Index 
Debates
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Tuesday, 15 June 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 3. Documents received: see Minutes
 4. The organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities (debate)
 5. Food information to consumers (debate)
 6. Quality of statistical data in the Union and enhanced auditing powers by the Commission (Eurostat) (debate)
 7. Voting time
  7.1. Election of a Vice-President of the European Parliament (vote)
  7.2. European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: ES/Region of Valencia (A7-0180/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  7.3. Mobilisation of European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Ireland/Waterford Crystal (A7-0181/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  7.4. Mobilisation of European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: ES/Castilla - La Mancha (A7-0179/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  7.5. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission (A7-0178/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  7.6. Transparency in regional policy and its funding (A7-0139/2010, Michail Tremopoulos) (vote)
  7.7. EU financial contributions to the International Fund for Ireland (2007-2010) (A7-0190/2010, Seán Kelly) (vote)
  7.8. European rail network for competitive freight (A7-0162/2010, Marian-Jean Marinescu) (vote)
  7.9. Adaptation of the Rules of Procedure to the Treaty of Lisbon (A7-0043/2009, David Martin) (vote)
  7.10. Mandate for the trilogue on the 2011 Draft Budget (A7-0183/2010, Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska) (vote)
  7.11. Derivatives Markets: Future policy actions (A7-0187/2010, Werner Langen) (vote)
  7.12. Internet of Things (A7-0154/2010, Maria Badia i Cutchet) (vote)
  7.13. Internet governance: the next steps (A7-0185/2010, Francisco Sosa Wagner) (vote)
  7.14. Community innovation policy in a changing world (A7-0143/2010, Hermann Winkler) (vote)
  7.15. Progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals: mid-term review in preparation of the UN high-level meeting in September 2010 (A7-0165/2010, Michael Cashman) (vote)
  7.16. Proposal for a decision on the setting up and numerical strength of the Delegation to the CARIFORUM-EC Parliamentary Committee (vote)
 8. Explanations of vote
 9. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 10. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting: see Minutes
 11. Question Hour with the President of the Commission
 12. Credit rating agencies (debate)
 13. Securities to be offered to the public and harmonisation of transparency requirements (debate)
 14. Revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (debate)
 15. Question Time (Commission)
 16. Gender aspects of the economic downturn and financial crisis - Assessment of the results of the 2006-2010 Roadmap for Equality between women and men and forward looking recommendations - Charter for Women’s Rights - follow up (debate)
 17. Joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme (BONUS-169) (debate)
 18. Application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis relating to the Schengen Information System in Bulgaria and Romania (debate)
 19. Sport, specifically concerning players’ agents (debate)
 20. Agenda for next sitting: see Minutes
 21. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: SILVANA KOCH-MEHRIN
Vice-President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting was opened at 09.00)

 

2. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

3. Documents received: see Minutes

4. The organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The first item on the agenda is the report by Mrs Bauer, on behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/15/EC on the organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities (COM(2008)0650 – C6-0354/2008 – 2008/0195(COD)) (A7-0137/2010).

 
  
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  Edit Bauer , rapporteur.(HU) The proposal put forward is intended to amend Directive 2002/15/EC in connection with social protection. The Commission’s proposal touches on three issues: the exemption of self-employed hauliers from the scope of the law, the provision of a more precise definition for night work and support for the application of the law. The directive itself and, hence, its amendment, are supplementary in nature and only apply to vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, like other laws applicable to road transport activities. Therefore, it could not extend to drivers of smaller commercial vehicles. The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs voted against the amendment (30 to 19 votes).

Several misapprehensions arose while the law was being drafted. I would like to address a few of those which may have influenced MEPs. First of all, experts have reached the unanimous conclusion that if the Commission’s proposal is rejected, resulting in the directive’s scope being extended to also include self-employed hauliers, it will not improve road safety. Available statistical data and studies on accidents show that only 6% of accidents are caused by the fault of lorry drivers, and fatigue is cited as a reason in only 0.06% of cases. Also, driving time, which has a real effect on road safety, is regulated by a different act of law, Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, which also applies to self-employed hauliers. Loading time is of a supplementary nature and cannot be regarded as a significant part of working time, as the law does not apply, for instance, to journeys under 100 km. Secondly, trade unions fear that self-employed hauliers could even work up to 86 hours if they are not regulated.

The regulation includes stringent rules on driving time. It is capped at 45 hours per week for any two consecutive weeks, not to exceed 56 hours in any single week. This is accurately recorded by digital tachographs and the regulation also includes detailed rules on rest periods. Therefore, the claim of a possible 86-hour working week is an assumption not supported by any statistical data, study or survey. Thirdly, the Commission’s proposal would limit the scope of the directive to employees and false self-employed hauliers. So far, there has been no law regulating the working time of self-employed entrepreneurs. Working time restriction is an important means for the social protection of employees. However, in the case of self-employed hauliers, the employer and the employee are the same person, and protecting private transporters from themselves is an extreme measure. Fourthly, when the arguments run out, the real reason is revealed: social dumping. Do not be confused by the term, because self-employed hauliers and small enterprises can also be unpleasant competitors on the market, just like self-employed hauliers arriving from new Member States.

My experience is, unfortunately, that the case of the phantom Polish plumber has returned to haunt us. I would like to move on to talk about a common labour market phenomenon that should not be dealt with, and indeed cannot be dealt with exclusively in the field of road transport. This is the issue of false self-employed entrepreneurs, which is a real European problem with adverse effects on competition and the labour market. This is the issue that needs to be addressed, and this expectation was stated clearly in the proposed amendment.

Proposed Amendment 30, tabled on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the European Conservatives and Reformists and the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group is based on the Commission’s proposal and is supported by the Council, and I would like to thank the Council for their support. We will vote on the amendment section by section. I would like to add one more thing. As a compromise solution, we recommend allowing each Member State to extend the scope of the directive to self-employed hauliers, if they want to.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, today, this House is discussing an extremely difficult and sensitive subject. The question is whether or not entrepreneurs who are self-employed drivers should be covered by the directive on the working time of mobile workers.

The inclusion of entrepreneurs would be a precedent and a clear deviation from the general Working Time Directive. This directive only regulates the working time of employed workers, not of entrepreneurs. Discussions about the inclusion of self-employed drivers have been going on for a long time. Firstly, consultations between social partners in the 1990s did not yield any result. Then, the legislator could not reach a conclusion after four years of discussion – between 1998 and 2002 – and therefore asked the Commission for a thorough impact study. The Commission has now carried out studies and made an impact assessment which clearly demonstrates that this directive is not the right tool to address transport policy issues such as road safety or competition conditions, but that enforcement in respect of the non self-employed is a real issue. This is also the sense of the Commission proposal.

Firstly, I wish to express my deep respect for your rapporteur, Mrs Bauer, who has done an excellent job. I am very glad to see that the rapporteur shares the Commission’s concern over the weak enforcement of the rules and the general problem of false self-employment, and I appreciate Mrs Bauer’s constructive proposals. I believe that the rapporteur’s proposed amendments have the potential to protect employees even better against possible exploitation by employers.

Where Europe definitely needs action is in respect of so-called false self-employed drivers – that is, those drivers who are formally independent but, in practice, are employed by a single company which gives them orders and pays them. Both the Commission proposal and the amendments proposed by the rapporteur give a clear message to industry: the phenomenon of false self-employment will not be tolerated and the legislator will be vigilant in putting this rule into practice throughout Europe.

As regards road safety, let me stress that working time must not be mistaken for driving time. The situation regarding the latter has radically changed since 1998. As you know, this House, together with the Council, adopted new driving time rules, introduced modern, reliable digital recording equipment and adopted a specific directive on enforcement. Today’s debate is not on road safety. The statistics and the studies that the Commission has made available to Parliament give absolutely no indication that the inclusion of self-employed drivers would improve road safety.

At a time when we hope to begin to recover from the economic crisis, it would not be a good move to impose an additional administrative and financial burden on small and fragile undertakings which have managed to survive the economic recession. Instead of imposing red tape on entrepreneurs, Europe needs a working time directive which will really ensure protection to those employed and dependent drivers who need that protection.

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès (S&D). (FR) Madam President, my point of order concerns the code of conduct adopted by this Parliament in terms of ordinary legislative procedure negotiations. I fail to understand how the Commissioner can speak of an agreement with Parliament when he has spoken with only one single member, a member who basically had no mandate from the appropriate committee to negotiate what you are calling a sound agreement.

Commissioner, you are flouting the operating rules of this institution. That gives us the right to raise the issue of how the institution to which you belong operates.

 
  
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  President. – That was not a point of order. You are listed as a speaker later in the debate.

 
  
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  Thomas Mann, on behalf of the PPE Group.(DE) Madam President, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I would like to thank Mrs Bauer for her report and for her excellent work in recent months.

The fundamental issue is whether or not the working hours of self-employed workers in the transport sector should be regulated for the first time. The Commission says not, nearly all the Member States say not, and the majority of my group also says not. If we were to include self-employed drivers in the directive, it would only serve the interests of big business. We need to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises, however.

We need to tell those who cite shortcomings in road safety as justification for including self-employed workers that the rules on driving hours and rest times have long since been tightened up. All drivers – whether self-employed or employees – must take a minimum of 11 hours rest over a 24-hour period. That is why we have digital tachographs that automatically record driving hours, and the authorities monitor compliance with this.

I was the European Parliament’s rapporteur on tachographs at the time. I am grateful to Mrs Bauer for preventing the regulation being extended to vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes. Digital EU control devices in all commercial vehicles would have resulted in time-consuming and expensive documentation obligations. We want to reduce bureaucracy, not increase it.

I therefore recommend that this House support the compromise that the rapporteur has reached with other groups.

 
  
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  Stephen Hughes, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, the position of this group has been consistent throughout; my position as rapporteur has been consistent ever since 2002 when we first proposed the inclusion of self-employed and independent drivers. We remain convinced that that needs to be the case, and I very much hope therefore that the proposal to reject the Commission’s proposal will be agreed in the vote tomorrow, just as it was in plenary last spring and in the Employment Committee this March.

We very much regret the confusion the rapporteur appears to have encountered in discharging her mandate. Rather than reflecting and promoting the clear majority views of members of the European Parliament’s Employment Committee, she has actively worked to promote the view of the Commission and Council. The other institutions, as Mme Berès has said, have shown not one gram of loyal cooperation but instead have gone out of their way to subvert the very clear Employment Committee recommendation to the plenary: the rejection of the Commission’s proposal.

Madam President, a tired driver is a dangerous driver, irrespective of employment status; we should not make road travel any more of a gamble than it already is. Once again this morning, the rapporteur has shown confusion between the notions of driving time and working time. It is quite possible under the existing regime for a self-employed, a ‘false’ self-employed, driver, to drive between 86 and 95 hours per week; perhaps not every week, but one week is enough of a danger in itself. If the Commissioner doubts that figure, he can come to see me any time he likes; I have the figures from the people working in the sector. This is a fact. We must reject the Commission’s proposal.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, first of all, I want to thank the rapporteur Mrs Bauer for her hard work.

The core issue we are dealing with here in this report is whether to include, or exclude, self-employed drivers from the Working Time Directive. It is crucial to remember that all drivers, employed or self-employed, come under the 2006 driving time regulations which regulate their driving time, their break times and their rest periods. Therefore, road safety matters are dealt with adequately under that directive, and, if anybody believes that they are not, then we need to look at the Driving Time Directive.

There is no data relating accidents to the working time of professional drivers and no data distinguishing between employed and self-employed drivers. Therefore, we have no data on a decision to include self-employed drivers. Legislation must be based on sound reliable data and all the scaremongering about self-employed drivers working 86 hours per week and causing accidents is just that: it is scaremongering and is not based on any reliable data.

This legislation, if it includes self-employed, will be virtually unenforceable. Are we to have an army of inspectors looking over the shoulders of self-employed workers to see if they are performing general administrative duties or administration relating to the job under way? According to the legislation, working time includes when a self-employed person is at their work station. This is defined in the legislation as the main place of business of the undertaking, together with its various subsidiary places of business. Will the office located in the small bedroom or the attic of the self-employed driver’s home be defined as his work station, and who will police and enforce the legislation? Yes, there are issues relating to competition for self-employed, but this legislation will not deal with those matters. In fact, in my own country, we deal very effectively with this matter through the tax system.

Finally, if we reject the Commission proposal, we will end up with bad law. It is disproportionate and will not achieve its aims, and it will pile further red tape and bureaucracy on already struggling SMEs in most countries and particularly in my own country, Ireland. It is unenforceable, and that makes an ass of the law.

 
  
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  Emilie Turunen, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (DA) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the matter we are discussing today relates to an absolutely fundamental question: do we in the European Parliament want to ensure that we have a social Europe with fair competition and decent working conditions? Or will we allow the market and the laws of chance to reign in a transport industry that is coming more and more under pressure? For us in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs here in Parliament, there is no doubt at all. We want self-employed drivers to be included in the Working Time Directive. Thus, we reject the Commission’s proposal to exclude self-employed drivers, for the following three reasons. Firstly, self-employed drivers need to be covered by working time regulations so that we can ensure traffic safety in Europe. With a lorry weighing a tonne behind them, it is absolutely essential to put a limit on their working time to avoid tired drivers and accidents. Secondly, we want to ensure fair competition within the transport industry. In recent years, we have seen an enormous growth in the number of ‘false’ self-employed drivers. This has been the industry’s solution to avoid the working time regulations. As legislators, we must not create incentives for there to be more self-employed drivers in Europe. Instead, we must ensure that there are uniform rules so that we create a level playing field. Thirdly, we want to ensure a good working environment for everyone. From EU studies, we know that self-employed drivers are sick more often and are more stressed than employed drivers. Is this a reasonable state of affairs from the point of view of health and safety? We do not think so.

A great deal has been said about this directive, and many incorrect things have been said. I would like to dispel two myths. Firstly, there is the myth concerning administrative work. Office work does not form part of the regulation, and it is very important to establish that fact. We should bury this myth. Secondly, there is the myth concerning enforcement. I have heard my fellow Members say that it would not be possible to enforce this directive. To these Members, I would simply say that we have a digital tachograph that can provide the measurements. It currently does this for employed drivers, so clearly it can also do so for self-employed drivers.

Finally, I would just like to say a few words to Mrs Bauer. As shadow rapporteur for the Greens, I have been very disappointed in how the process has been carried out recently. Mrs Bauer broke all the good rules of negotiation, she broke the ‘code of conduct’ of this House and now she is presenting what she calls a compromise. As far as I am concerned, this is her responsibility – it is not a compromise that is valid for Parliament. It is her filthy proposal that she has produced with the Council by skirting all of the rules.

I would like to finish by saying that this is not about Mrs Bauer’s negotiation methods; it is about people and it is about whether we want to ensure decent conditions in an increasingly pressurised transport industry. This is something that I hope everyone in Parliament will support when we vote tomorrow.

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen, on behalf of the ECR Group. (NL) Madam President, some of my fellow Members claim that compliance with the 48-hour working week serves the interests of self-employed drivers and of road safety. This is a dirty campaign, as self-employed drivers continue to be covered by the Regulation on driving times and rest periods in any case. There is absolutely no threat to road safety. The problem is that some southern European trade unions fear that self-employed Romanian and Bulgarian drivers will take all the business. Those Members follow the trade unions like quivering lapdogs. That is the heart of the matter.

Mr Kallas, the Commissioner for Transport, wishes to exclude self-employed drivers from the scope of the directive. He deserves our support in tomorrow’s votes. If he fails to obtain it, 16 June will be a dark day in the history of the European Parliament. It will kick citizens when they are down and give them piles of red tape on top. And then we complain that voter turnout falls further with every new election.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(PT) Madam President, once again we are in a debate that is crucial for protecting the rights of road transport workers and road safety. The Commission’s insistence since October 2008 on changing the 2002 directive is unacceptable. The Commission now wants it to cease to apply to so-called self-employed drivers, which would aggravate everyone’s working conditions, particularly due to the possibility that working hours will be increased to intolerable levels simply to allow greater profits for the major employers in the sector.

As an example, so-called self-employed drivers could end up working up to 86 hours per week over the whole year. This would not only jeopardise their health and safety, but would also present a danger to the safety of all other road users. It would also encourage social dumping and the deregulation of employment due to the increased numbers of drivers who falsely state that they are self-employed.

Being receptive to arguments and studies that demonstrate the dangers of approving such a proposal, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs has already rejected it twice, but unfortunately, the rapporteur, with the support of the Commission and the Council, has insisted on pursuing negotiations on the directive alone, as though the decision by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs had never been made.

That is why we are now in this very serious situation. This issue needs to be clearly opposed by a majority in Parliament, but this has already been jeopardised by the Commissioner. We advocate rejecting the proposal, so as to prevent the continuation of this grave threat to workers’ rights and the safety of all road users in the European Union.

We therefore call for the rejection of the Commission’s proposal and compliance with the 2002 directive which, since 2009, should be being applied to self-employed drivers in order to combat social dumping, protect the right to health and rest for workers in the sector, and improve road safety conditions.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we are planning to extend this directive to self-employed drivers for the sake of a supposed increase in safety.

However, the arguments put forward are misleading and will have a detrimental effect. They are misleading because safety is already guaranteed under the 2006 regulation, and detrimental because the competitiveness of thousands of small independent businesses, which have already been sorely tested by the economic crisis, is at risk.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us not pretend to be unaware of the fact that the legal and technical disputes regarding the directive actually conceal yet another power struggle between European statists, who are ready to place a new, dangerous burden on businesses, and the supporters of the human face of Europe, who are in touch with our citizens’ real needs.

By intervening to legislate on the organisation of self-employed drivers’ working time, Parliament would be setting a dangerous precedent, authorising a European-branded takeover of entrepreneurship and free enterprise.

It is time to put our words into practice. Let us stop exploiting small and medium-sized enterprises for our own ends. It is all too easy to praise widespread entrepreneurship when the aim is to come up with effective strategies to combat the crisis, and then to sacrifice these when EU bureaucracy wants to reassert its strength. I oppose the utopian war of principles with practicality. Europe must not encroach on the sphere of private enterprise and must respect the requests of our regions.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE).(FR) Madam President, I am in favour of including self-employed drivers in the proposal for a directive, and I therefore reject both this proposal by the Commission and the Bauer report.

I am outraged by the way this proposal runs counter to the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises by introducing, from this day forward, unfair competition from false self-employed drivers. This report introduces the practice of unfair competition and will allow it to develop with the growth in the number of false self-employed drivers.

This proposal also runs counter to the interests of employees. At the very time when we are all working together to build a social Europe, this report reinforces social dumping between Member States. It is against the interests of employees, it is against the interests of Europe.

In short, this report flies in the face of road safety. I presided over a region crossed by heavy traffic from all over Europe, with significant accidents which gave rise to legal actions. These serious accidents should not escape our attention. We shall have to account for our decision to our fellow citizens. What is more, in 2002, two Member States of the European Union appealed to the European Court of Justice to repeal Directive 2002/15/EC because it included self-employed drivers; the Court rejected their appeal on the grounds of road safety.

Finally, what we need is a European regulation between all Member States because, nowadays, transport is a European matter. The vote in committee was clear. I hope that it will be just as clear in plenary.

 
  
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  Alejandro Cercas (S&D).(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, Mrs Bauer, I am obliged first of all to talk about my profound disappointment with you for the way that you have carried out a negotiation in which Parliament was not respected and for the way that you are presenting this debate here today, which is very economical with the truth.

It is not true, Commissioner, that this is about including self-employed drivers: they have already been included since 2009. It is you who wish to remove the self-employed from the directive.

Nor is it true, Commissioner, that we are not talking about health and safety on the road: that is exactly what we are talking about, Commissioner. We are not talking about anything other than the safety of self-employed drivers and members of the European public who travel on the roads; that is what we are talking about and here you are wheeling out false arguments.

As always, you are adducing bureaucracy. It is not true. You have been singing the praises of the tachograph and the great strides that its use has caused in the regulation of driving in Europe. It can be applied without any need for bureaucracy. What you are doing is putting the economic interests of the few above the rights of the majority; that is what is really happening. Once again, you are disproving what you say about people coming before business: business comes before people for you.

I wish to record our protest here and I hope that Parliament once again says that the public, safety, law and truth are what is most important.

I protest, Commissioner: I am very disappointed.

Mrs Bauer, I am very disappointed with the way in which you have carried out this debate and this negotiation.

 
  
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  Gesine Meissner (ALDE).(DE) Madam President, we have heard a great deal already. It is true, as Mrs Figueiredo said, that this is a directive that was intended to be aimed at employees. That is correct. However, there are also self-employed people who are not classed as employees.

It is important for people in Europe to be able to decide how they want to work – whether as an employee or as a self-employed worker. That is only right. Naturally, the self-employed also have to play by certain rules. Digital tachographs are already present in all heavy goods vehicles and the equivalent vehicles that we are talking about here. If we were now to include self-employed workers in this directive, it would unduly restrict their freedom of choice. That is why my group is in favour of excluding the self-employed from this directive at all costs. We consider Mrs Bauer’s proposal, and the proposal from the Commission, to be right. That should be taken into account. We want to protect small and medium-sized businesses, and in this case, we can do so by adopting the proposal.

 
  
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  Eva Lichtenberger (Verts/ALE).(DE) Madam President, the previous speaker described an ideal world in which drivers themselves decide whether they want to be self-employed or employees. Unfortunately, in reality, drivers no longer have this choice; instead, they are generally being pushed into being self-employed – or at least, ostensibly self-employed. That is the big problem that we face here – and if what we have here is a private compromise between a Member of Parliament and the Council which is being presented as a general compromise and which does not give consideration to this issue, then we are playing into the hands of social dumping in Europe.

Go and have a look at what is happening on the roads by visiting a checkpoint. Take a look at what is really going on in this sector. Go and have a look at the accidents – then you will realise that, as Members of the European Parliament, we cannot allow ourselves to advocate social dumping.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, it is vital that self-employed workers remain free of the clutches of the Working Time Directive in this way. This area of work is already heavily regulated via the driving time regulations and to listen to people saying that people are driven into self-employed work is utterly ludicrous; it is a choice that people make. The only thing bogus in all these discussions is the scaremongering claims of people saying that there are road safety dangers associated here.

We talk here endlessly about promoting entrepreneurs; we talk about allowing them to flourish in the European Union. We are here actively encouraging small businesses, and to discourage them simply cannot be the way forward. So I would urge you to vote with Edit Bauer.

 
  
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  Thomas Händel (GUE/NGL).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we have been debating the matter of driving time and working hours in road transport for months. I am beginning to wonder what the next argument will be to try to show that everything we have been debating for months is complete nonsense. The latest argument is that we have to change something urgently so that nothing changes. Mrs Bauer, can you not see how absurd this argument has become – how riddled it is with lies and half-truths?

What we are debating here is nothing other than extending the working hours of self-employed workers. However, for more than 150 years, it has been a principle of legislation on working hours that people are protected from working excessively long hours. That applies to the self-employed just as much as to those in employment. It makes no difference whether it is a self-employed worker who is pushing himself too hard or an employer that is pushing an employee driver too hard. It is about protecting people from themselves and from excessively long working hours, as well as in part from employers and others who commission work.

As a second point, on the matter of road safety, it has been asserted here that nothing can be done in this respect. Ladies and gentlemen, we are not amateurs or volunteers! We cannot pass laws on the basis of ‘Let’s see what happens’. Everyone knows that working excessive hours increases the risk of accidents, particularly in road transport, where the consequences are so serious.

My third point is to ask who would police this proposed differentiated regulation on our roads? Our judges already find it difficult to decide whether someone is self-employed or only ostensibly self-employed without long study of the evidence.

Let us abandon this nonsense. This is about fair competition. It is not about setting a precedent this morning for future debate on extending working hours. Do not play games like that with this House!

 
  
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  Derek Roland Clark (EFD). – Madam President, it is essential that Amendment 30, with special regard to paragraph 7(a), be adopted. Self-employed drivers would not then be included in these provisions.

It is not a road safety issue. All drivers are limited to driving times and associated work monitored by the tachograph. Including the self-employed drivers will penalise them, especially those who do not use an agency. Company drivers have their schedule provided, but true independents spend time preparing their own schedules and bidding for new business. If included in these provisions, those tasks will be part of their working week so they will have less time to drive, load, unload and cater for passengers, as compared to the commercially employed drivers. Thus, business will be lost and unemployment caused in the small business sector. The bigger operator will take up the slack and we will have another example of the EU promoting big business at the expense of the SMEs who employ half the workforce.

I therefore support the rapporteur in Amendment 30 as well as the Commission in this respect. You do not hear that very often from this part of the House.

 
  
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  Veronica Lope Fontagné (PPE).(ES) Madam President, we believe it to be essential to include the self-employed in this directive, and this view is shared by the representatives of both unions and employers’ associations in my country, who have expressly requested the inclusion of the self-employed in this directive.

We believe that there are several reasons for their inclusion. Firstly, because of workers’ safety: self-employed hauliers deserve the same protection as other hauliers, not just when they are driving, but also when they are undertaking other tasks that are directly related to a road transport operation.

Secondly, for reasons of fair competition, as bringing back discrimination between self-employed and employed workers will distort both the labour market and the transport market.

Finally, it also seems inappropriate to me that each Member State should be able to apply the provisions of the directive to drivers if it so wishes. There needs to be a general rule for the entire EU, since the majority of hauliers work outside their own countries; without it, fair competition would be impeded.

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès (S&D). (FR) Madam President, just for once, I will speak about procedure. Clearly, everybody agrees that we should support SMEs and, by rights, everybody ought to be concerned about issues regarding, at one and the same time, safety, workers, road users and the conditions for free and undistorted competition.

However, after Parliament rejected this text in spring 2009, that summer, your predecessor, Commissioner Tajani, then canvassing his government for his re-appointment as Commissioner, told us that he would have some new proposals to make. Those new proposals were never referred to the relevant parliamentary committee for its consideration. Moreover, Mrs Bauer’s report was rejected by more members of that committee than had rejected the previous report.

Mrs Bauer had no mandate to negotiate, on behalf of this Parliament, a first-reading agreement with the Council. The Commission and the Council have knowingly flouted the operating rules between the institutions. Mrs Bauer has flouted the code of conduct of this institution. This Parliament questions at times the nature of a first-reading agreement because it reduces our ability to negotiate. Now, in this instance, if Mrs Bauer’s amendments are approved, there will be a first-reading agreement that has not been examined by the bodies of this Parliament.

At a time when we are seeing a balance being restored between the institutions thanks to the Treaty of Lisbon, this Parliament is turning its back on using its collective intelligence. I request, as a minimum, that Mrs Bauer’s proposals, which have never been examined in committee, be referred back to committee for consideration.

 
  
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  Dirk Sterckx (ALDE). (NL) Madam President, I support the Commissioner. Self-employed workers organise their own working hours, and that is the way it should stay. There is a difference between self-employed and employed workers, and that is only right and proper. This has nothing to do with road safety, as driving times and rest periods are identical whether the worker is self-employed or employed. These are monitored by a tachograph, which is intended for that and no other purpose. We do not look beyond this to monitor the road safety situation of employed and self-employed workers.

A second point relates to something I consider very problematic in the proposals by those who advocate including self-employed workers in the scope: how on earth are you going to monitor this? How do you propose to drop in on self-employed workers and ask when, where and how much they have worked? This kind of monitoring system would not be feasible and would subsequently be considered unacceptable. We should not be making such legislation; we should not be including self-employed workers in the scope of the directive concerning employed workers.

 
  
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  Timo Soini (EFD). (FI) Madam President, I come from Finland, where there are few people, distances are long and there are a lot of self-employed people. We do not need, will not tolerate and will not put up with extra restrictions on self-employed drivers. I am glad that the Estonian Commissioner, who is familiar with conditions in the northern countries, knows this, and that also applies to the Slovakian rapporteur. I want to thank you for that.

This is an important question of principle. We cannot place restrictions on small business that apply to Europe as a whole. This may be a precedent and it is very dangerous. How does Europe think it will achieve growth and employment if its administrative decisions destroy employment and the preconditions for growth and kill them off?

I am on the side of Finnish owner drivers and in this case, that also means on the side of small business entrepreneurs all over Europe. After all, there will be no growth or increased prosperity in Europe if administrative decisions prevent small business entrepreneurs from working.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Sari Essayah (PPE). (FI) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, there must not, under any circumstances, be any restrictions put on the working time of self-employed drivers other than on their driving time.

The matter of road safety is addressed by restricting driving times and having compulsory rest periods, for which there is the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council pertaining to road transport and driving times and rest periods in force, and that applies to all – yes all – lorry and bus drivers, including self-employed ones. A much better option to prevent accidents through tiredness would be more effective monitoring of the driving times and rest periods in force rather than artificially restricting the working times of the self-employed.

Now there is a move to include such jobs as cleaning the vehicle, technical maintenance and completing consignment sheets in the restrictions on the working hours of self-employed drivers. How can we check whether a self-employed driver is washing his wife’s car or his truck in his own backyard? This is quite incomprehensible, because there are no restrictions on the working hours of other entrepreneurs. It would be a serious precedent if we went down that route.

As the previous speaker rightly said, in the Nordic countries, like my country, Finland, the transport sector is dominated by small business entrepreneurs and mainly consists of firms with just one or two vehicles. Restrictions on the working hours of entrepreneurs would favour large, supranational transport companies and would make it difficult for new transport firms to start up in business. The sector will certainly not be of interest to the young if we start to restrict artificially the potential to make a living. It would mean a dearth of capacity and increased costs. Already, logistical costs are, on average, higher in the Nordic countries than in the rest of Europe on account of our northern location and sparse population.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Saïd El Khadraoui (S&D). (NL) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I shall get straight to the heart of the matter, namely the issue of self-employed workers. A reminder that the scope has covered all self-employed drivers since March of last year would certainly not go amiss. That is the present state of affairs; that is the point of departure the rapporteur should have taken into account.

Consequently, this is not the precedent the Commissioner claimed it to be. A more pragmatic approach should have been possible, namely including self-employed workers within the scope but, at the same time, taking account of the specific nature of self-employed drivers and keeping red tape to an absolute minimum.

As the rapporteur from the Committee on Transport and Tourism knows, I had drawn up a number of proposals. I proposed, for example, that the digital tachograph measure not only driving times and rest periods but also loading and unloading operations, supplemented by a kind of unmonitored fixed time for a number of other activities, such as administrative tasks and also cleaning and similar operations. She also knows quite well that activities such as customer contact are neither subject to monitoring nor counted as working time in any case.

Therefore, I regret that neither the Commission nor the rapporteur was willing to take account of this in any way whatsoever. The proposal to let Member States decide for themselves whether or not self-employed workers should fall within the scope does not strike me as a good one. The objective must be to arrive at common, uniform ground rules at European level so that the same rules apply to all.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the Commission proposal and the position adopted by the rapporteur leave the Member States free to choose whether or not to include self-employed workers in the scope of the directive.

This optional arrangement is unacceptable and in conflict with EU competition rules. By giving Member States freedom of choice, self-employed drivers in some countries that have already transposed the previous Directive 2002/15/EC would find themselves exposed to direct competition from those of their EU counterparts who are not subject to the same rules.

Self-employed workers could go to a country with different legislation in force and be subject to fewer checks, which would cause a serious dumping problem and hence, a serious distortion of competition. Businesses could, in fact, use self-employed workers more, as they are able to offer their services on a more flexible basis and at a lower cost. It goes without saying that low costs often equal a reduction in quality and, above all, in safety, which, in the transport sector, results in a serious increase in road traffic risks.

In the light of this, I believe that the proposal is unacceptable and that it contravenes one of its legal bases, namely Article 153 of the treaty, since it neither improves the working environment nor protects workers’ health and safety.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE).(MT) I think this Parliament would agree that European drivers should be provided with the best conditions, that we should ensure our roads are safe, and that we should do our utmost to regularise this sector without jeopardising European competitiveness. However, there is disagreement about whether we should involve the self-employed in all of this.

I believe we should not arrogate to ourselves the competence to regulate the way they use their time. If there is abuse among the self-employed, we should target the abuse, rather than those honest individuals among the self-employed who are trying their best to continue to improve this sector.

I believe we should exercise great care when it comes to introducing bureaucracy, because too much of it can cause harm and break this sector, especially at a time like this when we have a crisis on our hands which is having a negative impact on all European sectors. I therefore congratulate Mrs Bauer for her report and for the compromises she has recommended. I would like to appeal to all of us to be careful when we come to regulating the self-employed themselves.

 
  
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  Georges Bach (PPE).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, the directive represents an important step in improving the health and safety of workers in this sector, but also in improving road safety and ensuring fair competition. These are the words of the Commission itself when the directive was introduced on 23 March 2005.

Since then, the Commission has done a U-turn and submitted a proposal that excludes self-employed workers. That sets a precedent and I cannot defend such a policy. There are various reasons not to support the proposal which, in my eyes, represents a step backward socially, a reduction in road safety and an incentive for unfair competition. Neither has the proposal been designed to support small and medium-sized enterprises.

To me, this U-turn demonstrates an inability to implement European policy. Despite being twice rejected by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and once in plenary, contrary to a European Economic Area report as well as a judgment by the European Court of Justice, the directive – European law – is simply being amended and steered towards a point where economic interests are the only thing that count.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D). – Madam President, as a former self-employed truck driver, I support keeping the self-employed in this directive. Own-account drivers, I know for a fact, are under tremendous pressure to work night and day. Commissioner Kallas, your speech and your proposal is a disgrace. It puts drivers’ health and safety at risk. It puts other road users at risk. It puts SMEs at risk from unfair competition, and it puts increased pressure on decent employers to push their employees into self-employment.

Fifty per cent of drivers have admitted falling asleep at the wheel. Twenty per cent of accidents are due to fatigue. Thirty per cent of drivers’ working time is taken up loading and unloading and helping passengers. Ms Harkin, if you are still here, what they do in their attic is their own business. This Parliament must stand up for citizens’ safety and against those who want an unregulated transport sector. Commissioner Kallas, go back to the drawing board.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Schroedter (Verts/ALE).(DE) Madam President, I would like to agree with Mrs Morin-Chartier. We must not forget that we are dealing with the European Court of Justice in this matter, which has made it quite clear that priority must be given to road safety and that this concerns an existing directive on working hours and rest times.

Do we want to suddenly call into question a common European regulation on road safety? Why would we do that? It would be absurd and incomprehensible. If self-employed workers were to be excluded from this directive again, then, in addition to their 56 hours of driving time, they would also be able to spend 28 hours loading and unloading. As a result, they would become a menace on the roads. I certainly would not like to encounter such drivers on the roads of Europe.

How can we suddenly start promoting the distortion of competition at the expense of our common health? How could we explain that to our citizens? That is why I urge you to reject the Commission proposal.

 
  
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  Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (PPE).(DE) Madam President, just as I have done for many years, I am today working for road safety, for an improvement in working conditions for professional drivers, and for an improvement in their professional image.

It is obvious that what we are debating today is not the provisions on driving hours and rest times, which impact on road safety and are applicable to all professional drivers, be they employed or self-employed; rather, it is about the regulation of working hours. It is primarily a regulation for the protection of employees – in other words, it is solely for the social protection of drivers and in no way serves road safety. There is no need to protect the self-employed from themselves. How would we check the hours worked by self-employed HGV and bus drivers without a huge amount of bureaucracy, and on what basis would we be checking this anyway?

Restricting the permissible working hours of self-employed professional drivers in this way – and perhaps, in future, also those of self-employed tradesmen, architects or Members of Parliament – would send out the wrong signal. Instead, the Member States should be working to combat the problem of ostensible self-employment among drivers. I am in favour of the proposal put by the European Commission and Mrs Bauer.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD). – Madam President, extending the Working Time Directive to cover self-employed people is nonsensical. It is window-dressed to protect employees’ rights and therefore has no place in a self-employed framework. It is also unenforceable without infringing people’s liberties by carrying out checks in their homes.

This is not a matter of road safety. Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 already covers driving time and is applicable to large companies, small businesses and the self-employed. You still need an operator’s licence to work if you are self-employed and would therefore be the registered holder of that licence. Anything which may jeopardise the licence would therefore jeopardise the licence holder’s whole livelihood. With this in mind, it is safe to assume that there is just cause for self-employed drivers to be even more fastidious than big firms. Everything directly related to the service would be considered part of working time; for example, paperwork, maintenance and general administration. In large firms, people are employed to do this; therefore, administration time has no impact on driving time. Self-employed doing their own administration would find, under the directive’s conditions, little time left to do the driving itself.

As an aside, I believe the Commission also proposed a relaxation of restrictions over night work by introducing a two-hour qualifying period before night-time restrictions apply. I rarely agree with the Commission but this would also be a welcome amendment. I fully support the rapporteur, Ms Bauer.

 
  
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  Jutta Steinruck (S&D).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to appeal once more to the conservatives and liberals that we cannot here place the interests of the self-employed above the safety of the people of Europe.

Entrepreneurial freedom is undoubtedly a very good thing, but the safety of our children and of everyone on the roads is more important – and that, to my mind, is the responsible way for Europe to act. Tomorrow’s vote is an opportunity to show that you are not in favour of social dumping.

