Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 14 March 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Reprimand of a Member
 3. Berlin Declaration (debate)
 4. European Council meeting (8-9 March 2007) (debate)
 5. Voting time
  5.1. Statistics on migration and international protection (vote)
  5.2. Number and numerical strength of the interparliamentary delegations (vote)
  5.3. European Aviation Safety Agency (vote)
  5.4. Marketing of the meat of bovine animals aged 12 months or less (vote)
  5.5. Ratification of the ILO's 2006 Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention (vote)
  5.6. Social services of general interest (vote)
  5.7. EC-US Air Transport Agreement (vote)
  5.8. Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament (vote)
 6. Explanations of vote
 7. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 8. Approval of Minutes of previous sitting: see Minutes
 9. Euro-Mediterranean relations - Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (debate)
 10. Bosnia-Herzegovina (debate)
 11. Future of European aircraft construction (debate)
 12. Council Question Time
 13. Appointments to interparliamentary delegations (proposal by the Conference of Presidents): see Minutes
 14. Hepatitis C (written statement): see Minutes
 15. Reform of EU trade policy instruments (debate)
 16. Compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights (debate)
 17. Negotiation of an EU-Central America Association Agreement - Negotiation of an EU-Andean Community Association Agreement (debate)
 18. Missing persons in Cyprus (debate)
 19. Agenda for next sitting: see Minutes
 20. Closure of sitting



1. Opening of the sitting

(The sitting was opened at 9 a.m.)


2. Reprimand of a Member

  President. I should like to start by making an announcement. The House will remember the publication issued by our fellow Member Mr Giertych bearing the parliamentary logo, which provoked reactions throughout the world. I looked into the matter as soon as I heard about it. On 1 March, the Bureau of Parliament unanimously condemned the contents of a certain section of this pamphlet. I have instituted the procedure pursuant to Rules 9 and 147 of our Rules of Procedure. This procedure provides for the imposition of a penalty; subject, however, to a hearing of the party concerned. I attempted to reach Mr Giertych immediately, but was unable to do so as there was no one at his office for a few days. We then established e-mail contact, however, in order to prove – including for our sake – that we had endeavoured to make contact. Mr Giertych has been away from Brussels for the last week, so it was not until yesterday that I was able to have the discussion pursuant to Rule 147 with him in the presence of the Secretary-General of the European Parliament.

The second part of my notification was transmitted to Mr Giertych at 7.30 p.m. yesterday via several technical channels. I shall shortly be presenting my conclusion on this to the House. At 8.30 a.m. today, this notification was transmitted also to the Bureau of Parliament, the Group Chairmen and the bodies of which Mr Giertych is a member – that is, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Delegation for relations with the United States.

I shall now present to the House the second part of the contents of my letter to Mr Giertych, which relates to yesterday’s discussion with him:

‘On this occasion, I deeply regretted what is objectively a serious breach of the fundamental rights, and, in particular, the dignity of human beings, to which our institution so strongly adheres. On this basis, I have decided, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Rule 147, that a reprimand should be imposed on you, which is the first of the measures referred to in the aforementioned rule. The plenary, together with the other relevant political bodies of the House, will be duly informed once you are notified of this penalty. During my presidency, I intend to safeguard both the freedom of expression and the standard of conduct of Members, as well as the honour of this House. As I declared on 13 February 2007 in my inaugural address to the plenary, tolerance and respect for others are important European values, which are at the centre of my political priorities and to which the European Parliament is deeply committed. I trust you will understand that the European Parliament, which thrives on lively political debate and unfailingly condemns all forms of xenophobia, should under no circumstances be associated with the views published in your brochure.’



3. Berlin Declaration (debate)

  President. The next item is the statements by the Council and the Commission on the Berlin Declaration.

I should just like to start by making a brief statement myself, as requested by the Chairman and coordinators of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs.

The Declaration on the future of Europe to be adopted on 25 March 2007 in Berlin could represent an important milestone on the road to a stronger, forward-looking Europe. The Conference of Presidents has instructed me to represent the European Parliament in the negotiations on the Berlin Declaration. Whilst doing so, I have been exchanging views intensively with, and continually informing, the Bureau of Parliament, the Group Chairmen and, in particular, the Chairman and coordinators of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. In addition, I am having my third meeting with the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the coordinators today to discuss these issues.

The aim of today’s plenary debate is to discuss the issue with all the Members of this House, and also with the Council and the Commission. It is also very important that I take away from today’s debate some suggestions and comments for the coming talks with the German Presidency.

The Berlin Declaration, which is still being negotiated, is to consist of four chapters. The first of these is to pay tribute briefly to the achievements since 1957, with particular mention of the key achievements of peace, prosperity and stability, the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in the course of enlargement, and the ending of the division of the continent.

The second chapter is to be dedicated to the main features of European integration and cooperation: equal rights and obligations in the Member States, and also transparency and subsidiarity as fundamental elements of the Community method.

The third chapter will be of crucial importance as regards the core values on which European integration is founded. It should be emphasised in particular that human beings, whose dignity is inviolable, are central to all policy-making. I emphasised this also during the discussions over dinner last Thursday evening at the Summit of Heads of State or Government. Human beings are the beginning and end of politics. The principle of solidarity should also feature prominently: this is an essential element of European integration and, from the current perspective, represents a current challenge also in the field of energy.

Finally, the fourth chapter is to set out the challenges for the future, such as energy policy, the fight against climate change, the common foreign and security policy, internal security, civil rights and the preservation – by means of greater economic success – of a societal outlook characterised by social responsibility.

With regard to the Berlin Declaration and the subsequent discussion on the future of the Constitutional Treaty, Parliament must leave no doubt in anybody’s mind that the European Parliament supports the Constitutional Treaty. We want to see the substance of the Constitutional Treaty, including the section on values, become a legal and political reality.


I should like to conclude by emphasising that the Berlin Summit is not merely a gathering of governments, as was the case 50 years ago, but a conference at which both the European Parliament and the Commission will participate. All three institutions will be represented by their Presidents, who will sign the Declaration on the future of the Union and each make a speech.

The achievements of the last 50 years have been exceptional; but, 50 years on, Europe needs a new departure. Together we must summon up the courage and will to meet the challenges of the 21st century.



  Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure and a great honour to address you today for the first time as representative of the Presidency at the plenary session of the European Parliament.

As the President has pointed out, on 25 March, the European Union will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. This is a special day, a day on which we should pause for a few hours in our day-to-day political business to look back at the story of European integration – a unique success story, in my opinion – and also to look forward and ask ourselves how we Europeans can find answers to the pressing issues of our time.

We can be proud of what the people of Europe have achieved in the past 50 years, and so 25 March should be a day of confidence, above all. The European Parliament has made a vital contribution to shaping the process of European integration. Many successes would not have been possible without the persistence and commitment of the Members of the European Parliament in standing up for more integration, for more democracy and transparency within the EU.

Our Presidency supports constructive cooperation with the European Parliament based on trust. Thus far, Parliament has supported us to the best of its ability, and for this I should like to express my most particular thanks at this point. This support also applies to the preparations for the Berlin Declaration to be adopted on 25 March as a joint declaration by the three European institutions: the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Parliament and the Commission have made a committed, active contribution to drawing up this Declaration from the outset.

I am obliged to the President and all the Members of this House for the confidence you have shown in the Presidency in this important matter. I am also obliged to you for endorsing the procedure we suggested: I know from my talks and discussions in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Affairs how hard it has been for some of you to do so. I really am, then, most grateful for your confidence in the procedure.

Our Presidency has resolved to strengthen public confidence in and support for Europe. To this end, we need dialogue, and to this end we have been listening very carefully to the public in recent weeks and months. We invited citizens selected at random to what proved to be highly successful national conferences in Berlin, with the aim of learning what they hope for from the EU. As I see it, one thing is clear: if we want to win people over to Europe, we must give specific examples showing how they stand to benefit from European integration. We must work to ensure that the EU takes up the challenges of the future, and we must offer convincing solutions.

As the President has just pointed out, the European Council on 8 and 9 March showed that the EU is capable of action even with 27 Member States, including in the fields in which the public particularly expects it to; for example energy and the fight against climate change. The success of the Spring Summit gives us confidence as we continue our Presidency. We wish to take advantage of this tailwind for the Berlin Declaration, too. The Summit rightly sent out the message that, if we Europeans find the strength to act together, we can actively shape the future.

At the dinner for the Heads of State or Government on 8 March – which Commission President Barroso and you, Mr President, also attended – Chancellor Merkel described our ideas, as developed in the course of detailed discussions with representatives of Parliament, the Commission and the national governments. The text of the Declaration is yet to be finalised, of course, and I can assure you that what I have heard in today’s debate here will of course be included in our deliberations on the final version.

As I have already told the committees, we want the text of our Declaration marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome to be brief and coherent, using language accessible to citizens. What should the key points be? We want to start the Declaration by paying tribute to the common achievements of the past 50 years in Europe; which include, of course, peace, stability, prosperity and the ending of the division of the continent. These would not have been possible were it not for the desire for freedom of the people of Central and Eastern Europe, to which we should like to pay tribute specifically in the Declaration.


As I see it, the successes of European integration also include the forms and principles of our cooperation in Europe: democracy and the rule of law, equality of rights and obligations in the Member States, transparency and subsidiarity. These principles are a model for regional cooperation in other parts of the world – in this, too, we can take a little pride. The subsequent part of the Declaration will contain a joint declaration of commitment to the key values: human dignity, freedom and responsibility, mutual solidarity, diversity, and tolerance and respect in our dealings with each other. After all, we know that the EU is more than just a common economic space. It is also a community of values, and this basis in common values, possibly along with a common outlook on life, is an important precondition for Europe’s remaining capable of action as a political entity.

The challenges that we in Europe will have to take up and overcome together in the 21st century will of course lie at the heart of the Declaration. These include energy and the fight against climate change, they include a functioning common foreign and security policy, and they also, of course, entail our countering the threats posed by terrorism and organised crime effectively without restricting human and civil rights in the process. Of course, these also entail our finding common solutions to deal with illegal immigration.

One message strikes me as particularly important, however, if we wish to reinforce the confidence of the people of Europe once again: Europe stands for a social model that marries economic competitiveness with social and environmental responsibility. Freedom to conduct a business and worker rights and participation are equally part of the European experience. The EU has a social side, and we feel that the European social dimension, too, should be highlighted in the Declaration. The European Heads of State or Government made an express declaration of commitment to this also in last Friday’s conclusions.

We all know that the EU must continue its process of reform and renewal. In some two years’ time, the next elections to the European Parliament will be taking place, and the electorate is entitled to know what instruments and means of action the EU will have at its disposal. Consequently, we should like to see the Declaration include a common commitment to working on the necessary preconditions for this.

Allow me to say a few words by way of conclusion. The 50th anniversary represents an opportunity for us all to build up strength for the challenges that lie ahead. On this day, let us emphasise the things that unify us. Let us take advantage of the symbolism of this day to send out a signal of unity. Our Presidency’s motto is ‘Europe – succeeding together’. The people of Europe expect European politicians to show the will, courage and resolve to act together.

This is the spirit in which we intend to proceed to the second half of our Presidency; and for this I ask your continued support.



  Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, President-in-Office, honourable Members, the meeting in Berlin on 25 March is an important occasion. Fifty years of European integration is certainly worth a celebration. It is an occasion to highlight all that unites us and to emphasise our common values and principles.

But we can make it even more important by looking forward as much as we look back. This is an opportunity to put forward our shared objectives and ambitions, to underline our mutual respect and solidarity, and to reiterate our determination to build a better and stronger Union for the benefit of all Europeans.

That is why the Commission took the initiative in May last year to suggest an Interinstitutional Declaration on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome. The German Presidency has been working hard to find a text which meets a number of different goals. We all agree that the text should be short and accessible, and that it should be an easy read with a shelf-life of more than a few days or weeks. We all agree that it should celebrate the achievements of 50 years of European integration, but also look ahead to inspire Europeans for the future. We all want to see reflected in the text what it is that makes Europe special for us, in what we value and in how we work. This is not an easy task, but we are in excellent hands with Chancellor Merkel, Foreign Minister Steinmeier and their competent staff.

I think that the decision to directly involve both the European Parliament and the European Commission has proved fully justified. The discussions that we have had between the Parliament and the Commission and with civil society representatives have provided valuable food for thought that can contribute to the overall reflection and to the essential work of the Presidency. The bilateral discussions and the exchange at the European Council last week have pointed to a broad consensus on the purpose, scope and flavour of the Declaration. The end result will be a truly European commitment to move forward.

Much of the discussion in these final days will be centring on how to give the right flavour to the text on the Union’s future ambitions. In January President Barroso set out in this House our thinking on some key points. Last week’s European Council should give us renewed confidence that we need not be shy. We can be both ambitious and credible. The European Union can and will continue to be a motor for positive change in Europe and across the world.

We believe that the text should be concrete without being too specific. It should reflect the genius of the European Union in striking the right balance between the general and the particular, the common and the individual. We promote growth and economic development within a strong social framework. We enhance security and we promote individual rights. We work hard to support the interests of Europeans, but with a keen sense of responsibility to the global community, as Minister Steinmeier also just explained. This is sometimes misunderstood as recipe for a lowest-common-denominator Europe. This is wrong. It is rather a practical recognition of the fact that in a complex, fast-moving world we have to be light on our feet and we have to find new solutions to deep-seated challenges. This is exactly what we are now doing on climate change and energy.

It is also important to give a sense that the European Union is defined not only by what Europe does, but how the Union works. Democracy, transparency and accountability are important guiding principles for the Union of today. It would be an important signal for the Member States and the institutions to underline the Union’s commitment to a democratic way of working.

The Berlin meeting comes exactly half way through the German Presidency and represents an important stepping stone on the path to a relaunch of the treaty review to strengthen the institutions of the European Union. It follows an exceptionally successful European Council meeting last week, a European Council which has proven doomsayers wrong and has demonstrated that a European Union of 27 is just as strong and bold as its earlier incarnations. Enlargement has added purpose and dynamism to our work and I am convinced that it can continue to do so.

As we look ahead, the June European Council will provide the other key test. Can we agree an outline on the way forward for the constitutional and institutional debate? Last week’s work will certainly help. It has surely helped to put to rest the myth that the European Union is in some way obsessed with navel-gazing and detached from citizens’ real concerns. The message should come out loud and clear that, if we are concerned about our institutions, it is because we want them to work well so that we can deliver on our citizens’ expectations and meet high standards of democracy.

To conclude, I believe we are on track for a Declaration in Berlin on 25 March which meets the goals sketched out by the Commission last May, endorsed by the European Council and backed by this House. It will bring a momentum and urgency to the efforts to settle the constitutional and institutional debate. It will mobilise the efforts of all-round core priorities, it will show a European Union united in its commitment to meet the aspirations of our citizens and to bring to the future work of the Union the same dynamism and achievement that we have enjoyed for 50 years of the European adventure.



  Jo Leinen (PSE), Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. – (DE) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Madam Vice-President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs has discussed the Berlin Declaration three times. We have sent you a written copy of the results for your negotiations with the German Presidency.

I believe it is quite possible to reach agreement on three of the five chapters. The successes and achievements of the past speak for themselves. The EU is a major project for peace, a major project for freedom and a recipe for prosperity and security for citizens – and this should be expressed in the Declaration.

It should also be easy to agree on our values; after all, they are laid down in the Constitutional Treaty. Besides the classic values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, we consider solidarity and equality particularly important. In this connection, the Berlin Declaration should not talk of a ‘European way of life’, but of the European social model, which we wish to retain and continue applying in future. This particular model of individual freedom coupled with collective security is the specific aspect that defines the social models in Europe.

I think that the challenges for the future are also obvious. These have been mentioned, and there is no need to specify them all. We are confronted with a handful of huge problems of significance; and indeed an excellent response was given at last week’s Summit to the issue of climate change.

It is more difficult when it comes to describing the EU’s distinguishing features. In this regard, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the European Parliament would like to see the Berlin Declaration contain a declaration of commitment to the Community method. The Community method distinguishes the EU from all other international organisations, as it gives Parliament, the directly elected representative body of 500 million citizens, the same right of codecision as the Council of Ministers whenever we make laws, standards or rules for the people of our Member States. We should like the Community method to become the standard method, including in the second and third pillars, so that laws are no longer made by governments without the involvement of the citizens’ representative body.

The litmus test of the Berlin Declaration will be the fifth part of government commitments. This part will show whether everything that has been set down in writing previously was meant seriously, and the public will be paying particular attention to this. I believe that we need an affirmation that the previous Treaties are insufficient, and that the EU needs a new basis, putting new means at its disposal. We must declare our commitment to the new Treaty. Anything less than this global compromise would be insufficient.

The Council President showed courage at last week’s Summit on climate change. I hope she will show the same courage when it comes to the Berlin Declaration, as this courage in March will pay off at the Summit in June. I wish the German Presidency every success.



  Joseph Daul, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group.(FR) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Madam Vice-President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, ever since it was formed, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats has always advocated a more integrated, more united Europe. We have always worked to strengthen Europe and to create a political, ambitious Europe. What has always united us is the safeguarding of values and the promotion of freedoms, not least the freedom to do business, to work and to benefit from the fruits of one’s work, as well as the guarantee of security.

The Treaty of Rome is the foundation for the European structure. It is what has ensured that war between our countries is from now on not only impossible, but also unthinkable. For me, as a child, war was simply a reality. I am pleased and proud that, in our part of the world, and because we wanted it to be so, war has become an abstract concept. As I say to our young people, nothing is ever won forever, just as nothing is ever lost forever.

However, we are not all equal where this success is concerned. While all the nations of Europe fought for freedom, peace and prosperity, a number of them had to endure 50 years of dictatorship, loss of freedom and insecurity under the yoke of Communism. The countries of central and eastern Europe did not rest until they had bridged this artificial gap, their aim being to re-integrate their birth families and to allow Europe finally to operate at full strength.

I should like to pay an admiring and affectionate tribute in this House to the nations and citizens of these countries. Without them, without the 1956, 1968 and 1980 revolutions, Europe would never have been able to experience that ‘velvet revolution’ of the end of the 1980s. And the Berlin Wall would no doubt still be the disgrace of our continent.

We should also remember that the year 2007 marks not only the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, but also the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Without the help of the Americans, without their decisive commitment to help Europeans, the Schuman Declaration and the Treaty of Rome would have encountered further obstacles. The last 50 years have been a success, and this story has had a happy ending with the reunification of the continent. Nevertheless, I believe that, if we so wish, this century can also be a largely European century. As the foundation of the European Union, the Treaty of Rome is history’s most successful undertaking in terms of encouraging people to live together. Our continent has thus become a place not of division, but of similarities and reconciliations.

Indeed, the European Union involves more than just the export of goods and services. It also conveys our values. We act as a stabilising force. Was it not the prospect of closer cooperation that led to peace being restored in South-East Europe? The next 50 years will, however, be full of fresh challenges for all our countries. We are not starting from scratch, far from it.

The first condition of success is to restore our confidence, to be aware of our strengths and to draw on our resources. The second condition of success, in an unstable, globalised world, is to be realistic, to make firm, enthusiastic efforts to adapt and to do so without delay. However, adapting does not mean grovelling and giving up on who we are. Reforming does not mean grovelling and letting ourselves be deprived of our identity. Europeans have a highly developed sense of human dignity and of respect for the individual. Moreover, with the social market economy, Europe is presenting an idea for organising society that is very far removed from the ‘every man for himself’ approach and from the excesses of a consumer society.

The decision adopted during last week’s European Council is to set common and ambitious objectives in the field of energy and climate change.

The current context is characterised by five key challenges: demographics, globalisation, multipolarity, energy and global warming, without forgetting the fight against terrorism. In a globalised world in which new focal points are emerging rapidly – I am thinking of Asia, and also of Brazil – Europe must react by means of economic and social reforms. Europe must make the most of its history and develop its social model. In an uncertain world, in which terrorism has become an everyday reality, Europe must show both firmness and determination; it cannot be held hostage by terror.

Ladies and gentlemen, those are the values that we are handing down after 50 years of European integration. Those are the challenges that we have to address from a fresh perspective. As far as we, the PPE-DE Group, are concerned, it is only by having faith in their abilities to create and adapt that future generations will be able to develop and thrive in this new world. Our role is modest, admittedly, but it is demanding too. In this period of transition, let us avoid standstills, let us take the right path and, together, let us lay solid foundations. A task such as this requires not only clear thinking, but also political courage.



  Martin Schulz, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we do not yet know the text of the Berlin Declaration, and so it makes sense to discuss not the text, but the context of this Declaration. Listening to the speeches by the President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner Wallström and even Mr Daul or Mr Leinen, we can all tell that a degree of uncertainty surrounds this text, as expectations of it are very high. Why is this the case? Why are so many expectations vested in a text that may just be one among many? The answer is quite simple: because we all have the feeling that we are at a crossroads. European integration may continue as successfully as it has in the last 50 years, or we may take a different path leading away from European integration and into an uncertain future of renationalisation and the risks this entails.

We all have a feeling of uncertainty, and so this Berlin Declaration needs to do something that may be possible with a very short text, namely send out a message of hope, that what we have tackled successfully in the last 50 years will continue to be possible in future. One thing is certain, however, and that is that we shall no longer be able to content ourselves with describing the successes of the last 50 years. That is regrettable but true. I shall illustrate why I think this is regrettable with reference to the words of Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg. In his acceptance speech for the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen, he said that Adolf Hitler was as remote to his children as William II was to him. This is the danger. As history marches on, the risks increasingly fade: the risks of intolerance, hatred, ethnic exclusion, all the dangers of territorial aspirations that we believed had been overcome but have not been – they are all still there. They are even here in this House: those propagandists of this demon. Nevertheless, we must ask ourselves why the younger generation is not fighting as enthusiastically for the integration responsible for overcoming this hatred as is Joseph Daul. The reason is that it is history.

If we want to prevent history repeating itself we must say to the younger generation, in particular, that these are our achievements, and it is all right to make the demands they are making of us and to take peace for granted – but we need new methods if we are to guarantee it over the long term. Guaranteeing it over the long term will mean protecting the earth’s climate. If ever more areas of this earth become uninhabitable, there will be ever increasing migration flows, which will increasingly destabilise peace. In the past, securing peace meant integration. In the future, securing peace will mean reversing climate change. Social stability entails young people being safe in the knowledge that they have a real chance of finding decent work with a decent income, enabling them to live a decent life. The members of the younger generation are like the older in that they do not entertain hopes of becoming millionaires. Whilst that is a nice dream, what people really want is to be able to marry or cohabit in a long-term relationship and have children in the knowledge that they will grow up in peace and have social prospects as we do. They want Europe to offer them this in our globalised world.

There is a third thing they want, and that is education and qualifications, as we all know that whereas, in the past, securing a decent pension and decent health insurance were seen as essentials in life that needed to be safeguarded, the access to education and qualifications will take on this role in the future. If Europe wants to become the most competitive knowledge-based continent, it cannot succeed in this without well-educated people who undergo lifelong learning. Thus, education and qualifications become the building blocks of a secure social future. This means that what integration – territorial and geographic, economic and social – has been in the last 50 years, climate change, education, qualifications and decent work must be in the next 50. This can be summed up in a short text. The shorter and more concise the text, the easier it will be to convey the message. The success of the last 50 years came about in its own way; the success of the next 50 will require new methods. If, supported by the desire for integration of 27 countries, we succeed in expressing this in the Declaration, we shall be taking the right direction at the crossroads at which we are now standing.



  Graham Watson, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, a significant birthday is always a good occasion to take stock. Fifty years ago at the signing of the Treaty of Rome, what was in the minds of Europeans? Well, hope, undoubtedly; optimism, perhaps; but the certainty of success – far from it. And yet the European Union is at the base of the security, prosperity and opportunity which our people now enjoy.

We live in a Europe of freedom and security, of prosperity and opportunity and of societies and economies more open than ever before. Our generation has aspired to, and achieved, more than our parents could ever have dreamt of. But the Berlin Declaration must reflect less our pride in the past, more our determination for the future.

President-in-Office, the process is depressingly opaque. Everybody likes a surprise on their birthday, but to debate a declaration without even a draft is bizarre! You hinted at what it might contain, President-in-Office. You assure us that the spin doctors in the Bundeskanzleramt are still hard at work, and yet the chance to debate the text will be limited at best, so do not be surprised if many of us feel we are being bounced.

We want a declaration that looks ahead to the challenges we face, that gives us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the values, the aims, the future of the European Union – one which will bring our citizens back on board the European project at a time when more than ever our nations must act together.

An enlarged and open Europe needs greater solidarity between its nations and its citizens; economic reform, as recognised at the European Council; and a wider mission to project our values in the world. Faced with the global challenges of world population growth and migration, of climate change, of internationally-organised crime and terrorism, the Declaration gives Member States the opportunity to explain to citizens why now, more than ever, the EU is so important, why we have to engage with countries beyond our borders and cultures beyond our ken.

Europeans should not be afraid of this. What has made Europe strong is its openness. A retreat into fortress Europe, the anachronistic idea of nation states and protected economies, or Christian fundamentalism, would only catapult us back in time: a time when Europeans had only one citizenship, only one national identity.

Our advice to the German Presidency is: keep it short and simple – the kind of text one might nail on to the door of a church in Wittenberg. Or if the Chancellor is too busy to go that far, at least on the Wittenbergplatz!

I hear that the draft is currently running to two pages. If that is true, it is already one page too long. My Liberal and Democrat colleagues in the Committee of the Regions have produced a one-page mission statement for the European Union, which I commend to you. Nine points says all that needs to be said: that European integration has been a success and that we must continue.



  Cristiana Muscardini, on behalf of the UEN Group. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, on 9 May 1950, in his historic declaration to the press in the Salon de l’Horloge in Paris, Robert Schuman said: ‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity’.

The fifty years since the signing of the treaties have witnessed many achievements and common policies. Political Europe is lacking, however, despite the ever more evident need to create it, whilst respecting the national States. Without a foreign and defence policy the Union will remain weakened: its negotiating power in international relations does not correspond to the size and importance of our economy. Today, our first objective remains the relaunch of the debate for a new treaty – for the new treaty – without forgetting the refusal by two founding States and the ratification achieved by the majority of the Member States.

A Union of 27 cannot operate with rules that were already restricting for the Fifteen. We must improve the legislative function, resolve the gridlock on decision-making and the excessive complexity of the laws, and clarify roles. In addition, the issue of our values and their historical and cultural roots, from Greco-Roman history to Judeo-Christian traditions, to the establishment of the secular and liberal State, must be re-examined and reaffirmed. Guarantees for the future can only grow from dialogue between cultures, but in order to dialogue with others we must first know and recognise ourselves.

The future of Europe cannot escape the realisation that the present is different from that of fifty years ago. The problem of immigration, particularly illegal immigration, reaches dangerous limits and has changed the face of our cities. The presence of different cultures requires that we make additional efforts to ensure dialogue and to demand respect for the rules. A common policy is needed, together with willingness on the part of the Member States to guarantee borders, internal order and respect for human rights. The problem of immigration must be tackled in the context of democracy and legality, in respect of human dignity and with common rules: without the recognition of human dignity there is no true civilisation.

Another aspect of our future is that of mutual respect for trade rules. Problems of forgery and dumping, the question of origin marking and mutual respect for the rules are issues that must be tackled and resolved decisively, if we want to prevent an unfair market from destroying the Union’s production sectors and doing long-term damage to emerging or developing countries also, with disastrous consequences in terms of unemployment and social policies.

The liberalisation of world trade must go hand in hand with the guarantee that welfare policies, acquired by European workers, will be maintained and may be applied gradually but inevitably even in those countries that lack them today.

‘The contribution that an organised and living Europe can bring to civilisation is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations’, Schuman declared in 1950, saying: ‘world peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers that threaten it’. The threat of terrorism, fed by jihadist fundamentalism, hangs over the whole world: more than ever, our efforts must be courageous and creative.


  Daniel Cohn-Bendit, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Madam Vice-President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, I do not know the basis for your confidence, Mr President-in-Office, but I do know that it is possible to talk of confidence without having any. We are discussing Europe’s successes, yes, but, if we talk about wealth and stability, we must also talk about poverty – which does exist in Europe. I have heard nothing about that so far today.

Also, when we talk about the rule of law, we must also talk about those citizens who have no rights in Europe. This is often forgotten, and I shall come back to it. On the subject of confidence in the procedure, well, I belong to the political group of those who have no confidence in the procedure. Secretiveness does not square with dialogue and democratic openness – it is impossible. I tell you: I do not believe in these sherpas, or in confessionals, or in all these antics, as it must ultimately be revealed to the public where the contradictions between individuals in Europe lie.

We have seen it with the French referendum; we have seen it in the Netherlands. If we do not carry the European people with us – that is, hold public discussions about problem areas – they will not come on board. I tell you: the text should be short and simple, but without being banal. That is the danger of your strategy: the banality that will result from it. This is my advice. You have talked about the climate, so be bold about it. Formulate the objectives quite clearly so we can understand them. The objectives are as follows. A climate target of no more than two degrees of warming must be included for the next 50 years, as must a more efficient use of resources – not just energy but also water, paper, copper and aluminium – and, in 50 years’ time, the EU should be generating 100% of its energy from renewable sources. These are objectives that would make people say: Aha! You really have plans. I am eager to see what is in your text.

Furthermore, when you talk about the climate, you must say that we need a stability pact. We must enable the Commission to intervene when countries fail to abide by the rules – as with the Stability and Growth Pact for the single currency. Binding targets without sanctions do not exist even in my educational theory – and that is really liberal. These are the only way of ensuring compliance.

There was one thing that made me wince, Mr President-in-Office. You said that one of the points was the fight against illegal immigration. Before saying a word about the 50 million legal immigrants living in Europe, who need the same rights as all Europeans, you went straight to the illegal immigrants. That is Europe’s problem – we do not recognise these people, we always subsume them under the heading ‘illegal’. Do not think that this is a minor problem. There is a small European country that is so proud of the French Revolution, yet one of the leading presidential candidates has just proposed the creation of a ministry for immigration and national identity. That is the danger threatening Europe, namely our viewing immigrants as a threat to our European identity. You are shaking your head – but rather than just travelling to ministries, you should listen to the discussions on this subject in Europe’s cafés and bars for once. That is where the people of Europe are to be found. We are wrong if we only ever speak about illegal immigration rather than about the people who can be integrated into European life. I winced at this, as I thought, ‘Oh là là, what is he going to say now?’

I should like to conclude by making one thing quite clear. Let us take pride in the fundamental values we have set down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This includes taking pride in those values: freedom of sexual orientation, freedom for minorities, freedom for human beings. These are the things I want to see in the Berlin Declaration, rather than some reference to God or anyone else who does not concern us here.



  Francis Wurtz, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (FR) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Madam Vice-President of the Commission, the fact that the Union has decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its construction is not only normal, in my opinion, but may also prove useful, since we are seizing this opportunity to look clearly at the progress made and are learning inevitably contradictory lessons from this experience. On the other hand, if this anniversary were to take the form of a simple celebration of a jubilee designed to extol all the decisions that governed the EU’s construction and to glorify all of its results, without distinction, then, as far as historical analyses are concerned, it would be of very little importance and, in terms of political effectiveness, it would be a complete waste of time.

Well, all the signs are that the famous Berlin Declaration, in the spirit of its initiators, opts for the latter, starting with the method used to draft it: where there should have been a consultation that was largely open to the citizens, it was decided that leaders would debate more or less behind closed doors. In my view, this is a mistake. A second element concerns the very substance of the declaration. It would seem, in actual fact, that what is in store for us is a very general text, focusing on an inevitably brilliant and exemplary review of 50 years of European integration, on naturally very generous common values and on inevitably ambitious objectives, particularly in the social sphere.

Do you really believe that the reality experienced by our fellow citizens is as flawless as that? For my part, I firmly believe that no debate whatsoever on Europe will have a real impact today if it is not accompanied by a good dose of criticism regarding the causes of the crisis of confidence that has been raging for some years now in virtually all circles of public opinion and throughout the European institutions.

It is no longer just my group that is finding this. It is eminent political officials involved in overseeing the Union’s affairs who, in private or in small groups, recognise that a problem exists, between Europe as it is developing today and Europeans. The last such person to recognise this was none other than your colleague, Mr President, the President-in-Office of the ECOFIN Council, Mr Steinbrück, who recently referred to the risk – I quote – ‘of a crisis of legitimacy of the European economic and social model’, and he is right. We therefore need to talk about this if we are to restore meaning to the great European adventure.

Thus, because I want the Union to provide itself with the means to come out of this crisis on top, I, together with my group, call for a shake-up, so that, when we come to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, talk will turn to the changes needed to pave the way for a genuine revival of the European project.



  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. – Mr President, it is a fairly typical morning in Euroland: everybody is busy slapping themselves on the back and saying what a fantastic success the last 50 years have been. There is almost a religious belief that these institutions can deal with the world’s problems, so much so that one or two speakers here think that the Berlin Declaration may even be able to control the weather in the future!

However, I have noticed a slight change of emphasis: you are all talking much more now about freedom, democracy, rights and values, as if it was the European Union that had invented these very things. I suspect you are doing that because you do not want to do the real critical analysis of whether this project is working.

Just think of the economics. The United States of America reached the EU’s current level of GDP per capita in 1985. Perhaps, more significantly, the USA reached current EU levels for per capita research and development investment in 1978. We are an entire economic generation behind the United States of America. The social model is not working and yet the solution seems to be that we want more of it – more regulation, more rules – and, I am afraid, economically this project is falling even further behind.

On the politics, I grant you: you have your big shiny buildings in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, and you have managed to take over more than 75% of the nation states’ ability to make the laws. However, you have forgotten something: you have forgotten about the people, you have forgotten about public opinion. You have been losing referendums and you have chosen to ignore the results. This deceitful attempt of the German Presidency behind closed doors to put together a package that can be rammed through the Member States without a referendum is a recipe for failure. If you go on with this, you will breed the very intolerance and extremism that you say you want to stop. I urge you, please, to ask the peoples of Europe whether or not they want this project.

(Applause from the IND/DEM Group)


  Bruno Gollnisch, on behalf of the ITS Group.(FR) Mr President, 50 years ago, the Treaty between the six founding EU Member States was signed in Rome with near universal enthusiasm. It is true that we were coming out of a world war, a veritable European civil war, and that the people were longing for peace and prosperity. However, 50 years on, what are we finding?

It emerges from a book of meetings between Mr Rocard and Commissioner Bolkestein – an extremely interesting book, I might add – that Mr Rocard no longer wants the Union to call itself European. This Union has in fact betrayed Europe: free movement of capital, goods and persons within Europe implied that a reasonable border existed around it. The sacrifices made by the people of the Member States required, in return, the Community preference system – the preference of every EU Member State for the production of every other EU Member State – to work. The opposite has happened, because Europe as a whole has been left to the mercy of internationalist interests, with all too familiar consequences. We must have the courage to say so. Either we trade freely worldwide, or we create a regional bloc within Europe; we cannot do both.

The consequences are well known: our industries are being ruined one after the other, our farming is doomed to die out by 2013, and even our services are living on borrowed time. Europe has created unemployment, insecurity and poverty by thoughtlessly opening up its borders. It is very significant that Mr Schulz has set Europe the objective of ensuring that young people have a job that allows them to have a family and to acquire a minimum amount of wealth. However, if Mr Schulz has reached the stage of saying that and of setting that as an objective for Europe, then it is a good thing that Europe has not achieved that minimum objective in the last 50 years, as it is being achieved much more successfully everywhere else in the world, where there are far more important developments than in the Union.

So, let us regain pride in our roots, our traditions and our sovereign nations! This has nothing to do with hate, Mr Schulz. Let us restore healthy, fruitful cooperation at all levels and within all sectors. Our group’s name – Tradition, Identity and Sovereignty – is, in this respect, the sign that a new political spring for Europe is approaching.


  Roger Helmer (NI). – Mr President, this Berlin Declaration fails to recognise that the EU is making us poorer and less democratic and less free. It seeks to dodge the one huge issue that is really exercising heads of government across the EU: this is the elephant in the room, and it is called the European Constitution.

In 2005 the peoples of France and Holland voted decisively against the EU Constitution and in its own terms, it should now be dead, finished, kaput. But, like Dracula or Frankenstein, it refuses to lie down. Our President-in-Office, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, without a backward glance at the voters of France and Holland, is determined to bring it back in all its essentials. We know what the plan is and we will make sure that the people know.

First, the Council will take out all the elements which cause offence but are merely restatements of the status quo. Why upset the voters with talk of the supremacy of EU law when that supremacy already exists de facto? The very word ‘constitution’ has caused alarm in itself, so they will say it is merely a treaty, or even a mini-treaty. They will use every possible device of procedure and national constitutional law and timing to ensure that no referendums take place, or that they take place only in small countries when all the large countries have ratified. Already we see the Labour Government in Britain softening up the public before it breaks its solemn pledge to hold a referendum. ‘It is only about administrative details,’ it will say, ‘it does not justify a referendum’.

We boast about being a Union of values based on democracy and the rule of law, yet in this process we show breathtaking contempt for the people and their views. We are trampling on their identity and their aspirations. We are defying the rule of law and democracy, but you cannot fool all of the people, all of the time. When the backlash comes – as it surely will come – it will sweep away this failing European project.


  President. Mr Helmer, we wish you a long life, and your experience in the European Parliament will certainly be a contribution for a long life, so all the best.


  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE). – Mr President, I am sorry for interrupting at this point, but before the Commission and the Council reply to this morning’s debate, I want to draw attention to the fact that not a single speaker referred to the non-sectarian nature of the European Union and how important it is that the declaration make clear that the European Union respects all religions, that it is a secular organisation, and that it must maintain its democratic and secular nature if it is to maintain its cohesion.


  President. Mr De Rossa, that was not a point of order, but it will be noted nonetheless.


  Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, many thanks for the opportunity to join this debate again briefly. I do not want to comment on it at great length, but primarily to express my thanks for the contributions.

At the same time, however, Mr Leinen, the debate has made clear that it is really not easy to agree on the substance of the values to be included in this Berlin Declaration. The range of expectations – from those relating more to procedure such as the Community method on the one hand, to those concerning ambitious climate targets and freedom of sexual orientation, Mr Cohn-Bendit, on the other – revealed by this debate just goes to show the difficulty of incorporating everything in a two-page Berlin Declaration.

I can assure you, however, that, if we endeavour to reflect the range of expectations expressed in this debate reasonably fairly whilst taking account of the history of the EU, there will be a little something for everyone. We have drawn up documents together in the last 50 years that we can refer to. After all, discussions between Parliament, the Commission and the Member States are held not only for the purposes of drawing up a Berlin Declaration, but also so that we can draw on what we have learned in our ambitious attempt to take stock of the EU and the challenges for the future.

I should like to set one thing straight for the benefit of Mr Cohn-Bendit, who showed us a small example of demagogy. Of course I would not be quite so naive as to discuss the fight against illegal migration in my speech. I understand that you needed this as a model, as it were, to orient your speech around, but I had in fact been speaking about the freedom of human beings and civil rights, and mentioned the need for a common approach to illegal migration in this context – which is no small difference. I would ask you to bear this in mind in future. You can be assured that someone who lives in Berlin not by chance but because his heart lies there also understands a little of the problems that migration and immigration entail and has some sense of the duty we nation states have to gear our policies towards them.


To the rest of the House I would say that what I have heard here today is really not so far removed from the discussion that you, Mr President, had with the Heads of State or Government of the Member States at last week’s dinner. I have the impression that 90% of the desires and expectations expressed here match the key words and calls expressed in the discussion last Thursday evening, and so there is no need to fear our omitting any significant points in our ambitious attempt to form these desires and expectations into a Berlin Declaration. Of course, we do have the job of putting this in a form that meets the expectation that it be generally comprehensible.

Mr Leinen, this also goes for the Community method. Although I am well aware that ‘Community method’ is a set phrase with connotations that mean something in circles of Euro-experts, phrases like this cannot feature as such in the text, but must be ‘translated’. Nevertheless, we shall ensure that the spirit of such expectations is included.



  President. I am much obliged to the President-in-Office. If he is talking about the strength of the European institutions, it will reflect that.


  Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, honourable Members, I would like to make two brief additional remarks on this interesting contribution to the debate about the content of the Berlin Declaration.

The first has to do with the fact that European construction, or the European project, is not ‘ready’ – and will never be fully ready. It is a construction that we are working on constantly, and I think this is an example of that. With all its successes and shortcomings, this is what we are still doing. We are adding another piece to the puzzle or to this architecture of Europe, and I think it is very important, as several of you have underlined, that we have not only to look back but rather to concentrate on what we want for the future. What about the 20-year-olds of today and their dreams for the future? How can we describe those? How can we illustrate a vision for the future?

You are the directly-elected representatives of the peoples of Europe. You have to have your ears to the ground, and that is what you have reported here today: what you have heard, your impression of what is important to put into this declaration.

Secondly, we will not be able to continue to construct a European project, European cooperation, if we do not have people behind us, if we are not working in a democratic, open and transparent way. This is absolutely clear and, as much as you criticise it, this is exactly that, is it not? It is open, it is public, it is reported to the media – what you are saying here is heard. We understand that you cannot negotiate the content of a two-page text with 450 million people, but we can make sure that what you have heard and what we think is most important, from different political points of view, is put into the hands of those who are now drafting the text. This is what the debate is all about.

So, to continue to fight for democracy must be one of our basic tasks, and to find modern ways of engaging with citizens has to be a very important part of the declaration, to show that this is possible.

As much as we all feel our national identities to be extremely important, we do not see that in contradiction to also feeling that we are European, or international, or globetrotters, or what have you. We consider it possible to open our eyes and to open up our perspectives, and that is why we believe in this cooperation in the European project. I hope that is the idea of us meeting here and both putting together what we are proud of in the history of the European Union, and formulating our hopes for the next 50 years of European cooperation and integration.


  President. The debate is closed.

Written Statements (Rule 142)


  Alexandra Dobolyi (PSE), in writing. (HU) We must be able to provide the citizens of Europe with prospects for the future. The Berlin Declaration must bear huge political weight. It is no longer enough these days to talk about the great successes of the past 50 years, but we have to look ahead, and we must be able to show the citizens of Europe a direction for the future.

The integration of the EU must go on. Hungary stands to gain from a more integrated Europe, one that is capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century and of guaranteeing the continent’s lasting peace, development and security.

Europe is facing increasingly difficult challenges, internal as well as external, which threaten our future and that of our children. Poverty, demographic problems, global climate change, international terrorism, organised crime, energy questions: these are all dangers requiring adequate and complex answers and solutions. We can achieve this only if we Europeans are also stronger, more united.

Finally, it is important for the Declaration to reflect the resolve of the Member States for a common future, to strengthen the Union’s internal cohesion and, above all, to bear in mind the security and welfare of its citizens.


  Diamanto Manolakou (GUE/NGL), in writing.(EL) The decisions taken by the European Council in March are yet further irrefutable proof of the role of the ΕU as a mechanism for promoting the choices of capital. Instead of taking measures to protect the environment, measures are being taken to protect companies and strengthen the monopolies.

The plundering exploitation of natural resources by capital is the basic cause of the significant climate changes and of the real danger of the ecological destruction of the planet. However, instead of taking bold measures to at least limit the unaccountability of the monopolies, decisions are being taken to strengthen competition on the electricity and natural gas markets, liberalise the energy market and hand the entire strategic sector of the production, transmission and distribution of energy over to the private sector.

Centre-right and centre-left governments have unanimously committed to speeding up the implementation of the anti-grassroots Lisbon Strategy, setting as their primary objectives the commercialisation of education and health and the attack on insurance funds and the pension, wage and social rights of the workers. At the same time, the promotion of harsher anti-labour measures, the 'adaptability' of the labour market and 'flexurity' are being speeded up in the aim of holding down labour costs, in order to increase the profitability of Euro-unifying capital.

The Greek Communist Party is fighting against these choices, highlighting fair demands and fighting with the workers for the satisfaction of the modern needs of the grassroots classes.


4. European Council meeting (8-9 March 2007) (debate)

  President. The next item is a report by the European Council and a statement by the Commission (European Council meeting, 8–9 March 2007).


  Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, following our debate on the Berlin Declaration, I should like to inform the House of the results of the Spring Summit. I shall do so gladly, and may I say at once – although it has just been remarked that we are too ready to sing our own praises – that, from the point of view of the Presidency – from my point of view – this was indeed a successful Council meeting. It provided answers in fields in which citizens – rightly, in my opinion – expect determined action at European level; it showed that, in defiance of all prophecies of doom, the EU is capable of action even following enlargement, and that the Member States – with the support and encouragement of the Commission and Parliament – are in a position to resolve their differences and set ambitious common targets – even if, of course, the individual decisions may not always be easy.

The Summit also showed that the Union is prepared to take up the pressing tasks of the future, and it gave us momentum and the courage to believe we can succeed also in reviving the flagging process of EU reform and renewal in the coming months.

This is the message conveyed by our latest Summit, which also produced the specific internal results I am just about to discuss, and we want to continue to send out this signal in two weeks’ time – as we have just been discussing – at the celebrations in Berlin and throughout Europe for the 50th anniversary of the Union. This is the impetus we wish to take with us into the second half of our Presidency.

As you know, the Spring Summit focused on energy and climate policy. Both issues are rightly very high on the list of concerns of the European people. Recent years and months, in particular – most recently the oil dispute between Belarus and Russia – have demonstrated vividly once more the extent of our dependence on energy imports and the vulnerability of the European economy in matters such as this.

Just as evident, as has also just been remarked, are the effects of climate change. Environmental disasters, melting glaciers, sea-level rise, drought – these are no longer abstract terms, but are now very real threats. International studies have demonstrated the price we shall pay – the price we shall force our children and grandchildren to pay – if we fail to act now.

You are familiar with the outcome of the discussions at the Summit, and I hope you agree with my conclusion that the decisions by the Heads of State or Government have pushed open the door to an ambitious and – in my opinion – responsible European climate and energy policy, a policy that no longer glosses over the scale of the problems we face, but rather seeks effective strategies to respond to these problems.

We have taken a major step towards an integrated climate and energy policy – integrated because the one is not possible without the other; because the greatest risk by far to the climate today is the generation and consumption of energy by human beings. This is particularly applicable, of course, to emissions of greenhouse gases. Thanks to the decisions taken in Brussels, the EU remains the forerunner in international climate protection. The decisions enable us to make a credible entry into the forthcoming negotiations on the successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.

The EU has committed itself unilaterally and independently to reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases by 20% compared to 1990 by 2020. This is an ambitious target, and reaching it will require major efforts on the part of all Member States.

The Heads of State or Government have gone even further, however. We have promised to reduce these emissions by as much as 30% over the same period, provided that we are joined by other industrialised countries and economically advanced developing countries. These targets can only be reached if we are forward-looking in our energy policy, too, and so a comprehensive energy Action Plan was adopted in Brussels along with the climate targets.

Two targets are at the heart of this Action Plan. Energy consumption within the EU is to be reduced by 20% compared to projections for 2020 through greater energy efficiency; and, crucially, the share of renewable energy in overall energy consumption is to be increased to at least 20%.

As you will remember, we did battle over whether to make the latter target binding. A number of Member States had had reservations that this target might be too ambitious. I am delighted that we could agree to make it binding in the end, as the three aforementioned targets, in particular, make clear the close interconnection of climate and energy policy. Without the efforts in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency, the EU would quite clearly be unable to meet its own climate target.

We shall adopt the same joint, fair approach when it comes to dividing up the European target into national targets as we did when we agreed on making the target for renewable energy binding. In so doing we shall have to take into account the different starting positions and potentials of the Member States, and the Commission has been called on – and has agreed – to present a proposal for this division by the end of the year.

This is not the place to describe all aspects of the energy Action Plan. As I see it, it is more important to pay tribute to the Action Plan as a whole in this House, and also to emphasise – besides the targets I have just presented – above all the strategic decisions that have been taken in the following fields, for example: the structure of the internal energy market, security of supply, international energy policy, energy research, and new energy technologies.

I should like to select one of these five examples. It will be possible to ensure security of supply in the medium and long term only if we succeed in diversifying energy sources and transport routes. This means, in specific terms, strengthening relations with the important producer countries, developing lasting external relations with regard to energy – including with the countries of Central Asia and the countries bordering on the Black and Caspian Seas – and of course also fostering our energy relations with the Gulf States and North Africa. It also means reliable, transparent energy relations, including with Russia. Consequently, our Presidency is continuing to work towards ensuring that negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Russia can begin shortly.

The results concerning energy policy and the fight against climate change are indeed particularly important; but, as you can see from the conclusions, the European Council did not just confine itself to these. The Spring Summit traditionally takes stock of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs, and the most important thing is that the renewed Lisbon Strategy is taking effect. There has been noticeable success, which has found expression throughout Europe in improved growth and falling unemployment rates. However, the message is also that now is not the time to sit back and relax; the contrary is the case. We want to use the positive momentum; as I see it, there is no alternative to continuing structural reforms and consistently consolidating public finances.

The European internal market must be developed and completed in important fields: once again, I give the examples of gas and electricity, postal services – and also financial markets. Last Friday’s conclusions also include the elimination of the deficit in the transposition of Community law. We have indeed made good progress on this in recent years: I would remind the House that the transposition deficit was 3% as recently as 2000, whereas it is now just 1.2% – and we know that these efforts must be continued. For this reason, the European Council decided last Friday to further reduce this deficit to 1% by 2009.

The Lisbon Strategy will only be successful in the eyes of the public, however, if the social dimension can be successfully developed – this is particularly valid in view of positive developments on the labour markets. In this connection, the Heads of State or Government have emphasised the importance of fair working conditions, worker rights and participation, health and safety at work, and a family-friendly organisation of work.

I should like to emphasise briefly one further element of the decisions: better lawmaking and cutting red tape. In this field, too, we have made some progress in the past – albeit with difficulty. Of course, however, here too – or here in particular – our efforts must not lapse in future. In particular, we want to see a 25% reduction in the administrative burdens – red tape – arising from EU legislation by 2012, and the Member States have been invited to set similarly ambitious national targets over the next year.

At the final press conference on Friday, Commission President Barroso had some – in my opinion – very kind, almost flattering words to say about the Council meeting that had just ended. He said that, in terms of the results and the objectives set, it was the most important summit he had attended in his term of office. I would also say before this House, Commissioner, that this success would not have been possible without the Commission’s excellent groundwork, nor without the support of the European Parliament – on whose behalf you, Mr Poettering, as the newly elected President, participated in your first Council meeting.

