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Procedure : 2005/0251(AVC)
Document stages in plenary
Select a document :

Texts tabled :

A6-0250/2006

Debates :

PV 06/09/2006 - 16
CRE 06/09/2006 - 16

Votes :

PV 07/09/2006 - 7.1
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2006)0345

Verbatim report of proceedings
Thursday, 7 September 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

8. Explanations of vote
PV
  

– Report: Wallis (A6-0250/2006)

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) By acceding to the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the remit of which is to work towards ‘the progressive unification’ of the rules of international private law, Parliament is, for once, taking a realistic step towards the harmonisation of the rules of law specific to each Member State.

There are in fact two ways in which to achieve legislative harmonisation. The first, which is advocated by the fanatical Euro-federalists, consists in taking a binding approach to standardising the substantive rules of law of each of the 25 Member States; while the second, which fulfilled both the basic requirement for legal certainty and legal effectiveness, consists in standardising only the conflict-of-laws rules and rules of jurisdiction, that is to say, it consists in determining both the competent court and the national law applicable to a legal relationship. The Member States therefore keep their own legal rules, systems and traditions, but, as a result, the uncertainty that may arise from the application and the confrontation of national laws in different regions of the Union is greatly reduced.

That is why we are in favour of the report and of the accession of the European Community to the Hague Conference.

 
  
  

– Report: Belder (A6-0257/2006)

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI).(NL) Mr President, I have voted in favour of Mr Belder’s report, and would like to congratulate him on the work he has done. The attitude of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament is in fact an argument in itself in favour of voting to adopt this report, since they criticised what they saw as the excessive attention given in it to the human rights situation in China.

Be that as it may, the fact is that the situation in that country has certainly not improved over recent years, not even since the events that took place on Tienanmen Square, and it is clear to us that governments, businesses, and other bodies in the European Union are all too willing simply to do business with a Communist regime in China, without, however, any obligation to improve the human rights situation.

 
  
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  Jan Andersson, Ewa Hedkvist Petersen and Inger Segelström (PSE), in writing. (SV) We think it good that the European Parliament should be endeavouring to do more with regard to human rights in China. What, for us, are missing from the report, however, are the references to bilateral efforts and to trade that should be central to it. Because China is the EU’s second largest trading partner, efficient contacts are important.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) Mr Belder’s report is meant to be exhaustive in covering the range of violations committed by the People’s Republic of China, both in terms of its international trade commitments at the WTO (dumping in all its guises, counterfeiting and piracy, obstacles faced by China’s trade partners in accessing its market, etc) and of human rights. On this last point, the litany is very long: concentration camps (the Laogai camps), forced labour, the trafficking in organs of executed prisoners, religious persecution - particularly of the Catholic minority - Tibetan martyrs, and so on.

What is surprising is that the Belder report manages to lament these situations without ever mentioning the fact that China is a Communist country, a Marxist dictatorship, which lays claim to having had, in political terms, the most murderous ideology of the 20th century.

Even more surprising – but is it really surprising in this House? – is that the report does not conclude with a call for sanctions, nor even with a condemnation, but with the need for a free, competitive and transparent market in China! There is no doubt that, within the Europe that you have in store for us, money will always be more important than people.

 
  
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  Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) For the European Union, China is a very important trading partner. The EU and China have had a close trading relationship over the last decade. The report should be seen as a step towards improving social and environmental conditions in China. The June List believes that demands for improvements in these areas are a condition of long and sustainable trade cooperation.

I am thus voting in favour of the report as a whole.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Unsurprisingly, the majority in Parliament has adopted a resolution on EU-China relations, which, in its many paragraphs, barely contains any reference to bilateral relations, opting instead for a policy on China of blatant interference.

Among the many points worthy of comment, I should just like to highlight Parliament’s support for relegating EU-China relations to a position of secondary importance behind the framework of the ‘American initiative of starting a strategic dialogue with Europe on China’s rise – a central new element in the policy of the ‘new’ world towards the ‘old’’, encouraging ‘the European Union and its Member States to develop, together with the USA, a strategic consensus for dealing with China’.

Furthermore, it ‘is concerned about the development of inequality and unfair distribution of wealth, mass unemployment and uncontrolled urbanisation, the rising crime rate and corruption and not least the environmental problems of China’. These concerns reveal the hypocrisy on the part of people who, let us be honest, have no moral right to register those concerns; take, for example, the brutal anti-social onslaught led by the EU and the appalling social decay in the Member States.

Hence our vote against.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The issue of relations with China is one on which, at the very least, questions must be asked to those overseeing the external policy of the EU Member States.

On the one hand, this is a totalitarian State that shows no respect for human rights, nor the slightest concern for humanitarian issues, the environment, integrated development, promoting freedom or respect for the minimum values of the human race. It is also undeniably a significant economy that is growing all the time. Evidence also suggests that economic progress – to which the strengthening of EU-China relations has contributed – has produced the desired effect of the development of an urban middle class, which will hopefully, over the course of time, provide a boost for democracy.

