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Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 14 January 2004 - Strasbourg OJ edition

2. Vote
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  President. The next item is the vote.

Report (A5-0412/2003) by Daniel Varela Suanzes-Carpegna, on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries, on the tuna fleet and industry: situation and future prospects in the EU and world-wide (2003/2017(INI))

(Parliament adopted the text)

Recommendation for second reading (A5-0455/2003) by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the Council common position with a view to adopting a European Parliament and Council regulation on detergents (10595/3/2003 – C5-0521/2003 – 2002/0216(COD)) (rapporteur: Mauro Nobilia)

(The President declared the common position approved as amended)

Report (A5-0484/2003) by Philippe A.R. Herzog, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the Green Paper on services of general interest (COM(2003) 2702003/2152(INI))

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Herzog (GUE/NGL), rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, given the complexity of the case and its very political nature, I will ask for a break between the vote on all of the amendments and articles and the final vote. The Rules of Procedure allow for this.

 
  
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  President. We will deal with the amendments and then deal with the other reports so you have time to consider the outcome.

Before the vote on Amendment No 21:

 
  
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  Herzog (GUE/NGL), rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, I propose that the Socialist Party modifies its terminology in order to be consistent with a previous vote on legal framework. I propose substituting legal framework for framework directive in order to be consistent with the previous vote and in order to give the chance of a positive vote in favour of the text of the constitutional treaty.

 
  
  

(Parliament refused to accept the oral amendment)

Before the vote on Amendment No 103:

 
  
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  Herzog (GUE/NGL), rapporteur. – (FR) Mr President, on this issue of the liberalisation of the water market, we have a contradiction in the French text. The French version is written in such a way that it seems that Amendment No 48 says that the water market needs to be liberalised without taking into account regional characteristics, while the English version says the opposite. I would like to point out that we worked first of all in English. Those who wish to reject the liberalisation of the water market therefore vote for the original text, if they do not accept Amendment No 103. They first have to vote on Amendment No 103, which rejects the liberalisation of the water market, and if Amendment No 103 is not passed, there remains the original text of Amendment No 48, the first part of which also rejects liberalisation.

 
  
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  President. The services have noted the discrepancy and I can confirm that the English version is correct.

After the vote on Amendment No 109:

 
  
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  Langen (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, now that we have voted on all the amendments to item 51, I would like to return to Amendment No 36. Our group has asked that this be voted on in two parts; we have just voted only on the first. I therefore ask you to proceed with the vote on the second half of Amendment No 36, in accordance with the request that we submitted.

 
  
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  President. The services are checking on that, but I have not received any request for a split vote.

After the adoption of Recital U/2:

President. – Bono will be pleased.

(Laughter)

After the vote on the amendments:

 
  
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  Langen (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, I rise to ask again whether you have finished checking the split vote on Amendment No 36. You were going to check it and announce the result. My group asked for a separate vote on Amendment No 36. You have voted only on the first part. I would like you to vote on Part 2 now.

 
  
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  President. I did not put Part I to the vote. I put 36 to the vote. I have received no request for a split vote. We have voted on 36. Every other group has one vote, but the PPE-DE Group seems to have two votes on this.

We will now wait with the vote on the motion for a resolution for a short time unless there are any objections.

 
  
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  Provan (PPE-DE). Mr President, as we seem to be having a bit of a breather, I should like to ask Mr Corbett whether he feels that the voting procedure we have undertaken is in conformity with the new Rules of Procedure we drew up for this House to try and simplify voting.

The amendments relating to Mr Nobilia's report, drawn up on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, were voted in blocks. However, we are now having a very contentious, long vote on a report drawn up on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, which I believe is not in conformity with the Rules of Procedure. Now you are asking us to delay the final vote. Under which Rule are you doing that, Mr President?

 
  
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  President. There are provisions in the Rules of Procedure for a delay. That is why I asked if there were any objections. I will not give the floor to Mr Corbett because I will not have him chairing the plenary from the floor. Of course we have complied with the Rules of Procedure, otherwise I would not have proceeded.

Report (A5-0355/2003) by Proinsias De Rossa, on behalf of the Commission on Petitions, on Petition 461/2000 concerning the protection and conservation of Great Apes and other species endangered by the illegal trade in bushmeat (2003/2078 (INI))

Before the vote:

 
  
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  De Rossa (PSE), rapporteur. Mr President, this report arose from a petition to the European Parliament signed by 1.9 million citizens of Europe. The organisation which organised that petition, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, is represented in the gallery today and I want to thank it very much for the effort it has put in to bringing this issue before the House.

(Applause)

 
  
  

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

 
  
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  Poettering (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, we are not being difficult about the final vote on Mr Herzog’s report, but I do ask you to have the vote now, because many Members are already leaving.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Cohn-Bendit (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, with all respect to Mr Poettering, who wants his lunch, this is so complicated that we can vote on the other amendments first and then let Mr Herzog say what he has to say. I regard these tactics as unworthy of a parliament. If you have difficulties, people get the idea that ...

(Heckling)

Well, life is like that! We will carry on debating until he has given his opinion. That is how it is? Do you not have anything else to say? Well, you should!

(Heckling)

 
  
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  President. Colleagues, the Rules of Procedure are clear. The rapporteur is entitled to ask for a delay unless there are objections. As there now clearly are objections, I shall give the floor to the rapporteur and then proceed to the vote on the resolution.

 
  
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  Herzog (GUE/NGL), rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, although in my view there are still many negative points regarding the substance of the text, I consider that we are enabling the discussion process on this important subject to continue with a legislative act, with the rejection of the Commission procedure without codecision, and with very clear signals regarding the rejection of liberalisation in some sectors and we are introducing a sound evaluation process, so I am voting in favour.

 
  
  

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

Report (A5-0474/2003) by Ulla Margrethe Sandbæk, on behalf of the Committee on Development and Cooperation, on the Commission communication on the update of the EC Programme for Action: accelerated action on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the context of poverty reduction; outstanding policy issues and future challenges (COM(2003) 932003/2146(INI))

Before the vote on Recital L:

 
  
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  Corrie (PPE-DE). Mr President, Mrs Sandbæk, the rapporteur, has agreed to change 'working' to 'being exploited', meaning that the wording would now be: 'this must extend to women being exploited'.

 
  
  

(Parliament agreed to the oral amendment)

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

Report (A5-0329/2003) by Jean-Pierre Bébéar, on behalf of the Committee on Development and Cooperation, on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) (2003/2106 (INI))

Before the vote on Amendment No 5:

 
  
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  Bébéar (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, I would just like to table an oral amendment to Mrs Boudjenah’s amendment inserting the word ‘Notes’ at the beginning: ‘Notes that the Action Plan for Africa announced by the G8 in 2002 has still not been reflected by precise commitments; calls on the G8 and the EU swiftly to help to make the necessary resources available so as to help achieve the aims set by NEPAD’.

 
  
  

(Parliament agreed to the oral amendment)

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

Report (A5-0477/2003) by Christa Prets, on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport, on preserving and promoting cultural diversity: the role of the European regions and international organisations such as UNESCO and the Council of Europe (2002/2269(INI))

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

Report (A5-0481/2003) by Joke Swiebel, on behalf of the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the European Union (2003/2011(INI))

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

President. – That concludes the vote.