What this debate has also shown in recent months is that a debate on ostensible self-employment in Europe is long overdue. More and more regular employment relationships are being ousted by ostensible self-employment, which is why we urgently need the situation to be analysed and a proposal to be made for what we can do about it. As the Commissioner stated quite clearly today, we have had many declarations of intent on this matter. It is time to act at last.

 
  
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  Andrzej Grzyb (PPE).(PL) I would like to ask: how can entrepreneurship be stimulated during a crisis? How can a growth in the numbers of small and medium-sized enterprises be stimulated? How, for example, can economic activity be stimulated, if this place – the European Parliament – is going to be a place where we bring in new legislation which restricts that entrepreneurship? After all, if people want to start up on their own in business, including the transport business, they should have the right to do so. We must not treat them, on the one hand, as businesspeople and, on the other, say that they have to comply with criteria designed for employees. We could do the same to people who run a restaurant, on their own and with their family, or for people who run a shop. We must not confuse these two things.

There is a certain excess of legislation, and the European Parliament also contributes to this. I know that, in Poland, we had the best regulations on economic activity at the beginning of the 1990s. Now we have increased the number of these regulatory burdens, and the result is that this is meeting with criticism. From whom? From the people who are running a business.

I endorse what Mrs Bauer says, although I am not, of course, going into the questions which came up when this compromise was being negotiated.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, in a time of economic challenge, this Parliament has made much of its credentials in encouraging entrepreneurship and competitiveness but, at the same time, we are setting about restricting the right to work of self-employed lorry drivers. I have to say that I reject as utterly bogus the claims in this House this morning that this is about health and safety. We are all concerned about health and safety and do not want to see any more accidents on our roads.

I represent Northern Ireland. It is right on the edge of Europe. The road transport industry is hugely important to the economy and the inclusion of self-employed lorry drivers will only have a negative impact on competitiveness. It is an industry that is highly regulated through tachograph rules, and the financial implications of further red tape would be devastating. It would also be hugely damaging to those hoping to set up as independent drivers.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, the rapporteur, Mrs Bauer, demonstrates a failure to understand democracy in that she continued to negotiate – with no mandate – against the decision of the Committee. If the European Parliament is serious about creating growth and wealth, then we Members must reject the Commission proposal.

Self-employed drivers must not be excluded from the Working Time Directive. This would be a backwards step, since the same rules must apply to self-employed bus drivers and long-distance lorry drivers as to the employees of enterprises. It cannot be our aim to have fewer and fewer people working more and more – and generally for less and less money. It cannot be our objective to have bus drivers and long-distance lorry drivers jeopardise their own health as well as the safety of other road users.

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE).(DE) Madam President, I believe that Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises are particularly important at this time, because the truth is that we will only find a way out of the debt crisis if we work more. It is entirely unnecessary to burden the self-employed with yet more bureaucracy and paperwork. Quite simply, if we are to be able to ensure social security in Europe, then it is very important that we increase productivity and competitiveness. Consequently, the driving times and rest times currently guaranteed by tachographs are entirely sufficient. I would ask those Members who advocate that the directive should apply to all to apply it to themselves and to have a tachograph installed in their own cars – and then not to use their cars on Thursday evening when they go home after working here for 15 hours.

Ensuring safety is important but, on the other hand, we must also protect the self-employed.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, thank you very much for this debate. I listened with great interest to all your contributions. There is a great temptation to go into detail and to have a debate on the details of this discussion, but I would like only to say that I still confirm the Commission position, which is built on facts. We do not have the studies mentioned here that self-employed drivers are regularly working 90 hours per week, and we think that the Driving Time Regulation, which we would like to enforce, will harmonise practices between Member States and will fulfil this task to ensure and improve road safety.

Road safety has improved very largely due to the use of the Driving Time Directive. We do not have the information that they are more sick, and why do we sometimes think that small and medium-sized enterprises are behaving irresponsibly, that they do not care about road safety or about their own health, so they must be more regulated than others?

The Commission cannot support legislation which limits the freedom of entrepreneurs in the road transport sector to organise their working time, while in other sectors, entrepreneurs are not subject to similar working time restrictions. However, if the vote in this House confirms the rejection of the Commission proposal, then the Commission will review all possible options, including withdrawal of the proposal, and if Parliament decides to include self-employed drivers in this directive, we will enforce your will. We will immediately inquire with Member States how they apply the working time rules on self-employed drivers and how they monitor compliance with these rules.

 
  
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  Edit Bauer , rapporteur.(HU) I would like to address five matters very briefly. The Rules of Procedure. I have studied the Rules of Procedure carefully, and as far as I know, MEPs have full discretion to carry out their mandate and therefore they can consult whoever they want. According to the Rules of Procedure, the parliamentary committee does not require MEPs to voice the committee’s position. It is the plenary session’s position that is binding. That is exactly what the Rules of Procedure say. I do not question, either, the grounds on which the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament submitted its proposed amendment, nor who it consulted.

In agreement with the shadow rapporteurs, I also had informal discussions with representatives of the Commission and the Council when I thought it was important. I agree that the issue of false self-employed entrepreneurs is a real European problem, and we incorporated it in the proposal, in cooperation with the fellow Members who considered the exclusion of self-employed entrepreneurs important. This issue must be addressed, but it is not a sector-specific problem.

There is a misconception that has been stated repeatedly here, namely, that compliance with this law can be monitored at an international level. This law requires monitoring at a national level. Let me add that at a 4% rate, inspection would be more expensive than moving the European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg. I would like to ask my fellow Members to take this into consideration as well. If we reject this proposal, I would also like to say to my fellow Members that we are creating an advantage for third country hauliers. I would like to ask my fellow Members to bear in mind that this is the proposal which the Commission approved. To reject the proposal of the Commission, that is, of the European Commission, is to make it pointless, expensive and impossible to implement.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Wednesday, 16 June 2010.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I approve of the position adopted by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on the rejection of the Commission’s proposal and agree that in conjunction with Parliament, the Commission must take action so that a new improved proposal is submitted by the Commission in future. I would like to stress that the Commission’s proposal to remove self-employed drivers from the scope of the directive would represent a significant step backwards in EU social policy and in the area of transport. I would like to draw attention to the fact that ‘false’ self-employed drivers weaken the overall labour market, and the main problem is that in practice, it is difficult to prove ‘false’ self-employment. If we fail to take concrete action and legal measures, then false self-employed work by drivers will become one of the labour market’s greatest problems and we will be unable to avoid unfair competition. In order to improve the working conditions of all drivers and ensure their social rights and guarantees and in order to improve road safety, as well as avoid unfair competition in the European road transport market, we cannot adopt the Commission’s proposal such as it stands today.

 
  
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  Pascale Gruny (PPE), in writing.(FR) The directive that we are debating today is the fruit of very lengthy negotiations in the European Parliament over two mandates. This is a very sensitive issue, as it concerns our jobs both today and in the future. It is a matter of road safety and of fair competition between companies in the Member States. I would not accept social dumping within our Union itself.

Could an independent driver work 14 hours a day, 84 hours a week, and not be a risk on the roads? Compared with a company-employed driver, this is unfair competition. This also leads some companies to suggest to their employees that they declare themselves self-employed. We must protect our fellow citizens and our companies.

I therefore invite the European Commission to withdraw its proposal and, failing that, I call on MEPs, during tomorrow’s vote in plenary, to vote in favour of keeping self-employed workers within the scope of working time legislation.

 
  
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  Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE), in writing. (FI) In certain EU countries, there is justified concern on the part of the trade union movement about phoney self­employment in connection with the Working Time Directive and self­employed drivers. Outsourcing and, as a consequence, employers evading their responsibilities, are growing problems. The way to solve the problem that has been suggested, that is, that self­employed drivers should be included in the directive, however, is wrong. The right way to resolve the problems associated with phoney self­employment would be to agree on a definition for self­employment between worker and employer organisations at EU level. At present, the innocent have to suffer.

With regard to this issue, we should proceed in accordance with the compromise which, among others, Mrs Wortmann-Kool, Vice­Chair of the centre­right European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), was building. Under this, freelance drivers remain outside the scope of the directive, but Member States may, if they wish, apply the regulation of full-time working hours to freelance drivers in their own country. The suggestion would probably mean that Parliament and the Council would reach agreement on the directive at first reading.

It is a pity that Parliament is not allowing any opportunities for a compromise. While we should be focusing more on improving the status of entrepreneurs, instead there is the possibility that the working hours of genuine entrepreneurs will be restricted. This is worrying, because the opportunities for small entrepreneurs to earn a living generally depend solely on the work they put in.

 

5. Food information to consumers (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the report by Mrs Sommer, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers (COM(2008)0040 – C6-0052/2008 – 2008/0028(COD)) (A7-0109/2010).

 
  
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  Renate Sommer, rapporteur.(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to extend the four minutes allotted to me to six minutes, because this dossier is so huge that otherwise, it will not be possible to speak adequately on the matter.

Consumers have a right to know what foods contain. Only if they have information on the composition and nutritional value of foods can they make an informed purchasing decision. Although Community law contains a great many regulations and directives on food labelling, there has not, until now, been a comprehensive mandatory labelling system. It has now become difficult for food manufacturers and distributors to maintain an overview of the multiplicity of existing laws – whether these are EU laws or national laws of the Member States. There is legal uncertainty, distortion of competition and obstacles to trade in the internal market. The present draft regulation is intended to deal with all these issues by providing uniform EU-wide food labelling. The aims are improved information to consumers, better regulation, harmonisation and less bureaucracy.

The Commission draft does not live up to these requirements, however, since it is based on assumptions and suppositions concerning consumers’ wishes and requirements, imposes unrealistic labelling requirements – such as the 3 mm font size, which does not even ensure that the information is legible, and favours big business to the detriment of SMEs – which actually make up 80% of the food sector. In so doing, it contravenes the Small Business Act. It also runs counter to the goal of harmonisation in the internal market, in that the intention is to expressly allow 27 additional national labelling systems. Extensive amendment of the Commission text is therefore called for.

That is what we have attempted to do. Information must be legible. However, font size is only one of many factors in this. We need rules on the font, line thickness, contrast, etc. We need binding guidelines on legibility. Information must be comparable and therefore it must always relate to 100 grams or 100 millilitres, without an option of only stating the nutritional value per portion. Then, when shopping, people will be able to see at a glance which is the ‘lightest’ yoghurt – regardless of the size of the yoghurt pot.

Information must be understandable. It is time to get rid of the kilojoule at last, which nobody can work out. We want to concentrate on kilocalories again; that is what consumers are interested in, and it is what they understand. Stated portion sizes must reflect reality and be realistic and understandable to consumers and, if possible, should be uniform throughout the EU. Information must not be allowed to mislead consumers concerning the content of the products or their origin or their actual nature. Imitation foods such as cheese analogues and processed meat that is made up of small pieces pressed together should be labelled as such on the front of the packaging. Consumers need to know what they are buying.

In the final event, however, consumers will no longer bother reading if we in fact overload the front of the products with further information. Consequently, I am proposing that the only nutritional value stated is the number of kilocalories per 100 grams or 100 millilitres. Then they will read it – it is what interests them, and I believe that is a realistic solution.

I also think we should remove nutritional profiles. I hope that we can stop them. These profiles are superfluous because the new regulation labels nutritional values in any case. Nutritional profiles discriminate against basic foods, and the threshold values for salt, sugar and fat are entirely arbitrary – having been thought up by Commission officials on no scientific basis whatsoever.

The real aim of the regulation on the provision of information on nutritional values and health properties of foods is to provide truthful health information, and for this, we do not need any additional assessment of individual foods or their classification into good and bad foods. In the end, it is overall diet and lifestyle that count. We should ask ourselves why the big food corporations are currently lobbying so hard for nutritional profiles. That is something we should really question.

The so-called traffic light system proposed here has the same kinds of shortcomings as nutritional profiles. Once again, it incorrectly forces us to classify products as good or bad. The threshold values for the colours are arbitrary and the breadth of each colour category is too great. It discriminates against basic foodstuffs, favours imitation foods, and also favours products containing artificial ingredients; in other words, those containing sweetener rather than sugar and flavour enhancers rather than salt. That really cannot be in the interests of consumers.

The GDA model – the industry’s model for labelling – has obvious shortcomings. It is incomprehensible because it contains too many figures. It is misleading because it only describes the daily requirement of a 40-year-old woman and provides no recommended daily amount whatsoever for the amount of sugar consumed, for example. It is difficult for SMEs to implement the GDA model. That would once again provide big business with a competitive advantage. That is another good reason why GDA labelling should not be made mandatory.

We also need to protect our traditional food production. Only then can we ensure the continued existence of the regional specialities and our food diversity in the EU that we are so fond of. We therefore need extensive exemption of non-prepackaged products from this regulation, since traditional products are precisely those that have not been standardised. These manufacturers can still provide information on allergens, for example, verbally when making the sale.

Then a few words on country of origin labelling. The question is whether consumers really want to know where all the ingredients in their foods come from or whether there is actually a protectionist agenda at work here. I would firstly like to know whether it is feasible, which is why I am calling for an impact analysis.

Lastly, it should be stated that food labelling can never be a manual for good diet. We need information campaigns and we need to educate people in the Member States about balanced diets and healthy lifestyles.

It is not the job of the legislator to nanny its master, which, in this case, is the citizen. It must provide assistance, but our citizens are responsible for themselves and it is not for us to take over that responsibility. Finally, I would like to express my great thanks to all those involved, the shadow rapporteurs, even if they were not always prepared to compromise, everyone who has supported me, particularly my …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  John Dalli, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, as I have said on previous occasions, our aim is to ensure that consumers know what they are buying and what they are eating, thus making it easier to choose a diet for themselves and their families in tune with their needs, their wishes and their goals; citizens – consumers – have a right to the right information. I would appeal to honourable Members to keep this firmly in mind throughout the debate.

Before turning to the substance of the proposal, I would first like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Sommer, for preparing the report, and also the shadow rapporteurs. Whilst being sympathetic to most of her statements, I cannot say I agree with all of them. I should also mention the input from other committees, IMCO and AGRI.

Allow me to briefly highlight the most important issues covered by the proposed amendments.

The question of mandatory origin labelling is very important and needs careful assessment. Indeed, there is a recurrent demand for the mandatory provisions of such information for some foods. The Commission could partially accept the proposed amendment for an extension of the cases of mandatory origin labelling. Origin labelling for basic primary foodstuffs which have not undergone substantial processing and are generally considered as single ingredient products could be a pragmatic option. However, given the complexity of the matter, the application of any mandatory labelling should be subject to the entry into force of delegated measures and be based on impact assessments.

Legibility is a major issue and one of the main complaints that consumers make. This is a key demonstration that we are putting consumers first in our debate and I hope that honourable Members can support the idea of a minimum font size. It is thus regrettable that the amendments tabled would undermine the aim of having measurable criteria as a basis for enforcement.

I share the concerns of honourable Members about imitation foods. I am therefore happy to see Parliament table an amendment containing a provision to explicitly prohibit such misleading practices. However, the introduction of a definition and specific designation of such products would provoke legal problems, and we therefore need to find those designations which give correct and unambiguous information to the consumer. I am also pleased to note the broad support for mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling and the endorsement of voluntary schemes by Member States.

The principle that consumers should know what they eat should apply not only to prepacked foods but also to food that they buy over the counter or when they eat out. I am therefore not in favour of amendments which would limit the scope of the draft regulation. That said, I am open to changing the text on non-prepacked food so that allergen information alone would be mandatory, while Member States could decide on further mandatory requirements for such food.

Turning to the suggestion for mandatory labelling of nano-ingredients, I am pleased to accept the amendment in principle, although there needs to be a suitable definition.

Finally, on the issue of nutrient profiles, let me state that I cannot accept the amendments to delete or modify Article 4 in the proposed way, as this provision would undermine the existing regulation on food claims. We are all aware that many claims are misleading for consumers; some because they are not substantiated, others because they do not give the full picture of the food in question, claiming only their positive aspects. It must also be stated that claims are made on the sole initiative of the manufacturer for the purpose of selling more products. We are not imposing nutrient profiles on anyone. We are insisting on nutrient profiles where manufacturers choose to market their products through claims, so that consumers can have balanced food information.

The establishment of nutrient profiles does not prohibit or in any way limit the food products that manufacturers can produce. Food manufacturers can continue to produce whichever way they want to. However, it is unfair to our consumers and citizens to allow claims that may mislead them. It is, for me, a question of providing our citizens with honest and full information about the products which they are consuming. Let us not forget that the Claims Regulation was adopted following in-depth debate amongst the institutions. The core principles of the regulation remain valid and relevant. Having said this, I am looking into the establishment of nutrient profiles with an open mind and I am ready to consider positively certain exemptions as they relate to traditional and basic products with an important dietary role.

On this basis, I urge you to support the Commission’s endeavours to ensure that we have a meaningful basis to protect consumers and foster innovation in the food sector.

Thank you for your attention. I now look forward to an interesting debate and hearing your views.

 
  
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  Christel Schaldemose, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. (DA) Madam President, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection has formulated an opinion in respect of Mrs Sommer’s report on food labelling. In our work in this committee, it has been crucial for us to ensure that consumers receive the proper tools to be able to make healthy and correct choices when it comes to food. Thus, in the committee, we are in agreement that using food labelling to mislead consumers is totally unacceptable. We are also in agreement that consumers must be provided with clear information through good labelling. Of course, we also agree that the rules should enable the internal market to function as well as possible. Thus, we are in agreement on the fundamental principles. However, when it comes to the specifics – the question of how this is to be done – there was not a particularly high level of agreement in our committee, and the same degree of disagreement could also be seen in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. This shows what a difficult issue this is. Therefore, in actual fact, I should first and foremost like to urge the rapporteur to remember that this food information is intended primarily to be a tool for the consumer and not a marketing tool for enterprises.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I am rather angry as I stand here before you, because I am going to focus on Amendment 101, concerning country of origin or place of provenance.

A split vote amendment was tabled on behalf of my group in order to clearly distinguish between the two, since they do not mean the same thing. In short, the country of origin is the country in which the foodstuff was last processed, while the place of provenance is clearly the place of origin of the raw ingredient, notably fruit and vegetables, and Mr Dalli pointed this out.

Now, what is particularly serious is the fact that Parliament’s services have rejected this split vote amendment and are incapable of telling me which rule of the Rules of Procedure allows them to do so. I am even being told that this is standard procedure. This is therefore very serious because this decision – an arbitrary one in my view – will obviously influence the substance of the decision.

Madam President, I would ask you to speak to the services on my behalf in order to denounce this arbitrary decision and to ensure that, within the next 24 hours, the services reconsider and accept this sound amendment.

 
  
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  Peter Liese , on behalf of the PPE Group.(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, firstly, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mrs Sommer for her tough, committed work. She has been subjected to some baseless criticism that she does not deserve.

That also obscures the fact that there are many matters on which we agree. We all want better labelling of imitation foods. Cheese is made of milk, and if it contains other things, then it must be labelled as an imitation on the front of the packaging. We also all want binding nutritional labelling. We do not yet have this. It is something that we all want. We also all want it to be in a unit that consumers understand.

On this matter, allow me to tell you a joke that is doing the rounds here in Germany – and perhaps in some other countries too: ‘What do you call the little animals that sew your clothes tighter while they are in the wardrobe? Calories.’ Nobody anywhere in Europe would tell this joke using kilojoules. The kilojoule has not taken off as a unit. It confuses people and therefore, we do not need to specify it as mandatory information. The calorie is the unit that informed consumers use in their calculations. There is thus a great deal of agreement. There are also differences, for example, on the matter of nutritional profiles. Our group wishes these to be removed, or at least clarification that basic foods will be exempt.

There has been heated discussion over salt in bread, French cheese and similar things. I would like to thank Commissioner Dalli and President Barroso for having attempted to provide clarification on these matters. There is no College decision, however, and consequently, we need this to be clarified once and for all. I would ask you to support the amendments put forward by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) in this area.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, this proposal has been highly controversial and it is extremely complex. As the shadow rapporteur for my group, my guiding principles have been to ask: what information do consumers want when buying food for their families, and how best can we provide this information?

Our continent faces an obesity epidemic on a scale never before seen. We are eating too much fat, sugar and salt, and it is contributing to heart disease, diabetes, increased risk of cancer, strokes, liver disease and even depression. Of course, simply ensuring consumers can easily identify the nutritional content of their food is not a magic cure, but it will enable consumers to be more aware of the food they buy, compare products and identify the healthiest option at a glance, thus taking control of what they eat.

I am proposing we use a colour coding system to do this, not to make a judgment on the product as a whole, but to inform consumers if the product they are buying is low, medium or high in salt, fat and sugar. This will only apply to complex processed foods such as ready-to-eat meals, breakfast cereals and all of those convenience foods produced on an industrial scale whose nutritional content – which is often poor – consumers are often unaware of or misinformed about.

May I stress that this will not apply to German bread. It will not apply to butter or cheese or apple juice, or even alcohol. I have emailed every MEP with more information so please, before you make up your minds, read it so that you know exactly what is being proposed, rather than listening to misleading industrial lobbying or flawed arguments from certain quarters of this House.

I would also urge colleagues to support mandatory country of origin labelling. It is clear that consumers are becoming more conscious of the origin of the food on their plate and want honest food labelling. Of course, this will not always be feasible. Nevertheless, for single products, it is clear that their agricultural origin should be available to consumers and this is 100% feasible. It is already in place for beef, for fish, and for fresh fruit and vegetables. For the ingredients of processed products, it is, of course, more complex, which is why it is only being proposed for meat, poultry and fish in processed foods.

On a final note, we talk a lot in this House about the importance of consumer choice and prevention in public health. Now is our chance to prove that we are serious. Colleagues, actions speak louder than words. Please support my proposals.

 
  
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  Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(NL) Madam President, I should like to thank the Commissioner for his statement at the start of this debate, and also Mrs Sommer for her work as rapporteur. I have the impression, after almost a year in this House, that we believe we can change the behaviour of millions of Europeans just like that with a mere piece of legislation.

The same belief surrounds this regulation. However, we must realise that nothing is as hard as changing people’s behaviour, particularly when we are talking about 500 million of them. Therefore, our ultimate influence over that behaviour via labelling will be limited. This does not mean I am completely dismissing this regulation through reservations – absolutely not – but we do have to be realistic about the force of this instrument.

We must realise that consumers are entitled to the information. In addition, whatever the outcome of this debate, consumers will obtain much more information after the second reading. In the longer term, on the other hand, we must invest more in education, and in teaching people from the bottom up how to have healthy lifestyles.

Another point is that the debate in this House concerns the fundamental objectives of this directive. Are we forcing people to make a healthy choice of foodstuffs or are we giving them the opportunity to decide for themselves what foodstuffs to choose? We, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, believe people should be given the information, and that they are capable of making their own choices.

Finally, we must be sure to strike a balance with regard to the amount of information we provide to people, as too much or too little will never work. I believe we are on the right track per se. Let us trust that people who can vote for us are also sufficiently capable of choosing the right foodstuff in the shops if provided with the appropriate information.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(SV) Madam President, the power that consumers possess is based on them receiving information. If we do not force undertakings to provide correct information, consumers will not receive it and then the whole of the internal market will collapse. We cannot determine centrally what information is important for a particular consumer. Consumers have different requirements and we need to try to satisfy as many of those as possible.

We run the risk of playing into the hands of the industry if we are reluctant to warn consumers about high calorie content, salt, fat and so on. It is no stranger to have a colour coding system for nutrient content than to warn consumers when they buy an energy guzzling car or an energy intensive refrigerator.

We must not defer the origin marking by carrying out studies; we need to implement it right now. The animals and those who want to protect the animals’ welfare cannot wait until information is available as to whether animals have been transported live to slaughterhouses far away.

Neither must we play into the hands of the alcohol industry. Alcohol manufacturers are constantly demanding to be treated in the same way as regular food undertakings, but now that we are about to regulate food, they no longer want to be included. That is disgraceful. Many consumers do not know that alcohol has a high calorie content and that, for example, a glass of white wine contains twice as many calories as a similar quantity of a soft drink.

When it comes to nutrient profiles, I take a completely different view from Mrs Sommer. They reduce the possibility of undertakings describing products as beneficial when they are not. The system specifies limits and reduces the possibility of false marketing. I totally agree with the Commission on this issue.

Finally, I would like to mention a couple of minor issues. We said ‘no’ to thrombin at an early stage. There are other similar products on the market, and Mrs Sommer and I have both tabled amendments that are intended to provide a correct description of these products. I hope they receive support. We currently sell sausages on the market that contain large quantities of connective tissue and fat but are nevertheless referred to as meat. We now have a chance to rectify this. With regard to egg products and other products of animal origin, we could label them according to the system that already applies to eggs, in other words, a system that indicates the conditions under which the animals have been reared. That would be a step in the right direction.

 
  
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  Struan Stevenson, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Madam President, one of the most contentious items in this debate has been country of origin labelling. I firmly believe that consumers have a right to know the origin of the food they purchase and, particularly in the case of meat, if it has been produced to high welfare standards and has not been transported over great distances prior to slaughter. But the sourcing of raw materials in processed food is irreversibly complex, as ingredients are chosen based on price, quality and availability and countries of origin in a single meat processing plant may alter day by day, and even hour by hour.

The constant adaptation of labels would carry higher costs and will inevitably increase packaging waste. These additional costs would be passed on to the consumer. That is why I believe that the feasibility of mandatory labelling rules must first be subject to an impact assessment, and I am glad that Commissioner Dalli said that he supports that.

But while this debate focuses on raw materials or ingredients of foodstuffs, it does not cover the origin of the final product. This is particularly important for specific products like whisky. It is still possible for low-quality whiskies from countries like India, China and Japan to pass themselves off as the genuine article by carrying pictures, images or names on their labels which are reminiscent of the traditional whisky-producing countries in the EU in order to increase their competitive advantage and mislead the consumer. We must guard against this, and I therefore urge you to support Amendment 254.

 
  
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  Kartika Tamara Liotard, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(NL) Again, the question here is whether Europe chooses the food industry or the consumer. Tomorrow, you will nail your colours to the mast: will you support a clear system of colour coding for food labels or will you place your trust in the industry? The political choice is simple, as far as I am concerned. If you wish to safeguard commercial interests, you will support the ideas of the food industry. If you want a label that you have helped choose to indicate high, medium or low sugar, salt or fat, you will vote for a system of colour coding.

60% of your voters are overweight, as are 25% of our children. 25% of people have reading difficulties. Why does everyone consider colour coding normal on energy labels for housing, cars or electronic goods, for example, but patronising on foodstuffs? Nutrition experts and consumer organisations recommend a simple colour coding system to make food labels understandable and to make it easy for people to make their own choices. I, too, support that.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 
  
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  Giancarlo Scottà, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we are being asked to vote on a draft report on information to consumers, but have we really asked ourselves what consumers want? Have these considerations been agreed on behind closed doors in Parliament, or do they reflect the interests of consumers?

The latest survey announced by the Commission may not be representative of the increased awareness that consumers have developed in recent years with regard to information about their food choices. It is not only the origin but also the ingredients and other characteristics that are becoming a fundamental part of the decision-making process. Are we aware that the decisions we make today will influence tomorrow’s purchases? Should it not be consumers who determine the market? Why not try to understand, through a new survey or by maintaining ongoing direct dialogue with consumers, what it is that they really want?

We must represent consumers as best we can. That is why we are here and, from the meetings I have had, I have discovered that consumers want to be involved more. They do not expect the buying process to be complicated by the inclusion of pointless information on labels, but nor do they expect overly simplistic, misleading choices such as the traffic light system, which risk providing irrelevant information that is not necessary for an informed choice and does not meet their needs. Our approach must not be paternalistic but open to dialogue.

 
  
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  Csanád Szegedi (NI). (HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Jobbik believes that the provision of appropriate information to consumers is of vital importance. We support the mandatory indication of the place of origin and we also believe that it should be possible to hold not only the manufacturer but also the distributor responsible for non-compliance with the rules. In addition to the numerical data, which are often difficult to interpret, we believe it is necessary to introduce uniform colour coding that distinguishes healthy food from unhealthy foodstuffs. However, this is not sufficient for healthy foods to gain ground. It must be said that multinational companies are responsible for spreading these poor quality products they call foodstuffs throughout Europe.

It must be said that Cora, Tesco, Auchan, Metro and the like are responsible for flooding the Hungarian market with junk they call food. Why on earth are Chinese garlic, Chinese peaches, Brazilian frozen chicken and carcinogenic Slovakian baby food needed on the Hungarian market? Jobbik firmly believes that smallholders and organic farms should be supported, not multinational companies. This will provide the solution to having healthy foodstuffs on the market.

 
  
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  Pilar Ayuso (PPE)(ES) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, this regulation is of crucial importance for consumers and the agri-food industry, because it is not at all easy to achieve balanced labelling that includes all the essential information but not so much as to complicate it.

This is an excellent report and the rapporteur must be congratulated on it. I agree with her on the main subjects regarding nutritional information and the controversial issue of profiles, especially if we bear in mind that the Commission failed to meet its commitment to establish these profiles – as well as the conditions for their use – before 19 January, as laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

An issue that concerns me is the possibility that national labelling standards will be in existence at the same time: this runs counter to the purpose of the legislation, which is harmonisation and the removal of as many obstacles as possible to the working of a true single market.

As regards the indication of country of origin, under the current legislation, this information must be given when failure to do so could mislead the consumer. There is also provision for there always being voluntary labelling. Going further may involve a financial cost and administrative cost for companies, without bringing the consumer any significant and clear benefit.

On the use of different languages, I have to say that the Commission’s proposal matches up with the existing directive, which has worked well and not caused problems. Reopening this debate could be dangerous and unnecessary, and could cause problems with the movement of products.

 
  
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  Nessa Childers (S&D). – Mr President, over 60% of Irish adults are overweight or obese and similar figures can be found across Europe. This regulation will help us tackle not only this obesity crisis, but also other health problems such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Unfortunately, the current industry-developed GDA labelling system is complex, arguably misleading and generally misunderstood.

Traffic light food labelling is a simple, universally understood and transparent system that health and consumer groups support and many health-conscious food producers have already voluntarily and successfully adapted. I also believe that alcohol producers should label their products for calories and sugar in a similar fashion. Nobody has yet offered me one good reason why alcohol should be excluded.

We all know there has been massive industry pressure on this piece of legislation. I urge my fellow MEPs to resist this pressure and take a pro-health stance by supporting traffic light and alcohol labelling in tomorrow’s vote.

 
  
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  Corinne Lepage (ALDE).(FR) Mr President, my speech will focus on the issue of colour coding. We are told that ‘it is complicated’. That is not true; it makes things easier. We are told that ‘it is a ban’. It is not a ban; it is actually a form of information. We are told that ‘it treats consumers like children’, but in that case, we should also be told, Mr President, why it is that consumers’ associations are actually demanding this colour coding.

We must be clear, and stop all this hypocrisy and pretence. We have a choice to make here between, in fact, defending public health and the consumer, and bowing to demands from lobbies, which, moreover, are very short-term demands because, without this labelling, they are only relevant in the very short term.

As far as I am concerned, as far as we are concerned, the choice should be clear. It is perfectly clear that we are in favour of this information for consumers, information which social security and health authorities in Europe are also calling for, precisely because it is a means of combating obesity and a number of diseases.

So let us not give way! Let us be well aware of the reasons why we are here, the reasons for which we were elected. We are here to defend our fellow citizens.

 
  
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  Satu Hassi (Verts/ALE). (FI) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, if we are what we eat, we are steadily becoming the products of industry. This is linked to the fact that it is becoming common for people to be overweight and the by-products of that, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are also becoming common.

The packaging of food must provide clear and truthful information on its content. The clearest indication of its general health-promoting properties would be the traffic light model, which even a child understands at a single glance. If we do not achieve this at EU level, at least it should be permitted nationally.

I would also like to focus attention on the matter of trans fatty acids. The Committee was in favour of the compulsory labelling of industrial trans fatty acids, and I hope that Parliament as a whole will follow suit. The Committee commissioned a summary to be drawn up of studies of the effects on health of trans fatty acids. According to that summary, there is so much evidence of their harmful effects that the most obvious option would be to ban industrial trans fatty acids, as they have in Denmark. At the very least, they should appear on packaging labels in order for us to know what we are buying, when, for example, we purchase biscuits, chocolate, potato crisps or ice cream.

 
  
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  James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, first of all, I welcome the report and I want to congratulate the rapporteur. She has been at it for some considerable time and she has certainly shown herself to be a very able rapporteur.

Let me make one thing very clear. I am totally in favour of labelling of origin, but I think we have to be very clear about what we mean by labelling of origin. We must ensure first of all that people – the consumers – know where the produce came from. Then the consumer also has to know very clearly how that food was prepared or how it got to where it is. I agree with the rapporteur on this, and I think we are in danger here of going too far too soon.

This is a process, a first reading. Let us be very honest about this as we will come back to this again and again. I want to see us proceed with a degree of caution, but let us get it right. I do not want us to over-regulate in Europe to a position where even we in Europe do not know where we are coming from. We are in great danger of over-regulating ourselves out of the market. We have to control this and get it right, and I am totally in favour of it. I think we should use the time between the first reading and the next reading to have an impact assessment to see what the cost and what the effect of this will be, because in the long term, that it what we require.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, I do not think anyone in this House will argue with the fact that consumers want and need safe, traceable and wholesome food, and no one can argue that there is not a need for accurate and honest labelling of food. However, we must be careful not to create information overload in any labelling system. Too much unintelligible information will lead to consumers ignoring the essential information and paying attention to information which has no real value. Therefore, simplicity and valuable information should be the key criteria in a labelling system.

I, like my colleagues, support country of origin labelling. I do believe that it is important that we know where our food comes from. The farming and fishing industries and communities which are represented in this House produce food under very stringent regulation yet, for example, 60% of the fish we eat is imported into the EU and, in most cases, not reared under the same strict environmental and regulatory regimes. We need to ensure that our systems create level playing fields for our communities and our industries.

In Northern Ireland, the agri-food industry is hugely important and again, I would appeal for us not to penalise the industry with unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to emphasise two particular points. The first one concerns nutrient profiles. I am against their deletion, as I would remind you that they were drawn up with the sole aim of determining whether or not a foodstuff can carry a health claim. The aim, in fact, is to avoid consumers being misled by health claims that are sometimes displayed on foodstuffs that are often very high in fat, salt and sugar. I therefore put it to you that we should reject the amendment to delete nutrient profiles, profiles which, I might add, we approved in 2006.

I should also like to draw your attention to the risk inherent in Amendment 205, which envisages labelling meat derived from animals that have been ritually slaughtered. The danger is that it would stigmatise certain religious groups, as labelling of this nature would create ill-founded distrust amongst certain consumers. May I remind you that some meat which is entirely suitable for consumption is sold on the ordinary market, as it cannot be consumed by believers for religious reasons. What is more, this meat comes from certified abattoirs, which fully meet health criteria.

The economic consequences would therefore be quite significant, the survival of a number of ritual abattoirs would be under threat, and that would jeopardise the livelihoods of small, local farmers. What I think we need is a good dose of common sense in labelling so that consumers receive the right information. More importantly, however, I believe that colour coding will also have the effect of stigmatising produce. I do not think that it is quite the right solution yet.

 
  
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  Andres Perello Rodriguez (S&D).(ES) Mr President, the thousand amendments from the committee that we are seeing in Parliament are the best demonstration of our goodwill. However, as well as goodwill, I think that we have to be practical when labelling food if we do not want to have the opposite effect to the one we are aiming for: in other words, confusing consumers rather than informing them.

It is a case of warning, not explaining. It is a case of informing them what they can eat and in what quantities they can eat it. Is labelling on fat, sugar and transfats necessary? Indeed it is. Is labelling on things that affect cholesterol – on all substances that affect what we have mentioned: obesity and people’s health – necessary? It is. Nevertheless, including other types of information, whilst potentially very informative, could end up being confusing in the case of some foodstuffs: for example, the place of origin, or, in the case of meat, where the beast was born, where it has passed through, where it was raised and where it was slaughtered.

It is up to us to be practical and to make sure that this regulation becomes one that will harmonise and inform consumers; if not, it will cause greater confusion and impose issues that, far from achieving better levels of health, will achieve greater levels of confusion.

That is why I suggest that for some foodstuffs, we opt for a guideline daily amount instead of the traffic lights, because that way, it is very clear that if you eat a certain amount or twice that amount of a given product, you will get fat and, therefore, that you should only eat one of them. Some of us are suggesting a maximum daily allowance in place of other types of code so as not to confuse consumers further.

 
  
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  Chris Davies (ALDE). – Mr President, what could be simpler than laying down rules for giving information to consumers? But different interpretations and different practices in different countries and competing commercial interests have led to much complexity.

Personally, I will be voting for traffic lights, country of origin labelling and more information about alcoholic drinks, but past experience suggests there is still plenty of room for confusion. In his opening remarks, the Commissioner referred to the legislation on food health claims. In a response to a parliamentary question he has just given me, he says that 44 000 applications for health claims have been made by companies. The European Food Safety Authority is completely swamped and the Commission has not yet given a single opinion in response to these applications.

