the national administrations as well as regional and local authorities at European level.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I consider that the national courts in the Member States play a vital role in applying EU law. For that reason, the Union’s efforts to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges, legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations should therefore be fully supported and action in this area should be stepped up in order to fully live up to the concept of a Union based on the rule of law.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, the national courts play a vital role in applying European law in the Member States. Improving this process requires ongoing judicial training for all legal, judicial and administrative authorities, on the one hand, and legal professionals and national authorities, on the other. Continuous efforts in this direction will contribute to the respect of the rule of law of the Union.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As the European Union is a legal construction, based on the Treaties and legislative acts, it is vital that these are correctly and uniformly applied in the 27 Member States. However, we know that Member States frequently do not promptly apply or transpose European Union law or that they apply or transpose it inappropriately or incompletely. It is therefore vital that Member States do not underestimate the value of the correct and timely application of EU law and that the Commission keeps Parliament duly informed about the state of application of EU law. It is also essential that the national courts in the Member States play their vital role in applying EU law, with it being necessary to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges and other legal professionals so that they have an appropriate understanding of EU law, which is a vital step towards ensuring its uniform and appropriate application in the various Member States.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Everyone is aware of the Herculean effort required for each piece of legislation adopted by this Parliament, from simple contacts to negotiations, commitments, votes and so on, all with the aim of improving quality of life for the European citizens who elected us. However, when all this work is compared with the time it takes between adoption of a regulation or directive by the European Parliament and its transposition by all the Member States which are bound by that legislation, we are left with the sense that this effort is not properly appreciated. I voted in favour of the report by Eva Lichtenberger on the 28th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2010) because it draws attention to certain reprehensible practices on the part of the Member States in not transposing EU directives into national law – or not transposing them in timely fashion – and encourages the Commission to apply financial sanctions. European citizens and consumers are at the heart of the application of EU law and demand that this is promptly applied. There can be no justice if this does not occur in timely fashion.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report assesses the Commission communications on the application of EU law (2010). ‘Internal market’ infringements are the most common, and form the starting point for the usual unacceptable pressure to be put on the Member States to transpose into national law those directives which open the way to the extension of the internal market, however harmful they may be to their own interests and to the interests of the overwhelming majority of their populations (which indeed they often are). This report argues for financial sanctions to be imposed on Member States which are late transposing a directive, by referring to the Court of Justice. In other words, this is pure and simple blackmail of the Member States, to force them to accept impositions regardless of the position and interests of their citizens. This is unacceptable! Obviously, we voted against.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) I agree with the report, particularly the fact that Parliament needs to emphasise the importance of the requirement of transparency, and the principles of legal clarity and proportionality, in guaranteeing timely and correct application of Union law. However, the approach to the Member States is particularly rigid and critical and the report as a whole favours strengthening EU control. I therefore abstained.

 
  
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  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE), in writing. (PL) I regularly stress that the correct transposition of EU legislation into national law is vital for the single market to function properly and effectively, which is why I voted in favour of this report. Unfortunately, in the case of many Directives, the Member States fail to meet the deadline for transposition or transpose EU law incorrectly. This prevents sound and effective provisions from working as they should. I think that it is crucial for us to achieve a more ambitious implementation of legislation.

The Commission has the means to motivate the Member States to implement EU legislation correctly and it must make use of them. Bringing proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union is one of those means and the Commission should employ it to ensure the prompt and correct transposition of EU legislation by the Member States, in particular as regards environmental matters, which constitute one of the most infringement-prone policy areas.

I fully agree that national courts play an important role in applying EU law in the Member States, which is why we should also enhance training for judges, legal professionals and officials. The vital role citizens play as complainants should also be stressed. It is they who suffer most as a result of the failure to implement EU law or from its ineffective implementation.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal because Parliament must emphasise that the rule of law, the principle of legal clarity, the requirement for transparency and openness and the principle of proportionality are essential to guarantee timely and correct application of Union law. It is essential that the Commission make use of all possible other means to guarantee that Member States transpose timely and correctly Union legislation especially with reference to environmental cases, which is one of the most infringement-prone policy areas. National courts in the Member States play a vital role in applying EU law. The Union’s efforts to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges, legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations should therefore be fully supported and action in this area should be stepped up in order to fully live up to the concept of a Union based on the rule of law.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) The own-initiative report by Eva Lichtenberger was adopted at the sitting of 21 November 2012. This report relates to the monitoring of the application of European Union law for 2010. Ms Lichtenberger emphasised the rule of law, and the principles of legal clarity and transparency. She also stressed the need to enhance and coordinate judicial training for legal professionals in the national administrations as well as regional and local authorities. Finally, she points out that the citizens play a vital role in the infringement procedure.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Mr President, it is encouraging to read in this report that in 2010 ‘in 88 % of the closures, the case did not reach the Court of Justice because Member States corrected the legal issues raised by the Commission before it would have been necessary to initiate the next stage in the infringement proceedings’. Nevertheless, I believe that monitoring in the Member States should be ongoing as, in many cases, the problems tended to reappear after a case was closed. Moreover, the Commission should consider the possibility of imposing financial sanctions to ensure that legislation is enforced.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I welcome the Commission’s undertaking to make use of the Article 260(3) TFEU instrument as a matter of principle in cases of failure to fulfil an obligation covered by this provision, which concerns the transposition of directives adopted under a legislative procedure.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report. I agree with the positive assessment of the tools to make the transposition process smoother (transposition checklists, handbooks or interpretative notes) and the fact that the report calls on the Commission to follow even more closely the transposition of Directives before the end of the transposition deadline, particularly as far as Member States with a ‘bad record’ are concerned.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this report as it is an accurate summary of the information available on this topic. It draws attention to the enormous number of non-communication cases (470 pending in 2010). It also calls for greater transparency and reciprocity in communication between Parliament and the Commission. Greater access to information on complaints, infringement files and so on could be provided without jeopardising the purpose of investigations. The report calls on the Commission to abide by principles of the rule of law in areas where it has discretionary powers, and guarantee transparency, openness, proportionality, and so on. It also calls for legal provisions to safely and reliably define the procedural relationship between the Commission and complainants in order to ensure the Commission’s responsibility for the complaints made by European citizens. For these reasons, I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Effective monitoring of the application of European Union law is crucial. EU citizens must have the ability to exercise their fundamental rights in the EU. The European states are founded on the rule of law, which is a condition for the legitimacy of any form of democratic governance. The role of citizens as complainants is vital when it comes to ensuring compliance with Union law on the ground. In my opinion, this report is vitally important as it puts the citizen back at the heart of the Union’s concerns.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because we need to increase efforts in the area of infringement prevention to ensure more effective application of EU law. Attention should be drawn to the fact that EU law can only be applied in a timely and correct manner subject to the principles of the rule of law, legal clarity, transparency, openness and proportionality. Given the fact that the infringement procedure consists of two phases, I believe that there should be a particular focus on the administrative phase during which citizens play a vital role. It should be noted that most infringements take place when transposing EU legislation into national law. The Commission should therefore devote more attention to this process and apply certain measures to the Member States more effectively.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The implementation of European Union legislation depends not only on the actions of EU Member States but the EU institutions as well. The role played by the Member States in transposing EU legislation into national law is decisive in terms of the quality of the implementation of EU law. Unfortunately, this process takes place at variable rates in the Member States and therefore legal practice often varies.

