Motion for a resolution - B8-0661/2015Motion for a resolution
B8-0661/2015

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the Commission Work Programme 2016

    1.7.2015 - (2015/2729(RSP))

    to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
    pursuant to Rule 37(3) of the Rules of Procedure and the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission

    Vicky Ford on behalf of the ECR Group

    Procedure : 2015/2729(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B8-0661/2015
    Texts tabled :
    B8-0661/2015
    Debates :
    Texts adopted :

    B8‑0661/2015

    European Parliament resolution on the Commission Work Programme 2016

    (2015/2729(RSP))

    The European Parliament,

    –       having regard to the statement of 16 December 2014 by the President and First Vice-President of the Commission on the Commission Work Programme for 2015,

    –       having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A.     whereas the Member States of the European Union face a profound competitiveness crisis in an increasing challenging global economy; whereas only competitive economies will be able to create jobs, raise the living standards of their citizens, and generate the prosperity that funds investment in the future and provides for public services; whereas a reinforced focus on promoting free and fair competition is necessary for the achievement of the ambitious objectives for jobs, growth, investment and the global competitiveness of the European economy;

    B.     whereas other regions of the world are growing more quickly, with increasing levels of productivity and innovation;

    C.     whereas the euro area public debt crisis has greatly damaged the European economy and has caused considerable hardship for millions;

    D.     whereas Europe must be committed to an economy which can ensure sustainable growth in order to provide the next generation with jobs instead of debts;

    E.     whereas political priorities should be matched with the available financial resources;

    F.     whereas the EU’s policies and activities must seek to support and facilitate the actions of its Member States in order to tackle the competitiveness crisis by respecting the essential principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

    G.     whereas the citizens of the European Union clearly seek a Union with a light touch which facilitates cooperation amongst its Member States in areas where this can add value but otherwise refrains from taking any action which should properly be left to its Member States, to regional and local governments, to families and to individual citizens;

    1.      Welcomes the initial efforts of the Commission to prioritise measures that will encourage job creation, growth, and investment; calls on the Commission to remain focused on these goals and be ambitious in its reform agenda in its 2016 work programme; welcomes the broad outlines of the Commission’s Better Regulation Package, which includes measures to reduce red tape, promote competitiveness and respond to the needs of small businesses; emphasises the significance of creating an environment in which entrepreneurs and businesses are able to create new jobs, retain jobs in Europe and re-shore jobs from overseas; stresses the importance of creating a climate where innovation and private-sector investment can flourish; believes that policymakers must ensure that legislation encourages innovation by assessing the impact of risk management legislation on innovation;

    2.      Stresses that a significant reduction in the administrative burden on citizens and companies can only be achieved by reducing the number of legislative proposals and focusing on major priorities instead; calls on the Commission to pursue this approach in 2016 and to minimise the number of legislative proposals; calls on the Commission to take further steps in 2016 to reduce the cost of bureaucratic burdens with the ambition to reduce the burden by 50 % by 2030, and to set a target for a reduction in costs of compliance; calls for independent assessments to be established in order to measure the administrative burden and the related costs of new proposals;

    3.      Strongly believes that efforts must be concentrated on a few key priorities, and calls on the Commission to refrain from taking initiatives which are not essential; emphasises the importance of focusing on areas which deliver significant European added value in line with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; calls on the Commission to work with the Member States to identify ways of ensuring that those principles can be more effectively implemented; calls on the Commission to make a clear commitment to thoroughly evaluate the opinions of national parliaments and, where appropriate, regional parliaments in instances when concerns are raised; in this regard, supports efforts made by the Commission to engage with national parliaments and, where appropriate, regional parliaments at an earlier stage in the legislative process, as well as a stronger red card procedure to ensure full respect for subsidiarity;

    4.      Emphasises the importance of a mandatory SME test for all future legislative proposals, to ensure this sector which is so vital to the future development and prosperity of the economies of Europe is nurtured and not burdened; calls for micro-enterprises to be exempt as far as possible from all burdensome legislation, particularly so that new start-ups and entrepreneurs can be encouraged;

    5.      Calls for a mandatory Competitiveness Test for all future legislative proposals so as to make sure that the central goal of ensuring that the economies of Europe can remain competitive in global markets is a key criterion in assessing all proposed initiatives;

    6.      Reiterates the importance of developing the use of impact assessments, which should be undertaken throughout the whole policy cycle and should be living documents that are updated when new significant amendments are introduced during the legislative process; stresses that thorough impact assessments should include a full evaluation of subsidiarity compliance, as this is essential to improve the trust of citizens who regard the subsidiarity principle as a key aspect of the democratic process; calls for further steps to ensure there is effective independent scrutiny of impact assessments, and specifically calls for the Regulatory Scrutiny Board to be separate from the Commission if it is to be truly independent, so as to fulfil the objective of ensuring independent impact assessments and enhance the quality of EU legislation;

    7.      Calls for existing policies to be regularly evaluated, reviewed and adapted when necessary to ensure that they meet the needs of the future and of a rapidly changing technological and economic environment;

    8.      Strongly supports measures to fight tax fraud and tax evasion; stresses the need for more efficient use of taxpayers’ money that involves Member States fully in addressing concerns over mismanagement and fraud; emphasises the importance of systematic, regular and independent evaluations to ensure that all spending is achieving the desired outcomes in a cost-effective manner; calls on the Commission to publish a green paper in 2016 on whether something based on the models of the UK’s Office of Budgetary Responsibility, France’s ‘Haut Conseil des finances publiques’, or the US Government Accountability Office should be introduced for the European Union, in addition to the work already performed by the Court of Auditors; regrets the failure of the new Commission to have a dedicated full-time Commissioner for Budgetary Control as repeatedly demanded by the European Parliament, and calls for this situation to be reviewed in 2016;

    9.      Emphasises that reaching new trade deals is essential to develop an outward-looking, competitive European economic framework that is able to deliver tangible benefits and lower prices to consumers and generate new jobs; believes that rapid progress on an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive TTIP respecting EU social, environmental and consumer standards is key to providing new growth opportunities; calls for further progress to be made in other trade negotiations during 2016;

