Full text 
Verbatim report of proceedings
Tuesday, 22 February 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

8. Explanations of vote

- Report: Bösch (A6-0013/2005)


  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) Switzerland is a pocket-sized European Union, entirely surrounded by the EU but itself divided up into 23 states which each have major autonomy and can, consequently, pursue their own tax policies. That has so far prevented the conclusion of agreements in the area of direct taxes between the EU and Switzerland as a whole. The separate Swiss cantons are in this respect not unlike Liechtenstein or other small tax havens where postbox firms are based. Zug and Schwyz, in particular, offer services of this kind. The responses to my written questions have shown that the former Commissioner Bolkestein preferred to ignore this and wanted to continue to do business with Switzerland as a whole.

As long as those further steps cannot be taken, it is useful that agreements be made in the areas of VAT, smuggling, corruption and money-laundering practices. It is also important that banking secrecy can no longer be quoted as a reason for turning down investigation requests from other countries, and that direct contacts with legal bodies become possible instead of having to take the route of diplomatic representation. The rapporteur is right in stating that further steps are required, but it is unfortunate that he fails to mention the most pressing one.


- Report: Di Pietro (A6-0020/2005)


  Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I endorse the report by Mr Di Pietro, which supports and seeks to strengthen the Commission’s initiative aimed at making improvements of a technical nature to the legislation relating to the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record, and suggests practical ways of remedying the shortcomings in the current systems, which are based on the 1959 Council of Europe Convention.

This is undoubtedly an urgently needed measure, because it has been demonstrated on a number of occasions that the system is not working properly.

It is therefore essential that a computerised system be set up whereby such information can be exchanged between Member States and accessed rapidly throughout EU territory. This is a further step towards genuinely effective, independent and transparent criminal justice.

I also endorse his proposals regarding shorter time limits, given that the proposal’s effectiveness will depend on speed of access and of updating information, and regarding the need to impose conditions on access to personal data, because a balance must always be maintained between the need for speed in this type of exchange of information and the need to safeguard and protect personal data.


  Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) In a Europe characterised by free movement and free trade, security must be shared. Without prejudice to the various Member States fully exercising their sovereignty, it is widely acknowledged nowadays that different countries must work together to fight crime. In addition to traditional forms of crime, there is now crime which does not respect national borders and which operates wherever it is most advantageous to do so. As such, when the law of one Member State is broken, the security of all Member States is put in jeopardy.

Accordingly, I broadly agree with the content of this report, and therefore voted in favour.


- Report: Costa (A6-0036/2005)


  Andersson, Hedh, Hedkvist Petersen, Segelström and Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) We, Mrs Segelström, Mr Andersson, Mrs Hedh, Mrs Hedkvist Petersen and Mrs Westlund voted in favour of the report but wish now to indicate our differing position on one issue.

We cannot support paragraph 1 f, indent 2, which recommends to the Council that it go some way towards harmonising national legislation governing the gathering and assessment of evidence. The principle of the free sifting of evidence is basic to the Swedish criminal law of procedure. Quite a few other Member States have rules to the effect that certain evidence is not permitted. It is thus extremely important to us Swedish Social Democrats that our national system be kept intact. What is more, it is doubtful whether there is any legal basis at all, be it in current treaties or in the forthcoming Constitution, for harmonisation in this respect.


  Goudin, Lundgren and Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Strengthening mutual trust in decisions by European courts by setting up an evaluation system may appear commendable, even if there now already exists a common framework of reference for the Member States in terms of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and the case law of the European Court of Justice, which lays down minimum standards governing the right to trial by the courts.

The proposal is, however, one more example of the creeping extension of the EU’s competences and constitutes a stage in the attempt to create a harmonised European system of criminal law and of laws relating to judicial procedure – a legal system that, in practice, will be outside people’s direct control.

To recommend, moreover, before the draft Constitution has come into force, that use be made of provisions of the Constitution on the grounds that current treaties do not go far enough is unacceptable, as it flagrantly pre-empts the democratic process.

The June List is therefore voting against this report.


