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 Index 
The Week
15-11-2004(s)
President Borrell calls for tolerance
Timetable of hearings and vote on Commission
One minute interventions
Parliament approves the new Commission
Full result of the vote on approval of the Commission
Final statements before the vote on the Commission
MEPs aim to reinforce Commission's accountability to Parliament
Barroso - judge the Commission as a whole
Thabo Mbeki: "Africa always contributes something new "
Situation in Cuba
Resolution on European Council
Arms exports: no lifting of embargo on China
Military mission to Bosnia Herzegovina
Côte d'Ivoire - call for an end to violence
Tibet: no to the death penalty
Eritrea: MEPs condemn human rights abuses
Support for the work of the European Ombudsman
European Agency for Reconstruction
Economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community
Packaging waste targets for 10 new Member States
Climate Change Conference
More flexibility for EU funding to secure external borders
Savings taxes agreements with Andorra and Liechtenstein
Simplifying the certification of seed from third countries

THE WEEK

15-18 November 2004

Strasbourg

Parliament approves the new Commission
  • MEPs aim to reinforce the Commission's accountability to Parliament
  • Arms exports: no to ending China embargo
  • Thabo Mbeki: "Africa always contributes something new"
  • Economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community
  • Call for an end to violence in Côte d'Ivoire

Codes for parliamentary procedures

A series

Reports and recommendations

B series

Resolutions and oral questions

C series

Documents of other institutions

*

Consultation procedure

**I

Cooperation procedure (1st reading)

**II

Cooperation procedure (2nd reading)

***

Assent procedure

***I

Codecision procedure (1st reading)

***II

Codecision procedure (2nd reading)

***III

Codecision procedure (3rd reading)

Abbreviations

- Political groups: see next page

BE

Belgium

IT

Italy

PL

Poland

CZ

Czech Republic

CY

Cyprus

PT

Portugal

DK

Denmark

LV

Latvia

SI

Slovenia

DE

Germany

LT

Lithuania

SK

Slovakia

EE

Estonia

LU

Luxembourg

FI

Finland

EL

Greece

HU

Hungary

SE

Sweden

ES

Spain

MT

Malta

UK

United Kingdom

FR

France

NL

Netherlands

   

IE

Ireland

AT

Austria

   

Conversion rates 

1 euro = £ sterling 0.69 as at 18.11.2004

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Editors:

Richard Freedman

Secretariat:

Sarah Donohoe

 

Ralph Pine

   
 

Tel. 74751/73785

 
   

Brussels:

Strasbourg:

PHS 00A026/027

IPE3 F02/001

B-1047 Brussels

BP1024, F-67070 Strasbourg

Tel. (32-2) 28 42941

Tel. (33) 3 88 1 74751/73785

Fax (32-2) 28 46515

Fax (33) 3 88 1 79355

 

e-mail: presse-en@europarl.eu.int

Internet: http://www.europarl.eu.int/press/index_publi_en.htm

 

Close: Thursday, 18 November 2004


Political groups in the European Parliament
Situation as at: 18.11.2004

 

EPP-ED

PES

ALDE

Greens / EFA

EUL / NGL

IND / DEM

UEN

IND

Total

BE

6

7

6

2

     

3

24

CZ

14

2

   

6

1

 

1

24

DK

1

5

4

1

1

1

1

 

14

DE

49

23

7

13

7

     

99

EE

1

3

2

         

6

EL

11

8

   

4

1

   

24

ES

24

24

2

3

1

     

54

FR

17

31

11

6

3

3

 

7

78

IE

5

1

1

 

1

1

4

 

13

IT

24

16

12

2

7

4

9

4

78

CY

3

 

1

 

2

     

6

LV

3

 

1

1

   

4

 

9

LT

2

2

7

     

2

 

13

LU

3

1

1

1

       

6

HU

13

9

1

         

23

MT

2

3

           

5

NL

7

7

5

4

2

2

   

27

AT

6

7

 

2

     

3

18

PL

19

8

4

   

10

7

6

54

PT

9

12

   

3

     

24

SI

4

1

2

         

7

SK

8

3

         

3

14

FI

4

3

5

1

1

     

14

SE

5

5

3

1

2

3

   

19

UK

28

19

12

5

1

10

 

3

78

Total

268

200

87

42

41

36

27

30

731

Outgoing Members:
Gábor DEMSZKY (ALDE, HU) - 28.10.2004

Political groups

EPP-ED

Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (includes the British Conservatives, the one Ulster Unionist MEP and Fine Gael from Ireland)

PES

Socialist Group in the European Parliament (includes the British Labour MEPs and the one Irish Labour Party MEP)

ALDE

Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (includes the British Liberal Democrats and one independent MEP from Ireland)

GREENS/EFA

Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (includes the British Greens, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru)

GUE/NGL

Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (includes the two Sinn Fein MEPs)

IND/DEM

Independence and Democracy Group (includes the UKIP MEPs and one independent MEP from Ireland)

UEN

Union for Europe of the Nations Group (includes the Irish Fianna Fail Members)

NA

Non-attached MEPs

Opening of Plenary

President Borrell calls for tolerance
 
15.11.2004

Opening the plenary session, Parliament President Josep BORRELL reminded MEPs that the beginning of November saw a number of anniversaries relevant to the present. 9 November had been the fifteenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and this was the first time Parliament had marked this event with Members from the former Eastern bloc countries. The fall of the Wall had been, he said, the last event flowing from the First World War, the end of which was marked on 11 November, while 9 November was also the International Day against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, since it is the anniversary of the "Kristallnacht" attacks on Jews and Jewish property in Nazi Germany in 1933.

These anniversaries, he said, should remind us that human rights were still under threat. He expressed his sadness and concern at recent events in the Netherlands, where there was increasing tension, and ethnic and religious confrontation. He sent a message of solidarity to all those in the Netherlands working to avoid a pointless spiral of violence. The actions of a small number of people should not cast a shadow over the generally tolerant people of the Netherlands, he said.

In the same spirit, he spoke of the situation in the Middle East after the death of Yasser ARAFAT, who had been a symbol for his people. He had send condolences on Parliament's behalf to the Palestinian Authority and Vice-President Edward McMILLAN-SCOTT had attended the funeral ceremony in Egypt. President Borrell said he hoped this death could lead to new hope for peace. He said that the EU should be ready to participate in any new talks on the matter.


Timetable of hearings and vote on Commission

Four hearings of Commissioners-designate took place on Monday evening (Franco FRATTINI and Andris PIEBALGS) and Tuesday morning (László KOVÁCS and the second hearing of Mr Frattini). The plenary session was suspended while hearings were taking place: 6-9pm Monday, 9am-12 midday Tuesday.

At the end of the hearings, the parliamentary committees drew up evaluation letters, which were made public at 4pm on Tuesday 16 November, as the Conference of Presidents of political groups met to consider the hearings.

Next, at 3pm on Wednesday, the President-elect of the Commission, José Manuel BARROSO, addressed MEPs in the plenary, presenting his new team and their programme. The debate which followed continued until 6.30pm.

Finally, the vote on approval of the Commission took place on Thursday morning, after final statements from Mr Barroso and each of the political group leaders.


One minute interventions

As usual, the opening of the session gave MEPs the chance to raise issues of current concern.

James NICHOLSON (EPP-ED, UK) raised the plight of the three UN workers held hostage in Afghanistan, including his own constituent Annetta FLANIGAN. The kidnappers had set a new deadline of 7.30pm, Monday 15 November, for their demands to be met. Ms Flanigan, he said, had been in Afghanistan only to help its people. He called for urgent steps to be taken to help the hostages.

Nigel FARAGE (IND/DEM, UK) condemned the decision of the Belgian Supreme Court effectively to ban the Vlaams Blok party. While no-one in his group shared the VB's beliefs or attitudes, he said this should have been a decision for the electorate not the courts. He also expressed concern that after the EU arrest warrant and EU funding for European political parties, criticising the EU might soon be branded xenophobic, leading to similar action against parties like his own.

Theresa VILLIERS (EPP-ED, UK) spoke of her recent visit to Israel and the West Bank, where she had seen the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack on an Israeli shopping district. She hoped all MEPs would join her in condemning those who sent 16 year old children, strapped with explosives, to blow up both themselves and innocent shoppers. She hoped there would now be a renewed chance for peace and dialogue to win out over the bomb and the bullet.

Jim ALLISTER (NA, UK) disassociated himself from any eulogies for Yasser Arafat, who had been, he said, an unrepentant terrorist who had introduced suicide bombings to the world. Arafat had co-operated with terrorists around the world, including the IRA, he said, and should be condemned.

Baroness Sarah LUDFORD (ALDE, UK) recalled that Sunday, 14 November had been World Diabetes Day. She asked why there was such wide variation between Member States in the lists of jobs barred to diabetics. In many cases these lists had been established many years ago and no longer made sense in the light of modern treatment options. This sort of blanket discrimination must be abolished, she said.

Gay MITCHELL (EPP-ED, IE) spoke of the crisis in Darfur, where there were more deaths occurring each day and where some 150 000 more people had been made homeless in the last month alone. He called for the European Council to make this a priority at its next summit and for the meeting of the UN Security Council in Nairobi to single out the Sudan Government for its responsibility to protect its citizens and disarm the militia.

Robert EVANS (PES, UK) reminded MEPs of the Bhopal disaster in December 1984, when a chemical leak from a Union Carbide plant led to many thousands of deaths and injuries, which were still continuing today. He condemned Dow Chemicals, the US owner of Union Carbide for what he called its pitiful compensation and negligible acceptance of responsibility.

Phillip WHITEHEAD (PES, UK) raised two issues: the renewed arrest in Israel of the 'whistleblower' Mordechai Vanunu and the FBI raids on a number of mainly EU based media outlets. In neither case had a clear explanation been forthcoming, he said. He said in troubled times we needed to be more, not less, concerned with liberty and freedom of expression.

Dr. Charles TANNOCK (EPP-ED, UK) told the House he was to be part of the team of observers at the second round of the Ukrainian election. Whoever won, he said, without the prospect of future EU membership, they would have only one way to turn - east. If Ukraine entered a full free trade area, or perhaps, in the future, a customs union, with Russia, and countries such as Belarus and Uzbekistan, the door to the EU would be closed for good.

Ashley MOTE (NA, UK) reminded MEPs that he had presented a range of documents to the UK Serious Fraud Office, and that he had advised the UK government to withhold all funding for the EU in the light of its poor financial controls. He said President Borrell had since commented that this would be a breach of EU law. Did this therefore mean, he asked, that Member States must pay their dues no matter how poor the controls were? Was there no way, he continued, of forcing the EU to be accountable for its financial management?


