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A7-0237/2012

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P7_TA(2012)0477

REPORT     ***I
PDF 298kWORD 412k
17 July 2012
PE 483.540v02-00 A7-0237/2012

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States on the one hand, and Central America on the other

(COM(2011)0599 – C7-0306/2011 – 2011/0263(COD))

Committee on International Trade

Rapporteur: Jörg Leichtfried

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States on the one hand, and Central America on the other

(COM(2011)0599 – C7-0306/2011 – 2011/0263(COD))

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0599),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0306/2011),

-   having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A7-0237/2012),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Amendment  1

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 3

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(3) It is necessary to lay down the procedures for applying certain provisions of the Agreement which concern the bilateral safeguard clause and for applying the Stabilisation Mechanism for Bananas that has been agreed with Central America.

(3) It is necessary to lay down the most appropriate procedures to guarantee the effective application of certain provisions of the Agreement which concern the bilateral safeguard clause and for applying the Stabilisation Mechanism for Bananas that has been agreed with Central America.

Amendment  2

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 3 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(3a) It is necessary to create appropriate safeguard mechanisms to prevent serious harm to Union banana growing, a sector which is of great importance to the end agricultural production of many of the outermost regions. The limited ability of these regions to diversify, owing to their natural characteristics, makes the banana sector particularly vulnerable. It is therefore essential to create effective mechanisms to address preferential imports from third countries, in order to guarantee that Union banana production is maintained under the best possible conditions, as it is a crucial employment sector in certain areas, especially in the outermost regions.

Amendment  3

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 4 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(4a) Serious injury or the threat of serious injury to Union producers may also be caused by the non-fulfilment of specific obligations under Title VIII on “Trade and Sustainable Development” of Part IV of the Agreement – particularly in respect of the labour and environmental standards laid down therein – thus necessitating the imposition of safeguard measures.

Amendment  4

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 5

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(5) Safeguard measures should be considered only if the product in question is imported into the Union in such increased quantities, in absolute terms or relative to Union production, and under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to Union producers of like or directly competitive products as laid down in Article 104 of the Agreement.

(5) Safeguard measures should be considered only if the product in question is imported into the Union in such increased quantities, in absolute terms or relative to Union production, and under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to Union producers of like or directly competitive products as laid down in Article 104 of the Agreement. Pursuant to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and with regard to the products and economic sectors of the outermost regions, safeguard measures should be introduced as soon as imports into the Union of the product in question cause or threaten to cause injury to producers of like or directly competitive products in the outermost regions of the Union.

Amendment  5

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 6

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(6) Safeguard measures should take one of the forms referred to in Article 104(2) of the Agreement.

(6) Safeguard measures should take one of the forms referred to in Article 104(2) of the Agreement. Specific safeguard measures should be provided for when there is a threat to the products or economic sectors of the outermost regions, pursuant to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Amendment  6

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 7

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(7) The tasks of carrying out investigations and, if necessary, imposing safeguard measures should be carried out in the most transparent manner possible.

(7) The tasks of following up and reviewing the Agreement and carrying out investigations and, if necessary, imposing safeguard measures should be carried out in the most transparent manner possible.

Amendment  7

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 8

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(8) There should be detailed provisions on the initiation of proceedings. The Commission should receive information including available evidence from the Member States of any trends in imports which might call for the application of safeguard measures.

(8) There should be detailed provisions on the initiation of proceedings. The Commission should receive information including available evidence from the Member States and interested parties of any trends in imports which might call for the application of safeguard measures.

Amendment  8

Proposal for a regulation

Article 8 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(8a) In the event that the European Parliament adopts a recommendation to initiate a safeguard investigation, the Commission will carefully examine whether the conditions under the Regulation for ex-officio initiation are fulfilled. In the event that the Commission considers that the conditions are not fulfilled, it will present a report to the responsible committee of the European Parliament including an explanation of all the factors relevant to the initiation of such an investigation.

Amendment  9

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 10 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(10a) In some cases, an increase of imports concentrated in one or several of the Union's outermost regions or Member States may cause or threaten to cause serious injury or serious deterioration in their economic situation. In the event that there is an increase of imports concentrated in one or several of the Union's outermost regions or Member States, the Commission may introduce prior surveillance measures.

Amendment  10

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 12

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(12) It is also necessary, pursuant to 112 of the Agreement, to set time limits for the initiation of investigations and for determinations as to whether or not measures are appropriate, with a view to ensuring that such determinations are made quickly, in order to increase legal certainty for the economic operators concerned.

(12) It is also necessary, pursuant to Article 112 of the Agreement, to set time limits for the initiation of investigations and for determinations as to whether or not measures are appropriate, with a view to ensuring that such determinations are made quickly, in order to increase legal certainty for the economic operators concerned and to ensure that the measures are effective.

Amendment  11

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 14

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(14) Safeguard measures should be applied only to the extent, and for such time, as may be necessary to prevent serious injury and to facilitate adjustment. The maximum duration of safeguard measures should be determined and specific provisions regarding extension and review of such measures should be laid down, as referred to in Article 105 of the Agreement.