    PART 2: SPECIFIC PROPOSALS FOR THE WORK PROGRAMME

    A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment

    10.    Highlights the essential role of competition policy enforcement in creating a level playing field that fosters innovation, productivity, job creation and investment by all players across the single market and across all business models, including SMEs, in full respect of national diversities; asks the Commission to strictly enforce antitrust, state aid and merger control rules with a view to achieving a well-functioning internal market;

    11.    Recalls that non-legislative steps including the encouragement of market-driven solutions and the effective enforcement of competition and single market laws can offer the best way forward in many areas;

    12.    Underlines the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality; calls on the Commission to ensure a strict interpretation of Article 9 TFEU and to avoid using it as a justification for the harmonisation of employment and social legislation at EU level;

    13.    Emphasises the need to ensure that the eligibility criteria of the European Fund for Strategic Investments are aligned where appropriate with existing EU TEN-T, CEF and Structural and Investment Funds legislation;

    14.    Welcomes the new Better Regulation Package as an important step towards reducing the burden of regulation, and encourages greater ambition in this direction in order to eliminate barriers for businesses to grow and create jobs; supports measures within the Commission’s Better Regulation Package to reduce red tape, promote competitiveness - including a competitiveness test - and respond to the needs of small businesses;

    15.    Calls, however, for the Regulatory Impact Assessment Board to be separate from the Commission if it is to be truly independent, so as to fulfil the objective of ensuring independent impact assessments and enhance the quality of EU legislation;

    16.    Stresses the importance of carrying out thorough impact assessments for delegated and implementing acts to assess potential implications;

    17.    Urges the Commission to introduce a digital dimension in its Impact Assessments and to existing EU legislation so as to ensure that it is fit for purpose in the digital age, technologically neutral and future-proof, whilst also supporting innovation and SMEs;

    18.    Calls on the Commission to commit to a target for a reduction in costs of compliance;

    19.    Believes that Better Regulation principles should apply to decisions on secondary as well as primary legislation; calls on the Commission and its agencies, where appropriate, to accompany delegated and implementing acts with a mandatory impact assessment, including publication of a draft measure and a transparent consultation with interested parties and stakeholders; welcomes the Commission’s announcement on transparency regarding consultation with stakeholders, and encourages it to ensure that this takes place throughout the legislative process;

    20.    Supports the introduction of the REFIT panel, which can make a strong and positive contribution to improving implementation on the ground of EU law and monitoring and responding to administrative and regulatory burdens or unintended consequences which arise when applying obligations arising at EU level;

    21.    Stresses that the REFIT panel should be efficient and should generate fast responses and stimulate opportunities in various sectors across Europe; stresses that proposals form this panel should be actively considered by the Commission, and that the Commission should address the proposals in accordance with the ‘comply or explain’ principle;

    22.    Underlines that the panel could serve as a platform for businesses or collective groups working both nationally and across Europe to submit direct input supporting the better regulation principles of contributing to achieving less bureaucracy in the regulation applying to their sector;

    23.    Welcomes the decision of the Commission not to proceed with an inter-service consultation without a positive opinion of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB); however, notes the importance of consistency and that the final proposal and impact assessment must be consistent and must therefore reflect any changes introduced at the inter-service consultation phase; considers, therefore, that the positive opinion of the RSB is essential to accompany the final legislative proposal presented to the College, and not only for the drafts presented at an earlier stage;

    24.    Believes that the advantages of the RSB could be further realised if it is shared between the three institutions, contributing not only to the Commission’s preparatory work but also to the development of impact assessment analysis throughout the legislative process;

    25.    Stresses the importance of the Commission being present at the meetings of committees of the European Parliament to present each proposal and accompanying impact assessment; stresses that this should include a debate on appraisal by Parliament’s Impact Assessment Unit in case of disparities;

    26.    Underlines the useful role of Parliament’s Impact Assessment Unit with regard to evaluating substantial changes to the Commission’s original proposal;

    27.    Notes that a cooling-off period taken after the conclusion of negotiations but in advance of the final vote could be further utilised for the completion of an impact assessment and subsidiarity check;

    28.    Is concerned that social partner negotiations have not kept pace with the EU’s better regulation agenda; calls on the Commission, together with the social partners, to embrace better regulation tools, to increase the use of impact assessments in their negotiations, and to refer all agreements proposing legislative action to the Commission’s Impact Assessment Board;

    29.    Stresses the importance of ensuring that any future initiatives or revisions proposed by the Commission in the area of health and safety are based on robust scientific evidence; calls on the Commission to consider the long-term benefits of taking a non-legislative approach which focuses on improving guidance, educating employers and involving workers in bringing about sustainable change;

    30.    Calls on the Commission to prioritise action in the fields of what have been identified as the ‘Top Ten’ most burdensome laws for SMEs, including the Working Time Directive and the Temporary Agency Directive;

    31.    Highlights the Commission’s Employment and Social Quarterly Review (March 2015); calls on the Commission to take appropriate measures to eradicate existing labour market rigidities across the EU, to support and develop conditions for more flexible working arrangements, and to promote the reconciliation of work and family life;

    32.    Calls on the Commission to produce its impact assessment on the Working Time Directive as a matter of urgency;

    33.    Highlights the recent trend of companies returning production and services to Europe and the opportunities this brings for job creation; calls on the Commission to consider how the EU can help businesses take advantage of the opportunities offered by re-shoring;

    34.    Asks the Commission to step up its efforts to withdraw legislative proposals which do not find support in Council, and in this context believes it is correct to withdraw the maternity leave directive while acknowledging Member States’ right to adopt provisions going beyond the minimum requirements of the EU legislation; regrets that the proposal for a directive on health and safety at work for pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding did not focus more on aspects concerning health and safety at work, its sole focus being, rather, on compulsory maternity leave;

    35.    Welcomes the proposed REFIT exercise to test the regulatory fitness of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive for the digital era, and calls on the Commission to ensure that the review process is conducted thoroughly, in line with the principles of better regulation, allowing for extensive and timely public consultation to ensure that the views of consumers and industry stakeholders properly considered;

    Common European Sales Law

    36.    Welcomes the Commission’s aim to withdraw the proposal for a Common European Sales Law; welcomes the intention to propose targeted common rules for digital content, and notes the proposal to introduce the ‘home option’ plus targeted harmonisation as a mechanism for reducing barriers to cross-border trade, but insists on the need for an evidence-based approach and consultation with stakeholders, in particular with regard to the impact on the current protection provided to consumers under national law, and for remedies for non-conformity of contract for online sales;

