Procedure : 2017/0213(APP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0034/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0034/2018

Debates :

Votes :

PV 13/03/2018 - 7.1

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0061

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23.2.2018
PE 615.429v02-00 A8-0034/2018

on the draft Council decision amending Council Decision 2003/76/EC establishing the measures necessary for the implementation of the Protocol, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel

(14532/2017– C8-0444/2017 – 2017/0213(APP))

Committee on Budgets

Rapporteur: Jean Arthuis

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the draft Council decision amending Decision 2003/76/EC establishing the measures necessary for the implementation of the Protocol, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel

(14532/2017 – C8-0444/2017 – 2017/0213(APP))

(Special legislative procedure – consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (14532/2017),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 2 of Protocol No 37 on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0444/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0034/2018),

1.  Gives its consent to the draft Council decision;

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


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS), established upon the expiry of the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), serves to finance research in the sectors concerned, 72.8% being earmarked for steel and 27.2% for coal(1). These activities are financed by means of relatively safe financial investments made by the Commission. However, in view of the monetary policy established by the European Central Bank, the value of these investments is declining substantially. The budget for the RFCS programme for 2018 is around EUR 27 million, a decrease of EUR 19 million compared to the amount for 2017. According to the Commission’s forecasts, this figure is likely to be reduced further, to a total of between EUR 14 and EUR 18 million in 2019.

The aim of the Commission’s proposal for a decision(2) is to allow all the de-commitments made in the RFCS research programme since 2003 to be used. The Commission estimates the potential gains from this recycling at EUR 40.3 million. The adoption of the proposal would thus enable the Commission to increase the RFCS budget for 2018 to EUR 40 million and to use the remainder of the appropriations for the 2019 budget.

The Council(3) followed the Commission proposal, with the notable exception of the date on which the de-commitments are to be made available. This is a technical adjustment, as the Council took the view that the funds to be recovered were available from the expiry of the ECSC Treaty, i.e. 24 July 2002; the Commission on the other hand considered that the funds had become available on the date of publication of the Regulation, i.e. 6 February 2003.

Budgetary impact

This is a transitional measure. The proposal is only intended to compensate for the losses in yield for the years 2018 to 2020 and to ensure sufficient funding in these sectors. This measure will have no budgetary impact, as the fund is not financed from the EU budget, and as the initial capitalisation of the fund remains unchanged.

However, while the financing seems assured until 2020, the Commission should find ways to secure the funding for these sectors after that date, without thereby jeopardising the budgetary room for manoeuvre of the current and future multiannual financial frameworks.

Reconciliation with the Financial Regulation

Since 2003, the provisions of Article 4(5) have been applied as a lex specialis in relation to the Financial Regulation (FR), and therefore derogate from it. To date, funds de-committed, as well as refunds of undue payments, have been fed back into the ECSC’s assets: they have been neither made available nor automatically carried over in the general budget of the RFCS programme.

As a result of the proposed amendment to Article 4(4), the rules of the FR concerning the repayment of amounts unduly paid will become applicable. In addition, the amendment of Article 4(5) is in line with the political agreement reached recently on the revision of the Financial Regulation (Article 14(4) of the future FR), as de-commitments will again be available for these same programmes. Thus, once revised, Council Decision 2003/76/EC will comply with the FR. This will simplify and clarify the position of the RFCS among the various budgetary resources.

Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets

The RFCS is intended to support research in the coal and steel sectors to help them to innovate and maintain their competitiveness. The projects cover not only production processes, utilisation and conversion of resources, and safety at work, but also environmental protection and the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal use and steel production.

On this last point, the EU is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (taking 1990 as the base year) by 2030 and complying with the Paris Agreement adopted at COP 21. More recently, at the One Planet Summit, several major banks and insurance companies announced their commitment to reduce, and ultimately terminate, their investments in fossil fuels, especially coal.

In this context, it is worth mentioning a few projects which illustrate the positive contribution made to the environment by RFCS co-funding:

  ULCOS (steel): this is the largest research project that the global steel industry has ever undertaken. It brings together a consortium of 48 universities, research organisations and industrial partners to conduct innovative research in order to radically reduce carbon emissions from the steel industry. Several concepts have emerged from it, including top gas recycling. This technology makes it possible to eliminate CO2 and recycle carbon monoxide (CO) directly inside the blast furnace, potentially reducing emissions from blast furnaces to less than half of their current level. To date, HIsarna is the flagship part of ULCOS;

  PROMS and EAF-PROMS (steel): these two projects have enabled researchers to develop ultra-high-strength steel alloys which at the same time are very ductile. These alloys are particularly attractive to car manufacturers because they enable them to reduce the weight of cars (by using thinner sheets), and thus reduce the vehicles’ fuel consumption and carbon emissions, while maintaining a strength which will keep passengers safe;

  COALBYPRO (coal): coal ash contains contaminants which, unless managed cleanly, may pollute the environment. The aim of this project is to reuse the ash as a material for the capture and storage of CO2 through mineral carbonation of coal ash. The possibility of capturing CO2 in zeolites will also be explored. The ultimate goal is to control the environmental impact of coal mines after their closure;

  MERCURYCAP (coal): this project has made it possible to find two new ways of capturing mercury emissions from coal-fired power stations: the development of promising sorbents and materials which act as catalysts for oxidation. Research has yielded significant results: several sorbents and materials have proved effective at capturing mercury.