(14) Safeguard measures should be applied only to the extent, and for such time, as may be necessary to prevent serious injury and to facilitate adjustment. The maximum duration of safeguard measures should be determined and specific provisions regarding extension and review of such measures should be laid down, as referred to in Article 105 of the Agreement. Specific provisions should apply with regard to safeguard measures triggered to protect produce and economic sectors in the outermost regions, in accordance with Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Amendment  12

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 14 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(14a) Close monitoring will facilitate any timely decision concerning the possible initiation of an investigation or the imposition of measures. Therefore the Commission should regularly monitor imports and exports in sensitive sectors, including bananas, from the date of application of the Agreement.

Amendment  13

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 14 b (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(14b) The importance of adhering to the international labour standards drawn up and supervised by the International Labour Organisation should be stressed. Defending decent work for all should be an absolute priority and bananas imported from Central America should be produced under decent social and environmental conditions and for a fair wage to ensure Union producers are not the victims of dumping, a disadvantage they would not be in a position to compensate for and which would permanently damage their competitiveness in the global banana market.

Amendment  14

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 16 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(16a) The Commission should submit a report once a year on the implementation of the Agreement and on the application of the safeguard measures and the banana stabilisation mechanism, which should include up-to-date and reliable statistics on imports from Central America and an assessment of their impact on market prices, employment, working conditions in the Union and the evolution of the Union's production sector, paying special attention to small-size producers and cooperatives. The Commission should do its outmost to include an analysis of the impact of the Agreement and this Regulation on organic production and consumption in the Union and Fair-Trade flows between all parties to the Agreement.

Amendment  15

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 16 b (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(16b) The Commission should make diligent and effective use of the Stabilisation Mechanism for Bananas in order to avoid a threat of serious deterioration or a serious deterioration for producers in the outermost regions in the Union and, from January 2020, use existing instruments such as the safeguard clause or, if necessary, think about developing new instruments which, in the event of serious market disruption, will make it possible to preserve the competitiveness of production sectors in the Union and particularly in the outermost regions.

Amendment  16

Proposal for a regulation

Article 1 - point b

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(b) “interested parties" means parties affected by the imports of the product in question;

(b) “interested parties" means parties affected by the imports of the product in question, including civil society organisations, NGOs and workers' organisations;

Amendment  17

Proposal for a regulation

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point e a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

((ea) "serious deterioration" means significant disturbances in a sector or industry; "threat of serious deterioration" means significant disturbances that are clearly imminent.

Amendment  18

Proposal for a regulation

Article 2 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

Article 2a

 

Monitoring

 

1. The Commission shall monitor the evolution of import and export statistics of Central American products, in particular in sensitive sectors including bananas. For this purpose, it shall cooperate and exchange data on a regular basis with Member States and the Union industry and all interested parties.

 

2. Upon a duly justified request by the industries concerned, the Commission may consider extending the scope of the monitoring to other sectors.

 

3. The Commission shall present an annual monitoring report to the European Parliament and the Council on updated statistics on imports from Central America of products in the sensitive sectors and those sectors to which monitoring has been extended, including bananas.

 

4. In its monitoring report, the Commission shall do its utmost to include the employment rates and working conditions for banana producers in Central America to avoid all forms of dumping.

Amendment  19

Proposal for a regulation

Article 3 – paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

1. An investigation shall be initiated upon request by a Member State, by any legal person or any association not having legal personality, acting on behalf of the Union industry, or on the Commission's own initiative if it is apparent to the Commission that there is sufficient prima facie evidence, as determined on the basis of factors referred to in Article 4(5), to justify such initiation.

1. An investigation shall be initiated upon request by a Member State, by any legal person or any association not having legal personality, acting on behalf of the Union industry, by the European Parliament, or on the Commission's own initiative if it is apparent to the Commission that there is sufficient prima facie evidence, as determined on the basis of factors referred to in Article 4(5), to justify such initiation.

 

When appropriate, the European Parliament may consult and source analysis from independent bodies, such as trade unions, the ILO, academics or human rights organisations.

Amendment  20

Proposal for a regulation

Article 3 - paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. The request to initiate an investigation shall contain evidence that the conditions for imposing the safeguard measure set out in Article 2(1) are met. The request shall generally contain the following information: the rate and amount of the increase in imports of the product concerned in absolute and relative terms, the share of the domestic market taken by increased imports and changes in the level of sales, production, productivity, capacity utilisation, profits and losses, and employment.

2. The request to initiate an investigation shall contain evidence that the conditions for imposing the safeguard measure set out in Article 2(1) are met. The request shall generally contain the following information: the rate and amount of the increase in imports of the product concerned in absolute and relative terms, the share of the domestic market taken by increased imports and changes in the level of sales, production, productivity, capacity utilisation, profits and losses, employment and working conditions.