EXPLANATIONS OF VOTE

 
  
  

Report: Varela Suanzes-Carpegna (A5-0412/2003)

 
  
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  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) The purpose of this report is to protect fisheries and the European Union tuna processing industry against competition from elsewhere. This concern is even more disputable given that the Community tuna fleet is already the largest in the world and is using the whole world’s fish resources, including those of many poor countries.

Moreover, the competition often comes from fleets which, even though they operate under the flags of other countries, belong to investors from the European Community.

The report is right to express concern about the reduction in tuna resources. Competition, which causes waste and crises in all sectors of the economy, has even more disastrous consequences in the case of natural resources, which can be completely exhausted by fierce and irrational competition.

The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from this report is that a system based on competition is damaging and that the only sound way of managing natural resources would be to manage them collectively, in a planned manner. This management should be done at global level and not with the sole aim of protecting European Union production, as tuna have the annoying habit of not respecting borders and territorial waters.

We abstained.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Community fleets account for over 20% of the world tuna catch and are among the main sources of raw material supplies to the tinned fish industry. Portugal accounts for 6% of EU tinned tuna production, which in turn represents around 40% of Portuguese tinned fish production. This illustrates the importance of the tuna fleet and industry based in less developed, outlying regions that are highly dependent on the fisheries sector. The sector has lost competitiveness in the face of pressure from foreign imports, as a result of bilateral and multilateral commercial agreements, and has also been adversely affected by the last reform of the common fisheries policy, which took place in December 2002.

I therefore endorse the main idea underpinning this report, namely that the Commission draw up a study on the state of tuna resources, the fleet and the industry as a whole, and subsequently present an action plan for the tuna sector that provides a global framework of structural aid and a plan to protect the sector against competition from third countries.

We have always advocated the need for compensation or consumption subsidies to support the canning sector and for monitoring imports, in order to ensure that imported fish meets the same criteria for food safety and quality as products from the Community industry.

 
  
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  Malmström, Paulsen and Olle Schmidt (ELDR), in writing. (SV) In spite of some sound efforts, current fisheries policy still means that the EU is buying the right to misuse the natural resources of the poor. It is a modern form of colonialism. What is required is genuine reform of fisheries policy and a totally altered view of our relations with poor countries. I have therefore chosen to vote against the aforesaid report in its entirety.

 
  
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  Patakis (GUE/NGL), in writing.(EL) The aim of the report is to strengthen the few large fishing companies through economic and institutional measures in order to improve their competitiveness. As excuses for this strengthening, the rapporteur cites the indisputably high nutritional value of the product, its economic value, employment, maintaining stocks etc.

These excuses conceal the fact that this activity concerns a few large companies in the ΕU and that the developed countries overexploit the world's marine wealth at the expense of poor and developing countries, in that the international fishing agreements are imbalanced, safeguarding as they do the rights of the strong.

The report's acceptance of subsidies to renew the fleet, export subsidies and duty on and technocratic obstacles to imports provocatively strengthens certain businessmen and makes the international division of labour even more unfair here, at the expense of poor and developing countries.

We wish to point out that, in the report, subsidies for withdrawing large vessels from the tuna fleet are described, and rightly so, as counterproductive and catastrophic, which is why it proposes that they be abolished and redirected towards renewing the fleet. However, the same subsidies for withdrawing small and medium-sized coastal and short-haul fishing vessels are put forward by the ΕU as structural funds allegedly to restructure the corresponding sectors. This contradiction again confirms the class policy of the ruling circles of the ΕU at the expense of small and medium-sized fisheries for the benefit of the large capitalist fishing companies.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) Given that tuna is the most commercially successful fishery resource in the world, I congratulate the rapporteur and the Committee on Fisheries for this own-initiative report on the tuna fleet and processing industry.

The report concludes that Member States stand only to benefit if the EU decides to do more for this sector of the fishing industry. It is impossible to argue with such a conclusion, in view of the Community tuna fleet and industry’s loss of competitiveness, along with the major contribution of these areas to the EU – the canning industry provides around 40 000 jobs in the EU and tuna accounts for almost 60% of total tinned fish production.

I endorse the suggestion that the Commission should draw up a specific action plan and an overall structural support framework for the tuna sector.

I acknowledge the importance of the EU’s making absolutely sure that, within the Regional Fisheries Organisations, the fleet is adapted to available resources, which will, where possible, ensure stability and renewal. This adaptation must involve combating the over-fishing practised by illegal vessels flying flags of convenience, and this might entail, as envisaged in the report, drawing up a list of those vessels that comply with the relevant rules and will be allowed in the fisheries, and imposing trade sanctions for vessels that do not comply.

 
  
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  Souchet (NI), in writing. (FR) Everything should be smiling on the Community fisheries and tuna industry. They have enterprising professionals of high quality, particularly in France and Spain, and are offering healthy, natural food, for which there is high and growing demand. However, even though the Commission claims to be the sole embodiment of the ‘common European good’, it is itself weakening European competitiveness.

The draconian and constantly increasing constraints of Community legislation particularly affect security, monitoring, the health conditions of production, the protection of the environment and social protection, resulting in much higher costs for the Community fleet and its producers than those of their competitors.

The ideology of systematic and complete opening up of the market that drives the Commission is being applied to marine produce, with the permanent extension of the list of the countries benefiting from tariff preferences, with a particularly opaque system of certificates of origin, and the tuna loins quota and canned tuna quota opened for Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Our rapporteur highlights ‘…the opening of the Community market to foreign products with less strict requirements and insufficient monitoring, which is damaging the competitiveness of Community products.’

It is time to put a stop to this discrimination imposed by the Commission to the detriment of our economies and jobs.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Nobilia (A5-0455/2003)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This regulation is aimed at updating the current Community legislative framework relating to detergents, which dates back to the beginning of the 1970s and has been spread across a number of legislative instruments. Despite certain limitations and the fact that it does not go far enough, the regulation does contain some excellent proposals aimed at preserving the environment, such as monitoring biodegradability, and aimed at protecting consumers, who must be guaranteed information on the composition of products, lists of ingredients and effective labelling. We therefore support the compromise amendments tabled to the report before us and endorsed by seven parliamentary groups.

We regret, however, that labels are not required to carry explicit warnings of the risks, especially to children, of ingesting detergents, and that the use of images that may be misleading, such as images of fruit, are not banned.