The EU is on its way to developing a modern, sustainable climate and energy policy. The Heads of State or Government have shown that Europe can assume a leading role in important global issues. As I see it, the signal the Summit sends out is that, if we Europeans join forces, if we act together, we can shape the future successfully. This is entirely in keeping with the motto of the German Presidency, the guiding principle we used as a heading for our conclusions, which I also mentioned in the earlier debate: ‘Europe – succeeding together’!



  Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the Commission. (DE) Mr President of the European Parliament, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, ladies and gentlemen.

The Commission is obliged to the Council and the German Presidency for the far-reaching, bold objectives set at last week’s European Council. We are also obliged to you for the unambiguous signal you have given the rest of the world, which has received great attention worldwide: namely the signal that we in Europe are serious about the fight against climate change, the development of a common energy policy and the preservation of our competitiveness. A particularly important result of this Council was the fact that it proved those people wrong who said that a Union of 27 Member States would no longer be capable of action. This was the first great test for the Union of 27, and I believe we have passed it.

The Summit was a good one from the point of view of the European policy of partnership for growth and jobs within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy. The Heads of State or Government noted that the new Strategy is delivering the desired results and has made an important contribution to the economic recovery, a recovery that is reflected in an upward trend in GDP, with a growth rate of 2.9% in 2006. It is now expected that, in the next two years alone, seven million new jobs will be created in the EU and we shall come very close to achieving the original Lisbon objectives of 2000.

The Heads of State or Government made it clear that we must not content ourselves with the initial signs of stronger economic dynamics. I agree with what Mr Steinmeier has just said: Europe now has a great opportunity to further increase the pace of reform. We have not yet succeeded in reversing the trend. The downward trend has indeed slowed, but we are not there yet. All we can say is that we are on the right track.

This is also demonstrated by the European Council’s support for the country-specific recommendations issued by the Commission for the first time. The significance of the fact that the Member States accepted country-specific recommendations from the Commission for their national agendas in a field in which they have sole competence, and that the European Council adopted these unanimously without argument, should not be underestimated. This shows that, for the first time, we have a functioning mechanism for economic-policy coordination in Europe.

This year will see preparations for the second three-year cycle of the policy for growth and jobs, and the Commission already sees three clear necessities.

First of all, we shall have to integrate climate and energy policy fully into the European policy for growth and jobs. This must be a coherent policy.

Secondly, it will be essential to strengthen the third pillar of this strategy, namely employment and the social dimension, with particular emphasis on improving the employability of European citizens. After all, what we see before us is a brand-new development. We shall be seeing increasing shortages of adequately trained workers in certain regions and sectors. Employability must be improved, particularly by strengthening education and training.

The third major task in relation to the review of the Lisbon Strategy will be increasing its visibility. As the saying goes, ‘don’t hide your light under a bushel’. It could be that we are speaking rather too little about having a European answer to the global economic challenge. The fact that European integration and a common European economic policy are the answer we have been looking for to the question of how to preserve our competitiveness at global level should feature much more prominently in national policy debate.

I should like to say just a few brief words on the subject of better regulation and bureaucracy reduction – a particular concern of mine. The call made by the European Council for Parliament and the Council to make even greater use of impact assessments in the future is important. The quality of legislation is the be-all and end-all of the whole project.

A prerequisite for this is good cost assessments. All parts of the project of better regulation and bureaucracy reduction are now really under way. I am very much obliged to the Council for supporting the Commission’s objective of a 25% reduction in the administrative burdens on European enterprises arising from European legislation by 2012. What is just as important, however, is the commitment made by the Member States to doing the same within their own spheres of competence. This had been in dispute, and the fact that it has been achieved represents a great success. The goal of achieving an overall reduction in the administrative burdens on enterprises of 25% by 2012 now seems tangibly close.

I should like to make it clear once more in this House that, when we talk about reducing administrative burdens, we simply mean less paperwork for enterprises. We are talking about requirements on reporting, keeping statistics, information and documentation. Under no circumstances will standards relating to consumer protection, quality, the environment, safety or social aspects be so much as touched. The aim is not to alter the substance of requirements but to make them such that they free up energy within enterprises rather than placing an unnecessary burden on them.


When Tony Blair said some time ago that, if the EU did not exist, it would have to be invented, he was probably referring to the kind of decisions taken by the European Council just a few weeks after the alarming facts in the latest UN report on climate change became known.

With the support of Parliament, and on the basis of the Commission proposals from January, the European Council has managed to make climate change and the switch to sustainable energy structures a priority of European policy, and to adopt an Action Plan for the coming three years.

The strength of the decisions lies in the fact that we have succeeded in closely interlinking climate and energy policy. The reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases goes hand in hand with a competitive, secure, sustainable energy policy. The strength of the decisions lies also in their credibility, as they will not exist in a vacuum, but are linked with a tangible package of measures.

Binding targets for renewable energy, as well as the targeted promotion of energy saving and the new technology of carbon capture and storage, will adapt the European economy to the global challenges of the 21st century in terms of climate policy. We shall continue to dismantle the remaining barriers to renewable energy and to energy efficiency in all industrial sectors, with a view to achieving a 20% share of renewable energy in overall EU energy consumption and also a share of biofuels of at least 10% by 2020.

I heard what the President-in-Office of the Council has just said about the Commission’s task of presenting a proposal by the end of the year. I can assure you that the Commission will present a fair, well-balanced proposal for sharing out the burden throughout the EU, one that will take into account the prior achievements of the individual Member States, their starting positions and what they need in order to meet this target. I am certain that we can do this.

What is important is that we are making the internal market for gas and electricity work once and for all to the benefit of consumers, which will encourage investment and create a genuine European grid.

These measures will open up new, global markets for us, reducing the energy bills of all citizens and all enterprises. We in Europe are currently paying too much for our energy – and this is a result not only of the global situation, but of poor organisation of our own energy supply. For this reason, the fulfilment of the Lisbon Agenda also requires consistent implementation of the new EU climate policy.

We have proposed that the highly developed countries agree to collectively reduce their CO2 emissions by 30% compared to 1990 by 2020. In addition, the EU has already committed itself to reducing its CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020. This puts us in an excellent position ahead of the forthcoming climate negotiations.

I believe that this dual decision in relation to the climate will lead to a new global dynamic – which we urgently need. We can no longer stand by and watch countries such as the USA and China both pointing the finger at each other and demanding the other make the first move. One of them has to make a move at long last! This is undoubtedly an important point for discussion also at the EU–US Summit on 30 April of this year. This point was mentioned by the Heads of State or Government along with the other external issues.

I should like to say a few words to European industry. The Council’s targets give our industry a clear framework, and also investment security for years to come. It can now plan its investments; it knows what politicians are demanding of it and can develop its strategies. We want to see Europe exporting the best, cleanest products; not its jobs. I do not want to hear only what European industry cannot do and what it considers impossible; I should like to finally hear what it can do and what is possible. We shall see that a great deal more is possible than the industrial community itself would have thought.

For all our contentment, we should not forget that we have seen only the starting signal so far. This strategy must be taken forward – by means of specific Community projects and individual legal projects – by the end of this parliamentary term. In addition, we have the support of the European public. We know from the latest Eurobarometer survey that European citizens are well aware that a change of course is essential. I am sure that they are also aware of the fact that resolute action will not come for free.

To summarise, the Lisbon Strategy is an open, dynamic process. We need a marketplace of ideas, which will then lead to specific policy decisions.

As a report by the Centre for European Reform put it: there is hardly a single European country that is not scrutinising the Danish model of ‘flexicurity’, the Finnish university system or the British liberalisation strategy. I could add more examples, such as the French ‘Pôles de Compétitivité’, the Dutch Standard Cost Model or tax reforms in some of the new Member States. Learning from one another is a key element of this reform process.

It is now a matter of making clear together that the European partnership for growth and jobs is Europe’s answer to the two great questions of our time, namely the great social question as to how to make available sufficient good jobs in the age of globalisation, and the great environmental question as to how to keep our planet habitable.

After all, we know that people are asking questions such as: Will I keep my job? Will I continue to receive benefits if I am ill? Will I be able to put my children through college? Will I be provided for in my old age? We also know they are asking: What will living conditions be like for my children and grandchildren in the future?

This is the answer to these questions – and it is important to point out to Europe’s citizens that it can only be a European answer. If there were ever the need to demonstrate why we need European integration, these are the two issues that show that this integration is essential in the 21st century, too. Thank you.



  Marianne Thyssen, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (NL) Mr President, Mr Steinmeier, Commissioner Verheugen, ladies and gentlemen, a summit is usually followed by long-winded conclusions in which we have to dig deep to find ambitions that are supported by the 27 Member States. This time, though, the conclusions are relatively short and definitely represent major steps forward. The European spring summit has exceeded our wildest expectations. Vision has been coupled with political courage, ambition with feasibility, credibility and – no small feat – decisiveness.

We in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats would first of all like to pay tribute to the President of the Council, the German Federal Chancellor Mrs Merkel, and her team, and also to the Commission under its President, Mr Barroso, particularly Commissioner Dimas and Commissioner Piebalgs, who have launched the energy and climate package and have done everything in their power to achieve sound results. We are actually proud, I have to say, that our own group’s combined efforts at the top of our institutions, in harness with other partners of course, has yielded pleasant prospects.

We are still waiting for the rich rewards, though. The commitments have been made, but we still need to divide up the joys and the burdens, and I should like to wish the Commission much success in this arduous task. I hope that all Member States and all sections of society will be prepared to do their bit in making the tireless efforts that are needed.

As the world is watching Europe, it can see that Europe is facing up to its responsibility and that it is choosing to fulfil a credible pioneering role. As European partners, we have a duty, in unison, to bring maximum pressure to bear on our global partners in order for them to join us in this ambitious, but above all necessary, chapter.

Comparing our group’s points of departure prior to the spring summit with the results, I come to the conclusion that we would have preferred to see feasible, binding agreements rather than unrealistic, high-flown pie in the sky, and those, as a result of 20-20-20 decision, are what we have got, so that is a great success.

Research and development in the area of renewable energy and the fight against climate change go hand in hand with the Lisbon goals in terms of growth and employment. These, Commissioner Verheugen, should definitely be included. For the majority of our group, there is room for nuclear energy in the energy mix, even though we, just like the European Council, fully respect the principle of subsidiarity in this respect. Since we do not want Parliament to stand on the sidelines in the climate change issue, we want to give the setting up of an effectively-run temporary parliamentary committee on climate change our full backing.

During this spring summit, the emphasis was on energy and climate, although there is more to it than that, of course, for, after all, there is still a great need to keep the kettle of socio-economic reforms on the boil. We believe that the Lisbon process is starting to bear fruit, but there is no reason whatever to rest on our laurels at this stage, certainly not in those Member States that have run up government debts, experience low labour participation or have pension schemes that are not fully safeguarded.

We in the PPE-DE Group seek to steer clear of any form of complacency. Since economic prospects have improved somewhat, national reforms should not be delayed but should, if anything, be speeded up. We expect that the Commission will continue to display leadership and will, if necessary, confront the Member States with their trickery and shortcomings openly and without qualms.

We very much welcome the decisions surrounding the measurable reduction in the administrative burden and the prospect of an independent impact study in the case of fresh legislation.

Vision and ambition with regard to sound policy is one thing, convincing people thereof and getting them on board is another. The crucial question, as Commissioner Verheugen was also right to point out, remains how we can get Europeans more involved in this whole Lisbon process. Whilst it is to be applauded that the summit conclusions call for further efforts in a bid to improve communication, this does not, of course, get us anywhere. It simply needs to happen and in this area, a huge number of opportunities have been missed in recent years.

I would therefore urge the Presidents of our three political institutions to give those 500 million Europeans, who hope for a prosperous and social future in a pleasant living climate for their children and their grandchildren, a place in the Berlin Declaration, to give them renewed confidence and faith in the added value of our common European project.


  Martin Schulz, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (DE) Mr President, this Summit has been a success – a fact that must be emphasised, as it cannot be said of all our summits in recent years. The Vice-President of the Commission was right when he said of last weekend’s events that Europe has proved itself capable of action. We can do it if we try.

The 27 Heads of State or Government who managed to work together successfully at the weekend took a decision that points the way ahead, but I shall leave the detailed description of this up to our group’s experts in their speeches. This allows me to concentrate on noting that what we need – namely to make the public understand that this is not just a club of layabouts – is really feasible; and that the EU not only describes the great challenges, but defines and decides on the necessary answers and hopefully also implements them in practice.

Standing here speaking about European Councils, I have often reflected on how one could best describe the situation of the European Council of Heads of State or Government. One day a passage from the Book of Matthew sprang to mind – and I am sure the President, too, is very familiar with this – chapter 6, verse 26: ‘Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.’ I do not need to go on: you sow, I hope you will reap, I hope you will gather into barns; and what the heavenly Father does with you remains to be seen.

In any case, it is true that this progress has been achieved. Mrs Thyssen, it is in everyone’s interests to call this a joint effort by the European institutions. I did not have the impression that Angela Merkel was acting as a representative of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats; I had been told she was there as the President of the Council. It was not my impression that the President of this House took part as a representative of the PPE-DE Group – this would mean he had misunderstood his office – and Mr Barroso is not officially allowed to know anything about the PPE-DE Group. Kindly refrain from claiming this success for any particular group, therefore.


What is this all about? Europe has described and addressed itself to a huge challenge. Besides, we have learnt something we did not know before – or perhaps Mr Steinmeier did – namely that nuclear energy now counts as renewable energy. This is Chirac’s Theorem, as it were, to mark the end of his term of office. At least we have learnt something!

At all events, taking up the challenge and exerting pressure to ensure that these decisions are implemented in practice is of prime importance. Praise is also due to Tony Blair for once. Directly after the Council, the British Government said: 20% is good, but we want something even more ambitious. We need more of this in Europe.


I should like to add that the G8 Summit will be dealing with the situation in Africa. In this connection, we must also understand that climate change is another significant example of injustice in the world. The continent that contributes least to the pollution of our environment – Africa – is the one that suffers most as a result of climate change. This means that when we say, for instance, that we want to ensure that justice and solidarity reign in the world, it is a moral obligation for us Europeans to really tackle the problem of climate change and – as has been rightly said – to exert pressure on other regions of the world.

Protecting the existence of the human race, the survival of life on this earth, is the great goal to which we are all committed – every one of us, including the USA, Japan, Australia and China. Yet we cannot make demands of them unless we set a good example ourselves; and that is the historic step that was taken at the weekend. I am obliged also to Mr Steinmeier, who played a significant part in bringing this about: Angela Merkel undoubtedly also played a decisive part, but Mr Steinmeier deserves a mention for the persistence with which he has carried out his work as President-in-Office of the Council.

(Applause from the left)


  President. Mr Schulz, I am delighted to see that you are much better versed in the Bible than I am.


  Alexander Lambsdorff, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (DE) Mr President, I was not quite sure when Matthew (Matthäus) was mentioned whether it was not perhaps a reference to Lothar Matthäus. I am pleased that this was not the case.

Mr Schulz is quite right: it was a successful Council summit. You want to make progress on the internal market for energy, you want to slow down global warming, reduce CO2 emissions and extend the use of renewable energies, and you want to strengthen solidarity on energy matters. This is in line with this Parliament’s demands. Some of these demands were even more ambitious, but nevertheless you deserve applause, and this is what you will get from the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

However, there is no cause for complacency just yet, because you still have the much more arduous part ahead of you. Whether the Summit really was a success will depend on whether the projects are implemented quickly and hopefully deliver tangible results before the year is out. That is also my group’s central message: we want the objectives that have been agreed to be acted on quickly. In this respect the Commission is already making the right noises. The Council is asked to nail its colours to the mast once the Commission proposals are on the table.

Allow me to comment more specifically on one or two individual issues, and firstly on climate protection. You are quite right. Climate protection works at European level or not at all. On closer examination it is also true, however, that climate protection does not actually work at European level either but at global level. Only if we can get the other major CO2 emitters on board will we bring about the global change that is necessary to actually slow down climate change. Basking here in the glory of the role of forerunner will not achieve a great deal. A forerunner without anyone following reminds me a little of Don Quixote, whom we should not be emulating.

Climate policy in Europe must now therefore be followed by climate diplomacy from Europe, because on its success the overall success of the enterprise ultimately depends. Some see the G8 as the appropriate forum for this and think a solution could be found if the issue were taken to the G8. Take it with you to Heiligendamm, but we must also recognise one thing: the G8 may quite conceivably not be appropriate. It does not include China and India. That may also be a reason to reflect on the architecture of the global institutions.

On the issue of the internal market for energy: for us this is not an end in itself but something that we really need. As Commissioner Verheugen said, market failure is something that directly affects the Union’s citizens. I am delighted that the Commission’s action plan has been adopted and should like to offer my congratulations to Mr Verheugen and in particular also to his colleagues Mrs Kroes and Mr Piebalgs, who have spared no effort here. It is now a question of building on this, and my group would expressly encourage the Commission to do so quickly.

Bureaucracy requires better legislation. The proposals that Commissioner Verheugen has made are right and it is also right that they have been adopted. We therefore welcome the progress that has been made here, but believe that the Member States are obliged to follow suit. It is a myth that all bureaucracy comes from Brussels.

The Council has shown that it can agree on a really important subject. Congratulations on this! Now it also needs to be successful on the Presidency’s second important issue. The Berlin Declaration and the June Summit await us. You have our support for them.


  Michał Tomasz Kamiński, on behalf of the UEN Group. – (PL) Mr President, to start with, it gives me real pleasure to bring together the two points of view presented here. I will be delighted to reconcile the views of our friends from the Socialist Group in the European Parliament and the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats.

We are grateful to the German Presidency for the success of this summit. I have in mind both those of its members who are from the SPD, and those of its members from the CDU. This positive outcome raises hopes of success for Germany and for the German Presidency, and we are pleased with it. We are glad that the businesslike and pragmatic approach adopted by the German Presidency has yielded results.

I would also like to thank the President of this House for the positive, hands-on role he played at the summit – our thanks, Mr President. This is a fine example of the major role the House wants to play in the process of European integration, and it arouses hope. The summit has been a success and sends an important signal to the rest of the world in two respects: it is a signal of our unity, and a signal of our organisation’s pragmatic, forward-looking approach.

All the countries around the European Union have now seen that we are able to unite on energy issues. The Union is sending out a clear signal that we want solidarity, and that we want the future of our organisation to be based on a unified approach to the question of the security of energy resources.

I believe that the events of the last year or so have helped everyone in the European Union to grasp the importance of energy security not just to our economies, but ultimately to individual citizens’ standard of living.

The summit has also sent out a clear signal on climate change. It has demonstrated our ability to come to an agreement on this matter, and it gives me real pleasure to endorse the results of this summit. It is right that the European Union has set itself ambitious targets on an issue of such paramount importance to the future of Europe.

To finish, I would like to highlight the fact that the first summit of the now further enlarged European Union has also shown that enlargement is not a problem. In my view, our friends from the old Member States tend to over emphasise the problems of enlargement. As a Pole, I would like to point out that recent enlargements of the European Union, both that of two—and—a half years ago, and the latest one, are a common success for us all. That is how the citizens of the new Member States see it. I would like us all to feel this way.

European enlargement is a success, and we would do well to remember that. This summit has shown that if we work together, we will succeed.


  President. Thank you, Mr Kamiński, and thank you for your kind words to me.


  Monica Frassoni, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, there is an obvious connection between the preceding debate on the Berlin Declaration and this one, since the Europe of results must be able to act and it will not be able to do so very effectively without a constitution. Mr President, we acknowledge the fact that the German Presidency led the Council to adopt quite clear, visible commitments on emissions cuts and renewable energies and to reject the pro-nuclear offensive from President Chirac. Mr Chirac is on the way out and you can be sure that we are not going to miss him at all.

Although we welcome the outcome reached at the summit – because things could have gone far worse – we believe that the difficulties are only just beginning, because when the time comes to translate our words into actions there will certainly be problem grey areas in meeting the targets. We should be aware straight away, for example, that cutting emissions unilaterally by 20% between now and 2020 will not enable us to meet the target of keeping the temperature rise down to less than 2°C. Mr Verheugen, I do not think that that constitutes a big, bold effort because, if we kept to our commitments on fair energy efficiency and renewables, that would already cut emissions by 24%. Thus a unilateral target of cutting emissions by 30% would have been perfectly feasible and would radically have raised our credibility on the international stage.

What is more, Commissioner, if I think of the role you have played in the issue of emissions cuts, renewables and cars, as well as the tremendous struggles that have taken place within the Commission on all these topics, your speech today sounded frankly like a bit of ‘greenwash’.

Achieving these targets means overcoming a great many adversaries, primarily many of our national government administrations, which are the real bureaucratic burden of the European Union, together with the Commission staff. Next, of course, are the major European industrial lobbies which, despite their fine words, are absolutely opposed to any real development of environmentally efficient renewable energies, because Enel, E.ON and EdF are all too well aware that reducing our dependency on fossil fuels means making European consumers much freer of them as well.

We await the Commission’s proposals with interest, of course, but also with some trepidation, because we are convinced that now is the time to be revolutionary and radical. That is why we shall be meeting in Berlin – and I hope, Mr Steinmeier, that you will be able to join us – in order to draw up a sound plan based on ten ideas that we have often put forward. The most important of them is a climate pact with the same features as the Stability and Growth Pact, setting out clear rules, firm and rapid sanctions and highly realistic incentives.

To conclude, Mr President, I should like to add that we are extremely concerned at the rumours circulating in the Council and the Commission that the new rules deriving from the commitments made by the Council of Brussels could be adopted under the procedure of Article 175(2), which excludes the European Parliament and requires unanimity in the Council. If that happened, it would be a slap in the face for all the European citizens who are so enthusiastic today. I hope that does not happen.


  Gabriele Zimmer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, everyone is talking first and foremost about the recent Summit’s historic significance in terms of protecting the climate and the environment, but in so doing they overlook the fact that in other important fields, such as employment policy and the European social model, no initiatives have been agreed at all and that as a result opportunities have been missed.

The Lisbon Strategy with its focus on the global competitiveness of the European Union and other global players prevents us, in my view, from adopting an effective approach both to the fight for climate protection and to the fight against poverty and social exclusion. However, I certainly appreciate that on climate protection steps have been taken in the right direction.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that these steps are limited and that they are still in danger of being slowed down and brought to a halt. The EU is once again its own worst enemy, pushing to one side its own studies which conclude that a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is needed to actually prevent irreversible global warming and with it up to 86 000 additional climate-related deaths per year in the EU. The difference between 30% and 20% can be summed up as whether we are going to use the opportunity to avert a climate catastrophe or whether we are going to carry on regardless.

The problem is not that the left-wing opposition believes in principle that those in power are not doing enough of the right thing. The problem is that the wrong political course has been adopted and that the decisive initiatives are not actually being taken.

It is not surprising either that the fight against poverty, social exclusion and social divisions continued to be marginalised at the Summit and was not linked at all with consistent action to tackle global warming and the destruction of the environment.

Mr Verheugen, it is precisely this close interlinkage of social and ecological issues that the Summit failed to identify, despite what you have said today. For years, the European Commission has presented reports showing the potential jobs that could be created by using renewable energies, showing the external costs, but also clarifying the impact of ecotaxes. Levying these taxes could increase the European Union’s revenue, money which is needed for imperative social and environmental measures.

This market logic explains why, for example, in the Action Plan ‘An Energy Policy for Europe’ tackling climate change is only included at the bottom of the list of major objectives. It also explains why the European Council is calling for rapid progress to be made in the EPA negotiations, despite the Summit’s complaint about the increasing share of greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries. These free-trade agreements are, in my opinion, a brutal form of neo-colonialism, which are socially and environmentally destructive.

There are at least three conclusions: firstly, we need to make it a priority to have an up-to-date policy to tackle poverty and social exclusion and global warming, then we need to stop the EPAs and finally we need the passages in the draft constitution that promote economic deregulation, privatisation and armament to be deleted.


  Nils Lundgren, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. (SV) Mr President, greenhouse gas emissions are a source of concern and appear to lead to rapid changes to the earth’s climate. It is difficult to form a judgment on what the EU might do about this matter by itself. By taking the lead, we should increase our ability to put pressure on China, India, the United States and Russia, and Europe would gain the advantage in terms of environmental technology. However, we must not proceed too quickly and so undermine our competitiveness.

The Council agreed on a well-balanced view of this issue - rare progress in an EU in which the vast majority of decisions undermine freedom, weaken democracy, compromise countries’ independence and make our lives more bureaucratic. It should also be noted, however, that such progress destroys the official argument in favour of the Constitutional Treaty. According to that argument, democracy must give way to efficiency and it must be possible for individual Member States to be ridden roughshod over in the EU’s decision-making; otherwise, the EU will become impotent. That is apparently untrue. Nor was it true of the Services Directive.

The hidden argument in favour of the Constitutional Treaty is that it is necessary in order to create an EU state – a power base for a new European elite. Political power has to be taken away from the nation states, which are the source and basis of European democracy. Now, the Council has again shown that it is possible to take major decisions even when all the Member States have the veto. Thank you for demonstrating that. Praeterea censeo constitutionum esse repudiendam [Moreover, I believe that the Constitution should be rejected.]


  Andreas Mölzer, on behalf of the ITS Group. – (DE) Mr President, we too regard the EU Summit as positive, but more in terms of its desires than its results. On the one hand it is good and important for the future of all of us that climate protection targets were agreed at the EU Summit, but on the other hand it is, alas, the case that such declarations are unfortunately often not even worth the paper they are written on. What is the point of agreeing to reduce CO2 emissions by a fifth by 2020 if the practical and problematic details are, in usual EU style, put off until later. Moreover, I do not think that we have made any progress at all on nuclear power. The question of how to dispose of radioactive waste remains unresolved, the safety of nuclear power stations is not guaranteed and the effects of nuclear radiation are not at all fully understood. Nevertheless, the EU Summit did not manage to send out a clear signal by reducing nuclear energy. Instead the danger of global warming is supposed to be countered with a nuclear risk, which I believe is a perilous business.

It is of course all well and good if the EU wishes to play a leading role in climate protection. However, it is only responsible for 15% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which is just the tip of the iceberg. On our own, without the major climate culprits, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States which are responsible for almost half of global greenhouse gas production, we will hardly be able to make progress in the battle against climate change. On the contrary, we will pay a hefty price for all our efforts. You do not need a prophet to tell you that.

The fact that the developing countries, but also and above all the energy-squandering USA, could not care less about the environment, is well known. Even on US Army bases in Europe no respect is shown for the environment and abandoned US bases are almost akin to hazardous waste depots. This is a scandal, not only for the Americans, whom it seems really do need to be taken in hand in this respect, but above all for the EU Member States, who have not prescribed any technical environmental conditions. This is another context in which critical questions need to be asked about transatlantic relations, just as they do in respect of CIA overflights and our overall tendency, all too blind with euphoria, to be the Americans’ vassals.

As early as 1997 the industrialised countries committed themselves to reducing the quantity of greenhouse gases that they produce. At the 2005 UN Climate Change Conference there was once again praise for moves to invest more in solar, wind and hydroelectric energy from then on. Of course once again these noble words have been followed by scant action. The EU imposed its own target to increase the share of renewable energy to 12% but has achieved only 8%. That is why there is no need to celebrate renewed verbal declarations, like the ones we have just heard again, as such a great success. Instead we are reminded of other EU initiatives that have failed thus far such as the Lisbon objectives, which we are also still light years away from achieving, quite apart from the barely implemented Alpine Convention, which is a further act in this tragedy. If we are to slow down climate change and mitigate its impending serious consequences we must all direct our efforts towards achieving the objectives that we have set.


  Jim Allister (NI). – Mr President, ever since I came to this House, I have heard repeated promises of cutting red tape, be it from the Commission, the Council or indeed from Parliament itself.

From this summit, we have now yet another war declared on bureaucracy. That is good. Indeed, one wishes that famed German efficiency would drive it forward. However, I fear that will not happen, because, as in the past, I suspect that these promises will not be delivered. This is because we are dealing with EU edifices which are veritable factories of regulation. Indeed, at the same summit, a whole new front of regulation was opened up under the guise of tackling climate change – even down to the point of dictating the type of light bulbs that nation states and citizens can use! Where, one might ask, are these bulbs likely to be manufactured? Probably in China, thanks, in part, to over-regulation driving our manufacturers to take flight eastwards, where the uncontrolled factories manufacturing them will belch out even greater CO2 emissions. Frankly, we never enforce restrictions about such matters in our trade agreements with China. Rather, we seem to reserve such punitive measures for our own industry. Such is the self-defeating merry-go-round that is this regulation-crazed European Union.

Speaking of merry-go-rounds brings me to the manoeuvrings at the summit over the rejected Constitution. So, Chancellor Merkel thinks EU citizens can be bypassed and hoodwinked: if the title ‘Constitution’ is dropped, then we can avoid even asking the electorate. What a coup for democracy! What a cowardly farce! What a commentary on the EU elite and their arrogant contempt for the people whose interests they claim to serve. The fact that the EU is running away from its own citizens tells us all we need to know about its worth and value as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which, of course, spawned this insatiable lust for Brussels domination and control.


  Werner Langen (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, I should like to thank the President-in-Office for his report. It is true that it was a successful summit, and as always success has many fathers, while failure is a foundling. In this case the success was primarily due to Germany’s Chancellor, Mrs Merkel, who was after all Environment Minister for four years many years ago and is familiar with the European Environment Council.

The focus was on energy and climate policy. Unfortunately, the public debate following this successful summit has only described the internal discussions about renewable energies. In fact, as the Council Conclusions attest, much more was decided on the issues of security of energy supply and climate impact. The impact on society of the proposals made is also important and if we set targets, for example 20% or 30%, then these targets have to be realistic.

Mr Schulz praised Mr Blair for his 60% target. Mr Blair will not have to implement that, as we all know, and I am sure that his Conservative challengers will be demanding 70% by tomorrow at the latest. These targets must therefore be realistic; otherwise they are of no real value.

Secondly, despite all of this success there are still some outstanding issues, such as the question of burden-sharing. I hope that the Commission and the German Presidency will comment on this before the middle of the year.

What is the role of nuclear energy? We cannot proceed as was stated in the internal German discussion. It is a fact that generating one kilowatt-hour from nuclear energy produces 15 grams of CO2 whereas generating one kilowatt-hour from brown coal produces 970 grams. We must therefore be open-minded when debating this.

I certainly believe that at the end of the day the success of the German Presidency will be judged on whether it is possible, in international negotiations with the United States, Russia, India and China, to convert this European benchmark into an international standard. If so, the German Presidency will leave a lasting legacy.


  Linda McAvan (PSE). – Mr President, a few months ago, I met some young people in my constituency and they asked me what the EU is doing about climate change. I have to say that I gave a list of the bits of legislation and how we were tackling it, but it sounded a bit thin to me and I could see on their faces that they thought it was a bit thin as well.

Asked again today, I would be much more confident about what I was saying to them. Europe now has a story to tell on climate change. We have a policy fit for purpose, up to the challenge. I want to add my congratulations to the Council for its success last week and to the Commission – Commissioners Verheugen and Dimas – for putting together a comprehensive package.

Now we have got to live up to that package and that is not going to be easy. The targets we agreed are tough. There are a lot of issues to be resolved. Burden-sharing has just been mentioned. I understand that there is some issue about the legal base of the renewables targets. I want to say that this Parliament would want to be fully involved in any talks about those targets.

As regards biofuels, we want them, but not at the expense of the developing world. Tackling climate change must be part of the fight against poverty, not exacerbate that fight. R&D investment needs to be tackled as well.

So, we have to be coherent, we have to cooperate and we also have to stay committed to this challenge. I think that last week the EU found a renewed sense of common purpose. It showed it could act decisively on a key issue that our citizens care about. I think in that sense that it began to make the elusive connection with citizens that people are always talking about.

We are celebrating our fiftieth birthday this year. I hope that, when we come to celebrate our hundredth birthday, future generations will look back at last week’s summit and see it as a turning point, when the EU began to work together, tackle the big issues of our times and regain the confidence of its citizens.


  President. Mrs McAvan, you of course may well live to see our hundredth birthday.


  Karin Riis-Jørgensen (ALDE). – (DA) Mr President, the result of last week’s summit was an historic breakthrough. We are now on the way to a greener Europe. Only a few weeks ago, however, it seemed quite unrealistic to believe in binding targets for the increased use of sustainable energy sources for a fifth of the EU countries’ total energy consumption by 2020. Real progress has been made. Now, the political framework is in place and is to be given practical content. However, this is when the problems will arise and when we need to fight for what we believe in. Everyone is required to play a constructive role – both industry and ourselves as legislators. We also need, however, to go further and make increased environmental demands of, for example, cars and aircraft. The Commission needs to take the lead in this area and to be sure of its own stance. Is that not the case, Mr Verheugen? We also need to be very ambitious in order to ensure full liberalisation of the European energy market. We need to have a genuine internal market for energy, and this is where the German Presidency must really come into its own.

There is good cause for being very pleased that Europe is showing leadership in the world, and we are heading up the work aimed at obtaining a replacement for the Kyoto Agreement. If we stand shoulder to shoulder in Europe, we shall also have the opportunity to achieve a worldwide agreement on climate policy embracing hesitant countries such as the United States and the rapidly developing countries in Asia such as China and India. With the summit breakthrough, the EU is coming seriously into its own following a number of sluggish years. These began with the French and Dutch rejections of the Constitutional Treaty, which led to the EU being characterised by a lack of resolve. That is something that is now, fortunately, in the past. The EU is now demonstrating that we are capable of taking political action. We can again find common denominators that bind us together, even in areas in which strong national interests are at stake, and this is in no small measure due to a proficient German Presidency. The EU has got its optimism back, and that is crucial if we are to get the Constitutional Treaty back on track.


  Guntars Krasts (UEN). – (LV) Thank you, Mr President. I would like to congratulate the presidency on the successful result of the Council’s work, for having set a clearly ambitious work programme and having achieved almost all of it.

First of all I will talk about what was not achieved. It is a great shame that the Commission’s proposal for vertically integrated businesses to be split up was blocked. The large energy companies, which dictate terms to national governments, have to date shown little interest in cross-border connections. Seemingly, the creation of a genuine European energy market has once again been put off.

Now I would like to talk about the decisions that were taken. Ambitious targets for increasing the share of renewable sources of energy and for reducing emissions volumes are a brave and welcome step. What is most important now is for the government representatives to understand what they have undertaken. This will prevent the same thing happening as occurred with the Lisbon tasks. The decision was not taken on the basis of calculations about the availability of renewable sources of energy or their location in Member States or the accessibility of technology, and was taken regardless of their cost. This will require highly responsible action by the Member States, close cooperation and mutual solidarity. This is one of those decisions which the European public has confidence in and which it supports. This undertaking, as for the Lisbon plans, must be fulfilled, and politicians must not go astray when they lay down tasks designed to achieve this target. Thank you.


  Claude Turmes (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Steinmeier, this euphoria is to some extent justified, but at the same time here and now is exactly the right time and place to consider whether there is anything underpinning these noble aims.

This weekend in Berlin under the aegis of the European Green Party, we will be proposing a ten-point list of measures to make Europe more climate friendly. We will do this with greater enthusiasm than Mr Verheugen, who this morning has once again shown that he regards climate protection as a burden for the EU economy and not as a driving force of innovation.

Security of supply is important, particularly as far as natural gas is concerned. However, building new pipelines is not the best measure that we in Europe can take. It would be best to adopt the successful model of the German Bank for Reconstruction and transfer the funds to the European Investment Bank for modernising our housing stock! More than 40% of European energy is frittered away in badly insulated buildings, and more than 70% of Russian natural gas is used in European buildings. A measure to improve the efficiency of our housing stock is therefore much more important than anything that we can do on the supply side.

It is exactly the same with oil. It is not pipelines that will help us to make progress but more modern cars. I do not know whether Mr Juncker has any children. Mr Schulz seems to be better informed. What I do know is that he is getting a new official car and that as a convinced European he told the Luxembourg press on Monday that he would soon be buying a Japanese hybrid car if the European automotive industry did not build more environmentally friendly cars.

We therefore need efficiency standards for 2020, because the cars in which we will travel in 2020 are already being designed now. We also need a speed limit in Germany because the many hundreds of kilometres of ‘free travel for free citizens’ are not only a German problem but a global one, because as a result cars are over-engineered the world over and are not efficient enough.


  Umberto Guidoni (GUE/NGL).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the commitment to cut carbon emissions unilaterally by 20% is a step in the right direction, but we should have set our sights on the more ambitious target of a mandatory 30% by 2020. Renewables today represent only 7% of the EU’s energy mix and the voluntary 12% target by 2010 clearly has not worked. That is why it is important to aim at mandatory targets and definite rules for implementing them.

We must tell those who complain at the cost of developing non-polluting technologies that this investment will grant Europe leadership in the sector and will create new and better jobs under the Lisbon Strategy. Fifty years after the Treaty of Rome, it is now time to launch a common energy policy, not least to reduce Europe’s dependence on other countries. We have made a decision: now we have to be prepared to keep to it, even though we know it will be a difficult journey. The cost of doing nothing would be much higher, however, for both Europe and the rest of the world, and it would be paid above all by the weakest sections of society.


  Johannes Blokland (IND/DEM). – (NL) Mr President, the fact that the European Council organised a spring summit in the winter demonstrates that climate change is something that the Council acknowledges, and I am delighted that the Council is taking on board the Commission proposals concerning the fight against it. It does mean, though, that the Council is prepared to reduce by 30% only if the other developed countries pull their weight in achieving this goal, yet a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases worldwide by 2020 is necessary in order to be able to ensure that the increase in temperature does not exceed 2°C.

This is why, a few weeks ago, it was for this 30% that Parliament opted, and that is a first step. I am acutely aware of the fact that a 30% reduction is not straightforward. In the Netherlands, the Environmental and Nature Plan Bureau has indicated that this is impossible unless major changes take place in technology and in the way members of the public and companies behave. Despite this, the Dutch Government has taken on this ambition, and rightly so. In order to achieve these ambitious goals, the many available opportunities will need to be seized all at once, for we cannot be fixated on one single solution.

The Council conclusions are not clear about which sources of energy are to be used to guarantee certainty of supply. There is therefore the risk that people will still only consider the energy needs in terms of gas, oil and coal. Holding onto fossil energy sources will stand in the way of the development of renewable ones.


  Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I wish to congratulate all concerned on a successful summit. It is quite rare for the leader of the British Conservative delegation to offer full praise after a European Council, but this time it is justified and I am delighted to do it.

In reaching agreement on cutting EU greenhouse gases in this way, the Council has shown leadership on probably the most important issue facing our planet, that of the threat of climate change. I sincerely hope that the leadership displayed on this issue by Member States will result in broader international action.

The leader of my party, who has done much to put this issue at the centre of the political debate in the United Kingdom, also welcomes this agreement and is delighted to see the new-found enthusiasm of Mr Blair and Mr Brown. Europe, in taking a lead on this matter, not only sends a strong signal to the global community but also sends a message to our own people that the EU can make a difference. The news from Brussels so often concerns arcane institutional issues that do not relate to the lives of people. This agreement on climate change is a good one and I hope Members of Parliament will take note of it when we next have a debate on institutional machinery.

I should like to ask, in this regard, what proposals there are to improve the EU emissions scheme, as well as for confirmation that this will not require major institutional reform. When might we see a breakdown of country-by-country allocations on the targets for renewable energy as a share of energy consumption?

With regard to the conclusions, I also welcome the progress made on better regulation. I simply add that I would like to see more action on deregulation in particular. The President of the Commission, Mr Barroso, is to be congratulated on taking a lead on this vital matter for European competitiveness.

Finally, I express my support for the emphasis in the conclusions on the transatlantic economic and political relationship and, in particular, Chancellor Merkel’s personal commitment to a new transatlantic economic relationship.


  Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (PSE). – Mr President, President-in-Office of the Council, first of all I would like to say ‘well done’ for what was not an easy task. This was commendable work by Mr Steinmeier, a man with a reputation for persistence and determination. I welcome this achievement which, I think, is a very strong landmark for the European Union, making Europe a front-runner in tackling climate change worldwide.

My hope is now of course that this is not only a text adopted by the European Council, but something that will be implemented in the Member States. I therefore take it for granted that, as the UK Conservative Member said, it will be implemented in the UK too, together with UK businesses and the Conservatives under Tony Blair’s leadership – thanks a lot for that one!


My second point is that climate and energy policy is not a cost, but a new competitive parameter and a new opportunity to create more and better jobs, as called for in the Lisbon Agenda. I want to underline that new, smart, green growth could and should be a new dynamo in the Lisbon process, as Commissioner Verheugen said himself, and as you also underlined, President-in-Office.

I agree with the points made by Commissioner Verheugen, but there was one little word missing, and that is ‘coordination’: coordination of economic investments in these areas, to enable us to take on the enormous investment task we face. One thousand million euros is the estimate of the total investment needed in the coming years and this needs coordination in order to provide the extra synergy the European Union can generate.

So, you have our best wishes for this endeavour. We in the Party of European Socialists are here to help you.


  Chris Davies (ALDE). – Mr President, the decisions of the Council were ambitious and the unanimity quite remarkable. The devil is going to be in the detail and I suspect there will not be anything like so much agreement when the burden-sharing proposals are announced, and some of the specific targets are open to challenge, not least by environmentalists.

The biofuels target, for example, has got to be a mistake when there is so much evidence that it makes better use to use biocrops in generating electricity than in powering cars. Let us not pretend that our demand for biofuels is not going to have an effect on tropical rainforests. We cannot even prevent the import into this country of illegally cropped wood, let alone stop the expansion of palm oil plantations. It is going to have an effect and I hope that all the energy proposals in this package will be put through the codecision procedure to ensure that parliamentarians have a chance to influence them in some way.

Carping aside, the overall direction is good and the objectives are noble. The European Union has taken on the mantle here of an evangelist seeking to alert the rest of the world to the dangers of climate change and to bring about a post-2012 international agreement involving at the very least China, India and the United States.

At the latest we have to try to forge this post-2012 agreement by the Conference of Parties in 2009, and quite a transformation in attitudes in these other countries is going to be needed if we are to achieve that. We are going to have to try and influence every opinion-former, the media, every parliamentarian, business leaders as well as government ministers if that is to be secured. I do not believe these resources exist, certainly not in DG Environment, perhaps not in the entire Commission. They do exist in Europe, however, if we pool our resources across all 27 Member States, our diplomats and our politicians and our businesses in a concerted campaign to change minds and secure success.

We should think of it like this and try and put it in these dramatic terms to concentrate the mind. We have less than 1000 days in which to save the world and secure an international agreement of this kind. That is our task and it is going to need all our resources. We need to build on the Council’s decision and inject a sense of zeal, passion and urgency into our work, if it is to be achieved.


  Mario Borghezio (UEN).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Europe is not only asking the right questions but also beginning to provide practical answers and to commit itself to energy savings and the adoption of alternative sources of energy, as well as considering how to address the climate change emergency. Meanwhile, however, a huge, technologically advanced area in the middle of Europe that is of decisive importance for the social and economic future of one of the Member States – I am referring to the Po Valley – has for a long time been calling in vain for infrastructure measures to solve the pollution problem caused by the choked transport network, a situation that has now reached critical proportions.

During the morning and evening rush hours, satellite images show the Po Valley to be a vast queue of cars and lorries pouring out tonnes and tonnes of polluting exhaust fumes and consuming absurd amounts of fuel. That has been happening and we have been calling for these measures for decades, but thieving Rome – not that its inhabitants are thieves, because they are exceptional, honest people, but the old State’s centralising halls of power are – expatiates as if in Byzantium on reforming the electoral system and allows this situation to deteriorate even further.

Then there is the second aspect of the climate crisis: water. It is not just southern Italy that is in danger of dying of thirst, but the Po Valley as well. I want to draw Europe’s attention to the water situation in the Po Valley because of the extremely serious consequences that that might have for Europe's granary, as this macroregion is called, which is so important for the future of production in our country.


  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, the summit concluded that the renewed Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs is ‘beginning to deliver results’. It is about time, because the fanfare surrounding the launch of that strategy has not exactly been matched by spectacular results to date. Most businesses, in particular smaller enterprises, which make up the majority of employers, quite rightly complain that excessive red tape hampers their operation and development. I therefore welcome the summit’s commitment to a 25 % reduction in EU-imposed red tape by 2012, and I hope that will be met. But it is a pity that the Member States did not commit themselves to similar reductions in red tape through domestic legislation.

Most attention has been given to the summit commitments on energy efficiency and renewable energy; admirable targets for energy saving have been set. However, I hope that any new legislation will be sensitive to local circumstances. For example, in transport, due account must be taken of the fact that, where I come from and in most of rural Scotland, there exists no realistic alternative to road transport for goods.


  Vladimír Remek (GUE/NGL).(CS) Ladies and gentlemen, the solution to the problem of global warming is inextricably linked not only to the use of renewable energy sources but also to the approach we will take to established sources. I, for one, am pleased that the EU summit made a breakthrough regarding the Union’s position on nuclear energy. The attitude to nuclear energy under the German Presidency has thus far been equivocal; it is trying to avoid the issue for fear of getting its fingers burned, although it knows that sooner or later it will have to bow to economic necessity and take action. The longer we wait, however, the more serious it becomes.

The shift can be seen in the fact that the delegates at the summit ultimately recognised that, in the interests of energy security and cutting emissions, the Member States can make use of nuclear energy. I am convinced, however, that the energy mix should be not just well-balanced but also democratically open to all available energy sources, whilst making every effort, of course, to ensure the highest safety levels.


  Georgios Karatzaferis (IND/DEM).(EL) Mr President, of course the European Council did not only address the subject of the climate. That was in the right direction. We Europeans will bear the agony and the cost. In other words, with these measures that we are taking, unless we bring the United States, China and India into line, it is like making our own car and paying a great deal of money, while our next-door neighbour drives round with a broken exhaust. What are we trying to do? Dig a hole in a pond? We therefore need a new Kyoto which will be signed by these three countries, which together account for half the population and 65% of the energy. It is an issue which we need to measure in this way.

On the other hand, we talk of developments in the economic, labour and social sector. I do not understand. Which social class are we talking about? About those who, after Lisbon, traded in their BMWs for a Mercedes? There are 100 million Europeans living below the poverty line. What are we doing for them? What will we do? They are the unemployed citizens. It is they who will block any referendum we may need at a later date on the Constitution. So let us look at the poor and not just stick to wishful thinking and words that ultimately convince no one.


  Antonio Tajani (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this was a positive European Council, because it went to the heart of the problems affecting our citizens. In this era of globalisation, our peoples increasingly need a Europe that can satisfactorily address the questions to which the Member States are no longer able to provide answers.

Indeed, only the European Union can address major issues like climate change, the fight against terrorism and organised crime, immigration, energy security, including the revitalisation of nuclear energy, unemployment, and how to deal with the major new economic and trading powers of East Asia, not to mention peace in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. That is why we need a new Constitutional Treaty to set out competences and action capabilities.

Therefore, Mr President, I endorse the proposal to produce a text preserving the substance and embodying the values of the document that was signed in Rome and then rejected in France and the Netherlands, a text that refers to the Judaeo-Christian roots that nourish the Union’s actions centring on the rights of the individual and of the citizen.

Mr Steinmeier, I should like to put a concrete proposal to the German Presidency, and I appeal to it with conviction. In the coming months I propose that the Member States, together with Parliament and the Commission, launch a major campaign in the media to tell people what the European Union really is, to make them realise that the Union is not the expensive, oppressive Brussels bureaucracy but, as emerged during the summit on 8-9 March, an institution representing the certainty of a better future for half a billion people.


  Harlem Désir (PSE).(FR) Mr President, Mr President-in Office of the Council, Commissioner, in its debates and conclusions on the Lisbon Strategy, the Council has reoriented its approach to social issues, too.

I welcome this, and, in line with what you both said, I believe that the Heads of State or Government are becoming aware of the fact that we will not be able to win back the citizens’ trust if we do not demonstrate that Europe is endeavouring to protect the European social model. The conclusions therefore mention the need not only to create more jobs and to sustain growth, but also to safeguard the quality of jobs, working conditions, worker participation and the reconciling of professional and family life. Quite simply, this calls for two remarks to be made.

The first is that, if we do not want this new social approach to go unheeded, it must be accompanied by an action plan, by the re-launch of the European social agenda, and perhaps even by a Council that is dedicated – as the last one was to energy- and renewable energy-related objectives – to the implementation of these social objectives. Quantified objectives should be set, for example in the areas targeted by the Lisbon Strategy: youth employment, over 50s’ employment and access to lifelong learning. The Member States should be made to provide themselves with the resources to get results, for example by exchanging best practices and by making sure to penalise those who do not follow things through. Furthermore, we should release a number of texts that are being held up by the very Council that is responsible for strengthening the Union’s social dimension: the Working Time Directive, the revision of the European Works Councils Directive and the Temporary Work Directive.

My second remark is that there must be consistency between this new focus on the Union’s social dimension and all of the policies conducted in other areas. Is the protection of the social model entirely consistent with our desire to completely liberalise the postal sector, together with the electricity and gas sectors? Can these public service sectors be tackled solely from an internal market perspective? Does liberalisation provide us with guarantees regarding public services, the servicing of all territories and the controlling of tariffs? I believe that, on this issue, too, we need to propose a new balance. That is why, as you know, the Socialist Group in the European Parliament has requested that a draft framework directive on services of general interest be looked into.


  Bronisław Geremek (ALDE). – (PL) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, allow me to point out that the recent meeting under German Presidency is not just an example of effective action, but an example of how to combine axiology, or adherence to values, with a pragmatic policy.

Europe means freedom, solidarity and innovation, aims which our energy policy should also pursue. Solidarity regarding energy will and can serve freedom. How may innovation be combined with solidarity in energy policy? I would like to point out that the countries that recently re-joined Europe after a long period of separation are poor countries which do not have the capacity for the 3 x 20 programme. As a result, the implementation of that programme may soon increase internal divisions.

I call upon Commissioner Verheugen not to forget that Community policy should serve Community goals.


