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B7-0329/2013

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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 210kWORD 112k
28.6.2013
PE515.871v01-00
 
B7-0329/2013

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 35(3) of the Rules of Procedure and the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission


on the European Parliament’s priorities for the Commission Work Programme for 2014 (2013/2679(RSP))


Malcolm Harbour on behalf of the ECR Group

European Parliament resolution on the European Parliament’s priorities for the Commission Work Programme for 2014 (2013/2679(RSP))  
B7‑0329/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the forthcoming Commission Communication on the Commission Work Programme for 2014,

–   having regard to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission(1), in particular Annex IV thereto,

–   having regard to the Europe 2020 Strategy,

–   having regard to Rule 35(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Europe is in a global race in which only competitive economies will be able to create jobs and raise the living standards of their citizens;

B.  whereas the European Union is facing a profound competitiveness crisis in an increasingly challenging global economy;

C. whereas most other regions of the world are growing more quickly, with increasing levels of productivity and innovation;

D. whereas the euro area public debt crisis has greatly damaged the European economy and has caused considerable hardship for millions;

PART 1: KEY PRIORITIES FOR THE 2014 WORK PROGRAMME MISSION GROWTH

1.  Stresses that work must continue on resolving the immediate euro area crisis by re‑establishing sound public finances, creating a robust banking system and stimulating sustainable economic growth;

2.  Emphasises that whilst well-targeted public investment is necessary, for example to improve education standards and develop infrastructure, long-term growth is not achieved by increasing public expenditure – which would necessitate increasing the tax burden on already hard-pressed individuals and businesses – or by borrowing even more money which will have to be repaid by future generations;

3.  Supports a growth strategy whose objective would be to ensure that the right policy framework is in place to allow business and entrepreneurs to thrive by creating employment, generating wealth and raising living standards; notes that the Europe 2020 strategy has set out a path for the future, but regrets the fact that the political will has been lacking to give it sufficient momentum to ensure its full implementation;

4.  Recalls that European public spending cannot be exempt from the considerable efforts made by the Member States to bring their public spending under control, and insists that the Union budget must not add an extra fiscal burden on taxpayers and should be clearly directed at helping Member States tackle, collectively and in a concerted fashion, the present structural challenges, in particular loss of competitiveness and consequent rising unemployment;

5.  Continues to insist upon the principle of European added value, which should be the cornerstone of all expenditure, which must also be guided by the principles of efficiency, effectiveness and value for money, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity as defined by Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and anchored in Protocol 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union;

6.  Calls on the Commission to use its work programme for 2014:

-    to set out a detailed growth agenda for the European Union which focuses on establishing a policy framework that enables business and entrepreneurs to develop the industries and services that will deliver long-term jobs and prosperity;

-    to pursue action to modernise the design and implementation of the budget to allow the European Union to deliver added value at a reasonable cost;

-    to take steps to modernise internal policies to meet the demands of the new century, not the last, and to respect the principle of subsidiarity;

7.  Calls for action to reinvigorate the European economy by:

-    reducing the burden of EU regulation,

-    bringing the single market to the next stage of development, extending it fully to the services sector,

-    creating an efficient digital single market,

-    establishing an efficient and effective internal market in energy, and making progress towards a Single European Transport Area,

-    establishing the European Research Area,

-    delivering open global markets,

-    promoting well-functioning labour markets, and

-    building a robust, dynamic and competitive financial services sector;

PART 2: SPECIFIC PROPOSALS FOR THE WORK PROGRAMME

Delivering value for money and implementation

8.  Is keenly aware that all expenditure is taking place in a very difficult economic context, in which Member States are engaging in considerable efforts to make fiscal adjustments to their national budgets, as requested by the European Union, with a view to ensuring the stability of public finances, the banking sector and the single currency;

9.  Welcomes the deal reached by the Heads of State and Government on 7-8 February which not only reflects the difficult economic and fiscal conditions in the Member States but also seeks to concentrate spending more on those Member States which need it most;

10. Notes that 2014 should be the first budgetary year of a new multiannual financial framework (MFF) to be agreed by Parliament and the Council; requests that the Commission work hard to ensure that stronger disciplines and processes are introduced which would allow for better and more efficient spending, including the establishment of suitable supervisory mechanisms to ensure the timely and effective uptake of funds as foreseen by its estimates; notes that the current problems relating to a shortfall in payments stem in part from a lack of uptake of funds during the first few years of the current MFF; stresses that this situation must be avoided in future;