Let us not forget that behind regulatory harmonisations there are always ulterior political motives towards greater market integration and the elimination of obstacles to the free movement of goods. This leads us to have strong reservations, as it may undermine the right of Member States to legislate effectively on crucial questions such as the protection of human health, of the environment or of consumers’ rights, by imposing restrictions on products that do not comply with such rules.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) What is negative about this proposal is that it gives priority to eliminating barriers to free movement. On a positive note, though, Member States that have, for the protection of their environment, already put legislation in place that is stricter than this regulation will not be hindered in enforcing it. The reason for this regulation is that by washing and cleaning, not only are contaminations added to clean water, but also components of soap and other surfactants. For many years, attempts have been made to encourage the production of phosphate-free detergents. This proposal now also tries to discourage animal tests, the addition of substances that break down with difficulty, toxic chemical substances and substances with hormone-disruptive characteristics. The disclosure of the composition of detergents is indeed a major step forward. Attempts are being made to that effect by requiring manufacturers to inform the government of their products' composition and by obliging them to list the actual content of preservatives, colour-protection products and aromatic substances on the packaging. Openness with regard to harmfulness is to be welcomed, and so we should try to convince the Council of this, but a general ban on harmful substances would be preferable. The proposed adaptations to the regulation in the longer term may be able to contribute to this. Manufacturers may protest, but stricter measures are unavoidable.

 
  
  

Report: De Rossa (A5-0355/2003)

 
  
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  Ebner (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, I would just like to say that I voted in favour of Mr De Rossa’s report out of my conviction that apes and other exotic species are among our planet’s valuable resources and that any modern and highly-developed system of protection for nature and the environment should protect and maintain these resources for the sake of future generations. I regard Mr De Rossa’s report as an excellent piece of work towards this end, one that will contribute to the protection and maintenance of endangered species. It also draws attention to the need to protect such species and raises popular awareness of that need.

It was good that Amendment No 2 was adopted; I had hoped that the two other amendments would be as well. That has not happened, but, as what we have here is in any case a workable solution, I have voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) Who could disagree with the general idea of protecting wild animal species, some of which are in danger of extinction? The report, though, marks out the limits of its own proposals by rightly stating that the ‘issue of bushmeat hunting and its threat to endangered species, notably the great apes, must be addressed in the context of overall development strategy and poverty alleviation’.

No proposals are made in this respect, however. How can proposals be made without calling into question the existing economic and social system, a system that is starving millions of human beings for whom bushmeat is often the only source of animal protein, particularly in tropical areas?

Under these circumstances, the methods of monitoring or retaliation proposed will be entirely ineffective in the majority of cases, particularly against organised gangs who carry out mass hunts, often for Western markets, and will affect only a few starving people.

We abstained on this report.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) This topic would not have found its way onto the agenda had it not been for a petition signed by nearly 2 million people and had it not been for the Committee on Petitions, which took the decision, a year ago, to draft a report on the subject. The 'bush meat' phenomenon is already enjoying wide public attention in Great Britain, but not yet elsewhere. Despite this, it is important for development cooperation, public health and the environment that awareness of this phenomenon should increase in Europe and that a policy on it should actually be adopted. The population in the developing countries is growing fast, while scope for trade and transport is also increasing. In the past, small groups of people used to hunt wild animals living in the jungle for their own meat consumption. These days, this meat of monkeys, reptiles and snakes is not only consumed by poor local residents, but is also sold in African towns and even exported to Europe as a delicacy for the rich. The commercial hunt of animals and the felling of tropical forests result in the rapid extinction of animal species, including gorillas and chimpanzees. Scarcely-controllable animal diseases, such as Ebola, are spread among people. Development cooperation on the part of the EU takes no account of this destruction or of the environment in general. I support proposals for eco-tourism, protection, education and legislation, even though they probably leave something to be desired.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) In spite of the potentially ambiguous nature of the word ‘bushmeat’ and of evidence that hunting is not solely responsible for decimating wild animal populations – in Europe this is often a factor in protection and in stabilising numbers – I voted in favour.

The term ‘bushmeat’, or wild animal meat, describes the food product of wild animals, the trade in which has had a devastating effect on the African Great Ape population.

The effect of the illegal trade in bushmeat has attracted worldwide attention. UNEP and UNESCO established GrASP (Great Apes Survival Project) and there are many other organisations working to find ways to address the problem. The EU has so far, however, paid only scant attention to the issue, as highlighted by the rapporteur.

On 12 July 2000, the Committee on Petitions received a petition on the protection of species endangered by illegal hunting and trade, as part of a campaign against bushmeat.

By voting in favour, I am simply expressing my agreement that developing countries do indeed need greater support to ensure that, while local traditions are respected and particular account is taken of the shortage of food, we see greater rigour ...

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

 
  
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  Sacrédeus (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) I voted in favour of the report as soon as Parliament adopted Amendment No 2, in which bushmeat is defined as meat from ‘wild animals in tropical areas’.

Otherwise, an unfortunate situation would have arisen in which hunting restrictions and animal protection would have applied to meat from all wild animals, including Swedish species such as elk.

Swedish elk stocks are stable, while hunting is carried on in such a way that the species is not in decline, still less threatened with extinction.

Regulated Swedish elk hunting and the illegal hunting of apes and other wild animals threatened with extinction occupy quite separate worlds.

 
  
  

Report: Herzog (A5-0484/2003)

 
  
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  Berthu (NI), in writing. (FR) By adopting the Herzog report, the European Parliament has adopted some excellent statements on ‘the fundamental importance of the subsidiarity principle’ and on the need to respect the free choice of the Member States in terms of the missions, organisation and financing arrangements of services of general interest at national level (see paragraph 18).

At the same time, however, it has left the way open for a European regulation process which, if developed, would violate that subsidiarity and once again lead to protests in a few years’ time against intervention from Brussels.

As I said during the debate, I regret having to say that the previous French Presidency was behind the idea of a European legal framework. The current French Government appears to have gone back to a more cautious position as, although it is still calling for a ‘cross-border legal instrument’, it wants to limit the content to a sharing of responsibilities between the Member States of the EU, authorised financing and monitoring procedures.

This is still too much, and the Commission will still find arguments for infiltrating and wanting to regulate everything. In our view, it is sufficient to state that services of general interest fall under the competence of the Member States, who choose their missions, their organisation and their limits.

 
  
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  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) Despite all the concessions made by the author of the report to the reactionary political forces working for the privatisation of public services, he now seems to have been overcome by those whose support he wished to obtain. Amended or not, the Herzog report legislates for the disappearance of the public services, including their name, which has changed to ‘services of general interest’.

We are opposed to this report and, of course, to the amendments that make it worse. Education, health, public transport, postal services, telecommunications, water and energy supplies, electricity and waste disposal should remain or be restored as public services that are separate from the stupid and inhuman laws of the market, not to produce private profit but to satisfy collective needs.

Moreover, the process set out in the report translates into drastic reductions in staff, in other words a social catastrophe. On the pretext of harmonising practices between the different countries that make up the European Union, its authorities are creating a serious social decline. Nevertheless, harmonisation could be done on the basis of development of the public services and expanding them, especially by building social housing, if the European institutions and the Member States were serving collective, rather than private, interests.

We therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Carlotti (PSE), in writing. (FR) Driven by the socialist and social democrat political family, the notion of services of general economic interest was enshrined in the Treaty of Amsterdam (Article 16) at the heart of the principles on which the European Union is based.

As a step further, the European socialists resolutely committed themselves to defending and promoting services of general interest, as a fundamental aspect of our shared values and of our European social model.

Upon this concept, democratic and social guarantees for European citizens are founded: equal access for all, information, consultation and participation for users and employees, quality and universality and financial viability while respecting employment and collective guarantees.