  Zbigniew Zaleski (PPE-DE). - (PL) Mr President, the summit represents another step forwards in the building of Europe. To avoid becoming over-confident, however, let us take a more critical look at the status quo in selected areas. The 3% GDP for science in the Lisbon Strategy, although an improvement, will not be enough to put us on a par with the USA. There is still a long way to go before Europe’s intellectual potential is put to its full use.

Regarding energy policy, the target of meeting 20% of our needs using renewable sources, and resorting to mining including coal mining, should not blind us to our current energy problems. The annex speaks of a common European policy coordinating the Member States. The latter should not, however, act to the detriment of European cohesion as we have recently observed them doing.

The current situation regarding gas supplies from Russia – the gas crises in Belarus and Ukraine –is a further test of our energy policy and security as a whole, and we should regard it as an object lesson, and not just a glitch that will go away. Russia’s challenge is not an easy one, but Europe can avoid being the fall-guy provided that it speaks with one voice, which is rarely the case. Hopefully this summit will change things.

The Commission’s recent actions on protecting the environment in the Rospuda River Valley, when no such vote took place concerning building a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, shows how selective, how non-cohesive and inconsistent these actions are. There are floods of tears when a rose dries out or when our forests burn, while strategic events are passed over in silence and we focus instead on niceties.

Finally I would like to mention Europe’s greatest weakness, namely the continuing lack of solidarity at government and national level. This is a matter not so much of formal provisions, as of recognising our common fate rooted in tradition, particularly Christian tradition, and based on common aims, which need to be constantly defined. At the moment, the energy issue is a test of European solidarity, and this solidarity will energise Europe’s future development.


  Gianni Pittella (PSE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, after this latest European Council we can fairly say that this is the Europe that we like: the Europe of choices, the Europe of farsightedness, the Europe that takes care of its interests and projects its role onto the world. This was a much-needed, albeit unexpected final spurt, but a really welcome one. It is not the first time that we have been on the point of rolling back down but have made it up the slope again by giving it our best effort: we did so with the customs union, the single market and the euro. Today we are doing it with energy and the fight against climate change. We must not stop now: that would be an unforgivable own-goal.

The Commission must do its part by translating the Council's decisions into legislative proposals on which Parliament can work in depth. The Council should assess national plans on a majority basis. Above all, we must not stop on the road to a political Europe. As the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, said in this Chamber during the last part-session, the Constitution is not a caprice, a whim or mere ornament. Without new rules, a legal personality, a political and social soul and the Charter of Rights, Europe is in danger of declining again.

That is why we anxiously await the declaration of 25 March. Mrs Merkel said yesterday that the declaration will not talk about God, and that is all right, because God holds anyone who is sincerely Catholic and Christian in His heart. However, the declaration must not fail to talk about the Constitution. After last week’s successes, it would be disappointing if we came up with a vague declaration that did not talk about Europe's successes or mention the great advances of the last 50 years or, most of all, did not sketch out this great goal of the European Constitution.


  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). – (FI) Mr President, I will use the time allotted to me discussing the Berlin Declaration. First of all the 50-year partnership between the European states is a reason to celebrate. The partnership has brought results, although of course there are areas of dissatisfaction.

Germany has drawn up a special declaration in honour of the occasion. Unfortunately, it was drafted behind closed doors. When the chairmen of our groups spoke this morning, they had to admit that they had not seen the text. This says a lot about the current state of the EU, openness and EU interinstitutional cooperation.

The Declaration must have just one aim: it must clearly and briefly state why we will need European cooperation this millennium. In other words, it must clearly define what our common European goals are.


  Markus Ferber (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Mr Vice-President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, I should like first of all to say how surprised I am at the intensity and high level of many of the discussions on achieving real CO2-emission reductions. In my Member State I am given the impression that the climate catastrophe could be brought under control if we drove a little more slowly, replaced our light bulbs and planted three trees every time we went on holiday to Africa. Giving people this impression is to deceive them.

We certainly need to consider very carefully when most CO2 is emitted. It is when electricity is generated. That is why it is important for us also to reflect on how reductions can be achieved where the greatest amount of CO2 is emitted. It is interesting to see that the Chairman of the German SPD is now also travelling round the country as a scientific expert calculating how much CO2 is emitted by nuclear generation. He should leave this to a physicist like the German Chancellor. Then we would be on the right track.

The first matter that we will have to consider is therefore how we can also set targets for energy production in car transport. How many grams of CO2 should be allowed to be emitted per kilowatt-hour? Then we will be on the right track and only then can consideration be given to further measures. I stress that we will have to reflect on the role that nuclear energy should play in the next years and decades. Here it is important for us as Europeans to debate nuclear energy objectively and free of ideology, bearing in mind the responsibility that we have to bear here, and in so doing also to help to enable this debate to be conducted objectively in the Member States.


  Adrian Severin (PSE). – Mr President, energy security and coping with climate change are the two most dramatic challenges of our time. By addressing these topics in a bold and comprehensive way, the European Council recognised that global challenges require global answers; that cross-border threats require cross-border action. These are issues which concern ordinary people and by addressing them the Council sends out the message that the European Union is responsive to European citizens’ expectations, thus motivating their loyalty towards the European institutions. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. A common energy market requires the Communitarisation of energy policy, which should include, or be associated with, a joint effort for technological development, as well as coordinated investment, employment and growth policies.

The political will expressed this spring will be neither sustainable nor effective without a European legal basis. A common policy also requires a special budget, and one has to secure the means to finance that budget, possibly by taxing certain energy transactions and by creating European Union financial own-resources. The shaping of the European Union’s enlargement, neighbourhood and development strategies should follow the measure and the manner in which our foreign partners – neighbours or not – cooperate in the promotion of European energy and environmental strategies. On the other hand, the bilateral agreements between the European Union Member States and third states in the field of energy should be conceived in such a way as to work in favour of the enhancement of our common energy strategy.

This spring, the European Council has proven that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Berlin Summit has yet to prove that there is a tunnel leading to that light.


  Elizabeth Lynne (ALDE). – Mr President, I am delighted the Council agreed that the administrative burden arising from EU legislation should be reduced by 25% by 2012, as another speaker mentioned.

I also welcome the fact that the Council has called for a group of independent experts to advise on better regulation. This is vital. However, I would like to go even further and have independent impact assessments as a matter of course for all legislation.

In the employment field, legislation should be brought forward at EU level only if it cannot be done successfully at local or national level. An average small business owner already spends roughly 28 hours per month filling in forms as a result of legislation. Health and safety legislation should be brought forward only if medical and scientific evidence demonstrates the need for it, as is the case for an amendment to Directive 2000/54/EC on biological agents, to protect health workers from needlestick injuries.


  Othmar Karas (PPE-DE).(DE) Presidents, ladies and gentlemen, the first step has been taken in the right direction towards a common energy and climate protection policy and no hot air has been produced: we welcome this. The context for political decisions has improved, but we are still a long way from our objective. Most of the hurdles are still to come. The first is fully integrating the agreed targets into the growth, employment and competition policy programmes and if necessary amending them. Climate and energy policy must strengthen the Lisbon Strategy; they should not detract from it.

Secondly, it will take time for the specific European programmes, projects and measures to be tabled and for the necessary action plans, which should be open to scrutiny, to be drafted. Everyone needs to know who is doing what by when and how so that we can achieve our joint targets. This is crucial because, although targets set at summits raise hopes, it is only tangible results that build confidence. I would therefore call for a report to be produced annually by the Member States to the national parliaments and by the Commission to the European Parliament about the results of implementation.

Thirdly, when will we receive the necessary research programme, the necessary support initiatives and the energy savings road map from the Commission and the national governments? We still have to prove ourselves both internally and internationally. We have not yet done so. As St Catherine of Siena once said, it is not the starting out that is rewarded but solely the persevering.


  Riitta Myller (PSE). – (FI) Mr President, we should be pleased that the European Union has taken an important step to protect life on earth and has confirmed its global leadership in the fight against climate change.

Now that we agree on the objective and the commitment, we need to look closely at how to implement the aims. It was vital to commit to the use of renewable energy sources in order to satisfy our future energy needs. Many renewables, however, are still in the development phase, and at the same time a good deal of energy-efficient practices are only waiting to be introduced. The Member States now have a job to do. Now we need to invest heavily in energy efficiency.

Biofuels and bioenergy also need developing, though at the same time we have to ensure that the environmental friendliness of the entire life cycle of such energy sources is also taken into consideration at global level, as has been said here. For this we need a system of certification to serve as a guide to the right production methods.

All in all, we, as Europeans, have the opportunity to emerge as a leader in energy technology. As Commissioner Verheugen said, we need answers from industry to the question of what is possible. For much is possible.


  Françoise Grossetête (PPE-DE).(FR) Mr President, the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Dimas, spoke at the end of this Summit about revolutionary decisions. I should like to share his enthusiasm but, amid this chorus of praise, I must voice my scepticism.

True, the policy on climate change has finally been integrated into EU economic policy. That is a good thing. I remember, however, the Lisbon Summit of March 2000, at which the European Union set itself the target of becoming the world’s most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010. Five years on, we have seen the mediocre results of that. I should not like to see this Summit turn into yet another farce and a big disappointment.

I welcome the development of renewable energy sources, but they are just one part of the solution to the problem of global warming. True, we must think in terms of energy efficiency and of the insulation of buildings. Wind energy must be developed, but its impact is very limited; we cannot rely on it: there is no electricity when the wind is too weak, or when it is too strong. Solar energy should be promoted, but we do not have a sufficient number of tradesmen who are trained in these new technologies.

I regret the overcautiousness of the Council, which reluctantly acknowledges that nuclear power is one effective solution regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Mrs Merkel wants the European Union to pioneer the fight against global warming. Everyone agrees, but this is plainly hypocritical when we know that some Member States, which are today opposing nuclear energy, buy energy from this source when the survival of their economies depends on it. Hypocritical, too, is the fact that Mrs Merkel wants to combat CO2 emissions while at the same time enhancing her policy of having electricity generated by coal-burning thermal power stations, when we know the disastrous effects that this has on the environment. Hypocritical, yet again, is the fact that Germany, which no longer wants nuclear power on its territory, sells its nuclear power station technology to China. Hypocritical, lastly, Commissioner, is the fact that you expect industry to make an effort when the German Presidency protects big-engined cars that consume too much energy and emit too much CO2.

So, yes, I agree with the conclusions of this Summit, but the words must be turned into deeds, because it will be thirty years before today’s actions have an effect. The European Union must regain its influence and impose green diplomacy.


  Marek Siwiec (PSE). – (PL) Mr President, it has been a long time since there has been such agreement about a European Union summit. It has been praised by national leaders and also in this House. But an innate caution begs the question: what has happened politically? How has it been possible, after so many long months, to eventually achieve a success we can all rejoice in?

The answer is that there was a great longing for success, and a great need to demonstrate unity. It must be stated clearly, however, that the summit held on 8 March actually precedes a very important debate on the Constitution. In the shadow of the summit’s success lurks an unfinished debate. The outstanding dilemma from the previous summit as to what the European Union should be, remained unresolved despite the success achieved.

We should therefore ask ourselves whether the agreement reached in the field energy has given energy and courage to all those who want to take the difficult decisions about the future of Europe, or whether in fact the opposite has happened. Or could it be the case, as some of Europe’s leaders say, that if we managed to achieve agreement using the old mechanisms, that they do not need to be replaced?

I warn all those who are preparing the Berlin Declaration and who are preparing constitutional solutions, not to allow a situation to arise in which whilst everyone says the same thing and praises success, in reality each country, or the majority of countries, thinks differently. If it turns out that this summit was the European Union’s last success because it is followed by nothing but problems, then sadly all the grand words been spoken in this House will be proved meaningless.


  Malcolm Harbour (PPE-DE). – Mr President, there has been a lot of praise for the Council, particularly on the energy package, but I want to note another significant landmark, which for me personally is a very important one. Since I came to this House in 1999, I have been making speeches regularly following the Brussels summit, asking for the internal market and its completion to be given top priority. Thank you, President-in-Office, for making it the first action on the first page of your communiqué. More importantly, I am really pleased that the Council has affirmed the importance of completing the internal market in the context of Europe3s response to globalisation.

Why do I say this is of such great importance? President-in-Office, I was privileged to be rapporteur when we held the meeting of national parliamentarians, which you attended, on the whole of the Lisbon Agenda. Those parliamentarians were telling us that this is the message we need to get across to our electors. Our governments and our prime ministers, however, are not giving us a great deal of help in communicating this message about the fundamental importance of the internal market. They said the same thing about the four freedoms in the internal market, and that has been mentioned here as well. President-in-Office, I would like you to go back to the Ministers and say, ‘help your parliamentarians to communicate this important message to their electors’.

Let me link that also to two important proposals that are mentioned here. One is a proposal I know a lot about – the Services Directive. The second one is the really important proposal from Mr Verheugen about dealing with issues relating to product markets. President-in-Office, I just want to say to you that the prime ministers should go back from this Council and ask for the files of all the cases pending before the Court of Justice where individual countries are infringing the Treaties in respect of the free movement of goods and services. All they need to do is to deal with all of those cases. This could be done between now and the next summit and it would make the biggest single improvement to the internal market, without us having to do any more legislative work. Let us have action, not words in this case.


  President. Thank you very much, Mr Harbour. It is nice to see your engagement and emotion.


  Marianne Mikko (PSE). – (ET) Last week an epoch-making Council session took place. The European energy system has fallen behind the times. More than 20% of generators are over 30 years old and must be replaced. This is a historical opportunity for Europe to rid itself of the obsolete attitudes that have shaped our energy policy up to now.

Instead of replacing that physically obsolete fifth with outmoded but new generators, we had the courage, under Germany’s presidency, to fulfil the obligation to replace it with renewable energy. Even more than that, however, I like the idea of replacing energy-wasting with energy-saving consumption.

Energy and security go hand in hand. Each kilowatt for which we do not need to purchase energy from undemocratic regimes is a contribution to global security. Unfortunately, however, the continued political support for the planned gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea shows that the lessons of history have not been heeded.

We must not encourage Russia to continue its Stalinist policy of zones of influence. It may sound like a harsh assessment, but the Baltic Sea gas pipeline is like a slap in the face for Estonia, like a 21st century Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Europe urgently needs a common energy policy and constitutional treaty. The institution of the Foreign Minister of the European Union will ensure that ‘backroom deals’ will forever become a thing of the past in this union.

For that reason, I believe that Germany, which now holds the presidency of the EU and has successfully conducted this Council, will bring this critical treaty to life. And the citizens of the European Union will see that it is good, that it is in the spirit of the third millennium.


  Josef Zieleniec (PPE-DE).(CS) Mr President, it is a good thing for Europe that the Council has adopted the energy action plan for 2007-2009. In so doing, it has taken the first step towards establishing a common European energy policy – albeit in a watered-down form.

Although the summit recognised that Europe has a long way to go if it is to achieve a competitive and unified internal market for energy, it failed to support the complete unbundling of energy company ownership, which is a vital factor in achieving this.

Completely unrestricted integration in the sector will lead to the emergence of huge energy conglomerates, which will wield enormous economic and political influence in all countries. This will enable them effectively to influence political affairs at both national and – as we have recently become aware – international level. The energy sector is also less competitive and therefore less efficient than it ought to be.

The risk to security is a similarly dangerous consequence of this situation. If Russian state-controlled ownership were to make inroads into these large and powerful firms it would be an economic and above all a political disaster, especially for the new Member States from Central and Eastern Europe

The unbundling of energy company ownership and the adoption of transparent Europe-wide market rules for all, along with a common approach among European countries to external energy policy, would improve the functioning of the energy market, improve the transparency of internal policy in the individual EU Member States and significantly reduce foreign policy and security risks not only for the individual Member States but also for the Union as a whole.


  Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, thank you very much for your predominantly positive assessment of the Spring Summit of the Heads of State or Government. Mr Lambsdorff, I wish to say to you that for me and for the German Government neither the Summit nor the positive comments are cause for complacency. However, I remain convinced that, nonetheless, a degree of confidence is necessary for the remainder, the second half, of our Presidency, or at least it will do no harm. Or to put it another way: at a time when Europe is after all not in the best of health, or let us say is stagnating – now that the renewal process has come to a standstill – anyone who does this job without ambition, without desire, without faith in the ability of Europe to reform and change should not in my view even bother starting such a job at all.

I can assure you that even before our Council Presidency had begun and certainly once it had started I was repeatedly asked many times, particularly by journalists: how do you actually intend to achieve this programme? With a view to the first Summit they also asked: how can you actually succeed in brokering an agreement when the positions of the Member States are so far apart?

I do not believe that it is such a great secret. You are all familiar with this from your work. You need a great deal of patience, particularly with those partners who have doubts, who are hesitant about certain outcomes. You need the necessary ambition and above all you need to be fair, particularly towards those who will find it much more difficult than others to reach the targets agreed. This worked at the last Summit. Now of course the same questions are being asked about 25 March. How is it actually supposed to work when there are such varied interpretations of the history of the European Union, when expectations about the content of the Berlin Declaration differ so greatly? I tell you, it will happen in just the same way.

In the past we have listened patiently and I think we know more or less what people’s expectations are. I am only saying this because earlier someone said that the outcome would then of course necessarily be very general. If we succeed in having a Berlin Declaration then this success does not necessarily have to be a reason for banality. The result that emerges can also be a good Berlin Declaration. If we succeed in taking this step it still will not be the solution, but it will not be the end of our Presidency either, and neither will it be the end of our ambition. But it is an important second step towards the solution that will hopefully be achieved at the June Summit, when we will try to untangle the knot that is at present still stopping the European renewal process from moving forward. I can assure you that when we prepare for the June Summit we will do whatever we can to achieve this.

I should like to make a few final comments on energy and climate. Many Members have rightly pointed out that this Summit does not of course mean that our work is complete. All I can do is confirm this and say: yes, further work is needed in many areas. I have mentioned energy research; I have mentioned strengthening our energy relationships with third countries, and of course this also applies, Mr Verheugen, to the ambitious target for renewable energies. The 20% is now our European target and we have always said, even to the outside world, that it is now a question of converting this European target into national targets.

Apart from the fact that I am convinced, Mr Verheugen, that we will achieve this together, all I want to say to you here is that the Commission and the Presidency obviously discussed whether we should have gone down the opposite route, first agreeing national targets and then deriving a European target from these.

However, both of us – the Commission and the Presidency – were sure that we would probably have discussed this for another five years and still would not have identified a common target. That is why we agreed on this approach. It was pointed out that we Europeans ultimately cannot rescue the world’s climate on our own. We need to keep an eye on how energy and climate policy develops in important countries such as the United States, China and India. Someone voiced the suspicion that this was precisely what we would not be concerned about. I simply want to say that the opposite is true, and I am saying this for Europe, I am saying it for our national German policy, and I am saying it in particular for our G8 Presidency.

On Monday I will be in Washington and by arrangement with my American colleague I will be opening a major, joint event there involving German and American companies, with whom we will be discussing how we can strengthen the transatlantic technology partnership, particularly in the field of the energy economy. In the context of the efforts being made in the United States, I would point out that below the federal level exemplary work is already being done on climate and energy policy in many US states.

On China I wish to say only that we have it firmly in our sights. In the context of the G8, both at summit level and at foreign ministers’ level, ‘outreach’ meetings are going to be held, to which not only China and India are invited but also Mexico, South Africa and Brazil, and at both meetings – both at the foreign ministers’ level and at summit level – the issues of energy and climate will play a central role. As you see, we are also concerned about those who do not belong to the European Union.

We need to show – as we did at the last Summit, and there I agree with Mr Verheugen – that the European Union is not a historical seminar but a workshop for the future. We have provided an example of this.



  President. Thank you, Mr President-in-Office. After the successful Brussels Summit we now need a successful result in the form of the Berlin Declaration. The European Parliament will do all it can to ensure that we are successful together.


  Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the Commission. (DE) Mr President, I should like to express just one single thought, indeed more of a request.

There is a tension between economic competitiveness, high social standards and protecting our environment and in this area we should stop regarding the past in such a confrontational and polarising manner, playing the economy off against ecology and ecology off against the economy. It is simply not true that people are against protecting the climate and the environment if they say that we also have a responsibility for jobs. It is simply not true that if people say we need to do more to protect our environment they are also saying that they are not interested in jobs.

The truth is that we have surely learnt by now that we can link the two together. The truth is that a European industry that is a world leader in this field – not only in environmental technology, but also as far as environmentally friendly products and services are concerned – will be most likely to create jobs for people and give them a future.

That is what this is all about – and that is the belief on which this Commission’s policy is based: solidarity with the generation that is alive today, which wants to live today and have jobs today, and solidarity with the generations that will follow, which want to find a planet on which they can live, is not contradictory. This is precisely what we want to demonstrate with this policy!


  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place in a few minutes.

Written Statements (Rule 142)


  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This European Council reaffirmed the positions of the so-called Lisbon Strategy, with liberalisations and privatisations, labour flexibility and the planned attack on workers’ rights, in connection with which I should like to highlight the announced communication on flexicurity.

The conclusions of the Council clearly state: ‘To enable the next three year cycle of the renewed Lisbon Strategy to be prepared, the European Council invites the Commission to present an interim report in Autumn 2007 with a view to its proposal for the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (2008-2011). Furthermore, the European Council invites Member States to present on time their national reports on the implementation of the National Reform Programmes.’

In other words, the pressure to continue with privatisations and attacks on labour rights is maintained.

There is no information on the so-called European Constitution, although we know that the pressure is still on for there to be an Intergovernmental Conference during the Portuguese Presidency. The Council has thus reiterated its tacit support for the plan for the constitutional consolidation of this neoliberalism, which is accompanied by the centralisation of power, federalism and militarism.


  Gyula Hegyi (PSE), in writing. (HU) In the past few months, more and more people in Hungary too have been worrying about global climate change. Many still do not grasp the essence of the phenomenon; others are denying that it could be the result of human activity. More and more people are realising, however, that the current practices of our civilisation, our transport and our consumption are unhealthy. Progress is not sustainable because there are not enough natural resources to satisfy our current demands, while gas emissions and waste lead to the pollution of the environment beyond recovery. The German presidency has rightly recognised the need for action in order to slow down the rate of climate change. Increasing the proportion of sustainable energy sources within the overall European energy mix is commendable. It would be a grave error, however, to forget that global climate change is not the only source of environmental threats. Atmospheric pollution, the presence of carcinogenic substances in our daily life, overuse of insecticides and pesticides, the extinction of certain animal and plant species, the accumulation of waste, are all threats to our future and to sustainable development. If we want a more humane future for ourselves and for our offspring, we must take action for an environmentally friendly, healthy and sustainable future.


  Magda Kósáné Kovács (PSE), in writing.(HU) We, the members of the Socialist delegation, are happy to acknowledge that at their March session the Heads of State or Government gave recognition to the first achievements of the renewed Lisbon Strategy. Its main results were economic growth in conjunction with reduced unemployment. We are especially pleased that nine Member States, among them Hungary, provided great momentum for this positive trend by signing the declaration advocating further development of a social Europe and promoting its role.

Reforms are crucial for making the most of the positive aspects of globalisation, for innovation, for economic restructuring as well as for the further advancement of EU policies. Our common goal is the welfare of Europe’s citizens and deepening their trust. The path towards this goal runs through increased employment, improved workmanship and protection of social rights. These unique European traditions do not mean, however, the conservation of existing legal structures but the preservation of European principles.

As to the subject of employment, it is important for flexibility to be accompanied by security. The relevant regulations have to be modified so that we may be able to provide prospective employees not only with suitable wages, but with useful knowledge. At the same time we have to abolish barriers that needlessly hamper businesses in their efforts to meet the demands of globalisation. In the course of putting into practice the notion of flexicurity, we have to make sure this will truly bring practical benefits and guarantees to employees. We socialists have to be especially watchful of this at every stage during the reform of labour rights.


  David Martin (PSE), in writing. – I welcome the statement made by the Commission setting ambitious targets for reduction in carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 and for the increasing use of renewable energy forms. Climate change is a global issue and we will need to work together to reduce global warming, not only within Europe, but with North America and Asia. I believe that these targets are achievable, but they need to be regularly monitored. I believe that the best way to do that is through strict monitoring and annual reporting. Member States must also be responsible for providing detailed action plans of how they will meet these targets.


  Péter Olajos (PPE-DE), in writing. (HU) After looking at the record of last week’s spring Summit, as a Hungarian MEP I note with sadness that the Hungarian Government – which in its publicity campaigns likes to call itself progressive – has once again given proof of its short-sighted provincialism. In this case, however, their attitude does disservice not only to Hungary but to the entire European Union.

It appears from the statements made by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány in Brussels that the Hungarian Government contributed its vote to softening the targets set for climate and energy policies. For it is really no use setting the proportion of renewable energy at 20% of the EU’s total energy consumption by the year 2020 if it is not compulsory for each and every Member State. This way well-performing states can compensate for the underachievement of weak or lazy states. Unfortunately, this is what the Hungarian Government was striving for as well.

I am convinced that only with international cooperation can the effects of global climate change successfully be slowed down. However, this cooperation promises to be rather cumbersome.

Yet Europe, as a political player, could take the lead in this process. But how could the EU stand as an example before the whole world if a few small Member States can take the wind out of the sails of collaboration even within Europe?

No European state can rejoice that instead of taking action they need hardly do anything at all.

In so doing they are not gaining time, but rather missing a chance. A chance for a modern, competitive Europe.

Thank you.


  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing.(EL) The decisions taken by the European Council in March are yet further irrefutable proof of the role of the ΕU as a mechanism for promoting the choices of capital. Instead of taking measures to protect the environment, measures are being taken to protect companies and strengthen the monopolies.

The plundering exploitation of natural resources by capital is the basic cause of the significant climate changes and of the real danger of the ecological destruction of the planet. However, instead of taking bold measures to at least limit the unaccountability of the monopolies, decisions are being taken to strengthen competition on the electricity and natural gas markets, liberalise the energy market and hand the entire strategic sector of the production, transmission and distribution of energy over to the private sector.

Centre-right and centre-left governments have unanimously committed to speeding up the implementation of the anti-grassroots Lisbon Strategy, setting as their primary objectives the commercialisation of education and health and the attack on insurance funds and the pension, wage and social rights of the workers. At the same time, the promotion of harsher anti-labour measures, the 'adaptability' of the labour market and 'flexurity' are being speeded up in the aim of holding down labour costs, in order to increase the profitability of Euro-unifying capital.

The Greek Communist Party is fighting against these choices, highlighting fair demands and fighting with the workers for the satisfaction of the modern needs of the grassroots classes.


  Richard Seeber (PPE-DE), in writing. – (DE) It is certainly right to describe the outcome of the EU Summit as an important step in the right direction. For our future and particularly for that of our children it is of the greatest importance that we vehemently counteract an average temperature increase of more than two degrees Celsius. For this reason I consider the decision to set targets of generating 20% of our energy from renewable sources and achieving a 20%-reduction in CO2 emissions in the EU by 2020 as imperative. I therefore particularly welcome the fact that our Heads of State or Government have now also finally managed to reach such a decision.

I am aware, and I think that my colleagues will agree with me, that these steps are just a beginning and that further efforts will need to follow to guarantee lasting and sustainable climate protection. Obviously in so doing care needs to be taken to ensure that the overall approach adopted is a balanced one. I am, however, convinced that new and strict environmental standards will not put Europe at an economic disadvantage, but that on the contrary Europe will be a world leader in new technologies. In this way we will both help our environment and secure high-quality jobs in Europe for the long term.

Furthermore, I would call for renewed efforts to be made to convince the major polluters, such as for example the United States and China, of the importance of protecting the climate, because it is only together that sustainable success is attainable.




5. Voting time

  President. The next item is the vote.

(For results and other details of the vote: see Minutes)


5.1. Statistics on migration and international protection (vote)

- Before the vote:


  Ewa Klamt (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, ever since 1999, this House has been debating legislative proposals relating to migration without any figures on which to base its decisions, while the scope of immigration policy has become considerably wider. What we need, then, is more and better information if we are to be able to effectively plan, implement, evaluate and monitor political measures. Led by Commissioner Frattini, the Commission has responded to pressure from this House and has submitted a draft regulation on the statistical monitoring of migratory movements, something that is made necessary by the Member States’ failure to supply all the relevant statistical material, or indeed any at all, on the previously voluntary basis.

Data are also collected in different ways, with the consequence that they have, hitherto, not been comparable. This regulation obliges our Member States to provide any and all figures that may be required; it also brings about harmonisation and makes it possible to compare the figures. It was relatively difficult to get the Council to come round to this, whilst all the parties in this House agreed in principle on the need for the regulation.

The general agreement prevailing among the groups meant that this House was able to get its position accepted through the comitology procedure, and the outstanding cooperation of all the shadow rapporteurs, to whom I would like to take this opportunity of expressing my thanks, played a considerable part in enabling us to bring this dossier to a satisfactory conclusion, so thank you all, once more, for that.


  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I beg the indulgence of the House. I wish to draw the attention of the House to the appalling situation in Zimbabwe. We look with horror and enormous frustration at the images of how a peaceful assembly is brutally dealt with in Mugabe’s country. I understand the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been released from detention, but he has a fractured skull. Grace Kwinjeh, the opposition representative in Brussels, has had part of her ear cut off while in custody.

I know that the President-in-Office of the Council has expressed condemnation of what has happened, but can we take more concrete action? In particular, I call upon the Presidency to use its influence to persuade the South African Government and the other SADC governments to take a more principled position and act to bring about urgent change for the better in Zimbabwe. Wringing our hands is not enough.



  President. Thank you very much, Mr Van Orden, we take good note of your comments.


5.2. Number and numerical strength of the interparliamentary delegations (vote)

5.3. European Aviation Safety Agency (vote)

- Before the vote:


  Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, I just wanted to say something about the translation of Amendment 10, which has to do with Article 1, point 5 of Article 6b, paragraph 4, and where it appears that an error crept into the final report for voting in plenary through the transmission of the committee’s vote. In the original document, the amendment reads – and I shall quote it in English:

‘those involved in commercial operations shall hold an attestation as referred to in’

(DE) but the text adopted by the committee reads:

‘those involved in commercial operations shall hold an attestation as initially described in’

(DE) and so on, and I ask that this be taken into account.


(Parliament agreed to the request)

- Before the vote on Annex II:


  Jaromír Kohlíček (GUE/NGL).(CS) Mr President, on transcription, one line appears to have been mistakenly omitted from paragraph E of Annex II, namely part 7, and I quote, ‘600 kg for ultralight aircraft for non-commercial use’.


(Parliament accepted the oral amendment)


5.4. Marketing of the meat of bovine animals aged 12 months or less (vote)

5.5. Ratification of the ILO's 2006 Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention (vote)

5.6. Social services of general interest (vote)

5.7. EC-US Air Transport Agreement (vote)

5.8. Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament (vote)

- Before the vote:


  Monica Frassoni (Verts/ALE).(IT) Mr President, my group made a mistake in not asking in time for two votes to be taken by roll call. If there are no objections, I should like to ask you kindly to authorise us to do so now, even though we have missed the deadline.

In the original text, it would affect paragraph 1, second part of the split vote that is on the voting list, and paragraph 9, again in the original text, where voting on separate parts is provided for: we request a vote by roll call in this case as well, if you agree and will kindly forgive us for the mistake we have made.


(Parliament agreed to the request)

- Before the vote on paragraph 2:


  Vytautas Landsbergis (PPE-DE). – Mr President, we can improve paragraph 2 by adding only a few words.

It concerns our ‘call on all States not part of the NPT to accede to that Treaty’. That is regular and routine. However, we could call on them first to ‘comply voluntarily with’, and then to accede to, the Treaty, thus introducing fresh encouragement.


(Parliament accepted the oral amendment)


  President. That concludes the vote.


6. Explanations of vote

- Report: Klamt (A6-0004/2007)


  Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Given the way in which Community policy and legislation on migration and asylum has developed, it is necessary to obtain statistical information of a far higher quality than that currently available.

I therefore support this initiative, which follows on from the Thessaloniki European Council of 2003, which recognised the need to set up more effective mechanisms for collecting and analysing information on migration and asylum in the EU.

I welcome Mrs Klamt’s report, which is aimed at setting up a common framework for collecting and compiling Community statistics in this field. This should enable the Member States to make better use of the available data for drawing up statistics that, as far as possible, comply with harmonised definitions.

It should accordingly enhance the exchange of statistics and lead to common analysis, which will in turn help us to draw up fair and effective Community policies on migration and the free movement of persons.


  Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The report is to be seen as a further step towards the total harmonisation of Community legislation. To set up an authority designed to monitor migratory flows and transfer data about them to and from the EU is quite unnecessary, in our opinion, and places a further burden on the EU budget. The rapporteur has shown no respect for existing national legislation in defining legal concepts such as ‘citizenship’ and ‘illegal immigrants’. The fact is that there is now already careful and reliable expert analysis of, and data concerning, migration, not only within the EU but also throughout the world represented by the UN. Citizenship, refugee status and immigrants are other concepts well defined in the UN Charter on Human Rights.

The June List does not want to help develop a surveillance society in which people’s freedom of movement can be affected by decisions taken at supranational level, and we are therefore voting against the report as a whole.


  Martine Roure (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The implementation of a European asylum and immigration policy means having global and comparable European statistics on a series of migration-related issues. This proposal establishing common rules on the gathering and generating of statistics in this field should provide us with comparable figures, giving us an image of the migratory flows in Europe.

I was particularly keen to see the figures linked to the so-called accelerated procedures included in this proposal. Indeed, Europe must make sure that accelerated procedures are not systematically implemented across the board and that the need for international protection, the right of asylum and the principle of non-refoulement are safeguarded.

Finally, we wanted separate statistics for transferred persons, in accordance with the Dublin II regulation on the determination of the Member State responsible for an asylum application. Indeed, it would seem that this regulation is placing a disproportionate amount of responsibility on the Member States located at the Union’s external borders. In the absence of the Commission assessment, initially planned for the end of 2006, statistical data will enable us to confirm this development.


  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) A directive is not the best way of regulating the complicated process of collecting statistics. This is better taken care of through agreements between responsible authorities with the competence required. I am therefore abstaining in the vote on this report.


  Andrzej Jan Szejna (PSE), in writing - (PL) I voted in favour of the report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community statistics on migration and international protection.

Mrs Klamt has made an excellent report that raises important questions regarding effective mechanisms for collecting and analysing migration and asylum data in the European Union. The enlargement of the Union has made harmonised and comparable statistics all the more necessary. Accurate information is essential to ensure the development and monitoring of Community legislation and immigration and asylum policy.


- Report: Leichtfried (A6-0023/2007)


  Hubert Pirker (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, although I voted in favour of the report, I would like to take this opportunity to draw attention to the situation as regards the agencies, of which the European Union now possesses 33, with a 34th having just been announced by the Commission, and the costs of which are now running at over a billion euros per annum. They employ 2 700 staff, and between 60 and 70% of their costs relate solely to administration. Something seems to be going wrong here, and it is to that that I wish to draw attention.

I demand that the work actually done by all the agencies, their efficiency and their usefulness, be reviewed, and that consideration then be given to closing down those that yield no added value for the services of the European Union. Only then can consideration be given to the opening of another agency, should it appear that there is a need for one.


  Françoise Castex (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the Leichtfried report on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency.

I believe that the proposal to extend the role of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) with the aim of establishing common rules on civil aviation to be applied by all airlines operating in Europe, whether or not they are based in the European Union, is a step forward. Europeans are very concerned today to see rules guaranteeing their maximum security being complied with.

In this respect, EASA has been granted powers to impose fines and periodic financial penalties when security rules are not applied properly.

Furthermore, I supported the proposals designed to extend the European Aviation Safety Agency’s sphere of competence over pilots’ licences, enabling it to check that pilots fulfil criteria in relation to training and vocational and linguistic skills.

I also endorsed a similar amendment calling for cabin crew to hold an identical qualification.


  Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Common rules governing air transport are necessary and desirable, especially from a safety point of view. There are thus good reasons for debating how current cooperation on aviation issues should continue and be developed. As usual, the European Parliament is trying, however, to import other proposals aimed at increasing the EU’s power in areas that should be reserved for the individual Member States. We believe, however, that the current report proposes too far-reaching a mandate for the European Aviation Safety Agency. We are confident that competent national authorities are capable of ensuring that pilots have satisfactory professional skills and adequate language knowledge. Nor do we share the view that the EU countries should have a common representative within the UN body for global aviation issues (the International Civil Aviation Organisation). We have thus voted against this report.


  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The competences of the Member States in the area of civil aviation have gradually been transferred to the ‘Community’, and the proposed amendment to Regulation (EC) 1592/2002 is a further step in that direction. That process of transferring and diverting competences is all the more detrimental when it is done within a framework whose limits have not been clearly defined.

In this case, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) would also become responsible for certifying aircraft and pilots, a competence that currently falls to each of the national authorities.

The national authorities currently comply with, and ensure compliance with, the requirements in force on civil aviation arising from international agreements. Cooperation between Member States and third countries is already happening. It could even be encouraged and developed further, whilst ensuring respect for the sovereignty of each country, for workers and their rights – guaranteeing social harmonisation by delivering more favourable working conditions – and for the rights of the user.

At its core, this initiative means another ‘step forward’ towards the effective implementation of what is referred to as the ‘single European sky’ – something to which we are opposed. With the negotiating process on amending this regulation now under way, we shall continue to monitor this issue in order to ensure that national sovereignty is always safeguarded.


  Fernand Le Rachinel (ITS), in writing. – (FR) It is true that we still all too often witness air disasters that are due not only to the poor state of some aircraft but also to the violation of security requirements.

The virtue of this proposal by Parliament and by the Council is that it increases the Member States’ obligations regarding inspections not only of third-country aircraft, but of EU aircraft, too.

What is more, if an inspection of airlines or of the activities of civil aviation authorities reveals any anomalies or a violation of standard security rules, the European Aviation Safety Agency will have the power to set a penalty mechanism in motion and to ban the airlines at fault from transporting passengers within the Union. I believe that this is a significant step forward in terms of averting the risk of aircraft accidents.

Finally, the work and remit of this Agency will make it possible to complete – usefully, I hope – the European blacklist of bad airlines.

Although not all of the issues in the field of aviation security have been settled, it would seem that prevention and repression have at last been usefully brought together in this text. We shall vote in favour.


  Luca Romagnoli (ITS), in writing. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the Leichtfried report aims at expanding the powers of the European Aviation Safety Agency by giving it control not only over aviation but also over the actions of carriers. The Agency will be responsible for renewing and issuing certificates and licences and for monitoring the implementation of uniform safety standards. It will also be able to impose fines if safety is not properly implemented.

The report also pays particular attention to the recruitment experience that the EASA has gained since 2002; in this respect, it has found it difficult to recruit the skilled, experienced staff it needs for a number of reasons, including language skills. The rapporteur therefore quite reasonably calls for the problem to be tackled by means of novel solutions, such as taking advantage of the possibilities offered by the EU Staff Regulations.

Today, however, I was very surprised to learn that there are only four Italians in the EASA, while there are 45 French people and 37 Germans. I call on the EASA and the Commission to address and solve this problem of representation as well, since there is an unjustifiable imbalance against Italy.


- Report: Bourzai (A6-0006/2007)


  Jim Allister (NI), in writing. Today I voted in favour of amendment 12 of the above report to exempt 8 to 12 month old meat marketed as beef from the rules set out in this piece of legislation. Such an exemption should be granted to benefit UK meat producers in terms of cost reduction and alleviation from burdensome procedures by removing the need for separate batching at each stage of the production process. I see no justification for this added requirement and therefore hope to see an exemption granted.


  Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), in writing. (DE) I have voted against the report by Mrs Bourzai on the marketing of the meat of bovine animals aged twelve months or less. The eventual consumer must not only be enabled to find out from the label the age at which an animal was slaughtered and the customary details such as the product, weight, price and best-before date, but must also be informed as to the number of kilometres the animals travelled while still alive and on their way to be slaughtered. When shopping, European consumers need to be enabled to see, simply and quickly, how long the meat they are interested in was transported prior to slaughter, in order then to be able to take their own decision as to whether or not to buy it.


- Report: McDonald (A6-0019/2007)


  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The adoption of this report is an important step towards ensuring respect for the rights of workers in the maritime sector.

The 2006 Maritime Labour Convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is aimed at guaranteeing decent living and working conditions on board vessels. The Convention incorporates all existing conventions and recommendations on maritime labour adopted by the ILO since 1919 into a single text to serve as a basis for the first universal Maritime Labour Code.

It is vital that the Member States ratify the Convention in order that every effort might be made to ensure that it is complied with effectively.

Given the strategic importance of the sector, which carries 90% of world trade and 40% of intra-Community trade, and the number of workers involved, this measure is long overdue. We therefore voted in favour of the report and hope that the Convention will be ratified and complied with by the Member States.


  David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this report, which simplifies all the existing ILO conventions and recommendations since 1919 into a single text. I am pleased that a possible deadline of 2010 has been set for the ratification by Member States, as the European Community is not a party to the ILO or this convention and it is important that each Member State ratifies the ILO recommendations.


  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The Maritime Labour Convention of the International Labour Organisation sets the labour rights of seafarers at the lowest possible level. It is far below the standard of their actual rights and the demands of the seafaring community. We have reservations about some of its provisions, such as those which recognise the right to exist and trade of the slave shops which allegedly find work for seafarers.

The report by the European Parliament and the Commission proposal allowing the Convention to be ratified by the Member States reflect the contradictions and stiff competition between the various factions of shipowning capital.

The Convention is hotly opposed by Greek shipowners, who are reacting to the safeguarding even of what are inadequate conditions of work and pay, so that they can keep the neo-colonial legislative framework shaped by the New Democracy and PASOK governments for shipping 'intact' and can continue unimpeded with their miserable exploitation of Greek and foreign seafarers and to increase their profits.

The Greek Communist Party calls on seafarers to strengthen the class fighting forces of the seafaring community, to step up their fight and to counterattack to safeguard and acquire their rights and satisfy their contemporary needs in the face of the anti-grassroots policy of the EU, the New Democracy and PASOK parties which speak for capital and the forces of the European one-way street.


  José Albino Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree that there is a need to draw up a first Universal Maritime Labour Code.

With the adoption of the ILO’s 2006 Convention, there will be minimum standards on the health, training, working conditions and social security of workers in the maritime sector, which will ensure decent working and living conditions on board international vessels.

It is now up to the Member States to ratify this Convention. I therefore call on the Portuguese authorities to ratify this ILO Convention, in order to ensure more homogenous minimum employment conditions.

I welcome the innovative mechanisms introduced by the Convention, such as the maritime labour certificate issued by the State to vessels flying its flag, after verification that the on-board working conditions conform to national laws and the regulations arising from the Convention.

I hope this Convention will help stabilise the maritime transport sector, which is faced with the pressure of international competition from operators with the least stringent social legislation and with the threat of relocation of recruitment of seafarers to the detriment of European jobs, including in intra-Community transport.


- Report: Hasse Ferreira (A6-0057/2007)


  Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE). – (SK) The ageing of our population, in other words the growing proportion of elderly people, and the resolution of issues of social deprivation are key challenges which the European Union will have to face in the coming years.

I welcome the pro-active report by Hasse Ferreira, which strives to define clear rules for social services across the EU, all the more so since they were excluded by their specific nature from the purview of the recently approved Services Directive. I fully support the application of the subsidiarity principle. Taking into account the 27 different models and concepts applied in social service provision and financing, we have to leave to the Member States the right of defining the tasks of social services in line with standard practice in each Member State, and of matching them as closely as possible to each citizen.

Our citizens are waiting for a clear message from us confirming that the Union will provide each and every European, and particularly those who are vulnerable and weak, with the opportunity to live their lives in adequate comfort and financial security. I believe that Parliament will also contribute through this report to the establishment of a sustainable European social model.


  Andreas Mölzer (ITS).(DE) Mr President, my reason for voting against the Hasse Ferreira report is that we are about to go through a social crash landing, for, while less and less money is being used to top up social security funds, the number of those who are dependent on the state despite being in work is on the increase.

When we degrade mothers by making them permanent recipients of welfare, when it is not possible to live from honest labour, and when having children is a sure-fire way to end up poor, we need not be surprised at dwindling enthusiasm for the EU or at the looming spectre of a dearth of children. I believe that it is very long overdue that we should find out and make public the actual costs arising within the EU as a consequence of economic migration, those economic migrants who have come here ostensibly as asylum-seekers, and those who are here illegally, especially as regards the burdens they impose on our social security systems.

Multiculturalist dreamers must once and for all throw overboard the illusory hope that foreign immigrants would compensate for our failure to produce children and would look after our old people, or else there will be an explosion in social costs, triggering a flood in which the indigenous European population will slowly, but surely, go under.


  Jan Andersson, Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Inger Segelström and Åsa Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) We supported the report. Social services have a character of their own and differ from commercial services. How such services are to be funded and provided is up to the Member States themselves to decide, but it is important for them to be of high quality and accessible to everyone.

In order to protect social services from internal market regulations, it is desirable to have a sector-specific directive in which social and commercial services are defined clearly and in such a way as to distinguish them from one another.

We are puzzled, however, by the concept of ‘female employment’, which is a term we do not know. We presume that, in the rapporteur’s view, there are many women working within the social services sector and it is important to promote their participation in the labour market, at the same time as combating insecure employment conditions. Where ‘part-time work’ is concerned, we believe that there should be a right to full-time work and that the opportunity of part-time work should also exist. We also wish to make it clear that ‘unpaid voluntary work’ does not exist within the public sector but that it can exist in a supplementary social economy. Unpaid work at home does not, however, come within the category of social services.

We interpret the concept of ‘public-private partnership’ as referring to the existence within the social services sector of a variety of services that are publicly funded and that are provided by a number of different actors such as public limited companies, non-profit-making organisations, cooperatives and private companies.


  Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (FR) About time too! It was about time that we had a report that takes into consideration the specific features of social services of general interest. SSGIs, which are to be distinguished from the other services of general economic interest, warranted this clarification of the definition of their tasks and organisational principles. On the other hand, SSGIs are a key component of the European social model that we are very keen not just to protect, but above all to promote. It is therefore a good thing that the European Parliament has taken up this major issue.

The compromise that we have managed to reach in this House is satisfactory, so I have therefore voted in favour of the Hasse Ferreira report.

This decision would appear consistent with the way in which the European Parliament has voted since the Gerbhardt/Harbour compromise on the Services Directive and, more recently, since the Rapkay/Hokmark compromise on the Rapkay report. I should like to make it clear once again in this House that this decision does not commit us in any way to a framework directive on services of general economic interest.

However, this report is not enough. I am referring here to the necessary sectoral directive on health services.


  Françoise Castex (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report on social services of general interest.

I welcome the continuity and consistency of Parliament’s vote, in the sense that it demands legal certainty and clarification of the Community framework to be applied to social services of general interest.

I believe that this report enables a balance to be struck between the application of Community law in the strictest sense of the word and the accomplishment of tasks in the field of social services of general interest.

This is in fact a preliminary step needed in order to establish a sectoral directive on social services of general interest, which Parliament clearly requested in the Rapkay report on the White Paper on services of general interest.

Furthermore, I welcome the proposal to convene a forum on social services of general interest initiated by Parliament and call for it to be implemented in practice under the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union.


  Edite Estrela (PSE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because it deals with an issue that is important to European citizens and because I share the rapporteur’s opinion. Social Services of General Interest (SSGIs) constitute one of the essential pillars on which the European social model is based and an appropriate means of strengthening the social dimension of the Lisbon Strategy and of addressing challenges such as globalisation, industrial change, technological progress, demographic change, migration and changing social and employment patterns.


  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The can of worms opened up by the directive on creating the internal market for services (the notorious Bolkestein Directive), paving the way for attacks on public services, is developed further in this report on social services of general interest (SSGIs).

Evidence of this comes straight away in the division of services of general interest into services of general economic interest and social services of general interest.

The report then fails to defend clearly the right of all Member States to define, organise and fund public services as they see fit.

It also allows private companies to provide SSGIs, thereby paving the way for the privatisation of essential public services. This will have the effect of undermining the principles of equality, universality and social cohesion and, most importantly, the possibility of upholding fundamental human rights in practice.

Lastly, I wish to point out that all of the proposals we put forward were rejected, for example our call for Member States, firstly, to reverse the so-called ‘reforms’ that have institutionalised their social protection models that are market based, subject to competition and obliged to compete, and, secondly, to stop promoting public-private partnerships or outsourcing social services to the private sector, because these strategies are misleading.


  Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. (FR) Paragraph 6 of this report on social services of general interest points out ‘the Member State authorities’ freedom to define, organise and finance social services of general interest as they see fit’, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.

This one sentence, notwithstanding the so-called ‘joint responsibility’ of the Union, renders the rest of the text meaningless: public services fall within and must continue to fall within the Member States’ prerogative, and theirs alone. It is up to each Member State to decide whether these services depend on the market, or on national solidarity as the guarantor of the common good, or indeed on a fair balance between these two elements.

In other words, it is not the responsibility of either the Commission or the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to define, and even less to rule over, public services. We know only too well what happens if they do act in that way: the privatisation of profits, in the name of ultra-liberalism and of competition, and this, to the great advantage of international capital; and the ‘nationalisation’ of losses, without any concern for the general interest or for that of the citizens, especially the poorest among them.

It can never be said enough how responsible these policies are for the social disintegration that our countries are now experiencing.


  Carl Lang (ITS), in writing. – (FR) Mr Hasse Ferreira is right when he states that social services of general interest are a key component of the European social model, based as it is on the protection of the most vulnerable members of society: children, the elderly, the sick, disabled people, the unemployed and so on.

Three developments are today undermining this social model. Firstly, the uncontrolled immigration that is in the process of ruining our social security systems. Thus, in France, the granting of free State medical aid to illegal immigrants costs EUR 600 million per year. Secondly, the destruction of borders which, by leaving our businesses to the mercy of international competition and social dumping, especially in China, is destroying the economic substructure of this social model. Thirdly, the gradual abolition of public services, as decided in 2000 during the Lisbon European Summit.

The report by our fellow Member, Mr Hasse Ferreira, does not propose any solutions because these developments are the result of the ultra-liberal ideology implemented by the Europe of Brussels.

Only another Europe, the Europe of nations, based on respect for national sovereignties, Community preference and borders protecting it from uncontrolled immigration and unfair international competition, will enable our nations to re-build a European social model.