The Commission itself is now in breach of European law, so this is a complete mess. Perhaps the Commissioner will use his closing remarks to tell us how we are going to get out of it.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Mr President, the principle of providing more and better nutritional information to consumers has been at the forefront of this report and is a commendable aim. However, during the process of the report through this Parliament, I have had enlightening discussions on the font size on a packet of chewing gum, whether chicken is in fact a meat, or whether a Twix bar is classified as one portion or two. We have forgotten what is important and essential to the consumer.

The traffic light system of labelling excessively simplifies nutritional profiles, causing even the most basic information to become vague and abstract. This directly affects the choices available to consumers and has a disproportionately negative impact on staple foods. Just as certain Members have been quick to make judgments, the traffic light system provides too judgmental an assessment of foodstuffs and the complex nutritional composition of food; its place in the diet cannot be reduced to a simple colour.

Consumers want to know where their food is from, and essential information on what is in it – especially allergenic information – to allow them to make the best choice of food product. I believe they are intelligent enough to do that. They do not want to be dictated to about what food they can and cannot eat.

 
  
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  Bogusław Sonik (PPE).(PL) From the point of view of the common internal market, the question of harmonising the principles of labelling and the mutual recognition of food products is of great significance. Currently, additional national legislation and existing EU legislation on food products, which is variously interpreted by different Member States, are a source of difficulties in trade and the flow of goods, and of problems in the area of competition.

I am troubled by the provisions concerning the obligation to provide information about the country of origin of products of specific categories. In my opinion, this is an expression of the protectionist attitudes of Member States, and is at variance with the idea of a common market which eliminates fundamental barriers and difficulties in the movement of goods. Therefore, bearing in mind the good of consumers, I think that information on the country of origin of products should be given based on the voluntary principle and in cases where the lack of this information could mislead the consumer concerning the true source of the product. I consider such an approach to be balanced, both from the point of view of the good of consumers and the interest of food producers.

During this debate on the Commission’s regulation and Mrs Sommer’s report, the question of a balanced diet and the eating habits of EU residents has been raised many times. In my opinion, food labelling is only one of many aspects of information for consumers about healthy eating. It can extend society’s knowledge in the area of healthy living, for example, by campaigns and educational measures, but it cannot be a substitute for this knowledge. Therefore, I am opposed to the introduction of colour coding of foods, which might have permanent consequences for eating habits.

Ultimately, in our society, we cannot and must not introduce legislation on the basis of which citizens are not responsible for their own behaviour and the choices they make.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, the task of politics and the task of the European Parliament should be to further improve the quality of life enjoyed by Europeans. That includes a healthy environment, and it also includes wholesome food. If I am to eat healthily, then I, as a consumer, need this information.

We urgently need feasible, mandatory country of origin labelling so that consumers can make an informed decision as to which foods they buy from which region. On the other hand, however, we also still need nutritional profiles, because only these can ensure that consumers are not misled as to whether a food is healthy and whether the ingredients really promote health and a good diet.

In addition to this, however, we definitely need clarification and education in the area of nutrition. That includes wholesome food from a healthy environment as well as the requisite amount of exercise.

 
  
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  Jacek Olgierd Kurski (ECR).(PL) Mr President, it is not every day that we debate legislation which is the cause of such intense interest among our electorate. It is a well-known fact that a clear label on a food product influences consumer decisions and, in addition, encourages producers to promote healthy food.

One issue which has come up in the legislative process and our discussion concerns information about the origin of food. Labels have to state the country of production of food items, including in the instance of processed food. In this second case, it will certainly be more difficult, but it seems to me that a good solution is the idea of giving information about the origin of the primary ingredient of a processed food product.

Equally important is information about the contents of alcoholic beverages. I share the view that information about the ingredients and nutritional values of alcoholic beverages should be available on the packaging. The consumer ought to know if the vodka he is buying was made from cereals, potatoes or perhaps bananas. No one in this Chamber questions the need for change and the introduction of more comprehensive legislation. I hope we all agree, too, that this should be a move in the direction of European consumer expectations, although also taking into account the capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises in the food sector.

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Parliament is being asked, as we know, to express a definitive opinion on food information to consumers.

I should start by saying that this has unquestionably been a difficult, long and controversial legislative process, which could not have been shortened. The aim, in fact, is to harmonise European food legislation through regulations that will make information to consumers transparent, thereby preventing a situation in which they are led to make confused choices or choices that may even be harmful for their health.

The report by Mrs Sommer, who must be thanked for her efforts in bringing together a large number of requirements, is therefore intended to provide a solution to the controversies and the differences between the consumer information systems in force in the Member States. It is not by chance that national regulations still differ in terms of how to describe the nature of foodstuffs for sale, creating a system that differs from one country to the next and also fuelling unfair competition, to the detriment of potential consumers. On the basis of the European Commission proposal, an attempt is therefore being made to revamp the current legislation by involving both the food industries and consumers. At the same time, the report obliges the European food industry to introduce some clarity into mandatory labelling, as well as the labelling and presentation of the nutritional value of foods.

In a globalised market, the European Union could not escape the need to adapt and reform legislation on food products in order to protect the food trade, among other things, and to safeguard it from increasingly invasive and uncontrolled international competition. There is nothing new about the fact that we are hearing more and more about the dangers posed by food products that surreptitiously carry designations and statements that often do not meet dietary requirements but are nonetheless passed off as products that are good for human health.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE).(PT) Mr President, the labelling of food products is vital in order to guarantee food safety. I advocate clear information for the consumer but, at the same time, less bureaucracy, the simplification of regulation, more legal security and increased competitiveness in the food industry, without forgetting the smaller companies.

Direct selling by farmers cannot be subject to the rules of this regulation, nor can local and artisanal products. Products like these ensure our diversity and safeguard our deepest roots. Consumers need to be informed without their choices being pressurised or our regional products being stigmatised.

The Commission’s proposal is overly nannying because it tries to push consumers in a certain direction instead of giving them the information. Some want to decide what is on our menu; others want to tell us which dishes we can and cannot eat. I assure you that the Portuguese, and particularly those from the Minho region, will never give up eating pica no chão or arroz de cabidela; they will never give up caldo verde and cozido à portugesa, accompanied by good local desserts and a bowl of vinho verde tinto.

I therefore welcome the amendments, the adjustments and the work done by the rapporteur. I agree with his point of view and his report, and I advocate that consumers should be aware and well informed, but that it should be their responsibility alone to decide what to eat.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, we are talking about food information to consumers. As Members of this House, we get information on many things and it is not so much the information, but what we do with it, that is crucial.

I want to address two specific points in this report. One is country of origin. We do have country of origin labelling for beef. Perhaps the Union would not have chosen to have it, but a crisis forced us to have it. It seems to have worked very effectively and very well. I support the idea that, particularly in relation to meat products, there is a need for country of origin information for consumers so that they know where their food comes from.

Let me move on to my second point, the issue where I would give an amber light. I have read – and indeed thank those who have given me the information – about traffic lights and GDAs, and I have tried to analyse this information extremely carefully. I have a number of points to make. We have health warnings on cigarette packs. I do not smoke, I think the warnings are wonderful and I will not smoke. Those who smoke continue to smoke through all the alarming warnings that are on the labels. Can I stress that labels will not make you thin. Labels will not reduce obesity. We need a much deeper discussion around this problem. We should ban lifts and cars so that we get more exercise, but we are hardly likely to take that particular route.

I am glad this is a first reading. I think the issues are too complex to solve at this stage. We need a deeper debate and discussion and to come up with something that is in the best interests of the title of the report: ‘Food information to consumers’.

 
  
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  Herbert Dorfmann (PPE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank the rapporteur. Effective food labelling is indeed very important. Consumers need to know what they are eating, and they need to find that out in the brief time that they are in the supermarket doing their shopping. However, the information must be provided in such a way that you do not need a degree in food science to understand it. Our target group for this information is quite different, after all – it is not those who already have an excellent knowledge of how healthy different foods are.

I consider one area to be particularly important, and that is the area of traditionally produced products, particularly products processed and marketed directly by the farmer. The contents of these products are often not standardised – I am thinking, for example, of jams and juices – and it is simply not possible to state information such as the precise sugar content or precise calorific values.

In recent years, we have done a lot of work to reduce the distance travelled between farmer and consumer, and today, factors such as life on the farm, farmers’ markets, and so on are very important overall for the image of farmers and agriculture. We have also spent European money on promoting such things as part of our rural development programme. Moreover, in such sales, there is often a direct relationship between the farmer and the purchaser, and that is often more important than information on labels. Consequently, I urge you, ladies and gentlemen, to support those amendments that are aimed at finding a sensible solution for this category of sales.

 
  
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  Richard Seeber (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, there is no doubt that there are health problems in the European Union, nor is there any doubt that the interests of consumers must have priority or that food is unlike other commodities, in that it is something that we consume and put into our bodies. It is therefore obvious that we must take particular care when talking about foodstuffs and their labelling, and that the precautionary principle – as rooted in the treaty – must also apply here.

However, it is naïve to think that we can solve these problems through food labelling. Take a look at the US: there are many overweight people in the US, and yet the Americans have the most stringent food labelling. Consequently, we need to give particular consideration to how to deal with this problem here in Europe.

I therefore believe firstly that a traffic light system, as proposed, will not achieve our objectives – since the confusion it creates is greater than the information it provides. Secondly, however, it is also my belief that a GDA system, as has also been proposed, is very likely to provide the information that knowledge-seeking consumers will find useful for making the right choices.

Thirdly, I believe that country of origin labelling is important, particularly for foods. Most consumers want to know where their food comes from and where it was manufactured. Fourthly, I believe that health information must be scientifically based if it is to influence consumers’ decisions.

I have one final request to the Commissioner: we are still awaiting a Commission proposal on the financing of the EFSA. This is the only authority that charges no fees for its activities. Please would you tell us something about when we can expect this.

 
  
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  Anja Weisgerber (PPE).(DE) Mr President, today’s good news is that the new legislation will provide uniform, mandatory nutritional labelling that relates to 100 grams, thereby providing greater comparability. Statements of nutritional value provide consumers with information that allows them to make an informed purchasing decision.

The model I have in my mind is that of the responsible consumer who knows what he is buying. Imitation products that are not clearly marked as such deliberately mislead consumers. Imitation cheese, pressed ham products, vanilla yoghurt that contains no vanilla whatsoever – these are just a few examples. All these imitation products must be labelled as such. I am pleased that we will send a clear signal to the Council tomorrow and that all of us here are agreed that we need better labelling.

As far as I am concerned, the task is to provide information; we should leave consumers to make up their own minds, however. That is why I am against traffic light labelling. There are no unhealthy foods – only unhealthy, unbalanced diets. The traffic lights are misleading. I am in favour of food labelling according to the GDA model and am pleased that we are likely to vote to move towards this tomorrow.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D). (HU) Consumers must know what they are eating. That is why the Hungarian parties fully support the combined colour-coded hybrid labelling system. The National Association for Consumer Protection in Hungary also supports this scheme wholeheartedly. The combined colour-coded system is an excellent, easy to understand and unambiguous system. It allows the provision of authentic information and will help consumers choose healthier food products. In order to eliminate the concerns regarding the consumption of traditional products, we only recommend the utilisation of this labelling system for certain product categories. That is perfectly clear. We also support the specification of the country of origin as extensively as possible. We must confirm this regulation requiring country of origin specifications for single ingredient products such as fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and other foodstuffs.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, while it is a priority for this Parliament to ensure that consumers have food that is safe and from a guaranteed, traceable source, it is just as much of a priority to promote easy access to food information through appropriate labelling systems. The adoption of clear, intelligible food labelling is a step in this direction and may, in fact, influence consumers’ choices by encouraging them to buy healthier products from a guaranteed source.

In this context, I would like to ask this House to carefully examine an amendment that has been tabled and signed by 40 Members, Amendment 351, which calls for consumers to be given information not only on the origin of the raw materials used in some unprocessed agricultural products that arrive on our tables, but also on that of raw materials used in processed products comprising a single ingredient; in other words, those that contain an additive in addition to the agricultural product.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE).(FR) Mr President, I should like to make two points about this regulation. It is essential that we confirm tomorrow our vote on mandatory origin labelling of foodstuffs, which already exists for a large number of products: not only for fish, fruit and vegetables, but also for unprocessed beef, and this type of labelling has been around since the mad cow crisis.

We must also ensure that this European regulation protects the investments of the very large number of SMEs which innovate and create employment. We must therefore get rid of all those measures which will not only fail to work, such as, for example, nutrient profiles, mentioned in Article 14, but which will also, clearly, prove to be a waste of time and money for entrepreneurs.

I would like to conclude very quickly with a question to our Commissioner, Mr Dalli. I should like to hear the view of the Commission on Amendment 205, dealt with at length by Mrs Grossetête, which envisages adding a label for animals which have been killed by ritual slaughter. As has already been said, this would stigmatise these products for no purpose and would be particularly counterproductive for this sector. I would like to know where the Commission stands on this very important issue.

 
  
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  Anna Rosbach (EFD). (DA) Mr President, I am the European consumer and I want to know what I am putting in my mouth. In my country, I can, of course, read where my salad, meat and cheese come from. We consumers are entitled to a clear overview of the composition of the food that we buy without having to be trained chemists or clinical dieticians. We welcome the fact that the 100 gram and 100 millilitre declarations are to be stated on the front of the packaging, as statistics show that this is the information that consumers are looking for. We must not confuse consumers with far too many labelling schemes, nor should we destroy the regional diversity of food-producing areas by imposing a detailed labelling system for non-prepacked food. Neither should we put obstacles in the way of the many small and medium-sized enterprises that make up the food industry. That would cost thousands of jobs throughout Europe, and we cannot afford to let that happen.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE).(SV) Mr President, my vision is that we should strengthen the power of consumers by providing clear, simple and comprehensible information on food without burdening small producers with more bureaucracy in the process. I am therefore opposed to any form of misleading labelling and falsification. I am opposed to the traffic light labelling system because it scares people and does not respect the fact that we all have different health requirements and lifestyles. For the same reasons, I am opposed to labelling of mandatory daily intake.

I am in favour of the country of origin labelling of meat. The Commission must come up with proposals for practical solutions that can be evaluated and with regard to which we can then adopt a position.

We have two opposing alternatives: either politicians preach from the top down and determine what we should eat or we get greater freedom of choice and the right to more information. I am in favour of a nutrient profile labelling system that is flexible and based on research. The food industry must take responsibility and must clean up its own act and work to eliminate things that result in poorer food. Food is a health issue and it is important to realise that. We need to work together for better food.

 
  
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  Kriton Arsenis (S&D).(EL) Mr President, I too support coloured labels, but I should like to highlight another issue. Every single hour, tropical virgin forest equal in size to three hundred football pitches is turned into palm plantations. That is so that we can get palm oil, which is used to produce the foods on our shelves. However, this information is concealed from our fellow citizens.

I call on the House to vote in favour of Amendment 263, which states that it must be compulsory to list palm oil in foods which our fellow citizens find on supermarket shelves, so that our fellow citizens do not fund global deforestation, loss of biodiversity and climate change without wanting to do so and without knowing that they are doing so.

When we vote in this Chamber tomorrow, we shall decide if citizens can assume environmental responsibility for the foods which they choose or if they are to finance companies, without knowing it, to destroy the environment and our common future.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, three million European schoolchildren are overweight and the number is increasing by a further 85 000 each year. Naturally, being overweight causes a range of chronic illnesses and that is why what we eat as food is important. In other words, we are what we eat. It is in the interests of consumers that we have clear, understandable food labelling that makes reference to certain ingredients. I therefore welcome the idea of providing all consumers with a quick idea of the fat, sugar and salt content of a product. What really does not belong in this regulation, however, is responsibility for the origin of the ingredients of a product. It is therefore important that someone assumes responsibility for where the ingredients used in a ready-made product come from. In this connection – in this sensitive segment of the market – it is also very important that we have sanctions in place: sanctions for those who deliberately deceive consumers and make false statements concerning the products and their ingredients.

 
  
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  Christa Klaß (PPE).(DE) Mr President, we are talking today about information, and information can be distributed all over the world at the press of a button. There is no shortage of information; rather, what is lacking is clear, brief and appropriate information.

One thing is certain: a food label cannot be a manual for healthy eating. Knowledge of diet is something that must be communicated in the family, in schools and in communities. Everyone needs to have some basic knowledge if they are to be able to use the information on food labels to put together their own healthy diet. GDAs, nutritional profiles and health claims are not necessary on labels. Traffic lights that can be red and green at the same time – since high sugar and low fat are not mutually exclusive – are of no help to consumers.

Region of origin labelling is no longer appropriate in today’s world. Our dairy in the Eifel takes in milk from Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. So what is the country of origin of the cheese produced? Obviously, we must take action to prevent consumers being deceived. The label must state what is in the product, without any possibility of misunderstanding. A cheese substitute must be clearly recognisable as such and designated accordingly. A food additive, a piece of meat that has been stuck together, must not be sold as ham on the deli counter. I urge you to support the rapporteur’s proposals.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D).(PT) Mr President, good labelling on food products is vital. Information about the place of origin is important, as is information about the level of fat, sugar and salt. For this reason, if it is to be effective, the information must be clear and accessible and must only contain the essential facts. However, this does not mean that certain traditional products, which are, in many cases, an expression of the culture in specific regions of Europe, can or should not be exempt.

With regard to wine, I think that it should also be exempt for two reasons: firstly, it is a special product that is already covered by a specific regulation. Wine does not contain fat or sugar but alcohol, which is already graded in current labelling. Moreover, red wine is even recommended by the World Health Organisation. Secondly, the new labelling would only be detrimental to a sector of the economy that is already experiencing great difficulties.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we need not be afraid of stating the place of origin of the products that we, our families and all citizens consume.

Consumers, who must be guaranteed complete freedom of choice, have a right to know what products they are buying, what those products contain and where they come from. These are necessary tools that will enable consumers to rationally assess their dietary and consumer decisions. In this respect, an informed purchase is the first step towards a healthy, balanced diet that helps people look after their health.

We are aware that for economic reasons, or for the sake of convenience, many businesses would prefer to omit much of the information from their labels, but that cannot be approved by the legislator, who must act solely in the interests of European consumers.

Effective labelling should not make discriminatory judgments between good foods and bad foods, but can provide consumers with tools to help them make independent, informed decisions.

The Lega Nord has always fought to protect and safeguard quality products that are locally grown if possible, because it believes that a good, healthy diet is the key to improved health and quality of life.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE).(RO) The subject of colour coding seems to be the most heated point of discussion in today’s debate. This idea might be attractive, but it is definitely not effective at all and is even dangerous.

Perish the thought for saying that providing consumers with correct information and adopting measures against food-related illnesses should not be a priority. However, I also think that we must not demonise certain foods. There are no good or bad foods, only consuming excessive food. Many traditional European products could end up being avoided by consumers or altered by producers, which would have serious repercussions on our food industry.

I wish to finish by pointing out that I share Mrs Grossetête’s view regarding meat obtained via ritual slaughter and Mr Dorfmann’s view about hand-made food products, which are also an important tradition in Europe. Last but not least, I support Amendment 351 mentioned by Giovanni La Via.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) First, I would like to applaud the work of the rapporteur, Renate Sommer, who, in drawing up the report, has focused on improving the directive drafted by the Commission. I firmly believe that we must focus on meaningfulness when indicating the nutritional value of foods. The necessary data must be stated in comparable values, and must not get lost in symbols and signs.

We must also focus on intelligibility. The main information should be stated on the front, so that it is clear at first sight. Supplementary information on ingredients may also be provided on the other side of the product.

We must also focus on objectivity. Suppliers must be responsible for the accuracy of information on products, even under the threat of sanctions. Another aspect we must monitor is the legibility of the information. The size and thickness of the lettering mentioned in the Commission’s proposal are insufficient. The main information must be clear to the consumer at first sight.

As far as country of origin labelling is concerned, I can see a number of unresolved issues. Final producers often purchase semi-products on the market according to price, alternating between different suppliers in different countries, and these raw materials are then mixed together in the final product. I am talking about specific products, such as salami or sausages. In such cases, it will clearly be difficult to state the country of origin.

 
  
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  Gilles Pargneaux (S&D).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, this is an extremely important consumer protection issue. A recent opinion poll indicates that European citizens believe that the food safety situation has deteriorated over the last 10 years, and one consumer in three still does not trust the quality of produce. It is imperative, therefore, to bring up to date, simplify and clarify food labelling in the European Union so as to ensure that consumers are better protected.

Allow me to raise two points. As regards colour coding, we are in favour, provided that it also contains a reference to nutritional values expressed as a percentage. What is more, I am opposed to mandatory nutritional labelling for wines and spirits. We would like to see a regulation covering wines and spirits drawn up over the next three years rather than over the next five years, as the European Commission proposed. That, Mr President, Commissioner, is what I wished to bring to your attention.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) I would like to thank my colleague, Renate Sommer, for her exacting and thorough work on the report on this draft regulation. It is a very important legal standard, especially from the perspective of the health of Europeans, which is the first priority. Today, it is beyond doubt that many diseases and lifestyle-related conditions are connected with poor nutrition, and we must therefore approach this problem on a conceptual basis.

I would like to emphasise that consumers must get clear and transparent information on the nutritional value of a product, but must then make their own decisions. Our aim is to tell consumers what is, not what should be. I therefore consider the system of traffic light labelling to be superficial and rather inadequate. Since up to 80% of agri-food producers are small and medium-sized enterprises, it is also necessary to emphasise that the measures adopted must not burden them excessively.

 
  
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  John Dalli, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I would like to thank you for this lively and interesting debate which generated such strong views on many areas of the proposal. These views will, of course, be carefully considered by the Commission.

There are certain issues that we believe are fundamental for consumers – for example, availability of information on allergens on all food; front-of-pack nutrition labelling with endorsement of additional labelling by Member States; the inclusion of measurable criteria for legibility; and balanced information concerning consumer health. I would like to emphasise once again my strong support for the principle of nutrient profiles, and would stress that we will not be stopping the production of any food and that work on this will proceed in an open-minded manner. The Commission cannot accept deletion of this provision from the Claims Regulation.

I would like, if I may, to react to some of the issues that were raised here today. On the EFSA financing, I can say that we are working at the moment on a non-legislative report which should be ready after the summer and which will state what our direction will be in this regard.

On innovation, I believe that our proposals are not against innovation. I am in favour of innovation – as is the Commission – but it must be responsible innovation. We want innovation that works for the consumers and innovation that works for consumers’ health.

On the issue of the claims made and the approvals mentioned by Mr Davies, I must state that, under Article 13, we did have about 44 000 claims by Member States. When we asked Member States to revise these claims, they were reduced to 4 000. This indicates to me the lax and superficial way in which claims are made and why it is important that we control these claims that, as I have said, are made as a marketing tool to sell products. In fact, this process has been slightly delayed because of the volumes, but we are working on batches. The first batch has been completed by EFSA and is being reviewed by the Commission for publication, and the second batch is also well advanced at EFSA. This is an ongoing process. On the other hand, 50 claims have already been judged under Article 14, and the Commission has pronounced itself in favour or against. Work on this is therefore progressing – we have been delayed but the work is going on.

I would like to make another comment on the impact assessments. The Commission has supported this proposal with wide consultation of stakeholders and a terrain impact assessment weighing the cost and benefits of the various policy options. The impact of several amendments tabled by honourable Members today and in the past to add extra labelling requirements has not been subject to any assessment. For the sake of better regulation, I believe that impact assessment should underpin the decision-making process at all times.

I would like to end by again thanking Mrs Renate Sommer and all honourable Members for their contributions. A full listing of the Commission’s position on each of the amendments is, as usual, being made available to Parliament.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Wednesday, 16 June 2010.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing.(IT) The debate that we are tackling today is especially important.

European law provides a series of regulations and directives on food ingredients and labelling. At present, however, no coordinated labelling requirement exists among the Member States. It seems clear that the large number of generic European rules on food information makes it difficult for European consumers to find clear guidance. Instead of plugging the gaps as they are intended to do, the individual Member States’ additional regulations have hindered trade within the European Union internal market.

For these reasons, I believe that only a uniform, Europe-wide food labelling system can hope to eliminate these problems. Mandatory labelling must be presented in a comprehensible format so that consumers can make informed purchases. Consumers do indeed continue to occupy a special place in our decision-making process when it comes to safeguarding both their health and the quality of the goods that they buy.

I must stress the importance of safeguarding European businesses from all forms of counterfeiting and unfair competition while, at the same time, promoting a reduction in red tape. Stating the name of the producer on food packaging is also essential information for the purposes of promoting the European food industry’s competitiveness.

 
  
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  António Fernando Correia de Campos (S&D), in writing.(PT) The Sommer report is crucial not only for giving consumers clear information but also for avoiding distortion of the market and acting as a catalyst for the European economy, through transparent mechanisms and the uniform application of rules within the EU. It is a surprise, then, to see the re-emergence of attempts, in the form of changes to the session, to integrate wine into this scheme of labelling with information on energy values and sugar levels.

It is already mandatory for wine labels to mention a number of things, and adding new requirements means that they would become overloaded, difficult to read and of negligible practical value. The special requirements for labelling on wine can be explained historically by the fact that this is a highly regulated product with certain qualities. For this reason, it should come under the proposed five year exemption, which will allow a careful analysis of the information that labels should include. The financial crisis currently affecting Europe means that prudence is required in a context where the wine sector is primarily composed of small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition to the already heavy costs of quality production, this will be an extra requirement with little practical use. Given this, I believe it is inopportune and mistaken to label wine according to the regulation currently under consideration.

 
  
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  Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing.(CS) The report on food labelling has the aim of unifying seven existing directives and one regulation, and clarifying current regulations at the European and national levels. The current disharmony causes uncertainty and confusion over the information stated on foods regarding ingredients and nutritional values. The side effects of these changes towards unified food labelling in the EU include boosting the competitiveness of European producers, and promoting healthy eating among the population at large. I fundamentally disagree with the Commission’s proposal to leave it largely to the Member States to make their own legal arrangements. This would lead to further fragmentation and disunity in the internal market for food, and would completely nullify the main aim of the regulation, which is to have unified and clear food labelling. The Commission’s proposal for 3 mm lettering would, in many cases, be unworkable in practice. Compliance with this would mean changing the sizes of individual packaging, which logically entails higher costs for producing the packaging, transporting the products packaged in this way and warehousing the products, as well as higher costs for the food and for the environmental disposal of the packaging. The Commission has completely overlooked small farmers and the direct sale of unpackaged products. It is unacceptable for the Commission to present us with such unbalanced and incomplete proposals which fail to take account of the latest scientific developments. I agree in principle with the modified version of the report from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, and I will therefore be voting in favour of this new version.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today, we are voting on a regulation that is designed to safeguard consumers by guaranteeing their right to information about the food sold to them, so that they can make informed purchasing decisions.

We are not here to dictate what European citizens must eat. Therefore, we cannot accept approaches such as traffic light or nutrient profile labelling that give foods the green light or the red light on the basis of so-called health principles which, apart from anything else, do not take account of gastronomic traditions or local specialities. What is more, leading nutritionists believe that there is no such thing as good foods and bad foods, but only good diets and bad diets, depending on how individual foods are combined in a person’s overall diet. Both the traffic light and nutrient profile models overlook the fact that the human body also needs these much maligned fats, sugar and salt in order to function properly.

I should also like to draw attention to the need to specify the origin of foodstuffs. We are well aware that in some countries, ingredients may be used that are harmful to health and poor hygiene standards may be tolerated in the production sector. We must protect those businesses, too, that pride themselves on the quality and wholesomeness of their products. With our vote, we can make some major progress in this direction.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) We have spent around EUR 90 million on the EU campaign to promote a healthy diet for European school children. The aim is to encourage children to eat healthily by offering them free fruit. So we are spending millions on drumming it into the heads of children that they should eat apples and other fruit. Then we plan to introduce a food labelling system in which foods with a low sugar, fat and salt content would have a green traffic light on the label and those with a high content a red traffic light. All of a sudden, those apples which we have supplied at a cost of millions of euros would have a red label because of their sugar content and would therefore be seen as being unhealthy. The kids would probably not find anything very complimentary to say about the EU if this were the case. Even those people who do not think about what they eat have finally got the message that consuming excessive amounts of convenience foods, biscuits, sweets and alcohol is unhealthy. For all the people who want to take their health into consideration when buying food, or who are forced to do so because of an illness, a complete list of ingredients is much more important. This will make it easier for diabetics, for example, to calculate the number of bread units, instead of having to guess how much insulin to inject. For the 10% or so of consumers who apparently read the nutrition labelling, the calorific value and calorie content are the ideal solution. In contrast, a confusing colour-coded system does not really serve a useful purpose.

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing. – Many European citizens suffer from diet-related health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. And cases of these conditions – which are often preventable – are on the rise. A heavy reliance on processed and convenience foods, combined with a lack of accessible information about their contents, means that consumers do not always make healthy choices about their diet – even if they want to. We have a right to clear, accurate information about what we are eating, and it should be easy to compare different products, especially in terms of their fat, sugar and salt contents. The labelling standards, particularly the colour coding which I will be supporting in tomorrow’s vote, will help both those who have specific dietary needs, as well as those who are conscious of their general diet, to make the right choices. Education about diet and nutrition alone is not enough – it must be backed up with accessible and reliable information which people can easily use. This is vital to ensuring that people can make the right choices about their diet, and is one of the best ways we can tackle the diet-related diseases which are so prominent across the European Union.

 
  
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  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE), in writing.(PL) The report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers, which will be put to the vote today during the plenary sitting of the European Parliament, is another step towards enabling consumers to obtain the information they need about a product and thereby make an informed decision about whether to buy it. On the strength of this legislation, the Union will introduce a system of food labelling which will be mandatory in all Member States. It is an example of good legislation, which rationalises the current system of seven directives and one regulation. Harmonisation of legislation at European level means that the correct functioning of the common market will be guaranteed by enabling consumers to make informed choices, while at the same time ensuring legal protection for producers. The multiplicity of different systems of food labelling only causes unnecessary doubts among consumers when making purchases, while the information which is given is often illegible or not displayed properly on the packaging. This is especially important in view of the obesity epidemic in Europe. Mrs Sommer’s report is intended to change this situation, and so I am going to vote in favour of its adoption.

 

6. Quality of statistical data in the Union and enhanced auditing powers by the Commission (Eurostat) (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the debate on the oral question to the Commission by Mr Karas and Mrs Bowles, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the quality of statistical data in the Union and enhanced auditing powers by the Commission (Eurostat) (O-0080/2010 – B7-0314/2010).

 
  
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  Othmar Karas , author.(DE) Mr President, Commissioner Rehn, ladies and gentlemen, today’s debate is an important political signal that the European Parliament wants to send in these times. The tabling of this oral question in the midst of the process of redesigning Eurostat and drawing up the European Parliament’s statement to the Commission is also a sign of our determination.

In submitting a separate resolution, we are demonstrating that the European Parliament needs and wants Eurostat to act independently and comprehensively. This is the first direct response by the legislature to experiences in and with Greece. At the same time, we should not forget that in 2005, the Council rejected Commissioner Almunia’s Five Point Plan and thereby prevented the Commission from being equipped with the necessary instruments. We are catching up with what we could have done, and needed to do, long ago. Consequently, I would like to remind both the Commission and the Council that the political will exists to evolve all the instruments needed to ensure that the euro is supported not only by the pillar of monetary union, but also by the pillar of economic union. I call on the Council not to block, not to delay, not to prevent, but rather to give the Commission this opportunity.

We also want to know whether any investigations are being made into where Eurostat and/or the Member States have acted incorrectly in recent years, since it is only once we have a clear analysis that we can know which corrections and additions need to be made.

What does the European Parliament want? We want independence, we want comparability – and therefore minimum standards for collecting statistics, minimum standards for the institutional structure of the authorities and cooperation with the ECB. We want all actions to be able to be checked, which is why Eurostat must be able to carry out unannounced checks at any time. We want its powers to be extended because we want insight into all the data – including that at regional and municipal level and for social security. We want seamless cooperation, we want to strengthen the coordination function and we want the Commission to tell us before we conclude our report whether everything that has been agreed with the Council so far is sufficient. We do not think so. We are talking about a minimum declaration, catching up with what has not been done, taking the next step towards greater independence and more comprehensive powers.

 
  
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  Sharon Bowles, author. – Mr President, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is consistent and united in its view that Eurostat has to be strengthened and we have, for a long time, been in pursuit of establishing higher quality statistical data.

We know the history as Mr Karas has already referred to it. In 2005, the Council brought shame on itself and sowed the seed of the current sovereign debt problems by weakening the Stability and Growth Pact and simultaneously denying audit powers to Eurostat. With that history, it takes time to regain trust, and lack of trust contributed to why, in the recent troubles, Member States had to put a lot of cash on the table. Words and political commitments by the Ecofin Council were not enough.

Soon, we will at last have audit power for Eurostat, all the more important now because it is the key that can make other plans about economic surveillance effective. A tool to get a grip on an outturn is so much better than just a grip on promises.

We want the quality of data to be improved, for it to be timely, and we want to be able to examine upstream input to national accounts, and we ask: is the new power given to Eurostat sufficient? Even now, the Ecofin Council has added in some conditionality to the new auditing power, actually less restricting than many of us feared, but has it undermined the possibility for really early investigation and intervention?

The European Parliament’s report favours unconditional rights for Eurostat to do so-called methodological visits. Of course, resources must be targeted where needed, but investigation needs to happen at the time of suspicion, not after the event.

Finally, when will we know that like is truly compared with like? What progress is being made to ensure that accounting procedures are standardised and sufficiently transparent to capture off-balance-sheet activity and any other innovative practices?

 
  
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  Olli Rehn, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, let me first thank Mr Karas, Ms Bowles and others for raising these very important issues concerning the quality of statistical data and Eurostat. Let me also welcome the support expressed in your draft opinion for the Commission proposal to amend the Regulation on the Application of the Protocol on the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP).

Let me point out that this is the very first legislative proposal of Mr Barroso’s second Commission in February. I am glad that it will soon be adopted, I trust, and we will then have it in our arsenal. We needed it a long time ago, as Ms Bowles said.

The original proposal to this effect was made in 2005, but it was then rejected by the Member States. Times have changed and now we have broad support for this in the Council.

As regards this proposal, the general approach agreed upon by the Ecofin Council on 8 June last week confirms the importance of ensuring high quality statistics on government debt and deficit and acknowledges the role of the Commission and Eurostat for that purpose.

The regulation being finalised preserves the main objective of the proposal put forward by the Commission, namely, granting more audit powers to Eurostat when a significant risk or problem with the quality of data has been identified. The Commission can, therefore, accept the compromise text.

The Commission intends to take several further steps with regard to strengthening the quality of European statistics for the EDP. There will be an immediate reinforcement of staff resources dealing with this work, mainly by internal redeployment within Eurostat. Member States will be visited more regularly than at present in the so-called EDP Dialogue Visits.

The Commission will ensure the integration of more information on source data for compiling statistics into the EDP inventories foreseen by the regulation. Should there arise an exceptional case where significant risks or problems with respect to the quality of the data have been clearly identified, Eurostat will use all the relevant powers at its disposal under the new rules, including, of course, the audit powers.

Before concluding, let me say a few words about Greece on some topical issues. I wish to use this opportunity and maybe take a minute more of your time. As is well known, the Commission has undertaken in-depth work on Greek statistics over several years. The amended regulation should, in future, better mitigate the risk of fraud or manipulation of statistics, or of any other kind of irregularity.

Yesterday, there was a new development concerning Greece. You will know that Moody’s decided to downgrade Greek bonds yesterday. I have discussed this also with my colleague Michel Barnier and the Commission President. I must say that the timing of Moody’s decision is both surprising and highly unfortunate, coming after the agreement on a macro-economic adjustment programme between Greece and the Commission, the ECB and the IMF.

The measures taken by the Greek Government illustrate their commitment to implement the strategy to reform the statistical system, to stabilise their public finances and to restore long-term sustainable economic growth. This decision of Moody’s seems inconsistent with the evolution of Greek sovereign bond deals and CDS spreads, which have narrowed significantly since the agreement on the programme. This again raises issues relating to the role of credit rating agencies in the financial system and prudential regulation.

These issues and others will be taken into consideration in the Commission’s thinking on the future of credit rating agencies. In particular, the Commission will look in the coming months at the issues of the level of competition in this sector – highly concentrated for the time being – as well as at the transparency regarding methodology and the conflict of interests, since the system remains based on the payer-issuer model.

Let me conclude by saying that it is of absolute importance that we have accurate and reliable statistical data on national accounts. It is one of the cornerstones of a properly and effectively functioning economic and monetary union, as was underlined for instance by Mr Karas. Hence, this amendment on Eurostat’s powers is part and parcel of reinforcing economic governance in Europe, which is indeed a necessary objective.

 
  
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  Edward Scicluna, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, I am glad that the Commission has provided legislative proposals to bolster Eurostat that are currently being scrutinised by the ECON Committee.