I voted in favour of this report because it introduces reinforced monitoring of the application of EU law. This document is also one of the main levers that the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission can use for more transparent, better quality and faster transposition of EU law. There can be no legal order without coordination and the high quality transposition of EU law.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) It is generally acknowledged by the European Parliament that there has been an encouraging increase in citizen involvement in the form of complaints regarding mismanagement or violation of Community law. This development obviously leads to better accountability and monitoring and, as a result, better functioning of democracy at EU and Member State level. However, we are still seeing the phenomenon of late or incorrect transposition of Community law in the Member States. This own-initiative report, for which I voted, calls upon the Commission to make use of all possible means of guaranteeing that Member States transpose Union legislation in a timely and correct fashion, and reiterates the importance of enhancing and coordinating the judicial training of judges in the Member States with a view to creating a European consciousness in the field of Community law.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Among the conclusions of the 28th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law, I would highlight the need, emphasised by the rapporteur, to support all the Union’s efforts to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges, legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations, stressing the need for action in this area to be stepped up in order to fully live up to the concept of a Union based on the rule of law. We must not forget that the national courts in the Member States play a vital role in applying EU law. For those reasons, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. In favour. The infringement procedure consists of two phases: the administrative (investigation) stage and the judicial stage. I support the rapporteur’s view and consider that the role of citizens as complainants is vital in the administrative phase when it comes to ensuring compliance with Union law. The Commission should therefore not make use of soft law when dealing with the infringement procedure but should instead propose a regulation under Article 298 TFEU (supported by Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights), setting out the various aspects of the infringement procedure and the pre-infringement procedure, including notifications, binding time-limits, the right to be heard, the obligation to state reasons and the right for every person to have access to her/ his file, in order to reinforce citizens’ rights and guarantee transparency.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The annual report on monitoring the application of EU law aims to underline the importance of correct application of such law in order to uphold the rights and fulfil the obligations established in it. I would like to emphasise that the main obstacle to overcome is late transposition of Directives by Member States. I think that greater efforts can be made to ensure effective application of EU law. To this end greater cooperation with the Member States through preventive measures might encourage more effective application. With regard protection given to the complainant, I think the framework for the EU Pilot system should be defined clearly in such a way that it will be understood by citizens, since this is a tool that allows timely resolution of problems of transposition and application. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report. In my view, the Commission should not make use of soft law when dealing with the infringement procedure but should instead propose a regulation setting out the various aspects of the infringement procedure and the pre-infringement procedure in order to reinforce citizens’ rights and guarantee transparency. In addition, the Commission must make use of all possible other means to guarantee that Member States transpose timely and correctly Union legislation, especially with reference to environmental cases, which is one of the most infringement-prone policy areas.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report explains Parliament’s position on the recent Commission communications on the application of EU law, in particular the 28th annual report on monitoring the application of EU law (2010), the Second Evaluation Report on EU Pilot, and the communication on updating the handling of relations with the complainant in respect of the application of Union law. The Union’s efforts to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges, legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations should be fully supported and action in this area should be stepped up in order to fully live up to the concept of a Union based on the rule of law. Bearing in mind that the national courts in the Member States play a vital role in applying EU law, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on the Commission’s 28th Annual Report on monitoring the application of EU law. The three most infringement-prone policy areas (environment, internal market and taxation) account for 52 % of all infringement cases. We welcome the Commission’s use of tools aimed at improving the process of transposition of EU law into national law (manuals, information booklets, transposition checklists) and we encourage the Commission to monitor the transposition of directives more closely before the end of the transposition term so as to ensure prompt intervention. We would stress that petitions are the instrument used by citizens, civil society organisations and enterprises to report infringements of EU law by the authorities of the Member States at various levels. The national courts play an important role in applying European law in the Member States, and we fully support the EU’s efforts to enhance and coordinate judicial training for legal, judicial and administrative authorities and legal professionals, officials and civil servants in the national administrations.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) The monitoring and scrutiny of the application of EU law are very important responsibilities for the EU’s institutions vis-à-vis the Member States. The implementation of the law takes place at different, in some cases very different speeds, up to and include total standstill. The United Kingdom is a particularly negative example. Further monitoring is urgently required.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report sets out the rapporteur’s opinion on the recent Commission communications on the application of EU law. In addition to other criticisms, one position adopted by the rapporteur unquestionably forced us to vote against the report: the acceptance, set out in paragraph 31 of the report, that financial sanctions should be imposed on a Member State which is late transposing a directive, by referring to the Court of Justice. This position is unacceptable as it represents a form of blackmail of the Member States and a way of allowing the extortion of funds from their citizens.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Zwiefka (PPE), in writing. (PL) The Committee on Legal Affairs has drafted a report, as it does every year, on the monitoring of the application of EU law. Each time, we call on Member States to transpose EU legislation into national law with due care and in good time. We know that it is not an easy process, but we must also realise that delays in implementing EU legislation impede the development of the internal market and make it impossible for citizens and companies to operate. We also urge the Commission to work diligently in its role as guardian of the Treaties and to make clear to the Member States their shortcomings in this regard. As we can see, it is still necessary to remind the Commission and the Member States of their obligations, which is why I fully support this report.

 
  
  

Report: Bogusław Sonik (A7-0283/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report because, despite shale gas and shale oil extraction activities being extremely profitable and also a common practice in the United States and Canada, and also in Europe, albeit at an experimental stage, we must adopt preventive measures, given the significant environmental impact of these activities. With many studies and even European public opinion having associated these activities with water and soil contamination, I consider that the measures set out in this report are appropriate, as they form a rigorous environmental package responding to the fundamental environmental concerns.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This report adopted by the European Parliament has been the focus of much attention. I voted in favour of this text because I feel that it is well thought out and consistent. It notes that it is up to the Member States to decide whether or not to allow shale gas exploration and acknowledges, for example, the French and Bulgarian moratoriums. Exploration is only possible, however, if the European environmental legislation, such as the Water Framework Directive, the Air Quality Directive and impact assessments, is fully respected. Finally, the European Commission is requested to determine as soon as possible whether this regulatory framework is sufficient or whether it needs to be strengthened further in order to provide better protection for European citizens.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) In the communication from the Commission entitled ‘Energy roadmap 2050’ the Commission underlines that as conventional gas production declines, Europe will have to rely on significant gas imports in addition to domestic natural gas and potential indigenous shale gas, and that alongside internal market integration domestic shale gas will relax concerns about the EU’s import dependency. In recent years the extraction of ‘unconventional’ hydrocarbons, notably shale gas but also shale oil, has led to unprecedented and radical changes in global energy markets. In particular, shale gas has risen from 1.4 % of the US gas market in 2000 to some 17 % in 2011.

Global gas prices and trade patterns are being re-shaped, with evident consequences for the EU. Indeed, a number of Member States have permitted shale gas exploration and are preparing for extraction if discoveries allow. I believe that, within the energy system, shale gas and other unconventional gas sources may become potential important new sources of supply in Europe. At the same time it is important to monitor worldwide regulatory regimes and practices, and to recognise and address concerns about the environmental effects of shale gas and shale oil extraction.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Sonik’s report on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. Estimates of shale gas reserves in place in the EU identify some 14 000 billion cubic metres as technically recoverable. Concerns with regard to environmental impact and possible impacts of extraction operations are well-known and have been dealt with in this report, which calls on the Commission and the national authorities to carry out specific scientific studies that address such concerns and demonstrate on a reputable scientific basis the real state of affairs and the real environmental problems that might arise from this type of extraction. The report also calls for monitoring of changes in technology worldwide with a view to assessing the adequacy and efficacy at all times of existing legislation. It also urges that attention be paid to the experience, covering many decades, of exemplary North American regulators in this area.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because with it Parliament has expressed its position on the environmental impact of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. Gas is and will be an important source of energy throughout the EU for at least until 2030 or 2035. Although conventional gas production is in decline, unless the situation changes a significant amount of gas will have to be imported to Europe for several decades to come. We are also considering beginning to use local shale gas resources and internal market integration may help to reduce the problem of EU’s dependency on gas imports. It should be noted that global gas prices and trade patterns have been changing fundamentally of late, with evident consequences for the EU. The ‘shale gas revolution’ is spreading across the world at a relatively rapid pace. While it is too early to conclude whether significant volumes might be extracted economically in the EU, a number of Member States have permitted shale gas exploration and are preparing for extraction if possible. However, it should be emphasised that no human activity can be wholly risk-free. The aim of regulation must be to minimise environmental impact and strike a reasonable balance in the light of scientific and statistical data and of a full consideration of the risks and rewards (also encompassing the alternatives).

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) An objective position on shale gas and oil extraction should take account of the global regulatory mechanisms and practices, and environmental protection guidelines. Regulation must focus on limiting environmental damage as far as possible but also on striking a balance based on scientific discovery and a complete impact and benefit analysis. The Commission and the competent national authorities must continue to examine the possible environmental damage, but they must do so from a scientific perspective based on statistical data from reliable sources in the Member States and the rest of the world.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. The complex debate on shale gas means that the solution to the problem is not black or white. As such, I am endeavouring to adapt a pragmatic approach: I am opposed to hydraulic fracturing, which is banned in France, in light of the serious effects it could have on the environment, especially groundwater. The Member States are responsible for implementing their own energy policy, so I could not support Ms Rivasi’s amendment. However, I am not opposed to the idea of prospection and research to improve our knowledge of our energy potential. These resources could enable us to reduce our energy dependence and reduce gas prices. It is thus better not to exclude possible extraction, but not to the detriment of the environment or renewable energies, which represent the future of our consumption model.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Shale gas and shale oil extraction may give rise to a variety of impacts over time, such as in the early phases by diesel- or natural gas-fuelled engines powering drilling equipment and pumps, and in extraction by pumps and compressors. Disturbances are reduced to a minimum once extraction commences, given that a producing well’s surface equipment covers only a few square metres and production is silent. In contrast to most other extractive and industrial processes, decommissioned shale gas and shale oil wells typically leave no trace on the surface landscape. I voted in favour of this report as I consider that the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction should be guarded against, and that public participation should be ensured through adequate public information campaigns before exploration and through public consultation on the early stages before exploitation.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing. (FR) In the opinion of the French Socialists, the national and European laws must be extremely strict, for example on extraction by hydraulic fracturing –the only type we are currently aware of – in order prevent any damage to the environment. It is not a question of denying the importance of energy independence and the effect of energy prices on the competitiveness of industry. Our priority must be to guarantee a high level of protection for human health and the environment. I regret that an amendment that I co-signed, calling for a European moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, did not obtain a majority today. Despite this setback, I welcome the action of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, which was crucial in ensuring the primacy of two particularly important principles: the precautionary principle and the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

 
  
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  Minodora Cliveti (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, the studies commissioned by the European Commission clearly show that shale gas extraction poses a considerable risk to the environment and to public health. The Commission must produce, without delay, a detailed assessment on the impact on the environment and public health of shale gas extraction and promptly implement the necessary measures to amend, finalise and expand the current EU health and environmental protection legislation, in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Treaties.