    Financial regulation and Capital Markets Union

    37.    Underlines the importance of a competitive financial services sector which delivers beneficial products and transparent information to consumers; stresses that this will increase trust among consumers in financial services products;

    38.    Welcomes the Commission plan to take stock of the overall impact of financial regulation; encourages the Commission, as part of REFIT, to remove unnecessary and/or outdated legislation from the statute book;

    39.    Welcomes the idea of a Capital Markets Union (CMU), whilst expecting a timely and coherent conclusion to the consultations; stresses the need to perform a cumulative impact assessment of economic legislation in order to identify legislative inconsistencies that would act as barriers to a CMU, with special consideration given to SMEs and mid-caps; calls for any proposals for additional legislation to be subject to a thorough impact assessment and cost-benefit analysis, ensuring that proposals are only made if the intended effects cannot be achieved by non-legislative means;

    40.    Calls for the focus to remain on growth-friendly fiscal consolidation; believes that boosting investment should not be seen as an alternative to necessary structural reforms;

    41.    Calls on the Commission to recognise that diversity of business models and financial markets as between Member States can represent a strength that is worth protecting for Europe as a whole; stresses that all financial regulation must respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

    42.    Awaits the proposal for the recovery and resolution of critical market infrastructures in order to ensure adequate protection of investors’ assets within these entities; notes that global commitments shifting bilaterally-traded derivative products into multilateral market infrastructure increase the stress being put on these institutions; agrees therefore that systemically relevant financial institutions need to demonstrate proper governance and strong risk management for the benefit of the system as a whole;

    43.    Believes that in order to simplify cross-border investment flows special consideration should be given to micro and small businesses, in particular with respect to eliminating administrative obstacles;

    Fight against tax fraud and tax evasion

    44.    Welcomes the work done by the Commission and Member States to promote actively the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and use of tax havens, drawing on the expertise of the OECD in fostering good governance in the tax field in all relevant international forums;

    45.    Believes that taxation policy is a competence of the Member States, and so welcomes the Commission’s recognition that Member States are responsible for their taxation systems; stresses that any future proposals must be measured and in line with actions taken at the global level in the field of taxation;

    46.    Notes that exchange of relevant information between tax authorities is desirable, and encourages Member States to engage in such exchange with a view to achieving the necessary transparency and a level playing field;

    47.    Believes that making more efficient use of existing EU structures for improved combating of VAT fraud, for example by expanding the number of entities having access to the information on VAT exchanged by Eurofisc on Europol, has the potential to improve the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion;

    Research and space policy

    48.    Emphasises the continued implementation of Horizon 2020, in particular its efforts towards a greater focus on turning world-class research into products and services that can contribute to reviving the competitiveness of the European economies;

    49.    Acknowledges the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as being space flagship programmes with an EU added value; calls on the Commission to make effective use of the financial means allocated under the MFF in order to ensure successful completion of their infrastructure and user/market uptake;

    50.    Expresses concern regarding the directive on the dissemination of Earth observation satellite data for commercial purposes, owing to its insufficient justification and the possibility that it may create a burden for the European market in high-resolution satellite data; calls on the Commission to consider again whether this proposed directive should be withdrawn;

    Transport infrastructure

    51.    Stresses the need to take forward the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and core network corridors as a priority, in order to link the transport networks of all EU regions and solve such problems as the lack of appropriate infrastructure, accessibility and a low interoperability between the Eastern and Western parts of the EU; stresses the importance of full implementation of the NAIADES II action programme, with a focus on infrastructure improvement, innovation and liberalisation of the market, as further development of inland waterways and inland shipping in Europe is essential;

    52.    Awaits clarification on the Aviation Package proposals and emphasises that this legislation should be fit for purpose in order to benefit the aviation sector by enabling the creation of jobs, mitigation of the environmental impact and the reduction of fuel burn and ticket prices, and in so doing should allow the EU aviation industry to compete on an equal footing; stresses the vital importance of speeding up the implementation of the Single European Sky (including further development of SESAR and creation of FABs);

    53.    Notes the Commission’s intention to withdraw the ground handling proposal and stresses that the monopolies that still exist at certain large EU airports should be tackled with appropriate regard for those Member States where ground handling services are already liberalised; calls for a degree of liberalisation and competition through an increased number of service providers at large EU airports as this will improve the efficiency and quality of airport operations and reduce prices for airport users and passengers; emphasises, however, that any new proposal should not include social issues, nor should it lay down minimum quality standards for ground handling services;

    54.    Agrees with the withdrawal of the outdated proposal on aviation security charges; is sceptical about the future of this proposal, while agreeing that aviation security charges should be fair and proportionate, given the proposal’s numerous difficulties, including the scope of the directive, the cost-relatedness issue and state financing; believes that common principles for the levying of security charges at Community airports should be aligned with the Airport Charges Directive; recalls that the cohesion policy, with over one third of the EU’s budget, is currently the EU’s largest investment tool, and acknowledges its positive contribution to the reduction of regional disparities across the EU when accompanied by simultaneous political, institutional and infrastructural reform;

    Regional Development

    55.    Believes that regional development funds in this European Commission Work Programme period should assist Member States in making the tough, but essential, economic reforms necessary to achieve greater competitiveness;

    56.    Notes the Commission’s commitment to improving the implementation, take-up and effectiveness of structural funds and to implementing the new rules for the 2014-2020 structural funds as swiftly and smoothly as possible; stresses the importance of simplification in enhancing access to such funds and the elimination of irregularities and fraud;

    57.    Highlights the fact that the exercise of the European Commission’s new power to demand the reprogramming or suspension of structural funds could have a negative financial impact on regional and local authorities; recalls, in this connection, that authorities responsible for implementing EU cohesion policy programmes are not accountable for national deficits and should not be penalised for this;

    58.    Supports the implementation of appropriately targeted macro-regional strategies (MRS) as an instrument, endorsed by the European Council, to make smarter use of existing financial resources and to improve the effectiveness of ESI funds; notes that MRS can help to address common challenges faced by defined geographical areas without the need to create new large-scale institutions;

    59.    Encourages the Commission to continue its support for Member States’ efforts to tackle digital division and deliver access to high-speed broadband in urban and rural areas, thus creating a more hospitable environment for entrepreneurship, SMEs, job creation and remote access to core services, including education and training, in areas where public transport infrastructure is limited;