Amendment  21

Proposal for a regulation

Article 3 - paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

3. An investigation may also be initiated in the event that there is a surge of imports concentrated in one or several Member States, provided that there is sufficient prima facie evidence that the conditions for initiation are met, as determined on the basis of factors referred to in Article 4(5).

3. An investigation may also be initiated in the event that there is a surge of imports concentrated in one or several Member States or outermost regions, provided that there is sufficient prima facie evidence that the conditions for initiation are met, as determined on the basis of factors referred to in Article 4(5).

Amendment  22

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 - paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

4. The Commission shall seek all information it considers necessary to make a determination with regard to the conditions set out in Article 2(1), and, where it considers it appropriate, endeavour to verify that information.

4. The Commission shall seek all information it considers necessary to make a determination with regard to the conditions set out in Article 2(1) and endeavour to verify that information.

Amendment  23

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 – paragraph 5

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5. In the investigation the Commission shall evaluate all relevant factors of an objective and quantifiable nature having a bearing on the situation of the Union industry, in particular, the rate and amount of the increase in imports of the product concerned in absolute and relative terms, the share of the domestic market taken by increased imports and changes in the level of sales, production, productivity, capacity utilisation, profits and losses, and employment. This list is not exhaustive and other relevant factors may also be taken into consideration by the Commission for its determination of the existence of serious injury or threat of serious injury, such as stocks, prices, return on capital employed, cash flow, and other factors which are causing or may have caused serious injury, or threaten to cause serious injury to the Union industry.

5. In the investigation the Commission shall evaluate all relevant factors of an objective and quantifiable nature having a bearing on the situation of the Union industry, in particular, the rate and amount of the increase in imports of the product concerned in absolute and relative terms, the share of the domestic market taken by increased imports and changes in the level of sales, production, productivity, capacity utilisation, profits and losses, and employment. This list is not exhaustive and other relevant factors may also be taken into consideration by the Commission for its determination of the existence of serious injury or threat of serious injury, such as stocks, prices, return on capital employed, cash flow, and other factors which are causing or may have caused serious injury, or threaten to cause serious injury to the Union industry, such as meeting the trigger volumes described within the framework of the stabilisation mechanism for bananas included in Chapter II of this Regulation.

Amendment  24

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 - paragraph 7

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

7. The Commission shall ensure that all data and statistics which are used for the investigation are available, comprehensible, transparent and verifiable.

7. The Commission shall ensure that all data and statistics which are used for the investigation are available, comprehensible, transparent, up-to-date, reliable and verifiable.

Amendment  25

Proposal for a regulation

Article 5 - paragraph 1 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

1a. In the event that there is a surge of imports of products falling into sensitive sectors concentrated in one or several Member States or outermost regions, the Commission may introduce prior surveillance measures.

Amendment  26

Proposal for a regulation

Article 9 - paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

4. Any extension pursuant to paragraph 3 shall be preceded by an investigation upon a request by a Member State, by any legal person or any association not having legal personality, acting on behalf of the Union industry, or on the Commission's own initiative if there is sufficient prima facie evidence that the conditions laid down in paragraph 3 are met, on the basis of factors referred to in Article 4(5).

4. Any extension pursuant to paragraph 3 shall be preceded by an investigation upon a request by a Member State, by any legal person or any association not having legal personality, acting on behalf of the Union industry, by interested parties, by the European Parliament, or on the Commission's own initiative if there is sufficient prima facie evidence that the conditions laid down in paragraph 3 are met, on the basis of factors referred to in Article 4(5).

Amendment  27

Proposal for a regulation

Article 11 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

Article 11a

 

Report

 

1. The Commission shall present an annual report on the application and implementation of the Agreement and of this Regulation to the European Parliament. The report shall include information about the application of provisional and definitive measures, prior surveillance measures, regional surveillance and safeguard measures, the termination of investigations without measures, and the activities of the various bodies responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Agreement and fulfilment of the obligations arising therefrom, including information received from interested parties.

 

2. Special sections of the report shall deal with the fulfilment of obligations under Title VIII “Trade and Sustainable development” of Part IV of the Agreement and with action taken in that respect by Central America under its internal mechanisms and by the Civil Society Dialogue Forum.

 

3. The report shall also present a summary of the statistics and the evolution of trade with Central America.

 

4. The report shall include up-to-date and reliable statistics on banana imports from Central America and their direct and indirect impact on the development of employment and working conditions in the Union production sector.

 

5. The European Parliament may, within one month from the Commission presenting the report, invite the Commission to an ad hoc meeting of its responsible committee to present and explain any issues related to the implementation of the Agreement and this Regulation.

 

6. No later than three months after presenting the report to the European Parliament, the Commission shall make the report public.

Amendment  28

Proposal for a regulation

Article 12 - paragraph 4 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

4a. Where the opinion of the committee is to be obtained by written procedure, that procedure shall be terminated without result when, within the time-limit for delivery of the opinion, the chair of the committee so decides or a majority of committee members so request.