In addition, the Commission, in conjunction with the Member States and the competent regulatory bodies, must introduce a permanent monitoring system for all activities and developments in this area. Even if shale gas appears to be the best solution to the current energy crisis, it may not be the best in the future. Efforts and investment must be focused on increasing renewable energy sources, and on production and energy efficiency. Only ‘clean’, 100 % renewable energy will allow us to protect the environment, health and resources.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. I regret that an amendment to the Sonik report recommending that Member States do not authorise any new fracking operations in the EU was not accepted, though I do acknowledge that this, ultimately, is a matter for each Member State to decide for itself. The Sonik report advocates a cautious EU approach to fracking until informed conclusions can be arrived at on the basis of Commission studies assessing the appropriateness of existing EU legislation in this area, the implications for public health, climate change, land-use, and water, and other relevant aspects. The report was strengthened by S&D amendments in these areas. Based on its findings, the Commission should prepare proposals for appropriate measures such as new EU legislation, where needed. The EU should introduce mandatory environmental impact assessments for explanatory drilling as well as a ban on fracking in sensitive areas such as drinking water protection zones and mining areas. We must insist on public participation through proper information and consultation, and need to apply the precautionary and the polluter-pays principles to all decisions about fracking, including at all stages of exploration and exploitation.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Cymański and Zbigniew Ziobro (EFD), in writing. (PL) In spite of my recognition of the great effort the rapporteur has put into this report and the negotiation of essential compromises, I was unfortunately unable to support the final version of this report. It contains, inter alia, a generally-worded ban on fracking in ‘sensitive’ areas, which risks being interpreted in an extremely broad fashion. Another paragraph, while allowing the extraction of this raw material, indicates that it should be subject to CO2 prices under the emissions trading scheme. Even within the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, in which I was shadow rapporteur, a significant majority of the rapporteur’s sensible proposals were re-worded for the worse and amendments seeking to create the conditions for the exploration and exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels were rejected, while a series of incoherent and, unfortunately, at times, nonsensical paragraphs were adopted, such as those stating that shale gas extraction poses a threat to developing countries. I was unable to vote in favour of a report that will provide an argument in support of the Commission’s unbridled efforts to extend its ‘green legislation’, which is already having a negative impact on the competitiveness of our industries, especially in countries like Poland.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is expected that gas will have a critical role in the transformation of the global energy system by helping to reduce emissions. Shale gas and other unconventional gas sources have become potential important new sources of supply in or around Europe. The ‘shale gas revolution’ is spreading worldwide at a relatively rapid pace. According to some estimates, total shale gas reserves in place in the EU exceed 56 thousand billion cubic metres (BCM), of which some 14 thousand BCM might be technically recoverable. We must embark on greater outreach and public education on unconventional fossil fuel activities to enable public understanding and acceptance of, and confidence in, these activities. I believe that this extraction of unconventional fossil fuels, provided that environmental rules are respected, may be a great opportunity to strengthen the economy and increase employment and development in certain EU regions.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report’s concern is expressed in terms of guarding against the environmental impacts associated with the exploration and extraction of unconventional shale gas and oil, by planning, testing, use of new and best available technologies, data collection and monitoring. In our opinion, at the very least there should be a moratorium on the exploration of shale gas and oil deposits, bearing in mind that these techniques result in highly controversial and significant environmental impacts, involving deep drilling, explosions in the shale layer, and injection of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure in order to extract the gas and oil. The environmental impacts of this process are significant and extremely negative in terms of the contamination of groundwater or watercourses draining from schistose rock masses, due to the leaching of injected chemicals. In addition, the rock masses can be left unstable, with the release of methane into the atmosphere. The amendment tabled, which urged the Member States to adopt this moratorium on hydraulic fracking operations and which we signed, bearing in mind the precautionary and preventative principles, and also the risks to the environment and public health, was unfortunately rejected.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) For the transformation of the energy system by helping to reduce emissions with existing technologies, gas will be critical until at least 2030 or 2035. Shale gas and other unconventional gas sources have become potential important new sources of supply in or around Europe. The extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons, notably shale gas but also shale oil, has led to unprecedented and radical changes in global energy markets. Global gas prices and trade patterns are being re-shaped, with evident consequences for the EU. A number of Member States have permitted shale gas exploration and are preparing for extraction if discoveries allow. It is important to monitor worldwide regulatory regimes and practices, and to recognise and address concerns about the environmental effects of shale gas and shale oil extraction. These concerns focus on the potential consumption of large volumes of water, the potential chemical pollution of groundwater bodies especially of drinking water, on the treatment of waste water and risks to surface waters, on the storage of waste drill cuttings, on site-specific impacts, on seismic effects, and the possible implications for greenhouse gas emissions. I consider it important to stress that the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels can also be a great opportunity to strengthen the economy and increase employment and development in certain EU regions.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today’s vote will certainly not end the heated debate because this is a subject that both divides public opinion and, let us be quite clear, involves important vested interests. While this is a resource that could contribute in the medium and long term to ensuring energy security and diversification, rendering the EU less dependent and at the same time contributing to reduction of CO2 emissions, there is also concern at the environmental impact of extraction methods. The aim is to allow Member States to extract shale gas and oil based on the principle of subsidiarity and in accordance with the applicable environmental legislation.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) Brainwashed by the green lobby, the public is often hostile to the idea of shale gas and shale oil exploration. They themselves would be bad. Their exploration techniques would have devastating effects on water, air and health, and there would be little chance of fast developments or improvements. The economic benefits would be disappointing.

My country, France, the only one at present, has decided to bury its head in the sand. Taken hostage by an activist minority, its government prohibits not just exploration, but exploration that would determine the accuracy of the estimates of these reserves, which are currently theoretical and calculated by computer. This type of attitude is unlikely to encourage research, when hydraulic fracturing without chemicals or pneumatic fracturing are already technically possible, unless there are industrial uses and economic benefits. Given the huge challenges we face in terms of energy independence, jobs, competitiveness and restoring the external balance, such an attitude is regrettable. The fact that the subsoil is public property ensures that we would avoid many of the excesses or derivations seen in the United States, which we are force fed. Bizarrely, however, the reports adopted today on this subject are relatively balanced. Their main problem is that they try to circumvent or trample on the Member States’ energy sovereignty enshrined in the Treaties. That is why I abstained.

 
  
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  Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) After a heated debate on shale gas extraction, and a great deal of back and forth in the Chamber, during which, as rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Development, I expressed my strong opposition and outlined the concerns of developing countries, particularly in terms of land grabbing and access to water, fertile soil and food, which potentially call into question their food sovereignty. Today we voted on the two reports of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE Committee) and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, at last adopting an EP position on this highly controversial subject. Although the ITRE report was in favour of shale gas, totally irresponsible and unacceptable, Mr Sonik’s report was more open to discussion. In the end, I abstained in the final vote on this report. The reasons are simple: on the one hand, this report rightly favours the adaptation of the European regulations, and demonstrates the EP’s desire to provide a framework for fracturing and to respond to the challenges; on the other hand, the moratorium, or more precisely the proposed amendment urging the Member States not to authorise any further hydraulic fracturing in the EU, was rejected. In any event, I am completely opposed to shale gas extraction.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) When it comes to the issue of shale gas, there are a lot of questions today, but very few answers. That is why I voted in favour of an approach that calls for maximum caution in light of the risks involved in hydraulic fracturing and its negative effects on the climate, the environment and health. I do not believe that it is the right time yet for the Member States to authorise hydraulic fracturing in the European Union. Moreover, the ‘polluter pays’ principle should undoubtedly be applied in order to prevent any industry players from shirking their responsibilities in the case of an accident.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. The TFEU Article 194(2) clearly states that energy policy is a matter for each individual Member State. It is important not to block the ability of Member States to make political choices on energy policy, as this is a clear area of subsidiarity. Shale extraction is an issue which I have followed very closely and, until we have the results of the environmental impact assessment studies, currently being carried out at national level, I intend to reserve my judgement on this matter. The Minister of State for Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd, reaffirmed to the Dáil that no decision will be made about commercial shale gas exploration until 2014 at the earliest. Until there is time to consider the research the Minister confirmed that ‘the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration drilling will not be authorised’ in Ireland. At present I feel that I am not in a position to make an informed decision on shale extraction. I voted to keep an open mind on fracking and to respect the right of individual Member States to decide on their own energy policy.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. I believe that energy policy is and must remain a Member State competence. Calls in this House for an EU-wide moratorium of fracking is misplaced quite simply because those decisions belong to individual countries. All commercial activities are covered by the relevant EU environmental legislation but the EU must not seek to extend its competences into the area of controlling the natural resources of Member States.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document. Significant amounts of gas will have to be imported to Europe, but in addition to natural gas extracted in Europe itself local shale gas resources may also begin to be used and internal market integration may help to reduce the problem of the EU’s dependency on gas imports. Extraction may have a variety of consequences over time. As for other environmental effects, all circumstances and comparable indicators must be borne in mind. Disturbances are reduced to a minimum once extraction commences, a well’s surface equipment covering a few square metres and production being silent. In contrast to most other extractive and industrial processes decommissioned shale gas and shale oil wells typically leave no trace on the surface landscape. Such potential disturbances are to be considered by the competent national authorities in their regulatory activities and specifically in the application of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. Public participation should be provided by information campaigns before exploration and public consultation on the early stages before exploitation. We need to communicate with the public more actively and improve public education about unconventional fossil fuel extraction to help the public understand, accept and have confidence in these activities. It is important to stress that extraction of unconventional fossil fuels can also be a great opportunity to strengthen the economy, increase employment and development in certain EU regions.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE), in writing. (DE) I thank the rapporteurs for their reports. The development of shale gas offers the opportunity to reduce our dependency on energy imports. We would appear to be in agreement on that point. There are differing views, however, as regards the necessary controls and the acceptable risks. I believe we cannot afford, at the present time, to ignore an alternative to fossil fuels. It is essential to carry out unbiased studies and research, discussing and quantifying the opportunities and risks with openness and honesty. In my view, the development and use of shale gas are possible provided that stringent environmental conditions are imposed. The technology is developing very rapidly and we should not be left behind.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson (ALDE), in writing. (SV) I voted in favour of the report by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities. The report emphasises environmental considerations and an investigation of the long-term consequences for the environment, water, air, etc. I also voted in favour of the motion indicating the importance of protecting groundwater and of prohibiting extraction in sensitive and threatened areas. The Member States themselves will decide on the extraction of their own energy resources, but at the same time I voted in favour of urging the Member States not to license new activities as regards hydraulic fractioning in the EU. This is with consideration to the risks and the negative impact on the climate, environment and health, as well as loopholes found in the EU’s rules on the extraction of shale gas. It think it is important to point out that the extraction of shale gas and shale oil, which is a fossil fuel, entails great risks for human health and the environment. I would prefer not to see any extraction at all, but rather continued efforts in terms of energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the report by Bogusław Sonik, which was adopted by 562 votes to 86, with 43 abstentions. This report takes a balanced and rational approach to the controversial issue of shale gas exploitation. The report notes that Member States have the right to determine their own energy mix and grant authorisations for shale gas extraction, and it calls for a strict framework for drilling technologies, especially hydraulic fracturing. The aim is to prevent any environmental damage.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. (LV) The European Union must give the Member States an opportunity to use the energy sources that are available to them, and for that reason I voted for the European Parliament’s report on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities.