Meanwhile, and this was a point that we proposed, the experience of Macau and Hong Kong, which the EU has followed closely, proves that it is possible to establish a better system than the one in place in mainland China.

Lastly, a word of regret for the attitude of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, which attempted to remove the report, in anticipation of a result that would not suit their interests. This is poor form.

 
  
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  Kathy Sinnott (IND/DEM), in writing. I oppose China’s one child policy and other human rights abuses. I do not support a one-China policy!

 
  
  

– Report: Fraga Estévez (A6-0219/2006)

 
  
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  Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have today voted in favour of the report on launching a debate on a Community approach towards eco-labelling schemes for fisheries products. We are in favour of the EU establishing common minimum rules for the eco-labelling of fisheries products and in favour of their complying with current international standards.

In direct contrast to the report, we think it good, however, for there to be various private labels and for all eco-labelling of fisheries products to be done by private actors. Nor do we share the rapporteur’s conviction that the common fisheries policy makes for the most environmentally friendly fishing. On the contrary, we are convinced that the common fisheries policy accounts in large part for overfishing and environmental problems.

 
  
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  Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Measures designed to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing are to be welcomed. However, I question the need for the EU to introduce centrally an eco-labelling scheme for fisheries products. The launch of a common EU eco-labelling scheme is in danger of creating superfluous bureaucracy and may limit the opportunities of companies, fisheries organisations and the Member States to produce their own eco-labelling schemes.

I am thus voting against this report.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As the debate has shown, the creation of eco-labelling for fisheries products raises important issues.

The rapporteur says that one kind of criterion could be based on objective factors such as scientific analysis, arising from the implementation of Community standards aimed at ensuring that all fisheries in the EU Member States are sustainable.

That being said, the introduction of other kinds of criteria such as more selective production methods, which would lead to the implementation of an a posteriori criterion. This would run counter to the principle that the effects on resources should be analysed on the basis of the decision on technical measures, and not afterwards.

There is also the introduction of criteria relating to food safety, which would raise the issue of the danger of fisheries products caught in the wild not being fit for human consumption. In which case labelling is not the issue. Such fisheries products must not under any circumstances be captured, let alone put on sale. This is what happens when it is believed that there is some form of marine pollution leading to a ban on fishing.

We therefore stand by what we said in our intervention.

 
  
  

– Situation in the Middle East (B6-0469/2006)

 
  
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  Marco Cappato (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should just like to point out that, while I supported the resolution on Lebanon, I have all too often heard people in this Chamber, including the High Representative, Mr Solana, use the terms ‘European Union’ and ‘European Union Member States’ as synonyms and say that the European Union is playing and has played an important role in the Lebanon crisis and also in sending UNIFIL troops. That is not the case: some Member States, some countries are playing a role.

The European Union has unfortunately given up using even those modest, feeble foreign policy tools that it could have used. The role that the European Union might play would be to offer the prospect of membership to countries on the other side of the Mediterranean: Turkey, Israel and also other democracies beyond the Mediterranean. The Member States’ policy on Israel and Palestine is, instead, a losing one.

 
  
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  Romano Maria La Russa (UEN).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, notwithstanding my complete approval of UNIFIL 2, I must express my reservations about the actual mobilisation of the countries of Europe: apart from Italy, France and Spain, they will confine themselves to providing a more or less symbolic contribution.

Europe’s appeals so far have been feeble; the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Mr Solana, called for a strong response from all the countries of the Union, but his words have faded away in the air over Brussels. Even if I wanted to gloss over the veiled pro-Palestinian slant that pervades the European institutions and which sometimes seems to slide into anti-Semitism, I should in any case have to stress yet again how incapable Europe is: through trying to be politically correct as usual, it has been unwilling to adopt a clear, precise position.

I wonder, however, how one can talk of equidistance.

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Adamos Adamou (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) For 34 days, the world watched a military operation by a super-equipped army which, thanks to the ministrations of the USA and the super-modern rockets which it sent right up to the end – flattened and invaded south Lebanon, killing hundreds of civilians, displacing a third of the population and putting the economy of the country back twenty years. Israel is guilty of a great many war crimes, as confirmed by the reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The arrest of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah was the pretext to apply a prepared plan. As Cypriots, we have our own particular experience of military intervention and reject the philosophy of sitting on the fence underpinning Parliament's motion for a resolution and any possibility of equating the victims with the perpetrators.

We support the embargo on consignments of military equipment to Israel, in order to interrupt the operation of this military machine and send the message that the international community disagrees with the genocide being perpetrated against the Palestinian and neighbouring peoples. We call for the creation in our region, including Israel, of a nuclear-free zone.

We need to condemn the policy of Israel towards Palestine outright and to decide to return immediately to the negotiating table with a view to quickly finding a final solution.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) It is appalling that Parliament has opted to take the view suggested by this report, namely putting Israel and Palestine – that is, the aggressor and the victim – on an equal footing, when what is required is clear condemnation of both the war crimes committed by Israel in Lebanon, and the attacks and the State terrorism that Israel continues to perpetrate in the Palestinian occupied territories, including Gaza. This is a bad start.