Amendment  29

Proposal for a regulation

CHAPTER I a - Article 12 a (new)(new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

Chapter Ia

 

Article 12a

 

12 a. The applicable provision for the purposes of adopting the necessary implementing rules for the application of the rules contained in Appendix 2A of Annex II "Concerning the Concept of 'Originating Products' and Methods of Administrative Co-operation" and Appendix 2 of Annex I "Elimination of customs duties" of the Agreement is Article 247a of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code.

Amendment  30

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 - paragraph 1 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

1a. The application of the stabilisation mechanism for bananas shall under no circumstances prevent the activation of measures included in the bilateral safeguard clause.

Justification

It should be made clear in the legislative text that the bilateral safeguard clause can be applied to the banana sector irrespective of the agreement on the stabilisation mechanism, the impact of which will be very limited and in practical terms could prove insufficient to avoid serious disruptions to European producers.

Amendment  31

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. A separate annual trigger import volume is set for imports from Central American country for products mentioned in paragraph 1 as indicated in the table in the Annex to this Regulation. The importation of the products mentioned in paragraph 1 at the preferential customs duty rate shall, in addition to the proof of origin established under Annex III (Definition of the concept of ‘originating products’ and methods of administrative co-operation) of the Agreement with Central America, be subject to the presentation of an export certificate issued by the competent authority of the Republic of the Central American country from which the products are exported. Once the trigger volume is met during the corresponding calendar year, the Commission may, in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 12(3), temporarily suspend the preferential customs duty during that same year for a period of time not exceeding three months, and not going beyond the end of the calendar year.

2. A separate annual trigger import volume is set for imports from Central American country for products mentioned in paragraph 1 as indicated in the table in the Annex to this Regulation. The importation of the products mentioned in paragraph 1 at the preferential customs duty rate shall, in addition to the proof of origin established under Annex III (Definition of the concept of "originating products" and methods of administrative co-operation) of the Agreement with Central America, be subject to the presentation of an export certificate issued by the competent authority of the Republic of the Central American country from which the products are exported. Once the trigger volume is met during the corresponding calendar year, the Commission shall temporarily suspend the preferential customs duty during that same year for a period of time not exceeding three months, and not going beyond the end of the calendar year. Only reasons of force majeure shall prevent the suspension from being imposed.

Amendment  32

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. A separate annual trigger import volume is set for imports from Central American country for products mentioned in paragraph 1 as indicated in the table in the Annex to this Regulation. The importation of the products mentioned in paragraph 1 at the preferential customs duty rate shall, in addition to the proof of origin established under Annex III (Definition of the concept of "originating products" and methods of administrative co-operation) of the Agreement with Central America, be subject to the presentation of an export certificate issued by the competent authority of the Republic of the Central American country from which the products are exported. Once the trigger volume is met during the corresponding calendar year, the Commission may, in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 12(3), temporarily suspend the preferential customs duty during that same year for a period of time not exceeding three months, and not going beyond the end of the calendar year.

2. A separate annual trigger import volume is set for imports from Central American country for products mentioned in paragraph 1 as indicated in the table in the Annex to this Regulation. The importation of the products mentioned in paragraph 1 at the preferential customs duty rate shall, in addition to the proof of origin established under Annex III (Definition of the concept of "originating products" and methods of administrative co-operation) of the Agreement with Central America, be subject to the presentation of an export certificate issued by the competent authority of the Republic of the Central American country from which the products are exported. This requirement to present an export certificate should not, however, result in additional red tape, higher costs or other de facto trade restrictions affecting the exporter. Once the trigger volume is met during the corresponding calendar year, the Commission may, in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 12(3), temporarily suspend the preferential customs duty during that same year for a period of time not exceeding three months, and not going beyond the end of the calendar year.

Amendment  33

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 - paragraph 5 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

5a. The Commission shall closely monitor the evolution of statistics for banana imports from Central America. Employment rates and working conditions, as well as organic production and consumption and Fair-Trade flows shall be part of the monitoring process. For this purpose, the Commission shall cooperate and exchange information on a regular basis with the Member States, the Union industries and interested parties.

Amendment  34

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 - paragraph 5 b (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

5b. Upon a duly reasoned request from the European Parliament, a Member State, the Union industry, any interested party or on its own initiative, the Commission shall pay particular attention to any noticeable increase in banana imports from Central America and, if appropriate under the terms of Article 5, shall take prior surveillance measures.

Amendment  35

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 - paragraph 5 c (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

5c. Prior surveillance measures shall be adopted by the Commission in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 12(2) when the trigger volume for the mechanism is reached during the corresponding calendar year.