  David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this report, which calls on the Commission to consider the proposal for a sector-specific directive in the field of social services of general interest, given that they can't be associated with the rules governing commercial services in the EU. Social services need to remain of high quality and accessible for all and the rules governing provision need to be set in legislation.


  Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald (GUE/NGL), in writing. Despite our reservations about certain aspects of the report, on balance we decided to vote in favour. While we are not convinced of the need for a legal framework, nor are we happy about the way in which certain social services have been designated as services of general economic interest, we are pleased that the report strongly supports the values of equality and solidarity, and the principles of accessibility and universal service.

Our vote in favour of this report should in no way be seen as an endorsement of public-private partnerships.


  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The report, apart from its gratuitous pronouncements about the 'particular character' of services of general interest, paves the way for their privatisation and integration into the directive on the liberalisation of services (Bolkestein directive).

Within the framework of capitalist restructurings, crucial social protection service sectors are being handed over to the 'free market' and to 'free competition', in other words to the unaccountability of big business, so that now they hardly even operate with the current limited social criteria, instead generating profits for the plutocracy.

Both the communication by the European Commission and the report by the European Parliament on social services are predicated on strengthening anti-grassroots changes.

They drastically limit the concept of services of general interest. They are promoting the allocation of duties from the public to the private sector (so that the public authorities are turning into the 'waiters' of 'free competition') and the development of public private partnerships which constitute the 'battering ram' for the penetration of monopoly business groups into the social services of general interest sector.

The workers must combat this nightmarish future by strengthening the class working and grassroots movement and stepping up their fight, so that they help to change the political interplay of forces in our country and in Europe in order to overturn this reactionary and highly anti-grassroots policy.


  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The EU stands to gain nothing from a rigid model for defining economic activities and for determining their public or private nature. The modern economy – and Europe’s in particular – needs flexibility. That being said, the best model for European integration is one that leaves room for each Member State to choose the paths that their citizens would like to follow and for the Member States themselves to be given room to make mistakes. The possibility of making mistakes is part and parcel of freedom of choice.

I therefore accept that there needs to be a clear definition, in legal terms, of what is meant by services of general economic interest (SGEIs) and social services of general interest (SSGIs). Their correct identification is important so that when the EU adopts standards it does not impose or prohibit anything that does not fall within its scope. Accordingly, I am in favour of much of what the report before us contains. I also agree with the rapporteur that SSGIs should be given adequate funding. This is unquestionable even if we differ over the means of funding and even if each Member State has a different understanding of its duty towards its citizens.


  Bernadette Vergnaud (PSE), in writing. – (FR) Social services of general interest are a key component of the European social model.

The European Commission communication on these services includes the prospect of clarification of the place occupied by SSGIs within the European Union with regard to social aspects, concepts applicable to these services and the legal certainty that should be granted to them. The models of organising and managing SSGIs do in fact vary greatly across the various Member States.

One of the aspects on which the Commission must focus is that of the creation of a legal instrument and, more specifically, of a sectoral directive, in order to ensure that the procedures are politically clear and to guarantee legal certainty for the social organisations concerned. Holding a forum led by Parliament under the Portuguese Presidency, in cooperation with all of the social partners, will enable this objective to be achieved.

SSGIs have a major part to play in turning the social dimension of the Lisbon Strategy into something concrete, by the volume of jobs that they create and by the social cohesion that they help to provide in various ways throughout the European Union. For all these reasons, I have voted in favour of the report by Mr Hasse Ferreira.


Motion for a resolution (B6-0077/2007)


  Robert Evans (PSE). – President, my UK Labour colleagues and I did not support some items in this resolution and we voted against it in the final vote because we believe that the draft agreement is far too imbalanced in favour of the United States of America.

If this draft is accepted by the Council in its present form, the US airlines will have virtually complete access to the EU internal market, whilst European airlines will still not be able to fly internally in the US. In addition, US interests will be able to own up to 49 % voting stock in EU airlines, whilst the reciprocal agreement allows just 25 % voting stock for EU interests in US airlines. So the draft agreement, to my mind, is little better than the one from November 2005, which both Council and Commission said was imbalanced.

As the Americans achieved their prime negotiating goals in this draft agreement, there will, I suggest, be little incentive for them to liberalise further in the future. I am afraid that it is the UK that pays the price for this deal. It grants hard traffic rights to the US airlines with full access to Heathrow, which is already 40 % of the transatlantic market, and despite the fact that four airlines – not just American – fly across the Atlantic from Heathrow already. So I think that, for the UK and for the whole of the European Union, this is a very poor deal.


  Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The June List accepts that the EU represents the Member States on issues relating to trade policy. The current aviation agreement with the United States, aimed at enabling airlines in the EU to fly wherever they like in the United States, falls within this area.

We are unhappy about the European Parliament having views about the ownership structure of US airlines. This is an issue for the competent US authorities. We do, however, share the general positions put forward in the resolution. Moreover, the aviation agreement is good for the internal market, which is an area that we safeguard and that we want to develop. We have thus voted in favour of this resolution in the final vote.


  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) One of the objectives of concluding this pre-agreement on air transport between the European Community and the United States is to minimise the current inequalities, at different levels, between companies in EU countries and in the United States.

We view the conclusion of this pre-agreement with concern. The assumption that the competence to conclude agreements of this kind rests with the Community, and not with the Member States, undermines the sovereignty of each Member State on a matter of huge strategic importance, particularly given that the guiding principal of this agreement is to ‘serve as a model for further liberalisation and regulatory convergence worldwide’, which we find unacceptable.

The advantages of concluding multilateral agreements are well documented. They are advantageous provided that they help improve the conditions under which the service is provided – in particular for passengers – available routes and the price charged and that they simplify the procedures and minimise the environmental impact; provided too that they safeguard and promote the rights of workers in the sector and ensure respect for the law and sovereignty of each country.


  Stanisław Jałowiecki (PPE-DE), in writing. – (PL) The European Court of Justice’s rulings ordering the revision of aviation agreements between the European Union and third countries posed completely new challenges for us, particularly in the case of countries like Russia and the USA, notably the latter. We should also remember that the ECJ rulings are binding on one party, namely the European Union. The EU is therefore required to negotiate a new agreement. We are obliged to do so, which puts the EU negotiators in a more difficult situation from the outset.

It is therefore all the more fortunate that two weeks ago, after another difficult round of negotiations, the European Commission managed to achieve a partial – albeit not fully satisfactory – understanding. This should be regarded as an important first step forward. But in moving forwards, it is important not to set ourselves unrealistic goals. In my view, the provisions aimed at harmonising social policy in the aviation sector on both sides of the Atlantic, which de facto would constitute an attempt to impose the European social model on the United States, is an example of such an unrealistic approach. Would this not be a sin of conceit?

On the other hand, I am decidedly in support of pressure to exchange best practice in environmental protection. After all, even if global warming proved a global myth, the environment itself is an invaluable good.


  Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. UK Conservatives are in favour of opening the aviation market to further competition and to agreeing an open skies policy with the United States. However, the proposals being discussed from the recent negotiations perpetuate an imbalance favouring the United States. Agreements of this kind should be totally reciprocal giving European airlines the same rights across the Atlantic as those given to US carriers in the European Union. The Commission has made progress but we need more - and soon. For this reason, the British Conservative Delegation has abstained.


  David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this resolution in which safety and sustainability are emphasised as two important goals for the agreement between the EU and the USA. I think it will be important to restore a proper balance of interests between the EU and the US following the decision of the Department of Transportation to withdraw its rulemaking on actual control of US carriers.


Motion for a resolution (RC-B6-0078/2007)


  Hubert Pirker (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, I have supported the resolution on the grounds that the preparatory work on the review conference is urgently necessary and that now is the right time to do it, but, since it is by their successes that the quality of the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty and its additional protocols will be judged, we should seize the opportunity that has now emerged with the resumption of the six-party talks to work towards the nuclear disarmament of North Korea. The European Union – and we in this House in particular – have made an essential contribution to getting these talks off the ground again and to getting what is termed the Peking Agreement with concrete measures put in place.

Now, though, we have to give practical support to the implementation of the measures that have been decided on in order to denuclearise North Korea, and my expectation is that the European Union will give its full backing to measures aimed at food security – in other words, agricultural development aid, to regional security – which means the improvement of diplomatic relations in the region, and measures towards making human rights a reality.

Our goal has to be that North Korea, without nuclear weapons, should have enough to live on and, in general terms, that there should be regime change in North Korea in the interests of peace and stability across the region as a whole.


  Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Nuclear weapons constitute a global threat to the world’s population. The development we now see, with more countries acquiring nuclear weapons technology, is very worrying. Every sovereign state is naturally entitled to defend itself and its citizens. Purely on principle, however, we do not believe that nuclear weapons are justified. History has shown the devastation to which these weapons can lead.

The resolution before us contains both good and bad wordings. We believe, for example, that all references to the European security strategy should be deleted. The fact is that this issue is an excellent example of why we should not have a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in the EU. More than one Member State has a significant arsenal of nuclear weapons, while others put their territories at the disposal of non-European countries with nuclear weapons. In a future EU with a common security policy, Member States without nuclear weapons could unintentionally be drawn into conflicts involving such weapons.

What is more, the world is bigger than the EU, and a global problem needs to be solved at a global level. It is the UN that has the required knowledge and experience and that is the institution competent to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the world.

We believe that underlying the resolution is an intention to strengthen the CFSP and Parliament’s influence on these issues. We are therefore voting against the resolution.


  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament are among the most important issues of our time, in an international framework characterised by instability and insecurity arising from the increasing aggressiveness and interventionism of imperialism led by the USA, with assistance from the major capitalist powers.

It is the USA that promotes the arms race, a country that is developing its nuclear weapons and seeking to install new systems in Europe that are, by nature, aggressive, examples of which include the new anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.

As the USA becomes ever more military in its focus, it threatens other sovereign countries with its interference and military aggression.

Against this backdrop, the rejection by the majority in Parliament of proposals tabled by our parliamentary group is most revealing. Those proposals were as follows:

- insists ‘on a peaceful political settlement to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programmes’ and ‘reaffirms its opposition to any military action or threat of use of force’;

- ‘expresses its opposition to the deployment of new ballistic and anti-ballistic missile systems on the territory of the Member States of the European Union’;

- and calls on ‘States with nuclear weapons to pull their arsenals back from a state of high alert and to undertake not to attack non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons’.


  David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this resolution as there are serious concerns about the risk of proliferation and it is important to revive and strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The EU has adopted a Common Position on non-proliferation that constitutes a positive platform for a stronger effort in this field, notably by pursuing an effective multilateralism.


  Mary Lou McDonald (GUE/NGL), in writing. Sinn Féin is unreservedly opposed to nuclear proliferation and welcomes the European Parliament’s stated opposition today.

Ireland is a nuclear-free country and must remain so. The nuclear industry however still affects our environment and health as foreign nuclear power plants have affected our seas and countryside causing health problems for our population.

All countries, regardless of their size, influence or form of government should begin a process of decommissioning their nuclear arsenals as soon as possible. We are opposed to any other countries joining the nuclear club or the extension of the nuclear abilities of those powers already armed with nuclear weapons.


  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) At a time when the European Parliament is voting on its established annual wish list on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and disarmament, it is refusing to condemn the installation of new ballistic and anti-ballistic systems in Europe.

In essence, this decision is tantamount to acceptance of and participation in the US national missile defence system, the objective of which is to establish a global nuclear rocket attack network. The installation of new US bases is already being prepared in the Czech Republic and Poland and the European Parliament, in the motions for resolutions by the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats and the overwhelming majority of socialists and liberals, is giving its consent.

We MEPs of the Greek Communist Party abstained from the vote, because we refuse to participate in the self-delusion as to the character of the ΕU, which was and still is aggressive in this sector too. The political forces which support it are trying to present it as an 'anti-nuclear power'. There are Member States (Britain and France) which have nuclear weapons. There are other American nuclear weapons also on ΕU soil. Now it is preparing to participate in the US national missile defence system, which is fuelling a new arms race and new antagonisms.

Despite the pretty pronouncements, it again proves that the ΕU is with the US and against the peoples on strategic issues. The aim of the US national missile defence system is to establish imperialist sovereignty through nuclear terrorism.


  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I wholeheartedly endorse the content of this joint resolution. The Non-Proliferation Treaty is our best weapon against the spread of nuclear weapons – a serious threat to world security. It must be said that it is not only important what nuclear weapons there are, but also who possesses them. As we have seen, not all countries behave in the same way on this issue.

Consequently, along with my vote in favour and my agreement, I would emphasise the idea that we have other responsibilities beyond mere formal acts. In terms of world politics, what interests us most is to ensure broad, lasting security. On this question, I am no longer sure of exactly what we have done. Let us hope that signs that are at the moment unclear but that engender fear, prove to be unfounded.


  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE), in writing. The possession of nuclear weapons has been a key element of the United Kingdom’s defence posture for the past 54 years. Given today’s dangerous world and the unpredictability of threats in the future, it would be foolish to take any decisions that would weaken our ability to maintain an independent British nuclear deterrent or the credibility of our deterrent policy. For the relatively small investment of less than 3 % of the UK defence budget over a 20-year period, the UK can maintain a vital defence capability. The UK is recognised as a legitimate Nuclear Weapon State under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Conservatives support the aim of eventual global nuclear disarmament as set out in Article VI of the NPT.

However, we are firmly against any unilateral nuclear disarmament that would expose our nation and its people to risk and leave our strategic defence entirely in the hands of others. Decisions that affect the security of the United Kingdom, its territory and citizens, are the responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government and not the European Union. Most of today’s resolution is surprisingly uncontroversial and the extreme amendments placed by the Left were defeated.

However, we could not support any text welcoming the efforts of international fellow-travellers of the so-called Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament such as the ‘Parliamentary Network on Nuclear Disarmament’ (Recital E). We therefore abstained in the vote on the resolution as a whole.


7. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes

(The sitting was suspended at 1.10 p.m. and resumed at 3.00 p.m.)




8. Approval of Minutes of previous sitting: see Minutes

9. Euro-Mediterranean relations - Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area (debate)

  President. The next item is the joint debate on EuroMed, which will include the following:

– Statements by the Council and the Commission on Euro-Mediterranean relations and

– a report (A6-0468/2006) by Mr Arif, on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, on the construction of the Euro-Mediterranean free-trade zone (2006/2173(INI).


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, honourable Members, I am glad to be able to speak to you today on the subject of Euro-Mediterranean relations and to be able to be present with you for the debate on the report from the Committee on International Trade on the construction of the Euro-Mediterranean free-trade zone. Mr Arif’s report contains much that is of interest on the subject of relations between the EU and the countries of the Mediterranean.

It is in the EU’s interest – not least for historical and geographical reasons, but also by reason of current developments, including the increasing danger of terrorism and close economic ties – that the Mediterranean region should be secure, politically stable and economically well-developed. We are reminded on an almost daily basis that the regions of North Africa and the Middle East have still not found political and economic stability.

Your House’s draft resolution does not mince its words in naming the main problems that underlie that state of affairs.

The Middle East conflict has left its mark in political, economic and social life and will have a lasting influence on the region. A marked increase in the population of the states on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, combined with economic development that cannot keep pace with that, have meant that more and more people there cannot gain access to education or employment. Young people, in particular, seeing no prospects for themselves in their own countries, try to emigrate to Europe or become easy prey for those who peddle ‘simple solutions’ in the shape of radical ideas; sometimes both these things happen together. Governments in some Mediterranean states shrink back from the necessary reforms and deny their people the chance of political participation.

The draft resolution does, however, acknowledge that the Barcelona process has brought – and I quote: ‘considerable progress to this region … through the building of political, economic, social and cultural relationships between the northern and southern Mediterranean’.

The Barcelona process was not able to resolve the conflict in the Middle East, but, then, that was not what it was meant to do, and it does add value in another way that should not be underestimated, in that it is one of the few fora in which Israel and its Arab neighbours meet at the same table on a regular basis. ‘Barcelona’ provides them with a roof under which they can have the chance of practical exchange and cooperation even at times when they have their political differences, and it is for the participating countries themselves to decide to what extent they want to avail themselves of that opportunity.

Let me give you two examples. In March 2006, Palestinian and Israeli representatives participated constructively in the meeting of senior EuroMed officials and the EuroMed Committee, despite the disputes resulting from the outcome of the elections in the Palestinian Territories.

The second example is that, at the special meeting of senior EuroMed officials and the EuroMed Committee on 22 February 2006, held to discuss the ‘cartoons row’, constructive proposals were forthcoming both from the EU and from the Arab side. Here, too, it was remarkable that both the Israeli and Arab delegations were present.

It follows that, even if the ambitious goals formally laid down in 1995 in the Barcelona Declaration – among them the creation of a common area of peace and stability, the establishment of a zone of general prosperity, and the development of a close partnership in social, cultural and human affairs – are not achieved, the Barcelona process remains an instrument that we cannot lay to one side.

The fact is that, despite all its defects, it can help the Mediterranean region to transform itself from a ‘sea of confrontation’ into a ‘sea of cooperation’, to quote the former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer’s way of putting it.

It is the Barcelona process that ensures that it is not only the representatives of governments and members of the academic elites who can meet together, but that ordinary people and members of civil society on both shores of the Mediterranean can draw closer to one another too, and the ‘Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures’ helps to bring this about with a commitment that is to be further redoubled in future.

I might add that one important institution in the field of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation is the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA), which was set up as long ago as 2003 with the intention that it should exert increasing influence in the promotion of democratic structures and human rights in all EuroMed countries.

It was evident from the summit meeting on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Barcelona process that, despite differences of opinion on the extent and actual form it should take, the EU and the Mediterranean countries continue to want close cooperation. The working programme for the next five years adopted by the summit contains specific objectives in all areas of the Barcelona process, not only in political, economic and cultural cooperation, but also in immigration, and the conditions for continued cooperation are in place.

What I want to say to this House is that there can be no stability without economic progress; we all know that, and that is true in the EuroMed context too. That is why the EuroMed foreign ministers, at their summit meeting at Tampere at the end of November 2006, reiterated the fact that the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone by 2010 continued to be a goal shared by all the partners in EuroMed. Is this persistent seeking after a goal agreed on over ten years ago reasonable – or is it evidence of obstinacy?

Let me say first of all that the date ‘2010’ seems to me to have become a symbol of the significance that the EuroMed partners attach to a free trade zone, while, over and above that, much has happened on the economic front to make a free trade zone appear like a workable proposition. The bilateral free trade zones under the association agreements in force between the EU and almost all the Mediterranean countries – Syria currently being the only exception – are being implemented in a satisfactory manner.

The object is to progressively further integrate the countries around the Mediterranean into the European economy. The German Presidency of the Council will do all it can to support the Commission, so that the current negotiations can achieve momentum and further progress may be made, particularly in such areas as the progressive liberalisation of services provision and the right of establishment; the progressive liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, agricultural processed products and fisheries products, and the creation of a mechanism for settling disputes and the convergence of laws with a particular emphasis on the approximation of technical legislation.

The object of this is to further facilitate the Mediterranean countries’ access to the EU’s internal market, since the EU is their most important trading partner, accounting for over 50% of their exports. This development does, of course, go hand in hand with progress in the implementation of the association agreement that I mentioned earlier, which will bring in its train other challenges, raising, among others, questions as to whether the Mediterranean partners’ business operations are competitive. Among the Mediterranean countries themselves, the integration progress has been significantly moved forward by the Agadir Agreement, which has been in place since 2004, and is intended to create a free trade zone for the countries around the Mediterranean. One way in which the EU promotes this cooperation between North and South is by giving financial support to its secretariat. We hope that more countries will soon join Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia in signing up to the Agadir Agreement.

Liberalisations and economic reforms cannot fail to have an effect on a country’s socio-economic situation, and precisely how such changes affect it is primarily dependent on how the necessary structural changes are monitored and on their being made with an ultimate purpose in mind. The EU is giving the Mediterranean countries practical support in carrying them out, having, for example, for some years been providing, as part of the Barcelona process, considerable sums for restructuring and modernisation in employment and training, as well as for the modernisation of the transport infrastructure.

The EU’s regional support programmes, such as EuroMed-Market, ANIMA, and EuroMed-Innovation, are helping to improve conditions for investment and entrepreneurial initiatives and are thereby strengthening the private sector, while small and medium-sized enterprises in particular can avail themselves of the European Investment Bank’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), which is a well-equipped, tried and tested support instrument supporting not only them but also environmental, infrastructure-related and educational projects.

As you will be aware, the great hurdle that needs to be overcome by developing market economies is that of persuading investors that a stable and rewarding environment awaits them. This is made particularly important by the urgent need for direct investment from abroad, and, since the countries of the Mediterranean need particular support from us in dealing with this, they have repeatedly asked us to provide it.

It is for this reason that I am particularly glad that an ad hoc working party on investments is to be held on 23 April during the German Presidency, at which the EuroMed partners will join together in identifying the most pressing problems and in looking for ways and means of improving the flow of investments to the Mediterranean region.

What I want to stress to your House, as I conclude, is that I, like you, take the view that uncontrolled economic growth is not everything, but that the social and environmental dimensions also need to be taken into consideration, and this is certainly also true where the EU’s relations with the Mediterranean are concerned, and so the German Presidency will be staging attractive conferences on both subjects, with high-profile participants.

At the end of this week, therefore, our foreign minister, Mr Steinmeier, will be opening the EuroMed Conference on Employment and Social Dialogue in Berlin. The shared area of security and prosperity that is the object of the Barcelona process cannot have any sustainable existence without a functioning social dialogue and new jobs; in that situation, it is more likely that there would be a greater risk of impaired social stability in consequence of high levels of unemployment, particularly among young people, and of diminished prospects for social and economic development in the states on the southern edge of the Mediterranean.

Secondly, on 19 April 2007, and also in Berlin, there is to be a conference on energy efficiency and renewable energies. An energy policy oriented towards the future is indispensable if economic development is to be sustainable and if resources are to be used prudently. Ministers from the EU’s southern and eastern neighbours, together with representatives of business and international financial institutions, will be discussing how to achieve secure and environmentally-sensitive provision of energy in the EuroMed area.

As you can see, our activities are completely in line with the draft resolution, and it is evident that we want to pursue, at one and the same time, all three of the Barcelona process’s main objectives, those being the creation of a common area of peace and stability, the establishment of a zone of general prosperity through economic partnership, and the creation, not only of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010, but also of a sphere of dialogue between cultures through cooperation in social, cultural and human affairs.

It is in the interests of all of us that we should not let up in our efforts towards achieving this goal. All of us – whether governments, parliaments or other persons in positions of political responsibility – have something to do here and can, by pooling our forces, certainly achieve a great deal.

Thank you very much for your attention.



  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, any discussion of European-Mediterranean relations is first and foremost a discussion of a shared political challenge. Today, the Mediterranean region and Europe form a strategic and economic area under construction. At a time when we are rediscovering our shared cultural and political heritage, we are cementing our future economic collaboration, because we want once again to play a key role in creating an area of stability, peace and prosperity.

The vast Euro-Mediterranean area is the home to two interdependent entities: the 27-member European Union, and the Mediterranean region with its more than 250 million inhabitants. We are interdependent politically as partners trying to bring peace to the Middle East and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and working to promote pluralism and democracy.

We are interdependent economically: Euro-Med trade relations are healthy and growing. Today, Mediterranean countries’ exports to the EU 27 have grown by 10% per year on average between 2000 and 2006. Imports from the EU 27 have also increased, but at a slower pace of 4%. The EU trade surplus has been reduced substantially and in 2006 trade was basically balanced.

However, we are interdependent in other ways: environmentally, sharing more than 46 000 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline, and jointly confronting challenges linked to climate change, water and the depollution of the sea. We are interdependent with respect to energy, too, thanks to the flows of oil and gas resources that originate in, and transit, the Mediterranean. We are also interdependent demographically, given the need for dialogue with the countries of North Africa on how to handle legal and illegal migration. Finally, we are interdependent culturally because of the urgently required in-depth dialogue between cultures and religions.

In response to this interdependence, the EU has set up the Neighbourhood Policy and the Barcelona Process: complementary and coherent frameworks for policy and cooperation. Within these frameworks, we have association agreements and neighbourhood action plans which have been concluded with almost all countries in the region. The most recent agreement with Egypt was adopted at the EU-Egypt Association Council on 6 March.

The Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, as has been mentioned, is gradually taking shape and will act as an interface between an increasingly globalised world and Europe’s open, inclusive regionalism. We are building on our liberalised trade in goods to liberalise trade in services and business establishment in a way that encourages much-needed regional economic integration.

Active Euro-Mediterranean institutions have been set up such as the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. The year 2007 will certainly be an important one in our relations with a region that is undergoing major change, which has great expectations of Europe and for which a close relationship with the Union is a major priority.

The year 2007 will be the first year of operation of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. Our work with our partners is animated by the conviction that, if changes are to last, they must come from within society.

In the context of the neighbourhood policy, the gradual implementation of political and economic reforms is opening the road to a rapprochement between Europe and the Mediterranean countries.

If we are to assist our neighbours in implementing challenging reform programmes, we must have something appealing to offer to them. We have already offered to strengthen our trade relations. We could also work to relax formalities related to the granting of visas. The proposals contained in the Commission’s communication require significant political will, as well as economic and financial commitments on an equivalent scale.

The European Parliament’s contribution will be vital to ensure that Europe maintains a coherent policy towards the region and to generate political and financial support for the successful implementation of cooperation policies in the Mediterranean region.

In the context of the Barcelona Process, the German and Portuguese Presidencies, as has already been said, will be working closely with the Commission in order to take forward the course of action adopted at the Barcelona Summit in November 2005.

Activities planned for 2007 include: a conference on social affairs in March in Berlin, the aim of which will be to add a social dimension to our partnership; a conference on migration, organised by the Portuguese Presidency during the second half of the year – the first conference of its kind in the region which will provide a forum to discuss joint approaches to combating illegal immigration and managing legal immigration more effectively; a conference on research and university education, at which the Commission will announce the creation of scholarships for university students in the region; and finally, a Euro-Med trade ministerial meeting, which the Portuguese Presidency is organising in Lisbon, to take stock of our progress towards our goal of a Euro-Med free trade area.

The year 2007 will also be important because it will be the year that we define and implement far-reaching action plans to help create a brighter future for the region: the Horizon 2020 plan, whose aim is to depollute the Mediterranean Sea; the Istanbul action plan on the role of women in society, adopted in November 2006; the practical implementation of the Tampere programme, adopted during the conference of Euro-Mediterranean Ministers of Foreign Affairs; and the action plan for implementing the free-trade area that is the subject of Mr Arif’s report, to which I would like to turn now.

I should like to congratulate the rapporteur and the Members who have contributed to making this motion for a resolution relevant and complete. The resolution refers to the mixed results of the Barcelona Process as regards trade liberalisation and economic integration, while highlighting the complexity of the task and the socioeconomic constraints, both structural and linked to the current international context, which characterised this neighbouring region of the EU.

Indeed, the mixed results in terms of prosperity derived from the establishment of an FTA are not always attributable to the process itself or to its weaknesses, but are often due to a number of structural constraints inherent in this region, which have somehow prevented the process of economic integration realising its full potential.

However, despite these constraints, there has been an increase of trade following the liberalisation under the Barcelona Process: exports from Mediterranean partners to the EU have doubled since 1995; EU exports have increased by 60% and the bilateral trade deficit of the Mediterranean countries has decreased from 20% to 10% in the same period. The creation of a Euro-Med FTA remains an objective both of Barcelona and of our neighbourhood policy.

In both contexts, various initiatives have been developed to deepen and support liberalisation in the fields of both further tariff liberalisation and the elimination of non-tariff measures.

New negotiations in the areas of agriculture, services and investments have been launched since the Marrakesh trade ministerial last year, and our European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans set up priority actions, particularly as regards the elimination of regulatory and non-tariff barriers.

From the beginning, the Barcelona Process has foreseen accompanying and mitigating measures to the Euro-Med FTA. These include: asymmetry in tariff dismantling; a gradual approach concerning liberalisation – for example, the agriculture sector is starting only now once a reasonable period followed industrial liberalisation; and last but not least, the provision of significant aid in support of economic and structural reforms and of sustainable rural development, earlier through MEDA, currently through the new ENP instrument.

Our priority remains to enhance sustainable development and competitiveness in the Mediterranean region through the elimination of obstacles to trade and by promoting regional integration, investments, regulatory convergence towards the EU internal market rules, research and innovation and the reinforcement of infrastructure and networks in the region. In a nutshell, this means working towards the shared prosperity which is the objective of the Barcelona Process and our neighbourhood policy. We will make every effort to ensure that this vision becomes a reality.

Honourable Members, at the heart of our relations with our Mediterranean partner countries is our very deep and strong desire to promote security, growth and stability in the region. However, there is also the abiding conviction that we are taking part in an even more ambitious project: constructing a region and affirming our common goals and values. The European Commission is counting on the European Parliament to rise to these great challenges with the help of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly and I look forward to our continued working together.



  Kader Arif (PSE), rapporteur. – (FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased – even more so after what I have just heard – to present this report to you today.

It testifies to the fact that the Union’s Mediterranean policy is a priority for our institution and that it must remain so. The report that I am submitting to you analyses the results of more than 12 years of cooperation laid down in the objectives of the Barcelona Conference. It makes some proposals in favour of the implementation of a mutually beneficial Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. This piece of work, completed over several months, was made possible by the close cooperation that I enjoyed with various experts, NGOs, government representatives of the countries of the Mediterranean and, of course, my fellow MEPs. May I thank them for their cooperation.

This sound collective knowledge, sustained by the constructive work of the shadow rapporteurs – to whom I am sincerely grateful – has enabled me, I believe, to come up with a balanced text that reflects all of the worries and questions. This spirit, this overall balance reinforced by the vote in committee, must guide tomorrow’s vote in plenary.

First and foremost, we must establish something. Although each part of the world has its own specific nature, relations between the Union and the countries of the southern Mediterranean are marked by the weight of history, a history of conflict, lack of understanding and instability, a troubled, even tragic, history.

That is why I have tried to draft this report above all from an eminently political perspective. A hope was born with the Barcelona Summit in 1995. The political will demonstrated was to build a global partnership between the European Union and the countries of the Mediterranean basin, with the aim of making this region a common area of peace, stability and prosperity. However, we must conclude, today, that the results are not equal to the hopes and expectations.

Since then, we have been living in an unstable political context: the war in Lebanon, the lack of peace prospects in the Middle East, complex relations since 11 September 2001 between the Western world and Arab-Muslim countries and strained relations between the partners of the South. Added to that is the idea – which I consider mistaken – that Europe does not give priority to its relationship with the countries of the southern Mediterranean.

One might add to this list of concerns the fear of seeing the Barcelona philosophy and the new neighbourhood policy advocated by the European Union weakened. That would spell the end of convergence and the introduction of divergence, fuelled by competition between countries.

The context is also one of asymmetry in the three areas of the economy, society and demographics. This striking asymmetry between the two parties to the free trade area, namely the Union and the countries of the Mediterranean, is just as striking between the countries of the Southern Mediterranean and, ultimately, within some of those countries themselves, between coastal and urbanised regions and within rural territories.

Faced with all these difficulties, a strong political will is required, but we must also show that we are realistic. It is for that reason and in view of the sometimes considerable delays in implementing the economic and political reforms needed to create a genuine Euro-Mediterranean market that I think it necessary to revise the 2010 deadline as the date on which this free trade area will enter into force.

The implications of such an area and the changes that it will bring about call for a more cautious approach on the part of all the partners, particularly when those partners are unequal. When looking ahead to the creation of this free trade area, the main theme must remain the objective of having a form of trade that serves development and the reduction of poverty, particularly in this region in which 30% of the population lives on USD 2 a day and in which mass unemployment and uncontrolled immigration are the only prospects for a growing number of young people.

Our priority must be to create a genuine Euro-Mediterranean socio-economic area, integrating all of the social and environmental issues into the economic dimension.

That is why I advocate a free trade area that is developed in a progressive, managed, gradual and concerted way. It must also be adapted to the socio-economic situation in each of the countries.

Markets cannot be opened up to the detriment of the countries of the South, with the risk that a number of today’s sensitive key sectors will be further weakened, as a result of a competitive struggle.

We all know that their agriculture is uncompetitive and not very diverse, with a majority of smallholdings needing their structures modernised, and that it requires us to look more deeply into a form of integrated agricultural policy, centred around food safety.

We also know that there are countries in which a form of low-technology and low added value industry has developed, which must be helped by means of investment in the areas of training and research, and also through the modernisation of its production structures; we know that we should not put pressure on these countries to suddenly open up their service markets, while maintaining public services outside the framework of the negotiations.

We need to keep a close eye on all of that, otherwise we will have worked to achieve the opposite effect of the development that we wanted and to the detriment of the social well-being of the populations concerned. That is why it seems vital to me that we grant our partners the right to manage the rate at which they open up to trade and the way in which they organise their development strategy.

It therefore proves vital to strengthen the overall competitiveness of the economies of the MED countries in order to guarantee their economic diversification, their successful integration into international trade and the fair distribution of the expected benefits; to maintain an asymmetric system based on trade preferences and continued use of supply-side management tools; to attract investment, of which there is little in this area; to provide a stable investment area and to provide for regional Euro-Mediterranean infrastructure and transport networks; and to work towards a closer political and economic alignment in the SEMCs, in order to help genuinely strengthen cooperation and integration.

To conclude, I should like to stress the urgent need for a renewal of political will among all of the partners and for the return of real cooperation as one of the Union’s priorities, both of which are conditions essential to the revival and success of the Barcelona process and of a Euro-Mediterranean socio-economic area. Without them, the free trade area is in danger of becoming the symbol of the Euromed misunderstanding. As far as my generation is concerned, it is vital that we move on to a time of reconciliation – that is the challenge that we have to address, ladies and gentlemen. Guaranteeing the stability and development of this area means guaranteeing the development of democracy and of our stability.


  Antonio Tajani (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the Committee on Foreign Affairs has, by a vast majority, adopted an opinion on the Arif report, focusing above all on political issues and thus also addressing the wider topic of the Mediterranean situation.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs has addressed six points above all. The first concerns the political commitment to create a free-trade area aimed at ensuring peace, democratisation, respect for human rights, gender equality and the promotion of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.

The second point concerns the urgent need for the European Union to work towards creating an area of security and stability throughout the region; this must include upholding the full sovereignty of Lebanon and a commitment to peaceful coexistence between the State of Israel and a future Palestinian State. Thirdly, we also see a need to grant financial support for the reconstruction of these areas, which have been through some really terrible times with violent clashes or even actual war. We expect, of course, that the creation of a free-trade area will be the first step towards the cessation of the wars of terrorism in the Middle East.

The fourth point stresses the need to encourage political, democratic and socioeconomic reforms in the EU’s partner countries so as to create an area of shared prosperity, not least in view of the growing Chinese presence especially in Africa.

In its fifth point, the Committee on Foreign Affairs insists on the need to establish at last a Euro-Mediterranean bank with autonomy from the European Investment Bank, so as to be able to respond to the constant and increasing demand from our partner countries for loans and financing.

The sixth and final point concerns the rather sensitive subject of immigration. The Committee on Foreign Affairs calls for agreements with the partner countries in order to control migratory flows at source as well, so as to prevent individuals who might endanger the stability of the European Union and also damage the image of the countries from which they come from hiding among the large numbers of workers who seek employment in Europe and who can be an important resource for our continent.


  Jean-Claude Fruteau (PSE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. – (FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to begin by congratulating our rapporteur, Mr Arif, on the pertinence of his analyses.

From an agricultural point of view, while the opening up of the markets is today offering real prospects of economic development on both shores of the Mediterranean, it is important that this trend be based on the experience of local populations and the actors on the ground. It is vital for the process to be implemented in a measured way, on a product by product basis and to a gradual timetable, in order to cater for small farms, which are the most fragile, the most numerous and the best equipped to develop a form of multifunctional agriculture that respects natural resources and local development.

This regulatory work hinges on the strengthening of trade preferences on the basis of an asymmetric relationship designed to benefit the most vulnerable countries. It also hinges on support measures that will enable us to help these countries to modernise their production structures and that will contribute to the development of synergies, through technical and financial cooperation among professionals and by means of common labelling policies.


  Vito Bonsignore, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) is due to meet at last in a few days’ time. The aim is to revitalise it in order to provide a parliamentary dimension to dialogue and cooperation in the Mediterranean.

The European Parliament’s position is fully expressed in the joint motion for a resolution, from which I should like to highlight three points: the call for the creation of the Euro-Mediterranean Development Bank, the call for greater attention to be given to environmental and energy issues, and above all the question of the status of women.

We expect the European Union institutions to pull together, and we call on the Commission to actively support the efforts of the European Parliament and its President, Mr Poettering, to revitalise the EMPA. I think this support needs to be made very conspicuous in Tunis, through their participation at the highest levels.

The debate on the free-trade area deserves particular emphasis today, since we are aware that, if it is created, it may well provide the political and parliamentary activities with a practical outcome. We signed up to the Barcelona process in order to make action in the Mediterranean more effective. We realise that there are now delays in achieving the expected targets.

The European Union has not been able to fulfil its ambitions, and that is why the Euro-Mediterranean integration process is now becoming the EU’s new policy and its political priority. We are aware that the world has changed, so we need to adapt our strategy without slackening in our actions: we need to enhance North-South trade and help to develop South-South trade. We need to look for practical, visible measures to move in that direction.

The European Commission should, in agreement with the other institutions, choose and carry out a major, symbolic project. President Barroso and Commissioners Ferrero-Waldner and Mandelson have all the information they require to put forward a proposal. It is essential to achieve peace in the area, with the cooperation of all the interested parties – from Israel to the Palestinians, and from Syria to Iran – with active support from the European Union in its new role, and with the intense activity of the Quartet. The European Union ought to be less timid and more daring: we need to get to the peace conference as quickly as possible.


  Pasqualina Napoletano, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (IT) Madam President, Commissioner, President-in-Office of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, the Arif report is, in my opinion, an historic one for the European Parliament. It addresses the commercial dimension of Euro-Mediterranean relations in a novel and thorough way. However, the political groups have decided to follow up the report with a debate and resolution; the debate covers the report, of course, but it is also about taking stock of this policy.

I do not hide the fact that we are a little concerned about the prospects of working in partnership with the Mediterranean countries, because the neighbourhood policy, which should have given these relations a consciously continental dimension, is in danger of fragmenting this policy. We have great respect and appreciation for the work that the Commission is doing in negotiating the action plans country by country, but we would point out that the action plans are only a part of this policy and that major problems such as employment, the fight against poverty, the environment and the recovery of the Mediterranean not just as a physical area but also as an environmental, cultural, political and economic one require a broader approach, a multilateral policy and a more substantial political investment from the European Union.

That is why we would ask the Council, and particularly the German Presidency, which has shown great sensitivity on this dossier, to take another step forwards with, we hope, the support of the Parliamentary Assembly that is to meet in Tunis next week. I would recall that the Parliamentary Assembly is the only political forum where the North and the South can talk and also the only political forum where Israelis and Palestinians still talk.


  Philippe Morillon, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (FR) Madam President, our fellow Members, Mr Bonsignore and Mrs Napoletano, have just made the point that, at the end of this week, the representatives of the coastal populations of both shores of the Mediterranean will meet again in this forum – happily now a parliamentary assembly – where they have endeavoured, since its founding, to develop relationships of trust, of which you, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, have rightly stressed the importance.

This will be our first meeting in plenary since the Lebanese tragedy, in which Europe, in my view, remained silent for too long and in which it finally intervened in a disorganised manner, on the initiative of this or that Member State. However, we know full well that it was the Union itself, as the heir to the humanist and cultural values that we know and bolstered by its economic power and demographic dimension, that was expected to play an intervention role at first, and a mediation role thereafter. Back then, the time had perhaps still not come to make the Union’s voice heard; it is perhaps a better time to do so now.

Mr Solana, our high representative, was in Beirut the day before yesterday. He was received yesterday by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia; today, he is due to meet with the Syrian President, Bachar Al-Assad.

I hope that these moves will help strengthen the hope born out of the recent diplomatic initiatives, which would seem at last to bode well for a calming of the situation. A calming of the situation in Lebanon, after the meeting between the prime minister and the head of parliament; a calming of the situation in Palestine, after the agreement reached in Mecca between Fatah and Hamas; and the first signs of calm throughout the Middle East after the first international conference in Baghdad, last Saturday.

It is under these auspices that we must continue to develop parliamentary diplomacy in Tunis. Such diplomacy will, I hope, enable us to bring together our Israeli and Palestinian colleagues who, since our last plenary session, a year ago, have barely had the invaluable opportunity to meet and exchange opinions with the aim of conquering this disease of mutual fear, which their two peoples have had to suffer so much.


  Adriana Poli Bortone, on behalf of the UEN Group. – (IT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, strengthening the neighbourhood policy with the South must be a strategic priority. The Barcelona process has marked a significant stage in our relations with the Mediterranean countries and it continues to do so.

Pessimists will tell us that the results have not come up to expectations, that South-South economic cooperation is still only incipient, and that we are still a long way from achieving any substantial results on the joint management of immigration front. We could of course have done a lot more, but we certainly would not have achieved what we have achieved without the Barcelona conference and without the process that came after it.

What was achieved was in-depth political dialogue between the two sides on a broad range of subjects. This is demonstrated by the frequent Euro-Mediterranean Councils of Ministers and the conclusion of a series of bilateral association agreements between the European Union and its partners, which may be seen as a basis for developing more comprehensive economic integration. The new neighbourhood policy provides instruments for closer cooperation in the Mediterranean region. The action plans enable us to make our actions more specific and to tailor them more to each partner's needs. These plans, however, must not be an alternative to the Barcelona process, but additional instruments that should make it possible to implement and achieve the Barcelona objectives more effectively.

These are common issues that change over time and as new needs arise, and they require a common approach in the interests of all the stakeholders in the region. They include the prospect of gradually integrating the Euro-Mediterranean energy markets in order to carry out joint energy programmes and to develop sustainable sources of energy, within a framework of active cooperation that is also aimed at ensuring the security of energy supplies, the diversification of these energy sources, the promotion of energy efficiency, the development of new technologies, research programmes, and the development of joint projects in this field.

One result of all that has been deeper mutual understanding, which should lead to broader, more open contact and a chance to correct any mistakes that have been made, so that stability, peace, democracy and progress may be the outcome for us all to share.


  Hélène Flautre, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (FR) Madam President, featuring among the key aspects of the Euromed relations, and of all the resolutions and declarations relating thereto, are the Middle East peace process, the fight against terrorism, cooperation in the fields of asylum and immigration policy and the promotion of democracy and of human rights. But how long is the road and wide the gulf between the declarations and modest results!

In the Middle East, the European Union has great difficulty in supporting the genuinely impartial application of international law. The rhetoric developed thus far by the European Union regarding respect for fundamental rights in the fight against terrorism has been in a bad way since the Fava report on immigration. The European Union policy has the very immediate effect of imprisoning migrants and refugees in their area of origin or of transit, in violation of their fundamental rights. What is more, the mediocre performance in the areas of democracy and of human rights clashes each day with the names of the human rights defenders – journalists, political opponents and even prisoners of conscience or trade unionists – who are rotting in prison.

In Tunisia, where the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, the EMPA, will meet for its plenary session, all of the projects funded by the European Union to help civil society are on hold. Not a single journalist can express himself freely. The Tunisian Human Rights League, the union of journalists and other associations are still banned from holding their congresses. Mr Abou, a lawyer and human rights activist whose release we were demanding as far back as June 2006, has just begun his third year in prison.

Ladies and gentlemen, we know that it is the participation of civil societies in the process and the democratic and parliamentary monitoring of the Euro-Mediterranean policies that are key to the revival of a virtuous dynamic, of a dynamic for peace, and of a dynamic for sustainable development and for human rights.

The Euromed parliamentary assembly must therefore do everything it can to support, promote and involve networks and actors from civil society in its work and to develop a real independent, autonomous capacity of governments, a capacity to assess, to spearhead and to make proposals within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean policy.


  Luisa Morgantini, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to congratulate Mr Arif on his complex and well-structured report. I shall deal with just one issue in the minute that I have: it will not be possible to achieve the objectives and outcomes of the Barcelona process unless we address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict quickly and decisively.

We are in 2007. The Palestinian territories have been occupied ever since 1967, and that means 40 years of deprivation of freedom and justice and 40 years of violations of UN resolutions and human rights. As the German Presidency has said, what is needed is dialogue, and every initiative to promote it is welcome. What is needed is negotiations that can lead to a solution to the conflict, so that Palestinians and Israelis can live together in mutual security.

The Arab initiative and the formation of the government of national unity are opportunities to be seized without further delay in order to bring the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table within the framework of an international conference. We must make such a conference possible if we want the Barcelona process to consist not just of rhetorical statements but of real, practical action in a Mediterranean of relations and trade. That is why I believe we need a policy of real partnership in the free movement of goods and people.


  Derek Roland Clark, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. – Madam President, my party favours free trade and establishing good relations. No doubt Europeans wish that for Mediterranean countries, and this morning President-in-Office Steinmeier expressed the view that the EU should deliver in areas where people want it to. But they are also entitled to ask how their money is spent, including the EUR 5350 million on Euromed in the period up to 2007. Considering all the other calls on resources, they might question the value of that, especially when we add funds for combating climate change. Here an enormous amount of money is to be spent on chasing moonbeams, for the scientific evidence is very suspect, further discredited by the unscientific, emotional and theatrical way it is presented.

If that classes me as a heretic, I hope I do not suffer the fate of Abdel Kareem, sentenced to four years in jail in Egypt for criticising both his government and the violent radicals in his country.

Bearing in mind that we were asked earlier today to support EU action against the horrendous Mugabe regime, perhaps those who manage Euromed funds might consider that some of this money is going to countries harbouring significant groups who have yet to renounce violence.


  Philip Claeys, on behalf of the ITS Group. (NL) Madam President, the problem of immigration is an important one, and is given far too little attention during debates on the euro-mediterranean partnership. Since the EUROMED countries produce the highest numbers of immigrants in most European Member States, it is only logical that things should be brought up for discussion within the framework of EUROMED, and that there should be more discussion of certain specific problems. For example, there is the problem of illegal immigration, of asylum seekers who have reached the end of the line, but who are readmitted to their own countries – in some cases, EUROMED partners – only with great difficulty. Moreover, we need to talk about the cooperation which we should be able to expect from the other side of the Mediterranean in order to make this sort of illegal immigration more difficult and to discourage it.

We must also place the problem of growing Muslim fundamentalism on the agenda, both for our EUROMED partners and in Europe itself. Another concern is the deficient integration of many immigrants in Europe, and here too, their countries of origin need to do something in relation to such issues as, for example, that of immigrants adopting the nationality of their guest country whilst wanting, or rather having, to retain their original nationality, which should be up for discussion.

Commissioner Mandelson spoke a moment ago about managing and controlling legal immigration. Well, I think it is high time we stuck our necks out and said that we do not need any more immigration and that the idea of people who find it difficult to settle migrating back whence they came should no longer be a taboo subject.


  José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (PPE-DE). – (ES) Madam President, I believe that we must all be pleased that we are holding this debate on the eve of the Conference of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly in Tunis and at the same time approving this resolution which has been adopted by all of Parliament’s political groups and by the Committee on International Trade.

I am pleased that the Commission said that we are facing a joint political challenge. Along with the commercial, energy, water, cultural and migration aspects, I believe that there is a fundamental problem underlying this debate: the political problem.

I believe that the European Union must pay close attention to the forthcoming Arab League Summit to be held at the end of this month in Riyadh, at which a new plan for the region is going to be proposed. The European Union, by means of its institutions, Commissioner, should take care to ensure that our comments and views are heard in this regard.

I also believe that we must take very good note of the current active position of Saudi diplomats, the visits of the Secretary of State of the United States and other international leaders, the recent meeting in Mecca between the President of the Palestinian National Authority and the leaders of Hamas, with a view to forming a government of national unity, and the visit of the President of Iraq.

I therefore believe, Madam President, that it is absolutely right to consider all of the factors making up the European Union’s Euro-Mediterranean policy — taking account of all of the possibilities provided by the instruments of the new neighbourhood policy and particularly the significant financial resources available to us — but I believe, Commissioner, that politics must be a priority, and in that regard, I believe that the decisions taken at the last Barcelona Summit, and specifically the code of conduct on terrorism, should be a fundamental factor that has a bearing on the work of the next Summit of the Arab League at the end of the month in Riyadh.


  Carlos Carnero González (PSE). – (ES) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to send a message of optimism, because every time we discuss the Mediterranean we give the impression that the situation in that region is entirely grim, and that is not the case. Of course we have many problems, but we also have many opportunities. In reality, the Mediterranean presents us with a ‘test’ to see whether we are capable of making the most of those opportunities. Conflicts, for example. The Middle East, for example, but in this case we must set up a Madrid II international peace conference, taking advantage of the windows of opportunity that have opened up, such as the partial acceptance of the initiative of the Arab League and the meetings of that organisation that are going to take place soon.

We have the problem of poverty, which is at the root of immigration. We also have the problem of development, though, with a view to tackling that, we have the Doha Round, which needs to be restored, the multilateral agreements, the association agreements and the Millennium Goals.

We have the problem of energy, the environment and climate change. But we also have the Barcelona Process to deal with these issues.

We have the fight against terrorism, but there is a code of conduct for combating terrorism approved by Barcelona+10.

We have democracy and human rights, but there are association agreements and agreements forming part of the neighbourhood plans that can be used for that purpose.

There are therefore both problems and opportunities. The Mediterranean is not a problem and a weak point for the European Union. It is part of the solution to many of our problems. We must therefore relaunch and enhance the Euro-Mediterranean process from political, economic, social, environmental, human and cultural points of view. We must implement the Barcelona+10 conclusions and ensure that the European neighbourhood policy does not push aside the Barcelona Process.

This region can find a solution as a region. We must not encourage each country to seek an individual solution. That is impossible, it is bad for the people and furthermore it is bad for the Union as a partner.

I therefore believe that the association between equals which are inevitably asymmetrical is a good working basis and it is the basis of the Barcelona Process, which provides for political dialogue and provides a framework for economic dialogue, as clearly stressed in the wonderful report by Kader Arif and in the resolution that we are going to approve.

The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly that is going to meet in Tunis will be a fundamental element in that regard and this Parliament, which was there when it was created, must continue to be fully involved in its activities.