    A Connected Digital Single Market

    60.    Notes the recently presented Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe and the accompanying roadmap of initiatives; supports the prioritisation of the digital single market in view of the opportunities that digital activities can generate for jobs, creation of new start-ups and innovation, and recognises the importance of the digital transformation of EU industry to creating jobs, boosting productivity, enhancing competitiveness, and thus delivering growth;

    61.    Recalls that, in the recent past, new legislative proposals have often become stalled; recommends that, before making new legislative proposals, the Commission examine best practice at Member State level, be open to industry-led measures, focus on the implementation of existing laws, modernise existing national and European law where necessary, eliminating any remaining gaps in a targeted manner, and use new legislation only if absolutely necessary;

    62.    Believes that removing red tape and unjustified or disproportionate regulatory or non-regulatory obstacles must be a priority of the Digital Single Market Strategy, with a view to fully exploiting the potential of a digital transformation of industry and cross-border e-commerce; believes that more targeted measures could be considered in order to build greater consumer confidence in purchasing digital goods and services across the EU;

    63.    Recognises the Commission’s commitment to unlocking the potential of the digital economy by focusing its approach on three pillars, aiming at better access for consumers and businesses, a better environment for the development of digital services and an e-society and e-government; highlights, at the same time, the need for legislators to seek to set a basic framework at EU level rather than proposing a one-size-fits-all plan for the EU economy; emphasises the international dimension of digital markets and the need to work with global regulators in relation to competition, safety and security;

    64.    Recommends that European ICT standards be established in coordination with international standards and globally recognised technical specifications and, where possible, promoted as international standards;

    65.    Supports the Commission’s efforts to conclude the EU’s Data Protection Regulation; calls, in this connection, for any reforms to data protection law to be proportionate and workable, to protect both consumer and privacy rights, and to enable businesses, the economy and innovation to flourish; emphasises the need to ensure that the commercial use of digital commercial data is consistent with the protection of both industrial and personal data and of privacy;

    66.    Supports a free, open and transparent internet, recognising the need for measures which support technical requirements; awaits the expected overhaul of the telecoms regulatory framework and points to the need for a timely review of the Universal Services Directive; recognises that a cornerstone of competition policy is to ensure a level playing field for all operators and that dominant positions are not abused, to the detriment of consumers or competitors; notes also the competences of Member States as regards spectrum, and urges the Commission, therefore, to explore productive non-regulatory measures that improve cooperation and enable more effective spectrum assignment across the EU;

    67.    Highlights significant concerns regarding tax measures in the digital economy, particularly value added tax (VAT); welcomes the Commission’s intention to propose introducing a common EU-wide simplification measure (VAT threshold) to help small e-commerce business;

    Copyright

    68.    Welcomes efforts to develop and modernise the EU’s intellectual property laws, in particular in the area of copyright, in order to render them fit for the digital age; underlines the need to tackle the negative impact of digital piracy on value and employment in the creative and cultural sectors;

    69.    Underlines the fact that consumers should be able to access lawfully available content on fair and reasonable terms across the EU and that creators should be adequately remunerated but that mandatory pan-EU licences are not the appropriate solution for consumer choice or rights holders and that market-based solutions should also be explored; considers that copyright should maintain its primary function, which is to allow creators to gain rewards for their efforts through others making use of their work;

    70.    Calls for a targeted approach based on robust evidence, inter alia a thorough legal and economic analysis, including stakeholder dialogue which maintains a balance between the interests of consumers, users, creators and rights holders and encourages creativity and entrepreneurship, which is vital to cultural and creative industries and the Commission’s jobs and growth agenda; underlines the need to respect subsidiarity and cultural diversity; highlights, in this connection, the fact that the important contribution of traditional methods of promoting regional and European culture should not be hampered by modernisation or reform proposals and that developments should comply with international law, on which the basic foundations of copyright rest;

    71.    Stresses that copyright enforcement will be crucial to supporting growth and that focusing on commercial-scale infringement must therefore be prioritised; considers, in this connection, that the role of all players, including IP and payment providers, in tackling copyright abuses should not be overlooked;

    72.    Calls for the Commission to assist with ensuring the swift ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access for the visually impaired to books; notes, however, that more progress is needed to open up access to content for people with disabilities, in addition to those affected by visual impairment;

    73.    Encourages the reviewing of the so-called ‘safe harbours’ concept, which currently exempts passive hosting companies from copyright law and liability; notes that in the advanced internet age this may adversely impact upon rights holders by reducing their ability to negotiate licences with digital platforms, thus reducing revenue for artists and affecting sustainability and growth in the industry;

    A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy

    74.    Welcomes the ambition behind the Energy Union and believes that greater coordination of EU-level policy in this area offers the opportunity to remedy the fragmented approach that has in the past resulted in a number of conflicting policies;

    75.    Stresses the importance of affordability, sustainability and security of energy supply; considers competition policy to be of vital importance in encouraging, unbundling and addressing the current fragmentation of the market; notes that regulation of state aid in this field must be carried out in the same spirit as in any other area;

    76.    Welcomes efforts made to introduce sustainable energy efficiency programmes and underlines the importance of Parliament’s report on the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive, which will provide a better understanding of the measures introduced across the Member States and must stress the importance of ensuring that energy efficiency requirements are cost-effective for final consumers;

    77.    Awaits further details and specific proposals relating to the ‘Energy Union’ and considers that the completion of the internal energy market must be considered its central pillar with a view to driving security, diversification and competitive prices through improvements in cross-border infrastructure and interconnectors;

    78.    Believes that market-based mechanisms must be complemented by tangible and ambitious solidarity mechanisms, such as more efficient EU and cross-border crisis management, better use of LNG and gas storage and virtual capacity reserve mechanisms, including the Security of Gas Supply Regulation, which will be reviewed in late 2015;

    79.    Invites the Member States and Commission to work together to identify where greater transparency of intergovernmental agreements could be achieved, acknowledging the sensitive nature of previous proposals in this area; recognises, however, that the Commission is already able to participate upon invitation in energy-related negotiations involving one or more Member States and third countries; calls on the Commission to draw up both a positive and a negative list of agreement clauses, such as export ban and destination clauses;