Amendment  36

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 - paragraph 5 e (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

5e. The European Parliament may invite the Commission, within one month of the publication of the latter's report, to an ad hoc meeting of Parliament's responsible committee to present and explain any issues related to implementation of the Agreement which affect the banana sector.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

On 23 April 2007 the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with certain countries of Central America. The negotiations, which concluded during the EU-Latin America Summit in Madrid in May 2010, resulted in an Agreement establishing an Association between the EU and Central America, which was initialled on 22 March 2011 and signed in Tegucigalpa on 29 June 2012. The Council took a decision on its conclusion on 10 July 2012 and the Parliament has just been officially referred for its consent.

The Agreement includes a bilateral safeguard clause that provides for the possibility to reinstate the most-favoured nation (MFN) customs duty rate when, as a result of the trade liberalisation derived from the Agreement, imports take place in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to the Union producers of like or competitive products. The Agreement also foresees a Stabilisation Mechanism for Bananas according to which preferential customs duties can be suspended if a certain annual import volume is reached and is applicable until 1 January 2020. Both of them need to be transposed into EU law to become operational and procedurally, since the Lisbon Treaty came into force, safeguard clauses negotiated with third countries and regions are subject to the ordinary legislative procedure.

In October 2011, the Commission transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council a proposal aiming at incorporating into EU law the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas. This proposal for a Regulation constitutes therefore the necessary legal instrument to implement such measures and to provide legal certainty to operators by establishing the different procedural aspects, definitions and rights and obligations of the parties, all of which are necessary for such measures to be operational and to effectively provide a gradual opening of the markets to enable all the sectors involved to gradually adapt to the new situation, in particular the most vulnerable.

Bearing in mind the provisions and spirit of the Agreement, the rapporteur wishes to ensure that the safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas are both effective and genuinely applicable by providing enforceable means to prevent serious injury from being caused to the sectors which could be most affected in the short term by the application of Part IV of the Agreement. It also wishes to monitor that the liberalisation process will be carried out in full compliance with the core international labour and environmental conventions, that the implementation of this Regulation be done in the most transparent way and that the European Parliament, all interested parties, including the industry, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, trade-unions and others are involved. The rapporteur has also included specific provisions on monitoring and reporting, including analysis of the effects on employment, working conditions, organic produce, Fair-Trade flows, impact on the outermost regions, in particular as regards the banana sector, and small productive structures and cooperatives.


OPINION of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (21.3.2012)

for the Committee on International Trade

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States on the one hand, and Central America on the other

(COM(2011)0599 – C7-0306/2011 – 2011/0263(COD))

Rapporteur: Gabriel Mato Adrover

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

On 22 March 2011, the Commission signed an Association Agreement with six Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama). The negotiation took place in parallel with that of the Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru, the characteristics of which were very similar.

Both agreements consolidate specific concessions made to these countries within the framework of the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) as well as totally or partially liberalising the trade in certain agricultural products between the contracting parties. In practice, this means that the EU market will become more open to imports mainly of bananas, sugar and beef, while at the same time the EU will be able to increase its capacity to export other products, such as dairy products, cereals, pork and spirits, to these countries. Both the agreement with Colombia and Peru and that signed with the Central American countries contain a chapter on mutual recognition of geographical indications, which will enable the EU to protect around 200 denominations of origin.

The agreements include a safeguard clause to prevent serious disruptions in the respective markets, and this provision has to be transposed into European law.

Out of all exports by these countries to the EU, bananas are the most important agricultural product, mainly from Colombia and Costa Rica, and to a much lesser extent from Panama, Honduras, Peru and Guatemala.

The agreements provide for further reductions in the tariff applied by the EU to banana imports, improving the terms for Latin American partner countries wishing to export to the European market.

Banana imports to the EU are subject to a 'single tariff' system which came into force in 2006, replacing the quota system which had been applied since creation of the common organisation of the market (COM) in bananas in 1993.

The constant trade disputes between the EU and third countries over banana imports did not, however, come to an end in 2006, as the latest disagreement was resolved before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2009. The negotiation resulted in a gradual reduction of the tariff over a seven-year period, from EUR 176 per tonne to EUR 114 per tonne to be reached by 2017. The WTO agreement included the possibility of freezing the tariff at EUR 132 per tonne in 2013 if no conclusion had been reached by then in the multilateral negotiations to liberalise international trade, which have been going on for years now within the framework of the international organisation.

Nevertheless, this agreement, thanks to which the EU had finally managed to settle all its numerous disputes with Latin American countries at the WTO, has now been substantially improved by the framework of the two bilateral agreements with the countries of Central America and with Peru and Colombia. The new tariff reductions agreed by the Commission with these countries has given rise to a lot of bad feeling among EU producers, who had nurtured the false hope that the conclusion of the WTO negotiations would halt the spiral of concessions to the banana exporting countries. The two bilateral agreements provide for tariff reductions over a 10-year period up to 2020, reaching a final level of EUR 75 per tonne. It should be noted that this amount coincides with that applied pre-2006 to the former preferential quota for Latin American banana imports.

Since the Lisbon Treaty came into force, Parliament has the power of co-decision with regard to regulations transposing trade safeguard clauses negotiated with third countries into EU law.