  Moraes (PSE), in writing. I voted for this report because it makes important steps forward in addressing a key issue deemed important by EU citizens, namely the need for some monitoring of the quality of criminal justice as it is implemented in Member States. This in no way imposes changes on the way each Member State conducts its criminal justice system. It does, however, take a step forward in ensuring that important matters such as the effective dealing with criminal gangs, or the way EU citizens may serve their sentence in their own Member State, can be progressed. EU citizens expect some degree of mutual trust between Member States and a view on the quality of criminal justice, particularly in relation to some new Member States working to improve their criminal justice systems.


  Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Justice is, with good reason, one of the areas that Member States traditionally keep within the sphere of their own sovereignty. This is particularly true of criminal justice, which should reflect a society’s concerns in light of its present and its past.

Similarly, Member States are hesitant to allow their nationals, and even mere residents in their countries, to be tried by other Member States.

Nevertheless, we now have the phenomenon of global crime, which is of a cross-border nature, such as terrorism, drug-trafficking, smuggling, sexual exploitation and pornography. This calls for cooperation in order to ensure that crime is tackled effectively, and harmonisation in order to prevent certain countries from becoming destinations for criminals.

These various factors highlight the need for cooperation, for recognition of legal decisions and for some harmonisation, without overlooking the fact that legal systems must reflect the situation in different societies. A single European legal system is therefore not desirable. A European standard of justice, on the other hand, which fully respected the particular nature of the judicial system, would be desirable.

Consequently, I feel that a vote in favour of this report is justified.


  Thomsen (PSE), in writing. (DA) The Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament have today voted in favour of Mr Costa’s report on the quality of criminal justice and the harmonisation of criminal law in the Member States (A6-0036/2005). We are, however, aware of the fact that the proposal concerns an area covered by Title IV of the Treaty establishing the European Community and does not, therefore, apply to Denmark, cf. the Protocol on Denmark’s Position.


- Report: Prets (A6-0017/2005)


  Carlshamre and Malmström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) We completely support the view that cultural diversity is a fundamental right. The EU is, and must remain, a mosaic of minorities and cultures. As Liberals, we always put the individual at the centre of all political decisions. We therefore believe that it is of the greatest importance to strengthen the policy of international cooperation and solidarity with respect to cultural issues and to establish in international law that every city, state or group of states is entitled freely to determine its cultural policy. We therefore believe that the issue of capitals of culture is not an issue in which the EU should become involved. The matter of cultural capitals is one that individual cities and states should cooperate on and decide about without the EU’s interference. In view of this, we choose to vote against Mrs Prets’s report (A6-0017/2005) - the ‘European Capital of Culture’ event for the years 2005 to 2019.


  Goudin, Lundgren and Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) We are well disposed to its being possible from 2009 to choose two cultural capitals at a time. The report’s explanatory statement notes, however, that how this project is to be funded is unclear, and reference is made to the forthcoming financial perspective for 2007-2013.

We cannot, as matters stand, support something entailing financial commitments in the forthcoming financial perspective. In this situation, there is no reason for hurrying through a decision concerning future cultural capitals. Firstly, the financial perspective for 2007-2013 must be debated in its entirety. Subsequently, this report can come up for debate.

The idea of a European capital of culture is a good one. It is so good, even, that it can be funded in a host of other ways, for example through local sponsorship. Financial resources from the European Union should not be necessary to enable this project to survive.

We are therefore voting against this report in itself, but are not opposed to the actual idea of the action.


  Le Pen, Marine (NI), in writing. (FR) The ‘European Capitals of Culture’ programme was launched in 1985 with the aim of bringing European citizens closer together.

The programme seeks to highlight the wide diversity of European culture, while at the same time there is the supreme contradiction of pursuing a European policy of economic, social, political and cultural uniformity.

This programme is just an entertaining expression of your desire to impose a cultural and social model on the European people that they have not chosen themselves. You want to manufacture a European feeling purely to benefit trade.

As culture is a powerful channel for education, the European Union not only favours anything that can brainwash and demean mankind, but also anything that encourages people to forget the timeless religious values that are the foundations for our membership of European civilisation.