When extracting shale gas, it is necessary for strict environmental requirements to be observed, while these must not restrict the opportunities for making use of the energy resource. Clarity about environmental requirements and standards is therefore needed in order to allow enterprises to develop shale gas extraction. Shale gas is an important resource which could potentially allow the European Union to diversify its gas sources. Therefore, at a time when the dependence of Member States on imported energy sources is only increasing, we must provide the opportunity for energy to be extracted from existing sources in Member States, by laying down clear environmental requirements.

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing. (PL) The environmental impact of shale gas extraction has attracted a great deal of interest in Poland for some months now, although we still cannot be certain as to the real availability of this resource. Amendment 4 and paragraph 34 have excited emotion with their reference to a ban on hydrofracking in coal mining areas. Since the report has succeeded in securing a majority in favour of rejecting a precautionary ban on hydraulic fracturing, it should be supported as a whole. The problem is that this is an own-initiative report and therefore has scant legislative significance.

 
  
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  Krzysztof Lisek (PPE), in writing. (PL) I voted in favour of the report drafted by Mr Sonik, as we cannot squander the benefits associated with shale gas. It is not just a question of reducing emissions and boosting economic prospects; the diversification of energy sources should be a key issue. Shale gas and oil could be a step towards energy self-sufficiency. At the same time, I realise that there may be concerns about the hydraulic fracturing technology used to extract shale gas. In this case, economic and energy security considerations must unquestionably go hand in hand with compliance with strict environmental standards.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing. (PL) Europe is striving to achieve a significant reduction in its CO2 emissions, which means that shale gas and other unconventional sources of gas are now a potential new and important form of energy supply in Europe and neighbouring countries. Shale exploitation represents a huge opportunity for the European economy. One only need look at the situation in the United States, where shale gas extraction has prompted a real economic turnaround, while places in which shale deposits are found have been referred to as an El Dorado. I understand all the fears concerning the fracking process and its potentially harmful impact on the environment and on human beings. However, the following arguments should be considered: if, in the United States, where more than 150 billion m3 of gas are extracted each year, the extraction process were having a negative impact on residents and the environment, it would certainly have been noticed. Lawyers there would be working flat out to seek compensation for members of the public. Furthermore, great technological progress is being made right now and there are already safe methods of extraction that are being improved upon all the time. Shale gas presents a great opportunity and immeasurable benefits for my country, Poland, and for Europe, which is why I cannot imagine not seizing this opportunity. I therefore voted in favour of the report drafted by Bogusław Sonik.

 
  
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  Svetoslav Hristov Malinov (PPE), in writing. (BG) The vote on this report comes at a time when the topic of shale gas is a matter of fierce debate. Regrettably, ideological prejudices are considerably strong and their advocates refuse to see some indisputable facts. Firstly, significant shale gas deposits have been discovered in some European countries while exploration is about to commence in others. Secondly, shale gas has already demonstrated substantial positive influence on the European gas market, reducing the prices and restricting Russia’s influence. Thirdly, in comparison with other fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, the use of shale gas generates fewest carbon emissions. That is why the fears are mostly related to exploration and extraction risks. Today we showed our firm conviction to guarantee the highest possible environmental protection from the use of hydraulic fracturing on EU territory. At the same time we reject any possibility of imposing a pan-European moratorium on the exploration and extraction of shale gas deposits, which would contradict both the Treaty of Lisbon and the EU energy policy. There is no more sensible approach than the one we have just adopted: the decision on exploration and extraction is to be left to the individual countries, and environmental standards are to be extremely high and maintained at a European level.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this report which among other things considers that the use of shale gas and other fossil fuels must be consistent with Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which calls for the ‘stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’ and underlines that substantial lock-in to fossil fuel infrastructures such as shale gas could put this international objective out of reach.

 
  
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  Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. (CS) I should like to point out that interaction with the natural environment is paramount with this method of extraction and we cannot simply concentrate on the economic framework associated with the extraction of shale gas. In the Czech Republic, exploration and extraction would affect a range of districts, such as Trutnov, Náchod, Broumov and Wallachia. During extraction or exploration, when thousands of litres of chemicals are blasted underground, there is a significant risk of irreversible damage to the environment, contamination of even distant water sources and a direct threat to human health. This report has evolved somewhat and it includes a series of changes which, in the overall context, describe a large number of areas which must not be overlooked. Although I have certain reservations with regard to some parts of the report, in the final analysis I have a positive view of it and as such I have supported it.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I agree that the Commission should be urged to come forward by the end of 2012 with an analysis of the future of the global and EU gas market, including the impact of the gas infrastructure projects already planned, new liquid natural gas terminals, the impact of shale gas on the US gas market, and the impact of possible shale gas developments in the EU on the future security of gas supply and prices.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) This report is damning evidence of how little information we currently have on the consequences of shale gas exploration and the use of hydraulic fracturing.

It acknowledges that this activity may be dangerous for the environment and human health, but does not draw the necessary conclusions. Instead of called for concrete application of the precautionary principle and recommending a moratorium on these activities in the Member States, it merely provides a framework for these types of activities in the future. It asks the Member States to be cautious, just as you would ask someone suicidal not to fling themselves too wildly from a bridge.

We know that shale gas exploration is hazardous. The only reasonable position on this matter is to call immediately for a moratorium. This report does not do that. It is an unacceptable concession to the gas lobbies that have been campaigning in the European Parliament for months. I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted against the report because the exploration of shale gas poses a serious threat to the environment as it can cause groundwater contamination. My group tabled an amendment to this report on the inclusion of a moratorium on these types of activities in Europe. This moratorium is essential if we want to guarantee healthy, uncontaminated water and prevent documented secondary effects such as earthquakes caused by serious land disturbance. The amendment proposing this moratorium was rejected by the majority of Parliament, thereby allowing this type of exploration to take place in the European Union, with the serious consequences for the environment that that entails. For these reasons, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR), in writing. (PL) I am firmly in favour of the extraction of shale gas and believe that it is unnecessary, and possibly even detrimental, to regulate in this area. To do so may restrict gas extraction, which would be counter to the economic interests of many EU Member States. I find paragraph 34 especially worrying in this respect. The large-scale extraction of shale gas and shale oil will help diversify energy sources in the European Union. Shale gas extraction is economical and environmentally sound. My concerns about the regulation of shale gas extraction as proposed in the report have led me to abstain from the vote.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing. (SK) No human activity can be wholly risk-free, and this applies twofold to human industrial activities. Activities affecting the public and their health and the environment in general therefore require transparent public discussion of the economic benefits and also the potential risks for human health and the environment. Unfortunately, the current discussions concerning the extraction of shale gas and shale oil are beset by considerable manipulation of the information. Since there are insufficient transparent data on fracturing chemicals and the environmental and health risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, there is a need for independent scientific studies of the long-term effect of the actual extraction methods as regards water and air pollution and above all human health. Before appropriate impact and risk analyses have been performed, great caution should be exercised and the relevant EU environmental legislation rigorously applied. However, it is also essential to improve the effective implementation of existing legislation by strengthening the regulatory, monitoring and enforcement capacities, especially at Member State level.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. Tough environmental legislation on shale gas exploration and exploitation. No hydraulic fracturing in sensitive areas. Sole declarations regarding that are not enough. Detailed measures to be adopted. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Shale gas is one of the new unconventional sources of gas in Europe. The EU is fully aware of the increase in the share of shale gas on the American market, which was 17 % in 2011 and of the gradual change in the global gas trade patterns. It is important to be aware that any extraction of this gas would provide countries with a certain degree of energy independence. However, it must not be forgotten that any human inference with nature brings with it a certain degree of risk. Especially when drilling into the surface of the earth. In view of the extent of the risk arising from extraction of shall gas with respect to human health and the natural environment, I am in favour of the thorough implementation of environmental legislation in Member States. I also reject any hydraulic extraction in areas where the use of chemicals might contaminate water sources and ground.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing. (PL) The exploitation of shale gas deposits has triggered a lively debate. On the one hand, we can see the success the United States has had with shale gas exploitation. As a result of this technology, the country is no longer an importer but an exporter of fossil fuels. On the other hand, environmental organisations report that use of the hydraulic fracturing method poses risks to the environment. In those countries in which deposits have been discovered, shale gas is a source of great hope. Hopes are particularly high in countries whose economies are reliant on natural gas imports. They are also especially sensitive with regard to energy security. Shale gas exploitation is seen not only as an opportunity for economic development, but also a chance to increase their energy security. One of these countries is Poland. That is why the issue of shale gas exploitation is very close to my heart. I am not one of those blinded by a vision of a shale gas El Dorado. At the same time, however, I do not believe that we can abandon the idea of exploiting shale gas. We need to give the fracking technology a chance. Based on what we know at present, we cannot categorically rule it out as harmful to the environment. However, we must keep track of scientific findings in this regard. With that reservation in mind, I voted in favour of the report on the environmental impact of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I consider the EU’s energy independence essential and support the search for various new alternative sources of supply to this end. It goes without saying that the production of shale gas and shale oil should respect the rules of sustainable and safe production and take into account the environmental impact assessments previously carried out.