However, regulations of this type reproduce almost word-for-word the terms already negotiated by the Commission with third countries, leaving Parliament with very little margin for altering the content of their provisions.

The rapporteur regrets that the powers available to Parliament are, in practical terms, very limited when it comes to amending the content of clauses, and calls for Parliament to become more closely involved in the actual negotiation of trade agreements.

In addition to the bilateral safety clause, which applies to all industrial and agricultural products covered by the trade agreements in question, a stabilisation mechanism for bananas is included. This involves suspension of the right to preferential customs treatment when Latin American exports to the Community market exceed certain thresholds. However, the thresholds established during the negotiations with these countries are too high for the mechanism to have any practical effectiveness.

This is illustrated by simply examining the thresholds set for the two main banana-exporting countries in the group, Colombia and Costa Rica. The proposed threshold for Colombia in 2019 is 1.9 million tonnes, almost double the amount the country exported in 2010. For Costa Rica, the limit set for the end of the transitional period is around 1.5 million tonnes, compared with an export volume for 2010 of less than 800 000 tonnes. It should also be pointed out that the tariff suspension will apply for a limited period of three months maximum, which will increase the ineffectiveness of this safety instrument designed to protect the European market in bananas. What is more, the mechanism will only remain in force until 2020.

Moreover, the stabilisation mechanism will not be automatic, as the Commission will be free to decide whether or not to apply it. This could lead to situations where exceeding the threshold is not enough to activate the mechanism. The rapporteur is in favour of limiting the range of circumstances which could result in the EU failing to take to action.

The general safety clause included in the agreements will be difficult to apply, as is also the case with the stabilisation mechanism. This general provision could, in theory, lead to a suspension of the tariff reduction or an increase in customs duties when imports to the EU of a given product increase in absolute or relative terms (in relation to European production), such as to cause or threaten to cause serious damage to the economic sectors involved. The rapporteur considers, however, that the triggering factors will be hard to pinpoint and will become open to a wide range of interpretations.

In light of all of the above, the rapporteur calls on the Commission and the Member States not to exclude the possibility of activating, if necessary, the Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist European producers who may be forced to cease production due to the liberalisation of trade with the Latin American countries signatories to these agreements.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development calls on the Committee on International Trade, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Amendment  1

Proposal for a regulation

Citation 1

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 207(2) thereof,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 207(2) and Article 349,

Amendment  2

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 3

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(3) It is necessary to lay down the procedures for applying certain provisions of the Agreement which concern the bilateral safeguard clause and for applying the Stabilisation Mechanism for Bananas that has been agreed with Central America.

(3) It is necessary to lay down the most appropriate procedures to guarantee the effective application of certain provisions of the Agreement which concern the bilateral safeguard clause and for applying the Stabilisation Mechanism for Bananas that has been agreed with Central America.

Amendment  3

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 3 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(3 a) It is necessary to create appropriate safeguard mechanisms to prevent serious harm to European banana growing, a sector which is of great importance to the end agricultural production of many of the outermost regions. The limited ability of these regions to diversify, owing to their natural characteristics, makes the banana sector particularly vulnerable. It is therefore essential to create effective mechanisms to address preferential imports from third countries, in order to guarantee that banana production is maintained under the best possible conditions.

Amendment  4

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 5

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(5) Safeguard measures should be considered only if the product in question is imported into the Union in such increased quantities, in absolute terms or relative to Union production, and under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to Union producers of like or directly competitive products as laid down in Article 104 of the Agreement.

(5) Safeguard measures should be considered only if the product in question is imported into the Union in such increased quantities, in absolute terms or relative to Union production, and under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to Union producers of like or directly competitive products as laid down in Article 104 of the Agreement. Pursuant to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and with regard to the products and economic sectors of the outermost regions, safeguard measures should be introduced as soon as imports into the Union of the product in question cause or threaten to cause injury to producers of like or directly competitive products in the outermost regions of the Union.

Amendment  5

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 5 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Close monitoring of banana imports will facilitate any timely decision concerning activation of the stabilisation mechanism for bananas, the launch of an investigation or the imposition of safeguard measures. The Commission should, therefore, step up regular monitoring of imports in the banana sector from the date of application of the Agreement.

Amendment  6

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 6

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(6) Safeguard measures should take one of the forms referred to in Article 104(2) of the Agreement.

(6) Safeguard measures should take one of the forms referred to in Article 104(2) of the Agreement. Specific safeguard measures should be provided for when there is a threat to the products or economic sectors of the outermost regions, pursuant to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Amendment  7

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 8

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(8) There should be detailed provisions on the initiation of proceedings. The Commission should receive information including available evidence from the Member States of any trends in imports which might call for the application of safeguard measures.

(8) There should be detailed provisions on the initiation of proceedings. The Commission should receive from the Member States, and request from the sectors involved, information including available evidence of any trends in imports which might call for the application of safeguard measures.

