Motion for a resolution - B6-0427/2008Motion for a resolution



to wind up the debate on statements by the Council and Commission
pursuant to Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure
by Graham Watson, Bernard Lehideux, Gérard Deprez, Hannu Takkula, Jean Marie Beaupuy, Luigi Cocilovo, Marian Harkin, Sophia in 't Veld, Ona Juknevičienė, Elizabeth Lynne, Jules Maaten and Viktória Mohácsi
on behalf of the ALDE Group
on the Social Package

Procedure : 2008/2613(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on the Social Package

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the current French Presidency of the European Union should have placed a stronger emphasis on employment and social policies, given its intention to make 2008 'the year to restart Social Europe',

B.  whereas the 'renewed social agenda' presented by the European Commission is intended to reconcile social progress with free markets and effective competition within the European project; whereas the EU's Lisbon Strategy will come to an end in 2010; whereas a thorough reflection must start now on the EU's future strategy for boosting growth and jobs in line with our social agenda,

C.  whereas the renewed social agenda could help to improve public perception of the EU, as it sets out measures affecting citizens' daily lives and wellbeing,

On a renewed social agenda

1.  Considers that the 'renewed social agenda ' should be seen as a first step towards a stronger focus on the part of the Commission on social affairs and building the social Europe that citizens demand; points out, however, that the 'Social Package' consists of a number of non-legislative communications, reports and recommendations whose effect in terms of promoting social progress throughout the European Union must be measured and monitored;

2.  Calls, nevertheless, for a further communication on social services of general interest, as legal uncertainty about them has now reached record levels, giving rise to European Court of Justice (ECJ) interventions; stresses that it is not the judges' responsibility, but legislators', to draft legislative frameworks;

On anti-discrimination

3.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is proposing a horizontal directive on anti-discrimination outside employment; welcomes the fact that the proposed directive widens the existing legal framework to include all types of discrimination – not just race, but also age, disability, sexual orientation and religion – and extends the scope beyond the workplace to include access to and the supply of goods and services, social protection, social advantages and education; points out, however, that this directive will be adopted under a legal basis (Article 13 of the EC Treaty) which unfortunately completely marginalises Parliament, as the Council will decide by unanimity; calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that the directive is adopted without delay and that due account is taken of Parliament's views, as outlined in a number of reports, in particular its recent report on progress made in equal opportunities and non-discrimination in the EU (the transposition of Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC) and its future reports on the specific proposals contained in the Social Package;

4.  Points to the need to strengthen parts of the text with reference to the need to outlaw discrimination in the provision of insurance for disabled and older people, the requirement to provide reasonable accommodation for disabled people, and the need for further information on when direct discrimination on grounds of age is justified, for a definition of 'age' and for clarification as to precisely which goods and services will be covered by the directive;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to give close consideration to the need for accompanying measures including the development of a broad EU-wide definition of disability, so as to ensure that all disabled people within the European Union are included within the scope of this directive; calls, in this connection, on the Commission to provide guidance for the education sector on the classification of children as disabled or as having special educational needs;

6.  Calls for the continuation of the process of signature, conclusion and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the optional protocol thereto, and recalls that, following ratification of the convention by the Community, all proposals for Community non-discrimination legislation must fully comply with the convention's requirements; reminds the Council that, at the informal ministerial conference on disability in June 2007, it called on the Commission to launch a European strategy for effective implementation of the convention;

7.  Calls on the Commission to prepare a report on the situation of transgender people in the EU and in candidate countries, covering in particular social exclusion, discrimination in the labour market and healthcare, and the occurrence of police brutality;

8.  Regrets that the proposed directive leaves substantial gaps in legal protection against discrimination, notably through a wide range of exemptions and exceptions relating to public order, public security and public health, economic activities, marital and family status and reproductive rights, education and religion; is concerned that, rather than banning discrimination, these 'escape clauses' may actually serve to codify existing discriminatory practices, notably against women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; reminds the Commission that the directive must be in line with existing case law in the area of LGBT rights, notably the Maruko ruling;

9.  Notes that in the areas of education and media, social protection other than social security, and social advantages, Directive 2004/113/EC on gender discrimination provides a lower level of protection than the proposed directive (COM (2008)426); recalls that the aim of the proposed directive is to eliminate the hierarchy of grounds and provide an equal level of protection against discrimination on any ground;

10.  Regrets that the directive fails to reinforce the bodies for the promotion of equal treatment in such a way as to ensure that they are provided with adequate resources, independence, competences and powers;

11.  Regrets that the proposed directive does not make more mention of multiple discrimination, which has a serious and often overlooked impact on social inclusion;