Our battle lines have been drawn; our demands are clear. We are asking for the missions, organisation and financing arrangements for services of general interest to be guaranteed and laid down in a framework directive, a commitment made by Parliament as a whole in November 2001 when it adopted the Langen report. We want a democratic and pluralist evaluation of the social consequences of free competition to be conducted before there is any further liberalisation.

This is an urgent issue judging by the flurry of texts submitted to the European Parliament in order to speed up liberalisation all over the place, in particular in transport, postal services, energy, the water market, waste treatment.

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

 
  
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  Caudron (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The trend of the votes on the recitals, paragraphs and amendments of the Herzog report is a perfect illustration, even a caricature, of the weight of liberalism and the single market, and of their precedence over all other considerations in modern-day Europe.

Paraphrasing Jean de la Fontaine, it could be said of the large parties and political forces of the European Parliament, that ‘nobody died from them, but they affected everyone ‘

For a large majority in Parliament, and therefore much of institutional Europe, public service is at best a commodity like any other when it is not ‘a barrier’ to the happiness money brings. I therefore voted against this report without any uncertainty or hesitation.

 
  
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  Darras (PSE), in writing. – (FR) Introducing high-performance and efficient services of general interest for all, that is to say services which play a full role in social and territorial cohesion, means not only acknowledging and asserting that these services of general interest are an essential goal of Member States’ economic and social policies and among the fundamental elements of our European model of society, but also that we adopt and defend the basic principles that serve as the operational basis of these services of general interest, namely the universality of services, continuity, affordability and quality.

Without the adoption of certain amendments, including those relating to the framework directive, it is these principles themselves that are likely to fall by the wayside; there is a risk of the drift toward ultraliberalism caused by sectoral directives becoming the norm. I do not wish to take such a risk. Without voting on these amendments on the requirement of a framework directive, I rejected the text at the final vote.

 
  
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  De Keyser (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The Herzog report attempted to reconcile the irreconcilable, championing liberalisation and defending services of general interest at the same time; hence the discordant voting. Must we support this ‘hybrid’ product which ‘highlights the fact that liberalisation has not been to the detriment of the provision of universal service’, which ‘considers the liberalisation to date in the gas market insufficient’ while considering that the problems encountered in the liberalisation of certain sectors make it necessary to assess the impact on employment in a pluralist and open manner?

The rapporteur, faced with his mutilated draft and having taken the ultraliberal forces of Parliament hostage, thought that, all considered, it was worth supporting.

As for me, along with all those who have not succumbed to Stockholm syndrome, I have kept a cool head. The amended text is indefensible and I therefore voted against it.

 
  
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  Ferreira (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the motion for a resolution on services of general interest since the voting trends of the majority of MEPs do not give an objective picture of the consequences of the liberalisation undertaken to date. Furthermore, they pave the way for the liberalisation of other sectors.

Today, as we have already asked in the past, we must hold a serious, pluralist and open assessment of liberalisation policy and make the conclusions public.

We must re-examine the liberalisation that has taken place, in order to make the adoption of a framework directive as effective as possible. Furthermore, it is high time we definitively excluded some sectors from the prevailing competition policy at Community level. This applies particularly to health, education and social services, including social housing. Finally, we must guarantee the subsidiarity under which local or territorial powers are exercised.

This motion does not establish European services of general interest as an added value of the European structure but as a means of achieving the EU’s territorial, economic, ecological and social cohesion goals. Services of general interest are an essential element of our social model, which we must defend and promote.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted against the Herzog report in the final vote, because we considered it fell short of what was required, having been watered down by proposals from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats and the Group of the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, within the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. The odd improvement was made to the report in plenary, but the amendments that had been tabled did not change it significantly. The final result illustrates the aggressiveness of the neo-liberal and conservative offensive currently sweeping through the EU, in the wake of rushed-through privatisations enshrined in the ‘Lisbon Strategy’ and attempts to enshrine these in the Constitution last December.

The report is fundamentally biased against the public sector and against the role of the State in the economy, as it is based on the false premise that it is ownership that determines good management. The clear aim is to feed the most lucrative sectors and public services to the greed of the major economic and financial groups.

The report endorses and encourages the process of liberalisation/privatisation in various key sectors and abjectly glosses over the economic and social consequences, from quality and access to public services, to job losses in the targeted sectors.

We all know that the expression ‘services of general interest’ was not chosen by accident. Its clear aim is to put an end to the concept of public service and, in so doing, to alleviate the State’s burden of responsibility.

 
  
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  Krivine and Vachetta (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) We voted against the Herzog report, which shows once again that this Parliament is no more in favour of progress than are the Commission or the Council of the European Union. The ultraliberal majority in Parliament introduced this report as a paean to the destruction of public services. To quote only one point from ten or twenty articles which are along the same lines, we read that Parliament ‘welcomes the liberalisation in the fields of telecommunications, postal services, transport and energy, which has led to modernisation, interconnection and integration of the sectors, has led to price reductions through increased competition, and has led to the creation of nearly one million jobs across the European Union’. And it wants to speed things up.

What we see at work here is a mendacious dogmatism that collides head-on with the wishes of the European people. It is regrettable that the rapporteur, like a significant proportion of European socialists, chose to vote for this report because it opens up the prospect of a framework directive on services of general interest. But must we do it on such a liberal basis? In this setting, only street-level activism on the largest scale can create a positive outlook in the face of the destruction of public services.

 
  
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  Lang (NI), in writing. – (FR) This report is political trickery pure and simple because, in spite of the tragic comedy played out in this Chamber, right and left are basically on the same track, which is to say: destroy public services by forever subjecting them to Community competition law, a law which, as everyone knows, has always been the least discriminate instrument of the free market.

French MEPs belonging to the UMP party, bound by the decisions of their ultraliberal parliamentary group, voted against France’s better interests by approving a text containing numerous provisions that plainly doom the existence of public services in France.

As for the socialist-communist left, it has, in the name of blind European federalism, never ceased to call for the adoption of a ‘framework directive’ on public services, a text that would inevitably involve Member States’ competences being transferred to the European Commission.

Resolutely opposed to the euroglobalist ideology that inspired this report, and which is itself a product of the shameful alliance of political federalism and economic ultraliberalism, the members of the Front National were the only French members to clearly and coherently state their rejection of this new antinational and antisocial offensive against our public services.

 
  
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  Martinez (NI), in writing. – (FR) Trains used to run, planes used to fly, the post used to arrive, healthcare used to exist, schools used to teach and there was light, all thanks to national public services. But the Commission of Brussels wants to privatise them, flying in the face of reason, fact and social concerns.

Intelligence takes a back seat as we slip from the glorious notion of services provided to the public, in the name of the common good and the res publica, to the wretched concept of services provided by general interest. Market integrationism flies in the face of facts when it refuses to see that private trains in Britain are derailing, that electricity in California is cutting out, that the planes of private airlines such as Flash Airlines are crashing and that American commercial schools are leaving souls helpless. Social concerns are sacrificed because with liberalisation, there is two-tier access to healthcare, university, transport or even water: services for the rich and services for the poor.