Amendment  8

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 14

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(14) Safeguard measures should be applied only to the extent, and for such time, as may be necessary to prevent serious injury and to facilitate adjustment. The maximum duration of safeguard measures should be determined and specific provisions regarding extension and review of such measures should be laid down, as referred to in Article 105 of the Agreement.

(14) Safeguard measures should be applied only to the extent, and for such time, as may be necessary to prevent serious injury and to facilitate adjustment. The maximum duration of safeguard measures should be determined and specific provisions regarding extension and review of such measures should be laid down, as referred to in Article 105 of the Agreement. Specific provisions should apply in regard to safeguard measures triggered to protect produce and economic sectors in the outermost regions, in accordance with Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Amendment  9

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 14 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(14 a) The importance of adhering to the international labour standards drawn up and supervised by the International Labour Organization needs to be stressed. Defending decent work for all should be an absolute priority and bananas imported from Central America should be produced under decent social and environmental conditions and for a fair wage to ensure Union producers are not the victims of dumping, something they would not be in a position to compensate for and which would permanently damage their competitiveness in the global banana market.

Amendment  10

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 16 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(16 a) The Commission should submit a report once a year on the implementation of the Agreement and the application of the safeguard measures and the banana stabilisation mechanism, which should include up-to-date statistics on imports of bananas from Central America and an assessment of their impact on market prices, employment and the development of the Union’s banana production sector.

Amendment  11

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 17 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(17 a) For the purposes of implementing the Stabilisation Mechanism for Bananas, it is essential to make continuing provision to enable action to be taken should disruption occur on the market after January 2020, given that safeguard measures are manifestly insufficient to guarantee the income of banana producers – especially those in the outermost regions – when the market is seriously disrupted. In addition, as regards the bilateral safeguard clause, the entire process should be speeded up, given that it will continue to be extremely complex and time consuming, posing a real risk that safeguard measures will prove ineffective where Union producers are concerned, because they will be enforced too late and producers will already have suffered serious injury.

Amendment  12

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 – paragraph 5

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5. In the investigation the Commission shall evaluate all relevant factors of an objective and quantifiable nature having a bearing on the situation of the Union industry, in particular, the rate and amount of the increase in imports of the product concerned in absolute and relative terms, the share of the domestic market taken by increased imports and changes in the level of sales, production, productivity, capacity utilisation, profits and losses, and employment. This list is not exhaustive and other relevant factors may also be taken into consideration by the Commission for its determination of the existence of serious injury or threat of serious injury, such as stocks, prices, return on capital employed, cash flow, and other factors which are causing or may have caused serious injury, or threaten to cause serious injury to the Union industry.

5. In the investigation the Commission shall evaluate all relevant factors of an objective and quantifiable nature having a bearing on the situation of the Union industry, in particular, the rate and amount of the increase in imports of the product concerned in absolute and relative terms, the share of the domestic market taken by increased imports and changes in the level of sales, production, productivity, capacity utilisation, profits and losses, and employment. This list is not exhaustive and other relevant factors may also be taken into consideration by the Commission for its determination of the existence of serious injury or threat of serious injury, such as stocks, prices, return on capital employed, cash flow, and other factors which are causing or may have caused serious injury, or threaten to cause serious injury to the Union industry, such as meeting the trigger volumes described within the framework of the stabilisation mechanism for bananas included in Chapter II of the current Regulation.

Justification

The trigger volumes for the stabilisation mechanism are very high in relation to current import flows. European production could be severely affected by increases in these imports, well before the trigger volumes are reached. The mere fact of these volumes being reached should be seen as another alarm signal to be added to the various factors to be considered by the Commission with a view to activating the bilateral safeguard clause specifically for bananas.

Amendment  13

Proposal for a regulation

Article 10 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

As soon as the Agreement enters into force, substantial additional funds are planned to ensure the produce, industries and economic sectors potentially at risk in the outermost regions remain competitive.

Amendment  14

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 1 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

The application of the stabilisation mechanism for bananas shall under no circumstances prevent the activation of measures included in the bilateral safeguard clause.

Justification

It should be made clear in the legislative text that the bilateral safeguard clause can be applied to the banana sector irrespective of the agreement on the stabilisation mechanism, the impact of which will be very limited and in practical terms could prove insufficient to avoid serious disruptions to European producers.

Amendment  15

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. A separate annual trigger import volume is set for imports from Central American country for products mentioned in paragraph 1 as indicated in the table in the Annex to this Regulation. The importation of the products mentioned in paragraph 1 at the preferential customs duty rate shall, in addition to the proof of origin established under Annex III (Definition of the concept of "originating products" and methods of administrative co-operation) of the Agreement with Central America, be subject to the presentation of an export certificate issued by the competent authority of the Republic of the Central American country from which the products are exported. Once the trigger volume is met during the corresponding calendar year, the Commission may, in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 12(3), temporarily suspend the preferential customs duty during that same year for a period of time not exceeding three months, and not going beyond the end of the calendar year.