At a particularly complex and dangerous time, what the EU should be doing is, at least, to demand that Israel comply with the UN decisions as regards its occupation of the Palestinian territories, the immediate cessation of Israel’s operation of the occupied Palestinian territories, the immediate lifting of the Gaza blockade, that is to say, by reopening the border with Egypt and allowing the free movement of persons and goods, the return of the Golan Heights to Syria and the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon, the immediate release of elected Palestinian ministers and members of parliament, the opening of negotiations for the exchange of prisoners, the end of settlements, and, lastly, that Israel resume the return of Palestinian tax and customs revenue.

Lasting peace in the Middle East is dependent on respect for the rights of the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese people to their own sovereignty.

 
  
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  Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. In this debate on the situation in the Middle East, I want to remind Members that on 31 May 2005, Parliament voted through a resolution entitled ‘The Assyrian community and the situation in Iraqi prisons’.

I am afraid to have to report that the situation of Christians in Iraq, and the Assyrians in particular, continues to deteriorate. We have just learnt that Dr Donny George, Director of the Iraq Museum and one of the most high-profile Assyrians within the country, has fled to Syria with his family.

The outgoing United Kingdom ambassador, William Patey, has indicated that Iraq is already in an undeclared civil war.

What is to be done? We must get fully behind church leaders and the Save the Assyrians campaign, which I support and which supports me, in the campaign they are taking to northern Iraq later this month.

We in Europe and the United Nations need to press for this indigenous Iraqi community, like the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia, to have their own administration area within a united Iraq, as mentioned in the Iraqi constitution. Otherwise, the prospect is that the Middle East Christian community which, at one time, was 20% of the population, will be driven out completely.

 
  
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  Patrick Gaubert (PPE-DE), in writing.(FR) In my speech of 6 September in plenary, I appealed for a balanced assessment of the situation before, during and after the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, of its consequences for the populations concerned and of the future of that region.

The joint motion for a resolution does not seem to me to respond to this concern for balance in view, among other things, of recitals A and B, and of paragraphs 17, 20 and 25.

I therefore voted against this resolution.

 
  
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  Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The June List deeply regrets the current situation in Lebanon. In a war, it is always the defenceless and the innocent who have to pay the highest price. The conflict in Lebanon is a text-book example of the way in which violence begets violence, and we strongly repudiate all forms of violence perpetrated by both sides. The report as a whole contains many sound proposals and ideas, but we believe that the UN should be the body with the highest authority in this area. The report also touches on a sensitive foreign policy issue about which the Member States’ governments disagree. We believe that it is up to the government of each Member State to adopt a position on this issue. We believe that the issue as a whole is one for the UN and not for the EU.

The June List is therefore abstaining from voting.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Among other aspects worthy of criticism, by seeking to confuse the aggressor, Israel, and its crimes, with its victims, the Palestinian and Lebanese people and their legitimate resistance fight faced with aggression and occupation, Parliament has, once again, disgracefully, washed its hands of Israel’s responsibility for its crimes.

It also conflates UN Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559, emphasising that ‘the ultimate objective should be the disarmament of all militias, including Hezbollah’, and yet pays mere lip-service to Resolutions 242, 338, 426 and 520.

Nevertheless, given the overwhelming evidence of the serious developments in the Middle East, in the face of Israel's brutal aggression towards the Palestinian and Lebanese people and in particular, given the resolute, determined resistance of the people of these countries, Parliament recognises what has long been needed: ‘a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict is imperative for peace and security to be reinstated throughout the region, a 'global, sustainable and viable solution’ for the region based on ‘pertinent UN Security Council resolutions’.

 
  
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  David Martin (PSE), in writing. I welcome the European Parliament’s resolution on the Middle East. Progress towards a lasting peace in the Middle East will only be made when the mutual coexistence of an Israeli and Palestinian State, both with secure and recognised borders, is respected and endorsed by the international community. In light of this, I call on the EU to do everything possible to secure that conclusion.

Whilst the conflict persisted in Lebanon, international attention was ignoring the 250 air strikes, 1000 artillery shells, and more than 200 killings inflicted on the people of Gaza as well as, at the most recent count, around 300 Palestinian child prisoners being held captive in Israeli jails. I believe that there is no military solution to this crisis and that the EU should call on Israel to desist from offensive military action in the region and immediately release the Palestinian child prisoners arrested by the Israeli army.

 
  
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  Mary Lou McDonald (GUE/NGL), in writing. The humanitarian catastrophe witnessed in Lebanon, with hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, damage to vital infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of people displaced has not ended with the ceasefire. It is clear that a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essential to the peace and stability of the entire region.

Strong and positive leadership is required to bring the Middle East peace process back to the top of the international political agenda. The European Union can have a role tin providing some of this leadership, including through rethinking its approach on aid to Palestine and its relations with Hamas.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer Pleite, (GUE/NGL) in writing. (ES) We are giving our opinion today on a motion for a resolution on the crisis in the Middle East, demonstrating that, unlike the European Council, Parliament is reacting properly to the situation. I am voting in favour because this resolution includes certain elements that are crucial to strengthening the fragile truce between the Israeli Army and the Hezbollah militia. As the text indicates, only political dialogue can resolve this conflict, never military action.