11. Stresses that the EU budget must be an investment budget focused on delivering clear objectives; emphasises that the European budget must focus clearly on areas of spending which are known to be of clear and demonstrable added value, with all instruments being spent as effectively as possible;

12. Reiterates its call for the Commission to do all it can to pursue the introduction of standardised national management declarations, signed at the appropriate political level, covering EU funds under shared management; also reiterates its call for systematic, regular and independent evaluations, to ensure that all spending is achieving the desired outcomes in a cost-effective manner; reiterates its call for the next Commission to include a Commissioner for Budgetary Control;

13. Notes the growing concern surrounding the way in which the Commission has implemented delegated acts since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty; considers that Parliament must be given adequate opportunities to be consulted during the drawing-up of secondary legislation, both before and after formal submission by the Commission;

Smarter and less burdensome regulation

14. Stresses the crucial importance of cutting the red tape which hampers goods and services, especially for small enterprises;

15. Requests that the Commission enforce the agreement between the three institutions to make good on their better lawmaking commitments, including Member States, which should all be encouraged by the Commission to carry out their own SME and single market tests; in this regard, notes that the Council should set up its own impact assessment unit to produce impact assessments on its own amendments; stresses the importance of fitness checks in the Better Regulation agenda;

16. Reiterates the need for single market tests to be carried out consistently across all departments in the Commission before proposals are presented in order to ensure that legislation will not hamper the functioning of the single market;

17. Proposes that the Commission restate its targets for administrative simplification and strengthen its commitment to assessing whether action at EU level has real added value before work on draft proposals begins;

18. Calls for the burden-reduction programme to continue in 2014 with a more ambitious and expanded scope and the introduction of regulatory burden offsetting;

19. Calls on the Commission to promote the interests of SMEs and microenterprises by ensuring easier access to Europe’s single market; welcomes the steps already taken by the Commission to reduce regulatory burdens on SMEs and micro-enterprises arising from EU legislation, such as exemptions for SMEs from certain legislative provisions wherever possible and appropriate;

20. Urges the Commission to ensure that it continues to improve its regulatory approach to SMEs and micro-enterprises by focusing on specific legislation tailored to SMEs’ needs and by pressing ahead with the introduction of targeted SME measures, including those resulting from the consultation on the ‘Top 10 most burdensome legislative acts for SMEs’(2) , for example the recent decision to lower the fees SMEs pay when registering chemicals under REACH;

21. Notes the fine balance between fiscal responsibility and the need for growth; believes, in the context of ongoing debate, that the two are not mutually exclusive, and stresses that lowering the regulatory burdens and enhancing the growth potential of SMEs are the most fruitful means of restoring confidence to the economy; in particular, calls for improvements to be made as regards the means via which SMEs are enabled to grow through access to the capital markets;

Single market for citizens, consumers and enterprises

22. Takes the view that the single market is one of the European Union’s top priorities, since it is the most important vehicle for growth and job creation;

23. Considers that protectionism and non-enforcement of competition rules would only deepen and prolong the crisis; stresses that competition policy based on the principles of open markets and a level playing field in all sectors is an essential tool to enable the EU to have a dynamic, efficient and innovative internal market and to be competitive on the global stage; expresses concern at the exemption of too many services from the scrutiny of competition authorities;

24. Calls on the Commission’s support and leadership in reinforcing the role of the single market regarding the European Semester and in implementing Parliament’s recommendations to incorporate into the European Semester a review examining the progress made towards completion of the single market, including quantitative targets;

25. Reiterates that it is essential to enforce the Services Directive; calls on the Commission to assist Member States in promoting access to the single market for services; asks the Commission to review restrictive practices in place, such as the ‘economic needs test’;

26. Calls for pressure to be brought to bear so as to make the single market for goods work more effectively; reiterates that the principle of mutual recognition is fundamental; calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to ensure that Member States respect this principle, in particular regarding construction products; reaffirms its strong support for improved cooperation between Member States on effective market surveillance to ensure a fair and open market and safe products;