    80.    Encourages the Commission to ensure that the development of indigenous energy sources is a key part of the Energy Union; reminds the Commission, however, that it is the responsibility of the Member States to determine their own energy mix and that any future decarbonisation and emission reduction policy must take into account the need to ensure energy security and diversification – not sustainability in isolation, as has been the case in the past;

    81.    Emphasises, given the ongoing events in Ukraine, that energy security must be enhanced through a series of measures across a spectrum of options, such as diversification of suppliers, improvements in energy efficiency to reduce consumption, an increased use of indigenous sources of energy and substantial investment in infrastructure;

    82.    Notes, in the context of a strategic framework for the Energy Union, the agreement reached at the October 2014 European Council meeting on the 2030 climate and energy policy, and in particular the absence of binding renewable targets per Member State, as the current targets have proved to be inflexible and costly and have throttled investment in other low carbon energy technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS); insists, however, that, in the context of this framework, it is imperative that provisions to protect industrial sectors at risk of carbon leakage be maintained;

    83.    Recognises that indigenous energy sources can make a fundamental contribution to EU energy security and the establishment of a low emission economy; believes, in this connection, that the Energy Union must reflect the need for the EU to use all low and lower emission sources at Member States’ disposal, respecting their right to decide for themselves about their own energy mix and the exploitation of their domestic resources, be they fossil-based, renewables-based or nuclear;

    A Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base

    84.    Welcomes the Commission’s efforts to create a more hospitable environment for job creation in the EU; emphasises the significance of the structural reforms needed to address the following factors: skills mismatches, entrepreneurship, demographics, market access, access to finance, labour market rigidities, administrative costs and the reduction of red tape;

    85.    Reiterates the importance of deepening the single market in order to remove barriers to free trade and calls for the Commission’s ‘better regulation’ focus to deliver a healthy European business environment, cutting red tape, removing regulatory burdens and barriers to investment and encouraging a minimum of new legislation;

    86.    Emphasises that more actions are needed to boost private sector investment; believes that further removal of barriers to investment across the Union, particularly investment for small and medium-sized businesses, is crucial;

    87.    Welcomes the Commission’s confirmation of all REFIT actions due to be implemented, with the aim of lightening the regulatory load; calls on the Commission to maintain the commitments set out in its communication;

    88.    Emphasises the importance of basing all regulatory and legislative proposals on evidence from businesses and other experts and interested parties; expects the President of the Commission to elucidate on developments relating to its new high-level scientific advisory panel; reiterates that scientific advice must be independent and of sufficient standing to hold legislators and officials to account for decisions and proposals;

    89.    Welcomes the Commission’s decision to set up the REFIT Platform in order to conduct an ongoing dialogue with Member States and stakeholders on improving EU legislation in the context of the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme; is encouraged by the Commission’s strong commitment to lightening the regulatory burden on Member States and small businesses through its confirmation of the withdrawal of 73 pending legislative proposals; believes that a fresh start is precisely what is required in many policy areas; cautions that, where proposals are withdrawn in order to be replaced by new proposals, those new initiatives should not introduce greater burdens on the people and businesses affected;

    A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union

    90.    Notes that recent economic studies have pointed to slow growth rates and low inflation as a prolonged problem in the eurozone compared to non-eurozone countries; calls for a thorough analysis of the eurozone’s economic situation; calls for comparisons to be made between the recovery of eurozone Member States and non-eurozone Member States, as well as third countries and regions;

    91.    Calls for a strict adherence to the ‘no bail-out’ clause; reminds the ECB of the scope of its mandate, which is limited to monetary policy;

    92.    Notes that, in line with the principles of national sovereignty and subsidiarity, the ESM and the Fiscal Compact should not be incorporated into the Community method;

    93.    Highlights the importance of monitoring the implementation of existing Banking Union legislation and enhancing dialogue with sector experts to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of adopted legislation; stresses the need to perform a detailed impact assessment and cost-benefit analysis before any additional legislation is considered;

    94.    Underlines the importance of a competitive financial services sector which delivers beneficial products and transparent information to consumers; stresses that this will increase trust among consumers in financial services products;

    A Reasonable and Balanced Free Trade Agreement with the US

    95.    Urges the Commission to dedicate sufficient resources to furthering its ambitious trade agenda with all trading partners globally, including working towards completing negotiations for a deep, comprehensive and balanced Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, while noting that trade policy should not be limited to this area but should include all multilateral, plurilateral and bilateral trade and investment agreements currently under negotiation by the Commission;

    96.    Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to reviewing EU trade and investment policy, including the proposed emphasis on its contribution to jobs and growth across the EU; requests that this review be broad-based, strategic and forward-looking, covering all aspects of trade and investment policy, including bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral negotiations and autonomous measures with a particular focus on addressing trading relations not only with large emerging nations and key strategic partners worldwide but also with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries with which the EU does not currently have deep and comprehensive free trade agreements;

    97.    Welcomes the Commission’s intention to propose draft directives to the Member States for the modernisation of the existing agreements with Mexico, Chile and Turkey and asks that these directives contain ambitious provisions for the mutual opening up of markets, addressing tariffs, non-tariff barriers and technical barriers to trade, across a wide range of sectors, including, but not limited to, financial services, professional services, insurance, public procurement, chemicals, processed foods, trade in energy, intellectual property and the automotive sector;

    98.    Considers it regrettable that the Commission has not committed to withdrawing its proposal for a regulation establishing rules on the access of third country goods and services to the EU’s internal market in public procurement in light of the strong opposition from a large number of Member States to what many see as a protectionist measure, which, if implemented, could entail significant trading difficulties with certain trading partners, including possible retaliatory market closures not only in public procurement, but also in other key sectors; believes that the issues identified by the Commission would be better addressed in bilateral negotiations for deep and comprehensive free trade agreements or by encouraging further countries to join the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA);

    99.    Notes with concern the lack of progress towards an EU-India FTA and asks that the Commission make further efforts to overcome the current road blocks in the negotiations;

    100.  Requests that the Commission submit, within the shortest possible timeframe, a proposal for signature of the CETA Agreement by the Member States;

