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Postupak : 2011/0153(COD)
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Thursday, 22 November 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

8. Granting delegated powers for the adoption of certain measures relating to the common commercial policy (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. − (IT) The next item is the report (A7-0096/2012) by Jörg Leichtfried, on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending certain Regulations relating to the common commercial policy as regards the granting of delegated powers for the adoption of certain measures (COM(2011)0349 - C7-0162/2011 - 2011/0153(COD).


  Jörg Leichtfried, rapporteur. (DE) Madam President, I would like to begin my speech, at the end of this dossier, by taking this opportunity to thank everyone who helped to make this Omnibus II report a report that the Committee on International Trade could discuss and vote on with no problems, and I hope that the same will now apply to the vote in Parliament as well. My sincere thanks go to the shadow rapporteurs, the committee secretariat, and also the secretariat of our Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D Group), which always gave us outstanding support. I would particularly like to thank the member of staff responsible in my own office. These activities create a heavy workload, and I think it is important, for once, to recognise this with thanks and give credit where it is due.

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament’s rights of codecision now apply to the area of trade policy as well, and we are already witnessing the benefits of this for trade policy itself. However, it also means that various items of legislation must be amended, with the old comitology procedure being translated into a new procedure. The Omnibus I and Omnibus II reports have ensured that matters previously dealt with in the comitology procedure can now dealt with through delegated and implementing acts. Omnibus I focused on implementing acts. Omnibus II, my report, deals with delegated acts. Of course, we cooperated very closely in order to achieve a good result.

What has happened now, however? We wanted to enter into negotiations with the Council in order to bring the matter to a swift conclusion. The Council is doing nothing. The Council is not here. Its seat, as usual, is empty. The Council has taken no further decision and its position on this issue, which concerns legal technicalities, is the same as it always is on major issues. It stalls on issues where it really should be providing impetus and moving things forward. That is to say nothing of the budget, where we are experiencing incredible difficulties. However, it is a mirror image of what has happened with Omnibus as well. Let me say this, even though this is not directly related to the matter at hand: if we continue to have a situation in which national egotism and the vanity of the heads of state and government massively impede normal operations here, we will face major difficulties. There are already murmurings in some Member States about a return to a national currency or the introduction of a ‘northern euro’ or some such nonsense. That is where we are now, and I hold the Council primarily responsible. I urge the Council to reflect and adopt a serious approach to its work on all matters, and that includes this dossier as well.

As to content, the matter at hand is to decide on the delegation of decision-making powers to the Commission. In which areas should the Commission be able to adopt delegated acts, and where should the European Parliament be involved? I think that we have found a sensible middle way here. At my initiative, Parliament – firstly in committee, and I hope now in plenary – has agreed to limit in time the conferral of powers on the Commission. We are proposing to limit the delegation of power for a period of five years. I believe this is a sensible approach, as this five-year period enables us to exercise better control of the Commission’s activities. In other respects too, we have sought to achieve the right balance, especially as regards the powers of Parliament and the areas where, due to its large number of experts and its technical capacities, the Commission should make decisions, and I think we have found the right way forward here.

I hope that this legislation will be supported by a large majority here in plenary so that we can send out a clear signal that Parliament as a whole is united in its backing for this measure.


  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. Madam President, let me start by excusing Commissioner De Gucht, who is at this moment negotiating with his Canadian counterparts on the Free Trade Agreement with Canada.

The Commission is very grateful to Mr Leichtfried, the rapporteur, to Chairman Moreira, and to the other honourable Members who worked on this report, and for the overall support for the Commission’s proposal. The European Parliament has proposed many amendments, most of which we can accept. In particular, the Commission can accept the change to the period of time of the delegation, from unlimited to a five-year period with tacit renewal.

However, certain amendments are not acceptable to us. Some of them deviate from the Common Understanding on delegated acts that the three institutions have committed themselves to respecting. This concerns, for example, amendments which impose specific obligations on the Commission in the preparation of delegated acts. Other amendments prolong the period for objection to a delegated act. We cannot accept this, unless the extension of such a period is justified by the specificities of the regulation concerned.

As for those amendments on which we have different positions, the Commission is confident that we will be able to have constructive discussions in the trialogue, with a view to finding an acceptable solution.

Let me conclude by registering the Commission’s appreciation of the work done on this issue. We look forward to working with Parliament to bring it to a conclusion by reaching an agreement in the trialogue.