27. Highlights the importance of increased momentum to complete agreements on existing essential Single Market Act proposals, including mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and public procurement and concessions; underlines the crucial potential of innovative public procurement in generating growth and jobs;

28. Calls on the Commission to assist Member States with the establishment of Single Market Centres and enhanced Points of Single Contact;

29. Stresses the importance of developing better indicators of single market performance based on real experiences and expectations of businesses and consumers to enhance functionality and their knowledge of the rights that they can exploit;

30. Calls on the Commission to assist Member States with key problems they have identified regarding single-market legislation, including improving transposition and compliance deficits and obtaining fast and efficient judicial redress;

31. Notes that single-market tools, including SOLVIT, should work better in terms of the time taken to resolve queries; stresses the importance of improved targets and key performance indicators in this regard; welcomes the Commission’s initiative to revise SOLVIT’s legal framework;

32. Given that consumer trust and confidence are the foundation of a well-functioning single market, asks the Commission actively to pursue, with the Member States, the speedy implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive and the Online Dispute Resolution Regulation, and to review the operation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive;

33. Calls for an early agreement on the Market Surveillance and Consumer Product Safety directives, given their importance in creating a well-functioning single market for goods;

34. Calls on the Commission, before presenting its proposals, to make full use of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard and other forms of research which highlight the key concerns of consumers and often show significant price discrepancies that underline market inefficiencies;

35. Endorses proposals made within Parliament concerning Common European Sales Law for a more practical model contracts approach, which would be based on existing consumer legislation, such as the Consumer Rights Directive and existing minimum harmonisation directives, which would be a much more logical, practical and effective solution for consumers and businesses;

36. Supports the General Block Exemption Regulation for state aid with the objective of reducing administrative burdens while being compatible with the single market;

37. Emphasises the fundamental role of intellectual property rights in generating innovation, growth and jobs; calls for simplification of multi-territorial licensing in order to protect copyright and enhance consumer choice;

38. Believes that the barriers affecting the competitiveness of European industry require both broad and targeted measures to account for the needs of specific sectors; therefore welcomes sector-specific strategies within DG Enterprise, including those relating to the steel sector and electronics, and the more general communication entitled ‘A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’ (COM(2012)0582); looks forward to the successful adoption and implementation of the Programme for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises (COSME), particularly with regard to the financial instruments relating to debt and equity;

Digital economy

39. Requests that the Commission promote a further single-market initiative focusing on completion of the digital single market and, in particular, initiatives to generate more consumer trust, including measures to facilitate online payments and improve digital delivery and infrastructure;

40. Highlights the role of efficient data protection mechanisms in ensuring confidence in the single market; stresses the importance of creating an operable, technology-neutral, common-sense approach to the Data Protection Regulation, in order to ensure that the EU attracts investment, enables economic growth and recovery, and provides opportunities for consumers and businesses, whilst also protecting citizens in a proportionate and accessible way;

41. Expresses concern at unduly tight regulation of internet and mobile payment markets at this stage, because such payment methods are still in the process of development; considers that any regulatory initiative in this field risks being characterised by an undue emphasis on existing payment instruments and may thus deter innovation and distort the market before it has developed;

42. Considers cyber-security to be a fundamental component of securing our long-term prosperity and welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a directive on network and information security (COM(2013)0027); believes that the internal market should be a safe place to do business and that the right incentives should be in place for the private sector to share information and best practices; considers, however, that the legislation should not undermine the progress already achieved in Member States and that disproportionate burdens should not be placed on businesses when they have few tangible benefits;

Global open markets

43. Welcomes the adoption by the Commission on 12 March 2013 of the draft mandate for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with the United States, and urges the Council to approve it without delay so that formal negotiations on a comprehensive agreement that addresses the full range of barriers to EU goods and services can begin without delay; points out that the Commission has an obligation to assertively pursue the EU’s offensive interests during the negotiations with a view to concluding the deal within an ambitious yet realistic timeframe;

44. Calls on the EU to join forces in the WTO with other developing countries to ensure application and enforcement of multilateral trade rules and standards by all its members in full compliance with their accession commitments, and to promote a stronger parliamentary dimension in multilateral negotiations to ensure better democratic accountability; stresses in this regard the need to use the existing WTO dispute settlement system appropriately, in order to ensure that the EU’s interests are properly safeguarded;