As I come from Estonia – a country extracting oil shale – I am glad to see that our oil shale producers duly adhere to EU environmental standards. Effective supervision by the government and the general public is in place, including public debates on environmental impact assessments.

The production of shale oil and shale gas by hydraulic fracturing is questionable, however, because the use of this technology is a controversial subject and it is not sufficiently safe for the environment. Thus I could not vote in favour of the amendment which supports the use of hydraulic fracturing. I did support the report because it draws attention to the need for an energy-independent Europe and promotes the search for new sources of supply. Our Member States should not be dependent on energy from undemocratic gas and oil countries.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Before commencing shale gas extraction it is necessary to fully assess the side-effects this will have not just on nature, but also on human health. Furthermore, we need to ensure a fair and level playing field across the Union and the strict implementation of the requirements of EU safety and environmental protection laws. It should be noted that there is as yet no firm conviction that the technology used for shale gas extraction is sufficiently safe and will not cause major and painful ecological disasters involving the chemical pollution of drinking water, the treatment of waste water, seismic effects and possible greenhouse gas emissions.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because it contains provisions on the responsible use of shale gas reservoirs in Europe. This report is the beginning of the EU dialogue on shale gas procurement and we have to seek consensus based on scientific knowledge.

Our priority is shale gas extraction that meets the highest safety standards and uses the latest technologies. Before commencing shale gas extraction activities we have to make sure that the proper preparations have been made: a detailed works analysis has been carried out, it has been confirmed that the hydraulic fracturing will not damage the ecological balance (for example, groundwater will not be contaminated, and so on), and it has been clarified whether the works comply with regulatory standards.

We should not blindly follow the leading countries in the field of shale gas extraction. Each country has its own specific characteristics. The Polish example shows that seismic activity began in places where hydraulic fracturing took place.

 
  
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  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR), in writing. (PL) I do not support the report on the environmental impact of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities, and on several important grounds. The changes to individual EU Directives proposed in the report pose a serious problem. The rejection of the amendment calling for a moratorium does little to alter that fact. The report is unacceptable because it proposes a ban on hydraulic fracturing in coal mining and drinking-water protection areas, calls for a change to the emissions trading scheme to include shale gas extraction in the CO2 emissions prices and suggests that shale gas extraction is incompatible with the EU’s policy on climate change. The potential and likely consequences of implementing the recommendations contained in the report will include raising the cost of investment in this activity so high as to jeopardise its profitability in the EU.

 
  
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  Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. I am in favour of banning shale gas extraction within the Member States. The complex drilling procedure involved in gaining access to this gas, and indeed the subsequent extraction process pose many risks to both the surrounding lands and the health of its population. While these extraction methods may lower energy prices across the Union by increasing competition, the long-term risks outweigh the short-term economic benefits. Many citizens have voiced their concerns over contamination of groundwater and the risk of blowouts on the surface during the extraction. Indeed, these concerns seem well-founded when we consider the scientific facts and figures behind this method of extraction. Examining the situation in the United States and Canada, we can see it is an extremely dangerous extraction method, which needs to be strictly regulated where it is implemented.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. In favour. Starting from a very pro-shale gas draft report by PPE Polish rapporteur, Mr Sonik, thanks to close cooperation with other groups in ENVI, the report was turned around through a large number of compromises negotiated with the rapporteur, as well additional amendments adopted through vote. The report, inter alia, calls for thorough analysis of EU regulatory framework, and COM to come forward with legislative proposals; urges Member States to be cautious in going further with shale gas until the completion of the ongoing regulatory analysis and to implement all existing regulations effectively; obligatory baseline monitoring as well as COM guidance on baseline water monitoring, criteria for assessing impact on groundwater in different geological formations, as well as cumulative impacts; full polluter pays, sufficient financial guarantees for environmental and civil liability of any damage; ban in sensitive areas (drinking water protection areas and coal mining areas). On the negative side, language on gas as back-up and enhancing competitiveness, and that as substitute for coal and oil in the short-to-medium term could help to reduce GHG emissions ‘depending on their lifecycle’ was adopted.

 
  
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  Petri Sarvamaa (PPE), in writing. (FI) I voted in favour of Mr Sonik’s motion for a resolution, having found that it endeavours, with quite scant resources, to minimise the known and unknown environmental risks associated with the use of shale gas. I feel it is important that introduction of the technology be authorised for responsible companies and corporations that are committed to ensuring that the purity of groundwater is preserved and that methane-gas emissions are minimised in the best possible way.

The creation of a comprehensive monitoring system is essential for guaranteeing that the new technology is environmentally safe. Drilling for shale gas, when done responsibly and without cutting corners, offers an opportunity to increase European competitiveness and reduce our dependence on energy from outside the EU. Efforts must be made in the future to exploit this opportunity efficiently, but on the environment’s terms.

 
  
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  Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (PPE), in writing. (PL) In spite of the stormy debate in Parliament, Mr Sonik’s report seeks to put forward a balanced approach to the issue of shale gas extraction. Significantly, Parliament’s position stresses the right of Member States to make use of their own natural resources and the fact that shale gas, extracted within an appropriate regulatory and legal framework, has the potential to become an important new source of energy in Europe (including in the form of liquefied natural gas). The proposal for a European moratorium on shale gas extraction was unacceptable and rightly rejected by Parliament.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Recent technological advancements have already spurred a rapid, commercial-scale extraction of unconventional fossil fuels in certain parts of the world. There is no commercial-scale exploitation in the EU yet and the potential of reserves and possible impacts on the environment and public health have to be further scrutinised. The development of shale gas is not uncontroversial in the EU or worldwide, thereby necessitating a thorough examination of all the impacts. The development and production of shale gas could however lower prices and raise competiveness, create jobs and reduce the EU’s dependence on energy imports. I therefore voted in favour, encouraging research into the shale gas extraction sector.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Bearing in mind the rising price of oil and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recourse to renewable energies and other sources of unconventional energies is becoming inevitable. Given that conventional gas production is in decline and that this fact will make the EU even more dependent on energy imported from third countries, it is becoming vital to consider the extraction of unconventional gas and oil, particularly shale gas and oil. Diversifying our energy sources will ensure greater security in terms of supply and reduce energy prices. Certain EU Member States are already committed to exploration and extraction, given that the EU has around 14 thousand billion cubic metres that might be technically recoverable. However, advanced methods of shale gas extraction may be environmentally harmful, particularly hydraulic fracking. I therefore voted in favour of the report, given that it urges the Commission to strengthen standards on the responsibilities of transnational corporations, particularly hydrocarbon extraction companies, with regard to social and environmental rights and possible means of implementation.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted for the resolution on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities because shale gas extraction requires a careful analysis of all impacts (on the environment, on public health and on the climate), before we continue developing this technology. Many governments in Europe, such as France, Bulgaria, North Rhine Westphalia in Germany, Fribourg and Vaud in Switzerland, as well as a number of US states have either banned or imposed a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas extraction. I voted for Amendment 5, based on the principles of precaution and preventive action, and the risks and negative impact for the climate, the environment and public health posed by hydraulic fracturing as well as the gaps in EU legislation on shale gas activities. It urges the Member States not to authorise any new hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU. I supported the call for a ban on hydrofracking in certain sensitive and particularly endangered areas, such as in and beneath drinking water protection areas and in coal mining areas.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) The security of energy supply is one of the most important principles for sound EU policies. According to current knowledge, shale gas and shale oil will revolutionise the energy market. High standards of safety for exploration and development are important, as are environmental compatibility and health protection. No technology should be condemned from the outset. Jurisdiction lies with the Member States, but joint planning is nonetheless sensible and desirable. I voted in favour of the report, although I am saddened by the fact that a number of amendments were rejected.