In addition to this policy, there is now another problem, as Europe enlarges and moves further away from its main founders. In the future, will your attitude mean that Istanbul will have to be chosen as the Capital of European Culture? This clearly shows the danger of this European construction, which, by forgetting its past, is preparing a difficult future for us.


- Report: Evans (A6-0024/2005)


  Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) If we wish to defend a capitalist-style economic model, which stimulates effort, rewards merit and recognises efficiency, we need to have an efficient and effective system of monitoring compliance with competition regulations. Without competition there is no market, without a market there is no capitalist model and without a capitalist model there is no economic success and development, as history clearly demonstrates.

Consequently, the Community’s role in regulating competition is of major importance. Without prejudice to the economic need, or, in some senses, the geographically or sectorally localised need, to safeguard certain activities, in general defending competition is, above all, a matter of protecting the interests of consumers, who do not usually have unions, employers’ federations or other movements to look after their legitimate interests.

I therefore believe that we must applaud and endorse attempts to defend competition, even though we may from time to time disagree with some of the Commission’s decisions.

I therefore voted in favour of this report.


  Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) I want to see a more proactive competition policy, but do not want to see supranationalism or competition policy’s forming part of the Constitution. I therefore chose to abstain, which is the corrected vote following errors in the Minutes.


- Report: in't Veld (A6-0034/2005)


  Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen.

Regulating the financing of services of general interest without defining those services, or even the general framework applying to them, is incoherent. Regulating it while leaving it up to the Member States to define for themselves what they consider to be services of general interest amounts to leaving it up to the Court of Justice to harmonise the definitions and replace the legislator. Basing the regulation on an assessment in purely financial and competition-related terms is a negation of general interest. Making the financing of public health or social housing subject to the authorisation of technocrats is immoral. In short, we are not happy with anything in the texts before us today.

They are entirely in line with the policy of the Eurocrats, in collusion with the governments. Previously, it was about competition between all network public services, electricity, postal services, etc., destroying State monopolies and imposing privatisation. In the future, the Bolkenstein directive, a local version of GATS, will allow social dumping in services to be introduced into our countries.

Because we reject this vision, which will be worsened by the European Constitution, and because, although we agree that we need to put an end to some blatant abuses, we nevertheless defend the legitimacy of certain public services, we will vote against this report.


  Goudin, Lundgren and Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The June List is well disposed towards the implementation of the internal market and supports both common rules concerning subsidies to services of general interest and demands for fair tendering, including where services of general interest are concerned. Aid for public activity should, as a matter of principle, also be accounted for and be easily accessible.

The only exception to this rule is in the event of a Member State’s having chosen only to make the service available through a monopoly and of its not intending to permit private actors at all (for example, in the event of a Member State’s only permitting public health care).

The June List believes, however, that responsibility should mainly lie at Member State level. If it emerges that one Member State or another is abusing its position and distorting competition, it is important for the party that may have been treated unfairly to be able to have its case examined by the courts. The June List has therefore chosen to vote against the proposal that the details should be reported to the Commission.


  Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I congratulate the rapporteur. I should like to highlight the proposed amendment to Article 1 of the Commission’s draft decision, on the application of Article 86 of the Treaty establishing the European Community. I would be in favour, however, of extending the range of beneficiaries to cover the outermost regions.

In this connection, I recall that the Commission’s communications entitled ‘A stronger partnership for the outermost regions’ and ‘A stronger partnership for the outermost regions: assessment and perspectives’ provided for the introduction of simplified rules for awarding public service contracts in the area of maritime transport serving small islands, with a volume of fewer than 100 000 passengers a year.

I also wish to point out that in the outermost regions the liberalisation of services and use of infrastructures were made conditional on the introduction of public service obligations, in order to offset the handicaps due to the physical and other characteristics of the outermost regions. I should also like to highlight that there are other services of general economic interest of importance to the outermost regions, such as postal services and telecommunications.

Hence the importance to the outermost regions of these two Commission documents. I therefore feel that the unique situation of these regions must be taken into account in those legal instruments.