The quality of statistical governance lies at the heart of the crisis in the eurozone. There is no doubt in my mind that Eurostat should have wider powers, in particular, to make on-site inspections in Member States. But such inspections should not just be with officials from the Member State’s Finance Ministry or with national statistical authorities or even with state-owned corporations: they should include, if the work deems these relevant, academic economists, trade unions, NGOs, etc. This is something which rating agencies, or even IMF delegations, do as a matter of fact.

Secondly, we must have a common system of accounting – used by all Member States, based on a standardised and internationally accepted method of accounting, and agreed between the Member States, Commission and Parliament. This should not apply just to financial reports as provided to the Commission but they should also be used in the Member States’ public sectors themselves.

Over a decade after the creation of the eurozone and the introduction of the euro, we have discovered basic flaws in the system that are causing damage. These flaws we ignored, ironically, because of the false sense of security created by a successful euro. We must ensure that in the future, markets trust governments’ economic forecasts and statistics. We must correct these flaws, and fast.

I therefore urge the Commission to continue to work closely with Parliament and Council to resolve these problems as a matter of urgency.

 
  
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  Sylvie Goulard, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, the current crisis in the euro area cannot, of course, be attributed to the shortcomings of the common statistical system. Nonetheless, these shortcomings have had serious consequences. There are the economic consequences, and we have heard a great deal about them, but there are also consequences in terms of the credibility of the European Union. Here we are broaching what is, in my view, one of the major problems with the way in which the Union operates today. Governments make promises to their citizens, and rightly so; they say that mutual undertakings will be strictly monitored, that the criteria will be examined down to the very last decimal point – in the original German, that equates to drei komma null – but these very same governments have, year after year, refused to give Eurostat the resources it needs to do its job. All this is to the detriment of the common good, as anything that weakens the Commission weakens us all.

That is why we wholeheartedly support this resolution, which calls for the Commission, Eurostat, to be granted investigative powers, and common standards to be strengthened. Without this effort to ensure rigour in the use and compilation of data, the promises of rigour will not be kept. Europeans will feel increasingly at sea and it will be the European Union that loses face.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, the debate on enhanced powers for Eurostat does not really address the problem. We must never again find ourselves in a situation in which a Member State plays tricks with its budget data and lives beyond its means for years at the expense of others; where there are reasons to doubt data, the data must be verified. However, the EU must not use Greece and the current euro crisis as an excuse to completely remove powers of budgetary sovereignty from the Member States. Rather, the problem must be rooted out.

The socio-economic structures of the Member States vary greatly in some instances. Even Eurostat, which juggles the figures for the EU, must realise this. An unemployed person in London is not the same as an unemployed person in Paris, because different criteria apply. The differences in socio-economic realities between the traditional hard currency and soft currency countries are even more striking.

Eurostat must not maintain this myth of comparability at any price; rather, the comparability of the euro area countries must be fundamentally rethought.

 
  
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  Anni Podimata (S&D).(EL) Mr President, Commissioner, allow me to start by expressing my total satisfaction about the comment you made earlier about yesterday’s sudden and unwarranted decision by the Moody’s credit rating agency to downgrade Greece’s credit rating, a decision which you called unfortunate and erroneous, thereby confirming that our decision to proceed with a radical review of the operating framework of these firms in European territory and to seriously examine the possibility of creating a public European credit rating agency was correct.

As regards today’s debate and the proposal to review the regulation on the quality of statistical data within the framework of the excessive deficit procedure, we all know that this follows on from the so-called ‘Greek affair’ in terms of false statistics.

As a Greek MEP, I obviously do not feel happy that Greece is used as an example to avoid in such a debate. However, I wish to remind the House – as you did Commissioner – that Greece, the current Greek Government, was the first to recognise the problem and immediately took radical decisions to deal with it, first of all by converting the National Statistics Office into a fully independent authority supervised by Parliament and, secondly, by taking steps to set up an examining committee to investigate and apportion blame to those involved in this unacceptable procedure.

Nonetheless, we must recognise that this debate is belated at European level, as there have been adequate statistics which should have galvanised us into action since 2005.

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI).(BG) I wish to steer the debate in a more practical direction because last week, the Commissioner declared that there will be a special audit carried out by Eurostat on the statistical data which the Commission has received from Bulgaria.

Unfortunately, however, it was not clear from Mr Rehn’s statement why such an audit was necessary. This is why I wish to take this opportunity now to ask him a question.

Which criteria singled out the most stable Member State in the Balkans when all the other Member States in the Balkans are experiencing great difficulties? What were these criteria which determined that an audit should be carried out specifically in Bulgaria? Is this not also a sign of some inertia on your part, coming from your previous area of responsibility, enlargement?

You also just said that it is highly unfortunate that Moody’s has downgraded Greece’s credit rating. However, do you realise that by bandying about such statements in the public domain, Bulgaria’s credit rating too may be downgraded next? You cannot then get angry at Moody’s. You will only have yourself to get angry at in that case.

 
  
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  Olle Ludvigsson (S&D).(SV) Mr President, there are simple measures that need to be taken to create economic stability within the EU. One of the simplest but, at the same time, important measures is to increase the quality of the economic statistics. In this area, it is perfectly possible to achieve significant improvements relatively quickly. I therefore welcome the positive signals sent out by both the Commission and the Council. My hope is that it will be possible to quickly reach agreement on effective packages of measures that will take the quality of the statistics to a higher level.

I believe that we need to strengthen the role and powers of Eurostat. Eurostat must also continue to cooperate with the national producers of statistics, but the hierarchy and levels of decision making need to be made clearer. Eurostat must be able to demand to see correct national data and must be able to make use of both sanctions and special inspections if the quality is not good enough.

Greater resources are needed if the statistics are to improve. It is important for us to realise that higher quality requires greater investment in this regard. We need to establish a plan for Eurostat. Its capacity must be increased and we need to ensure that the budget provides room for this increase in capacity. I am concerned that so far, the statistics have not been a priority within this area in the ongoing decision-making discussions. I hope that we will see this increased investment.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Mr President, we are all aware that the amendment of the regulation as regards the quality of statistical data in the context of the excessive deficit procedure is a particularly important and urgent measure in view of the present problems in most of the national budgets of the Member States. Without precise, clear data, it is difficult to decide on and establish further measures. To this extent, a control mechanism needs to be put in place that allows the data submitted by the national authorities to be verified in good time. In any event, we must never again find ourselves in a situation – such as we did with Greece – in which it is only in retrospect that it becomes apparent that decisions with wide-ranging implications were taken on the basis of incorrect or falsified data. We must also consider penalties for those states that deliberately communicate incorrect data or statistics. The enhancement of Eurostat and its expansion into an independent authority should therefore be considered in any event. This is not interfering with the budgetary sovereignty of the Member States at all, but rather is about having effective checks on data.

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D). (FI) Mr President, I think the Commission should be thanked for making such speedy headway with regard to these issues. Only a few months ago, for example, looking into a country’s statistical data was felt to be an intrusion with regard to national sovereignty. At the time, it was considered to be virtually impossible and now we have obviously come a long way. It is excellent that Eurostat’s powers are to be increased. Europe would have drifted into a sort of moral crisis, if people had, as it were, merely noticed out of the corner of their eye that the statistics were being distorted.

I agree with my colleague, Mrs Podimata, that people should now stop ridiculing Greece in this way. Greece should be respected for taking some very tough decisions. The people there should also have better access than before to statistical data and general information on the economy.

 
  
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  Olli Rehn, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, let me thank you for a very substantive debate and your support for this proposal to reinforce Eurostat’s powers. I must say that I agree with Mrs Jaakonsaari that we have seen a sea change – a real cultural change – as regards the attitudes concerning economic policy coordination in Europe in recent months.

The adoption of this proposal is one of the cornerstones of our efforts to reinforce our economic and monetary union. There were several points made concerning Greece and Bulgaria, and I would like to clarify and respond to some of the issues that were discussed today. On Greece, I will not go into the whole long history of this saga. I agree with those who say that it is not fair to continue this ‘Greece bashing’, because Greece is now on track and its programme is being implemented effectively. Greece deserves credit and support, not ‘bashing’. As regards the statistical reforms, we are working together with the Greek authorities. We have made numerous visits in the course of this winter and spring and have recently agreed on an action plan which aims at enhancing the capacity of the Greek statistical system and improving Greece’s public finance statistics.

On Bulgaria, our concerns relate mostly to two aspects of the budgetary forecast. I trust that at least the Bulgarian Members of the European Parliament are listening to my clarifications concerning Bulgaria’s excessive deficit procedure and statistical problems.

First, the Commission was only belatedly informed by Bulgaria about the sizeable revisions in the budgetary outlook, in violation of treaty obligations. Secondly, we lack information on why Bulgaria revised its planned budget for 2010 from a balanced budget to a deficit of 3.8% within just a few weeks, even though the macro-economic scenario remained unchanged or even improved. Consequently, the Commission is currently not in a position to undertake an assessment of the Bulgarian budgetary plans for this year.

The planned mission by Eurostat to Bulgaria foreseen for the second half of this year will not address the differences and questions concerning the 2010 outlook. This is not a statistical issue. Instead, Eurostat will focus on potential risks to past data on the excessive deficit procedure for the year 2009 relating to previously undeclared government contractual commitments.

I am very grateful for this attention to these important issues, which may have also some implications concerning Bulgaria’s standing in the markets. According to the information obtained from the Bulgarian authorities, the conclusion of their internal budget audits will only be completed by mid-summer. The outcome of such audits will be used by Eurostat in the context of the planned EDP visit to Bulgaria. Depending on the speed of the adoption of the revised regulation, which grants stronger powers to Eurostat, Eurostat may draw on these powers, as necessary, in its work.

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, thank you for your attention and especially for your broad and strong support for our proposal, which is the very first legislative proposal of the second Barroso Commission. Indeed, its adoption is essential for the effective functioning of economic and monetary union.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Commissioner, and thank you also for your generous comments about us; we did not listen to them carefully enough. I find it regrettable when a person is speaking in this House and there are demonstrations, such as rounds of applause, which have nothing to do with the subject matter and the speech being made during our debate.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Wednesday, 16 June 2010.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Enikő Győri (PPE) , in writing. (HU) The European Parliament must take a stand on a very important issue in today’s debate, namely, the direction the statistical information system currently operating under the authority of Eurostat should take in order to avoid situations similar to the Greek scandal in the future. Let me remind you that the fraud perpetrated by the Greek authorities had already come to light in 2004, and around the same time, the Socialist-led Hungarian Government’s finances were shady as well. Despite this, the EU has still not taken any steps to reform the statistical information system. Although I believe that the Commission’s plan to grant audit rights to Eurostat is a step in the right direction, I am convinced that we will have to do more, as the future of the common currency is now at stake. What do I think we should do next? In my opinion, in excessive deficit procedures, sanctions should not only be imposed on Member States repeatedly failing to comply with their obligation to meet the 3% Maastricht budget deficit criterion, but also on those who have provided false statistical data for years, misleading investors and the EU and jeopardising the stability of the euro area. I agree with the approach of making the officers of national statistical offices personally responsible for the quality of data provided to Eurostat. This is why I propose that, taking into account the work being done by the Council’s working group under the direction of Herman Van Rompuy, we ask the Commission to work out a more stringent system of sanctions to replace the one currently in place.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: JERZY BUZEK
President

 

7. Voting time
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is voting time.

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

 

7.1. Election of a Vice-President of the European Parliament (vote)
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  President. – We now come to the election of a Vice-President of the European Parliament pursuant to Rules 13, 15 and 18 of our Rules of Procedure.

As you know, one of our fellow Members, who was the 11th Vice-President, has been elected to his national parliament and is serving as President of that parliament. I am referring to Mr Schmitt. Today, we are choosing a new Vice-President to take his place. I have received the following nomination: Mr László Tőkés. The candidate has informed me officially that he consents to the nomination. In view of the fact that there is only one candidate, I propose that he be elected by acclamation, pursuant to Rule 13(1) of the Rules of Procedure.

I would like to ask you if anyone is opposed to this? In accordance with this Rule, I am obliged to do this.

 
  
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  Corneliu Vadim Tudor (NI). – Mr President, today is the first time I am ashamed to be a Member of the European Parliament. It is the first time that a man who denies the peace treaty of Trianon signed after the First World War is promoted and voted for such a great position in Europe. The Romanian people ...

(The President cut off the speaker.)

 
  
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  President. – You do not agree with this choice, so we will take a formal vote. We will vote by means of the electronic system.

 
  
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  Hannes Swoboda (S&D).(DE) Mr President, we were told that the candidate wished to make a statement first. Perhaps we have been misinformed, but if the candidate wishes to make a statement, then you should give him the floor.

 
  
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  László Tőkés (PPE). – Mr President, I have prepared a short statement for today, which I should like to read.

It is a great honour for me to be nominated Vice-President of the European Parliament with the support of the European People’s Party. It was a similar honour to receive the highest state decoration of Romania, the Order of the Star, in December 2009, at the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communist dictatorship in Romania. Twenty years ago in Timişoara, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and different beliefs, united by understanding and courage and facing and running the same risks together, rose up against the Ceauşescu regime. In the same way as back then, I continue my efforts today to represent my country’s interests in the spirit of the fight for human, minority and religious rights and for freedom, while remaining committed to European and Christian values.

I am committed to furthering the European integration of former Communist countries and nations in the Eastern and Central European region, in particular, that of the Hungarian minority community in Romania that I represent as a member of the European People’s Party. It fills me with joy to be a Member of the European Parliament in the period following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which marks a new beginning in the history of a United Europe. Thank you for your attention.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – We are going to vote electronically. After I declare the vote open, the following information will be displayed on the screen: the subject of the vote and the name of the candidate. To vote for the candidate, you should press the ‘+’ button. Of course, you can also abstain from voting – that is the ‘0’ button, as you know. So everything is straightforward. Pursuant to Rule 15 of the Rules of Procedure, a candidate who obtains an absolute majority of votes cast shall be elected, which means that only votes in favour are taken into consideration.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D).(FR) Mr President, forgive me, perhaps I am the only person in this Chamber who does not know what is going on, but I really do not know how we are supposed to vote. There is a zero, a number one and a cross. Quite frankly, I do not know how to vote in favour or against or abstain. It would be helpful if it could be properly explained.

 
  
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  Martin Schulz (S&D).(DE) Mr President, in all modesty, I would like to ask you a question. You have a large number of highly paid colleagues up there who I am sure will be able to give you some assistance in answering the following question. On my screen, I have the name Tőkés.

My machine then has three buttons that are to be pressed for roll-call votes. The first button is for ‘Yes’, the middle button is for ‘Abstention’ and the third button is for ‘No’. Is that correct?

(Heckling in agreement)

Does that mean that those who want to vote for Mr Tőkés press the ‘Yes’ button, those that do not want to vote for him press the ‘No’ button and those who wish to abstain – such as my group – press the ‘Abstention’ button? Is that right?

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – That is exactly what I said a moment ago. Those who want to vote ‘yes’ press the ‘yes’ button, those who want to vote ‘no’ press the ‘no’ button, and those who wish to abstain from voting press ‘0’.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D).(FR) Mr President, please excuse me but I am speaking again following the question asked by Mr Schulz and your very clear reply, which, however, is contrary to what I am told by Parliament’s services.

Parliament’s services have just told me that I can vote in favour or abstain, but that I cannot vote against. So it is not at all clear. I am sorry to intervene like this, but can we please try to be consistent. I would be grateful if you could give me a clear answer, Mr President.

 
  
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  President. – The clear answer is that in this vote, we are reacting only to votes in favour. Votes against and abstentions are counted together, because only the number of ‘yes’ votes is important. The matter is clear. If we press the ‘no’ button or the ‘abstain’ button, the effect will be the same.

Now I will answer three more questions.

 
  
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  Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL).(EL) Mr President, I believe that we have blatantly infringed the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament. This approach is unacceptable; it is unacceptable for no record to be taken of who voted for, who against, and who abstained. We can see from how the buttons operate that the votes against are not recorded. You must give instructions for the vote to be clearly recorded, for who voted for, who against, and who abstained to be recorded.

 
  
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  Robert Atkins (ECR). – Mr President, it is surely not beyond the wit of intelligent people to understand that we want to vote for, against or abstain, as we do normally. Can you not arrange it? If you cannot, then we cannot take this vote.

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI). – (DE) Mr President, I should like to make a technical observation. On our machines, you have to press ‘Yes’ first, then when you go to ‘No’, it is still blue. If you want to display ‘No’, nothing is displayed. In other words, you can only get to ‘No’ via ‘Yes’, which is not a fitting technical solution.

 
  
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  Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (S&D).(DE) Mr President, let us approach this whole process rather more calmly. Usually, the Vice-Presidents of Parliament are elected in a block at the start of the legislative period or in the course of the legislative period. When we do that, fellow Members, we only ever find out the number of ‘Yes’ votes cast for a candidate – which also decides the order in which Members are elected to the Bureau. Now, because a Member has left, we are voting in one more Vice-President today – so the only important thing is whether he has received the number of ‘Yes’ votes required for election. Anything else makes no difference. It is different to other votes.

(Applause)

The President of Parliament has given a perfect description of the secret ballot, and it worked beautifully for me without my having to press various buttons. I pressed the button that I wanted to press and the blue light appeared. Perhaps we could simply all try it together once more, Mr President.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – I declare the vote open.

(By electronic vote (Members voting: 621; in favour: 334; blank papers: 287), Parliament elected László Tőkés)

Our Vice-President has obtained a qualified majority. I would like to congratulate our fellow Member, Mr Tőkés, on obtaining a result which qualifies him to be Vice-President of Parliament, and I wish him success in performing his duties. Mr Tőkés will hold 11th place in the order of precedence of vice-presidents.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) My card did not work. I am voting against.

 
  
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  Stavros Lambrinidis (S&D). – Mr President, I hate to have to prolong this further. What you said in your instructions was that people could either vote in favour or abstain. The final results show, however, ‘in favour’, ‘abstentions’ and ‘against’. I understand that there may be many people who would have voted differently if they had known they had the choice of the three. What I would like to ask is, if indeed this is the correct way to do it, to do it one last time.

 
  
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  President. – Ladies and gentlemen, I will hear all your reservations about the vote in a special procedure after the vote. We are not going to decide this matter here and now. In accordance with the outcome of the vote, which we achieved by a qualified majority, we have elected Mr Tőkés. All your reservations will be given consideration. Please notify them to me by the end of today. We will make a decision on this matter tomorrow. I will give you a direct answer to your reservations. Thank you very much.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Edward McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 
  
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  Hannes Swoboda (S&D).(DE) Mr President, I just wanted to let you know that according to the previous vote, we have 789 Members in this Chamber. That is a bit on the high side. I hope that future votes will not again suggest we have 789 Members.

 
  
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  President. – If there is anything to add at the end of the vote, I will bring it to you.

 
  
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  Robert Atkins (ECR). – Mr President, Mr Swoboda’s point is an entirely valid one. My good friend, Mr Malcolm Harbour, has done the sums and, if it is the case that more people have voted than are actually present – indeed 785, or maybe even 789 – then surely this vote cannot stand.

(Applause)

What we must do is consider – and I urge you to take this to the Bureau immediately after you have left the Chair – that we must have another vote tomorrow, preferably either with a paper ballot or at least with the system working properly.

 
  
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  President. – As I said, I will try and get back to you before the end of this voting period. There does appear to be a discrepancy. Mr Swoboda has raised it, Sir Robert Atkins has recorded it as well. We will try and get some information to you as soon as possible. I really do not want to prolong this. There is an issue; it needs to be looked at, it is being looked at, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

7.2. European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: ES/Region of Valencia (A7-0180/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Barbara Matera, rapporteur. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in the current context of economic crisis, one of the biggest problems that advanced economies are having to face is precisely that of unemployment, a threat that has reached the alarming level of 10% of the euro area.

The European institutions and, above all, the European Commission, in its draft budget for 2011, have introduced a series of measures to support the economic recovery, including supplementing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, for which I am rapporteur, and which is being called upon for four important mobilisation requests, on which we are about to vote.

I therefore believe that the procedures for mobilising this fund should be streamlined, in order to respond quickly to workers whose companies have been hit by the economic crisis and who have been affected by their companies’ relocation processes. I therefore urge my fellow Members to promote this fund within the individual Member States.

 

7.3. Mobilisation of European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Ireland/Waterford Crystal (A7-0181/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

7.4. Mobilisation of European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: ES/Castilla - La Mancha (A7-0179/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

7.5. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission (A7-0178/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

7.6. Transparency in regional policy and its funding (A7-0139/2010, Michail Tremopoulos) (vote)
  

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Michail Tremopoulos , rapporteur.(EL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the incentive for this report on transparency in regional policy and its funding was the fact that the full disclosure of EU fund recipients enables public participation in a meaningful debate on how European public money is spent. This is necessary for the functioning of democracy at European level.

This report, which was allocated to me by the Committee on Regional Development, contains recommendations which should be included in future regulations on the Structural Funds, such as the provision of additional information needed when publishing lists of recipients and sufficiently binding rules for partnership.

Other proposals which can be implemented within the framework of current cohesion programmes are, for example:

- the definition by the Commission of a more detailed and prescriptive format specifying the structure, form and content of the information to be provided;

- also, linking the European transparency initiative with the new financial controls and auditing;

- a tougher line by auditors on communication and information requirements, including ‘naming and shaming’ and the use of financial corrections in confirmed cases of fraud;

- closer involvement of regional and local authorities and other relevant partners in all the phases of cohesion programming and implementation and full access for them to all project documentation;

- more guidance from the Commission on how to put the partnership clause into practice under current programmes and improving transparency in respect of EU funding of major projects.

I should like once again to thank the shadow rapporteurs from the other political groups for this final text which we were able to achieve.

 

7.7. EU financial contributions to the International Fund for Ireland (2007-2010) (A7-0190/2010, Seán Kelly) (vote)
  

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Seán Kelly, rapporteur. – Mr President, I know colleagues do not like people speaking at this particular time, but I beg their indulgence for a few short minutes.

Firstly, because this was not debated in the House, it is important that something should be said about it, particularly because of the part played by the European Union International Fund for Ireland. Secondly, most people in Ireland – and beyond Ireland – think this fund was largely funded by the USA. Of course, the USA played a huge part – and I would like to thank them for that – as did Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but it is important to point out that, in the period 2006 onwards, the European Union is actually funding 57% of the Fund. That is not something that is widely known and, of course, having no debate on it here in Parliament meant that we kept it a secret. So I would like to highlight the part played by the European Union in helping to create contact, dialogue and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, which thankfully, though still fragile as a peace process, is still holding.

I would like to pay tribute today to all the people who contributed to peace in Northern Ireland – there are so many – and particularly, I suppose, on the extremes. Parties like Dr Ian Paisley’s party – he was a member of this House for many years – and Gerry Adams’ party, who would never have been seen to come together 20 years ago, have come together in the peace process and power sharing. The European Union must take credit for this – at least its due share – and I want to highlight that today. I would like to pay tribute to all those who have taken risks for peace in Northern Ireland, and I hope that peace will continue.

(GA) I hope that this resolution will be passed unanimously, and I applaud each person involved for the part they played in the peace process in my own country.

 
  
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  Francesco Enrico Speroni (EFD).(IT) Mr President, I have noticed that, between the election of the Vice-President and these last few votes, 150 Members have disappeared. I do not know whether their disappearance is due to a stomach upset or a problem with the air conditioning. Perhaps we ought to investigate.

 
  
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  President. – No, they did not disappear. We will give you a very clear explanation of what happened on the vote for Pastor Tőkés, but it was not divine intervention.

 

7.8. European rail network for competitive freight (A7-0162/2010, Marian-Jean Marinescu) (vote)
  

- After the vote:

 
  
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  Robert Atkins (ECR). – Mr President, sorry to be a pain yet again but there is actually a fourth roll-call vote over the page.

 
  
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  President. – I am told that a new version of the voting list was issued, so that presumably was ruled out of order. We have therefore completed the vote on the Marinescu report.

 

7.9. Adaptation of the Rules of Procedure to the Treaty of Lisbon (A7-0043/2009, David Martin) (vote)
  

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Mr President, I see that unlike President Buzek, you do not suffer from poor lateral vision and you were able to see me.

Mr President, I have a very short point of order. Mr Martin’s report is intended to sort out problems concerning adaptation to the Treaty of Lisbon, but among the different amendments that we are required to vote on, there is one that is not related in any way to the Treaty of Lisbon and, as I see it, goes against the general principles of Parliamentary procedure. It is the amendment that deprives non-attached Members of the power to appoint their own representatives.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very serious matter regardless of your political opinions. To hand responsibility over to the President of Parliament, however impartial he may be, for selecting a Member to represent the non-attached Members at the Conference of Presidents, based on goodness only knows what criteria, instead of to the non-attached Members themselves, I truly think goes against the general principles of law and against the case-law of the European Court of Justice.

For this reason, Mr President, I consider that this amendment should be withdrawn from the list of amendments we are voting on today.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Mr Gollnisch. You may recall that for several months I sat as a non-attached Member and, if I may say so, my political views are so divergent from yours that it merely proves the point that the non-attached section is not a group, and never can be.

- At the end of the vote:

 
  
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  David Martin, rapporteur. – Mr President, I do not want to delay the House, but before we conclude this item, there are two technical points to be dealt with.

As you know, this process started last November. We need to add a new citation to link last November’s vote with this vote, and I would ask the House to agree that we add the words ‘having regard to its decision of 25 November 2009 on the adaptation of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure to the Lisbon Treaty’. This is just, as I said, a technical point.

The second such point is that we currently say that these rules should come into force on 1 December 2009. Clearly, that is not possible, and therefore I ask that we apply the normal Rule 212(3), which means that the rules would come into force on the first day of the next part-session.

 
  
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  President. – Mr Martin, thank you for all your work on this and other things.

 

7.10. Mandate for the trilogue on the 2011 Draft Budget (A7-0183/2010, Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska) (vote)

7.11. Derivatives Markets: Future policy actions (A7-0187/2010, Werner Langen) (vote)

7.12. Internet of Things (A7-0154/2010, Maria Badia i Cutchet) (vote)

7.13. Internet governance: the next steps (A7-0185/2010, Francisco Sosa Wagner) (vote)

7.14. Community innovation policy in a changing world (A7-0143/2010, Hermann Winkler) (vote)

7.15. Progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals: mid-term review in preparation of the UN high-level meeting in September 2010 (A7-0165/2010, Michael Cashman) (vote)
  

- After the vote on paragraph 25:

 
  
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  Anja Weisgerber (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I just wanted to say that my voting machine has stopped working. I have not been able to take part in the last three votes. I would be grateful if you could send a technician.

 

7.16. Proposal for a decision on the setting up and numerical strength of the Delegation to the CARIFORUM-EC Parliamentary Committee (vote)
  

***

 
  
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  President. − Colleagues, for those who would like to listen to the explanation about the Tőkés vote:

Members voting: 621 – which is votes in favour and abstentions; votes cast in favour: 334; abstentions: 287, but they are not counted as votes cast. The absolute majority is 168.

Mr Tőkés obtained 334 votes, more than the absolute majority of 168. The electronic voting system is used as an alternative to a vote with ballot papers. On a ballot paper for an election, voters can only vote in favour of a candidate or a fixed number of candidates. There is never any possibility of voting against, as Mrs Roth-Behrendt explained. Voters not wishing to vote in favour leave the ballot paper blank. Therefore, I welcome Pastor Tőkés to the Bureau.

 
  
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  Stavros Lambrinidis (S&D). – Mr President, just to understand, what you are telling us is that, for the vote on a Vice-President, it is impossible ever not to get a qualified majority, because, if you can only vote in favour or be taken down as abstention, and if abstentions do not count towards the total vote, then by definition, you always get a qualified majority. Is that what you are saying?

 
  
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  President. – As you recall, Mr Lambrinidis, at the beginning of this Parliament, there were in fact three ballots in order to elect all the Vice-Presidents on a qualified majority, so that was the procedure we followed on that occasion. On this occasion, there was only one candidate and, given that he received more than 168 votes, he got more than the qualified majority and is therefore elected on a single vote. This procedure is an unusual one, but we have followed the rules.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (S&D).(FR) Mr President, you may have been following the rules, but when I add 334 votes in favour, 168 abstentions and 287 people who voted against, I get 789 Members, in other words, more Members than there are in the House. This means that there has been ballot box stuffing, as there was in Corsica’s election. This is clearly a rigged vote and there ought to be a re-vote.

 
  
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  President. – Mr Goebbels, the answer to your question is that there has been a misunderstanding by a number of Members that on the screen, the absolute majority was put up as if it were a score. It was not. It was an indication of the absolute majority. It should not be added to the total number of votes. I repeat. Mr Tőkés got 334 votes. It is more than the qualified majority. He therefore is elected.

I should make it very clear that the 168 figure was not 168 votes. It was an indication of the number, the threshold needed, to win his position as Vice-President. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. Perhaps we could have made it clearer at the time.

 
  
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  Adrian Severin (S&D). – Mr President, I do not want to enter into details. I just want to remind you that the chairman of the meeting and the President of Parliament informed us that those who were going to abstain and those who were going to vote against were going to be doing the same thing. This announcement was, of course, misleading, but, nevertheless, since the announcement came from the chair of the meeting, it was a valid announcement and, therefore, I think that the vote should be repeated based on the clarification you have just given to us.

 
  
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  President. – I am convinced that if the vote was taken again, the result would be the same. I do believe that people understood that they were voting as in a normal electronic vote – the buttons meant the same thing; the result was clear. What was not clear was the placing on the board of the figure 168, which has caused some confusion. If there was any misunderstanding, the President himself can make clear what he was saying when he next appears before you.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D).(PL) My name is Senyszyn.

These explanations are, nevertheless, absolutely unsatisfactory, taking into account the fact that before the vote, we were told that votes against and abstentions would be counted together, which is in accordance with the requirement for a qualified majority. After all, what do we mean by a ‘qualified majority’? It means there must be more votes in favour than the sum of votes against and abstentions. In this case, there is no clarity at all as to what the result of the vote was. Mr Buzek said there were 334 votes in favour, 287 votes against and 168 abstentions. In relation to this, it does indeed look as if 789 people voted, and now the explanations that some votes do not count may mean that it is some of the 334 votes in favour which do not count.

This is an absolutely unacceptable situation, in the context of the definition in most countries. I do not think that in our Parliament, it should happen to be different. ‘Qualified majority’ or ‘absolute majority’ means more votes in favour than votes against and abstentions. In this instance this situation did not exist at all, because an erroneous number of votes were cast. This means the voting machine was not working properly and the vote absolutely must be taken again.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). – Mr President, if you will indulge me, I actually have two points of order. The first is on the vice-presidential vote. There is no way that this can be a safe vote. We were misled as to the instructions. In this row here, we attempted to vote negatively, and the machines would not allow us to do so. We tried to raise points of order, which were not taken at the time, so I would call for a recall of this vote by a paper vote or a straightforward, yes/abstain/no vote with the results firmly displayed. From those like me who are critical of this institution: actually, thank you very much – this is an open goal for you, and we will make much criticism of this, thank you very much!

My second criticism is on a refusal to allow me an explanation of vote on the Tremopoulos report. This was a roll-call vote on transparency and I voted against this. Now I am not being allowed an opportunity to explain why I voted against it, but my electorate will see that I voted against transparency. I want to give an explanation as to why I voted against this report. May I please beg an explanation of vote on this.

 
  
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  President. – On the first point, the staff were here present, as was the President, who chaired the vote. If there are any issues that arose out of the handling of that, they will be dealt with.

On the second point, on a simplified procedure, there are no debates, there is no explanation of vote, but, Ms Sinclaire, you can put it in writing, so please avail yourself of that opportunity.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Mr President, I heard you and I paid close attention to what you said. You said that 168 was the threshold for a qualified majority. This is what I heard, or in any case this is what the translation said. I find this quite incredible because if this is the case, we would somehow be taking half the number of those who voted in favour to be the voting threshold.

So whatever happens, there will always be a qualified majority. That is obvious. This is the first time I have heard that 168 votes is a qualified majority in this Parliament. Perhaps I misunderstood what you said, but this whole procedure seems to me to be utterly absurd. It may be suitable for an election where there are several candidates, but certainly not for renewing a Vice-President’s mandate.

 
  
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  President. – The figure of 168 was calculated by the computer, on the basis of the votes actually cast, as a majority.

Look, I never passed a maths exam in my life so I am going to stop here!

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE). – Mr President, it is exactly on this point that I agree with Mr Gollnisch for once, though I hope for the first and last time. The fact is that with 621 Members voting, the majority needed to be at least 311. I am very glad of the result because our candidate had 334, so he was elected in any case, but I beg you to correct this because if this program is in the computer, it is definitely mathematically wrong.

 
  
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  President. – We have noted that point.

 
  
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  Matthias Groote (S&D).(DE) Mr President, it was not possible for me to vote ‘No’ in the vote because the voting machine only displayed something once I had pressed the ‘Yes’ button followed by the ‘Abstention’ button. Please would you check once again how the machine is collecting and counting the votes, because in my opinion, it was not conclusive. I was not the only one who found this; a number of other Members had the same experience. They were unable to press the ‘Abstention’ button or the ‘No’ button, but instead had to vote ‘Yes’ first. It makes this voting process rather hazardous. Please would you therefore check again how the votes were counted.

 
  
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  President. – Something tells me that we will never use this system again. We will use paper in future!

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE). – Mr President, I would suggest to those who are left in the House that we should refrain from further debate on this. It is abundantly clear that there were 621 votes. The Vice-President got 334. It is a majority; let us move on. If the general public throughout the 27 countries are watching, they will have very little respect for this House. There are bigger issues than this, such as high unemployment. Let us debate the issues which are important and not waste time debating this further. I accept your explanation, Mr President; I accept the explanation of the President. So move on and deal with issues which are important.

 
  
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  Toine Manders (ALDE).(NL) Mr President, I propose that you email the explanation you have given, which I found clear, to all MEPs, as I regret that a large number of the MEPs who are always getting worked up about transparency, clarity and democracy have sped off to lunch. Perhaps they will find it clear if you have it emailed it to them.

 
  
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  President. – That is a decision for the President, but I shall certainly make that suggestion to him.

 
  
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  Alexandra Thein (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Vice-President, our plenary sessions are public and this gives a very poor impression. I would like to add my voice to what has been said. I am not asking for an email; instead I would actually like it to be officially presented and explained on Parliament’s website, because one statement at least must be incorrect. 168 cannot have been the threshold. If 621 votes were cast, then the threshold must have been 310 – if I have understood things correctly. I would therefore ask for a written explanation on the website so that every citizen can also understand it. In view of the large number of people who were watching, we have really given an extremely poor public impression.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D).(RO) Given that President Buzek’s explanations about the voting procedure were confusing and contradictory and that some voting machines failed to work, I think that repeating the vote would provide transparency and a legitimate result. As one of my fellow Members mentioned, we are being watched by citizens from 27 countries. I think that we must demonstrate transparency and integrity to those who elected us.

It is regrettable that, just as a huge number of MEPs are disputing the way in which the voting process was conducted, the proposal to repeat the vote under normal conditions has been rejected, which shows a lack of fair treatment for all MEPs.

This is why your conviction, the President’s conviction and the conviction of the fellow Members who asserted that these votes were received must be the conviction of all of us, the conviction of every member of the European Union.

 

8. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Seán Kelly (A7-0190/010)

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE). – Mr President, I was extremely pleased, but not surprised, at the overwhelming vote in favour, which has been consistent throughout the debates on the International Fund for Ireland. Of course, the EU is one of the main contributors to the IFI’s inception in 1986, when it was established by the London and Dublin governments to promote economic and social development in the 12 counties on both sides of the border.

(GA) More than EUR 800 million in contributions have been paid into the fund, and when the multiplier effect is taken into account, this equates to an investment in excess of EUR 2 billion.

I am from a border county myself and I am a representative of the border region and, as such, I have a very good understanding of the part the International Fund for Ireland played in the peace process.

More than 40 000 direct jobs and 16 000 indirect jobs have been created with the help of the International Fund and it has created employment opportunities in an economically disadvantaged region.

In conclusion, while a sunset strategy has been agreed to take the work of the IFI to the end of this year, I do believe that every consideration should be given to prolonging this worthwhile and effective programme. Thank you for your indulgence.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, I voted for this initiative because its main goal is to continue supporting the peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland and Ireland’s border areas, in order to build bridges of reconciliation and communication between the most divided communities and to continue, as Europeans, defending values and human rights.

We in Euskadi – the Basque country – are still suffering from terrorist violence and we are waiting for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) to hear the cry of Basque society, which is tired of suffering and is asking for it to renounce violence once and for all. We are awaiting a definitive ceasefire declaration. Under these circumstances, I expect from the European Union the same solidarity and wholehearted support for Euskadi to build the peace and reconciliation that we are longing for.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, no country has been so disadvantaged by the bail-outs as Ireland, and no people has been so hard done by as the Irish. The Irish Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, made all the right decisions. Every Irish public servant from the Taoiseach to the lowest civil servant, and even the recipients of unemployment benefit, have tightened their belts and taken huge cuts in income. Now they find that, if they had made none of those painful decisions – if they had just carried on spending – they might have qualified, like the Greeks, for a bail-out of their own and, worse than that, they discover that they are obliged to participate in rescuing Greece. In fact, not only that, but they discover that in per capita terms, Ireland is making a greater contribution than most of the other eurozone members.