Constitutional Affairs

Parliament approves the new Commission
Draft decision - Election of the Commission
Doc. B6-0164/2004
Vote: 18.11.2004

MEPs have voted to approve the new European Commission team.

The result was 449 votes in favour to 149 votes against with 82 abstentions.

Parliament President Josep BORRELL said this had been a significant milestone in democracy. Europe needed a strong Commission and a credible Parliament. Whatever the disagreements, he was happy this debate had taken place. Parliament, he said, now looked forward to a new partnership with the Commission, based on mutual respect and confidence, for a more democratic and efficient European Union.

José Manuel BARROSO offered his thanks on behalf of the whole Commission team for the vote of confidence. He said he now bore a huge responsibility. His whole team would work hard to serve the EU and all their fellow EU citizens. "We have a great deal of work to do, and we will now get down to it."

Dutch European Affairs Minister Atzo NICOLAÏ responded for the Presidency of the Council. He congratulated the new Commission and the Parliament. He said European democracy had been strengthened, as had the EU as a whole.


Full result of the vote on approval of the Commission

Among the UK members voting, Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs voted for the Commission. The majority of Conservatives abstained, with a number voting in favour and one against. UKIP, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru, DUP and Sinn Fein members voted against. The UUP member abstained.

Among the Irish members voting, the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour MEPs voted in favour, the Sinn Fein MEP was against. Among the Independents, Marian HARKIN (ALDE, IE) voted in favour and Kathy SINNOTT (IND/DEM, IE) abstained.

449 Votes in Favour:

ALDE:  Alvaro, Andrejevs, Attwooll, Birutis, Budreikaitė, Carlshamre, Chatzimarkakis, Davies, Degutis, Deprez, Dičkutė, Drčar Murko, Duff, Duquesne, Gentvilas, Geremek, Guardans Cambó, Hall, Harkin, Hennis-Plasschaert, in 't Veld, Jäätteenmäki, Jensen, Juknevičienė, Kacin, Karim, Klinz, Koch-Mehrin, Krahmer, Kułakowski, Lambsdorff, Lax, Ludford, Lynne, Maaten, Malmström, Manders, Matsakis, Mulder, Newton Dunn, Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Onyszkiewicz, Oviir, Polfer, Prodi, Ries, Samuelsen, Savi, Schuth, Starkevičiūtė, Sterckx, Szent-Iványi, Takkula, Väyrynen, Van Hecke, Wallis, Watson

NA:  Baco, Battilocchio, Belohorská, Bobošíková, Czarnecki Marek Aleksander, Czarnecki Ryszard, De Michelis, Golik, Kozlík, Kuc, Masiel, Rutowicz

EPP-ED: Albertini, Andrikienė, Antoniozzi, Ayuso González, Bachelot-Narquin, Barsi Pataky, Bauer, Beazley, Becsey, Belet, Berend, Böge, Bonsignore, Bowis, Brejc, Brepoels, Březina, Brok, Brunetta, Busuttil, Buzek, Cabrnoch, Carollo, Casa, Caspary, Castiglione, del Castillo Vera, Cederschiöld, Cesa, Chmielewski, Cirino Pomicino, Coelho, Coveney, Daul, De Poli, Dehaene, Demetriou, Descamps, Deß, De Veyrac, Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, Dimitrakopoulos, Dionisi, Dombrovskis, Doorn, Doyle, Duchoň, Duka-Zólyomi, Ebner, Ehler, Elles, Esteves, Eurlings, Fajmon, Fatuzzo, Ferber, Fernández Martín, Florenz, Fontaine, Fraga Estévez, Freitas, Friedrich, Gahler, Gál, Gaľa, Galeote Quecedo, García-Margallo y Marfil, Gargani, Garriga Polledo, Gaubert, Gauzès, Gawronski, Gklavakis, Glattfelder, Goepel, Gomolka, Gräßle, de Grandes Pascual, Graça Moura, Grosch, Grossetête, Guellec, Gutiérrez-Cortines, Gyürk, Handzlik, Harbour, Hatzidakis, Herranz García, Herrero-Tejedor, Hieronymi, Higgins, Hökmark, Hoppenstedt, Hortefeux, Hudacký, Ibrisagic, Itälä, Iturgaiz Angulo, Jackson, Járóka, Jarzembowski, Jeggle, Jordan Cizelj, Kaczmarek, Karas, Kasoulides, Kauppi, Kelam, Klamt, Klaß, Klich, Koch, Konrad, Korhola, Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Kudrycka, Kušķis, Kuźmiuk, Lamassoure, Landsbergis, Langen, Langendries, Laschet, Lauk, Lechner, Lehne, Lewandowski, Liese, López-Istúriz White, Lulling, Lombardo, Maat, McGuinness, Mann Thomas, Mantovani, Marques, Martens, Mathieu, Mato Adrover, Matsis, Mauro, Mavrommatis, Mayer, Mayor Oreja, Méndez de Vigo, Mikolášik, Millán Mon, Mitchell, Montoro Romero, Musotto, Nassauer, Niebler, van Nistelrooij, Novak, Olajos, Olbrycht, Oomen-Ruijten, Őry, Ouzký, Pack, Pálfi, Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, Papastamkos, Peterle, Pieper, Pīks, Pinheiro, Piskorski, Pleštinská, Podestà, Podkański, Poettering, Pomés Ruiz, Posselt, Protasiewicz, Purvis, Queiró, Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Rack, Radwan, Reul, Ribeiro e Castro, Roithová, Rudi Ubeda, Rübig, Saïfi, Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Samaras, Sartori, Saryusz-Wolski, Schierhuber, Schmitt Ingo, Schnellhardt, Schöpflin, Schröder, Schwab, Seeber, Seeberg, Siekierski, Silva Peneda, Škottová, Sommer, Sonik, Spautz, Šťastný, Stenzel, Strejček, Stubb, Sudre, Surján, Szájer, Tajani, Thyssen, Toubon, Trakatellis, Ulmer, Vakalis, Varela Suanzes-Carpegna, Varvitsiotis, Vatanen, Ventre, Vernola, Vidal-Quadras Roca, Vlasák, Vlasto, Weber Manfred, Weisgerber, Wieland, Wijkman, von Wogau, Wojciechowski, Wortmann-Kool, Wuermeling, Záborská, Zahradil, Zaleski, Zappalà, Zatloukal, Zieleniec, Zvěřina, Zwiefka

PES: Andersson, Assis, Attard-Montalto, Ayala Sender, Badía i Cutchet, Barón Crespo, Beňová, Berger, Borrell Fontelles, Bullmann, van den Burg, Busquin, Calabuig Rull, Capoulas Santos, Carnero González, Casaca, Cashman, Cercas, Christensen, Corbett, Corbey, Correia, Costa António, De Keyser, De Rossa, De Vits, Díez González, Dobolyi, Dührkop Dührkop, Duin, El Khadraoui, Ettl, Falbr, Fazakas, Fernandes, Ford, García Pérez, Gebhardt, Geringer de Oedenberg, Gierek, Gill, Glante, Goebbels, Grabowska, Grech, Hänsch, Harangozó, Haug, Hedh, Hedkvist Petersen, Herczog, Honeyball, Howitt, Jöns, Jørgensen, Kindermann, Kinnock, Kósáné Kovács, Koterec, Krehl, Kreissl-Dörfler, Kristensen, Kuhne, Leichtfried, Leinen, Liberadzki, McAvan, McCarthy, Madeira, Maňka, Mann Erika, Martin David W., Martínez Martínez, Masip Hidalgo, Mastenbroek, Matsouka, Medina Ortega, Miguélez Ramos, Moreno Sánchez, Muscat, Myller, Öger, Paasilinna, Pahor, Paleckis, Piecyk, Pinior, Pleguezuelos Aguilar, Prets, Rapkay, Rasmussen, Riera Madurell, Rosati, Roth-Behrendt, Rothe, Rouček, Sakalas, Salinas García, Sánchez Presedo, Scheele, Schulz, Segelström, Siwiec, Skinner, Sornosa Martínez, Stihler, Stockmann, Swoboda, Szejna, Tabajdi, Tarabella, Tarand, Thomsen, Titley, Valenciano Martínez-Orozco, Van Lancker, Walter, Weiler, Westlund, Whitehead, Wiersma, Wynn, Yañez-Barnuevo García

UEN: Angelilli, Aylward, Berlato, Crowley, Foglietta, Krasts, La Russa, Muscardini, Musumeci, Ó Neachtain, Pavilionis, Poli Bortone, Ryan, Tatarella, Vaidere, Zīle

149 Votes against:

GUE/NGL: Adamou, Agnoletto, Brie, Catania, de Brún, Figueiredo, Flasarová, Guidoni, Henin, Kaufmann, Kohlíček, McDonald, Manolakou, Markov, Maštálka, Meijer, Musacchio, Pafilis, Papadimoulis, Portas, Ransdorf, Remek, Ribeiro, Rizzo, Seppänen, Sjöstedt, Stroz, Svensson, Toussas, Triantaphyllides, Uca, Verges, Wurtz, Zimmer

IND/DEM: Adwent, Batten, Bonde, Booth, Borghezio, Chruszcz, Clark, Coûteaux, Farage, Giertych, Grabowski, Krupa, Louis, Lundgren, Nattrass, Pęk, Piotrowski, Rogalski, Salvini, Speroni, Titford, Tomczak, de Villiers, Whittaker, Wierzejski, Wise, Wohlin, Železný

NA: Allister, Claeys, Dillen, Gollnisch, Kilroy-Silk, Lang, Le Pen Jean-Marie, Le Pen Marine, Le Rachinel, Martin Hans-Peter, Martinez, Mote, Resetarits, Romagnoli, Schenardi, Vanhecke

EPP-ED: Hannan

PES: Arif, Berès, Bösch, Bono, Carlotti, Castex, Cottigny, Désir, Douay, Ferreira Anne, Fruteau, Guy-Quint, Hamon, Hazan, Le Foll, Lienemann, Moscovici, Navarro, Patrie, Peillon, Poignant, Reynaud, Rocard, Roure, Savary, Schapira, Trautmann, Vergnaud, Weber Henri

UEN: Camre

Greens/EFA: Aubert, Auken, Beer, Bennahmias, Breyer, van Buitenen, Buitenweg, Cohn-Bendit, Cramer, Evans Jillian, Frassoni, Graefe zu Baringdorf, de Groen-Kouwenhoven, Hammerstein Mintz, Harms, Hassi, Horáček, Hudghton, Isler Béguin, Joan i Marí, Jonckheer, Kallenbach, Kusstatscher, Lagendijk, Lambert, Lichtenberger, Lucas, Özdemir, Onesta, Romeva i Rueda, Rühle, Schlyter, Schmidt, Schroedter, Smith, Staes, Trüpel, Turmes, Voggenhuber, Ždanoka