Despite that, certain questions remain on the table, such as, for example, Israel’s impunity following the conflict. The EU should be brave and head the call for Israel to share in the costs of repairing the devastation caused by their bombing of infrastructures and civilian targets.

Particularly because the continuing occupation of, and aggression against, Palestine must not be forgotten, it is essential that there should be an International Conference on resolving the Middle East crisis. Such a conference would seek sanction measures against the State of Israel and its return to respect for international law and would clarify the Road Map aimed at resolving the conflict.

 
  
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  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The Greek Communist Party voted against the unacceptable joint motion signed by delegates from all the political parties.

It identifies with the ΕU stand which approved the 'new Middle East' NATO/USA plan, the consequence of which was the war against Lebanon, which it calls a 'conflict', thereby acquitting Israel.

Attempting to present the ΕU as impartial, it puts victims and perpetrators on an equal footing, implicating the resistance of the peoples against the imperialist policy of Israel and the USA.

It approves Resolution 1701, welcomes the despatch of European occupying forces and pushes for the disarmament of grassroots forces which heroically resisted the unfair, aggressive war. In this way it consents to the implementation of the imperialist plans. It ascribes responsibility to the Palestinians without condemning their genocide by Israel.

It does not refer to the recognition of the Palestinian government or to the release of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

It welcomes the occupying presence of the ΕU in the Middle East, which does not guarantee peace for the benefit of the peoples, but will fuel an escalation in the situation in a bid to implement the ΝΑΤΟ plan to control the area.

The political forces which signed bear huge responsibility towards the people and the grassroots forces and organisations which have been fighting for a great many years with rivers of blood.

In this fight, the Greek Communist Party expresses its solidarity, calling on the peoples to step up the fight against Euro-American imperialism.

 
  
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  Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) The agreement to send troops to the Lebanon betrays ignorance of the rules of engagement.

Although this House’s expression of support for the summoning of a peace conference for the Middle East is to be seen in a positive light, it is regrettable that its Members' vote in favour of sending troops to the Lebanon was on the basis of a mandate lacking in any clarity; they received no briefing or other information on UNIFIL’s rules of engagement, which are still secret.

This House’s resolution speaks in terms of welcoming a ‘strong mandate’ for the force to be sent to the Lebanon; it does not explicitly exclude the possibility of the disarming of Hezbollah being a task for UNIFIL soldiers, and hence also for soldiers from EU Member States. It is recklessly perverse to advocate military action of this kind, and the de facto effect of it is to give the green light to European troops being used to wage war in the Lebanon.

It is shameful that the war in the Lebanon is described in the European Parliament resolution as nothing more than an ‘overreaction’ on the part of Israel to attacks by Hezbollah, and this can be regarded as nothing other than cynical in view of the many civilian victims in the Lebanon.

There are evidently those who can never get enough of them, for, in the resolution, it is claimed that ‘the presence of a multinational force in Lebanon could be taken as an exemplary model to be followed in the negotiation process for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’. On the contrary, what is needed is a political solution rather than the sending of more and more troops.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Sometimes the only thing to talk about is peace. This is not the time for recrimination, confrontation or settling old scores. Peace in the Middle East can only be built between peoples, countries and States that are free and democratic, responsible for their own acts and capable of administering their own territory. Democracy, freedom and development are the best antidote to ideologies under which some unfortunate people become hostages to terrorism and extremism.

It is also necessary at this time to talk about security, without which peace cannot be established. Consequently, sending a significant military force with operational capacity to southern Lebanon is a solution that could change the course of events and that could help prevent a repetition of the attacks and the wars.

We are aware of the risks, however. Not everyone has the best intentions at heart, and not all regimes are inclined towards a conciliatory stance. This will not stand in the way of peace, but will simply stop people from being naïve.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) I endorse the compromise text on the Middle East. There is no military solution to the problems of that region. Not only the gross and deliberately indiscriminate use of force by Israel, in the shape of the bombardment of civilian targets, the use of illegal weapons, the large-scale destruction of civilian infrastructure and the serious damage done to the coastline, but also the indiscriminate rocket attacks mounted by Hisbollah, are deserving of our condemnation.

The Member States must prevent a renewed arms race in the region by strictly applying the EU code of conduct on weapons exports to all weapons supplied to it. Now that the USA’s policy in the area has proved a failure, it is vital that a new regional peace conference – a ‘Madrid II’ – be held in order to find a comprehensive, sustainable and attainable solution based on the right of the State of Israel to live within secure and recognised borders and on the right of the Palestinians to a viable state of their own, based on the occupied territories, with a great deal of attention given to security and disarmament.

The EU must revive dialogue with Syria and involve that country in the efforts towards peace, inter alia by signing the joint association agreement as a major step towards addressing human rights there in a more effective way.