  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) Without funding and planning by national, regional and local authorities, we would not have proper public transport, or generally accessible education and health care. The idea of an authority withdrawing and admitting free competition is pernicious to such vital activities. If that happens, there will undoubtedly be small privileged groups who consider that they have more freedom of choice and their individual needs are better catered for, but the large majority, and society as a whole, will be worse off.

This report defends the neo-liberal vision, and even wants to set down an interpretation of the Altmark ruling about the possibility of the underhand assignation of concessions in public transport. The Commission and Parliament have waited for this legal judgment for years, because there was an abundance of contradicting interpretations about authorities’ provision of services, about funding and competition. There is now a legal judgment that leaves intact local authorities’ right to offer public transport. The Commission intends to table an amended proposal following on from my proposals adopted by this House on 14 November 2001. I reject neo-liberal interpretations that stand in the way of this.


  Skinner (PSE), in writing. Although some very good ideas were expressed, it was particularly important for the European Parliamentary Labour Party that the impact on social housing and health services was taken into account. This is why it was very important for the Purvis compromises to be included in the various articles mentioned during the vote.


  Wagenknecht (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) The Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left rejects the report, as it does not stand up to the pressure emanating from the Commission to privatise services of general interest, but, if anything, intensifies that pressure in parts. It is made even more difficult for municipalities, regions and Member States to offer the services to the public that they are often legally required to provide. Public undertakings will have to compete even more with global operators in the field of service provision. From the public’s point of view, the provision of public services will further deteriorate: the market functions according to neither social yardsticks nor need, but simply lucrative demand.

We are particularly critical of the fact that compensation for services of general economic interest will continue fundamentally to be treated as ‘state aid’ and will therefore still come under the state aid regime. In addition, only a few public undertakings will continue to receive compensation in any case.

The report also strengthens the Commission proposal as regards hospitals and social housing. Instead of extending the exemptions provided for, to cover at least care services, education, culture and the public media, bureaucratic procedures are now being called for across the board. The report totally fails to mention those employed in undertakings providing services of general interest and the general interests of social welfare, such as the protection of the weaker members of society.

For the big service providers, privatisation initiatives in the field of services of general interest mean profitable business. Anyone helping them to achieve those objectives should be conscious of what they are doing.


- Report: Goebbels (A6-0026/2005)


  Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen.

Mass unemployment, lack of growth, repeated budget deficits, the explosion of public debt, stifling taxation, relocations ... unfortunately everyone is aware of our sad economic situation. Your recipes for dealing with these problems are always the same.

According to you, the reason that everything is going badly is that there is not enough European standardisation. Not enough competition between the European economies, not enough competition in services, not enough openness to global competition, with no regard for whether or not it is fair, not enough immigration of qualified workers, too much social protection. Overloaded bureaucracy? That is purely a national problem. Your regulations, which are unconsolidated, dense, sometimes incoherent if not absurd, are not responsible! But the monetary policy, which is causing an over-valuation of the euro and draining our economies? It is perfect. Neither Brussels nor Frankfurt could get it wrong.

We think, however, that the Europe of Brussels is getting it wrong. Despite 20 years of standardisation, and Europe entering into global free trade, our problems are only getting worse. And the reason for that is precisely this policy, your policy.


  Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) Sometimes, one is forced, as an MEP, to make a choice between two bad alternatives and choose the least bad. In this case, I voted in favour of Amendments 9 and 22, although I did not agree with everything they said. In spite of everything, they were better than the original wordings and would thus, if accepted, improve the report as a whole.


- Report: Karas (A6-0025/2005)


  Andersson, Hedh, Hedkvist Petersen, Segelström and Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) We have voted in favour of the report on public finances in EMU – 2004 and also in favour of Amendment 7 about distinguishing between loans for investments and current expenditure. It is our view, however, that the ability to provide loans for public investments and thus exceed the ceiling for budget deficits should be reserved for those countries that fulfil the national debt criterion.


  President. That concludes the explanations of vote.

(The sitting was suspended at 1.15 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.)



Legal notice - Privacy policy