 
  
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  Vladimir Urutchev (PPE), in writing. (BG) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted for Mr Sonik’s report because it presents a balanced approach to shale gas. We cannot ignore the truth that there is a wide spectrum of opinions on this issue ranging from complete rejection to extreme support. There is no doubt that there are risks from the current hydraulic fracturing technology. However, efforts are being made to find suitable solutions for the hazards causing public concern, and the time when the risks related to fracking are on a par with common industrial conventional risks is not far away. We cannot, however, afford to ignore the potential benefits of shale gas extraction in Europe for improving the economy, restoring competitiveness to EU industry, and resolving the issue of the volatility of energy generated from renewable sources. For some Member States, shale gas is almost the only opportunity to gain energy security and independence, which is a powerful political incentive for public acceptance. I support the research initiated by the Commission, which will help to determine the need for stronger EU legislation on the known risks of shale gas extraction. The combination of many versatile factors means that today we must leave behind the extreme emotional approach of denial and instead use sound judgement and comprehensive analysis.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I am pleased that hydraulic fracturing is not expressly authorised, that there is a better structure for research authorisation and that there are calls for strict implementation of existing waste water treatment standards. The report contains a mandatory obligation for all operators to fully disclose the chemical composition and concentration of fracturing fluids, and to fully comply with existing EU legislation under the REACH Regulation. At present, we are unable to measure the effects of these gases on the environment and health, but we know that hydraulic fracturing requires a great deal of drinking water and chemicals. The risks of water contamination are therefore very real. The European Parliament has not really chosen between the short-term view of the gas monopolies and a long-term view that could protect water, which is such a vital resource for humanity.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) Parliament has just adopted a report that sets out, with complete objectivity, the potential effects and advantages of shale gas extraction in Europe. I supported it unreservedly because I believe that we need to be just as aware of the environmental risks involved in extracting this resource as the competitive advantages it could offer our economy. I also regret the ideological attitude of certain Members, who have tried in vain to ban shale gas exploration and extraction across the EU without any reliable data. I voted against that amendment, which infringed the principle of subsidiarity and incorrectly invoked the precautionary principle. We may oppose hydraulic fracturing, which poses serious problems that we cannot ignore, but it is unreasonable to close the door categorically on shale gas, at a time when the energy bills for homes and businesses are constantly increasing and our industries are becoming less competitive. I would like to see a European research programme to assess the available shale gas reserves and develop environmentally friendly exploration methods.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE), in writing. The impact of the extraction of shale gas and other unconventional hydrocarbons have a strong influence on the global energy market; though, the same economic success the US had cannot be foreseen for Europe. At the same time, and in my view of utmost importance, are the protection and safety of humans and our environment. The environmental consequences with regard to e.g. chemical substances in drinking water and toxic substances have to be considered. I strongly believe that we should learn from the US’s experiences and knowledge - and incorporate those in our findings. Studies of risks and environmental impact have been done, but there were no fundamental findings from the scientific point of view. As long as the safety and health of the people and the environment are not guaranteed, I cannot vote in favour of exploring shale gas-resources.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D), in writing. The Commission is carrying out research on the need for legislation on shale gas extraction and this report sets out the position of the European Parliament. I supported the report, which calls for strict regulation to ensure environmental and health safeguards and recommends caution until the Commission have completed their research. Although I recognise the argument that shale gas could potentially reduce the need for energy imports and therefore increase energy security, we need to consider fully the environmental and safety implications. In particular, we need to address concerns about hydraulic fracking – the process whereby underground rock is blasted with large volumes of water, sand and chemicals to release gas – as this is a new technology, not covered by existing laws. The fact that, in the UK, shale gas exploration is currently suspended due to concerns about increased seismic activity underlines the need for caution. The report also recommends that no taxpayer money be used to fund research and development in shale gas and for regulation to ensure companies are liable for the costs of any accidents.

 
  
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  Zbigniew Ziobro (EFD), in writing. (PL) In spite of my recognition of the great effort the rapporteur has put into this report and the negotiation of essential compromises, I was unfortunately unable to support the final version of this report. It contains, inter alia, a generally-worded ban on fracking in ‘sensitive’ areas, which risks being interpreted in an extremely broad fashion. Another paragraph, while allowing the extraction of this raw material, indicates that it should be subject to CO2 prices under the emissions trading scheme. Even within the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, in which I was shadow rapporteur, a significant majority of the rapporteur’s sensible proposals were re-worded for the worse and amendments seeking to create the conditions for the exploration and exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels were rejected, while a series of incoherent and, unfortunately, at times, nonsensical paragraphs were adopted, such as those stating that shale gas extraction poses a threat to developing countries. I was unable to vote in favour of a report that will provide an argument in support of the Commission’s unbridled efforts to extend its ‘green legislation’, which is already having a negative impact on the competitiveness of our industries, especially in countries like Poland.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report advocates guarding against the environmental impacts associated with the exploration and extraction of unconventional shale gas and oil, by planning, testing, use of new and best available technologies, data collection and monitoring. In our opinion, this is insufficient. At the very least there should be a moratorium on the exploration of shale gas and oil deposits, bearing in mind that these techniques result in highly controversial and significant environmental impacts, involving deep drilling, explosions in the shale layer, and injection of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure in order to extract the gas and oil. We signed an amendment, which urged the Member States not to allow any hydraulic fracking operations, bearing in mind the precautionary and preventative principles, and also the risks to the environment and public health, but which was rejected by the majority of Parliament. We therefore voted against the report.

 
  
  

Report: Niki Tzavela (A7-0284/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report because it not only points out the positive aspects of this type of activity, but also considers an environmental package, voted in parallel, which suggests preventative approaches in industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil exploitation. I would also highlight the need to bear in mind the benefits of this new type of activity, as yet under-exploited in the European Union, while always ensuring that the environmental aspects are duly safeguarded.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This report adopted by the European Parliament has been the focus of much attention. I also voted in favour of this text because I feel that it is well thought out and consistent. It notes that it is up to the Member States to decide whether or not to allow shale gas exploration and acknowledges, for example, the French and Bulgarian moratoriums. Exploration is only possible, however, if the European environmental legislation, such as the Water Framework Directive, the Air Quality Directive and impact assessments, is fully respected. The European Commission is requested to determine as soon as possible whether this regulatory framework is sufficient or whether it needs to be strengthened further in order to provide better protection for European citizens. The text also contains information on the benefits of shale gas in terms of Europe’s energy independence and competitiveness.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Tzavela on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil. In Italy shale gas extraction is not viable while in other Member States the situation is quite different. Those in Parliament who declare their opposition despite the wish to have further study and research in this sector only encourage dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources. The report underlines how investments in this sector have to be entirely covered by the industry, which would also cover the costs of any direct or indirect damage in application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because with it Parliament has set out its position on industrial and other aspects of shale gas. It is very important to analyse the future prospects of the global and EU gas market and establish possible changes in the shale gas market and the impact of this on future security of gas supply and prices in the European Union. The analysis provided must reflect EU 2020 and the situation as regards attaining CO2 targets. It should be noted that global consumption of natural gas is currently on the rise, and that Europe remains among the regions with the highest gas import needs. According to the International Energy Agency, domestic gas production in Europe is projected to decline and demand to increase, pushing up imports to around 450 bcm by 2035; it is therefore essential to submit not only the planned energy action plan by 2012, but also to examine the accessibility, extent and extraction of unconventional gas resources in the EU.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil. In the debates on the Energy Roadmap for 2050, it is essential to defend the principle of technological neutrality for unconventional hydrocarbons. Our strategy must be deployed on two fronts: on the one hand, under the principle of subsidiarity, the European Union cannot impose or ban the use of any specific type of energy; on the other hand, the EU must guarantee rules that ensure a high level of environmental protection. We, therefore, have to continue to research innovation exploration techniques in order to improve our knowledge of our energy resources.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the Tzavela report, which looks at many issues relating to the development of shale gas and shale oil exploration in the European Union. I believe that we need to diversify our energy sources and safeguard our security of supply, so I support shale gas exploration that is sensible and takes all of the necessary precautions. I agree that each Member State must be able to decide on its own energy sources, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I consider that shale gas production has a role to play in the EU in the medium to long term, contributing to achieving the EU’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 % by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, in the context of reductions by developed countries as a group, while at the same time ensuring security of energy supply and competitiveness, which is the basis of the Energy Roadmap for 2050. I urge the Commission to put forward recommendations for all shale gas wells in the EU for reducing fugitive methane emissions. I consider that the ‘polluter pays’ principle must be consistently applied to shale gas and shale oil operations, particularly regarding waste water treatment, and that companies must be fully liable for any direct or indirect damage they might cause. For those reasons, and because I agree with the report’s assumptions, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Cymański (EFD), in writing. (PL) I wholeheartedly supported the report by Niki Tzavela. She has accomplished an incredibly important and difficult task, as a result of which the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy adopted a sensible and measured report and, most importantly, one that respects the right of each Member State to prospect for and exploit the energy sources that it considers appropriate for it individually. Ms Tzavela has managed to defend herself against the green propaganda which serves as a cover for monopoly interests on the conventional gas and nuclear energy markets. I congratulate her.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. I voted in favour of the report on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil. Shale gas is a big opportunity for all Member States; it is a challenge. It is an opportunity to make Member States more independent from major suppliers. Of course shale gas has some environmental risk; this is why it is very important to have rules and follow them. We should definitely regulate the method and technique of extraction of shale gas with proper legislation. This is an opportunity to achieve growth and to be more competitive with the rest of the world. It is a big step that we need to take, taking into account all the environmental risks.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) With increasing global energy needs, oil, which for decades has been the main source of energy, has started to show signs that its reserves are coming to an end. This situation has led to an exponential rise in prices and prompted countries to find alternative sources, such as wind, photovoltaic, wave, geothermal and other forms of energy. However, human ingenuity is persistent in its search for and exploitation of other types of fuel. Attention is currently turning to the exploitation of ‘shale gas and oil’. This fuel is widely exploited in the US, where reserves could guarantee the country’s energy supply for the next 45 years. In the EU, although its existence has been confirmed in several countries in central and eastern Europe, there are many reservations about the advantages of this type of fuel, particularly due to the fear of the side effects of its exploitation on health and the environment. However, I believe that the EU cannot miss the chance of new energy resources. All the positive factors, such as the impact on the economy, must therefore be analysed together with the negative factors, particularly in terms of health and the environment, and we must find ways to eliminate or substantially reduce those negative factors.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report tries to promote the exploration and extraction of unconventional shale gas and oil by citing the industrial policy and energy market objectives put forward by the European Commission, in terms of the desired transition of the energy system to the ‘decarbonised economy’. It argues for the establishment of the infrastructures needed by the sector, while expressing the concern that this activity should be sustainable in financial terms. These aspects not only give us cause for concern, but also exclude the fundamental environmental issues. The capture of shale gas currently involves a highly controversial technique, which poses serious environmental risks, particularly groundwater and surface water contamination, as well as risks inherent in the instability of the rock masses. In addition, it has not been proven that there is a positive return on the amount of energy consumed using this extraction method. It is vital to conduct EROI (Energy Return on Invested Energy) assessments over the whole lifecycle of each of these activities in order to ensure that they work economically. This is an issue on which, at the very least, there should be a moratorium.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The extraction of shale gas can have a significant impact on the natural gas market in terms of dynamics and prices, as well as on power generation. Unconventional gas in the form of tight gas, shale gas and coal bed methane already forms more than half of gas production in the US, with shale gas showing the largest increase. According to estimates, total reserves in the EU exceed 56 000 billion m3, while technically exploitable sources may reach approximately 14 000 billion m3. However, there are concerns with respect to the impact of extraction on the environment. These focus on the potential consumption of large volumes of water, chemical pollution of groundwater bodies and especially of drinking water, on the treatment of waste water and risks to surface waters, on the storage of waste drill cuttings, on site-specific impacts, on seismic effects, and the possible implications for greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore important to monitor worldwide regulatory regimes and practices. The Commission and competent national authorities should also look at the potential environmental impact and provide the public with information based on verified scientific data, while retaining maximum transparency. We must carefully weigh all the benefits and risks and we can only do this if we eliminate the intentional concealment of the reality now subject to public discussion.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) The debate about energy, energy dependency, conventional fuels and renewable energies is often beset with contradictions. In fact, the transition from conventional and nuclear to renewable energy cannot be achieved without transitional solutions. By far the majority of experts believe that gas is one of these transitional solutions. Interestingly, it is the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament that is voicing particular concerns, whereas their fellow parties, while in government in Germany, for example, have expressed strong support for gas as a transitional energy. Energy production must be discussed objectively if we are to convince citizens to play their part in the transformation of energy systems. Citizens’ participation is not only appropriate in a democracy; it also reflects the fact that private homes, and especially heating, are among the largest consumers of non-renewable energies.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. The TFEU Article 194(2) clearly states that energy policy is a matter for each individual Member State. It is important not to block the ability of Member States to make political choices on energy policy as this is a clear area of subsidiarity. In line with the principle of subsidiarity, Member States should be free to adopt energy-mix solutions, including shale gas exploration and extraction. Shale extraction is an issue which I have followed very closely and, until we have the results of the environmental impact assessment studies, currently being carried out at national level in Ireland, I intend to reserve my judgement on this matter. The Minister of State for Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd, reaffirmed to the Dáil that no decision will be made about commercial shale gas exploration or ‘fracking’ until 2014 at the earliest. Until there is time to consider the research the Minister confirmed that ‘the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration drilling will not be authorised’ in Ireland. At present I feel that I am not in a position to make an informed decision on shale extraction. I voted to keep an open mind on fracking and to respect the right of individual Member States to decide on their own energy policy.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. The Tzavela report takes a very different view on shale oil and gas from that contained within the Sonik report. Nevertheless, both reports are fundamentally flawed. Energy exploitation must remain a Member State competence; it is not for this House to seek to change that.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I abstained from voting on this document because the development of shale gas extraction is controversial in the EU and worldwide and therefore necessitates a thorough examination of all the impacts (on the environment, public health and climate change) before developing this technology further. It should also be noted that public participation should be provided by information campaigns before exploration and public consultation on the early stages before exploitation. We need to communicate with the public more actively and improve public education about unconventional fossil fuel extraction to help the public understand, accept and have confidence in these activities.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson (ALDE), in writing. (SV) With regard to the report by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on shale gas and oil, I share the view that decision-makers should have access to more comprehensive scientific information (e.g. information on carbon-dioxide footprints) in order to be able to make an informed choice. I understand that the economic potential to be gained from shale gas is clear, and that the emphasis is therefore being placed on adapting the system, investments, rules, legislation, and so on, but not at a high human and environmental cost.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) Niki Tzavela’s report was adopted by 492 votes to 129, with 43 abstentions. This report on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil takes a balanced and rational approach. The report points out that Member States have the right to determine their own energy mix and grant authorisations for shale gas extraction, and it calls for a strict framework for drilling technologies, especially hydraulic fracturing. The aim is to prevent any environmental damage.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I abstained on this resolution which although heavily modified in plenary still had a bias in favour of shale gas exploitation. I believe more research is required before any exploitation of this resource.