45. Asks the Commission to dedicate sufficient resources to the promotion of open and fair trade through ongoing bilateral negotiations with key strategic trading partners, such as Canada, India and the ASEAN countries, in parallel with plurilateral and multilateral negotiations within the WTO framework, in order to deliver tangible economic and social benefits through trade and investment to EU citizens and enterprises, including small and medium-sized enterprises, as part of an efficient and coherent trade diplomacy on behalf of the EU as a whole;

46. Welcomes in particular the plurilateral efforts of several WTO members, including the EU and its Member States, as regards an agreement on services and the review of the Information Technology Agreement; maintains that plurilateral agreements should allow for any of the WTO members to participate in order ultimately to ensure a multilateral level playing field;

47. Calls on the Commission to propose negotiating mandates in 2013 for an investment agreement with China, which must include the issue of market access; urges the Commission to actively develop the EU’s investment policy with a view to negotiating robust investment protection clauses, including state-to-state or investor-to-state dispute settlement provisions with strategic trade partners such as the BRICS countries, to ensure business-friendly market access conditions for EU investors abroad and foreign investors in the EU;

48. Points out that there is a need to broaden existing trade and economic relations between the EU and the countries of the Eastern Partnership and the Southern Mediterranean in order to foster mutual economic development and regional stability, and thereby ensure progress towards democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law; welcomes, in this regard, the launch of talks with the Kingdom of Morocco;

49. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively engage in the WTO, the G8, the G20 and any other relevant multilateral forums in the global fight against protectionism and unfair trade practices such as counterfeiting;

Employment and regional policy

50. Strongly opposes any EU legislative initiative on information and consultation of workers, and anticipation and management of restructuring, which risk burdening businesses with unreasonable requirements and introducing more rigidity into labour markets in a time of crisis without addressing the fundamental priority of any worker facing redundancy, which is to find another job; believes that adapting to change requires an integrated approach covering multiple policy areas;

51. Calls on the Commission, within the framework of fitness checks, to identify areas in which there are excessive burdens, inconsistencies and obsolete or ineffective measures – particularly within the area of employment legislation – that hinder opportunities for future growth and job creation;

52. Stresses that, in view of the social partners’ failure to reach any agreement on the Working Time Directive, in particular on the issue of on-call time and the opt-out, the Working Time Directive is unworkable in its current from; calls for the Commission to seek pragmatic solution that will give businesses and workers more flexibility, and restore legal certainty and transparency;

53. In the context of the new 2014-2020 programming period for EU cohesion policy, believes that the European Social Fund must be used to contribute to tackling poverty by helping disadvantaged people enter the labour market;

54. Notes the anticipated adoption of partnership contracts between the Commission, Member States and the relevant regional and local authorities, which should support the Europe 2020 Strategy’s aim of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, whilst concentrating on building economic capacity in the EU’s poorest regions;

55. Is concerned about the extent of the binding nature of these proposed contracts and stresses the need to give the relevant national, regional and local authorities maximum flexibility in drawing up the partnership agreement, thereby allowing Member States to tailor cohesion policy tools to their specific goals and to regions and territories with particular needs and problems;

56. Believes that, whilst accepting the need for a bilateral partnership agreement between the Commission and the Member States in order to provide an overarching framework, any future marginal changes to the orientation of these partnership agreements should not be subject to adoption by the Commission, but rather to a less lengthy and more flexible adoption process;

57. Emphasises that local and regional authorities, particularly elected representatives, should be fully involved in the preparation of the partnership agreements and programming, as well as in all phases of cohesion policy implementation;

58. Opposes the extension of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to cover the period between 2014 and 2020; notes that the functioning of the fund has proved to be highly problematic, bureaucratic and inefficient at returning people to sustainable employment; stresses that the EGF offers little value for money, does not add sufficient value to Member State policies, is a disincentive to Member States’ efforts towards reform, and seeks to fix long-term structural problems with short-term solutions; raises concerns regarding the use of the EGF to subsidise large companies who relocate within the EU;

European Research Area

59. Calls for a timely agreement on Horizon 2020 to enable a seamless transition from FP7 and to ensure the continuity of the EU’s core research and innovation policy, which has suffered in past programmes as a result of last-minute agreements being concluded between the Council and Parliament;