82 Abstentions:

ALDE:  Andria, Beaupuy, Bonino, Bourlanges, Cavada, Cocilovo, Cornillet, Costa Paolo, De Sarnez, Fourtou, Gibault, Griesbeck, Laperrouze, Lehideux, Letta, Morillon, Ortuondo Larrea, Pannella, Pistelli, Sbarbati, Toia

IND/DEM: Belder, Blokland, Sinnott

NA: Mölzer

EPP-ED: Ashworth, Atkins, Bradbourn, Bushill-Matthews, Callanan, Chichester, Deva, Dover, Heaton-Harris, Helmer, Jałowiecki, Kirkhope, Nicholson, Parish, Stevenson, Sturdy, Tannock, Van Orden, Villiers

PES: Arnaoutakis, Batzeli, Beglitis, van den Berg, Berlinguer, Berman, Bersani, Bozkurt, Bresso, D'Alema, Estrela, Fava, Ferreira Elisa, Gomes, Gruber, Hutchinson, Lambrinidis, Locatelli, Napoletano, Panzeri, Pittella, Sacconi, Santoro, dos Santos, Sifunakis, Sousa Pinto, Tzampazi, Vincenzi, Xenogiannakopoulou, Zani, Zingaretti

UEN: Bielan, Fotyga, Janowski, Kamiński, Libicki, Roszkowski, Szymański


Final statements before the vote on the Commission
Speech by Mr Barroso, President-elect of the Commission
Debate: 18.11.2004

Commission President-elect José Manuel BARROSO told MEPs he believed they shared with him the ambition of a strong and independent Commission able to drive Europe forward in cooperation with Parliament. He promised to examine Parliament's resolution carefully, but his first reaction was that it could provide a good basis for his Commission's work with Parliament. He was ready for this to be formalised in a revised Framework Agreement, though this must take account of the institutions' respective roles as set out in the treaties.

He said he stood by his commitments on fundamental rights, including the setting up of a special group of Commissioners on the subject.

On the specific points in the resolution, he said he could accept the need to examine closely any criticism offered by Parliament about a particular Commissioner and was ready to stand before the House to explain his decisions in such cases. This would allow for individual accountability before Parliament without affecting the collegiate nature for which the President was responsible. The present treaties, unlike the future constitution, did not give either the Commission President or the Parliament a role in deciding on replacement Commissioners, and he could not guarantee that such Commissioners would not appear before the Council before Parliamentary hearings, but he was able to guarantee that they would not appear officially before Parliament without first having met the relevant parliamentary committee.

He said he had set out in detail the procedures planned to deal with any potential conflict of interest in competition policy. He proposed to implement the measures, and then later review them in the light of experience to see if any improvement were needed.

Mr Barroso told MEPs he would present his five year programme in January, having taken account of Parliament's views as set out in December. He also promised the his Commissioners would give priority to appearing before Parliament. He and Vice-President WALLSTRÖM would maintain close relations with the Conference of Presidents. He was ready to discuss improvements in the agreement relating to announcements of important decisions: where possible the most important matters should be announced during plenary weeks - there might need to be more flexibility about routine issues. He said he was happy to extend the rules on Commission follow up on Parliament's legislative work to other Parliamentary acts. He would also develop a timetable for reviewing the legislation on access to official EU documents, and would inform Parliament of any changes to the Code of Conduct for Commissioners.

Overall, he said the approval exercise had been a healthy one for European democracy. He said at no stage had he criticised Parliament. On the contrary, he had always presented a constructive message, expressing his determination to cooperate with Parliament. Now that all the difficulties had been clarified, guided by the spirit of compromise, the result was broadly satisfactory.

He said the new Commission would work to achieve more economic growth and more employment, to consolidate the European model which reconciled reform with social cohesion. He and his team would devote all their energy to achieving these goals, to make a difference for the men and women of Europe. "We are counting on your support," he told MEPs.

Hans-Gert POETTERING (DE), speaking for the EPP-ED group, stated that the Parliament had just adopted a very important resolution by a great majority. The last few weeks could be described as a "parliamentarisation of the EU." The EU had been strengthened, and the European Parliament was now united to work with the European Commission in a constructive fashion. Nevertheless, he said, Parliament would carry out its democratic duty to exercise control on the Commission. He stated that the Commission "could count on the EPP group as allies." He stated that Commissioner WALLSTRÖM would take on the mantle of working out a new Framework Agreement between the two institutions. He recalled that the resolution adopted by Parliament states that if Parliament votes to withdraw confidence in an individual Member of the Commission, the President of the Commission will consider seriously whether he should request that Member to resign and that the President shall either require the resignation of that Member or justify his refusal to do so before Parliament. He stressed that any new Commissioners would have to come before Parliament in a formal hearing before taking office. He also stated that Commissioners should make it their priority to come before the European Parliament. On the Commission's five-year strategy, he stressed that the Parliament's requests should be taken into account. The EPP-ED group "would give our trust to the new Commission; we will carry out our responsibility of parliamentary scrutiny."

Martin SCHULZ (DE), for the PES group, started off by quoting Willy Brandt "the European Parliament will have to fight for power if it doesn't get any." That is what exactly the European Parliament has done and the institution can "be proud of itself". The Parliament had put itself on an equal footing with the Heads of State and government. Parliament must make full use of this "power gained", but, he said, both the Commission and Parliament had been strengthened. He criticised the system of so-called "blind date appointments" where the Commission President-designate had to accept the nominations of national governments. Sometimes, the Commission President would have to stand up to the national governments and ask them to change their nominations for Commissioners. Mr Barroso, he said, had the right to criticise the Parliament. The European Parliament will carry out its duty of holding the Commission to account in full. "More democracy would lead to more social justice". The Commission should defend the social agenda of the EU.

Graham WATSON (UK), for the ALDE group, said the majority of his group, but not all, would vote in favour of the Commission. Mr Watson stated that he was worried about Mr Barroso's ability to understand the concerns of Parliament following his remarks at the conclusion of the previous day's debate. Mr Watson stated that Mr Barroso had referred to the ability of one political group to veto a specific Commissioner's portfolio and that one particular group had "tied the Mr Barroso's hands". Mr Watson rejected these comments about the ALDE group. He said that Mr Barroso's "hands had already been tied in Rome, Budapest and The Hague." The Parliament, he remarked, would give the Commission its driving licence following the vote and thereafter would expect it to learn the rules of the road. The EU deserved better than a "paper-tiger Parliament" and that's what it is getting. His group, he said, welcomed a new Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission. "Good EU government means accountable EU government."

Daniel COHN-BENDIT (DE), for the Greens/EFA group, said "times are changing". In the recent past, there had been a majority against the Commission in this house. The changes made by Mr Barroso were only "half valid". He strongly criticised Ms Kroes and her competition portfolio. She said she could not be independent "given her baggage". He also said that Mr Poettering has said, in front of TV cameras, that he would reject Ms KROES as Competition Commissioner. He called on the Parliament not to vote in favour of the Commission and called those who would join the EPP-ED in voting in favour "tail-end charlies".

Francis WURTZ (FR), for the GUE/NGL group, told Mr Barroso that his Commission would be approved by Parliament, but that this would be a phyrric victory, since the ad-hoc solution adopted would in fact worsen the crisis. The results of the European elections had shown that an absolute majority of Europeans were unhappy with the EU institutions. In response, Mr Barroso, he said, had tried to give the security and justice portfolio to someone pushing an outdated and obscurantist model of society, and he was still pushing forward the neo-liberal approach which most Europeans were unhappy about. Without making any judgement on individuals, his group did not have confidence in the team, and would be voting against.

Nigel FARAGE (UK) spoke for the Independence and Democracy group. He attacked the past record of the Commission team, making a series of accusations against a number of them. Even if the team had been of high quality, he said, his group would still vote against as the Commission was the motor for integration, for legislation which was damaging to businesses and was the embodiment of everything that was wrong in Europe. He spoke of what he called the "breathtaking arrogance" of 20 of the Commissioners who planned, he said, to start implementing the constitution before it had been ratified. Not one of his group would vote in favour, he said.

Brian CROWLEY (IE), for the UEN group, welcomed the commitments made by Mr Barroso and said his group was broadly happy with the text of the resolution. He said it was important to remember that Parliament had lived up to its responsibility in insisting on democratic control over the Commission. It was wrong, however, he said, to use the European Parliament to fight domestic political battles. Europe, he said, should be about defending freedom of speech and thought, even for those we do not agree with. Europe's citizens would not remember the names of the rejected Commissioners: in a few months time they would want to know what the EU had done in Darfur, in the Ivory Coast and to make the Lisbon process work, bringing more jobs and a better quality of life. His group, he said, asked for fair play in return for its support.

Non-attached MEP Jean-Marie LE PEN (FR) said the lesson to be learned from this episode was that Commissioners were obliged to be politically, mentally and religiously correct. The victims had been the constitutional treaty with its guarantees of freedom of speech and thought, Italy, which had given in to the Parliament on its choice of Commissioner and finally the Commission and its President, who was the victim of his own errors of judgement. The European right was proud of its convictions and would have public support in opposing an EU superstate and the entry of Turkey. They would vote against the Commission.

The leaders of the EPP-ED, PES, ALDE, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups intervened at the end of the debate, rejecting the accusations made by Mr FARAGE. Mr Farage responded that if he were proved wrong, he would withdraw the comments.


MEPs aim to reinforce Commission's accountability to Parliament
Motions for resolutions - Election of the Commission
Doc. B6-0151/2004, B6-0165/2004, B6-0168/2004, B6-0185/2004, B6-0186/2004, B6-0187/2004, B6-0188/2004,
Debate/Vote: 18.11.2004

In a resolution adopted by 478 in favour to 84 against with 98 abstentions MEPs call for the Framework Agreement between the Commission and the European Parliament (which governs bilateral relations between those two institutions) to be reviewed and updated as soon as possible on the basis of the commitments made on behalf of the new Commission by its President-elect, Mr BARROSO.

