Index 
Debates
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Tuesday, 7 September 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 4. State of the Union (debate)
 5. Formal sitting - Mali
 6. Voting time
  6.1. Freedom of movement for workers within the Union - codified version (A7-0222/2010, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg) (vote)
  6.2. Authentication of euro coins and handling of euro coins unfit for circulation (A7-0212/2010, Slavi Binev) (vote)
  6.3. Macro-financial assistance for the Republic of Moldova (A7-0242/2010, Iuliu Winkler) (vote)
  6.4. Temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into Madeira and the Azores (A7-0232/2010, Danuta Maria Hübner) (vote)
  6.5. Draft amending budget No 2/2010 BEREC (Office of the Body of the European Regulators for Electronic Communications) (A7-0240/2010, László Surján) (vote)
  6.6. Request for the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Mr Viktor Uspaskich (A7-0244/2010, Bernhard Rapkay) (vote)
  6.7. Agreement between the EU and Japan on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters (A7-0209/2010, Salvatore Iacolino) (vote)
  6.8. Interconnection of business registers (A7-0218/2010, Kurt Lechner) (vote)
  6.9. Developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy (A7-0234/2010, Elisabeth Schroedter) (vote)
  6.10. EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market (A7-0216/2010, Rafał Trzaskowski) (vote)
  6.11. Bilateral safeguard clause in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (A7-0210/2010, Pablo Zalba Bidegain) (vote)
  6.12. Fair revenues for farmers: A better functioning food supply chain in Europe (A7-0225/2010, José Bové) (vote)
  6.13. Funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (A7-0236/2010, Miguel Portas) (vote)
  6.14. Jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (A7-0219/2010, Tadeusz Zwiefka) (vote)
  6.15. Social integration of women belonging to ethnic minority groups (A7-0221/2010, Antonyia Parvanova) (vote)
  6.16. Role of women in an ageing society (A7-0237/2010, Sirpa Pietikäinen) (vote)
  6.17. Journalism and new media - creating a public sphere in Europe (A7-0223/2010, Morten Løkkegaard) (vote)
 7. Explanations of vote
 8. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 9. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting
 10. The case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 11. Situation of the Roma people in Europe (debate)
 12. Humanitarian situation after the floods in Pakistan (debate)
 13. Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (debate)
 14. Presentation by the Council of its position on the draft general budget - 2011 financial year
 15. Question Time (Commission)
 16. Freedom of expression and press freedom in the European Union (debate)
 17. Discrimination of same-sex married or in civil-partnership couples (debate)
 18. Long-term care for older people (debate)
 19. Agenda of the next sitting: see Minutes
 20. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: Jerzy BUZEK
President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting was opened at 09:05)

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

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

4. State of the Union (debate)
Video of the speeches
MPphoto
 

  President. – I declare the sitting open.

The next item is the statement by the President of the European Commission on the state of the Union. As you remember, we talked yesterday about the problem of attendance at the most important plenary debates in Parliament. The Bureau considered this problem yesterday, and is of the same opinion as the Conference of Presidents concerning the necessity of increasing attendance at key debates. We also concluded that more time is needed, and that it is necessary to think about ways which might bring about higher attendances at the most important debates. Following yesterday evening’s consultations with the chairs of the political groups, I would like to inform you that the procedure for checking attendance will not be used this time. I would also like to welcome you to a special debate which, we profoundly believe, is of huge significance for the future of the European Union. I am pleased that the attendance is fairly high, because this puts the debate in the right setting. For the first time, we are holding a debate on the state of the Union. This is a step towards a parliamentary structure for Europe. The Treaty of Lisbon has given us special powers, but greater power means greater responsibility. We are responsible to the 500 million citizens who elected us. Once a year, we are going to discuss matters such as the current condition and state of the Union, political, economic and social priorities, how the Union should operate and how decisions are to be made in order to meet the expectations of our citizens. This is part of the democratic oversight of the European Union’s executive institution, the European Commission.

These reports will be presented to us by the President of the Commission. I would like to welcome Mr Barroso. I would also like to welcome all the Commissioners who have accompanied Mr Barroso and are with us in the Chamber. I would like to emphasise again that the European Parliament has already done a great deal to bring itself closer to the citizens and to set out the possibilities for democratic supervision and scrutiny of the executive institution. In July, Mr Barroso presented his manifesto, and in September last year, before we decided to elect him as President of the Commission, he held talks with all the political groups. European Parliament committees also held hearings of all the Commissioners. The European Parliament has entered into a new framework agreement with the Commission, and this, too, ensures operation of the Community method, which is something we strongly believe in here in the European Parliament. Finally, in the next few weeks, a presentation of the Commission’s legislative programme for 2011 will be made. So we are doing the work which has been entrusted to us by the citizens of Europe.

Mr Barroso, the times we live in are not easy and are full of challenges. We are confident that the European Commission will discharge its duties and fulfil its role as guardian of the treaties and as a source of legislative initiatives and projects in the Union. We are eager to hear your and the Commission’s opinion on the state of the Union, what can be done, and the many matters in the European Union which still have to be resolved.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members, it is a great privilege to deliver the first State of the Union address before this House. From now on, the State of the Union address will be the occasion when we will chart our work for the next 12 months.

Many of the decisions we will take in the next year will have long-term implications. They will define the kind of Europe we want. They will define a Europe of opportunity where those that aspire are elevated and those in need are not neglected. A Europe that is open to the world and open to its people. A Europe that delivers economic, social and territorial cohesion.

Over the last year, the economic and financial crisis has caused our Union to face one of its greatest challenges ever. Our interdependence was highlighted and our solidarity was tested as never before.

As I look back at how we have reacted, I believe that we have withstood the test. We have provided many of the answers needed – on financial assistance to Member States facing exceptional circumstances, on economic governance, on financial regulation and on growth and jobs. We have been able to build a base camp from which to modernise our economies. Europe has shown that it will stand up and be counted. Those who predicted the demise of the European Union were proved wrong. The European institutions and the Member States have demonstrated leadership. My message to each and every European is that you can trust the European Union to do what it takes to secure your future.

The economic outlook in the European Union today is better than it was a year ago, not least as a result of our determined action. The recovery is gathering pace, albeit unevenly within the Union. Growth this year will be higher than initially forecast. The unemployment rate, whilst still much too high, has stopped increasing. Clearly, uncertainties and risks remain, not least outside the European Union.

We should be under no illusions. Our work is far from finished. There is no room for complacency. The unemployment problem is an extremely serious one. Budgetary expansion played its role to counter the decline in economic activity. But it is now time to exit. Without structural reforms, we will not create sustainable growth. We must use the next 12 months to accelerate our reform agenda. Now is the time to modernise our social market economy so that it can compete globally and respond to the challenge of demography. Now is the time to make the right investments for our future.

This is Europe's moment of truth. Europe must show that it is more than 27 different national solutions. We either swim together or sink separately. We will only succeed if, whether acting nationally, regionally or locally, we think European.

Today, I will set out what I see as the priorities for our work together over the coming year. I cannot cover here every issue of European policy or initiative we will take. Through President Buzek, I will send you a more complete programme document.

Essentially, I see five major challenges for the Union over the next year: dealing with the economic crisis and governance; restoring growth for jobs by accelerating the Europe 2020 reform agenda; building an area of freedom, justice and security; launching negotiations for a modern EU budget; and pulling our weight on the global stage.

Let me start with the economic crisis and governance. Earlier this year, we acted decisively when euro area members and the euro itself needed our help.

We have learned hard lessons. Now we are making important progress on economic governance. The Commission put its ideas on the table in May and in June. They have been well received by this Parliament and in the Task Force chaired by the President of the European Council. They are the basis around which a consensus is being developed. We will present the most urgent legislative proposals on 29 September so as not to lose momentum.

Unsustainable budgets make us vulnerable. Debt and deficit lead to boom and bust and they unravel the social safety net. Money that is spent on servicing debt is money that cannot be spent on the social good nor to prepare ourselves for the costs of an ageing population. A debt generation makes an unsustainable nation. Our proposals will strengthen the Stability and Growth Pact through increased surveillance and enforcement.

We need to tackle severe macro-economic imbalances, especially in the euro area. That is why we made proposals early on to detect asset bubbles, lack of competitiveness and other sources of imbalances.

I now see a willingness on the part of governments to accept stronger monitoring, backed up by incentives for compliance and earlier sanctions. The Commission will strengthen its role as an independent referee and enforcer of the new rules. We will match monetary union with true economic union.

If implemented as we propose, these reforms will also guarantee the long-term stability of the euro. It is key to our economic success.

For the economy to grow, we also need a strong and sound financial sector – a sector that serves the real economy and that prides itself on proper regulation and proper supervision.

We took action to increase bank transparency. Today, the situation is better than it was a year ago. With the publication of the stress test results, banks should now be able to lend to each other so that credit can flow to Europe’s citizens and companies.

We have proposed protecting people’s savings up to EUR 100 000. We will propose to ban abusive naked short selling. We will tackle credit default swaps. The days of betting on someone else’s house burning down are over. We continue to insist that banks, not taxpayers, must pay up front to cover the costs of their own risks of failure. We are legislating to outlaw bonuses for quick wins today that become big losses tomorrow. As part of this approach, I am also defending taxes on financial activities and we will come forward with proposals this autumn.

The political deal on the financial supervision package just concluded is very good news. The Commission proposals, based on the de Larosière report, will give us an effective European supervision system. I want to thank Parliament for the constructive role it has played and I hope it will give its final agreement this month.

We will also go further on regulation. Initiatives on derivatives, further measures on credit rating agencies and a framework for bank resolution and crisis management will soon be before you. Our goal is to have a reformed financial sector in place by the end of 2011.

Sound government finances and responsible financial markets give us the confidence and economic strength for sustainable growth. We need to move beyond the debate between fiscal consolidation and growth. We can have both.

Honourable Members, sound public finances are a means to an end: growth for jobs. Our goal is growth – sustainable and inclusive growth. This is our overarching priority. This is where we need to invest.

Europe 2020 starts now. We must frontload and accelerate the most growth-promoting reforms of our agenda. This could raise growth levels by over a third by 2020.

This means concentrating on three priorities: getting more people into jobs, boosting our companies’ competitiveness and deepening the single market.

Let me start with people and jobs. Over 6.3 million people have lost their jobs since 2008. Each one of them should have the chance to get back into employment. Europe’s employment rates are at 69% on average for those aged between 20 and 64. We have agreed that these should rise to 75% by 2020, bringing, in particular, more women and older workers into the workforce.

Most of the competences for employment policy remain with Member States. We know that. But we will not stand on the sidelines. I want a European Union that helps its people to seize new opportunities and that is social and inclusive. This is the Europe we will build if Member States, the European institutions and the social partners move ahead on our common reform agenda.

It should be centred on skills and jobs and investment in lifelong learning. It should focus on unlocking the growth potential of the single market, to build a stronger single market for jobs.

The opportunities exist. We have very high levels of unemployment, but Europe now has four million job vacancies. Later this year, the Commission will propose a ‘European Vacancy Monitor’ which will show people where the jobs are in Europe and which skills are needed. We will also put forward plans for a European skills passport.

We must also tackle problems of poverty and exclusion. We must make sure that the most vulnerable are not left behind. This is the focus of our ‘Platform Against Poverty’. It will bring together European action for vulnerable groups such as children and old people.

As more and more people travel, study or work abroad, we will also strengthen citizens’ rights as they move across borders. The Commission will address persistent obstacles as early as this autumn.

Growth must be based on our companies’ competitiveness. We should continue to make life easier for our small and medium-sized enterprises. They provide two out of every three private sector jobs. Among their main concerns are innovation and red tape. We are working on both.

Just before the summer, the Commission announced the biggest ever package from the Seventh Research Framework Programme, worth EUR 6.4 billion. This money will go to SMEs as well as to scientists.

Investing in innovation also means promoting world-class universities in Europe. I want to see them attracting the brightest and the best, from Europe and the rest of the world. We will take an initiative on the modernisation of European universities. I want to see a Europe that is strong in science, education and culture.

We need to improve Europe’s innovation performance not only in universities but along the whole chain, from research to retail, notably through innovation partnerships. We need an Innovation Union. Next month, the Commission will set out how to achieve this.

Another key test will be whether Member States are ready to make a breakthrough on a patent valid across the whole European Union. Our innovators often pay ten times the price faced by their competitors in the United States or in Japan. Our proposal is on the table. It would substantially reduce the cost and double the coverage. After decades of discussion, it is time to decide.

We will also act further on red tape. SMEs are being strangled in regulatory knots. 71% of CEOs say that the biggest barrier to their success is bureaucracy. The Commission has put proposals on the table to generate annual savings of EUR 38 billion for European companies.

Stimulating innovation, cutting red tape and developing a highly-skilled workforce: these are ways to ensure that European manufacturing continues to be world class. We want a strong, but modern, industrial base in Europe. A thriving industrial base in Europe is of paramount importance for our future. Next month, the Commission will present a new industrial policy for the globalisation era.

We have the people and we have the companies. What they both need is an open and modern single market.

The internal market is Europe’s greatest asset, and we are not using it enough. We urgently need to deepen it. Only 8% of Europe’s 20 million SMEs engage in cross-border trade, still fewer in investment. Even with the Internet, over a third of consumers lack the confidence to make cross-border purchases. At my request, Mario Monti presented an excellent report and has identified 150 missing links and bottlenecks in the internal market. Next month, we will set out how to deepen the Single Market in a comprehensive and ambitious Single Market Act.

Energy is a key driver for growth and a central priority for action. We need to complete the internal market for energy, build and interconnect energy grids, and ensure energy security and solidarity. We need to do for energy what we have done for mobile phones: give real choice for consumers in one European marketplace. This will give us a real energy community in Europe.

We need to make frontiers irrelevant for pipelines or power cables, to have the infrastructure for solar and wind energy, and to ensure that across the whole of Europe, we have a common standard so that charging electric car batteries becomes as natural as filling up the tank.

Over the next year, we will bring forward an energy action plan, an infrastructure package and an energy efficiency action plan to put this vision in place. I myself will travel to the Caspian region later this year to promote the Southern Corridor as a means of enhancing our security of supply.

To build a resource-efficient Europe, we need to look beyond energy. In the 20th century, the world enjoyed phenomenal resource-intensive growth. In the 20th century we saw, globally, a four-fold growth in population, accompanied by a 40-fold growth in economic output. But in the same period, we also increased our use of fossil fuels 16 times, our fishing catches 35 times and our water use 9 times. Our carbon emissions increased 17 times.

That means we have to deliver on our climate and energy package, as a core driver for change. This means integrating the different strands of policy on climate change, energy, transport and environment into a coherent approach on resource efficiency and a low carbon future.

A forward-looking agricultural sector will play a major role in European measures to address some of the biggest challenges ahead, such as global food security, biodiversity loss and the sustainable management of natural resources. So will our maritime policy.

All of this will not only strengthen our economy tomorrow, but will provide new openings today. Jobs in the eco-industry have been increasing by 7% a year since 2000. I want to see three million ‘green jobs’ by 2020 – three million green collar workers that complement our blue and white collar workers.

We need sustainable growth, and we also need smart growth. Half of European productivity growth over the last 15 years was driven by information and communication technologies. This trend is set to intensify. Our European Digital Agenda will deliver a single digital market worth 4% of EU GDP by 2020.

Mr President, everything we do is for the citizens of Europe. A fundamental dimension of our European project is building an area of freedom, security and justice. We are working hard to implement the Stockholm action plan. We will make a real push on asylum and migration.

Legal migrants will find Europe a place where human values are respected and enforced. At the same time, we will crack down on the exploitation of illegal immigrants within Europe and at our borders. The Commission will make new proposals on policing our external borders. We will bring forward an internal security strategy to tackle threats of organised crime and terrorism.

Europeans will find that their fundamental rights and obligations exist wherever they go. Everyone in Europe must respect the law and governments must respect human rights, including those of minorities. Racism and xenophobia have no place in Europe.

(Applause)

On such sensitive issues, and when a problem arises, we must all act with responsibility. I make a strong appeal not to re-awaken the ghosts of Europe’s past. An area of freedom, liberty and security will create a place where Europeans can prosper.

Honourable Members, another challenge for next year is sorting out the future budget of the European Union. Next month, we will put forward the Commission’s first ideas for the budget review. It will launch an open debate without taboos to prepare our legislative proposals that will be presented in the second quarter of next year.

We need to spend our money where we get most value for it. We should invest it where it leverages growth and delivers our European agenda. The quality of spending should be the yardstick for us all. It is important to discuss not only the quantity, but also the quality, of the spending and investment. I believe that Europe offers real added value. That is why I will be pushing for an ambitious post-2013 budget for Europe.

I believe we should pool our means to back our policy priorities. The issue is not about spending more or less, but spending more intelligently by looking at European and national budgets together. The EU budget is not for Brussels. It is for the people that you represent – for the unemployed workers being retrained by the Social Fund, for the students that participate in the Erasmus programme, and for the regions that benefit from the Cohesion Fund.

Energy interconnections, research, and development aid are obvious examples where a euro spent at European level gets you more than a euro spent at national level. As you know, some Member States are seeing this logic even in areas of core national competence, like defence. They recognise that huge savings could be made if they pooled some of their means and activities. Pooling money at European level allows Member States to cut their costs, avoid overlaps and get a better return on their investment.

That is why we should also explore new sources of financing for major European infrastructure projects. For instance, I will propose the establishment of European Union project bonds, together with the European Investment Bank.

(Applause)

We will also further develop Public-Private Partnerships.

As this Parliament has made clear, we must also address the issue of own resources. The present system is stretched to its limits – propped up by a byzantine set of corrections. Our citizens deserve a fairer and more efficient and more transparent system. Some will not agree with all the ideas we will raise. Indeed, I find it extraordinary that some are already rejecting them, without even knowing what they will be.

(Applause)

I know that one issue of interest to this Parliament is the duration of the next budget. Various options exist. I would like to look at a 10-year framework, with a mid-term review of the financial dimension after five years. Let us call it a ‘five plus five’ option. This will give us longer-term planning and a clearer link with the mandates of both our institutions.

Of course, part of a credible European budget is the rigorous pursuit of savings. I am looking at the administrative costs within the Commission and other Community bodies like agencies. We need to eliminate all pockets of inefficiency. We will build on recommendations from the Court of Auditors to improve financial management.

Honourable Members, the final challenge I want to address today is how we pull our weight on the global stage. When we deal with our everyday problems, we sometimes lose perspective and forget Europe’s achievements: a peaceful and successful transition to a European Union that has doubled in size and is negotiating further accessions; a sound currency – the euro – that is a major world currency; and a strong partnership with our neighbourhood that strengthens us all. If we act decisively, we have nothing to fear from the 21st century.

As the strategic partnerships of the 21st century emerge, Europe should seize the chance to define its future. I am impatient to see the Union play a role in global affairs that matches its economic weight. Our partners are watching and are expecting us to engage as Europe, not just as 27 individual countries. If we do not act together, Europe will not be a force in the world and they will move on without us – without the European Union but also without its Member States. This is why, in my political guidelines, I called for Europe to be a global player and a global leader – a key task and test for our generation.

Together with High Representative and Vice-President Ashton, I will present our vision of how we can maximise Europe’s role in the world. With the European External Action Service, we have the means to match our aspirations.

In our globalised world, the relationships we build with strategic partners determine our prosperity. To be effective on the international stage, we need the weight of the European Union. Size matters, now more than ever.

A good example is the fight against climate change. Copenhagen showed that, while others did not match our ambition, we did not help ourselves by not speaking with one voice. Negotiations may have stalled but climate change has not. I want us to intensify our engagement with international partners to turn their press releases into credible commitments to cut emissions and push forward with fast-start funding.

The next two months will see crucial summits with strategic partners. The more we are able to establish a common agenda, with a clearly defined European interest, the more we will achieve. For example, I see huge potential in developing a transatlantic agenda for growth and jobs.

Where we are already punching our weight is the G20, the forum where the key economic global players address common challenges. When President Van Rompuy and I go to Seoul in November, representing the European Union, we want to see concrete results – further progress in global economic coordination, more stable and responsible financial markets and agreement on reform of international financial institutions, more effective global financial safety nets, and more progress on a G20 development agenda. We will continue to show leadership in this forum and work closely with the French G8/G20 Presidency next year.

We also want to see support for the Doha Round. Trade boosts growth and prosperity. We will also pursue bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements. In October, the Commission will present a renewed trade policy to drive new benefits for Europe.

Being open to the world also means standing side by side with developing countries, especially with Africa. When I go to the Millennium Development Goals High-Level Event in New York in two weeks’ time, I intend to commit – with your support and on behalf of the European Union – an extra EUR 1 billion to the Millennium Development Goals.

Being a global player also means standing up for our values. Human rights are not negotiable. I am shocked at how the rights of women are being infringed in many countries. I am appalled when I hear that Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani has been sentenced to death by stoning. This is barbaric beyond words.

(Applause)

In Europe, we condemn such acts, which have no justification under any moral or religious code.

Our values also mean that we must come to the aid of those facing a crisis situation, anywhere around the world. Our humanitarian aid to Pakistan is the latest example of Europe’s solidarity in action. It is a striking example of the need to present the different contributions of the Commission and the Member States as a truly European aid package. The Member States have the helicopters and the civil protection teams. We now need to pool them to create a real European crisis response capacity. This is what the Commission will propose in October. I urge the Member States to show they are serious about the Union punching its weight in this area.

We are also making progress on a common foreign policy, but let us be under no illusions. We will not have the weight we need in the world without a common defence policy. I believe now is the moment to address this challenge.

(Applause)

Honourable Members, we are still bedding down the new institutional set-up of Europe created by the Lisbon Treaty. What really matters is what the institutions deliver to the people. What matters is the difference Europe makes in their daily lives.

The secret of Europe’s success is its unique Community model. More than ever, the Commission must drive the political agenda with its vision and proposals. I have called for a special relationship between the Commission and Parliament, the two Community institutions par excellence. I am intensifying my political cooperation with you.

Europe is not only Brussels or Strasbourg. It is also our regions. It is the cities, towns and villages you come from. When you walk round your constituencies, you can point to the European projects that are so important for their prosperity.

At the end of the day, we are all in the same boat – the European institutions, Member States and regions. The Union will not achieve its objectives in Europe without the Member States and the Member States will not achieve their objectives in the world without the European Union.

The citizens of Europe expect us to take the action needed to get out of this crisis. We must show them that the common efforts we are making today will lead to new jobs, new investments, and a Europe fit for the future.

I am confident that Europe has what it takes. We will get the results we are reaching for. One thing is certain – it is not through pessimism and constantly promoting defeat that we will win this battle; it is with confidence and with a strong common will.

Today, I have outlined how I see the European Union doing that. I have committed myself to delivering the proposals to build our economic union. I have made the case to fast-track our reform agenda. I have set out how to modernise our social market economy to deliver growth and jobs in a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy through our Europe 2020 flagship initiatives. I have set out how to achieve a common energy policy in Europe. I have defended the need for an area of freedom, security and justice, where Europeans will find that their fundamental rights and obligations exist wherever they go. I have made clear that the Commission will strive for an ambitious budget. I have proposed developing EU project bonds to finance major European projects. I have announced our reinforced commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. I have made the case clear as to why we need a common crisis response capacity, a common foreign policy and a common defence policy. I have urged European leaders to act together if they want Europe to be a global player and defend the European interest.

It is indeed a transformational, ambitious and challenging agenda. For Europe to succeed, the Commission needs your support for a stronger, fairer Europe for the benefit of our citizens.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – President Barroso, thank you for your presentation on the State of the Union.

 
  
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  Joseph Daul, on behalf of the PPE Group.(FR) Mr President, Mr Barroso, Presidents of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, the chairs and the presidents are happy this morning, and you have demonstrated that you can be present without penalty. Well, that is indeed democracy. Thank you to all of you.

(Applause)

What is the state of the European Union? What have we done successfully together these past few years, and in what ways have we failed? What plans do we have? What political means and, in particular, what financial means will we make available for implementing them?

Mr President, this debate is welcome, and I am happy that Parliament and the Commission, the two Community institutions which represent and defend the general European interest, are this morning participating in this exercise, which the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) would like to be a forward-looking one.

Europeans sometimes – in fact, often – wonder what Europe is really doing to respond to their problems and their expectations. At the same time, as all the opinion polls have shown for years, they are asking not for less Europe, but for more Europe.

More Europe on the issue of migration: the Roma question, which requires a long-term European strategy, is a perfect illustration of the issue of respect for people.

More Europe to represent them in the world. How, for example, can we justify our absence from the negotiations between Israel and Palestine, when we are the primary donors in this region?

(Applause)

Europeans do not understand this, and they are right. Our fellow citizens are also aware that we need more Europe, not less, to safeguard our security, whether it is personal security, energy security or food security. They know that Europe must be better coordinated to create growth and jobs, as you described so well, to regulate the markets and to avoid renewed speculative attacks. They understand that we also need more Europe to reduce inequalities and to strengthen our European social model, our social market economy.

We therefore need more Europe, not to interfere in the details of everyday life, but to address our common challenges together in a much more efficient way, and – a question I will come back to – in a more profitable and less costly way.

As I was saying, our fellow citizens are wondering why Europe is not more efficient and more organised, and why it is not listened to more on the world stage. They quite rightly expect that the economic and financial efforts which they have been asked to make will bear fruit, and that we will bring everyone out of the difficulties together.

We need more European governance. It is for us, Parliament and Commission, to work towards this aim, to convince the Member States to work together and to invest together. This is not about attacking the sovereignty or the prestige of our Member States. On the contrary, it is the only way of seriously and effectively building a future for the 500 million European citizens and for future generations.

I therefore ask the Commission – I ask you, Mr Barroso, but every other Commissioner too – to take more initiatives to propose the measures and reforms that we need in Europe so that things function better, and to explain these projects to our fellow citizens.

Along with my group, I would like our Parliament to support these efforts by using its new prerogatives as a colegislator with the Council. This is not solely a question of power, it is a question of comprehension, and it is a question that we must discuss in order to make Europe progress.

President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, while we must be ambitious, we must also look back at the path that has been travelled. I believe that, on several important subjects, Europe has no cause to be ashamed of its actions during these past few months. It was Europe which took the initiative to reform the financial markets after the Wall Street crisis of autumn 2009. It was Europe which, after having suffered unprecedented speculative attacks in the previous spring, took measures which were also unprecedented to strengthen and stabilise its economy. The initial effects of this policy have already been felt, but we must go even further.

Europe has also played a pioneering role in the fight against global warming. It really needs to be said: the Copenhagen conference left a bitter taste in the mouth. Our ambitions are unchanged, and the cap is now fixed for good. We can be proud of that.

What do we have to do in the months and years to come to consolidate our actions, to strengthen the confidence of our fellow citizens in our joint actions? I will suggest three ways.

The first is to strengthen our economy, to reduce inequalities through a series of measures which will encourage returns on investments, the confidence of entrepreneurs and the possibility of developing new creative sources of wealth and jobs. Commissioners, Mr President, we must make the rules ‘jump’, as you have said, across borders. It is unacceptable that, in the 21st century, we still have draconian rules which no longer have anything to do with the reality of Europe.

The second is to take a more serious attitude in our common external policy and, as you have repeatedly said, to become a more respected actor in the world. We can no longer be content with saying that Europe is complicated, that it takes time and that we must be patient. We can also no longer be content with being the primary global donor without being able to guarantee that the aid that we send arrives at its destination along with Mr Putin’s and Mr Obama’s helicopters. On this as well, I believe that we must take a serious attitude.

Europe is one of the major global powers, and its main priority, in my opinion, must be to build relations as equals with its main partners, and, in particular, with the United States. I said this earlier here when talking about transatlantic relations.

However, this morning I also want to highlight the importance for Europe of building strategic and targeted relations, not only with Russia, but also with China, India and Brazil. I would like the European External Action Service to be an effective instrument from this point of view, and we can make sure that savings are made in our various Member States if we put this instrument in place.

The third way of making sure that the European structure is up to the challenges has to do with the key factor in all this: money. I know that we still need to discuss this in depth. Are we all going to continue to invest separately in innovation and research? In education and training? In security and defence? In our energy policy?

While the United States, China and India are able to push forward fundamental or applied research, positioning themselves in tomorrow’s markets, are we going to keep saying that we Europeans are too hesitant to pool our resources in order to achieve economies of scale and a leap forward in terms of efficiency? At the moment, we are forcing our researchers to leave Europe. We must absolutely make sure that our researchers want to come back and stay in Europe.

Mr Barroso, these are the real issues that we, Parliament and the Commission, must put on the table when we talk about negotiations on the financing of European projects for 2014-2020. These are the questions that our fellow citizens are asking themselves, and to which they are expecting serious answers.

The time has definitely come for Europe to use its own resources. Let us not be afraid of these words. In addition, the question of a European tax must not be taboo. This is not about creating a tax to be added to national taxes; on the contrary, it is about achieving economies of scale and making sure that public funds as a whole are spent in a better way, and thus, ultimately, reducing charges on households and businesses.

Mr Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, the European and international dimension is evidence for the young generations, who are not expecting long speeches from us, but rather solutions to their problems and perspectives for their future. It must be our main objective to guarantee education and training for 15-25 year-olds. Stabilising our public finances and investing in innovation, opening new doors to allow them to make use of their talents in Europe, not necessarily in other countries – these are the priorities which must guide our actions and on which our fellow citizens will judge us.

Mr President, Commissioners, you must make proposals to us, and here I will repeat the words of a man that you all know, John Paul II: ‘Have no fear’. In order to make Europe progress, for our fellow citizens, for the PPE Group, we will be with you if you make good proposals.

As I have a few seconds left, I would like to say another thing to you: be provocative in the first instance; go far with your suggestions, and we will manage to come up with good proposals together for our fellow European citizens.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Martin Schulz, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the agenda item is entitled ‘Statement by the President of the Commission on the State of the Union’. Today, we have heard about a work programme, and an ambitious and committed one. We have heard little about a stocktake, about the actual state of the Union. What then is the state of the Union today? The state of the Union is not good. It would have been a good thing if, in your stocktake, you could have gone into why it is not good.

It is not good, partly because you, Mr Barroso, and your Commission, are not adequately performing the essential roles ascribed to you in the treaties. During the crisis, I have often asked myself ‘Where is the Commission?’, and then when I speak to you, you say: ‘Yes, I have made a statement on that and I have issued a press statement on this and Mr Šefčovič said something about that and Mrs Reding about this!’ When I go back and read it, then yes, it is true, the Commission has indeed made a statement. However, I have to ask myself: Why is the message not getting through? Why is the public not hearing it? That is a stocktake of the state of the Union! For during your period of office, you have been making concessions for far too long, particularly after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, concessions to a developing directorial government in Europe, in the Council, under German-French leadership.

(Applause)

It is your job to defend the Community method. Much of what you have said here in your address is right, and you can be assured of the support of three quarters of this House. This is the case. However, you will have three quarters of the members of the Council against you if you talk about own resources. I am now eager to see whether you follow what you have said today with action and take up the fight against the intergovernmentalisation of the European Union.

(Applause)

I will give you an example. I agree with you that Europe will only succeed if we defend our elementary values. The elementary values in Europe include no racism and no xenophobia. That is something that we all agree on. However, they also include the fact that a government that is subject to internal political pressure must not attempt to use a witch hunt against minorities as a solution. We can name names here. It is the government of Nicolas Sarkozy, François Fillon and Brice Hortefeux. I would have liked you to have mentioned the names, as then we would have seen that you, Mr Barroso, are taking up the fight.

(Applause and protests)

Above all, the basic values of the European Union – and much of what you said in this regard is right – include social justice. However, what is social justice in this Union? You described the dramatic growth in unemployment in Europe. This growth in unemployment will lead to a process of mass impoverishment and to a risk scenario for people. More and more people – including those still in work – are afraid: afraid for their jobs, afraid for their social stability and afraid for their future. This needs to be illustrated with figures. On the one hand, we have an increasing number of income millionaires – there are thousands more every year – and, on the other, we have millions of people who are being reduced to poverty. This social divide is the greatest threat to democracy in Europe.

(Applause)

In August, the Guardian published statistics which revealed that HSBC, Barclays Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland made more than EUR 20 billion in profit last year, EUR 9 billion of which they are putting aside as bonuses for their managers. This is happening at a time when the governments in the European Union are cutting pensions in Europe. I expect you to come up with proposals for how we can eliminate this social divide.

(Applause)

I therefore say to you that the financial transaction tax must be put in place. We must involve the banks, particularly the speculation sector, in the aftermath of the economic crisis. We have concluded an interinstitutional agreement, Mr Barroso, to the effect that, if this Parliament, with a legislative majority, calls on the Commission to submit a corresponding proposal for a directive, you have agreed that you will do so. You can be sure that the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament will make such a request. We also expect you then to take the appropriate initiative.

Mr Šemeta said that we do not need, and we will not get, a financial transaction tax. You say: ‘I want the financial transaction tax’. We say that we will support Mr Barroso against Mr Šemeta; they will get this request. If you do not do this, we will utilise the instrument of the citizens’ initiative. Please believe that! Then we will bring these people that I am talking about onto the street, until the speculators have made their contribution to sorting out the finances in Europe.

(Applause)

Europe also needs education, qualifications and opportunities for advancement. Someone who is born poor in this Union must not remain in the ghetto in which he lives. We need opportunities for advancement. For these opportunities, it is important that Europe plays its part in contributing to education, qualifications and equal opportunities for young people in particular. I therefore think you are right: these uninspired European finance ministers who, because they need to reduce the excessive debt in their own countries and are therefore cutting the budgets, are saying that the EU budget must therefore also be cut, are wrong. The EU does not need to balance out an excessive deficit. With the investments that it makes, it needs to use regional policy, social policy, research and qualifications and investment in growth-stimulating measures to help to even out the social imbalance and to put the European Union in a position to be able to do that. For this, we need a strong EU budget. You said the same thing today. In this, you have our support. So now show your opposition to Mrs Lagarde, Mr Schäuble and the finance ministers of other countries! If you need help in this, Mr Barroso, please give us a call. We will come to help you.

(Applause)

Social justice also means that we must not leave the next generation a continent in which it is no longer worth living. You are right, therefore: for social justice, we also need a new, sustainable industrial policy that combines environmental and economic concerns. This is the right approach.

I am eager to see whether you manage to ensure that the disaster, the fiasco of Copenhagen is not repeated – a situation in which we saw that the European Union was not capable of negotiation. That is not the fault of the Commission, I will say that again. It is the fault of the 27 governments, which were simply not able to agree at an international level.

(Applause)

This shows that, in the situation that we are in today, there are two opposing schools: one advocating intergovernmentalism and one the Community method. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, it is a question of whether the Lisbon Europe is a Europe of the Heads of State or Government who discuss what they believe to be right for the continent behind closed doors. We saw this during the crisis in Greece. The final document was negotiated by just two people, Mrs Merkel and Mr Sarkozy, and their approach was: Mr Van Rompuy, please wait outside, leave this to us! I do not know whether what has been said about this is true, but we can almost imagine that it is. Either this Europe is a Europe of intergovernmentalism, or it is a Europe of the Community method. The Europe of the Community method is the Europe of the Commission and of the European Parliament, working together.

I found your stocktake incomplete. I found most of your perspectives and the announcements to be good and proper. In a year’s time at the next report on the state of the Union, we will measure you by what you have announced today and by what, by then, you have managed to fight for. The speech that you gave was a conservative-liberal, green, radical socialist one. Something for everyone.

(Protests)

Thus, you can also gain support from everyone. If you fight against the insidious intergovernmentalisation and if you actively defend the Community approach, then you can count on us. If not, we will bring you to account at the time of the next report on the state of the Union.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Mr Schulz, for your speech.

Now Mr Verhofstadt will speak on behalf of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

 
  
 

Mr Verhofstadt, as I understand it, you do not want to divide your speech into two parts, you just want one part of your speech to be slightly longer. Am I right?

 
  
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  Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, the State of the Union means, first of all, looking back and learning the lessons of the past, and then looking to the future. Let us be honest with ourselves and say that last year was a very difficult year for the Union.

It was a difficult year for the Union because there were big problems, but little unity to solve those problems. Greece was on the brink of collapse, the euro itself was under attack for months, and it took several months for the European governments to finally agree to save a Member State and to save our common currency. It is therefore no surprise to me, nor, I think, to others here in Parliament, that public confidence in Europe has dropped dramatically.

You can see this in the latest Eurobarometer, which shows that less than half of our citizens think that their country’s membership is a good thing. Trust in our institutions dropped last year to 42%. This is the State of the Union today. That is alarming but, at the same time, we have to recognise that it is not surprising. Parliament urged European leaders many times to end the standstill on Europe, to move forward, to quit protectionism and nationalism and to work on European solutions.

That is also what the European citizens are asking for because, if you look at the same Eurobarometer, you see that no less than 86% of the public want European economic governance. They believe that only the Union can provide solutions to the financial and economic crisis. However, they do not see this happening today, and that is the reason for their disappointment in our Union.

I know that for the Commission, too, it has been a difficult year, because in fact, it has only been half a year. That is how long it has taken our capitals to realise that there is a new treaty and a new way of working, and also a new balance of power in the Union. We can therefore say that today is the real start of the President of the Commission’s second term.

It is a second term that needs a new vision and also new answers. It is, in any case, time to change into a higher gear, and to realise important reforms now. From the point of view of our group, there are principally seven big, important reforms.

The first thing to do is to finalise our response to the financial crisis. We have already produced legislation on capital requirements and on bonuses. We have the stress test, and last week we also reached an agreement on financial supervision, which is a good agreement, not least because leadership by the President of the European Central Bank guarantees a European approach to supervision.

However, that does not mean that we are already there. Far from it, I should say. We are not even half way. We still need the Commission to come forward urgently with proposals on derivatives, on short-selling, on credit rating agencies, on banking resolution, on market abuse, on trading and on financial instruments.

The second big task is that we need genuine European economic governance. Last year showed that a common currency without a common economic policy simply does not make sense. That is a nonsensical situation – even worse, it is a dangerous situation. We cannot afford to be one Union and, at the same time, to have 27 different economic strategies, as we do today.

(Applause)

It is crystal clear that if we want the Stability and Growth Pact and the new economic strategy to be a success, we need a serious carrot and stick approach, with proper sanctions.

In my opinion – and I think in the opinion of the majority of this House – it is good that the Council is thinking about this in connection with a task force, but that cannot replace the right of initiative of the Commission, and the duty of the Commission to come forward as fast as possible with a global legislative proposal on economic governance.

(Applause)

I am pleased that you have announced that you will do this on 29 September. What happens in the Council as well is not important. It is your task and it is your duty to do this on 29 September.

That takes me to my third priority: the single market. We have an excellent report on this by Mario Monti, and our message is very simple: let us act on this report. Because it is incomprehensible, for example, that today it still takes more than 40 hours to travel by train from central and eastern European countries to Brussels, Paris or Amsterdam. How are these people supposed to feel connected to the European Union? How can these markets be fully integrated? Let us invest in trans-European networks.

The fourth important priority, and maybe the most important message for today, concerns the budget and the new financial framework. Let us be very clear about this. The aim of some national governments to reduce the budget by 20% or 30% is ridiculous at a time when what is needed is more European solutions.

(Applause)

I can fully understand that, when confronted with a huge fiscal deficit, they want to cut their direct contributions to the Union. That is a normal, spontaneous reaction. Hence, our proposal to replace these national contributions with European own resources.

That takes me to the fifth priority: our credibility in the world. We have the External Action Service, but what we need now, and what we have asked Lady Ashton, the Vice-President of the Commission (it would be better if she were here), is also to develop a new strategy for the Union. Our external policy strategy is still based on a paper by Javier Solana dating from 2003. The world has changed since 2003, and our strategic framework should also be adapted and modernised.