60. Sees space as a market with huge growth potential, and takes the view that advantage should continually be taken not only of niche markets but also of specific opportunities that enable the sector to grow further and faster; believes that continued investment in research and innovation will provide a platform for the EU to take a lead on global issues such as food and energy security, as well as facilitating continued growth in the telecommunications sector;

61. Underlines, in this context, the importance of research and innovation in accelerating the transition towards a competitive, knowledge-based economy; considers that the Commission should seek wherever possible to maintain a greater concentration of budget resources in areas of science, research and innovation with a focus of funds on areas where the EU could hold a significant future long-term advantage; notes in this regard the conclusions of the Sapir Report, which clearly stressed the need for Europe to transform itself into an innovation-based economy if current sluggish growth rates are to be overcome;

62. Supports the objectives of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and stresses the importance of learning the lessons from the first three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs); is concerned over the ambitiously increased budget for the EIT under the forthcoming multiannual financial frameworks and believes that a gradual roll-out will enable full evaluations to first ensure that the KICs are delivering tangible results, such as linking research and innovation bases, and stimulating business-university collaboration;

Financial services

63. Notes that the financial crisis has now been ongoing for over five years, yet the European Union has been the last significant economic region to emerge from it; therefore urges the Commission to focus on measures that enhance the European Union’s competitiveness and to refrain from policies which risk encouraging wealth-creating activity to locate in other jurisdictions;

64. Notes the risk of regulatory arbitrage in legislating the financial services industry, and calls for the prioritisation of faithfully applying those measures which have been agreed at a global level over those which are being pursued at the discretion of the Commission;

65. Notes that financial regulation has a serious and unintended effect on business end-users, pension funds and other elements of the real economy; calls for increased vigilance to ensure that financial regulation is targeted in such a way as to minimise the cost consequences on those who rely on the financial services industry to enable their businesses to run efficiently and competitively;

66. Recognises the need to improve the functioning of the EMU, especially as regards enhancing democratic accountability and breaking the link between sovereigns and banks, and thus preventing European taxpayers from having to pay for the consequences of future crises in the financial sector; calls for the swift implementation of higher-quality supervision of all credit institutions in all EU Member States and recognises the contribution that the Single Supervisory Mechanism can make to achieving this aim; also stresses the need for a robust single rulebook for all credit institutions in the EU under the authority of the European Banking Authority;

67. Notes the decision of some EU Member States to jointly implement a financial transaction tax under enhanced cooperation; stresses, however, that the implementation of any such initiative must neither undermine the tax sovereignty of the other EU Member States as regards direct taxation nor disrupt their own tax revenue;

68. Notes the progress made to improve market efficiency; stresses the importance of market access and competition to improve investor service and customer choice; notes the progress made in the post-trade area and considers the timely completion of this work to be of the utmost importance in order to facilitate the efficient cross-border settlement of securities;

69. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively promote the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and use of tax havens, drawing on the expertise of the OECD in fostering good tax governance in all relevant international forums;

70. Urges the Commission and the Member States to simplify access to, and provide in a reader-friendly manner, the information that citizens and businesses need to properly file their tax returns, since raising awareness about respective tax obligations will help improve tax collection, thus generating needed and legitimate revenue for the budgets of all EU Member States;

71. Notes that the situation in Cyprus in March 2013 has highlighted the need for a framework for recovery and resolution of banks which ensures that no bank can be deemed to be too big to fail, and which, in the event of a failure of a bank, makes sure that the institution can be dismantled in an orderly manner without producing adverse effects for the financial system as a whole;

72. Considers that the amount of financial services legislation passed in recent years is unprecedented, and may in places risk undermining the effectiveness of the single market; takes note of the decision of its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs to study the cumulative effect and coherence of financial services legislation passed in recent years, and calls for a period of reflection and consolidation to enable the EU to maintain those elements which work best and to modify those which are least effective;

Energy

73. In the context of completing the single market for energy, highlights the need to provide consumers with transparent and comparable energy prices;

74. In light of recently proposed strategies for energy and climate strategies for 2030 and 2050, regrets that the Commission does not take a more positive stance on the significant contribution nuclear energy can make to helping us achieve our long-term low-carbon energy goals; calls on the Commission to work towards improved public acceptance of nuclear energy;