  Gianluca Susta (ALDE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, allow me first to thank Mr Arif for the way in which he conducted the preparation of the draft report on which we are to vote.

Six thousand years after the first great civilisations appeared in the Mediterranean, this part of the world is still at the centre of tensions, opportunities and problems that need to be carefully managed. With the Barcelona declaration 12 years ago, the European Union and the 12 Mediterranean countries benefiting from the MEDA programme laid the foundations for a genuine political pact, the purpose of which – creating a free-trade area – was part of a more general aim of creating an area of peace and stability. Achieving this aim also means stabilising the Middle East and finding a solution to the Palestinian issue along the lines of the ‘two peoples, two states’ principle. This is essential if we want to liberalise relations not only between these countries and the European Union, but also among themselves.

The Arif report shows how to set about creating a free-trade area, in which Europe’s desire for competitiveness can be reconciled with the expectations of the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East, and in which the European Union’s efforts are not wasted in selfishly defending its own interests.


  Tokia Saïfi (PPE-DE).(FR) Madam President, I should like to begin by congratulating my fellow Member, Mr Arif, on the excellent report that he has produced and is presenting today. As my fellow Members have said, at the end of this week, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly will meet in Tunis. The work done by the EMPA over the last three years has paved the way for an ever more constructive political future, but the Middle East conflict remains the number one problem. In this regard, the EMPA will hold an extraordinary meeting in Cairo on this issue in June.

Politicians from both shores of the Mediterranean who form part of the EMPA want to help establish a lasting peace. The fact remains that Europe must become more active in this conflict and must crucially restore financial aid for the Palestinians, as the World Bank recommends in its latest report.

As regards the creation of free trade areas, Europe and its partners must redouble their efforts. The European Union must encourage the undertaking of reforms in the South by making effective use of the new neighbourhood instrument, and it must support the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership, the FEMIP, and its necessary transformation into a true development bank dedicated to the Mediterranean. For their part, the countries of the South must take ownership of the partnership and work towards enhanced regional integration with the aim of creating a mutually beneficial area of prosperity.

The European Union and its partners are therefore required to act if they are to rise to the challenge of an ambitious and effective liberalisation of trade. Accordingly, Europe must also help reduce one of the major causes of the imbalances, namely unemployment in the countries of the southern Mediterranean. Indeed, each year, four million young people from the countries of the South enter the job market without finding a job. At the same time, the trade imbalance in favour of Europe stands at several tens of billions of euros. This situation is getting worse each year; it does not correspond to a free trade philosophy, it is the source of growing impoverishment and it is a factor leading to unrest.

To conclude, together, we must all strengthen dialogue among civilisations in a region in which there are exceptional historical and human assets. The cultural issue is undoubtedly the most important, since it is in the hearts of men and women that the desire for war or peace is born.


  Jamila Madeira (PSE).(PT) I should first like to thank Mr Arif for the comprehensive report that he brought before us today, which will make a significant contribution to this debate.

European-Mediterranean cooperation, in its approach to the Mediterranean, should always help to implement the Millennium Development Goals as a whole. As previous speakers have said, zero poverty is not a utopian ideal but is within our grasp in this region. In this context, the main objective of the proposal that, as Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs, I shall be presenting in Tunis next weekend will be the creation of a specific plan for administrative, social and economic restructuring leading to an effective fight against poverty, be it in absolute or relative terms, in the Mediterranean.

2010 could bring us a prosperous area shared by some 750 million citizens right on our doorstep. Indeed, the political stability of this area is crucial not only for the EU but also for the world. We are all aware of the sensitivities of the different Member States on these issues and of the responsibility of the Presidency of the Council to take account of those sensitivities. Mr Mandelson told us precisely this when he revealed his unquestioned commitment as a representative of the Commission.

We know, however, that without strong technical and political commitment from the Commission itself, none of the actors concerned will help in this regard. At the very least, they will turn the action plans we have been negotiating into nothing more than empty words and will call for a purely individual approach.

Mr Mandelson, the development of this area and its political stability are in our hands. It remains clear that we must fulfil our role in allocating new social and financial instruments, in offering greater, absolutely unequivocal, support for microcredit and in terms of our unswerving commitment to making this partnership – and the crucial agreements that form part of it – work. We must unequivocally uphold our values.


  Ignasi Guardans Cambó (ALDE). – (ES) Madam President, the Barcelona Process launched an extremely ambitious project which, as this reports points out very clearly, still has a long way to go. It is still deficient in many regards. There is no question that the creation of a free trade area in the Mediterranean was a crucial corollary to what was intended through this Barcelona Process.

We must welcome this resolution and congratulate its rapporteur on being able to go beyond fine political statements and produce a realistic, sensible and constructive analysis of the situation and of the difficulties being faced. Our resolutions often contain too many flowery statements. That is not true of this one.

Of all of the interesting things it says, I would like to stress just one: the need to enhance South-South trade. The need for the European Commission to be directly involved in the efforts to enhance South-South trade. We have the Agadir Agreement, which needs to be extended, and it was signed on that basis, but we need to make enhancing South-South trade a specific objective, otherwise it will be impossible to move forward in that direction.


  Edward McMillan-Scott (PPE-DE). – Madam President, I congratulate the rapporteur on bringing this report to plenary.

The question of trade in the Mediterranean is, of course, an extremely important and historic one, and the Commissioner was right to reflect on the wider dimension of our relations with the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Indeed, it is a matter of great concern to me that, as he mentioned, the agreement just signed with Egypt was done against a background of very considerable repression in that country, the most important in the region.

In late January I tried to visit Dr Ayman Nour in prison. He is one of two parliamentarians currently in prison in Cairo – indeed, in the same prison. It highlights the failure, in a way, of the EU to stand by the principles which we are supposed to represent here in this House. I refer to this because, as has been remarked, there is to be a meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly this weekend in Tunis and, as a Vice-President of this House, I am privileged to work on that dossier.

One of the elements that we could begin to think about in the context of that Assembly is the evolution of a more real parliament. I am the chairman of a working party that deals with the financing and organisation of the EMPA, and proposals for reform are indeed going to the meeting in Tunis. But one of the areas that we have not yet been able to take forward is the question of the creation of political families in the Assembly so as to normalise the political debate away from the important, but nevertheless existential, questions of the Middle East, to the more mundane, but nevertheless terribly important issues of trade, of environment, of commerce, of transport – so many of the day-to-day issues which, I believe, should preoccupy us in our joint endeavours in making sense of our relationship across the Mediterranean.

In this way we could begin to make less relevant those radicalised Islamic parties which are now the subject of so much attention in that part of the world.


  Béatrice Patrie (PSE).(FR) Madam President, immigration is a difficult issue in the context of the Barcelona process; it is a complex phenomenon that must be dealt with from all perspectives, not just from the security perspective, which is too often brought to the fore.

All too often, in fact, it is Europe that has imposed the themes of the Euro-Mediterranean agenda by giving precedence, in a kind of mishmash of subject areas, to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, drugs trafficking and immigration. We must no longer take this approach: migratory flows and population exchanges are an economic necessity and a human resource for host countries. In this regard, I should like to make three proposals. We need to open legal immigration channels and combat illegal immigration channels, which exploit poverty and create a new, modern-day form of slavery. We must strengthen the political dimension of the partnership because democracy, respect for fundamental freedoms, the status of women and good governance contribute a great deal to development and also help to contain the spread of poverty to other regions.

To conclude, it is vital to establish operational cooperation between the authorities responsible for managing migratory flows on both shores of the Mediterranean, and, in this regard, I welcome the European Frontex initiative, for which an increase in resources is required.


  Francisco José Millán Mon (PPE-DE). – (ES) Madam President, over recent years the European Union has paid special attention to the East of the continent. Think of the Balkans, the fifth enlargement, the political changes in Ukraine and in Georgia and the not always easy relations with Russia. On the other hand, we have often tended to restrict our discussions of relations with the Mediterranean to the conflict in the Middle East. We must, however, prioritise the whole of the Mediterranean basin and ensure that it becomes an area of peace, prosperity, freedom and stability.

We are talking about neighbouring countries with numerous and age-old relations with States of the European Union, and countries that are facing serious problems. For example, their insufficient democratic and institutional development and low economic growth, and their consequent inability to provide a growing younger population with work. They are countries of origin and transit for illegal immigration.

So all of these problems being faced by our neighbours are now having an impact on the countries of the Union. We are interdependent. For the benefit of everybody, therefore, we must cooperate and increase our economic and commercial relations, including the eventual establishment of a free trade area.

Our neighbours must also be capable of carrying out significant reforms in order to deal with their problems. Maintaining the status quo will not bring stability. Political, social and economic reforms are needed. They are also needed in order to attract crucial foreign investment. To this end, a substantial increase in South-South trade is required.

Regrettably, the 2005 Summit, which marked 10 years of the Barcelona Process, was a missed opportunity to demonstrate the need for cooperation with the European Union, particularly to public opinion in the Mediterranean countries. The degree of representation of the countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean was disappointing. We must continue our efforts, however. The EUR 12 000 million for the European neighbourhood policy is a modest sum compared to other sums provided for in the Union's budget and in view of the immense needs of our southern neighbours. It is increasingly difficult for their citizens to accept the contrast between the prosperity of their European neighbour and the serious deficiencies that they suffer.

In short, Euro-Mediterranean relations must be a priority for the European Union. They will benefit both parties.




  Panagiotis Beglitis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, first may I offer my congratulations to Mr Kader Arif on the excellent analysis and proposals contained in his report.

Obviously we must not take a manacheistic view of the results of the Barcelona process. However, we must be honest and realistic. Twelve years, as we sum up today, after the Barcelona Declaration, I believe that the results are negative and that, unfortunately, we are a long way from implementing the objectives set in November 1995.

I believe that the European Union today does not have a reliable and integrated Mediterranean strategy which allows it to play a leading role in the broader Middle East and Maghreb and there is a specific reason for this: Commissioner Mandelson said that the neighbourhood policy is complementary to the European Union's Euro-Mediterranean policy. He must permit me to disagree. I believe that one of the reasons why Euro-Mediterranean cooperation is not progressing and has negative results is precisely this European neighbourhood policy. We have turned from strategic partners of third Mediterranean countries into neighbours. We are moving from strategic partnership to a neighbourhood strategy. The problem is not just one of semantics; it is a problem of the fundamental political absence of the European Union from the area as a whole.

I have something else to say: with the European neighbourhood policy we have basically cancelled the regional political, economic and social dimension of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and that is something which is instrumental to the presence of Europe in the area.


  Simon Busuttil (PPE-DE). – (MT) As Commissioner Mendelson rightly said, the Mediterranean presents a common challenge for all of us. I believe that the Commissioner hit the nail on the head when he said that, if we do not appreciate the fact that we are facing a common challenge, then we cannot even begin to address this challenge, let alone meet it.

I believe that the strategy we applied in order to build Europe has to apply to the Mediterranean too. Therefore, we need further to strengthen cooperation and economic integration, and then the other things will follow almost automatically. In order to strengthen economic cooperation, we naturally have to step up our endeavours in order to achieve our aim of a Free Trade Area by 2010. However, we cannot simply make efforts towards obtaining a Free Trade Area without taking into account the negative consequences that this might have for various sectors, including jobs and employment, the quality of life, social development and the environment. In order to minimise these consequences, we must make further commitments, both in financial terms and in terms of being more accessible to Mediterranean countries, for example through the Mediterranean Bank initiative. I agree with this initiative wholeheartedly and hope to see improved developments in this area in the near future. Through this initiative, we should not only be helping out financially, but we should also be sending out an important political message.

There is a substantial number of other issues that I do not have time to discuss in depth, but immigration and water resources in the region are two of these. It is a well-known fact that, without water, life cannot go on, yet long-term investment in this sector is sorely lacking. Also, improving relations in the Mediterranean requires much patience and perseverance on our part. I am optimistic that, despite the challenges facing us, we will succeed in building a zone of prosperity, in the same way that we built Europe brick by brick after the war. Now we must persist in being patient and in persevering.


  John Attard-Montalto (PSE). – (MT) It is true that the Barcelona process was too ambitious. Yet, it is also true that, for many years, we did not accord the Mediterranean the importance it deserved. Now, it seems as though, all of a sudden, we want to make up for lost time, which is why this project was probably too ambitious. I was greatly pleased to hear Commissioner Mandelson paint a positive picture of the Mediterranean situation so eloquently and draw attention to several important factors, including exports and trade.

However, if you go through the report, it paints a very different picture. There are problems in every sector. Finance, industry and development are just a few examples of these. Nevertheless, there definitely are issues such as energy and immigration, in connection with which we are trying to come up with solutions together, so as to be able to live together more constructively. In conclusion, I will just say that, without a doubt, it is vital that we trust each other. If we reciprocate one another’s trust on both sides of the Mediterranean, we will certainly be able to begin building, and go on building, on the positive elements there are between us.


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, I am in the fortunate position of not having to use all my five minutes. I get the feeling that there is broad consensus on this point – consensus on the need to received Mr Arif’s report with a great deal of respect and gratitude – together with a firm understanding that, while there is no alternative to the Barcelona process as a means of striving to build an area of peace and stability, it cannot, alone, do everything that has to be done in the region where peace policy is concerned, and that that is not, indeed, what it exists to do. I would also point out just how much work the Presidency of the Council has put into getting the formal peace process resumed and to bring forward negotiations within the Quartet framework.

There was also general agreement on the need for us not to abandon the goal of having a ‘free trade zone’ in place by 2010, but it is precisely because that can be achieved only if such a free trade framework is ultimately founded upon the ability to compete, that it must be plain to us just how important the European Neighbourhood Policy, with its concrete plans of action, can be, and just how valuable can be the transfer of the experience gained through it to the Barcelona process. That is the point I wanted to make by way of a conclusion. There is, indeed, close cooperation between the present Presidency of the Council and the next one, the Portuguese, and, far from in any way wanting to play off these different regions against one another, we want, in dealing with the South, to draw on the experience we have gained – and will continue to gain – in Eastern Europe, for it is in this that lies the great opportunity for the Barcelona process to make good progress.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. President, I would to like to thank all the Honourable Members who have spoken for their comments and suggestions regarding Euro-Mediterranean relations. They are proof of the interest and importance that this House attaches to the partnership and its future, as does the Commission.

The debate has reconfirmed the importance of the Euro-Med Free Trade Area, in particular its potential in promoting north-south, but also south-south trade, as has been highlighted during this debate, if implemented in a measured way.

Despite the difficulties and setbacks encountered by the Middle East Peace Process, the Barcelona Process has continued to make remarkable progress. The continuing conflict has not shaken our belief in the need for the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the Neighbourhood Policy. Since the Foreign Affairs Conference of May 2005 in Luxembourg, we have succeeded in reaching joint conclusions in all the Euro-Mediterranean ministerial meetings. This is the proof of a shared political will to move forward and to promote the Barcelona Process.

The issue of migration was raised by several Members. I would like to refer to the Euro-Med ministerial meeting on migration, which is planned for November 2007. This ministerial meeting should agree a draft action plan around the three clusters identified: legal migration, illegal migration and development.

What transpires in North Africa and the Middle East is of great importance to Europe's future. Where today there is doubt, let us create opportunity tomorrow: by basing our partnership on respect; by reiterating our commitment to a region that is both close to home and strategically vital for Europe; and lastly, by making sure that policy is always marked by action.


  President. To conclude the debate, I have received seven motions for resolutions(1) pursuant to Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12 noon.

Written statements (Rule 142 of the Rules of Procedure)


  Alessandro Battilocchio (NI), in writing. – (IT) The idea of creating a free trade area (FTA) represents a real opportunity for growth for countries in the Mediterranean region. Strengthening the role of the Mediterranean is in fact one of the main aims to be pursued by the entire European Community, since this region is at the centre of an important mix of different cultures and a strong economic interest on a world scale.

In this context, the 1995 Barcelona summit produced an ambitious framework of cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean, based on achieving three main objectives for creating a common area of prosperity through:

- political dialogue and security;

- the use of economic partnership;

- cooperation in social, cultural and human matters.

To make its intervention effective, the EU should step up technical and financial assistance supporting local level economic activities, create a framework for long-term economic and social development, regulate the free trade area in order to prevent imbalances from forming between the various labour markets, and introduce a Code of Conduct applicable to businesses.

Promoting development in the Mediterranean means encouraging dialogue between different cultures, moulding a spirit of peace and mutual understanding, together with respect for human rights.


  Bogdan Golik (PSE), in writing - (PL) I would like to express my support for the idea of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area by 2010 as announced in the Barcelona Declaration. As a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, I would like to draw attention to some aspects of liberalisation of the trade in agricultural products with the EUROMED countries. In my view, the markets between the European Union and the southern and eastern part of the Mediterranean should be opened in a gradual and planned way, and negotiations on access to markets must be conducted individually and separately for each product, and take into account the specific features of the agricultural sector in the Euro-Med countries. It is important to ensure that sensitive products such as fruit and vegetables, sugar, ethyl alcohol and tomato concentrate are excluded from the planned liberalisation. The European Union must also ensure that it retains the possibility of invoking special opt-out clauses which it could use to counter any potential threats posed by an excess of low-cost imports. It is also important to encourage the EUROMED countries to improve the quality of the products exported and to observe the quality and plant health standards required by the EU.


  Dominique Vlasto (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) The project for a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area has fallen behind, making it unlikely that it will be finished in 2010. However, there is an urgent need to adopt initiatives in this part of the world, where the Union should have a far greater presence.

Our main priority, via the European neighbourhood policy, should be a more targeted, country by country, approach. It is not because it is in the collective interest that the approach must be global. We must develop a form of tailor-made cooperation, so that each country becomes economically powerful enough to participate in the free trade area. This cooperation must be opened up to the local authorities of both shores of the Mediterranean, in order to establish solid links at all political levels.

Our second objective must be to stimulate South-South trade, because it remains inadequate. As a result of its enlargements, the Union has unique expertise to share with its partner countries in terms of helping them to prepare themselves in key areas of their economic transition, such as education, research, training, the preparation of economic actors and administrations and the approximation of laws.

It is above all by supporting the creation of a genuine Mediterranean common market that we will be able to implement the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area.


(1)see Minutes.

10. Bosnia-Herzegovina (debate)

  President. The next item is the report by Doris Pack, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, with a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on Bosnia-Herzegovina (2006/2290 (INI)) (A6-0030/2007).


  Doris Pack (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner Rehn, none of us have forgotten the failed constitutional reform last year, the strident and often nationalistic election slogans, the result that emerged from those elections, or the plan to close down the office of the High Representative, all of which prompted us, in December of last year, to put together a report on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Since the beginning of this year, though, a number of things have changed more rapidly than we had dared hope, for there is a functioning government for the whole country, its parliament has got down to work; the EU has decided to reduce the number of EUFOR troops; the issue of what is to become of the High Representative and of the ‘Bonn powers’ is again being discussed; and it is to be hoped that a way will soon be found to implement police reform, to which the Republika Srpska was, until very recently, resistant. We are therefore putting all recriminations to one side and joining with the country’s rational elements in looking forward to improvements and to political breakthroughs.

The stridency of the election campaign and the threats of a referendum have faded away, and it is evident that they meant something other than what we thought they did.

In our report, we try to be specific about what the problems actually are, and one of them is the fact that constitutional revision – which is indispensable as a means of reinforcing the powers of the State – is long overdue. The prevailing zero-sum mentality according to which ‘what is good for others is bad for me’ is intolerable, and will never make achievement of a common policy possible.

That the Dayton constitution is an impracticable monster is not the fault of the politicians, but of those others who, after the war, divided Bosnia-Herzegovina into two entities, seeing that as the only way to find peace. Today, though, that division is justified only if both parts are really able to support the state as a whole and do not hamper its functioning, and so what I want to say is that constitutional reform is indispensable if Bosnia and Herzegovina are to find their way into the EU.

It is also clear, though, that this constitutional reform is not a job for us or for some other so-called ‘internationals’, but a responsibility that the elected politicians of all three nationalities must shoulder. While the Venice Commission, or American or Canadian experts, can give help, it is the parliament – and on this the newly elected prime minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina agrees – that must be the platform on which this happens. The agenda of the constitutional reform process must set out definite steps and goals. There is also a blatant discrepancy between the functionality of Republika Srpska, which is one of the entities, and that of the other, the Federation, and this must be remedied in the interests of the State as a whole.

This House takes a great deal of interest in the development of Bosnia-Herzegovina; we want it to become a properly functioning integral state, able to look after its own citizens and creating the legal and economic framework conditions on which its young people, in particular, rely as the only foundation on which they – and, I might add, those expellees who are willing to return – can build a future for themselves.

I appeal in strong terms to the Republika Srpska to join with the Croatian Government in seeking viable ways of facilitating the return of its former inhabitants to Posavina, in the north of Bosnia, which is still uninhabited and ravaged by war.

The report does not address the current tensions in Srebrenica, and I should like to do so now; it is to be hoped, though, that the end result of them will not be efforts at secession, and I appeal to all to seek ways of reconciliation in order to secure coexistence without hatred, not least for the younger generation, for separation and isolation help nobody. Successful reconciliation is also, however, dependent on the extradition of the war criminal Radovan Karadzic to the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, and this has not yet been done. It is past high time that this chapter was closed, and I have to say that I had hoped that ESFOR, and later EUFOR, would have played a really major part in this – more so, in fact, than they have actually done.

I would remind the House that Bosnia-Herzegovina is surrounded by the EU, and that its fate is closely tied up with our own and with that of its neighbours; it is for that reason that our policy in respect of this country and its neighbours must be central to our endeavours. The prospect of EU membership is the incentive for the people there to delay no longer in taking many difficult decisions.

I would like to conclude my speech with a few words addressed to all those in positions of responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reminding them that our educational programmes are now open to young Bosnians, and that their government must now, therefore, do everything possible to get the necessary administration organised, with a national agency to manage the programmes, for the sooner that is set up, the sooner their young people will be able to participate in ERASMUS, LEONARDO and COMENIUS.

We are all very keen that Bosnia and Herzegovina should, over the next couple of months, get their hands on the tiller, in other words, should set to work on the reforms that they need. I want to thank my colleagues for their support.


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, honourable Members, we welcome your House’s initiative towards a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council. We have read this extensive report and the recommendation with much interest, and are largely in agreement with the analysis of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the next steps to be taken by Sarajevo and by the international community.

At its last meeting, on 5 March, the General Affairs Council welcomed the formation of the new government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, after difficult negotiations, came into being on 9 February as a broad coalition of the major parties from the three ethnic groups under a new Prime Minister, Nikola Spiric, a Bosnian Serb. The Council also called on Mr Spiric to ensure the rapid and effective implementation of all the outstanding reforms, not least on the grounds that this is a precondition for the conclusion of this stabilisation and association agreement.

Negotiations on technical aspects of the SAA were successfully concluded at the end of 2006; the three conditions for its conclusion waiting to be fulfilled are reforms in the three areas of the police, public broadcasting and public administration. The fourth precondition is cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. If it makes progress in these areas, Mr Spiric’s new government will be able to further open the gate that leads to the EU.

The European Union’s attention is currently focused on the reform of the police in particular, an agreement on which was concluded in October 2005, confirming that the underlying principles of the desired changes were the jurisdiction of the whole State over police matters, the exclusion of political influence and the necessity of functioning police districts. The police reform directorate submitted its final report on 27 December 2006, and this must now be approved, at the policy-making level, by the governments and parliaments of the State and of the Entities.

The main points of dispute are the Republika Srpska’s demands for the retention of its own police and internal affairs ministry and of police districts extending beyond the entity borders. The Council has called on the new government to use the current momentum to make progress on police reforms, which are, and will remain, a precondition for the signature of the stabilisation and association agreement.

While the EU welcomes the talks on the report from the police reform directorate, it still notes with concern the failure to meet the projected deadline of 2 March, by which agreement was to have been reached on reform of the police. The European Union expects all parties to discharge the commitments they made under the political Agreement of October 2005.

We urge the parties to reach an agreement incorporating the three fundamental principles specified by the Commission, firstly, that the State should possess all powers in respect of the police and should be responsible for their funding; secondly, that functioning police districts must be established on the basis of technical policing criteria, and, thirdly, that there must be no political interference in police operations.

As Mrs Pack has just made clear, it is also important that progress be made with the constitutional reform if the State’s ability to function is to be strengthened and the current constitution brought into line with EU standards. The successful formation of a government has paved the way for new progress.

It would be seen as a positive first step if the package of amendments to the constitution agreed on by six political parties in March 2006 were soon to be adopted. It would lay the ground for the onset of a more ambitious process by the middle of 2007, which would help to make Bosnia and Herzegovina an even more effectively functioning state.

It is for this reason that the Council has decided to extend the mandate of the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the consequence that, from 1 March onwards, Dr Schwarz-Schilling will, on that basis, participate in the constitutional reform process as an advisor and mediator.

In June last year, the Dayton Peace Implementation Council decided, in principle, to close down the High Representative’s office by 30 June and abolish his position, but it reviewed this decision at the end of February, since developments since the summer of 2006 had fallen regrettably short of expectations.

The resurgence of nationalistic rhetoric and the perceptible standstill in the reform process are doing nothing to make the beginning of a sustainable process any easier, while unpredictable regional factors following the delays in settling the status of Kosovo are also coming into play; indeed, it was these that prompted the Peace Implementation Council to postpone the deadline. The Peace Implementation Council, then, takes a view of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina that coincides exactly with that expressed in your House’s recommendation for a proposal, more specifically that to be found in paragraph 32 of the proposal. The intention is that the position should again be reviewed in October 2007 and February 2008 in order to facilitate the transfer from the office of the High Representative to the EU’s special representative by 30 June 2008.

Russia has so far felt unable to endorse this line on the grounds that the deadline extends beyond November 2007 and has announced that it wants to draw its own conclusions.

Perhaps I might, by way of conclusion, return to the subject of the ruling of the International Court of Justice concerning Srebrenica. It was only to be expected, in view of the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s claims against Serbia were not allowed to stand, that this should be greeted by differing responses, with some Serbs ignoring the court’s admonitions and expressing relief, while the Bosnian reaction tended more towards disappointment and frustration.

Our desire – and our hope – is that this ruling from the ICJ will eventually, despite the differing responses it evoked, result in the closing, in a fair manner, of this painful chapter, for that, too, is a vitally important precondition for the future development of a thriving Bosnia and Herzegovina.


  Olli Rehn, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I wish to begin by congratulating Mrs Pack on her excellent report, which is an important contribution to our joint work concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The year 2006 was not a year of success for Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a result of an extended election campaign, the reform agenda stagnated and the political climate turned sour, reflecting a zero-sum mentality, as Mrs Pack said, leading to nationalist rhetoric and tensions. To be frank, we have had enough of it!

Let me update you on the state of talks on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Bosnia and Herzegovina has continued to make progress, albeit slowly. In December, we were able to finalise the technical talks on the SAA.

However, we will not conclude the SAA negotiations before tangible progress has been made on key conditions, especially police reform and cooperation with the War Crimes Tribunal. This will be my main message when I visit Sarajevo tomorrow and Friday.

Firstly, Bosnia and Herzegovina and its citizens need an efficient and effective police service. It is important that the state and entity authorities, together with the political parties, finally agree on the reform in line with the proposal from the Directorate for Police Restructuring as well as the three EU principles referred to by Mr Ehler.

Secondly, Bosnia and Herzegovina also needs to show that it is serious in its commitment to cooperate with the ICTY. Recent actions by Republika Srpska to crack down on some of the fugitives’ support networks are encouraging in this regard. The authorities must now remain proactive and continue their efforts aiming at tangible results, arrests and transfers.

It is important that the recent judgment of the International Court of Justice in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina versus Serbia is accepted and respected by all. The verdict underlines individual responsibility of the genocide and thus the absolute necessity of full cooperation with the ICTY, including the arrest and transfer of the fugitives.

There have been some attempts to politicise the ICJ verdict, which is regrettable because it hinders reconciliation and takes attention away from more important policy and political matters, such as solving the issue of police reform, which should be the first priority. This does not benefit the country or its citizens.

We also need to see tangible progress on the reforms of public broadcasting and public administration before we can sign the SAA, as expressed by the President-in-Office of the Council.

For the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, constitutional reform is essential. It is necessary in order to make the country functional, efficient and affordable for its citizens. This process should be led by Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, based on consensus and supported by the entities and peoples. The adoption of the April package from last year would be an important step towards more ambitious objectives. The Commission is ready to support the work for constitutional development by both providing experts and funds.

The Commission continues to support and promote people-to-people contacts between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU. The visa facilitation negotiations have progressed well, and we should be able to conclude these negotiations very soon. Our aim is to have the visa facilitation and readmission agreements in force with all the countries of the western Balkans before the end of this year.

Other measures include scholarships through the Erasmus Mundus programme, as well as increased support for research, education, culture and civil society dialogue.

International presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina is, and should be, in transformation. As a transitional measure, the Commission can support the decision of the Peace Implementation Council to delay the closure of the office of the High Representative by a further 12 months.

We have critical months ahead with Bosnia and Herzegovina, also taking into account the Kosovo status talks. For their part, the leaders of the country must rise above parochial party interests and show real statesmanship for the sake of their country and their people.

This year of 2007 is, and should be, seen as a year of opportunities for Bosnia and Herzegovina. As long as everyone does his or her part, we can succeed in bringing Bosnia and Herzegovina towards its European future. I am glad that I can count on the solid support of the European Parliament for this important objective.


  Alojz Peterle, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (SL) This report, on which I sincerely wish to congratulate my colleague Doris Pack, extends the hand of partnership to Bosnia and Herzegovina and represents, in the wake of presidential and parliamentary elections, our clear desire and expectation to see progress made in this country, which is currently underperforming in numerous areas.

I think that it is essential for Bosnia and Herzegovina to unlock its political potential after the elections and accept its share of responsibility for the progress which it needs to make on its road to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

However, accepting responsibility means opening the door to reform. This will only be possible if the country commits itself further to what unites it, and less to what divides it. Without constitutional reform, there can be no progress along this road.

I also support the report because it takes a holistic approach to the problems at hand and because it is realistic, constructive and very conciliatory. The proposals for the education system seem particularly useful to me. They are, of course, intended to help the new generation to assume political responsibility.

I welcome, in particular, the emphasis placed on the urgency of adopting and implementing police reform. It may also serve as a model for bridging differences between entities in other areas.

I should like to end by reiterating the highlight in the concluding section of the report: progress will be impossible without unity within the international community and among its representatives. It seems very important to me that the mandate of the High Representative has been extended, as he must, of course, be given unanimous support for his supervision of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


  Libor Rouček, on behalf of the PSE Group.(CS) As shadow rapporteur, I should like to congratulate Mrs Pack on her outstanding report. This is an objective and well balanced report, which is aimed at further progress in the political and social reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and at bringing the country closer to the EU.

The report takes account of the progress achieved in a number of areas, but also warns of the numerous problems that need to be resolved before the stabilisation and association agreements can be concluded. One of these problems, as previous speakers have mentioned, is constitutional reform. In this regard, I firmly believe that the EU should, mainly through its special representative, offer Bosnia and Herzegovina a helping hand through strengthening political dialogue between individual participants and providing technical assistance and expertise.

Agreement on the implementation of police reforms is a further condition for concluding the stabilisation and association agreement, as previous speakers have said. I also feel it is important that the report takes account of and places emphasis on a wide range of issues in the area of education and schooling. Europe’s post-war experience has taught us that an education system founded on the values of human rights, citizenship, equality, tolerance and democracy will gradually help to overcome religious national and ethnic animosity and gradually lead to reconciliation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am convinced that in spite of the many tricky problems that Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to face, the future of the country lies in European integration. In conclusion, speaking as an MEP from a country that has not long been a Member of the EU, I should like to offer some advice to our friends in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Cooperation between all political forces, regardless of ethnic, political and religious affiliations, is a vital prerequisite to successfully achieving that goal. I should like to wish not only the Bosnians but also the Serbs and Croats every success on this difficult path.


  Philippe Morillon, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (FR) Mr President, it is almost 15 years to the day since I arrived in Sarajevo on the eve of the tragedy that was to make that town the martyred capital that we despaired for a moment would not survive. I arrived in a Sarajevo that was a model of coexistence between three cultures: Croatian, Serbian and Muslim. That town in which the bells of the Catholic cathedral rang in chorus with those of the Orthodox churches and with the cry of the muezzin, that extremely diverse town, without any ghettos, whose Serbian, Croatian and Muslim residents lived together in the same neighbourhoods and the same buildings, without even knowing who was Serbian, who was Croatian or who was Muslim.

On 4 April 1992, I witnessed, in that town, the desperate attempt by an entire population, men and women, young and old, Serbian, Croatian and Muslim, marching through the town, to bring down the barricades that the supporters of ethnic cleansing had begun to erect. I saw those barricades give way one by one before the crowd, at the end of the demonstration, you may recall, were taken to task by Karadzic’s mad militiamen. I appreciate that town, that province, that republic for having recognised their assets and, above all, for having shared their suffering born out of the disease of a fear of others, of a fear of being wiped out and of a fear of losing their identity, so many fears that irresponsible criminals sparked there.

With this memory in mind, I cannot overstate my satisfaction with the report by our fellow Member, Mrs Pack, whose commitment Parliament recognises and to whom it pays tribute for the dedication with which she has always worked to bring about a reconciliation in that country which, as she points out in her report, was once peaceful and multi-ethnic. In that country that we should encourage along the road to European integration by pushing it to adopt constitutional changes that are, as you said, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, vital, in spite of the persistence, within one section of its political class, of radical discourse that is still overly imbued with ultra-nationalism.


  Ryszard Czarnecki, on behalf of the UEN Group.- (PL) Mr President, I would like to thank Mrs Pack for the sound report we are debating today. It clearly shows the progress that Bosnia and Herzegovina have made towards meeting democratic standards.

For this progress to continue, the citizens and elite of the three nationalities constituting that country must be given a clear prospect of EU membership. Not today, not tomorrow or the day after, but in a realistically defined future. Of course, before that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to meet all the basic standards regarding human rights, combating corruption, judicial reform and administrative reform. Above all, however, it needs to conduct a genuine inter-religious dialogue and a dialogue between the nationalities making up the country, which has been the theatre of the greatest armed conflict in Europe since the Second World War.

Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be held hostage to our internal debate on institutional reform. Let us allow Mrs Pack’s report to serve as the green light for that country where membership of the European Community is concerned.


  Gisela Kallenbach, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Mrs Pack deserves thanks for this excellent report; to be honest, we could hardly have expected anything else from her. My group welcomes the evidence of a process of change in Bosnia-Herzegovina, although it has to be said that, twelve years on from Dayton, it is high time for it, and also high time that the local politicians shouldered more responsibility and – irrespective of their ethnic origins – stood up for a shared Bosnia-Herzegovina, while desisting from trying to achieve by verbal attacks what they could not achieve by warfare.

With the prospect of a shared, democratic and peaceful future under the rule of law, every effort should be made in dealing with the shared past in a process that will no doubt be painful but will also be one of healing, and so we welcome the establishment of a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission as referred to in the report. One important step towards that was the acknowledgement by the parliament of Republika Srpska of the genocide of Bosnian Muslims. As has been said several times today, we expect cooperation with The Hague and not merely words, and I would also like to see civil society involved in this process of discussion; speaking as a German, I know perfectly well what I am talking about.

Finally, what I expect of the international community is that it should be, and carry on being, a reliable partner carrying real weight, and it has to be said that constant changeovers of personnel in the High Representative’s office is not very likely to achieve that. I wish Commissioner Rehn real success in dealing with the visa problem, to which a solution is urgently needed.


  Erik Meijer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (NL) Mr President, anyone who wants to enforce a model of government on Bosnia Herzegovina against the will of the majority of the people will need tough means to do so. The only way they will be able to do that is by turning this country into a permanent protectorate with a powerful high representative of the European Union and a continuing military presence.

My group would like to see things move in a different direction, towards a peaceful and democratic solution that respects the fact that Bosnia is Yugoslavia in miniature and that the majority of the people feel Serb or Croat rather than Bosnian. The Turkish period proved beneficial to the Bosnians, the Austrian period to the Croats and the Yugoslavian period to the Serbs. People now want to move away from the old inequality and of one nation group calling the shots to the detriment of the others.

A federal solution along Belgian or Swiss lines is the best way of keeping the three peoples of this country together whilst acknowledging their differences and maintaining cordial relations between them. This is consistent with the principle that authority over the regional police lies with the entities and definitely not with the central state. Unfortunately, the proposed resolution does not solve the real problems and there is still no prospect of anything superior to the Dayton Agreement.


  Bastiaan Belder, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. (NL) Mr President, the rapporteur is right to say that the integration of Bosnia-Herzegovina into Europe is conditional on fundamental constitutional changes. The rapporteur is also right to underline that internal problems, such as ethnic segregation, constitute a threat to national stability.

Whilst the report does not breathe a word about external threats, past incidents and the recent unrest in the Central Bosnian town of Kalesija, caused by a handful of radical Wahabites, should not be overlooked. Not for nothing did the highest police official of the Muslim-Croat federation, Zlatco Miletic, issue a warning on 10 March about the influence of this radical, relatively young, current among the Muslims in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Following on from this, I would ask the Council and the Commission whether they have acquainted themselves with this tendency of sustained Islamicisation. I hope that you, both with regard to the internal and external problems, will make every effort to bring about national stability within Bosnia Herzegovina, because the European prospect for the western Balkan countries, as expressed in the agenda of Thessaloniki in 2003, is clear. How, though, can the association and stabilisation process succeed if not all problems, both internal and external, receive serious attention? Here lies a task for the new, and I hope decisive, high representative.


  Bernd Posselt (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, I, too, was in Sarajevo and in Mostar at times when shots were ringing out every second, and that makes me grateful that – thanks to Dayton – there is no war going on there now, but the absence of war is not the same thing as peace, and, since crucial conditions still remain to be complied with for peace to prevail, it is with concern that I note the imminent replacement of Mr Schwarz-Schilling, a tried and tested international delegate who got his policies right.

I note with concern the over-hasty reduction in our military presence, something that sends out the wrong signal for the present time, and I am particularly concerned to see an incipient loss in interest in how Bosnia and Herzegovina develop.

That is happening at a time when a laborious process of reconstruction is only just beginning, and what is needed before all else is the reform of its constitution by the country itself, something that we can do no more than monitor and support, but there will be no long-term stability there unless the country is turned into a federation of three peoples with equal rights. There is no other road to that destination than the long and stony one that leads via patient dialogue, culture and education.

I am grateful to Mr Rouček for having, like Mrs Pack and Mr Schwarz-Schilling, highlighted the importance of multi-religious, multi-denominational school, which are the only way to achieve progress. Perhaps, one day, Sarajevo will be home to the great, multi-faith European university that will also herald the dawn of a European Islam; that might, indeed, emerge from the EU’s major meeting, in May, with the faith communities, and, if it did, it would have an impact not only in South-Eastern Europe, but also far beyond that region that has suffered so much.

We need a European University, European schools, we need in-depth cooperation between nationalities, and, most of all, we need money; that is why the functions of the High Representative and of the EU’s Special Representative must continue to be exercised as they are at present, in other words, not in a dictatorial manner, that is, Ashdown-fashion, but with sound judgment and attempting real even-handedness in a way that heals wounds, gets people and ethnic groups to grow together, and unleashes in the country itself the powers of renewal and self-healing without which Bosnia and Herzegovina have no future, and if Bosnia and Herzegovina topple into a crisis, their neighbours risk being dragged in as well.

The Commissioner is right; it is 2007 now, a real date with destiny for this region. We have to accompany Kosovo on the road towards independence, guide a strengthened Croatia – under the watchful eye of the international community – towards accession to the EU, and stabilise Bosnia and Herzegovina while, at the same time, making Serbia democratic and stabilising it on that basis. That is the great challenge of our age.

(The President cut off the speaker)


  Hannes Swoboda (PSE).(DE) Mr President, I would, of course, like to extend very warm congratulations to Mrs Pack on her very committed and ultimately even-handed report, which, overall, reflects the thinking in this House.

Let us be frank: there are, in Bosnia and Herzegovina today, two strong men, in the persons of Mr Dodik and Mr Silajdžić, the former of whom – with arguments some of which were right – created difficulties over the reform of the police, while the latter made things tricky for the constitutional reformers, and some of his arguments were just as apposite. Both these strong men must now join together with everyone else in ensuring that the reform of the police and of the constitution get off the ground. I am sure that, over the next few days, the Commissioner will be spelling it out to them and to all the others, among them the new prime minister, that these are the tasks they have to perform if they want history’s judgment upon them to be favourable.

Secondly, although I am addressing Mr Erler in particular when I say that we, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, must speak plainly when it comes to the appointment of the EU’s High Representative, those words are also, of course, intended for the Commissioner, since it is not clear to the people on the ground just who is speaking on behalf of the European Union. Any representative of the European Union needs to carry a clear message.

Finally, I should like to say something about visas. If we do not, through a more relaxed visa regime, enable the people in this region to become familiar with European values, European ways of doing things, and European ways of communicating with one another, we may be able to decide a lot of things, but we will not be able to put them into practice. That is why we should bring in easier visa arrangements without delay in order to bring the people of this region, their hearts and their minds, closer to Europe.


  Jelko Kacin (ALDE). – (SL) I offer Mrs Doris Pack my sincere congratulations on her excellent report and at the same time thank her for her cooperative approach.

The judgment passed by the International Court of Justice in the Hague last month has reopened old wounds and reawakened the spectre of war and other antagonisms within the Bosnian political arena. The Court is right. There can be no collective responsibility, only individual, concrete responsibility borne by politicians and commanders. For this reason, as EP rapporteur for Serbia, I call on the members of the Serbian Parliament to heed the call of their President, Boris Tadić, to confront the past and condemn the genocide in Srebrenica. By publicly condemning the genocide, Belgrade would make an important contribution to appeasing tensions in Bosnia and take a step forward into the future. It is unacceptable and shocking that the two culprits of the worst crime in Europe after the Second World War are still at large.

That said, the authorities of Republika Srpska must adopt a much more constructive position on police reform, including approval of the police’s new areas of responsibility. As has been said many times in this House, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement cannot be signed without such participation.

Finally, I should like to inform you all that Neil Parish, my fellow Member of the European People’s Party, and I have taken the initiative to form an inter-party MEP mission to Sarajevo and Srebrenica, which we are visiting next week. Our visit will be devoted to the problem of the refugees who are returning to this fragile region of our continent.


  Bernd Posselt (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, when I was speaking, you did not use your gavel, and that happened with others too; that it why we overshot our speaking time. I would ask you to give a knock just before the end of the speaking time in the same way as the other Vice-Presidents do.


  President. Mr Posselt, firstly, this is not a regulatory issue and, secondly, I have been presiding over institutions for many years, and I have always trusted my colleagues to be capable of seeing when the signal lights up, since they usually look at their watches.

From now on, I will always use the hammer when you talk, because you talk for twice as long as scheduled, but I am going to stop now because I do not want to take up the microphone. However, I shall take account of what you have said when you take the floor.


  Bogusław Rogalski (UEN). – (PL) Mr President, after going through the bloodiest conflict in Europe since the Second World War, Bosnia and Herzegovina is now heading towards integration with Europe, which will require this multi-ethnic country to implement changes in many areas of political and social life, including reforming the constitution. Only after these changes are made will it be ready to meet the criteria needed for the implementation of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, and eventually in the future to apply for membership of the European Union.

In order to get that far, the political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina must carry out prompt and substantial administrative and economic reforms.

For its part, the Council must call upon Bosnia and Herzegovina to immediately resolve any border disputes with the neighbouring states, and in particular to ratify an agreement on respect for land and river borders. Bosnia and Herzegovina must also put an end to the segregation of ethnic groups in its schools. These changes can only come about if the Council exerts decisive pressure to that end.

Let us remember that the international community needs to speak with one voice on Bosnia and Herzegovina if it is to secure lasting peace in the Balkans.


  Roberta Alma Anastase (PPE-DE). – În primul rând, daţi-mi voie să mă alătur tuturor celorlalţi colegi pentru a o felicita pe dna Doris Pack pentru munca depusă la realizarea acestui raport şi, de ce nu, pentru oportunitatea de a avea o discuţie despre Bosnia-Herţegovina în plenul Parlamentului European.

Iată că, la 4 luni de la alegeri, Bosnia-Herţegovina a reuşit să instaleze un nou guvern. Cabinetul condus de prim-ministrul Nikola Špirić şi-a propus să semneze, în prima jumătate a anului 2007, acordul de asociere şi stabilizare şi să finalizeze reforma constituţională. Astfel, Consiliul de miniştrii şi-a asumat o agendă care conţine reforme importante şi sperăm ca, în cel mai scurt timp, să înregistreze rezultate concrete.

Bosnia-Herţegovina trebuie să-şi asume treptat întreaga responsabilitate asupra politicii interne. Din nefericire, naţionalismul etnic încă se manifestă puternic şi, de aceea, prelungirea mandatului Biroului Înaltului Reprezentant cu încă un an reprezintă o opţiune corectă care oglindeşte realitatea.

Uniunea Europeană trebuie să acorde o atenţie specială modului în care autorităţile din Bosnia-Herţegovina implementează reformele asumate. Finalizarea reformei constituţionale, încetarea segregării educaţionale, crearea unui spaţiu economic comun, restructurarea poliţiei şi întreaga cooperare cu Tribunalul Internaţional sunt obiective care astăzi nu pot fi atinse fără o prezenţă europeană puternică.

Trebuie să subliniem una din provocările căreia trebuie să-i facă faţă Bosnia-Herţegovina în următoarea perioadă: decizia finală asupra statutului provinciei Kosovo va reprezenta un test pentru soliditatea construcţiei politice a acesteia. Situaţia din Bosnia-Herţegovina, ca şi aceea din Kosovo, nu pot fi privite separat, ci doar în contextul regional. De aceea, eforturile noastre trebuie continuate în direcţia consolidării stabilităţii regiunii.

În concluzie, Bosnia-Herţegovina se află pe drumul european, susţinerea noastră fiind absolut necesară pentru dezvoltarea economică şi socială si pentru stabilitatea politică a ţării.


  Justas Vincas Paleckis (PSE).(LT) In support of the rapporteur Doris Pack, I would add that Bosnia-Herzegovina is still torn by ethnic and other conflicts, and party rhetoric is pushing the country into a nationalist cul-de-sac.

What draws the country out of the vortex of conflict is the attraction of the European Union. It is precisely this force that can hasten reform and strengthen democracy and human rights, simultaneously improving citizens' lives. This should be clearly stated: the prospect of EU membership would halt the country's slide into fragmentation and nationalism.

In Sarajevo and Mostar I saw the important role being played in the country by EU peacekeeping forces. It is the citizens themselves, not the peacekeeping forces, who must create a nation-wide administration and police force, as well as good laws.

Only the young people will be able to build a strong, unified country. The schools and universities, where Bosnians, Serbs and Croats would be studying together, should become forges of reconciliation between ethnic communities. One has to be very careful when dealing with the recent bloody history of the country. Nonetheless, the truth must be told without distortion or emotion.

By increasing regional cooperation, Bosnia-Herzegovina can demonstrate the Europeanness of its foreign policy. It is essential to regulate conflict and to ratify border demarcation treaties.

I would encourage reaching as rapid a resolution as possible concerning the easing of visa regulations. Better opportunities to visit European Union countries would provide examples to be emulated and would stimulate inner unity.

Its negotiations concerning a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, and its learning from the experience of new EU countries, should help Bosnia-Herzegovina catch the European wind in its sails. That would be a confirmation of the magnetism of the European Union, which manages to stifle nationalism and hatred and to promote the coexistence and welfare of nations.


  Alexander Lambsdorff (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, I congratulate Mrs Pack most warmly on a superb report. Perhaps now work can begin on the plinth for a monument to her. In a difficult situation such as this one, it is right that so many constructive elements should be built into the report, for there is a paradox – the EU takes every conceivable opportunity to affirm its commitment to the Thessaloniki declaration, while, in Bosnia, the train is going in precisely the opposite direction, towards more nationalism, if one is to judge by the utterances of the country’s leading politicians. This debate, too, is – or so I believe – a wake-up call, for, when even Commissioner Rehn, who is such a cautious and responsible fellow, says that ‘we have had enough of it’ then it really cannot be anything else.

That which is in the report is spot on: ‘yes’ to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and ‘yes’ to the unity of the international community. We should allow the High Representative to remain in office. The focus on easier access to visas and, in particular, on education and the young is exactly what is wanted. Young people must get to know Europe; that is what matters. The report really is a constructive contribution, and I hope that people in the country concerned will see it in that light, and also take note of this debate. That strikes me as important.

I should like to add that I believe that this is another debate that we should be conducting in Brussels rather than in Strasbourg.


  Brian Crowley (UEN). – Mr President, I too would like to join with my colleagues in thanking Mrs Pack for her report, the President-in-Office for his comments, and Commissioner Rehn for his ongoing work in a very difficult area.

I would like to deal with three key areas. First, regarding the High Representative: like some colleagues, I have also been to Bosnia-Herzegovina and to Republika Srpska and have seen the actions carried out by both the current High Representative and the previous High Representative, Lord Ashdown. In a lot of ways, they allowed politicians in Bosnia-Herzegovina off the hook by saying to them: unless you make these changes, we will make them for you. So if politicians were politically unable to make the changes, the High Representative merely came in and did it for them.

I want to emphasise that, if we truly want to work towards the establishment of a peaceful and stable Bosnia-Herzegovina that will have respect and tolerance for all the different peoples within that unified country, then we must ensure that they take responsibility for themselves, and for the laws and decisions that must come about.

Secondly, with any state, the separation of powers is essential, particularly regarding the police and judiciary. There can be only one police force in Bosnia-Herzegovina. That must be a key point.

Finally, with regard to visa facilitation: let us first bring over the young people – undergraduates and graduates from schools and universities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Allow them to come first and then open up the wider visa process, because young people are the future for the development of a peaceful Bosnia-Herzegovina and a peaceful Balkan area.