 
  
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  Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) For 34 days, the world watched a military operation by a super-equipped army which, thanks to the ministrations of the USA and the super-modern rockets which it sent right up to the end – flattened and invaded south Lebanon, killing hundreds of civilians, displacing a third of the population and putting the economy of the country back twenty years. Israel is guilty of a great many war crimes, as confirmed by the reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The arrest of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah was the pretext to apply a prepared plan. As Cypriots, we have our own particular experience of military intervention and reject the philosophy of sitting on the fence underpinning Parliament's motion for a resolution and any possibility of equating the victims with the perpetrators.

We support the embargo on consignments of military equipment to Israel, in order to interrupt the operation of this military machine and send the message that the international community disagrees with the genocide being perpetrated against the Palestinian and neighbouring peoples. We call for the creation in our region, including Israel, of a nuclear-free zone.

We need to condemn the policy of Israel towards Palestine outright and to decide to return immediately to the negotiating table with a view to quickly finding a final solution.

 
  
  

– Forest fires and floods (B6-0460/2006)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the joint resolution tabled by six political groups on forest fires and floods. Firstly, I am pleased that, as well as fires, floods have been added to the initial text. Essentially, it is clear that, over time, the increasing scale of natural disasters and other disturbances affecting territories and populations sometimes overwhelm certain Member States' capacity to respond, and the European Union’s help is required. The fact is that the European Union does not seem to have enough involvement in the response to these crises, and I regret that the resolution does not clearly and more firmly support the idea of creating a European civil protection force. This would not mean recruiting officials responsible for civil protection, but having chief personnel at European level with the power to coordinate certain civil protection forces within the Union’s territory, and this, at the request of a Member State unable to tackle a specific situation.

 
  
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  Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have today voted against the joint resolution on forest fires.

We regret the large number of extensive forest fires and floods that have hit Europe. We believe that, in certain cases, the EU should provide financial aid to affected countries and regions when extreme natural disasters occur. Such aid must not, however, give rise to a situation in which forest fires lead to financial benefit.

We do not, however, believe that the fires and floods that recur each year in the same regions justify either common instruments for combating these events or common funding for compensating those affected. We believe, on the contrary, that the most important work on combating these fires and their causes should be done locally and nationally and also be initiated and funded at those levels.

 
  
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  Den Dover (PPE-DE), in writing. British Conservatives sympathise with the victims of the summer forest fires. However, this resolution does not sufficiently address the fact that most of these fires seem to have been deliberately started by arsonists. Even the Spanish Government’s own Environment Minister suggested that some of the fires could have been started by forestry workers angry at not being drafted over the summer by the regional firefighting brigades. It is imperative that individual Member States take more preventive action to stop these deliberate acts from re-occurring. For this reason, British Conservatives will not be supporting the joint motion.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted in favour of the report, but we are disappointed at the rejection of our proposal to call on the Commission to offer extraordinary Community financial assistance to Portugal, with a view to supporting recovery of the forest areas burnt in the Peneda-Gerês and Serras d’Aire e Candeeiros National Parks, on account of their incalculable ecological, landscape and economic interest.

We welcome, however, the fact that Parliament has once again called on the Commission to apply the European Solidarity Fund flexibly in order to facilitate its application in cases such as the tragedies arising from forest fire disasters. Forest fires do not only bring about huge losses, they also affect people’s way of life, especially in the less wealthy areas that have to confront the adverse effects on infrastructure, on economic potential, on jobs, on the natural and cultural heritage, on the environment and on tourism, which have a knock-on effect on economic and social cohesion.

We also welcome the emphasis on the need for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Forest Focus to channel their efforts into preventing forest fires in southern countries.

 
  
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  Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The June List welcomes international solidarity when a country is hit by forest fires or floods. We regret, however, that the EU institutions are trying to use tragic events of this kind to strengthen the EU’s influence over various policy areas. It is mainly the responsibility of the Member States to take measures to reduce the likelihood of, for example, fires breaking out. Resources can be coordinated and joint action taken outside the context of EU cooperation.

I am thus voting against this resolution.

 
  
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  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) Unfortunately, Mr President, the motion only contains a limited reference to the possibility of not reforesting privately-owned areas which qualify as forested areas. The reclassification of forests resulting in changed land uses, the legalisation of major infringements are, for Greece at least, the basic cause of the outbreaks of fire which are due in large part to arson.

These crimes are aided and abetted by policies of commercialisation, privatisation and exploitation of forested land for other activities, thereby sacrificing these important lungs of life at the altar of profit and seriously downgrading the environment.

In Greece, they are even proposing amending the relevant article of the Constitution protecting forests, or at least what is left of them, especially around large towns and developed tourist and residential areas, so that there are no obstacles to the implementation of this anti-grassroots, anti-environmental policy.

These criminal policies are being helped by inadequate resources and a lack of personnel, emphasising the political responsibilities of the EU and the governments and the inhumane and anti-environmental consequences of the policies they apply.

There is a serious and immediate need for compensation for the victims. However, there is an even more serious need for a different policy.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) We have just come back from our holidays. Normally we would be feeling refreshed and raring to go.

This year, however, we have returned impoverished, following the fires that have devastated forests, attacked houses and taken away human lives. We are tired of excuses and are feeling decidedly disillusioned.