That brings me to climate change. In Copenhagen, we lost our leadership role, and the only way to make a difference in Cancún is to regain that leadership. To regain our leadership, one thing is necessary: to use one voice and promote one vision, and not 27 as we did in Copenhagen.

(FR) Finally, Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I must say that I am confused in relation to what is fundamentally – if you will allow me to use this word – the raison d'être of our Union, namely, the protection of civil liberties and human rights, outside the Union, of course, but, more important still, within the European Union as well.

I must therefore say, in all solemnity, that what is happening in France is, in my opinion, unacceptable.

(Applause)

Unfortunately, however, this is not an isolated case. Like many of you, I notice that several governments today, in facing the economic crisis, are succumbing more and more to the temptation, as it were, of populism, xenophobia and sometimes even racism.

(Applause)

They are exploiting people’s worries and the fear of the other. They are stigmatising minorities. I would even say that they are using dubious methods to confuse issues when it comes to migration. I would like to say most emphatically that I find this attitude to be incompatible with the principles and values that make our Union one of the most beautiful and one of the greatest political ideas to which the human spirit and heart have given birth.

(Applause)

Mr President, I intend to say it emphatically: the Roma are European citizens, fully-fledged citizens.

(Applause)

We can never accept their rights being violated – never – in a world racked with all manner of uncertainties. I believe that this Europe must remain a continent of freedom, tolerance and justice. Mr President, the Commission, the guardian of the treaties, must react uncompromisingly. This is not just its right; it is an institutional duty.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Daniel Cohn-Bendit, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Mr President, I will do the same as Mr Verhofstadt: I will use all my speaking time at once.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that Mr Schulz and Mr Verhofstadt have pointed out the fundamental difficulty of our situation, and I regret that you have not had the clear-headedness or truthfulness to point it out.

Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, there has been a battle concerning the interpretation of the treaty. I believe that most governments had not read it, and, once it was introduced, they discovered that the Treaty of Lisbon was actually a means and an instrument for the communitisation of European policies. In all the discussions, the battle which is taking place – we have seen it on foreign services, we have seen it on the situation of financial regulation – always gets to the same point. The question at issue is – and it has already been said – are we moving towards an intergovernmental Europe or a strengthening of the Community-based Europe? This is precisely the situation of the Union today.

What I dream of is that the Commission will make a public declaration. In the European institutions at the moment, there is a political battle, and this political battle is about the interpretation of the Treaty of Lisbon, and that has consequences for European policies. The European citizens must know what we know and what we feel in the interinstitutional debates. On that, Mr Barroso, you have said nothing.

With that, I come to my second point. This Commission, in its general statements, is the champion of Europe. They are very beautiful statements. However, when it comes to pointing the finger, describing a situation affecting a Member State, naming someone or a government by name, you are conspicuously silent. You do not exist. I can give you a whole host of examples.

Let me come back to Greece. Everyone knows that you were losing control of the situation in Greece; indeed, you knew two or three years before the crisis – you had reports on it in your filing cabinet. There was no official statement. You went to church and prayed, and you believed that if you prayed, everything in Greece would sort itself out. It has not sorted itself out. Afterwards, you supported – and we supported by a majority – applying unbelievable pressure on Greece, and on the Greek people, who made just as many mistakes as the Greek elites.

However, at the moment, Mr Barroso, while we are putting this pressure on the Greek people in order to resolve the problem, I have not heard you talk about the fact that now, in August, there have been negotiations between the Greek Government and the large French and German arms companies on continuing arms sales by European businesses to Greece.

(Applause)

We have all gone completely mad, as I have said three or four times, but will we act? Do you know how much money Greece has spent on arms these past ten years? What is the figure? EUR 50 billion in ten years! Mr Barroso, you knew this. One of the problems these countries have is precisely this structure, which is related to a European problem of nationalism and the battle or debate between Greece and Turkey.

Where is the Commission’s initiative and Europe’s initiative to intervene so that, through integrating Turkey, we put an end to this ridiculous debate which is costing the Greek people billions for absolutely nothing, because Greece is buying back arms which France and Germany do not need for their own armies. This is very intelligent! This is my example, Mr Barroso, of the non-intervention of your Commission.

I can give you a second example, which was provided by Mr Verhofstadt. Today, what is happening with the Roma is a test of the credibility of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which forms part of the Treaty of Lisbon. To put it in a moral and philosophical way, I quote Albert Camus: ‘Democracy is about defending minorities, not simply executing the will of majorities’.

(Applause)

Is the Commission waiting? Does it have a report in its filing cabinet? Say it publicly: what France is doing contravenes the European treaties. It really is simple to say it and to make it known.

(Applause)

I will give you another example of what you are not saying. You spoke of the economy, unemployment and growth. You did not say a word about the change that needs to be made to the nature of growth. You did not say that the ecological catastrophe and climate change obliged us to reinterpret our notion of growth. There was nothing on that.

You did not talk about Cancún. We have three months until Cancún. There was not a word on the fact that if we want to be credible on climate change, we must return to a 30% target for reduction in CO2, and we must be at the forefront of the debate on climate change. On that, Mr President, you are conspicuously silent.

As a result of this, I would like to say that you are the absent president of a Europe which needs a president. That is our problem, and that is the situation of the Union.

I would like to conclude by saying one thing to you. You spoke, for example, of European investment. You can look at the time; I have three more minutes. I know it is annoying, but that is life. I wanted to say one thing to you: take things seriously. Forty per cent of CO2 production in Europe is due to buildings. Use your European resources to create a European energy fund; give European cities the opportunity to renovate buildings throughout Europe by creating a European Keynes fund in Europe, because the national states are not capable of doing it.

(Applause)

That is basically my message. There is a great debate in Europe about whether we need public investment. I would say to you, Mr Barroso: put Keynes in Brussels. Public investment today must be European investment in the ecological transformation of our economy. Do you understand this, Mr Barroso? If so, I hope that, in the next discussion about Europe, you will show that you have understood that we are no longer in the 1970s, but today we face a financial crisis and an ecological crisis.

To conclude, I will give you a figure which we must all reflect on. The losses due to the crisis are reaching EUR 50 000 billion. This is equivalent to five centuries of public investment in development aid. That would build 10 billion schools in the African countries. That is the situation the world finds itself in, Mr Barroso.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński, on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) I will begin with some good news for Mr Barroso, the kind of news on which he may even be congratulated. His appearance today has been valued higher than tickets to the next Sting concert in Prague, which cost less than EUR 150. However, I will begin with a story. Mr Barroso, in Poland there is a popular story which tells how a man climbs a tree and begins sawing off the branch on which he is sitting. Another man walks by below, and says to him, ‘If you saw off that branch, you will fall.’ The second man walks on, and the branch breaks. The first man falls out of the tree, gets up, looks at the second man and says, ‘Is he a prophet or something?’

Ladies and gentlemen, the European Conservatives, even before our political group was formed, were like the second man, who said to the man sitting on the branch of European bureaucracy: ‘You are sawing off the branch on which you are sitting.’ In your speech, today, I can see a chance that this process of sawing off the branch will end. You have set out many ideas which are most certainly worthy of support, and I think they have been put together in such a way as to please every group in this Parliament. However, we have to agree with Mr Schulz that it was a forward-looking plan, but that we did not hear – and I am not pleased with you about this – an analysis of the current situation in the Union. Why is the Union performing in the way that it is? Why is the Union not liked by such a large number of the citizens, and why is it not meeting their expectations? We come, here, to an important point. It is very good that you concentrated on economic development, on the need for this development in Europe and on the need for new jobs. I certainly do share the position that one of the greatest problems of the economy in Europe today is unemployment. However, let us be honest. One cannot have the right kind of concern about the fate of the unemployed and about the disappearance of jobs in Europe, on the one hand, while, on the other, proposing economic solutions which quite naturally lead to the export of jobs from Europe to other continents. These two things cannot be separated. We cannot say we want to increase the level of employment in Europe, on the one hand, while, on the other, imposing new burdens and a new sentence of death by bureaucracy on European firms and the European economy. This has to be stopped. In your speech, Mr Barroso, I can see you are thinking in the right direction. You spoke about how Europe must speak around the world with one voice. We say this, here, very often, but we can, after all, see easily that different governments in Europe have completely different approaches in fundamental areas of foreign policy. This is a fact which must not be ignored. How, therefore, can Europe speak with one voice on the global stage if different European governments speak with different voices? Ladies and gentlemen, let us not deceive ourselves – that is how it will be. You can, while sitting in this Chamber, close your eyes and pretend that those 27 governments do not exist, but they do. They are elected by the citizens of the European Union, and we are defending the rights of those governments to represent their citizens in the Union arena. We want a balance between Union affairs and national affairs in Europe, and this is why we are going to defend the idea of the nation-state, in the context, of course, of the European Union. However, in saying this, I would like to say that I agree with everything that has been said in this Chamber. I say this, now, from the bottom of my heart. We cannot accept situations in which one or other of the governments in Europe tries, for domestic purposes, to ignite what has, in Europe, been the powder keg of nationalism and chauvinism. There can be no consent to this, but this is what is happening in many European countries. This year, we have already had examples of countries bordering Poland where attempts have been made to make political capital out of matters related to minorities. One of the European Union’s greatest achievements is the fact that Europe has been an area of democracy and tolerance where war has been absent for 60 years. I willingly acknowledge this, although I am not a great enthusiast of the Union, but I do appreciate this. This is something which must be maintained. I would also like to say that we must be more open and credible in what we deliver to the European Union’s citizens. The greatest problem of our Community is that one thing is said in our declarations, while the facts and what the citizens see being done is something completely different. I believe in Europe, and we, the European Conservatives, believe in the Union. However, we believe in the Union in its diversity. We do not believe that there is one new united state which is supposed to fuse into a single nation. This plan will not be accepted. The citizens of Europe understand perfectly well that one can be a good Pole, a good European or a good German, and that we can live together, treating each other with respect and working together to build a common future. Mr President, I hope you succeed. However, the way to repairing the situation is not to repeat the old mistakes. I want to tell you very clearly that, in my opinion, Europe must not try to solve the problems which we have before us by repeating the mistakes of the past. Today, in your speech, I see a chance for a Europe of greater economic freedom and a Europe of closer integration, by which I mean the common market. I am very pleased that the idea of the Single Market Act came from this Parliament, from the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. It came from the Monti report, which was written in the Committee whose chair is my colleague, Mr Herber, and we are proud of this. It is this kind of strengthening of the market which we want. We want a common market and greater freedom in the economy.

 
  
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  Lothar Bisky, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Mr President, Mr Barroso, you have provided an impressive insight into the tasks of the various policy areas. Nevertheless, you, and all of us here, have to admit that the trust of European citizens is fading. Mr Verhofstadt has drawn our attention to this and so I will not address the matter in any more detail. These are reliable studies.

Citizens have also seen rescue and economic recovery packages amounting to billions of euro flow to the so-called system-relevant banks, and they have seen dangerously high national debts pile up everywhere. Now they are asking themselves who is responsible for this, particularly when, despite a better economic outlook, they are being hit by the Member States’ austerity measures. These austerity measures will result in rising prices for public services, cuts in social benefits, cuts in education services, pay cuts, an extended working life in the face of uncertain pensions and often precarious employment situations.

The protest goes far beyond the states hit by the crisis. Today, the unions are striking in France and on 29 September, strike action will be taken in many towns and cities in Europe against the Member States’ austerity policies. Citizens were promised that the Treaty of Lisbon would make the European Union more social and more democratic. The EU, including the Commission and the Parliament, would simply lose credibility if it now said that the Member States are responsible for the austerity measures. Effective financial market reforms, for example, like a ban on hedge funds, or a ban on speculation on raw materials and food derivatives, or even a financial transaction tax, but also the move away from the flexicurity ideology, are now most definitely the responsibility of the European Union. This is something that we all need to involve ourselves with over the next few months.

The situation in the Union varies greatly for the different sections of the population and it is full of inconsistencies. The social division in the societies of the EU countries has, in any case, widened dangerously once again. In the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, a large amount of money, billions of euro, have gone to rescue or to stand as security for the banks. It has not reached the people with real social needs or been put into education.

No one would want to dispute or belittle the EU’s successes. However, papering over the very real inconsistencies in the European Union will not help anyone. I, too, would like to finish by saying something about the Roma in France. I believe that the European Union has a good tradition. However, anyone who wants to combat social anxieties at the expense of a social minority, and indeed using unfair means, is abusing his political powers. I want to make this very clear: the abuse of social anxieties is simply unacceptable for a Community that always makes a point of standing up for universal human rights and moral values. These moral values and human rights apply to French, Polish, English, Spanish or German people in the European Union, just as they do for all Sinti and Roma who live in Europe.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, this grand occasion, Mr Barroso’s State of the Union speech, does not quite put him on a par with President Obama. There is one fundamental difference, Mr Barroso: President Obama is elected, and you are not. Forty-eight million people watched his address, and here in the European Parliament we even have to beg MEPs to turn up to listen to you.

You completely ignored the state of the Union. You said how you felt things were going, you pointed your way forwards. However, Eurobarometer, the Commission’s own polling organisation, tells us the truth. It tells us that in the last six months, there has been a dramatic drop in confidence as regards people’s belief in even belonging to the Union: a 10% drop in Germany; a 17% drop in Greece and a 9% drop in Portugal. Less than half of EU citizens think that being a member of the club is worth it.

Even more revealing is that in your own country of Portugal, over the last six months, a further one in four people have lost total faith in EU institutions. That, Mr Barroso, is hardly an endorsement of success or belief, and yet from most people today, there seems to be such great self-satisfaction.

Well, do not be too satisfied, because the people have worked it out for themselves: the real state of the Union is that it is increasingly loathed and despised. And yet some claim that this is because they want more Europe! Mr Verhofstadt said that people want more common policies. No! The evidence is clear.

(Interjections from the floor)

Interesting, Mr President! When I barrack people, I get threatened with fines. But never mind.

(Applause from the EFD Group)

The evidence shows that the more common policies there are, the less people like it. People have recognised the devastation of the common fisheries policy; they have recognised the inequality of the common agricultural policy; the lost business opportunities of a common commercial policy; and, of course, now the big one: the common currency, this ill-conceived political attempt to force people into a monetary union without ever asking any of them whether they wanted to be there. Well, it is perfectly clear that this currency does not suit Germany and it does not suit Greece. One is now trapped inside an economic prison. You can pretend the crisis has gone away, but it has not, because the bond spreads are now 8% on five and ten-year bonds.

You can smile, Mr Schulz, but you know nothing of financial markets or how these things work. And, in your own country, well, why should the German taxpayer increasingly pick up the bill?

This form of government is not working, and yet what we heard today is that we are going to have a common defence policy and a common foreign policy.

The other reason why these polls are where they are is that people do not respect you because you cheated to get the Lisbon Treaty through. We were told it would simplify everything, that we would know where we stand. Well we do not. Who is in charge of this EU? Is it you, Mr Barroso? Is it my old friend, Herman Van Rompuy? Is it the Belgian Presidency? That really is good stuff! You still cannot form a government in your own country and yet you have the Presidency of the European Union! Whichever way you look at it, the whole thing is a bit of a dog’s dinner really.

The EU has never had so much power, and yet it has never been so unpopular. But not satisfied with the EUR 2.4 billion a year that is now being spent on EU propaganda, you want the overall budget to increase by 6%, and we understand that you personally are to have a full-time TV crew to traipse round with you, new press officers, new webmasters. You are not analysing why this is going wrong, Mr Barroso; you simply do not get it.

(Applause from the EFD Group)

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Mr President, perhaps I might also be permitted to use both of my speaking times together to speak for three minutes.

The European project – if we are debating the state of the Union – seems to many people right across Europe to be in serious jeopardy in four respects. The prosperity and the social security of Europe seem to people to be at risk. The financial crisis and the – perhaps futile – help given to Greece have proven that to people, while the increasing mass unemployment and the mass immigration into our social systems also prove this to them. In this regard, the Union comes across to people as a toothless tiger that is not able to exercise control of the financial markets or to develop appropriate criteria.

Secondly, people feel that civil freedom is at risk. There is barely any direct democracy in the Union. It is treated with contempt, like, for example, in the first Irish referendum or in the referendums in France and the Netherlands. Data storage, for example, as manifested through the SWIFT agreement with the United States, gives people the feeling of being permanently spied on. Regulation in the context of a paternalistic system is spreading increasingly in the Union, giving citizens the impression that their personal freedom is being curtailed. The freedom of thought and speech is also increasingly being jeopardised through political correctness. In this context, I refer to the debate about Mr Sarrazin in Germany.

Thirdly, people feel that cultural diversity and the national identity of the European peoples are at risk. Cultural assimilation and spiritual globalisation will have this effect, as will mass immigration, and so will Islamification and abuse of the asylum system, of course. The national identity of the European peoples is probably in serious jeopardy.

Fourthly, respect for Europe in the world is in serious jeopardy. In terms of foreign policy, Europe has become a laughing stock. The example of the Middle East negotiations has been mentioned, where Europe was not even at the table, even though we are the big paymaster throughout the world. Europe barely has any recognition in the world and is, in reality, no great player in terms of foreign policy or global policy.

We have managed to bring this European Union to a current state of development where, internally, it is creating a system that its citizens find increasingly oppressive and stringent, that fails to take account of regionalism, cultural diversity and similar factors, and which appears weak to the outside world. Inwardly harsh and regimented towards its citizens, employing centralism and bureaucracy, and outwardly a Europe that is weak, has no place in the world, and is not capable of really securing European interests globally.

That is the state of the Union, a Union that is no longer really prepared to secure the interests of the European peoples and the interests of European citizens.

 
  
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  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, I have listened to you all very closely and with great interest. I have tried to see which, essentially, were the fundamental questions.

In substance, I believe that, at least, the majority of this Parliament clearly wants more Europe, wants the Community method and wants more ambition. No specific criticism was levelled at the Commission’s proposals.

Some people have said that they would have preferred a speech analysing the situation. Rather than commenting on the past and the present, I prefer to construct the future. I believe that the most important thing is not to comment – I leave that to the commentators, for whom I have a lot of respect, by the way – but I believe that our role, the role of the Commission, is to make proposals. For me, the speech on the state of the Union also concerns the state to which we want to lead the Union with our joint efforts. That is what I presented to you today, with specific and ambitious proposals.

I do not want to evade any questions, however. It is true that the Union is currently at a turning point. It is true that we have a new treaty. It is also true that some people at national level pursue a purely intergovernmental interpretation of these institutions.

We have already clearly defined our vision, and – as I said in my speech, by the way – I am in favour of the Community method and spirit. However, the best way of pursuing the latter is not to engage in endless discussions on the institutions, and still less to engage in institutional guerrilla warfare, which I do not want, and which I will not take part in. The best way is for the Commission to fulfil its initiative-taking role by presenting substantial, bold and high quality proposals, and for you yourselves – as you have done, incidentally – to be able to work with us in this spirit. We have made proposals on this, and it is here, I believe, that we will truly be able to test our commitment to a stronger Europe.

Some people provided results of opinion polls measuring support for or confidence in the European institutions. It is true that there are difficulties – serious difficulties – to which we should respond. However, if you had made a more complete analysis, you would have noticed that, while confidence in the European institutions sometimes poses problems, there is sometimes a much greater problem, which is confidence in national politicians and national governments, and the truth is that no one has mentioned this.

We are currently experiencing an extremely difficult time from an economical and social point of view, and this is a time when everyone must show responsibility. We know well that, at difficult economic times, the tendency is for public opinion to have little confidence in political institutions, either at national or European level. I believe that the best way of responding to these worries is with results and with proposals.

In essence, I believe that we are in agreement – at least, the pro-European majority in the European Parliament is. We are in favour of consolidating financial regulation. We have clearly declared that we will not abdicate the Commission’s right of initiative. We also want the banks and the financial institutions to contribute to solving the problem that they helped to create. That is why we are in favour of taxing financial activity. We want proposals for growth in Europe. This is what we will work towards.

Some of you mentioned a problem which, incidentally, will be discussed this afternoon during a parliamentary sitting: the issue of the Roma. I will not go into detail on this issue now, as it will be discussed this afternoon. Let me say to you, however, that the Commission has been interested in this problem for a long time.

At the start of this year, we even co-organised a ministerial meeting on the issue of the Roma. I believe that only two or three ministers, for the whole of Europe, were present at this ministerial meeting. Mrs Reding represented the Commission. We have important support programmes for providing help to the Roma and assisting their integration. We are in constructive and serious dialogue with all the governments in Europe, both with the governments of countries from which Roma originate and governments of countries in which Roma currently have a significant presence.

I believe I can ask you quite sincerely not to play politics with this question. This is an extremely sensitive issue and an extremely serious one. We Europeans will not be helping if we polarise discussion of such a sensitive issue.

We have said – I said it just now very clearly – that the principled position of the Commission and the European Union is to oppose all forms of discrimination. It is totally unacceptable. However, when it comes to responding to questions that are being asked in some of our countries, we must also say that all our citizens have rights and obligations. Furthermore, we must always stress the balance between freedom, particularly freedom of movement, and security.

If we do not respect this balance, we run the serious risk of this issue being instrumentalised by extremist forces which will be able to exploit, in a populist manner, the feeling of insecurity which exists in many of our societies. Therefore, let us provide a serious and responsible answer, and let us always avoid using an extremely serious and extremely sensitive issue for political purposes. The Commission will take this position of responsibility.

That is why I believe that we have an immense amount of work to do. If the criticism that some people have directed at me is that I am seeking consensus between the main European political forces, then that is a criticism that I am happy to accept. In fact, the Commission must represent the general European interest, and we must try to represent this same general interest by trying to obtain the contribution of different pro-European political forces. That is what we are doing.

There was discussion of the budget. I heard your speeches. It seems to me that most of you want an ambitious budget for Europe. However, ladies and gentlemen, let us also be extremely clear here: the Commission will bring forward an ambitious budget, but we must not simply hold this debate here, in the European Parliament – we must win over European public opinion. Therefore, I ask for your help and support so that we can explain, in our countries, to the political forces which form the governments in our capitals, why – as Mr Daul rightly said, by the way – very often the euros that we spend at European level in fact constitute a saving compared with the many euros that we might spend at national level.

This battle with public opinion is one that we must win, by having a democratic debate in our countries. This is why I ask for your support so that this debate can take place with the political forces that you represent, not just in Strasbourg or Brussels, but also in the capitals, because we must reach a consensus between Parliament and the Council. The various institutions must reach an agreement. The Commission will be there. The Commission will bring forward ambitious proposals, but always in a true spirit of partnership for a stronger Europe, a Europe of cooperation and not a Europe of division.

 
  
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  Joseph Daul, on behalf of the PPE Group. (FR) Mr President, I will use my two minutes to try to go back to the questions and answer them. I will not make any personal attacks. You know me: I will not make them and I have never made them.

First, regarding the budget and what we have agreed together, the vast majority of Parliament agrees that we need our own budget so that we can reduce the resources used at national level. This is the first summary that I am making, but let us not forget that we are dealing with a unanimous decision. This is not about criticising our Heads of State or Government, or Mrs Lagarde or Mr Schäuble; this is about convincing our respective parties, as Mr Barroso said; this is about properly discussing and properly working with this subject at our respective levels, in our respective parties and in our respective countries, as these are unanimous decisions. This will be much more complicated than making grand speeches here, but we will fight, and I will fight to have our own resources at European level.

(Applause)

Second, regarding the Roma, let us call a spade a spade. Ladies and gentlemen, Presidents, we are responsible people, and we must find solutions. This is the mayor of the town speaking. We are encountering enormous problems when it comes to our fellow citizens, who are proper democrats, and who we are risking giving over to the populist camp. We have a duty here. Nevertheless, serious crime is to be deplored. I did not say that it was the Roma. Do not put words in my mouth. What we must fight against are banditry, crime and prostitution.

Eleven tractors have been stolen from farmers in my canton since 1 January. Do you believe that people are happy? Look what is happening, too, in our various towns. Ladies and gentlemen, we have here a very sensitive subject that we must handle with care for all our fellow citizens, and – I am not starting a national debate, I am starting a European debate – I agree with Mr Barroso on this point. We must work on this subject to propose solutions regarding the Roma that we have in this Parliament, and also with Romania and other countries concerned.

I believe that this subject is too important. If we succeed in allowing the children of these immigrants to benefit from education and training, we will win the battle within ten years. This is what I propose for the discussion.

 
  
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  Martin Schulz, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Mr President, I would like to make a brief comment with regard to the two points mentioned by Mr Daul. Firstly, we are agreed that we need our own resources. We are fighting together for these resources of our own, but because unanimity is required and because we probably will not get a unanimous decision, there will therefore be no own resources, so consequently, it needs to be clarified that, if this is the case, there will also be no reduction in the EU budget. Hopefully, that is the conclusion that we will also then come to together.

Now I am speaking as a former mayor. For 11 years, I was mayor of a town that had a great deal to do with the Roma. My town is on the border that separates Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. We are a transit area for many Roma. I worked with this problem for 11 years and so there is one thing I would like to say to you, Mr Daul, and to my fellow Members. Yes, the Roma are a difficult minority. That is true, but even difficult minorities have a right to protection of their fundamental rights. That is the essential message. In this respect, Bernard Kouchner is right in what he said.

My second point is that states governed by the rule of law have an obligation to prosecute criminal acts. If something is stolen or if prostitution or fraud is going on, a state governed by the rule of law must enforce the law, no matter who is suspected of having committed the deed. That is the right of every state. However, it is also the obligation of every state to investigate each individual case and not to create the impression that whole population groups are suspect from the start. We find this unacceptable.

(Applause)

My final comment is that you must not take guerrilla action. You have already said that I am taking institutional guerrilla action. That is absolutely not the case. You should be carrying out institutional frontal attacks – that is what it comes down to, Mr Barroso. Our criticism of you does not relate to your very definite ability to find consensus. You are certainly capable of that. You have seen today that everyone is satisfied with you.

In your personal conversations, Mr Barroso, you are definitely capable of attack – something that your commissioners and I myself know very well. However, I would ask you for once to show the ability to go publicly on the offensive, specifically in relation to the Heads of State or Government, because that is what we need in Europe, an element that is willing to confront those who want to renationalise Europe.

To you, Mr Farage, I would say this: it may well be that I do not know how it works, that people are freely stuffing their pockets, but I know very well how to put an end to these people’s games.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński, on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) Mr Barroso, if you thought I was criticising you because you try to take account of the needs of every group, let me assure you that my statement was not meant as criticism. I value your diplomatic abilities in this area, and I think that maintaining a balance between the various Member States is even more difficult. This, I am sure, requires even greater effort from you than keeping each political group happy. Since you talked about a pro-European majority and an anti-European minority, I would like to ask everyone, in the name of democratic and honest debate, not to lump together those who do not like what is being planned for Europe or who do not want the European Union – because I do not agree with these people – with those who say they want to change something in Europe and who are interested in these plans. We do not agree on many matters which have the support of the majority in this House, but we do sit in this Parliament so that Europe will be better and not worse, and we are always ready to talk about this. I do appreciate, Mr Barroso, that you are open to having this debate with us.

As for the matter of the Roma, which has been raised, here, I do not often agree with Mr Schulz, but I do agree with him on this. I think that if a country has a problem of a criminal nature, it should do everything possible to tackle that problem, because the citizens pay tax so that the state will fight criminals. This is obvious. However, we need to avoid a situation in which any ethnic group is, in any way, attributed with a particular predisposition to crime, because that is, in my opinion, very dangerous and verges on racial discrimination. These are matters which need to be treated tactfully, and they must not be politicised by either side in the dispute. What is needed is a constructive approach, and the problem needs to be resolved.

 
  
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  Lothar Bisky, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Mr President, I would like to come back to what Mr Barroso so rightly said against racism and xenophobia.

However, in this regard, I would like to say that I am still not satisfied with the debate about the Roma, which we will, of course, continue this afternoon. There are side issues being debated that are extremely dangerous. In Germany, for example, we currently have the Sarrazin debate, which is extremely problematic. In this regard, the fact is being overlooked that in Germany, there are poorly educated sections of the population – of Germans, immigrants and also of Roma and nationals of other countries – who are all relatively poorly catered for in schools and we have insufficient means and a lack of smart methods to be able to really help these children. This breeds racism. Finally, I would like to say that sometimes, racism can arise unintentionally.

I would not like to forget the debate about Greece. In this regard, I have seen things in my country, which is not particularly xenophobic, that I had not thought possible. We must remain sensitive to nationalistic, xenophobic and racist statements in the European Union.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, the row over the Roma in France is, of course, caused directly by failing European Union policies.

It was a huge mistake to allow Bulgaria and Romania to join the European Union whilst there were millions of Roma in those countries being heavily discriminated against. It is no wonder that, now they are part of the Union, they are seeking to move elsewhere.

That goes for everything does it not? Every single one of the policies fails and leads to a problem – whether it is this or whether it is the euro – and all the way through, we see a fanatical political ambition to create a United States of Europe, regardless of the consequences. At no time has any of this been endorsed by the voting public. That, Mr Barroso, is the true state of the Union.

 
  
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  Olivier Chastel, President-in-Office of the Council. (FR) Mr President, Mr Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council, I would also like to welcome the speech by the President of the Commission on the state of the Union.

This important speech has come at the right time. It allows us to put all the European subjects back on the table following a long institutional transition, and following the economic and financial crisis which has run right across the Union.

Mr President, I took careful note of the forward-looking, ambitious approach of the Commission, which aims to respond to current challenges, and also – as we said this morning – to defend the values of the Union.

The five themes identified by the President of the Commission – exiting the crisis and improving economic governance, rediscovering the path to growth through the structural reforms of the Europe 2020 strategy, implementing the Stockholm Programme to strengthen the area of freedom, justice and internal security, modernising the Union budget and, finally, allowing Europe to take its place on the international stage – are fully consistent with the priorities of the trio, but also, obviously, with the priorities of the Belgian Presidency, brought before this assembly by the Prime Minister last July.

However, realising these objectives will require time and therefore, several Presidencies will have to devote the necessary effort to this. The Presidency and the Council will study your speech in detail, Mr President, as well as the working document that accompanies it. At this stage, though, allow me to make two remarks.

The first is that what our fellow citizens expect from our institutions is to put our projects into concrete form, which will allow them to contemplate the future more calmly. Effective financial supervision and regulation, an affordable and competitive Community patent, and an operational European diplomatic service are among the urgent projects on which our three institutions will be judged.

Next, let me stress that only collective, Community-based work by our institutions – the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council, the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – will make these types of projects possible, and it will perhaps also allow us to combat the Euroscepticism which continues to gain ground in the Member States.

This is why the Belgian Presidency has proposed, Mr President, to strengthen cooperation with the European Parliament on implementing current priorities. We have planned regular meetings at an administrative as well as a political level in order to intensify our collaboration. It is in this spirit that the Presidency intends to pursue its work over the next four months.

 
  
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  Corien Wortmann-Kool (PPE).(NL) Mr President, although the speeches by the group leaders this morning have differed greatly in tone, one thing is clear, and that is that many of the policy actions announced by the European Commission can count on broad support in this House, as all of us together advocate the Community method. Many more discussions will have to be held on the substance. This morning, I should like to call for special attention to youth, to our children. After all, they must be well equipped to generate prosperity for us in the future, so that good public services will remain and the growing group of older people can continue to receive a pension. That is why we have to solve the problem of high-level public debt now and take painful measures to this end, and that is why we cannot accept a 20% unemployment rate among young people. This percentage has now been laid down in the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy, but this will mean that disadvantaged children and children from minorities continue to be marginalised. Therefore, the Council faces the challenge of increasing youth employment, in order to meet Parliament’s ambition of 90% of young people in either work or education and just 10% youth unemployment. Achieving this by 2020 is a very important objective for our European Union.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D). (HU) Mr President, since the international financial crisis and economic downturn, new divisions have emerged in the European Union. There are no longer any grounds for making distinctions between old and new Member States. President Barroso has not mentioned the reason why the gulf is beginning to deepen between the eastern and southern parts of the EU. Before accession, we in the new Member States saw Ireland, Spain and Portugal’s success in catching up with the rest of Europe as an inspiring example. Will this catching-up trend continue in these countries? Will a multi-speed Europe evolve? Will the new Central European and Baltic States have an opportunity to catch up? Will there be enough resources after 2014? Mr President, the new Member States would like a European Union marked by strength, solidarity and dynamism.

 
  
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  Reinhard Bütikofer (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Barroso, you have presented us with a lot of fine words. I hear your words, but I ask myself: where is the action? The Roma, for example. It is not important to me that you criticise Mr Sarkozy in particularly strong terms. What I would like to know is, what are you going to do, what is the Commission going to do to enforce what is the common feeling of everyone here, namely that citizens’ rights are inviolable and must apply to everyone? To this question put to you by all sides of Parliament, you respond: ‘We will act in a responsible manner’. However, this response is, unfortunately, based on the idea that platitudes are the strongest weapons of European policy. That simply cannot be the case!

My second point is that there has been talk here of a loss of confidence by European citizens. Citizens had very little mention in your address. However, we also need the European institutions to show modesty towards citizens. Thus, the principle that ‘every European euro is better spent in Europe’ is wrong. Without the appropriate modesty towards citizens, even the loftiest of goals will come crashing down.

 
  
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  Timothy Kirkhope (ECR). – Mr President, as the President of the Commission acknowledges, belief that the EU is a good thing has fallen substantially, and many people believe their Member States have not benefited from membership. We should be worried, but I fear that the Commission is under pressure from those who believe that the solution to every crisis is more Europe. Indeed, some argue that polls demonstrate support for more European economic governance. However, the public does not want more Europe; it wants a better Europe and a Europe that adds value with a light touch.

The European Union has been delegated by its Member States with key functions that need to be achieved, such as completing the internal market and furthering international free trade. Those should be priorities, and that is why we support the principles of President Barroso’s centre-piece initiative – Europe 2020 – and the single market relaunch, which members of my own group have been so involved with.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE). (IT) Mr President, President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, there can be no doubt that many governments spend the night taking apart what the Commission creates by day. It is therefore important for the Commission to add its own timely contribution to a correct interpretation of the principle of subsidiarity, so that it does not become an excuse for thwarting and limiting the progress made by the Treaty of Lisbon.

I would like to say this to my liberal and socialist colleagues: if you are so concerned to accuse democratic governments of racist policies and you really believe what you are saying and consider that the Commission is complicit in or has a weakness for these policies, why do you not call for Commissioners from liberal and socialist backgrounds to resign from their positions?

Lastly, a suggestion to President Buzek: we ought to apply to the absent MEPs the same sanctions that the European Commission will certainly apply with regard to the absence of Vice-President Ashton.

 
  
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  Catherine Trautmann (S&D).(FR) Mr President, the state of the Union for us today, in France, is that the citizens, the people, and also the streets are rumbling with discontent. Our fellow European citizens are experiencing an unprecedented crisis of confidence, and they have decided to march to the beat of refusal and demands, but also of hope. What is behind this is a failed proposal for reforming pensions, but not only this. What is at stake is getting older in a dignified manner. What is at stake is ensuring an intergenerational solidarity which allows the youngest people today also to live their working life, their professional life, with a pension from which they can benefit.

On this very subject, Mr Barroso, the Commission published a Green Paper on the reform of pension systems which unleashed a wave of anxiety from the trade unions before the summer. The proposal that you have made to increase the retirement age seems unrealistic to me. It would be more useful if the Commission told us how we can make sure that workers are able to keep their jobs up to the legal retirement age. I would like to hear your proposals, and I would also like to hear some details on what you called the fiscal consolidation rather than the economic coordination of our Member States, which I think must be oriented towards social solidarity.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, while I was listening to Mr Barroso’s speech, it was a speech about a work programme. I thought that perhaps it was a problem for the EU that no analysis of the state of the EU could be made within the EU.

There were a lot of excellent objectives mentioned in the speech but nothing very concrete. I am thinking, for example, of the promise that Mr Barroso made that the EU would stand by small and medium­sized enterprises. It sounded somehow familiar, but when I think back over the years, I see no proposals. I hope we will have some now.

Something else I would have liked to see in a more tangible form is foreign policy. The problem surely is that the Member States will not allow the representatives of the EU any room. Now that the next G20 is to take place, I heard that France is to chair it. What is the point of that? A representative of the EU, the EU itself, should be there. I think that this point should be raised, and if the EU wants to find a new voice, then a representative of the EU must deliver this speech. We have to have a debate about this.

 
  
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  Eleni Theocharous (PPE).(EL) Mr President, sometimes you do see us, up here, at the top of the Himalayas. President of the Commission, your vision of a Europe of justice, freedom, democracy, prosperity and a high standard of modern political morals is very important. I wish I had time to analyse what Mr Kaminski said, but time is too short. This vision is also our vision, which is why my small country, Cyprus, has given a great deal for freedom and democracy in Europe and in the world. It fought hard to join the European Union.

So why are you undermining and circumventing this vision, which is also your vision? Why are you allowing an attempt to be made to dismantle the basic principles and values on which the Union is based? I refer to the case of Cyprus, where your insistence on the application of Article 207 of the Treaty of Lisbon to the direct trade regulation infringes the Treaty of Accession and, in particular, Protocol 10 on the accession of the whole of Cyprus to the European Union, and deals a severe blow to the sovereignty of Cyprus and, at the same time, solidarity towards the Member States and the credibility of the Union.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D). – Mr President, I should like to say this to Mr Barroso: you are wrong. You cannot have sound proposals without analysis and retrospection. You are also wrong in that you cannot have both the fiscal consolidation that we are currently implementing and growth with jobs.

We are failing to learn the lessons of history. The social buffers that were put in place following the 1929 crisis are being dismantled in virtually every Member State.

Your speech emphasised the social market economy and social cohesion, but your programme emphasises competition on the market and fiscal consolidation, which precludes a social market agenda.

I want to see you using Articles 3, 9, 14 and Protocol 26 to their fullest legal and policy extent in order to develop a new social pact for Europe. Otherwise, we will not rebuild the confidence of the people of Europe and their unity behind developing the union of this Europe.

 
  
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  Charles Goerens (ALDE).(FR) Mr President, I should have liked to have heard Mr Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, also speak in this debate.

In my view, the state of the Union should also reflect the institutional reality of the Union. Indeed, since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, we have witnessed a kind of ‘presidentialisation’ embodied by the President of the European Council in several key areas of European policy.

In the management of the euro crisis, the task force set up by the European Council and chaired by Mr Van Rompuy could have been, I believe, the subject of a debate on the state of the Union. While no one is forcing the President of the European Council to come and address the European Parliament, no one is stopping him either.

I should like to hear you speak on this point, President Barroso, and to name those people for whom Mr Van Rompuy’s presence might be a nuisance.

 
  
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  Rui Tavares (GUE/NGL).(PT) Mr Barroso, there is no point in making speeches about the state of the Union if, at a time when one of the fundamental principles of the Union is under attack, the President of the Commission’s response is tepid, timid and weak. Mr Barroso, your first reference to what is happening to the Roma in France was more or less adequate; your second was, frankly, an embarrassment for the Commission. That is because what started with the Roma is already moving on to the poor: President Sarkozy said yesterday that Europeans without means of supporting themselves in France could not stay there more than three months. That means that, not only will this leave us on the brink of destroying the principle of freedom of movement, which is fundamental to the EU, but also that we will now be more vulnerable to the crisis, because, as we know very well, workforce mobility is one way in which countries respond to the crisis.

In the United States, if the automotive industry fails in Detroit, people go to Chicago; they will not be able to do this in Europe. If the Commission talks clearly about this now, it will be doing Europe a great service by standing up to the destruction of fundamental principles of the Union that is occurring. If the Commission does not speak up now, it will be doing Europe a great disservice.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD). (IT) Mr President, President Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, if we were in Italy, we would have described your speech as ‘Christian Democrat’; in other words, designed to appeal to everyone.