Every orthodox economist would suggest that what we need to do at a time like this is to allow some of the eurozone economies to print their own currencies again, to devalue, to buy themselves time to price themselves back into the market. Instead, we are condemning the peoples of southern Europe to years of poverty and deflation and loading the taxpayers of northern Europe with an enormous debt, all in order to save a few faces. Surely we have the most expensive faces since that of Helen of Troy, which launched a thousand ships!

 
  
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  James Nicholson (ECR). – Mr President, it was not my intention to make an explanation of vote on this particular issue, but during his speech, the rapporteur referred only to Dr Paisley and Mr Adams, saying that they brought the peace to Northern Ireland. Well, Mr Adams and Dr Paisley may have brought a lot of things but peace they never brought. A lot of people may claim peace in Northern Ireland but it was really David Trimble and John Hume who bore the brunt of the heavy lifting to bring the peace to Northern Ireland, and I hope the rapporteur will get his facts right in the future. They did all the heavy lifting in the past.

Let me make it clear that I voted in favour of this today because I believe that in Northern Ireland today, we still need support to maintain what has been achieved. It is by no means sure that the peace will last as there are those on both sides – and we have seen them coming forward recently – who are still trying to de-establish what has been achieved.

 
  
  

Election of a Vice-President of the European Parliament

 
  
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  Jacek Olgierd Kurski (ECR).(PL) Mr President, I was among the 334 Members of the European Parliament who endorsed Pastor Tőkés for the position of Vice-President of the European Parliament. He is a hero of my younger days. As a journalist for Solidarity in 1989 and under fire from the criminal Securitate security service of Ceauşescu, I reported on the Romanian revolution, and that revolution started in Timişoara with a speech made by Mr Tőkés on 16 December 1989.

However, it grieves me that today, he has been the victim, first of a computer error which wrongly counted 168 votes, and that then those 168 votes were added by the person chairing the proceedings to the overall total, which has been the cause of general controversy. Therefore, if people are going to call into question the legality of Mr Tőkés’ election as Vice-President of the European Parliament, then I am in favour of taking the vote again. I am certain his result will be even better. The mandate of such a distinguished person in the European Parliament must not be questioned by anyone. So I think that it is in the interest of Mr Tőkés himself, if anyone is going to raise doubts, to repeat the vote.

 
  
  

Report: Marian-Jean Marinescu (A7-016/2010)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Marinescu – whom I should like to take this opportunity to thank – because I believe that state-of-the-art, efficient freight transport is a fundamental requirement, not only for the competitiveness, but also for the very survival of European businesses. Moreover, I fully support the rapporteur’s wish to reintroduce certain passages of the text that this Parliament itself approved at first reading.

 
  
  

Report: David Martin (A7-0043/2010)

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, when we began our votes today, we came across a procedure that we had never really encountered in this House before – one whereby only ‘yes’ votes were registered. I put it to you, Mr President, that it was only a matter of time. This is, of course, precisely the approach that the EU has taken in successive referendums.

The European Constitution or Lisbon Treaty was continuously rejected in the polls, by 54% of French voters, by 62% of Dutch voters, by 53% of Irish voters, and the reaction on each occasion was to go ahead regardless, to disregard what objections people had made, to hear only ‘yes’ where people had voiced their opposition. Now we have enshrined or regularised that approach in the procedures of this House. We have made it impossible for people to register their dissent from the project. I am tempted to adapt that old slogan: what part of ‘no’ do you not understand?

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Mr President, in looking at this report today about the procedure and the adaptation of procedure to the Treaty of Lisbon, it is interesting that we speak to many Members of the Parliament themselves and they do not really know what is actually in the Treaty of Lisbon and how it impacts on our voters in everyday life.

Take, for example, the whole bail-out of Greece. If you look at what has been debated in Council, it is Article 122 of the Lisbon Treaty, which was supposed to be an article of solidarity: ‘In the spirit of solidarity if a Member State falls into difficulties in the supply of certain products such as in the area of energy or where a Member State is in difficulty or threatened with severe difficulties due to natural disasters’. That is now being used as an excuse for Member States, whether they are members of the eurozone or not, to bail out a country that has got itself into a mess of its own making and not because of exceptional circumstances.

We should be quite clear with the electorate what the Lisbon Treaty means for the voters. Does it mean taking taxpayers’ money to bail out countries that cannot manage their own affairs?

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Mr President, this Parliament has a particular talent when it comes to reforms of the Rules of Procedure, which are always designed to diminish the rights of the minority, or underdogs, Untermenschen, that we are to some extent. For the past year, we have been riding roughshod over the rule that, under the terms of Rule 24 of the Rules of Procedure, allows non-attached Members to appoint their own representative.

In a remark which was – I am sorry – one of the most stupid remarks that I have ever heard during my parliamentary career, you have just stated, Mr President, that this could not be done because you were not of the same political persuasion as me. It is true, I am non-attached as a matter of principle, whereas you were only non-attached because you were betrayed by your friends.

However, at least there was one way, Mr President, of solving this dispute and that was by voting. A vote is the usual procedure in a democracy. But no, now the non-attached Members’ representatives will be chosen by the President of Parliament. This is yet another farce.

It was indeed Mr Martin who concocted the idea and planned this, together with the representatives of the two main groups. Moreover, it reminds me of the previous amendments to the Rules of Procedure that Mr Corbett was behind, though he has now faded into obscurity and was fortunately defeated in the European Parliament elections by my friend, Nick Griffin.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI).(NL) Mr President, Amendment 86 in the Martin report stipulates that the representative of the non-attached Members at the Conference of Presidents be decided not by the non-attached Members themselves but by the President of Parliament. The reason given is a lack of consensus among the non-attached Members. I ask myself what the problem is. Likewise, there is no consensus in this House itself when the President of Parliament is elected, which is precisely why we hold a democratic election. The representative of the non-attached Members must be representative and therefore, the best thing is to organise an election.

The European Parliament is starting to show itself up somewhat as a kind of Mickey Mouse parliament where the President of the House himself decides who is representative of some of his opponents. I also wonder about the basis for this decision. Is it based on representativeness? Is it based on a personal liking for or friendship with a particular non-attached Member? What criteria will the President be using to decide on the representative of the non-attached Members? I should have liked the President to make a statement on this before the vote but, unfortunately, we were not entitled to hear one.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr President, with all due respect to you and to this institution, the debate on the adaptation of the Rules of Procedure to the Treaty of Lisbon should also include a mention of the shortcoming in the Rules of Procedure which has made it possible to have a vote such as this and an outcome such as the election of Mr Tőkés to the role of Vice-President.

I cannot understand how the Presidents can issue a disputed vote, and therefore the disputed outcome of a vote, and I sympathise with all of my fellow Members who have doubts as to whether their votes were correctly counted. From this perspective, I believe that the European Union and the European Parliament should act transparently and clearly, and as long as some Members feel that their votes have been treated by the voting equipment differently to the way they voted, and they did not have the possibility to check it on their monitors, then the vote will continue to be controversial.

From this perspective, I believe that it is in the interests of Mr Tőkés, and in the interests of the credibility of the European Parliament, to actually return to this vote and to vote again, so that there can be no doubt in the future concerning the election of the Vice-President of the European Parliament.

 
  
  

Report: Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska (A7-0183/2010)

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, the cancer from Greece is metastasising across the Mediterranean. We read this week that the European Commission is preparing to bail out Spain, and the President of the European Council, Mr Van Rompuy, frankly admits that in this event, the EUR 750 billion already set aside in the emergency bail-out fund would be wholly inadequate.

As the tumour spreads, rather than contemplating amputation, our leaders have decided on a lengthy course of chemotherapy which will be expensive and painful and of uncertain outcome. What I mean by that is that they will try to create the machinery of what Mr Van Rompuy calls economic governance and what his predecessor called fiscal federalism: tax harmonisation, a levy on financial transactions, a European debt agency or a European monetary fund. All these machines to try and transfer money so as to keep their project around when, of course, much the easier thing would be to excuse the taxpayers the burden of this bail-out and to give the stricken economies the massive stimulus of allowing themselves to devalue and price themselves into the market. What a high price we expect from our people in order to humour the conceits of their elites!

 
  
  

Report: Michael Cashman (A7-0165/2010)

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, on the occasion of the 2000 Millennium Summit, the richest countries, including the countries of the European Union, renewed their pledge to achieve certain specific goals by 2015: to reduce hunger and poverty, to improve education and health, and to protect the environment in developing countries.

Almost 10 years on, we believe that Europe, as the main international player in the field of development assistance, must now, more than ever, assume a leading role. There is no doubt that over the last few years, increases in development assistance have helped to relieve the suffering of millions of people. Whilst it is true that the assistance is working, much still remains to be done, not least given that the current international crisis will force many Member States to reduce their own aid budgets to these countries.

Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because I believe that at this moment in time, we need to explore innovative financing mechanisms. The EU Member States must start to take strategic partnerships of a political nature with these countries seriously. This means that all the partners must demonstrate a renewed political will to achieve the priority objectives, which are still: policy coherence for development, tackling climate change and the global crisis, governance and rights, the right to food, and development education. This remains our number one challenge, Mr President.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the Cashman report because I believe it is the responsibility of this House and of the European institutions to abide by and uphold the commitments made to people who live in less developed countries, in particular, the countries of Africa.

We cannot get to 2015 and realise that the eight goals that we set ourselves have not been achieved, because behind the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, behind these percentages – let us not forget this – there are billions of people who are suffering and do not have the opportunity to live in dignity.

The European Union must set an example and lead the way as far as development assistance is concerned. Public debt cancellation, together with a greater commitment to ensuring that aid is put to good use, is one of the key points of this solidarity-based project, the achievement of which – we have to be aware – cannot be postponed without sacrificing more human lives.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Election of a Vice-President of the European Parliament

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Pal Schmitt, Vice-President of the European Parliament, having been recently elected as president of the newly elected Hungarian parliament, my colleagues and I had to elect a new vice-president. As László Tőkés, Hungarian member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), meets all the criteria needed in order to perform such a function (integrity, commitment, support for the European construct), I voted in favour of his candidature.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. (RO) The appointment of László Tőkés as Vice-President of the European Parliament is an insult to Romania, given the chauvinist tone of this fellow Member’s statements. In fact, his election to this post gives even graver cause for concern as a result of the dubious voting procedure used. Such an appointment should not have taken place in the European Parliament, a forum accountable to Europe’s citizens. However, since the deed has been done, we would have liked the vote to have been conducted in circumstances which complied fully with the standard procedure. As this was not the case, this election has an impact on the image of the European Parliament, especially in Romania where the general public takes a direct interest in this matter. Whether László Tőkés is going to do a good job in this post he now occupies matters less at this juncture. What is really important is that a European nation has been deeply offended.

 
  
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  Ioan Mircea Paşcu (S&D), in writing. – Today’s vote on the election of Mr Tőkés as Vice-President of the EP has been a disgrace. First, the President’s explanations on how to vote have been both confusing and contradictory. As a result, nobody knew for sure how to proceed. Second, the voting machines of a number of Romanian MEPs – expected to vote against – were curiously not working properly. Third, the vote was cast anyway and the President had left the entire matter hanging, leaving the room. Fourth, the sensible request from the floor that the vote be repeated under normal circumstances has been rejected. Fifth, so was the announcement that there were more votes than Members present! Sixth, instead, we were simply informed that the vote had been validated anyway! Seventh, even so, nobody could explain how 168 votes could represent a ‘qualified majority’ in a Parliament numbering 751 members!

In fact, the EPP has thus forcefully imposed its will on the entire Parliament! I regret this, because they can certainly do better than this, and we, the other MEPs, equally deserve better!

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0180/2010)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) For reasons of political solidarity with my friends in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I voted in favour of the report by my Italian colleague, Barbara Matera (PPE, IT), on the proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the sum of approximately EUR 6.6 million in aid to Spain, which is facing redundancies in the non-metallic mineral products sector. Without fundamentally questioning the European Commission’s analysis based on the data provided by the Kingdom of Spain, I find it strange that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund should be mobilised for what is simply a consequence of the bursting of the property bubble in Spain. It is, in fact, the reduction in mortgages which accounts for the fall in the number of building permits issued and, hence, the consumption of tiles and ceramics and non-metallic mineral products. Where are we going with this type of reasoning? Can we seriously contend that this is an adjustment to globalisation? I also find that administrative costs of over EUR 400 000 are disproportionate, even if a EUR 60 000 study, the cost of which seems prohibitive, appears to be the root cause of the large amount. To be continued ...

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Increased unemployment is one of the most harmful consequences of the recent economical and financial crisis. Worsening market instability has contributed to exacerbating the situations of many companies which have proven less able to adjust to globalisation. In this case, 181 companies from the Comunidad Valenciana region suffered this impact. Spain has provided sufficient substantiation for their request for the fund to be mobilised, and I believe that this claim should be supported.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I believe that special help is emphatically important for workers who have been made redundant or who have been affected by the current global economic environment, as has happened in this case, where 2 425 people have been made redundant from 181 companies in the Spanish region of Valencia. The implementation of aid aimed at retraining and reintegrating these workers into the work market is crucial, not only for the economy to pick up, but also for social stability. I am therefore voting in favour of this resolution. I would like to repeat the Commission’s recommendation that funds should not be transferred from the European Social Fund in order to provide payments under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). These are funds with different and complementary objectives, beyond which one cannot replace the other. As it is an exceptional measure, the EGF must have autonomous financing, and it is a serious mistake for EGF financing, a contingency measure, to be provided to the detriment of the European Social Fund or any other structural fund.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) On 2 September 2009, Spain submitted an application to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in respect of employees made redundant from 181 companies involved in the manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products in a single NUTS II region, Comunidad Valenciana. I believe that this application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. Therefore, I agreed with this report and the Commission’s proposal to mobilise an amount of EUR 6 598 735, because only measures that help redundant people to integrate into the labour market are financed with money from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and money from the fund creates the conditions for redundant workers to find permanent or temporary jobs, to participate in vocational training programmes and acquire the knowledge necessary to match the needs of the labour market, to acquire a business licence or become self-employed. Lithuania, too, has already taken advantage of support from this fund.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the reports on mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) because I believe that it is crucial to underline the importance of the fund.

This instrument was created to provide labour market support measures aimed exclusively at helping workers made redundant on account of structural changes in the main international trade patterns and to assist them with their reintegration into the labour market.

This is an extremely useful instrument which, between 2007 and the present day, has seen 55 requests by 17 Member States for support for 52 334 redundant workers, for whom funds totalling EUR 271.9 million have been earmarked.

An analysis of the data in our possession shows, therefore, that the sum of EUR 5 195 has been mobilised from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for each worker made redundant, a sum that is actually being used to implement personalised service packages that are specifically designed to reintegrate the workers concerned into the labour market.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) Out of consideration for the Spanish workers of the Region of Valencia, who have been sacrificed to globalisation, I am abstaining. Given the situation that the impact of the neoliberal policies inflicted by the European Union has forced them into, one might feel justified in voting against the pittance that the European elite have seen fit to offer them. However, at least the little that they do receive may help to relieve their suffering. This does not make the approach of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any more tolerable. It backs the offshoring to Morocco and Algeria that is currently taking place and sanctions the profits of the wealthiest. A clean conscience comes cheap for the Eurocrat oligarchy.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of relocation due to globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in various countries, particularly China and India, often to the detriment of countries that respect workers’ rights. The aim of the EGF is to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is fundamental in facilitating their future access to new employment. In the past, the EGF has been used by other EU countries, and now it is able to extend the same help to Valencia, Spain, due to the recent situation there, where more than 2 400 workers have been made redundant from 181 companies in the ‘Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products’ sector. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The report concerns the mobilisation of the EGF to the benefit of the Valencia region in Spain (EUR 6 598 735), following 2 425 redundancies in 181 enterprises operating in the ‘Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products’ sector. The funds will go directly to affected workers. The report got adopted in COBU without debate. In plenary, we Greens supported it too.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0181/2010)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) For reasons of solidarity with the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and Ireland, and on the basis of the report by my excellent Italian colleague, Barbara Matera, I voted in favour of the proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the sum of approximately EUR 2.7 million in aid to Ireland, which is facing redundancies in the crystal sector. Most of the 600 redundancies affect the company Waterford Crystal. Without questioning the European Commission’s analysis, I find it strange that this company, which has been in trouble since 2005, can be the root cause of an adjustment to globalisation. In 2005, it announced the closure of its Dungarvan factory, in order to consolidate all operations in the main factory in the town of Waterford in Kilkenny, which employed 1 000 people. The move involved the disappearance of nearly 500 workers from Dungarvan. Following the closure of this factory on 30 January 2009, the former employees and their families organised demonstrations, which ended in March 2009, following an agreement with the workers and payment of EUR 10 million (source: Wikipedia). Is this an adjustment to globalisation?

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing.(GA) I sincerely welcome the compensation from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund which is being distributed to former workers from Waterford Crystal and ancillary companies. The fund was established to help workers that are suffering due to structural changes in the global trade network and it will be very important to the local community which had the Waterford Crystal industry at its heart.

As this industry was central to the region, as there were many skilled local workers employed by the glass sector and by the ancillary companies, and as the sector was vitally important to the identity of the Waterford region, this funding will be of great help to the workers and their families and will help provide other employment opportunities to the workers.

Coordination measures must be put in place at the local level to ensure that this funding is distributed correctly. As this workforce is older than other workers, and as they were doing highly-skilled work, it must be ensured that the funding is used to provide further training and education, to encourage entrepreneurship and to improve access to employment.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union is the principal donor of the International Fund for Ireland, making up approximately 57% of its annual contributions.

I therefore welcome the role that the European Community has played in providing economic and social aid to Ireland, with the aim of peace and reconciliation.

The current period of operation is coming to an end, but it is important that the European Community continues to contribute to the International Fund for Ireland, working towards achieving the objectives of building bridges, integrating communities and stimulating development in the regions of the two areas of Ireland which have suffered most from instability over recent years.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. – I wholeheartedly welcome this decision to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist the Waterford Crystal workers. The global economic crisis, coupled with major shifts in world trade, has made many workers redundant in Ireland and across Europe. I urge the Irish Government to act swiftly to ensure that these resources are promptly and effectively used to meet the workers’ individual retraining and educational needs. The timeframe for use of this fund is limited and no time must be lost in providing the services needed. There is a need to revise the regulation of the EGF to enable greater flexibility in the use of the resources provided, particularly with regard to the timeframe.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The country dubbed the ‘Celtic Tiger’ once boasted remarkable levels of growth, but has been suffering from the impact of the crisis and the effects of globalisation over recent years. These have affected the Irish glass sector, and today, almost 600 workers are in a situation where they need assistance. I agree with the mobilisation of the fund.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) In view of the objectives of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), I am voting in favour of granting assistance to the workers made redundant from the Waterford Crystal companies in the Republic of Ireland. This aid amounts to more than EUR 2.5 million, which will be vital for encouraging those affected to improve their skills, as the great majority of them are over 45 years old. However, I would like to point out the glaring differences and inequality which have come about under the EGF. This is due to the Member States repeatedly failing to make use of the available funds, to the clear detriment of workers who become unemployed in these countries, as has been happening in Portugal due to the continual increase in bankruptcies and unemployment rates.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) On 7 August 2009, Ireland submitted an application to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in respect of redundancies at the Waterford Crystal company and three of its suppliers/downstream producers. I believe that this application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. I agreed with this report and the Commission’s proposal to mobilise an amount of EUR 2 570 853, because only measures that help redundant people to integrate into the labour market are financed with money from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and money from this fund creates the conditions for redundant workers to find permanent or temporary jobs, to participate in vocational training programmes and to acquire the knowledge necessary to match the needs of the labour market, to acquire a business licence or become self-employed. Lithuania, too, has already taken advantage of support from this fund.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) Out of consideration for the Irish Waterford Crystal workers, who have been sacrificed to globalisation, I am abstaining. Given the situation that the impact of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union has forced them into, one might feel justified in voting against the pittance that the European elite have seen fit to offer them. However, at least the little that they do receive may help to relieve their suffering. This does not make the approach of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any more tolerable. It endorses the current speculation by the banks and sanctions the profits that US funds such as KPS Capital Partners are making on the backs of European workers. In the kingdom of the Eurocrats, a clean conscience comes cheap.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of relocation due to globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in various countries, particularly China and India, often to the detriment of countries that respect workers’ rights. The aim of the EGF is to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is fundamental in facilitating their future access to new employment. The EGF has already been used by other EU countries, so we should now grant this aid to the Republic of Ireland, particularly to companies in the glass and crystal manufacturing sector. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The report concerns the mobilisation of the EGF for the benefit of Irish workers (EUR 2 570 853) following redundancies at Waterford Crystal and three of its suppliers operating in the crystal sector. The funds will go directly to affected workers. The report was adopted in COBU without debate. No problem voting in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0179/2010)

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I welcome the decisions to mobilise financial assistance to redundant workers who lost their jobs due to the global financial and economic crisis in three particular instances – in the Comunidad Valenciana and Castilla-La Mancha regions in Spain, as well as in the crystal production company, Waterford Crystal, in Ireland. The total amount of support in these cases amounts to EUR 11 million and will target 3 663 redundant workers. Although the assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will not solve all the problems caused by the financial and economic crisis, I urge EU institutions to perform effective and timely evaluation of applications, as well as the Member States to participate actively in this fund.

In my home country, Lithuania, financial assistance has recently been allocated for workers who lost their jobs in the construction, furniture and clothing manufacturing industries, as well as for workers at the Snaigė factory in Alytus city. This support has been highly appreciated among those most severely hit by the global financial and economic crisis.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) For reasons of solidarity with the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), and on the basis of the report by my Italian colleague, Barbara Matera (PPE, IT), I voted in favour of the proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the sum of approximately EUR 2 million in aid to Spain, which is facing redundancies in the timber product manufacturing sector. In fact, the Kingdom of Spain justifies its request on the basis of the principle that the economic and financial crisis caused a sudden collapse in the global economy, which had a serious knock-on effect on numerous sectors, especially on demand in the construction sector and, hence, on timber products. The truth is that the crisis caused the Spanish property bubble to burst and it is hard to see what justification there is for an adjustment to globalisation ... If you look at what is being financed (for example, 57 promotions of entrepreneurship costing EUR 3 000 each, giving a total of EUR 171 000, 16 training workshops combined with work placements costing EUR 12 500 each, giving a total of EUR 200 000 and so forth), where is the adjustment to globalisation? To be continued ...

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The large number of sectors and businesses affected by the crisis and globalisation make questions as to whether the present European economic model will be viable and sustainable inevitable. If the merit of granting aid to workers who have been made redundant is undisputed, the same cannot be said of the perpetuation of a state of affairs that tends to exacerbate difficult situations such as those experienced by loggers and cork harvesters in Castilla-La Mancha.

Besides giving aid at intervals, the European Union and its Member States must be capable of promoting an economic environment that is free of unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles, and one that is favourable to entrepreneurs and rewards risk and innovation.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of granting aid under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in view of the extremely negative impact of the closure of 36 timber companies in the space of nine months in the Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha, resulting in 585 people losing their jobs. This situation is made all the more serious by the fact that this region suffers from depopulation and a workforce that is almost entirely lacking in any other kind of training. I would therefore like to stress the need for special focus on the negative impact of the current economic crisis on the most rural areas.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) On 9 October 2009, Spain submitted an application to the Commission to mobilise a global amount of EUR 1 950 000 under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), in respect of the 585 workers made redundant from 36 companies involved in the manufacture of wood and timber and cork products, except furniture and the manufacture of articles containing straw and plaiting materials in the Castilla-La Mancha region in the nine month reporting period from 1 November 2008 to 31 July 2009. I agree with the Commission’s assessment that this application fulfils the eligibility criteria set by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) Regulation and the Commission’s recommendation to the Budget Authority to approve the application, because only measures that help redundant people to integrate into the labour market are financed with money from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and money from this fund creates the conditions for redundant workers to find permanent or temporary jobs, to participate in vocational training programmes and to acquire the knowledge necessary to match the needs of the labour market, to acquire a business licence or become self-employed. Lithuania, too, has already taken advantage of support from this fund.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) Out of consideration for the Spanish workers of the Castilla-La Mancha region, who have suffered at the hands of globalisation, I am abstaining. Given the situation that the impact of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union has forced them into, one might feel justified in voting against the pittance that the European elite have seen fit to offer them. However, at least the little that they do receive may help to relieve their suffering. This does not make the approach of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any more tolerable. It endorses speculation on the housing market and its collapse and sanctions the profits that the interest generates for the banks. A clean conscience comes easy for the Eurocrat tyrants.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of relocation due to globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in various countries, particularly China and India, often to the detriment of countries that respect workers’ rights. The aim of the EGF is to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is fundamental in facilitating their future access to new employment. In the past, the EGF has been used by other EU countries, so it should now extend the same help to Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, due to 585 redundancies at 36 companies operating in the wood and cork products industries sector, with the exception of furniture and the manufacture of straw and plaiting items. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The report concerns the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to the benefit of the Castilla-La Mancha region in Spain (EUR 1 950 000), following 585 redundancies in 36 enterprises operating in the ‘manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, except furniture; manufacture of articles of straw and plaiting materials’ sector. The funds will go directly to affected workers. The report was adopted in the Committee on Budgets without debate. We, the Verts/ALE Group, supported it.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0178/2010)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) For reasons of solidarity with the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), and on the basis of the report by my Italian colleague, Barbara Matera, I voted in favour of the proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the sum of EUR 1.1 million to finance technical assistance activities in connection with the EGF. Under Article 8(1) of the 2006 regulation on the EGF, 0.35% of the total amount available from the fund (EUR 500 million) remains available each year for technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission. That represents EUR 1 750 000. Nothing has yet been allocated to technical assistance. Frankly, to hold two meetings of 27 experts (1 per Member State) costing EUR 35 000 each, giving a total of EUR 70 000, and two seminars on the EGF costing EUR 100 000 each, all seems to be pointless, especially if it is to make the EGF pay not for adjustment to globalisation, but to running costs. And what can one say about the 10 studies at EUR 25 000 each? ... To be continued ... but one truly does get the impression that these technical assistance activities are carried out to spend money, just because the legal basis exists.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agree with this report because more than half of the technical assistance resources allocated to the Commission will be used to finance studies and evaluations of ongoing European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) cases and to implement them, extracting successes and learning for the future, and part of the technical appropriations will be used to establish a database on long-term reintegration into the labour market. I also call for at least part of these appropriations to be used for technical measures that could contribute to shortening the application procedure that is too long in many cases of requests for assistance. I would like to encourage the Member States to get acquainted with, and make use of the possibilities and chances offered by the EGF for workers in situations of mass redundancies and to use the funds available in order to support redundant workers and help them return to the labour market. I would further encourage the Member States to exchange best practice opportunities and to learn particularly from those Member States that already have in place national information networks on the EGF involving the social partners and stakeholders at local level with a view to having a sound structure for assistance in place once mass redundancies occur.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Commission is calling for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund so as to be able to offer suitable and sufficient technical assistance in response to the many requests from different countries experiencing an increase in the number of unemployed workers due to the international economic and financial crisis, and to globalisation, which are affecting the solvency of many companies. The unanimous vote in the parliamentary committee demonstrates the consensus on this request by the MEPs who deal most closely with this problem. Therefore, I believe that it is worthy of equal consideration by the House.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this resolution, which promotes better implementation of aid and aid mechanisms targeted at redundant workers as I recognise the importance of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in retraining manual workers and mitigating the socio-economic impact of the global crisis. In addition to strengthening measures for better monitoring, auditing and evaluation of the implementation of the support plans which have been approved, I would like to point out the need to concern ourselves and make an effort to promote initiatives which lead to a greater and more widespread use of funds from the EGF by the Member States, especially Portugal.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this report and the Commission’s proposal to mobilise an amount of EUR 1 110 000 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to finance technical assistance for the Commission. According to Article 8(1) of the legal basis, 0.35% of the annual maximum amount of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) can be made available each year for technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission. A maximum of EUR 1.75 million can be used each year in order to cover the needs indicated for the implementation of the fund. I agreed with the Commission’s proposal that this amount should cover the following activities: activities linked to the EGF mid-term evaluation - monitoring and implementation studies, creation of a knowledge base, exchange of information and experience among Member States and Commission experts and auditors, development of networks, organisation of meetings of the Expert Group of the EGF, organisation of seminars on the implementation of the fund, as well as information and publicity activities and a further development of the EGF website and the funding of publications in all EU languages. The activities of the EGF play an important role and the purpose of money from this fund is to provide one-off support to employees made redundant as a result of globalisation or the global financial or economic crisis in order to facilitate their return to the labour market.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report in question in the overwhelming belief that it is important for the procedures surrounding the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to be more dynamic.

The decision of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2010 calls for the sum of EUR 1 110 000 to be mobilised to finance control and monitoring activities, but primarily to finance information activities and technical and administrative assistance in connection with the use of the resources by Member States and social partners. Providing clear information is fundamentally important if the timescales of the procedures are to be reduced, just as equipping the Union with instruments that bring it closer to the citizens is crucial if there is to be transparency and clarity. Since 1 May 2009, it has also been possible to use this fund to support workers made redundant as a result of the effects of the economic crisis and of the financial markets, which makes it even more relevant and necessary.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of relocations due to globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in various countries, particularly China and India, often to the detriment of countries that respect workers’ rights. The aim of the EGF is to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is fundamental in facilitating their future access to new employment. It is therefore also necessary to assess the performance of this aid mechanism. In view of this, the Commission is looking to mobilise the EGF in order to meet the administrative costs related to preparing the interim evaluation on the fund’s operation. This will include studies on the implementation of the EGF, the reintegration of workers into the labour market, and the development of networks between services provided by Member States that are competent in matters relating to the EGF and the exchange of best practice, along with the creation and implementation of the website.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is intended to provide swift assistance to those workers who have fallen victim to structural changes in international trade patterns.

On 24 April 2010, the Commission adopted a new proposal for mobilisation of the EGF. The latter concerns the release of EUR 1 110 000 from the fund, a sum that would cover the EGF’s primary activities, which are monitoring and implementation studies, the creation of a knowledge base, the exchange of information and experience among Member States and European experts from the EGF, the organisation of seminars, and further development of the EGF website and publications in all European languages.

In my view, implementing the fund can only be welcomed, since it has the virtue of encouraging the Member States to make good use of the opportunities offered by the EGF, especially where workers are concerned. I believe that the creation of a knowledge base is very useful, since it acts as a binding force between the Member States and hence encourages them to cooperate with one another and to take inspiration from those countries that have greater experience in the area. Lastly, I consider it encouraging that a team of experts is leading the Member States in this process and I hope that there will be further developments in view of a future EGF project.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The report concerns the mobilisation of EUR 1 110 000 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to provide technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission. According to the Commission’s proposal, this amount is intended to cover the following activities: Activities linked to the EGF mid-term evaluation (Art. 17) - monitoring and implementation studies, creation of a knowledge base, exchange of information and experience among Member States and Commission experts and auditors, development of networks, organisation of meetings of the Expert Group of Contact Persons of the EGF, organisation of seminars on the implementation of the fund, as well as information and publicity activities (Art. 9) and further development of the EGF website and publications in all EU languages. The report was adopted in COBU without debate. We Greens supported it.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) The recent financial earthquake has left many people unemployed or underemployed. It is good that the EU is based on the principle of solidarity. Since the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was established in 2006, almost 30 applications have been made for amounts totalling EUR 154 million and assistance has been provided for 33 000 workers throughout Europe. This assistance has covered many different sectors, including the computer industry and the mobile phone and motor vehicle industry sectors.

The Baltic States were dealt a painful blow by the financial crisis. Between October 2008 and July 2009, more than 1 600 workers employed by Lithuanian construction companies lost their jobs. Half of these failed to find another job or retired and required assistance. The majority of costs are covered by the EGF, the rest are covered by Lithuania’s Employment Fund. I would like to thank the EGF for providing assistance which is selected very carefully and is socially responsible. One specific example: up to May 2009, 651 people employed by Lithuania’s AB ‘Snaigė’ (refrigeration equipment manufacturer) and two of its suppliers lost their jobs over a five month period. That had a direct impact on workers and their families, as well as on the city of Alytus, where ‘Snaigė’ is based. Given the situation that had come about, a large part of EGF money was allocated to the workers. The money granted will offer workers the opportunity to find work and to study and retrain.

 
  
  

Reports: Barbara Matera (A7-0180/2010, A7-0181/2010, A7-0179/2010)

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – The EGF was created in order to aid those workers who have been negatively affected by globalisation. The Commission has adopted proposals to access the fund in order to help Ireland and Spain. I would like to point out that genuine cases in which these funds are needed are generally extremely urgent, and hence the procedure of allowing access to such funds should be as efficient and rapid as possible. In this regard, I have agreed with the conclusions that have been reached by our rapporteur and have thus voted in favour of the report.

 
  
  

Reports: Barbara Matera (A7-0180/2010, A7-0181/2010, A7-0179/2010, A7-0178/2010)

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is vital in supporting the reintegration of workers made redundant from the labour market as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.

The European institutions have played an important role in assisting the economic recovery of the Member States that are most in need.

Once again, I am calling for the EU institutions to act together in applying it in a rapid and flexible manner, on the basis of simplified procedures that respond rapidly to the needs of the workers most affected by the current economic downturn.

 
  
  

Report: Michail Tremopoulos (A7-0139/2010)

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE), in writing. (IT) According to a survey published by the Region of Sicily at the end of 2009, 75% of citizens believe that European funds have no positive impact whatsoever, or very little. If we then consider that, according to the Court of Auditors, 51% of resources earmarked to Sicily for the 2000-2006 programming period were not spent and that a good percentage of the funds utilised were blighted by irregularities, we can easily understand the almost total lack of public trust.

I therefore fully support the report by my fellow Member. Only total transparency with the aim of ensuring that the public is made aware of the effective use of public resources can restore trust in the institutions. Anyone must be able to know to whom funds are allocated and, above all, to what end they are directed, while also being able to follow all stages from programming to the implementation of interventions.

Enabling citizens to monitor European funds not only represents a fundamental manifestation of the democratic process but also constitutes a deterrent to any form of siphoning off of those public resources. I remind you that transparency does not merely mean making documents public: that is only the first step. Information must be accessible and easily intelligible; otherwise, its production will be merely a technical exercise that does not serve the purpose of any democratic control.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report, which advocates a concerted and accessible approach towards the interregional exchange of best practice, with the aim of enabling those involved in cohesion policy to draw on the experience of others. I believe that the predominance of issues relating to project management by those involved in implementing cohesion policy is a crucial factor in improving and facilitating governance. Member States should decentralise the implementation of cohesion policy in order to ensure the proper running of multi-level governance, respecting the principles of partnership and subsidiarity. I welcome the creation of an Audit Reference Manual along with its simplification, particularly in matters relating to eligibility, financial engineering and financial reporting.

I would like to point out the obstacles presented by potential candidates with respect to the use of the structural funds. They have greater bureaucratic burdens, too many complex regulations, a lack of transparency in decision-making processes and cofinancing rules, and delayed payments. If these obstacles are to be overcome, long-term criteria should be defined for projects that are cofinanced through the structural funds, and special measures developed along with new qualitative indicators for regions with specific geographic characteristics, such as the outermost regions.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, I support Mr Winkler’s position and I voted in favour of reviewing Community innovation policy. I particularly agree with the desire to provide a broad-ranging strategy that concerns not only technological innovation but also administrative, organisational and social innovation. To this end, I feel that the involvement of the financial world and small and medium-sized enterprises in defining measures for the promotion of innovation is crucial, as is devoting attention to political and economic goals at a regional level.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The initial version of this own initiative report by Michail Tremopoulos was not at all to my liking. I therefore tabled ten amendments to reorientate it. Thus, I and my colleagues in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) managed to reinstate French and German as communication languages alongside English, to limit the information demanded to information which is of real use, to maintain the presumption that European funds have been used properly and so forth. Use of the funds should indeed be more transparent, but that should not be an excuse for making the procedures for applying for European funding excessively onerous. Thanks to our action, additional information will be available to European citizens on the use of the European funds, yes, but this will not increase bureaucracy. I therefore voted for the amended version of this report.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the own initiative report by my fellow Greek Member, Michail Tremopoulos, on transparency in regional policy and its funding. I welcome the European Transparency Initiative (ETI) adopted by the European Commission in order to improve transparency, openness and responsibility in the governance of the European Union. I support the need for regulation and application methods which guarantee that procedures are transparent, offer potential beneficiaries better access to the Structural Funds and reduce the administrative burden on participants. The managing authorities in the Member States must present all stages of projects financed by the Structural Funds in a transparent manner. I vow that Members of the European Parliament will be informed and involved in the implementation of projects in their constituencies.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – I have voted for this report. Effective use of the structural and cohesion funds is a pre-condition for the growth of our economies and creation of jobs. In order to ensure transparency of the use of funds, the European Transparency Initiative should be implemented in its fullest. Currently, there is insufficient information about Commission decisions on the funding of major. Member States as well use different levels to inform the public on the beneficiaries of the EU aid. I believe that transparency should be ensured at all levels as it goes hand in hand with the process of simplifying the procedures for obtaining Structural Funds and enables public participation in a debate on how public money is spent which is essential for the efficient use of the EU funds.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) At a time like this, when the economic and financial crisis is manifesting itself as a horizontal phenomenon that sweeps across all sectors indiscriminately, the sector of agriculture is no exception and requires emphatic financial support and transparency.