75. Urges the Commission to carefully consider the results of its consultation on unconventional fossil fuels when deciding whether there is a need for separate legislation in this area, given that the current acquis is, if implemented correctly, widely considered to ensure that health, climate and environmental safeguards are in place and that there is maximum legal clarity for both citizens and operators, whilst also ensuring that the potential economic and energy security benefits can be reaped;

76. Is concerned that the attainment of EU energy efficiency targets will become increasingly difficult when Member States are severely restricted and subject to infringement proceedings by the Commission, bearing in mind that developing and providing VAT incentives for energy savings products can contribute to ambitious EU efficiency targets;

Transport

77. Emphasises the need to complete a free, liberalised single market for all modes of transport, including the further liberalisation of the road haulage market, so that the free movement of goods and services is guaranteed with clear and easily enforceable rules for free and fair competition and reduced administrative burdens on SMEs; urges the Commission to draw up a report on the state of the EU road transport market by the end of 2013 and to complete all necessary analyses before coming up with legislative proposals;

78. Emphasises once again that accelerating the implementation of the Single European Sky should be taken forward as one of the key priorities, since development of the new‑generation European air traffic management system (SESAR) and the Clean Sky initiative is essential in order to ensure considerable economic and environmental savings through greater air transport efficiency and to avoid increased congestion with ever heavier air traffic flows and outdated technologies; expresses its concern at the delays in the creation of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) across Europe and stresses the need for political action to press ahead with FABs; calls for increased use of regional airports to be encouraged, along with the creation of additional airport capacity, such as runways, in order for the EU to remain globally competitive;

79. Notes a need to move forward with the creation of integrated pan-European online multimodal scheduling, and electronic ticketing, booking and payment systems in order to promote multi-modality; urges the Commission to come forward with proposals that would encourage industry to develop multi-modal through-ticketing systems between the long-distance coach, rail and air sectors;

Environment policy

80. Welcomes steps already taken by the Commission towards a greater focus on the implementation of existing environmental and climate policies, instead of adding to the legislative burden and administrative costs;

81. Welcomes the Commission’s proposals to review and simplify waste policy and legislation; stresses that any revisions of the Waste Framework and Landfill Directives should focus on targets which are practicable and can be realistically achieved by Member States;

82. Emphasises concern regarding Commission proposals for the EU to raise its ambition and unilaterally set a 2020 carbon emissions reduction target greater than 20 %; takes the view that an emissions reduction strategy should reflect any agreements reached at global level through the UNFCCC, and that proposed measures should be proportionate, consider the consequences of carbon leakage and take full account of the potentially harmful impacts on energy costs and on industry;

83. Takes the view that any future legislative activities regarding emissions from aviation should take due account of, and fully reflect, any agreements reached at international level through the ICAO, and respect the principles of proportionality and territoriality;

84. Notes that although the Commission’s 2011 Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance is a positive step forward, the Commission should develop measures aimed at reducing the use of third- and fourth-generation CIAs (Critically Important Antimicrobials for human medicine); stresses that any such proposal must be founded on clear, evidence-based guidelines on the prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine;

85. Notes the Commission’s intention to bring forward legislation on the use of animal cloning techniques for food production; urges the Commission, in drawing up the proposal, to consider recent concerns over labelling and the consistent application of legislation related to the EU food chain, while applying the latest scientific and technological developments in this field and ensuring that these measures do not place excessive costs on EU producers and consumers;

86. Takes the view that the proposed EU strategy on endocrine disruptors should focus on actions with significant European added value; further to the conclusions of the Joint Research Centre and the European Food Safety Authority, urges the Commission to ensure that the scientific identification of endocrine disrupting substances should be based on the demonstration of both endocrine activity and an adverse effect caused by it and that any proposed measures should be proportionate, evidence-based, provide better clarification and consistency of approach in risk management procedures, and encourage wider stakeholder engagement;

Agriculture and fisheries

87. Reiterates that the proposals currently being negotiated on the future of the common agricultural policy do not address the main challenges that European agriculture faces and will inhibit the development of a competitive and efficient farm sector, which is vital if the European Union is to properly address the challenge of food security against a background of rising global population and increasing demand for food; notes further that the Commission has still failed to propose a framework which will allow for a fair distribution of direct payments across all EU Member States;