Are four million jobs available in Europe? If so, let us give them to our unemployed who, as you know, amount to tens of millions, to create a European labour market. We are emerging from the crisis? Good, so let us help companies and workers with subsidies for new economic growth and with proper salaries and pensions; let us create a European energy market. Europe is ageing? That is too bad, let us help traditional families made up of men and women to have children with contributions and services.

Step up the fight against climate change? Right, but it is not a one-way street; companies cannot shoulder all the financial sacrifices alone, to the benefit of their non-European competitors. Protect minority rights? It is the right thing to do, but when the members of those minorities do not respect our laws, it is right to send them back to their own countries. We cannot think of becoming a gathering point for the desperate people of the world; we must help them in their own countries.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). – Mr President, Mr Barroso has spoken of sustainable growth. In fact, we have seen negative growth. He spoke of increasing the proportion of people in employment, whereas that proportion has fallen. He speaks of increasing the competitiveness of European goods and services. However, the EU, like each of its Member States, is embracing globalism and voluntarily accepting a deluge of cheap goods that are emerging from low-wage countries in the third world.

The only way in which we can compete with such countries is to drive down our wage rates to their levels. Just in case our employers and employees are not getting the message, we are filling up our countries with third-world workers who are turning large areas of our countries into parts of the third world with below-minimum wage rates and unsatisfactory working conditions. We are making workers in the commercial services sector redundant and outsourcing their jobs to the third world.

The individual nation states of Europe, and the European Union on behalf of the continent as a whole, are committing identity, and economic, suicide.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Rodi KRATSA-TSAGAROPOULOU
Vice-President

 
  
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  Marian-Jean Marinescu (PPE).(RO) Most Member States are facing deficit- and debt-related problems.

Legislative proposals have been drawn up at European level. These proposals need to be finalised and implemented. Only a common financial policy and European economic governance can resolve the current situation. I hope that the new legislation will make the banking system share not only in the profits, but also in development and in assuming economic risk.

The future budget must take into account the current situation, but not with budget reduction in mind. Viable means need to be found to ensure that money is spent efficiently at national and European level. The value and distribution of the budget must be based on the requirements of the common agricultural, cohesion, energy and climate change policies.

You mentioned that there is a shortage of millions of jobs in Europe. The current budget has some unspent resources. These resources need to be reallocated to areas which create jobs.

On the other hand, Member States must have the option to transfer funds from areas where there is insufficient demand to areas where applications have exceeded the resources allocated.

Some time ago, I found my office cabinet broken into in this very Parliament. I did not think that this was a problem to do with a particular region or people. I thought it was down to someone who needed to be found and punished.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Your report set out a very ambitious and committed programme for the forthcoming period and the European Parliament will surely look forward with anticipation to the measures you mention in the report.

A minute is a very short time, and I would like to say only that the European Parliament – the Members of the European Parliament – may be your opponents, but we are constructive opponents and we want to help you implement what you have presented here. We could join forces against those who are the real brake on European Union integration, in other words, the European Council.

We would like to offer you the hand of friendship and our assistance in your struggle against governments who promote national egotism, and who delay the development and further integration of the European Union through such national egotism. I hope therefore that we will meet here soon and discuss concrete measures, and that together, we will also overcome the Council.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D). – Madam President, the President of the Commission talked about sustainable growth and a target of 75% employment across the EU, a goal we would all agree with.

Yet across the EU, drastic cuts in public services are adding to the numbers of unemployed, taking money out of the economy and reducing essential services. How does this help the economy and avoid a job crisis? It really does not make sense. It puts the recovery at risk, a risk that is being taken, by the way, in my own country, the UK, by the Cameron Government.

Maintaining investment in areas the EU has a potential to lead in, such as renewable energies and high-speed rail, will help create the Europe we want, it will help create the Europe we need, and it will help secure the economy.

Finally, we need to guarantee overseas aid budgets, which are actually seen by some as an easy target. Those countries that fall short, far short, of their target pledges, should be strongly encouraged to rethink this disastrous policy.

 
  
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  Ulrike Lunacek (Verts/ALE).(DE) Madam President, President of the Commission, you emphasised very strongly how important it is, with regard to the question of the Roma, to tread carefully and not to talk loudly and openly about what is happening in France. Mr Barroso, I expect you and your Commission to be much clearer on this matter.

Of course, it is right to tread carefully, but we should be doing that in our dealings with the people, with the Roma, who have now been expelled from France and sent home. As far as I can see, you have not acted quickly enough and you have not been clear enough in what you have said to the French Government. We will debate that this afternoon as well.

We need a common European policy that enables these population groups – not only in France, but in other states, too – to live in the countries they want to live in. As several speakers have already said, the Roma in Europe are Europeans. In France, I believe, 90% have French citizenship. Current policy in France is contrary to all European fundamental rights, and therefore I expect some clear speaking from you.

 
  
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  Miloslav Ransdorf (GUE/NGL). (CS) I have a message for President Barroso. The Dakota Indian tribe have a saying: ‘If you are sitting on a dead horse, dismount.’ Your recommended 20-20-20 policy (the 20-20-20 targets) is just such a dead horse. Putting this saying into a European Union context, our behaviour is the opposite to that of these Indians. We are setting up teams to improve the performance of a dead horse, to improve the diet of a dead horse and to improve the image of a dead horse. I would urge you to consider, Mr President, whether it is not time to dismount from the dead horse.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr Barroso, in your report on the state of the Union, you placed particular emphasis on the future economic management of Europe, perhaps because Europe is still not managing to keep pace with the dynamically developing economies of Asia and America.

You see a way out of this difficult situation in the measures described in the 2020 strategy. I do not wish to question your ambition to lead Europe out of these problems, but I see the greatest obstacle to economic growth in Europe in a problem that you have not mentioned at all. It is the European Union’s complicated business environment with its extraordinarily luxuriant bureaucracy which effectively stifles creativity and entrepreneurship, characteristics that are just as common here in Europe as they are in the US, Japan, China and India. A simple, transparent legal environment with a modest bureaucratic burden would certainly deliver a strong new impulse to Europe, further boosting economic growth. I would like to ask you, Mr Barroso, please, to give some thought to this matter.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Madam President, it has been an interesting debate. I should just like to point out, however, that there is a crisis of confidence, and perhaps the President of the Commission should acknowledge this very deeply. There is a crisis of confidence in democracy because the public believes that there has been a failure of elected representatives to regulate financial markets and all markets. I think we have to acknowledge our weakness in this respect.

There is a belief that the European Union can do better than individual Member States, and that is certainly a strong belief in the Member State I represent, Ireland, where we are in the depths of an economic and banking crisis which requires deep analysis and scrutiny. Unemployment is the biggest problem we face here, and if we now have strict enforcement of the Stability and Growth Pact, I worry about the impact it might have on employment, with increasing numbers of young people disillusioned and in a state of crisis because of the situation.

I welcome your comments on food security, biodiversity and sustainable growth, but be careful that Doha and bilateral trade agreements do not destroy those noble objectives.

 
  
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  Othmar Karas (PPE).(DE) Madam President, firstly, I must emphasise that many of the aspects that have now been brought into the debate are important ones in this context. We need a new dynamism. We must make a stand for the European Union, for our goals and for our values. The future begins today, not the day after tomorrow. Therefore, a good analysis, coupled with the correct consequences for the future, is necessary.

We are currently facing problems. There is a fight taking place between the future and a common Europe, on the one hand, and the strengthening of nationalism, on the other. We need to decide that, as in the past, we once again wish to utilise this crisis to take the next step towards integration. Continuing with the status quo is not an option. If we do not move forwards, we will fall backwards.

We therefore need to support the project aimed at creating an economic and social union in addition to the monetary union. In this regard, we need initiatives, timetables and specific sanction mechanisms, not just announcements. We need to make a stand for the prohibition of discrimination, for the principle of pacta sunt servanda and for solidarity. We need more acts of solidarity and we need these acts of solidarity to be regarded not as costs but as investments.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Madam President, Europe needs to convert its good intentions into actions, Mr Barroso. The role of the leadership provided by the permanent President of the Union must be acknowledged because he has played a decisive role in the agreement on financial supervision. This is the way forward for the Member States to agree on economic and foreign policy strategies, which are only effective if there is a common position. Otherwise, we will continue to lose positions and international visibility both in peace and security, and in economic and social matters.

Integration is therefore taking place from the top downwards, but we also need to integrate from the bottom upwards and create a real Europe of the Regions. We need to do this by applying the subsidiarity protocol established in the Treaty of Lisbon which, according to the Commission’s own data, has not been working over the past nine months, and by taking advantage of the experience and knowledge that the regions have in terms of innovation and competitiveness, because that will makes things better for Europe.

Moreover, how are we going to be more innovative if, according to your data, the majority of the Member States are going to reduce their budgets for innovation? You do not talk about citizens very much: we need to be useful to them and really count on them if we want to bring the Union project closer to the European public.

 
  
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  Malika Benarab-Attou (Verts/ALE).(FR) Madam President, President Barroso, ladies and gentlemen, the situation imposed on the Roma – their expulsion and the denial of their right to free movement in Europe – is unacceptable and goes against European values. However, this situation is but the symptom of a more serious and more general problem. It is merely the reflection of a disease in our so-called modern societies, where we are losing sight of what binds us together as human beings. No, human beings are not commodities that can be stocked and destocked.

The policy that we, as the European Union, follow on issues relating to the movement of persons within the Union and to entry and exit from third countries is unacceptable. We cannot pursue this policy of a besieged and timid Europe.

The free movement of persons is fundamental. It has always been so, and it is the foundation on which our present-day societies are built. Today, equality is no longer guaranteed where the movement of European and non-European citizens is concerned.

While European tourists and pensioners travel freely and in huge numbers to the South, especially to the Maghreb, the citizens of those same countries are unable to move around. The Schengen visas and their application by the EU Member States are inhuman. The considerable barriers to movement prevent citizens of the South from coming to the countries of the North as tourists, friends or family members.

President Barroso, what action – bold, concrete action – are you going to take to enable us to adhere to our values once again on this issue?

 
  
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  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission.(FR) Madam President, firstly, I should like to welcome the Belgian Presidency of the Council and to commend it on its speech.

I believe that Parliament’s aim in holding this debate on the state of the Union was also to launch our programming exercise. That is why we must also focus on legislative work. As you know, in Europe, the Commission has the right of initiative but, afterwards, of course, we need Parliament and the Council to intervene so that we can conclude the legislative process.

I should also like to highlight an aspect mentioned by the Belgian Presidency, which is the importance of obtaining concrete results. We have presented, both in my speech and in the document that I forwarded to you via President Buzek, a very ambitious draft programme that includes, for example, the Community patent, public services – which some of you have spoken about – and many other measures that are the real test not only of the Community method, but of our real ambition for Europe.

On the subject of ambition, I should like to mention a positive development. I have just learnt that the Ecofin Council has approved our proposal for a European Semester. That is one good example. As you will no doubt recall, when the Commission presented the idea, a few months ago, of having a European Semester, or a period at the start of the year when we work together to prepare our budgets, to see how we can actually coordinate economic policies, straight away, there was a great deal of reaction by certain well-known individuals, who were saying that this undermined national sovereignty and that it even undermined the national parliaments. This was completely untrue.

The truth is that, ultimately, thanks to the work that was also done by the task force chaired by Mr Van Rompuy, thanks to the proposals strongly supported by the Commission and the Council, and with the ongoing support of this House, we have succeeded. We are in the process of establishing this European economic governance. I have said it once and I shall say it again: it is not enough to have a money economy; we need to have a true European economic policy.

This is the direction we are going in. I announced it in my speech, and the Commission will fight for these proposals.

One of the Members of this House said: ‘You have presented some interesting proposals, but how can you be sure they will succeed?’ That is a good question. We must work together. We will make progress with this ambition. Ultimately, we need to have the clear support of this Parliament and also the support, sometimes the unanimous support, of our Member States. The Commission is shouldering its responsibilities, and I now call on the other institutions to follow suit.

On the Roma issue, there will be a special debate on this this afternoon. The Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights, Mrs Reding, and the Commissioner for Social Affairs, Mr Andor, will be present. I think that will be the best opportunity to enlarge on the very important issues you have raised.

On the question of subsidiarity, I am keen to stress that we are in favour of subsidiarity and solidarity in Europe. I did not say that a euro is always better spent at European level than at national level. I did not say that. What I did say – and what I would say again – is that there are indeed many areas in which there are synergy effects and scale effects. Spending at European level is the only way of ensuring that Europe can act and can derive the maximum benefit for our fellow citizens.

We must hold this debate, and we must do so in a serious fashion, because I have seen the majority of MEPs come up with an ambitious idea for the forthcoming budget. We must win this debate in the eyes of the public in our Member States. It will clearly be a very complex debate, in an extremely difficult economic situation. If the Member States cannot increase their contribution, resources will have to be found so that the European Union can deliver results.

What we cannot do is ask Europe to deliver results without giving it the resources to do so. It would be impossible to do that, and so we must have an extremely serious debate on this issue of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Some of the policies that you have mentioned here are policies that must be developed at national level. The retirement issue, the social security issue – these are primarily national issues. There are different models. What the Commission says – and we have actually stated this in various documents – is that we obviously have to carry out reforms in this sector. If we want to guarantee the sustainability of our pensions – not just of our pensions but of our children’s, too – in the light of Europe’s demographic changes and ageing population, then there obviously have to be reforms. It is now up to each government to determine the pace of, consensus on, and scope for root and branch reform.

Yet, although we want to win the global competitiveness battle, we cannot do so if working hours are constantly being reduced, if the number of people in active employment is being reduced. We cannot do it, and we must have the courage to say that, if Europe wants to win the competitiveness battle, particularly when faced with certain emerging countries, we must work more and we must work longer. If anyone says otherwise, they are not telling the truth. More and better, that is the truth.

Similarly, it must be said very clearly that, without budgetary consolidation, we will not have confidence. If there is no confidence, there is no growth. If there is no growth, there is no employment. Therefore, budgetary consolidation is a crucial element.

At the same time, we need investment in areas that focus, of course, on the future, and we need it at European level and at national level alike. This presents a huge challenge – to us, in the European institutions, but also to those responsible for taking decisions at national level. How can we guarantee, in such a difficult period, that the investments we make are focused on the future? We in Europe are currently defining the areas in question. I have mentioned the areas in which we are going to make proposals for a more ambitious Europe.

In the case of SMEs, we have, of course, mentioned some specific ideas. I would also urge you to consider the document accompanying my speech, in particular, with regard to the Single Market Act, the legislation that we are going to propose with regard to electronic signatures, the numerous simplification measures, and the removal of certain obstacles which currently make the lives of our businesses, particularly our small and medium-sized enterprises, very difficult. The truth is that, for the vast majority of small and medium-sized enterprises, there is no integrated market as yet. They mainly operate in their national markets, but there are no real cross-border opportunities they can exploit as yet.

To conclude, I must tell you that we believe, like those of you who raised the point, that there is a confidence issue. A confidence issue not just at European level, but among political institutions in general. This means that all political decision makers are faced with a major challenge and a major responsibility. I believe that it is precisely by demonstrating strength of conviction that it is possible to have both serious responses and strong responses; not to take the weak middle ground, not to reach false consensus, but to have the courage to uphold, for Europe, this policy of balance, this policy of respect for the differences that exist in Europe.

There are differences in Europe. There are differences between our Member States; their national interests are sometimes at odds with each other. That is the truth, and it is only right that governments should defend their national interests. The question is: how can we show that they can achieve more at national level if Europe, too, is stronger? There are also, at times, ideological differences. They are justifiable. Looking beyond these ideological differences, however, can we or can we not have a strong consensus in favour of Europe?

I believe that we can. The Commission reaches consensus every day; my colleagues, from 27 countries, have different cultural and national backgrounds, and different ideologies. We work hard every day in the interests of Europe. I believe that, with you, the representatives directly elected by our fellow citizens, we can do more for a Europe that represents this spirit, a Europe of solidarity, a Europe of conviction, a Europe that is, at the same time, the Europe of the single market and the Europe of cohesion.

 
  
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  President. – That concludes the debate on this item.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) I really appreciated President Barroso’s address on the State of the Union, which looked forward to what is to come. However, it is a pity that the question of relations with the Member States was not addressed with a view to giving citizens the assurances they need that these strategies will really be implemented. Our citizens will end up confused by the different global, national, EU and intergovernmental elements. I am delighted with the proposed investment fund, which will allow us to move towards an EU investment strategy for the next 10 years. The fund offers the prospect of a planned EUR 1 000 billion over 10 years in a European Union which does not invest enough. It is time to consider the future of our continent, Europe, collectively: we have 27 armies and no enemies, a single customs union and 27 customs administrations – the list goes on. It is unfortunate that the President of the European Council, Mr Van Rompuy, was unable to attend the debate. I would propose creating a body, maybe known as the EU Congress, made up of the European Parliament together with delegations from the Member States’ parliaments and governments to which future State of the Union addresses could be made, thereby involving Member States more directly in the continent’s future.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) Announcements like the one that the President of the European Commission made here again today, saying that the worst of the crisis has been overcome, are taking place just as often as the relentless denials of the reality that confronts us. The fact is that the European Union is still mired in a deep crisis, with no end yet in sight, as attested by the rising levels of unemployment and poverty in many countries. The President of the Commission is here today to talk to us about the future of the EU. Yet he did so by announcing the resumption of the practices and policies of the past – the very ones which have brought us to this bleak state of affairs: the Stability and Growth Pact; the ‘structural reforms,’ in other words, an attack on social and labour rights; the ‘consolidation of the internal market’, that is, the continuation of liberalisation and privatisation; liberalisation and deregulation of international trade; and escalation in the EU’s external interventions, including military ones. This route will only exacerbate the economic and social crisis at EU and global level. It is a route that the workers and the public reject, as is clear from the protests that have taken place in many countries, with millions of people demonstrating against the measures that Mr Barroso is proposing here.

 
  
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  András Gyürk (PPE) , in writing.(HU) In his speech just now, Mr Barroso also mentioned the main priorities for action in the area of energy policy. Please allow me to make three remarks in this regard. First, we agree that infrastructure projects are indispensable. However, we still do not see what level of Community resources the European Union will set aside for this purpose. Interconnecting the grids and building the Southern Gas Corridor are impressive goals, but they will remain a dead letter if, in addition to the efforts of the private sector, the Union does not make financial commitments. The significance of the negotiations on the next seven-year budget should not, therefore, be underestimated.

Secondly, we do not see in the EU’s documents on energy strategy any consideration given to job creation. Yet it is absolutely essential that priority be given to those projects which, in addition to fulfilling other criteria, also create new jobs. The almost EUR 4 billion stimulus plan did not meet this expectation on our part. While CCS technologies, with their modest potential for job creation, received generous support, most energy efficiency projects which do create jobs only appeared for the first time in the supplementary legislation.

Last but not least, there are fine words to the effect that charging electric car batteries will become as natural in the EU as filling up the tank is today. However, achieving this will require much effort on the part of legislators. The enormous legislative and standardisation obstacles to renewable technologies must be torn down, and research and development programmes need to be expanded.

 
  
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  Edit Herczog (S&D), in writing. (HU) It is good news that the current economic situation of the eastern Central European region is now also receiving a more favourable assessment. However, it would be premature to believe that the crisis is now completely behind us. Hungary’s economic prospects have also improved. At the same time, the evaluation of the country’s current economic situation has somewhat deteriorated. Expectations of inflation over the next six months have increased. Correspondingly, Hungary is the only country in which short-term interest rates are not expected to fall for some time. This unfavourable tendency is further intensified by the rise in the value of the Swiss franc, since the majority of mortgages are denominated in this currency. Every state in the region is now introducing spending cuts which place heavy burdens on social conditions.

Expectations are that the Czech Republic has the best chance of success. Forecasts regarding Hungary, however, are cautious: evaluations show that the chances of Hungary’s cutback package succeeding are low. A thorough examination of the proposal submitted to the EU President by the nine Member States is an important issue for the region’s countries. The proposal submitted points out that national debt calculations should reflect accurately the costs of pension system reforms already adopted. The Commission’s Green Paper on pensions, taking as its starting point the unfavourable demographic trends in Europe, urges a pension system reform, and yet the current methodology places Central European countries which are already introducing such reforms at a disadvantage. I call on the European Parliament to follow closely the developments in this regard.

 
  
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  Stavros Lambrinidis (S&D), in writing.(EL) Mr Barroso, the cost of ending the crisis should be divided fairly and an end to the crisis cannot be sought unilaterally by making cuts which will inevitably push up unemployment in certain Member States (thereby benefiting the economies of certain other Member States). On the contrary, what we need is equitable development which, in a period of public spending cuts, means finding new investment funds. In order to achieve the above objectives in full, the European Union should promote two very specific policies, both between the Member States and internationally at the next G20 summit, and should do so, at long last, with conviction and strength. Firstly, it must take decisive action against tax havens. At a time when workers and pensioners in our countries are suffering difficult cuts, it is unacceptable for a few private individuals and businesses to remove at least EUR 1 trillion from our economies through this form of ‘legal’ tax evasion. Secondly, we need a tax on credit transactions so that those who got us into the crisis ultimately pay their share. A 0.05% tax globally would bring in over EUR 400 billion a year in vital revenue needed for sustainable growth and employment in the Member States.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing.(RO) The main concern which citizens have at the moment is how to overcome the economic crisis and its adverse effects. This is why I am strongly in favour of European economic governance being established, which can help us exit the crisis. The EU’s institutions must have effective resources available for taking action. I therefore support the creation of the permanent structures required to manage crises, such as those proposed by the European Commission. The EU’s institutions must also monitor compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, including fiscal discipline. Budgetary and economic decisions made by one state have a direct impact on the economic situation in all EU Member States (a fact demonstrated in practice also by the crisis in Greece and recognised by the Treaty of Lisbon). In future, economic analyses carried out in good time by the European Commission’s experts would be very useful in helping avert and overcome crises. The launch of the ‘European Semester’ will give Member States the opportunity to benefit in good time from professional evaluations and analyses carried out on the budgets and their macro-economic performance, thereby making the dialogue between the European Commission and Member States’ governments extremely useful. I wish to stress that establishing economic governance at European level should help states which are in a difficult situation. Any crisis tests the application of the principles of solidarity and responsibility, as well as the European Union’s consistency and efficiency.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. (ET) President of the Commission, your speech today was amazing. It reminds me of the ‘good old Soviet period’, when there was always a greater density of speeches when the economic situation got worse. We still hear ‘let us increase, let us grow, let us improve’. Instead of ‘Communist Party’, you are using the term ‘European Commission’. Your speech today was totally misleading and populist. You want to appeal to all political groups from the left wing to the extreme right. You talk about social justice and the social market economy and how the European Commission will ensure the creation of jobs. I do not think that you yourself even believe what you say. Since when has the European Commission created jobs; since when have the Member States’ governments created jobs? As far as I know, jobs are still created by entrepreneurs, who by the way you fail to mention in your speech! Why are you misleading European citizens by promising them social justice in a situation where our economy is hanging by a thread? Instead of giving people sweeteners and promising them a better life, you should tell them the truth: that they must mainly rely on themselves, work harder and make an effort to remain competitive on the labour market. I would also have expected you to say something to support European entrepreneurs through the intensifying global competition by providing for a lower tax burden and simpler legislation. I must say that I am disappointed with your speech.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The first ever State of the Union debate is behind us. There is no doubt that it was much needed, and it is to be hoped this initiative will be continued in future years. I do have reservations, however, concerning the progress and content of the debate itself. Firstly, I think Mr Barroso made very little reference to the present state of the Union. Instead, he said a lot about future challenges and, in my opinion, what he said was too general. His speech lacked reference to, among other things, the Treaty of Lisbon and its effect on the function of the Union and its institutions. Mr Barroso’s speech also lacked a thorough analysis of the current difficult economic situation in Europe, which has resulted from, among other things, the failure of the countries of the euro area to observe the Stability and Growth Pact. It should also be stressed that there was a lack of effective monitoring of its observance on the part of the European Commission. This is curious in light of the fact that Mr Barroso held office in the previous term, too, as did Mr Almunia, who was then Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and who is now Commissioner for Competition. Could the Commission, which has at its disposal a staff of hundreds of people, not notice the irregularities, for example, in Greece? This would seem doubtful, bearing in mind the lack of reaction, too, towards the largest of Member States which frequently violated the Pact’s recommendations and the convergence criteria.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – Whilst I welcome the President of the Commission addressing Parliament, I must criticise his stance on the plight of the Roma in France. Omitting to mention the French administration’s decision was wrong.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing.(PT) Europeans are living through dramatic times, with an extremely high rate of unemployment, very weak economic growth and fragile public finances. Moreover, they do not really feel close to the European project and the work of the European institutions. This situation will only be turned around if our fellow Europeans can see once again that they are among the priorities of the European Union, as defined by those same institutions, and if they believe that these priorities are achievable.

This first speech on the state of the Union by the President of the European Commission demonstrates his commitment to restating these concerns in the orientations for short- and medium-term policy. I am convinced that if we are all committed, we can use these difficult times to our advantage and bring new hope to people. The Europe 2020 strategy is a unique opportunity to do that, but the strategy only makes sense if, as well as its ambitious goals, it has the means to achieve these.

Strong economic growth will be crucial to fulfilling the stability and growth plans, and can be stimulated with the reforms and investment that underlie the new strategy; these promote territorial cohesion by reducing the existing imbalances between Member States and between their regions, especially the most vulnerable ones such as the outermost regions.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing.(RO) The EU operates a social market economy. The EU’s economic and social development equally depends on having a competitive open market, as well as on the number and quality of jobs capable of providing a decent living. The economic and financial crisis has had an enormous impact on EU jobs. Unemployment has risen at an alarming rate over the last two years, from 6.8% (in May 2008) to 10% (in July 2010). This is precisely the reason why European citizens’ main concern is about keeping their jobs. Job creation requires major investment in areas capable of boosting the EU’s competitiveness. I think that the EU’s priorities in terms of investment should be modernising and developing the energy and transport infrastructure, agriculture, education and health, economic and social cohesion and an eco-efficient, competitive industrial policy for ensuring sustainable development. However, these priorities should be reflected in both EU and national budgets. Furthermore, the EU should set as its objective improved energy efficiency and reduced energy dependence on traditional energy suppliers in order to boost the EU’s competitiveness and create jobs.

 
  
 

(The sitting was suspended at 11:55 and resumed at 12:05)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Jerzy BUZEK
President

 

5. Formal sitting - Mali
Video of the speeches
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  President. – Mr President, Mrs Touré, Your Excellencies, Commissioner, Minister, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I present to you, today, His Excellency Mr Amadou Toumiani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali, and his wife. This is not the first time Mr Touré has visited the European Parliament, but today will be the first time he has made a speech here. His previous visit was made one and a half years ago, in April 2009.

Today’s speech is of particular importance, as it comes just before the UN summit in New York in two weeks’ time. The objective of the summit is to review the Millennium Development Goals. We remember, too, the events of recent years and months related to terrorism. We are well aware that the Republic of Mali is playing a particularly important role in the fight against terrorism. We also remember that the Republic of Mali is a country where the process of democratisation has been a real success. It is an example of outstanding success on the road to democracy. I would like to stress this again. It was thanks to Mr Touré’s leadership that the events of the beginning of the 1990s took place. After 23 years of military dictatorship, a democratic system was introduced, along with a free-market economy. We know very well that much remains to be done on this road. We are all learning, and we are all in a time of change. We understand, too, that reform is a continuous process, as we ourselves find in the European Union. It has to be like this in the Republic of Mali, too. Therefore, we are certain that what you say to us, today, will be important not only from the point of view of what is happening in Africa and how your country can represent the whole continent on the road of democratic and free-market development, but it will also be important for us in Europe. We would like to be at the forefront of policy for countries which need support. We would also like to be at the forefront of countries which stand for the democratic system, protection of human rights and fundamental values, because we strongly believe in these things in Europe. I am certain that the aspirations of our citizens are similar to those of the citizens of the Republic of Mali. Mr President, please take the floor.

 
  
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  Amadou Toumani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali. (FR) Mr President, Mr Barroso, Madam High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Commissioner for Development, honourable Members of the European Parliament, honourable Members of Mali, I should like to begin by congratulating you, Mr Buzek, on your appointment as President of the European Parliament but, above all, I should like sincerely to thank the chairs of the political groups and all the MEPs for having done me the honour of inviting me here today, firstly, to share with you my thoughts concerning some major challenges that my country and the whole of Africa face, and, secondly, and above all, to highlight the day-to-day efforts that my country is making to find appropriate solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mali covers a surface area of 1 240 000 km2 and is situated at the heart of West Africa, sharing a 7 000 km border with seven other countries. A country with an age-old civilisation that is endowed with a rich and varied cultural heritage, Mali’s prestigious history may be told through a number of events, landmarks and symbols.

One that I would like to mention is the Charter of Kurukan Fuga. Adopted 776 years ago, when the Mali Empire was founded by Sundiata Keita in 1236, the Charter of ‘Kurukan Fuga’ had all the qualities of a constitution. It codified the organisation of power, restrictions and obligations, the defence of human rights and civil liberties, the protection of professional activities, and the protection of persons and their goods.

One of its articles was worded as follows, and I quote: ‘The human person is sacred and inviolable.’ It thus proclaimed, some centuries ahead of its time, what would go on to become one of the key principles of modern-day democratic constitutions. I felt it important to recall this in the great forum for democratic expression that is the European Parliament.

The history of Mali also includes Timbuktu: the mysterious city, the city of 333 saints, which, in the 16th century, already housed 25 000 students, who came from many countries to listen to scholars in the shadow of the ancient Sankore mosque and its university complex.

Mahmud Kati, author of the ‘Tarikh al-fattash’, gives the following account of the period, and I quote: ‘Timbuktu was recognised for the strength of its institutions, political freedoms, the safety of persons and goods, the mercy and compassion shown to the poor and to foreigners, the courtesy extended to students and to men of science and the assistance provided to those people.’

In 2006, Timbuktu was proclaimed the capital of Islamic culture.

Mali is also synonymous with the Dogon country, which is known throughout the world for its exceptional nature and its cultural richness, which make it our country’s number one tourist destination.

The history of Mali is also the history of its age-old relationship with Europe. As a reminder, Emperor Mansa Musa, more commonly known by the name Kanku Musa, established diplomatic relations with Portugal back in the 14th century.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, as I stand here before you, the elected representatives of Europe, I should like to express the profound gratitude of the Malian people for the quality and level of cooperation between the European Union and Mali.

The European Union is Mali’s principal development partner. We receive the second-largest amount of aid from the European Development Fund (EDF) in sub-Saharan Africa.

I should like to express my satisfaction, above all, with the fine way in which our cooperation is applied in practice.

For example, the 9th EDF has been fully allocated, and implementation of the 10th EDF, which began almost two years ago, continues on a very strong footing.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the results of our cooperation have a direct impact on people’s quality of life; they also strengthen the foundations of our democratic system.

Initiated after the events that led to the coup d’état of 26 March 1991, the democratic process in Mali has been marked by certain key milestones, including the democratic transition from 26 March 1991 to 8 June 1992, which was completed within the time limits of, and in accordance with, the commitments made.

Following a 14-month transition period, free and democratic elections were held in 1992. Ten years later, in 2002, I took office at the end of a presidential election that marked Mali’s first ever peaceful and democratic changeover of political power.

Ladies and gentlemen, following my election, I proposed to the Malian political community a form of consensual leadership, the philosophy of which was essentially based on the following formula: to govern together, while respecting our differences.

What makes Mali’s experience unique is the fact that it did not result from any post-electoral crisis. A conscious and voluntary move is being made to address the need for joint efforts by political, social and community groups to further development in Mali.

In my view, power must be a force for cohesion rather than for division, and respect must be shown for fundamental freedoms as a whole.

I should point out that the political consensus that we reached – that I proposed – is not the same thing as unanimity. Consensus is more the notion of compromise.

The political consensus in Mali is an advanced attempt at building this new and constantly evolving political system in Africa, and here I am referring to broad government coalitions.

Mali’s experience has been one of uniting all the political groups around the vision of an independently elected president.

The political consensus has strengthened the foundations of reconciliation between the political community’s key players and the Republic’s institutions, on the one hand, and between the politicians themselves, on the other.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is in this same spirit of consensus that we have begun efforts to consolidate democracy in Mali, after 20 years’ practice.

The committee of experts responsible for overseeing this exercise has held meetings with the political community, civil society, religious groups, trade unions and traditional institutions.

The reforms proposed at the end of these consultations are primarily aimed at remedying the shortcomings and weaknesses revealed by institutional practice, at achieving a strong public turnout at elections and reducing the cost of elections, at strengthening the capacities of political parties, and at defining a statute for the opposition and for the leader of the opposition. They will be the subject of a constitutional referendum, which will, of course, be held following their adoption by the National Assembly of Mali.

This is a fitting moment for me to pay tribute here, before you, to Mali’s members of parliament, with whom I maintain the best possible relations, whether they are on the side of the presidential majority or of the opposition. May I express my sincere gratitude to those members of parliament for having agreed to accompany me here, to Strasbourg.

(Applause)

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, decentralisation will always play a leading role in Mali’s political and institutional development. I would point out that our great empires – and we have had many of them since the 10th century – were all decentralised. In our country, therefore, decentralisation is a reality.

The original approaches to decentralisation developed and implemented by Mali were based on the following factors: firstly, the foundation of political will aligned with the belief that decentralisation cannot succeed without deconcentration, which has to be implemented in phases. It cannot succeed without the development and implementation of major reforms aimed at improving economic and social governance, especially at local level. It cannot succeed without the continued financial and, above all, technical support of the European Union.

The Administrative Reform Support Project (PARAD) and the Institutional Development Programme (PDI) have both benefited from European support. They help to improve the organisation of the state and to modernise the state administration by strengthening its capabilities.

Mali comprises 703 urban and rural communes, 49 circles, or territorial units comprising several communes, 8 regions and 1 district, which are governed by commune councils, circle councils and regional assemblies. A High Council of territorial communities ensures that our decentralised bodies are represented nationally. The creation of a senate is envisaged as part of the proposed political reforms to strengthen our decentralisation process.

In an effort to support local development, an original financial instrument, the National Agency for Territorial Community Investment (ANICT), has enabled us to implement a number of community facilities and, above all, to provide basic social services to our communities.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in taking the floor before this august assembly, I also wished to address the issue of immigration. Migration concerns us all, since it is a multifaceted issue for every one of us, for every one of our countries: demographic and economic issues, social and humanitarian considerations, and identity and security concerns all come under the umbrella of migration.

The task for us today is to find areas of shared interest and incentives that will help ensure that migration contributes to the overall growth and general well-being of our two continents. That is the challenge we face.

The brain drain constitutes the highest cost of migration for African countries, given the limited number of qualified personnel in many areas, such as education, but especially healthcare. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 40% of African countries have seen 35% or more of their university graduates move abroad.

Let us make no mistake, however: Africans migrate first and foremost within Africa. Of the estimated 1 billion Africans, barely 2 million from sub-Saharan Africa live in Europe.

The tragedy of these young people, of these women and girls, who try to cross deserts, seas and oceans to reach the paradise of Europe, at the mercy of every kind of danger – unscrupulous, pardon the term, smugglers – remains fresh in our minds. How many have died of thirst? How many have died at the bottom of the sea and disappeared?

No statistic could ever reflect the reality of the situation.

(Applause)

To take the example of my country, Mali, which has a high incidence of immigration and emigration, of the 4 million Malians worldwide, 3.5 million live on the African continent and roughly 200 000 throughout the whole of Europe and the rest of the world.

Economically speaking, the income transfers of the Malian diaspora are estimated at EUR 456 million per year, or 11% of GDP, according to a study by the African Development Bank carried out in 2005. According to the same sources, these transfers equate to 85% of the official development aid Mali receives each year.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this is an opportunity for me to praise the quality of the political dialogue between the European Union and Mali on migration issues.

Co-development is an asset. It enables a number of our partners to fund vocational training programmes for young people in various employment sectors and to support local entrepreneurship initiatives, without forgetting the programmes for reintegrating returning migrants.

The political dialogue on migration between the European Union and West Africa has enabled us to launch a pilot project, with the creation of the Migration Information and Management Centre (CIGEM) in Bamako. The centre’s remit is to improve knowledge in relation to migratory trends; to accommodate, advise, guide and support potential and returning migrants; to provide information on the legal conditions of migration; to raise awareness among the population with regard to the prevention of illegal migration; and to develop the human, financial and technical resources of Malians from abroad.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the security issue is an important aspect of our relations with the European Union. It is therefore appropriate to talk to you about the Sahel-Saharan strip, which is now a common threat, including for Europe.

Covering an area of 8 million km2, or one quarter of the African continent, and stretching from Mauritania to Sudan via Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Algeria, Libya and Chad, the Sahelian strip has a population density per km2 of almost zero, some of the most difficult terrain around, mountain ranges stretching over hundreds of kilometres and sand dunes covering hundreds of thousands of square kilometres. It is a very hostile area, with a particularly harsh climate.

The temperature can be just 1 degree in December and 50 degrees in the shade from February onwards.

The region’s sole activity remains intensive rearing in one of the most inhospitable environments there is. This year’s drought, for example, cost us 50% of our livestock in the Sahel-Saharan strip.

The local populations live in precarious conditions, and their young people have no alternative but to enlist as soldiers in all manner of criminal groups. Young people remain a key concern.

Mali is situated in the central-western part of the Sahel-Saharan strip, which covers an area of 650 000 km2, or 70% of the total surface area of our country.

Mali is a transit area, and I say forcefully today: my country, too, is both hostage and victim of the cross-border threats that come from elsewhere and are essentially bound for other regions and other continents. These threats are primarily cigarette smuggling, traffickers of illegal immigrants to Europe, drugs from South America, and Salafist groups from the Maghreb.

They take the form of hostage-takings and assassinations, but their main characteristic is their extreme mobility: they move along the borders between countries.

None of the threats that I have just mentioned originate in our country; none of them are bound directly for us. Mali is a secular country with, of course, a large Muslim majority. Islam has been practised since the ninth century. We have always practised Islam peacefully and, above all, with respect for the human person.

We therefore fail to understand the Islamic fundamentalist ideology preached in the Sahel-Saharan strip.

(Applause)

It is yet to have much of a religious impact, but for how long will that be the case? That is the question we have to answer.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the countries of the Sahel-Saharan region, which include Mali, have long been making efforts, both in human terms, and in material and financial terms, to curb the phenomenon of insecurity, the transnational nature of which, it must be said and acknowledged, is assuming increasingly worrying proportions. The scale of the phenomenon is such as to justify the development and adoption by Mali of a national policy to combat insecurity and terrorism in the Sahel-Saharan strip.

This policy will essentially be based, firstly, on support for the populations, to ensure that they take ownership of security policy; on assistance for vulnerable populations, by meeting their basic needs and, above all, by providing long-term access to basic social services; on the adoption of new measures for implementing this security policy; on the strengthening of small arms and light weapons recovery programmes, as part of the fight against their proliferation; and on the establishment of subregional cooperation, to enable us to take action at local level.

In order to demonstrate the great importance of these security issues, Mali has established a centre to conduct analyses and issue proposals on the fight against terrorism and the other threats, which reports to the President of the Republic. This initiative is supported by the European Union, which we congratulate and thank, and by certain Member States represented here.

What is more, we have also created a national office for the prevention of drugs trafficking, and strengthened our legal arsenal.

Ladies and gentlemen, in line with the strategic priorities of the insecurity and terrorism prevention programme, Mali has launched an emergency programme – which we have called PIRIN – to reduce insecurity and combat terrorism in the north of Mali during the period 2010 to 2012.

PIRIN’s overall objective is to significantly reduce, if not eliminate altogether, the causes of insecurity in the north of Mali, through the implementation of powerful measures in the area of security and above all, I would stress, in the area of community development.

The strategy to be developed will be based, firstly, on a responsible and, above all, rational occupation by the state administration; the increased mobility of troops engaged in prevention or intervention exercises; the creation of a relevant network in the target area with infrastructure for the armed forces and the security forces; and the mobilisation of society, in order to curb the influence of religious sects and criminal groups.