In the light of those commitments, Parliament calls for the following points to be included in that agreement:

(a) if Parliament votes to withdraw confidence (subject to political support for such a view, in terms both of substance and of form) in an individual Member of the Commission, the President of the Commission will consider seriously whether he should request that Member to resign; the President shall either require the resignation of that Member or justify his refusal to do so before Parliament;

(b) in the event of a resignation, the replacement Commissioner shall not appear before Parliament or the Council in an official capacity until his or her nomination has been validated by the normal parliamentary procedure (hearing and vote in plenary);

(c) if the President reshuffles the portfolios in the Commission during its term of office, the same procedure shall be applied to the Commissioners affected;

(d) the President of the Commission shall be fully accountable for identifying a conflict of interest which renders a Commissioner unable to perform his or her duties; the President shall likewise be responsible for any subsequent action taken in those circumstances;

(e) the Union's multi-annual work programme shall be drawn up by the Commission on the basis of close cooperation and coordination with the European Parliament and its bodies;

(f) ensuring a Commission presence at plenary sittings and meetings of the European Parliament’s committees shall be a priority for Commissioners; it is agreed that the Commission shall inform the European Parliament immediately, preferably in plenary sitting, of its decisions, proposals and initiatives;

(g) in the context of ongoing dialogue with the European Parliament, the President of the Commission and the Vice-President responsible for interinstitutional relations shall establish, and remain in, regular contact with the Conference of Presidents;

(h) a commitment to follow-up action, if Parliament requests the Commission to submit a legislative proposal pursuant to Article 192 of the Treaty; in any case, the Commission shall regularly inform the European Parliament of the action it intends to take in response to positions adopted by Parliament, particularly if the Commission does not intend to follow them up;

(i) revision of Regulation 1049/01, with a view to defining better rules on the transparency of legislative preparatory work, comitology and the implementation of EU legislation in Member States, and confidential documents;

(j) the code of conduct for Commissioners shall be sent to the European Parliament for its opinion, which shall be taken into account;

(k) the Commission shall take all the necessary steps to ensure that the European Parliament is better informed both about European Union legislation and about international agreements as soon as negotiations are underway;

MEPs welcome the democratic and legal validity of the approval process and the essential contribution it makes to building the good working relationship between the Commission and Parliament that the Union needs. They also welcome the steps taken by President Barroso in presenting his new team on 4 November, while regretting that no significant solution has been found so far on the potential problems concerning conflicts of interests. Parliament therefore requests that steps be taken as a matter of urgency to define in detail the procedures under which the code of conduct will be implemented.

Parliament says it expects that the specific commitments made by President Barroso during the 26 October plenary sitting regarding the active protection and promotion of fundamental rights, equal opportunities and anti-discrimination by his Commission will be fully applied by the new Commission, and that it will closely monitor their application.


Barroso - judge the Commission as a whole
Statement by Mr Barroso, President-elect of the Commission
Debate: 17.11.2004
Vote: 18.11.2004

Debate

President-elect of the Commission, Mr BARROSO opened his speech by recalling that three weeks ago he had said that " it was time to stop the clock". Now, he said "it was time to re-start the clock." The decision not to submit his team to the vote three weeks ago, he said, had received a welcome both within and outside Parliament. This whole process, he stated, had been "a victory for European democracy".

Mr Barroso looked forward to working closely with the European Parliament, and he stated that he had listened carefully to Parliament's requests. Mr Barroso outlined the changes to the proposed Commission - with Mr FRATTINI and Mr PIEBALGS as new Commissioners-designate and Mr KOVÀCS changing portfolio. He thanked the Parliament for its "flexibility in organising the hearings."

Mr Barroso stated that he maintained his ideas on a group of Commissioners taking responsibility for human rights. He also recalled that Mr Frattini would be a Vice-President of the Commission. On potential conflicts of interest, Mr Barroso stated that these issues had been resolved. The Commission has the highest proportion of women of any Commission, he stated. At the time of voting, he called on Parliament to evaluate the Commission as a college rather than as individuals. Mr Barroso promised to work more "openly and transparently" than before and stated that he wanted to conclude a new framework agreement between the European Parliament and the Commission.

"A partnership for Europe based on prosperity, solidarity and security," this is what the Commission wanted to achieve. The Commission and Parliament, he said, could do more by working together, rather than separately. The European institutions, he stated, would emerge stronger from recent events. The Commission would promote the common European interest, and therefore Parliament and Commission also had a responsibility to work together to try to improve the daily lives of European citizens.

"The EU must create the conditions for growth and jobs, sharing prosperity and opportunity across the whole of the Union; to do this we must put a premium on innovation, education and research – we must leverage knowledge for growth. And if I refer to the economy first, it is not because it is an end in its own right; it is because a strong and dynamic economy is a pre-condition to our ambitious social and environmental goals. The Commission must reinforce European democracy, reconnecting the Union with the people, and work towards the ratification of our new Constitution. The Commission must reach out across our continent to make a success of our recent enlargement. The Commission must work to improve the quality of life, within a modern European model, based on economic dynamism and social justice. The Commission must reaffirm the Union’s pre-eminent role as an area of freedom and justice and we must consolidate our leadership in striving for peace, security and sustainable development around the globe. The Commission must therefore shape a Europe for future generations and capture the imagination and enthusiasm of our young people.

Today, I ask you for your confidence so that we can start this task. With your support, we can build a better Europe. My team is ready and anxious to play its part. So let us now get on with our job. "

Political group leaders

The leader of the EPP-ED group, Hans-Gert POETTERING (DE) began by welcoming the presence of the President-in-Office of the Council, Jan Peter BALKENENDE who was in the Chamber for the debate. He hoped future holders of this role would follow suit. He summarised the events of the past few weeks, noting that the EPP-ED group had supported the appointment of Mr Barroso and would have supported his previous Commission team had there been a vote. He said Mr Barroso had made the right decision and he praised the "noble gesture" of Rocco BUTTIGLIONE in withdrawing, opening the way for a new decision.

He said the new candidate from Italy, Mr Frattini, was an eminent politician, who had given a convincing and intelligent performance at his hearing. Mr Piebalgs had also been impressive, he said, though his group would have welcomed the Hungarian government following the example of Latvia and replacing their candidate.

There were three important conclusions to be drawn, he said. Firstly, there was a need to stand up for European values, for a free society, for tolerance, pluralism and good order. Freedom of expression, opinion and religion were vital, and no-one should be discriminated against, including for their religion. Secondly, a strong Commission and a strong Parliament were essential. They were allies in defending the Community. However, there was also parliamentary control of the Commission, and its members should be available to Parliament whenever it requested their presence. In December there would be a debate on Parliament's political priorities and this should inform the Commission's programme. Thirdly, he said the Council and Member States should give more room for manoeuvre to future Commission Presidents in selecting their team. He concluded by saying that a large majority of his group would support the Commission and he wished all its members well.

For the Socialist Group, Martin SCHULZ (DE) said Mr Barroso's speech had shown there had been considerable changes in the last three weeks, and changes in the right direction. Mr Barroso should have moved earlier, but nevertheless this was a better team than the previous one. He said it could have been even better if Mr Balkenende had shown as much flexibility as the government of Italy - a reference to the Dutch candidate Ms KROES.

What, he asked, were the consequences of these events? Parliament was clearly stronger vis-á-vis the Council and Commission, and the Socialist group had been the decisive player in achieving this, something of which he was proud.

Mr Schulz called for Mr Barroso to go further than Romano PRODI's position, to a point where Commissioners would resign if Parliament decided that they should. "If we believe a member of your team is not performing his or her tasks or if there is a problem with conflicts of interest, we may ask you to act," he said. You tried, he told Mr Barroso, to run a majority against the Socialist group, and this was a mistake. There could be no broad majority in the Parliament without the social democrats and it was better to seek their cooperation than rely on the votes of the extreme right.

He concluded by noting that a vote on the team was not a vote on their programme, which the Socialists would judge on its substance. He expressed his respect for Mr Barroso's commitments to make an ongoing effort to win the support of Parliament and the Socialist group. If he did not continue in this way, the events of October 2004 could be repeated, he said.

The ALDE group leader, Graham WATSON (UK), remarked that Portugal's national symbol was a cockerel which crowed to save a condemned man. It had failed to crow three weeks ago, but he expected it would do so tomorrow. The ALDE group was on balance supportive of the team: Mr Kovács and Mr Piebalgs had done well at their hearings, and if Mr Frattini had been soft on specifics, he had been strong in general - even if he may need to disown "his patron" in Rome if he is to be effective. His group stood by its approvals; they had been forced to define the original team by its weakest link. Now that link had been replaced - it was time to recognise the strengths, talents and confidence of the proposed Commission.

The treaties gave Parliament only the bluntest possible instrument for this process. There was no middle ground between the cosmetic and the crisis, and this was not worthy of the EU, he said. His group expected that if a Commissioner lost the confidence of the Parliament, Mr Barroso would either ask them to resign or come to Parliament to defend them on his own personal authority. The challenge for the Liberal and Democrat group was now to act in critical partnership with the Commission, he said. This decision had not been a matter of internal EP politicking; it was more important than that. He acknowledged Mr Schulz's willingness to enter dialogue and compromise. To the "red and green banners of the permanent opposition" he said there was no honour in voting against a Commission which had respected Parliaments main demands. The ALDE group was ready to support the Commission in the vote.

For the Greens/EFA group, Monica FRASSONI (IT), said her group felt it had been important to make the Parliament's voice heard, in calling for respect for freedom and opposing discrimination. This new team was better, but it was not improved enough, and the Green group had unanimously decided not to support it, she said. In particular, they felt it was inappropriate to put a "signatory" of what she called "Berlusconi's law on conflicts of interest" in charge of justice. There was still the problem of Ms Kroes's conflicts of interest in competition policy: she would have had to stand aside from 35 per cent of the decisions made by Mario MONTI over the last term, and was linked to companies involved in three current cases. After Santer, Eurostat and Buttiglione, he should know better than this. If there were problems it would be the fault of Barroso, Poettering, Schulz and Watson, not the fault of the Greens, she said. Her group would however be willing to work with the Environment Commissioner Stavros DIMAS if he puts more energy into his work. They would aim to be constructively critical for the new team in its work ahead.

Francis WURTZ (FR) for the EUL/NGL recalled that his group had been fundamentally critical of Mr Barosso's original line-up for the Commission. The only major concession Mr Barroso had made, he said, was to remove Mr Buttiglione. The Commission he said needed "surgery rather than homeopathy." In particular, Mr Wurtz criticised the appointment of Mrs Kroes as Competition Commissioner given the potential conflicts of interest. He also opposed the appointment of Mr Frattini saying that he was "not the best person to defend civil liberties." Finally, he criticised the new "Communicating Europe" programme saying it started with the "wrong cast". His group would oppose the Commission in the vote.

Jens-Peter BONDE (DK) for the IND/DEM group also said, "almost all Members of his group would say no thank you to the Commission". In particular, Mr Bonde criticised the Commission for lack of transparency on the budget of Commission working groups. He also stated that the Commission had not been accountable, and that Mr van BUITENEN "should have been given a medal, and not penalised, for his whistleblowing." The Commission should do more to fight against fraud, he said. Mr Bonde also criticised the fact that Parliament could not hold individual Commissioners to account.