    101.  Stresses that an agreement in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) remains an essential goal of EU trade policy, and calls on the Commission to work towards an agreement at the 10th WTO Ministerial meeting in Nairobi in December 2015; calls on the Commission to conclude, as soon as possible, ongoing plurilateral negotiations for the Trade in Services (TiSA) Agreement, the Information Technology Agreement and the Green Goods Agreement, which if successfully concluded will act as necessary steps in giving further impetus to ongoing trade liberalisation efforts in the WTO;

    102.  Expresses its concern regarding the Commission’s request for an European Court of Justice opinion on the EU’s Agreement with Singapore and the lengthy delay this will entail in bringing the agreement into force, while opposing any attempt to limit the power of parliaments in the Member States in the decision-making procedures of the European Union;

    103.  Recalls that any TTIP Agreement must fully comply with the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions and that the parties must reserve the right to adopt or maintain any reasonable measure with respect to the protection or promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity, as established by the relevant Treaty articles; considers the cultural exception as fundamental, but remains concerned that any dilution of its true meaning and value caused by mistakenly conflating it with creative industries as a whole could prevent the EU’s creative sector from having access to new markets, as well as benefiting from clearer rules, e.g. in terms of the proper protection of European producers’ intellectual property in the US;

    An Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust

    104.  Fully supports the fight against cross-border crime and corruption; regrets the fact, however, that despite significant opposition within the Council and serious concerns regarding proportionality, legal base, subsidiarity and fundamental rights, the Commission has not withdrawn its proposal on the European Public Prosecutor;

    105.  Fully supports the Commission’s commitment in the Internal Security Strategy to help address threats to the internal security of the Member States in relation to foreign fighters and terrorism; in this regard, urges the Commission to make the expedient adoption of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive a priority; emphasises that the EU must face up to a growing threat of home-grown terrorism posed by ‘foreign fighters’, namely individuals who travel to a state other than their state of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of terrorist acts or of providing or receiving terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflicts;

    106.  Calls for strong action by the Commission with regard to the protection of children online; calls for the Commission to highlight the need for international cooperation with the EU’s strategic partners and law enforcement authorities worldwide in order to combat child pornography; stresses the need to improve international cooperation and transnational investigations in this area through cooperation agreements, and by facilitating international data exchange on these crimes and offenders, including through EUROPOL; calls on the Commission to carry out an in-depth analysis of the current policy framework on combating child sexual abuse, in the form of an implementation report on Directive 2011/93/EU;

    107.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposals in the Internal Security Strategy on the fight against cybercrime; notes that terrorist organisations increasingly use the internet and communications technology to plan attacks, spread propaganda and raise funds; calls on the Commission to encourage internet and social media companies to work with governments and law enforcement authorities in order to combat this problem, whilst ensuring that the general principles of free speech and privacy are respected;

    108.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposals on the fight against and prevention of radicalisation in the EU; calls for an anti-terrorism strategy based on a multi-layered approach, comprehensively addressing underlying factors such as radicalisation, developing social cohesion and inclusiveness, political and religious tolerance, analysing and counterbalancing online incitement to perform terrorist acts, preventing departures to join terrorist organisations, preventing and stemming recruitment and engagement in armed conflicts, disrupting financial support to terrorist organisations and individuals aiming to join them, ensuring firm legal prosecution where appropriate, and providing law enforcement authorities with the appropriate tools to perform their duties while fully respecting fundamental rights;

    109.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) and to establish initiatives to address the issues of radicalisation at grassroots level and encourage community integration, tolerance, education and deradicalisation programmes and social action, working in parallel with law enforcement and judicial action, and to encourage Member States to exchange best practice on the matter;

    110.  Calls on the Commission to prevent the movement of terrorist individuals by strengthening external border controls, checking travel documents more systematically and effectively, tackling illicit arms trafficking and fraudulent use of identity, and identifying risk areas; awaits the Commission’s new proposal on the Smart Borders Package;

    111.  Calls on the Commission to take action regarding better exchange of information between Member States’ law enforcement authorities and EU agencies; calls on the Commission to help improve, intensify and accelerate global law enforcement information-sharing and for more effective operational cooperation among Member States through greater use of such valuable existing instruments as Joint Investigation Teams, the Terrorist Financial Tracking Programme and passenger name record (PNR) agreements, as well as more expeditious and efficient sharing of relevant data and information with full respect for fundamental rights and data protection principles;

    112.  Calls on the Commission to help the EU actively promote dialogue with a global partnership against terrorism, working closely with regional actors such as the African Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, and in particular with the countries which are neighbours of Syria and Iraq and countries which have been dramatically impacted by the conflict, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and including the UN, NATO and notably the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee;

    113.  Strongly urges the Commission to prioritise and devise concrete measures to address the shameful practice of modern slavery, especially concerning children;

    114.  Strongly supports action to end all forms of discrimination, and policies which recognise the importance of the family as the bedrock of society, which includes the absolute primacy of the child’s interests under the terms defined by the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989; welcomes the Commission’s commitment to support women in their participation in the labour market;

    115.  Highlights the importance of the review of the Brussels II regulation;

    Towards a New Policy on Migration

    116.  Supports the need for a firm but fair approach to the EU’s migration policy; fully supports the Commission’s call for the need to combat abuse within the EU’s migration system;

    117.  Reminds the Commission about the great concern within some Member States regarding the abuse of social benefits among residents from other EU countries; underlines that social systems and welfare payments are entirely within the remit of the Member States; recalls, however, the principle of equal treatment of the Member States;

    118.  Supports the need for migration to be linked to the EU’s external policy; welcomes the Commission’s proposals to prioritise cooperation with third countries, including the sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Middle Eastern regions, through returns, resettlement programmes, and migration management agreements with countries of origin and transit countries; also supports the Commission’s proposal to offer further help in the form of humanitarian, political and training assistance;

    119.  Calls upon the Commission to address deficiencies regarding the quality of detention conditions and asylum procedures within the EU, both of which have a significant impact upon dealing with migratory pressures in an effective and efficient manner; supports the Commission’s proposals to offer enhanced assistance to frontline receiving Member States from the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (FRONTEX) and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in order to achieve this;

    120.  Fully supports the Commission’s call for firm measures to be taken against people traffickers and smugglers, both within the EU and in third countries, and for the provision of assistance to third countries through education and training to highlight the risks of human trafficking;

    121.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal to look at how the future role, mandate and resources of FRONTEX and EASO can be improved in order to address the migratory pressures and challenges which the EU faces, with regard to both maintaining the security of the external border and preventing loss of life at sea;