Mr Tremopoulos’s report follows up the Commission Communication on the European Transparency Initiative, introducing proposals designed to promote the disclosure of data on beneficiaries of funding as well as transparency in shared management and partnership. I will vote in favour of this report for the very reason that I believe that more information and, above all, simpler information, can bring the complex world of EU cohesion policy closer to the world of enterprise.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Transparency Initiative has been in force since 2005 when it was adopted by the Commission. Just one year later, the Green Paper was published with the aim of improving transparency, openness and accountability of EU governance. The reason underlying the adoption of these documents was the European citizen’s fundamental right to know who is receiving European funds. Every one of them makes a financial contribution to these projects to a greater or lesser extent.

Publishing information online about major projects prior to making decisions about their funding is a common practice within international financial institutions. The European Commission has been an exception to this practice until now, even though there is no good reason why the Community executive should adhere to lower standards of transparency. In these circumstances, Parliament’s request to the Commission to publish information on the Internet in good time, in order to provide direct access to the documentation about European finances, fits in perfectly with the transparency policy adopted at EU level. It is important that projects approved by the Commission are above any suspicion and that the general public is informed about them right from the very first stages of submitting funding requests.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Transparency about the way in which the structural funds are allocated, particularly through ex post publication of the beneficiaries, the names of operations and the amount of public funding given to the operations, is central to the discussion on how to spend European public money.

However, the definition of the ‘beneficiaries’ and the amount of public funding paid to the beneficiary (amounts allocated or effectively paid) to be published is unclear.

I welcome the recommendations of this report in that they contribute to a culture of mutual trust between all stakeholders, which will lead to better use of the European funds.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – There are many funds in the EU that are made available to citizens as well as other entities. Many complain that the procedures for gaining access to such funds are complicated and excessively bureaucratic. There should be clearer information regarding the procedures associated with such funds and greater transparency with regard to how these funds are spent. I am in agreement with the conclusions reached by the rapporteur and have hence decided to vote in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of the measures proposed in this report as I believe that transparency must be a key condition for achieving the general objectives of all policies, and especially cohesion policies.

The variability of presentation and accessibility conditions of data resulting from the obvious differences between the Member States and managing authorities in interpreting the minimum requirements of the European Transparency Initiative makes a full comparison at EU level impossible. I therefore warmly welcome the introduction of clearer rules regarding the disclosure of information on beneficiaries of funds under shared management. Reducing bureaucracy, simplifying the process for obtaining funds and allowing greater control of financial management are positive steps.

I also believe that the proposal for bilingualism in official information provided by the Member States to the public on the process for providing funds is a good idea.

Finally, I think that the Commission should set an example by taking up practices that promote transparency. They should do so especially on the issue of providing funding for major EU projects, where no one understands why transparency standards continue to be lower than those of similar projects such as the European Investment Bank or the World Bank.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on transparency in regional policy and the funding behind it so as to ensure greater control over the way in which public funds are used. Apart from the current minimum requirements, it is a matter of urgency to ensure that the lists published on the Commission’s website of those who have benefited from the Structural Funds include more detailed information, in the interests of greater transparency. Examples of such details might be information about the location, summaries of approved projects, types of support given and a description of the project partners.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regional policy and the European Union Cohesion Fund are fundamental for the principle of solidarity among Member States. It is crucial that the resources for them are used efficiently and in a focused manner, and that they contribute to the development of the areas to which they are awarded. Transparency in the use of these funds is a major responsibility for the Member States, and penalties for poor management will lead to a greater reduction in imbalances within the European Union.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the size and regional diversity of Europe, along with the importance of the credibility of the European institutions, I voted in favour, as I believe that sharing public information and standardising procedures is crucial to ensure the necessary transparency in implementing and funding regional policies, with a view to economic and social cohesion and strengthening a fairer Europe. I would also like to emphasise that ensuring compliance with common rules and publishing objective information on public investment should not result in greater bureaucracy. In fact, I believe that it is important to reduce bureaucracy so as to improve the transparency and effectiveness of European policies.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The transparency of regional policy and its funding are particularly sensitive topics and of considerable interest to the area I represent.

Under the terms of the 2007-2013 cohesion policy, the Veneto Region and the other regions of north and central Italy fall under objective 2 ‘Regional Competitiveness and Employment’, to which 16% of available resources are allocated. Most of the resources (83%) are allocated to regions whose development is lagging behind and these include the regions of southern Italy.

I agree with the rapporteur in considering that the Commission’s European Transparency Initiative (ETI) must be backed by reference parameters that are the same for all, in order to guarantee a homogeneous and effective level of transparency. Defining the type of documentation to be provided, guaranteeing access to that documentation, above all, in the case of ‘major projects’, and creating a common model to be respected will prevent waste and a lack of procedural transparency. Providing clear and more detailed common rules that do not, however, adversely affect administrative efficiency will reward the virtuous regions and penalise those that do not define their requirements and projects with sufficient accuracy.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The Tremopoulos report takes as its starting point the idea that transparency is a prerequisite to achieving the objectives of cohesion policy and I fully support calls for greater transparency in regional policy. The report also calls for Member States to fully involve regional and local authorities in implementing policies and I am sure that when Scotland is independent, the Scottish Government will fully involve all Scotland’s regions in these matters.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Providing public information on the recipients of EU funds is a cornerstone of the European Transparency Initiative (ETI). I believe that the requirement in the Financial Regulation for Member States to provide information on how EU funds under shared management are spent, in particular, through the ex-post publication of beneficiaries, is insufficient. The Commission limits its role to proposing a common indicative standard for the publication of data and providing EU citizens, through its DG REGIO website, with links to Member States’ electronic addresses where the requested data on European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund beneficiaries are published. With the aforementioned funds implemented under ‘shared management’, these links and their content is the sole responsibility of the Member States and is based on information provided by the managing authorities. The variability in the presentation and in the conditions of access to data does not allow a complete comparison at EU level. Therefore, I agreed with the proposals submitted by the European Parliament to make Member State databases fully searchable and compatible, so as to facilitate an EU-wide overview of the data presented and to ensure that the data collected should appear and should be managed in a structured, comparable way to ensure its full usability. The implementation of these proposals would contribute to the ETI.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) I have a good opinion of the work undertaken by the Commission and Parliament regarding transparency in regional policy and its funding. This is a sector which absorbs the lion’s share of the EU budget, so taxpayers have the right to know how their money is used and should have unrestricted access to this knowledge.

I would also like to express the hope that the measures being taken will bring about the creation of new regulations and published data which have been inspired by observation, thanks to which implementation procedures will become simpler and more transparent.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) With a view to bringing Europe’s institutions and agencies closer to the citizens which they serve and highlighting the contribution they make to social and economic cohesion, as well as sustainable development in Europe, one of the European Union’s fundamental concerns is how to increase its transparency.

I voted in favour of this report as I support the Commission in promoting a standard, well-established option for providing access to information about the recipients of Community funds. This will allow us to eliminate the discrepancies in the way in which Member States publish this information. This will enable us to gain a complete overview at European level of the data submitted while, at the same time, gaining a greater degree of credibility and accountability in the eyes of Europe’s citizens.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report as I think that the need for transparency in regional policies with a view to increasing access for potential recipients to the European Transparency Initiative (ETI) database is particularly important. I believe that it is vital to get local and regional authorities involved when it comes to the transparency of regional policies, as it is their duty to fulfil a dual role in this respect. On the one hand, they will enjoy the benefits of the ETI by facilitating the maximum possible access to this database on the funds’ recipients, which could provide specific examples of good practice in regional funding. At the same time, local and regional authorities will play a crucial role in promoting this database via the most suitable means possible so that the information is as easily accessible as possible to citizens.

Systems must also be put in place for measuring the level of access to the ETI database in order to provide us with the clearest possible idea of the level of access to the information contained in this database. If a lower level of use is identified, the authorities managing it at a lower level will have to find more effective methods for promoting its use.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE), in writing. (IT) The traceability of beneficiaries, funds allocated and projects is a crucial aspect of the instruments governing the use of the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund, in order to guarantee transparency of expenditure. A transparent system optimises investments and reduces costs. This level of importance means it is worthwhile increasing the penalties for infringements of the communication and publicity obligations, promoting a more modern and functional network system between the management authorities, defining a common basis for standardising the conduct of individual States and creating a link between publicity, monitoring and auditing. These actions should be incorporated into the package of measures to combat the crisis. A similar suggestion was made by Parliament at the time of the vote on ‘Protection of the Communities’ financial interests and the fight against fraud – Annual Report’, in view of the fact that the requirement for transparent procedures prevents improper conduct.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Transparency in the use of Community funds and public information on the beneficiaries of the EU funds is essential to the European Transparency Initiative (ETI). Such disclosure makes it possible to assess how the public funds are used, which is vital for the well-being of democracy and prudent management of ever limited resources. However, in this time of crisis, we need other mechanisms which allow greater transparency, particularly prior information by the Commission about decisions relating to funding large projects. It is therefore essential to continue to develop all the available mechanisms which lead to greater transparency regarding all the beneficiaries of the EU funds. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing. (SK) The publication of information concerning the financing of projects from European funds clearly enables the public in the Member States to join the debate on the better use of public finances.

Greater transparency, in my opinion, requires the introduction of clear rules on the publication of information, which must not, however, result in an excessive administrative burden for potential recipients, who are already struggling with the complicated administrative requirements.

I would warmly welcome it if the publication on the Internet of information concerning large projects was timely, allowing direct access to project documentation, and especially to environmental impact assessments, the importance of which is often treated lightly or even circumvented by the parties involved. Civil society would then have an opportunity to send opinions to the Commission’s website, and thereby contribute to the democratic control and greater quality of projects.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) The European Transparency Initiative was started years ago, but has made limited progress. The publication of recipients of agricultural subsidies, for example, has brought to light the fact that often, these funds go to big business, royal houses, and so on. If the EU is serious about transparency, then it must also be implemented consistently in decision making. As ever, the transparency initiative is largely empty words, which is why I abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Collecting information about how public subsidies are actually being spent and who actually benefits from the money is important and it is also the right thing to do. However, this must not result in the Commission being given such far-reaching powers that the Member States can no longer select their own projects and partners, for example. I have therefore abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing.(PL) Financial transparency of public institutions is a foundation of modern democracy. The citizens must have access to information about how each euro is spent – because each euro comes from taxes which they have paid. It is no secret that the European Transparency Initiative, adopted by the Commission in 2005, is having its first effects. I welcome this. On the other hand, there is still much to be done. It saddens me to note that standards on transparency used in the European Commission when implementing regional policy are lower than in other institutions, including principally those in use in the European Investment Bank. There is no reason why such a state of affairs should continue. I share the resolution’s satisfaction with progress on social control over distribution of funds for the realisation of regional policy objectives. I also have high regard for the resolution’s emphasis on the role of the institution of civil society in the programming system of cohesion policy. I am sure that the measures proposed in the resolution will contribute to an increase in the effectiveness of programmes and to the legitimisation of EU cohesion policy. In view of these factors, I decided to endorse the resolution.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Tremopoulos, which contains provisions aimed at improving efficiency and transparency in European Regional policy. If we want to provide better access to the available funds for the potential beneficiaries of the European Structural Funds, it seems to me that the administrative constraints associated with funding applications will need to be made less cumbersome and the procedures for accessing EU funding more transparent. By making the rules and application of the rules clearer and more straightforward, this EU funding will be made more efficient. I also feel it is essential for citizens to be better informed about the projects carried out by the European Union, especially those relating to the use of Structural Funds. I am therefore in favour of the publication by the European Commission of more information for the benefit of the general public about major projects carried out using these funds and whether the projects have been completed or are still under way.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I want to salute and congratulate my colleague in the Greek Greens, Michail Tremopoulos, for the adoption today of his report on transparency and regional policy and its funding. The result, 629 votes in favour and only 6 against, shows the great job he has done on it.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported and voted for the Tremopoulos report calling on the European Commission and the national managing authorities to use greater transparency in the allocation and use of Structural Funds. It is important that we obtain comparable data regarding administration of the funds from across the Union, so that the project owners and citizens can be aware of what the EU’s funding priorities are, which stakeholders have already received funds, how the funds have been used and what the procedures and timescales are for the various projects. The goal in doing this is to make potential beneficiaries more aware of these funds, and to monitor their use more effectively. However, it was important not to step over into excessive transparency and overload the fund managing authorities and project owners with information requirements that are irrelevant, ineffective and counterproductive. This is why my colleagues and I from the Presidential majority of the Committee on Regional Development amended the original text to make sure that the objective of transparency was not achieved at the expense of the cohesion policy’s objective of simplification, because it is precisely these two major issues of simplicity and visibility that cohesion policy needs to address.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI), in writing. – I voted against this measure not because I am against transparency, far from it; as one of only a few UK MEPs to have audited accounts, I believe in stronger transparency. But this vote is typical of the EU: pretending to be transparent and putting in place more bureaucracy at taxpayers’ expense. My constituents deserve better.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report describes the transparency of the transversal guiding principle in the programming process and the deciding of cohesion policy, and puts forwards several technical and administrative proposals which have proved useful for greater efficiency in the development of regional policy. Besides issues surrounding more widespread dissemination of data about beneficiaries, the need for less bureaucracy and the acceleration of procedures, the aim of the document, which has my vote, is to effect transparency in the partnership between regions, Member States and the European Union.

Due to this concern and based on an amendment that I have signed, a reference is included to the need for more focused, more regular and more timely information to be provided to partner organisations, particularly through greater technical assistance and training. This is undoubtedly useful for the partners of the most remote regions in the EU, as is the case for the outermost regions.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to stress that transparency is very important for a country like mine, Lithuania. EU funds like the Structural Fund and the Cohesion Fund have helped shape Lithuania’s economic, social and environmental development and will continue to shape it for some time to come. Therefore, it is important for citizens to be given the opportunity to become witnesses and have an influence in allocating these resources. For that to happen, it is necessary for society to participate. The participation of society might occur in various ways in the decision-making process – allocating EU funds and implementing them. Greater participation by society would reduce the level of corruption and increase the effective use of funds, which is particularly important for a country like Lithuania. It is also important for the recipients of EU funds to be made public. That would encourage discussions on the use of public money in the country, which again is one of the fundamental principles of a functioning democratic state. I would also like to underline the need for regional and local institutions and, above all, ordinary citizens, to participate. The report contains a few observations on a comprehensive Internet platform that would help to review and give a better grasp of existing funds. That is a good start, but more should be done to include people from different layers of society – rich and poor, those from large cities and small villages. Civil society and non-governmental organisations could also help to promote the effectiveness of programmes and improve their accountability.

 
  
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  Kerstin Westphal (S&D), in writing. – On behalf of the S&D Group, I want to express our general consent to this report. It is important that the European Parliament fights for greater transparency in regional policy, but we reject the so-called ‘naming and shaming’, as asked for in point 16 of this report. We certainly agree to a tougher line on communication and information requirements, but the goal of more transparency – which we also support – should not be achieved by the wrong means. We are afraid of having a ‘witch-hunt’ when naming and shaming is carried out. The European Commission should not be made a moral authority which achieves group discipline by naming, shaming or blaming. We also reject this approach as it could lead to a more complex situation and non-implementation in the Member States. Despite this concern, we agree – as stated above – with the general ideas of the report and think it is very helpful.

 
  
  

Report: Seán Kelly (A7-0190/2010)

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The European construct was dreamed up by the Fathers of Europe in order to guarantee peace in Europe. Although there is still tension in Northern Ireland, modern-day Europe must continue to provide financial aid to support reconciliation between the two communities that have been fighting for so long. Thus, the European Union should ensure that financing continues for specific projects which allow the links to be forged that are needed to bring about lasting peace. Owing to the fact that, on legal basis grounds, the Court of Justice of the European Union recently annulled Regulation (EC) No 1968/2006, which rightly allowed these financial contributions, the Members of the European Parliament had to adopt a new regulation based on the appropriate legal basis. I therefore voted in favour of this new regulation.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing.(GA) I voted in favour of this report on the EU’s ongoing contributions to the International Fund for Ireland. The European Union has paid EUR 15 million into the fund for the period 2007-2010. EU funding (which equals 57% of the total) is central to the efficacy of the fund.

The fund had a positive impact on matters both in Ireland and in Northern Ireland, and it has helped and supported many cross-border initiatives since it was established in 1986. The fund supported peace and reconciliation; it promoted relationships and participation; and it helped economic and social progress. The fund had a clear and significant effect on the communities concerned, and it contributed greatly to efforts to achieve permanent peace, particularly as regards activities carried out in cooperation with the PEACE programme in Northern Ireland and in the border counties.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) The International Fund for Ireland is a good example of transnational and international cooperation. The fund, which is managed by an independent international body, is financed by several countries: the European Union, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Both in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, the projects foster contact, dialogue and reconciliation between nationalists and unionists. This international support will, however, be coming to an end in 2010. We should therefore consider how the fund’s action priorities might be financed after this date, especially those relating to promoting economic and social progress and encouraging the peace dialogue.

The projects covered by the International Fund for Ireland already complement the actions under the EU PEACE programmes. It would be useful to establish what will happen to these projects in the context of the forthcoming EU budget planning. I therefore call upon the European Commission to look into how the Structural Funds might continue the role of the International Fund for Ireland, particularly within the framework of the ‘European territorial cooperation’ objective.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – Following numerous years of instability in Ireland, a fund referred to as the IFI was set up for the purpose of ensuring economic and financial stability in the region. We have seen that the report looks into the plans for the fund in the future and establishes some key goals that need to be tackled. I agree with the conclusions reached by the rapporteur and hence decided to vote in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the Kelly Report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning EU financial contributions to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).

Such inter-regional cooperation and reconciliation projects should be supported, in particular, with a view to furthering social and economic progress. The IFI has been a key part of cross-community reconciliation and recognition needs to be given to the key role played by the EU in this area. Lessons can be learned from the successes of the IFI initiatives, which may be applied to other areas of the Union where there is community marginalisation and tension.

The use of EU funds to support the IFI’s ‘Football for Peace’ project is a point that I wish to highlight. The promotion of reconciliation and mutual understanding amongst young people through the medium of sport is an initiative which should be lauded. Indeed, the use of sport to empower individuals and combat social exclusion should not be underestimated.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The peace process in Northern Ireland is an example of success that has deserved, and should continue to deserve, the support of the European institutions. As with European integration, in post-conflict situations like this one, the path to stability can be forged by establishing de facto solidarities which facilitate and increase cross-border and inter-community relations. I hope that other parts of the European Union plagued by the phenomenon of secessionist terrorism can look to the Irish process and learn lessons from it that will allow them to eradicate violence and construct a society in which everyone can feel that they belong, while respecting the law, traditions and human rights.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the extension of the International Fund for Ireland, as I believe that it is important to emphasise the European Union’s mission of peace between peoples and communities as a key factor for economic and social development, as well as for enhancing human dignity and quality of life for citizens. This can be seen in the specific case of Ireland. The European Union should continue to play a key role in maintaining peace and eliminating regional, ethnic and cultural tension, and thus promoting conditions for social and economic progress.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since its institution in 1986, the International Fund for Ireland has contributed to promoting economic and social progress and encouraging contact, dialogue and reconciliation between the nationalists and the unionists throughout Ireland. The EU needs to continue to support the peace process in Ireland with contributions to the International Fund for Ireland, as it has done since 1989. Stepping up this support will serve to strengthen solidarity between the Member States and their respective citizens. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Marian-Jean Marinescu (A7-0162/2010)

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This was a vote at second reading on the regulation concerning a European rail network for competitive freight. I voted in favour of the compromises worked out between Parliament and the Council of the EU. These compromises should, in fact, allow conditions to be promoted for better governance in allocating access capacities and in managing the major intra-European rail freight corridors. Once it has been adopted, this regulation should improve the efficacy of large rail freight flows in European corridors, thereby helping to reduce pollution from transport. For all these reasons, I voted in favour of the text negotiated with the Council in order to reach agreement at second reading.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the recommendation for second reading contained in the report by my Romanian friend, Marian-Jean Marinescu, on the Council position at first reading for adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning a European rail network for competitive freight. I support the amendments made in connection with the organisation of international rail corridors with a view to creating a European rail network for competitive freight. I also support the idea of a one-stop shop introduced in the form of a joint body established by the management board of each freight corridor, offering applicants the opportunity to request a slot crossing at least one border in a single place and in a single operation.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I support this regulation concerning the creation of a European rail network for competitive freight, the implementation of which, it is hoped, will have added value for the entire Community, because Europe will be linked by a common rail network. This will ensure the effective movement of people and freight between Europe’s regions. With the regulation, there has also been a decision on the implementation of the rail corridor attainment deadlines. The longer 5 year period that is favourable to Lithuania has been adopted, during which a European track will have to be laid in Lithuania. Now, as Lithuania is experiencing the painful consequences of the economic crisis, this decision is particularly favourable because Lithuania, like other countries badly affected by the crisis, has limited financial opportunities to invest in rail infrastructure development projects in the near future.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The freight sector at EU level has a huge amount of potential to offer at a time when it is enjoying steady growth. In these circumstances, it seems paradoxical that increasingly fewer companies are opting for rail transport. Just 10% of the freight transported across the European Union is carried by rail. In actual fact, the level of rail freight traffic has halved compared to 20 years ago. The European Commission has acknowledged the key role played by rail freight transport since 2001.

The deadline for the White Paper on European policies in the transport sector was then set for 2010. The rail freight market must now tackle the challenges posed in improving the quality of the services provided due to the lack of compliance, which is a handicap when competing with other forms of freight transport. It becomes impossible to explain the decline in the rail freight sector when there are three rail legislative packages. They are not sufficiently harmonised with national legislation and the rail systems are not connected at cross-border level. Given this situation, the regulation being put forward by the European Parliament is intended to make rail freight transport more efficient by promoting harmonisation among Member States and infrastructure administrators.

 
  
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  Bairbre de Brún (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I support efforts to make rail freight more effective, because of its environmental advantages compared to road freight. However, I want to make it clear that I oppose the ongoing liberalisation of railways in the European Union, which is responsible for the fragmentation, lack of investment and ineffectiveness of rail freight today. This compromise with the Council is an effort to improve the situation; therefore, I vote for it. But it builds on the liberalisation that I strongly oppose. However, this vote does not concern deregulation, which is already in the treaty.

 
  
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  Cornelis de Jong (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I support all efforts to make rail freight more effective, because of its environmental advantages compared to road freight.

However, I want to make it clear that I oppose the ongoing liberalisation of railways in the European Union, which is responsible for the fragmentation and ineffectiveness of rail freight today, as well as the lack of investment in this area.

This compromise with the Council is an effort to improve the situation. Therefore, I am voting in favour, even though it builds on the liberalisation that I strongly oppose. This vote does not concern deregulation, which is already provided for in the treaty.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The draft regulation defines corridors for rail freight, in other words, routes crossing several Member States on which managers coordinate the management and operation of the infrastructure. This offers real European added value, because this regulation will improve transparency in the allocation and management of slots and will promote transnational coordination at all levels: available capacities, investments, infrastructure works, operational management and so forth. The creation of a one-stop shop for each corridor will also allow companies to deal with a single contact. This symbolises rail corridor management placed in a European perspective. This regulation is therefore a strong signal in favour of a real European transport and infrastructure policy. It is an essential step towards rail freight which is quicker and more reliable and, hence, a credible and ecological alternative to long-distance road transport. A real European approach was all the more necessary, as it is on this scale that the rail freight market is relevant.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report on contributing to creating a more competitive European rail freight network. The changeability of the transport sector in recent decades and the increasing openness of national rail markets (creating serious problems with their lack of conformity) necessitate the implementation of these measures, which will contribute to creating an efficient distribution network between the EU Member States.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Over recent decades, the market share accounted for by rail in transporting goods has continually declined and, in 2005, represented only 10% of this kind of transport. In looking to address this challenge, the Commission has supported the idea of tackling the issue more effectively. In December 2008, it proposed a regulation on a European rail network for the competitive transportation of goods.

In April 2009, the European Parliament adopted its first reading on the proposal, giving its support to the Commission. The Council also reached a political agreement on this regulation, albeit with some amendments. Without questioning the importance of rail transport of goods and the need for European coordination of this transport, and supporting the creation of so-called freight corridors, the fact is that, in the current economic and financial climate in EU countries, creating an integrated freight transport system necessarily presupposes very high investment from the Member States, and we cannot guarantee that they are in a position to promise or supply such investment. Therefore, without undermining the objectives of this regulation, if we are to approve it, we should not, however, forget that the present climate of austerity will naturally have a bearing on any other plan.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. (IT) I welcomed the vote in plenary that approved the recommendation for second reading with regard to a regulation concerning the European rail network for competitive freight.

The report provides for the implementation of nine goods corridors between European Union Member States and the setting up of a one-stop shop for each corridor with the aim of guaranteeing all public and private rail companies the necessary information on the allocation of capacity for each corridor. It stresses the interoperability of freight, providing for links with seaports and navigable internal waterways.

This regulation certainly represents a great step forward towards the coordination of European rail traffic, currently for freight only, and complements the liberalisation of the rail market, an absolute priority within this sector.

I regret that certain MEPs attempted to sabotage the priority Stockholm-Naples corridor project by submitting an amendment excluding Brenner from the route. This irresponsible attempt was foiled due to the acumen of the Italian MEPs. For these reasons, I unhesitatingly supported the recommendation for second reading.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) It is with enthusiasm that I voted in favour of this text. It represents a major step forward for freight and transport in Europe, which will now be more competitive and less expensive. Europe is moving towards greater interconnection between European rail networks, freight corridors and sea and river ports. This is an important step in the sustainable development of the rail transport sector in Europe, which will thus be able, at long last, to offer a real alternative to air and road transport. Henceforth, international corridors linking the Member States will be managed by cross-border authorities which coordinate infrastructure management and slot allocation. This will all be topped by a one-stop shop for each rail corridor, the creation of which I actively defended. This innovation allows Europe to move forward and characterises its will to achieve better cooperation and greater integration in the transport sector. I welcome the adoption of this report, which strengthens the bases of the large European rail freight network which I have been calling for for several years.

 
  
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  Kartika Tamara Liotard (GUE/NGL), in writing. – Explanation of vote on Marinescu (A7-0162/2010). I support efforts to make rail freight more effective, because of its environmental advantages compared to road freight. However, I want to make it clear that I oppose the ongoing liberalisation of railways in the European Union, which is responsible for the fragmentation, lack of investment and ineffectiveness of rail freight today. This compromise with the Council is an effort to improve the situation, so I voted for it, but it builds on the liberalisation that I strongly oppose. This vote does not, however, concern deregulation, which is already in the treaty.

 
  
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  Thomas Mann (PPE), in writing. (DE) I have just voted against the amendment in the Marinescu report which aims to establish a central coordination body that will act as a one-stop shop for managing freight traffic. Another 162 of my fellow Members have voted in the same way, following a petition which I helped to launch. We are in favour of quality and competitiveness in the field of rail freight. We want to see flexible and efficient solutions and we also believe in promoting rail transport for environmental reasons. However, local and long-distance passenger transport must not be affected in any way. The highly complex text of the report does not include a clear statement of this kind. Unfortunately, the European Parliament voted in favour of the recommendation by the Commission and the majority of the Council to have the allocation of train paths managed by an additional central coordinating body in future. This will result in a fragmentation of authority, which will have a serious impact on timetabling. In Germany, which is a traditional transit country, the rail network is already operating almost at full capacity. All of the three planned corridors pass through important population centres. In the Federal State of Hesse, these are the towns of Fulda and Frankfurt, which are on the path from Stockholm to Palermo. The European Parliament’s good reputation as the main body providing protection for consumers in Europe has been damaged today. The Member States will lose the authority to make decisions about their own rail networks and all the citizens of Europe will be affected by the resulting train delays.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) This report goes to confirm the picture of a Europe that is the opposite of the Europe of solidarity and cooperation that our present times now call for more than ever. Land should be developed on the basis of the general interest of Europe’s people, not according to the individual interests of private sector businesses. The privatisation of transport policy serves the interests of the Eurocracy to the detriment of my fellow citizens. I am voting against this damaging text.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) A European rail network for competitive freight transport is vital if the EU is to achieve the objectives set out in the EU strategy for employment and growth. In view of this, the creation of rail corridors which allow rapid and efficient links between one national network and another will allow for improvements in the conditions for using the infrastructure. It is vital that we approve the present regulation in order to make rail freight transport more competitive compared with what is currently in use. This will bring not only economic benefits but also environmental ones, as rail transport is environmentally friendly. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) I voted against the compromise proposals for the regulation concerning a European rail network for competitive freight. It will take away power from the national infrastructure authorities which have worked very efficiently and effectively to date, including in the international sphere. The proposed measures will also result in more bureaucracy, which cannot be our aim. This inflation will reduce efficiency. Capacity will be left unused. In my opinion, all this will have a negative impact on rail operations throughout Europe.

If the EU really wants to encourage more freight onto the rail network, then it should set priorities in the realisation of the trans-European transport networks. Complete expansion of the southern corridor by means of the so-called Koralm Tunnel, for example, would bring about an unprecedented shift onto the rail network. We should be promoting rail freight, not more centralisation.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – I decided to vote in favour of the recommendation for second reading, insomuch as recent series of informal trialogue meetings with the Spanish Presidency have produced an agreement. I consider it is important not to lose the momentum. In its first reading of April 2009, my group supported the objective of a competitive rail freight network through the creation of corridors across the European Union, as set out in the Commission proposal of December 2008. My support for this agreement is also strengthened by the importance of the rail network in Lithuania and the economic perspective it offers my country. It is of paramount importance – not only to Lithuania but also to the European Union as a whole – to stop the decline of rail market share in freight transport. I am convinced the rail freight market will benefit from this agreement. It will contribute to improving its quality of service and create synergies between national rail systems.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar (ALDE), in writing. (ET) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately, I could not support the group of four compromise amendments, because Estonia and Latvia were left out of the rail corridor described in Annex I, point 8. Taking into account the future of the railway in general, as well as the Rail Baltica project, one would have expected that this corridor would also include Tallinn and Riga. Unfortunately, the adopted amendments restricted our options – those of Estonia and Latvia – and, as a result, we have moved no closer to linking up all the European Union Member States into a uniform railway system.

 
  
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  Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I support efforts to make rail freight more effective, because of its environmental advantages compared to road freight. However, I want to make it clear that I oppose the ongoing liberalisation of railways in the European Union, which is responsible for the fragmentation, lack of investment and ineffectiveness of rail freight today. This compromise with the Council is an effort to improve the situation; therefore, I vote for it. But it builds on the liberalisation that I strongly oppose. However this vote does not concern deregulation, which is already in the treaty.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Despite freight having been in decline for many years, of the various alternatives to road transport, it is still the one that offers the greatest level of safety and efficiency. This report aims to try to increase the market share of rail freight by creating corridors between at least two Member States so that the goods can be transported quickly.

Having read the report, it is my understanding that the creation of these corridors will not establish a priority route for goods to the detriment of passenger transport, as I gather that there is no difference in treatment between the two types of rail traffic. The one-stop shop will be strategically important for coordination, as the management of requested routes will be realised through it. In the Council’s vision, it has been reduced to an information booth, but I take the same view as the rapporteur, who believes that it is crucial for the desired flow of goods.

This network of corridors will allow better synchronisation of European rail services. It will create interfaces between different modes of transport and provide a new impetus for investment in the sector. For this reason, I feel that it is worthy of my vote.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I absolutely reject this report, albeit that unfortunately, no final vote is possible in the second reading. For Deutsche Bahn, the one-stop shop strategy will mean that, as the only player facing competition in a liberalised German network, it will be a measure equivalent to expropriation and will result in a competitive disadvantage that cannot be made up, since Germany has mixed passenger and freight traffic and no separate high-speed networks. I would urgently advise Deutsche Bahn to look into taking legal action against this decision.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing.(PL) I am certain that the idea of establishing a European rail network for competitive freight is justified and necessary. There are, however, serious doubts over the interpretation of Article 12(2a), which provides for the establishment of one-stop shops. The reservations concern, in particular, powers relating to making decisions on the possibilities of using particular rail networks. In addition, the situation is complicated by the fact that some Member States have not yet deregulated access to their railway market.

In view of the foregoing, I voted against the second part of Amendment 83.

 
  
  

Report: David Martin (A7-0043/2009)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the decision on the adaptation of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The modifications adopted by the plenary come into force on 1 December 2010. It became necessary to introduce the amendments to the Rules of Procedure in order to take into account the arrival of 18 new Members, the increase in legislative powers and the new budgetary procedure which puts Parliament on an equal footing with the Council. The other changes are about respect for the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the principle of subsidiarity, taking into account the growing influence of the national parliaments; the right of Parliament to propose modifications to the treaties; the procedure for nominating the President of the Commission, given that Parliament has more powers in this matter; the possibility of a Member State of the Union withdrawing and, finally, the violation of the basic principles by a Member State. I regret that the new rules of procedure have not been examined by a higher legal authority in order to make sure that they are in accordance with hierarchically superior documents, in particular, the treaties and the constitutions of the Member States.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this proposal to adapt the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure to the Treaty of Lisbon. Greater powers for Parliament have to be reflected in more responsibility. The Treaty of Lisbon is essential, as the European Union needs it to combine enlargement with deepening. With this treaty, it managed to do this in a balanced, credible and fair way, improving the consistency, legitimacy, democracy, effectiveness and transparency of decision making, clarifying the division of competences between the European Union and the Member States, and contributing to greater efficiency in inter- and intra-institutional relations within the EU.

The changes in commitment achieved with this adaptation of the Rules of Procedure for the Treaty of Lisbon are largely the result of efforts by the Group of the European People’s Party (PPE) to clarify and simplify the decision-making process in Parliament and its relationship with the national parliaments.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European institutions’ great legislative output and the participative method by which such legislation is produced, the profusion of documents which is frequently involved, and the fact that the hierarchies between sources and legal standards are not always clear, make it essential for Parliament to lessen these risks by working towards the adequacy of their statute on the recent Treaty of Lisbon. I believe that this is necessary for the sake of clarity in procedures and legal certainty.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament needs to show that it has adapted to the new operating conditions and shared responsibility in decision-making processes. I would like to point out the impact of reinforcing Parliament’s powers, the new makeup of national representation and the introduction of closer relations with national parliaments. I agree with the changes now proposed to the Rules of Procedure, also considering the simplification and clear determination of the regulatory procedures so as to further enhance responsiveness to the needs of the public, the institutions and the Member States, while also ensuring conditions for the efficient implementation of European policies.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted against Amendment 110, which envisages this House having cooperation with Member State parliaments but not with sub-Member State parliaments. This ignores the constitutional realities of some Member States; for example, although Flanders has taken an historic step this week towards independence, the Belgian Federal Parliament remains for now the ‘national’ parliament in EU terms. Nevertheless, in Belgian constitutional terms, the Flemish Parliament has full competence for certain EU matters. The amendment also ignores the political realities of other Member States: it is ridiculous that this House cannot fully cooperate with the Scottish Parliament on matters such as fisheries, where Scotland holds the biggest UK stake.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The approval of the Treaty of Lisbon has given Parliament new responsibilities, and this means that it is necessary for it to adapt its internal Rules of Procedure to the new provisions. This provision thus makes Parliament’s internal Rules of Procedure consistent with the new challenges thrown up by the Treaty of Lisbon. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The present adaptation of the Rules of Procedure is necessitated partly by the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. To this extent, it is a formal act. However, in the course of these amendments, the two large groups – the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – are attempting to curtail the rights of Members who do not belong to one of the large groups. This is particularly wrong and unfair, since it would be lost in the mire of the debate on the major adaptations to the Treaty of Lisbon. For example, it is proposed that non-attached Members could no longer decide themselves who is to represent them, as is the case at present. This is a unique occurrence in democratic politics that is unacceptable. In any democratic parliament worthy of the name, a political group is allowed to decide its own representative on certain committees.