All this is led by Mr Herzog, the communist rapporteur who has become ‘party to the rout’ of economic and social democracy.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) I am an advocate of a Europe in which the economy is gradually brought more under democratic control. This requires an entirely different course than that currently being pursued with the Green Paper on services of general interest, which makes Europe even more neo-liberal. The Stability Pact is used as a big stick to compel Member States to liberalise and privatise important sectors of their economy, at the expense of democratic say and control over the social and public sectors. Despite the acknowledgment that certain services must be accessible and affordable for everyone because social coherence and solidarity depend upon them, there is hardly any part of the public sector that is sacrosanct. In fact, opportunities are being offered to place higher education, public health, social services and the provision of drinking water in private hands. In addition, old sectoral liberalisation plans are strictly adhered to for postal services, gas, electricity and public transport. The results of past liberalisation programmes are being extolled, mistakenly so, as shown by the experience of the Netherlands and of other countries, where, quite in contrast, the liberalisation of public transport and energy has proved highly detrimental to the inhabitants. Despite what the Green Paper claims, they have become more expensive. The provision of services has gone down and employment is in the balance. My party advocates a course that is entirely different from the one described here and will therefore be voting against this proposal.

 
  
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  Miller (PSE), in writing. I welcome this Report on the Green Paper on services of general interest. It gives Parliament the opportunity to outline the future for public services. This should not involve unbridled liberalisation; it should involve a careful reflection on what has gone before and on what has and has not worked.

There are some areas where I differ from my colleagues in the Socialist Group. I believe that public radio and television broadcasters who play a major role in preserving cultural diversity and identity should be exempted from the competition rules.

The same should be the case for charitable organisations which carry out a public service.

The last point I wish to make is that, when the legislation comes back to Parliament, there must be full engagement of that institution and that means codecision.

 
  
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  Pasqua (UEN), in writing. – (FR) While not without its critics, Community competition law does not preclude maintaining public services. This compatibility is established in Article 295 of the EC Treaty, and set out so that public services must respect rules of competition. Although there have been corporatist protests from the eternal supporters of the status quo who, under the pretext of defending public service, only want to preserve their statutory privileges, we must also note that opening public services up to competition is ultimately a vehicle for modernisation and competitiveness.

The real problem here concerns the sharing of competences between the EU and the Member States. In this regard, however, a ‘framework directive’ defining ‘good government in the area (…) of services of general interest’, a motion backed by the Left in this House, is absolutely unacceptable to the real defenders of public service: those who reject the pervading demagogy and support a Europe of nations, because it would end up communising public services.

The vital point in this matter is that competences relating to the organisation and functioning of public services remain the sole preserve of the sovereign States.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The creation and maintenance of services of general interest represents one of the pillars of the ‘European model’ of development, as it guarantees that, within a market economy framework – or rather, a social market economy framework – certain fundamental rights are sacrosanct. The individual citizen holds rights, and is not merely a unit of production or a pawn of the free market.

I agree with the rapporteur that special attention must be paid to rural and socially disadvantaged areas, with emphasis on the outermost regions. I also endorse his view that social services of general interest that carry out social security and social inclusion functions should remain exempt from competition rules.

I support the idea that, in accordance with the Treaties and with the necessary respect for the principle of subsidiarity, the Community must be neutral in relation to Member States’ options on forms of property.

The proposed clarification of the concept of services of general economic interest and of criteria for distinguishing between categories of services of general interest must not be allowed to lead to greater centralisation or to artificial standardisation. It is essential that the public authorities responsible for such services should enjoy freedom of choice.

In light of the vote in plenary on the matter before us and given that proposals for a framework directive were not passed, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Skinner (PSE), in writing. Because the British experience of liberalisation has generally been a positive one, albeit one with unequal benefits for consumers and the economy, the EPLP concurs with the general approach of the Commission. However, the EPLP believes there is a need for universality of service and for the protection of workers' rights and other social, environmental and economic benefits, both at the individual and the collective level. To this end the EPLP has voted to support those amendments which focused on those areas.

Rather than a framework directive as called for by the rapporteur, the EPLP believes these issues should be decided on a sector-by-sector basis.

The EPLP does not want to halt liberalisation, nor does it wish to prejudice competition laws and regulations. These are necessary in order for market reform to complete the single market and to achieve the Lisbon goals.

 
  
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  Souchet (NI), in writing. – (FR) As a former pupil of the ‘Public Service’ department of the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, and as a local councillor specifically responsible for maintaining local public services, I do not think that the best way to preserve the notion of public service is to adopt a European framework directive, which would affect the freedom of Member States to define the tasks they intend to entrust to public services, in accordance with the wishes of their people. It is not for countries that have historically lacked a public service culture to prevent those which do possess one from providing these services when they think it justified to do so.

It is unfortunate that the incoherent and contradictory text resulting from the vote on the Herzog report will not clarify the debate. While it does have its good points, such as reiterating the ‘fundamental importance of the subsidiarity principle, in accordance with which the competent authorities of the Member State are free to make their choice of missions, organisation and financing arrangements for services of general interest’, at the same time it leaves open the possibility of imposing a uniform European definition of these services, which would deprive States of their regulatory power and would necessarily be inspired by a majority to whom the notion of public service is alien. This is why I abstained from voting on the final text.

 
  
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  Thorning-Schmidt (PSE), in writing. (DA) I have today voted in favour of Mr Herzog’s report on services of general interest and have, in that connection, also supported a list of amendments that support the idea of a framework directive in this area.

In this connection, it must be made clear that we only want a framework directive that respects the principle of subsidiarity and that is confined to regulating services of a general economic character and does not therefore seek to regulate areas such as education, public health and services of general social interest.

 
  
  

Report: Sandbaek (A5-0474/2003)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria kill around 20 000 people every day, and thousands more new clinical cases are diagnosed. These diseases are particularly prevalent in developing countries, especially in the least developed countries ravaged by war, poverty, economic decline and the collapse of essential public services, especially health care systems.

The harsh reality is that ‘millions of people in developing countries continue to die each year from infectious diseases, most of which can be prevented and cured by medicine’. This is the profit-driven approach, an approach that commercialises health, adopted by the large pharmaceutical multinationals which are primarily based in developed countries. Patents on medicines and lack of investment in the production of local medicines are thus significant hurdles that must be overcome. Any minor progress in the framework of the WTO continues to come up against formidable financial interests.

The EU programme currently under discussion, aimed at combating these diseases, is to be welcomed, yet does not go far enough. The efforts of the international community must focus especially on strengthening the human, institutional and infrastructural resources of developing countries, particularly in order to restore public services and basic health care systems and to ensure that medicine can be produced independently.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The Commission’s Programme for Action entitled ‘accelerated action on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the context of poverty reduction; outstanding policy issues and future challenges’ was based on three approaches: improving effectiveness, making medicines more affordable and increasing R&D (Research and Development).

I endorse the rapporteur’s proposal to encourage patent-holder companies to grant licences that allow other companies to manufacture their products at lower cost; using safeguards in international trade agreements that can help governments to expand access to medicines and protect public health.

We need to see more R&D and new medicines and instruments of diagnosis that are easier to use, more effective and more affordable. Similarly, particular emphasis must be given to disseminating routine child and maternal health care, so as to reduce mortality rates. The EU must not remain indifferent to such issues and its financial contribution must increase accordingly.