Roberta ANGELILLI (IT) for the UEN group stated that her group had "great expectations for the new Commission". Specifically, on the Stability Pact, she called for the adoption of the so-called "golden rule, which would mean spending on research and development would not be included in the figures on public debt". She called for a new plan for economic support for developing countries. On foreign policy, Mrs Angelilli called for the EU not to remain on the sidelines. She criticised Mr Schulz for trying to "blackmail the European Commission" and recalled that the Commission was accountable to the whole Parliament and not just one political group. She also stated that "it was now time to end the crusades from some in this House against Mr Buttigilione and Italy".

Sergej KOZLÍK (NA, SK), a non-attached Member, stated that he was speaking on behalf of several MEPs in linking support to economic growth. He said he would support the Commission in the vote and the time was now more than ripe for the Commission to work to reach the goals of the Lisbon Strategy.

Other British and Irish speakers

Mary Lou McDONALD (GUE/NGL, IE) (who began and ended her speech in Irish) stated that the EU was going through a period of immense change, not least because of the Constitution. She said that it was an opportunity for a more open and progressive Commission, but this chance had not been taken. Sinn Fein MEPs would oppose the Commission in the vote, not because of individual Commissioners, but due to the fact that several policies it espoused would, according to Mrs McDonald, undermine equality, justice and human rights. "The cosmetic changes made by Mr Barroso were not enough."

Robert KILROY-SILK (NA, UK) made a fierce attack on the proposed Commission team, calling them "a gaggle of rejects, has-beens and liars," epitomised by the British nominee, Peter MANDELSON, who was, he said, synonymous with lies, deception and spin. This was not a suitable government for Europe: "My country deserves better, and we will get it," he said.

Andrew DUFF (ALDE, UK) said European parliamentary democracy had sometimes progressed by taking a king to the guillotine. At other times it did so by turning to an obscure page of the rules of procedure to modernise the executive-legislature relationship. The proposed framework agreement would strengthen both Parliament and Commission, and in particular the Commission President vis-à-vis the Council. The Commission would now enjoy dual legitimacy of states and citizens, which it should use wisely. No-one could now argue that the Commission was made up of unelected bureaucrats: Europe and democracy had gained from this crisis.

Timothy KIRKHOPE (EPP-ED, UK) said the British Conservatives had been prepared to support Mr Barroso in July, based on his record of reform in Portugal and his promises of reform in Europe. He warned that "objectivity has been corrupted" by the left- wing of Parliament, and his group still had great reservations about Mr Kovács, while it had been sorry to see the departure of Mr Buttiglione, who was, he said, a good man. Nevertheless, the UK Conservatives would give Mr Barroso their support.

Kathy SINNOTT (IND/DEM, IE) said the issue was not whether one Commissioner or another was unfit for their job. It was about whether Parliament or the nations had power in Europe. Power had clearly gone the Parliament's way: what would happen in the future if the two largest groups in Parliament demanded a specific list of people on the Commission, she asked. One institution had gained at the expense of 25 countries - the EU was no longer a Union of nations, she said.

Avril DOYLE (EPP-ED, IE) thanked Mr Barroso for listening to the Parliament. There were three results: the EU was confirmed as a political and not a bureaucratic project; interinstitutional relations had been improved; the EU's democratic legitimacy had been enhanced. She was now more confident in supporting the Commission, despite reservations regarding Mr Kovács and Ms Kroes. In the latter case, she had no doubt about the candidate's professional competence - perhaps the right woman was in the wrong job, she suggested. The process had showed Parliament was not a rubber stamp, she said, concluding by wishing Mr Barroso well.

Response to the debate

Atzo NICOLAÏ, Dutch European Affairs Minister spoke for the Presidency of the Council. He said the Council was not directly a party to the debate between Commission and Parliament, but pointed out that the Council was happy with the new list of Commissioners-designate. He reaffirmed the right of Parliament to oppose and criticise the Commission and said the situation had not been a crisis. There was room for conflict in mature democracies. The EU in general and EU democracy emerged strengthened from the episode.

Mr Barroso thanked MEPs for their contributions and what he judged to be a generally positive reception. He wanted to address three points in response to the debate.

Firstly, on the make up of the Commission, he said it was unreasonable to criticise him for taking account of Member States' views since the treaties obliged him to do so. The make up of the Commission was not for the President alone to decide. The October debate had allowed him clearly to grasp Parliament's concerns and he had made some changes as a result - but since some of the demands made on him were directly contradictory, he could never have satisfied everyone. He planned to work openly, closely and honestly with Parliament, but not to the detriment of the Commission's strength, independence or credibility. He pointed out that the Commission team already represented a compromise, between the Member States and himself, some Member States having been more willing to take account of his own concerns than others.

Secondly, regarding potential conflicts of interest and the proposed Commissioner for Competition, he noted that the evaluation letter from the parliamentary committee had accepted adequate measures had been proposed to address this issue. The Director- General for Competition would have a duty to report to the President of the Commission any case with a potential conflict and the President would decide whether this was sufficient to take on the case himself or pass it to another Commissioner. The three cases raised by Ms Frassoni were three out of 561 current anti-trust cases and of thousands of cases overall, he said. The mechanisms in place were transparent and took account of the collegiate nature of Commission decisions.

He said he could not accept that no member of the democratically elected government of Italy could be responsible for justice issues - this went against the principle of non-discrimination. It was necessary to look at the calibre of the individual concerned. Nor could a candidate nominated by the democratically elected government of Hungary, a former President of the majority party there, be rejected out of hand. It was not appropriate to apply stricter criteria for Commissioners than Member States applied for their own ministers. Noting that there were 25 Commissioners, he asked whether members even of parties in power in their own states agreed with every member of their government.

It was also inappropriate to criticise the Commission team for being too liberal: the team reflected the pluralistic balance of the elected governments of the Member States. If there had been communist governments in power there would have been communist Commissioners, he said.

Addressing himself particularly to the Socialist group, he promised again that he would not be a partisan President of the Commission. He wanted to work with all pro-European forces for the good of Europe. He suggested that the forthcoming negotiations on the Financial Perspective would show the Socialists would have fewer problems with him than with some socialist governments, when it came to social cohesion spending.

Thirdly, regarding EP-Commission relations, he said the proposal in the draft resolution tabled by four political groups on individual parliamentary responsibility of Commissioners was acceptable to him. If Parliament withdrew its confidence from a particular Commissioner, he would be prepared either to ask for that individual to resign, or to justify to Parliament his reasons for not doing so. Automatic resignation, however, was not in the spirit or the letter of the treaties, and would not reflect the collegiate nature of the Commission which, on the contrary, was written into the treaties.

Finally, he said it was wrong to talk of winners and losers in this process. It was a constructive process and everyone would win. He promised to work faithfully with Parliament for a positive outcome for Europe.


External Relations

Thabo Mbeki: "Africa always contributes something new "
Address by Mr Thabo MBEKI, President of South Africa
17.11.2004

President Josep BORRELL welcomed Thabo MBEKI, President of the Republic of South Africa, to the chamber by recalling the European Parliament's many resolutions calling for the ending of apartheid, and its participation in the observer mission to South Africa's first free and inclusive elections ten years ago. He said Mr Mbeki's life had been marked by the struggle for freedom and democracy, and praised the deep roots of the changes which had taken place in South African society.

President Mbeki's address to MEPs was an optimistic assessment of Africa's potential to overcome its own problems, without the need for neo-colonial intervention from the United States or Europe. He took as his theme the famous saying of Roman scholar Pliny the Elder that "out of Africa there is always something new". He quoted two downbeat assessments of Africa's prospects published in US newspapers, which had argued that the West or Europe in particular needed to undertake long term military interventions to rescue Africans from failed or weak states. He argued strongly that Africans had absolutely no wish to be re-colonised, and he was equally certain that Europeans had no wish to impose on themselves what had once arrogantly been called the "white man's burden."

"As you are doing in Europe, Africa is today involved in an extraordinary and creative endeavour that might contribute something new to the understanding of the capacity and ability of human beings to overcome adversity and build a new world of hope", he said. Ten years ago, many in the world foresaw South Africa facing a "cataclysmic clash of races that would transform our streets into rivers of blood." This had not happened, because of what "black and white Africans of South Africa did, understanding that the taking of even one human life would neither repair the great harm visited on millions for centuries nor create the possibility to repair the damage," and South Africa was at peace. This was, he said, an African miracle, a triumphant resurgence of everything good and noble in the human soul.

He also referred to the carnage in Rwanda, wondering what could have driven the genocidaires to commit the high crimes visited on that country's people. Here too, however, "I have marvelled that simple African folk could convene under the African sky, without even the sophistication of a simple village hall, the hunters and the hunted together, and decide to forgive, choosing the path of national reconciliation rather than angry violence." He continued with a list of African conflicts which had ended or were coming to an end, including that between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and in southern Sudan. He was confident that the conflict in Darfur could be resolved and that the people of Côte d'Ivoire would "find one another and will together establish a stable peace, reunify their country and join together in electing a government representative of the people... as a whole."

This progress was representative of the new Africa defined by the African Union and the New Partnership for Economic Development, NEPAD: "It is a new Africa that has finally made the statement to itself that it must take responsibility for its destiny, that it must take ownership of its own future. I speak of an Africa that is saying it must be its own liberator from the ills of war and conflict, dictatorship, corruption and the regression that have characterised much of Africa over the last few decades."

"The Africa you know well is poor. Yet it is committed to engage in struggle to eradicate that poverty. It is underdeveloped. But it is determined to extricate itself from this terrible condition. It continues to suffer from such conflicts as you experienced not so long ago in the Balkans. Nevertheless, it is resolved to act firmly and consistently to guarantee itself the gift of please."

Mr Mbeki emphasised that during this period of globalisation, no country or continent could be an island. In the end, "the European Union will not succeed in its noble objectives if neighbouring Africa fails to achieve the same objectives." He praised the success of EU Regional Policy: "it is difficult to see how Africa can extricate itself from its terrible condition of poverty and underdevelopment without resort to the development model epitomised by the EU Regional Policy, which has recorded the successes it has with regard to the poor and underdeveloped regions within the EU."

Mr Mbeki called for ongoing dialogue between Africa and the EU, and reminded MEPs that "the more you succeed to establish a strong, effective and successful European Union, the more your responsibilities will increase to contribute to... the goal of a better world for all. One of the greatest responsibilities of our time is to end the obscene reality of endemic poverty for millions, when the means and know-how exist within human society to achieve the objective of a better life for all."