However, here it is proposed that the President – who is a member of one of the two large political parties – should decide which of the non-attached Members should represent them at the Conference of Presidents. In other words, their political opponents will be able to choose a representative whose policy is nearest to their own. This is scandalous. In my opinion, the representative of the non-attached Members can only be chosen by a vote among the full assembly of non-attached Members. I therefore voted against the proposed amendment.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Natural disasters which result in people losing their livelihoods and all their possessions are becoming increasingly common. People whose houses are flooded are particularly hard hit because the entire contents of the house are often damaged or destroyed. In addition, serious damage is caused to agricultural land, which costs huge amounts of money to put right. The people affected often have difficulty affording this or simply cannot pay for it at all. I have voted in favour of the resolution because it is important to provide help for people who have been hit by disaster.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Parliament has taken a decision on the adaptation of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure to the Treaty of Lisbon. Of the amendments to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure that have been adopted by the MEPs, there are some which provide for the arrival of 18 new MEPs from 12 Member States, for the strengthening of legislative powers and for the introduction of a new budget procedure, thereby putting Parliament on an equal footing with the Council. The amendments made to the Rules of Procedure also take account of the rules on the budget, insofar as Parliament will take decisions on this matter in cooperation with the Council. In particular, the amendments relate to the three-year financial framework, which will become a legislative act requiring the approval of Parliament, to the documents made available to Members, to the examination of the draft budget, to budget reconciliation, and to the definitive adoption of the budget.

Moreover, changes that I regard as highly important relate to abiding by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the right of MEPs to table amendments to the treaties, the procedure for electing the President of the Commission and, above all, the deletion of specific provisions relating to the appointment of the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. I hope that these changes will be made to the text of the treaty before long, given the fundamental innovation that they represent for the entire Union.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of the David Martin Report following a long period of negotiation involving all the members of the Group of the European People’s Party (PPE) Committee on Constitutional Affairs, of which I am a member. The report focuses on changes that are needed to Parliament’s internal Rules of Procedure following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. Following an initial vote at the November session, which secured the necessary changes that were directly related to the Treaty of Lisbon’s entry into force, the other amendments have been postponed so as to allow for a longer period of reflection. The PPE, the group to which the Social Democratic Party (PSD) belongs, has signed various compromise amendments, particularly regarding question time for the President and Vice-President of the Commission or the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the President of the Eurogroup, the implementation of the Members’ statute, the revision of the treaties and delegated acts. I would, however, like to highlight the amendments relating to interparliamentary cooperation, the relationship between Parliament and national parliaments during the legislative process and the composition of Parliament’s delegation to COSAC – three issues to which, as Vice-President of the PPE in charge of relations with national parliament, I have had to devote special attention.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Today, Parliament is voting on the necessary adaptation of its internal Rules of Procedure following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. After the vote at the November session, the vote on further amendments which are not directly related to the treaty’s entry into force was postponed to this session. Twelve amendments were signed as a commitment by the Group of the European People’s Party, to which I belong, related to several issues: question time for the President of the Commission and the High Representative of the European Union, written questions to the Council and the Commission, regular inter-parliamentary cooperation, the implementation of a Members’ statute, the delegation to the Conference of European Affairs Committees, the revision of the treaties and the delegation of legislative power.

I am voting in favour of further changes to the document, among which I would like to highlight the introduction of a provision on subsidiarity and proportionality in assessing the legislation and on Parliament’s relationship with national parliaments during the legislative process.

 
  
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  Rafał Trzaskowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) This second round of amendments ends the long process of adapting the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure to the changes introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. Although the amendments voted on today concern, to a lesser extent, the fundamental changes related to the treaty which have strengthened Parliament in the decision-making process, they are an important addition to the changes to the Rules of Procedure and allow us to use the new possibilities to the full. As with all changes, and particularly such important changes as those made to fundamental law, very much depends on the way they are implemented.

The devil is in the detail, which is why it is so important to watch over this process to the very end.

 
  
  

Report: Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska (A7-0183/2010)

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) One of the fundamental objectives for 2011 will be maintaining, promoting and obtaining funding for technological research and development in the EU, providing sufficient funding for the framework programme, and thus contributing to the European 2020 strategy.

The increase in the number of requests for funding has grown in proportion to the increase in control mechanisms set out in an attempt to ensure that Community funds are used correctly.

Internal bureaucracy and the creation of ever more rules and administrative procedures reduce public confidence in the process. It is particularly difficult for smaller organisations such as SMEs, high-tech start ups, smaller institutes, universities and research centres to deal with this complexity.

I would like to call for access to research funding to be made easier. A culture of mutual trust needs to be developed, involving all stakeholders. This will stimulate research and innovation, making Europe a more attractive place to live and work.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The European Commission’s draft budget for 2011 is not up to the challenges confronting Europe. When we have EUR 142 billion of commitments – that is, 1.15% of Europe’s GNI – the Commission proposes to finance new priorities, as well as programmes already included in the financial framework for 2007-2013, by taking from the funds of existing programmes and from a budget margin that has been reduced to virtually nothing. The 2020 agenda for growth and employment, which is supposed to be the Union’s road map for the next ten years, and the fight against climate change cannot truly take place without financial resources. It is not acceptable to finance the upcoming instrument for cooperation with industrialised countries by taking money from development aid. It is not realistic to reduce European financial aid for the Middle East peace process by a third. This is not a serious approach. We were expecting more boldness from the Commission. Yet the European Parliament is still waiting for a draft mid-term review of the financial perspectives, something that there is a great need for in Europe. This question must have a central role in the upcoming budgetary negotiations with the Council. The delegation of the Democratic Movement to Parliament will be fighting in favour of this.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Olle Ludvigsson and Marita Ulvskog (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats chose to vote in favour of the mandate on negotiations for the 2011 budget. We largely agree with the priorities in the report. For example, we believe that it is important to invest in youth, research and innovation and green technology. We also believe that it is important for the new Europe 2020 strategy for growth and employment to be given sufficient financial resources to enable it to succeed.

However, we would like to emphasise that we do not think it is necessary to increase direct agricultural subsidies. In addition, we are opposed to the EU giving permanent market support to the milk and dairy products industry.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Parliament’s role in negotiating the EU budget has been enhanced by the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. In this time of economic, financial and social crisis, funds to motivate the European Union’s growth and competitiveness are crucial. In this context, it is important for the EU Solidarity Fund to be increased, provided that it is used effectively by governments, so as to mitigate the impact of this crisis on poorer regions.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I recall that the budgetary process for 2011 was the first of its kind since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and that it indisputably requires greater cooperation and coordination with the other arm of the budgetary authority. I would like to highlight the concern and efforts made to ensure sufficient funding for the EU’s strategic lines of development, especially in the fields of young people and innovation, alongside energy efficiency, combating climate change, and promoting employment and gender equality. I also believe that it is vital to ensure the viability of mechanisms that guarantee the sustainability of the agricultural sector. I am making special reference to the dairy sector. In the current context of crisis and the great pressure on the public finances of the Member States, I would like to reiterate the need to ensure budgetary sustainability in the EU in order to pursue the central objective of social and economic cohesion. However, I think that it is important for the draft budget for 2011 to reflect, from the outset, the financial implications of the flagship initiatives contained in the EU 2020 strategy. These include ‘Innovation union’, ‘Youth on the move’, ‘Resource-efficient Europe’, ‘An agenda for new skills and jobs’ and ‘An industrial policy for the globalisation era’.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted against this report on the draft budget for 2011 as it does not correspond in the least to the needs facing the financing of the European Union today, where the creation of the euro area has exacerbated social and territorial inequalities, and it does not take the principle of economic and social cohesion properly into account.

In this time of crisis, there is an even greater need for another EU budget which at the very least doubles the funds so that at least half of the budget (calculated on the basis of 2% of the EU’s gross national product) is devoted to investment in the productive sector and to supporting the social functions of the Member States. This would create more jobs with rights, combat poverty and reduce regional inequality in order to promote economic and social cohesion.

On the other hand, it is also essential to increase rates of EU cofinancing for countries with weaker economies, particularly for social programmes and productive investment.

Lastly, it is necessary to substantially reduce the amount of money set aside for the military and to change the core objectives of the budget so as to achieve balanced development and social progress.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The draft budget for 2011 will be the first since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and in preparing it there needs to be greater cooperation and coordination between all those involved during negotiations so that an agreement on total expenditure during the process can be reached. The trialogue to be held in July must be unequivocal in preparing the way so that the points where there should be a greater consensus can be identified in advance. The main points to keep in mind are the budgetary implications of the European Stabilisation Mechanism, the EU 2020 strategy and programmes concerning young people.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) The 2011 budget contains numerous points which are open to serious criticism. For example, the budget for the European Refugee Fund which, among other things, is promoting the resettlement of asylum seekers in the EU, is being increased, while the funding for the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (Frontex) is being cut. Financial aid for Palestine is also being reduced, but the budget for the EU accession candidates, including Turkey, for example, is being increased significantly. Therefore, I have voted against the report on the 2011 budget.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Our Group, Greens/EFA, did not oppose the rapporteur’s priorities for the trilogue negotiations. We tabled some more detailed AM on the ‘greening’ of structural funds, rural development and agricultural policy which, unsurprisingly, were all rejected, but which can be reintroduced for the more detailed 1st budgetary reading of Parliament in September. Green MEPs from other committees have co-signed AM in the name of their respective committees. Again, due to the approach of the rapporteur not to unnecessarily inflate the text, most of those got voted down.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) I support the position of my group on this document by Parliament in response to the draft budget for 2011 proposed by the European Commission. We believe that it is impossible to clearly define the implications of the draft budget on the strategy’s flagship initiatives, and that more and better information is needed.

I am also pleased to see the inclusion of the youth programme as one of the priorities for the coming year in the Commission’s draft, but I am disappointed that there has only been a token increase in funding, when more was expected from these initiatives. The Members for the outermost regions and I have supported an amendment as we believe that it is unacceptable that the budget for 2011 is less than that for 2010 with regard to the Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity, especially during a period when the conclusion of the agreement between the EU and Colombia and Peru will have serious repercussions on banana, sugar and rum production. In doing so, we also call upon the Commission to promote a study on the impact of this situation on those regions as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE), in writing.(PL) The report on the mandate for the trialogue on the 2011 draft budget, which was adopted today at the plenary sitting of the European Parliament, mentions six priorities for the budget negotiations for 2011. One of these are the programmes for young people, such as Youth on the Move, Lifelong Learning, Youth in Action and Erasmus Mundus. In item 12 of the general remarks, the report points out that the increase in appropriations in the draft budget for those programmes, despite the very high current implementation rate (reaching between 95-100% every year over the period 2007-2009), is insufficient. I welcome the fact that the text which has been accepted calls for these appropriations to be increased, so that it will be possible to put the youth programmes into effect in a way which is appropriate to their significance for civil society in Europe.

In spite of the economic crisis, which has forced Member States to make significant savings, the European Union continues to extend the range of its activity. However, this must be done while providing an appropriate level of funding for programmes which already exist. Mrs Jędrzejewska’s report draws attention to this question, which, in my opinion, has rightly been recognised as a priority for the negotiations on the budget.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Ladies and gentlemen, the mandate for the trialogue is of great importance for the European Parliament, because it defines Parliament’s negotiating position. The budget for 2011 is heavily influenced by the crisis and the recession and this is clear, among other things, from the very tight margins. However, there are also positive signs. One of these is the priority given to youth programmes. If the European Union wants to find a sustainable route out of the crisis, it is essential for it to invest in young people, because they represent our future. In addition, given the economic situation in Europe, we must support a mandate for a socially balanced EU budget which also takes competitiveness into account. Thank you.

 
  
  

Report: Werner Langen (A7-0187/2010)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) As the recent economic and financial crisis has amply demonstrated, we need to implement a better regulated and more transparent strategy on derivative product markets to prevent excessively speculative situations. In particular, I welcome the rapporteur’s proposal that centralised control should be put in the hands of the ESMA, the European Securities and Markets Authority, and the call for the costs of the future market infrastructure to be met by market participants and not contributors. For these reasons, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) In this resolution, the European Parliament calls for stricter supervision of the derivatives market. I supported it, because it seems to me to be crucial for Parliament to send a clear message to the Council and the Commission so that legislative measures are taken. The objective is to avoid excessive speculation by introducing a standardised procedure and supervisory bodies, as well as by using a common register of transactions.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the own initiative report by my excellent German colleague, Werner Langen, on derivatives markets, which was drafted in response to the European Commission’s communication on the same subject. I support the Commission’s initiative aimed at improving the regulatory system relating to derivatives. It is imperative to give the future European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) a key role in the authorisation of clearing houses in the European Union by entrusting it with their supervision.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report because I feel that we have to increase transparency in the derivatives market (trade in future transactions) and ensure greater regulation of this market. Derivative instruments can play a useful role in allowing the transfer of financial risks within an economy, but as a result of the lack of transparency and regulation, they played an exacerbating role in the financial crisis. I welcome the Commission’s initiative for better regulation of derivatives and, in particular, over-the-counter derivatives, with a view to reducing the impact of the risks for the stability of financial markets as a whole, and for standardisation of derivatives contracts, the use of centralised data storage and organised trading venues.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) Mr Langen’s report proposes a set of measures that aim to make the derivative financial product market more transparent. In view of the way the financial crisis of 2008 came about and the fragility that such complex products have imposed on the markets, it is undoubtedly a promising step to introduce greater stability and transparency. I therefore voted in favour of the Langen report.

We should nevertheless stress another point, which is a basic principle in any discussion of finance, the economic crisis and the market. Quite apart from any derivatives and intricate financial engineering, the 2008 crisis, which determined negative knock-on effects that still weigh heavily on our society, came about due to the fact that we mistakenly believed for all too long that we did not have to consider the real economy. I therefore welcome any current measure to promote the transparency of financial markets and products offered by banks and share markets, but we must all remember that we urgently need to rethink the economic system on which the world markets rest. Our choice must therefore be aimed at strengthening the real economy, the only certain source of wealth and lasting stability.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I should like first of all to congratulate my friend and colleague, Mr Langen, on the draft report put to the vote today in this House.

In the light of the financial and economic crisis, we have observed the dangers posed by certain financial instruments that are shamelessly used by the markets without any rules or restrictions. Many citizens and numerous local authorities, including in Italy, have fallen victim to these high risk instruments, and are now finding themselves with alarming budget deficits.

In order to prevent such unfortunate situations, I believe it is appropriate, indeed necessary, to regulate derivatives properly, so as to have a more stable and secure market that enables operators and consumers to take informed decisions. The European Union must become the champion of a radical change from the financial policy of the past and must send out strong signals to prevent instruments such as over-the-counter derivatives from being able to jeopardise the entire financial market in future.

Lastly, I support the guidelines set out by Mr Langen in the text adopted today, not least because financial derivatives are not just the prerogative of professionals in the sector, but are instruments for mass-market use. For this reason, stricter legislation will guarantee greater transparency, enabling ‘market participants to price risks properly’.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Tighter regulation of the derivatives markets must take into account the particular circumstances of companies, which must continue to ensure that their financial and operative risks are covered under favourable conditions and, in some way, adapted with the help of derivatives.

Non-financial firms use these instruments to ensure that risks related to currency, interest and raw materials are covered. This protection, which is not speculative, has helped to bring about stability and growth in employment and investment.

However, the regulatory measures proposed must not lead to an obvious deterioration in the coverage of risks for companies.

I would like to call for exemptions and lower requirements in terms of capital in the case of bilateral derivatives, especially for SMEs.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against because, although the report contains positive points and tries to introduce some minimum restrictions and rules to the derivatives market, in reality, it does not fundamentally address the issue. One of the basic causes of economic and financial instability is the development and increase in non-banking transactions, which include risk premiums and other financial derivatives.

The recent collapse of the money markets and speculation against Greek bonds showed not only that the financial system needs strict regulation, but also that certain transactions, such as risk premium transactions, should be banned. In my opinion, it would be wrong and not enough to turn our attention merely to ‘regulatory policies’, such as those presented in the report, which neither put the problem into perspective nor offer adequate solutions.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The derivatives market, as has been proven with the economic, financial and social crisis that we are currently experiencing, needs efficient regulation which allows for greater transparency in the marketing of these financial instruments. These products must undergo more effective supervision so that trade in them does not have adverse effects on the market. Due to the variety of derivatives and the need to protect investors, I also support more stringent rules relating to information.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the deployment of the European institutions to ensure the greatest possible efficiency, security and soundness in derivatives markets, in recognition of its importance for the sustainability of economic development, along with the need to ensure the regulation and verification of procedures and negotiations related to the transaction or commercialisation of these financial instruments. Given the size of the derivatives market and its impact on the global economy, as has become evident in the current economic and financial crisis – and the exponential rise of the risk component in the global market – I believe that ensuring transparency is crucial. This is vital not only for effective supervision of the markets, but also for clear, concise and complete reporting standards. The ‘credit default swaps’ from sovereign issuers used by financial speculators have led to unjustified levels of diverse national ‘spreads’. This highlights the need for transparency in the market and enhanced European regulations concerning the negotiation of ‘credit default swaps’, particularly those related to sovereign debt. It is to be hoped that future legislation will bring not only transparency to the derivatives markets but also sound legislation. I would like to stress that the cost of future market infrastructures should be borne by those involved in the market, not by taxpayers.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Instead of proposing the end of the derivatives market, the majority in Parliament have restricted themselves to defending the ban on speculative trading of credit default swaps (CDS) of sovereign debt. They urge the Commission to consider maximum risk limits for derivatives, particularly CDS, and to establish an agreement on them with its international partners. However, from what has been stated, the Commission can only present its proposal on derivates markets in September, and Parliament will legislate upon it on an equal footing with the Council.

All this waiting is unfortunate when you watch the dramatic rises in interest rates that are implicit in the obligations of sovereign issuers in some euro area countries to unsustainable levels, knowing the negative effect that CDS have had on the whole process. We cannot continue to allow speculative securities based on sovereign debt.

It is true that Parliament has advocated a ban on CDS – which are purely speculative transactions involving bets on the debtor’s breach – today, but then it limited itself to requesting longer terms of imprisonment in the case of short sales of securities and derivatives. As far as we are concerned, therefore, we gave our support to the positive proposals, but we are against the backward position and the huge delay in regulating capital markets.

 
  
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  Astrid Lulling (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the Langen Report on derivatives markets because, like the rapporteur, I am certain that the sector needs to be regulated and that there needs to be greater transparency in the derivatives markets. I am particularly in favour of the idea of compulsory introduction of counterparty clearing facilities for handling derivatives transactions between market players. By standardising transactions and ensuring that the clearing houses are independent, very significant progress will be made.

However, the regulatory mechanisms that will be introduced very shortly thanks to the collaboration between the Commission, the Council and Parliament should not completely rein in the derivatives markets, which fulfil an important role in world finance. It is important to distinguish, as the rapporteur indeed does, between derivatives instruments that are used to cover risks directly associated with the companies’ business and those that are used solely for speculative purposes. It is only the latter that are liable to pose a systemic risk and that should be suitably overseen in order to avoid a repeat of the kind of crises we have recently experienced.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the past, derivative instruments played an important role by transferring risk in the economy. However, the lack of transparency and regulation in the derivatives markets had an extremely pernicious effect on the financial crisis. One of the instruments that most affected European economies and led to increased interest on sovereign debt was CDS (credit default swaps). This regulation upholds a ban on speculative trading using this instrument, as it can lead to distortion in the sovereign debt markets. It is of paramount importance to distinguish between derivatives products used as a tool for managing risk to cover a real underlying risk to the subject, and derivatives solely used for speculative purposes. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I am glad the key paragraphs of the resolution remained in the text, mainly paragraphs 33, 34, 35 and 36, as well as recitals K, S and X. This is the reason why we voted in favour. Otherwise, if at least one of the separate votes had been rejected, we Greens would have voted against the report.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (S&D), in writing. – The key aspects of Mr Langen’s report are acceptable. However, during the discussion in committee, there was much made of the dangers of the industry. Clearly, the size of derivative activity raises questions about how to regulate the industry, so transparency and a harmonised supervisory approach are regarded as very important factors. At the same time, it is unnecessary to raise the costs of trading by insisting on concentrating the clearing of such trades through single bourses. Fortunately, Mr Langen is well aware of the limits of such an approach which could place costs at up to ten times higher in a bourse than elsewhere. We also need to ensure that the so-called tailor-made derivative instruments allowing companies to hedge against future rises in commodity markets are maintained. We should also ensure international compatibility – especially with the USA, the largest market.

 
  
  

Report: Maria Badia i Cutchet (A7-0154/2010)

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The rapid development of the Internet is leading to the proliferation of interconnected objects available and exchangeable on the Internet. An ‘Internet of Things’ is thus being created, including everything from books to cars, and also taking in electrical appliances and food. This own initiative report by the European Parliament is intended as a response to the European Commission’s communication, which contains 14 measures to be taken in order to ensure that the EU takes the lead in the development of these new networks of interconnected objects. Parliament’s report pays particular attention to the question of respect for privacy, the ways in which the Internet of Things can benefit the quality of life of European consumers, and the accessibility and inclusive character of the Internet of Things. As I am completely in agreement with these priorities, I voted in favour of this own initiative report.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) Developments in information and communications technology (ICT) have brought about a veritable revolution in the field of knowledge over the last 20 years, above all, due to the public’s increasing familiarity with the Internet and the World Wide Web.

Now we have put knowledge on the Internet and eliminated the effects of distance in the exchange of information, the latest frontier of this technology is the possibility of combining a new radio frequency identification system with products, so that products can instantly release information to consumers.

I am in favour of implementing pilot projects to examine the ethical and social consequences of this new IT resource, which could represent a new employment sector in the future, and I therefore support Mrs Badia i Cutchet’s report.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the general thrust of the notice presented by the Commission. Developing new applications and the very operation of the ‘Internet of Things’, along with the massive impact this will have on the everyday life and habits of the European public, is very closely linked to the confidence that European customers have in the system.

It is a matter of priority to ensure a legal and regulatory framework which, on the one hand, protects the European consumer and, on the other, promotes public and private investment in the sector of the ‘Internet of Things’.

The ‘Internet of Things’ represents a great opportunity in economic terms, as it will allow us to optimise production processes and energy consumption, as well as creating new jobs and new services for an increasing number of European citizens and businesses.

If the EU really wants to have a leading position in this market, it should adopt a proactive approach in this field by stimulating research and pilot projects.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The rapid and uninterrupted growth of the Internet has meant that now, approximately 1.5 billion people are connected through computers and mobile devices. The next step is moving towards a progressive transformation of a network of interconnected computers to a network of interconnected objects – the Internet of Things – from books to cars, from household appliances to food. For example, a fridge might be programmed to recognise expired or nearly expired products. These technological innovations can help to respond to the various expectations of society and the public, as well as acting as a catalyst for growth and innovation, providing benefits for the economy and public well-being.

However, it needs to be subject to specific and far-reaching regulations which will allow this Internet of Things to respond to the challenges of trust, acceptance and security. It is vital to ensure full respect for private life and the protection of personal data. Sufficient data protection measures must be put in place to safeguard against possible misuse and other risks associated with personal data. For this reason, I support this proactive approach, without forgetting that the Internet of Things is aimed at benefiting people first and foremost.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report. The development of the Internet of Things both represents a great opportunity for growth and competitiveness and leads to major social change, with a significant impact on citizens’ behaviour. For this reason, I welcome the Commission’s intention to publish a communication in 2010 on respect for privacy and trust in the information society, since in my view, it is crucial to permanently monitor aspects relating to personal data protection.

Equally important is the debate on the technical and legal aspects of the right to ‘chip silence’. Furthermore, in view of the profound changes that the Internet of Things will entail, it is essential that we allow for the uniform development of technologies at regional level, so as to avoid creating divides that are even greater than those that currently exist, and that we duly involve governments in this process and pay attention to the outermost regions.

Lastly, I believe it is important to increase European funding for the Internet of Things in the context of research projects under the Seventh Framework Programme and pilot projects under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, and also to focus on the development of broadband infrastructure, the roll-out of broadband and the further reduction of data roaming costs.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the ‘Report on the Internet of Things’ because I felt that adopting this report will boost the development of an innovative technology in the European Union. This will offer business opportunities to European companies and provide benefits in the form of combating climate change and improving energy and transport management.

As shadow rapporteur, I tabled amendments which will help protect personal data in order to prevent it from being used for other purposes by the companies which can access it. Consequently, the report contains important provisions for defending citizens’ fundamental rights

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) The Internet of Things is a concept of the future rooted in the present. Whether this ‘works’ for the benefit of all citizens in a harmonised, efficient manner varies according to our views. The new system for integrating technologies into everyday life must be implemented in strict compliance with the consumers’ rights to privacy. The Commission must consult all the time with the Data Protection Working Group and not only when it deems it necessary. We are talking about devices and technologies capable of transmitting an object’s position, features and identity. Along with the right to silence, these mechanisms must only be integrated at the individual’s request and not as a standard production feature. At the same time, the Commission must take into account, when a decision is being made on implementing projects pertaining to the Internet of Things, which network is going to be selected for connecting these objects. At present, we are facing numerous cyber attacks on the Internet. As far as I see it, using the World Wide Web to connect to the Internet of Things may pose a security risk and place a considerable burden on the current network. The development of a parallel network for connecting objects may provide the solution in the current situation through sharing the digital spectrum and dividend.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the Badia i Cutchet report in support of the creation of an Internet of Things. I believe that new information technologies have significant benefits for our society, but it is important to ensure that the potential impacts on health and the environment are taken into account, along with aspects related to the protection of privacy.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Internet has become part of daily life for millions of people, and today it plays an irreplaceable role as a means of communication and as a vehicle for transmitting information and knowledge. The exponential increase in content on the Internet has made it a tool with many uses, and these uses are multiplying. Simultaneously, however, it has also become the setting for a new type of crime that benefits from the speed and dematerialisation of information flows and the massive volume of personal data made available by network users.

I share the concerns included in the resolution on the need to address restrictions on Internet access for political reasons as well as bringing about greater security for children and adolescents in using the network. I agree with the view that the use and ongoing management of the network should be up to private individuals, but I believe that the Member States cannot exempt themselves from being present and active in a regulatory role. The aim of this would be primarily to prevent the abuse and violation of citizens’ rights.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The impact of new technology on the public’s security and quality of life is indisputable, and this highlights both the benefits and the risks that it entails. In this context, the ‘Internet of Things’ involves a new set of advantages for people, without impeding the identification of possible risks inherent in a tool with great potential. I would like to emphasise the approach of stimulating research and launching pilot projects, along with making the most of opportunities that are arising, particularly in optimising energy saving, production processes, creating new jobs and challenges. However, it is vital that the EU has a common frame of reference to reinforce the provisions relating to overseeing the system, confidentiality, information security, ethical management, privacy, collection and storage of personal data and consumer information. The rapid evolution of the ‘Internet of Things’ calls for governance of it that is safe, transparent and multilateral. Given this, I share the Commission’s concerns with regard to safety, personal data protection and privacy for members of the public, along with the governance of the ‘Internet of Things’ for the sake of respecting privacy and personal data protection.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The Internet of Things is a project that was started in 1999 in the US. It is increasingly growing in popularity, and it is expected that over the next 10 to 15 years, it will revolutionise person-object and object-object interaction through the growing use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

The process of developing the Internet of Things, with all the innovation and positive aspects that it can bring to our everyday lives, also has a great margin of uncertainty, both at a conceptual and technical level, which merits some concerns. The technology behind this step, RFID, is called a tag: an electric component made of a chip and an antenna. The chip, only a few millimetres wide, can contain, receive and transmit information without any cable connection. This raises several issues about ownership, management and privacy, among others.

On the issue of privacy and data protection, the rapporteur points out the ‘importance of ensuring that all fundamental rights – not only privacy – are protected in the process of developing the Internet of Things, which we think is a positive view. However, we have serious doubts about the management of this data. The way ahead is still unclear, and so we have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – As technology becomes ever more advanced, it is important that the EU and other policy makers keep abreast of developments. This report covers a number of important topics such as privacy and health issues and I fully support the rapporteur’s call for the EU to be proactive in this sphere.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) So-called information and communication technologies (ICT) have played an important role in promoting social development, economic growth, research, innovation and creativity in public and private European bodies. The rapid changes that the Internet has undergone in recent years have led to new concerns and the need for the European Union to have a common frame of reference to reinforce the existing provisions relating to running the system, particularly concerning confidentiality, information security, ethical management, privacy, and the collection and storage of personal data and consumer information. Given this, it is vital that the authority in charge of the ‘Internet of Things’ respects the safety, data protection and the privacy of whoever uses it, as only such an approach can bring benefits to EU citizens. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) One and a half billion people are already online and use the Internet. The Internet represents the onslaught of a new kind of networking technology that aims to bring about some sort of communication between people and objects, as well as between objects and objects. Information on products is to be stored, received and sent. It is to be feared, however, that all the advantages of the new technology will be outweighed by the disadvantages. It must be ensured that the private sphere remains protected and that personal data cannot be misused. However, it appears that future network users will be even more vulnerable than they already are. I voted in favour of the report because the measures proposed by the author on the protection of the private sphere and of personal data are clearly needed.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) It is always important with new technological developments, in this case, the so-called Internet of Things, to address ethical issues alongside possible benefits and to protect personal rights. This report is moving in this direction, which is why I have voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The Internet which only began to be used more widely two decades ago has become an inseparable part of society like telephone or radio. Today, 1.5 billion people are connected to the Internet, and in a few years, it will be twice as many. Soon, the latest technology will allow not just computers to be connected to the net, but also cars, or even books, food and other items. Once a car has been connected to the net, it would be possible to give the driver information on tyre pressure. Programmed refrigerators will be able to recognise products past their expiry date. I voted for this report because the Internet of Things will revive the economy shackled by the crisis and will help to create new jobs and new services for an increasing number of EU citizens and companies. This will also allow us to optimise manufacturing processes and save energy which is very important in the fight against climate change.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – We Greens have strongly supported this report by our socialist colleague, Badia i Cutchet. It will be an important new application of Internet technology. In the next 10-15 years, it is predicted that the Internet of Things will enter our daily lives. It uses RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to receive and transmit information wirelessly. It works with a tiny chip which has the capacity to store a lot of information about the object or the person on which it has been placed. In the agri-food sector, for example, RFID allows better and faster product traceability, and provides information about content: chemical characteristics, gluten levels, etc. Similar applications are already in use, such as a chip that can convey real-time information about tyre pressure to a driver. This new technology will revolutionise and widen person-to-thing and thing-to-thing interaction. The innovation lies in the thing-to-thing relationship. The most commonly cited practical example of this is that of fridges which, if suitably programmed, will be able to detect any product past, or approaching, its use-by date.

 
  
  

Report: Francisco Sosa Wagner (A7-0185/2010)

 
  
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  Alexander Alvaro, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Jürgen Creutzmann, Wolf Klinz, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Britta Reimers and Michael Theurer (ALDE), in writing. (DE) Combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography is vitally important. We must use all our strength to combat the availability of child pornography in communications networks. The permanent and effective control of child abuse is both a political responsibility and a precept of the rule of law. The German Free Democratic Party in the European Parliament is of the opinion that it is necessary to remove such criminal content as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this own initiative report, which aims to influence the upcoming forum on the governance of the Internet, to be held in Vilnius from 25 to 29 September. Parliament is asking the forum, while carrying out its work, to increase the participation of developing countries and, on the other hand, to coordinate its work with national and regional forums. It also calls on the EU to develop a strategy on the fundamental aspects of the governance of the Internet, as well as to encourage reform of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I have no alternative but to vote in favour of the report by Mr Sosa Wagner on the need to ensure ethical and secure governance of the Internet.

The tool that has bridged time and distance for communications offers enormous potential benefits yet is, at the same time, a daily source of risks to both personal data protection and to children. It is essential to ensure the free circulation of information and communication, but in the certainty that the weakest individuals and most sensitive data continue to receive proper protection. Only in this way can the Internet continue to be the driving force behind positive social change and respect the dignity of each individual.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Internet is a ‘global public good’, and the management and control of it exercised by a certain government has attracted a great deal of criticism.

The European Union should develop a strategy that reflects a consensus view of the fundamental aspects of Internet governance and one which can be firmly defended on the international stage and in its bilateral relations with the US.

I support the European Commission’s favourable stance towards the current management model based on leadership in the private sector.

I would also like to call for greater involvement from developing countries, particularly through funding for their participation.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Internet has had a massive impact on society and public life over the last 20 years. The EU is a good example of this, as it represents just over 7% of the world population, but it accounts for almost 19% of Internet users at global level. Governing the Internet has been a top priority in public policy, seeking to ensure that the public can enjoy the full potential of the Internet while, at the same time, seeking the best solutions to the problem of inappropriate or illegal content, along with providing sufficient protection for consumers and trying to resolve problems of jurisdictional authority in an online global sphere.

I fully agree with the idea that the Internet is a global public good which should always protect and respect the public interest. It is vital that the EU develops a strategy on the fundamental aspects of governing the Internet, and I support the Spanish Presidency’s initiative to draft a ‘European charter on the rights of Internet users’. It is important to move towards an internal reform of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers so that it has a more representative structure, with greater control by the international community, as well as being more accountable and transparent.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on governance of the Internet, which covers sensitive issues such as the protection and safeguarding of fundamental rights and freedoms, Internet access and use, and cybercrime. The Spanish Presidency’s proposal of the creation of a European charter on the rights of Internet users and the recognition of a fifth fundamental freedom (freedom of access to the network) could give the EU more efficient instruments that would allow it to guarantee greater protection for security-related issues, on the one hand, and widespread and non-discriminatory access to the network, on the other.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Olle Ludvigsson and Marita Ulvskog (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats chose to abstain in the vote on the wording concerning the blocking of websites. We believe that these measures may be justified in some situations, for example, in relation to crimes involving child pornography, but the reference in the text in question to blocking websites in the case of cybercrime was far too wide-ranging for us to be able to vote in favour of it.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is an indisputable fact that the Internet now has a public role, influencing not only daily life but also mass movements, political ideas and communication strategies. It is true to say that the Internet has taken on an irreplaceable public role, and this cannot be ignored by the Member States of the European Union. They should call for greater access and participation in the governance of the Internet without undermining the leading role of private use and daily management of the network in doing so, as this has proved essential for the vitality and growth of the Internet. The role of the Member States are becoming more important, as are issues relating to cybercrime and protecting the security of users and their privacy, along with the public’s freedom of access and expression through the Internet.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the ever-increasing prominence of the Internet in the daily life of the public and the institutions, and even in the running of various countries, along with its impact on economic, cultural, social and human development, the governance of the Internet is a matter of paramount importance on the world stage. This means that it is extremely important for the European Union to safeguard conditions for active intervention in this area and to protect the public good and its values and principles. In view of this, I voted in favour of this report, stressing the importance of widening representation of global diversity in the bodies that currently control the Internet market, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report arises from the important role of the Internet, which has become an indispensable tool for promoting democratic initiatives, political debate, digital literacy and the dissemination of knowledge. Internet access both ensures and depends on the exercising of a number of fundamental rights, including respect for private life, data protection, freedom of expression and association, freedom of the press, non-discrimination, education and cultural and linguistic diversity.

The report therefore points out that institutions and stakeholders at all levels have a general responsibility to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to participate in the information society.

It also deals with the threats posed by cybercrime to societies that use information and communications technology, noting the increase in incitement to commit terrorist attacks, hate crimes and child pornography. This puts the public, including children, at risk, and the report states that ‘the role of public bodies should be strengthened when defining overall strategy’. Lastly, it shows concern with the structure of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is hardly representative, and the limited control which the international community, including the EU, is able to exert on the operation of ICANN.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This report recognises the importance of the Internet in promoting cultural diversity and encouraging democratic citizenship. For democratic values to be promoted, however, it is vital that governments refrain from imposing censorship and I therefore welcome the provisions of paragraph 13.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) The debate on Internet governance is certainly of particular importance in the situation where this means of communication has become absolutely essential in many countries in both people’s professional and personal life. It is precisely for this reason that it is, at the very least, totally lacking in imagination for us to leave the strategic decisions concerning the Internet exclusively to a private company over in the US.