  George Sabin Cutaş, of behalf of the S&D Group. (RO) Madam President, I welcome the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, which aims to modify 10 regulations relating to the common commercial policy to bring them into line with the Treaty of Lisbon. I wish to congratulate my colleague Jörg Leichtfried for his work on this technical report, which is essential for good interinstitutional procedures.

It is well known that in the EU’s interinstitutional relations, the European Parliament and the Council are responsible for adopting legislation. Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon is the first to introduce delegated acts, through Article 290, which states that the European Parliament and the Council may delegate to the Commission the power to adopt non-legislative acts and give the Commission certain competences that would ensure a more efficient decision-making process.

On the other hand, the two co-legislators retain the right to revoke this delegation at any time and express their objections within a certain period of time. I share the rapporteur’s opinion that Parliament’s experts should participate in the Commission’s own expert meetings to prepare and implement the delegated acts under the common commercial policy regulations.

I also agree with limiting the delegation powers of the Commission to a maximum of five years. This will enable the European Parliament to monitor more closely the decisions of the European executive.


  Matteo Salvini, on behalf of the EFD Group. (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, procedure is one thing: we delegate choices regarding trade policy to the Commission, and that is only right. However, the substance of the matter is something else. What we, the group of the Northern League, representing the regions of Northern Italy, are worried about are the decisions on trade, the progressive reduction of duties, the lack of any industrial policy, and concession of advantages to multinationals.

In other words, it is acceptable that Parliament should delegate decisions to the Commission at a technical level, but it is not a good thing that we are slaves and victims of the outdated economic and industrial policy of the World Trade Organisation, which favours the large foreign powers, making no effort to defend our manufacturers. I am not sure if you are aware of the number of small and medium-sized enterprises that are closing in Lombardy and Veneto due to trade agreements that offer no protection to our products.

It would be a mistake to believe that research and innovation alone will take us very far. There is a real risk that we will become like the countries of Eastern or Northern Europe, the United States or Asia, where all of the shopping malls now belong to the large multinationals. Therefore, as Parliament, we should delegate the power to adopt these acts regarding trade policy to the Commission, in the hope, however, that the Commission will revise, modernise and defend a manufacturing and trade system that will otherwise disappear.

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


  Jörg Leichtfried (S&D), Blue-card question. (DE) Madam President, perhaps I have misunderstood. Is the Member suggesting that the European Union should withdraw from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), or is it his view that we should revert to a situation in which the individual Member States conduct the WTO negotiations and that this would be preferable? I am a member of the House’s WTO working group and I can assure you that by presenting a united front, the European Union is a much stronger force in WTO negotiations than the sum of its parts, and we achieve much more by acting together. Moreover, nothing that is negotiated in the WTO should be decided by means of a delegated act. Such matters are decided by the European Parliament and that is a good thing.


  Matteo Salvini (EFD), Blue-card answer. (IT) With all due respect for your work and that of others, I invite you to come and see for yourself the extent to which agreements with the World Trade Organisation have a positive or negative effect on enterprises in Northern Italy.

In half an hour we will be speaking about the Chinese photovoltaic industry. I think that Europe, as it is structured today, counts for little or nothing. I do not know whether the individual states would count for more. What I do know is that the trade policy pursued in this regard by the European Commission is a complete failure for our enterprises. A completely free market is of no use to anyone.


  Helmut Scholz, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I too would like to start by congratulating the rapporteur, Jörg Leichtfried. In my view, he has succeeded in devising a way forward which all the groups can support. I know from experience that the negotiations that lie ahead will not be easy, especially as a number of Member States have what I can only describe as an allergic reaction to the issue of delegated acts.

Despite the lip service paid in fine speeches to the importance of the European Parliament and how it should be granted more powers, these same government representatives are refusing to recognise Parliament’s equal role to the Council, as an legislator with equal rights, when it comes to amending the legislative procedure. As a legislator, however, we are prepared to delegate powers to the Commission in specific cases, subject to a limit in time, while retaining a right of veto.

The Council is no longer the only institution to sit at the table with the Commission. I therefore urge the Council to stop dragging its feet. Due to this issue, we have already lost far too much time on a number of important dossiers.


  Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, on behalf of the PPE Group. (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, Omnibus II – alongside Omnibus I, for which I am the rapporteur – is the second procedure intended to bring European commercial legislation into line with the new provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon. Delegated and implementing acts are now to be incorporated into commercial law as well.

As regards delegated acts, one issue of general importance to me is to ensure that Parliament can fully exercise its rights in this respect. However, calling for staff from the parliamentary administration to participate in the Commission’s preparatory meetings sends out the wrong signal. What is needed is direct political control by Members of this House.

The Commission must ensure that Members are informed about any planned delegated act at an early stage. I hope that the deliberations in the Council will be concluded soon so that we can commence compromise negotiations on Omnibus II swiftly.

On a broader point, my view – and this issue has been discussed frequently with the rapporteur for Omnibus II – is that Omnibus I and II are a package and should be negotiated, as far as possible, in parallel. I would therefore like to express my particular thanks to Mr Leichtfried, firstly because we have been able to table his report here in plenary – and that was also discussed between us, because I think a vote in plenary puts us in a better position – and secondly, because from now on, we will indeed be able to work together in parallel.

I should like to make one final comment. I completely agree with the view of our Social Democratic colleagues as regards the role of the European Union and the European Parliament in the WTO Parliamentary Assembly. Twenty-seven countries acting together are stronger than 27 individual voices. The dual role – national and European level – comes into play very effectively in the WTO, in my view, and we should use this as a model for our representation in other international bodies as well.


  Gianluca Susta (S&D). (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, let me first thank Mr Leichtfried for this document. It is important because it provides better definition of the interinstitutional relations between Parliament and the Commission on an extremely sensitive question: Parliament’s powers have been extended in the area of trade, which was not part its competences under the ordinary legislative procedure. There is therefore a fundamental problem, not with the Regulations we are amending today, which are being adapted to a new regime, but in terms of the relations between the European Parliament and the Commission.

In this regard, although I welcome Mr Leichtfried’s report, I am not at all pleased with the views expressed by the Commissioner in this House. The relationship between Parliament and the Commission is still overly technical. There is an evident and continuous effort by the Commission and the Council to reduce relations with the European Parliament to their pre-Lisbon level and we cannot allow this to happen.

Limiting the powers of the Commission is an important step that should result in more parliamentary control and make the Commission act in a more focused manner. Only in this way can we respond to the problems raised by Mr Salvini: I completely agree that the EU’s exclusive competence in the area of trade policy should be maintained, and that the EU’s power should be increased over that of the individual Member States. However, we must also be stronger within the World Trade Organisation, in the knowledge that unless we pay more attention to the real economy, we will never emerge from the current crisis.


  Algirdas Šemeta, Member of the Commission. Madam President, on behalf of the Commission, I would like once again to thank Parliament for its work on this file. I would recall that a number of the amendments which are a matter of concern to the Commission relate to matters which are covered by the framework agreement between the Commission and the Parliament. The Commission is, of course, fully committed to implementing the 2010 revised framework agreement between our institutions and believes that this agreement offers the best place to address Parliament’s concerns, rather than this particular piece of legislation that we have discussed today.

In any event, I took careful note of your remarks and I will pass them on to Commissioner De Gucht. The Commission looks forward to engaging in discussions with you in the trialogue, with a view to finding an agreement on this proposal. I can assure you that it is a priority for the Commission.




  Jörg Leichtfried, rapporteur. (DE) Mr President, trade policy shows one thing very clearly. We may not agree with some of the decisions taken at the WTO level, and I myself take the view that there are many things that should be done differently, but one thing is very clear. Our combined strength is much greater than that of the individual Member States. Anyone who fails to grasp this point and lets their country go its own way, if it wishes to do so, will ultimately lead their country into the abyss. The European Union’s trade policy also shows that a policy field can function if everyone adopts a unified and unanimous approach, unlike the situation in other policy areas that are dominated by the Council, which is still not here and is still not listening. I think that is obvious.

I have a message for the Commission. It is all well and good for you to say that you accept this but you do not accept that. The European Parliament is the legislator. If we agree this today, then that is what we have agreed and this constitutes a legislative act. However, I am also convinced that in the negotiations in the trialogue – should the Council condescend to reach a decision on that – we will achieve a good outcome which moves us in the right direction. Once again, I would like to thank everyone for the good cooperation.


  President. − The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00.

Posljednje ažuriranje: 1. ožujka 2013.Pravna napomena