I voted in favour, as I feel that the problems arising from poverty-linked disease are so serious that only by establishing a broad range of far-reaching policies and strategies will we be able to solve them in all their aspects.

 
  
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  Scallon (PPE-DE), in writing. The OECD emphasises that 'Investment in health is an important means of economic development and substantially improved health outcomes are a prerequisite for developing countries to break out of the cycle of poverty. If the health of poor people is to improve, a ‘pro-poor’ health approach is needed. This goes beyond the health sector and includes policies in areas that disproportionately affect the health and economic security of the poor, such as education, nutrition, water and sanitation.'

HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are direct causes and consequences of poverty, which particularly expose women and children. I welcome the goodwill of the international community and I urge our governments to enhance respectful partnership, specifically in the field of health.

Nevertheless, I must abstain: the means proposed to fight the 'very high and rising' number of HIV/AIDS-infected women, is to provide 'appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and services', to protect against, inter alia 'unwanted pregnancies'. Pregnancy is not an illness: children are a richness in developing countries. This reveals another agenda which interprets reproductive health to include abortion.

However, this is not the position of the Council, which has clarified that 'reproductive health' does NOT include 'abortion'. Until this is clarified by the Commission, I cannot support this ambiguous terminology.

 
  
  

Report: Bébéar (A5-0329/2003)

 
  
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  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) We voted against this report, which takes a cynically paternalistic attitude towards African countries. For example, how dare it state that these countries ‘should devote resources to establishing a strategy of sustainable, equitable and viable development opening the way to genuine employment of the right to food, health, education, housing and other necessities for African peoples’? Even in rich western countries, the dominant class deprives a large proportion of the population of these rights!

African peoples have to bear, however, in addition to those of their own privileged class, the far more considerable impositions of industrial and financial groups of imperialist countries. From the time of the slave trade to the present day, where these countries are bled dry by the global banking system, through the pillaging of the colonial era, western capitalism has never stopped impoverishing this continent.

Today, the European Parliament, the parliament of the countries whose leaders can be blamed for reducing African countries to misery, gracefully leave these countries to repair the damage done to them over the centuries themselves! It is deplorable.

 
  
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  Boudjenah (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The subject is much debated, in as much as the very neoliberal tendencies of NEPAD raise legitimate questions among all those who dream of finally seeing Africa emerge from under-development. I also support the criticisms made by the report, particularly with regard to the absence of democratic consultation of ‘civil society’, of unions and even of national parliaments. Conducting an independent study on NEPAD’s impact on social rights, food safety, access to raw materials and protection of the environment is undoubtedly the greatest encouragement to emerge.

The fact remains that the responsibilities of the EU and of the G8 must not be relinquished, whether this means it is necessary to cancel the debt – which continues to drastically and unjustly suffocate budgets – or a reform and increase of public aid for development.

It is estimated that 64 billion dollars are required per year to achieve the goals set by NEPAD. Fund providers must face up to their responsibilities. Welcoming the Heads of State that established NEPAD to the G8 with great pomp is one thing, backing up words with actions is quite another.

Finally, the drafting of a legally restrictive framework accompanied by sanctions for businesses that contribute to conflicts would also be appropriate in preventing conflicts that are often murderous.

 
  
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  Krivine and Vachetta (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) NEPAD is without doubt a development project conceived and adopted by the African states, but it should not be looked upon as a project that will emancipate the African people. Indeed, it is increasingly denounced, like the Cotonou Agreement, the WTO and the IMF’s structural adjustment policies, by sectors of civil society such as the Addis Ababa African Social Forum and the People’s Forum held in Siby in Mali in 2003. In fact, it is part of a neo-liberal logic, the actual consequences of which run counter to the objectives laid down.

There can be no appropriation of development at either national or regional level while the Washington Consensus, imposed on the current African leaders to later be taken over, provides for the private appropriation of the most profitable economic heritage by the multinationals. Thus, the social rights and freedoms acquired over the last three decades of independence are being dismantled through the revision of national labour and investment codes. The fact that NEPAD consulted the multinationals and the G8 rather than the African people says a lot about its idea of democracy. As a result, we cannot vote for a resolution that merely criticises the lack of consultation while concealing the fundamental, harmful logic underpinning NEPAD.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) This report on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a political initiative of major importance undertaken by five African Heads of State, as part of an ambitious project known as ‘African Renaissance’, places emphasis on conflict prevention and on implementing support mechanisms for restoring and maintaining peace, action against corruption, which is essential for good governance. The initiative is further underscored by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which I also endorse.

I agree, furthermore, that it is essential to encourage the participation of members of civil society, including human rights organisations. The role of women in African society must also be brought to the fore in development projects.

Notwithstanding the occasional criticisms made of NEPAD for its top-down approach, I feel that we must give the initiative our wholehearted support and must contribute towards improving its effective human and social impact. We must help to remove hundreds of people from the mire of underdevelopment and play an active role in combating the corruption and tyranny endemic in large parts of the African continent.

I therefore voted in favour. I particularly welcome this report, as I have striven for a new perspective on Africa, a new perspective on a forgotten continent and a perspective of fraternity and solidarity towards a brother Continent.

 
  
  

Report: Prets (A5-0477/2003)

 
  
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  Gobbo (NI).(IT) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Mr President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, as a citizen of Venice who has therefore inherited a strong historical, cultural and linguistic identity – I recall the Most Serene Venetian Republic – I hope that all the countries in the European Union will adopt policies aimed at devolving the competences of the state to the regions, especially policies on state-sector education, culture and the protection of cultural assets. We believe that it is precisely our cultural diversity and cultural identities that form the major attraction of this Europe, which should not try to centralise but should leave room for the regionalisms and identities of all the peoples it embraces. I therefore want to underline the need to refocus on these identities in their own local areas, so that the great cultural heritage that unites all the peoples of Europe can be an example of democracy and especially of the great strength of our diversity in this our European identity.

 
  
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  Borghezio (NI).(IT) As the report states, it is necessary to arrive at a legal framework under international law for the right to cultural diversity. In addition – something that is very important from the point of view of the independence and regionalist movements such as the one I represent in this Parliament, the Lega Nord – the report quite rightly underlines the need for vigilance concerning the treatment of minority populations and languages, especially including indigenous languages, within the context of an enlarged Europe. With regard to the protection of the languages of minority populations, the Member States are invited, where appropriate, to pay particular attention to the conservation of monuments, buildings and everyday implements, which form the material history of these cultures. There is a need, however, for a much broader and more thorough measure to protect everything that makes up the immense cultural heritage of minority languages and peoples: literature, art, folklore, books and manuscripts, which are in danger of disappearing. Within Padania, for instance, there is an immense linguistic cultural heritage, ranging from Piedmontese to the Venetian language, as mentioned by Mr Gobbo, to Lombard, Ladin and a host of endangered minority languages. For them, it is vital that the devolution policy sponsored by the current Italian Government should be adopted.