This scenario of drought, hot summers and fires has been repeated, without fail, in recent years. It is not enough for us to settle for an accurate calculation of when crises will strike. Much more can and must be done.

The Member States are responsible for emergency management on their territory, and they must be held to account when they do not do everything in their power to prevent such disasters. I therefore condemn my government’s failure to carry out brushwood clearance, for which it is responsible in the Peneda-Gerês National Park. This failure is incomprehensible. This failure was incendiary.

I must express my sadness at the loss of human life in various fires in my country and other European countries. If we needed reasons to be more effective, the actions undertaken in our countries and the Union’s aid measures are intertwined with the loss of human life. We must be resolute in the fight against the fires, in the fight against the destruction of property and our forests, and in preserving the future.

 
  
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  Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. Mr President, I have reluctantly supported this resolution though do so having voted against the idea within it that a full blown delegation of the Parliament be sent to view fire damage in various places. I do not see that this is proportionate to the issues and that the funds likely to be used in this venture would be better used elsewhere.

 
  
  

– Doha Development Agenda (B6-0465/2006)

 
  
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  Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. It is a tragedy that this failed over agriculture when it is less than 5% of the GDP for the European Union and the United States and yet so vital for developing countries. While India has made the offer to end farm subsidies by 2013, the US seems hell-bent on increasing agricultural subsidies. We can only hope sanity returns to these negotiations so important and so vital for so many!

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) What comes through from the statements made by UNICE and Mr Mandelson is that those who stand to lose out the most from the suspension of WTO negotiations are the least developed countries. The statements gloss over the content of the Doha Agenda, which seeks to promote the liberalisation of goods and services, the central idea being that development is promoted by means of the free trade of any obstacle to the large multinationals and that there is a contradiction between multilateral and regional bilateral trade agreements. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The WTO is at the beck and call of the large multinationals, providing them with expanding markets, boosting their profits, giving them access to raw materials and paving the way for further exploitation of the capitalist periphery.

With the current restriction on market expansion and the increasing strength of the emerging powers, central rivalries intensify and it becomes more difficult blindly to accept the periphery. Furthermore, resistance has grown to the destructive policies of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO and to the multinationals’ all-consuming domination.

Hence the pressure at the negotiating table for the periphery to accept the Agenda, as happened with the Uruguay Round, which took eight years to conclude.

We therefore voted against.

 
  
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  David Martin (PSE), in writing. I hope this resolution on the suspension of the Doha Round will send a clear signal to the negotiating parties of this Parliament's ongoing commitment to multilateralism as a driver of global development.

It is true that countries do not come to the table as equals in international trade. This means we need to honour our Doha commitments to ‘less-than-full reciprocity’ in NAMA, to special and differential treatment and Aid for Trade for the poorest countries. It means especially that we cannot continue to allow agriculture, accountable for only 2% of our economy, to remain the stumbling block of these talks.

I hope that this period of stocktaking at the WTO will enable parties to reflect not only on how that organisation must change, but also on the merits of that organisation – a unique body in international law. Bilateralism – with its unequal terms – is a poor substitute for developing countries who will be forced to accept less favourable terms on market access and intellectual property rights. I voted for a renewed commitment to this WTO round, as an ambitious trade round but also as the development round it was originally intended to be.

 
  
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  Jean-Claude Martinez (NI), in writing. – (FR) At the Geneva summit in June 2006, Europe showed itself to be flexible until it submitted at the WTO trade negotiations. After having accepted, on 18 December 2005 in Hong Kong, our relinquishing our agricultural export refunds, from 2013 onwards, Mr Mandelson, our Commissioner and chief negotiator, made the magnificent gesture in Geneva of allowing an international agreement to be reached: the reduction of as much as 50% of the customs protection of our agricultural market.

Yet, Brazil, which has forthcoming presidential elections, and the United States, which has forthcoming Congressional elections, have not taken the slightest risk: for the United States to reduce its internal aid, and for Brazil to open its industrial market.

The negotiations will end up being resumed, but we already know that the Commission has yielded with regard to export subsidies and to the protection of our agriculture and our viticulture against the social dumping of third countries, in which multinationals manufacture goods without there being any labour law or social legislation.

The solution for 2007 and for breaking the deadlock is to have the imagination to invent flexible, refundable and discountable customs duties, that is to say, deductible customs duties.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Anyone who believes that trade is one of the driving forces behind economic development, and, no less importantly, bringing people from different countries together, must be bitterly disappointed at the July decision to suspend the Doha Round negotiations indefinitely. The fact that negotiations have reached an impasse is terrible news.

The issue at hand is not one of promoting the total, immediate opening up of all borders or immediately stopping all State aid. In economics, utopias tend to be dangerous and rash behaviour expensive. It is completely desirable, however, for world trade to open up and thus to allow the maximum amount of trade between the north and the south, between countries of the south, and between the most and least developed countries. This must be done in a fair and balanced way, and in such a way as to benefit the most competitive producers, the most hard-working exporters and, that no less important but oft-forgotten player, the consumer.