    122.  Calls for a full analysis to be carried out by the Commission as to the effectiveness of the use of EU resources and funding in the area of migration and asylum, especially the use of Home Affairs Funds, particularly in relation to asylum, integration, border control and returns;

    123.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal to increase the efficiency of the returns system for failed asylum seekers; encourages the Commission to come forward, however, with a proposal on a rapid returns policy following the evaluation and review of existing measures, for example to include within this framework the enhanced assistance of FRONTEX;

    124.  Calls upon the Commission to present, without delay, two separate strategies concerning migration, in order to address the distinctly separate and unique legislative requirements and action for legal and economic migration, and asylum and refugees;

    125.  Is concerned by the Commission’s proposals on relocation and resettlement, and asks that the Commission reconsider proposals based on compulsory action and compulsory distribution outside of the existing procedures within European asylum law;

    A Stronger Global Actor

    126.  Recognises the sovereign right of Member States to take unilateral decisions on foreign affairs, security and defence policy and, where appropriate, encourages the development of common responses through the European Council to shared existing and emerging threats and challenges, provided such responses do not duplicate action by other organisations; further notes that where a common EU response is proposed, this must be driven by consensus between Member States;

    127.  Reaffirms its commitment to working in a complementary manner and in cooperation, not in competition, with organisations such as the UN, NATO and the G20 to ensure that the EU and its Member States effectively face existing and emerging foreign and security challenges, particularly in the EU’s Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods; reaffirms its commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance as the cornerstone of security and defence policy in Europe; rejects proposals by the Commission President for the creation of a ‘European army’, and restates its commitment to revitalising NATO and to ensuring defence policy remains a matter of national sovereignty;

    128.  Encourages greater cooperation between Member States and international partners in order to combat the threat from extremist groups, to secure long-term peace and stability in conflict areas, and to protect security at home;

    129.  Believes that the defence and promotion of freedom, support for our allies, and the prevention of atrocities must remain at the heart of the foreign policy aims, including the defence of the rights of persecuted religious and other minority groups;

    130.  Continues to support the work of international partners to secure long-term stability, peace and political reform in Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood countries, and supports the aspirations of those countries seeking closer ties with the EU, including those applicant countries working to fulfil the criteria for EU membership, including economic, political and social reforms, and the respect for human rights and the rule of law;

    131.  Urges the Commission to work with the Member States and third countries to take a series of measurable steps to eradicate practices that are harmful to women and girls, including child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), honour killings, forced sterilisation, rape in conflict, stoning and all other forms of brutality; urges the Commission to work with the European External Action Service (EEAS) to improve the support available for victims of such brutality;

    Development policy

    132.  Calls on the Commission to step up efforts to promote good governance and the rule of law, and to increase the transparency and accountability of all the stakeholders involved in development partnerships; calls on the Commission, as an overriding priority in financing development, to develop a comprehensive strategy and action plans on tackling illicit capital flows, money laundering, tax avoidance and evasion and endemic corruption in developing countries;

    133.  Recalls that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the driving force behind wealth creation and economic growth in all market economies, generating 90 % of jobs and income in developing countries, and have the capacity to provide a sustainable base for domestic resource mobilisation; calls on the Commission to elaborate concrete measures on supporting MSMEs and focus on working with the partner governments to implement business environment reforms, reduce excessive regulatory burdens, introduce anti-corruption and tax evasion measures, and develop public financial management and effective public institutions, which are all paramount to investment, innovation and private sector development;

    134.  Calls on the Commission to focus on fragile states and elaborate strategies on peace-building and state-building; stresses that it is imperative to engage in structural and long-term partnerships that prioritise the establishment of the rule of law and democratic institutions in these countries;

    A Union of Democratic Change

    Budgetary issues

    135.  Reminds the Commission of its Budget Review 2010 which identified ‘EU added value’ as one of its core principles; insists that this principle represents the cornerstone of all expenditures, which must also be guided by efficiency, effectiveness and value for money, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity as defined by Article 5 TEU and anchored in Protocol 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union;

    136.  Believes that the EU budget must be directed at helping Member States tackle structural challenges, especially the loss of competitiveness and consequent rising unemployment; insists on the need to reduce spending on EU administration in order to achieve real efficiencies in the EU budget;

    137.  Strongly believes the decision-making process surrounding the annual budgetary procedure must be revised, simplified and more transparent; believes that the role of Parliament should not be to determine the size of the budget but should focus on under what Headings, and how, EU funds are spent;

    Institutional issues

    138.  Reminds the Commission about the promises made by its President, Mr Juncker, to accept a ‘fair deal’ with UK and other countries that wish to withdraw certain amounts of sovereignty; asks for the Commission to start the negotiations by introducing this issue at the next intergovernmental conference (IGC), and to keep it as an ongoing topic until such negotiations can be concluded; believes that no real democratic change will happen without taking into consideration the analysis and conclusions delivered in the judgment of the German Constitutional Court of 30 June 2009;

    139.  Is concerned about the lack of transparency at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU); calls, therefore, on the Court to allow its judges to present dissenting opinions, in line with the existing practice of other international courts, i.e. the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg or the Supreme Court of the United States;

    140.  Notes the Opinion delivered by the CJEU regarding the agreement on accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); questions the value of proceeding with the accession of the EU to the ECHR and the added complexity and uncertainty that will emerge from having two competing jurisdictions in the area of convention rights and charter rights; continues to believe that accession should not be a priority for the EU, that reform of the ECHR should be sought by its contracting parties in order to improve its decision making instead, as a priority in the area of human rights, and that fundamental rights are in any case well protected by the courts applying our national constitutions, which remain at the top of the hierarchies of laws;

    141.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that citizens’ initiatives are not arbitrarily or dogmatically dismissed but are systematically followed up with the involvement of Parliament;

    142.  Points out that in cases where national parliaments use the yellow card procedure, it would be good practice for the Commission to withdraw the legal act which is the subject of objection;

    Environmental issues

    143.  Believes that investing in and incentivising the shift to a circular economy is fully compatible with the Commission’s jobs, growth and competitiveness agenda, and, by reducing the EU’s dependence on imported raw materials, has the potential to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved; regrets the recent withdrawal of the legislative proposal on waste, and urges the Commission to maintain its commitment to put forward an ambitious new proposal before the end of 2015, which respects the differences in Member States’ waste management capacity, in order to advance the transition to a circular economy through closed-loop manufacturing, sustainable product development, strict application of the waste hierarchy, and the creation of a market for secondary raw materials;

