Procedure : 2011/0199(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0398/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0398/2011

Debates :

Votes :

PV 01/12/2011 - 6.18
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0537

REPORT     ***I
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24 November 2011
PE 473.966v02-00 A7-0398/2011

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 as regards the inclusion of the Kaliningrad area and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area

(COM(2011)0461 – C7-0213/2011 – 2011/0199(COD))

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Rapporteur: Kyriacos Triantaphyllides

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 as regards the inclusion of the Kaliningrad area and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area

(COM(2011)0461 – C7-0213/2011 – 2011/0199(COD))

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0461),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and point (b) of Article 77(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0213/2011),

–   having regard to the Second report on the implementation and functioning of the local border traffic regime set up by Regulation No 1931/2006 (COM(2011)0047),

–   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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0398/2011),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal;

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.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

I- General context: Local border traffic

On 20 December 2006, the European Parliament and Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 laying down rules on local border traffic at the external land borders of the Member States (hereafter: The Regulation), which enables Member States to derogate from the general rules on border checks laid down in the Schengen Borders Code for persons living in a border area, including visa requirement, the need to have sufficient means of subsistence as well as the need to prove the purpose of the stay. The objective of this Regulation is to prevent the creation of barriers to trade, social and cultural interchange or regional cooperation with neighbours.

For persons living in a border area to be eligible for a local border permit and to benefit from these derogations to the general rules on border checks, they need to (a) be in possession of a valid travel document; (b) have been resident in the local border area for a minimum of 1 year; (c) produce evidence of their status as border residents and reasons for frequent border crossings; (d) not be the subject of a Schengen Information System alert; and (e) not be considered to be a threat to public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of any of the Member States. If these conditions are met, persons can benefit from the local border traffic regime which enables them to stay on the territory of the relevant neighbouring country for uninterrupted periods of time not exceeding 90 days.

In implementing the local border traffic regime, the Member States may conclude bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries aimed at addressing specific needs in relation to their respective neighbours, as these needs vary because of different local, geographical, social and economic situations. So far, such bilateral agreements are in force between Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine as well as between Romania and Moldova, while agreements between Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus as well as between Norway, Latvia and Russia have been signed but not yet ratified.

II- Local border areas: the case of Kaliningrad

The Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation became an enclave within the EU as a consequence of the EU enlargement in 2004 and since then has had all its ties with its neighbours considerably circumscribed. There have been a number of EU initiatives in the past years which facilitated the movement of Kaliningrad residents (such as the Facilitated Transit Document and Facilitated Rail Transit Document, which have simplified travel between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia or the 2007 EU-Russia Visa Facilitation Agreement, which facilitates the issuance of short-term visas for all Russian nationals travelling to Schengen countries).

However, given the specific geographical situation of Kaliningrad, such initiatives have proven insufficient in addressing the marginalisation of Kaliningrad and its residents. This is why both Poland and the Russian Federation have called for amendments to the local border traffic Regulation taking into account the specific situation of the Kaliningrad region. The Regulation would have to be amended in order to enable the entire Kaliningrad district to be considered as one single border area, since according to the Regulation a local border area is defined as a 30-km zone which may exceptionally extend to up to 50 km. Such an amendment would prevent the artificial fragmentation of a region of about one million inhabitants in total into three districts (one covered by a local border traffic agreement with Poland, one by an agreement with Lithuania and one without any agreement at all as it lies outside the border area) and enable all inhabitants, under the conditions laid out in the Regulation, to enjoy facilitations for local border traffic.

Taking into account the specific situation of the Kaliningrad Oblast, which is the only such enclave completely surrounded by the EU except for the Baltic Sea, the European Commission has accepted to amend the Regulation so long as this does not represent a precedent but responds to a unique situation.

III- Conclusion

Local border areas constitute a very important tool developed by the European Union to ensure artificial and arbitrary barriers are not erected between peoples living in regions divided by national frontiers. The Rapporteur encourages Member States to conclude bilateral agreements with neighbouring third countries aiming at the promotion of sustained contacts between the peoples living on either side of the European Union’s external frontiers.

Bearing in mind that the 2004 enlargement has created such an artificial barrier to long standing cultural, social and economic ties between the inhabitants of the region at large, the Rapporteur supports the request to amend the Regulation as formulated in the Commission proposal. This amendment provides a new opportunity for the European Parliament to reiterate its strong commitment to the principle of freedom of movement and to support consistently and fervently the right of people to circulate freely.

Given the possibility provided to the Member States concerned, under Article 15 of the Regulation, to introduce measures aiming at easing the border crossing for holders of local border traffic permits, the Rapporteur strongly encourages Poland to take concrete actions, such as the establishment of specific border crossings or lanes dedicated exclusively to holders of local border traffic permits, to ensure the facilitation of movement and avoid unnecessary delays or other routine complications which would de facto hinder this movement and introduce new barriers.

This is particularly important when taking into account the amount of persons that is expected to benefit from this new status as reflected by the visa statistics for the year 2011. It appears that, on a yearly basis, 72 532 persons cross the Kaliningrad-Polish border. According to polls carried out in the region, it seems that the interest in acquiring local border traffic permits stems from a desire to visit this part of Poland for purposes of tourism (cultural, nature, shopping) and the visit of grave sites. Based on the visa statistics of 2011, which reveal that 22 209 persons cross the Kaliningrad-Polish border for purposes of tourism; 1 003 for visits; 5 337 for culture and 17 745 for other purposes, it is estimated that around 10 % of the population of Kaliningrad will be likely to apply for local border traffic permits.


OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (18.11.2011)

for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 as regards the inclusion of the Kaliningrad area and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area

(COM(2011)0461 – C7-0213/2011 – 2011/0199(COD))

Rapporteur: Krzysztof Lisek

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The cooperation between the European Union and Russia deserves particular attention when applying different instruments concerning the movement of persons. This is a complex matter in particular when applied in the Kaliningrad Oblast. This specifically situated enclave, fully surrounded by the EU Member States, has great importance both for the Baltic Sea cooperation in its political, economic, environmental and cultural dimensions as much as for the good neighbourly contacts between people living in this area. One solution has already been found to this end – in 2003 the Council Regulation No 693/2003 was adopted and laid grounds for the issuance of the Facilitated Transit Document (FTD) and the Facilitated Rail Transit Document (FRTD).

The search for the concrete instruments allowing for the good neighbourly relations between EU and Russia allowed the Commission to propose the amendment of the Local Border Traffic (LBT) rules as stated in the Regulation No 1931/2006. In the light of the previous suggestion from Poland the Commission suggested enlargement of the scope of coverage of the LBT to the whole territory of the Kaliningrad Oblast and the corresponding area on the Polish side. This solution will prove to be sound not only from the perspective of the security of the Schengen zone but also pays particular tribute to direction taken under ENP cooperation by the Member States and the Commission. To this end it deserves full support as a tool allowing for the avoidance of the artificial inter division of the Kaliningrad Oblast into territories covered and uncovered by the present LBT present Regulation (up to 30 kilometres and in specific case up to 50 kilometres in-land). The proposal for an amendment of the Regulation No 1931/2006 proves to be of an essence also from the perspective of cross border cooperation developed under the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The bettering of the conditions of cross-border flow of people deserves support on behalf of the EU institutions. It supplements but never replaces the visa movement – to this end one shall bear in mind the on-going renegotiations of the Visa Facilitation Agreement as well as preparations to launch the Visa Dialogue between the EU and Russia. As an outcome the amendment to the Regulation No 1931/2006 will help reaching better neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia the European Parliament sees it as a correct opportunity to make use of.

******

The Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament adopts its position at first reading taking over the Commission proposal.

PROCEDURE

Title

Amendment of Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 as regards the inclusion of the Kaliningrad area and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area

References

COM(2011)0461 – C7-0213/2011 – 2011/0199(COD)

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

13.9.2011

 

 

 

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

13.9.2011

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

       Date appointed

Krzysztof Lisek

5.10.2011

 

 

 

Date adopted

17.11.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

53

2

2

Members present for the final vote

Gabriele Albertini, Pino Arlacchi, Bastiaan Belder, Elmar Brok, Arnaud Danjean, Mário David, Michael Gahler, Ana Gomes, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Anna Ibrisagic, Othmar Karas, Ioannis Kasoulides, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Maria Eleni Koppa, Andrey Kovatchev, Eduard Kukan, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Vytautas Landsbergis, Krzysztof Lisek, Sabine Lösing, Ulrike Lunacek, Mario Mauro, Kyriakos Mavronikolas, Francisco José Millán Mon, Alexander Mirsky, María Muñiz De Urquiza, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Norica Nicolai, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Alojz Peterle, Bernd Posselt, Hans-Gert Pöttering, Cristian Dan Preda, Fiorello Provera, Tokia Saïfi, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Werner Schulz, Marek Siwiec, Hannes Swoboda, Kristian Vigenin

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Charalampos Angourakis, Véronique De Keyser, Andrew Duff, Göran Färm, Hélène Flautre, Roberto Gualtieri, Doris Pack, Helmut Scholz, György Schöpflin, Alf Svensson, Traian Ungureanu, Ivo Vajgl

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

Marije Cornelissen, Rui Tavares, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells


PROCEDURE

Title

Amendment of Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 as regards the inclusion of the Kaliningrad area and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area

References

COM(2011)0461 – C7-0213/2011 – 2011/0199(COD)

Date submitted to Parliament

27.7.2011

 

 

 

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

13.9.2011

 

 

 

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

13.9.2011

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

       Date appointed

Kyriacos Triantaphyllides

3.10.2011

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

19.9.2011

3.10.2011

7.11.2011

23.11.2011

Date adopted

23.11.2011

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

44

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Jan Philipp Albrecht, Roberta Angelilli, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Simon Busuttil, Philip Claeys, Carlos Coelho, Tanja Fajon, Kinga Gál, Nathalie Griesbeck, Sylvie Guillaume, Anna Hedh, Salvatore Iacolino, Lívia Járóka, Timothy Kirkhope, Monica Luisa Macovei, Véronique Mathieu, Georgios Papanikolaou, Carmen Romero López, Judith Sargentini, Birgit Sippel, Csaba Sógor, Renate Sommer, Valdemar Tomaševski, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, Wim van de Camp, Axel Voss, Manfred Weber, Tatjana Ždanoka

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Elena Oana Antonescu, Michael Cashman, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Cornelis de Jong, Leonidas Donskis, Evelyne Gebhardt, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Joanna Senyszyn, Cecilia Wikström, Glenis Willmott

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

Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, Ismail Ertug, Esther Herranz García, Kent Johansson, Marit Paulsen, Ivo Vajgl, Andrea Zanoni

Date tabled

24.11.2011

Last updated: 24 November 2011Legal notice