88. Recognises that the negotiations on, and subsequent implementation of, the CAP reform will be the main focus of activities in 2014; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure effective implementation of the final agreements of the CAP reform that minimise the burden on farmers and on the administrative bodies of the Member States whilst ensuring that the new rules are effectively, rigorously and transparently implemented;

89. Notes that the current CAP expires in 2013 and the new CAP will not be in place before 1 January 2014; calls, therefore, for timely proposals from the Commission to ensure the continuity of rural development programmes, in particular, throughout 2014;

90. Calls on the Commission to work closely with Member States on implementing key objectives of the reformed common fisheries policy (CFP), especially with regard to supporting small-scale fisheries, strengthening the regional aspect of the CFP, implementing the discard ban, meeting maximum sustainable yield targets and collecting all data necessary for better management of European fisheries resources;

91. Is concerned about the stalemate regarding implementation of multiannual management plans for certain European fish species; calls on the Commission to play a more active role in helping to secure an agreement between the Council and Parliament on this issue;

An Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice

92. Supports the Commission in its work on victims’ rights, and asks the Commission to assist Member States in ensuring full and proper implementation by all Member States of the directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime by 16 November 2015;

93. Supports the Commission in its work on children’s rights and welfare and urges the Commission to continue working in collaboration with Member States to improve children’s quality of life and safety within the European Union, particularly their online safety;

94. Recognises the work that has been done to date by Myria Vassiliadou, the EU anti-trafficking coordinator; is concerned, however, that that role is not proving to be effective in that the numbers of people who are trafficked throughout the European Union are increasing rather than decreasing; urges the Commission to make optimum use of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 in tackling the problem of human trafficking; calls on the Commission to intensify its action to combat the trafficking of human beings;

95. Whilst intergovernmental cooperation and the principle of mutual recognition in the area of justice can be beneficial, believes that in order to create an effective European Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice, the European Union must devise a system which is nuanced and considerate of each Member State’s individual legal and political personality, and that tools must therefore be created only where needed; insists that this must not lead to excessive interference in areas such as judicial training, criminal penalty setting, legal aid provision and compensation for victims of crime; urges the Commission to re-examine the balance between intergovernmental cooperation and state sovereignty in this area;

96. Recognises that the European Union can play a strong and vital role in the fight against terrorism and organised crime; stresses that the Commission must continue working on and pursuing solutions which are essential to the security of European citizens and to the investigation and prosecution of cross-border crime, and that, in so doing, the rights, data and freedoms of EU citizens are fully respected;

97. Insists that all JHA agencies must be cost-effective, efficient and accountable to the European Parliament, the Commission and national governments, and create added value for creating a safe and secure Europe;

98. Notes that in order to fight crime and corruption and control the EU’s external borders, the rule of law and fundamental rights must be upheld, ensuring the right balance between security and mobility;

99. Stresses that in creating a Europe which is safe and secure, we must ensure that the data and rights of citizens are protected, but also that the right to privacy is balanced with the right to security;

100. Stresses the importance of tackling organised crime, money laundering, and fraud and corruption against the EU’s financial interests at cross-border level, and encourages the EU to focus on the facilitation of cross-border cooperation and information-sharing in order to tackle this issue; notes that in order to achieve this, mutual trust needs to be present in the judicial and policing systems of all Member States;

101.    Supports the efforts by the Commission to improve Schengen governance; is, however, of the opinion that the issue of border control is closely linked to maintaining law and order and national security, matters which according to Article 4 TEU remain the sole responsibility of each Member State; insists therefore that the ultimate decision on whether or not border controls take place at internal EU borders remains with the Member States; asks the Commission to take this principle into account when preparing draft legislation on Schengen governance;

102.    Understands the need for effective coordination at Union level of EU visa matters; urges the Commission, however, to discuss and negotiate matters relating to visa policy, in particular requests for reciprocity, in an open and transparent manner, while refraining from threatening to restore visa requirements;

Equality

103.    States that the ECR Group strongly supports the principle of gender equality and reiterates the importance of promoting equal rights for men and women and female and male children;

104.    Urges the European Union to lead by example, and states that the European Union should not continue to impose difficult and complex targets on Member States when its own institutions cannot reach those targets; points out that the Commission, the European Central Bank, Parliament and the European agencies have a huge shortfall of women in senior positions; calls for this problem to be dealt with before the Commission imposes targets on Member States;