As far as funding for the emergency programme is concerned, the government of the Republic of Mali and the local authorities will meet, for our part, the costs of personnel, operations and administrative, social and community facilities.

The project will be managed by an ad hoc body in the shape of a task force that is able to receive sectoral budgetary support and coordinate several intervening parties and ministerial departments.

Ladies and gentlemen, managing the Sahel-Saharan strip is primarily about lucid and objective analysis within the scope of what is, above all, a common vision. That is why, in 2006, I personally proposed a conference on development and peace in the Sahel-Saharan strip.

We must share the responsibility today. No country in the Sahel-Saharan strip is spared, but no country can act alone against the various threats, either.

It is important, however, to highlight the significant lack of subregional cooperation in the face of the cross-border challenges.

It is also important to stress that this fight against terrorism is not just about security. We have seen the limits of that approach.

The fight against terrorism is primarily about elected representatives, local authorities and populations making a commitment and involving themselves. However, the backbone of this fight will be local development, so that we can offer alternatives to the communities of the North, and to young people in particular.

By training people, we can certainly strengthen our operational, logistical and information-gathering capabilities, but the fight against criminal networks is essentially the responsibility of the countries situated in the Sahel-Saharan strip.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, earlier on, I stressed the need to offer a better future to the inhabitants of the arid areas of the Sahel-Saharan strip. I would add, however, that this aspiration to social progress and well-being is shared by all our compatriots.

That is why development issues and especially the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals must be addressed at the highest level.

Mali has taken a number of initiatives to speed up its programme. These include the initiative of the 166 rural communes that face the most security problems, the ‘Millennium Villages’ initiative, and the initiative in the field of healthcare, which we have called COMPACT.

We are certain that not all of the objectives will be achieved, but we have made significant progress both in Mali and in Africa as a whole with regard to educational provision, the reduction in the AIDS prevalence rate and, above all, the provision of access to drinking water.

We have high hopes for the summit that is due to take place in a few days’ time in New York, where the aim will be to speed up implementation of the MDGs. Concentrating efforts on the countries and regions that are lagging behind, as the European Union emphasises in the spring package, is essential in our view.

Mr President, Mr Barroso, Madam High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Commissioner for Development, honourable Members of the European Parliament, honourable Members of Mali, Mali, which, in two weeks’ time, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence – I should like to point out, as a matter of interest, that the Federal Republic of Germany was the first country to recognise Mali, two days after our independence, or on 24 September 1960 to be more precise – my country is grateful to the European Union for the significant part it has played in its development.

The honour you do us today by welcoming us to your Parliament’s plenary session fills me with great hope as to our desire and our ability to go even further, against a backdrop of trust and, above all, of friendship.

Ladies and gentlemen, I should like to thank you for your very kind attention.

 
  
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  President. – Mr President, thank you. You said that you welcome the political dialogue between the European Union and Mali. We say the same: we welcome political dialogue. You spoke about reforms in your country. These are necessary everywhere, including in our European Union. You referred to building political compromise for a better future for Africa. We welcome that, because it is what we are doing here in the European Union. It is something we have been doing for the past 60 years. We welcome you as a true representative of a democratic Africa. Thank you for coming and for delivering your speech to our plenary session.

(Applause)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Gianni PITTELLA
Vice-President

 

6. Voting time
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the vote.

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

 

6.1. Freedom of movement for workers within the Union - codified version (A7-0222/2010, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg) (vote)

6.2. Authentication of euro coins and handling of euro coins unfit for circulation (A7-0212/2010, Slavi Binev) (vote)

6.3. Macro-financial assistance for the Republic of Moldova (A7-0242/2010, Iuliu Winkler) (vote)

6.4. Temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into Madeira and the Azores (A7-0232/2010, Danuta Maria Hübner) (vote)

6.5. Draft amending budget No 2/2010 BEREC (Office of the Body of the European Regulators for Electronic Communications) (A7-0240/2010, László Surján) (vote)

6.6. Request for the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Mr Viktor Uspaskich (A7-0244/2010, Bernhard Rapkay) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE). (LT) Ladies and gentlemen, I am under political attack. The rapporteur is lying that I did not provide evidence. The Committee on Legal Affairs prevented me from commenting on this report in the committee meeting. I am officially recognised as a victim of political persecution, officially, according to the European Convention.

The case was initiated not by the police, but by the corrupt and politicised State Security Department. This department attempted to abduct me illegally at night and during the election, the court prevented me from meeting with electors, but I was allowed to travel to Thailand and Indonesia during the election. The rapporteur is asking you to violate six previous European Parliament decisions. Never before has the European Parliament waived immunity for political leaders in such cases.

This is not what I said in the committee. I was not allowed to comment on this decision at all in the committee. I am blind. The decision was taken without me like in the Stalin era.

 

6.7. Agreement between the EU and Japan on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters (A7-0209/2010, Salvatore Iacolino) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino, rapporteur.(IT) Mr President, I assure everyone that my speech will be brief.

Because this is the first agreement between the European Union and Japan, its symbolic value is not insignificant. It is an important activity that certainly constitutes a crucial juncture in our fight against organised crime. A balance point has been achieved between the most disparate needs that allow the product to be considered absolutely in line with expectations.

For this reason, it must clearly be approved because it certainly represents a specific step towards what both countries want: to modernise the justice system specifically through the application of bilateral agreements.

 

6.8. Interconnection of business registers (A7-0218/2010, Kurt Lechner) (vote)

6.9. Developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy (A7-0234/2010, Elisabeth Schroedter) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Elisabeth Schroedter, rapporteur.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw your attention to the historic nature of this vote. We, as Parliament, have taken the initiative here for green jobs and are now making the way clear for these jobs and creating new scope for sustainable jobs and good work.

In this, we are following the example of the Blue Green Alliance in the United States. Environmental change will create new jobs and retain existing ones. Six committees in this Parliament have worked on this report. I would like to thank all of the rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs who have been actively involved in this, and I am pleased that the Belgian Presidency has already indicated that it will take up Parliament’s initiative and that the Council will consider the matter with a view to it being adopted at the summit in December and included in the conclusions. This is a European Parliament initiative for the future.

 

6.10. EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market (A7-0216/2010, Rafał Trzaskowski) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Rafał Trzaskowski, rapporteur. – Mr President, I just want to thank the chairman of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, Malcolm Harbour, for taking the lead on this issue, and to thank all the shadow rapporteurs, with whom cooperation was exemplary.

 

6.11. Bilateral safeguard clause in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (A7-0210/2010, Pablo Zalba Bidegain) (vote)
 

- Before the vote on the legislative resolution:

 
  
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  Pablo Zalba Bidegain, rapporteur. (ES) Mr President, the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea will open up opportunities for both European and Korean industry, but in order to prevent any negative effects on European industry, it is essential to have an effective safeguard clause.

All the political groups unanimously decided last week that the time had come for Parliament to take a position in plenary on the amendments adopted by 27 votes in favour and just one abstention in the Committee on International Trade in June, which are vital in order for the safeguard clause to be applicable and effective.

As you are aware, we are going to vote solely on the amendments and, in accordance with Rule 57, we will defer the vote on the legislative report to the second part-session in October.

At the same time, we unanimously decided not to close the door on a possible agreement at first reading, which we firmly believe will be possible. However, in order to do so, it is vitally important that we send a clear signal of unity and strength from all the political groups.

That is why it is important for Parliament as a whole to strongly support the whole package of amendments.

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, as Commissioner De Gucht recalled yesterday, the Commission welcomes the fruitful cooperation with Parliament on this file. Today’s vote is only on the amendments, and not on the whole legislative proposal, so as to bring the points of view closer and possibly reach an agreement at first reading. A first trialogue took place on 30 August and the next is foreseen for around 22 September.

At this stage, the Commission does not wish to express itself publicly, in order to allow the trialogues to fully play their role. The Commission will take its stand, express itself and make commitments, if necessary, at the time of the first reading vote.

 
  
 

(The proposal was accepted)

 

6.12. Fair revenues for farmers: A better functioning food supply chain in Europe (A7-0225/2010, José Bové) (vote)
  

- Before the vote on paragraph 21:

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I would like to ask for a few words to be added to paragraph 21. The English text would then read as follows:

Considers there is a need to prohibit selling below purchase price of agricultural produce at Community level.’

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

6.13. Funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (A7-0236/2010, Miguel Portas) (vote)

6.14. Jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (A7-0219/2010, Tadeusz Zwiefka) (vote)

6.15. Social integration of women belonging to ethnic minority groups (A7-0221/2010, Antonyia Parvanova) (vote)

6.16. Role of women in an ageing society (A7-0237/2010, Sirpa Pietikäinen) (vote)

6.17. Journalism and new media - creating a public sphere in Europe (A7-0223/2010, Morten Løkkegaard) (vote)
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  President. – That concludes the vote.

 

7. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Kurt Lechner (A7-0218/2010)

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Thank you very much, Mr President, I requested an explanation of vote on the Lechner own-initiative report because I think it is extremely important, and I assume that there will now follow an explanation of vote on the Lechner report, since you have addressed me. Thank you very much indeed.

Ladies and gentlemen, in brief: the Lechner own-initiative report which we debated here yesterday evening is, in my opinion, extremely important. This report proposes an interconnection of business registers or similar registers of legal and natural persons in the various Member States, with the aim of providing a trustworthy and reliable information source on a party for potential commercial partners, consumers or creditors, thereby achieving transparency and legal certainty in legal and commercial relationships.

A precondition for the functioning of the single market is the establishment of a basic set of data on every registered entity, and therefore also the interconnecting of business registers. I have supported this report also because it proposes integrating the system of European business registers into the so-called e-Justice project, which will ensure a better implementation of this measure.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, I am sure you will remember the wonderful scene in the film of Dr Zhivago, where the bourgeoisie and the aristocrats are enjoying champagne in the warm golden light of a restaurant, while outside in the surrounding murk, the people riot. Listening to our debate this morning, I was reminded not for the first time of that cinematic moment.

We have just had a Eurobarometer poll showing that confidence in the EU is at an all-time low. A minority of EU citizens now believe that the European Union is beneficial. But we heard from Mr Verhofstadt, Mr Daul and others that this is because we are not doing enough, because they want Europe to be doing more. We heard from the President of the Commission that it was all the fault of the nation states. Well, I suppose it is human nature not to seek to blame yourself for your own unpopularity, but it would have been nice to have had some indication that this crisis might have to do with the euro, with the bail-outs, with the sheer inequity of the shoving around of public money with the high-handedness with which we dismiss election results.

Allow me to close with the words of Edmund Burke, which seem unusually apt to our present discontents: ‘Because half a dozen grasshoppers concealed beneath a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, while thousands of great cattle take their repose beneath the shadow of a tree and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make all the noise are the only inhabitants of the field’.

 
  
  

Report: Pablo Zalba Bidegain (A7-0210/2010)

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE). (CS) The Achilles’ heel of the agreement with Korea is the reimbursement of customs tariffs or exemption from tariffs, particularly for products imported to Korea from China, which is difficult to monitor and is expected to harm European industry. This opens up the market in an unprecedented way, with no reciprocal advantage, moreover, for the EU. I therefore do not support the signing of such an agreement with Korea. The report of the Committee on International Trade tries to draw attention to these problems, and to facilitate the easier implementation of protective measures. The agreement should be modified in this regard before we ratify it. Otherwise, we will be sawing off the branch that European industry – and not just the car industry – is sitting on. I welcome the postponement of the vote; it is a sensible step.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, I would like to know for sure that those who wish to speak during the explanations of vote on two reports will be able to do so.

I refer to the Binev report and the Winkler report. Since we began with subsequent reports, I wanted to make sure that I would be allowed to speak, otherwise …

(The President informed the speaker that, in accordance with Rule 170(3) of the Rules of Procedure, it would not be possible to give explanations of vote on the two reports mentioned)

So there will be no explanations of vote on these two reports, then.

 
  
  

Report: José Bové (A7-0225/2010)

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE).(IT) Thank you Mr President and excuse me. With my speech, I would like to highlight how the progressive erosion of European farmers’ incomes, despite growing profit margins for the agro-industrial sector, is causing a worrying economic marginalisation of agricultural workers, with the consequent abandonment of agricultural activities.

This requires, therefore, a change of course, which the European Commission itself recognises and which the report being examined and put to the vote in Parliament this morning – for which I would like to express my support – highlights with ample explanations and suggestions on a legislative and departmental level as well.

Indeed we must combat global speculation on commodities and guarantee the security of supply. Moreover, greater price transparency must also be guaranteed, not only to give farmers justice and dignity, but also to correct the serious imbalances that exist with regard to bargaining power and to prevent abusive practices between the various operators.

Agriculture must be confirmed as a sector of economic and social stability and it must regain power in the European and in the globalised commercial context.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I think that we have taken a good decision today, one that is good for farmers, good for consumers, but also good for the European economy as a whole. The most important aspect of this own-initiative report is the political signal that it sends out. It is a signal to the value chain that farmers too, and indeed farmers in particular, have a right to appropriate remuneration for their work. The current situation cannot continue.

I have absolutely nothing against the provision and purchase of low-price, good value food, but the emphasis here is on good value. However, anyone who sells food below its energy value, in other words, if the thermal recovery of the food would bring in more money than its sale, then something is not right in the system. In this case, the competition will not be fair. If the competition is not fair, then politics must step in. That is precisely the content of the motion we have adopted today.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, I also supported the Bové report and can echo the comments of my colleague, Mr Jahr.

This sends a very strong signal to everybody, both in politics and along the economic chain, that the Parliament here means business. We had a vigorous debate last night. Not everybody agrees with the entire contents of this report, but we are all in agreement that farmers cannot continue to be squeezed. The blood is literally being squeezed out of them at the moment. They are getting less and less of the final price that we all pay for our food in supermarkets and that situation has got to be stopped.

We have got to look at the role of dominant players. We need an ombudsman for the food sector and we need to look at what the global market is doing to our food producers. We need to examine competition law. I am happy that this report got the debate and the support it deserved here in Parliament. It is an important step to back up the rhetoric of recent times.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE). (CS) I backed the report on fair incomes for farmers and I am delighted that the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development is taking an interest in the poorly functioning food chain and the contradiction between low purchase prices for farmers and high prices for consumers. However, I would like to emphasise again here that there is unacceptable discrimination and unequal competition for farmers from the EU 12 because of the higher subsidies enjoyed by the EU 15. It is difficult for Czech customers, for example, to get milk, vegetables, eggs and other commodities from Czech farmers, because the multinational chains prefer the more subsidised, and therefore cheaper, goods from the EU 15 countries. This must be changed as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Inese Vaidere (PPE).(LV) Thank you, Mr President. I believe that this report, which talks of fair revenues for farmers, is absolutely essential, especially because farm production prices have risen far more steeply, costs have risen far more steeply, than the amount farmers receive for their produce. In this situation, it is the large retail chains who actually lose nothing through this process. I should like to say that the European Union’s objective has always been to improve farmers’ revenues, but we can see that it is impossible to meet these criteria for developing the countryside. The resources applied to farming continue to increase, but nothing is achieved. Farmers from several of the new EU Member States, including Latvia, are significant losers compared to industrial producers and their colleagues in the economically stronger European countries, which can afford to give them additional support. In this way, implementation of the European Union’s cohesion principle is also being significantly impeded. I also particularly welcome the statement in the report that there must be a clear disclosure of the profits accruing in the supply chains and the wholesalers at the farmers’ expense. Thank you.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, I am delighted to support this report. The title ‘Fair revenues for farmers’ says it all, indicating that revenues, as of now and for a long time, have been unfair.

Thankfully, we are taking a step in the right direction. Profits have to be doled out fairly between producers, processors and retailers, which is not happening at the moment. This report will at least send out the proper signal and we can go forward from there.

When that is attained, I hope we will be able to get a strong and well-funded CAP in place to ensure the viability of the family farm and the security of food supply into the future. We have made a good start today. Hopefully, we can deliver in due course.

 
  
  

Report: Miguel Portas (A7-0236/2010)

 
  
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  Romana Jordan Cizelj (PPE). (SL) I voted in favour of the Report on the funding and operation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. For many, European solidarity is an abstract concept, but it is a mechanism which should directly benefit individual European citizens, especially now when they are in a tight spot and a difficult situation.

However, the fund has proven not to be functioning properly and that is why I expect the Commission to take seriously the demand for a mid-term review of the Fund’s operation and a revision of the regulation.

I have a reservation regarding the independence of the Fund; it is related to its unlimited duration. I believe that the Fund is a political response to the current situation and that in the future, the European Union should promote employment through other instruments. It must ensure the competitiveness of the European economy. We must be careful not to establish a mechanism that would play into the hands of those who fail to adapt to changing global circumstances. That is the context in which I cast my vote.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE).(IT) Mr President, as shadow rapporteur for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) on this own-initiative report, I would first like to thank the rapporteur for the important work he did at the start, particularly in conjunction with all the political groups.

I believe this report contains some important points for improving the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in the light of the mid-term evaluation. These implementation proposals are in line with my own findings in cases I have reviewed during 2010 within the Committee on Budgets, and they are consistent with the need to simplify and speed up procedures relating to the Fund.

In view of the particularly difficult economic situation for European businesses and the growing number of requests for support from Member States, I believed it was fundamental to highlight in the report that Fund coverage needs to be extended to 2013 for workers who lose their jobs as a result of the economic crisis.

To conclude, the European institutions are being asked to send out a strong signal to stimulate economic recovery, and the EGF represents an important message to our citizens.

 
  
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  Inese Vaidere (PPE).(LV) Thank you, Mr President. When we take into account the fact that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was established in order to reduce the threat of unemployment and increase new job opportunities available to people suffering from globalisation, it is still a concern that the EUR 500 million set aside for spending each year for the purposes of the Globalisation Fund is so little used, and that there are no less than nine countries that have not even submitted a single application. Clearly, this positive beginning, when the Commission decided after the crisis broke to make the mechanism for making payments from the fund easier and simpler, as well as to improve it, must be continued. However, this work must continue. I believe that this is especially the case with respect to the new Member States, which have many small and medium-size enterprises, where not many people lose their jobs within a single enterprise, but many people lose jobs in many enterprises. It is precisely this aspect that must be further improved, so that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund can really be applied to those countries whose gross domestic product is lower than the European Union average. Thank you.

 
  
  

Report: José Bové (A7-0225/2010)

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE).(PL) Today, we have adopted an important report on fair revenues for farmers and a better functioning food supply chain in Europe. The efficient functioning of the food supply chain is a product not only of the length of the route taken by agricultural products, from the field to processing, wholesale trade, retail trade and the consumer’s table, but also of its specific nature and complexity. Agricultural production is, to a large extent, dependent on natural and climatic conditions, over which farmers have very limited influence. The food processing industry dictates prices to farmers, while distributors do the same both to processors and consumers. This is why it is important to analyse prices and monitor their transparency. This does not mean violating the law of the free market, but it does restrict the monopolising effect of middlemen. Institutions of oversight and monitoring are currently being introduced in financial markets. Some people want oversight and monitoring to be removed from the agricultural market. Such people do not take into account the fact that the producers are small and independent, and that they are losing out to powerful trade interests and incurring huge losses.

 
  
  

Report: Tadeusz Zwiefka (A7-0219/2010)

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Mr President, Mr Zwiefka’s report reflects a great deal of skill and a considerable amount of work in the researching of existing legislation, international conventions – particularly the Hague Convention – and case-law, of which certain aspects, it really must be said, are, at times, contradictory.

In reality, however, this report solves only part of the problem. If there is one area in which European legislation has complete legitimacy, it is the harmonisation not of substantive law, which would result in the standardisation of law across all the Member States, but of the rules governing conflicts of jurisdiction – primarily so as to know which court has jurisdiction – and, secondly, of the rules governing conflicts of laws; in other words, establishing which law applies.

Which law applies in the case of contracts, including when people are located in different places? In the case of property, whether immovable, movable or intangible – which is what industrial property is? In the case of contracts, even where the contracting parties are located in different places?

All this must be regulated, Mr President, by a European code. Until we have this European code of private international law, we will face considerable difficulties. This report has the merit of partially solving them where the exequatur is concerned.

 
  
  

Report: Antonyia Parvanova (A7-0221/2010)

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE). (CS) I agree with the report’s author that women from ethnic minorities within the EU suffer from various forms of discrimination and that it is our duty to try and improve their conditions, especially in terms of access to education, to the labour market, to social security and to healthcare. However, the report also asks the Commission to collect statistical data categorised by ethnic group. The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms explicitly prohibits the collection of data grouped by race.

I would therefore like to ask two questions: Is the Commission able to produce such an analysis without infringing international law, or is there an attempt here to amend the relevant article of the Charter so that it becomes possible to perform such analyses? Is the author or this entire assembly at all aware of this contradictory situation? Despite this, I have voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI).(NL) Mr President, I voted against the Parvanova report on the social integration of women belonging to ethnic minority groups, as this report – in common with almost all politically correct initiatives of this kind – is counterproductive. For example, the lengths the rapporteur goes to in order to avoid using the term ‘Islam’ border on the ridiculous. Another example is the recognition that women from ethnic minorities are discriminated against by men from those same minorities. The report states that there is no justification for violence on the grounds of customs, traditions or religious considerations, but shies away from clearly putting its finger on it and telling it straight: that many of the principles held by Islam cannot be integrated into our European society. Until we, the European Parliament, emerge from this denial stage, all the measures aimed at the integration of women from Islamic countries will be doomed to failure from the outset.

 
  
  

Report: Sirpa Pietikäinen (A7-0237/2010)

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE).(PL) Elderly people today are too often wrongly regarded as inefficient and unfit for work, even though EU law opposes discrimination on the grounds of age. The huge added value they contribute to national economies, thanks to their many years of experience, is forgotten. In this context, because of continued discrimination based on sex, women find themselves in a particularly difficult situation in the labour market. In addition, according to statistics, women live longer than men, which means they are subject to a greater extent to the problem of poverty and to lower pension payments caused by their having received lower pay than men in the same positions. All of these problems are particularly in evidence in rural areas. In relation to the above, I am pleased that resolutions will be made which remind us of this problem and mobilise us to make continued efforts to improve the present situation.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, I support this report and, in particular, want to draw attention to three paragraphs that I think are really important, given the rush to put older people into care rather than looking after them in the community or in their own homes. Paragraphs 17, 19 and 25 are particularly encouraging in this regard. We need to make sure that there is a rights-based approach to the care of older people. We need to ensure that older people can live independently in their own homes and that there is support for them to do so. We should not allow profit to be made from older people being moved into the private care sector.

I also want to draw attention to paragraph 13, reconciling work and care. Could I suggest to this House and to many parliaments across Europe – and indeed beyond – that we need to look at reconciling political work with care. I would love to do a survey on how many people in this Parliament have a caring role as well as a political one. Few and far between.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because it contains some very important statements of principle.

The first is that, whereas ageing is normally seen in negative terms, older people represent an economic and social resource that we draw upon but do not recognise; that the economic crisis has more serious consequences for women and especially for aged women; that age discrimination should not exist in relation to inclusion; and that women are at a greater risk of poverty and, above all, of limited pensions, despite being the pillars of welfare.

This report proposes an important way of helping to breathe life into the Europe of the nations and thus into the Europe of the peoples, of all the peoples. The method entails developing an approach for defining assessments, statistics and data based on the awareness of gender inequalities in older age, which result mainly from accumulated gender-based disadvantages during a whole lifetime. It also sees adopting a life course approach, in which the interconnections of ageing and gender are taken into account, as the way forward in ageing policies.

Three fundamental and important aspects are requested in this resolution: a mechanism to ensure the accumulation of pension rights even during those times when a person performs care duties; the taking into account of the gender dimension when reforming pension systems and adapting the retirement age; and the provision of remuneration for care duties.

This is a very important piece of information insofar as individual Member States, and Italy in particular, are adapting their national pension systems to meet European guidelines. These are the real European guidelines.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE). (CS) I voted against this report because of the adoption of the proposal that states should take into account the specific situation of older lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women. Does that mean that they should have a higher status than other older women? In yesterday’s debate, I emphasised that the greater risk of poverty for women of retirement age was due to the fact that they take care of the family and bring up children, and because their lifetime incomes are, on average, lower than those of men, and that this must change. However, this has nothing to do with their sexual orientation.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, I was pleased to support this report. I was the only person who attended the debate last night who did not actually speak. The reason I did not speak was that I felt that in some ways, the title was a misnomer. Rather than talking about the role of women in an ageing society, we were really discussing the treatment of older women in a society that was ageing.

Obviously some of the points made were absolutely valid, particularly the disparity in pension payments between men and women, which is not acceptable in a democratic society. There is, however, a great and urgent need to have a further discussion on the role of both men and women in an ageing society. It needs to be factored in, particularly when it comes to budgeting. I do not think this has been done in the past. The economic implications of an ageing society have not been properly addressed. This must be done urgently if those plans are not to go askew.

 
  
  

Report: Morten Løkkegaard (A7-0223/2010)

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE).(IT) Mr President, you, I and a few others have stayed on. I voted in favour of this report because I believe it is important for the relationship between politicians, in their positions of responsibility, and the electorate, and all this may serve as a central element of our representative democracy. I believe that all this is an important requirement for ensuring the citizens’ full, conscious and democratic participation in the EU integration process.

Unfortunately, it must be observed that the last European elections, too, had a high rate of abstention, and this is quite common in all the European countries – and not only in Europe. It clearly demonstrates just how little information citizens receive about European policies and issues and, regrettably, how detached they feel from our institution.

In view of the fact that the Treaty of Lisbon introduces a new form of citizen participation in the European Union’s decision-making process, it is important that we make an effort to close that gap. The institution must, in fact, strive to guarantee unrestricted access free of charge to all public information issued by the European Commission.

Finally, I must point out how essential it is to ensure that the European institutions work in conjunction with the people and the responsible national authorities to improve communication. Moreover, all this must be achieved by encouraging the Member States to take a more active role in informing citizens about matters relating to our Europe.

 
  
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  Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE) . – (DA) Mr President, first of all, I am pleased that we have today adopted a report on better communication in the EU. I also voted in favour of the joint resolution with the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, as it is a report that provides us with a strong foundation. The report includes, by and large, all of the proposals that were adopted in March in the Committee on Cultural Affairs. However, I would like to say that in the meantime, more compromises were brought to the table, which, naturally, I had hoped to retain right up to the final vote. That was not possible, as strong lobbying forces weakened the resolve of certain parties involved at the last minute. However, I will take note of it and I can see and am pleased that these proposals have resulted in a good debate, such that we can now move forward with the 46 proposals towards better communication in the EU.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, as a former journalist, I was particularly happy to support this report. Knowing both sides of this argument –previously as a journalist and now as a politician – I think there is a danger in equating information with journalism. We need to be very careful about that.

My concern at the moment is that the economic crisis is putting a huge number of journalists out of work. It is happening in Ireland. Local newspapers and local radio stations are shedding staff and there is pressure to get rid of people. It means that the quality of journalism will suffer because people will not have the time and the resources to research stories and to give quality coverage to issues.

I am afraid that Europe tends to fall on the back foot because local stories are covered and European ones are not unless they have a relevance to the people in our Member States. That is the challenge for elected Members of this Parliament – to make the work we do relevant back home, because it is very relevant.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR). (CS) The positive thing about this report is surely that it repeatedly recognises the increasing role of national parliaments and emphasises the principle of subsidiarity. It also includes various proposals, such as greater transparency, the publishing of information, easier accreditation for journalists and so on, which are definitely worthy of support. On the other hand, it includes ideas that are more than controversial. The report proposes creating a group of correspondents whose task would be to cover the topic of the European Union in a more edifying way. It also calls for every Member State to have a specialised office for EU affairs, the role of which would be to explain the impacts of EU policies. At the same time, it proposes increased appropriations for Parliament’s information office. In my opinion, a better result could be achieved through efficiency improvements and new methods, and not through budget increases. I have therefore rejected this report.

 
  
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  Inese Vaidere (PPE).(LV) Thank you, Mr President. I particularly welcome the fact that this report reminds us of the mass media’s obligation to inform people of what is happening in the European Union, and that issues facing the European Union should be included in school curricula. In a situation in which there is altogether a vast amount of information about the European Union, the role of Parliament’s information offices in the Member States is becoming much greater. I should like to emphasise the necessity, also, of controlling what goes on in these offices, and how effectively the funds that the European Union provides to these offices are spent. The emphasis that the report places on the role of the Euronews TV channel is also particularly welcome. I should like to emphasise that this channel should broadcast exactly as the report states; broadcast in all the official languages of the European Union. For instance, in Latvia, we receive information from this channel in Russian, but there is no information available in Latvian, the official language. Independent journalism has a special role. I should also like to suggest we introduce umbrella European Union legislation that would allow us to identify the genuine mass media also in those states where the political capacity to introduce national legislation of this sort is simply lacking. Thank you.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Mr President, this report and resolution that we have voted on today on new media and journalism was supposed to look at the ways the new media are changing journalism. Instead, it has, in reality, become a wish list for MEPs wishing to improve their column inches and who desire to manipulate how much the EU is reported on. Proposals include European training programmes for journalists, more money for Parliament’s information offices and yet more money for EU communication policy.

I believe in freedom of speech. I also believe in independent credible journalism. Forcing and funding journalists and public independent broadcasters to cover EU matters in order to promote the European ideal is blatant propaganda, and this is why I voted against this report and resolution. In deference to a vanity exercise, an opportunity has been missed to look at ways to encourage democratic engagement through social media.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (A7-0222/2010)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report by my Polish fellow Member, Mrs Geringer de Oedenberg, on the proposal to codify the October 1968 Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on freedom of movement for workers within the European Union, which was amended in 1968, 1976, 1992 and twice in 2004. In April 1987, the Commission instructed its services to proceed with the codification of all legislative acts no later than after their tenth amendment while, at the same time, it emphasised that this was a minimum rule and that in the interests of clarity and proper understanding of the provisions, the Commission services were to make efforts to codify the texts for which they were responsible at still shorter intervals. Although an accelerated working method was established in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 December 1994, there have regrettably been delays in the codification of European legislation. These delays impact on both our citizens and the Member States, particularly public administrations, the legal professions, law students and professors, and so forth. There are far too many provisions that have been repeatedly amended and are now found dotted around in the original text and subsequent amending acts.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) In striving to support my intergovernmental and territorial outlook on EU policy, I always defend the principle of subsidiarity to the hilt and challenge the costly bureaucratic and administrative burdens that the EU often places on Member States, citizens and enterprises.

I can therefore only vote in favour of Mrs Geringer de Oedenberg’s report, which reminds us of the importance of ‘better lawmaking’. This can be partly achieved by assessing the impact of legal procedures more robustly before the draft of a given act is presented as an official legislative proposal by the Commission.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) This new proposal contains a codification of Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 of the Council on freedom of movement for workers within the Community. This proposal preserves the content of the codified acts and strives for clarification to apply legal standards on freedom of movement for workers. The European Union must achieve a long-term objective and ensure freedom of movement for workers in all Member States. All workers must be given the right to move freely and gain employment in the Member States.

The European Union must ensure that the mobility of the labour force is more transparent, must help workers improve their living conditions and gain a proper foothold in society, and therefore, discrimination on grounds of nationality and conditions of employment must be abolished without exception. There must be better cooperation among the Member States over the implementation of more flexible conditions of employment.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Freedom of movement constitutes a fundamental right and a means of increasing the possibilities of improving working and living conditions. This desire must be enjoyed by permanent, seasonal and frontier workers, and by those who pursue their activities for the purpose of providing services, in any Member State. I am voting in favour of this resolution because I recognise its contribution to the support provided by employment offices to nationals of other Member States, to equality of treatment, and to the right to general education, apprenticeships and training for the children of nationals of a Member State who are or have been employed in another Member State.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This regulation aims to replace the one of 1968 on the free movement of workers, as well as the various acts that were incorporated in it. This is, then, a codification process in which, in the terms of the opinion of the Consultative Working Party of the Legal Services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, no substantive changes were made. I unreservedly support this initiative that has the goal of simplifying and clarifying the Union’s legislation, which has been the object of frequent amendments and is spread across several acts. Only in this way will we be able to guarantee greater transparency in Union legislation, making it more accessible and easier to understand by ordinary Europeans, which will afford them new opportunities and the chance to benefit from the specific rights attributed to them, thus shaping a citizens’ Europe.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report to ensure that the citizens of one Member State working in the territory of another are treated the same as workers originating from that country as regards employment and working conditions, not least with regard to remuneration, redundancies and rejoining the labour market.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This resolution restricts itself to purely and simply codifying the existing texts on workers’ freedom of movement in the Union without substantial amendments, so I voted for its adoption. However, I wish to mention that this freedom of movement implies increased political integration. Only a new concept of sociality in the European Union, that is able to guarantee each European minimum social rights, will enable the free movement of workers without social problems, not least social dumping.

I believe this freedom of movement makes the implementation of minimum standards necessary in the areas of healthcare, education and social pensions, which should be guaranteed at EU level. In terms of social rights, the establishment of these minimum standards increases the homogeneity of employment conditions, and acts to regulate the movements of manual-labour businesses.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I welcome this report, which correctly notes the importance of Switzerland and the EEA to EU trade matters. The report explicitly states that this House fully respects the causes of the specific nature of the relations between Switzerland and the EU. I would go further and urge full respect for the citizens of all four EFTA countries in deciding their own countries’ relationships with the EU.

An area of mutual interest to EU and EEA countries which falls outwith the scope of internal market agreements is fisheries. In recent months, Iceland has unilaterally set a quota for mackerel stocks which may threaten the very sustainability of that fishery. Whilst I strongly support the concept of national control of fisheries, this must operate on the basis of regional cooperation and international law. I urge the Icelandic Government to come to the table with their neighbours in order to achieve a mutually satisfactory and responsible resolution of this situation.

 
  
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  Alan Kelly (S&D), in writing. This procedure preserves the freedom of movement of workers within the Community, which has been one of the great achievements of the EU.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The free movement of workers within the Union is one of the main objectives of all the Member States and leads to the development of the economies of all EU countries. There cannot, therefore, be discrimination of any sort. This makes it very important that any regulations enabling the achievement of this goal be perfectly provided for and codified. The adoption of this regulation makes it possible to guide all the Member States towards coordinating their employment policies. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing.(HU) The European Commission attaches great importance to simplifying and enhancing the transparency of EU law in order to make it more readily and easily accessible to Member States’ citizens. However, this goal cannot be achieved as long as numerous considerably amended regulations are widely scattered. As it is, in some cases, it takes serious research to determine which legislation is in force. Since the Council Decision on employment within the European Union has also been amended several times, this text also needs to be codified. I believe it is important that we codify this and similar EU laws as soon as possible. This is why I voted in favour of this regulation.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. − (DE) Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union too early. The major socio-economic differences between the old and the new Member States, in particular Bulgaria and Romania, are leading to a huge labour migration from east to west within the EU. Justifying this on the grounds of the free movement of workers is not a valid argument in this case, because the differences are so great that they are giving rise to cheap labour and integration problems in the labour markets in the old Member States. Therefore, I have voted against this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour because this is a subject of the greatest importance, particularly at a time when the mobility of Roma citizens within the EU is being debated.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE) , in writing. (CS) I have voted in favour of the regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the free movement of workers in the EU, in the version which takes account of the legal objections of the European Parliament. Adoption at first reading will speed up the introduction of this regulation, which is important. Nevertheless, I have to say that some Member States are still placing various obstacles in the way of the free movement of persons in the EU and are doing so at various levels and under various pretexts, and thereby violating the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I would like to draw attention at this point to the current, unjustified harassment of Czech drivers by German police in the border regions. Yesterday’s working meeting between senior police officers of both countries did little to resolve the matter, and even ended in a war of words, which the media also picked up. I would urge the Commission to begin addressing this matter in all seriousness.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This was a fairly technical, but uncontroversial report. This is why we Greens supported it.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which will protect the freedom of movement for workers within the EU. The internal market relies upon skilled workers being able to transfer between Member States without hindrance, which is why I supported this report.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The simplification and clarification of European legislation is of the highest importance in order for laws to become more comprehensible and accessible to the public. Having easily understood laws can give people a better knowledge of the rights from which they benefit and which, therefore, generate new opportunities.

The codification of provisions that are scattered and subject to frequent amendments is necessary in order to be able to ensure that European legislation is clear and transparent and bring it closer to the public.

This is even more important in the area of free movement of workers: an issue that has become one of the most important arenas for building European integration and has afforded the citizens of the Member States new opportunities because they have the right to work freely in another Member State, with equal treatment and with all discrimination banned.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the freedom of movement for workers within the Union because I believe that freedom of movement is a fundamental principle of the EU and internal market. I call on the European Commission and Council to use this opportunity of adopting this regulation and ask Member States to lift the current barriers facing Romanian and Bulgarian workers. The current barriers preventing the free movement of workers from Member States which joined the EU after 1 May 2004 impose restrictions on the rights of citizens in these countries. They can also lead to illegal work and social dumping. Lifting these barriers will protect both migrant and local workers equally. Achieving this objective also ensures protection and respect for the EU’s fundamental principles. I hope that both the Commission and Member States will demonstrate the necessary political will.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Ladies and gentlemen, free movement is a fundamental right of workers and their families. This report aptly observes that the movement of the labour force in the European Union should be one of the means whereby EU citizens can improve their lives and working conditions. It is a matter of both freedom and dignity. In this respect, EU accession had a huge impact on my country of Lithuania. With the exception of a few countries, in theory, we can work freely in any EU Member States.

Now we are experiencing the golden age of the budget airline Ryanair, which makes it easier to travel. People can fly from Lithuania’s three largest airports to more than 40 European cities. This is both a blessing and a curse. There is much concern that because of constant migration, Lithuania is experiencing a brain drain. Almost 60 000 Lithuanians live in the United Kingdom, whereas in 2001, there were less than 5 000.

Approximately 90 000 Lithuanians live in Ireland. We are a small nation, and having provided their education and invested in their studies, we are now losing our most active people in their twenties and thirties. We, Lithuania and some EU Member States, must make more of an effort if we want to stop this dangerous tendency.

 
  
  

Report: Slavi Binev (A7-0212/2010)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) As the report in question clearly states, counterfeiting of the euro is a real and significant threat.

It is precisely for this reason that the adoption of a specific regulation could help significantly reduce the circulation of counterfeit coins, through the application of common procedures to authenticate the coins in circulation, and of mechanisms for the control of those procedures by the authorities. I therefore voted in favour of the report by Mr Binev, and I would like to thank him for the work he has done.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) This proposal for a regulation defines the measures required to protect the euro against counterfeiting. Among other things, it requires credit institutions and certain other economic operators, such as cash transporters, to verify the authenticity of euro notes and coins that they receive and intend to release back into circulation. It also requires them to identify counterfeits. However, the lack of a binding common standard for authenticating the coins has resulted in different practices being used from one Member State to the next, which means that we are unable to provide consistent protection for the currency throughout the Union. As the rapporteur for my group, I worked very closely with Mr Binev on this proposal for a regulation. Like Mr Binev, I support the European Commission’s proposal and have voted accordingly.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The existence of mechanisms and a legislative framework that ensure that any currency in circulation is verified by the necessary authorities is crucial in protecting financial institutions and the markets against fraud. Guaranteeing the validity of the currency and its circulation also requires appropriate treatment that will have to be ensured at national level. In view of this, it is important to introduce binding rules which streamline the implementation of the euro authentication process with the control of these procedures. Such issues should be handled by suitably qualified professionals who are skilled in these matters, so as to ensure that the procedures are effective. Moreover, I believe that this streamlining is vital if there is to be greater confidence in the euro area on the part of consumers and the market as a whole.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Counterfeiting of euro coins is a significant threat, particularly for the highest coin denominations. The lack of a mandatory common framework for coin authentication may constitute an impediment for the protection of metal coins. The regulation that has just been adopted constitutes a legally binding instrument enabling the establishment of a common method for euro coin authentication.