    144.  Notes the mid-term review of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, and the inclusion of a fitness check of the Birds and Habitats Directives under the REFIT programme, noting with concern the findings of the Commission’s report entitled ‘The State of Nature in the European Union’ and the European Environment Agency’s synthesis report entitled ‘The European Environment — State and Outlook 2015’ (SOER 2015), which conclude that a high proportion of protected species and habitat types have an unfavourable conservation status, and that Europe is not on course to meet its overall target of halting biodiversity loss by 2020; urges the Commission to undertake a comprehensive and transparent evaluation and promote better implementation of all existing biodiversity legislation; based on the outcome of the mid-term review and the fitness check, calls on the Commission, in the event that it is deemed necessary, to modernise and improve existing legislation, and to ensure that existing levels of biodiversity protection are not weakened;

    145.  Notes the Commission’s work on a proposal for science-based criteria for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), as required in the Plant Protection Products Regulation and the Biocidal Products Regulation, and emphasises the critical importance of such a science-based approach; believes that the defining criteria for identifying EDCs should be based on the demonstration of both endocrine-mediated activity and an adverse effect resulting from an endocrine mode of action; considers that any proposed legislative measures should be proportionate, evidence-based, provide better clarification and consistency of approach in risk management procedures, be subject to rigorous impact analyses and ensure wider stakeholder engagement;

    146.  Strongly supports Vice-President Timmermans’ commitment to maintain the proposal on the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive and bring forward modified proposals to reflect synergies with the 2030 climate and energy package and reduce administrative burdens, given the importance of tackling air quality to address significant public health concerns and the urgency of meeting internationally agreed 2020 limits; calls on the Commission to ensure that all additional amendments strictly adhere to the smart regulation agenda and facilitate better implementation; requests that any future decision to modify the original proposal should not result in any unnecessary delays;

    Cultural policy

    147.  Calls on the Commission to reassess the need for the Creative Europe programme in line with the principles of subsidiarity, and to undertake a thorough assessment of the programme, detailing the value it brings to all EU citizens;

    148.  Supports the promotion of comparability in the standards and quality of higher education qualifications through the Bologna Process; highlights the need for further consideration of cooperation and exchange of best practice in the area of further education, and the development of links to business and higher education institutions to ensure that post-16 vocational education and training across the EU develops the skill sets required for growth and jobs;

    Common Fisheries Policy

    149.  Calls on the Commission to closely monitor the progress of the implementation of the obligation to land catches as specified under Article 15 of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP); notes that the first annual report as agreed in the Omnibus Regulation is due to be presented to Parliament by 31 May 2016;

    150.  Urges the Commission to work closely with the Member States, especially with regard to supporting small-scale fisheries and preserving traditional fishing methods, and to greater national and regional control of fish stock and practices;

    151.  Supports the need for a fundamental revision of the Technical Measures Regulation; urges the Commission to propose such a regulation as soon as possible; urges the Commission to consider lifting the ban on pulse fishing in this revision;

    152.  Stresses its concern that the Commission continues to initiate legislation that is not in line with a regional approach as agreed in Article 3 of the CFP;

    153.  Regrets that there has been an 8 % increase in the Faeroese share of total mackerel catch; highlights that a number of Faeroese vessels have been detained for encroaching on certain Member States’ 12- mile inshore limit;

    Common Agricultural Policy

    154.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to simplification of the Common Agricultural policy (CAP), but reiterates that simplification should go further than legislative tidying-up and should focus on reducing the many regulatory burdens that are faced by farmers throughout the EU; emphasises that the most recent CAP reform and its implementation by national administrations has significantly increased the complexity of the CAP;

    155.  Notes the Commission’s commitment to reviewing the greening measures within direct payments after the first year of application, but calls on the Commission to make this a full mid-term review, extending it to all aspects of the CAP; considers that this full mid-term review should be carried out with a view to making the CAP fairer and less burdensome on farmers and national administrations, and to helping European farmers become competitive in the global marketplace;

    156.  Urges the Commission to ensure the application of proportionality and flexibility in relation to the management of the CAP, including cross-compliance checks, and to allow farmers time to adjust and to address the severe difficulties that many national administrations are having in their attempts to implement these reforms;

    157.  Highlights the opportunities for stimulating export growth in the EU’s agri-food industry by developing new markets, securing fair access for exporters and increasing the EU’s global market share; stresses, however, that the EU’s very high food safety and health standards, which are vital to ensure the confidence of EU consumers, should not be compromised or negotiated away; calls on the Commission to secure a level playing field in trade deals that the EU is seeking to conclude with third countries, identifying and treating as sensitive a list of products which may be vulnerable to excessive pressure, for example, in cases where regulatory conditions and related costs of production in the EU diverge significantly from those of prospective trading partners;

    158.  Calls on the Commission to help farmers anticipate market crises by communicating changing market conditions using accurate and real time data where possible;

    159.  Stresses the need to address imbalances in the food supply chain, particularly to ensure fairness and transparency in the relationship between primary producers, processors, suppliers and distributors, and calls on the Commission to investigate the imbalance in the supply chain and the sustainable role of the primary producer within the chain;

    160.  Emphasises the need to innovate in European agriculture and to improve the practical application of research from the laboratory to the farm and through the whole of the food supply chain; calls, therefore, on the Commission to honour its financial allocation of EUR 3.8 billion under Horizon 2020 for Societal Challenge 2: Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research and the bio-economy;

    161.  Emphasises the need for continued action from the Commission to deal with the ongoing consequences of the Russian embargo on European farmers; calls on the Commission to work on a comprehensive strategy to enable it to act earlier and more efficiently and effectively in the event of future crises;

    162.  Calls on the Commission to assess the sugar beet and sugar cane markets following the abolition of the sugar quota in 2017, including the impact on consumers; urges the Commission to consider introducing measures to address the position of the EU’s sugar beet and cane sectors once beet quotas are abolished; recognises that basic and applied research in the sugar sector, supported by knowledge transfer, are a key component to driving forward a market-led sugar sector throughout Europe;

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    163.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission.