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Wednesday, 3 July 2002 - Strasbourg OJ edition

3. Vote

  President. – We now come to the vote.

The first item is the decision on the conflict of competence between the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy in respect of the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage (COM(2002) 17 – C5-0088/2002 – 2002/0021(COD)).

At the end of a lengthy period of negotiations which failed to produce a result satisfactory to both committees, the Conference of Presidents decided at its meeting of 13 June to refer the proposal to the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market as the committee responsible in the light of its powers and responsibilities with the proviso that the enhanced Hughes Procedure be applied between the Legal Affairs Committee and the Environment Committee.

The Environment Committee has challenged this decision and requested that the matter be put to the House in accordance with Rule 154(2) of the Rules of Procedure, which it is perfectly entitled to do under the existing Rules.

Before we take a vote I shall give the floor to the chairs of the two committees concerned, and only to them, and then to proceed to the vote.


  Gargani (PPE-DE), Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market. – (IT) Mr President, I should like to say right away that the vote taking place in this House today is without precedent. It is a rather exceptional vote because not only is the competence of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market and of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy at stake, it is, first and foremost, a question of consistency with the Rules of Procedure – as you indicated a moment ago – and with for the commitments we gave in the debate. There has been a clear pronouncement on the conflict – as you have reminded us – from the Conference of Presidents in favour of the Committee on Legal Affairs, for it is the Conference of Presidents that has to decide on conflicts of competence, as we established with the amendment to Rule 154. Mr Corbett himself made this proposal to the House and the House acknowledged it. Indeed, the Conference of Presidents has the tools to conduct an in-depth analysis, in other words to assess matters case by case, and to take a decision. By voting for the proposal, as I am asking, this House will, above all, be giving the Conference of Presidents the go-ahead to confirm the validity of the Rules of Procedure.

There are many factors that point towards giving competence to the Committee on Legal Affairs, and I should like to point out two of them. The Committee on Legal Affairs has been working on the subject since March 2000, when it was given the competence – kindly note – to deal with the Green Paper on legal liability in environmental matters, the consultation document that preceded the proposal for a directive that is the subject of the conflict. Today’s rapporteur on the proposal for a directive is the same person who dealt with the Green Paper, the extremely capable Mr Manders, who, over these years, has acquired a thorough knowledge of the subject. In addition, in accordance with the competence attributed to it, the Committee on Legal Affairs has already discussed the issue and, on 21 May, held a very important hearing. Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the traditional competence of the Committee on Legal Affairs in matters of environmental liability is derived precisely from Annex VI to our Rules of Procedure, which makes this Committee responsible for matters of civil liability, regardless of the sector in question.

This is a proposal for a directive which clearly places civil liability on the polluter’s shoulders, and it is on the basis of these problems, these issues, that I now ask Parliament to vote for the motion and confirm the decision that the Bureau has made.



  Jackson (PPE-DE), Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy. – Mr President, the Committee on the Environment believes that this is a measure that should be dealt with by my committee for three reasons.

Firstly, it is based on a part of the Treaty dealing with environmental protection. It will be dealt with by the Environment Council. The Committee on the Environment is responsible for environmental policy; the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market is responsible for civil liability law. In fact, this directive creates an entirely new instrument to combat general environmental damage to biodiversity, water and land, and puts an administrative burden on the public authorities in the Member States to help prevent and restore such damage. It is misleading shorthand to refer to it as an environmental liability directive. The proposal should be referred to instead as the directive on the prevention and remedying of environmental damage.


Secondly, three Vice-Presidents – whom we spent one and a half days electing two and a half years ago – decided unanimously that this report should be drawn up by the Committee on the Environment. I have nothing to do with two of those Vice-Presidents as they come from groups which are miles away from the British Conservatives. The third was Mr Provan who, for all we know, still has a hotline to Mrs Thatcher's handbag.


The Committee on the Environment therefore voted to sustain its objections to the assignment to the Committee on Legal Affairs although, I have to confess, that it voted by a narrow majority.

Thirdly, our rapporteur, Mr Papayannakis, is already hard at work on this directive. We appreciate the work Mr Manders has done on the opinion on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs. However, I have to say to the Liberal Group that it has no chance of persuading Mr Papayannakis to give up his rapporteurship in favour of a Liberal.


There is one simple reason for this: if the Liberal Group wishes to take over the rapporteurship in the Committee on the Environment, it is bottom of the list. The following groups have first choice: the UEN, the PSE, the EDD, even the non-attached, and the PPE are higher up the list than the Liberals.

There is one other possibility that nobody has thought of: what happens if there is a tie when we vote? I suggest that, in the event of a tie, we assign it to the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities which is looking for things to do.

(Laughter and applause)


(Parliament accepted the proposal of the Conference of Presidents)


  van Hulten (PSE). – Mr President, on a point of order, this morning for the first time the "catch-the-eye" procedure was used in the debate on the Danish presidency's programme. All of us who were there can attest to the fact that it was a great success. There were more people in the Chamber than there would normally be for such a debate.

Unfortunately, there was not enough time for everyone to speak as only half an hour had been set aside during the debate. I should like to ask the Council presidency, through you, to repeat this experiment in future and to set aside more time for it in future debates.



  President. – I do not know if that was a point of order, but it was music to my ears.


  Bautista Ojeda (Verts/ALE).(ES) Mr President, it is not a point of order, it is a reminder.

A year ago today a food crisis was unleashed as a result of the presence of alphabenzopyrenes in olive pomace oil. The problem of the olive pomace industry has still not been resolved. The responsibility we had at that time in terms of food safety was very great, but this Parliament also has the responsibility to find solutions for an economic sector which furthermore carries out an essential and necessary environmental role by recycling highly polluting products.


Simplified procedure:

Proposal for a Council and Commission decision concluding the Agreement between the European Communities and the Government of Japan concerning cooperation on anticompetitive activities (COM(2002) 230C5-0290/20022002/0106(CNS)) (Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy)

(Parliament approved the Commission proposal)

Report (A5-0234/2002) by Antonios Trakatellis, on behalf of the European Parliament delegation to the Conciliation Committee, on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a European Parliament and Council decision adopting a programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008) (PE-CONS 3627/02C5-0204/20022000/0119(COD))

(Parliament approved the joint text)

Report (A5-0248/2002) by Guido Podestà and Kathalijne Maria Buitenweg, on behalf of the Committee on Budgets, on Draft Amending Budget No 3/2002 of the European Union for the 2002 financial year (SEC(2002) 62600000/2002C5-0000/20022002/2128(BUD))

(Parliament approved the resolution)

Report (A5-0229/2002) by Antonios Trakatellis, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation concerning traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms and traceability of food and feed products produced from genetically modified organisms and amending Directive 2001/18/EC (COM(2001) 182C5-0380/20012001/0180(COD))

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

Report (A5-0225/2002) by Karin Scheele, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation on genetically modified food and feed (COM(2001) 425C5-0368/20012001/0173(COD))

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

Report (A5-0243/2002) by Giorgio Lisi, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive amending Council Directive 96/82/EC of 9 December 1996 on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (COM(2001) 624C5-0668/20012001/0257(COD))

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

Report (A5-0203/2002) by Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, on the amended proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities and for the dissemination of research results for the implementation of the European Community framework programme 2002-2006 (COM(2001) 822C5-0017/20022001/0202(COD))

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

Report (A5-0205/2002) by Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, on the amended proposal for a Council decision concerning the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in the implementation of the framework programme 2002-2006 of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) (COM(2001) 823C5-0236/20022001/0327(CNS))

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

Report (A5-0220/2002) by Piia-Noora Kauppi, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the 2001 Annual Report of the European Central Bank (C5-0196/20022002/2092(COS))

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

Report (A5-0223/2002) by Anne Van Lancker, on behalf of the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, on sexual and reproductive health and rights (2001/2128 (INI))

Paragraph No 25:


  Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Mr President, I just wanted to draw your attention to a small linguistic problem in paragraph 25.

This paragraph recommends that a process of mutual learning should be started. In the French version, the term used for ‘starting’ is la mise en branle. I fear that, in a report devoted to sexuality, the use of a slang term for masturbation might be considered somewhat dubious, not to say obscene, and in my country it will make people laugh at a report which otherwise, I have to say, is more apt to make one weep.


  President. – I will make sure that the services avoid the use of argot.

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

That concludes the vote.


  Bourlanges (PPE-DE).(FR) Mr President, I wanted to say – and I should like this to be included in the Minutes – that I did not take part in any of the votes on this report, because I find it absolutely ludicrous that, just a few weeks after having adopted the Lamassoure report, which calls for a strict demarcation of powers – and I endorse most of that report – we should decide to intervene by giving advice to the governments and parliaments of the Member States on a matter outside our sphere of responsibility.



  President. – That was a very clever way, Mr Bourlanges, of jumping the queue on explanations of vote.


  Van Lancker (PSE), rapporteur. – (NL) Mr President, I would advise Mr Bourlanges and the other Members of this House who share his view to ask Commissioner Byrne whether the European Union has not, indeed, got a role to play here. In his response last night, he clearly stated that sexual and reproductive health also form part of public health, and just one hour prior to my report, we adopted the Trakatellis report which is about this very topic. I therefore suggest, ladies and gentlemen, that you wait for what is to follow.





– Trakatellis report (A5-0229/2002)


  McKenna (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, on behalf of the Greens and EFA Group, I would like to welcome the results of today's vote on GMOs. We have made quite a bit of progress here in that we have voted against the unauthorised GMOs, in other words, the kind of accidental contamination of GMOs. This is good because it was just going to leave the door open for multinational companies to use this as a way out.

The threshold has been lowered to 0.5% which is very good. The report also points out that if lower thresholds are technically possible then they should be achieved. The licensing procedure will now be for one year. The licence will last for one year and then be up for renewal, and this will give people time to consider whether the license should be granted a second time.

One of the most disappointing aspects of today's vote was the fact that milk or meat products that have been derived from animals which have been fed on GMO products will not be labelled. The public have a right to know if the milk that they are drinking comes from animals that have been fed on GMO feed, or whether the meat that they are eating has been derived from animals which have been fed on GMO feed. There is definitely a clear link here between what people eat and what the animals have been fed. We can see this clearly with the whole issue of BSE. It is quite clear that what the animals were being fed had a very serious and negative consequence on the consumer.

The consumer, therefore, has a right to know and a right to choose and it was disappointing that this point was not voted through in the report today. It is, however, a very substantial move forward. Europe is showing the United States in particular that we really put consumers first, multinationals do not have the right to dictate to consumers what they should or should not have, and consumers have the right to obtain information and to know clearly what they are purchasing and what they are consuming.


  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, I voted against this proposal for a regulation. It occurs to me that we are spending too long deciding how good or how bad what we eat is, what it is made of and whether it includes GMOs or not, while so many people in the world are hungry and have nothing to eat. Having said that, with all respect to the report, the Pensioners’ Party and I are in favour of GMOs. I am in favour of progress and progress cannot be halted. That is my opinion, and I am convinced that the future will see many genetically modified organisms in food. That is why I voted against the report.


  Ebner (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, I myself say ‘yes’ to transparency, ‘yes’ to openness and ‘yes’ to protection for consumers, a category which of course includes ourselves. But having said our ‘yes’ to transparency, openness and consumer protection we have not made as much progress as we had hoped. Instead of judging the acid test of a solution to be its practicality, the majority of this Parliament preferred an ideological solution. I believe that even the populist emphasis, which was supported so vehemently, does not solve the problem but rather creates even more uncertainty. Unfortunately, the approach chosen is, in my opinion, not very practical. It will cause greater uncertainty amongst consumers, who should have as much information as possible, but also as much information as necessary. For this reason I voted against, because this is not a practical solution, but an ideological one.


  Bernié (EDD), in writing. – (FR) Consumer protection depends on clear and precise information in terms of traceability and product labelling.

Assuming that consumers must be able to choose a GM-free diet, we are opposed to the setting of a limit for the adventitious presence of unauthorised GMOs. The threshold of 1% supported by the European People’s Party and the 0.5% limit proposed by the Party of European Socialists are unacceptable. Zero tolerance must be applied to unauthorised GMOs in the Union. Consumers would find it incomprehensible that even an infinitesimal quantity of prohibited GMOs could be tolerated.

The principle of strict traceability must apply equally to products from non-EU countries. The importation of products must not result in the insidious introduction into Member States of foods made from transgenic crops that we do not allow our own farmers to grow.

We support the amendments that are designed to establish close involvement of the Member States’ food safety authorities, as well as of local and regional food and health departments, in the formulation of the opinions delivered by the European Food Safety Authority.

In this minefield of GM regulation, as elsewhere, let us not create the sort of excessive centralisation that distances people from decisions affecting their everyday lives.


  Berthu (NI), in writing. – (FR) The Trakatellis and Scheele reports relate to two interlinked proposals that overlap in their treatment of matters concerning the authorisation, traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms.

It would seem that the way these proposals have been presented, which makes the subject even more difficult to understand, is entirely due to portfolio rivalries within the Commission. To the general public, who already find it difficult to make sense of Europe, this way of working is intolerable, and that alone should have been enough to justify our rejecting these documents. Since the European Parliament did not possess the self-respect to do so, it has been reduced to voting on them amidst a fair deal of confusion.

Essentially, the idea is to give certain guarantees regarding the rigour of the procedure for authorising and labelling GM foods. In general terms, I supported those amendments that tend to toughen the wording of the proposals, and these have frequently been adopted, so the result seems not too bad in this respect.

Regrettably, the Commission has inserted into both of the draft regulations a voting and decision-making method that will sweep aside national freedom of choice. I shall expound that view in my explanation of vote on the Scheele report. This restriction was the reason for my abstention from voting on these two reports.


  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report rightly condemns the fragmentation and inadequacy of Community legislation on GMOs. But how could it be otherwise? The corporate giants in the realms of agri-food, chemicals and biotechnology are clearly not keen on the imposition of excessively restrictive rules and are even less favourably disposed to the introduction of proper scrutiny, particularly in view of the legitimacy of consumers’ fears.

It would obviously be possible to subject them to a coherent system of obligations and in particular to enable the general public to monitor the companies in question. The European institutions, however, are too closely linked to the business community and its interests to exert any real pressure on it in any domain whatsoever.

Not because we wish to side with those who would present genetic modification as a modern-day Medusa, but because we have no faith in choices made by capitalists, choices dictated not by the precautionary principle but by the profit motive alone, we are voting in favour of this report. Although the proposed measures pertain to the fierce competition that rages between the European and American corporations, these measures could ultimately create a little more transparency for consumers and might even enhance their safety.

It is for these same reasons and with the same reservations, particularly with regard to the protection of confidential data, from which the business world alone stands to benefit, that we have voted for the Scheele report.


  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Consumers’ rights to be informed about the products they buy cannot be undermined by the interests of multinationals, who want to disguise the use of GMOs in agricultural and food production. Hence the importance of reducing or even eliminating the 1% ceiling proposed by the Commission for labelling not to be required, bearing in mind that the proposed threshold will leave a considerable range of products that are processed and produced with GMOs without labelling.

The report is, therefore, a step in the right direction, with the safeguards it introduces, which explains the opposition of the industry itself and of the USA. Its approval has, therefore, become of strategic importance, not only for the European Union, but also for its contribution to stopping the spread of GMOs in developing and least-developed countries. The amendments tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party are to be regretted. What we clearly need to focus on now is avoiding the worst, given that the priority is to maintain the moratorium on new authorisations in the field of GMOs, because, as everyone knows, these are hindering future options since they are a dead end, with unpredictable consequences for the environment, for the economy and for human and animal health.


  Goebbels (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I am in favour of a system based on the informed consent of every consumer. Consumers must possess all the information that enables them to assess the advisability of purchasing the products they enjoy. To make this choice, consumers must be given objective information. At the present time, however, certain groups are out to frighten consumers, even though there is no evidence of any harm caused by genetically improved products, far less by products derived from animals reared on genetically improved feed. I do not see how a food item can be labelled ‘organic’ if five per cent of its ingredients are of non-organic origin, whereas some people are doggedly determined to stigmatise any product accidentally containing a minuscule quantity of a GMO.

It is high time Europe showed the red card to those green-tinted fundamentalists who have nothing better to do than wage war on GMOs. The Union must lay down rules reflecting the responsible conduct of countries from the United States to China, including India, South Africa and others, that have been producing and consuming genetically improved products for years without any problems whatsoever. In so doing, we should be following the age-old tradition of the world’s peasant farmers, who, through selection and crossbreeding, have genetically modified all the products we have been consuming for centuries.


  Jackson (PPE-DE), in writing. – I am in favour of a directive which gives consumers information that is verifiable and meaningful, so that they are then in a position to decide for themselves whether or not to buy food containing GM material. The European Union should not require labelling of something which is not present and therefore not detectable in the final product. This is disproportionate, unenforceable and open to fraud.

I am in favour of the 1% rule. I regard this is as a level which reliably reflects the possibilities of modern technology.

I oppose the idea that there should be a requirement for the labelling of products from animals fed GM feed. This too would be unenforceable. Research has shown that transgenic DNA from GM animal feed is not found in milk, meat and eggs.

GM technology offers us the chance to develop less environmentally damaging forms of agriculture, with less use of pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilisers. I believe that, with sensible legislation that takes account of the need to establish verifiable systems to indicate GMs, Europeans could reap the benefit of GM food and feed – and still avoid consuming them if they wish to.


  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) It is uncertain whether genetic modifications in plants and animals will cause serious problems in future. Despite this, we should already take account of the possibility that life as a whole, as a result of cross-fertilisation, especially in plant life, will change as a consequence, and that diseases will emerge to which man and animal are not entirely immune. Instead of taking time to look into this properly, this Parliament decided two years ago to create scope for commercial applications. This means that some undertakings can make a profit in the short term using something which will at a later stage mainly generate costs.

Now that the first line of defence against the possible risks of genetic contamination has been removed, it is all the more important for the second line of defence to remain in place. Thanks to the labelling of genetically contaminated products, consumers are given the option of not buying them. This is preferable to placing ordinary natural products in an exemption situation by prescribing that they state that they have not been modified by genetic procedures. However, it is to be feared that as usual, many consumers, mainly those on a low income, will buy the cheapest products. For them, paying attention to possible negative effects is a luxury they cannot afford. Labelling, therefore, only solves a small part of the problem.


  Moreira da Silva (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Given the absence of robust and integrated legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) capable of providing guarantees for consumers and industry, marketing authorisation procedures at EU level have been suspended for the last three years.

I welcome the legislation that we are approving today (on the traceability and labelling of GMOs), because it makes it possible to register and monitor the movement of GMOs on the market and of the foods for human and animal consumption made from them. This will enable consumers to make their choices and will make the process of product withdrawal easier, should this be deemed necessary. Nevertheless, we would have preferred these laws to be incorporated into a single regulation and not into two, which is what has ultimately happened at the proposal of the European Commission. What we have as a result is the unnecessary fragmentation of legislation on GMOs.

Furthermore, the proposal for a Directive contains provisions which, through an excess of zeal, could open the way to fraud and deception, to the misleading of consumers and to the distortion of competition. The rules must be clear and straightforward. I therefore support the proposals for amendments tabled by the rapporteur for traceability and consistent labelling to apply to GMOs and products in which genetically modified DNA or genetically modified proteins are detected. Extending labelling to other products containing no traces of genetically modified DNA or of genetically modified proteins would be extremely confusing to consumers. Apart from anything, such a provision would run counter to the aims of the regulation and would be as onerous for businesses as it would for consumers.


– Scheele report (A5-0225/2002)


  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, I am in favour of the marketing of genetically modified foodstuffs. I am, however, concerned that this may happen in a disorganised manner and especially in such a way as to curtail the activities of small traders, small farmers and those working in cottage industries. In all these documents – directives and regulations – on genetically modified foodstuffs and also feedingstuffs, as in this case, I should like to see more attention given to preventing the progress in GM foods from damaging small enterprises in Europe.


  Miller (PSE). – Mr President, on behalf of my group, the European Parliamentary Labour Party, I should like to say that the vote today reflects our wish to advance beyond the moratorium and establish genuine traceability.

Consumers want to know the origins of what they eat and drink, where this can be established and tested. We need effective proposals to establish the lowest thresholds which can be measured and better definition of what can be properly described as GM free, rather than the ambiguous non-GM.

We voted for the approvable threshold of 0.5%, above which the product must be GM labelled. But below that it cannot be guaranteed GM free.

We need to create a climate in which labelling is an encouragement to move further to develop real GM-free areas of cultivation and production and not the pretence that we have delivered in this proposal.


  Berthu (NI), in writing. – (FR) The Scheele report endorses a highly exceptionable centralised European system for the authorisation of GMOs, as proposed in communication COM(2001)425 final from the Commission. This proposal, in fact, refers obscurely to Decision 1999468/EC laying down procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission, according to which:

1. authorisation decisions are taken by the Commission, subject to the delivery of a favourable opinion by a ‘regulatory committee’, composed of representatives of the Member States, which acts by a qualified majority;

2. if the regulatory committee does not approve the Commission’s proposal, the matter is referred to the Council itself; if, however, the proposal is neither adopted by a qualified majority of the Council nor unanimously rejected by the Council, adoption of the proposal becomes the sole prerogative of the Commission.

In this way, the use of a GMO may be authorised against the will of a minority of Member States and even, in particular cases, against the will of the majority. There is no provision for a national safeguard clause at this level – even if, for example, a nation were to vote against the use of a GMO in a referendum.

This procedure is plainly designed to give the Commission a free hand to issue authorisations, leaving governments to explain that it is a European rule about which they can do nothing. This is how democracy works in Brussels.


  Isler Béguin (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) The European Parliament has just taken a great step forward in responding to the wishes of European citizens, who are concerned about the impact of the presence of GMOs in their food.

By voting for Mrs Scheele’s report, Parliament has clearly stated its demand for the labelling of all products containing GMOs, including products such as chocolate, for example.

The Greens regret, however, that, although animal feed will be labelled, the final product, the meat, will not. That is the only blemish in this report.

Although farmers can choose non-GM feed for their livestock, consumers will be unable to determine whether or not their meat comes from GM-fed animals. It is regrettable that Parliament did not follow this legislation to its logical conclusion.

Nevertheless, the Greens welcome this move by the European Parliament towards greater comprehensibility, which will enable consumers to choose freely between products that contain GMOs and those that do not.


  Krivine and Vachetta (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The Commission has presented a draft directive on the authorisation and labelling of genetically modified foodstuffs and animal feed. On more than one point, the draft text reflects the pressure exerted by the agrifood lobby. It is particularly nefarious to propose an acceptable ceiling for the presence of GMOs in products on sale, given that GMOs are banned on account of the danger they pose! As Karin Scheele emphasises in her report to Parliament, such a measure “would undermine all the European Union’s legislation on biosafety”. As for the GMOs that are already authorised, the Commission proposes a very high threshold, below which there would be no mandatory labelling to inform consumers of the presence of those GMOs. We therefore support the rapporteur’s proposal that this threshold be lowered from 1 per cent to 0.5 per cent. Similarly, we support every amendment that strengthens the directive in terms of authorisation procedure and of the public’s right to information.

These seemingly technical questions of labelling and traceability have crucial political and democratic implications, which strike a particularly sharp chord in France at a time when José Bové, head of the Confédération Paysanne, has been imprisoned because of his campaign for a food-production system in which due consideration is given to the rights of producers, the health of the general public and the quality of the environment.


  Pesälä, Pohjamo and Väyrynen (ELDR), in writing. (FI) I wish to indicate in the way I vote my support for considering the point of view of farmers with regard to GM labelling.

We need more reliable information on origin than we have at present so that farmers can be sure about what the produce they buy, especially from outside the EU, contains. At the moment farmers cannot completely guarantee that the food or raw materials they produce are GM free. No responsibility can be taken unless raw materials can be comprehensively monitored.

To ensure that farmers and, at the same time, the others in the food chain are legally protected, it is important to keep the GMO labelling threshold at 1%. Any reduction in this will not significantly improve consumer protection; on the contrary, the system will be prone to incorrect labelling. Similarly, labelling eggs or milk, whose checking process has involved the use of GMOs, will be of no benefit, owing to the questionable degree of reliability involved. Farmers cannot give assurances using current technology regarding the GM content of the raw materials they use. Extending traceability to livestock products, where GM feed has been used in feeding the animals, is not a realistic idea. Traceability in such cases would in practice require the origin of all raw materials used in food to be monitored. The ten-year period for the maintenance of monitoring data, as proposed by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, instead of the five years proposed by the Commission, is, in my opinion, unreasonably long. It will prove cumbersome and will not significantly increase levels of safety for the consumer.

For the reasons outlined above I voted in favour of supporting the legal protection of farmers where it related to this issue.


  Thyssen (PPE-DE), in writing. (NL) I am pleased that we have rediscovered the voice of reason in this plenary session, albeit by a not very large majority. It really looked as if it had left us for good after the vote in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy.

Extending the scope of the labelling and traceability requirement to include animals that, at some stage in their lives, were fed feedingstuffs which consist of, either wholly or partly, GMO or similar ingredients, or are produced using them, was more than one bridge too far. Fortunately, these amendments have not made it to the plenary session.

This was unfortunately not enough to vote in favour of this report and the Trakatellis report. For this, it was necessary to introduce traceability as a relevant aspect of distinction for labelling. Only then is it truly possible to reach the main objective, namely to offer the consumer a choice between different products. This choice is not guaranteed at the moment, and that is a missed opportunity. We will now lead many consumers astray.


– Lisi report (A5-0243/2002)


  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, how often while travelling around Europe have we seen beautiful towns and beautiful agricultural landscapes? I was in Scotland recently, where I saw some marvellous moorland, a real paradise in anyone’s eyes. How often, though, do we come across cities where, alongside millions of inhabitants, there are harmful, dangerous industries which could overnight become the target of this proposal for a directive, which aims at preventing incidents connected with certain dangerous substances? In this document, Mr Lisi in his great wisdom has proposed siting harmful and dangerous industries far from inhabited areas. How can we not agree with this excellent, wise proposal? That is why I voted for it.


  Ainardi (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) Going beyond the proposals made by the Commission, the Lisi report undertakes a much more stringent revision of the Seveso II Directive.

Some advances merit special emphasis: the introduction of lower threshold values for explosive substances, the inclusion of new carcinogens or of particular mining operations and the inclusion of the storage of certain substances in the catalogue of potential hazards.

The report stresses the need to involve the staff of establishments and to enlist their practical and occupational experience and training in the effort to improve safety.

The desire for transparency and public information and for the involvement of local populations in all safety plans is another very strong point of the report.

However, in the preparation of safety plans, there is still a lack of real consideration of the establishments’ own health and safety committees.

Where work is subcontracted, the report recommends that subcontractors’ staff should be involved and trained, but it does not question the rationale of subcontracting. The fact is, however, that the desire of directors to maximise their companies’ profitability, a desire that is reflected in their heavy reliance on subcontractors, runs counter to the quest for the highest possible level of safety.

Nor does the report place enough emphasis on the responsibilities devolving on the boards of the establishments in question.

Despite these reservations, I shall be voting in favour of this report for the reasons outlined above.


  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The succession of disasters at Enschede in the Netherlands, Baia Mare in Romania, Doñana in Spain and the AZF plant in Toulouse has prompted the Council and the European Parliament to introduce legislation toughening the rules on the handling of hazardous substances. Better late than never, of course, but even if the report is adopted, as we hope it will be, the legislation will remain insufficiently binding and will not enable us to make the owners of establishments more accountable to the local communities.

It must be stressed that this lack of accountability constitutes a grave danger to the inhabitants of the local area and even much further afield but also, and indeed first and foremost, to the employees of these dangerous establishments.

Nevertheless, it is significant that, in his explanatory statement, the author of this report condemns “an extreme interpretation of the precautionary principle”, which could “unnecessarily penalise industry”. This kowtowing to industry leaders, even in an instrument that is essentially designed to improve the management of risks associated with major accidents, foreshadows other major accidents that will not be due to the hazardous nature of substances but to companies’ efforts to maximise their profits.


  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) After the major fireworks disaster which destroyed an entire district in the Dutch town of Enschede on 13 May 2000, it transpired that safety existed only on paper. The company had applied for, and obtained, all the necessary licences, so nothing could go wrong. People living in the vicinity were not informed about the current use of the storage space, so nobody could become worried or ask for safety measures to be stepped up. Two days later, I asked the European Commission for maximum openness and the application of the Seveso II Directive. A few weeks later, along with three other Dutch MEPs, I had an interview with Commissioner Wallström, during which she committed herself to the proposal to step up the Seveso Directive, on which we are voting today.

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy was right to further tighten these proposals on the closing down of dangerous companies, training of personnel, provision of information to the public and the active bringing of safety reports and contingency plans into the public domain. Unfortunately, we have now also observed that an opposing movement is at play. The Rotterdam municipality is complaining that its position as the world’s largest port is at risk because much shipped freight comprises a number of containers with Chinese fireworks which, further to new safety requirements, are no longer admitted. Antwerp is said to allow such ships to enter its port, upon which the fireworks are transported by lorry to Rotterdam, a process which is even more dangerous. This problem too still needs solving.


  Titley (PSE), in writing. – I welcome this report, which calls for action to guard against industrial accidents in urban areas. Tragic events, such as those which occurred in Toulouse, France, and in the Netherlands, are sorry evidence that present legislation is not working effectively to protect European citizens. Only when the EU attains a harmonised assessment of the dangers presented by dangerous substances can we be sure that everything is being done to guard against potential disasters.

Finally, I welcome the call to introduce punitive measures against owners who fail to comply with existing and future legislation. Moreover, since sub-contractors account for a large part of this industry, it is vital that such measures go far enough so as to include them.


– Quisthoudt-Rowohl report (A5-0203/2002)


  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, this report refers to a decision of Parliament on the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in scientific research and how to disseminate it. I believe this document is very important – which is why I voted for it – but I must point out that I think it is even more important that the European Union should make an effort to keep the scientists themselves in Europe. Greater efforts and greater assistance, including financial assistance, should be set aside for those who have always excelled at discovering new ways to improve people’s lives throughout the world by devoting themselves to research. I believe that greater efforts in Europe by the European Union would be very rewarding, not only for today’s pensioners but also for those who will in future live happily in Europe.


  Caudron (NI), in writing. – (FR) I am gratified to see the knot being tied today on the legislative package relating to the sixth framework research programme (FRP). We have honoured our commitments by adopting the report on the sixth FRP as such in May 2002, the reports on the specific programmes in June and, lastly, the rules of participation in July, to pave the way for the creation of a legal and financial framework for the achievement of the research aims formulated for the period until 2006.

At this point let me pay tribute to the work that Mrs Quisthoudt-Rowohl has done. She has made every possible effort so that the three institutions might find a compromise that could be adopted at first reading.

The Commission is pursuing various objectives, which we have supported from the outset: to establish simpler rules, to create a faster and less cumbersome administrative system and to protect the financial interests of the Community.

Several snags, however, quickly came to light. I can only address the question of joint and several liability. The Commission’s proposal provided for participants’ joint and several liability for grants awarded from the Community budget, including the funds administered by other participants. The limitations of this approach soon became evident, which is why, after several informal trialogues, the decision was taken to assign liability to participants for their respective portions of the Community funds.

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 137 of the Rules of Procedure)


  Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. – (PT) I wish to congratulate Mrs Quisthoudt-Rowohl on her excellent report, which I fully support. Like the rapporteur, I agree with the approach adopted by the Commission of facilitating access to funding by simplifying legislation and by guaranteeing greater operational flexibility for beneficiaries.

I should like, nevertheless, to emphasise a point that concerns the outermost regions and in relation to which I tabled a proposal for an amendment, because I think it is extremely important: I am talking about the need for programmes for the outermost regions to contain more criteria for added value. The preamble to the Sixth Framework Programme refers to the need to address the specific features of the outermost regions with regard to access to the Programme. Extending the criterion of added Community value will prevent the outermost regions being penalised, bearing in mind in particular that it might be difficult to find outside partners willing to enter into collaboration with institutes based in outermost regions, whatever the quality of the projects.


– Quisthoudt-Rowohl report (A5-0205/2002)


  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, the second report by Mrs Quisthoudt-Rowohl refers to nuclear research and activity in Europe and in particular everything contained in the Euratom Treaty. I would like to take the opportunity of explaining my vote for this decision to stress that I am in favour of nuclear energy both personally and as the representative of the Pensioners’ Party here in Strasbourg. Most of all, however, we are in favour of Europe’s deciding to say once and for all whether we should develop nuclear energy or stop it altogether: either nuclear energy is dangerous and harmful, and thus it is so throughout Europe, or nuclear energy is the future, it is science, it is progress, and so it should be extended to all the Member States in the European Union. I am certain that this would be a step forward for all the citizens of Europe, whether pensioners, workers or young people.


– Kauppi report (A5-0220/2002)


  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, I voted for the Kauppi report, which recalls what 2001 meant for the euro, the European single currency and in particular the role of the European Central Bank. I emphasise that part – a little lacking, I must say – of this report that deals with the macroeconomy, that is, the Member States’ budgets and their influence on the European Central Bank’s initiatives. I do so in the hope that, in their budgets, the Member States will take care that national pension institute spending in the area of social security is done prudently, in the citizens’ interests, and done fairly for all the citizens and not unfairly, as unfortunately happens all too often.


  Berthu (NI), in writing. – (FR) In the foreword to the annual report of the European Central Bank for 2001, Wim Duisenberg presents an interesting personal opinion on integration. He believes the single currency will inject fresh impetus into the integration process, because it will make people “ask why it is possible to have a single currency but not to eliminate other barriers between the countries of the euro area”. He concludes that “European integration might become more of a ‘bottom-up’ process, initiated by the citizens of Europe, and less of a ‘top-down’ process driven by politicians and experts”.

This text contains two implicit admissions – firstly, the present institutional structure is unstable; secondly, the construction of Europe has hitherto been primarily a matter for “politicians and experts”.

However, the idea that the citizens of Europe might demand closer integration because of the single currency seems questionable to us. This is no doubt the wish of the Eurocrats, who would like the people finally to tell them how right they have been all along. But such a mood is certainly not observable on the ground at the present time.

Besides, the process described by Mr Duisenberg is not really spontaneous but tends rather to be remote-controlled from above, through the existence of the single currency. Manipulation all the way.


  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We are bound to vote against this report given the assertions it makes, specifically reaffirming the “overriding importance of the primary objective, that is, maintenance of price stability” regardless of growth and employment rates, defending the irrationality of the Stability Pact, calling for continued “wage moderation” and insisting on the old capitalist recipe that “the workers should pay for the crisis” when the gains of productivity transferred from salaries into profits have not contributed to more investment and more employment, but to the enriching of the usual small group.

The report ignores the current economic situation and once again calls for further liberalisations, privatisations, integration of capital markets and, obviously, more labour flexibility and considers the criticism of the ECB’s behaviour in relation to the Federal Reserve to be unfair, overlooking the fact that the deflationist policy pursued has contributed to unemployment, whilst the restrictive monetary policy has not allowed skilful use to be made of the period of economic growth in the second half of the 1990s. This criticism is shared not only by various internationally renowned economists, such as Solow, but also by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.


  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) The ECB is very reminiscent of an old-fashioned money-circulation bank in private hands. The reason for transferring it from private to state ownership was that money circulation should be a democratically verifiable core task of the government. This pertains to the policy regarding exchange rates, interest rates, the extent of money circulation and the implications for employment, public goods, environmental protection and the prices of consumer goods. By disconnecting a centralised European circulation bank from political interference, the link between the electorate and this core government task is severed, and we are back in the old, unsatisfactory situation we were in a century ago.

The fact that every year, a report is discussed in this Parliament may be useful in order to air any conflicting views on the policy adopted in the past and to be expected in future, but the bank should not be concerned with this. There is even a tendency to blatantly do the exact opposite from what politicians prescribe. According to Mrs Kauppi, the bank has done a sterling job once again, but opinions may differ on this. The fact that the euro is achieving parity with the dollar again is caused by the tax level in the US which is structurally too low in relation to inevitable government expenditure combined with the waste in defence. I am only satisfied with the proposal to curtail secrecy by making the Minutes public.


  Patakis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) We are categorically opposed to the cruel, strictly monetarist policy of the ECB, a policy which fosters inequality and increasingly exploits the working classes, while safeguarding the profits of and granting privileges to European monopolies.

On the pretext of adhering rigidly to the Stability Pact and fighting inflation, it calls for lower and lower wages and structural changes on the job market, the main objective being to introduce even more flexible working conditions. The excuse of a so-called "healthy environment" for companies and investments is being used to endorse the greed of big business, with a total disregard for the economic and social consequences, the uncertainty and insecurity of the working classes and the huge financial burden which they have to shoulder.

The ECB policy of raising or lowering interest rates, shadowing interest rate policy in the United States, is basically dictated by the need to fund speculative projects which, objectively speaking, result not just in unproductive investment, but in "scams" such as the stock exchange scams for which thousands of redundant workers and thousands of duped investors have paid and are still paying the price.

As a result of recent scandals on the American stock exchange, first with Εnron and now with Worldcom and Xerox, and similar scandals which are now coming to light in European companies, small investors' savings are being looted, pension fund and insurance company reserves are being fleeced and thousands of workers are being sacrificed for the sake of massive profits.


– Van Lancker report (A5-0223/2002)


  Ahern (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, I welcome this report on behalf of the Green Group and congratulate the rapporteur. Very heavy pressure was brought to bear on her to withdraw or compromise on her report. She is to be congratulated for standing her ground.

The report points out that abortion rates are high in countries with poor sex education and where contraception is not emphasised. Abortion, the report states, should not be used as a contraceptive. I am sure we all agree that this is a concern.

The report states that in order to safeguard women's reproductive health and rights, abortion should be made safe, legal and accessible to all. In Ireland, according to the Supreme Court decision some time ago in the "X" case, where there is real and substantial risk to the life of the mother and when this risk could only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy, such a termination is lawful. This means that abortion is, in fact, legal in Ireland but is not legislated for. This is of concern to doctors, who do not have a framework of legislation within which to work and therefore feel unable to comply with this Supreme Court ruling.

Access to abortion for Irish women is a concern. Over 6 600 women from Ireland had abortions in the UK last year. Recently, the formula under which EU citizens access health care in other countries which is not available to them on their home territory has been invoked. I would very much like an explanation from the Commission, under the subsidiarity rules, as to how this will operate in practice.


  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, like very many members of the PPE-DE Group, I too voted against this document, not only because its contents do not fully reflect our ideas on abortion and the sexual problems affecting European citizens’ health but also because in this way I mean to stress the fact that, although I agree that we should talk about this important topic, I really wish we could talk just as often about the health of the elderly, the lives of pensioners and also – why not – what happens as regards relations between the sexes among the elderly. I wish this were discussed more in this Parliament. Imagine, Mr President, if there were 200 Pensioners’ Party representatives here: it would certainly be discussed much more!


  Banotti (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I abstained on the Van Lancker report for many of the reasons already mentioned by Mrs Ahern, but I abstained also because there are some very good points in the report.

It clearly states that abortion should not be used as a birth control method. I am a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Reproductive Health. I have seen for myself the alarming and terrifying rise of HIV/Aids not just in the developing countries but also in the applicant countries. I believe that reproductive health services are a right and should be available for all.

There is no legislation for abortion in Ireland. This report will cause us considerable problems in relation to the forthcoming constitutional amendment. We have a huge and unacceptable level of abortion in Ireland.

While I fully accept that the European Union has no competence in this matter, the provision of reproductive health – as rightly stated by Commissioner Byrne – is an intrinsic part of a good public health service.


  Vatanen (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I voted against this report because I do not believe it falls within our competence. Although the report has many good points, it talks about rights. Rights at whose expense? Rights at the expense of the unborn child and also, therefore, at the expense of humanity. Surely humanity cannot be reduced to the level of political wheeling and dealing. Surely, when we build a better world it must be based on some absolute cornerstones. Human life cannot be subject to voting. It cannot be a question of a minority or majority decision.

If our solidarity does not extend to that most vulnerable creature, the unborn child, then we in our human family are building the foundations of tomorrow's world on sand soaked by the tears of the unborn child.


  Posselt (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, this report is not only an attack on the principle of subsidiarity and the complex process of enlargement, it also contradicts the fundamental and founding principles of the European Union. Abortion is damaging to children, women and humankind as a whole! It is damaging to children because it kills unborn children; it is damaging to women because it degrades women even more to objects of male manipulation – something that is often forgotten – and it is damaging to humankind because it calls into question the beginning, the end and the overall dignity of human life, the dignity of the individual from their conception to their natural death. That is why it contradicts the fundamental principles laid down by Adenauer, Schuman and de Gasperi, fundamental principles which have made this EU of ours what it is today and what it ought to remain.

To all those who will criticise Parliament today I should like to say: do not criticise Parliament, criticise that narrow majority that railroaded this report through, and make sure that the next Parliament has a different majority!


  Cushnahan (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I voted against this report because the European Union has no competence to legislate on abortion. The European Parliament should therefore not be debating reports that convey the impression that it does, and to do so raises unnecessary fears on the part of many European citizens.

The problem is complicated further by the fact that Ireland will soon be holding a second referendum on the Treaty of Nice. Raising the issue of abortion in the European Parliament today gives oxygen to Irish Eurosceptics. They will cite today's vote on this issue as evidence that Europe wants to foist abortion on Ireland against its will and is, therefore, an undemocratic project. While this is patently untrue, today's adoption of this report, coupled with the proposed mid-term reform of the CAP, will now make it extremely difficult to secure ratification of the Treaty of Nice. Regrettably, if this happens, those who supported today's report will have won a Pyrrhic victory and must bear some responsibility if the Irish electorate rejects it again.

I call on parliamentary colleagues to cease compiling reports on issues for which we have no competence and instead concentrate on areas where we have codecision powers in framing European law.


  Arvidsson, Cederschiöld, Grönfeldt Bergman and Stenmarck (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) Mrs Van Lancker’s report contains much that we in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats think is good and important. However, the EU does not have, and nor should it have, competence in this area.

We have therefore chosen to support the amendments whereby text is deleted on the grounds that issues such as abortion and sex education do not fall within the competence of the EU. We also voted in favour of Amendment No 7 which clearly explains our position. In the final vote, we voted against the report in its entirety.


  Berthu (NI), in writing. – (FR) Fortunately, the Van Lancker report, which has just been adopted by the European Parliament (in spite of my vote against it) has no legal value. It has no hesitation in interfering in the areas of competence of the Member States, and even in those of the candidate countries, giving advice on sex education and on legalising abortion.

In terms of form, the text employs typical methods to extend European competences. Last night, Commissioner Byrne explained that, of course, ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ are not strictly speaking included in the treaties, but that, on the other hand, ‘reproductive health’ may be linked to public health in general, for which the Community has a few additional competences. In any case, in the absence of any genuine control of subsidiarity, the European institutions are free to say whatever they like.

In terms of content, the Van Lancker report has dealt with the sensitive subject of abortion too superficially. Each country must be able to decide on the basis of its own values and its own approach. In any event, although we can accept that States cannot prevent abortion, it is difficult to recommend that they cheerfully give it the green light.


  de La Perriere (NI), in writing. – (FR) This report puts men and women on a par with animals, unable to control their sexual impulses, which drive them inexorably to copulation.

By proposing that the Member States, in an enlarged framework including the accession countries, share experience and best practice in the domain of sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Commission is describing the direction in which it wishes to guide the debate on these subjects, a direction in which recourse to abortion becomes commonplace and the family unit is dismantled.

Wanting the Commission to promote the harmonisation of the various national policies on these matters is tantamount to a desire to rationalise, or indeed standardise, social life in the Member States in utter disregard of their diverse identities. Favouring the widespread practice of abortion, the report recommends the creation of a framework of counselling services, while mothers in distress are abandoned to their fate. The height of absurdity is reached when the Commission calls on Member States not to prosecute in cases of illegal abortions!

Moreover, the report heralds a policy of educating and informing young people from an early age. These measures are a violation of the integrity of children and will only serve to detach them from the family unit, whose key educative role is treated with profound contempt.


  Ferrer (PPE-DE), in writing. (ES) First of all I would like to say that I consider it a serious political error that the Conference of Presidents has authorised the production of a report which clearly violates the principle of subsidiarity, especially when there is about to be a referendum in Ireland. This is one of the reasons why I have voted against. The European Union does not have competence in the field of sexual or reproductive health – as Commissioner Byrne clearly reminded us yesterday – which falls to the Member States. This is shown by the fact that the report does not make legislative proposals but restricts itself to making recommendations to the governments of the Member States and the candidate countries.

But above all I have voted against the report because I do not agree in any way with its proposals. The value of human life must be preserved and not destroyed. It is one thing to promote appropriate sexual information programmes, family planning and contraception advice and sexual health services, and it is quite another to recommend the legalisation of abortion. The right to life takes precedence over any other right, including women’s rights, and its defence must be the main objective of the policies implemented by public authorities.

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 137(1) of the Rules of Procedure)


  Heaton-Harris (PPE-DE), in writing. – The UK delegation of the PPE-DE will be voting against this report as it proposes an extension of EU interference into areas not currently covered by EU competence.


  Keppelhoff-Wiechert (PPE-DE), in writing. (DE) Mrs Van Lancker's report on sexual and reproductive health and rights has been firmly rejected in Parliament by the Christian Democratic Group, and I can only support this position.

We must not ignore the concerns of the national catholic lay movements and organisations in the candidate countries. The subject of this report does not lie within the competence of EU policy-making. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, decisions about such matters have to be made at national level.

I am extremely concerned, above all about the endorsement given to the call for so-called emergency contraception – the 'morning-after pill' – to be standard practice. This is tantamount to proposing the legalisation of abortion in the Member States and candidate countries.

Given the particular sensitivity of this subject, the adoption of the report will provoke a negative response in the candidate countries towards the enlargement process and put it under unnecessary strain. The report makes substantial demands of their governments, demands that have not been included in the decision-making programme in any shape or form. In any case, I am firmly convinced that this kind of behaviour is not the right way to foster confidence in the EU's democratic decision-making process.


  Krivine and Vachetta (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The Van Lancker report on sexual and reproductive health and rights is a useful contribution designed to encourage the Member States and applicant countries to develop information on reproductive-health services and to improve access to such services. There are indeed wide disparities between the various European countries but also between rich and poor within each country. The same applies to sexual violence, which is a real and widespread phenomenon. The report therefore calls on all Member States to establish a system for the distribution of free or very low-priced contraceptives, to legalise abortion, to develop proper information and education policies for young people and to support women who are victims of sexual abuse.

This is a report in which the guidance role predominates, since the European Union has no powers in the realm of health policy, which falls within the competence of the Member States. None the less, it is an interesting and progressively minded exhortation that seeks to improve the situation for those thousands of women who are compelled to suffer abortions in sordid conditions, sometimes at the risk of their own lives. This has been clearly understood by the reactionary Members who have done everything possible to block the debate and then the vote on the text of this report through demonstrations, threats, floods of e-mails and so on. Needless to say, we have voted in favour of the report.


  Lulling (PPE-DE), in writing.(DE) This own-initiative report, which the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities was authorised to draw up, has been turned by its socialist rapporteur and her communist and green acolytes into a pamphlet in favour of abortion and contraception. Fourteen of the 20 recitals and 17 of the 31 paragraphs in this long-winded resolution are devoted to these issues, as if women had no other problems, even in connection with their reproductive health.

The obstinacy with which this united left has pursued its goal here, regardless of the adverse consequences it might have, for example in connection with the second referendum on the ratification of the Nice Treaty in Ireland or with the referenda in the accession countries, and without considering the fact that the EU has absolutely no competence in this field, thanks to the principle of subsidiarity, points, in my mind, to a regrettable confusion about its sense of mission.

This being the case, and because reason and realism were unfortunately not enough to teach these abortion fanatics otherwise, I did not vote in favour of this report.

I wish to make it absolutely clear that abortion must not be elevated to the preferred means of birth control. Neither can we have the morning-after pill being given out in schools free of charge, as this encourages carelessness and lends it respectability, which at the end of the day releases men entirely from their share of the responsibility and forces women, especially young women, to put their health at risk. Surely this is unacceptable!


  Marchiani (UEN), in writing. – (FR) Mrs Van Lancker’s report is a veritable nightmare. It addresses issues of sexuality and reproduction without ever referring to the acceptance of life. Reading this report, one is given the morbid impression that any pregnancy is necessarily a crisis. It is certainly true that too many pregnant women find themselves in situations of human or material distress. So is it not our responsibility to act instead of looking for an escape route? Abortion is the easy solution, creating a society that is dying because it no longer respects life.

Let us campaign instead for the development of reception centres for mothers in distress; let us give them the real human, material and financial resources they need to alleviate their distress; let us re-evaluate and grant social and economic recognition to the choice of some parents to suspend their careers in order to look after their children; let us simplify adoption procedures, etc.

In the name of a struggle to impose a hedonistic and materialistic ideology, in an utter denial of humanity, people would have us reject so-called unwanted children, just as they reject elderly men and women whom they consider to be a burden. Instead of this culture of death, let us opt for life from its inception to its natural end and for acceptance of the children who are our future.


  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) In a world where men have arrogated to themselves a domineering role, women are condemned to a life of providing for the sexual pleasures of men, of bearing and raising children, and of doing household work. In a world where all people have equal rights, opportunities and freedom of choice, women decide for themselves how they organise their lives, with whom they want possible sexual contact and if they want children.

In most EU Member States, there is already an arrangement in place by means of which a pregnancy which is not wanted by the woman can be terminated on her initiative in a medically responsible manner. Better still is to prevent such pregnancies, by, among other things, easy access to contraception and information about it. Such measures prevent people from having to raise children whom they do not, or not yet, want. Or from pregnancies being terminated in the old-fashioned, dangerous way using knitting needles and douche bags, or by a costly trip abroad.

I do expect objections to this development from a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, which is expressly founded on gender inequality, but not from mainstream European Christianity. The Van Lancker proposal does not impose anything on any Member States, but merely encourages us to learn from each other in order to develop the best possible practice.


  Muscardini (UEN), in writing. – (IT) The report on sexual and reproductive health and rights is, amongst other things, damaging to the equal dignity of men and women. Besides, by talking of reproductive rights and not of rights to procreation, women end up being likened to breeding animals or machines. As the Alleanza Nazionale, we reject this mechanistic idea of the birth of a human life and we refute the cultural idea which sets a woman’s freedom against the unborn child’s right to life. Also unacceptable is the idea that abortion should become a method of contraception, and we are certain that, for the protection of health, any product deemed to be medicinal should be available at an accessible price and be supplied on a medical prescription.

We also point out that:

- competence in health matters lies with the Member States, as do decisions in the area of ethics;

- the report does not deal at all with problems connected with the right to life and the right to a dignified life, nor does it address issues which we have repeatedly put to the Commission, such as a fund to help women in financial or psychological difficulties who would like to terminate a pregnancy. The major issues raised by today’s society are not covered either, such as personal relations in the broad sense, or matters of sex education;

- a woman’s dignity and her involvement in one of the most meaningful events in life, maternity, is treated only from the viewpoint of reproduction or the control of a sexual right.

(Abbreviated in accordance with Rule 137(1) of the Rules of Procedure


  Queiró (UEN), in writing. – (PT) Today in Parliament we have seen the truest expression of the EP’s feeling towards the principle of subsidiarity. I am referring not only to the vote on more than 400 amendments in various reports, which reveal a regulatory fury which is totally contrary to the concept of a simplified and simplifying European Union, the only kind of Union that will be able to move closer to the citizens. There is also the adoption of the Van Lancker report on rights in the field of sexual and reproductive health, which represents intolerable interference not only in the sphere of individual consciences but also in the powers of the Members States.

I have, therefore, voted against the report, not only because of its substance, which has been largely resolved in my country through a referendum, but also because of the intrusive method that this vote unfortunately used.


  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. – (PT) The report and the vote on it reduce to the absurd the declarations we have heard on the principle of subsidiarity or on respect for Member States’ own competences. For the Left, the Right does not exist. Everything depends merely on the ideological cause that is being pursued. Ultimately, it is for this very reason that, by interfering in areas it is not asked to, the Union is becoming unpopular with many people, for a variety of reasons. However, if we really want to discuss who influences whom in the long term, I think it will be the humanist Portuguese legislation, which stands in opposition to the liberalisation of abortion and which protects the right to life that will be adopted in other countries in the course of the century. In the face of progress in genetics, in embryology, in fetology and in medicine, the twenty-first century will not be able to continue for much longer to deny what is increasingly well known, down to the last detail: in every abortion crisis, there is a human life waiting to emerge. This life is individual, unique and unrepeatable – with a dignity that must be recognised and fully protected. On the day when human dignity prevails throughout Europe and we are all States in which the Rule of Law applies to everyone, no one will take pride in the numbers revealed in the statistics of these decades.


  Sacrédeus (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) I have voted against this report.

The issue of abortion does not belong at European level, as public health matters fall within national competence. We Christian Democrats believe it would be wrong to allow the EU to take over from the Swedish Parliament and other national parliaments the competence to legislate on the legal protection of an unborn child. This issue is fundamental to the moral position of people and countries, their view of the inviolability of life and human value, and is so clearly linked to various national traditions that it must remain at national parliamentary level.

The report clearly states its position on the issue of abortion in item 12: “The European Parliament recommends that, in order to safeguard women’s reproductive health and rights, abortion should be made legal, safe and accessible to all.”

This item shows that the European Parliament is clearly not prepared to show any regard for the fact that a number of Member States, including Ireland, Portugal and Germany, consider that abortions directly contradict the principle of the State’s primary task of protecting life, especially the lives of the defenceless.


  Scallon (PPE-DE), in writing. – I am greatly surprised that the Conference of Presidents could have authorised the Van Lanker report, which deals with topics for which the European Union has no competency. Healthcare services, abortion and education are the sole responsibility of Member States and candidate countries, to be decided in line with their constitutional and legal requirements.

Regarding the Irish position, Constitutional article 40.3.3 "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother". Under this constitutional article, abortion is illegal in Ireland.

The "morning after pill", which, according to the manufacturer, is an abortifacient, is also illegal under Irish statutory law; the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861, Sections 58 & 59.

Article 42.1 of the Irish Constitution states: "The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical, and social education of their children" (42.1).

(Abbreviated in accordance with Rule 137(1) of the Rules of Procedure)


  Theorin (PSE), in writing. (SV) The right of women to make their own decisions over their bodies is a fundamental right which must not be undermined. Therefore, I cannot support Amendments Nos 2 and 5 and naturally I cannot support the amendments which undermine this right.


  President. – I shall now suspend the sitting, which will resume at 3 p.m.

(The sitting was suspended at 1.32 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.)



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