One of the primary objectives of the regulation is to ensure that the institutions guarantee that euro coins returning to circulation are subject to an authenticity screening process. The authentication should be carried out by means of the coin processing machines included in the list referred to in Article 5 paragraph 3, or by duly trained staff in accordance with methods designated by the Member States. Furthermore, due to the fact that the authentication of euro coins inevitably incurs expenses to the institutions involved in this process, such as credit institutions, and a number of other institutions, such as cash transporters, I suggest including the right of the institutions to retain a handling fee.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Combating the counterfeiting of euro notes and coins, as well as the procedures for the authentication of euro coins, are the reason for adopting this regulation, so that a mandatory common framework for coin authentication can be put in place. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) The report addresses the problem of the circulation of counterfeit coins.

Until now, Member States have had different practices for withdrawing counterfeit coins from circulation. In this context, the proposal aims to guarantee the effective implementation, throughout the euro area, of common procedures for authentication of the circulating euro coins and of control mechanisms for those procedures by the authorities. I voted in favour because I believe that uniform procedures throughout Europe are essential.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) As a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I actively participated in and followed the legislative process of this report, which I endorsed.

Broad uniformity of the systems used in Europe to combat the counterfeiting of coins is something that we strongly desire, particularly after we have obtained excellent levels of safeguards in the fight against counterfeit banknotes. Under the proposal that we are about to adopt, it will be possible to control and monitor the circulation and quantity of counterfeit coins in the individual Member States which currently do not have standardised, sufficiently secure systems for this purpose. Indeed, we must forcefully combat the counterfeiting problem with effective, state-of-the-art instruments in order to prevent heavy burdens from being placed on our citizens, our commercial operators and, ultimately, our own national budgets.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Counterfeiting of euro coins is a significant threat, particularly for the highest coin denominations.

The lack of a mandatory common framework for coin authentication may, in some Member States, constitute an impediment for the institutions concerned to actively look for counterfeits; this creates differences, across the EU, in the degree of protection afforded the currency.

The proposed regulation constitutes the legally binding instrument now necessary for the establishment of a common method for euro coin authentication to be applied by the institutions concerned and of the necessary controls by Member States. In this context, the present proposal aims to ensure the effective implementation, throughout the euro area, of common procedures to improve control and eradicate the counterfeiting of coins.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) All counterfeit coins and coins unfit for circulation must be withdrawn from circulation and sent to the appropriate national authorities so that they can be destroyed.

We voted in favour of this text despite the fact that it does not contain measures to protect citizens who possess counterfeit money in good faith and who have to stand by and watch as their bank withdraws it when they make their deposit. It is often elderly people who are cheated by those who put counterfeit currency into circulation, and that is why we need a system to be introduced that will reimburse at least part of the money that is withdrawn from them. Harsher measures also need to be introduced for counterfeiters and those who put false coins into circulation.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which proposes the establishment of common measures to ensure effective action against counterfeiting in the eurozone countries. There are currently no harmonising rules for the authentication and withdrawal of euro coins not fit for circulation. Such rules would help to protect consumers from counterfeit coins, which is why I have given this report my support.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, I voted in favour of Mr Binev’s report, which aims to introduce common procedures both for the authentication of false coins and for handling coins unfit for circulation.

Banks and institutions responsible for money delivery are currently obliged to carry out authenticity checks on the bank notes and coins they receive before putting them back into circulation. When counterfeit coins are identified, these must be withdrawn from circulation. Practices for tracing false coins nevertheless differ from one European Union country to another: I accordingly believe it to be right to support this initiative, which sets out to guarantee uniform protection of the currency throughout the euro area.

 
  
  

Report: Iuliu Winkler (A7-0242/2010)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of providing macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova because it is one of the countries that has been most severely affected by the consequences of the global economic crisis. As is stated in the report, this measure should, in fact, help to cover the country’s external financing needs in 2010 and 2011, but, above all, to strengthen the reform momentum in supporting the government’s economic programme and its efforts towards integration with the EU. Thank you.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I support this proposal on providing macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova. Moldova is one of the Eastern Partnership countries most heavily affected by the global crisis with dramatically declining output, a deteriorating fiscal position and rising external financing needs. Thus, I believe that, if provided in time, the assistance will help the country address the consequences of the financial crisis more quickly and effectively and will alleviate its balance of payments and budgetary needs.

The conditions will also be created to strengthen the reforms being implemented in the country, by supporting the government's economic stabilisation programme and its efforts towards integration with the EU. However, in order to ensure the effectiveness and transparency of the assistance provided, it is necessary to strengthen the supervision and control role of the European Commission in this area.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The global economic crisis has had a severe impact on the Republic of Moldova’s economy. This country has one of the lowest per capita incomes among the countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership. Bearing in mind that the EU has taken on the support of the countries in the Eastern Partnership and that the new government in the Republic of Moldova has shown a clear receptiveness towards the European Union, I believe that providing macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova in the form of a grant worth up to EUR 90 million is an initiative which is more than necessary.

I must mention that the assistance being proposed is especially beneficial as the Republic of Moldova’s precarious economic situation has also been exacerbated by the severe flooding which it faced this summer. It is important to mention that the intergovernmental agreement was signed in April, on which basis Romania has offered to give the Republic of Moldova non-refundable financial assistance worth EUR 100 million, earmarked for supporting the Republic of Moldova’s infrastructure. I wish to conclude by saying that financial support from the EU will be used to help the Republic of Moldova along the path of political and economic integration into the EU.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I am voting against this report, mainly due to reasons of realism and practicality. The idea of offering assistance to the Republic of Moldova may, as a general principle, seem a good idea, in the sense that supporting countries near to Europe can also help us to avoid problems due to poverty and the consequent immigration that affects our continent. I nevertheless voted against the proposal for two reasons. Firstly, I have strong doubts over the substantial and serious use of funds that should be allocated to the EU. Despite the words and reassurances we have received from the Moldovan authorities, we know that this country is afflicted by widespread corruption and its economic and financial system is still very antiquated. There is therefore no sufficient guarantee that the European funds will be handled rationally and conscientiously. Furthermore, even if we had sufficient guarantees over the effective use of the funds, the proposed sum would still appear to be insufficient: I fail to see how the EUR 90 million discussed in the report can really help a country to set out on the path to internal modernisation and economic and political recovery.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The Republic of Moldova is one of the European states which has been hardest hit by the economic crisis. Furthermore, the authorities in Chişinău have been facing political uncertainty for well over a year, which cannot but exacerbate the effects of the economic crisis, not only on the population, but also on the government’s finances. Providing Moldova with a grant of approximately EUR 90 million, whose use, which will be monitored, is intended exclusively to cover the balance of payments and finance the state budget, will help Moldova achieve the macro-economic targets set by the IMF, while boosting, in the medium and long term, the country’s credibility on the global financial markets.

I welcome the fact that Parliament and the Commission are going to impose control mechanisms to ensure that the EU grant reaches its intended destination. Moldova is in a difficult political situation and the temptation may arise to make some populist political gestures with the prospect of the approaching early elections. I also welcome the assurances from Prime Minister Filat and his determination to honour his commitments, which would have nothing but a positive impact on Moldova’s economy. Moldova needs a show of good will from the international community because it is going through difficult times. It is in the European Union’s interest to extend its hand to Moldova so that it has an economically and politically stable state at its eastern border.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I abstained on this report on financial assistance for Moldova, despite the fact that I believe that the EU should provide financial assistance so that Moldova can honour its economic obligations. Unfortunately, however, funding is contingent upon compliance with the conditions laid down for this country by the IMF. The fact that the EU has linked the provision of financial assistance to the need for the country to comply with policies dictated by the IMF is morally and politically unacceptable. The disastrous consequences of the IMF are visible in Greece and in other countries through which it has passed, or in which it is still present, and we oppose that.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the Draft European Parliament Legislative Resolution on granting macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova. As shadow rapporteur for my political group, I have called for financial aid of up to EUR 90 million to be granted as quickly as possible. The Republic of Moldova, a country involved in the Eastern Partnership, has been hit hard by the financial and economic crisis. At the same time, it has undertaken important political reforms which need to be consolidated and accompanied by the practical application of European standards. This is why I regard granting this financial support as a means of boosting the pace of the reform process.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the impact that the current economic and financial crisis has had on Moldova and the path towards integration with the EU that the country has been seeking to tread, I think it would be wise for the EU to opt to grant it macro-financial assistance. Solidarity with those who come under the European Neighbourhood Policy should not be used as a way of jettisoning the need for the EU to exert proper control over the way in which its aid is used, as well as expecting accountability from the local authorities which receive the aid.

Unless the aid is strictly monitored, it will not do any good, and could even have a detrimental effect in countries like Moldova, which are seeking to stabilise their institutions and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The macro-financial assistance to Moldova that is currently being proposed does not constitute a form of genuinely disinterested aid. Quite the contrary: this assistance is conditional on the requirements of and supervision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the key principles and objectives of economic reform set out in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, in particular: redundancies and a job freeze in the public sector; the introduction of measures to further weaken labour relationships, reducing workers’ rights; a rise in the retirement age; higher energy prices; privatisations; a public-sector wage freeze; reduced aid to farmers; increased direct and indirect taxation; school closures and subordination of universities to private finance; and deregulation and further liberalisation of internal and external investments.

These reasons are more than sufficient for us not to support providing macro-financial assistance to Moldova. This package of measures will even further accentuate the impoverishment of a country that is today already one of the region’s poorest. With the EU and the IMF promoting this brutal assault on the Moldovan people’s rights, it will be a case of saying that, with ‘friends’ like these, who needs enemies?

 
  
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  Filip Kaczmarek (PPE), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the report on providing macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova. Assistance for Moldova is an important matter, because it may have a significant influence on that country’s future as part of Europe. During a visit to the European Parliament last week, the President of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, said that cooperation with Moldova should be made a priority of our foreign policy.

Many Members were a little surprised by this declaration, but Moldova is, after all, a European state, and it may one day become a Member State of the European Union. This is precisely why we should cooperate with Moldova and give serious thought to ideas about its future. I hope the current constitutional crisis in Moldova will soon be overcome and that new elections will usher in a parliament capable of making historic changes.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The European Union enjoys good political and economic relations with the Republic of Moldova and it is important that these relations should be maintained and expanded. For this reason, supporting macro-financial assistance for the Republic of Moldova, which was hit hard by the economic crisis, is clearly something to be endorsed. The money promised by the EU is linked to clear conditions and will reach the right areas. This financial assistance, together with the funding from the IMF, will help stabilise the national budget of the Republic of Moldova and will have a positive effect on the negotiations for an association agreement with the country. I support the macro-financial assistance package, which will help strengthen political and economic ties and which will eventually benefit not just Moldova, but also the entire EU.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) The Republic of Moldova’s economy has been severely hit by the global financial crisis, as highlighted by the deterioration in its budgetary position and its growing need for external financing. Due to the decline in the economic situation, the Republic of Moldova has requested macro-financial assistance from the European Union. I voted in favour of granting this assistance as I believe that the European Union must be involved, along with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international institutions, in alleviating the difficult situation which the Republic of Moldova is in. This aid will provide proper support to the government in Chişinău in terms of funding the balance of payments deficit and other budgetary needs. At the same time, this measure will strengthen bilateral relations between this state and the European Union and enable the EU to show its solidarity to a state which is a signatory of the Eastern Partnership.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report presented by our fellow Member, Iuliu Winkler, as I am in favour of granting macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova to help it combat the economic crisis. The European Commission is proposing to grant EUR 90 million in at least three tranches. The EU funding will supplement the financial support from the IMF and World Bank which this country has called on. European macro-financial assistance is intended to reinforce the pace of the reform process in the Republic of Moldova by supporting the government’s economic programme and its efforts aimed at joining the EU.

The Alliance for European Integration, headed by Acting President, Mihai Ghimpu, and Prime Minister, Vlad Filat, has reaffirmed its commitment to promoting democratic reforms and implementing European standards. As a member of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and a Romanian, I firmly believe that it is in the entire European Union’s interest to have stable, prosperous, friendly countries as its eastern neighbours.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The process of stabilisation and recovery of the Moldovan economy is supported by the financial assistance of the International Monetary Fund. In the face of its worsening economic prospects, Moldova has requested macro-financial assistance from the Union. The macro-financial assistance programme is also vital for improving the financial stability of European nations that have struggled through the recent global crisis and have suffered from its effects on their main trading partners. The financial imbalances relate to budgets and the balance of payments. This aid is important in order for Moldova to tackle the crisis in the most coherent way. The EU must therefore be an area of solidarity. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The economy of the Republic of Moldova has been severely affected by the international financial crisis with dramatically declining output, a deteriorating fiscal position and rising external financing needs. Since this country is an immediate neighbour of the EU and has strong connections with the EU Member State of Romania, it is also very much in the interests of the EU to stabilise the situation in the region and to put a swift end to the large-scale migration on economic grounds.

Economic stabilisation and recovery in the Republic of Moldova are also supported by financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The European Commission must ensure that the Union’s macro-financial assistance is legally and substantially in line with the measures taken within the different areas of external action and other relevant Union policies. The Union’s macro-financial assistance should be managed by the Commission. In order to ensure that the European Parliament and the Economic and Financial Committee are able to follow the implementation of this decision, the Commission should regularly inform them of developments relating to the assistance and provide them with relevant documents. This should ensure the correct implementation of the decision and the careful handling of taxpayers’ money. For that reason, I have voted in favour of the decision.

 
  
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  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE), in writing.(PL) It is with great satisfaction that I note the adoption, today, of the Winkler report on macro-financial assistance for the Republic of Moldova. One of our fundamental roles as Member States of the European Union is to support, using all possible means, those countries which need this help from us. This matter is important in that it would appear essential to pay more careful attention to our partners in the east, including Moldova.

A strong Europe is a Europe which speaks with one voice, where solidarity, understood in a broad sense and including economic solidarity, is a fundamental principle. In my opinion, a stable economy in Moldova will certainly be an important factor which will help to improve political relations there.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Green policy so far with regard to MFA is to check whether there are actual political reasons why MFA should not be granted. Since there are no particular problems currently with regard to the Republic of Moldova, there is no reason to withhold the MFA. Greens therefore voted in favour in committee, and have done the same today in plenary. Greens, however, continue to stress that we expect the Commission to finally set out a framework for its MFA policy.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) We are very sceptical about Europe assuming the burden of financial contributions to countries outside the EU.

It is one thing to take action along the lines of the much-loved motto of the Lega Nord – ‘Let’s help people in their own home’ – with projects that are designed to help populations through the use of humanitarian measures, to combat poverty and to finance schemes for the protection of children; however, it is quite another to provide macro-financial assistance to a nation state. It is clear that action of this kind does not provide direct aid to the poor but to a state system that has been unable to manage its own finances. We therefore voted against.

 
  
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  Bogusław Sonik (PPE), in writing.(PL) Support for a policy of rapprochement between the EU Member States and Moldova requires the effort of the entire Union. The Union should force Russia to allow Moldova to make an independent decision concerning Transnistria, which is an integral part of the Republic of Moldova. Conditions should be created so that European Union assistance can be used effectively in the region.

 
  
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  Traian Ungureanu (PPE), in writing. – In my capacity as EPP shadow rapporteur on the report on the association agreement with the Republic of Moldova, I welcome the adoption by an overwhelming majority of the package on EU macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova. The pro-European government of the Republic of Moldova is in urgent need of this assistance, while the European Parliament vote on it is a strong signal of EU support for the current Moldovan authorities and their efforts to mitigate the negative consequences of multiple crises.

I hope that, by this means, EU support for the European forces and path of the Republic of Moldova will become more visible to its people and will reiterate the message that the Republic of Moldova will keep enjoying concrete EU support in all its endeavours to approximate with EU standards and values such as good governance and the strengthening of democratic institutions.

Finally, I reiterate my regret at the unacceptably lengthy EU decision-making process for the granting of macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova, and urge the EU institutions to build upon the experiences of this year in order to avoid any such delays in the future.

 
  
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  Iuliu Winkler (PPE), in writing. – As rapporteur of the micro-financial assistance proposal for the Republic of Moldova, I welcome the smooth adoption in the plenary sitting, with a relevant majority reflecting the unanimous support of the political group in the EP. The Republic of Moldova is one of the Eastern Partnership countries most heavily affected by the global crisis. The assistance contributes to the crisis-recovery efforts and upholds the country’s external financing needs. Furthermore, I’m convinced that contributes to the strengthening of the Moldovan reforms and the neighbouring country's efforts towards EU integration. In accordance with the EPP Group key principles and objectives, I tabled amendments in order to strengthen the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the assistance, including, in particular, public finance management systems in the Republic of Moldova.

The report stipulates the duty of the European Commission to inform the EP regularly on developments in the management of the assistance and to provide us with relevant documents. The vote in the EP plenary is characterised by a profound European spirit; I would like to emphasise the unanimous vote obtained on this report in the INTA Committee. I also wish to thank the AFET Committee for its support for the fast adoption of this report.

 
  
  

Report: Danuta Maria Hübner (A7-0232/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report, which is aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of economic operators in the Azores so as to ensure more stable employment and thereby overcome the economic disadvantages that arise from their geographical location.

This temporary suspension of duties will allow local economic operators in the Azores and Madeira to import a certain amount of raw materials, parts, components and finished products duty-free, and will cover areas such as fishing, agriculture, industry and services. In an unfavourable economy, this will allow for an increase in competitiveness and, in the long term, a more favourable framework for investors.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament has a real role to play in the European legislative process. Now that this report has been adopted, the European Parliament will be notified whenever there is a proposal to amend the status of the delegated acts (Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). This is an important feature because Parliament must be in a position to contribute to the debate on what are at times necessary technical modifications to the list of goods covered by a temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting enthusiastically in favour of the content of this report. Taking the necessary measures to respond to the specific problems of the outermost regions of the Union becomes particularly important at a time of economic crisis. The geographic isolation of the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores imposes marked trade disadvantages on the economic agents that operate there. These disadvantages have a negative impact on demographic trends, on employment, and on economic and social development.

The regional economies of Madeira and the Azores are conspicuously dependent on tourism, a fairly volatile economic resource, which is conditional on many factors beyond the ability of the respective local authorities and of the Portuguese Government to control and invigorate it. The economic development of Madeira and the Azores therefore suffers from the resulting limitations.

Under these circumstances, it is clearly important to support economic sectors that are less dependent on the tourism industry, in order to compensate for its fluctuations and, in this way, stabilise the region’s employment. Specifically, support is needed for local small and medium-sized businesses and farmers to invest and create stable employment in the region.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on ‘temporarily suspending autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores’ because it is becoming urgent in the context of the international crisis to strengthen the competitiveness of local economic operators and ensure stable employment in these outermost regions.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As I said in January on the same matter, I believe that the temporary suspension of autonomous customs duties is essential in order to strengthen the competitiveness of economic operators in the Portuguese autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores, and thereby ensure more stable employment on these islands.

The adoption of this exception is crucial for the development of these Portuguese autonomous regions, both of which rely heavily on the tourism industry and are consequently highly vulnerable to the volatility of this sector. This means that their full economic development is limited by the characteristics of their local economy and geographical position. In the light of this, any incentive for local industry definitely provides the necessary support for the improvement of the living conditions for local people, and opens the way for the creation of jobs on the islands, which is essential for retaining people and creating conditions for development.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) At the request of the regional authorities in Madeira and the Azores in August and December 2007, on bringing in a temporary suspension of the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2019, Parliament is adopting the Council regulation, while introducing the need to notify and inform this House if a delegated act is adopted or if the Council intends to object.

We agree with the suspension that these two regions have requested, as it represents an important measure for the regions’ development, as well as for the regions’ small and medium-sized businesses and local farmers and producers; it is recognition of the constraints that result from being one of the outermost regions. That is why we voted in favour.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the adoption of this report, which is geared to the realities of the outermost regions. These regions have fragile economies due to their very nature, and very specific characteristics which require particular responses that are adapted to these characteristics. The measures that have now been approved are aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of local economic operators, which should help small and medium-sized enterprises and local farmers to invest and create jobs. This will promote more stable employment in the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores. In the context of the widespread economic crisis, this is a specific measure to stimulate economic activity and employment in the medium term, and an important contribution to cohesion and convergence in Europe. The suspension of customs duties will last ten years, covering a wide range of products such as finished products for industrial use, raw materials, parts and components for use in agriculture, processing or industrial maintenance. Although it is not possible to make an accurate assessment of the impact of these measures, since they are part of a series of other measures tailored to the specific problems of these autonomous regions, the European Commission forecasts that these agreed measures will have an impact on its own resources and revenues of around 0.12% per year over the period 2010-2019.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour because the vital interests of two Portuguese regions are at stake.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE) , in writing. (CS) Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to point out that the Commission has forgotten in its draft regulation that, in the wake of the Treaty of Lisbon, it cannot circumvent the European Parliament as far as cooperation in the transfer of powers to adopt acts of this kind is concerned. It appears to have forgotten that the Treaty of Lisbon is now in force. I would like to thank the rapporteurs for amending the essential articles such that the Commission must inform the European Parliament prior to the adoption of acts on transferred powers in the customs arena, and take account of our views. I believe that this will also be a lesson to the Commission in other cases.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The regional authorities in Madeira and the Azores requested the temporary suspension of Common Customs tariff duties in order to strengthen the competitive position of local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of the Union. The effects of this proposed suspension will be limited to the regions concerned and will assist local SMEs and farmers to invest and to generate jobs in these outermost regions. In the initial report, the Committee on Regional Affairs supported the proposal. Amendments were tabled (simplified procedure – Rule 46(2) of the Rules of Procedure) and adopted which suggested: the inclusion of products additional to the initial proposal (new CN Code added) and a new start date for entry into force of the regulation (1 February 2010 instead of 1 January 2010) and for it to apply until 31 December 2019. In today’s vote, we Greens voted in favour as we support re-consultation and inclusion of the duty to inform the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The temporary suspension of autonomous duties on certain industrial products imported into Madeira and the Azores is a measure that aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the local economies and, therefore, ensure employment in these two of the European Union’s outermost regions. The suspension depends on the final use for the products and only benefits the economic operators of these regions, aiming to attract investment by providing a long-term perspective that will allow a stable economic and social environment to be achieved in these regions.

The proposal will not just make it possible for the suspension to apply to industries located in the free trade areas, but will enable all types of economic operator located in these regions to benefit. The range of products has also been expanded to include finished products for industrial use, raw materials and other materials, as well as parts and components for use in agriculture, processing or industrial maintenance.

The economies of the outermost regions are fragile economies with very specific characteristics, requiring particular responses that are adapted to the regions’ specificities. Although it is regrettable that the document does not target a larger number of products, it gives a positive incentive to the economies of the outermost regions and I am therefore voting in favour.

 
  
  

Report: László Surján (A7-0240/2010)

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since this proposal does not entail any additional expenses, but only clarification of the appropriations for administrative and operational expenses, making section III of the budget more specific and accurate, I echo the rapporteur in voicing my approval of the Council’s decision.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Treaty of Lisbon has given Parliament new responsibilities. This situation means additional administrative work, with the result that Members need qualified staff to act as advisors. This new situation leads to two problems: the increased costs inherent to the need for more assistants, and the additional space required in order for them to carry out their duties in good working conditions. This situation leads to increased costs. That is difficult to explain during this time of crisis, but if Parliament’s work is to be excellent it needs to have the necessary financial and human resources.

 
  
  

Report: Bernhard Rapkay (A7-0244/2010)

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Defending the independence of the mandate of Members of this House is the responsibility of Parliament, and that independence cannot be jeopardised. In this case, as the Member is faced with accusations of offences of false accounting in relation to the financing of a political party during a period prior to his election to the European Parliament, they are unrelated to his activities as a Member of this House. In this case, therefore, we will have to go ahead with waiving his immunity. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I abstained on the vote on immunity for our fellow Member, Viktor Uspaskich, because I do not regard immunity as a sort of ‘small change’. You either have immunity or you do not. Immunity gives Members the opportunity to do their job and protects them from possible pressure. I consider that immunity cannot be lifted without a judgment of the European Court.

I am not convinced that the court in Lithuania behaved fairly, because the government and president of Lithuania have frequently alluded to the high level of corruption in Lithuania. What guarantee do we have that the judgment was reached objectively? If we decide to lift the immunity of Viktor Uspaskich today, then we must remove the concept of immunity from Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) I voted against the waiver of Mr Uspaskich’s immunity because, on closer inspection of the documents, it is clear that action is being taken against Mr Uspaskich with party political motivation. As a member of the Russian minority, he and his party in Lithuania have been subjected to repeated public attacks by the government. He is now accused of having incorrectly calculated the party finances over a period of three years. Interestingly, no case is being brought against the paymaster. In addition, Mr Uspaskich was the coordinator for the party, and therefore also responsible, in the first year only. The incorrect way in which the matter was dealt with in the European Parliament, where Mr Uspaskich was even denied a chance to present his opinion or a statement in the Committee on Legal Affairs, completes the picture. The socialist rapporteur therefore appears to be clearly involved in this political process. This should be rejected, as each case must be dealt with according to the criteria of the rule of law, which, in this matter at least, has not been the case.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This topic was added to the agenda for the September I part-session at the last minute. Last week, the JURI Committee decided to waive Uspaskich’s immunity. Our group was in favour of the JURI decision as it is a case related to false accounting in relation to financing of a political group and not related to opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament. We expressed this view today in plenary by voting in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) The report by Mr Rapkay is illegal. The European Parliament has violated my right of defence. I provided the rapporteur with significant evidence of political persecution, but he maliciously refused to pass my evidence to other members of the Committee on Legal Affairs.

I was not allowed access to the draft decision or to comment on it during the committee meeting. I was not allowed to talk about the fact that I am officially recognised as a victim of political persecution in Russia, or to comment on European Parliament precedents. In the draft decision, the rapporteur provided a false version and interpretation of the constitution of Lithuania – Members of the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) also have immunity over actions carried out before elections. I was not allowed to talk about the matter during the meeting.

Furthermore, the European Parliament has violated its compulsory precedent law. Never in the history of the EU has immunity been waived in a situation like mine: firstly, I have the official status of a victim of political persecution; secondly, as the Seimas itself recognised, the State Security Department, which began the attack, is politicised – as one of the heads of the department testified, the Speaker of the Seimas gave the order to begin the attack; thirdly, prosecutors are forbidding me from meeting with electors – to travel to another town in Lithuania, but during the elections themselves, they allow me to go on holiday, attend sports events and visit places of religious significance; fourthly, according to the precedents set by Herkotz, Blumenfeld, Venelzi, Amadei, Gaibisso, Marchiani, a political leader cannot be held responsible for accounting.

I will complain to the European Court of Justice about this illegal decision and it will be overturned.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Salvatore Iacolino (A7-0209/2010)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) At this particular juncture in history, globalisation is manifest in all areas of daily life, and that unfortunately also applies to criminality. As the report ably explains, the statistics on criminal judicial cooperation between individual Member States and Japan show that the European and Japanese authorities need to cooperate with one another even in the absence of a legal framework.

To this end, I considered it my duty to vote in favour of this report and I welcome this opportunity to thank Mr Iacolino for his excellent work.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) International cooperation in criminal matters is nowadays a goal that the EU should pursue with the greatest possible commitment. The current increase in organised crime acting on an international scale stretches state, national and international organisations to the point that they need to establish agreements that smooth bureaucratic and administrative formalities and facilitate crime investigation and prosecution procedures. The agreement between Europe and Japan that we are called to vote on offers sufficient guarantees of respecting the law and individual rights. Above all, it is an historic opportunity because it legally sanctions the will of the two entities to reach forms of cooperation in criminal and crime-fighting matters for the first time. I therefore voted in favour of the Iacolino report.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This agreement aims to establish more effective cooperation at the level of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between the EU Member States and Japan. I believe that the signing of this agreement is important, not just because it enables a clear and coherent legal framework to be created to regulate this cooperation, but also because, before now, there have not even been bilateral agreements between Member States and Japan in this area. The challenges currently arising from globalisation are leading increasingly to the need for transnational responses to be created: fighting criminality is a clear example of this, in which cooperation and assistance between the various states of the international community play an essential role.

Under this agreement, a formal request may be submitted or there may be cause simply for a spontaneous exchange of information, for example, testimonies and statements, records, bank statements, or locating and identifying persons. The requested state always has the chance to reject this request on one of the ‘traditional’ grounds for refusal, but the states concerned must consult with each other before refusing assistance.

I therefore support this agreement, which enables more effective legal assistance, while safeguarding an appropriate level of guarantees.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Organised crime has long spread beyond the borders of individual countries, and now extends over many areas of the world. This situation, which is a reality of our times, demands a concerted, uniform response from the international organisations, countries and peoples who are the victims of criminal acts. The agreement between the European Union and Japan on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters is another step in this direction. States under the rule of law have an obligation to ensure that the borders that separate them in terms of international law are not used by criminals as a way of escaping justice, avoiding sentencing and denying their victims fair compensation.

The more effective the police and the judicial authorities of individual countries, the more exchange of information and the adoption of best practices will bear fruit for everyone, and the more we will all benefit from mutual legal aid. I hope that this will come about.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) In February 2009, the Council authorised the opening of negotiations in order to create an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between the European Union and Japan. The Council authorised the signing of this agreement by the decision of 30 November 2009, on the basis of Articles 24 and 38 of the Treaty on European Union. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament has been asked to adopt the Council’s decision, as provided for in Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The agreements are modelled on other legal cooperation agreements previously concluded and concern, in particular, cooperation on conducting enquiries or acquiring evidence, as well as other activities, such as the notification of communications in the requested country. The Agreement’s most important provisions include taking testimony or statements, enabling hearings to be held by video-conference; obtaining records, documents or bank statements; and even locating or identifying persons; or producing items in the possession of the legislative, administrative or judicial authorities of the requested state or its local authorities.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Regulation of legal cooperation in criminal matters to make enquiries easier, in order to combat cross-border crime effectively: these are the goals and the purpose of international agreements on mutual legal assistance and, in the case in point, of this agreement between the European Union and Japan on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. It is easy to imagine the difficulties that a European investigator (a legal, police or customs authority) would have in gathering evidence in a third country and, nowadays, globalisation and cross-border criminality mean that cooperation between states, a legal framework and an operational interface between the European Union and third countries are vital in criminal matters. The added value of this agreement is beyond question: conducting enquiries, acquiring evidence, taking testimony, obtaining bank documents and identifying or locating persons are all areas where, from now on, formally established cooperation between the European Union and Japan is planned for greater effectiveness and swiftness. Parliament therefore readily approved the conclusion of this international agreement and I very much welcome that.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) First of all, I would like to congratulate Mr Iacolino on his excellent work.

I voted in favour of the report because I believe that the large number of legal cooperation procedures in criminal matters between the individual Member States and Japan in recent years reflects the need for a single legal and legislative framework, above all, because of the incomprehensible lack of bilateral treaties between the EU Member States and Japan.

The agreement is modelled on other legal cooperation agreements previously concluded and concerns, in particular, cooperation in the conduct of enquiries or the acquisition of evidence, as well as other activities, such as the notification of communications in the requested country. The provisions contained in the agreement are designed to provide legal assistance that is as effective as possible and capable of addressing the daily challenges which may arise, while ensuring appropriate safeguards.

With regard to grounds for refusal, I would like to note the importance of the provision protecting the Member States from possible use of the agreement in the case of proceedings for offences punishable by the death penalty. This is all fully in line with the position frequently stated by the European Union calling for abolition of the death penalty or at least a moratorium on its use.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The globalisation that characterises our times is occurring not just in economic terms, but also now extends to other areas, not least crime. That is why judicial cooperation between states on criminal matters is always on the agenda. In the case of Japan, despite the lack of a legal framework, the European and Japanese legal authorities have been cooperating with each other. It is therefore extremely important to open negotiations on creating an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between the European Union and Japan. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I should like to thank Mr Iacolino for the excellent work he has put into this report. The judicial and procedural basis of the report is excellent and it represents a decisive step forward in legal cooperation – not merely with Japan – and I hope it will be used as a model for future reports on assistance with other third countries.

European citizens often find themselves committing a crime when abroad, sometimes unaware that they are infringing the laws of their host country. In any case, it is essential to guarantee legal and judicial assistance, beginning with translation, the opportunity to express yourself in your own language and the opportunity to obtain aid and assistance in your own language. We must clearly take into account certain difficulties relating to the different legal systems, but I believe certain guarantees must be observed and respected in all cases.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The globalisation which characterises the times in which we live is apparent in all sectors of daily life, including crime.

The statistics on legal cooperation procedures in criminal matters between the individual Member States and Japan show that despite the absence of a legal framework, the European and Japanese legal authorities are obliged to cooperate with each other.

In February 2009, noting the absence of bilateral treaties between the Member States of the European Union and Japan, and realising the benefits of a harmonious and coherent legal framework, the Council authorised the opening of negotiations on the conclusion of an agreement on legal assistance in criminal matters between the European Union and Japan.

In conclusion, the standards of protection provided by this agreement appear to be higher than those provided in similar agreements, including some concluded recently. In the light of the above, there are no specific grounds for opposing the adoption of the agreement.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This is another crucial step forward in the establishment of broad-based legal cooperation with third countries.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) It is right to seek cooperation between the European Union and non-EU countries in the fight against crime, because globalisation leads to the extension of national crime networks; one need only consider the mafia or the triads.

Strengthening and extending these agreements to countries with high crime rates, too, could lead to a reduction in the spread of crime throughout the European Union. We have therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Rui Tavares (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) According to a 2008 report by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), ‘Japan continues to condemn criminals to death, and incarcerate them for decades, in prisons where secrecy and isolation are commonplace.’ The rate of executions has increased in recent years, and particularly in 2008. There has not been a single retrial of a death penalty case since 1986. The agreement that the EU is about to conclude does not provide for extradition procedures.

It does, however, allow for the acquisition of various pieces of evidence for use in handing down possible sentences. This includes the temporary transfer of a person in custody for testimony. Article 11 permits EU Member States to refuse a request for assistance under certain conditions but it does not prohibit the execution of requests when the outcome of a trial might be the death penalty.

I am in favour of legal cooperation in criminal matters when respect is shown for the rights of the defence, procedural guarantees and human rights. In the case of Japan, the situation is confusing, to say the least. That is why I cannot give my support to this new treaty.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the text tabled by Mr Iacolino because it represents a very important legal cooperation agreement and a real step towards modernising the international legal system, the aim of which is to combat organised crime.

European and Japanese authorities are often obliged to cooperate in the fight against organised crime, and this international agreement without doubt guarantees the benefits of developing a harmonious and coherent legal framework on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between the European Union and Japan.

I would point out that the agreement between the European Union and Japan guarantees higher standards of protection than those provided in similar agreements that have been signed concerning judicial cooperation.

 
  
  

Report: Kurt Lechner (A7-0218/2010)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I supported this report. Interconnecting business registers is an appropriate way of fostering further integration of the economic area within the EU and of improving legal certainty for businesses and consumers. Business registers are usually administered at national and regional level. However, the increase in cross-border economic activities makes a better interconnection of business registers necessary for reasons of legal certainty and transparency; it would also save time and money.

The onset of the current financial crisis revealed once again the importance of transparency in all financial markets. Considering the measures for the recovery of financial status, by increasing opportunities to take advantage of the latest official information on companies, it would be possible to help restore confidence in all European markets.

In this regard, business registers are very important; they register, examine and store company information about such matters as a company’s legal form, seat, capital and legal representatives and make this information available to the public. Therefore, conditions will be created for creditors, business partners and consumers to obtain official and reliable company information on a cross-border basis, in order to ensure the necessary transparency and legal certainty in all EU markets.

 
  
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  António Fernando Correia De Campos (S&D), in writing. (PT) The interconnection of business registers is essential, given that the currently existing fragmentation not only damages the world of business, but also leads to a lack of consumer confidence. Of particular significance are the problems that this fragmentation creates for small and medium-sized businesses, which are part of the backbone of the European economy, of job creation, of economic growth, and of social cohesion in the EU and in cross-border relationships; these cause the EU’s single market obvious problems.

I am in full agreement with the creation of a single access point for information, which must be made available in all the languages of the EU and duly publicised, in order to ensure access to high quality, reliable and up-to-date information regarding the EU business register.

In the current context, in which far-reaching measures are being adopted to escape from the crisis, this instrument can be an added value in strengthening the confidence of 500 million Europeans in the single market and for improving cross-border trade relations. That is why I welcome the report being voted on today in this Chamber.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) When we talk about the internal market, we have to understand that one of its consequences is increased cross-border trade. This is desirable and should be encouraged, but it brings with it the need to provide the public with official and reliable information on the companies that are active within the EU. A lack of uniformity between the data included on different business registers means that there is also legal uncertainty. This benefits neither businesses nor consumers in the EU. It is therefore necessary to create a centralised European portal which holds the data records for all the Member States in a standardised way.

This will increase transparency, efficiency and legal certainty, and reinforce the trust of the 500 million European consumers, which is vital if Europe is to recover from the crisis. Finally, and closely following the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I would like to reiterate the need for the new system or portal to avoid becoming an extra administrative burden on European businesses. This system should ease the lives of all market players, not represent one more bureaucratic hurdle to jump over.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The increase in cross-border economic activities makes a better interconnection of business registers necessary for reasons of legal certainty and transparency. It would also cut costs and increase efficiency. Interconnecting business registers is an appropriate way of fostering further integration of the economic area within the EU and of improving legal certainty for businesses and consumers.

Registers are administered at national and regional level, and store only information about companies which are registered in the area – country or region – for which they are responsible. Currently, various mechanisms interconnecting business registers already exist: the European Business Register (EBR) initiative and the Business Register Interoperability Throughout Europe (BRITE) project. The EBR and the BRITE are voluntary and the BRITE is only a research project. A single access point to business information relating to all European companies would save time and cost. Therefore, all Member States’ participation should be considered mandatory.

 
  
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  Edvard Kožušník (ECR), in writing. (CS) I support the European Commission’s initiative on the interconnection of business registers. I believe that the possibility of communicating information across borders is a way of not only reviving the internal market, but especially of boosting the credibility of the market and strengthening legal certainty for all parties operating on the internal market. We should also not forget the dramatic effect in terms of reducing the administrative burden on businesses. According to the administrative burden reduction group led by Edmund Stoiber, the possibility of cross-border electronic access to business information would save businesses administrative costs of up to EUR 160 million a year.

I would, nevertheless, urge the Commission to pay close attention to the interoperability and technical neutrality of the overall solution when implementing this plan. I would not be happy if, on the one hand, EUR 160 million is saved on the administrative burden, while, on the other, an equal amount is spent on technical solutions and the implementation of the interconnection of business registers.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) There is no doubt that economic globalisation leads to the need for the interconnection of business registers. At the moment, all the information about businesses is only administered at national and regional level, so the increasing demand for access to information about companies in a cross-border context makes it necessary for it to be expanded to all Member States. It is very important to interconnect business registers in order to put a stop to economic losses and problems that affect all stakeholders, whether they be the companies themselves, their employees, consumers or the general public. -<BRK>

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) In the business world in particular, it is essential for certain data to be publicly accessible. In this respect, it makes sense to administer business registers at national and regional level – on the one hand so as to ensure legal certainty and, on the other, to comply with the principle of subsidiarity – but to make cross-border access to the data possible. Interoperability must be ensured, especially for companies working across borders, as a result of the transfer of a company’s registered office or a merger, for example. Administrative cooperation must not, under any circumstances, result in bureaucratic barriers, and problems relating to language and quality must also be considered. This should pave the way in this regard for the Services Directive. However, with regard to vocational prerequisites in particular, cross-border cooperation is not entirely satisfactory.

For example, in Austria, intensive training and examinations are required in order to work as a commercial tourist guide, but in other countries, this is not the case. The equivalences and checks promised for resolving this type of problem are very inadequate. In view of the high quality of vocational training in Austria, I have abstained from the vote.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report under consideration.

Interconnecting business registers is an appropriate way of fostering further integration of the economic area within the EU and of improving legal certainty for businesses and consumers. The information provided by a business register cannot be compared with other information available in the economy. Their meaningfulness and legal significance vary between Member States, and users must categorically be made aware of this when accessing the data.

Given this special state of affairs, the interconnection of registers and access to data should take place in a specific context that is simple to use and easy to access. Finally, making the project a genuine success requires the participation of all Member States, which should therefore be made compulsory as soon as the technical standards have been fully developed.

 
  
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  Evelyn Regner (S&D), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the report on the interconnection of business registers because, as shadow rapporteur for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, I was able to reach a good compromise with the rapporteur, Mr Lechner. My main concerns are as follows -

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The Lechner report is a non-controversial initiative report that we found easy to support.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The idea of interconnecting business registers so that interested parties can access them is in line with the requests for transparency put forward by trade associations.

Globalisation results in businesses constantly moving within and outside the EU, and the fact that any interested party can freely consult these registers is a good thing. Too often, ghost companies have committed fraud precisely by taking advantage of the possibility that they may not be identified with certainty as a company, and therefore we can only view this initiative favourably.

 
  
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  Catherine Soullie (PPE), in writing. (FR) I wish to congratulate the rapporteur on this very sound text, which has been adopted by a large majority in this House. As rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Affairs on business registers, I should like to stress the importance of this report. The data on commerce within the European Union are crucial to the positive development and the growth of our single market, and I look forward to the Commission’s legislative proposals on this issue.

Mandatory participation of all Member States in a common business register would benefit the entire Union. However, this is possible only if care is taken not to impose additional administrative burdens on our businesses and if private data are kept private, in order to maintain a climate of confidence.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of this report because I am convinced that the interconnection of business registers can help improve transparency in legal and business transactions. The general aim of this project was to make it easier for market operators to access information. It was intended to enable anyone to find out who was actually behind a particular company, whatever legal form it might take. Accordingly, this interconnection would also be in the interest of consumer and creditor protection.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, I voted in favour of Mr Portas’s report on the interconnection of business registers because it is a good idea to consider the compulsory integration of European business registers for all European states with the aim of removing current obstacles to the mobility of enterprises within the EU.

Introducing a single European portal as a gateway to business registers; a valid and accessible portal in the 27 European Member States that allows all citizens access to information on European enterprises, is definitely a good way of streamlining company development within the Union.

 
  
  

Report: Elisabeth Schroedter (A7-0234/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour as I believe that the new sustainable economy must be based on the availability of skilled employment that encourages innovation in sectors that are strategically advantageous for Europe’s future, particularly energy and research. The greater value of these areas of knowledge, the possibilities for relocation that they offer, and the way in which they can be based in both the peripheral and the central regions of Europe, offer huge potential with regard to new technologies and their ability to adapt to the new environmental and human situation.

It will be crucial to invest in sectors that promote the prevention and mitigation of the effects of climate change. The maritime regions will have a significant role to play here, along with alternative means of energy production, making use of the natural resources found in each region of Europe.

Knowledge associated with environmental innovation is the future of the new economy, as there needs to be a strong focus on the application of knowledge to new economic uses. That is, knowledge can provide added value, but it can only create employment through synergies between centres of research, production and distribution, providing employment in the most diverse areas, from research to services and trade.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. (GA) Job insecurity in the labour market at present is having a significant impact on the work situation of young people in the Union. I welcome the emphasis in the report on access to the labour market, on improving employment opportunities for young people, and on improving training programmes at this end.

Young people must be able to benefit from the labour market and I particularly welcome the improvements in the relationships between training centres, universities and the business sector. These relationships will help young people entering the labour market for the first time and will create employment opportunities for graduates and skilled young people.

Secondly, I support what the report says about establishing multi-level coordination between European, national and regional funding schemes.

However, I do not support its provision for a change from direct support mechanisms to rural development and the development of environmentally sustainable agriculture, because direct mechanisms are the best way of providing income support for farmers.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I supported this report. In order to achieve a sustainable economy for the EU, we must ensure balanced economic and social development. It is essential to make economic growth less dependent on the consumption of resources and energy, reduce climate-damaging emissions and thus to act against global warming. We must also aim to exploit the potential for creating green jobs in the service and social economy sectors. In order to achieve this, the Commission should draw up a strategy for creating green jobs to be followed by regional authorities when adopting regional development strategies. The implementation of this strategy should be financed from EU, national and regional funds, the distribution of which should be carefully coordinated. The aid would be used to carry out research and development, adapt innovations and infrastructure and create new technologies in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, for example.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The financial crisis continues to plunge Europe and many regions of the world into stagnation, without politicians asking themselves how it can be solved. What is more, many of them even think that simply riding out the storm for a while is enough for the situation to return to what it was before September 2008.

I do not share that view. If we exclude the environment from our discussions, the same causes will produce the same effects. The environment represents an opportunity to create a new development model. The potential for new jobs is considerable, provided that we equip ourselves with the means to lead the sustainable economy.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agree with this report, because it promotes the creation of sustainable jobs, in other words, jobs that take the needs of the current generation into account in such a way that the opportunities of future generations are not endangered. It is also stressed that these jobs must create social welfare, so they must serve man and nature. The objective of a new sustainable economy should be common ecological and social sustainability, creating long-term prospects for increasing competitiveness, social welfare and better environmental protection. With the increase in precarious employment contracts in the lower qualification band, the issue of job quality is also particularly relevant, so this report also promotes the creation of good jobs.

These jobs must ensure stable and socially oriented work, paying special attention to employees’ health and safety, decent work and skills requirements. Therefore, I call on Member States not just to create jobs in the upper training bands, but to enhance the status of jobs in the middle and lower training bands by creating good working conditions. I also agree with the initiative to adapt lifelong learning strategies to the requirements of older employees, in order to ensure high participation rates for workers over 55 years of age as well.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) EU cohesion policy plays a crucial role in developing the job potential of a sustainable economy, as it helps eliminate regional differences and boost the economy. From this perspective, the regional and local levels should make greater use of the European Structural Funds to take initiatives to create new, sustainable and lasting jobs. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) helps create regional clusters by bringing together research, innovation and infrastructure locally in the context of new technologies.

Regional and local authorities are the best positioned and most capable of creating the conditions necessary for the growth of these clusters, which can act as a decisive spur to local economic development and can create new jobs in the regions. SMEs also play a key role in promoting innovation in Europe. They should be encouraged to use the European Social Fund as a means of promoting entrepreneurial attitudes and skills.

However, the lack of coordination between EU, national and regional funding schemes is an obstacle to the achievement of these objectives. Hence, there is a need for better multilevel coordination to achieve more synergy between different common policies.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because I recognise the importance represented by the creation of ‘green jobs’ for an economy aiming for sustainability. A ‘green job’ should also be one that contributes by saving energy and natural resources, by using renewable energy, by preserving ecosystems, and by reducing the impact caused by production of waste and air pollution. In fact, the positive side effect of the promotion of these sectors is considerable and should be developed. At the same time, adequate working conditions must be guaranteed, along with people’s vocational education and training.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report because it criticises the EU 2020 strategy, which does nothing to address unemployment and social cohesion, and because it calls for changes to the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund, so that they really do promote employment and equitable social integration. The report also aims to start a debate on and adopt specific measures to create quality jobs, with full pay and social insurance, by promoting environmentally and socially sustainable growth.

Within this framework, the report argues in favour of a strong role for the public sector, by promoting its sustainable development with public services and infrastructures which meet environmental and social standards. It argues in favour of a new industrial, education and skills policy which will create a viable economy by promoting equality of the sexes and a strong role for workers’ representatives.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. I support this report which states that while optimising the job potential, special attention needs to be paid to decent work and employees’ health and safety. In order to anticipate change and avoid unemployment, it is essential to promote social dialogue and collective agreements (often not existing in the new sectors) together with the strengthening of social security, income support systems and proactive sectoral training initiatives, gender equality, and a socially inclusive labour market. The report builds on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of green jobs according to which all jobs which promote sustainable development are green jobs. To ensure a socially just transition, workers should have a participative partnership role to play in the process. The report calls for the involvement of employees’ representatives in charge of greening the workplace - as defined by the ILO - to make workplaces, companies and industries more sustainable. As one of the promoted objectives, increased sustainability should be inserted into the financial perspective of various funds, including the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. We need to put the creation of sustainable jobs at the top of the EU’s agenda with a progressive transition towards, and investment in, quality and environment-friendly jobs

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on ‘developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy’ because it argues that the creation of green jobs must not just be considered numerically. It is also important to know how to ensure good working conditions and how the change towards a sustainable economy can be implemented in a socially fair manner

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The number of parliamentary committees that have been involved in drafting the report – six – shows the great importance of the issue of employment today, and the way in which the concept of sustainability is now an unavoidable term in political discourse. The sustainability of the economy and its potential for job creation are problems shared by workers, businesspeople and politicians, technical workers and laypeople, environmentalists and industrialists, and many more. One of the main problems here is precisely the cost of sustainability and how it is allotted.

We wonder to what extent this need, which is not always noticeable or sufficiently achievable, is not adversely affecting the markets’ capacity for initiative and organisation, or introducing further difficulties to an economy which has already been battered by the crisis and uncertainty. Today, there is a growing need for sustainability to be more than an umbrella term and thus, something difficult to achieve. Rather, it should be a feasible presupposition for changing human action in the world, including in economic terms, so that it can benefit everyone, not just a few radicals.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Development is sustainable when the satisfaction of the needs of the current generation does not threaten the satisfaction of the needs of future generations. We need an approach that combines consideration of economic, social and ecological interests, more intense social dialogue, greater social responsibility for companies, and the adoption of prevention and polluter-pays principles. The thinking must be long-term, with the goals of competitiveness, and of social, economic, territorial and environmental cohesion. We therefore advocate investment in human, social and environmental capital, technological innovation, and new ecological services.

With this commitment, we are taking part in combating climate change. The EU has committed itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, to covering 20% of its energy needs with renewable energies, and to increasing energy efficiency by 20%. According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change study, global warming can only be limited to 2°C if industrialised countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80-90% of the 1990 level by 2050. We therefore advocate the creation of ‘green jobs’ that contribute to sustainable growth based on social justice and eco-efficiency, as well as the promotion of employment in the rural world so as to prevent desertification.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This own-initiative report has positive aspects in various areas and has taken up part of the opinion for which I was responsible in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, although it does not stress, as it should, the need for greater attention to the specificities of each Member State. I will highlight a few positive aspects:

- It considers that a new sustainable economy for the EU must ensure balanced economic and social development, insisting on the importance of the public sector.

- It calls for an ambitious sustainable industrial policy, with an emphasis on resource efficiency, and stresses that the green economy needs to offer prospects for decent, well paid jobs that are committed to energy efficiency, or that also themselves contribute to industrial diversification.

- It points out that the transition to a new sustainable economy is very complex, and therefore calls for particular attention to be paid to those areas affected by deindustrialisation by introducing appropriate financial support mechanisms, as well as integrated interventions that are geared to sustainable development and a more innovation-based economy, which is capable of creating decent, well paid jobs with rights while reducing social inequalities and regional asymmetries, in consultation with the social partners, with support for small and medium-sized businesses being particularly important.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – It is appropriate that we are voting on this report today, the day that the Scottish Government announced that Scotland is halfway to reaching its 2020 targets for greenhouse gas emissions. A recent report highlighted that offshore wind power alone could provide some 48 000 jobs in Scotland, and the Scottish Government is committed to being at the forefront of EU efforts to create new jobs in a sustainable economy. It is unfortunate that the government in Westminster continues to discriminate against Scottish energy suppliers through punitive grid charges, thereby holding back development of EU-wide significance. I voted in favour of the calls made in this report, and urge the UK Government to take heed.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The increase in the number of short-term contracts with poorer conditions of employment is, today, particularly in evidence among young people. This is a serious barrier standing in the way of a stable life for citizens, and, as a result, of a sustainable economy. Ecological trends in development and industrial innovations are intended to help achieve growth in employment while also contributing to protection of the environment.

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety suggests that environmentally-friendly technologies imposed as a requirement in agriculture will contribute to a growth in employment and in farmers’ revenues. This is an interesting thesis, which certainly merits discussion and deeper analysis. The proposal to run information campaigns to make the citizens aware of the importance of ecology is also worthy of support.

 
  
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  Alan Kelly (S&D), in writing. − Sustainability of energy is one of the main issues that societies in Europe face today and it also has the potential to become one of the main sources of employment in the years to come. I support this initiative because it promotes job creation and protects the rights of workers.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The slowly receding economic crisis should encourage the European Union to manage resources more prudently and competitively. This is only possible with a sustainable approach to business, which brings with it a wide range of positive fringe benefits for the environment and for our citizens. We need to create stable general conditions in which the potential for employment in the EU’s green economy can flourish, ensuring sustained development for business. I am voting in favour of this report because economic growth, environmental protection and social cohesion go hand in hand and complement one another. The aim should be not only to create new, sustainable ‘green’ jobs, but also to encourage the business community and society as a whole to play a role in this new way of doing business. We must fully utilise the potential of the ‘green’ economy, while also contributing to Europe’s global image as a role model in terms of a progressive, sustainable and environmentally aware economic union.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) As a result of the crisis, economic growth and employment have become an immediate priority in the European Union. I voted for this report as I believe that it is vital for well-targeted efforts to be made to raise the level of employment through policies for promoting active ageing and for integrating young people, people with disabilities, legal migrants and other vulnerable groups into the labour market. These policies, along with good quality education and professional training, must be supplemented with effective incentives supporting lifelong learning and providing opportunities for improving qualifications.

Another segment which we cannot overlook is young graduates. We must promote a strong partnership between Member States and social partners which will help these young people in finding their first job or in being offered new opportunities for additional training, including apprenticeships. In this regard, Member States must mobilise and take full advantage of the EU funds made available, especially the European Social Fund.

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE), in writing. (RO) We need measures designed to create new jobs, especially now when Member States are facing a severe economic and social crisis. Against this background, the EU’s cohesion policy has a crucial role to play in developing the potential for creating new jobs in a sustainable economy by reducing regional differences and creating a society with full employment. We must encourage regions to utilise the Structural Funds for financing national, local and regional projects, as well as the European Social Fund in order create better educational and employment opportunities.

The European Social Fund is the solution available to Member States which want to invest in enhancing skills, providing employment and training activities, professional retraining and careers advice for the unemployed, with the aim of creating more and better jobs. In order to support the communities and regions in Member States, I asked the European Commission to fund a pilot project aimed at providing training and facilitating the exchange of models of best practice for those directly involved in managing and implementing European funds at local and regional level.

 
  
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  Thomas Mann (PPE), in writing. (DE) I have today voted in favour of Mrs Schroedter’s own-initiative report on developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy. At the centre of the report are the ‘green jobs’. These are jobs in almost all relevant industrial and service sectors which contribute to a sustainable economy. Environmental protection can become an economic driving force if we create predictable, investment-friendly framework conditions at a sufficiently early stage. The introduction of numerous additional procurement criteria runs counter to the EU’s stated goal of reducing red tape forthwith. I am pleased that we were able to agree to limit the increase in criteria to minimum social standards. Most European companies are, without doubt, global pioneers of a successful environmental protection policy. In order to guarantee them fair competition, we must prevent production being relocated out of the EU in third countries with low environmental protection standards. The European Commission and the Member States must take swift and forceful measures to combat this tendency. My amendment to that effect received the support of the majority today.

Anti-discrimination and equal treatment must be promoted in the workplace. Sanction mechanisms and quotas are the wrong way to go about this. A mandatory 40% of women on the board of directors of companies is an unrealistic requirement, and therefore this proposal did not receive any support. Women do not need quotas. They need better opportunities to follow their careers. For this, it is necessary to remove the obstacles that hinder women’s professional development.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The concept of employment in a new sustainable economy has been creating a new paradigm regarding economic budgets, which have, until now, been seen as fundamental to economic development and job creation. A sustainable economy presupposes great changes with regard to employment potential, as companies from the energy efficiency sector will play a fundamental role in creating new jobs worldwide. The German example in this respect is very illustrative of the success of this sector’s companies in creating new jobs. It is therefore essential that other EU countries follow the German example in order for there to be a multiplier effect on employment in a sustainable economy across Europe.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Once again, we see fine words in an EU report. For example, it talks about optimum job potential for men and women in the new, sustainable economy, decent work, a socially fair transformation and covering qualification requirements. At the same time, however, the EU must be aware that, precisely because of the enlargement to the east, pressure on the labour market has risen significantly in some sectors, with no sign of any improvement. Moreover, in the last few years in particular, uncertain work conditions such as temporary agency work, part time work, ‘MacJobs’ and ostensible self-employment have increased considerably. These days, even high quality training no longer provides the guarantee of a job.

As long as the talk of green cards for workers from third countries continues in order to supply trade and industry with cheap labour, instead of trying to provide resident workers with the appropriate qualifications, all this will probably remain empty words. The requirements sound alright, but you can say what you like on paper. As it cannot be assumed that this will be followed by appropriate measures that are actually capable of implementing this, I have abstained from the vote.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mrs Schroedter because I agree with its message and approach.

Sustainable development takes the needs of the current generation into account in such a way that the capability of future generations to satisfy their needs is not endangered. In addition to considering economic and ecological interests, the Council conclusions provide for investments in human and social capital as well as innovation with the aim of creating the conditions for competitiveness, wealth and social cohesion.

Moreover, another very important point in the document relates to the definition of green jobs. These jobs are not restricted to employment sectors which are directly connected with environmental protection. They include all those that contribute to change towards sustainable management by helping to save energy, using renewable energy and avoiding the production of waste.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) Sustainable growth must be based on social justice and eco-efficiency. The transformation of European economies into eco-efficient economies at every level – local, national, regional and European – will lead to profound changes in production, distribution and consumption. I support the efforts to organise public information and awareness campaigns to highlight that our strategy for shifting to a green, sustainable economy is socially fair and that it will help boost the level of employment.

I wish to stress the need to focus particular attention on biodiversity in the context of creating new green jobs throughout Europe, especially in the implementation of the Natura 2000 networks. I call on the Commission to propose by 2011 a strategy including both legislative and non-legislative measures to promote the creation of green jobs which provide a source of growth and prosperity for all.

I ask the Commission and Member States to include policies aimed at reskilling workers for green jobs in all the other EU policies.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The development of green jobs in Europe is vital. On the one hand, these jobs make it possible to support sustainable growth and, on the other, they play a part in achieving the ambitious quantified objectives the EU has set itself with regard to the fight against climate change. I voted for the report by my fellow Member, Mrs Schroedter, which advocates the implementation of measures aimed at promoting them. In order to increase the number of green jobs, enterprises should, in particular, be encouraged to invest in clean technologies; I am thinking in particular of the implementation of tax relief for SMEs. The regions should also be encouraged to use the European Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund to create new, sustainable and lasting jobs. However, we must ensure that national training and education systems are suited to meeting the demand for qualified workers, as well as ensuring that those whose jobs are threatened by these structural changes in the economy are retrained.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE) , in writing (CS) I abstained from the vote on the report on developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy because I do not share the view of the rapporteur that we will solve unemployment by reducing emissions by 90% over 40 years. The report certainly backs the introduction of new technologies, but that does not necessarily mean jobs for European citizens. We are part of a liberalised global market place which also offers businesses, communities and consumers new technology from Asia, which competes against European technology mainly through low prices. This does not mean that we should not introduce standards on improving the environment, but let us not pretend that it will be a cure for unemployment.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I celebrate the fact that the European Parliament has today adopted a report on the job potential of the sustainable economy led by my German Green colleague, Elisabeth Schroedter. As she said after the vote, the Greens have long advocated that Europe commit to a true Green New Deal, speeding up the transition to the green economy as the only viable response to the current economic crisis. It is therefore very welcome that a large majority of MEPs from different political groups have supported this report, which highlights the huge potential for creating new green jobs and transforming existing jobs into green jobs across Europe, and which sets out recommendations to this end.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) Although we support certain principles contained in this report, we voted against it.

The development of new jobs in green sectors, the use of renewable sources, restoring the ecosystem and saving energy are desirable and need to be supported. However, we cannot allow the costs of the transition to sustainable jobs to be passed on to our businesses, particularly in these times of crisis.

Sources of financing should be made available for companies that are interested in completely or partially converting to an ecologically sustainable sector. The procedures for replacing systems that produce high levels of pollution with systems that have a low environmental impact also need to be simplified because, as often occurs in Italy, they are opposed by the people.

 
  
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  Edward Scicluna (S&D), in writing. – I am happy to support this report. It is important that the economic and social crisis does not deter Member States from moving towards a more sustainable, low carbon, resource-efficient economy. This will make our economies more resilient, competitive and less dependent on increasingly expensive imports. The Commission should place special emphasis on green jobs, especially since the OECD has demonstrated that the environmental goods and services sector has the potential to provide jobs for a wide range of skills and abilities, including low-skilled workers. I would also like to see Member States establish funding systems and fiscal incentives to steer SMEs towards green employment policies. While a new European employment strategy will define ‘green jobs’ in broad terms, distinctions should be made between the likes of pollution control, recycling, water resource management, nature conservation, the production of environmental and renewable energy technologies, and environmental R&D. A ‘green’ economy has the potential to deliver economic growth and tackle the increasing job insecurity that has developed in the EU in recent decades, particularly amongst young people. To achieve this, we need appropriate training and education programmes. Only then will we be able to develop the job potential of a new sustainable economy.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The European Council has defined development as sustainable if it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In the report, much is said about the creation of green jobs. An extremely important fact is that great potential exists for the creation of new jobs in the field of renewable energy sources. In Europe, Germany is a good example of the responsible pursuit of such a policy. In the transition to a sustainable economy, we must also give attention to social justice, because this will ensure that citizens will accept the change. Suitable training and the systematic improvement of workers’ qualifications are also important in this regard. Sustainable development requires respect, not only for environmental standards, but also for standards in employment.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) The report on developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy has my full support. Mrs Schroedter refers to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) definition, which states that a job is green if it contributes to sustainable management and a social Europe, and thus, this definition covers more than the high-tech jobs in the energy and environmental management sector to which the Commission refers. One objective, for example, is an ambitious, sustainable industrial policy with an emphasis on resource efficiency, and also decent, well paid jobs. It is recommended that industry’s involvement be increased, that regional authorities be encouraged to align legal framework conditions, market economy control instruments, subsidies and public procurement with that objective, and that a better targeted response be provided not only to the need for new skills but also to the establishment of social dialogue or collective labour agreements in the new sectors.

There is very high pressure for productivity in the new sectors and little inclination to guarantee good working conditions. As a result, it is not easy to convince workers in traditional industries with a tradition of solid social protection to change industry. The Union has an obligation to combat global warming, and therefore a good strategy is needed for a socially fair transformation into a greener economy.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which calls for the development of a European job strategy for a sustainable economy. It also backs calls within the Council for a review of subsidies that have an adverse environmental impact, and stresses the need for decent work.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on developing the job potential of a new sustainable economy as I believe that Member States must move towards a competitive, efficient low carbon economy. This is why I am calling on the EU to develop a sustainable industrial policy and involve the industrial sector in eco-innovation in order to make economic growth less dependent on the consumption of resources and energy and to reduce polluting emissions. I think that to be able to create jobs in an eco-efficient economy, we need to invest in energy efficiency and in the use of renewable energy sources and green technologies in buildings, the transport sector and agriculture. I urge the development of a European employment strategy for achieving a sustainable economy as part of the EU 2020 strategy, while highlighting the role of the regional authorities in this.

In addition, I call for the development of efficient funding systems and fiscal incentives to help SMEs provide green innovations and production processes. Finally, I believe that employment policy can play an essential role in combating poverty and social exclusion and I urge Member States to use the EGF to promote the new skills required for eco-efficient economic development.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Ladies and gentlemen, the pursuit of a sustainable economy is not simply an ecological necessity; it is also one of the fundamental pillars of our strategy on Social Europe. However, such changes will only bear fruit if they are socially just and eventually increase employment, improve working conditions and increase social insurance.

Therefore, a sustainable economy must include not just social and ecological, but also technological and economic, sustainability. That should not be a contradiction. We need more creative measures.

Take energy efficiency, for example. In Lithuania, the building sector was one of those worst affected by the economic crisis. The majority of old buildings in Lithuania are very uneconomical – imported energy is used inefficiently, as shown by residents’ huge heating bills.

It is likely that national projects to provide insulation and increase energy efficiency in buildings will bring money back to the market through construction sector wages and investment. At the same time, this will allow Lithuania to be less dependent on imported energy.

Of course, this is only one example and is not necessarily applicable to all Member States. However, it shows that especially during the crisis, we must think more creatively and join forces where we need to lay the foundations for a sustainable future.

 
  
  

Report: Rafal Trzaskowski (A7-0216/2010)

 
  
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  Zuzana Brzobohatá (S&D), in writing. (CS) I supported the report on EEA-Switzerland: Obstacles with regard to the full implementation of the internal market, mainly because it highlights and encourages the European Commission in respect of a whole raft of measures aimed at facilitating and deepening economic cooperation between the European Union and Switzerland. Above all, the report notes, quite correctly, the unnecessarily complicated system of 120 bilateral agreements in individual economic sectors between Switzerland and the EU. The drive to do our best to simplify and approximate legislation is correct, especially in terms of eliminating the obstacles blocking access to the Swiss market for EU businesses and vice-versa. For example, the report points out the totally unnecessary legal requirement for businesses entering the Swiss market to provide a financial guarantee. In my view, this is a superfluous obstacle which should be dismantled, and which the report is right to mention.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this report because the full implementation of the internal market and its efficient functioning are as important for the EU as they are for its trade partners, in particular, the Member States of the European Free Trade Association. Switzerland – the fourth most important EU trade partner by volume – has its model of economic integration without accession based on bilateral sectoral agreements. This fact creates additional problems for it since, unlike the Agreement on the European Economic Area, there is no provision in these bilateral agreements for automatic mechanisms to adapt their content to changes to the relevant EU acquis communautaire.

Despite the positive developments as regards the Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMPA) between the EU Member States and Switzerland, there are issues about the implementation of the FMPA that merit further attention. I therefore believe that all the possibilities that aim to improve the implementation of the FMPA must be set out, not least, greater harmonisation in its implementation, and greater convergence between Union legislation and Swiss legislation regarding the internal market.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Switzerland has a history and a particular range of characteristics which are reflected not only in the way in governs itself internally, but also in the way it has chosen to relate to other states and in the caveats and reservations it imposes on those relationships. The Swiss reluctance to integrate into large international organisations or enter into often perennially binding treaties which affect its domestic legal system is long-standing, nor is there anything new about its preferential treatment of its citizens and companies domiciled within the country to the detriment of foreign competition, which often suffers unreasonably from legal or administrative barriers as a result.

Nevertheless, Switzerland has been an important partner of the European Union and has already signed more than a hundred bilateral agreements governing the relationship between them. While the Swiss decision to stay outside the European Economic Area did not help accelerate and facilitate the EU’s economic relations with this country, neither has it prevented these from being achieved in an overall positive way. I hope that these relations will strengthen and grow.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Members States (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) constitute major trade partners of the European Union, with Switzerland and Norway respectively being the fourth and the fifth most important EU trade partners by volume, and belong to a common cultural area in terms of sharing core values, and a cultural and historical heritage.

Given that the new regulations of the Treaty of Lisbon could lead to slower implementation of internal-market legislation in the states of the European Economic Area (EEA) and EFTA, I agree that the Commission needs to formalise the notification process of new EU rules and legislation that fall within the scope of the EEA Agreement in order to decrease the gap between the adoption of new legislation and potential take-up by EEA/EFTA states.

I also agree that parliaments in the EEA/EFTA states should be more closely associated with the EU legislative process as regards EEA-relevant proposals. I therefore propose that the Commission should provide the national parliaments of the EEA/EFTA States with the legislative proposals that are sent to the national parliaments in the EU Member States for consultation.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) As chair of the European Parliamentary delegation for relations with Switzerland and the EEA, I have a good understanding of the issues raised in this report. There are four Member States in the European Free Trade Association: Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. In 1994, with the signing of the EEA Agreement, three of those four countries became part of the internal market. In a referendum, Switzerland choose not to participate in the EEA with 50.3% being against and 49.7% in favour. Switzerland, therefore, has decided to have a separate relationship with the rest of Europe. Switzerland has concluded approximately 120 bilateral agreements with the EU.

These agreements relate to the free movement of persons, road transport, civil aviation, scientific research, technical barriers to trade, public procurement markets and agricultural affairs. Switzerland is the second most important economic partner of the EU and Swiss companies employ over one million people throughout the EU.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report as I welcome the progress which has been made in liberalising cross-border service provision between the EU and Switzerland and, in particular, the positive effects of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement. The constant rise in the number of posted workers and self-employed service providers from the EU operating in Switzerland from 2005 to 2009 (according to the statistics, there are approximately 200 000 cross-border workers from EU or EFTA countries who go to Switzerland every day to work) has proven to be mutually beneficial. I believe that during the period ahead, the Swiss Government and cantonal authorities need to draw on the EU’s and EEA’s experience with service sector deregulation through the transposition of the Services Directive.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Switzerland, along with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, is part of the European Free Trade Association and an important trade partner of the EU. However, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein consolidated their trade relationships with the EU even further when they adopted the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). As Switzerland is the fourth most important EU trade partner by volume, the adoption of the EEA Agreement is extremely important. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. − (DE) This report does not pay sufficient attention to the sovereignty of Switzerland. For this reason, I have voted against the report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is absolutely essential to create a true European Economic Area, as set out in the Treaty of Porto.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – We, the Greens, have supported this report, which includes a series of remarks on the obstacles to the implementation of the internal market rules by Switzerland and EEA States. In particular, it formulates the following ideas: following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission should provide the national parliaments of all EEA EFTA States with legislative proposals which are sent to EU national parliaments for consultation. EEA EFTA States should allocate adequate resources for the implementation of the Services Directive, in particular, for setting up national single points of contact, and EEA EFTA States should increase their involvement in the discussions on the Consumers’ Rights Directive, among other proposals.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) We voted for this report because it removes obstacles to free trade between EU countries and important European trade partners.

We believe that, where Italy in particular is concerned, greater implementation of internal market rules by Switzerland could have a positive impact on our companies and our workers. We must welcome the decision that Switzerland has already taken to significantly reduce bank secrecy, in order to meet the need for transparency as called for in the European Union.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which recommends greater cooperation and sharing of best practice, along with advice on changes which must be made post-Lisbon. The report provides promising reading, reporting the average transposition deficit at 0.7%, which is roughly on a par with the EU Member States.

 
  
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  Rafał Trzaskowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) I am very pleased that this report has been adopted by Parliament with such a large majority. I hope your votes in favour of its adoption also mean that you support, as I do, the report’s two basic objectives. Firstly, I and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection wanted to include the non-EU states of the European Economic Area and Switzerland on the committee’s agenda, which deals with the heart of the EU – the internal market. I hope these partners, and they are, after all, the Union’s biggest economic partners, will stay there permanently. The second objective was to address, at last, specific barriers to achieving this cooperation, particularly those which exist between Brussels and Bern. I hope Parliament’s vote on this matter will persuade both sides – both the European Commission and the authorities of the Swiss Confederation – to revise the mechanisms which currently regulate their cooperation.

 
  
  

Report: Pablo Zalba Bidegain (A7-0210/2010)

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Free trade agreements allow the signatory countries to benefit from trading a wide variety of products and to build on their relative strengths. I am therefore delighted that the European Union will soon be signing a free trade agreement with South Korea. We do, however, always need to be extremely vigilant with regard to the terms of proposed trade agreements. In this case, we need to avoid rapid changes which could potentially destabilise trade flows. Hence the need for safeguard clauses, not least to protect our automobile industry. In practical terms, I am pleased that the report has been adopted, as it contains a call from MEPs to allow an investigation into an influx of imports to be initiated upon request by a Member State, the European Parliament, the Domestic Advisory Group, a legal person, an association acting on behalf of the Union industry and representing at least 25% of it, or on the Commission’s own initiative. If it appears that European producers are seriously affected by a dramatic increase in imports of a particular product, safeguard measures may then be introduced in the form of protective customs duties.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on implementing the bilateral safeguard clause of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The safeguard clause will protect European industries and jobs from any harm caused by Korean imports. Close monitoring of the export flow and prompt rectification of any irregularities in the observation of the principle of fair competition are particularly important aspects. Consequently, I think that Parliament must indicate to the Council and Commission that it wishes to adopt this regulation as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Parliament has approved the amendments to the safeguard clause to be included in the free trade agreement with South Korea. However, this is just the first vote: the final vote has been postponed until the part-session of 18-21 October so as to leave ourselves scope for reaching agreement with the Council at first reading. All of the European Commission’s impact assessments have shown that the trade benefits will be greater for South Korea than for the EU. The least the Commission could do is to provide us with a credible safeguard clause. We do feel that our demand for regional safeguard measures is legitimate, as the impact of opening the EU market to South Korean products may vary considerably from one Member State to the next. It is far easier to predict the impact of European exports in a country with 50 million inhabitants (as opposed to 500 million). It is also vital that Parliament and the relevant industrial sectors have the right to initiate an investigation for safeguard purposes, and that Parliament has a greater say in approving or rejecting safeguard measures.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I hope that the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and South Korea will be mutually beneficial and that the restrictions on free trade may be minimal for both parties. The safeguard measures aim to tackle serious damage to EU industries. Comprising the agreement signed with South Korea in October, the bilateral safeguard clause should be given greater detail, so that the various aspects of its implementation are set out properly and so that it complies with a transparent process and involves the counterparty.

As impediments to free trade, these clauses should be limited to what is necessary in order to avoid greater damage, and they should be appropriate and proportional to the situations for which they were devised. I hope that European industry will prove to be increasingly robust and creative so that we will not have to have recourse to this eventuality.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council constitutes the legal instrument required for implementation of the safeguard clause in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA). On 15 October 2009 an FTA was concluded between the EU and the Republic of Korea. The agreement incorporates a bilateral safeguard clause that provides for the possibility of re-imposing the most-favoured-nation rate when, as a result of trade liberalisation, imports increase to such an extent and take place under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to the EU industry producing a similar or directly competing product. For such measures to become operational, the safeguard clause must be incorporated into EU law, as it is necessary to specify not only the procedural aspects of the imposition of safeguard measures, but also the rights of interested parties.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The adoption of this safeguard clause, which is a recognition of the tragic consequences of the liberalisation and deregulation of world trade, does not remove the dangers and concerns that free trade between the EU and South Korea brings with it as regards the future of various sectors of economic activity. This is particularly true in some Member States, such as Portugal, and the regions that are most dependent on those sectors.

Let us remember the textile and clothing industry, which is particularly targeted under this agreement; let us remember the study by the Directorate General for Employment and the Eurofund, which presents scenarios involving a decrease of 20 to 25% of Union jobs in this sector by 2020, while even raising a scenario in which 50% of jobs currently existing in the European Union would be lost. Let us also remember sectors such as electronics and the motor vehicle components industry.

The EU’s neoliberal fundamentalism continues to sacrifice jobs and productive capacity at the altar of free trade for the sake of the profits of its multinationals; it continues to make deficits worse and to promote external dependence on foreign markets, as well as chronic and growing imbalances in trade. This ideology continues to justify attacks on workers’ rights, social dumping, and the ruination of millions of small producers and of many small and medium-sized enterprises.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) This agreement is the first trade agreement reached after the Treaty of Lisbon, the first agreement which the European Parliament will approve, so it is important that Parliament makes its voice heard. To affirm Parliament’s new powers in defining EU trade policy, we therefore voted in favour of the amendments tabled by the parliamentary Committee on International Trade (INTA), but we decided not to vote in favour of the text of the resolution as a whole, so as to try to reach a better agreement with the Council. A better agreement for which several main points should be reviewed: we want a real safeguard clause, an effective clause that will make it possible to cover regional distortions between the various EU Member States and which will, above all, make it possible to prevent situations where ‘serious injury’ to European Union producers could occur. Then comes the issue of Parliament’s right of initiative to launch an enquiry under the safeguard clause.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea is of great importance for EU Member States’ economic development. However, in order for there to be no distortions and for there to be balance between the imports and exports of both parties, there need to be bilateral safeguard clauses. These clauses make it possible to prevent serious damage that could potentially be caused to EU industry in the case of an exaggerated increase in imports of certain products. The aforementioned safeguard therefore needs to be incorporated into EU legislation in order for these measures to become operational.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In comparison with other countries with which the European Union has negotiated or has already concluded free trade agreements, the former Japanese colony of South Korea has higher social and labour law standards. It is important, and indeed proportionate, for it to be possible to introduce safeguard clauses for a limited period at regional level in the individual EU Member States. Past experience has shown that it is important, particularly in connection with the import and export of goods, to be able to intervene so that any necessary structural adjustments or similar measures can be taken.

It is also vital that the exports and imports in those areas in which there is the greatest potential impact are monitored in order to avoid considerable damage to branches of industry in the Union. In principle, the conclusion of trade agreements promotes economic growth within the EU and therefore, I have voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I fully support the text of the resolution establishing a regulation that offers the possibility of implementing a safeguard clause in cases where South Korean imports threaten to cause serious injury to European manufacturers and the manufacturing industry following application of the FTA.

Regional application of this clause is essential for enabling not only Member States but also industry and Parliament to request the start of investigations to safeguard European exports within a short time frame. Voting in favour of the Zalba resolution allows us to adopt a clear and decisive stance vis-à-vis the Council to confirm the role of Parliament, which is a stakeholder in and not merely an executor of European trade policies.

We are very surprised that the Belgian Presidency has put the proposal for a decision on the signing and provisional application of the treaty on the agenda of the next Foreign Affairs Council before Parliament has started discussion of the treaty and before finding out the outcome of Parliament’s vote on the safeguard clause, without an official trialogue, even though it is aware of the unknowns surrounding the final content. There is therefore an evident need to call on all the institutions to observe greater mutual respect as laid down in the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union is the most demanding productive area in the world and the most permeable market in the world. This situation creates extremely serious problems, above all, for our producers who, as they are obliged to comply with a broad range of laws that weigh heavily upon them, sometimes have higher production costs than those of their competitors in other parts of the world. If these competitors obtain free access to our markets, it creates a system of unfair competition that cannot be borne by producers, or by processors, industry or traders either; this will be very harmful to European society in the medium term.

In this context, I enthusiastically welcome this report on trade between the European Union and South Korea. As it includes provision for a bilateral safeguard clause to prevent significant damage to European industry in the event of a high volume of imports, the report recognises this chronic problem and is starting to take appropriate measures to minimise it.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, on 23 April 2007, the Council authorised the Commission to start negotiations with the Republic of Korea with the aim of concluding an EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

The agreement was signed on 15 October 2009. It contains a bilateral safeguard clause that provides for the possibility of re-imposing the most favoured nation (MFN) rate when, as a result of trade liberalisation, imports increase to such an extent – in absolute terms or in relation to domestic production – and take place under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to the EU industry producing a similar or directly competing product.