Major future projects to make European steel clean and competitive

Taking note of the Lamy report (LAB-FAB-APP)(4) and the proposal for a ‘steel mission’, Parliament fully supports the aim of promoting clean and competitive European steel. A qualitative leap is necessary in order, by 2025, to establish a practical project to manufacture steel without any CO2 emissions. In this context, it is necessary to mobilise all stakeholders, and Parliament will ensure that a substantial amount is earmarked for this initiative under the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP9). To this end, a broad pan-European public-private partnership would make it possible to develop steel production technologies to avoid CO2 emissions (cf. electricity and hydrogen) or significantly reduce them (integration of processes, bio-industrial techniques, recycling, carbon capture and storage).

Conclusion

The revision of Council Decision 2003/76/EC, which has no budgetary impact, would make it possible not only to bring the RFCS into line with the Financial Regulation but also to find the money necessary for the financing of innovative projects. On average the fund allocates EUR 55 million per annum to research projects. Without this money, potentially only half as many projects would be funded.

The RFCS has many objectives and ensures the competitiveness of the sectors concerned through innovation; it preserves jobs in areas which in many cases are in difficulty, and helps to reduce emissions of CO2 and other pollutants generated by these industries.

In the light of the satisfactory results achieved by projects co-financed by the RFCS, continued support from this fund is highly desirable. Parliament is willing to participate in strategic thinking about how to ensure such continued funding and, where appropriate, make management of ECSC funds more active, or even use some of those funds to launch major projects to make European steel clean and competitive.

(1)

Article 3(2) of Council Decision 2003/76/EC of 1 February 2003 establishing the measures necessary for the implementation of the Protocol, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel.

(2)

COM(2017) 452 final of 25 August 2017: proposal for a Council decision amending Council Decision 2003/76/EC establishing the measures necessary for the implementation of the Protocol, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel.

(3)

Council 13451/17 of 19 October 2017: proposal for a Council decision amending Council Decision 2003/76/EC establishing the measures necessary for the implementation of the Protocol, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel.

(4)

http://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/pdf/archive/other_reports_studies_and_documents/hlg_2017_report.pdf


PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Title

Establishing the measures necessary for the implementation of the Protocol, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel

References

14532/2017 – C8-0444/2017 – COM(2017)04522017/0213(APP)

Date of consultation / request for consent

13.12.2017

 

 

 

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

BUDG

14.12.2017

 

 

 

Committees asked for opinions

       Date announced in plenary

ITRE

14.12.2017

 

 

 

Not delivering opinions

       Date of decision

ITRE

23.1.2018

 

 

 

Rapporteurs

       Date appointed

Jean Arthuis

14.9.2017

 

 

 

Date adopted

22.2.2018

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

28

2

2

Members present for the final vote

Nedzhmi Ali, Lefteris Christoforou, Gérard Deprez, Manuel dos Santos, André Elissen, José Manuel Fernandes, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Jens Geier, Esteban González Pons, John Howarth, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Vladimír Maňka, Siegfried Mureşan, Jan Olbrycht, Urmas Paet, Paul Rübig, Petri Sarvamaa, Jordi Solé, Patricija Šulin, Eleftherios Synadinos, Indrek Tarand, Isabelle Thomas, Inese Vaidere, Daniele Viotti, Tiemo Wölken, Marco Zanni

Substitutes present for the final vote

Xabier Benito Ziluaga, Jean-Paul Denanot, Ivana Maletić, Andrey Novakov, Pavel Poc, Tomáš Zdechovský

Date tabled

23.2.2018


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

28

+

ALDE

Nedzhmi Ali, Gérard Deprez, Urmas Paet

ECR

Zbigniew Kuźmiuk

NI

Eleftherios Synadinos

PPE

Lefteris Christoforou, José Manuel Fernandes, Esteban González Pons, Ivana Maletić, Siegfried Mureşan, Andrey Novakov, Jan Olbrycht, Paul Rübig, Petri Sarvamaa, Inese Vaidere, Tomáš Zdechovský, Patricija Šulin

S&D

Jean-Paul Denanot, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Jens Geier, John Howarth, Vladimír Maňka, Pavel Poc, Isabelle Thomas, Daniele Viotti, Tiemo Wölken, Manuel dos Santos

Verts/ALE

Indrek Tarand

2

-

ENF

André Elissen

Verts/ALE

Jordi Solé

2

0

ENF

Marco Zanni

GUE/NGL

Xabier Benito Ziluaga

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

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