2. A separate annual trigger import volume is set for imports from Central American country for products mentioned in paragraph 1 as indicated in the table in the Annex to this Regulation. The importation of the products mentioned in paragraph 1 at the preferential customs duty rate shall, in addition to the proof of origin established under Annex III (Definition of the concept of "originating products" and methods of administrative co-operation) of the Agreement with Central America, be subject to the presentation of an export certificate issued by the competent authority of the Republic of the Central American country from which the products are exported. Once the trigger volume is met during the corresponding calendar year, the Commission shall, in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 12(2), temporarily suspend the preferential customs duty during that same year for a period of time not exceeding three months, and not going beyond the end of the calendar year. Only reasons of force majeure shall prevent the suspension from being imposed.

Amendment  16

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 5 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5 a. The Commission shall closely monitor the evolution of statistics for banana imports from Central America. For this purpose, it shall cooperate and exchange information on a regular basis with the Member States and the Union industry.

Amendment  17

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 5 b (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5 b. Upon a duly reasoned request from a Member State, the Union industry or on its own initiative, the Commission shall pay particular attention to any noticeable increase in banana imports from Central America and, if appropriate under the terms of Article 5, shall take prior surveillance measures.

Justification

It should be made clear in the legislative text that the bilateral safeguard clause can be applied to the banana sector irrespective of the stabilisation mechanism, the impact of which will be very limited and in practical terms could prove insufficient to avoid serious disruptions.

Amendment  18

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 5 c (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5 c. Prior surveillance measures shall be adopted by the Commission in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 12(2) when the trigger volume for the mechanism is reached during the corresponding calendar year.

Justification

Amendment  19

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 5 d (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5 d. The Commission shall present an annual follow-up report to the European Parliament and the Council, based on up-to-date statistics on banana imports from Central America and their direct and indirect impact on the development of and employment in the European productive sector.

Amendment  20

Proposal for a regulation

Article 13 – paragraph 5 e (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

5 e. The European Parliament may invite the Commission, within one month of the publication of the latter's report, to an ad hoc meeting of Parliament's responsible committee to present and explain any issues related to implementation of the Agreement which affect the banana sector.

PROCEDURE

Title

Implementation of the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the EU-Central America Association Agreement

Reference(s)

COM(2011)0599 – C7-0306/2011 – 2011/0263(COD)

Committee responsible

Date announced in plenary

INTA

12.10.2011

 

 

 

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

Date announced in plenary

AGRI

12.10.2011

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

Date appointed

Gabriel Mato Adrover

23.11.2011

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

29.2.2012

 

 

 

Date adopted

20.3.2012

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

27

9

0

Members present for the final vote

John Stuart Agnew, Liam Aylward, José Bové, Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă, Michel Dantin, Paolo De Castro, Albert Deß, Herbert Dorfmann, Iratxe García Pérez, Julie Girling, Béla Glattfelder, Martin Häusling, Esther Herranz García, Peter Jahr, Elisabeth Jeggle, George Lyon, Gabriel Mato Adrover, Mairead McGuinness, Mariya Nedelcheva, James Nicholson, Georgios Papastamkos, Marit Paulsen, Britta Reimers, Ulrike Rodust, Alfreds Rubiks, Giancarlo Scottà, Czesław Adam Siekierski, Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris, Alyn Smith, Csaba Sándor Tabajdi, Marc Tarabella, Janusz Wojciechowski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Richard Ashworth, Pilar Ayuso, Esther de Lange, Giovanni La Via, Astrid Lulling, Robert Sturdy


PROCEDURE

Title

Implementation of the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Association Agreement between the EU and Central America

References

COM(2011)0599 – C7-0306/2011 – 2011/0263(COD)

Date submitted to Parliament

3.10.2011

 

 

 

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

INTA

12.10.2011

 

 

 

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

17.11.2011

AGRI

12.10.2011

 

 

Not delivering opinions

       Date of decision

AFET

14.11.2011

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

       Date appointed

Jörg Leichtfried

11.10.2011

 

 

 

Legal basis disputed

       Date of JURI opinion

JURI

31.5.2012

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

1.3.2012

27.3.2012

25.4.2012

 

Date adopted

12.7.2012

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

25

1

2

Members present for the final vote

William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, John Attard-Montalto, Maria Badia i Cutchet, Nora Berra, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Caspary, María Auxiliadora Correa Zamora, Marielle de Sarnez, Harlem Désir, Christofer Fjellner, Yannick Jadot, Metin Kazak, Franziska Keller, Bernd Lange, David Martin, Vital Moreira, Paul Murphy, Cristiana Muscardini, Niccolò Rinaldi, Helmut Scholz, Peter Šťastný, Robert Sturdy, Gianluca Susta, Iuliu Winkler

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

George Sabin Cutaş, Béla Glattfelder, Małgorzata Handzlik, Jörg Leichtfried

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Thomas Mann

Date tabled

17.7.2012

Posljednje ažuriranje: 3. prosinca 2012.Pravna napomena