For such measures to become operational, the safeguard clause must be incorporated into EU law, not least because the procedural aspects of the imposition of safeguard measures, as well as the rights of interested parties, need to be specified. The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council that is before us constitutes the legal instrument required for implementation of the safeguard clause in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

 
  
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  Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement is a very important agreement for the EU. As Liberals, we have a very positive view of free trade agreements, and we believe in their positive effects on the European economy and trade. We are therefore very sceptical about the regional safeguard clauses that the European Parliament wants to include in the agreement as a way of restricting free trade. Instead, we would like to stress the importance of free trade for the development of the EU. In order to enable the EU to be a competitive player within the area of global trade, the European Parliament ought to take action to facilitate, and create opportunities for, trade with the rest of the world through free trade agreements without restrictions.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The Greens did not table amendments to the draft report since we depart from the proposal that we will vote against the Korea FTA as such in the upcoming assent procedure for the reason that we object to a situation in which the EU industrial landscape is being determined arbitrarily by a single FTA. Moreover, we object to the EU negotiated carve-out in the FTA permitting the export to Korea of big gas guzzlers not meeting Korea’s more stringent CO2-emissions limits and timelines. Additionally, we perceive the EU 2020 strategy to be an attempt to spur an EU-wide industrial policy, which should be accompanied by a temporary moratorium on pending FTAs potentially conflicting with the setting of such policy.

However, we support in this situation the formulation of stringent safeguards, and this particular safeguard will become the blueprint for other FTAs. We also supported the rapporteur in resisting a situation in which the Korea safeguard is designed solely in the interests of the automotive industry, and in ensuring consideration of the entire range of trade relations and possible needs for trade defence mechanisms.

 
  
  

Report: José Bové (A7-0225/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, for which I was responsible on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament because I believe that it is necessary in order to rebalance the relationships established throughout the food supply chain, and to make them transparent, safeguarding a fair and competitive framework of good practice and a supervisory system to ensure that it runs smoothly. I now hope that the Commission will take into account the guidelines that Parliament has adopted here today, and that these will be reflected in the legislative proposal that it will present to us before the end of the year.

 
  
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  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The report confines itself to statements about the tragic situation in the food chain, which is worsening by the day, and criticises the Commission for the shortcomings in its communication. However, it accepts the commercialisation of food and proposes solutions within the framework of improved competitiveness, transparency and information in the food market, without touching on the basic cause of the problem, which lies in the capitalist method of production, which robs small and medium-sized farms of the fruits of their labour and working consumers of their incomes. In Greece, the anti-grassroots policy of the EU and of the PASOK and New Democracy governments has supported the hold exerted by the monopolies over the food market and the creation of cartels in food products such as dairy products and flour. As a result, retail prices have gone through the roof, thereby further increasing the massive profits of the food industry, and working and grassroots families simply cannot afford them.

The people’s food needs will only be satisfied if the working classes, small and medium-sized farm owners and the grassroots classes jointly fight the monopolies, by fighting to break and overturn the anti-grassroots policy and the agents of it, put power in the hands of the people, make the means of production social property and organise planned agricultural production on the basis of the needs of working and grassroots families within the framework of a people’s economy.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report because, as point 3 of the report ably states, all the agriculture-related objectives referred to in the Treaty of Rome (increased productivity, adequate food supply, reasonable consumer prices, market stabilisation) have been attained, with the exception of the objective of a fair income for farmers. The Commission should therefore take proper account of this in all budgetary proposals.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Our farmers ought to be able to earn a decent income for their labour whilst also producing foodstuffs that meet strict quality standards and are affordable for consumers. Thanks to the work done in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Bové’s report is balanced and proposes a number of solutions to these challenges. Strengthening producer organisations, offering standard contracts in certain sectors, and encouraging self-regulation: those, in my view, are good avenues to explore. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. (GA) Farmers’ incomes declined by 12% on average during 2009 and operating costs increased by 3.6%. As matters stand, farmers will not be able to continue operating within the food supply chain for much longer – where prices paid by consumers have increased by 3.3% per year since 1996.

The food chain is a complex structure which is not functioning effectively at present. Farmers are not getting proper recompense for the time and investment they put into quality food production. If we are to rely on farmers to ensure the security of food supply in Europe, we must address the volatility of the market and the distortions in the food supply chain. A fair income for farmers must be ensured.

Fair prices for farmers, proper market transparency and fair retail prices for consumers must be guaranteed. The Commission must investigate the food chain, and I particularly support those who want the distribution of profit margins to be scrutinised so that the precise point in the food chain where distortion is adversely affecting competition can be identified.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I supported this report and the concern it expresses over the situation faced by EU farmers. The global economic and financial crisis and food and commodity price volatility have caused considerable hardship for agricultural producers and therefore consumers are also not getting a fair deal. Although food prices have risen by 3.3% per year since 1996, the prices farmers receive have only risen by 2.1% whilst operational costs have increased by 3.6%, proving that the food supply chain is not functioning properly. Furthermore, the average farmer’s income decreased by more than 12% in the EU-27 in 2009, meaning that farmers can no longer generate the necessary income from their work. However, despite this, farmers and the agri-food sector still have to produce food products that meet extremely demanding quality standards at prices that are affordable to consumers. I agree that there is a need for more transparency in the agricultural sector and that the European Commission must play a leading role and propose mandatory annual reporting by the top European traders, processors, wholesalers and retailers on their market shares.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) With each agricultural crisis, farmers and consumers make the following insistent demand: make prices and farmers’ revenues transparent once and for all throughout the agricultural production chains. This report is along these very lines, and we therefore have every reason to welcome it. I regret, however, the rejection, by just a few votes, of the proposal to grant preferential treatment to cooperatives, SMEs and producer organisations when awarding public procurement contracts.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) Transparency, competition and supply are only some of the aspects tackled by Mr Bové, who calls on the Commission and the Council to intervene to improve the functioning of the food supply chain in Europe.

I decided to vote in favour of the Bové report because I firmly believe that the steps to improving food supply chain efficiency must include removal of unfair commercial practices, price monitoring and greater involvement of producers and consumers in the elaboration of quality criteria and local economic development.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) I voted in favour of the report ‘Fair revenues for farmers: A better functioning food supply chain in Europe’ because I believe that more attention should be paid to this issue in an EU context. However, I also have one reservation about the report. I consider it an error that it does not pay more attention to the unequal bargaining power of farmers compared to processors. While the food processing industry is integrated and economically powerful, farmers are often fragmented and in an inevitably weaker position when it comes to commercial negotiations. The Commission nonetheless wants to support greater integration of the food processing industry on the internal market, within the framework of boosting competition in the European food chain.

The report says almost nothing about how to make farmers equal partners with the food industry and the commercial chains. I was also intrigued by the request to halt the development of national and regional regimes of origin labelling, which are to be replaced by the new framework for geographical indications under the quality policy. In my opinion, the regional labelling regimes may be an appropriate addition to the European system of labelling, provided they do not restrict the free movement of goods on the internal market.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) This report on food prices and farmers’ revenues in Europe has been adopted by the European Parliament today, Tuesday, 7 September. This report is the result of extensive cooperation between all the political groups, with a significant contribution by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats).

I welcome the proposals made to the European Commission in order to strengthen the position of producers in their negotiations with distributors. I join with the rapporteur in calling for European competition law to be adapted in order to prevent abuses of dominant position.

The proposal to create standard contracts incorporating volume and price clauses, which will enable farmers to receive fair revenues, is a relevant one in my view. We need a new market regulation that will provide the common agricultural policy with instruments by which to combat crises better.

As in the case of fishery and aquaculture products, I attach great importance to the promotion of quality products and to sustainable production. That is why it is crucial for products imported from third countries to meet the same requirements as European products in order to prevent any unfair competition.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since problems with the food supply chain have been detected at European and global level, solutions need to be found urgently. This report tables some solutions, of which I would stress the need to promote an increase in the added value of European agri-food production; the importance of considering measures to discourage abusive practices, such as the introduction of penalties and the ‘naming and shaming’ of companies failing to comply; and the creation of a European farm prices and margins observatory. I also consider it essential to promote the rationalisation of the food supply chain in order to reduce the environmental impact of food transportation, to promote the marketing of local foodstuffs, and to sustainably develop the rural economy.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the Bové report, not only because it is on the right track and contains very important information, but also because it makes numerous important changes to the Commission’s very poor original text. The report promotes product diversity, the cultural heritage in agriculture, retail outlets and the facility for the direct sale of products by farmers and jobs and financing for small and medium-sized farms and cooperatives in ways that will guarantee food self-sufficiency and environmental protection. It stresses the need to safeguard a fair income for farmers and therefore calls on the Commission to take account of all budgetary proposals. The report presses for improvements to the legal framework for private quality labels so as to avoid their multiplication and in order to provide consumers with greater transparency and easier market access for producers.

The report also considers it necessary to prohibit selling below purchase price at Community level and urges the Commission to revise the criteria currently used to assess anti-competitive behaviour, because although the Herfindahl index may be useful in assessing the risks of monopoly, it is unable to get the true measure of anti-competitive practices of a collusive or oligopolistic nature, as are apparently occurring in large-scale retailing.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The primary objective of the common agricultural policy (CAP) has always been to guarantee fair revenues for farmers. Following the review instituted by the Commission, a number of discrepancies from the initial principle have come to light that we all cannot overlook. Our farmers are convinced that their work is undervalued in economic terms.

Their move from the first stage in the supply chain to becoming important players in the second stage today is no longer seen as a determining factor for stabilising the final price to be paid by consumers. It is necessary to control the fluctuations in commodity prices, which only hurt the consumer. I believe it is useful to review how items move along the supply chain, so as to prevent an increase in the price of goods that is incompatible with a fair distribution of the cost according to the work done.

It is important to check whether the asymmetry in the cost of a product between the first and last stages of the supply chain is rising, thus hurting consumers. There would be a danger of placing products on the market at higher prices that would not reflect an increase in quality. Consumers must play a leading role in order to guarantee fair revenues for all operators in the supply chain.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Bearing in mind that agriculture is one of the sectors which have been hardest hit by the economic crisis, I believe that the European Commission needs to provide for and guarantee measures aimed at encouraging farmers to achieve sustainable and ethical production, as well as to compensate for the investments made. This would create a balance, helping the operation of the European food supply chain to improve.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) The food crisis and the resulting instability of prices of food and basic products have laid bare existing concerns about the way in which food supply chains work at European and world levels. They also alluded to the difference between the 3.3% annual increase in food prices and the 2.1% increase in the prices that farmers receive, against a 3.6% increase in their outgoings; this is a reflection of the lack of transparency in prices throughout the supply chain. Since I believe that balanced trade relationships would not only make food supply work better but would also benefit the farmers themselves, I voted in favour of the content of this report.

I therefore say again that the fundamental objective of the common agricultural policy should be to maintain the competitiveness of European agriculture and support for farming in the EU, so as to ensure food production at local level and balanced territorial development. However, this must be realised without neglecting the capacity to ensure fair incomes in the agricultural sector. Therefore, it is only possible to stimulate productive systems that are sustainable and ethical if farmers are duly compensated for the investments and commitments that they make in these areas.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The European Parliament has called for fairer incomes for farmers in the context of a better functioning food chain. It is not acceptable that farmers’ revenues should be consistently falling while the profits of the food industry, multinational wholesalers and retailers are on the rise. We are therefore calling on the European Commission to introduce some practical measures (to combat dominant positions, abusive commercial and contractual practices, delayed payments, and so on) in order to create a transparent, efficient economy in which goods are sold at a fair price and farmers can earn a living.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report because it addresses the problem of unfair distribution of profits within the food chain, especially with regard to fair incomes for farmers.

The average farmer’s income decreased by more than 12% in the EU-27 in 2009, while consumers are facing constant or increasing prices for the end products they buy, which illustrates the lack of price transparency along the food chain, as well as growing commodity price volatility. Greater transparency must therefore be sought in the food chain to stop the abusive practices of large supermarkets and of the processing industry.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI), in writing. – I support this report in principle, because I believe it takes issue with the most important problems within the food supply chain. We must deal with the reality that currently within the system, we have a distortion of power. Retailers have too much power, resulting in primary producers acting as price takers and not price makers. While I agree with the principles of this report, I have severe reservations with the solutions put forward by the rapporteur. I do not believe in over-regulation. Yet more red tape will only serve to put added pressure and cause extra expense within the current system. I also disagree with an EU-wide body to monitor all market transactions. The cost associated with such a body would be prohibitive.

A supermarket ombudsman at Member State level can carry out this role. While I agree with some of the ECR amendments, I am wary that a rapid move to a freer market would be detrimental to producers in my constituency. Their reluctance to tackle the power of retailers in the supply chain will do nothing to ensure continued food supply from primary producers.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on ‘fair revenues for farmers: a better functioning food supply chain in Europe’, because measures are necessary to guarantee fairer revenues for farmers, better price transparency for consumers and better functioning of the food chain, specifically through legislative proposals to correct the unfair distribution of profits within the food chain, and in order to respond to price volatility and reduce the vulnerability of farmers.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) We all agree that farmers are particularly exposed to price volatility due to the particular characteristics of their work. The report suggests some good ideas to protect them, but others only raise doubts. Firstly, the mandatory reporting of market shares runs the risk of being merely a bureaucratic measure. I also have some doubts about the emphasis on the occurrence of abuses of dominant position and unfair practices in the food supply chain, because if abuses and unfair practice actually take place, the current competition laws should be implemented to punish the transgressors.

For this very reason, I do not see any real need for a new relationship between the rules on competitiveness and the common agricultural policy. With respect to private brands, we already know that these allow greater freedom of choice for consumers, and studies show that they come to prefer these products. This is the way the market works. There are, therefore, many issues in this report which merit further consideration.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Farmers should have fair revenues. It is unacceptable that since 1996 the prices farmers receive have only risen by 2.1% whilst operational costs have increased by 3.6%. However, food prices have risen by 3.3% per year, meaning that it is farmers who have been penalised. It is notable that the average farmer’s income decreased by more than 12% in the EU-27 in 2009.

All the agriculture-related objectives referred to in the Treaty of Rome – increased productivity, adequate food supply, reasonable consumer prices, market stabilisation – have been attained, with the exception of the objective of fair income in agriculture. We therefore call on the Commission to improve the European food price monitoring tool with the aim of meeting consumers’ and farmers’ need for more transparency on food price building. I also call on the Commission to swiftly carry out the pilot project on the creation of a European farm prices and margins observatory supplemented by data on prices, margins and volumes, for which Parliament and Council adopted a EUR 1.5 million appropriation under the 2010 budget.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report does not live up to the ambition that its title might suggest. The text ends up proposing little – almost nothing – specific on how to achieve fair revenues for farmers, stopping at vague and even ambiguous expressions; it leaves it to the Commission to present proposals that it is the European Parliament’s obligation to present.

To begin with, what is needed to achieve fair revenues for farmers is a clear break with the policies of liberalisation of agricultural markets decided on as part of the reform of the common agricultural policy, as well as the removal of agriculture from the World Trade Organisation and ‘free-trade agreements’, whose processes have been positive for some big corporations involved in the chain and disastrous for small and medium-sized farmers. A pricing policy is needed that takes into account the sensitive nature of this activity and that, amongst other measures, sets fair minimum amounts to be paid to farmers.

Quantitative monitoring of imports is needed; preference for EU products must be implemented by prioritising each country’s own production and its food sovereignty. The supermarkets must be obliged to sell a significant quota of each country’s national production, with particular attention being paid to levels of agri-food dependency, as well as to its balance of trade and its agri-food balance.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) Mr Bové’s report on a better functioning food supply chain in Europe constitutes a first important step for a fairer redistribution of revenues and a recognition of the true worth of producers, who have been hardest hit in recent years by unfair commercial practices. I believe it is necessary to intervene in the sector to introduce measures aimed at increasing the bargaining power of producers.

As with most European producers, the producers in my region have also been hard hit by the imbalance of revenue in the food supply chain and the fall in prices of agricultural products, which has affected many crops and herds. The in excess of 91 000 holdings registered in Veneto in 2005 have declined by 14% and, in practice, this reduction mainly involved small producers; those with less relevance on the market. I will therefore vote in favour of the own-initiative report, hoping that it is followed by a Council proposal that is equally attuned to the emergency situation affecting many producers.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) I welcome this report – which was adopted today – on improving the functioning of the food chain.

There is no doubt that there are problems in the food supply chain and it is farmers who suffer the most as a result. The prices being received by farmers must be set out clearly and openly. I ask the European Commission to incorporate this report’s recommendations in the Communication on the common agricultural policy post-2013, a communication to be published later this year.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, the problem is age-old and the situation is getting worse with the increased power and concentration of the supply chain.

Small and medium-sized agricultural producers struggle to achieve a dignified income and consumers have to face continual price hikes. There can be no doubt that the rules of the supply chain are dictated by large-scale retailing, the partner with all the bargaining power. It is therefore important to implement direct measures to combat unfair trading practices and introduce the price transparency mechanisms laid down in this directive, for which I voted wholeheartedly. This is not yet enough, however, to guarantee farmers the fair profit margins that the CAP is aiming for.

We need to fine-tune the price control mechanism still further; provide incentives for setting up producers’ organisations with the aim of stepping up the bargaining power of individual farms and improve organisation of the food supply chain taking into account the size diversity of farms and the specific features of the various markets.

To sum up, to guarantee fair incomes for each link in the supply chain, particularly if we wish to guarantee quality and protect consumers, we must tackle the matter more effectively and in a global manner.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) The objective of an agricultural policy must not simply be to guarantee affordable or cheap prices for consumers. It should also be to guarantee a fair income for farmers’ work, to promote short supply chains, to encourage consumers, producers, processors and distributors to think ‘local and seasonal’ – quality products and so on – and to put a stop to certain practices engaged in by the large-scale distribution sector or intermediaries.

As we have said several times in this House, agriculture, because it feeds people, because it maintains the landscape, because it is the foundation of civilisations, is different from all other economic activities.

As such, it should not be subject to competition rules, and definitely not to international competition rules. It is scandalous to see agricultural commodities, on which human beings’ lives depend, treated like financial products on highly speculative markets. Mr Bové’s report is along the right lines. It is a pity that, because of the pro-European majority in this House, it still falls broadly within the flawed conceptual framework of the European Union and its dogmas.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I voted resolutely in favour of this text, which calls on the European Commission to take specific measures so that farmers can benefit from fair revenues and so that the food supply chain can function better in Europe. This is an important vote because farmers do not receive fair remuneration for what they produce and are often the first victims of sometimes abusive trade practices. This text represents progress because it states that the negotiating position of all parties must be balanced and that fair competition must be established throughout foodstuff markets, so as to guarantee fair revenues for farmers and to ensure price transparency for consumers. I therefore welcome the adoption of this text, which is a major step forward for farmers and consumers. If we want to maintain a dynamic agriculture and if we want to have a quality food supply chain in Europe that benefits consumers, farmers must obtain more for what they produce.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text because the effects of ‘contract’ farming imposed by buyers could weaken the bargaining position of farmers.

New legislation is therefore needed to integrate primary producers more closely with the other links of the chain and to guarantee price transparency for consumers.

The proposal to create standard contracts incorporating volume and price clauses would enable producers to strengthen their bargaining position with downstream sectors. These standard contracts could serve as instruments to help prevent practices such as the alteration of contract terms, the delaying of payments, and resale at loss. In some sectors, these contracts should even become mandatory.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of Mr Bové’s report on food prices because we do need to ensure stable incomes for farmers whilst also protecting consumer prices. A number of recent fluctuations in prices for food commodities, as in the case of milk, have focused attention on the dire situation that very many farmers are currently facing. Selling prices are sinking and producers can no longer earn a decent living. At the other end of the chain, consumers never benefit from price falls if and when they occur. Yet at the same time, when prices rise, not least as a result of speculator activity, the hikes are immediately passed on in the end price. There is an urgent need for more transparency with regard to the role of intermediaries, particularly large-scale distributors.

 
  
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  Alan Kelly (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this report as it is sickening to see farmers being ripped off wholesale by larger multiples. Wealth should be re-distributed fairly along the food supply chain. I hope the Commission acts swiftly and proposes a mechanism to deal with the issues it raises. This initiative, if enforced, would greatly help the livelihood of the farming community in Ireland and it is why I support it.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. − (DE) I support the Bové report on a better functioning food supply chain. The report deals with key issues for the future development of the agricultural sector and, therefore, with securing the supervised supply of healthy, fresh food for the European population. The central concerns of farmers include price transparency, fair competition, restricting buyer power abuse, improving contracts, enhancing the status of producer groups and limiting speculation in agricultural raw materials. This report sends out a clear signal from Parliament to small family farms at a time of global economic crisis. The report is also directed against all the players in the food chain who contribute to pricing problems. We must resolve the issue of high profit margins being made only in the downstream areas of the food chain. We must not allow farmers to be paid producer prices which are below their production costs.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU will only manage to have a strong agricultural sector that enables it to be self-sufficient if farmers are able to have fair revenues and if what they produce is sold at a fair price. However, the great pressure exerted by the main food supply chains has led to a decrease in the prices paid to farmers and to an increase in the cost of products to consumers. It is necessary for the increase in prices to the consumer to be reflected in the price paid to farmers, as only in this way will balanced commercial relationships be achieved. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Marine Le Pen (NI), in writing. (FR) While, on the one hand, I welcome the conclusion reached in this report on the disastrous situation of European agriculture, on the other, I regret that the only proposal made to us is to have more and more Europe, more European laws and more pro-European, bureaucratic interventionism.

Given our different local, regional and national identities and traditions, and given the profound differences in terms of the practices and needs of the different economic and sociological worlds of EU farmers, that which has been done by the pro-Europeans must be urgently called into question. We have a policy that has failed and which has exacerbated rural desertification, the quasi-monopoly and the unfair practices of large-scale distributors and buyers, along with the various forms of speculation that are destroying our farmers.

While farmers absolutely must be given support so that they can receive fair revenues within a secure, better functioning and quality food supply chain, common sense would also dictate that this is done at national level. We must renationalise the common agricultural policy (CAP) and not add weight to the liberal, internationalist arguments of the European Commission.

 
  
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  Astrid Lulling (PPE), in writing. (DE) Due to the fact that I was prevented from speaking during the debate on the Bové report and I could not state the reasons why I am not voting for this report, I would like once again to make it clear here that, for the time being, we are still living in the European Union and not in a soviet union.

I therefore reject all of Mr Bové’s solutions that are not compatible with our social market economy system.

I agree with the identification of the serious causes of the problems, such as abuse of dominant buyer power, late payments, restricted market access and many others that lie behind the defective functioning of the food supply chain.

We therefore need to act and we are indeed prepared to do so. We need to ensure a fair income for farmers without disparaging the processing industry or commerce worldwide. In contrast to the national authorities, the processing industry and commerce have to deal with the real economy. However, if the aid to which farmers are entitled, and on which they are definitely counting, is paid more than 12 months late, this reprehensible practice will have just as negative an effect on farmers’ income as certain practices employed by the processing industry and commerce which are awaiting review.

Therefore, I will not vote for the report if the inconsistencies that run counter to the system are not successfully eliminated.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias and Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted for this resolution because it includes numerous proposals to balance the power relationships between the various actors involved in the food production and supply chain. Small and medium-sized farmers are the weak link in this chain today and without fair revenues, it will be impossible to successfully fight the human desertification of rural areas and, at the same time, reorganise small-scale agriculture and the associated processing industry in environmental terms.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I agree with all the points made by Mr Bové’s report. The European Commission’s unproductive attitude towards farmers and its constant wish to increase taxes on production and supply, sale and storage can lead to a situation where the proportion of agricultural production in Europe could fall by 30% to 50% compared to today’s level.

Europeans would then be wholly dependent on supplies from China, India, South America and Russia, where the costs in this sector are considerably lower. Mr Bové’s report makes it clear to the European Commission that the Members of the European Parliament will not allow Mr Barroso and his commissioners to apply pressure on farmers and deprive them of revenue in favour of the EU’s public finances. We must give all those who want to make farmers’ lives harder and more complicated ‘six strokes on the hand’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Something is going awry in the food supply chain. For one thing, the shop price bears no relation to what smallholders receive for their hard work. Again and again, we see abuse of dominant buyer power and unfair practices. Distributors have to reach into their own pockets when supermarket chains have anniversary celebrations or implement restructuring plans, for example. Small businesses are mercilessly squeezed and then companies employ despicable fraudulent labelling practices for out-of-date products, culminating in the case of Gammelfleisch & Co.

If we do not want our agricultural regions to continue to decline and the numbers of farmers to continue to fall, then it is high time we stopped paying agricultural subsidies to the big multinational agricultural concerns and the millionaires and instead give it to those who need it in order to survive. If that is not possible amid EU centralism and the Brussels blame deflection mechanism, the renationalisation of agricultural subsidies will remain the only viable solution. This report is not capable of making any real improvement to the situation, although some of the approaches it contains are the right ones. Consequently, I have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report because I consider it to be positive for the Italian food industry.

In particular, I think it essential to adopt tools to support the development of short supply chains and markets managed directly by farmers, thereby reducing the number of intermediaries. This will benefit consumers because they will be able to buy products at a fairer price. I also call on the Commission to take serious measures against unfair competition, which is having a negative impact on small producers.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Confronted by both the economic recession and the whims of the climate, European farmers face unavoidable difficulties. Significant problems are arising in relation to the fluctuating prices of basic agricultural and food sector products. The European Commission’s communication mentions price transparency, competition and improved product quality, but some important elements are missing, hence, the huge importance of the resolution adopted today in which the European Parliament, expressing its opinion, draws attention to farmers’ very unequal bargaining power, which has led various agricultural market participants to abuse the existing situation, distorting farmers’ income and concluding unfair contracts and cartel agreements. I voted for this resolution because I believe that we must ensure better functioning of the food supply chain and push for fair revenues for farmers, the promotion of price transparency throughout the food supply chain, competition, the combating of price volatility and improved information exchange between market partners, in view of the new challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for the Bové report, which deals with a severe current problem and suggests helpful measures for alleviating it. However, I voted against the articles proposing measures which do anything but encourage economic freedom and competitiveness. We must never forget that there is no alternative to a fair economic policy. This principle must be observed in agriculture as well, in spite of the particular nature of this sector. Once again, I would like to express my dismay that no reference is made in this report to rural development policies. However, I hope that the fair, helpful measures will find their rightful place in the Commission’s future legislative proposals.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. − (DE) The report contains some very positive and important elements, such as the attempt to combat monopolies in the agricultural sector, in order to guarantee a secure income for small farmers. However, I am opposed to the approach in the report which involves solving the problems in the agricultural sector by introducing more EU regulations. This is the wrong route to take. What we need is a wide-ranging shift of power back to national and regional level, where the challenges being faced are most imediate. Therefore, I have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted for the EU report on fair revenues for farmers, because one of the key goals of the EU’s common agricultural policy – to guarantee adequate revenues for farmers – has yet to be achieved. Although food prices in the EU have risen by 3.3% per year since 1996, the prices offered to farmers have only risen by 2.1% whilst operational costs have increased by 3.6%, which proves the imbalance in the food supply chain, due to the dominant position of agri-business traders, input companies, processors and retailers. Therefore, I believe that it is necessary to promote the development of economic organisations of farmers and the formation of cooperatives because they increase farmers’ influence and negotiating power. I agree with the proposals put forward in the report to ensure greater price transparency in the food sector, in particular, those aiming to combat global speculation on food commodities, control their price volatility and ensure a better flow of information on prices and contracting among the market partners. It is especially important to prevent buyer power abuse in the food chain. I strongly agree with the proposal adopted by the Committee on Agriculture to introduce programmes to encourage the sale of products on local markets and ensure that preferential treatment is granted to producer organisations, farmers’ cooperatives and SMEs when awarding public procurement contracts in the food supply chain. It is regrettable that Parliament has rejected this proposal.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report for the reasons expressed in its title: to guarantee fair revenues for farmers. Even though this is one of the goals of the common agricultural policy, it has always attracted less attention than other goals such as greater productivity and the global competitiveness of the European food industry. I am aware of the factors that affect the proper functioning of the food supply chain in Europe. These have become evident due to the great volatility of commodity prices in the agri-food sector.

These problems seem to be closely linked to increased concentration in the sectors of processing industries, wholesalers, retailers and supermarket chains, their growing market power and various practices of abuse of dominant buyer power in the food supply chain. I concur with the rapporteur when he states that the best way to respond to these problems is to make prices more transparent all along the food supply chain with the aim of increasing competition and combating volatility, and also to improve the flow of supply and demand information between market partners.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report as it includes concrete proposals for improving the functioning of the food chain and ensuring fair incomes for farmers.

Improving the functioning of food chains should include the following elements: differentiating and revising hygiene regulations; decentralising and simplifying certification and control systems; promoting direct producer-consumer relations and short food supply chains; involving producers and consumers in establishing quality and fair trade criteria, as well as environmental sustainability criteria for public food procurement practices (catering services) as a means of enhancing food quality and local economic development, while also reducing ‘food miles’ and agrichemical dependence; huge losses of food throughout the food chain which, in most Member States, account for up to 30% of produced and marketed food; the importance of the European Food Aid Programme on the food supply chain, which feeds 43 million poor people in Europe and should be reviewed in order to establish a closer link between local producers and consumers.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I salute the adoption of the Bové report which, although it welcomes the Commission’s proposals to encourage the creation of agricultural producer organisations, also says that the committee nevertheless stresses that a revision of competition laws should reflect the different levels of competitiveness in relation to the markets and supply chains. The size of independent local retailers, markets, local food chains and semi-subsistence food supply systems should therefore be taken into account. European competition rules should improve producers’ organisations’ bargaining power so as to allow them to achieve a fair price for their production.

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the Bové report because greater transparency is required in the European food market. Indeed, the supply chain does not operate properly, and it is speculators who stand to gain most from this failure. European farmers need fair and secure incomes. This is why we must ensure that they will not always lose out in the food chain. To successfully achieve this, we need to guarantee them fair competition.

 
  
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  Christel Schaldemose (S&D), in writing. (DA) On behalf of the Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament (Dan Jørgensen, Christel Schaldemose, Britta Thomsen and Ole Christensen). The Danish Social Democrats believe that it is necessary to provide clarity and transparency with regard to food prices in the EU. However, we are of the opinion that this report has a different aim, which could result in an increase in current agricultural aid and further centralised control of food prices. We therefore voted against the final resolution, even though we support the need for transparency with regard to food prices and the distribution of income within the food sector.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D), in writing. (CS) I welcome this report as an initiative that will finally open up the issue of what is really happening in terms of the functioning of the food chain in Europe. Farmers have to confront a relentless decline in agricultural prices in most product sectors, while consumers, on the other hand, pay either the same or even higher end-user prices for the final products in the retail network. It is undoubtedly necessary to strengthen the bargaining position of producers and consumers, and generally to eliminate the imbalance in bargaining power between individual elements of the food chain. This topic should also form part of the discussions over a new common agricultural policy. I voted for the adoption of this report.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) I endorsed with enthusiasm the report by Mr Bové on fair revenues for farmers and a better functioning food supply chain. There is a huge difference between the price that farmers obtain for their products and what consumers ultimately pay for them. What happens to the difference is anybody’s guess. That is why it is good to advocate greater transparency, for both farmers and consumers, in the way food prices are set. The report calls on the Commission to identify farmers’ real costs of production and the price they obtain for their products, in the interests of transparency of the profit margins of all the links in the food chain. Farmers must not be the victims of non-transparent price fixing among supermarket chains.

Clarity as regards the amount of profit middlemen and supermarket chains make on a certain product will give farmers a stronger negotiating position. In addition, greater transparency in the system will make it possible to curb supermarket chains’ abuse of their power to set prices. Transparency and fair competition will also make for a more sustainable food chain. We are currently seeing Flanders importing tomatoes from Spain and Spain importing tomatoes from Flanders. Greater transparency of prices and profit margins will make it possible to prevent these inefficient, environmentally damaging practices.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing. (FR) I welcome the adoption of Mr Bové’s excellent report, in which we call for fairer revenues for our farmers and a more transparent and better functioning food chain in Europe. However, I regret the majority position adopted by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, which, by going back on the compromise amendments negotiated several months ago, have rejected certain fundamental paragraphs of this report. Indeed, the rejection of, among others, paragraph 52 calling for preferential treatment to be granted to producer organisations, farmers’ cooperatives and SMEs when awarding public procurement contracts leaves no room for doubt; it is now clear that priority has been given to the interests of the distribution and processing sectors, to the detriment of our producers.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing.(PL) I was pleased to hear the results of today’s vote. From the economic point of view, voluntary associations of producers are the most effective ways for farmers to work together. Such organisations increase farmers’ bargaining power in the market, even out their chances in negotiations with the food processing industry and allow production to be optimised without the need for excessive external support. In order to overcome competition, farmers must work together to a greater degree. Cooperation and coordination as an organisation of producers allows a range of initiatives to be taken, such as the promotion of regional products and running an information campaign for consumers, while also ensuring diversity of production in the EU market.

In addition, groups are best able to determine needs in the areas of strategic planning, rationalisation of costs, improvements in farming efficiency and organisation of the sale of agricultural products. Money spent on producers’ groups will have a beneficial effect on the use of human and investment potential, and thereby also on revenues and the market position of farms.

 
  
  

Report: Miguel Portas (A7-0236/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the financing and operation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) as I completely support the view that this fund needs to be mobilised more quickly. This is especially true at a time when it is necessary to respond to rising unemployment as a result of the economic and financial crisis, making the EGF a flexible and permanent means of support.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The EGF has proved itself an effective tool for tackling the consequences of the financial crisis at EU level, particularly as far as employment is concerned. The increase in the number of applications for aid and the difficulties in applying its activation and execution procedure demand rapid changes in its procedural and budgetary provisions. I voted in favour of this report in the hope that the changes will take place quickly and promptly.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aims at supporting workers, particularly those in regions and sectors disadvantaged by the new globalised economy. It receives potential annual funding of EUR 500 million intended for getting people back into work. It is imperative that the funding and the operation of the EGF be improved: they must be simplified so that the EGF can be mobilised more quickly and more easily. That is what lay behind the amendments that I tabled in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on this report. The EGF must be an effective instrument of a European social policy which is on occasions flawed. Therefore I believe that it should be retained, albeit in simplified form, and that it why I supported Mr Portas’s report.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. (GA) I fully endorse what this report says about shortening the time it takes for financial assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to be paid to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of globalisation or the economic crisis. Assistance from this fund must be provided promptly and effectively to benefit these workers.

Clearly, the delay in applying this fund ought to be significantly reduced. The report clearly describes how the delay between the submission of an application and the payment of the money can be reduced, something that would enhance the performance of the fund.

In addition, I welcome what it says about establishing a communication and administration structure for the fund at national level, something that would keep those involved better informed about the status and outcome of applications and about the process that ensues after the money has been granted.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I supported this report. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was initially intended solely as a means of countering the adverse impact of globalisation on the most vulnerable and least qualified workers in certain sectors who lose their jobs as a result of major changes in world trade patterns that cause severe economic disruption. On 1 June 2009, its scope was extended to include workers who lose their jobs as a direct result of the economic and financial crisis, in respect of whom applications may be made for support between 1 May 2009 and 31 December 2011. Although there has been a recent increase in the number of applications, use of the EGF remains limited in the EU's poorest regions, where aid is most needed by redundant workers. Such uneven use of the EGF is linked to the Member States’ different strategies. I support the provisions set out in the document that EGF financial support should be provided as swiftly and effectively as possible, so that it can support as many workers as possible. It is necessary to prepare and approve new measures so that Member States can draw up applications for mobilisation of the EGF as soon as a collective redundancy has been announced, and not after it has taken place, and shorten the time taken to reach an award decision.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), writing. (LT) I voted for this report because the negative impact of the economic and financial crisis on employment and the labour market in Europe is still enormous and there continue to be mass redundancies in various economic sectors, so that the number of EU Member States submitting applications for financial support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is also increasing dramatically. However, the current financial support procedures are too complex and it takes too long to obtain funding. Currently, the provision of financial support from the EGF to a Member State takes from 12 to 17 months and this means that the majority of redundant workers do not receive financial support on time and become hostages of the consequences of globalisation and the crisis. Therefore, we urgently need to simplify this fund’s procedures, because only then will it be possible to reduce the period it takes to receive financial support by half. Furthermore, it is very important for the EU institutions to ensure the smooth and speedy adoption of decisions on issues concerning the provision of financial support, because delaying such decisions can only aggravate the current difficult situation faced by workers.

I also call on the Member States to exchange examples of good practice and, in particular, to learn from those Member States which have already introduced national EGF information networks, involving social partners and stakeholders at local level, so that there is a suitable aid system should mass job losses occur.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) The aim of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is to counter the adverse impact of globalisation on the most vulnerable and least qualified workers who have lost their jobs for economic reasons. This is all the more necessary in the current context of economic crisis. The EGF’s added value lies in the fact that it provides visible, specific and temporary financial support for personalised programmes for reintegrating workers into employment.

It is crucial for the derogation inserted in June 2009 with a view to assisting workers who lose their jobs as a result of the economic and financial crisis to be extended until the end of the current Multiannual Financial Framework. In order to speed up and simplify procedures, more effective coordination between the Commission and the European Parliament must be ensured, so that the time limit for decision making can be reduced.

The Commission should therefore take account of Parliament’s calendar and inform Parliament in due time of difficulties encountered while assessing the Member States’ applications. Lastly, it is to be hoped that the Commission will improve its reporting on the use of the EGF by regularly forwarding to Parliament information on Member States’ implementation of financial contributions.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the resolution because I agree with its calls on the European Commission to make the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) more efficient, including, amongst other things, an analysis of the contributions granted that takes into account the EGF’s impact on its beneficiaries’ network, and on the small and medium-sized enterprises potentially affected by redundancy plans whose employees could profit from it. I also agree with the Commission’s proposals aimed at reducing by half the time required for mobilisation of the EGF, specifically that the Commission should have the necessary human and technical capacities, while still respecting the principles of budgetary neutrality, to effectively and swiftly process the applications submitted by Member States.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing. (FR) In the context of the mid-term review of the Union’s financial instruments, I voted in favour of this resolution because the Committee on Budgets has drafted a report on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), a measure intended to support the retraining and reintegration into the labour market of workers for whom the link between redundancy and globalisation or the economic crisis is clearly established.

For us socialists, studying this report has revealed that the right and the left see things very differently. According to the socialists, it is vital to continue with this fund, since aside from the crisis, globalisation has an adverse impact for our industrial fabric as a whole. Conversely, the right believes that this fund should have a time limit, 2013, because it believes globalisation can only be a good thing in an economic climate that has restabilised.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report by Miguel Portas, an MEP from the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, who has made a correct appraisal of the importance and role of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and, at the same time, has suggested and proposed ways of making full use of it, so as to provide support to the dismissed ‘victims’ of neoliberal globalisation and the economic crisis, which is having a particularly harsh effect on workers in Europe.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. The increase in the number of requests to apply this fund and the difficulties in implementing the mobilisation and deployment procedure call for rapid modifications to be made to its procedural and budgetary arrangements. Given the disparity between cases, the European Commission should draw up a proposal seeking greater flexibility in the intervention criteria applying to each Member State to avoid inequalities in access to this instrument.

 
  
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  Göran Färm (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats have today chosen to vote in favour of the report on the funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. The Globalisation Adjustment Fund supports individual workers who are affected by redundancies on account of the effects of globalisation, and provides financial assistance for retraining and further training so that workers can be reintegrated into the labour market more easily.

The report contains specific proposals for halving the time required to mobilise the Globalisation Adjustment Fund, both at a national and at a European level. It is also proposed that the social partners be involved, both during the application process and in connection with the implementation of the measures funded. In addition, the report proposes extending the period of validity of the derogation that enables workers who lose their jobs as a result of the financial crisis to receive assistance too. We regard this as a very important instrument for combating the effects of the financial crisis and preventing workers from being permanently excluded from the labour market.

