Procedure : 2013/2612(RSP)
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Document selected : B7-0191/2013

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Debates :

Votes :

PV 23/05/2013 - 13.8
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Texts adopted :

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to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on asset recovery by Arab Spring Countries in transition (2013/2612(RSP))

Willy Meyer, Patrick Le Hyaric, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Jacky Hénin, Sabine Lösing, Younous Omarjee, Alda Sousa, Marisa Matias, Paul Murphy on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

European Parliament resolution on asset recovery by Arab Spring Countries in transition (2013/2612(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Union for the Mediterranean and the countries of the Southern Neighbourhood, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention against Corruption of 2003, which entered into force in 2005 and was approved on behalf of the European Union by Council Decision 2008/801/EC of 25 September 2008,

–   having regard to UN Human Rights Council Resolution 19/38 of 19 April 2012 on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation,

–   having regard to the Final Report of the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery of 13 September 2012,

–   having regard to the legal principles concerning the cancellation of illegitimate and odious debt under international law,

–   having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2012 on ‘Trade for Change: The EU Trade and Investment Strategy for the Southern Mediterranean following the Arab Spring revolutions’(1), especially recital 6 thereof,

–   having regard to the EU-Egypt Action Plan of 2007 and the EU-Egypt Association Agreement, which entered into force on 1 June 2004,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 270/2011 of 21 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Egypt and Council Regulation (EU) No 1099/2012 amending it,

–   having regard to the co-Chairs’ conclusions following the EU-Egypt Task Force meeting of 14 November 2012,

–   having regard to the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the EU and Tunisia, which entered into force on 1 March 1998, and to the EU-Tunisia Action Plan, which entered into force on 4 July 2005,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 101/2011 of 4 February 2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Tunisia and Council Regulation (EU) No 1100/2012 amending it,

–   having regard to the co-Chairs’ conclusions following the EU-Tunisia Task Force meeting of 28 and 29 September 2011,

–   having regard to the ongoing negotiation of a free trade agreement between the EU and Tunisia,

–   having regard to the negotiations on an EU-Libya association agreement under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which were interrupted in 2011,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2011/137/CFSP of 28 February 2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya and Council Decisions 2011/625/CFSP and 2011/178/CFSP amending it, to Council Regulation (EU) No 204/2011 of 2 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya and Council Regulation (EU) No 965/2011 amending it,  and to Council Implementing Regulations (EU)) No 364/2013 and No 50/2013 implementing Article 16(2) of Regulation (EU) No 204/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya,

–   having regard to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the EU and its Member States, on the one hand, and the Kingdom of Morocco, on the other, especially Article 2 thereof,

–   having regard to the Advanced Status granted to Morocco in October 2008,

–   having regard to the ongoing negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Morocco launched on 1 March 2013,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the Barcelona Process, launched in 1995, led to association agreements between the EU and around a dozen Southern Mediterranean countries; whereas the Rabat Roadmap, established in 2005, focused on boosting the adoption of free trade agreements and further liberalisation rather than on balanced development of the region in the interests of working people and the poor;

B.  whereas in several countries in the north of Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula there have been, and still are, significant movements of workers and citizens calling for better living conditions and for action against injustice, unemployment and corruption, and demanding more democracy and rights, social justice and an end to exploitation, oppression and war;

C. whereas the various structural adjustment policies (deregulation of food prices, privatisation and austerity measures) imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and international organisations for decades are playing a considerable part in the social and economic problems, such as unemployment and poverty, that led to the popular uprisings in those countries;

D. whereas asset recovery by Arab Spring countries is a moral imperative and a highly political issue in the EU’s relations with its Southern Neighbourhood; whereas it is also an important economic issue for the southern neighbours concerned, given the potential for these assets, when returned and used in a transparent and effective manner, to contribute to their economic recovery; whereas asset recovery has a preventive effect, as it sends a strong message against the impunity of those involved in corruption;

E.  whereas the EU, in particular the governments of some Member States, and the United States, which have for decades supported undemocratic regimes, have a particular responsibility for the social and economic situation that led to the uprisings; whereas developments in North Africa, the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula since 2011 have exposed the fundamental failure of the EU’s policy towards the countries of the Southern Mediterranean; whereas the principles of the new European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) are the same as those that led to the failure of the previous ENP, such as the negotiation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements and the liberalisation of third countries’ economies;

F.  whereas debt is a key lever permitting intervention by foreign and financial powers, in complicity with local governing elites, that leads to violations of national sovereignty, general impoverishment of the people and the brutal degradation of people’s economic and social rights; whereas odious and illegitimate debt was used under the dictatorships as a tool for political submission and as a mechanism for the transfer of income from labour, above all to world capital; whereas it currently serves to maintain neo-colonial domination over the economies of the countries of the Southern Mediterranean;

G. whereas international law defines odious debt in terms of three criteria: the non-consent of the people of the indebted state; the lack of advantages for the people of the indebted state; and an awareness on the part of creditors that the loans they granted were neither in the interest of nor approved by the people; whereas the debt of the global South has already been repaid several times; whereas, in the South as well as in the North, it constitutes a powerful instrument for transferring productive wealth towards capital;

H. whereas Egypt has been locked in political and economic crisis for months; whereas in 2012 more than 3 400 protests over economic and social issues – mostly strikes and occupations – took place across Egypt; whereas Egypt paid over USD 80 billion in foreign debt and interest between 1981 and 2012; whereas Egypt has been pressured to adopt the economy austerity reforms necessary to qualify for a USD 4.8 billion IMF loan package; whereas these austerity reforms relating to deficit control will worsen the working, social and living conditions of Egypt’s population;