  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (PSE). (HU) Ten years have gone by since Dayton, but unfortunately Bosnia-Herzegovina is still not a stable state. It is not about to blow up, but the apparent calm should not deceive anyone. Stalemate on police reform, the slowing down of reforms, a floundering decision-making process and daily verbal aggression between Bosnian Serbs and Bosniaks are all cautionary signs. It is important that the mandate of the international community’s high representative has been extended until 2008. Ending it would have been very premature. I agree with the basic principle that the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the ones who must decide on their own destiny. In certain circumstances, the international community has to intervene. I hope cutting back the ALTEA mission was not premature, as it still has an important role to play in this tense situation. Achieving normalisation in Kosovo, which is under way this year, is another test, another challenge. The EU has to keep Bosnia and Herzegovina under very close watch.


  Димитър Стоянов, от името на групата ITS. – През 1878 г. Берлинският договор определи 30-годишен протекторат над Босна и Херцеговина като част от Австро-Унгария. След като този срок изтече, Австро-Унгария анексира Босна и Херцеговина. Според Парижкия мир, сложил край на Първата световна война, тези територии бяха прехвърлени в рамките на Югославия.

С тази кратка ретроспекция исках да ви кажа, че всички проблеми на Балканите се дължат на слепотата на Великите сили, които защитават собствените си интереси. Ние не можем да налагаме на суверенната босненска нация как да си изменя конституцията. Не можем пряко волята на народа да им налагаме чужд генерал-губернатор, който да насочва пътя на тази държава. Освен това, искам да ви напомня, че този доклад е за Босна и Херцеговина и насилието, което беше там преди десет години, беше и от двете страни. Не са само сърбите виновни. Имаше насилие и атентати от страна на босненците. Ние трябва да бъдем обективни и да виждаме всички страни на един конфликт, ако наистина искаме да направим разликата.


  Olli Rehn, Member of the Commission. (FI) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, firstly let me thank you for a very pertinent and responsible debate, as well as for your obvious support for Doris Pack’s excellent report. I would also like to thank you for your support for the Commission’s policy on the western Balkans, which is based on long-term commitment to supporting the European transformation process in the countries in the region. I am pleased that this policy obtained the clear support of the European Council in December. The European Council decided to keep the European Union’s doors open to the countries of Southeast Europe and they can come in as long as each one of them first fulfils all the obligations of membership.

On my Sarajevo visit tomorrow and on Friday I will make special mention of the matters which you have raised in this debate and which the European Parliament itself sets great store by. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unity is vital for the country to succeed on its path to the EU, as was emphasised in your discussion. We need cooperation across the political spectrum. That is one watertight conclusion which we can draw in general about the success of small countries in the European Union and it must surely also hold true for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The most important thing now is that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leaders understand the responsibility they have and implement these vital reforms, so that the country can make progress along the road to the European Union and provide its citizens with better living conditions.


  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00 noon.




11. Future of European aircraft construction (debate)

  President. – The next item is the debate on statements by the Council and the Commission on the future of European aircraft construction.


  Peter Hintze, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, Mr Vice-President of the Commission, honourable Members, I am delighted to see that the subject of today’s debate is the future of the European aerospace industry, for this industry embodies Europe’s forward-looking approach, its high technology and its potential for future growth, and makes a considerable contribution to achieving the goals of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and employment, with Airbus being its most prominent project. Airbus is the name of a great idea – the idea of bringing together the technical capabilities of several European nations in order to build a strong aerospace enterprise that can hold its own on the global market. The story of Airbus is one of breathtaking success. Its aircraft – 4 600 of them have been delivered to date – represent European high technology on every airport in the world, thus playing a vital part in establishing an identity for Europe.

Airbus does, however, also have serious problems. The year 2006 was one of both success and crisis for it. In that year, Airbus could not only take pride in the success of being the number one on the global market, but the company also suffered a massive crash in earnings as a result of serious delays in the rolling out of the new jumbo jet, the A380, and problems resulting from the weakness of the dollar, since Airbus is built for euros and sold in dollars.

It will also be necessary to reduce the development gap between the A350 XWB and its American competitor. Aircraft building is, after all, on the threshold of a technological revolution, as we move from the age of metal into the age of plastics, and that has been recognised more readily on the other side of the Atlantic than it has on our own. It is that sort of aircraft for which market demand exists.

Airbus now wants to build up its strength; it has to become more competitive and to make itself ready to face the future, a future that can be guaranteed only by constantly renewed effort and the willingness and ability to innovate. Airbus is about to undergo a process of restructuring, and, however much that may be of interest to us in the political world, it is a matter for the company itself to deal with, and Airbus’ management would be well advised to discuss the necessary measures in in-depth dialogue with its workforce, who, after all, are any business’ most important capital asset. While it is, of course, certainly the case that recruiting strong industry partners who can contribute their own capital and know-how, sharing with Airbus both the opportunities and the risks, offers a chance of making jobs more secure, the decision as to whether or not to do that rests with the company itself and with nobody else.

What politicians are for is the creation of framework conditions; it is they who should ensure that there is a fair balance between the European nations involved as regards opportunities and liabilities, as regards jobs and technological capacities, and this fair distribution of opportunities and liabilities among the participating European nations appears to be working well.

Cooperation between several countries has also proven to be a successful way of drawing on the individual partners’ technological know-how in developing and producing competitive products for the world market in the case of other European projects, for example Augusta Westland, Eurofighter and Eurocopter. European cooperation exists not only among the manufacturers of systems, but also among suppliers and manufacturers of jet engines, for example Thales, Diehl, Rolls Royce, MTU, Snecma, Alenia and others, to give but a few examples; all these companies, and those who work for them, are helping Europe’s aerospace industry to cope well with ever-tougher international competition.

Perhaps, as I bring this speech to a close, I might also say something about climate change and compatibility with the environment, which, as I see it, have to do with our society’s capacity for innovation, and Europe’s aerospace industry faced up to the technological challenges associated with them as long ago as the year 2000, when, in ‘Vision 2020’, industry, scientists and policy-makers joined together in defining ambitious targets for a sustainable air transport system, with the intention of reducing, by the year 2020, both specific fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 50%, specific sulphur dioxide emission by 80%, and aircraft noise on take-off and landing by half.

These are ambitious objectives, and, if they are to be achieved in little more than a decade, all the interested parties will have to make a joint effort.


  Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the Commission. (DE) Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, honourable Members, Europe’s continued industrial and technological performance in transport, communications, earth observation, security and defence is to a crucial degree attributable to its aerospace industry, for it is only that industry’s global competitiveness that will enable Europe to achieve its economic and political goals.

The European aerospace industry is a world leader in several important market segments; it has in excess of a one-third share in the global market. In 2005 – the last year for which figures are available – it achieved a turnover of EUR 86 billion and gave work to 457 000 workers. The sector is continuing to grow despite recent difficulties, with a growing market for large civil aircraft in particular.

As Mr Hintze has just stressed, Airbus’ ability to deliver 434 new aircraft last year constitutes a record. Orders have been placed with it for over 2 500 of them, giving it work for over five years. With projected growth of 5% per annum in the transport of persons by air, and of 6% per annum in the airfreight sector, the next twenty years will see a demand for over 22 500 new large airliners, amounting to a total value of EUR 2 billion at present-day prices.

It has to be said, though, that, over recent weeks and months, Airbus has been making the sort of headlines it would probably rather not make. We would all rather read about more great successes on its part on the market than about losses and layoffs, but the fact is that the European aerospace industry operates on a global market characterised by sharp competition and has to cope with well-prepared competitors – Boeing, for example – in all its segments, so the industry needs constant investment and innovation if its products are to meet its customers’ requirements. Airbus is a major part of the European aerospace industry, a truly European enterprise with, at present 57 000 internal and 30 000 external workers, and drawing on many enterprises, both large and small, for the products and services that it uses.

Like any other enterprise, Airbus must adapt to changed conditions, adopting those procedures and structures that will enable it to produce the goods that the market demands as profitably as possible, and it does indeed make matters more difficult that Airbus has to sell its products in dollars, whilst bearing costs expressed in euros, the euro being the stronger of the two currencies. That makes it all the more important that Airbus should be able to take difficult business decisions rationally in order thereby to recover its position in the market.

It is an unfortunate fact that Airbus’ decision to improve its efficiency by means of a programme of cutbacks and restructuring, including the farming-out of some of its activities, will result in a reduction in the number of staff employed, something that is causing insecurity and prompting calls for political intervention.

While politicians cannot and are not meant to interfere in decisions taken by businesses in an attempt to restore their own competitive edge – for companies’ management decisions are not political matters – there are ways in which redundant workers can be helped, and, perhaps even a moral duty to help them, to get retrained and to find new work in other companies, possibly in other industries. For this purpose, for example, the Member States can get help from the European Social Fund.

The Commission notes with satisfaction that Airbus had already, some time prior to the restructuring currently in progress, involved workers’ representatives in the decisions that had to be taken. It is most especially worthy of note that the European workers’ representatives were fully consulted and that the effects of the restructuring on Airbus’ subcontractors were also discussed.

Considering the expected growth, which is the envy of many other industries, it is also important that steps should be taken today to secure, to the benefit of us all, the long-term success of the European aerospace industry. That is one reason why the Commission is taking action, wherever possible – by, for example, setting up a European space programme or creating a European armaments market and a single European airspace – in order to create conditions that are favourable to free competition.

The EU is also, in its Seventh Framework Programme for Research, making considerable funds available for research and development in air transport and space research. All companies involved in such research work are being urged to submit proposals for shared-cost projects, which will be selected for funding on the basis of a competition.

I would like to highlight the outstanding significance of the ‘Clean Sky’ joint technology initiative in this respect, which will make it possible for the European aerospace industry to take up the challenge thrown down to it by the debate on climate change. I would like to take this opportunity to appeal, in forthright terms, to the European aircraft manufacturers and also to the airlines, who should be very concerned not to suffer the same damage to their image as that sustained by the European motor industry over recent weeks as a result of responding too late to the demands of our time. Modernity and innovation, research and development, are a matter of urgent necessity in this area, and, with ‘Clean Sky’, the European Union is offering an effective and strong platform for them.


  Christine De Veyrac, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (FR) Mr President, as Deputy Mayor of Toulouse, I can testify, having visited the company’s sites on several occasions, that Airbus’ restructuring plan is a test, a test for each of the employees concerned, and, in order to overcome it, the causes need to be correctly identified.

True, the euro appreciated and there were delays linked to manufacturing errors with the A380, but, above all, the group was governed in an intergovernmental, rather than industrial, fashion, and we must draw the right conclusions from this for the future.

We all know that what Airbus suffered from was not a shortage of public authority input in the business; rather, what Airbus suffered from was the interference of politicians who meddled in the running of the business, which ended up operating more like an international organisation than an integrated company. As far as its future is concerned, Airbus needs a new shareholder pact, which places greater emphasis on industrial shareholders. That means that the current shareholders must clearly declare their intentions. Do they want to carry on being shareholders, or do new financial and industrial partners need to be found?

When that was said, was the intention that public authorities should take no further interest in this matter? Of course not, and I am pleased that Europe has taken action. Indeed, Commissioner Barrot and yourself, Commissioner Verheugen, announced that the Union would be supporting Airbus’ efforts by strengthening its research programmes.

However, I should like it, Commissioner, if you could clarify for us the possibility of having recourse to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and to the European Social Fund, for the benefit of the employees. For their part, the Member States can also come to the aid of Airbus, and especially of its sub-contractors, by granting aid for research and for the training of these employees.

On the other hand, imagine Airbus being rescued by equity investment in a few regions of France – I believe that 0.6% of the capital would be raised – that is downright unrealistic!

To conclude, I should not like anyone to lose sight of the fact that, even though Airbus is experiencing difficulties, this company has achieved many successes. I have confidence in its future, in the success of the A380 and of the A350. In times of crisis and difficulty, we must overcome national self-interests and show that we are solid and united – solid, because we are united.


  Matthias Groote, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this item was put on the agenda under the very neutral heading of ‘future of European aircraft construction’, but the main thing we are talking about today is the Airbus crisis.

The ‘Power 8’ reform programme devised by the management in order to plug the hole in the company’s funds, envisages mass redundancies and the sale of plant. Airbus is a jewel in the European industrial landscape, with highly-skilled workers, full order books, plant working at full capacity and good products. The selling off of plant would appear to indicate the opposite; it is the wrong message to send when you are trying to plug a financial hole. As we see from the example of BenQ in Germany, selling off a factory generally indicates the slow but sure death of an industrial location and leads to the destruction of jobs and know-how.

I would ask you, Mr Hintze to speak up, as a representative of the Council and the German Federal Government’s coordinator of aerospace policy, for the retention of the Airbus sites in Europe, and against the implementation of the ‘Power 8’ restructuring concept. It is not Airbus’ workforce who should bear the brunt of the company’s crisis and the misjudgments of its management and not Europe’s position as an industrial location that should lose out as a result of them.


  Anne Laperrouze, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (FR) The A380 is expected to be a success, and evidence of that is the fact that the city of Los Angeles, in competition with New York, has just asked Airbus if it might be the first to welcome the European jumbo; yet the company is in crisis due to a lack of proper management, the well-known consequence of which is the ‘Power 8’ plan for economies and restructuring.

Airbus’s managers have lessons to learn from the industrial mismanagement that caused delays in the delivery of aircraft. The Member States, for their part, need to give the European aerospace industry a secure future, while those of them that are shareholders need to do something about the company’s management by reviewing the dual organisational model and renegotiating the shareholders’ agreement. They must also act in solidarity by maintaining and developing the European aerospace industry, which means, among other things, making additional loans available for research, placing public orders, advancing funds for the investments needed in industrial sites or, indeed, increasing the States’ shareholding – this being exactly what the American state did with Boeing.

What the industry now needs as a matter of urgency is the renegotiation of the ‘Power 8’ plan with the unions, taking on board their arguments about strategy. How, after all, can one accept the unbalanced way in which this plan proposes to share out work between the French and German sites? How is one to accept the idea that Toulouse, on whose two production lines twenty planes a month can be produced, should be limited to fourteen a month, with the construction of the other A320s being moved to Hamburg, necessitating investment in a new production line? How is one supposed to accept the effect on jobs at suppliers and sub-contractors, the effect on regional economies and the loss of know-how and expertise if sites’ activities are moved elsewhere? How are people supposed to entrust innovation and development to others?

Airbus has orders for 2 589 aircraft on its books, so it has a full work programme for many years to come, and the quality of the aircraft it builds ought to see it through this crisis, but, in fact, there is only one thing to aim for: the promotion of Airbus as a European project creating jobs, achieving innovation and excellence in the eyes of the whole world and built by the men and women of Europe.


  Gérard Onesta, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (FR) Mr President, Airbus may be in crisis, but it is a crisis of which there has been prior warning. Living as I do cheek by jowl with Airbus in Toulouse, I have for years been sounding the alarm, but have done so in vain. For years, I have been issuing warnings about those holders of elected office who have forsaken their management role for the cult of the A380 and who are now among the choir of mourners bewailing the results of their own actions.

For years, I have been warning of managers who have lost touch with reality, such as Mr Forgeat, who, you will recall, walked away with suitcases full of millions of euros and who, for one, had no doubts about prices and deadlines. I would remind the Commissioner that I have for years been warning the Commission, suggesting alternative procedures such as transporting Airbus wings by airship, and at no time has any help been forthcoming from the Commission.

The crisis that we are now facing is industrial in character, but also, and above all, a disaster in human terms for Airbus’s workers and for its sub-contractors. That Europe has an aeronautical vocation is not a matter of doubt; there is no question of the American military-industrial complex, acting through Boeing, being left in control of the skies.

There are five conditions under which recovery is possible. One is that the product be put back where it belongs and made subject to industrial logic and environmental law. Secondly, Airbus must be recapitalised using public funds. Thirdly, the way it works needs to be reorganised; it needs to extricate itself from the toils of joint Franco-German government, which – both in Airbus and in this House – prevent anything from moving. Fourthly, its industrial base needs to be rationalised by calling a halt to the dispersal of aircraft-building across dozens of sites. Fifthly and finally, the avionics sector being fragile and high-risk, it needs to diversify production, moving into the construction of other means of transport and other energy sources.

Airbus is rich – very rich – but only in the talents of its workers, so please let us not despoil that wealth.


  Jacky Henin, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (FR) Mr President, Airbus was the cutting-edge industry that was meant to make us swallow the loss of our iron and steel industry and accept the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in textiles, and that same Airbus is now on the rack, preparing to sacrifice its workers and its sub-contractors – quite an achievement for a company whose order books are full for six years and which has EUR 4 billion in the bank.

Airbus would be able to face the future with confidence if it were not ravaged by the financial cancer that is free-market liberalism, and I can tell the House that jobs and development do not sit comfortably with a policy of keeping the euro strong nor, above all, with the greed for dividends characteristic of private shareholders who seek to cut back on investment in the necessary human and material resources and who put their trust in financiers rather than in the expertise of the workers.

The fact is that, by doing away with 10 000 jobs and dividing by six the number of sub-contractors, the ‘Power 8’ plan is eating away at those things that make Airbus rich: its workers’ know-how and the network of sub-contracting businesses on whose cooperation it could rely. It was that cooperation that made Airbus a high-performing business, and that is the reality of what ‘Power 8’ is going to destroy by making workers, sites and nationalities compete against each other, something that the workers are quite right to repudiate. ‘Power 8’ fails to respond to the present and future needs of the business and should, for that reason, be withdrawn. If Airbus is to overcome its difficulties, a return to largely public ownership and funding is what is called for, for the fact is that only the Member States are capable of taking on aeronautical projects of this size.

Moreover, the Commission must resolutely defend before the WTO the system of repayable advances by which means alone it will be possible to fund the A350 and the NSR, and it must also make sure that the company gets low-interest loans from the EIB. If our aerospace industry is to have a future, a European fund for research, employment and training needs to be set up as a matter of urgency. Within the space of ten years, 30% of EADS’ staff are going to be retiring; if their know-how is not to be lost, a massive plan for recruitment and training is called for. The aerospace industry will have immense challenges to cope with – ranging from the revolution in composite materials to the death of oil – and it is our duty to help it do that.

(The President cut off the speaker)


  Paul Marie Coûteaux, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. – (FR) Mr President, this business with EADS is symptomatic of what we regard as the fraudulent nature of the idea of European integration.

It is astounding that some claim that the idea of a Europe founded upon cooperation – as proposed by the advocates of national sovereignty – has been a failure, and this at a time when, ever since Airbus was absorbed by EADS, we have seen the logic of cooperation, which had made the first Airbus models so successful, abandoned in favour of the integrationist approach, which, by way of privatisations, consolidations and eventual mergers, brought forth EADS, and one of the first consequences of that has been the jeopardising of the Airbus programme and, along with it, of the many jobs that it provided, particularly in France.

I might add that France obediently acquiesced in allowing its German partner a share in the expertise it had acquired over many years, indeed since the very dawn of aviation, and also in the many – public – investments it had made in the sector, thus making it possible for Europe to prevent aerospace being monopolised by the two imperial giants of the American Boeing and the Russian Tupolev.

It is also worthy of note that Germany did not share its pre-eminence in the field of machine tools, but this cooperation did nevertheless produce good results until the predominant ideology, which was one not so much of liberalism as of free trade, ended up privatising, in France and elsewhere, the great industrial flagships, particularly in aerospace, and the companies that benefited from this were English-speaking, based in the Netherlands and subject to Dutch law. Things promptly proceeded to go wrong, and I shall conclude by saying that I believe that if anything has been proved to be bankrupt it is the idea of integration as represented by EADS.


  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE-DE). – Mr Speaker, we are discussing two issues here tonight, and they should not be mixed together. One is the problem of unemployment, which should be dealt with by Member States with the necessary support from the Union and the different social funds – as was pointed out earlier by the Commissioner – but not by more political involvement in the European aircraft industry.

The other is the future of the European aircraft industry. If there is to be a future, that future must be based upon commercial decisions and the preconditions of the market, not on political discussions in parliaments or in governments. It is the involvement of too many governments, too many parliaments and too much politics that is creating problems and hindering the decision-making that would make the best of the opportunities open to the European aircraft industry.

The task of Airbus must be to produce and deliver the best aeroplanes in the world, not to deliver political promises from whatever country or from whatever government it is. I think there is only way to ensure that we can contribute to that. Of course, we shall have the best possible support for research and science, but we shall also ensure that we can have a functioning market – and a functioning transatlantic market because that is crucial. It is important to ensure that the responsibility of the aircraft industry and of Airbus, as we are discussing here, is kept within the company and in the management of the company, because otherwise all the decision-making will be split, complicated and bureaucratic and will lead to new failures. I think we should go for new success and give the company better opportunities by letting it be independent and not involved in political decision-making.


  Karin Jöns (PSE).(DE) Mr President, full order books and its position as Boeing’s competitor for the number one spot on the global market testify to the high level of skills of Airbus’ employees and to their identification with their product. It is not the workers who are responsible for the mistakes that have been made; they have done a very good job, and are continuing to do so.

The European aerospace industry will not, in the future, be able to do without this know-how – derived from France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany – any more than it has been able to in the past. Developing and assembling the wings for high-tech aircraft – which is what Airbus does in Bremen, where I live – calls for special skills. You cannot simply speed ahead regardless in an aeroplane.

What we are dealing with here is grave failures of management. The failure of highly-paid managers to look far ahead cannot be a reason for sites to be played off against each other, which is what is happening now. Nor is it acceptable that Airbus should fail to give either its workers or the European Works Council plausible explanations of its decisions. To me, this makes it plain yet again just how urgent is the need for a revision of the directive on European Works Councils; it is overdue, to say the very least.

I will also say once more to Mr Hintze that it is not acceptable that development times for new air technology be cut arbitrarily, and those who rely on market considerations alone will pay a bitter price for it.


  Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, how long are the Commission and the Council going to sit there in silent complicity while those who run major companies compensate for their own failings by getting rid of jobs? Both the French and German Governments were loath to do anything about it, and, even now, their protestations of opposition to the cuts in jobs are no more than half-hearted and, in the final analysis serve more as a means of striking poses than of finding solutions.

We therefore demand that ‘Power 8’, described as a renovation programme, be withdrawn. The Airbus workers in France and Germany must not be played off against one another. The aerospace industry is so important that not only must its funding be assured, but also the public control of it.

The EU needs to be determined in taking up the cudgels for Airbus. Low-interest loans secured through the EIB could be used to employ more workers, develop their skills and support research and development. In any case, we support the workers’ and trade unions’ European day of action to be held in various locations on 16 March and affirm our solidarity with them in their struggle.


  Kader Arif (PSE).(FR) Mr President, I would like to start by expressing my support for all those who work for Airbus or its sub-contractors and who have been told that they now face redundancy. They are now paying the price for the errors of management and administration and the errors committed by uninvolved shareholders who allowed financial considerations rather than the interests of the industry to carry the day, but the solidarity of workers across Europe will be their strength in getting the restructuring plan reviewed.

This business also shows just what is lacking in European social dialogue, with workers’ representatives completely absent from the decision-making structures. While this state of affairs is not Europe’s responsibility, Airbus’ status as a flagship and a symbol of European and world industry does mean that a response is expected from Europe, which should say ‘yes’ to the injection of public capital into these businesses, ‘yes’ to repayable advances; ‘yes’ to loans for research and development; ‘yes’ to taking into account the difficulties presented by the EUR/USD exchange rate and ‘yes’ to reforms of business governance and of shareholders’ agreements. For our tools of intervention, we must use the EIB and the Globalisation Adjustment Fund. At present, it is the skills of its workers that assure the company of a future, so let us do likewise through our support for them.



  Inés Ayala Sender (PSE). – (ES) Mr President, I would like to express our profound concern about the current Airbus crisis and our solidarity with the workers affected, who deserve our full support.

I would also like to say that we are hopeful that the Power 8 restructuring programme can relaunch the company and restore the competitiveness of a European project that has represented the future of industrial innovation in the European Union.

We also recommend that we learn from the management mistakes, the unfair competition and the intergovernmental squabbles. We need the criteria of business and industrial efficiency and the most up-to-date innovations to take precedence over outdated political squabbles.

We also want to be able to tell the Airbus workers in all parts of Europe — also those in Puerto Real, Getafe and Illescas — that the European Parliament is committed to working together with the unions and with the management in order to provide all the assistance they need and encourage them to make it through each day.

We call upon the Commission and the Council to join forces to find a clear and sustainable solution for them.


  Peter Hintze, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, Mr Vice-President of the Commission, honourable Members, I have followed this debate with interest. Its subject is a serious one. The question is that of how we are to maintain, in Europe, a strong aerospace industry, and here the principle must apply that businesses do business and politicians make policy, and this distinction is an important one if we are to do justice to the matter in hand.

Various speakers have pointed out that, while Airbus is currently doing well, it does nonetheless have problems to cope with. That is indeed the case, but we must also look to the future. For a long time now, the United States have underestimated Europe’s ability to build aircraft, and now, having thrown away their competitive advantage over a considerable period of time, they must regret having done so, while we, in Europe, must watch out in case the same thing happens to us as a consequence of our underestimating Asia. What that means is that, in times when the European aerospace industry still possesses some strengths – in innovation and finance – it must also develop in such a way that it remains competitive and can cope with future challenges as well as the current problems with the delays in delivering the A380, the delays in developing the A350, and the problems arising out of the weakness of the dollar.

It is for the company itself to decide what is right and what is not. I have to tell the honourable lady Member who spoke earlier that it would never enter my head to say that it was for politicians to prescribe the time required for the development of an aircraft. For them to do so would be absurd. That is a decision for the company to take; it is a technological issue and a business decision, but certainly not a political matter. Nor, indeed, would I ever tell a company what it should or should not put on the market, but it is clear that, if a company does not judge the market properly, if it does not review it constantly, it is going to end up in trouble.

Since many of you have had something to say about the workers, I would like to point out that the company told us that the slimming-down it intends to carry out will be carried out in a socially responsible manner, that there will be no immediate redundancies, and that the process will be ongoing over many years. Let me add that it is in Airbus’ interest to conduct in-depth discussions of the necessary restructuring with its workers, who are highly skilled.

The company can win only if it understands the project as a joint one shared between management and workers, if it seeks this dialogue and continues with it.


  Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the Commission. (DE) Mr President, honourable Members, the Commission shares the concern expressed today that it cannot be good for the future of the European air and space industry if skills and experience are being lost as a result of the biggest company in this sector cutting back jobs. As we have already said, of course, the Commission will deploy the instruments available to it at European level in order to help the persons affected to cope with the consequences of restructuring.

Members of your House have been quite right to say, as they have done today, that this company’s problems do not in fact have anything to do with the workers’ skills; that much is not in any way a matter of doubt.

Over and above the steps we are able to take – and will take should it prove necessary to do so – we are currently engaged in taking very decisive action to create equal and fair competitive condition for the European air industry.

On 22 March, the Commission will be making, in writing, a complaint against the USA to the World Trade Organisation, which will serve as a protest against the American state’s open-ended subsidy of Boeing, which amounts to numberless billions. That, too, is a major indication of our desire to secure the future of the European air and space industry.


  President. The debate is closed.


12. Council Question Time

  President. The next item is Question Time (B6-0012/2007).

The following questions have been submitted to the Council.

Question no 1 by Laima Liucija Andrikiene (H-0174/07)

Subject: Further ratification of the EU Constitution

One of German EU Presidency priorities is the continuation of the EU Constitution’s ratification process.

Does the German Presidency already have a road map for the continuation of the constitutional process, in order to adopt a Constitution before the next European elections in 2009?

What are the concrete steps which the German Presidency is going to make in order to achieve its goal concerning timely ratification of the Constitution?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, honourable Members, further to the mandate conferred on it by the Council at its June 2006 meeting, the German Presidency will be submitting a report in the first six months of 2007. The European Council asked that this report should include an evaluation of the progress made in the deliberations on the constitutional treaty and should highlight possible future developments.

In preparation for this report, the presidency is, at the moment, among other things, conducting a series of consultations with representatives from all the Member States, and will, over the coming weeks, be establishing contacts at various levels. In view of the ongoing nature of its endeavours, the Presidency is not at present able to state precisely what the report will contain and it has no desire to pre-empt it.


  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE-DE). (LT) I thank the Council member for the reply, but the reply does not satisfy me, because that is one of Germany's priorities. I have asked some very specific questions and I would nonetheless like the Council member to comment on the document that is being prepared today (at least its most important, essential points).


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) The only possible way in which I can answer your question, Mrs Andrikienė, is by reference to the procedure. We have been mandated to produce this report on the basis of in-depth consultations with all the Member States.

This process has not yet been completed. The report will be presented to the June summit and it is only in June that it will be possible to put the finishing touches to it. It really would diminish our chances of real progress if I were to make known to the House today any details of the ideas that we might be putting into the report. All I can say is that we are engaged in a process of consultation, that we will continue to be so until June, and that we will, then, produce a comprehensive report, which will, of course, indicate what further steps might be taken, but it goes without saying that that must be a decision for the European Council.


  President. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a point of order which I feel it is necessary to clarify from the outset. For this question, we have had a request for five supplementary questions. I have some 100 questions for the Council, not all of which will be answered, but I shall endeavour to ensure that the Council answer as many as possible. Consequently, I can only give the floor to two Members of the House per question and naturally I shall use the usual criterion of seeking to alternate between political groups.


  Philip Bushill-Matthews (PPE-DE). – Thank you, President-in-Office, for your answer. I, for one, was very happy with it, but deliberately did not say very much.

However, as you are talking about a consultation process, will you accept that, as part of the consultation, you should listen to those who think that a revisiting of a constitution or, indeed, a constitutional treaty is not a very good idea? We look forward to your report, but please open your minds to excluding, as well as including, certain things. Do you accept that, sir?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) This consultation process obliges us to form opinions on a very broad basis and to accept all proposals and reports that we receive from the individual countries. The only question is as to what finds its way into our overall report, but we can decide that only as and when we have a complete overview.


  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE). – (LT) At the last Leaders' Summit, Poland expressed dissatisfaction regarding the method of reaching decisions, believing that it does not serve Poland's interests. There are also certain countries that are unhappy with the way members are appointed to the Commission, and the number of Commissioners. Can this be looked at, and will it have an influence on further review and change of the Constitution?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) We would, of course, prefer to work in a situation in which Members on all sides were content, but the point I have to answer has to do with consultations and the report, for which we have a unanimous mandate, which Poland, too – as far as I am given to understand – had a hand in drafting, so there are no problems with the mandate and no discrepancies in it either.

We hope that all twenty-seven Member States will find their views reflected in the report that we have to produce, and that we will then be able to exchange views on the further steps that will need to be taken to make the constitutional process acceptable.


  President. Question no 2 by Claude Moraes (H-0077/07)

Subject: Progress on the Framework Decision on Combating racism and xenophobia

What progress can the Council report on the Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, honourable Members, the proposal for a framework decision on the combating of racism and xenophobia is one of the German Presidency’s priorities in the area of justice and home affairs. The Article 36 Committee, in January 2007, examined this instrument on the basis of a German compromise proposal, which is itself largely founded on the Luxembourg compromise proposal from 2005, which the great majority of the delegation saw as a potentially sound basis for an agreement on the framework decision. Moreover, this issue was raised on the margins of the Council meeting of 15 February 2007 in Brussels, when it came up during lunch. The presidency intends, on the basis of these deliberations, to produce a revised text and to present it to the Council during its meeting on 19 April 2007.


  Emine Bozkurt (PSE), deputising author. (NL) Although I am indebted to you for answering the question, there is still something I should like to learn from you. You said that the subject will be raised again on 17 April, but could you give us an outline of the concrete steps we can expect of the German Presidency in the next three months? Also, if these cannot be expected, what do you think the handover of the dossier to Portugal will signify in terms of progress?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) I can in fact do no more than repeat that the actual step we intend to take on 19 April – that being the submission of a revised draft of the framework decision – is an important step forwards. The text of this framework decision will make clear just what functions are incumbent on the Member States as regards the stepping up of the fight against racism and xenophobia.


  Jörg Leichtfried (PSE).(DE) I wish to raise a rather practical question that has emerged in the course of our discussions on this subject. It has to do with the collision between two philosophies. On the one hand, as in Austria and in Germany too, there are laws that make certain statements subject to penal sanctions, while, on the other, in other European countries, the principle of free expression of opinion can be said to take precedence over such regulations. What stage have the Council’s discussions on this issue reached?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) I do believe, Mr Leichtfried, that you are right. There is no contradicting your contention that there is here a conflict between these two interests, and that it is difficult to reconcile them. It is for that reason that the framework decision will leave the individual Member States a great deal of leeway in taking their practical decisions in line with their own country’s legal culture.

For example, the framework decision will refrain from making statements concerning specific historical events, the denial of which might then be made subject to penalties. That will be a matter on which each country must decide for itself, although the framework decision must certainly make some statement to the effect that the public approval, denial or minimisation of genocides, war crimes or crimes against humanity is to be made punishable.

The precise expression and justification of what constitutes such an offence and whatever must be added to that in the view of an individual country, will certainly remain a matter for the Member States, and this framework decision will not be able to make specific enactments on the subject.


  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE-DE). (LT) I am still trying to get a clear picture of what is intended to be achieved during the term of Germany's presidency. During Luxembourg's presidency, it was not possible to reach agreement. Do I understand correctly that an effort will be made to at least minimally harmonise the statutes governing penalties for spreading racist and xenophobic information, or will it be something else?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) As regards our intentions, I would refer the honourable Member to the answer I have just given; I can do no other than reiterate that, in discussing racism and xenophobia, we are talking about the definition of somewhat abstract concepts, and that the intention is that this Framework Decision should bring about agreement as to what they are. I have no desire to again go over what I have just said. Implementation and decisions on matters of detail will remain within the remit of the Member States.


  President. Question no 3 by Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (H-0080/07)

Subject: Age limit for violent electronic games

What immediate measures will the German Presidency take to halt the dissemination of violent film videos and electronic games in view of the widespread public concern this is causing in Europe and the growing dangers resulting?

Does the Presidency consider that measures to contain violence and discourage the dissemination of media which encourage it could run counter to the principles of free competition and freedom of expression?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) At their informal meetings between 14 and 16 January in Dresden, the ministers of justice and internal affairs agreed that consideration of the issue of violent videos and games would initially take the form of a review of the various national rules and regulations on the subject, the intention being that the planned inventory of national rules currently in force should serve as the basis for a comparison of the protection standards, interventions and sanctions available, and afford the Member States some insight into which system might be best.

Since then, the Council Presidency has drafted a questionnaire, the purpose of which is to summarise the legal position in the Member States as regards media – specifically videos, computer games and films – that glorify violence. The questionnaire is comprehensive and covers the regulations on the protection of the young, as well as general prohibitions in criminal law and in other legislation, both those specifically intended to protect the young and the systems of labelling for age.

The questionnaire will also touch on the problematic aspect of the degree to which the free expression of opinion is guaranteed by the various national legal systems. Finally, the questionnaire is also intended to consider those violent games that are prohibited in the Member States and of which a separate list needs to be compiled. The intention is that the questionnaire should be sent to the Member States in the immediate future, with their responses being – as requested – received by April, and that the evaluation of the survey at the end of the first half of 2007 should help to achieve the goal of an EU-wide safety standard in this area.


  Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, I thank the President-in-Office of the Council for his reply, I wish him good luck in collecting replies to the questionnaire and I congratulate him on the short timetable.

My question does not concern the age limits, as the President-in-Office said; it concerns the correlation between a ban and the internal market. I have an example from my country, which banned gambling and has been condemned by the Court of Justice of the European Communities on internal market grounds. You have also raised the question of freedom of expression, which is also an issue which will prevent the ban.


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) I think, Mrs Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou, that you have a perfect understanding of what we want to do, namely to achieve a single common standard of protection across the EU. At the moment, however, I am able only to describe how we are going to do that. What we are going to do, basically, is to look for best practice. Regulations in the EU, have, indeed, been very diverse up to now, and our idea is that this questionnaire should be used to ascertain what works, and how, as well as what experience has been gained – and where – in order to achieve a uniform standard of protection across the EU by simply comparing and see what common ground emerges.

In view of the great differences between practice in the various countries, we really do not think there is any practical way of doing this other than by, in the first instance, conducting such an inquiry and then looking for examples of best practice.


  Inger Segelström (PSE). – (SV) The questioner wants to see age limits put on games. There already exists a partly EU-funded PG marking. In my own country of Sweden, all computer games are age-labelled, and there is cooperation between the industry and the states concerned, the age limits in question being +3, +7, +12, +16, and +18 years. What is more, all computer games come with descriptions of their content in terms of discrimination, drugs, bad language, sex and nudity, violence and elements that may be frightening or horrific. An excellent system is now in place, and, as I say, the EU is involved in funding it. I should like both the Council and Parliament to study this system so that we might debate it when our agenda includes the report on children that is being produced by the Commission right now.


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Practically at a stroke, you have answered the whole form and put the case for the Swedish system. That is of course permissible, and we are happy to take that on board, but we will – and I am sure that you will understand this – have to obtain information about other systems, some of which work and some of which do not, before we can come to a decision on a proper common approach for the whole of the EU. We will, however, be examining your experience with great attention.


  Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (PPE-DE).(EL) Mr President, I wish to point out that there is a mistake in the translation of the title of my question. I am not asking about age limits, I am asking about the link between the ban and the rules of the internal market.


  President. The clarification will naturally be noted.


  Paul Rübig (PPE-DE).(DE) I would be interested to know whether it might be possible to set up a Europe-wide intelligence unit to which we might report by electronic means those things that strike us a particularly objectionable?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Further to my statement just now that we are at present at what might be called the inventory stage, I shall simply take your proposal as an addition to the various examples that we are currently collecting, and say that I am very grateful for it.



Question no 4 by Sarah Ludford (H-0083/07)

Subject: Combating corruption

Article 9 of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA(1) on combating corruption in the private sector requires Member States to transmit to the Council and the Commission by July 2005 the text of provisions transposing its obligations into national law. On the basis of a report established using this information and a written report from the Commission, the Council was due to assess by 22 October 2005 the extent to which Member States have complied with its provisions. Has the Council done this assessment?

In particular, has the Council received full information on the transposition into UK law of the 2003 Framework Decision, and why does it think there have been no UK prosecutions of foreign bribery? In what way does the Council believe that the UK Government's decision in December 2006 to drop the inquiry into corruption in BAE Systems' Al Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia is (a) compliant with UK obligations under the EU Framework Decision, (b) compliant with UK obligations under the 1997 OECD anti-bribery convention, and (c) helpful in the EU's attempts to eliminate corruption in trade deals around the world?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) The Council has not yet received the Commission’s report on the transposition of the Framework Decision 2003/568/JI on combating corruption in the private sector into the domestic law of the Member States, and it is for that reason that it has not yet examined the question as to whether the Member States have done as they are required to do by the provisions of this framework decision.

The Council has, however, received information concerning the transposition of the 2003 framework decision on corruption in the private sector into UK law. The Council is reviewing, in accordance with Article 9 of the framework decision, the degree to which the Member States have adopted legislation implementing it.

The Council is not, however, obliged to examine the manner in which procedures are conducted in the Member States, nor is it required to make statements relating to the obligations imposed on the Member States by the OECD convention to which the honourable Member referred.


  Chris Davies (ALDE), deputising for the author. – The allegation is that a British company, BAE Systems, corruptly paid bribes in order to win a competitive advantage over other European defence contractors in Saudi Arabia and that an independent investigation of this behaviour has been stopped by the UK Government. Surely this not only breaches countless principles of the European Union, but also competition policy rules as well. Has the Council considered calling on the Commission to take infringement action against the UK Government, and if not, why not? What does it take to get the Council to point the finger at one of its own members?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr Davies, we have to consider very carefully what rights the Council possesses in this regard. So far as we are informed, the BAE Systems case, to which you refer, has to do with the possible bribery of foreign officials, but it is precisely this that is not regulated; although there are rules applicable to bribery in the private sector, there are none applicable to the bribery of officials, and certainly not to that of foreign officials. That being so, the Council is not bound to do anything about this.


  Justas Vincas Paleckis (PSE).(DE) I should like to ask you, Minister, whether the Presidency takes the view that it might be appropriate to discuss with the Commission new measures whereby more might be done in the fight against corruption.

We know that the level of corruption in the various EU countries varies widely, and it would be good if we could do something together to bring it down in all of them.


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) It goes without saying, Mr Paleckis, that the current presidency is, like its predecessors, very much interested in stepping up the fight and campaign against corruption in whatever form and in whatever country.

As I said, of course, in the first part of my answer, the Commission’s report on the implementation of the Framework Decision is not yet with us in its written form. I think it would be sensible to wait for this report and then to examine and analyse it in order to see whether, and if so where, things have been left undone or new things need to be, and then to take a decision, but I do think your point is an important one and that it seems quite possible that we will find such omissions and then have to take action.



Question no 5 by Glenis Willmott (H-0084/07)

Subject: European Cervical Cancer Manifesto

I would like to draw attention to the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week in January and the launch of a manifesto to stop cervical cancer. The content of the manifesto contains four elements.

The first is to work diligently to implement effective population-based organised cervical cancer screening programmes in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Quality Assurance in Cervical Cancer Screening, together with professionally organised public health education programmes to ensure that all women take full advantage of the services that are available to them.

The second is to facilitate the exchange of best practice between Member States so that the world-class expertise that exists in some Member States can be applied uniformly across the European Union.

The third is to support independent population-based research to establish the most appropriate means for implementing the available new technologies within public health programmes and thereby ensure the most effective reductions in cervical cancer across the European Union.

The fourth is to recognise and support the essential role played by charities, non-governmental organisations and volunteers in the ongoing reduction of cervical cancer in Europe.

Does the German Presidency support this manifesto and if so how will it work to ensure its effective implementation throughout the EU?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) I am obliged to the honourable Member for drawing attention to this important issue. I would also refer her to the Council’s answer to Mrs Dičkutė’s written question E-2552/06.

In its conclusions on women’s health on 2 June 2006, recorded in Official Journal C 146 of 22 June 2006, the Council acknowledged that cervical cancer is a disease exclusively occurring in women, something also stated in the text of the statement. The Council has emphasised the great importance of targeted approaches in dealing with women’s diseases, and the Commission is asking for support in the exchange of information and experience relating to best practice in gender-sensitive promotion of health and prevention of illness.

Collection of data and exchange of information and best practice relating to cervical cancer are among the measures the funding of which is envisaged under the Community action programme on public health for the period 2003-2008, which is currently under discussion. The German Presidency is determined to broker a final agreement between the Council and your House ensuring the implementation of the programmes with effect from 1 January 2008.


  Glenis Willmott (PSE). – Thank you for that reply, President-in-Office.

The Council will be aware that a new vaccine is now available that can protect thousands of women against cervical cancer. In fact, estimates indicate that about 32 000 cancers in women could be prevented by this vaccine.

Given this, can the Council assure this House that a vaccination programme will be implemented as widely as possible throughout all 27 of the EU Member States, and can you also give assurances that a comprehensive programme of education and information will be implemented to ensure that all parents are fully aware of the benefits of such a programme?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) The honourable Member is right: the licensing of this vaccine to protect against human papillomavirus does indeed represent important progress in the prevention of cervical cancer. After all, it is claimed that the vaccine affords protection from this cancer in 96–100% of cases. This vaccine is still very new, however, and – as the honourable Member also mentioned – any vaccination and information strategies are still in the early stages of development. Therefore, the emphasis is still on the exchange of know-how and experience at the moment.

Nevertheless, we also believe that protection can be significantly improved by means of information campaigns and the implementation of the existing screening guidelines on the subject.



Question no 6 by Bernd Posselt (H-0086/07)

Subject: Accession negotiations with Croatia

How does the Council view the current state of the accession negotiations with Croatia and what further progress is planned for the current year such as the opening and closing of new chapters?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr Posselt, in its conclusions of 11 December 2006, the Council assured Croatia of its recognition of the country’s progress, whilst emphasising that the accession negotiations had started well and results were starting to emerge. At the same time, the Council emphasised that Croatia must now build on the progress to date. The progress made by the candidate country continues to dictate the tempo of the accession negotiations. As the Presidency has told Croatia, including within the framework of the third meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council on 6 March, the Croatian Government should pay particular attention to accelerating its reform of the judicial system and of the public administration.

Of Croatia’s outstanding commitments arising from the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the Council has highlighted state aid and the acquisition of property. The Council welcomes the fact that Croatia is continuing to cooperate unconditionally with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and emphasises that it must do so also in future. At the same time, the Croatian judiciary needs to improve the prosecution and conviction of war criminals. Croatia must also step up its efforts in the field of good neighbourly relations, including the efforts to be made towards resolving outstanding bilateral issues, particularly border disputes.

The Council has already completed the screening process for 22 negotiating chapters. In respect of seven of these chapters, benchmarks have been laid down that are to be met by Croatia as a precondition for the opening of negotiations. Croatia has been asked directly to submit its negotiating position on each of the remaining 15 chapters to the Accession Conference.

As regards the opening and closing of negotiating chapters in the accession negotiations, two chapters – science and research and education and culture – have been opened and closed again temporarily. Three more negotiating chapters – economic and monetary policy, enterprise and industrial policy, and customs union – have been opened. In addition, both parties’ negotiating positions on Chapter 7 – intellectual property law – have been submitted, and this is expected to be opened shortly. Croatia has submitted its negotiating position on five of the other chapters to the Conference.


  Bernd Posselt (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President-in-Office, as rapporteur for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats on the accession of Croatia, I hope it will be possible to conclude the negotiations by the next European elections at the latest, so that Croatia can participate.

My specific question is as follows: does the President-in-Office think it conceivable that a further eight or so chapters could be opened under the German Presidency, and can he really assure me that a tougher line is not being taken with Croatia than with other candidate countries? Parliament sometimes has the impression that, with Croatia, an attempt is being made to make up for some of the precision that previous enlargements lacked.


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr Posselt, at the very least, you can be assured that Croatia will receive absolutely fair treatment. If you are thinking of the framework conditions for the negotiations with Turkey, for example, you are right, of course, that the instrument of negotiations has changed over time; and, if you are thinking of the newly introduced benchmarks, for example, it is indeed true that the framework and the instruments have evolved.

This is not something that is peculiar to Croatia, however, but will of course apply to all future accession negotiations, including those with the Western Balkan countries – who also hope to see their negotiations opened at some stage. This is not a case of applying a special law to Croatia, therefore, but instead reflects the evolution of the instruments for European enlargement as a whole.

Regarding the honourable Member’s request for predictions, I have to say that predictions are hard to make. I can only tell you in general terms that we have found Croatia, on the whole, to be a very conscientious, very committed negotiating partner, and that, regardless of any other ideas as to political framework or timing, we are endeavouring to make swift progress with the negotiations.

I have of course mentioned the state of play in the negotiations – which is excellent. If you consider that Croatia made its application for membership as recently as 2003, attained the status of candidate country in 2004, and started negotiating last October, this is quite astonishingly rapid progress – even compared to the latest negotiation processes with the 12 countries that have now joined the EU. We are assuming that both sides are interested in continuing this rapid progress.


  Reinhard Rack (PPE-DE).(DE) The President-in-Office also mentioned Turkey – he even made a direct comparison. Here, some negotiating chapters have been suspended, or it has been decided not to open any more. Does the Council believe that the negotiation process is really progressing at a different speed, or is this basically just a formal measure whose effects will be felt at some stage?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr Rack, as you know, there was a specific background to the suspension of the negotiations on certain chapters. Solving this problem so that we can return to a normal rhythm is in the hands of the Republic of Turkey.

Of course, one thing is true. The whole strategy of negotiations with Turkey is governed by different rules again from those for the other negotiations to date – including those now being conducted in parallel – in that a consensus decision must be taken every time a chapter is opened or closed. The decision of October 2005 enables all Member States to play a particularly strong, even controlling, role themselves in the negotiations – which was indeed the basis for the consensus on opening negotiations in the first place. Turkey, too, understands this and has approved this approach and procedure.

It cannot be said, therefore, that Turkey is receiving unfair treatment; it is more a case that a consensus could not have been reached otherwise. Both sides have approved this consensus.


  Justas Vincas Paleckis (PSE).(DE) It is known that regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations form part of European policy. The President-in-Office has mentioned that there are a number of problems with Croatia’s relations with other countries, for example border disputes. As the President-in-Office sees it, who bears greater responsibility for the fact that these border agreements have yet to be signed, Croatia or its neighbouring countries?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) I would prefer to avoid apportioning blame, Mr Paleckis. This has been our policy for all the other accession processes. We have always said that there is a Copenhagen criterion that states that good neighbourly relations must be organised. A precondition for this is that any problems with a country’s neighbours must be resolved. As long as a country does not ask us to intervene in any way, we assume that the country is attempting to solve these problems itself, as this is a precondition for the enlargement process and the accession process itself. We should not, at this stage, be pursuing a different policy with Croatia from the one we pursued in the past with the other 12 countries, who all resolved their neighbourhood and border problems on their own responsibility. This also goes for the Baltic States, even though there are unfortunately some additional things to be regulated there now. This is good practice, however, and should not be avoided.


  President. As they deal with the same subject, the following questions will be taken together.

Question no 7 by Sajjad Karim (H-0089/07)

Subject: Zimbabwe

Current EU sanctions against Robert Mugabe’s regime end on 20 February 2007.

Following 'Operation Murambatsvina', the forced eviction of hundreds of thousands of people living in informal settlements across the country in 2005, the Zimbabwean Government has repeatedly hindered UN efforts to provide emergency shelter and subjected some of the most vulnerable people to repeated forced evictions.

Bearing this in mind, along with well-documented human rights abuses suffered by those who oppose Mr Mugabe’s regime, is the Council able to give assurances that the EU’s refusal to accept these violations will be demonstrated through a renewal of sanctions?

Question no 8 by Eoin Ryan (H-0169/07)

Subject: EU relations with Zimbabwe

Can the Council state what measures it is going to pursue against the Zimbabwean Government in light of the flagrant breach of human rights in this country? Is the Council aware that Zimbabwe is on the verge of famine and is the Council aware that the Government of South Africa has been supporting the Zimbabwean Government in both a political and economic sense over the past number of years?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, many thanks for permitting me to answer these questions together, as they belong together in terms of their subject matter.

My answer is as follows. The Council can confirm that the restrictive measures against the Zimbabwean Government will be continued in their present form. On 19 February 2007, they were extended by a further year. The Council monitored the situation in Zimbabwe closely throughout last year, but was unable to detect any improvement with regard to the criteria it had established as a precondition for the resumption of dialogue.