The EU must be equal to the task of moving forward, reaching a satisfactory agreement among its Member States and playing a leading role at the WTO. A world with freer trade is a freer world.

 
  
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  Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. Mr President, trade issues must be dealt with globally, where at all possible, and it is worth the effort of continuing if we presently cannot find agreement. The alternative is a morass of unequal bilateral deals which will in the main disadvantage the developing world, we are already seeing this trend worsening. Agreement will evidently take more time, though in the short term there are other weapons in our armoury. The "Aid for Trade" agenda provides a useful means of working towards effective development and I would like to see it progress, while of course hoping that the Commission will continue to press for substantive progress in the WTO itself.

 
  
  

– Counterfeiting of medicines (B6-0467/2006)

 
  
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  Brigitte Douay (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The French press has on several occasions over the last few months published reports on the damage that the counterfeiting of products and brands causes to the economy. This is the proof that this phenomenon, together with globalisation, is reaching very worrying proportions, of which the public authorities and the citizens are becoming increasingly aware. It is therefore estimated that 100 000 jobs have been lost in Europe as a result of the manufacture and placing on the market of counterfeit products.

Over and above the protection of intellectual property, however, there may also be tragic consequences where health is concerned. Such is the case with regard to the counterfeiting of medicines and vaccines, which endangers the lives of millions of people, particularly in developing countries, and above all in Africa.

Consumer protection is an important duty of the European Union. The Union must therefore harmonise and enhance its legislation aimed at fighting this scourge, which is reaching worrying proportions. It must also help to enhance legislation in third countries.

It was therefore with great interest that I voted in favour of the resolution on the counterfeiting of medicines.

 
  
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  David Martin (PSE), in writing. I had no problems in supporting this resolution. The counterfeiting of medicines is the most serious and most amoral form of counterfeiting given that it endangers the health of millions of consumers. This problem is particularly prevalent in developing countries where medicines without essential active ingredients are circulating (in some countries as high as 50% of the medicines available) and are being used to treat fatal conditions such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.

There is no reason why counterfeiting of medicines and their distribution within or across borders should not constitute a criminal offence in international law. I and my colleagues would like to see greater coordination of national and transnational bodies involved in the fight against piracy. I also support the EU taking a leading role in strengthening the regulatory and quality-control capacity for medicinal products and medical equipment placed on the market in resource-poor countries.

I would call on the authorities and pharmaceutical companies to continue to guarantee the origin and quality of medicines available, recognising the utmost importance of fighting this dangerous form of piracy.

 
  
  

– European contract law (B6-0464/2006)

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Mr President, a rather contradictory approach can be observed today in this House. On the one hand, we have a report, by Mrs Wallis, which proposes that we join the Hague Conference in order to unify the conflict-of-laws rules, and that seems an excellent approach to me. On the other hand, we have this tendency to want to unify the substantive rule of European contract law. I believe that the first approach is the right one, while the second approach is far more questionable.

As regards European contract law, it seems to me that it should simply be decided, for example, that the applicable law shall be the one chosen by the parties and, if they have not chosen an applicable law, that the applicable law shall be the one established in the place in which the contract was concluded and, finally, if the contract was concluded between parties located in different places, that the law applicable to the contract shall be the one established in the place in which the contract is enforced. The wording of this very simple rule simply needs to meet the legitimate need for legal certainty without necessarily having to unify in a rather arbitrary and authoritarian way the national law of each of the Member States.

 
  
  

– Report: in 't Veld (A6-0252/2006)

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Air carriers that operate passenger flights to the USA supply US security agencies with personal data contained in Passenger Name Records (PNR), at the request of the authorities, on the pretext of the so-called 'war on terror'. Included in these data are 34 categories of information, for example: hotel and travel bookings, telephone numbers, email addresses, private and work addresses, favourite foods, numbers of credit cards, and many others.

Parliament has ruled that this agreement between the EU and the USA is illegal. It criticised the lack of legal clarity and its excessiveness as regards safeguarding the citizens’ rights, freedoms and guarantees and personal data protection enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court of Justice backed Parliament’s view as regards the legal basis, overturning the Council’s decision, with effect from 1 October 2006.

This is another unacceptable situation that must end, as it undermines rights, freedoms and guarantees, and forms part of the current trend towards securitarianism. It also means that the USA’s sovereignty takes precedence over that of the individual Member States, given that according to the agreement, current and future legislation of the United States in this field would be applicable.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) An agreement between the EU and the USA on the use of passenger name records is urgently required, in light of the impending legal vacuum from 1 October 2006. We must ensure, therefore, that we are clear about the principles we bring to the negotiating table.

The protection of our citizens’ fundamental rights is without question the backbone of any negotiation in this area. Yet we cannot ignore that the world is a terrifying place in which the prevention and fight against terrorism is an increasingly important value and objective.

Whilst globalisation has opened up new worlds and new trade and enabled the citizens to explore new territories, it has also enabled new monsters to show their claws. Terrorism and organised crime being examples of this.