I.   whereas when Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power, the country bore the burden of a public external debt amounting to USD 14.4 billion, which is a major obstacle to the development of the Tunisian people; whereas according to Tunisian central bank data, from 1970 to 2009 Tunisia repaid USD 2.47 billion more than it borrowed; whereas such a degree of indebtedness did not improve people’s living conditions, and whereas the wealth accumulated by the Ben Ali clan over 23 years in power is proof of the complicity of a number of creditors;

J.   whereas the governments that have come to power in Tunisia and Egypt following the ousting of dictators Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak have themselves taken on new debt, which is much more to the advantage of creditors than of the people, in order to pay the odious debts inherited from the previous dictatorial regimes; whereas Tunisia and Egypt are currently negotiating new arrangements with the IMF that are being used to continue making repayments on the inherited odious debt;

K. whereas the Libyan economy has not recovered after the war, except as regards the oil sector; whereas the political and economic division of the country was established largely for the benefit of foreign investors; whereas the new government has resumed the process of further liberalising the country, which began back in 2003;

L.  whereas Morocco is the greatest beneficiary of EU funds among the countries of the Southern Mediterranean; whereas the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, owns a majority share in the Société Nationale d’Investissement (SNI, or National Investment Company), Morocco’s largest private holding company; whereas over 50 % of the companies listed on the Casablanca stock market are linked to the Moroccan royal family; whereas in 2012 Morocco’s public debt reached 71 % of its GDP; whereas between 1983 and 2011 Morocco paid over USD 115 billion in foreign debt, equal to eight times its initial debt, and still has to pay USD 23 billion; whereas Morocco is illegally occupying Western Sahara;

M. whereas, although there has not been a regime change so far in Morocco or Bahrain, both countries are examples of how the EU lends money to authoritarian and oppressive regimes that brutally strike down protesters;

1.  Stresses that, beyond its economic significance, the return to the Arab Spring countries of misappropriated assets stolen by former and current dictators and their regimes is a moral imperative and a highly political issue, given that it symbolises the restoration of justice and accountability in the spirit of democracy and the rule of law; considers, nevertheless, the issue of these countries’ debt as a crucial one, and asset recovery as part of the problem of odious and illegitimate debt;

2.  Takes the view that the international community should establish a solid system of international agreements and standards dealing with corruption, money laundering and law enforcement, with special regard to the United Nations Convention against Corruption of 2003; calls on the international community to take all the steps required to identify and freeze assets deriving from corruption in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco;

3.  Condemns the support provided to these regimes for decades by the EU, in particular the governments of some Member States; draws attention to the connivance and complicity of the United States and the EU, from which these regimes have benefited on the pretext of safeguarding against Islamism;

4.  Recalls recital 6 of its resolution of 10 May 2012, in which it states that it considers the public external debt of countries in North Africa and the Middle East to be odious debt, given that it was accumulated by dictatorial regimes, mainly through the personal enrichment of political and economic elites and the purchasing of arms, and in many cases was used to oppress those countries’ own populations; calls, therefore, for the reconsideration of this debt, in particular insofar as it relates to arms expenditure;

5.  Supports all citizen-led debt audits with a view to the identification and unconditional cancellation of all odious and illegitimate debt; rejects, to this end, all debt swaps or conversions used to launder such funds; takes the view that governments should also ask their creditors to account for their illicit actions, and demand reparations for the damage caused; urges all governments in both the South and the North to engage in such debt auditing, as was done by Norway and Ecuador in 2006;

6.  Calls for the immediate suspension of debt repayments to the EU by Tunisia and Egypt (with frozen interest), and for auditing of that debt, in which civil society must be involved, as it is the only way to shed light on what the money was borrowed for, the circumstances in which loan contracts were signed, the conditions set and their environmental, social, and economic consequences; underlines the importance of auditing such debt, as this will make it possible both to identify the illegitimate portion of the Tunisian and Egyptian debt and to prevent a new cycle of illegitimate and unsustainable debt, while underscoring the responsibility of European creditors and of the international financial institutions in which EU Member States play a preponderant role;

7.  Reiterates its solidarity with the struggles and popular uprisings in North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula for the improvement of living conditions, for social and labour rights, and for freedom and democracy;

8.  Points out that these revolts have highlighted the failure of the ENP and the urgent need for a revision of the EU’s external policy; calls for the EU to establish a new framework of relations with these countries and regions based on non-intervention in their internal affairs and respect for their sovereignty, and aimed at supporting the development of neighbouring regions and promoting employment and education, rather than on ‘association agreements’ serving mainly to establish free trade areas that benefit corporate interests on the European side;

9.  Is strongly opposed to the conditions attached to the IMF loans, as they will help to worsen the living conditions of workers and of the most vulnerable layers of society, in particular women, whose role has been decisive in the democratic transition in these countries;

10. Reiterates its condemnation of the military intervention in Libya led by France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada under the auspices of NATO; stresses that the political, economic and social claims originating in popular mobilisation against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi are far from being resolved; is also concerned about the current economic and political division of the country, which is aggravating the fragile situation of the population, and reaffirms its support for the inalienable right of peoples to have access to and control over their country’s resources;

11. Considers Morocco’s regime to be corrupt and repressive, and similar to the regimes of Mubarak and Ben Ali; supports the movement of Moroccan women fighting against abusive IMF-funded microfinance organisations; reiterates that Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara has never been recognised by international law; demands that the Commission and the Council suspend the association agreement between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco, along with the Advanced Status granted to Morocco, until the Kingdom complies with international law, in particular the UN resolutions calling for a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara and for the completion of the decolonisation process, thereby putting an end to the occupation by Morocco;

12. Strongly criticises the intensive arms trade between EU Member States and Libya, Egypt and other repressive regimes such as those of Morocco, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia;

13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean, the African Union and the Governments and Parliaments of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0201.

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