He concluded by saying that regardless of what sceptics might say, the original form of the Pliny quotation, which is now the motto of the South African Museum, Semper aliquad novi Africa affert, was true: Africa always contributes something new.


Situation in Cuba
Motions for resolutions on the situation in Cuba
Doc.: B6-0155/2004, B6-0156/2004,
B6-0160/2004, B6-0163/2004
Debate: 16.11.2004
Vote: 17.11.2004

Vote

Parliament adopted a resolution with 376 votes in favour, 281 against, and 26 abstentions calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who are being held in the country and once again condemns such detentions, which constitute an attack on the most basic human rights, in particular freedom of expression and freedom of political association.

The House urges the Council and the Commission to continue to take whatever action is necessary in order to seek the release of these individuals. MEPs reiterate that the objectives of the European Union’s policy towards Cuba continue to be respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, encouragement of a process of transition to a pluralist democracy and a lasting economic recovery aimed at improving the living standards of the Cuban population. Parliament vehemently condemns the Cuban authorities’ expulsion of three parliamentarians from the EU Member States and of two representatives of NGOs, and expresses its support for them and for the members of the democratic opposition.

MEPs repeat their invitation to the winner of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov Prize - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas - and urges the Cuban authorities to grant him the necessary permits in order to enable him to appear before the Community institutions. MEPs stress that the current embargo imposed on Cuba by the USA is counterproductive and should be lifted. Lastly, MEPs stress that the political future of Cuba must rest on the sole will of its citizens.

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European Council

Resolution on European Council
Motions for resolutions on European Council meeting (Brussels, 4-5 November 2004)
Doc.: B6-0153/2004, B6-0154/2004, B6-0157/2004, B6-0158/2004, B6-0159/2004, B6-0161/2004
Debate/Vote: 17.11.2004

Vote

In adopting a resolution on the outcome of European Council meeting of 4-5 November in Brussels, Parliament has set out its position on the main issues discussed by European leaders during the summit.

Regarding the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy MEPs welcome the European Council's reaffirmation of the Lisbon goals and deplore the lack of progress made up to now. They draw particular attention to the Kok report's conclusion that the chief obstacle to progress has been poor implementation by the Member States. Parliament considers that to achieve the necessary economic growth, Europe should focus on both structural reforms and macroeconomic action by the EU and the 25 governments. They also call for a greater emphasis on the environmental dimension and deplore the Council's failure to agree on the Community patent.

On the area of Freedom, Security and Justice, Parliament welcomes what it calls the historic decision to moved to Qualified Majority Voting and codecision on Justice and Home Affairs issues with the exception of legal migration. It also welcomes the Hague Programme's emphasis on guaranteeing fundamental rights. MEPs stress the urgent need to reduce illegal immigration, arguing that this can only be achieved through a coherent and comprehensive European asylum and immigration policy. They also emphasise the need to achieve a proper balance between law enforcement and the protection of fundamental freedoms.

The resolution also addresses the issue of Iraq. MEPs express their concern at the difficulties experienced in establishing security and the conditions for free and fair elections. They are also concerned for the civilian victims of current military operations. They strongly condemn all acts of indiscriminate violence, terrorist attacks and hostage taking. Parliament says it shares the Council's determination to assist Iraq's reconstruction and transformation and is counting on the EU to support preparations for the elections. Parliament calls for the International Atomic Energy Agency immediately to be granted unimpeded access to all of Iraq's nuclear installations.

On the Middle East, MEPs express their solidarity with the Palestinian people following the death of Yasser Arafat, and repeat their belief that a solution to the Middle East conflict is possible only through a negotiated agreement based on the existence of two viable, peaceful and democratic states - Israel and Palestine. Parliament says the EU should assist the Palestinian Authority to organise free and fair presidential, legislative and local elections.

Regarding Sudan, MEPs share the Council's grave concern at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Darfur region resulting from renewed violence by rebels and militia, compounded by the violent and forced displacement of internally displace people by the Government of Sudan's forces. They call on the UN Security Council to introduce a global arms embargo against Sudan and introduce targeted sanctions against those responsible for massive abuses of human rights and other atrocities.

On Iran, Parliament supports the efforts of the EU and its Member States to reach an agreement with the Iranian government on its nuclear programme, but expresses its deep concern at the deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, reaffirming that a durable and co-operative long term relationship depends on progress in this field.

Regarding Ukraine, Parliament agrees with the Council that Ukraine is a key neighbour and partner, but is alarmed that the first round of Presidential elections failed to meet many international standards. MEPs call on the Ukrainian authorities to improve matters for the second round. Encouraged by the high turnout in the elections, Parliament asks for the Ukraine Action Plan to be put into effect, with a strong focus on the development of civil society.

Finally, Parliament stresses that any measures to assist third countries to combat illegal immigration to the EU should not lead to the politicisation of EU development funding.

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Security and Defence

Arms exports: no lifting of embargo on China
Raũl ROMEVA RUEDA (Greens/EFA, ES)
Report on the Council's Fifth Annual Report according to Operative Provision 8 of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports
(2004/2103(INI))
Doc.: A6-0022/2004
Procedure : Own-initiative
Debate : 16.11.2004
Vote : 17.11.2004

Vote

In adopting a non-binding resolution, Parliament welcomed the Council's fifth annual report on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. Since 1998, the Code lays down minimum standards for an arms export control regime.

The report considers that a clear and efficient common arms export control is decisive in the fight against terrorism, the interest of conflict prevention and respect for human rights. It welcomes the improvements in the information provided by both old and new member states in regard to respective arms exports and emphasises the need to collect compatible data in order to ensure transparency. In this respect, the report calls for each Member State to provide data on the type and quantity of arms supplied and on the total value of exports and the number of licences refused in order to acquire fuller and more harmonised data. MEPs stress the usefulness of a central database composed of denial notifications, since this would give Member states a source of information to investigate specific denials.

The draft report notes that the wording of the Code of Conduct leads to diverging interpretations by different Member states. It welcomes a clarification of the Code. MEPs welcome in particular the efforts of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK to control the brokering of conventional arms and calls for the other Members to speed up the implementation of brokering controls. The report calls on Member States to prohibit the brokering of equipment for capital punishment, torture and other cruel treatment as well as to criminalise violations whenever committed. MEPs call on the Council and Member states to "maintain the EU embargo on trade in arms with China" and not to weaken the existing national limitations on such arm sales. They also call on Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey to "tighten their national legislation and above all their practices in the area of arms exports" In addition, the report stresses that a "particular attention should be paid to Kaliningrad" which has been in the past served as a transit point for shipments of military equipment and arms from other parts of Russia for illicit end-users.

Debate

Opening the joint debate on arms sales, Atzo NICOLAÏ for the Dutch Presidency underlined the importance of the EU's Code of Conduct on arms exports. He recalled that the Code was first drawn up in 1998 and had been one of the most successful tools of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. Countries outside the EU, he said, had taken a keen interest in the Code and had wanted to be associated with it. The aim of the Dutch Presidency, the Minister outlined, was to make the Code of Conduct even more transparent; and this is why the Dutch Presidency had embarked on the first full review of the Code of Conduct. The Dutch Presidency, he stated, had also organised several conferences on the subject including one to take place in December in Prague to explain the impact of the Code of Conduct for the new Member States.

The EU had taken several steps since 2003 and had increased control on brokering activities, licence applications and on so called intangible transfers of technology. On denial notification systems, there had also been improvements, and the Council Secretariat, he stated, is establishing a database on the implementation of the Code of Conduct in the different Member States. The Minister understood Parliament's demands to see that the Code become legally binding. However, he pointed out there was no consensus in the Council - indeed half the Member States favoured such a move and the other half opposed it. The 2004 report which should be completed under the Dutch Presidency would be more transparent than previous reports.

Turning to the arms embargo on China, Mr Nicolaï stated that he could not say a lot since this matter was still under discussion in the Council. However, he stated that he recognised Parliament's call for the embargo to remain in place and that on every occasion the EU reminded China of the human rights problems in that country.

Speaking for the Commission, in his last appearance as Commissioner, Chris PATTEN recalled that the embargo was imposed by the European Council in 1989 following the events in Tiananmen Square. This year, he said, China has intensified its campaign to have it lifted. That campaign continues in the run up to the EU-China summit next month. The Chinese authorities consider the embargo to be evidence of discrimination against them, arguing that it is ‘obsolete’. They claim that it severely hinders the further development of bilateral relations. While the EU has acknowledged that positive change has occurred and that the political situation in China has moved on since Tiananmen, China’s observance of some basic human rights, notably in the area of political and civil rights, continues to fall well short of international norms. Without making any direct link, the Commission has therefore consistently told China at the highest level that lifting of the embargo would be greatly assisted if they could take concrete steps in the field of human rights; steps that could convince European public opinion of the appropriateness of such action.

The Commission, he said, knows that a number of Member States are favourably disposed towards lifting the embargo, and have gone public with that position. Others believe that it is premature, citing concerns about human rights. Human rights were an issue that figured prominently in the resolution against lifting passed by Parliament last year.

Those Member States arguing for lifting use the rationale that the controls introduced in the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on arms sales make it no longer necessary. The Commission, he said, is very keen to move forward with our important strategic partnership with China, which is rapidly emerging as a global player across the board, and is now, among other things our second largest trading partner.

That said, given the underlying logic of the embargo and the significant political and symbolic values involved for both sides, it is understandable that some Member States argue that lifting the ban should take place against a background of positive and tangible steps by China to improve the human rights situation.

Turning to the European Parliament’s report on the operation of the EU’s Code of Conduct on arms exports, he said that the strength of the Code of Conduct is closely related to the China embargo debate as it will guide Member States export practice should lifting take place. Rapporteur Raul Romeva Rueda, should be commended for putting together a substantial document which merits detailed attention. It challenges Member States to attain higher, more stringent, standards on the control of arms exports. Among other things it asks for more transparency, not something normally immediately associated with the trade in arms. It also seeks further controls and limitations on such trade; inherently difficult areas for those Member States with significant arms industries.

Whilst the report focuses primarily on improvement in European practice, its scope is global. Recognising the EU’s potential to promote best practice around the world, it advocates inter alia an International Arms Trade Treaty. The EU should not forget the sobering fact that around half a million people die each year as a result of violence linked to small arms and light weapons. The Commission, he recalled, is regularly involved, with other international organisations and NGO’s, in dealing with the consequences of inappropriate or illegal arms sales. The Commission is also implementing some specific projects to reduce destabilising accumulations of weapons around the world. A pilot project initiated by the European Parliament is underway in order to see what else can be done.