The Council is monitoring the humanitarian and social situation in Zimbabwe very closely. Humanitarian aid, including food aid, is being provided where needed. The Council is paying particular attention to the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. In September 2006, following violent attacks on demonstrating trade unionists, a declaration was issued calling on the Government of Zimbabwe, ‘to stop intimidation and assault and to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens’. In this connection, the EU made express reference to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Zimbabwe, too, was a signatory.

The Presidency reacted immediately to the violent break-up of a peaceful, church-sponsored rally in Harare on 11 March 2007, during which one participant was killed, several were injured and many were arrested, with a statement. It expressed its concern about the criminalising by the Zimbabwean authorities of this peaceful rally, and urged that the persons arrested be released immediately and that they be given access to legal assistance and medical care.

There is no doubt that the crisis in Zimbabwe has had a negative economic and social impact on the whole region for years. Regarding the role of South Africa, the Council assumes that this country is monitoring the political, economic and social developments in Zimbabwe very closely and working on solving the problem with the means at its disposal.


  Fiona Hall (ALDE), deputising for the author. – Mr President, the extension of the restrictions in Zimbabwe is very welcome, but given the catalogue of human rights abuses, including the recent mistreatment of Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues, and given the possibility that the current regime may well remain in place after elections at the end of this month, how does the Council intend to handle the African Union’s insistence that all its Member States participate in the EU-Africa summit, scheduled for Lisbon in December?


  Brian Crowley (UEN), deputising for the author. – Thank you, President-in-Office, for your response.

Following the arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai last Sunday, it was not until Tuesday – yesterday – that he was arraigned before a court and given access to medical treatment.

We all know about the human rights abuses that have taken place – they have been well catalogued over the last few months – but there are also the effects on the human population: 3.5 million refugees have left Zimbabwe. Furthermore, last Saturday the price of a loaf of bread was 3000 Zimbabwean dollars and today it is 9000. There is 80% unemployment. Is it not now time that neighbouring countries, like South Africa, took a firm stance with Zimbabwe and the corrupt regime of Robert Mugabe?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Your supplementary questions are very much appreciated. Since it is so very topical, perhaps I might begin with what has happened to the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. According to the most up-to-date information, the 14 persons who had been arrested but not injured – having, as required, appeared in court – were then sent home again, since the court evidently realised that there was no case to answer against them.

Mr Tsvangirai, however, who is evidently seriously injured, has not yet been sent home. According to the latest information, he has sustained a fractured skull, has lost a great deal of blood, and is at present in intensive care. Another eleven persons were also injured in the course of being arrested, and were for that reason unable to appear at what might, if one were to use such modern terminology to describe it, be called the custody hearing. It is as yet unclear what has become of them. We are of course working on the assumption that they, like the uninjured persons, have also been set free.

I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that the Council Presidency has expressed its great concern about this mistreatment and the serious injuries sustained by opposition leaders in the following terms: ‘The Presidency once more emphasises the responsibility of the Zimbabwean Government for the safety and freedom from bodily harm of the arrested persons, and it will continue to observe closely what happens in Zimbabwe’. We are, then, determined to maintain an active interest in the area in view of these dramatic developments.

While still on this subject, I want to address two other matters, firstly the behaviour of the other African states, in which, of course, people know what the Mugabe regime is like, and are well aware that this dramatic turn of events in Zimbabwe – where unemployment is running at 80% and inflation has gone over the 5 000% mark – will have a dangerous effect on the whole region.

It is, however, precisely because this development is so threatening that different states are responding in different ways. The response of the community of African states is not uniform; for example, South Africa, which is certainly affected by what is going on, is putting its trust in quiet diplomacy, which it wants to use as a means of avoiding a breach between it and a state that is a neighbour, and a very important one at that. This is, without a doubt, motivated by economic interests.

We also see reciprocity at work here, in that, the firmer the international pressure and the stronger the condemnation of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, the more cautious the African states become, and the more they practise what they might well term African solidarity. We simply have to bear this in mind and try to deal with the situation in an intelligent manner – which brings me to the other supplementary question, which had to do with the preparations for the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon, which is scheduled for December.

At the moment, we are prioritising the preparation of the substance of this important summit, and we regard this, indeed, as the most important task of our presidency. There are, of course, still a number of other problematic African issues that will certainly demand our attention in the course of this year, and that is why we believe we have to do a great deal of work, in the first six months of it, on preparing the ground for this Africa Summit.

The decision on who is to be invited to attend the summit will be taken rather later on in the year, and it is for this reason that we will be paying careful attention to what is currently going on in Zimbabwe, but no decision has as yet been taken on who is actually going to be invited, and so I am unable to answer this question at the present time.


  Jim Allister (NI). – Minister, I think we would all welcome the renewal of the sanctions against Zimbabwe, but it is clear that much more needs to be done, not least in the light of the wanton abuses of human rights demonstrated by last week’s actions against the opposition. Will the Council in particular maximise pressure on Zimbabwe’s neighbours? Are they not the key to this matter? You talk euphemistically about South Africa applying silent diplomacy, but is the truth of the matter not that South Africa has been propping up this regime for years, and that you are being far too timid in your response to South Africa and need to apply real pressure there?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) I have just addressed this subject in some detail, admittedly in a rather descriptive form, by explaining the relevant sensitivities in the realm of African countries, particularly within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has competence in the region. We are conducting a dialogue with the SADC countries on the subject, which we shall continue. In our experience, however, simply increasing the pressure is not conducive to improving the way African countries deal with Zimbabwe – almost the reverse is the case: it gives rise to instinctive African solidarity.

We have not yet found an answer to how to deal with this, but we shall of course continue our intensive dialogue with the SADC countries – including with South Africa, of course – as we have no idea as yet what the reaction to these recent occurrences will be. This is against the background of Robert Mugabe’s announcement that he may now run for office again. No responses to this have been forthcoming from Africa as yet, but these responses will be very important in aiding a decision on how to react.



Question no 9 by Dimitrios Papadimoulis (H-0090/07)

Subject: Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code

For the entire period preceding the funeral service of the murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink (Istanbul, 23 January 2007) the thousands of demonstrators following his coffin were calling for the abolition of Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code concerning 'denigration of Turkishness'. However, no pressure exerted to date has led to this article being amended.

Does the Council agree that, as the recent murder of Hrant Dink has shown, those charged under Article 301 automatically become targets? What immediate measures will the Council take with a view to having Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code amended?


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) The European Union reacted immediately to the tragic news of the murder of Hrant Dink. In its statement, the Presidency expressed its conviction that the Turkish authorities will identify and arrest the persons responsible for this abominable murder as quickly as possible, and that Turkey will steadfastly continue along the path towards fully realising freedom of expression.

As the author is no doubt aware, the Council has emphasised repeatedly how important it considers freedom of expression. Further continuous efforts are required to ensure that there is freedom of expression in Turkey in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

The EU has raised the particular issue of Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code and other imprecisely worded articles systematically at all levels within the framework of the ongoing reform process in Turkey.

At the most recent meeting of the EU–Turkey Association Council, the EU made it clear that Turkey must alter the imprecisely worded articles in line with the relevant EU standards in case judges and public prosecutors adhere to a restrictive interpretation of these provisions. We expect the tragic murder of Hrant Dink to mark a turning point that brings substantial changes in the Criminal Code.

The author can also rest assured that the Union will continue to monitor developments in this field attentively and if necessary raise the issue at all levels. Progress in this key area is of prime importance for the general progress of the accession negotiations.


  Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL), deputising for the author.(EL) Mr President, I should like to inform you that just yesterday the public prosecutor instituted proceedings for denigration of Turkishness against Attila Yayla, a professor of political sciences, who was suspended from the University of Gazi in Ankara because he called Kemalism a backward ideology. The prosecution clearly makes targets of the defendants. In Dink's case, the fact that he was acquitted by the court did not prevent fanatics from murdering him. Consequently, the Council cannot wait for court rulings in order to demand that the Turkish Criminal Code be amended.


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr Triantaphyllides, you will understand that I cannot go into detail here today on something that happened yesterday; although the things you say do unfortunately confirm the continued necessity of the things I have mentioned. There is a clear need to conduct this dialogue at all levels – and I have explained that we are doing so – and also to put pressure on Turkey to adapt its standards and legislation on this to European standards.

This is crucial for the chances of success of the accession negotiations. At present, this is the most important instrument at the Council’s disposal, and we are using it.


  Panagiotis Beglitis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, I have listened carefully to the reply given by the President-in-Office of the Council to Mr Papadimoulis. I fear that we are confining the issue solely to the tragic case of the murder of Hrant Dink. I believe that the European Union and the Member States must – and here the German Presidency must play its part – we must all together see the dangerous proportions which the development of the nationalistic climate in Turkey is taking on.

Starting in the area of Trapezounta, a broader nationalistic climate is developing today which cuts across the political parties and is jeopardising not only the life of intellectuals, journalists, men of letters and artists, but also delicate internal democratic balances and, of course, Turkey's progress towards the European Union.

(The President cut off the speaker)


  Gernot Erler, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) The honourable Member’s words further illustrate the problem of the imprecision of Turkish legislation. This goes for not only Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, but also the anti-terror legislation. This imprecision is not just a legal, but also a political problem, because it can suddenly be put to a different use depending on the prevailing mood or on political developments. For this reason, we are urging our Turkish counterparts to make changes in these very areas, in order to establish some degree of legal certainty and to avoid a situation in which certain agitation or certain trends in Turkish politics lead to changes in people’s legal certainty. This is our important objective. The honourable Member can rest assured that we shall continue to work towards this objective with great commitment.


  President. Questions which had not been answered for lack of time would receive written answers (see Annex).

That concludes Question Time.

(The sitting was suspended at 7.05 p.m. and resumed at 9.00 p.m.)




(1) OJ L 192, 31.7.2003, p. 54.

13. Appointments to interparliamentary delegations (proposal by the Conference of Presidents): see Minutes

14. Hepatitis C (written statement): see Minutes

15. Reform of EU trade policy instruments (debate)

  President. The next item is the oral question to the Commission by Mr Barón Crespo, on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, on the Commission Green Paper and public consultation on a possible reform of EU trade policy instruments (O-0002/2007 B6-0009/2007).


  Ignasi Guardans Cambó (ALDE), deputising for the author. – Mr President, we have asked for this debate to examine the background and the purpose of the Green Paper adopted by the Commission on 6 December 2006.

With the Green Paper, the Commission intends to stimulate a debate over the use of trade defence instruments in Europe: countervailing, anti-dumping and safeguard measures. I believe that this is a commendable initiative and I am convinced of the value of this debate. We need to talk much more about trade policy and about the choices made by the European Commission and by the Council and we need to ensure that decisions are properly discussed before this Parliament. We need to give this Parliament more power and to make trade policy more subject to democratic scrutiny.

We are all living through a moment which many view as some sort of crisis period. We are living through a time when Europeans are asking themselves: what does Europe represent and why do we need such a complicated thing as the European Union in the first place? And, when these legitimate concerns are raised, the importance of the role of a united EU in the globalised world and the importance of having a single voice to represent and defend the interests of 500 million citizens in any negotiation with other trade partners in the world market are vital factors to be considered.

Global trade and its impact on the lives of our citizens and on the future of our businesses, big, medium-sized and small, play an essential role in the anxieties felt by many over what we usually call ‘globalisation’. And, while many of us believe that some of the criticism is no more than cheap demagogy, we must understand those anxieties and we must oppose pure determinism in the way this new world develops, in the way trade takes place, in the way wealth and poverty are distributed.

Europeans who lose their jobs when a company suddenly decides to move eastwards in search of higher profits cannot simply be told that times have changed and that they cannot stand in the way of progress. They want to know what is going on and they must have their voice heard by those that ultimately decide.

We should not forget that there is more than one recipe for economic growth and trade development. It is a matter of policy options whether the future of Europe belongs only to huge retail corporations and to importers or whether we can preserve a model compatible with our most essential social and environmental concerns.

Our strong belief in free trade is perfectly compatible with the need to ask for a level playing field. Even the most peaceful countries in the world – and Europe among them – know that a full commitment to peace does not necessarily mean that armies are abolished and all means of defence are to be destroyed.

So, we say yes to the huge benefits of free trade in our open world and we say yes to the fair implementation of the rules on which this global trade is based.

We welcome the Green Paper, which has the merit of opening a debate on this subject. Its text and the questions it raises already assume that something must be done to modify the current Community trade defence system.

This might be true. The recent footwear case has shown that the risk of deadlocks is real. They are clearly of no benefit to anybody. Nobody here is blindly defending inefficient European production or supporting a protectionist approach to this highly sensitive matter. Trade defence reform can be considered, if it is to be made more effective and more transparent.

The Green Paper can be a good starting point if all the stakeholders’ views are properly taken into consideration and if the Commission and the Council do not entrench themselves behind preconceived ideological positions. The decision-making process can also be improved and we need to ensure that decisions are taken by Member States based on the well-founded research carried out by independent Community bodies, rather than on the basis of national interests, or, if you prefer, national selfishness.

It is therefore important to improve and reinforce trade defence instruments instead of watering them down. On the other side, a fresh approach can be made to less traditional threats to a balanced and free world trade. Practices such as so-called social or environmental dumping need also to be confronted and, when necessary, new means of tackling them should be seriously considered as a matter of Community interest.

The following are the questions I would like Mr Mandelson to respond to tonight. Firstly, the Doha negotiations have been restarted and I sincerely hope that they will result in a clear success. In this respect, would it not have been better to wait for the successful conclusion of multilateral negotiations before starting this exercise, which might weaken our position in Geneva?

Secondly, can Mr Mandelson explain why his services are already applying quite a few questionable innovations mentioned in the Green Paper, even before the public consultation has come to an end and without any discussions either before the Council, or before this Parliament?

Thirdly, since the new trade defence system proposed by the Commission assigns a role to all possible interested parties, including those not related to the production of goods falling under the scope of the investigation, do you not believe that the time has come to allow trade unions to lodge a complaint, as foreseen by the WTO anti-dumping agreement?

I conclude by formally asking Mr Mandelson to provide assurances that the European Parliament will be kept informed at all stages of the process and that the views expressed by its members will be fully taken into account when discussing this highly sensitive matter.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I do not think I have ever been asked to reply, in any Parliament in which I have been President-in-Office, to an opening question or a speech with which I have agreed more than the speech I have just listened to. In terms of its description of the spirit, purpose and context of this exercise, I must say I thought the honourable Member captured in every respect what we are doing most accurately and well.

The only stage at which, I have to say, I somewhat part company is when he asks me why our services – DG Trade – are applying new rules before the conclusion of the review. I have absolutely no idea what instances or issues he is referring to, and I would be pleased to hear because I do not know of any.

On 29 May last year, I informed the European Parliament of the necessity to review our trade defence instruments. I am pleased to be able to be back here and to update you on this process. We are now coming to the end of the consultation that we launched in December. That consultation solicited opinion from Member States, business, NGOs, individuals and, of course, the European Parliament. What it did not do in any way was question the importance of trade defence instruments. TDI is necessary to combat unfair trade in an international economy that has no international equivalent to the competition rules we take for granted in our own domestic economies. TDI, in my view, is the flip side of an open economy. It is the guarantee that others will not abuse that openness by trading unfairly. The Green Paper asks if we could use TDI better, if our tools have adapted to a changing global economy and whether our rules could be clearer and operate more transparently.

I think the justification for such an exercise is pretty obvious. The last review of our trade defence instruments was in 1996, and a lot has changed in the ways EU companies operate and as regards the role of global supply chains in our economy. Many more EU companies now produce goods wholly or partially outside the EU for import into the EU. These changes challenge traditional understanding of what constitutes EU production and the EU’s economic interests. They make a definition of European workers’ interests harder to write, as cases are more complex. Because these interests overall are those in which trade defence is rooted, that is good reason to assess the way we work and the way those rules operate.

But the Green Paper launched a consultation; it contains no recommendations for reform and is not intended to. It puts forward a set of questions. I have repeatedly emphasised that this is an open process and I have no preconceived ideas. There was a question asked of me about the intentions behind the six categories of question in the consultation paper. They are designed simply to put the various issues in context. Some are linked to the impact of globalisation on our trade defence system. Others, especially those related to transparency, were raised by stakeholders and experts with whom I had informal discussions in July last year.

So there are no intentions beyond the desire for intelligent debate and to rebuild the consensus and solidarity that has underpinned TDI and has come under strain in some recent cases. I fully echo the honourable Member’s initial observation: we need to replace national selfishness with European solidarity, and that is what I hope to rebuild through the process of this review.

I do not come to you today with substantive proposals because that is not my role at this stage. Right now, we are listening. The scope of any proposed changes will depend on what we hear. Somebody asked how this review fits with our attempts to reform anti-dumping rules in the WTO. The honourable Member reflected that question. Actually, it is a rather good question. It is vital to push through the WTO to ensure others match the kind of standards we apply to ourselves. We are doing that and we will keep doing that in the DDA negotiations.

But EU legislation on TDI already goes beyond WTO requirements in many ways. The most obvious examples are the compulsory lesser duty rule and the Community interest test which we apply in all investigations. These are rules we introduced because they make the system work better in the wider EU interest. Of course we will push others to adopt similar rules, but reform at the international level is difficult and some of our key partners are, frankly, stubborn. So long as our refinements do not put us at a competitive disadvantage, so long as they reflect the EU’s economic interests, why should we not pursue further reform?

That point relates to the question about the EU’s general posture on anti-dumping. Are we protectionist or do we follow a ‘response and defence’ approach? In my view, protectionism is the shielding of a domestic industry from foreign competition, from fair competition – tough competition, yes, but fair nonetheless. That is not the intention of EU TDI policy and I will, of course, remain vigilant on that. We are not going to see our trade defence instruments turned into measures to protect EU industry from fair, legitimate competition. A protectionist does not recognise the difference between tough competition and unfair competition. We do. Our system does. That is the difference between protection and protectionism.

The EU process is complaint driven. We act only when EU industry can provide sufficient evidence that they are threatened by unfair trade, but we defend European production only against unfair trade, and we are bound by law to ensure that any trade defence measure is truly in the wider European economic interest. We are prudent and we are restrained but, above all, we are objective and dispassionate. A number of questions have gone right to this issue of making sure that TDI is effective and serves Europe’s growth and competitiveness agenda.

As you know, this review is part of the global Europe framework policy that I launched last year, which is explicitly intended to put EU trade policy at the service of this growth and job strategy. Beyond saying that, I think TDI can and should be part of our wider strategy for ensuring that EU companies compete on a level playing field internationally. I think it is for stakeholders to suggest how well the system is working to that end, and that is the purpose of the review.

The question about the effectiveness of our measures is a good one. The possibility of review of trade defence measures always exists and measures cannot be extended without clear evidence that they are functioning as intended. The Commission also undertakes internal analysis to ensure the effectiveness of its work. DG Trade has recently started to analyse the impact of trade defence measures on certain companies and sectors. A credible TDI system has to be based on this sort of analysis.

A question was asked about public information and about the results of the consultation process. As you know, the Commission has very clear rules on the transparency of decision-making. Some of you may have attended the seminar on the Green Paper that took place only yesterday in Brussels. This event was open to the public and relayed on the website. Unless a contributor requests anonymity, we are publishing all responses to the Green Paper on the website of DG Trade. The whole process has been totally transparent.

Finally, on cooperation and dialogue with Parliament: you know that I have constantly appeared before you on all important trade policy matters, and I will continue to do so. Parliament has a very important role in the TDI reflection process. Your report will be central to the ongoing review process, and I will study its recommendations very closely.

I thank you for hearing me again today and I look forward to being back here again soon to discuss any and every issue of trade policy, on which I delight in remaining answerable to this House.


  Christofer Fjellner, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (SV) Mr President, Mr Mandelson, trade defence instruments – the name is quite revealing: an instrument for defending ourselves against trade. To protect ourselves against trade would be both expensive and stupid, however, and there are therefore few economists who make a habit of supporting the use of this instrument. I myself have on more than one occasion here in Parliament talked, for example, about the way in which consumers are forced to pay astronomically high prices for a limited producer interest. The fact is, however, that, in the future too, we shall have some form of trade defence instrument. Until such time as we have common competition legislation right around the world, all countries will probably feel a need to protect themselves against what they perceive as unfair trade. I therefore believe that we need to design the instrument now so that it is legitimate and viewed as such by everyone – producers, importers, consumers and all the Member States.

We must get away from the predictable conflicts pitting North against South and producers against importers and consumers, as the conflicts in themselves undermine confidence in the instrument and, in the longer term, in EU trade policy. If we are to have any consensus surrounding these trade defence instruments, we must do more to emulate competition legislation. Everyone I meet demands, for example, more transparency, more predictability and, above all, less political horse-trading on this issue. I can understand them, as it is frankly ridiculous that the Member States should only be given a few days in which to assess thousands of pages prior to decisions on anti-dumping duties. The fact that, in Brussels, we have an army of consultants who run around in pursuit of rumours of Commission proposals concerning new defence measures is ridiculous too, as is the political horse-trading whereby duties on shoes can be exchanged for exemptions from the working time directive – exemptions that, in turn, can be exchanged for duties on Norwegian salmon. All this shows that a fundamental overhaul is required.

What is more, the world has changed. As global duties become bound and lower, more of our trading partners use instruments to prevent the import of goods in the traditional way, and, given that Europe is the biggest actor in the world market, we must show leadership. I should therefore like to conclude by asking you how we are to ensure that this reform does not, in actual fact, continue down the road of seriously becoming one that Frédéric Bastiat, for example, would characterise in terms of cutting off our nose to spite our face.


  David Martin, on behalf of the PSE Group. – Mr President, I welcome the Green Paper as it is clear that our trade defence instruments are in need of reform.

The vast majority of stakeholders are unhappy with the status quo. As they stand, anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations lack transparency, consistency, objectivity and are over-politicised and inappropriate to the realities of a modern economy adapting to the forces of globalisation.

While it is probably impossible to create a totally objective process, there can and must be improvements to the current investigation procedure in order to depoliticise it and ensure that the interests of all European citizens are best served.

In order to do this, as the Commissioner has indicated, we must redefine and give greater weight to the Community interest. If the European Union is to become more relevant to people’s lives, it must take genuine steps to look after citizens’ interests. This, of course, means the protection of jobs against unfair and anti-competitive behaviour. However, too often the narrow interests of an outspoken group of producers have won out against the interests of the millions of consumers who stand to gain from the process of globalisation and whose voice has often not been heard.

Moreover, the potential damage to European companies who set up global supply chains in order to remain competitive in a globalised economy must also be given greater consideration when considering the Community interest. In terms of the process of anti-dumping investigations, there is widespread dissatisfaction across stakeholders with the access they currently enjoy even to non-confidential documents and information.

The use of analogue countries must also be questioned. I am referring in particular to last year’s shoe case where the Brazilian economy was used to make comparisons with China, whereas in reality their two economies are as comparable as their football teams.

I would also be eager for the Commission to investigate the viability of expanding trade defence instruments to deter environmental and social dumping in order to ensure that an unfair advantage is not obtained through the abuse of the environment or through failure to ensure decent labour standards.


  Gianluca Susta, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the question that we are debating, the content of which I support, is a strong appeal to the European executive to ensure that, without going back on its commitment to revive multilateral dialogue, to open markets and to lay down rules that encourage development rather than blocking it with non-tariff barriers, the Union does not take unilateral action that penalises us more than we would wish in relation not only to emerging countries but also to the major developed nations, primarily the United States.

Reviving competitiveness and consistency with the Lisbon Strategy, opening markets, protecting consumers, including by introducing obligatory origin marking on imported goods, the success of measures adopted to defend the effectiveness of free competition; these elements are all inextricably linked. We emphasise that we are opposed to a distorted use of anti-dumping measures and to forms of disguised and non-agreed protectionism presented as fighting unfair competition, of which our global competitors accuse us. We do ask, however, that reform of anti-dumping rules by the European Union should not act as indirect support for those in the world who have not come out in favour of liberalisation.

At this stage and for a good while yet, I believe, liberalisation and regulation must, more than ever, be strictly linked in the interest of the market itself. The rules must however be objective, as was the case when drafting those governing competition, which are clearly defined, accessible, effective and easy to apply. For this reason, we must minimise the element of discretion used in applying defence measures, and small and medium-sized enterprises must be able to actually uphold the rules when prices are subject to abnormal changes.

Commissioner, we hope that the European executive will take account of these considerations, in the knowledge that Europe’s real economy needs to feel part of a strong community that encourages and urges it to take up the challenges of an ever more globalised world, yet defends it from those that breach the rules to unjustly pursue their own development at the expense of others.


  Zbigniew Krzysztof Kuźmiuk, on behalf of the UEN Group.- (PL) Mr President, Commissioner, I welcome the launch of the debate on the reform of trade policy instruments.

The current system of trade policy instruments, which has remained unchanged for several decades, is no longer effective enough to counteract the negative effects of burgeoning globalisation. As this is too large a topic to discuss in any great detail here, I would like to draw attention to those issues where reform is needed.

Firstly, anti-dumping tariffs are imposed by the Commission on a product on the basis of proof that its price on the EU market does not exceed the cost of production. To this end the Commission considers mainly production factors such as wages, cost of materials and energy for example. The Commission does not, however, establish whether the enterprise bears the cost of social security for its employees, or of environmental protection measures. It is therefore difficult to establish whether the costs submitted are incomplete, and consequently that the price of a product that does not take account of them has been artificially reduced.

Secondly, it is often the case that the relatively high prices of some products originating in the European Union, and hence their lack of competitiveness on the world market, arise from the very high standards demanded, regarding animal welfare, for instance. The European Union must require that products from third countries sold on its market also meet these standards.

Thirdly, the European Commission is very cautious in applying so-called protective clauses whose aim is to prevent the European Union market from being suddenly flooded by a particular type of product. These instruments, however, are much faster and easier to use than anti-dumping tariffs.

Finally, the Commission should also try to shorten to a minimum the period between the start of a particular procedure and the implementation of the relevant protection instrument. Currently this takes many months, and for anti-dumping tariffs as long as nine months, which exposes European producers to huge losses.


  Carl Schlyter, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (SV) Mr President, free trade is no good if it is unfair, and trade defence measures are an attempt to make it fairer. I think that the Commission places a little too much emphasis on multinational companies, and I am uneasy about redefining the Community interest. I wish to clarify the fact that, if an EU-based transnational company is involved in social or environmental dumping, either for its own part or through subsidiary companies or subcontractors, it cannot be regarded as a Community interest just because it is EU-registered. It must be punished for engaging in such practices.

The Green Paper also addresses many interesting issues that we are to debate, for example increased transparency and more influence for small companies and non-governmental organisations. One important dimension is missing, however: the Green Paper is insufficiently green. The whole dimension of environmental dumping is absent. Let me remind you of paragraph 11 of the Muscardini report from October, whereby the European Parliament ‘invites the Commission to consider whether it would be appropriate to radically revise the rules on the use of trade defence … measures under the WTO aegis’, and this for the purpose of including non-compliance with global agreements and with conventions on the environment and social issues as forms of dumping or subsidy.

The fact is that countries that have weak environmental legislation or that lack the environmental taxes of their competitors must be seen as subsidising or dumping their production costs; in other words, as engaging in nothing less than traditional dumping. This will become a growing problem when the global level of ambition increases. There must, then, be no free zones for environmental destruction that undermines global environmental work. We must, for example, introduce a Kyoto tariff for countries that do not comply with the Kyoto Agreement. Other countries must be brought before the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and perhaps we shall win and perhaps we shall lose. Many believe the WTO to be a powerful organisation, but one thing is certain: the climate cares not one jot for the WTO and, if we do not introduce climate measures into trade policy, will change irrespective of what the WTO thinks.

One final comment: if we are now to have solidarity and we have a one per cent limit, when is Malta to be able to apply these defence measures and when is it to obtain more than one per cent of internal trade?


  Béla Glattfelder (PPE-DE).(HU) Free trade works well if its rules are followed. But this is not always the case. Unfair trade practices and dumping are increasingly being used against the EU and its producers. In several cases of dumping it has been demonstrated that it is the vendors rather than the consumers who profit. There is no reason for the EU to water down the current trade rules. It is unacceptable that we should punish those companies that have remained in Europe, that have retained European jobs, and reward those which moved their production offshore.

We need protection against unfair competition. We should not loosen the rules against unfair trade, but rather enforce them. This is especially true in the case of countries that are not market economies, where for instance the state is using complex and non-transparent means of giving aid to companies that are producing for export. Moreover, China is using its increasing trade revenues not to expand democracy, reduce poverty, protect the environment or reduce CO2 emissions, but rather to purchase armaments. This year, China is increasing its military expenditures by 18%. According to official statistics, this will reach USD 45 billion. Moreover, according to some experts on security policy, the true amount they are spending on armaments will be three times this sum.

Commissioner, there is not much point for us to support China’s military build-up by cutting European jobs.


  Kader Arif (PSE).(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to thank Mr Barón Crespo and Mr Guardans Cambó for having taken the initiative in putting this oral question to the Commission.

The whole issue of our trade defence instruments is in fact of the utmost importance, not only in that they ensure that European producers are protected effectively against forms of unfair competition, but also when considered within the context of the broader debate on the place of the European Union in a globalised economy and on the rules that it wishes to promote for its governance.

Even though the European Union has always defended the WTO’s multilateral system, I think it surprising to say the least that the Commission should launch a public consultation of this kind and be contemplating a potentially major reform of our defence instruments at a time when the WTO negotiations on anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard measures have not yet been completed and when the results of these will impact upon the way in which these instruments are used.

Let me, then, remind the Commission that it did itself commission a study evaluating the European trade defence instruments, the conclusion of which was that the status quo was both the most reasonable solution and the one best suited to addressing the concerns of all parties. This study also lends support to the idea that there is, at the present time, no visible and pressing need to review or amend the Community’s existing trade defence instruments.

I would like, therefore, to know just what concrete changes the Commission is planning and how this House is going to be involved in every stage of the process, and I call on the Commission to take account of these different factors within the framework of its forthcoming discussions at Council level, as well as taking account of the views of the Members of this House and of the results of the public consultation that it itself initiated for the purpose of drawing up its future proposals.


  Leopold Józef Rutowicz (UEN). - (PL) The Green Paper and the debate on trade policy instruments are extremely important to our economy and could bring us considerable added value.

European foreign trade policy must respond adequately to any change that takes place in the manufacture and sale of goods on the internal and external markets. For example, in the framework of agreements, our market can promote the purchase of materials for biofuels, the sale of which has good development prospects, and restrict imports, thus reducing the output of the sugar industry, for instance. Through our mutual relationships we should help those of our suppliers who could start up production in line with our needs within the scope of promotional or association agreements.

As far as dumping goes, our response is long-winded and indecisive, doing us more harm than good. For example, in the case of frozen strawberries from China it took several years to put anti-dumping measures in place, by which time numerous farms had folded and gone bankrupt. An analysis of operational efficiency, and radically shortening existing bureaucratic procedures could lead to clear working regulations and responsibilities which would allow applications to be processed quickly.

Another problem for the European Union is defining the principles of our common trade policy to avoid unfair competition on the external market. The issues I have mentioned require constant monitoring. I thank other Members for engaging in the debate on this issue.


  Daniel Caspary (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the EU must think carefully about how to better defend its own interests. The strategy of making early concessions in the hope of later benefits will certainly not work. Instead, the rules must be observed in the interests of free, fair competition. Unfair trade practices should not be tolerated, and therefore, without a doubt, effective trade defence instruments form an integral part of the European strategy for competitiveness. In this sense, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Glattfelder: the defence instruments must not be further watered down.

As I see it, Commissioner, the timing of the Green Paper is very unfortunate, as the results of the current multilateral negotiations on trade defence instruments should not be forestalled. There should be no reforms in Europe before the conclusion of these negotiations, whether successful – which I hope – or not.

The second thing I want to say is that the present instruments have fundamentally proved their worth. If there have to be reforms at all, these should be geared towards improving the existing system.

We need to make a clear distinction – as the Commissioner rightly mentioned – between real dumping on the one hand and pricing in line with competition law on the other. Anti-dumping measures must not be abused for protectionist purposes. On the other hand, however, the long-term preservation of European production should not be sacrificed to apparent short-term consumer interests. From the procedural point of view, it must be ensured that the assessment of cases is as objective as possible, and not influenced by specific national interests in the Council. It is my firm conviction that, whilst third countries are making intensive use – often abuse – of trade defence instruments against us, we must not relax ours.

All of this is possible under the existing rules if they are just applied correctly, and so I would ask the Commissioner to be very sensitive in this regard, and I would recommend to him the stimulating reading that is my latest draft report on external trade strategy, in which I also discuss the subject of trade defence instruments.


  Panagiotis Beglitis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, my special thanks to Commissioner Mandelson.

I believe that this evening's debate highlights an internal strategic split in the European Union. I believe that, as Mr Fjellner said in his speech, on the one hand there is the Europe of major commercial consumer protection networks and, on the other hand, the Europe of productive powers, of the protection of the productive and industrial fabric and of employment and of the defence of the workers. We must reconcile these two strategic approaches for the good of the European Union. Of course no one wants to turn the European Union into a protectionist fortress. On the other hand, however, it would be an illusion to believe that the European Union can remain unarmed in the face of the challenges and the negative consequences of globalisation, that it can remain unarmed in the face of unfair international trading practices, in the face of social and environmental dumping by certain emergent economies in the developing world.

I believe that the Green Paper presented by Mr Mandelson can form a good basis for further discussion. We need trade defence measures on the basic precondition that they will be effective, that they will help to defend the commercial interests of the European Union, that they will help to defend the principle of transparency and faster decision-making. Provided, Mr Mandelson, that your proposal moves in the direction of improving the trade defence mechanisms of the European Union, we really can hold a debate and make a positive contribution to that debate.


  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE). – (LT) Today for discussion we have the Commission's Green Paper, which focuses on Europe’s trade defence instruments in a changing world economy. In the communiqué, concerns have been expressed about trade defence instruments which would not affect high productivity. Also mentioned is the issue of coordinating the Community's interests and those of high productivity, importers, consumers and even the interests of developing countries.

The figures provided show that the USA and India, in protecting their markets, have initiated more studies on how to apply defence instruments than has the EU. The EU is having difficulty implementing the Lisbon Strategy and creating new jobs, and there is a catastrophic lack of qualified workers in the engineering profession, and of scientists who could create new competitive technologies.

In the current situation, by no means should defence instruments be relaxed, as that would stifle current EU productivity, especially small and medium-size businesses, particularly in new Member States.

Furthermore, I would urge the Commission to quickly carry out anti-dumping studies, as delay on this has already bankrupted the Lithuanian telescope manufacturer ‘Ekranas’.


  Francisco Assis (PSE).(PT) Mr Mandelson, this Commission initiative straight away has the merit of promoting debate on a issue to which there are no simple answers. There are sectors in Europe that lean more towards the demagogic and populist responses of those who feel they have simple answers to this question. They may be simple answers, but they are wrong.

The key issue is how the EU should use the trade defence instruments at its disposal to guarantee compliance with the rules of fair trade and to take an active role in the process of regulating international trade.

The European economic and social model must be defended, but it must never overstep the boundary into protectionism. This is currently the most important issue facing the EU.

We have already seen that there are natural differences of opinion and opposing interests within the EU itself. The interests of the manufacturers do not necessarily coincide with those of the major importers, and the immediate interests of consumers do not necessarily coincide with each other. What is needed is a guideline that always emphasises a key principle – that of how the EU will participate actively, seriously and intelligently in the process of regulating international trade. In this context, it must seek to project onto an international scale, within the framework of the World Trade Organisation, some of the basic values that identify it, namely a competitive economy and, at the same time, a society that shows greater solidarity and more cohesion and that is very alert to the preservation of certain key environmental values.

This is the challenge now facing the EU, and I therefore feel that the Commission has done the right thing in promoting this debate.


  Benoît Hamon (PSE). – (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, I too should like to thank the Commission for having opened this debate on the EU’s trade defence instruments, and I should also like to congratulate Mr Guardans Cambó on having offered us the opportunity to debate the subject today.

What I find striking about the Commission’s questionnaire, or, more broadly speaking, about all its thinking about trade policy, is the lack of any reference whatsoever to the issue of the euro exchange rate against the currencies of our main trading partners. I want to know from Commissioner Mandelson just how he thinks the European Union’s trading interests can be effectively defended when the euro stands as it does against the dollar, the yuan and the yen?

If, then, I may take the example of the aerospace industry, which, with its plans for redundancies and cutbacks and its threats of farming work out and of moving it to other sites, holds the centre of the stage today, a ten-cent change in the euro/dollar exchange rate amounts to the loss or gain of a billion euros in Airbus’ year-end figures. Is it not the case that competitive currency devaluations on the part of our competitors are the most flagrant examples of dumping, the consequence of these being that Airbus, the flagship of European industry, now finds it does better to produce some of its aircraft outside the euro zone if it wants to be able to compete with Boeing? Just what we always wanted!

I would encourage Commissioner Mandelson to look to the European Central Bank and do something, today, about making it responsible not only when the euro’s value goes down but also when it goes up, for has the time not come for the Council and the Commission, by virtue of the powers accorded them by Article 111 of the Treaty, to at last discharge their responsibilities and enable us to equip ourselves with something we cannot do without – the general outlines of an exchange rate policy?


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, by my reckoning 85% of those who have spoken have welcomed this review and therefore I feel gratified in having taken the initiative in proposing it to the Commission. I hope that this fact and the very intelligent and, in the main, very balanced contributions that have been made to this debate will be registered in the Council and by the Presidency. I do not know whether they are represented tonight. It appears not. But, nonetheless, I am sure that this fact will communicate itself.

Now, having welcomed the review, people do differ as to whether they want to use it to water down the existing TDI or not. I am going to disappoint both those categories, both the water-downers and the anti-water-downers, by saying that the aim of the review is neither to strengthen nor to weaken our existing trade defence instruments. Instead, the purpose is to make sure that we have rules that are clear, consistent and capable of commanding consensus across the Union. I am not fully satisfied that we are striking the right balance at the moment. Hence the controversy, hence the breakdown in consensus, hence the breakdown in solidarity amongst and between Member States that we have observed in recent cases. It is my responsibility to do what is necessary, if anything can be done, to repair that solidarity and make sure that we have consensus rebuilt.

Of course, we are faced with constant dilemmas in exercising and applying these rules. One person’s legitimate protection is another person’s protectionism and that is where judgement needs to be applied on the basis of the objective analysis undertaken by the Commission.

But I have heard the call of many in this House to ensure that our anti-dumping system is clear, transparent and objective. I have heard the concerns expressed about the length and lack of efficiency of the process and I have heard those who have said that they want environmental concerns better reflected.

I am not sure whether I will ever be able to fashion a set of instruments that will enable us to use trade defence to tackle global warming or bring climate security to the world. Of course, if this is a challenge that Members of this Parliament want to set us, then we will rise to it, but I am not sure that we will be successful, just as I am not entirely sure that we will be able to use trade defence instruments to address exchange rate policy either.

I am very grateful to those who have spoken and raised very important points. My own view, just to go back to the opening speaker in this debate, is that if you want to make and sustain the case for economic openness in Europe, which I do, then the people of Europe have to feel confident that, when they are unfairly threatened or harmed by the anti-competitive behaviour of others, that they have someone on their side: that someone is us. It is the essential and growing role of the European Union and of the European Commission in this global age. It does not make our task easier, but it makes it all the more necessary and important and it is a responsibility that, for my own part, I intend to see discharged in a fair, objective and dispassionate way.


  President. The debate is closed.

Written statement (Rule 142)


  Tokia Saïfi (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) The Commission has adopted a Green Paper and launched a public consultation on the use of the EU’s trade defence instruments (TDIs) in a changing global economy. This public consultation should prepare the way for proposals by the Commission aimed at reforming its trade defence instruments (anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard clauses).

This reform project needs, however, to be considered with prudence. The European Union must not act unilaterally or precipitately, for any revision of its instruments must be carried out within the legal framework of the ongoing negotiations on the multilateral disciplines applicable to TDIs, forming part of the Doha round. Quite apart from the need to be in line with the WTO calendar, it is also imperative that the Commission should take into account the fact that the liberalisation of trade makes TDIs indispensable.

TDIs are typically used in moderation and are in no way the straitjackets for which free-traders take them, or the weaponry of protectionists. As regulators, they are in fact effective as means of restoring the conditions of fair competition to international trading markets and of limiting illegal practices’ adverse effects on industry, growth and employment in the European Community.


16. Compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights (debate)

  President. The next item is the report (A6-0034/2007) by Mr Voggenhuber, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Commission’s legislative proposals: methodology for systematic and rigorous monitoring (2005/2169(INI)).


  Johannes Voggenhuber (Verts/ALE), rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, at prime media time this morning, in the course of the debate on the Berlin Declaration, we celebrated the Union as a common system of law, and we all agreed that what holds this system together at heart is human dignity and fundamental rights and freedoms.

At a late hour this evening we are now discussing the everyday business of this common system of law: the enforcement – an arduous task – and protection of these fundamental rights and freedoms. Those who have long been working on the everyday business of fundamental rights in Europe will be aware of three irritations. Firstly, for the achievement of its economic and monetary-policy objectives, the Union has hard law, specific objectives, penalties if need be, large amounts of money and tough action; whereas fundamental rights and freedoms at European level have only soft law.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights is still not binding. Some Member States are even calling for its removal from the Constitution. The EU is not a member of the European Commission of Human Rights. Organisations such as Europol, Eurojust and Frontex do not fall under the European Convention on Human Rights. Police cooperation is still not Community law, and it evades scrutiny by national parliaments and the European Parliament. A grey area of fundamental rights is emerging in Europe.

The second irritation – which I am seeing more and more in my debates on the Constitution – is that cracks have emerged in the original confidence of the European public in the will and ability of this Union to enforce fundamental rights and freedoms uncompromisingly. The CIA affair, the illegal kidnappings, the illegal overflights and the lack of cooperation by governments have been contributory factors, as have the negative judgments of the European Court of Justice on the transfer of passenger data and SWIFT bank data and the lack of legal bases for Union action. All of this has dented the original confidence of the public in the will and ability of the Union to protect these fundamental rights uncompromisingly.

The third irritation concerns the Commission’s monitoring. Commissioner, I do not know how often this House is supposed to carry on demanding that the Commission’s work and proposals on the protection of fundamental rights be more systematic, less restrictive, more public; or that the Commission increase the involvement of civil society and of independent experts and organisations. We did so in the report on Article 7; we did so in the reports on the Human Rights Agency; we did so with regard to the accession treaties. Yet the Commission gives the impression of being unsure, indecisive, in this field. Its choices are often incomprehensible, and its pressure on the Council and the Member States is often insufficient. We welcome the procedure for enforcing the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Commission’s legislative proposals: it represents progress. Nevertheless, it is insufficient, and it suffers from all the things this House has pointed out so many times already.

Checking against the Charter of Fundamental Rights cannot be smuggled in via social, environmental and economic criteria, but must be a criterion in itself. Every one of the Commission’s legislative initiatives must be checked against the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and this checking must be substantiated and documented in all cases. How often have we demanded – as we are doing again – that the Commission show greater respect for the particular responsibility of Parliament as advocate of the European public for the protection of fundamental rights? We did this when we dealt with Article 7, the Agency and the accession negotiations. We called for increased involvement of NGOs, international organisations and the Human Rights Agency. How much longer do we need to go on doing this? How much longer do we need to go on demanding continuous dialogue between the institutions?

The outstanding part of the Commission’s proposal is its talk of the development of a fundamental-rights culture. We share this ambition and support it. Yet this development requires a systematic, continuous, open dialogue between the institutions; it requires reports; it requires that the institutions be given the right to point out abuses and wrong turns in the Member States. It is also essential that the Commission’s monitoring system be extended to the field of intergovernmental cooperation and to the comitology system.

Commissioner, we are repeating our demands. We are doing so at a late hour, without public exposure, without anything. I do think, however, that it is time the Commission responded to Parliament’s wishes and demands in this field.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I warmly welcome this report and wish to thank Parliament for its positive reception of the Commission’s communication of 27 April 2005 on a methodology to check fundamental rights compliance in the Commission’s own legislative proposals.

Let me briefly recall why the Commission adopted this communication on a methodology for compliance with fundamental rights, the first product of the Commissioners’ Group on Fundamental Rights, Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunities.

We, the Union’s institutions, must at all times show that we cherish fundamental rights, not only in words but in actions and above all in our own legislative action. This is crucial for the Union to be credible and legitimate in the eyes of its citizens. The Charter, which the institutions subscribed to in 2000, must encourage us to enhance respect for individual freedom in all its facets. This includes classic civil liberties to be upheld, precisely in our current efforts to combat terrorism. It also includes economic and social rights and, last but not least, the new generation rights such as data protection, good administration and bio-ethical guarantees. But, briefly, it must become clear to our citizens that the European Union locks a true fundamental rights culture into its own policy-making. It is therefore a matter of great satisfaction and encouragement for the Commission to see that our communication of 2005 has found such a prominent echo in your resolution of today and that this Parliament makes the same commitment on its part to include internal rules for monitoring fundamental rights. Taking rights seriously must be a common leitmotif for all institutions throughout the EU’s legislative process.

I also wish to thank Parliament for some constructive practical suggestions which the Voggenhuber report offers to the Commission in order to develop further our human rights compliance methodology. As you know, we have scheduled a review of our methodology to be launched later this year, and the Commission will present Parliament with the results of this review. The Commission is very keen to share its experience with Parliament in that respect.

In the context of this review, the Commission will of course pay utmost attention to your suggestions. For instance, we have noted that we should refer not only to the Charter as a point of reference, but also to European and international human rights conventions, and that Parliament emphasises the Commission’s right to withdraw its proposal where changes are made in the legislative process which would violate a fundamental right. We are also open to giving even greater visibility to fundamental rights in our impact assessments.

Finally, a major theme of the planned review will be how to involve the newly-established Fundamental Rights Agency when preparing new policy initiatives which are sensitive to fundamental rights.

As regards the call for a new annual report from the Commission on fundamental rights in the EU, we think that it could be useful to have a yearly general discussion on this issue. This could take place in the context of our annual discussion relating to progress in the area of freedom, security and justice. We are less convinced on having a new formal, specific annual report, in particular since the recently established Fundamental Rights Agency will, as perhaps its most important task, adopt such an annual report on fundamental rights issues within the EU. That report, and thus our new Fundamental Rights Agency, should receive all the public attention it deserves. That report should therefore be at the centre of discussions on fundamental rights issues in all three institutions and we should avoid any duplication of it.

But, with that caveat, I would like to say how much we commend this report on its content and how seriously we take it.


  Riccardo Ventre (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to congratulate the Commission on this new approach to the protection of fundamental rights. I should like to thank the Commissioner for having informed us this evening that a substantial part of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs’ idea will be transposed by the Commission into the amended text.

We hope that the European Parliament will become ever more involved in protecting these rights and, above all, we are pleased to support the idea of continuous monitoring of all the legislative activities that will lead to such protection, which, as the Commissioner was saying, could culminate in a final report. However, this becomes scarcely important if the monitoring is incisive, constant and continuous.

Secondly, as regards the involvement of the newly established Fundamental Rights Agency, I believe – as has already been said in committee – that its activities also need to be diversified, in order to prevent any pointless overlapping or duplication of effort. I therefore believe that the full involvement of the agency, and of non-governmental organisations and associations, as the rapporteur was saying, should become ever more meaningful and significant, given that there are some very important associations that concern themselves with the protection of human rights.

Finally, in our opinion, systematic internal checks should be implemented at all levels during the stage of drafting legislation. I therefore hope that these suggestions contained within the rapporteur’s clear, lucid report – qualities that he has illustrated this evening – become part of the activities of the Commission itself.


  Kinga Gál, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (HU) Respect for our fundamental rights and for all human rights, and their implementation, is under all circumstances the cornerstone of every European democratic state, governed by the rule of law. They cannot be circumvented or overriden. It is when problematic, conflictual situations arise that it becomes especially clear that we need always to confirm anew these now seemingly self-evident rights, and that their observance is not automatic, and we need to struggle time and again for our fundamental rights to be respected.

The respect for and defence of our fundamental human rights was the starting point and the achievement of the European Union, but till now the declaration has been accompanied by few concrete legal and practical measures. One of the concrete achievements is the birth of the Charter of Fundamental Rights itself, and although the Charter is far from complete, nevertheless adding legal force to it – let us say by subscribing to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights – would represent a much-needed step forward in the Community’s defence of fundamental rights. The problems involving human rights that appear daily, and the complexity of these issues, demonstrate that there is much to be done in this area.

For this reason, I can only welcome Mr Voggenhuber’s report, that is, the initiative of the Commission, since it draws the attention of all of us to the key question that the effective respect of fundamental rights begins when respect for the Charter of Fundamental Rights features among the Commission’s legislative proposals, when regular and strict controls of human rights compliance have been developed, and when the Fundamental Rights Agency is able to work effectively. And although there are a few paragraphs which are subject to legal debate, as shadow rapporteur I support the report, as will the People’s Party at tomorrow’s vote.


  Giovanni Claudio Fava, on behalf of the PSE Group.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I confess, in a minute and a half, that, every time this House is asked to debate human rights, one has the worrying feeling that the debate will end up being nothing more than a rhetorical exercise. I say this while also having in mind the fact that, although one month ago this House debated the outcome of a year’s work by the Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners, this month neither the Commission nor the Council have in any way acknowledged the work done by the European Parliament and submitted for their opinion.

We do want to see the same thing happen with the precious communication before us which, as Mr Voggenhuber points out, is intended to clarify and enhance what has been standard practice in this House since 2001, namely guaranteeing the compatibility of all the legislative processes developed by the institutions with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Recognition for this practice was a long time coming, and we hope that its implementation will not be shelved.

One point must be made clear: we are asking the Commission for an annual report, to be submitted to Parliament, which summarises the implementation of fundamental rights in European policies. It seems rather strange to us that annual reports on the application of Community law and on competition policy should be planned, but not a report on fundamental rights for the Commission to submit to the European Parliament.

We also take this view because of the impact that such policies have on 500 million European citizens and because we believe that this is a sensitive issue for which the European institutions must take responsibility if they are to restore dignity and substance to the human rights on which we are often asked to focus.


  Sophia in ‘t Veld, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Mr President, first of all, I will not dwell on Mr Voggenhuber’s excellent report except to say that my group will support it wholeheartedly.