 
  
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  Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. (CS) The extraction of shale gas involving an extraction company blasting thousands of litres of chemicals underground in protected areas or their immediate vicinity is inconsiderate, and not only to the immediate surroundings. In the Czech Republic, where the structure of the bedrock is different from that in some states outside Europe, such extraction is unsuitable. The use of hectolitres of chemicals will lead to irreversible damage and contamination of water sources and to serious disruption of the natural environment and human health. There may also be a significant increase in the risk of contamination of far distant sources of drinking water – a strategic commodity. As a Member of the European Parliament representing the interests of citizens of the Czech Republic and also as a doctor, I have not supported this report.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) This report makes the case for shale gas. It reproduces, to the letter, the propaganda of the gas lobbies that have been parading around the European Parliament for some time now. It calls for shale gas exploration in the name of international competition and the diversification of energy sources in the future internal energy market that the report advocates. It calls on the Member States and the Union to make every effort to prepare for commercial-scale shale gas exploration and even goes so far as to state that such exploration can be environmentally friendly.

This foolishness and this lack of emphasis on the general interest is embarrassing for all Members of the European Parliament. I condemn this text, which is the product of a toxic collusion with the oil lobbies.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL in writing. (ES) I voted against this report because it authorises the exploration of shale gas in Europe in order to meet our energy demand. Shale gas is extracted using the hydraulic fracturing technique, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and other corrosive chemicals to create fractures in the rocks that contain this gas. This extraction method has harmful effects on the environment: groundwater contamination, emission of toxic gases, and even earthquakes. Authorising this type of extraction means, once again, allowing the commercial interests of the large energy companies to take priority over the European environment. Europe’s energy future requires a policy that priorities the environmental sustainability of the supply. That means that we need to make progress on renewable energies rather than extending non-renewable energy sources that are merely temporary patches with disastrous repercussions for the environment. For these reasons, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. There is a need to proceed with great caution on shale gas. It could be an opportunity for security of energy supply but there is a need to have the full facts to assess if the benefits outweigh the costs and downsides. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Today we approved two important documents paving the way for more widespread extraction of shale gas in the European Union. Nevertheless, these documents are only the first steps aimed at ensuring that this area of energy does not turn into a wild and unregulated business. I therefore also call on both Commission and the Member States to focus on Parliament’s recommendations as regards licensing and the use of land, as well as taxation and the environment. Only then will shale gas become the future of European energy.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Attention should be drawn to the fact that shale gas exploration and extraction is a complicated process requiring a lot of time and costly technological measures. The question therefore is whether the currently seemingly promising idea of shale gas extraction in Europe might be compared with the vision of intensive farming in low-yielding and small areas of land: a modest result achieved through huge efforts demanding much time and investment. It is also very important to note that the development of shale gas extraction is controversial, and therefore necessitates a thorough examination of all the impacts (on the environment, public health and climate change) before developing this technology further. Consequently, I believe that we should invest more in research, and carry out research and development programmes for better results and a better understanding of the safety and dangers of exploration and extraction operations.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report on the industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil. This document points out that a stable regulatory framework is essential both to create the right environment for gas companies to invest in much-needed infrastructure and research and development, and to prevent market distortions. It is therefore proposed, correctly in my opinion, that the exchange of best practices and information between the EU Member States, but also between the EU, the United States and Canada, should be encouraged. It also encourages, in particular, the pairing of European and North American cities and municipalities which have discovered shale gas in order to transfer knowledge about shale gas development from industry to local communities.

 
  
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  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR), in writing. (PL) There are several important arguments in favour of supporting this report on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil. Shale gas may prove to be extremely important in the light of the EU’s growing reliance on gas imports, which is why its considerable potential should be emphasised. The Member States are responsible for determining their own energy mix, which means that the principle of subsidiarity must be rigorously applied. EU environmental law imposes certain minimum standards that may need to be adapted for the purposes of commercial-scale exploitation. All these measures will help increase energy self-sufficiency and security. They may also lower energy prices for consumers, as has happened in the United States.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report assesses a wide range of issues relating to the development of shale gas and oil in the European Union, including the following: potential reserves in certain Member States; impact of shale gas development on the EU market and reduced dependency on Russia; role of shale gas in security of energy supply; shale gas development in view of the plan to transition to a decarbonised economy; licensing framework; public opinion, and, lastly, importance of using best available practices and technologies. As I consider that this is an extremely important subject, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to thank Ms Tzavela for her work. By approving this document, Parliament, in accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 194 thereof, underlines the need for regulating research into and extraction of shale gas and oil at European level. Adoption of a European regulation in this area, although it would not erode the independence of the Member States to manage such resources, is seen by Parliament as a necessary step for administering all activities relating to shale gas.