The Commission particularly supports the logic of an international agreement to strengthen the control of conventional arms sales. That is why the Commission has, as part of wider EU efforts, strongly supported the adoption of an international Code of Conduct on arms exports based on the EU’s initiative. Member States, he said, are currently considering how to improve the Code of Conduct and the Commission is encouraging these efforts to strengthen EU controls on conventional arms sales. The success of this endeavour will be a factor in the ongoing China arms embargo debate.

Raũl ROMEVA RUEDA (Verts/ALE, ES), the rapporteur, recalled that Parliament often adopted resolutions which condemned human rights violations and poverty around the world. However, on arms exports, Member States continued to sell arms to some of these countries. In fact, he said, the EU was responsible for one-third of all arms exports and in recent years had sold arms to, among others, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Israel, Algeria. He stated that the Code of Conduct was still too vague and called for it to become legally binding. He commended the Dutch Presidency's efforts to highlight the issue. In particular, he called for a ban on the export of material used for torture and for the death penalty.

Jacky HENIN (GUE/NGL, FR), speaking for the International Trade Committee, stated that the EU ought to go further and create an EU Arms export agency as well as introduce a tax on arms exports which would directly benefit the victims of war and the use of small arms. Quoting Albert Einstein, "either humans destroy arms, or arms will destroy humanity."

Political group speakers

Karl von WOGAU (DE) spoke for the EPP-ED group. He said the Code of Conduct had brought significant but not sufficient progress. He said arms brokering as well as manufacturing should be subject to the Code. It was time to stop treating arms exports like just another trade. On China, he said the goal should be to reach a strategic partnership, but with human rights problems and the Taiwan and Tibet issues still outstanding, it was not the right time to lift the embargo.

Ana GOMES (PT), for the Socialist group, said many people faced death because of the arms trade. Steps had been taken towards greater controls, but there was much more to do. There was a need to increase transparency, and to ban completely the export of equipment used for torture and of anti-personnel mines. She urged the Council to maintain the embargo on arms exports to China, where there were ongoing human rights problems. Finally, she called for a tax on arms exports.

For the ALDE group, Johan VAN HECKE (BE) said the report was well balanced and should be taken into account by the Council. The Code of Conduct needed to be an efficient and well performing instrument, with real sanctions for non-compliance. Lifting the embargo on China, he said, would be a textbook example of hypocrisy and selectivity.

Hélène FLAUTRE (FR) spoke for the Greens/EFA group. She welcomed the agreement from all sides of the House, but warned that some Heads of State had no scruples when it came to arms exports to China. Lifting that embargo would itself be a breach of the Code of Conduct, she said.

Vittorio AGNOLETTO (IT) for the GUE/NGL group said there was a risk of this being no more than an annual expression of good intentions. What was needed was a legally binding instrument, with sanctions for companies breaking its terms. There should be a Code of Conduct agreed between the EU, the US and Russia, he said. He also called for the embargo on China to be maintained.

Bogdan PĘK (PL) for the Independence and Democracy group said this was an important decision and the Code of Conduct should be agreed with the US and Russia. If this was not possible, the EU should show moral superiority and take a stand itself.

Ryszard CZARNECKI (PL), a non attached MEP, said half a million people was killed each year by light weapons. Arms exports to non-EU countries should be subject to regulation, and it should also include Turkey, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Other Irish/British speakers

Proinsias DE ROSSA (PES, IE) welcomed the recent progress in strengthening the EU's Code of Conduct. However, he called the illegitimate export of small arms "the real weapons of mass destruction." He said there were no statistics on the number of weapons exported from the EU that "fell into the wrong hands".

Simon COVENEY (EPP-ED, IE) stated that there was nothing wrong with a legitimate arms trade, but at the same time there had to be effective control. The EU, he said, should continue to pursue its Code of Conduct and also called for it to become legally binding. However, Mr Coveney opposed the introduction of a tax on arms exports.

Geoffrey VAN ORDEN (EPP-ED, UK) stated that the British Conservatives supported the EU Code of Conduct but said there was some room for refinement and improvement. He also opposed it become legally binding. Some provisions contained in the draft report, he said, would be counter-productive, including the publication of reasons for the refusal of a licence application.

Richard HOWITT (PES, UK) stated that the Code, although welcome, needed to be strengthened. He stated that if trends were to continue, the number of deaths caused by small arms, by 2020, would outnumber those caused by disease. He condemned the countries that did not produce an annual report on arms exports. There were still many loopholes that countries were exploiting. He stated that there was a long way to go before the arms embargo on China could be lifted.

Response to the debate

Responding to the debate, Mr NICOLAÏ noted that almost all the speakers had called for maintaining the arms embargo for China. He said he shared many of the concerns raised, but pointed out that even if the embargo was to be lifted, the restricted export policy would still apply to any exports to China. On the Code of Conduct, he said there was an almost even division of opinion in the Council on whether this should be given legal status, and the problems of the judicial consequences had been discussed. In any case, he believed the content and implementation were more important that the formal status of the document, which would probably change little of what actually happened. He pointed out that a draft regulation on exports on torture equipment was under discussion in Council. Finally, he agreed with all those who said more efforts were needed in this area and thanked MEPs for this commitment and support on this question.

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Military mission to Bosnia Herzegovina
Motion for a resolution - ALTHEA mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Doc. B6-0162/2004
Debate: 16.11.2004
Vote: 17.11.2004

Vote

In adopting a resolution, Parliament welcomes the new co-ordinated and coherent approach of the EU to Bosnia and Herzegovina which includes a comprehensive Strategy for BiH, a new mandate for the EU Special Representative, the civilian aspects such as the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) and Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDs) programmes, the European Union Police Mission as well as the future military stabilisation force 'Althea'. This mission will be made up of 7000 military personnel which represents the largest EU military mission to date. The estimated cost of the mission, to be paid directly by the Member States is some €71.7m. MEPs, however, deplore the decision to finance this mission by contributions outside the normal budget of the European Union.

MEPs also deplore the non-involvement of the European Parliament, the treaty limits on the right of Parliament to be consulted and the limited provision of information. The House believes that the 'Althea' operation should reinforce the EU's comprehensive approach towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and should support that country's progress towards eventual EU membership. MEPs support the ‘Stabilisation and Association Process’ in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which constitutes an essential framework for that country’s journey towards the EU. The House also welcomes the new mandate of the EU Special Representative, Lord Ashdown, to implement the comprehensive support package for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but recalls once again that Bosnia and Herzegovina must rely principally on its own efforts. Parliament welcomes the decision of the EU to have recourse to NATO assets and capabilities for the 'Althea' mission, thereby confirming the collaboration between the two organisations and implementing the agreement of December 2002 on EU access to NATO planning and command facilities ('Berlin Plus').

The House considers it important for the EU force to include a robust ‘gendarmerie-type’ element (the Integrated Police Unit) in order to perform those tasks for which the military have not generally been trained and which normal police forces cannot perform, especially since the EU Police Mission has a non-executive mandate under which it can only give advice and monitor developments. MEPs underline in this context the importance of the stepping-up of efforts to create a local, multiethnic police force that enjoys the confidence of all communities in the country. Finally, Parliament urges the EU's military and police forces as well as the civilian authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to collaborate closely in searching energetically for war criminals and in fighting against any kind of terrorism.

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Human Rights

Côte d'Ivoire - call for an end to violence
Joint motion for a resolution on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire
Doc. B6-0166/2004, B6-0171/2004, B6-0175/2004, B6-0176/2004, B6-0179/2004
Debate/Vote 18.11.2004

In adopting a joint resolution, the House welcomes, following the position adopted by the African Heads of State meeting in Abuja on 12 November 2004, the Security Council's decision to impose an immediate embargo on arms. MEPs pay tribute to the memory of all the victims of recent developments in the situation following the breaking of the cease-fire agreements and express their sympathy to the families of the victims - Ivorian, African and French - of these acts of violence, in particular those committed against women. The House condemns the violence and the acts of xenophobia and pillaging, and calls on the Ivorian Government to put an end to these abuses and to the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators and instigators of such acts. MEPs urge all parties to the conflict to: put an immediate end to military action and other hostile acts, stop targeting and attacking civilians including humanitarian aid workers, irrespective of their ethnicity, nationality or religion, desist from, and take action against, instances of incitement to hatred and violence, recommit to dialogue and negotiations and to respect and implement commitments.

The House welcomes the AU and ECOWAS mandate given to South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate between the parties to the conflict and the African Union's involvement with a view to finding a political solution to the Ivorian crisis. It expresses its full support to the AU and the Economic Community of West African States, along with the United Nations, in seeking a rapid and lasting solution to the current crisis. Parliament regrets the fact that the current composition of the peacekeeping forces is not sufficiently multinational. The House condemns the destruction of the premises of opposition parties and newspapers and the acts of sabotage against foreign radio transmitters. MEPs call on the Government of Côte d'Ivoire and the representatives of the 'New Forces' to implement the Accra III Agreement and to take all necessary measures in order to restore the rule of law, and to uphold and safeguard respect for human rights. Parliament calls on the Council, with regard to conflict prevention, to fight the underlying causes of the crisis, in particular the economic and social causes, and to support the deployment of African Union peacekeeping forces, in the context of the EDF 'peace facility'. The House calls on the EU and the international community to step up funding for humanitarian aid in Côte d'Ivoire as soon as the conditions allow increased, and desperately needed, operations. Lastly, MEPs call on the Council, in this context, to consider consultations between the EU and Côte d'Ivoire under Articles 9 and 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.

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Tibet: no to the death penalty
Joint motion for a resolution on Tibet, the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
Doc. B6-0169/2004, B6-0172/2004, B6-0173/2004, B6-0178/2004, B6-0180/2004, B6-0184/2004
Debate/Vote 18.11.2004

In adopting a joint resolution with 104 votes in favour, 1 against and 3 abstentions, MEPs reiterate their call for the abolition of the death penalty, call for an immediate moratorium on capital punishment in China and urge the Chinese authorities to immediately commute the death sentence handed down to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. The House strongly condemns the execution of Lobsang Dhondup on 26 January 2003. MEPs call on the Chief Prosecutor of the Sichuan Provincial People's Procuratorate and the Governor of the Sichuan Provincial People's Government to do their utmost to prevent the execution of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. The House urges the authorities to guarantee that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche will not be ill-treated in detention. MEPs ask for an immediate review of the case and call on the Chinese authorities to do all in their power to establish that international human rights and humanitarian law standards are being respected and, in particular, to guarantee internationally recognised legal proceedings for persons arrested. MEPs also call on the European Union and its Member States to urge the Government of the People’s Republic of China to respect the religious rights and freedom of the Tibetan people, and in particular to prevent the execution of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and to call for a new and fair trial. Parliament calls on the Commission and the Council to express their concerns about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's case during the forthcoming EU/China Summit.