The report which we voted on today is vital for creating a governance model which also involves end consumers. I believe that we need to encourage cooperation between universities and the business world, including at local, regional and national level. At the same time, we must also get actors involved from the Asian market, bearing in mind the extremely rapid rate of development of this area. Furthermore, it is important for us to devote a great deal of attention to finding a balance between protecting users’ privacy and recording personal data on different websites, not only because of the emergence of social networks, but also because of the development of online shopping. Another extremely important fact is that the Internet provides an excellent vehicle for promoting Europe’s cultural heritage and values, as well as a driving force for innovation, enabling us to narrow the gap in relation to other regions in the world.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I welcome the recitals of this report, which make the Internet a global public good that must be governed in the common interest. The report highlights the importance of the Internet in political debate. It is for the sake of these aptly mentioned principles that I voted against this text. Indeed, how can we advocate respect for the common interest, on the one hand, and call for shared public-private governance that does not hinder free competition, on the other? Although this text has the virtue of pointing out the importance of the general interest, it achieves the opposite result. Euro-liberal dogmatism spells disaster for Europe.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Today, the Internet is a global tool, so the administration of it should take account of the common interest. Today, the Internet is one of the main means of disseminating democratic values throughout the world, and it is an indispensable tool for promoting all kinds of ideas, political debate and the spread of knowledge. It is therefore crucial that the Internet is developed in such a way that everyone within the EU has more equal access to it. It is also vital that it is safe for all users, especially children, who are less able to protect themselves against potential dangers arising from its use. If we are to maintain the Internet’s status as a global public good, we must avoid a scenario where it is dominated by an individual entity or group of organisations. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Where the Internet is concerned, we must, on the one hand, uphold the principle of freedom of expression, while fighting cybercrime and its abuses, on the other. However, we must not end up storing data in the name of fighting crime and terrorism where there is no basis for suspicion. The Internet has specifically given rise to new problems, such as that of data protection on social networking sites or in connection with projects such as Google Street View. The problems of the latest developments on the Internet were scarcely considered, which is why I abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) Τhe Internet is a global public commodity and should function on the criterion of public interest. A specific Internet governance infrastructure needs to be created, so as to safeguard its security, integrity and authenticity and reduce the possibility of cyberspace attacks. Open global cooperation on Internet governance is needed and we need to draft a European Charter of Internet Users’ Rights and recognise the fifth fundamental freedom of the EU: access to the Internet. That is why I voted today in favour of the report by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on Internet governance, noting that the EU should adopt a strategy that includes access to the Internet without discrimination and safeguards the neutrality of the Internet, respect for privacy, data protection, freedom of expression and protection for minors. Particular emphasis should be placed on the group of the population that is most vulnerable to attacks in cyberspace and the necessary restrictions should be imposed to protect minors to the greatest possible extent and to promote international cooperation in the fight against illegal and harmful Internet content.

 
  
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  Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. (IT) The Internet has now become an instrument that is crucial to the development of the internal market, which is the cornerstone of the European Union’s growth and development. Moreover, more than 60% of the European population now has access to the world of information technology. It seems necessary, therefore, for the Union to spearhead the debate on Internet governance, thereby guaranteeing that a service that has become essential for social and commercial interaction duly reflects the Union’s values, such as protection of consumers and minors. For this reason, I support the content and the proposals of the report by Mr Sosa Wagner.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D), in writing. (ES) First of all, my congratulations to the rapporteur on his report and its excellent timing given the proximity of the next meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which will be taking place in the EU for the first time.

The EU has been taking part in the IGF since its inception, but the fact that it is being held in Vilnius makes our delegation even more relevant. It is five years this year since the IGF was created and, in accordance with the Tunis Agenda, it will have to decide whether or not to continue. The EU’s delegation has already expressed in Sharm-el-Sheikh its agreement that the IGF should continue in its current form because of the important role that it plays as an instrument for open dialogue between all the actors involved in Internet governance.

This must continue to be our position in the debates that are to take place in Vilnius. As regards the other issues such as the development of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers that will doubtless occupy an important place in the upcoming forum’s debates, Mr Sosa Wagner’s report makes it very clear what agreed position we representatives of the Europeans institutions will be arguing together at the IGF.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I have voted against at the final vote of this report because it included the promotion of governmental interference with Internet governance, which is not exactly the Green position.

 
  
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  Alexandra Thein (ALDE), in writing. (DE) Combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography is vitally important. We must make every effort to prevent child pornography being made available over the Internet. The permanent and effective prevention of child abuse is both a political responsibility and a principle of the rule of law. The members of the German Free Democratic Party in the European Parliament are of the opinion that criminal content of this kind must be deleted as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the Sosa Wagner report as the EU should show strong leadership on all aspects of Internet governance in the international arena. This report maintains the EU’s emphasis on the need for the security and stability of the global Internet, the respect for human rights, freedom of expression, privacy, protection of personal data and the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on Internet governance but I abstained on the paragraph that calls for priority to be given to the protection of intellectual property rights holders by putting them on a par with consumers.

Good Internet governance must, in fact, guarantee access for all to assets, notably cultural assets, within a digital environment, but this cannot be achieved to the detriment of the rights of creators and, in particular, of authors. These rights cannot be treated as mere intellectual property rights; authors should be able to choose the way in which they want people to access their works.

Furthermore, the privacy of users and creativity must also be guaranteed.

Therefore, it is crucially important to strike a balance between the rights of users and the rights of creators so that individuals can flourish as informed citizens, consumers and creators.

 
  
  

Report: Hermann Winkler (A7-0143/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) Although I voted in favour of this resolution, I noticed the qualifications made about certain regions, particularly the outermost regions, in terms of access to innovation. Difficulties related to a lack of critical mass must be taken into account in order to encourage better use of the potential for areas such as research and innovation in these regions. The unique characteristics of the ORs in terms of geography and climate are particular advantages in terms of the development of specific activities in the areas of biodiversity, marine resources, climate change, renewable energy, water, the environment, natural resources, health and new technologies.

In terms of natural resources and biodiversity, in particular, the ORs allow European research privileged access to tropical ecosystems endowed with a unique biodiversity and agriculture. This enables research to be carried out within the context of the European Research Area as ‘natural laboratories’. They are also good places for experimentation. Despite the possibilities of many regions and all the effort put into them, many continue to have more difficulties than other regions in improving factors that contribute to competitiveness, growth and employment, as per the Lisbon Strategy, especially within the context of research and development.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, I support Mr Winkler’s position, for which I voted in favour, on the revision of EU policy to promote innovation. I particularly agree with the desire to provide a broad-ranging strategy that concerns not only technological innovation but also administrative, organisational and social innovation. To this end, I feel that the involvement of the financial world and small and medium-sized enterprises in defining measures for the promotion of innovation is crucial, as is the attention devoted to political and economic goals at regional level.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) This own initiative report looks at the Community measures taken in the field of innovation policy and establishes a number of priorities for defining a new innovation policy. Among these, Parliament expresses a wish for innovation not to be limited to technological aspects, but also to cover administrative, organisational and social innovations. It also emphasises the development of new innovation indicators that are better adapted to economies increasingly based on knowledge. Finally, and I think that this is an important point, the report is in favour of improving the effects of synergy between the framework programmes for research and innovation and the Structural Funds. As I fully agree on the directions advocated by this report, I supported it in the vote.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the own initiative report by my German colleague, Hermann Winkler, which was drafted following the European Commission’s communication entitled ‘Reviewing Community innovation policy in a changing world’. Innovation is the key factor in successfully responding to the major societal and environmental challenges currently faced by the Union and in achieving its strategic political objectives. We will not achieve our energy and climate objectives by 2020 without speeding up the development and the general application of proper, durable and efficient energy technologies. I support the strengthening of dialogue between universities and businesses. As regards budgetary aspects, at the level of static public sector funding, we must make innovation policy more Community-based.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I supported this report. Scientific research and innovation are the key to successfully meeting the EU’s current grand societal and environmental challenges and realising its strategic political goals in areas including competitiveness, climate change, employment, demographic change and many others. In order to remain competitive, the EU must invest in sustainable technologies, ensuring that they receive the required funding. Until now, Europe has lagged far behind in the area of scientific research and innovations, because this area is very fragmented and there are differences between scientific research and innovations and market replication. I feel that the European Commission’s future plan for innovations must resolve the issues of private sector financing of scientific research and innovations, which would allow companies to create innovative products and services and adapt them in the market.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) Whether they concern products or processes and are radical or incremental, nowadays, innovations are the driving force behind the competitiveness of up-to-date economic and business systems that strive for efficiency and sustainability. The research that underpins each innovative action and discovery must therefore be supported, particularly when it succeeds in bringing together small and medium-sized enterprises and the world of new technology.

For this reason, I can only support the own initiative report drafted by Mr Winkler, which introduces a third agent to close the knowledge triangle, in other words, consumers. We need reference points within the constant situation of flux we experience in our lives nowadays. Therefore, it is important that growth and the competitiveness of the economic and social system always remain on a human scale.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) At the moment, less than 1% of the European Union’s budget goes on innovation. This is the current state of affairs at a time when Europe has realised that its future lies within the knowledge triangle of research-innovation-education. The European Parliament’s request to increase the resources allocated to innovation is absolutely justified in these circumstances. We are approaching the time for looking at the financial projections for the 2014-2020 period and must take this request into consideration. Transforming Europe’s economy into a sustainable economy must make European companies more competitive and allow new opportunities to emerge for national economies as a result of the economic and ecological challenges facing Europe.

Moreover, and especially against the backdrop of the financial crisis and the credit crunch, it is crucially important for companies’ innovative capacity that more funding should be made available at both EU and national level and that appropriate financial instruments should be created. Splitting resources across a host of objectives and a series of specific EU initiatives has not produced satisfactory results so far. Funding must be directed at those areas where the boomerang effect is greatest. The key criterion here must be added value for Europe.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report. I should first of all like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Winkler, on his excellent work.

Innovation and research, like education and training, are the key elements that will enable Europe to compete positively in a more technologically competitive world. However, so far, only 1% of the EU’s budget has been earmarked for this sector, a percentage that is not enough to address the difficult challenges that Europe is having to face. It is time for the European Union to invest more in the field of research and innovation. I do believe that we can overcome the economic crisis and making more funds available is one way of doing this.

I also believe it is important to provide incentives for and encourage private investment in technological innovation, because only by carrying out research will we be able to have a competitive market that can withstand the increasing number of relocations. Lastly, I support the plans for ‘instruments which are tailored to the needs of their users’ and a reduction in red tape for small and medium-sized enterprises, which should foster decisive technological innovation.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Innovation policy must address the great social problems that we are facing, bringing together all those involved.

It is essential to invest in knowledge and in reforms that promote technological progress, research, innovation, education and training to promote prosperity, growth and employment in the medium and long term.

The struggle against new challenges requires an innovative approach to implementing new technology, along with an innovative approach to social issues at an organisational level.

I would like to make a call for efforts to be stepped up so that we can move from technological innovation to social innovation – innovation in public services and in the different regions.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Intelligent growth based on the knowledge and innovation economy requires concrete measures on the part of supranational and national institutions.

Enhanced policies to support entrepreneurs in the research sector must be accompanied by policies to encourage investment in new experiments, in an effort to ensure that among other things, there are skilled workers ready to compete in the European labour market. At the same time as asking countries to invest more heavily in research, we should offer them a European regulatory framework that is both general and specific, with common, coordinated development guidelines and instruments for monitoring whether the funding is producing the desired results.

I propose and support regulation at European level of apprenticeship, training and vocational measures, which some countries have already incorporated into their educational systems, as well as the ‘rights and duties’ measures in the field of education. If, however, we are to aim for 3% of GDP to be allocated to research funding, we need the world of academia to provide more guarantees as regards, for instance, the academic productivity of lecturers, and we must prevent the piecemeal apportionment of resources, which has given rise in recent years to the improper and disproportionate use of already limited funds, with unsatisfactory results.

I agree, lastly, on the need to work towards a single patent court system, in order to standardise rights at supranational level.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) Innovation has an especially important place in modern society. A society based on innovation can avert possible crises, both socio-economic and natural. Consequently, it is vital for an innovation policy to be able to facilitate society’s progress and not make it stagnate due to the use of various bureaucratic ploys. As Mr Winkler specifies in his report, innovation nowadays must also take into account the social value it brings. I believe that the innovations of the 21st century must also consider the impact they have on the individual and society in general. Innovations such as the ‘Internet of Things’, for example, must take into account and respect the right to privacy and protection for the individual’s personal data. European society must not become a ‘Big Brother’ society. On the contrary, the innovations made must help people communicate freely in an open society. The contribution made by technological and social innovations actually underlies our progress. This is the reason why I am asking the Commission to deal with this matter with maximum accountability and present a vision for drafting an innovation action plan for the future.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The significance of knowledge and innovation have been gaining prominence as part of the political agenda and in political jargon, and there are few today who dare to question the importance of investment in this field and the need to link up knowledge, innovation, businesses and jobs.

The risk of unanimity around this concept is, however, that it will become deflated, as has happened with other fads such as the environment, economic sustainability or supporting entrepreneurship. These topics cover pages of election manifestos and programmes and almost always end up losing any distinguishing feature that they might have had, being mere statements of fact. In this regard, despite serious efforts by the government on certain aspects, I must draw attention to the negative technological populism from which the Prime Minister of Portugal seems to suffer. It would be better to concentrate more on content and less on proclamations to do with improvements in working conditions and scientific production, and to remember that while competitive effort calls for ambition, it also requires a realistic approach.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Today, it is universally accepted that innovation is vital for the success and sustainability of economic and social development and the success of European integration. The importance of innovation, which must always be coupled with research and education, has become even more obvious in the face of the increasingly rapid pace of development in global and human reality. In view of this, I support this report for the revision of EU innovation policy, stressing the urgent need for the EU to concentrate its efforts on leveraging resources in this area. I would also like to point out the importance of incentives for the private sector and a comprehensive, cross-cutting strategy for achieving European innovation policy as a priority.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We agree with several aspects of this report, although the way in which it is formulated does not always focus on the most important issues. For example, we agree that innovation is only one of the elements needed to overcome the challenges that we face today, at both social and at global environmental level, and that there are other areas that are equally important for society.

However, the priority which is given to each of the areas included in the so-called Europe 2020 strategy, such as business activity, employment, demographic change and an inclusive society, is such that the document and the analysis of necessary innovation in a changing world falls far short of what is needed to promote real economic and social cohesion, growth in productivity, job creation and wage recovery in the Member States, all of which we believe to be crucial. That is why we abstained.

In the communication review of EU policy on innovation in a changing world, issued on 2 September 2009, the European Commission outlines the developments that have taken place since 2005 in the field of EU innovation policy. It is now to be expected that certain aspects of the proposed Action Plan for Innovation to be presented shortly will be taken up again and implemented.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing.(PL) The report on the challenges facing European Union innovation policy is a very good document which has raised the most important questions related to this issue. Together with my colleagues from the S&D Group, I endorsed the report, including Amendment 46, which calls on the Commission and Member States to coordinate their efforts to reach agreement on a Community patent and a single patent court system. This matter has been dragging on for many years, and for many years the same arguments have been repeated in favour of a common patent, along with the same contentious questions (for example, how many languages should European patents be translated into?). Some legal questions have been clarified since the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force. We are going to have two regulations: one about the patent itself, and the other about the language system.

On top of this, however, there is the matter of the patent court system, the establishment of which will require regulation of the relationship between the European Union and the European Patent Organisation in a way which is in accordance with the competences of EU institutions, including the European Parliament. Without going into details on the patent system, which will, no doubt, be the subject of numerous discussions, I would like to stress that this issue is one of the most important challenges of the current term of the European Parliament. Therefore, I think that at each step, we should call on the other institutions to start constructive cooperation in this area, which is just what Mr Winkler’s report does.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The Winkler report deals with a number of important issues, including ecological innovation and green enterprise. In view of the challenges facing our planet, it is clear that innovation in these fields is of vital importance. My own country, Scotland, is at the forefront of many aspects of ecological innovation, particularly in the area of renewable energy. The Scottish Government has instituted a £10 million Saltire Prize aimed at boosting innovation in tide and wave energy and this fits nicely into wider EU efforts to have a suitable policy in a changing world.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) As a result of global competition to attract investment, not only certain production plants but also the research and development capacities associated with them are increasingly being relocated to third countries. This trend is a fundamental threat to Europe as a location for industry. It needs to be countered, through the determined promotion of innovative potential, before it becomes irreversible. According to the Commission, less than 1% of the EU budget is currently spent directly on innovation-related measures. Given the social challenges that lie ahead, this is insufficient. Therefore, I agree with calls for an increase in the EU budget for innovation. This should be reflected in the planning process in connection with the 2014-2020 financial perspective. Moreover, and especially against the backdrop of the financial crisis and the credit crunch, it is crucially important for companies’ innovative capacity that more funding should be made available at both EU level and national level, and that financial instruments should be created which are tailored to the needs of their users. In order to make innovation policy more effective, the various support instruments need to be better coordinated and properly linked, with a leaner management structure; in other words, financial support must be better targeted.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) Without the continuous introduction of innovations, there is no chance of development. There is a need for innovative measures in every area of the economy and social life – from novel therapeutic methods and increasingly rapid means of communication to new ideas in industry and science and alternative methods of obtaining energy. This is particularly significant in the face of the global economic crisis and the problem of an ageing society. I would like to point out that apart from the cross-sectoral nature of innovation policy, the initiative of citizens is also important.

The innovativeness of small and medium-sized enterprises, and also of farms, is an essential element for the creation of a competitive economy. While caring for the rapid development of the economy, and this includes care for the environment, we should not forget people and the lack of social equality, because these differences may become greater and could work against measures for development.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that the current transformation of the European economy into a sustainable economy must make our European businesses more competitive. It is essential for the economic challenges to be transformed into new opportunities for the national economies. Combating the increase in relocations to third countries, not only of production facilities but also of their associated research and development capabilities, must become one of our objectives.

Alongside the policy aim of competitiveness, the European Union also needs to tackle other major challenges that face our societies today, including climate change and demographic change. To date, less than 1% of the Union’s budget is spent directly on innovation-related measures. Given the social challenges that lie ahead, we believe that this percentage is insufficient.

For this reason, I supported our rapporteur’s position, which calls for the forthcoming planning process in connection with the new financial perspective for the period 2014-2020 to include an increase in the EU budget for innovation. It will be essential for the incentives to be goal-oriented and to identify and develop coordinated links between instruments for supporting new technologies and improved coordination between the parties involved. Alongside support from the public purse, private sector investment in innovation will need to be encouraged and promoted.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In conjunction with research and training, innovation is one of the most important things for building knowledge within the EU. A Community policy on innovation is very important for achieving the objectives set out in the EU 2020 strategy. However, innovation requires financial resources which, particularly among businesses, are lacking, and are not easy for businesses, especially the SMEs, to obtain. Approving this regulation is therefore an important step towards providing support for entrepreneurs, who are the driving force behind innovation in Europe.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing. (SK) I consider it unacceptable that global economic competition has brought about a situation where not only production facilities but also the corresponding research and development resources are relocated to third countries.

This trend must be decisively countered through a bold and painstaking industrial innovation policy, guaranteeing the competitiveness of the European Union economy and the transfer to a knowledge-based and low-carbon economy.

For this reason, the volume of EU funding for innovation is, in my opinion, inadequate, representing less than 1% of the EU budget, and I agree with the rapporteur that this shortfall should be put right in the financial perspective for the period 2014–2020, work on which will begin by the end of this year.

At the same time, it is necessary, in view of the fact that the financial crisis has contributed to a freezing of credit for innovative business projects, for Member States to also think seriously about a clear increase in funding for research and development, which will guarantee their competitiveness in the long term and help to save and create jobs.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Research, innovation and education are important factors in a country’s competitiveness. If enterprises are to remain capable of innovation, they need to invest a lot of money – which is often a problem, particularly in view of the credit crunch. In times when resources become scarcer, it is essential to expand and promote sustainable technologies. Once again, on the one hand, we need to support rural regions by driving the expansion of the broadband network into these areas while, at the same time, the infrastructure of these regions is being cut back as a result of the privatisation of the rail network, post office, and so on.

While we talk about the importance of universities and research facilities, funding for these institutions is, in fact, being reduced. As ever, we highlight the importance of SMEs in this context, but it remains to be seen whether this is followed up by any real action. The report is essentially a rehash of old measures, which is why I abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The strategy for the next ten years (EU 2020) sets as its second basic objective an increase in investments in research and development to 3% of GDP by 2020. This own initiative report calls on the Commission for specific and ambitious initiatives under the shadow of the failure of the Lisbon Strategy in this specific sector.

It should be noted that spending on R&D in Europe is less than 2%, compared with 2.6% in the USA and 3.4% in Japan, mainly due to low levels of private investment. The change taking place on the labour market due to the current economic crisis and the changing production process make it necessary to develop the innovation sector, which will generate not only technological but also social added value.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) It is tomorrow’s innovations that will enable Europe to cope with the major economic, social and environmental challenges of the coming decades. We need to increase our efforts to implement an ambitious policy of innovation in Europe. That is the logic behind the report by Mr Winkler, which I have endorsed. Firstly, we need to increase the financial assistance earmarked for that policy. The share of the European budget that is devoted to innovation must be substantially increased, and I hope that the next financial perspective for 2014-2020 will be along those lines.

The Member States must also intensify their efforts to achieve the Barcelona objective as quickly as possible by devoting at least 3% of their GDP to research and development. It is also vitally important to improve the coordination of European and national policies. In order to be effective, innovation policy absolutely must be conceived in a comprehensive, coherent manner, and with a view to the long term. Furthermore, the dialogue between the research sector and the economic sector must be strengthened. In this respect, I welcome the creation of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, which will help boost relations between these two worlds.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I am sorry the split vote requested by the Greens to take out the call for a European Patent Court did not work, so this is regrettably included. However, this report calls for the use of common patent tools, patent platforms and full right licences, and it stresses the importance of the quality of patents.

 
  
  

Report: Michael Cashman (A7-0165/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that eradicating poverty is a matter of the greatest importance. The elimination of poverty is the main objective set by the Treaty of Lisbon for EU cooperation and development policies, and given that this is a moral duty whose long-term usefulness for EU interests is vital, I believe that prioritising this objective within our foreign policy is crucial. It is also worth noting that despite the profound economic crisis which Europe and the rest of the world are experiencing, we cannot and should not neglect foreign aid, as this is essential for creating a world of greater justice and solidarity.

Given that the objectives outlined at the Millennium Summit in 2000, where we committed ourselves to improving our contribution to fighting poverty, are still a long way from being achieved, and that the year 2015 – the target year for achieving those goals – is drawing ever closer, we should examine different factors which are aimed at maximising the results of the MDGs as a matter of the utmost urgency. I would therefore like to thank the rapporteur for this document and take this opportunity to voice my support for this project.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Nearly eight million children die each year before the age of five. Three and a half million die immediately after birth due to complications during pregnancy. Some four million die in five countries alone: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and China.

Many of these deaths could be easily prevented by simple acts such as breast-feeding, using mosquito nets treated with insecticide and administering vaccines, primarily against pneumonia and malaria. Many mothers are unaware of the importance of vaccines or, if they are aware of them, they are so poor that they do not have the money to pay for transport to the surgery or hospital.

Huge investments are not necessary in order to give these children a future; all that is required is to provide these countries with medicines that cost very little and which, for us, are part of everyday preventive medicine, to build wells for drinking water, to provide simple mosquito nets and to ensure that supplies reach their intended destination.

Above all, therefore, we need the political determination to take action to save many human lives, to stop this silent slaughter of innocent children whose only crime is to have been born in a poor country.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report submitted by Mr Cashman because it seems to me that Parliament had to take a clear position in favour of realising the Millennium Development Goals. The present economic crisis must not be allowed to bring these into question. These objectives, adopted during the Millennium Summit in 2000, are still far from being achieved. This is about reducing extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring primary education for all, promoting sexual equality, reducing infant mortality, improving maternal hygiene, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, conserving the environment in a sustainable manner and introducing a global partnership for development. In September 2010, all the Member States of the United Nations met to determine the procedure and to improve the results. By adopting this resolution, the European Parliament is demonstrating to the Heads of State or Government that it is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I support this report. Reducing poverty is one of the EU’s primary development policy objectives. However, the negative consequences of the economic and financial recession have slowed the progress of developing and the least developed countries even more. Therefore, the EU Member States should make an exceptional effort to ensure that concrete development aid measures are established as soon as possible covering the areas of trade, development cooperation and the common agricultural policy. We must also strive to facilitate the integration of developing countries into the global economy and stimulate the development of trade in these countries. The Commission should ensure effective administration of aid measures for developing and the least developed countries and transparency and efficiency in the distribution of financial aid.

 
  
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  Gerard Batten, John Bufton, David Campbell Bannerman, Trevor Colman and Nigel Farage (EFD), in writing. – UKIP do not support cancellation of debt on the basis that it is economically unsound on the following points: 1. A creditor nation is usually a debtor nation. For example, the UK is a significant donor of overseas aid. Yet the UK, and therefore its tax payers, are usually unwilling donors to aid recipients whilst debt mountains pile up for UK plc. 2. Debt cancellation impairs Third World debtor countries from raising further international finance. Therefore, it is not in the debtor nation’s interest. 3. Debt cancellation introduces moral hazard. What of Third World countries which meet debt obligations, of which there are many? 4. Cancellation implicitly condones fraud, corruption and the misappropriation of loans so endemic in African debtor countries. 5. Given the massive debt now of most international economies, who arbitrates where cancellation is appropriate? Further moral hazard.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I voted for Mr Cashman’s report concerning the extent to which the Millennium Development Goals set out in the year 2000 have been realised. Everything seems to indicate that these objectives will not be achieved. The EU has an immense responsibility in that it is the primary source of aid to poor countries and, in this respect, it is listened to on the international stage when it comes to questions of development. The Cashman report makes a very fair assessment of the state of the Millennium Development Goals, with the emphasis being on extreme poverty, the situation of women, health, education and the environment. This report reminds us that the European Union has to make sure that there is consistency in development policies. A country’s agricultural, fishing and business activities must not run counter to its development. Throughout this report, Parliament shows itself to be proactive by supporting new forms of financing which need to be introduced more generally. The report drafted during the Millennium Summit in 2000 is more relevant than ever. It is the duty of our leaders to bring these realistic and achievable objectives to fruition as quickly as possible. Above all, this is a question of will.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report because achieving the Millennium Development Goals must remain a key objective for the European Union. Achieving the MDGs, against all the odds, is a very important challenge and an urgent one both at EU and international level. The EU and international community should focus their efforts and take concrete action to enhance the chances of MDG success. I would like to underline that now is not the time for savings on the backs of the sick and starving. Therefore, we must devote particular attention to such areas as health, women and children and the fight against poverty and devote greater attention to employment and decent work. I would like to point out that poverty reduction through the achievement of the MDGs must be recognised as the overall goal of EU policy and Europe must lead the world in a concerted effort to keep the EU’s promises to the planet’s poorest. I agree with the European Parliament’s call for a majority of EU financial aid to be granted to the neediest people, focusing especially on women, children and people with disabilities and all those who need that aid most. Particular attention must also be paid to gender equality, minority rights and combating discrimination.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the role that Europe has played as the largest provider of development aid in the world.

Development aid has helped to alleviate poverty for millions of people in the developing world. The number of people having to endure extreme poverty has fallen from 1.8 billion to 1.4 billion. Almost 90% of poor children now attend school. Great steps have been made in combating malaria and tuberculosis, and the infant mortality rate is falling dramatically.

However, the recent food and fuel crises and the global economic recession have cancelled out much of the progress made over the last decade.

The rich countries are responsible for the current financial, economic and climate crises, but the developing countries are the most affected by global warming. This means that it is vital for us to step up all our measures for combating climate change, such as providing appropriate technology.

I would like to call for additional funds to be earmarked for developing countries. These should be sustainable in the medium and long term and come from the private sector, the carbon market, and the public sector of industrialised countries or the most economically advanced developing countries.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – I voted against this report due to the controversial wording of paragraph 42 concerning abortion. I am morally opposed to abortion and cannot accept such a clause. Nevertheless, I must also state that I feel that the rapporteur has done an excellent job on all other issues.

 
  
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  Carlo Casini (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is very sad that for years now, the European Parliament has been unable to resolve a tragic contradiction. In every document in which measures to combat poverty, hunger and violence in the world are admirably proposed, some manage to include the declaration, whether direct or indirect, of the so-called right to abortion as a vehicle for the health and development of populations.

The initiative of some is met, on the one hand, with the virtual indifference of the majority and, on the other, with a certain diffidence of the minority. Yet the contradiction and the tragedy are obvious. The principle of equal dignity for all human beings and that of special, rightful solidarity towards the youngest members of society are being abandoned at the very time when we are supposed to be pursuing the objective of combating discrimination and protecting health.

This has also happened today in the case of the Cashman report, paragraph 42 of which, in contradicting the entire document, has forced myself and a number of MEPs to ultimately reject the report as a whole. When balanced against one another, in fact, the bad points that are being promoted unfortunately outweigh the good points present in other parts of the text.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a priority in development policy. Only a few months from the high-level UN meeting, despite significant progress having been made on some of the MDGs, the truth is that we are a long way from what we had hoped. More needs to be done. The Member States should respect the commitment that they made to Official Development Assistance (ODA). New financing mechanisms which do not translate into higher taxes at this time of crisis need to be explored. Above all, it is crucial to bring about consistency in development policies (along the route of the resolution approved in May this year on consistency in EU development policies and the concept of greater public development aid).

I welcome the fact that Parliament has set the priority goals for the MDGs as health, education, the most vulnerable groups in society and the eradication of poverty through concrete measures in business, agriculture and fisheries policies. They have also done this with the call for a new global governance that gives greater voice to developing countries and which promotes democracy, peace, and the rule of law in developing countries. However, I oppose the view of abortion as a means of contraception.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Scott McKenzie once sang, ‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair, If you’re going to San Francisco, you’re gonna meet some gentle people there’. However, the world is not like that, and this message cannot be applied to the complex economic and social reality of the world today. For that reason, I voted against this report, although obviously without doubting the goodwill behind their objectives. ‘Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace’. Yet it was John Lennon himself who added, ‘You may say I’m a dreamer’. Unfortunately, real life is not like that. It is up to us, however, to make the world a fairer and safer place where everyone can live with a modicum of dignity.

The proposals set out in this report seek to pursue multiple objectives, without focusing or defining effective priorities. Firing in all directions means that none of these objectives are practicable. Lastly, it seems to me that they are too statist and focused on central government. I disagree with this approach. I believe rather that Millennium Development Goal investment should be given to Union-based projects such as the Millennium Villages, with strong involvement from all EU institutions.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. – I strongly support this report on progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The EU is 20 billion euro short of its funding commitments, at a time when states are cutting back their aid budgets. The EU Member States must not falter when it comes to fulfilling their commitments in the framework of the European Consensus on Development. Moreover, the MDGs have to be seen from a development-enabling perspective, while at the same time facing and tackling the root causes of poverty. Member States must commit 0.7% of GNI to aid by 2015, as promised, rather than decrease that share, which is doubly alarming in times of crisis, as GNI itself diminishes. Besides, it is not acceptable for the EU to broaden the definition of Official Development Aid to include other financial flows such as remittances or debt cancellation measures. To address underdevelopment, the developed world needs to vigorously fight tax havens and illicit capital flows which deprive developing countries of resources they desperately need. I believe that responsibility for development has to remain within the remit of the Development Commissioner, who needs to push for better policy coherence, especially as regards trade, common agriculture and fisheries policies.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Parliament is sending a strong message by adopting a resolution on the progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This shows the importance that Europe attaches to eliminating poverty, hunger, disease and infant and maternal mortality between now and 2015. On the eve of the European Council, the message is clear. The Heads of State or Government of the EU must stick to their financial commitments, including – perhaps even more than ever – in this period of global economic and financial crisis. What is needed is a contribution of 0.7% of the GNP of the Member States. In order to catch up with respect to its financial commitments, Europe must create new mechanisms of financing, such as a tax of 0.05% on financial transactions. Given how much these transactions currently amount to – recently, this was 70 times the global GNP – such a tax could free up EUR 10 billion per year. In addition, it would have the advantage of making the financial sector contribute. This would seem fair, given that this sector has benefited from enormous amounts of State aid in order to survive the unprecedented crisis that it itself caused. A unilateral EU initiative could act as a catalyst at a global level.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the vote on the Cashman report on progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals: mid-term review in preparation of the UN high-level meeting in September 2010. It simply had to be adopted! Only five years away from the 2015 deadline set for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it offers a unique opportunity for the international community to redouble its efforts to achieve those goals. The situation is critical and requires urgent action. There must be renewed efforts to write off the debts of the least developed countries and to embark on a course that will reduce the burden of debt on developing countries.

I am also in favour of the introduction of enhanced measures to monitor fulfilment of the commitment made to devote 0.7% of GNI to official development assistance (ODA) by 2015. Financing of the MDGs must begin at national level, and developing countries must generate and allocate own resources to achieve those goals, but the donor community must keep its promise to substantially increase its ODA. The commitments made must absolutely be honoured at the meeting in September.

 
  
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  Harlem Désir (S&D), in writing. (FR) Achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 is a fundamental commitment by the international community. However, it has not provided itself with the resources to fulfil that commitment. Two-thirds of the way through, it is clear that many least developed countries (LDCs) will be unable to achieve any of the goals of eradicating poverty, of providing access to education and health care, and that most developing countries will be far from achieving them too. Europe is the world’s leading donor but, with 0.4% of GNI, it cannot be content with falling so far short of the target of devoting 0.56% to official development assistance (ODA) in 2010, a target that it set itself. The fact is, the aid requirements are greater than ever, especially in the areas of food security, the fight against climate change, education, health – in particular for HIV sufferers – and maternal and reproductive health. With the Cashman report, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament is calling for the European Council of 17 June to endorse the proposal for a 0.05% tax on international financial transactions, which would yield EUR 10 billion, and to set itself the target of achieving 0.63% of European GNI in 2012, with a view to increasing it to 0.7%.

 
  
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  Leonidas Donskis (ALDE), in writing. (LT) As shadow rapporteur on this report, I voted firmly in favour of this report whose objective is to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals are successfully achieved. I fully support the efforts of my fellow Members to ensure that the European Union’s voice on this issue is united and progressive. However, I was unable to endorse the two amendments submitted, whose provisions I find unacceptable as a liberal. Therefore, I voted against the calls for the EU unilaterally to introduce a tax on currency and derivatives transactions in order to fund global public goods, including the MDGs. The European Union should not place an additional tax burden on its citizens, in particular taxes whose mechanisms and impact have not yet been fully examined. I also do not agree that development aid measures should be legally binding.

It is important for the Member States to fulfil their obligations to increase the amount of Official Development Aid (ODA), but the European Union should not legally penalise its Member States because of a partial failure to fulfil obligations in the changed context of the financial crisis. Not all Member States were affected by the crisis in the same way and not all will be able to achieve the goal of 0.7%. The European Parliament should encourage them with softer and more acceptable means than strict legal measures.

 
  
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  Lena Ek (ALDE), in writing. (SV) It is alarming that so many Members of this House voted against giving women in developing countries the right to control their own bodies and reproductive health by attempting to have paragraph 42 of the report deleted. This is an indication of a very disturbing trend among opponents of abortion in Europe who are using the aid programme to make their views public. The availability of family planning is an important factor in enabling women in developing countries to take control over their own lives and, as a result, to lift themselves out of poverty.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the Cashman report because there is still a long way to go before we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It is necessary to strengthen existing measures so that they can be achieved by 2015, particularly through the implementation of the responsibilities assumed by the Member States on aid to developing countries.

I welcome the adoption of paragraph 42, which ‘calls on all the Member States and the Commission to reverse the worrying decline in funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights in developing countries, and to support policies on voluntary family planning, safe abortion, treatment of sexually transmitted infections and the provision of reproductive health supplies consisting of life-saving drugs and contraceptives, including condoms’.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Eradicating poverty and reducing the gap between rich and poor are important objectives, and all governments should give attention and allocate resources to them. The UN adopted them at the Millennium Summit in 2000, while the European Union, as the largest donor, has a major share in the results of this collective effort.

Despite all the efforts made by the developing countries, many of which are facing crises that may jeopardise their commitment, responsibility lies with the states benefiting from the aid if they are to assume their responsibility for good governance, rule of law and essential civil liberties. I cannot help but be disappointed that under the guise of his stated good intentions, the rapporteur is seeking to have this House adopt a resolution which, in blatant violation of the powers of the Member States and third states in these matters, advocates the promotion of abortion as a means to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. This is not a new tactic, but it is no less furtive or reprehensible for that.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The international community has made a fundamental commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Europe is the largest provider of aid in the world. This funding for developing countries has helped to alleviate poverty, reduce the mortality rate and improve the skills of millions of people. In fact, extreme poverty has decreased, almost 90% of poor children attend school and infant mortality is falling dramatically. Much still remains to be done, and much support must be given if less developed countries are to achieve the MDGs of eradicating poverty and providing access to education and health care services. Europe, as a champion of fundamental human rights, with solidarity as its basic principle, and as the world’s largest contributor of development aid, must take a leading role in this matter, particularly at the next UN debriefing, which is to take place in September. I am, however, disappointed that this report has mixed noble objectives with sensitive issues relating to individual conscience, such as abortion. Promoting policies in support of abortion does not help to achieve the MDGs. I therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The initial objective of the Millennium Declaration in 2000 was to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, provide clean water and education for all, and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. The report acknowledges that we are a long way from achieving these goals, which in themselves were limited. The EU as a whole has been reducing its aid budget, while its countries have recently spent thousands of millions of dollars on saving their banks, passing on the bill to the people while leaving the economic and financial groups that control them unscathed.

However, the text contains some contradictions which we think are worth pointing out, not least when it criticises the liberalisation of trade while simultaneously supporting the opening up of trade through the conclusion of the Doha Round, within the context of the World Trade Organisation, and accepting the Economic Partnership agreements and Free Trade Areas. Trade liberalisation exacerbates inequality, creating greater exploitation of workers and natural resources, more poverty and more social exclusion, and it increases dependency relationships between countries. Sacrificing deve