There are measures that must be taken quickly, based on clear, precise principles, to protect our citizens from any attack on their lives, their property and their fundamental rights. I am therefore in no doubt that these are the same principles that will guide our partners at the negotiating table and that the agreement will be negotiated with a view to protecting our citizens.

 
  
  

– Report: Sifunakis (A6-0260/2006)

 
  
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  Bernadette Bourzai (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I should like to pay tribute to the outstanding work of my colleague, Mr Sifunakis, regarding the protection of the European natural, architectural and cultural heritage in rural and island regions.

As the elected representative of a rural region in which the natural heritage is protected, the architectural heritage is ancient and the cultural heritage is rich, I appreciate the importance of this report.

I also believe that the multifaceted character and strong identity of the heritage of our rural and island regions is what sets them apart and makes them rich.

I fully endorse the report’s recommendations in relation to the measures aimed at suitably protecting, rehabilitating and promoting small traditional communities.

The necessary resources must be harnessed both from the Structural Funds and from the appropriations earmarked for the environment and the national allocations.

All European initiatives such as the ‘European Union Cultural Heritage Prize’ and the ‘European Heritage Days’ must be encouraged and made more widely known in order to promote the diversity and richness of Europe’s heritage, as a factor of social cohesion.

Furthermore, I believe that more importance should be attached to preserving and passing on the regional languages, dialects and patois of our rural and island regions, as these are also part of our heritage.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (PSE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Sifunakis on the protection of the European natural, architectural and cultural heritage in rural and island regions, because I believe that cultural heritage should be strengthened and incorporated fully into the EU’s policies and financial resources, through the use, for example, of the Structural Funds.

Given that rural areas cover some 90% of the territory of enlarged Europe and constitute a precious reservoir of natural life and cultural capital, it is vital that we invest more in the development of local economies, so as to reverse the trend of dwindling rural populations, encourage and support ‘alternative, sustainable tourism’, and safeguard local know-how and traditional professions.

 
  
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  Emanuel Jardim Fernandes (PSE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Sifunakis (Socialist Group in the European Parliament, Greece) on the protection of the European natural, architectural and cultural heritage in rural and island regions, because I believe that the historical and cultural heritage of rural island regions should make a substantial contribution towards enhancing the social and economic development of these regions.

I also believe that the positive aspect of this report lies in the promotion of the concept of sustainable development, capable of striking a vital balance between local communities and the environment, and in the integrated attitude that it proposes for traditional farming areas. As regards the civic participation of civil society, I feel it is important to highlight the emphasis that Mr Sifunakis places on the need to involve local people in preparing and implementing policies, some of which are in the report, as follows: a systematic study of the cultural heritage and the creation of a legal framework for its protection; funding to restore local monuments and traditional farming methods; comprehensive restoration of traditional habitats and traditional forms of architecture; and know-how and traditional professions passed down through the generations.

Accordingly, my vote in favour is based on its quality. I therefore wish to congratulate Mr Sifunakis.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Although the report contains some contradictions and one or two points to which we do not subscribe, we voted for the final resolution, because we feel it is important to support the protection and preservation of cultural heritage via the Structural Funds and the existing Community initiatives such as LEADER +, URBAN II and INTERREG III, which are set to be integrated into the new financial instruments of the CAP in the next budgetary period (2007-2013).

We also welcome the idea of calling on the Commission to adopt measures to facilitate greater accessibility and to encourage small companies, traditional crafts and trades and local traditions and customs, by a large-scale campaign to promote villages and communities within the Member States, so as to contribute decisively to developing the local economy and to containing the rural exodus.

The Commission and the Member States are also called upon to cooperate with the Council of Europe with a view to further promoting traditional communities and the architectural heritage in rural and island areas as part of the 'European Cultural Heritage Days' initiative so as to make the European public more aware of the value of local and regional cultural identities.

 
  
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  Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The June List believes that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, it is the Member States, regions and local authorities that can and must protect natural, architectural and cultural heritage.

We decidedly reject the artificial creation of a common EU cultural heritage at EU level. The idea of creating a legal framework at EU level for protecting cultural heritage in rural regions is unrealistic. This is something that must be done at Member State level.

As always, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education has embarked on flights of fancy in its report. Paragraph 21 of the draft report proposes systematic action in favour of small, traditional communities along the lines of the cultural capitals system. This would add new costs to the EU’s budget.

Paragraph 24 of the draft report proposes efforts to establish a European Cultural Heritage Year. The European Parliament often proposes dedicating particular years to one topic or another. To arrange all of these, however, would in practice be impossible.

I am voting against the report as a whole.

 
  
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  Sérgio Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I wish to congratulate Mr Sifunakis on his important and timely report on the protection of the European natural and architectural heritage in Europe’s rural and island regions, to which I lend my backing. I especially welcome reference to the need for the EU to take joint measures to protect the heritage, which includes both the architectural and natural heritage of the regions, marked by people’s way of life over the course of time.

The conservation of the numerous elements of cultural heritage provides a foundation for further social and economic development and thereby enhances environmental protection, employment opportunities and European integration, and helps to prevent abandonment and dwindling populations.

 
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