12.  Feels that the directive does not sufficiently address discrimination in schools, given the long-term negative consequences of discrimination with regard to personal development and health, labour market prospects and social inclusion;

13.  Calls on the Commission, in the light of the ECJ ruling of 17 July 2008 in Case C-303/06 concerning carers suffering discrimination by association, to take adequate measures to ensure that carers are protected from such discrimination and to encourage Member States to take the necessary steps to ensure that the court's judgment is respected;

On cross-border healthcare

14.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has eventually put forward its proposed directive on the application of patients' rights in cross-border healthcare services, which is a first and important step toward a free European patient area; highlights the importance of this directive in providing a framework of rights and obligations for both patients and providers of healthcare; recalls that patients should be entitled to treatment in another EU Member State, with no worries about costs, safety and quality; considers it crucial that the directive be adopted before the end of the parliamentary term;

15.  Calls on Commission and Member States to inform citizens of their right under the Treaty to have expenses for cross-border health services reimbursed – a right which has already been confirmed several times by the European Court of Justice; considers that the availability of proper information is crucial to ensuring equal access to cross-border health services for all patients, since legal uncertainty always works to the disadvantage of those individuals who do not have many personal resources;

16.  Calls on the Commission to urge the Member States to develop efficient policies to ensure access by non-insured individuals to the healthcare system;

On European Works Councils

17.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has proposed a recasting of the directive on works councils, as, fourteen years after the adoption of the directive currently in force, councils have been created for little more than a third of the companies concerned; welcomes an improved definition of 'information' and 'consultation', and improved and clarified working conditions for EWCs; points out, however, that a close eye must be kept on this text, to make sure that employees are consulted during the course of a restructuring, and that works councils have all the information and means necessary to answer any questions, which are quite often of a highly technical nature;

On social inclusion and poverty

18.  Takes note of the Commission's aim to improve the visibility and working methods of the EU Strategy on Social Inclusion and Social Protection and strengthen its interaction with other policies;

19.  Calls, however, on the Commission and Member States to make better use of the open method of coordination and to find new ways to ensure better exchange of data, information and best practices in the areas of social protection, social inclusion, anti-discrimination and health;

20.  Supports the Commission proposal to set poverty reduction targets for the next phase of the EU Strategy on Social Inclusion and Social Protection;

21.  Asks the Commission to present a communication on the implementation of the European Social Fund in the Member States, as it is one of the key instruments for implementing the EU Strategy on Social Inclusion and Social Protection;

On the globalisation fund

22.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal to simplify application procedures for the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGAF) and to promote the exchange of experience and good practice between Member States more effectively; calls on the Commission to make this fund more operational by taking into account new criteria such as climate change and by expanding the scope of the European Globalisation Fund to include smaller redundancy events for the benefit of Member States with small and isolated labour markets; regrets that the Member States have been hesitant in applying for EGAF funding to secure immediate assistance for redundant workers;

23.  Calls on the Commission, before issuing the next annual report on the EGAF, to set clear benchmarks and criteria for evaluation of the results achieved in cases where financial assistance has been provided under the EGAF;

On Roma

24.  Welcomes the Commission's report on Community Instruments and Policies for Roma Inclusion; stresses once again the need for stronger action for Roma inclusion in the fields of education, employment, healthcare and housing; renews its call for a Roma strategy and action plan to ensure that EU institutions, Member States and local authorities act together to fight all forms of discrimination against Roma and to ensure inclusion;

25.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that the concerns of Parliament and relevant NGOs and the commitments made by the Commission as regards the Decade of Roma Inclusion are taken into account and that the anti-discrimination directive is adopted without delay;

On lifelong learning and mobility

26.  Believes that greater priority should be given to lifelong learning, in order to foster the integration into the job market of unemployed people and people facing discrimination;

27.  Considers that actions to promote student and apprentice mobility should be reinforced, so as to lay the basis for increased adaptability and mobility of future workers;

28.  Regrets that in some Member States insufficient priority and funding are being devoted to increasing access to adult learning opportunities, especially for older and lower-skilled workers; calls on the Member States to make more active use of the Structural Funds, and in particular the European Social Fund, to support the development of infrastructure and strategies for adult learning;

29.  Calls on the Member States to expand and improve investment in human capital and to adapt education and training systems to new competence and labour market requirements;

30.  Calls on the Council and Commission to review the proposed timetable for the adoption of the Council recommendation on the mobility of young volunteers across placeEurope, in order to allow adequate time for Parliament to give its opinion on the recommendation;

31.  Notes that a European Year on Volunteering would be an effective tool in implementing the actions contained within the Council recommendation on the mobility of young volunteers across placeEurope;

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