 
  
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  O'Toole (PSE). Mr President, we are committed to safeguarding cultural diversity in the Union and to promoting a pluralistic media. However, we abstained on the proposals set out simply because we believe that they are largely inoperable and that other instruments can be used in order to achieve our objectives.

Overall, we concur with the rapporteur on the desirability of linguistic diversity, the definition of cultural goods as a public good, the desirability of public sector broadcasting and the undesirability of media concentration. However, paragraphs 23, 24, 26, 29, 31, 32 and 33 unnecessarily pre-empt the UNESCO conclusions to be drawn in 2005, let alone inhibiting, as they do, the room for manoeuvre on cultural areas in the negotiations in Cancun.

 
  
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  Gorostiaga Atxalandabaso (NI). Mr President, like the majority in this House I have voted in favour of the excellent report by Mrs Prets on this very sensitive issue. The problem is that whenever stateless nations of the European Union, such as the Basque country, try to implement approved guidelines, the French and Spanish authorities adopt a thoroughly contemptuous attitude.

Last week in Bayonne, people were ejected from a court of law and sprayed with tear gas because they had dared to speak in Basque and promote the use of the Basque language in public services. Members of this House will shortly receive full information on this regrettable incident.

I must point out that the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy, attached to this report, states that cooperation policy in the European Union is 'unthinkable without respect for and promotion of cultural diversity as an integral part of the identity of the political entities and communities involved.'

 
  
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  Cappato (NI), in writing. – (IT) The Radical Members voted against the report not only because it opposes the liberalisation of international trade and surrenders to cultural relativism, as well as protectionism, but also because it does not seem to understand the dangers of cultural and linguistic annihilation at the hands of nationalists and proponents of state control.

National policies that undermine linguistic diversity in the teaching of foreign languages – that is, the de facto obligation to learn just one foreign language, English – are dominant in both the European Union and the acceding countries. The European institutions themselves are often mono- or bilingual. The resolution lacks any reference to innovative solutions to communication requirements on a non-discriminatory basis, for instance by envisaging the use of neutral languages like the international language Esperanto. It also lacks any reference to the little protection afforded to the languages of indigenous populations and immigrants and to sign language.

Of the concrete proposals that have already found a certain consensus at an international level, I should like to mention the proposal by the Esperanto Radical Association for the Language Policy Observatory, which was also recently recommended by UNESCO’s 32nd General Conference. There is indeed a need for an up-to-date picture of language practices and legislation and of the use and recognition of minority languages within states.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) I broadly welcome this own-initiative report by the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport on preserving and encouraging cultural diversity, especially so during a fresh round of WTO talks.

Unesco therefore took the initiative, at its conference of 17 October 2003, to begin work on producing a draft Convention on cultural diversity, with the aim of creating an international legal instrument that will protect and promote cultural diversity. The report before us makes a positive contribution towards this aim, with a series of recommendations to Member States and the Commission regarding Unesco’s work, such as consolidating cultural rights, fostering the development of public cultural policies in each State and committing all the parties involved to international cooperation.

Among other points in the report, I welcome its reaffirmation of the principle of preserving and promoting cultural diversity and access to culture, as a contribution towards mutual understanding between people and towards peace. I endorse the report’s position that States have the right to define their own cultural policies. I also welcome the reaffirmation – as advocated by Unesco – that culture is not ‘merchandise’ and that it must be excluded from any process of liberalisation, be it multilateral or bilateral, as well as the reaffirmation of the role of public services.

I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Malmström, Paulsen and Olle Schmidt (ELDR), in writing. (SV) We fully share the view that cultural diversity should be recognised as a fundamental right, and we therefore choose to support Mrs Prets report on cultural diversity. The EU is, and must remain, a mosaic of minorities and cultures. As liberals, we always put the private individual at the centre of all political decisions. We therefore believe it to be of the greatest importance both to confirm in international law that every state or group of states has a legitimate right freely to decide what cultural policy they wish to pursue, and to strengthen the policy of international cooperation and solidarity on cultural issues. Linguistic diversity must also be retained within the EU.

We are, however, dubious about the idea of the EU being legally entitled to take measures within the area of culture and the media in order to preserve and promote cultural diversity. We do not therefore wish to support the EU’s developing a legal instrument for cultural diversity.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) The EU is doing a great deal in order to involve a young generation in projects intended to link European unity and ideas about progress. These projects may end up verging on being propaganda rather than education. In channelling money to cultural organisations that propagate 'the European idea' by pursuing a general European interest, the EU’s objective is to create a more uniform European elite. In the worst-case scenario, the EU will eventually evolve into a power centre, with the power ending up in the hands of a Europe-wide English-speaking elite, putting anyone who does not speak this language at home or has an insufficient command of it at a disadvantage at work, and in terms of their ability to participate, and have a say, in politics. Deviating national and regional customs are then treated as a form of handicap. That is why it is positive that we should now finally set to defending cultural diversity against commerce and centralistic governance. I completely share the view of Mrs Prets, the rapporteur, that cultural services and products, and certainly the diversity of opinions, are not consumer goods capable of simply being handed over to the market. I support her ambition to exclude everything that pertains to this from trade liberalisation by WTO/GATT and to have it protected by a convention to be concluded in the framework of UNESCO.

 
  
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  Patakis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) We agree with several points in the report at debate. For reasons of principle, we agree with the need to safeguard the right of cultural self-determination and the cultural diversity of the peoples of Europe and the whole world. The report partially formulates correctly certain of the causes of gradual cultural homogenisation and the commercialisation of culture (pressure from the WTO, internal rivalries both between the USA and the EU and within the ΕU itself, inability of UNESCO to play its role etc.).

Because we firmly believe in cultural diversity, as one of the last bastions defending the historic existence and continuing identity of peoples and as an historic necessity (as the report also recognises), we consider the proposed measures to be completely inadequate. The problem cannot be resolved within the framework of organisations such as UNESCO or the Council of Europe, let alone the ΕU. The only way to check and reverse this preplanned and culturally catastrophic advance is for the peoples to take the matter into their own hands, to fight against the logic and practices of the laws of the market dictated by imperialist globalisation and to demand respect for the values of their culture.

For these reasons, the Communist Party of Greece did not support the report and abstained from the final vote.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) As our rapporteur (and the draftsman of our opinion) so eloquently expressed, ‘preserving the cultural heritage as the common heritage of mankind is a central concern of our civil society, and the preservation and encouragement of cultural diversity helps to ensure peace, security, stability and development’.

This preservation requires specific actions. It was in this light that the Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity drawn up by Unesco, and the Council of Europe’s Declaration on Cultural Diversity appeared. These declarations succeeded in going beyond mere trade aspects of educational and cultural services and cultural goods, by encompassing specific objectives such as the development of viable local cultural industries and improving the worldwide distribution of cultural works. The respect for and protection of cultural diversity are of crucial importance, from the point of view not only of collective awareness, but also of hopefully sustainable development. Cultural diversity is, in turn, in harmony with the world around us and is something that each generation inherits and then passes down.

I believe that the EU must take a pro-active role in the discussion and emergence of new instruments at the next Unesco General Conference, capable of addressing the needs of a new world in which Europe must foster, with steadfast determination, the promotion of cultural diversity, make a contribution towards cultural dialogue and promote mutual understanding and respect.