MEPs welcome the release of Ngawang Sangdrol and Jigme Sangpo, Tibet's longest-serving prisoners of conscience, and urge the Chinese authorities to continue with prisoner releases. The House calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to step up the ongoing dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of Tibet without further delay. Lastly, Parliament reiterates, in this respect, its call to the Council to appoint an EU Special Representative for Tibetan Affairs so as to contribute effectively to the peaceful resolution of this issue.

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Eritrea: MEPs condemn human rights abuses
Joint motion for a resolution on the human rights situation in Eritrea
Doc. B6-0167/2004, B6-0170/2004, B6-0174/2004, B6-0177/2004, B6-0181/2004, B6-0182/2004, B6-0183/2004
Debate/Vote 18.11.2004

MEPs adopted a joint resolution on the situation in Eritrea firmly condemning all human rights abuses in Eritrea and calling on the country's authorities to uphold human rights, to respect the international conventions and to cooperate in full with international human rights organisations and NGOs. The House calls on the Eritrean government to abide by the international human rights conventions. MEPs call for a thorough and independent investigation of the incident at the Adi Abeto military prison on 4 November, where at least a dozen prisoners were reportedly shot dead and call for those responsible to be brought to justice. Parliament wants the Eritrean authorities to immediately release the 11 former members of parliament, in compliance with the ruling of the African Commission on Human Rights of March 2004. MEPs also call on the Eritrean authorities to lift the ban on the country's independent press and to immediately release the 13 independent journalists and all others who have been jailed simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

The House calls on the Eritrean authorities to respect the human rights of all detainees, including the young people arrested on 4 November, and allow them immediate access to their families and lawyers. MEPs stress the importance they attach to fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, especially in the political and trade union spheres, and freedom of assembly. The House reiterates its demand for the initiation of an inter-Eritrean political process, bringing together the various party leaders and representatives of civil society with a view to finding a solution to the current crisis and to setting the country on the path to democracy, political pluralism and sustainable development. In this context, MEPs confirm their commitment to supporting the development of Eritrea, as well as peace, stability and cooperation in the region. Finally, MEPs call on the Council and Commission to open the consultation procedure in accordance with Article 96 of the Cotonou agreement in order to stop human rights violations and pave the way for political pluralism.

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Petitions

Support for the work of the European Ombudsman
Proinsias DE ROSSA (PES, IE)
Report on the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman for the year 2003
(2004/2091(INI))
Doc.: A6-0030/2004
Procedure : Own-initiative
Debate : 18.11.2004
Vote: 18.11.2004

MEPs adopted an own initiative report, by 530 votes in favour, 9 against with 20 abstentions, from Proinsias DE ROSSA (PES, IE) as Parliament's official response to the Ombudsman's Annual Report for 2003. MEPs congratulate the Ombudsman on his good work and the good relations he has with the Petitions Committee. They regard the role of the Ombudsman as a key contribution towards a European Union in which decisions are taken "as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen". They confirm the need for the Ombudsman's statute to be revised to take account of the investigative powers of OLAF and Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents.

The report also welcomes the creation by the Ombudsman of a network of ombudsmen and other national and local bodies to which complaints are transferred which do not fall within his sphere of competence. Lastly, Parliament believes that a future law on sound administration, which would have a legal basis in the draft Constitution, should be binding on all EU institutions and bodies.

The European Ombudsman was set up by the Maastricht Treaty and the right of EU citizens to send complaints to this office is a key aspect of EU citizenship. The work of the Petitions Committee and the Ombudsman are to a large degree complementary. The Ombudsman's Annual Report indirectly enables the Petitions Committee to have an idea of the impact of its own work and how it is developing. This year's report covers a period in which Jacob SÖDERMAN, the first Ombudsman, was in office up to 31 March 2003, as well as the period under Nikiforos DIAMANDOUROS, who took office in 2003. Around 2,436 complaints were received by the European Ombudsman in 2003, an increase of 10% over 2002.


Enlargement

European Agency for Reconstruction
Anders SAMUELSEN (ALDE, DK)
Report on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) N° 2667/2000 on the European Agency for Reconstruction
(COM(2004)0451 – C6-0075/2004 – 2004/0133(CNS))
Doc.: A6-0031/2004
Procedure : Consultation
Debate : 16.11.2004
Vote : 17.11.2004

Vote

Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on the European Agency for Reconstruction.

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Economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community
Mechtild ROTHE (PES, DE)
Report on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing an instrument of financial support for encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community
(COM(2004)0465 – COM(2004)0696 – 13195/2004 – C6-0098/2004 – 2004/0145(CNS))
Doc.: A6-0032/2004
Procedure : Consultation
Debate : 16.11.2004

Vote

Parliament endorsed the creation of a financial instrument to give €259 million in financial support to the Turkish Cypriot community until 2006. In order to do so, Parliament adopted a report presented by Mechtild ROTHE (PES, D) by 618 votes in favour, 39 against and 24 abstentions. MEPs voted a small number of amendments, among others deleting any reference to the budget heading from which the support would be financed. A decision on the appropriate heading will have to be taken by the Council and Parliament jointly when they adopt an amending budget, a draft of which the Council has yet to submit. MEPs also insisted that the Council reach a decision within three months on a related proposal concerning trade relations with the Turkish Cypriot community. Other amendments aim at facilitating the decision-making of the committee assisting the Commission in the implementation of the financial support and at involving Parliament in all future decisions taken in case of a political settlement between the Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus.

The EU Foreign Affairs Ministers decided, after the negative outcome of the Cyprus referendum, to use the €259 million which had been set aside in case of a political settlement instead to help overcome the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot Community. The European Commission drew up a draft regulation for the implementation of this financial support, and this has now been endorsed by Parliament with a number of amendments.

Press enquiries:
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Environment

Packaging waste targets for 10 new Member States
Dorette CORBEY (PES, NL)
Report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste
(COM(2004)0127 – C5-0100/2004 – 2004/0045(COD))
Doc.: A6-0027/2004
Procedure : Codecision (1st reading)
Debate : 16.11.2004
Vote : 17.11.2004

Vote

The House adopted a legislative resolution relating to packaging and packaging waste in the ten new Member States.

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Climate Change Conference
Motion for a resolution on climate change
Doc. B6-0129/2004
Vote: 17.11.2004

Vote

By adopting a resolution on climate change, by 640 votes in favour, 22 against with 21 abstentions, the European Parliament sent a message to the EU delegation which will take part in the negotiations at the COP-10 Conference in Buenos Aires on the 6-17 December. MEPs want the EU to maintain its leading role in the negotiations on climate change.
Parliament believes that COP-10 constitutes a good opportunity not only to build on the decisions taken at previous Conferences on implementing the Kyoto Protocol, but also to start a wide-ranging debate on the main issues for the second commitment period. MEPs urge the EU and all other parties to the UNFCCC to continue the discussions with a view to incorporating emissions from international flights and shipping into the emission reduction targets of the second commitment period from 2012. They want parties to specifically monitor transportation emissions and possibly develop their own protocol on such emissions.
The House also took the opportunity to welcome the recent decision of the Russian Federation to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, thus enabling it to enter into force. It calls on the countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol to do so as soon as possible. MEPs want the US Government to reconsider its decision not to participate.
Parliament also reminds the EU delegation that according to the latest report of the European Environment Agency Europe is warming faster than the global average as a result of climate change. It believes that the EU should redouble its efforts to meet the Kyoto Protocol targets, and set an example for other parties to the Convention. It especially stresses the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in this connection. Members call on the Commission to assess legislative measures to support the production of energy from biomass. They also urge the Commission to take immediate legal steps regarding the Member States which do not comply with the requirements of the Emissions Trading directive.

Press enquiries:
Leena Maria Linnus
(Strasbourg) tel.(33-3) 887 63969
(Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 42825
e-mail :  envi-press@europarl.eu.int


Justice and Home Affairs

More flexibility for EU funding to secure external borders
Martine ROURE (PES, FR)
Report on the Commission proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2002/463/EC adopting an action programme for administrative cooperation in the fields of external borders, visas, asylum and immigration (ARGO programme)
(COM(2004)0384 – C6-0049/2004 – 2004/0122(CNS))
Doc.: A6-0019/2004
Procedure : Consultation
Vote : 17.11.2004

Vote

Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution, by 572 votes in favour, 72 against with 7 abstentions, on an action programme for administrative cooperation in the fields of external borders, visas, asylum and immigration (ARGO programme).

Press enquiries:
Danny de Paepe
(Strasbourg) tel.(33-3) 881 73605
(Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 42531
e-mail :  libe-press@europarl.eu.int


Economic & Monetary Affairs

Savings taxes agreements with Andorra and Liechtenstein
Jean-Claude GAUZES (EPP-ED, FR)
Report on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Principality of Andorra providing for measures equivalent to those laid down in Council Directive 2003/48/EC on taxation of savings income in the form of interest payments
(COM(2004)0564 – C6-0120/2004 – 2004/0192(CNS))
Doc.: A6-0017/2004
Procedure : Consultation

&

Report on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Principality of Liechtenstein providing for measures equivalent to those laid down in Council Directive 2003/48/EC of 3 June 2003 on taxation of savings income in the form of interest payments
(COM(2004)0569 – C6-0121/2004 – 2004/0191(CNS))
Doc.: A6-0016/2004
Procedure : Consultation
Vote : 17.11.2004

Vote

Parliament adopted two non-binding resolutions relating to taxation of savings in Andorra and Liechtenstein respectively.

Press enquiries:
Paula Fernández Hervás
(Strasbourg) tel.(33-3) 881 74768
(Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 42535
e-mail :  econ-press@europarl.eu.int
&
Elina Viilup
(Strasbourg) tel.(33-3) 881 74794
(Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 31250
e-mail :  econ-press@europarl.eu.int


Agriculture

Simplifying the certification of seed from third countries
 
Joseph DAUL (EPP-ED, FR)
Report on the proposal for a Council directive on amending Directives 66/401/EEC, 66/402/EEC, 2002/54/EC and 2002/57/EC as regards examinations carried out under official supervision and equivalence of seed produced in third countries
(COM(2004)0263 – C6-0010/2004 – 2004/0086(CNS))
Doc. A6-0007/2004
Procedure : Consultation
Vote : 17.11.2004

Vote

Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution, by 559 votes in favour, 15 against with 4 abstentions, as regards examinations carried out under official supervision and equivalence of seed produced in third countries.

Press enquiries:
Maria Andrés Marìn
(Strasbourg) tel.(33-3) 881 73603
(Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 44299
e-mail :  agri-press@europarl.eu.int


Last updated: 22 November 2004Legal notice