To this end, the report underlines the importance of using ecologically sustainable procedures and techniques, and how investments in this sector for building the necessary infrastructure have to be entirely covered by the industry. Although the Commission considers that the existing EU rules adequately provide for exploration and production of shale gas, the prospect of increased exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels requires an in-depth analysis of applicable EU Regulations on fuels.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) I voted against this report. When we look at the effects of shale gas exploration on the other side of the Atlantic, it would have been irresponsible to consent to unbridled shale gas exploration, given that the existing European legislation has gaps and is inadequate. The studies ordered by the European Commission clearly show the harmful impact of hydraulic fracturing: risk of surface water and groundwater contamination, depletion of water resources, devastating exploitation of soil, air pollution, and so on. All precautions must therefore be taken to prevent the potential terrible consequences of hydraulic fracturing. The flaws in the legislation have been clearly identified: lack of adaptation of the Water Framework Directive, integration of waste management into the Directive on mining waste, integration of hydraulic fracturing into the Directive on environmental impact assessment, and so on. Even though the moratorium was not approved, I am pleased that the European Parliament showed its desire to provide a framework for fracturing and to respond to these challenges. Finally, we must not forget that this debate also relates to greenhouse gases and that shale gas exploration only risks aggravating the spiralling climate change. The energy transition cannot wait any longer.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted for Ms Tzavela’s report because I think it is a very balanced report which maps out a policy for the future of shale gas in the EU, while paying due attention to the issue’s environmental aspect. Shale gas, as a new form of energy at a crucial time for the European economy, may provide a source of growth and a breathing space for European industries facing the issue of particularly high energy costs and energy dependence in the European Union.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Ms Tzavela’s report and reject the call for a moratorium. I think we should recognise the potential effects of developing the use of shale oil and gas in the European Union. Energy resources constitute a source of wealth that must be utilised and are also key for making Europe a major power in the energy field and strengthening its independence. The Member States need additional sources of energy in order to free themselves from dependence on foreign energy supply. It is therefore essential to study a variety of energy sources, including shale gas. Although this is not the only solution to our energy needs, it would bring considerable benefits. The experience of the United States could be taken as a model: there shale gas has had a notable impact, causing gas prices to fall to levels much lower than in Europe. However I believe that a cautious approach should be taken since extraction of shale gas involves possible environmental risks. We must have a clear vision of the situation, weighing up the factors for and against, and above all ensuring adequate controls.

 
  
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  Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (PPE), in writing. (PL) The report drafted by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy underlines the positive aspects and potential of shale gas. With particular reference to the shale gas revolution that has taken place in the United States, it urges the European Union to make full use of the opportunities created on global energy markets by the increasing importance of unconventional energy sources. It also stresses the positive impact shale gas has had on US energy prices and the boost to the competitiveness of the US economy. The report takes a holistic approach, also referring to the industrial and economic aspects of shale gas, the need to implement appropriate arrangements with regard to licensing and to engage with public opinion, and the exchange of best practice.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU has around 14 thousand billion cubic metres of shale gas and oil that might be technically recoverable. However, advanced methods of shale gas and oil extraction may be environmentally harmful, particularly hydraulic fracking. I voted in favour of the report, as it proposes that environmental and safety rules are observed, based on the reference framework provided by the good practices and legislation already existing in the United States and Canada (particularly in the Provinces of British Colombia and Alberta), where shale gas extraction has existed for some time. In addition to the above, I also feel it is vital for the Commission and public authorities in the Member States to check and improve the regulatory frameworks in order to ensure that this energy source can be explored, extracted and marketed in a way that is economically, socially and environmental sustainable in the long term.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) Mr President, I voted for the resolution on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil. I believe that policymakers should have more accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive scientific data at their disposal, to enable them to make informed choices. Europe has the potential for the sustainable extraction and use of shale gas and shale oil resources, without putting the availability and quality of water resources at risk. We stress that shale gas exploration and extraction should not adversely affect the environment and the local communities close to this type of operation. I voted against paragraphs 15 and 27, which state that shale gas can help the EU to meet its objective of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 80-95 % by 2050. Currently, there are no conclusive studies to support this view. We call on the Member States to put in place a robust regulatory regime and ensure the necessary administrative and monitoring resources for the sustainable development of all shale gas-related activities. We recall that, in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, each Member State has the right to decide for itself on the exploitation of oil and shale gas.

 
  
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  Kristian Vigenin (S&D), in writing. (BG) I think that the report presented by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil goes too far and, for the most part, is look for arguments in favour of shale gas and oil extraction. It is particularly interesting that a whole section has been dedicated to public opinion and how the citizens should be reassured or, should I say, quietened down. Even though the European Parliament did not allow shale gas to be considered in the fight against climate change, which marked an important victory for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the end result did not allow me to agree with my Group. Therefore, I did not vote for this report and abstained instead.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) The scarcity of hydrocarbon resources in Europe forces us to import a considerable part of the energy that we consume: our oil comes from African countries, while most of our gas comes from Russia. The EU is very dependent on the good will of these countries, which can set gas prices as they like, and in the event of a regional political conflict, such as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia from 2005 to 2009, we could find ourselves in a very delicate position. However, the discovery of shale gas reserves in Europe could change the situation. According to a US study, France’s reserves are estimated at 90 years at our current consumption gas level. Exploration of these gases could restore some degree of energy independence for the EU, reduce energy costs for businesses and homes, and lighten our trade balance. The challenge is now to find a technique to extract them cleanly. That is why I supported this report, which calls for measures to tackle this economic and environmental challenge, without any prejudice and in full knowledge of the facts. Closing the door on shale gas would be to turn off the taps to an energy source that could prove to be strategic.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE), in writing. Supply, efficiency, savings and resources of energy are all of utmost importance from the economical and political point of view. Under no circumstances, we must ever forget our citizens and their safety. Health, security and protection of the environment are equally important. The highest environmental and safety standard, as well as a stable and well defined legal framework and public information transparency are necessary. There is still some work to be done in order to provide the proper and necessary information regarding the possible risks.

 
  
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  Hermann Winkler (PPE), in writing. (DE) It should be a matter for Member States to decide whether they wish to develop shale gas or not. If they do so, however, the regulations should be stringent enough to avoid environmental damage; that is the conclusion drawn by the two reports. I welcome this message that the European Parliament is sending out today on the highly controversial issue of shale gas development. An EU-wide ban on shale gas development would send out the wrong signal. We certainly do not want to have a situation as in the US or Canada, where severe environmental degradation has obviously occurred. However, at a time when energy has become extremely expensive, it makes no sense to ignore the opportunities afforded by shale gas development. It could reduce our dependency on expensive fuel imports and would have a positive effect on our carbon emissions. If the figures from scientists are correct, there is immense potential to extract shale gas here in Europe. In North America, shale gas has already massively reduced dependency on energy imports from abroad. It is clear, however, that there are risks associated with fracking, especially for the environment. The risks associated with this new technology must be adequately investigated. No one wants contaminated groundwater or ruined landscapes. Member States should now be given the opportunity to carry out their own assessments and tests.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Estimates of shale gas resources in Europe have been made, indicating that several Member States might have reserves, in other words a potentially considerable indigenous energy resource. In order to remain competitive and reduce its high gas import needs, Europe must therefore exploit its own shale gas and oil resources. To this end, a stable regulatory framework is essential both to create the right environment for gas companies to invest in much-needed infrastructure and research and development, and to prevent market distortions. With regard to environmental protection and social impact, the best way of ensuring the meaningful and timely engagement of local communities is through mandatory environmental impact assessment, together with a high level of transparency, and public consultation on proposed shale gas projects, regardless of project duration and scale.

 
  
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  Zbigniew Ziobro (EFD), in writing. (PL) The report by Niki Tzavela, a member of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, which was adopted by Parliament today, gives the green light for the development of unconventional gas extraction in the European Union. It underlines the clear economic and social benefits the new technology will bring for Europe, following its spectacular success in the United States, delivering cheap gas and economic growth and ending the country’s dependence on imports. I need only mention the fact that, as a result of the shale gas revolution, the US has gone from an importer to an exporter of gas in the space of a few years. Its price on the US market is USD 70 per 1 000 m3, while Europe pays Russia, at the very least, more than eight times as much for a similar quantity of gas. Meanwhile, the report drafted by Bogusław Sonik, a member of the Group of the European People’s Party and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, which was adopted by a majority of 70 votes, in effect gives the amber light to this sector and does not serve Polish interests. It sends a very bad signal to industry, which, understandably, dislikes a lack of legal clarity and certainty. In spite of everything, the situation does not look promising for unconventional gas. At a time of crisis, the EU should deregulate and cut down on unnecessary legislation, as well as simplifying and facilitating new investment and economic development.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report tries to promote the exploration and extraction of unconventional shale gas and oil, taking into account the industrial and energy market aspects, in pursuit of the European Commission’s objective of making gas a substantial element in the transition of the energy system to the ‘decarbonised economy’. It argues for the establishment of the infrastructures needed by the sector, while expressing the concern that this activity should be sustainable in financial terms. These aspects not only give us cause for concern, but also exclude the fundamental environmental issues. The capture of shale gas is currently a highly controversial technique due to the environmental impact and complexity of the operation, involving deep drilling, explosions in the shale layer, and injection of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure in order to extract the gas and oil. This process poses huge environmental risks, particularly in terms of the contamination of groundwater or watercourses draining from schistose rock masses, due to the injected chemicals. The rock masses can also be left unstable, with the release of methane into the atmosphere. This is an issue on which, at the very least, there should be a moratorium. We voted against the report.

 
  
  

Report: Bogusław Sonik (A7-0283/2012), Niki Tzavela (A7-0284/2012)

 
  
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