In principle, we very much welcome the Commission’s proposals, but my problem is that they risk becoming the emperor’s clothes. They are full of good intentions but there is a big risk that they will be passive, bureaucratic exercises, because there is such a gap between reality and the proposals in your paper, Commissioner.

I have a problem, Mr Mandelson. How do I explain your wonderful proposals to my voters, when the Commission does not speak out when a minister for education in an EU Member State is on a crusade against homosexuals? Why does the Commission not speak out in the case of the CIA flights, as Mr Fava just reminded us? Why does the Commission not speak out in the case of the flagrant discrimination and abominable treatment of Roma people? There are so many cases where the Commission is passive and even in some cases hiding behind the rules. Lately, every time we ask about these cases we are told: ‘just wait and see when the agency for fundamental rights is set up’. Commissioner, why does the Commission, the champion of fundamental rights, as Mr Barroso promised us in October 2004, not seek the limits of its powers? Why do you hide behind the rules? People expect you to protect and promote their fundamental rights. I, too, would like the annual report, but frankly I consider it much more important that you should act and speak out. That is political leadership.

One of President Barroso’s favourite phrases is ‘the Europe of results’ and I very much like that phrase. But why is it restricted to the economic area? Why is it not applied to the area of fundamental rights? Soon we will be celebrating 50 years of European integration. After the Second World War the idea was that people would never have to fear for their lives again, that everybody would be free, safe, equal and live in a democracy. So fundamental rights should be the first priority of the Commission and that should be the meaning of the ‘Europe of results’. I hope that this Commission in the next two years will create that Europe of results and of fundamental rights. I see this proposal only as a basis for that, but I expect action now.


  Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (DE) Mr President, the Charter of Fundamental Rights has been around for over six years now and is vital as regards respect for citizens’ rights, yet it is still not legally binding. We can only hope, therefore, that the Council Presidency succeeds in giving the constitutional process new momentum, as there is no doubt that the individual rights of EU citizens belong to the substance of the Constitution; the Charter is its core substance.

In the light of this, in particular, we cannot but support the Commission’s initiative. We are talking here about the development of a genuine fundamental-rights culture. I should like to declare my express support for this approach and highlight two issues in this connection.

Firstly, systematic monitoring of fundamental rights must at all events mean focusing on the specific fundamental rights concerned in each case, and also evidencing this checking in detail in every legislative proposal.

Secondly, scrutiny to identify any legal errors in weighing up the respective importance of the freedom of the individual and the requirements of the public interest is insufficient on its own. What we need is an optimisation in terms of fundamental rights, which means a political analysis to ascertain which of the various solutions that weigh up these interests correctly produces the best balance between determination of the objective and restriction of fundamental rights.

Such an approach could characterise the fundamental-rights culture of which the Commission speaks, and this way strengthen the identity of the European Union as a union of citizens.


  Johannes Blokland, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. (NL) Mr President, in principle, guaranteeing the fundamental rights of all citizens is of major importance, although we have different opinions on how this should be done. It is striking that the European Union is once again seeking to create a distinct profile for itself by means of fundamental rights. Meanwhile, the Union now has a Charter and a Bureau for fundamental rights, neither of which have been established unanimously.

A reasonable minority, not least in this Parliament, have major objections to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the way in which it is being shaped further. Could I draw your attention to the fact that the Charter of Fundamental Rights is an unnecessary duplication of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms? The same, in fact, applies to the Fundamental Rights Agency. Both duplications are avoidable, and citizens’ rights would not thereby be affected.

This is something the European Court for Human Rights here in Strasbourg can guarantee, provided it can count on the necessary workforce and financial resources. Moreover, it respects the individuality of the national legal system. This strikes me as a sufficient guarantee for our freedoms and fundamental rights. I would therefore argue in favour of the Union’s functions in the area of fundamental rights being limited. We should allow the Union to join the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; this will no doubt be followed up by a debate on compliance with, and monitoring of, the fundamental rights in respect of the Commission’s legislative function.


  Daniel Hannan (PPE-DE). – Mr President, colleagues: you lost. The Charter of Fundamental Rights would have been given legal force by the European constitution but that constitution, it seems necessary periodically to remind this House, was rejected. 55% of French voters and 62% of Dutch voters said ‘no’. Simply to disregard those results and carry on as if the Charter were in force would be outrageous, yet that is precisely what you propose to do. Indeed, it is precisely what you are doing. As the Voggenhuber report cheerfully admits, the various institutions of the EU are proceeding as if the Charter were already justiceable. Indeed, this report may be summarised as an attempt to regularise an illegal and undemocratic extension of EU jurisdiction.

I hope we can take it as read that every one of us here believes in basic civil liberties. We all support freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly and so on. But some of us object to the way in which these vital matters are being lifted out of the hands of our accountable national governments and subjected to the whims of European judges.

The EU is wanting, not in its respect for basic human rights, but in its respect for democracy. Paper entitlements, unaccompanied by democratic accountability, are meaningless. The principles adumbrated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights could equally be found in, say, the constitution of East Germany or that of the Soviet Union, but as the peoples of those unhappy states knew, written charters are worthless if you cannot hold your rulers to account.

Do we really need to learn that lesson again in the EU?


  Ignasi Guardans Cambó (ALDE). – Mr President, I would like to congratulate Mr Voggenhuber on his report.

Saint Teresa used to say that the devil is the detail. It is obvious that the European Commission is not one day going to approve a piece of legislation that blatantly violates fundamental rights: nobody expects that. But, for example, we have situations, as in the case of restrictions on liquids in aeroplanes, where comitology has been used in a shameful way to impose, through a secret piece of regulation – and I emphasise, a secret piece of regulation – duties on citizens which cannot be reviewed by any court in Europe, national or European.

This is a case of the European Commission not being a witness to a violation of fundamental rights but itself legislating in a way that goes against respect for fundamental rights and the most basic rules on transparency. These things happen, so let us stop the rhetoric and begin applying to ourselves what we pretend to apply to everybody else, to our neighbours and to our partners throughout the world.


  Giusto Catania (GUE/NGL).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the need for legislative proposals always to be compatible with fundamental rights may be a good route to a serious resumption of the debate on the real European constitutional process, with no clumsy attempts to revive a treaty that died on impact with the public. I believe that, on the eve of the imminent and still mysterious Berlin Declaration, this may be a serious way of re-opening the debate and of making Europe stand for something once again, and for this I am grateful to Mr Voggenhuber.

In recent years, we have witnessed CIA flights and abductions by the CIA on European territory, the systematic monitoring of Europeans and the violation of their privacy, and the detainment of migrants in inhuman and degrading places. All of this serves as the clearest example of the difficulty faced by the European Union when it comes to protecting fundamental rights. We believe that the EU’s legislative proposals should always be fully compatible not only with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, but also with the other European and international instruments in the field of fundamental rights: I am thinking of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and of the European Social Charter.

We feel that this is a good way to start a thorough debate aimed at the revival of Europe.


  Maria da Assunção Esteves (PPE-DE).(PT) Mr President, fundamental rights are the very backbone of all of the EU’s political action. Since the Treaty of Rome, democracy has been a condition of this union of nations and the basis of consensus. Democracy undeniably implies that all institutions must adhere to an ethic of rights; indeed, it is an ethic of rights that gave birth to democracy.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, formalised in the Treaty of Nice, is simply the clear expression of this genetic matrix of the EU, thus dispelling any possible doubt or ambiguity.

The EU has always had an intrinsic connection to fundamental rights, and it is only through this connection that the Union has been able to true to itself. The methodology of self-monitoring that the Commission has brought before us – featuring respect for fundamental rights as an integral part of monitoring the legality of legislative proposals and a completely new assessment of the impact of this legislation on fundamental rights – is therefore welcome. This will blow fresh air and bring transparency into the offices of the Commission. This is a more structural and more positive solution than the new fundamental rights agency, because this method proposed by the Commission presupposes that human rights cut across the Union’s policies, all the Union’s policies. This is its strength.

In a democratic society, the monitoring of rights begins with the institutions monitoring their own political practice. Nevertheless, the virtues of this methodology are limited, as it does not encompass the Council of the EU or decisions on intergovernmental cooperation, in relation to which the Commission does not take initiatives. If one were to name issues that nowadays lack specific attention from the point of view of a culture of rights, it would be issues under the third pillar – that of criminal law and criminal procedure.

Terrorist threats and public concern give rise to the temptation in the Member States to drift towards a disproportionate preoccupation with security, which sometimes oversteps the boundaries of freedom and justice. The Commission’s method has opened the door, but the window must also be open.


  Paul Rübig (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, I should like to start by congratulating Mr Voggenhuber on his report and also declaring my support for him in his fight for more rights for our citizens. As a representative of the business community, I have to say that it is true that the rights of the European Parliament and the other European institutions have been fully enforced in the field of the internal market. In that field, we have been able to implement a rationalisation process for our 27 Member States and 500 million citizens and ensure that, rather than 27 different regulations, a single one applies, which was adopted through constructive cooperation.

I should also like to emphasise, however, that the establishment of an equally solid basis in the field of fundamental rights is a genuine concern of mine. When Mr Hannan says that France and the Netherlands voted against the Constitution, I can only counter this by saying that a direct consultative referendum in Spain produced a clear majority in favour of this project. In addition, if we add up the population groups of the three countries, this makes a clear majority.

We have the support of most Europeans. The vast majority in this House have pronounced their support for it, and Europe’s governments have unanimously declared themselves in favour. How many more votes do we need before we achieve democracy in Europe, rather than stopping at geographical boundaries and measuring democracy in kilometres when we should be judging it by its principles?


  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday at 12 noon.


17. Negotiation of an EU-Central America Association Agreement - Negotiation of an EU-Andean Community Association Agreement (debate)

  President. The next item is the joint debate on

- the report (A6-0026/2007) by Willy Meyer Pleite, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, on a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on the negotiating mandate for an association agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the countries of Central America, of the other part (2006/2222(INI)), and

- the report (A6-0025/2007) by Luis Yañez-Barnuevo García, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, on the European Parliament’s recommendation to the Council on the negotiating mandate for an association agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Andean Community and its member countries, of the other part (2006/2221(INI)).


  Luis Yañez-Barnuevo García (PSE), rapporteur. – (ES) Mr President, the Fourth European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Summit, last spring in Vienna, gave the green light to the start of negotiations of a strategic association agreement between Europe and the Andean Community. In this report I propose some thirty recommendations for the Council and the Commission to take into account when drawing up the negotiation guidelines. We want this association to be ambitious, broad and wide-ranging, in line with the association with the twins, Mercosur and Central America, because we believe it to be a strategic requirement for both regions.

In view of their history, language, culture, beliefs and values, as well as their common view of the world and their support for multilateralism and the United Nations system, Latin America and Europe are destined to become strategic allies in a globalised world. This is the case for the Andean countries in particular, where there are certain pockets of extreme poverty and the continent’s greatest inequalities.

The agreement must have three pillars. A political-institutional pillar, a cooperation pillar and a trade pillar. In the political and security field, we should create a Euro-Andean Peace and Security Charter, implement a permanent political dialogue, promote the quality of democracy, social cohesion, support for governability, poverty reduction, human exchanges, combating terrorism, conflict prevention and coordination in terms of the reform of the United Nations, as well as civilian and military crisis management operations.

The second pillar is the promotion of sustainable human development and gradual access for Andean products to European markets, under competitive conditions, taking account of the immense economic imbalances and the degree of integration between Europeans and Andeans, which will require a review of the CAP and subsidies from the Union.

The third pillar is trade itself, but unlike other models with third countries, such as the Andean countries’ agreements with the United States, they must not be free trade agreements in the strict sense, or free trade agreements pure and simple, but rather they must take account of the huge gulf separating the two regions. Without economic measures to provide support, cooperation and funding, purely commercial policies would not be able to play their role of contributing to development.

The inclusion of labour rights, particularly for indigenous and tribal peoples, the protection of decent working conditions, non-discrimination and equality between men and women in the workplace and the eradication of child labour must be included in the agreement. We must also stress in particular the importance of European investment as an essential factor in the development of those countries, as well as the need for European companies to apply the same standards with regard to working conditions as they do in European countries.

Immigration, as a phenomenon and as a source of opportunities, must be included in the agreement, with protection for the rights of immigrants, and transfers of money must be made easier, cheaper, more transparent and more secure.

The environmental chapter, which must have a prominent place in the agreement, must include the establishment of common policies aimed at energy saving, diversification, the promotion of alternative and renewable energy sources and the reduction of polluting emissions, in line with the approach taken by the last European Council.

In summary, Mr President, Commissioner, I believe that the objective must be for us to be in a position to conclude this ambitious strategic association agreement between the European Union and its Member States and the Andean Community and its Member States at the Fifth European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Summit in Lima in 2008.




  Willy Meyer Pleite (GUE/NGL), rapporteur. – (ES) Mr President, it is clear to everybody that this debate that is going to take place in Parliament comes at a significant time for Latin America in general. It comes at a time when its people seem to be forcefully questioning the policy that has impoverished them. They are currently questioning the policy of neo-liberal formulae. President Bush’s visit to Latin America is ample evidence of this.

Specifically, with regard to the Association Agreement with Central America, the European Union owes an historical debt to that region. We played a very significant role during the 1980s in Central America’s process of pacification and democratisation – the San José agreements, the Esquipulas agreement — in which the European Union detached itself from the United States, adopting an autonomous position, and played a crucial role.

Central America’s current situation is abundantly clear: there is very weak economic growth – currently 0.6% – rates of poverty that remain similar to those of the 1990s, and increasing inequalities.

Peace agreements have yet to be verified. The same is true in the fields of human rights, impunity and corruption, and regional integration is still very weak.

Within this context, this humble rapporteur opted for a certain kind of report with a view to determining what type of association we wanted. I based it on three fundamental pillars: political dialogue with a view to good governance, development cooperation to contribute to eliminating the structural causes of poverty and inequality, and trade under conditions of fairness and mutual benefit based on complementarity and solidarity. An agreement that seeks regional integration in order to contribute to the balanced and fair redistribution of Central America’s income and wealth. That was the context. We wanted an agreement that did not turn into an agreement on a free trade area and on privatisation of public services. In short, we did not want political dialogue and cooperation to be overrun by free trade formulae.

I am convinced that a trade agreement of a pronounced neo-liberal nature between unequal regions – unequal in all senses of the word – would simply increase that inequality and promote exploitation by a business elite, leading to an even greater cycle of dependency, exclusion, poverty and extremely high social and environmental costs.

I believe that trade and cooperation must be geared towards sustainable development at regional level, benefiting the people, rather than a series of projects benefiting transnational capital, such as the Puebla-Panama Plan or the European Investment Bank.

It was with that intention that I drew up my humble report, with the cooperation of many civil society organisations from Europe and Central America. Parliament’s Committee on Development and Committee on International Trade then naturally issued their opinions on the report. I would of course like to thank you for all of the contributions that improved the text from the point of view of the approach I wished to maintain throughout this process.

I would like in particular to thank Miguel Ángel Martínez for his always fair and cooperative contributions, in this case from the Committee on Development. In the opinion of the Committee on International Trade, Mr Susta presented some very significant amendments to the text which truly distort the report that I intended to present to the House.

The true intention was to produce a balanced report, based on those three pillars that I mentioned before, but, in practice, the amendments as a whole created a document that essentially sought the establishment of a free trade area.

On that point, my intention was to try to tone down that approach as far as possible. I am talking about the approach of trying to give Central America the impression that what we Europeans are seeking is essentially a free trade area. We agreed on seven compromise amendments with Mr Salafranca, of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, Mr Obiols, of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and Mr Susta, of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and I would like to thank them once again most warmly for their efforts to agree on a way to tone down the report and not to spoil it.

I would of course, however, like to thank Mr Obiols and Mrs De Kayser, of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and Mr Romeva, of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, for their amendments, because they improve and provide more detail on this desire to turn the mandate into a clear mandate for an association agreement of that kind, one that does not include a free trade area.

This has been a good thing to a certain extent because, as I have said, we have managed to tone down such significant points as letter v), which explicitly recommends that the free trade area should be a priority strategic objective, and makes references to the CAFTA Plan, and we have naturally managed to tone it down, but not sufficiently so.

I do not know whether this has happened before, but I am going to recommend to my group that it abstain from the vote on this report, because I do not believe that it has achieved my intended objective, which was to produce a balanced report.

In any event, I am very interested to hear the opinion of Parlacen, the Central American Parliament, and of Central America’s political organisations, and my hope is that, when the negotiation begins, the European Commission will bear in mind that what Central America is asking for is not a carbon copy of the United States' position, but an equidistant, different and autonomous position.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, let me first welcome, also on behalf of my colleague, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the remarkable work of the two rapporteurs as well the constructive analysis and comments made by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development and the Committee on International Trade concerning the different aspects and perspectives for future agreements with these regions.

The conclusion of association agreements with Central America and the Andean Community is a long-standing strategic objective for both regions, confirmed repeatedly by the Heads of State and Government at the summits in Guadalajara and Vienna.

With the negotiation of these agreements, the EU shows its commitment to the region and its determination to reinforce its relations with all Latin American countries. Europe and Latin America are natural partners, and closer ties with Central America and the Andean Community will contribute to a stronger partnership, both politically and economically.

The agreements will be negotiated on a region-to-region basis in order to provide further impetus to the regional integration processes both in Central America and in the Andean Community. As repeatedly emphasised, also by the European Parliament, regional integration is key to political and social stability. It will also help to insert these regions more successfully into the world economy by developing larger and more stable economies able to attract investment. Nevertheless, it is worth dispelling the idea that the EU tries to ‘impose’ its own model: regional integration should be developed by each region on the basis of its own ambitions and agenda.

The association agreements are envisaged as comprehensive agreements, embracing the whole array of the multifaceted relations of the EU with both regions: political dialogue, cooperation and trade.

The respect and promotion of democratic principles, fundamental human rights, the rule of law and good governance will remain at the core of our relations with Central America and the Andean Community. In addition, the Commission is of the opinion that the association agreements should pay particular attention to the effective implementation of internationally-agreed standards in the human rights, social, core labour and environmental fields in order to enhance sustainable development.

Concerning political dialogue, these agreements will aim to tackle a wide range of matters, such as climate change, energy, migration and the fight against drugs. These are vital not only for both our regions but also for the entire planet. An enhanced dialogue with Central America and the Andean Community aims to seek constructive engagement towards effective multilateralism and international governance that may respond to the world challenges of the 21st century.

The political chapter of the association agreements will be accompanied by measures aiming to enhance bi-regional trade and investment in a balanced and fair way. This should be pursued not only through the progressive and reciprocal liberalisation of trade in goods and services, but also by establishing a fair and transparent regulatory framework. Asymmetries between our regions should also be taken into account. The trade part of the agreement will be fully consistent with WTO rules and obligations, while going beyond its basic rules, so as to maximise the mutual and long-term benefits of bi-regional trade liberalisation.

Cooperation between the two sides is to be deeply rooted in the global objectives and principles established by our development policy, such as the European Consensus on Development, as well as by the international agreements to which we are party, including the Millennium Development Goals, and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Social cohesion will be a priority. The cooperation chapter should reflect the willingness to work jointly and to exchange experiences. It should also reflect solidarity towards the poorest and most excluded people.

Let me conclude with an overview on the preparation of these negotiations: the draft negotiating directives were adopted by the Commission on 6 December 2006 and are currently under discussion with Member States. The Commission hopes to have the negotiating directives adopted and, if conditions allow, actually to start negotiating with these two Latin American sub-regions within the first half of this year. If we manage to stick to this ambitious timetable, it will be largely thanks to your support and determination to enhance relations between the EU and Latin America, in particular with these two regions.


  Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez (PSE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Development. – (ES) Mr President, the initial report presented to us by Mr Meyer on the Association Agreement between the European Union and the countries of Central America provided the basis of the opinion that we drew up in the Committee on Development. We agreed in very general terms with his proposals and we also agreed on a series of recommendations from our Committee on Development with regard to them. Mr Meyer proved to be very receptive and we jointly signed seven amendments introducing the specific concerns of the Committee on Development.

I must point out, ladies and gentlemen, that I find the text being presented to the House to be very anaemic compared to the initial proposals. They have been reworked in a largely neo-liberal vein, perhaps reflecting the thinking of the majority of Parliament.

The truth is that we can live with these texts thanks to the compromises. We will vote for them, but we will not be voting with any enthusiasm, since they do not square with the needs of Central America or with the aspirations of its people and also because this text will not increase the European Union’s standing within those societies.

Of the seven amendments proposed by the Committee on Development, three have been accepted. They stress that the Association Agreement between the European Union and Central America must include the development cooperation dimension and therefore take up the priorities defined in the European cooperation consensus, as the Commissioner has said: the eradication of poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Goals. As a result of those acknowledgements and the importance we attach to producing this agreement, the text that we will vote on contains just the minimum required for us to support it.


  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on International Trade – (PL) Mr President, Commissioner, I would like to thank the rapporteur for a comprehensive and balanced report, which is exceptionally significant in today’s world. It is a vital signpost and an aid to negotiating the Association Agreement between the European Union and the Andean Community at a crucial moment of political and economic change in the region.

The Andean Community is a productive and cohesive system integrating individual Latin American countries. Both parties – the European Union and the Andean Community – will benefit from a deepening of mutual political and economic relations. The guidelines drawn up for the Council are a cohesive and comprehensive document containing all the necessary elements for satisfactory cooperation. The rapporteur highlights the key role of political dialogue, the promotion of sustainable development, education and human rights. He also emphasises the importance of the fight against drugs, arms trafficking and organised crime, and stresses that this cooperation must be based on free trade. The Association Agreement must gradually liberalise trade and develop political relations, whilst simultaneously promoting democracy and the social and cultural rights characteristic of the region.

I am pleased that the role of small and medium-sized enterprises in the association process has been included in the negotiation guidelines, something which I stressed in my opinion for the Committee on International Trade. As we are all well aware, the SME sector is one of the main sources of economic growth, and has a key impact on living standards and poverty reduction. For that reason, I think we have to lay particular emphasis on promoting this sector by making access to loans easier for SMEs, eliminating unnecessary trade barriers, and implementing programmes aimed at innovation and development.


  Gianluca Susta (ALDE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on International Trade. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I shall focus on the Meyer report, which addresses an important initiative for the European Union, which must come to view Central America as an opportunity, encourage trade and gradually reduce tariff barriers over time, but not the freedom of movement of persons, goods or services, thereby making the most of the specific characteristics of these countries.

This means increasing cooperation and development, protecting the social and individual dignity of the weakest members of society and gradually opening up our markets primarily to these countries’ local farming produce, which still accounts for a large proportion of their GDP.

The Committee on International Trade has, as usual, made a contribution in line with its area of expertise, but the growth in competitiveness of the countries of Central America is undoubtedly a prerequisite for the political stabilisation of an area that is still suffering the consequences of the violent clash between the tyrannical institutions and the revolutionary forces of some years ago, a clash that caused hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of deaths and that convulsed that geopolitical area.

The report’s cultural and political approach is therefore positive, and I do not believe that it has been watered down by the Committee on International Trade’s proposal. Furthermore, the fact that some of its guidelines have been accepted in substance has helped to combine the issue of the creation of a free trade area with the more general set of issues linked to the development of democracy in that geopolitical area.


  José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the reports presented by Mr Yañez and Mr Meyer respond to our Parliament’s long-standing call for the Andean and Central American Communities also to have association agreements, like those that we have with other parts of the region, and hence to benefit from the most well-tuned and developed instruments that the European Union has in its relations with third countries.

These are clearly not the only areas with which the European Union is negotiating association agreements, Mr President. Since the Trade Commissioner is with us here this evening, I would like to take this opportunity to ask him to make a special effort with regard to some negotiations that have been dragging on for too long now, which are the European Union's negotiations with Mercosur.

I appreciate the difficulties facing those negotiations. They are not entirely due to the will of the European Union, of course, but I believe that we should make an effort to try to give them some impetus so that they can move forward.

Mr President, I would like to point out that, in the first and second generation agreements between the European Union and the countries of Latin America, the emphasis was placed on research and development, in the third generation the emphasis was placed on the democratic clause, and in this fourth generation of association agreements the accent is being placed on a gradual and reciprocal liberalisation of trade.

This does not mean that the commercial aspects are the most important, naturally. As the Commissioner said a moment ago, this association provides the foundations for the relationship in terms of political dialogue, respect for human rights, for democratic values, respect for the rule of law, and the fight against corruption.

It is clear, however, that we cannot ignore the importance of free trade, which is something that the Central American and Andean countries are asking for, and in that regard, my only recommendation, Mr President, is that this ambitious timetable that the Commissioner has told us about, given that the Commission has approved the negotiation guidelines and Parliament is going to approve them tomorrow as well, can be given substance as soon as possible, because we have already waited too long for the Andean and Central American Communities to have association agreements, like those with Mexico and Chile, which have produced excellent results, by the way.


  Raimon Obiols i Germà, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (ES) Mr President, our group has been seeking a consensus with regard to the reports by our fellow Members, Mr Yañez and Mr Meyer. He has sought compromise amendments, because we believe that it is important to send a message to the Latin American sub-regions in question that what the European Union is proposing is not merely a free trade agreement, but an agreement with a broader scope that takes fundamental account of political agreement and development cooperation.

If I have understood the essential discussion that has taken place in this Parliament with regard to these two reports, it appears that the representatives of the European People’s Party’s position places more emphasis on the free market aspects of these negotiations, while others, including our Socialist Group, attach more importance to political agreement, solidarity, support for democratic institutions, the fight against poverty and the fight against violence.

If we consider the actual context of commercial relations between the European Union and Central America, for example, we will see that the European Union’s trade with Central America represents around 0.3% of our external trade and that, in Central America too, trade with the European Union represents no more than 9 or 10% of their external trade.

If we apply the classic maxim primum vivere, deinde philosophare [live first, philosophise later], we will soon reach the conclusion that, given the situation in these countries, the most crucial aspect of our relations is not so much trade as fighting poverty, fighting lack of security, fighting violence and, in some countries, fighting the increasingly significant problem of drug-trafficking and organised crime. That is the fundamental issue.

A short while ago, a great European journalist, the Pole Kapucinski, said that we only take notice of these countries when there is bloodshed, and he added, ‘this is sad, but it is the case’. We are clearly facing a situation in which, having stopped paying attention, after ten years of signing peace agreements in Central America, we must now begin to take more notice and take the greatest possible advantage of the possibilities offered by the opening up of negotiations on an association agreement which we believe must enjoy the greatest possible consensus and majority support in this Parliament.


  Leopold Józef Rutowicz, on behalf of the UEN Group. – (PL) Mr President, I would like to thank the rapporteurs. Mr Pleite Meyer and Mr Yañez-Barnuevo García, for their fine work on the association agreements with the countries of Central America. Their reports fully address the political aims underlying expansion of cooperation.

The Central American countries, share our European and Latin culture. They are close to us, it is only natural that we should negotiate association with them. The agreement aims to strengthen the position of both parties in a globalised world. At present our assistance to this region is mainly humanitarian in nature. We are giving them a fish rather than a rod. It is China, India and world capital that are helping these countries to help themselves, by building roads, mines, factories, creating jobs and successfully selling their products there.

Our association negotiations should secure economic links that will benefit both Europe and other Central American associated countries. Only on this basis can we build a lasting system of economic and political relations between our societies. It is to be hoped that European capital will play a greater role involved in the countries with which we want to enter into an Association Agreement, alongside Chinese and Indian support.

The Association Agreements between other countries and the European Union are of great political importance and if they prove successful in securing ongoing economic cooperation, they will pass with flying colours.


  Raül Romeva i Rueda, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (ES) Mr President, I too would like to begin by congratulating the two rapporteurs on their efforts to seek a consensus amongst the groups with regard to establishing the mandate for negotiating the association agreements with Central America and the Andean region.

Nevertheless, as has also been said, the process of drawing up these reports has revealed that there are profound and significant differences between the groups. Despite the efforts of the rapporteurs, the final text displays a real lack of balance in terms of the three fundamental elements of this agreement: political dialogue, cooperation and trade.

We do not believe that a free trade area is a realistic or appropriate objective for regions as vulnerable as the ones we are discussing here.

We therefore believe that we have missed a good opportunity to encourage bi-regional relations that make it possible to enhance the many dimensions of those relations and ensure the sustainable human development of the Andean and the Central American peoples. Our group will therefore abstain from tomorrow’s vote. We regret this. We wish to point out that we want to carry on working, but we regret that a better result has not been achieved for either report.


  Jens Holm, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (SV) Mr President, these reports demand that developing countries deregulate, give European companies power where public procurement is concerned, protect European and North American patents and do everything to ensure that large European companies’ investments are protected. One of the reports even demands that a free-trade area be set up - in its own words, ‘without excluding any sector’. Give some thought to that wording. No, it is not that particular road we should go down. The more deregulation there is, the better it perhaps is for large companies but the worse it is for workers, the environment and local small companies – all designed to be protected by the laws that are being repealed.

Allow me to give two examples. It is good for Monsanto if it succeeds in patenting crops in South America, but bad for farmers and the environment. It is good for European health care companies if the health care sector is exposed to competition, but bad for those who cannot afford to pay for health care. There is an alternative: fair trade instead of unbridled free trade, and cooperation and security instead of competition and a market free-for-all. That is what the peoples of both Europe and Latin America require. I shall now conclude by stating the position of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, namely that we are abstaining from voting.


  Gerard Batten, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. – Mr President, what is the best way of increasing living standards and human and civil rights in Central American and the Andean Community countries? The question could equally well be applied to the whole of Central and South America and the rest of the economically developing world.

It is in the long-term self-interest of the economically developed and democratic world to use its economic strength to promote economic growth and democracy in the developing world. The best way to do this is by reducing trade barriers worldwide and by concluding trade and cooperation agreements conditional on respect for the rule of law, respect for property and contract rights and respect for human and civil rights.

We have seen how China, even while under the yoke of a dictatorial communist regime, can nevertheless achieve staggering economic development when it embraces capitalist, free-market practices. Capitalism, for all its faults, works. It delivers prosperity, choice and the conditions required for democracy and civilised values. Socialism, for all its idealism, does not work. It delivers oppression, lack of choice and material and political stagnation.

So what the developing countries of the world need is not to follow the example of the quasi-Marxist European Union. They do not need what these reports recommend, which is the export of the worst features of the European Union: economic and political integration and harmonised legislation.

The last thing that these countries need is to follow the example of the failing economic model and increasingly centralised European Union, with its increasingly undemocratic and unaccountable political institutions. These reports call for free trade – which is good – but that must not be conditional on recreating the failing structures of the European Union.


  Marcello Vernola (PPE-DE) . – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to begin by congratulating the rapporteur, Mr Yañez-Barnuevo García, on the report on the agreement with the Andean Community. Based as it is on the three pillars, it provides a framework that is not just limited to economic aspects. It was, in fact, the intention of all the institutions to include in the forthcoming association agreement issues such as unemployment, security, migration, social development, the environment, sustainable development and, hence, political stability.

We are concerned to uphold the protection of human, civil, political, economic and social rights and even, in line with EU policies, biodiversity and the protection of ecosystems. There is a need to combat child labour and to provide investment in education, research, science and technology. The major differences within the Andean Community require a commitment to reduce poverty. We should also all like to highlight the need to beat the scourge of narco-terrorism and to do everything possible to eradicate organised crime, corruption, impunity, terrorism, money laundering and arms trafficking. By means of this agreement, we therefore need to promote employment and, above all, the cultivation of crops other than drugs.

We also hope that the association agreement will give a new impetus to the liberalisation of the market and of trade by means of the free trade area, as well as to the controlled customs tariffs and to the simplification and harmonisation of customs procedures. Furthermore, we need to guarantee legal certainty for investors, by refusing point-blank to accept the enforced nationalisations that we have seen take place in recent times.


  Józef Pinior (PSE). – (PL) Mr President, Commissioner, I would first like to thank Mr Meyer Pleite for preparing the report containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Council concerning guidelines on the negotiation of an Association Agreement between the European Union and the countries of Central America, and Mr Yañez-Barnuevo García for his report on the guidelines for Association Agreement negotiations between the European Union and the Andean Community.

The recommendations of the European Parliament stress that association agreements, whilst aimed at the gradual liberalisation of trade as well as at political dialogue and collaboration, are also aimed at supporting continuous social development, social cohesion, strengthening democracy, the rule of law and respect for human, political, civil, economic and social rights, not forgetting the cultural and environmental dimensions of these rights.

The countries of the Andean Community and of Central America have in the past 20 years undergone a peaceful transition from authoritarian regimes to democracy. In the 1980s, the European Union played an important role in this process. Through its recommendations, the European Parliament is upholding this tradition.

Nowadays, trade liberalisation cannot be an end in itself. I stress, it cannot be an end in itself, but only a step towards establishing democracy and the rule of law, social development and sustainable development in Latin America. The association agreements with the countries of Central America and the Andean Community must incorporate politics, trade and development.


  Ryszard Czarnecki (UEN). - (PL) Mr President, in Central America, the term ‘European Union’ is gradually being consigned to the dictionary of rare expressions. European political influence in the region is diminishing, even though in the 1980s those same European countries were instrumental in the democratisation of the region.

Over 11 years, trade turnover between the European Union and Central America fell by 11%, to its current level of 13%, despite unilateral preferential conditions on our part. The Association Agreement should alter this situation somewhat.

The second Association Agreement with the Andean Community coincides with an intriguing political period in the region. The victory of the anti American Left in Venezuela and Bolivia and the altered balance of power in the region is a challenge for the European Union. It actually favours the process of economic and political integration for all of Latin America to a greater degree than MERCOSUR.

I would like to thank the rapporteurs Mr Meyer Pleite and Mr Yañez-Barnuevo García, and only regret that we are debating such important questions just before midnight.


  Willy Meyer Pleite (GUE/NGL). – (ES) Mr President, this time I would like to use my speaking time to lay out the position of my group, the Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left, with regard to the report by Mr Yañez.

He will understand that we are going to vote in the way that we voted on the report that I had the pleasure of presenting to the House. We are going to abstain. We are going to do so for the same reasons, and in the knowledge that Mr Yañez has made a real effort to present a very balanced report with the emphasis on the fundamental thing that Latin America is currently calling for, which is political dialogue and cooperation. With regard to the cooperation aspect, we can play a very significant role compared to the role being played by the United States in Latin America, but unfortunately other Members, essentially those in the Committee on International Trade, have altered this approach substantially.

We are going to abstain. The truth is that our instincts sometimes urge us to go a little further. But we are going to abstain because we also believe that we must listen to the opinion of Latin America and, in this case, its social organisations as well. We are going to take care to ensure that our abstention in this case contributes to the fundamental debate on the Association Agreement with Central America, and we are going to be very critical with a view to producing an association agreement that does not mean a free trade area.


  Bogusław Sonik (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, despite the European Union’s undeniable contribution to strengthening the peace process and building democratic structures in the Central American region, its role there has diminished noticeably over the past decade.

As we have already heard, the same trend can be observed in trade, which declined from 24% to barely 13% in 2001. This situation shows clearly how important it is to sign a new Association Agreement between the European Union and the countries of Central America.

Such an agreement, in addition to its indisputable economic benefits, will also impose certain obligations on the European Union, mainly concerning support for the process of democratisation and decentralisation, and improving administrative efficiency in combating violence, corruption and infringements of human rights. These obligations are the reason why the future Association Agreement should be more than merely a trade agreement. It must also incorporate political and social cooperation. The fight against poverty and social inequality can become a very useful tool in strengthening democracy, establishing trust in public institutions and also in the political elite, that ought to be the guardian of these values.

Another very important element of a future Association Agreement would be establishing compulsory environmental protection standards. The system of incentives tested in previous cases should prove useful in this regard.

All the elements I have mentioned should become part of a future Association Agreement, and at the same time pillars of the cooperation between the European Union and the countries of Latin America. It is only by playing an active and committed role in this region that we can contribute to its genuine economic development, social and political stability, and to the establishment of democratic values.


  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday at 12 noon.


18. Missing persons in Cyprus (debate)

  President. The next item is the Commission statement on missing persons in Cyprus.

In this respect, I should like to welcome the members of the United Nations Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, who are present in the official gallery to follow the debate on this issue and, more specifically, Christophe Girod, Chairman of the UN Committee, Elias Georgiadis, a Greek-Cypriot member of the Committee and Gülden Plümer Küçük, a Turkish-Cypriot member of the same Committee.



  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, the Commission welcomes and supports the motion for a resolution on the Committee on Missing Persons. Like the honourable Members of this House, we believe that relatives have a fundamental right to know what became of missing persons. Since the unrest of the 1960s and 1970s, about 1500 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriots have been missing, presumed dead.

The Committee on Missing Persons is charged with finding and identifying the remains of the missing, of returning them to their families and of counselling the bereaved. The Committee has the support of both sides on the island and of the international community. It is currently the most important and successful bi-communal confidence-building and reconciliation measure in Cyprus. Recent exhumations and the establishment of an anthropological laboratory in the buffer zone show that, if there is a political will on the side of both communities, much can be achieved.

The Committee on Missing Persons can count not only on the Commission’s political support but also on the financial support of the European Union. Under the aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community, EUR 1.5 million has been earmarked. This should come on stream shortly in line with the Committee’s needs, and I hope that the work of the Committee will help prepare the ground for the overall solution of the long-lasting conflict in Cyprus.

I take this opportunity to recall that monitoring of the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights falls under the responsibility of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The Commission follows the follow-up given to such judgments closely.


  Panayiotis Demetriou, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group.(EL) Mr President, I wish first of all to thank the chairmen of the political groups who included the humanitarian issue of missing persons in Cyprus as an extraordinary item on plenary's agenda and all the political groups which signed the motion in question, which is expected to be passed tomorrow. My special thanks also to Mrs Rothe, Mr Guardans, Mr Lagendijk and Mrs Kaufmann, who have supported my proposal to debate the question and issue the relevant resolution from the outset.

Ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner, today we are debating a purely humanitarian issue: the issue of the missing persons. We are not debating the Cyprus question this evening. We are not debating the problem of the military occupation of Cyprus by Turkey. We are not politicising the issue. We are debating a human tragedy; the tragedy of our missing fellow human beings. More than 2 000 people are entered on the register of missing persons, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and others. More or less equal numbers of families, some of which have two or three missing persons, have been living for decades with the anxiety and pain of the loss of their loved ones. The time has finally come for them to find out – and they have the inalienable right to find out, as the Commissioner said – if their loved ones are dead or alive and, if they are dead, where they are buried. The time has come for all parties involved to put political expediencies, fears and guilt to one side and to cooperate with the Committee on Missing Persons.

Turkey in particular is called upon to give the information and data in its possession to the committee, to comply with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. However, the time has come for the European Union to also take on an active role. The resolution which is expected to be approved tomorrow renews the involvement of the Commission and the European Parliament in this humanitarian issue.

Finally, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the members of the Committee on Missing Persons for the difficult job they are doing. I welcome their presence this evening in the European Parliament and I trust and hope that the human tragedy of the relatives of the missing persons will end as quickly as possible.


  Panagiotis Beglitis, on behalf of the PSE Group.(EL) Mr President, I should like first of all to say that I have the special honour of also speaking on behalf of my honourable friend Mrs Rothe, who is absent this evening. I wish to congratulate Commissioner Mandelson on his statement, my honourable friend Mr Demetriou on his initiative and all my honourable friends from all the political parties who played a decisive part in putting this important humanitarian issue, the issue of the missing persons from the tragedy in Cyprus, on the agenda.

I believe that, in the vote tomorrow, all the members, regardless of their political group, will willingly attend to vote in favour of the motion for a resolution, an act of confirmation of the defence of humanitarian principles and of the deep humanitarian problem of the missing persons in Cyprus.

In 1981 the Committee on Missing Persons was set up under the aegis of the UN Secretary General. In 1995 we had the first resolution here in Parliament, an important step in raising the awareness of the European public and international public opinion. In May 2001, the European Court of Human Rights returned its decision on the appeal by the Republic of Cyprus against the state of Turkey. In its decision – and I think it is in the interests of all of us to study it – it confirmed the clear infringements of fundamental human rights and of the European Convention on Human Rights by Turkey, specifically of Article 2 on the right to life, of Article 3 on the right to freedom and security and of Article 4 on the right not to be maltreated. Despite all this, it is now 2007 and, unfortunately, very few results have ensued from the investigation of this problem.

I believe that, as the European Union and, more importantly, as the European Parliament, we have at the very least a humanitarian responsibility to defend the fundamental – in Mr Mandelson's words – right of the families of the missing persons to know the fate of their relatives and we must express this responsibility tomorrow in the most absolute terms.

I think it is especially important for the European Parliament to remember everyone's obligations, because the missing persons are a humanitarian problem which concerns the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, it concerns Greeks and Turks. It is the outcome of tragic events in Cyprus in the 1960s, from 1964 onwards following the clashes between the two communities and, of course, it is the outcome of the Turkish invasion in 1974.

I believe, as Mr Mandelson quite rightly said, that activating the Committee on Missing Persons is a very important step, just as the funding of its operation on the part of the European Commission is an important step. I should like to point out here that the Member States also have an obligation to contribute funds for the operation of this committee. I welcome the fact that Mr Mandelson backs the need for funding and has reconfirmed the European Commission's willingness to fund its operation.

I believe that, with this debate today, not only are we activating the historic memory, but also, more importantly, we are helping the two communities in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, to become closer. That is why I think that our debate may form a bridge for the creation of confidence-building measures leading to reconciliation and the reunification of the two communities within the framework of a united Republic of Cyprus within the European Union. I also believe that all of us here, with the humanitarian sensitivity for which we are known, will continue to demonstrate our interest and, as the motion for a resolution states, it is very important for the European Parliament to contribute to developments or, if you like, to monitor them through the periodic reports which the committee must submit.


  Ignasi Guardans Cambó, on behalf of the ALDE Group. (ES) Mr President, the problem of missing persons is a drama that is part of the history of many countries of the world. Cyprus is not the only one, but it is certainly the closest country to us in which this drama is still absolutely part of the present and is not something consigned to the past.

It is therefore very important that we acknowledge the work of the Committee on Missing Persons created within, and recently given new impetus by, the United Nations, which is doing an extremely commendable job and one that must be recognised and supported. That is the true purpose of the resolution that we are going to vote on tomorrow. This work benefits the families of these missing persons and it goes far beyond the conflict, far beyond the political tension and the historic drama that has divided that island and that still divides it today.

This resolution is therefore intended to deal with this issue strictly from that point of view. From the humanitarian point of view, geared towards the families and the suffering of people who have the right to recover the remains of the people they loved and who, as a result of the conflict, have no way of knowing, without the experts and the forensic scientists of the Committee on Missing Persons, either where they are or who they are, and they cannot be identified. That is the intention of this resolution. To call for the support of the institutions, including the financial support that we know the Committee on Missing Persons needs, and that is the message we intend to send.

This will not heal the wound currently being suffered by Cyprus. That requires too much work. We know that it will take a long time to heal, despite the recent actions that we have seen. Nevertheless, it is important that, amongst all of us, we do not contaminate this debate on joint support from the two communities for this institution with the political tension which continues to exist, but which should in no way be mixed up with the support of all of us for the work of this committee.


  Cem Özdemir, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus has been an open wound for over 30 years. According to official figures, 2 000 people are still missing, from both sides. Each side accuses the other of being uncooperative in the resolution of the cases. I would ask the House to refrain from such accusations, at least in this Chamber. Meanwhile, the families of the missing persons are still living in uncertainty as to the fate of their relatives. The mothers’ tears are the same whether their sons were of Greek or Turkish origin: they were all Cypriots, and died because of enosis (union with Greece) and taksim (partition). This is one of the truths when we express our opinions about this conflict.

The work of the Committee on Missing Persons plays an important role in this context, and we cannot thank it enough. This is primarily a humanitarian matter, and we should not make the committee’s work any more difficult by politicising it. The committee’s work is not only important to the relatives of the missing persons, but also serves to bring the two communities closer together. This bi-communal work on the mass graves stimulates a common culture of remembrance and understanding of the trauma suffered by the other side in the past. That is why the financial support is so important – I agree with my fellow Members on this.

EU support for further bi-communal projects on the island is also desirable. I am thinking of projects by filmmakers and intellectuals, such as Panikos Chrysanthou and Niyazi Kizilyürek, and also of the bi-communal art project Manifesta 6 and many other projects, which we must support if all the dreadful images of Cyprus we have seen in the past are to remain in the past and not recur in the future.

The demolition of the bridge on Ledra Street is a sign of hope. The response to this – the demolition of the wall running through Nicosia – is another sign of hope. Let us work together to ensure that these signs of hope are followed by other such signs. Both sides are required to behave in a constructive, European-minded manner to make this conflict in Europe a thing of the past.

We may not be able to bring back the dead, but we can ensure that nationalism is never given another chance in Cyprus.


  Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(EL) Mr President, we have been living through the tragedy of ignorance about the fate of some 2 000 of our missing Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot compatriots in Cyprus for years now.

The competent Committee on Missing Persons, which is made up of representatives of the Turkish Cypriots, the Greek Cypriots and the UN, has already made progress on the question of the exhumation and identification of remains. However, their work does need to be speeded up and an end needs to be put to the suffering of our compatriots as quickly as possible.

This is a purely humanitarian issue, which affects our entire people, both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, and which no one should use to serve political or other ends. We consider that the Member States should support the work of the committee by increasing their economic aid and we call on all sides to cooperate in order to establish the fate of all the missing persons.

The case of the young Greek Cypriot referred to who was taken to Turkey in 1974 is an opportunity to promote cooperation. We believe that, in resolving this humanitarian issue, we shall have taken another step in our efforts towards finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.


  Françoise Grossetête (PPE-DE).(FR) Mr President, the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus illustrates better than anything else the human drama that was played out on that island over thirty years ago. It is an issue for Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike and is not only about the missing persons themselves but also about their families, who are still there today.

Speaking as the coordinator of the High-level Contact Group for relations with the Turkish Cypriot community in the north of the island, I can assure the House that this is still a live issue in people’s minds and that its effects are still widely felt on the ground. I have also given notice of my intention to raise this issue, among others, at the Conference of Presidents when we present our written report to it tomorrow morning.

The issue of missing persons in Cyprus is part of the shared past that the two communities are now attempting to understand and to overcome. Although the issue is a difficult and sensitive one, a joint project has been got up and running, symbolising the desire of both communities to build a shared future.

The project to which I refer is the Committee on Missing Persons; it exists under the aegis of the United Nations, and the humanitarian work it does is crucial in terms of the help it gives to both communities as they look for some 2 000 persons who are still listed as missing.

I cannot but be very pleased about the interest shown by my fellow Members of this House in the problem of missing persons in Cyprus. I agree that political support at the highest level is indispensable to the success of this project. Work on the missing persons problem must be seen primarily as humanitarian in character, as this House has always pointed out. The project must rely on the goodwill of both communities and be a joint enterprise with, of course, the appropriate material, financial and human resources.

Since it came into being, this committee has come up against many obstacles, but it has now entered upon a new phase and has taken definite and useful action, which is what prompts me to welcome and encourage the efforts being made on both sides of the Green Line towards opening new border crossing points in various places, among them on Ledra Street in the historic heart of Nicosia.

It follows, then, that the Committee on Missing Persons is not merely symbolic, but a means of dialogue between the two communities and hence an essential contribution to the overall settlement of the Cyprus issue.


  Marios Matsakis (ALDE). – Mr President, I shall speak briefly only about the missing children of the 1974 Cyprus tragedy.

Christakis Georgiou, a five-year-old boy, was slightly injured after being shot inside his home by a Turkish solider during the 1974 invasion. He was taken to a Turkish military field hospital, and that was the last time he was seen by his mother. Evidence that came to light 33 years later – including eye-witness accounts by Turkish soldiers – strongly indicates that he was transported to Turkey, where he was adopted by a Turkish army officer who had no children of his own. The mother, who is now elderly, desperately wants to see him again before she dies.

Andreas Kyriakou, a five-year-old boy, and his three-year-old twin sisters, Maria and Kika, were forcibly separated from their mother by Turkish soldiers who attacked their village. They were taken, along with a group of other civilians, to a nearby field in the now occupied area of Cyprus, from where shortly afterwards gunfire was heard. It is feared that they might have been executed in a frenzied reprisal.

The Turkish army has never given any information as to what happened to them. Their mother hopes and prays that they might still be alive. If not, she begs to have their skeletal remains given to her so that she can give them a proper burial.

The above are 4 out of the 30 children and the more than 1500 persons missing in similar circumstances after being taken into custody by the Turkish army in 1974. The Turkish Government says nothing of their whereabouts or of the circumstances of their disappearance, despite the European Court of Human Rights ruling of 10 May 2001 condemning Turkey in the strongest possible terms for such behaviour, which, in the words of the Court’s ruling, ‘attains a level of severity which can only be categorised as inhuman treatment’.

Commissioner, the affair of the missing persons is not a necrology issue. The relatives still hope that their loved ones might still be alive.


  Karin Resetarits (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, not all the missing persons are Greek Cypriots; there are also missing persons from the Turkish Cypriot community. Parliament’s high-level contact group for relations with the Turkish Cypriot community has seen with its own eyes the exemplary cooperation taking place within the Committee on Missing Persons. This is the only bi-communal initiative in Cyprus that is functioning smoothly. It is very much in the interests of the Cypriot people on both sides to reappraise what is indeed a dark chapter in their common history. Contemporary witnesses are advising the scientists on possible sites. We have seen with our own eyes the professionalism with which the international team, headed by an Argentine, has been working on identifying the human remains.

It is good that we are now giving this committee our attention, and hopefully also additional funding. I would caution against abusing this issue for political ends, however, as it would be all too easy for this to disturb the laborious, careful process of rapprochement between the two communities and do a great deal more damage. It would not be the first time, as the urgently needed technical committees that were supposed to be set up long ago to ensure smooth cooperation between the two communities on essential everyday matters such as health, crime-fighting and trade facilitation have yet to show any success in three years. Why is this? The citizens of Cyprus are certainly not unwilling. The reason lies in the spirit of the negative power politics, the obstructionist politics, that have been standing in the way of teamwork on both sides for decades.


  President. At the end of the debate I have received a motion for a resolution on missing persons in Cyprus.(1)

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday at 12 noon.


(1) See Minutes.

19. Agenda for next sitting: see Minutes

20. Closure of sitting

(The sitting was closed at 11.40 p.m.)

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