 
  
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  Saint-Josse (EDD), in writing. (FR) As well as providing an excellent discussion of the importance and the richness of cultural diversity, the report expressly calls for the rule of unanimity to be applied. This is not a blocking tactic, a charge all too frequently levelled, but the best guarantee of obtaining the consent of States and of the citizens. Another reason for us to be satisfied is the most compelling case the report makes for the need for the principle of subsidiarity to be respected and for ‘the right for the Member State, the regions and sub-state entities where appropriate to define, implement and adapt cultural policies’ before emphasising that ‘services and cultural products and education are not merchandise… and must therefore be made subject to special conditions… [which] must take account of the fact that the market cannot be the measure of all things, and must guarantee in particular diversity of opinion and pluralism’. The Members of the Chasse-Pêche-Nature-Traditions delegation to the Group for a Europe of Democracies and Diversities have no alternative proposal. We support the concept of public service and reject the liberalisation of these sectors under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). It is regrettable and worrying that these guidelines should not have been extended to all services of general interest in the vote on the Herzog report, but we give our unreserved support to the resolution on preserving and promoting cultural diversity in association with UNESCO.

 
  
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  Turco (NI), in writing. – (IT) Following on from Mr Cappato’s explanation of vote, I must underline the importance of the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The OSCE promotes security in all ways other than direct armed intervention, and therefore makes every effort to promote respect for cultural and linguistic diversity. Two institutions operate within the OSCE to achieve this: the High Commissioner on National Minorities and the Representative on Freedom of the Media, who have continually been directing their attention to the subject of languages. Recently, at their meeting in Maastricht in December 2003, the foreign ministers of the OSCE countries adopted a decision on tolerance – Decision 4/03. Article 10 refers to the High Commissioner on National Minorities and his recommendations on education and languages, including in radio and television broadcasting. The decision also refers to the recommendations on this subject by the Representative on Freedom of the Media, the text of which can be found at www.osce.org. In 2002 and 2003 he carried out a thorough study on the media in multilingual societies, taking five countries as examples: Luxembourg, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova and Serbia-Montenegro.

On 13 and 14 September the OSCE is organising a conference on racism and xenophobia, to be held in Brussels, during which I hope the subject of linguistic diversity will be addressed.

 
  
  

Report: Swiebel (A5-0481/2003)

 
  
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  Bastos (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The 2002 annual report on equal opportunities is relevant to the EU’s objectives. We have noted, however, a number of shortcomings in the report.

As draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, I believe it is essential to take a two-pronged approach, with the aim of ensuring equal treatment and equal pay, and genuine political mainstreaming of gender issues. Given that the growth of employment, particularly of women, is directly linked to whether it is possible to combine work with family life, the employment strategy must include references to funding and setting up facilities to care for children and dependents, and access to paid parental leave. It must also include targeted support measures to assist women in returning to work after raising a family.

Every effort must be made to encompass areas as diverse as social security, training, enterprise initiatives, the inclusion of women in the decision-making process, extending working life, domestic violence and the trafficking of women.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The own-initiative report by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities rightly draws attention to important aspects of the framework strategy and to annual work programmes and reports on equal opportunities between men and women in the EU. These include the fact that the aims for the strategy have yet to be defined in measurable terms and that the annual reports do not manage to combine addressing the political aims that I have highlighted and a thorough analysis and evaluation of the current situation.

Although it contains certain aspects that I consider contradictory, I agree with the report when it highlights the lack of coherence between UN policy – as defined in the Beijing Platform for Action – and EU policy on equal opportunities. I also welcome the fact that it points out the lack of information with regard to the execution of a number of Community programmes, and when it expresses disappointment that the 2003 work programme, relating to priority actions, does no more than reiterate previous intentions. I also agree with the rapporteur when she underlines the need for a report summarising the 1995 Platform for Action in Member States, to be tabled before the end of this legislative period. Unfortunately, good intentions have not been translated into reality. In the neo-liberal offensive against workers’ rights, social rights and other social gains, the first to be affected are always women, who face unemployment and unequal pay.

 
  
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  Lulling (PPE-DE), in writing. (DE) The Commission is required to provide us with annual reports on the current situation as regards equal opportunities for women and men in the European Union. Today, we are to state our position on the annual report for 2002, a good practice that permits us to assess how things stand when it comes to implementing the fine European directives and programmes that are meant to guarantee equal treatment and equal opportunities to women and men.

We all know that, where this is concerned, not all that glisters is gold in the Member States or in the accession countries, and that this House should and must denounce this is not a matter of dispute. There are, however, some passages in this otherwise astonishingly sensible motion for a resolution from the Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities that have to be modified. Various Members of this House have objected to the requirement that Member States and accession countries should, by 2010 provide good and affordable childcare facilities for at least 90% of children between three years of age and school age and for 33% of children under the age of three. They wonder whether that is either desirable or realistic, that is to say, affordable.

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

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) On average, women in the EU earn 84% of what a man does, and the average unemployment rate for women in 2001 was 2.3% higher than for men. In the Explanatory Statement, the rapporteur demonstrates incisively that the many fine words about equal opportunities for men and women are, in practice, leading to little action, partly owing to a lack of measurable results. No clear objectives were set beforehand, and the assessment criteria laid down by the European Commission in its Framework Strategy for the period 2001-2005 do not reappear in its Annual Report for 2002. It is thus unclear what has been done or not been done, and what the results are. Furthermore, the Commission and the Council are working independently of each other. During the Finnish Presidency in late 1999, the Council established nine indicators with regard to women in responsible and decision-making jobs, to which were then added French indicators for the reconciliation of work and family life, Belgian indicators for unequal pay and Danish indicators for domestic violence against women. These are all nice things for ministers to tell their grass-roots support back home. No further mention of them is to be found in the annual reports, and the underlying documents remained confidential. It is a shame that the motion for a resolution adopted unanimously in the Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities lacks the firmness of the clear Explanatory Statement. I fear that, once again, little will change there.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) I feel that equality between men and women is of the utmost importance, and have always condemned sex discrimination.

I am forced, however, to disagree with the rapporteur’s position, which, rather than fight for equality, seeks to impose egalitarian extremism.

In order to make equality a reality it is not necessary to have the exact same number of men and women doing a particular job, it is much more important first to ensure that there is equal access to opportunities.

The egalitarianism in the report before us is an absurd imposition, which offers a superficial impression of equality and would only reflect true representation, if at all, by coincidence.

I do feel that many of the rapporteur’s ideas, in terms of EU law, could not be implemented in the EU, as they fall within the competences of Member States.

I nonetheless endorse some of the points made in this own-initiative report, which do not, in any case, pertain exclusively to equality between men and women. I agree, for example, with the rapporteur’s criticism of the lack of transparency of decisions made within the Council, which prevents Parliament and the citizens from making a proper evaluation of its activities and its decisions.

I voted against.

 
  
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  President. That concludes the explanations of vote.

(The sitting was suspended at 1.40 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR ONESTA
Vice-President(1)

 
  

(1) Approval of the Minutes of the previous sitting: see Minutes.

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