Motion for a resolution - B7-0193/2013Motion for a resolution

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition

    15.5.2013 - (2013/2612(RSP))

    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

    José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Tokia Saïfi, Mairead McGuinness, Elmar Brok, Roberta Angelilli, Elena Băsescu, Daniel Caspary, Anne Delvaux, Sari Essayah, Eduard Kukan, Cristian Dan Preda, Salvatore Iacolino, Giovanni La Via on behalf of the PPE Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0188/2013

    Procedure : 2013/2612(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
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    Texts adopted :


    European Parliament resolution on asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition


    The European Parliament,

    –   having regard to its previous resolutions on Arab Spring countries and, in particular, that of 14 March 2013 on the situation in Egypt[1],

    –   having regard to Council regulation 270/2011 of 21 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Egypt,

    –   having regard to the new Council regulation of 26 November 2012 concerning the adoption of a new legislative framework to facilitate asset recovery in Egypt and Tunisia; having regard to the statement made by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security policy, on 26 November 2012,

    –   having regard to the EU-Tunisia and EU-Egypt Task Forces Co-Chairs’ Conclusions of 28-29 September 2011 and 14 November 2012 respectively, and in particular the sections thereof concerning asset recovery,

    –   having regard to the existing EU legal instruments aimed at improving confiscation and asset recovery under Council Decisions 2001/500/JHA, 2003/577/JHA, 2005/212/JHA, 2006/783/JHA and 2007/845/JHA, and the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2012 on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime in the European Union (COM(2012)0085),

    –   having regard to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005, in particular Article 43 thereof on international cooperation and Chapter V thereof on asset recovery, to which Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, as well as all the EU Member States (except Germany and the Czech Republic, which have not yet ratified the Convention) are parties,

    –   having regard to UN Secretary-General’s initiative of 17 September 2007 on stolen asset recovery,

    –   having regard to the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) initiative, officially launched in September 2007 by the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime,

    –   having regard to the first Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR), co-organised by Qatar and the US presidency of the G8 in November 2012, which marks the latest initiative by Middle-East and Western allies to strengthen international cooperation aimed at recovering state funds from the deposed regimes in the Middle East,

    –   having regard to the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition launched by the G8 at the Leaders’ Meeting in Deauville in May 2011, to which the EU is a party, and in particular its Action Plan on Asset Recovery issued on 21 May 2012,

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

    A. whereas , while the freezing of assets is an EU competence, the recovery and repatriation of assets is a competence of the Member States and must be carried out in accordance with national legal provisions;

    B.  whereas asset recovery is a highly political issue, given its symbolism of justice and accountability being restored in a spirit of democracy and the rule of law;

    C. whereas the Council has already taken steps to facilitate the return of misappropriated funds to the Egyptian and Tunisian authorities; whereas the new legislative framework adopted on 26 November 2012 allows EU Member States to release frozen assets on the basis of judicial decisions recognised in EU Member States and facilitates the exchange of information between EU Member States and the relevant authorities;

    D. whereas, beyond its economic significance, the return of assets stolen by the former regimes can contribute to delivering justice and accountability to the people of Arab Spring countries and is therefore a major political issue of highly symbolic importance in relations between the EU and those countries;

    E.  whereas the EU-Egypt and EU-Tunisia Task Forces have underlined the importance of the return of illicitly acquired assets which are still currently frozen in a number of third countries; whereas the Task Forces agreed to finalise a roadmap, which could include the establishment of an asset recovery group coordinated by the European External Action Service (EEAS) for each country;

    F.  whereas the G8 is supporting countries in the Arab world engaged in transitions towards ‘free, democratic and tolerant societies’ through the Deauville Partnership of May 2011; whereas its Action Plan issued on 21 May 2012 recognises that, in the wake of the Arab Spring, asset recovery has become a more urgent area of focus in the region and in the international community;

    G. whereas since January 2011 the funds and assets of 48 people responsible for the misappropriation of Tunisian state funds, and since March 2011 the funds and assets of 19 people responsible for the misappropriation of Egyptian state funds, including the former Tunisian and Egyptian Presidents, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, have been frozen in the EU;

    H. whereas on 27 March 2013 a delegation from the World Bank-UN’s joint programme StAR that met with the Libyan authorities in Tripoli reaffirmed its involvement in tracking Libyan assets and working to ensure the return of all funds stolen by Gadaffi’s regime;

    I.   whereas there is a lack of efficient cooperation between ‘requesting’ and ‘requested’ states, and whereas the judicial process for recovering and repatriating assets is complex, lengthy and subject to the differing legal requirements and systems of the ‘requested state parties’;

    J.   whereas asset recovery can be achieved by bilateral judicial mechanisms and multilateral cooperation; whereas asset recovery operations should be launched at both national and international level;

    1.  Underlines the political, as well as the economic and social, importance of the return of assets illicitly acquired through the corruption of the Arab Spring countries’ previous regimes;

    2.  Acknowledges that for the Arab Spring countries the recovery of stolen assets also has an economic and social weight, as funds are needed to help stabilise economies and create jobs and growth across these countries, which are facing serious economic challenges;

    3.  Considers that effective asset-recovery provisions will support the efforts of countries to redress the worst effects of corruption, while at the same time sending a message to corrupt officials that there will be nowhere to hide their illicit assets;

    4.  Urges the EU and its Member States to make further significant efforts aimed at facilitating the return of misappropriated assets stolen by the former regimes to the people of Arab Spring countries;

    5.  Encourages the National Asset Recovery Offices in all Member States to work closely together and to develop their relations with the relevant authorities in Arab Spring countries in order to assist them in addressing the complex legal procedures; calls on the EU to play an important role in capacity-building and in coordination and cooperation between states;

    6.  Welcomes, in this connection, the initiative of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Japan, Switzerland and the United States to issue a guide providing a comprehensive description of their national legal systems with regard to asset recovery, in order for requesting countries to gain a better understanding of what is legally possible, what kind of information is available, what types of investigation can be conducted and how to proceed in order to obtain effective asset recovery through mutual legal assistance; encourages all Member States to do likewise;

    7.  Welcomes the G8 initiative of the Deauville Partnership’s Action Plan on Asset Recovery, which identifies concrete measures to promote cooperation and case assistance, capacity-building efforts and technical assistance, and suggests a collaborative regional initiative, the Arab Asset Recovery Forum, for discussion and cooperation on continued efforts;

    8.  Takes the view that international cooperation, including between the public and private sectors, is the key to resolving the issue, and therefore encourages the EU to work closely with international partners such as Switzerland, the international financial institutions and, in particular, the StAR initiative and the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery to implement concrete measures on this issue and to continue to enhance coordination and cooperation;

    9.  Calls on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean to raise the issue with national parliaments, so that parliamentarians from both shores can be persuaded to actively promote legal measures to ensure closer cooperation between the police and judicial authorities involved;

    10. Encourages the EU to commit itself to a comprehensive list of actions aiming to promote cooperation and case assistance, capacity building and technical assistance, including the organisation of training sessions for national experts, in support of the efforts of Arab countries in transition to recover assets diverted by past regimes;

    11. Strongly supports the establishment by the EU of a group of investigators, lawyers and prosecutors from its Member States and other European countries to deliver legal support and assistance to the relevant authorities in the countries concerned;

    12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean and the Arab country authorities.