105.    Is deeply concerned that the Commission did not heed the concerns of Member States over the proposed directive on targets and quotas for women as non-executive directors on company boards;

106.    Notes with concern that the incidence of domestic violence is increasing in Europe year on year, and urges the Commission to continue its work in tackling this problem through the adoption of its planned non-legislative strategy;

107.    Is concerned that the harmful practice of female genital mutilation is increasing in Europe, and urges the Commission to assist Member States in eradicating this abuse of girls and young women;

108.    Urges the Commission to take note of the ongoing concerns of Member States with regard to the directive on the health and safety at work of pregnant workers; stresses that this proposed directive does not have the support or approval of the Council; takes the view that the proposal should be rejected;

109.    Urges the Commission to suspend all proposals for a directive on equal pay for men and women and instead asks the Commission to work with Member States to investigate effective, non-legislative ways of tackling unequal pay, which should be addressed at Member State level;

110.    Hopes that the Commission will be supportive of a proposal to rename Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality the ‘Equalities Committee’, therefore focusing on a broader spectrum of disadvantaged or minority groups;

Culture

111.    Calls on the Commission to support the development of cooperation with European Neighbourhood Policy countries in the field of education and culture on the basis of the ‘less for less, more for more’ rule; urges the Commission to maintain a balance between the southern and eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy in all activities in the field of education and culture;

112.    Calls on the Commission to increase activities aimed at the development of the Eastern Partnership, especially in the field of mobility and educational cooperation;

113.    Calls on the Commission to investigate the underlying problems of incomplete recognition of courses passed and accumulated ECTS points at home universities for students who complete study periods at other universities under the Erasmus programme;

114.    Calls on the Commission to ensure that any legislation proposed in the field of culture complies properly with the principle of subsidiarity; stresses further that Commission action in this field should be limited to areas that can truly add value;

115.    Calls for the Commission’s activity in the field of sport to focus in particular on adding value to the development of community-led grassroots sport;

Foreign Affairs and Development

116.    Notes that more than half of the global official aid to developing and emerging countries comes from the EU and its Member States, making it the world’s biggest aid donor(3) ;

117.    Believes that EU development policy should be based on promoting economic growth, wealth creation and free trade exchanges in global markets;

118.    Calls on the Commission to establish a holistic approach to development policy and humanitarian aid, with the objectives in the long run measured in terms of political stabilisation, peace and tangible economic results;

119.    Welcomes the outcome of the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea held in November and December 2011, in particular its focus on results, transparency and fragility; calls on the Commission to shift its focus away from a prevailing input-orientated development policy to a results-orientated development policy, with precise annual figures on development achievements showing how much of the EU taxpayers’ money has been spent, and to ensure the EU’s development efforts have a lasting impact on eradicating poverty;

120.    Is convinced that the most efficient development strategy is to guarantee access to global markets for emerging and developing countries; therefore believes that it is necessary to further lower trade barriers and trade-distorting subsidies in order to help developing countries increase their share of global trade;

121.    Stresses the importance of greater cooperation with new aid donors such as China, Brazil and India, which are increasingly influential providers of support and assistance to poorer countries and are key players in a new global development partnership;

122.    Calls on the Commission to pragmatically address the issue of property rights in developing countries and to devise a coherent approach in conjunction with the other international development partners in order to kick-start a process of empowering local communities and individuals in developing countries; points out that this is a process that constitutes one of the cornerstones of development and one that could lift entire nations out of poverty and intensify economic activities in developing countries;

123.    Points out that in order to increase aid efficiency it is also crucial to guarantee greater policy coherence, whereby all EU policy areas, especially those with a significant impact in developing countries, contribute to wealth creation in developing countries; points out that it is also necessary to increase coordination among the Member States;

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124.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.

(2)

Results of the public consultation on the TOP10 most burdensome legislative acts for SMEs: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/files/top10report-final_en.pdf

(3)

EUR 55.1 billion of development aid in 2012 according to OECD figures, even if the aid as a share of EU GNI fell from 0.45 % in 2012 to 0.43%, well below the 0.7 % target pledged for 2015. The decline in spending, which is equivalent to a 4 % cut in real terms, follows a 2 % cut in 2011.

Last updated: 28 June 2013Legal notice