Paragraph 16 of the report also proposes that the Commission investigate the possibility of creating a permanent Globalisation Adjustment Fund. However, we would like to emphasise that the wording does not indicate any definitive position on this matter. It merely states that the Commission should investigate and evaluate the benefit of a permanent fund. We would also like to point out that labour market policy is the responsibility of the Member States. Thus, the Globalisation Adjustment Fund must never become a substitute for measures at national level, but should be seen as complementary to the measures taken in the Member States.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The vicissitudes of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) reveal both the disparateness and the relatively small number of applications for EGF assistance, along with the shortcomings of this tool to support the reintegration of workers who have been made redundant into the labour market. It is important to examine in detail what has prompted the insufficient implementation of the fund, along with identifying ways of streamlining its use by the Member States, particularly those most affected by unemployment.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) With a view to countering the adverse impact of globalisation on workers affected by collective redundancies and to showing its solidarity towards such workers, the European Union set up a European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to provide financial support for personalised programmes to reintegrate redundant workers into the labour market. The EGF has a maximum annual amount of EUR 500 million.

Given the economic and social crisis, it is surprising how little use has been made of the EGF. In fact, from 2007 to the first six months of 2009, only EUR 80 million in funding was mobilised, out of a total of EUR 1.5 billion available, for 18 applications submitted on behalf of 24,431 workers by eight Member States. Starting from the changes made to the EGF in May 2009, the number of applications submitted rose from 18 to 46, the total contributions requested from EUR 80 million to EUR 197 million, and the number of Member States submitting applications from 8 to 18. However, 9 Member States have still not resorted to the EGF.

Furthermore, it is the EU regions with the highest gross domestic product that have benefitted most from the EGF. An evaluation of the reasons for these facts is needed, in order for the EGF to be mobilised more quickly and more often, and for it to be transformed into an independent fund with its own commitment and payment appropriations.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The application of this fund has demonstrated that we were right when, in its first stage, we immediately criticised several aspects of its regulation, which we then took up again partially during the subsequent review that the Commission had to propose, acknowledging some of the criticisms that we had made of the original version.

That is why we agree that the Commission should be asked to bring the submission of its mid-term evaluation forward to 30 June 2011 and to submit at the same time a proposal for the revision of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund Regulation, in order to remedy the fund’s ‘clearest shortcomings’.

However, as I said in my speech in the Chamber, it is essential not to forget the preventative measures that must be taken to prevent multinationals from relocating, combat unemployment and increase levels of employment with rights. It is also essential to ensure that this fund is not used to somehow provide cover for or facilitate redundancies motivated by company restructuring or the relocation of multinationals.

Finally, we insist on the need to increase EU cofinancing from 65% to at least 80% in order to make the fund available to the Member States with the greatest financial difficulties, so that the unemployed in the greatest need are rapidly and effectively supported.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is succeeding well in its efforts to address the effects of large-scale unemployment in Ireland and Europe. The EGF was established in 2007 in response to the problems and challenges of globalisation.

This initiative is equivalent to EUR 500 million a year. It provides aid and assistance to regions where there has been more than 1 000 redundancies as a result of companies relocating because of changes in global circumstances. Once again, the European Union is tackling the problem of unemployment in Ireland. Both the EGF and the European Social Fund are crucial in this regard.

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted for the Portas Report. I support its main aim, which is to continue with the EGF, since, aside from the crisis we are going through, globalisation has a long-term adverse impact for our industrial jobs, which the European right refuses to accept. Furthermore, I helped amend this text so that SMEs and sub-contractors are taken into consideration when the EGF is allocated. Their employees are particularly vulnerable due to their dependence on multinationals, so it is vital that the EGF gives them real prospects for vocational retraining in the event of redundancy. I am also pleased that it has been recognised that studies need to be performed on the state bodies responsible for producing dossiers, so as to optimise utilisation of the EGF, which is often little-known and underused, particularly in France. Given that the European right has refused to continue the EGF after 2013, I will therefore fight in the debate on the next EU financial perspective for it to be kept permanently.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Since funding for workers who have lost their jobs due to globalisation or the financial crisis should be mobilised quicker, I voted for a set of recommendations aimed at improving the procedural and budgetary provisions of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). This fund was established in 2006 but few applications have been submitted, partly because of the complexity of interventions and of cofinancing criteria. That is why my colleagues and I wanted to make amendments to this mechanism. This text therefore represents considerable progress since it calls on the Commission to simplify further the procedure in order to remedy the most obvious weak points and calls for the times to be reduced. Moreover, the financing of this fund has, hitherto, come from different budget lines. The text proposes a separate line for this in the 2011 budget, which is a significant development. I therefore welcome the adoption of these recommendations, which are vital at a time when our fellow citizens are being affected by the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Alan Kelly (S&D), in writing. − With the recent upheavals that have occurred in the financial world and the job losses that were as a result of this, the area of re-skilling and re-integration into the workforce is of vital importance to the area of job creation and I welcome the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund revaluation as a EU social policy instrument. I would however call for more flexibility in the process once the application form is complete and for more consultation with the workers themselves when EGF plans are being formed. What has happened in Ireland regarding Dell and Waterford Crystal workers should not be repeated.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The Globalisation Adjustment Fund is not just an important instrument for helping those who have been unable to adjust to the opening up of the markets. It is also a way of strengthening confidence in the European Union, a point I believe it is very important to emphasise. It enables us to show that, in the face of economic change, we have not lost sight of those who are unable to respond quickly enough to the new situation. However, I also consider it important that trust should be based on the principle of mutuality. Funds earmarked for people who, despite their best efforts, fall victim to market changes, must actually reach their intended recipients. It is important that the allocation of funds should be transparent and understandable and that these are not simply apportioned following a scatter-gun approach. The situation of these people requires a cross-border, region-specific approach, which is why allocation must take place quickly. This is the only way that the Globalisation Adjustment Fund can meet its brief and strengthen confidence in the EU through swift aid. I therefore endorse this report.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I supported the report on the funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) because I believe this tool to be an effective resource for supporting workers in difficulty as a result of the financial crisis.

The fund was set up to offer real support to workers who have been made redundant due to causes linked to the relocation of their companies or as a result of the crisis, with the aim of helping them back into the job market. The initiative report we voted on today reveals certain critical areas in the functioning of the fund and addresses certain proposals, both to the Commission and to Member States, with the aim of revising the functioning of the fund to help streamline and speed up procedures for access to it.

One fundamental point that I would like to bring to your attention concerns the proposal for extending the derogation introduced in 2009 – which made it possible to extend the fund’s area of activity by including the economic crisis among the requirements – up to the end of 2013.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) The role of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is to offer support to workers made redundant as a result of the transformations taking place at global economy level. Furthermore, since 2009, this fund has also been involved in supporting those hit by the economic crisis, with a view to reducing the unemployment rate. I personally think that it is appropriate for the fund to be converted into a permanent instrument for supporting job-seekers and supplementing Member States’ social policies.

This measure would shift the focus onto utilising the potential of every worker, providing a counterweight to the measures implemented to support companies. We must not forget either that, at the moment, difficulties persist regarding the procedures for mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the implementation periods.

Bearing in mind that the main issues experienced by redundant workers are professional retraining and temporary assistance, measures for simplifying the fund’s procedures are an absolute must in order to mobilise the aid as quickly and efficiently as possible.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has been a very important instrument in helping millions of unemployed people in the EU, who are in this situation because of the relocation of industries to other continents. In the context of this crisis that we are experiencing and because of the increased number of collective redundancies, it is necessary to both improve this instrument and find new sources of financing. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) We are seeing a structural increase in unemployment in Europe due to the economic meltdown and relocation policies.

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a useful tool that the EU can use to offer support and solidarity to workers who have lost their jobs. Up to 2009, little use was made of the fund for bureaucratic reasons, and I believe the Commission’s request to introduce measures for reducing the length of the fund mobilisation procedure is fundamentally important. If flexibility and accessibility increase, the EGF will become an essential tool for the social policies of Member States.

For these reasons, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to express my support for Mr Portas’s report. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is an essential tool for providing additional support to workers who have been made redundant as a consequence of the relocation of their companies. It has proved itself to be an even more important tool for workers, helping them to re-enter the job market during the recent crisis.

Mr Portas’s report is a crucial point and a point that aims to improve and simplify an important resource for European citizens. It is also tangible evidence of the way the EU is striving to help tackle the gloomy financial situation, combat unemployment and support its citizens.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the resolution as I agree with the requests made to the European Commission to streamline the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). These include an assessment of the contributions made, taking account of the success rate of reintegration and the increase in professional qualifications among the beneficiaries, a comparative analysis of the measures funded in response to each application for the EGF, and the reintegration-based results, and the impact of the EGF on its network of beneficiaries and the small and medium-sized enterprises potentially affected by redundancy plans, whose employees could benefit from the fund.

I also agree with the Commission’s request to provide a series of guidelines for the design and implementation of applications for EGF funding for the Member States. These would be aimed at a swift application procedure and a broad consensus among the parties involved in matters relating to application steps and measures to take towards effective reintegration for workers into the labour market.

Lastly, I agree with the request to the Member States to introduce a communication and administration structure for the EGF at national level, in liaison with all the parties involved, including social partners, and to exchange best practice at a European level.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) The assistance granted by the EGF must be dynamic and adaptable to the ever-changing, often unexpected situations which arise on the market. The purpose of this fund is to offer specific, prompt aid to facilitate professional retraining for workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the severe economic upheaval on the labour market.

I call on Member States to get social partners involved and promote dialogue with social partners and entrepreneurs right at the start when drafting applications for a contribution from the EGF. At the same time, I urge Member States to utilise this fund to promote new skills for making existing jobs green and creating new green jobs, as well as to encourage lifelong learning so as to enable workers to develop a personal career path and help boost the EU’s competitiveness in a globalised environment.

I also support the operation of this fund after 2013 as an independent fund with its own budget. The Commission and Member States must work together closely to monitor effectively the support provided to multinational companies and to make a firm commitment to creating jobs supporting workers’ rights in order to discourage social dumping.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the resolution because I agree with its calls on the European Commission to make the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) more efficient, including an analysis of the contributions granted that takes into account the rate of success in reintegration and assessment of the upgrading of the skills of the beneficiaries. I also agree with the Commission’s proposals aimed at reducing by half the time required for mobilisation of the EGF, specifically that all means should be made available to ensure swift and enhanced communication with the Member State concerned in this process.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The debate on this issue was not at all easy. Over the last few months, questions have been raised on: the ‘reactiveness’ of the fund (without more focus at the same time on remedying the causes by improving general strategies for innovation and education in a globalised world, better targeting and use of ESF in and by Member States); the limited number of sectors aided (especially at that time), in particular, the automotive and textile sectors (respectively 15 and 13 applications), where questions could be raised as to, for example, whether the redundancies are a result of ‘globalisation’ or lack of innovation of the sector; whether / to what extent the measures take/took the place of national aid; the paradox that, on the one hand, (only) EUR 500 million is made available for the fund each year (from unspent commitments in the EU budget), whereas in principle, unlimited applications could be made if the application criteria are fulfilled (first served); the fact that it is more difficult for SMEs to profit from such a fund; the link with State aid/taxes. Finally, a consensus position was adopted, however, and the report was passed, including by us as greens.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the resolution on the funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). It is essential to improve the rules governing the functioning of the EGF so that it can be used more effectively. I hope the Commission will make use of Parliament’s proposals, which will enable the procedure for granting assistance to be shortened by as much as half. The rise in unemployment caused by the crisis has meant that financial resources from the EGF have taken on particular importance, because they ensure individual support for people who have been made redundant and for their return to employment. The rigorous criteria for assistance and the protracted nature of the procedures involved mean that Member States are not making full use of the opportunities available to them for receiving EGF support. For example, in my country of Poland, only three applications for financial support from the EGF have been made. The main reason for this low interest is precisely the lengthiness of the procedures involved.

As well as improving the rules governing the functioning of the fund, it is necessary to extend, at least until the end of the current Financial Framework, the effect of the criterion of support for workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the current crisis and to maintain the cofinancing rate at a level of 65%. We are going to feel the effects of the crisis on the labour market for many more years, so this assistance is, and will be, necessary. I would also like to draw the attention of the Commission and the Member States to the coordination of exchange of best practices at European level, which will enable rapid and effective intervention from the EGF in cases of mass redundancies.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The structural funds have been showing themselves to be tools of inestimable value in reducing the imbalances within Europe, not least by supporting the most vulnerable of the outermost regions. The creation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund represents the European Union’s acknowledgement that the phenomenon of globalisation has brought great and not always positive changes, and that it has had an uneven impact in Europe, since there have been regions that have benefited from the process and others that have lost out considerably.

Nevertheless, this fund has not enjoyed the visibility that it deserves, which I believe is a result of the enormous amount of time which lapses between the Member State’s request for aid and its actual receipt of the funds. This delay has serious consequences for the affected families and is related to the underlying complexity of the process of applying for, mobilising and implementing the funds; it is therefore urgent and an absolute priority to simplify it. Only in this way will it be possible to achieve this fund’s objectives by effectively reintegrating any workers that are made redundant in the wake of the significant changes to the patterns of international trade. The report on which we voted today represents an effort at compromise between the various political groups and for this reason, I supported it.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) According to recent EU statistics, the number of unemployed in the EU-27 has risen by 1.1 million in the last year, due to the economic and financial crisis. This explains why the number of requests to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has increased from 18 to 46 in the period between May 2009 and April 2010. In addition, although the number of Member States applying for aid has risen from 8 to 18, there are, nevertheless, nine Member States which have not yet resorted to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

Bearing all this in mind, I voted for the motion for a European Parliament Resolution on the funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund as the economic crisis may continue to have an impact on jobs. It is precisely for this reason that it is important for us to ask the Commission to bring forward its mid-term financial evaluation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund’s use and the review of the relevant regulation in order to reduce considerably the duration of the procedure for mobilising the fund.

I would also like to draw the Commission’s attention to public sector redundancies, which do not benefit from the availability of a similar instrument, even though these redundancies are a direct consequence of public budget cuts resulting from the current economic and financial crisis.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I fully support Mr Portas’ report on the funding and functioning of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. It deals with many issues which include improving the efficiency of the application process as well as mobilising the fund faster to provide aid for those who have lost their jobs. Although the UK does not currently bid for money from the fund (due to its rebate), we can see how useful this fund has been for other Member States during difficult economic times.

I am in favour of creating a permanent fund post-2013 in order to help those who have been affected by the changes brought about by globalisation or the financial and economic crisis, and believe that it is vital for the Commission to examine the possibility of establishing the EGF as an independent fund, with its own payment and commitment appropriations, under the new Multiannual Financial Framework (2013-2020).

 
  
  

Report: Tadeusz Zwiefka (A7-0219/2010)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I supported this report. The basis of the Regulation we voted on today is the Brussels Convention, one of the most successful pieces of EU legislation which laid the foundations for a European judicial area. The application of uniform European rules based on case-law promotes greater legal certainty and predictability of decisions, avoiding parallel proceedings. One of the fundamental conditions for the functioning of a European judicial area is the free movement of judicial decisions. I therefore agree with the position expressed in the document that it is necessary to review this Regulation in order to guarantee the effective movement of judicial decisions.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Brussels I Regulation serves as a basis for European judicial cooperation on civil and commercial matters. This is one of the EU’s most successful legislative acts, having laid the foundations for a European judicial area. It has shown itself to be very effective at facilitating the resolution of cross-border litigation, through a system of judicial cooperation based on global rules on jurisdiction, as well as at coordinating parallel proceedings and the movement of judgments. I agree with the need to introduce improvements, such as the abolition of the exequatur procedure in all areas covered by the regulation, making it possible to speed up the free movement of judgments, provided that all the necessary guarantees are safeguarded.

I also believe that it is important to create a European judicial culture through training and recourse to networks such as the European Judicial Training Network and the European Judicial Network in Civil and Commercial Matters, which should help improve communication between judges. It is essential to create a legal framework that is consistently structured and easily accessible and which must undergo a review by the Commission of the interrelationship between the different regulations addressing jurisdiction, enforcement and applicable law.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark, Anna Ibrisagic and Alf Svensson (PPE), in writing. (SV) We have voted in favour of facilitating court proceedings for the increasingly mobile citizens of Europe. This does not mean that we agree with all the details of, and unreservedly support, the reforms that may arise from the Zwiefka report in the long term. For example, we remain critical of ambitions to introduce collective redress, and we would also like to emphasise the point that no changes to the civil cooperation that is under discussion may be such as to affect the freedom of the press in Sweden.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As I am aware of the huge importance of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on private international law and the need for an adequate legal framework which allows for the recognition and enforcement of legal rulings in civil and commercial matters, I, like the rapporteur, recognise that revision of this regulation raises extremely important technical and legal questions. I am inclined to agree with the abolition of the exequatur, as proposed in the report, and I find many of the proposals contained therein interesting and pragmatic. This will be a discussion worth following closely.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The resolution is on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001, of 22 December 2000, on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels I) in the light of the Commission’s Green Paper. This regulation is, with its predecessor the Brussels Convention, one of the most successful pieces of EU legislation, as it has laid the foundations for a European judicial area, and has served citizens and business well. It has promoted legal certainty and predictability of decisions through uniform European rules.

However, it needs updating. I agree with the abolition of exequatur (order for enforcement), as this would expedite the free movement of judicial decisions and form a key milestone in the building of a European judicial area. However, this abolition must be balanced by appropriate safeguards designed to protect the rights of the party against whom enforcement is sought. I believe that the Commission should review the interrelationship between the different regulations addressing jurisdiction, enforcement and applicable law, and that the general aim should be a legal framework which is consistently structured and easily accessible.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing.(PL) The Zwiefka report, which was voted on today, relates to the Commission’s Green Paper on the review of the Brussels I Regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition of judgments in civil and commercial matters. Discussion of the Green Paper allows us, to some extent, to prepare for the real review of the regulation, which we expect shortly. This will be an enormous challenge for Parliament because of the exceptionally complicated, technical nature of the regulation. Furthermore, Parliament will make a decision together with the Council, for the first time under the ordinary legislative procedure, on this difficult and sensitive material. At the present stage, there are various differences of opinion between the political groups concerning the proposed amendments, for example, concerning exequatur and particular jurisdiction in matters connected with employment.

For this reason, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has decided not to endorse the report in its present form. I do believe, however, that in the future, all political groups will engage in constructive cooperation on this matter, because Brussels I is a regulation which is of fundamental significance to the common market. An efficient review of Brussels I will show how Parliament uses its new competences, for which it strove, after all, for so long.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The report that we adopted yesterday, in the European Parliament sitting, despite being quite technical, is very important in the ever-greater integration of a European area of freedom, security and justice, of a European judicial area, and therefore in the consolidation of the European internal market. The Brussels I Regulation introduced considerable progress in the judicial field: it determines the competent judiciaries in civil and commercial matters, in the case of cross-border legal disputes, and governs the recognition and execution of court decisions in civil and commercial matters from other Member States. It is now a question of revising this regulation to modernise its provisions and to ‘improve’ certain procedures: communication between judges, the issue of authentic acts, the issue of arbitration and, most particularly, the issue of the exequatur. Without going into detail about these complex legal issues, I keenly await the amendment of this regulation, an amendment which will provide European citizens with better legal protection: better ‘free movement’ of judgments and legal decisions, greater ‘mutual confidence’ between the jurisdictions and legal systems of the various Member States, namely a strengthening of legal certainty in Europe and of the rights of European citizens.

 
  
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  Alan Kelly (S&D), in writing. This initiative was instrumental in setting up a judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I supported this report because I feel it represents a step forward in the private international law sector. This branch of law needs updating because of the greater level of interconnection between legal systems.

In detail, I endorse the idea of abolishing exequatur, but nevertheless believe that this step will have to be set off by an exceptional procedure, coupled with appropriate safeguards for judgment debtors. I am also opposed to the abolition of the exclusion of arbitration from the scope of the Regulation, but consider that much more thought needs to be given to the relationship between arbitral and judicial proceedings and that until such time as a full review and thorough consultations have been carried out, the idea of an exclusive head of jurisdiction for court proceedings supporting arbitration in the civil courts of the Member States should not be pursued.

I also agree with the rapporteur when he presses for wide consultations and political debate before any action is taken in this matter above and beyond the suggestions made in his draft report.

 
  
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  Evelyn Regner (S&D), in writing. (DE) I have voted against the report on the Brussels I Regulation because I believe there are certain important points missing from the resolution. I believe it is important to take an holistic approach to improving the regulation. This involves protecting the weaker party through regulations on competence in the process that are more favourable to them. This applies both to workers and consumers, as is the explicit intention of the regulation. None of my amendments aimed at strengthening the position of the weaker party have made their way into the report. I believe it is important to establish a separate legal venue for labour disputes in order to achieve coherence in the Brussels I and Rome II Regulations. Rome II already lays down which law should be applied to damages with a cross-border impact in relation to strikes. I cannot understand why a case cannot proceed in the Member State where the strike took place. This would still leave the door open for forum shopping. My aim is to close off this avenue in the broader legislative process.

I am also against the introduction of the ‘forum non conveniens’ and ‘anti-suit injunctions’, as these are common law legal instruments that have already been found to be irreconcilable with the European distribution of powers in several rulings by the European Court of Justice.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – On Mr Zwiefka’s report on the implementation and review of ‘Brussels I’, the PSE Group tabled an alternative resolution that we Greens decided not to support, because the report is an implementation report which has been extensively discussed among all shadows within the JURI Committee. The alternative motion for resolution highlights fair points which, nevertheless, are not of direct relevance to this report. This is why we simply voted today in favour of the resolution as adopted in the JURI Committee.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The regulation we have approved is balanced and designed to offer certainty, for example, in identifying which judge within the European judiciary has competence when civil and commercial disputes arise during cross-border conflicts.

The European Parliament will act as colegislator for any future amendments to the regulation. Amendments will, in fact, be made under the ordinary legislative procedure.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which recommends that the validity of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) be extended until 2013 and strongly suggests that it be made permanent after that. The EGF provides financial support for the re-training of workers affected by redundancy. This is particularly necessary now because of the deep economic crisis facing Europe, which is why I supported this report – unlike my Conservative and Liberal colleagues who want to withdraw this funding.

 
  
  

Report: Antonyia Parvanova (A7-0221/2010)

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) By voting today, Tuesday, 7 September 2010, for the own-initiative report on the social integration of women belonging to ethnic minority groups, the European Parliament is going to the heart of current political debate. The integration of minority groups into the Member States is, in fact, a crucial issue and deserves the support of the European institutions, all the more so given that we still have a few months left of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. Therefore, I welcome the adoption of this report, which serves to enliven debate at EU level and which has the virtue of combining the issues of the integration of minorities and the fight for equality between men and women.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) Numerous minority communities living in the EU, in particular, women and girls among them, face multiple discrimination and are therefore more vulnerable to social exclusion and poverty than local women. To be a woman of a particular ethnic group is not a handicap in a democratic society. Therefore, the European Union is aiming to provide women with more and more rights and to increase innovative ways to raise awareness about women’s rights. Both the Commission and the Member States must ensure that existing gender equality and anti-discrimination legislation is fully implemented, so that ethnic minorities have access to support services and can participate in various education programmes. However, issues concerning the social integration of women from ethnic minority groups in the European Union remain unresolved.

A consistent EU policy on the integration of migrants has not yet been found and therefore, I call on the Commission to urgently draft EU guidelines to help the Member States to provide women from ethnic minorities with better and quicker access to the education system, employment, the healthcare system, social benefits and financial assistance. I agree with Parliament’s position that gender equality legislation must also be fully implemented in ethnic minority groups.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report analyses the social integration of women in the area of European Union policy. It also analyses the role of women in ethnic minorities. This knowledge base is essential to understanding the difficulties faced by these women in integrating, including settled or traditional minorities and newly established ones, such as immigrants.

I voted for this report, because I think that it is essential to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of women belonging to minority groups. Specific measures need to be taken at EU level, not least when adopting policies aimed at social inclusion. Moreover, as the rapporteur argues, it is essential to encourage the political and social participation of these women in areas such as political leadership, education and culture. This will contribute to combating the current underrepresentation. .

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report because it pinpoints the importance of examining EU social integration policies for women belonging to ethnic minority groups and of identifying areas where it works and areas where trying to define solutions is problematic.

We live in a multicultural society made up of various cultural, ethnic and religious communities. To that end, it is appropriate that integration policies for third-country nationals include a broader sex-specific perspective, which is necessary to ensure that the specific needs of women belonging to ethnic minority groups are taken into consideration.

A targeted approach to the social inclusion of women belonging to ethnic minority groups is necessary to avoid multiple discrimination, stereotypes, stigmatisation and ethnic segregation.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, because I think that women belonging to ethnic minority groups face multiple types of discrimination. It is therefore necessary to raise awareness about women’s rights, to empower women, and to inspire them to take on leadership roles in their communities; this is also a way to promote human rights. Despite social integration being the exclusive responsibility of the Member States, the European Commission must take the gender issue into account when deciding on policies and measures geared towards social inclusion.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In an increasingly multicultural society, policies for integrating minority groups are particularly applicable as a way of combating discrimination, racism, violence and the exclusion and marginalisation of minority groups, pushing them to the fringes of society. We know that the stigmatisation and exclusion of minority groups only creates discontent and revolt, which ultimately sow the seeds for transgression and violence.

It is up to our society to know how to be able to integrate without discriminating, to accept without excluding. This does not mean, however, that we should accept all aspects of the culture, tradition or beliefs of ethnic minorities without question. This is particularly relevant for customs relating to women. We should therefore firmly combat all cultural practices based on sexual discrimination and all forms of violence that are still committed against women belonging to certain ethnic groups. Integrating also means protecting, and in this case, protecting women, especially female children, who are so often the silent victims of practices and traditions which we simply cannot accept.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This resolution covers the European Union’s social-inclusion policies for women belonging to ethnic minority groups. In this area, I would stress the need to promote schooling, education and training amongst these women, as well as to support their access to the labour market, so as to prevent social exclusion and discrimination.

Only through inclusion can we tackle the stigma and preconceptions caused by ethnic segregation. It is notable that there is no legally binding policy on social integration in the European Union, mainly because the integration is the responsibility of the Member States. However, integration policy has become increasingly important at EU level and integration is becoming even more important, as the underlying economic and social aspects of demographic ageing are becoming more significant. The EU’s rules and principles are applied, in the majority of cases, only to EU citizens who are simultaneously citizens of the Member States. Members of minorities who are settled and have acquired the legal status of citizen are protected by the rules and principles of the European Union. However, this protection should be extended to migrants who are not yet citizens of a Member State.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The social integration of women belonging to ethnic minority groups is an important issue, since these women are more vulnerable to social exclusion; as a matter of fact, the current situation, with the unacceptable collective expulsion of the Roma people by France, is a good example of this.

It is essential for the struggle against all types of discrimination to be the focus of attention and of Union policy, whether it be based on sex, ethnic origin or skin colour.

It is therefore time to break with the macro-economic policies that are making unemployment, social inequalities and discrimination worse. It is necessary, as the report says, to fight for true social integration, making a commitment to quality public services that are universal and accessible to all people of both sexes, including the families of immigrants and children, specifically: education, health, housing and social protection.

We have had enough hollow declarations and empty words: measures are urgently needed that promote dignity and equality, that give clear responses to social problems, and that do not develop into xenophobic and discriminatory actions; these are even more reprehensible when they come from the government itself.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) One cannot advocate ‘the acceptance of different cultures’ and communication by minorities, female or otherwise, in their mother tongue and, in the same breath, claim to want to promote the social inclusion of those minorities.

There is a fundamental contradiction there, because the minimum requirement for such ‘inclusion’ is to share a minimum common foundation with the host society, which is to say, a common language and basic codes of ‘coexistence’, starting with respect for the social laws and practices of the host country.

The only exception you make to this report’s profoundly pro-European logic is to recognise in a half-hearted, roundabout way that there can be no justification of violence or discrimination on the grounds of customs, traditions or religious considerations.

Open your eyes: Europeans are not responsible for the most violent and discriminatory practices. Polygamy, excision, infibulation, the treatment of women as inferior beings and so on are the practices of communities that refuse to respect our laws and our customs and which even intend to impose their own laws and customs on us. This is the result of the mass immigration policies you have been imposing on our fellow citizens for decades. It is time to put a stop to all that.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted for the Parvanova report on the social integration of women belonging to ethnic minority groups. Discrimination is unfortunately a cumulative process, and women belonging to ethnic minority groups are affected by it all the more. The text asks for Union policies to scrutinise more closely gender discrimination against these women. They should be able to participate actively in society, and in order to do so must have access to education and to the labour market, as these are the keys to their emancipation.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – As one of the shadow rapporteurs of the report, I would like to congratulate Dr Parvanova on the acceptance of her report, which aims to offer solutions in order to minimise the disadvantage of minority women induced by ethnicity and reinforced by gender-specific structures. Although gender equality is far from being achieved in mainstream society, Roma women, compared to their non-Roma counterparts, have lower life expectancy rates, lower education levels, significantly lower rates of employment and higher rates of poverty. In order to achieve full inclusion, gender statistics, indicators and benchmarks, as well as statistics broken down, inter alia, by gender and ethnicity, are crucial tools, and necessary if progress is to be properly measured.

The collection of disaggregated data is a prerequisite for protecting and promoting the rights of ethnic minorities and must comply with Member States’ rules on the protection of personal data. There is a very strong link between the level of education, the extent of economic activity and the probabilities of avoiding poverty for the whole family. That is why, in the first place, targeted policy actions are required to improve the access of Roma women to education and registered employment.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias and Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted for this resolution because, amongst other things, we think that there is a need for more structured coordination of European policies in this area, with the aim of improving the social inclusion of ethnic minority women and insisting on the importance of educating the host community to accept different cultures, while warning it of the impact of racism and prejudice. We also voted for this report because it calls for women belonging to ethnic minority groups to play an active political and social role in all areas of society, including political leadership, education and culture, so as to combat their current under-representation.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Europe is an area of integration and there can be no form of discrimination, especially when it is practiced on ethnic minority groups and is strongest towards women belonging to these groups. The goal of gender-equality policy in the EU is to promote equality between men and women, and this has increasingly been achieved in mainstream society. However, women from certain ethnic minorities have been suffering all types of discrimination. It is therefore necessary to raise public awareness of these practices so that women belonging to ethnic minority groups can be fully integrated. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing.(SK) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I consider the social inclusion of women belonging to ethnic minorities to be an enormously important and sensitive area in which the Member States of the European Union should demonstrate maturity and a real determination to spread the values of tolerance and equality in everyday life.

I regard it as unacceptable that members of ethnic minorities are exposed to discrimination, social exclusion, stigmatisation and even segregation. I therefore back the call for the Commission and, above all, the Member States, who bear full responsibility for the policy of social inclusion, to ensure the full implementation of existing legislation in the area of gender equality and non-discrimination.

The legal instruments should be supplemented with administrative measures, as well as cultural campaigns aimed at eliminating stereotypes and providing alternatives to social exclusion and poverty.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) It is of decisive importance for social peace in all countries that ethnic minorities should integrate into public life. However, contrary to this report, I believe that the onus lies with those who seek integration. On account of the difficult budgetary situation throughout Europe, I am unable to endorse a report that appears to propose cost-intensive and inefficient measures. For these reasons, I have voted against this report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report highlights an issue of which the European public is showing itself to be increasingly aware, not just because of tragic situations occurring outside of the European Union that speak to our moral conscience, but because of the recognition that problems at this level also occur among us and require our political and civic intervention.

Women belonging to ethnic minority groups frequently suffer pressure from family members with greater authority who prefer to maintain traditions that enslave women. As a rule, they have low levels of education and little information about possible means of asserting themselves against the family authority and within the societies into which they are integrating and/or the host society. At this level, they may also face xenophobic attitudes.

The development and implementation of European gender equality policy should help to minimise, once and for all, the serious injustices to which these women are subjected across the world and in the European Union.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) It is well-known that anti-Roma attitudes are still widespread in Europe, with Roma being a regular target for racist attacks, hate speeches, illegal evacuations and expulsions carried out by local and central authorities. I must mention, in particular, the recent actions of the French authorities in expelling the Roma population.

Given that the EU has numerous mechanisms and instruments available which can be used to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of European citizens of Roma origin, to improve their access to good quality education within the conventional education system, as well as to jobs, housing, healthcare services and social and public services, thereby improving their social inclusion, I call on Member States to:

- eliminate stereotypical attitudes to and discrimination against Roma women and girls who have been victims of numerous forms of discrimination based on ethnic origin and gender, particularly as regards their right to education, employment and healthcare services;

- apply in full the EU directives on combating discrimination and freedom of movement, and promote measures and proactive programmes for supporting the Roma population’s inclusion in the social, political, economic and educational spheres.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I am very happy with the adoption of this report, which specifically calls for: the Member States to respect the fundamental rights of ethnic minorities and immigrant women, whether or not their status is regular (P. 11); the Member States to ensure access to support services aimed at preventing gender-based violence and protecting women from such violence, regardless of their legal status (P. 17); the Fundamental Rights Agency to include a transversal gender equality and women’s rights perspective in all aspects, including those on ethnic discrimination and on the fundamental rights of Roma (P. 22); the European Institute for Gender Equality to collect data disaggregated by gender and ethnicity; national equality bodies to develop tools and training in relation to multiple discrimination; and, finally, a targeted approach to avoid multiple discrimination, stereotyping, stigmatisation and ethnic segregation.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) We are greatly perplexed by this report and are therefore voting against it, because, while it is right to make women from non-EU countries aware of their rights within their families, where they often live in a segregated manner, on the other hand, we cannot conceive of treating those who live as guests in our country better than our own citizens, who have always lived and paid taxes in the Member States.

Even today, when we consider the percentage of non-EU residents compared to European citizens who enjoy free social services such as healthcare, education and housing, it is clearly skewed in favour of the former. This means that people who live, work and pay taxes in their own countries are lower down the list than those who have recently arrived in Europe.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report which aims to evaluate social integration policies within the EU for women belonging to ethnic minority groups. This would allow for specific measures to be taken to target gender equality among ethnic minorities and ensure that existing anti-discrimination legislation is fully implemented in Member States.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) This report raises the question of whether women who are members of ethnic minorities are, in fact, excluded from the EU measures aimed at gender equality, due to their lack of social integration. Women from ethnic minorities have been largely invisible for many years, even though most of them are disadvantaged in two ways, both socially and economically.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – The ECR Group is wholeheartedly supportive of the principle of equal treatment for all and this, of course, includes women who belong to an ethnic minority group. However, we are opposed to this report for several, very specific reasons.

Firstly, we are opposed to any further widening of EU funding for social affairs. Across Europe, national governments are making public sector cuts and the ECR Group believes that the EU should do the same. Secondly, we are fundamentally opposed to any move in the direction of a common immigration and asylum policy and we feel that parts of this report address immigration and asylum policies which are best made and executed at national level. Thirdly, issues such as childcare, education and healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, remain the competences of the Member State and not the EU.

 
  
  

Report: Sirpa Pietikäinen (A7-0237/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the role of women in an ageing society because I believe that it is time to increase public awareness of gender inequalities in the older generations, which mainly result from gender-based disadvantages accumulated over a lifetime. Today, it is clear to everyone that elderly women are at greater risk of poverty as they receive smaller pensions because of the pay gap between men and women, or often because they stopped or interrupted their careers to dedicate themselves to their families, without any remuneration or eligibility for social security. At a time of economic recession, women are at an even greater risk of falling into poverty.

It is high time that our institutions adopted a more positive attitude towards ageing. Therefore, I warmly welcome the Commission’s initiative for 2012 to be a year for active ageing and intergenerational solidarity. Adopting an approach based on interconnection between age and gender should become an indispensable tool for formulating policies in all the relevant areas: economic and social matters, public health, consumer rights, the digital programme, rural and urban development, etc.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) In this report, Mrs Pietikäinen reminds us that women are traditionally at greater risk of poverty and limited pensions, for various reasons such as the wide gender pay gap, the fact that they have taken a break from or stopped work to take on family responsibilities, or the fact that they have worked in their husband’s undertaking, mainly in the business and agriculture sectors, without remuneration and without social security affiliation. I can only agree with this observation. As Chair of the Femmes au Centre (Women at the Centre) Association, I regularly fight to draw attention to social inequalities which are sometimes overlooked, and this, in my opinion, is one of them. At a time when we are debating the reform of our pension systems, it is vital to take into account differences in treatment between men and women.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the ban on discrimination on any grounds became part of the European Union’s legislative competence. Therefore, it is important to spread a positive view of old age and create opportunities for older people to lead a full life.

I am delighted that Parliament has presented a report that promotes taking action for the ageing society. Above all, it is important to devote significant attention to older women living in poverty, because usually their pensions are smaller due to the lower wages in the sectors where women are employed. In addition, older people represent a large consumer group and therefore, the demand for services for the elderly is growing very rapidly and will continue to do so in the future. However, there are obstacles to obtaining easily accessible, good quality and affordable public and private services.

It is therefore important for the Commission to take action to regulate accessibility to many basic services and to ensure quality of life in order to avoid physical, psychological and economic abuse. The ageing of society is often viewed negatively in terms of challenges to the age structure of the labour force and the sustainability of social protection and healthcare. Older people really are an asset and they offer key community and family support, so we must ensure their right to lead a life of dignity and independence.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In comparison with men, women face greater difficulties in the world of work. We urgently need to eradicate the discrimination to which they are subjected when obtaining work, in the progression of their careers and in the right to fair remuneration. Healthcare and social services must also be directed towards the specific needs of women. All these difficulties are exacerbated with age, demonstrating the importance of this report. In particular, I would argue that use should be made of the knowledge and experience of older women. Finally, the monitoring mechanisms provided for in the report justify my vote in favour. .

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark, Anna Ibrisagic and Alf Svensson (PPE), in writing. (SV) Yesterday, 7 September 2010, we voted against the report (A7-0237/2010) on the role of women in an ageing society (2009/2205(INI)). The main reason for this is the fact that we do not support the proposal for a system where all citizens in the EU are granted the right to a basic income or the report’s call for positive discrimination measures in favour of women. There is also a proposal for the European Parliament to call on Member States to introduce new types of leave that make it possible to take paid leave for caring duties other than parental leave. In this regard, we wish to uphold the principle of subsidiarity. At the same time, however, we would like to emphasise that there are parts of the report with which we are in agreement.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report because the ageing of our societies is too often seen in negative terms, although older people also represent an economic resource and a fund of crucial experience. Furthermore, elderly people face a higher risk of poverty than the general population: in 2008, the at-risk-of-poverty rate of those aged 65 years and over was around 19% in the EU-27, while in 2000, the figure was 17%.

I agree that a global and multidisciplinary approach should be taken to ageing as well as to creating opportunities, especially in the field of markets for products and services geared to the needs of older people and to the needs of the informal carers of dependent people. That is why the Commission should be asked to propose, by the end of 2011, an action plan containing these various measures.

 
  
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  Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing.(CS) Much has already been said about the unequal position of women in society. Women are constantly discriminated against in the workplace through lower pay for the same work, and are forced by circumstances to interrupt their careers or choose lower-paid employment in closer proximity to the family home. The reasons for this are firstly childbirth and caring for children, and then caring for ageing parents or ailing family members. In most cases, it is women who ‘sacrifice’ themselves in caring for the family and children at the expense of their work and careers. It has to be said that society typically expects this of them. The consequence is financial dependency on partners, with little or no social security and pension provision for old age. For these reasons, women are much more at risk in old age than men, and are the most at risk group in society in terms of poverty.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that women often still care for their parents and also their grandchildren in old age, for which they receive no pay and on which they spend all of their income or savings. The potential of older people is unused. The pattern of social living contributes to this, as young and old people live separately. In the ‘extended families’ of the past, everyone had their own function and role, and older people were not excluded and condemned to live in poverty. I support the report of Mrs Pietikäinen and I will vote in favour of its adoption.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the role of women in an ageing society. There is a difference of more than 17% between men’s and women’s salaries in the European Union. Partly because of this, and partly because women often stay at home during their active lives to take care of children or other dependent family members, often opting to work part time, the income gap between women and men increases at retirement age. The Member States urgently need to adopt measures to take account of the gender dimension when reforming pension systems and adapting the retirement age, considering the differences between women and men in work patterns and the higher risk of discrimination against older women in the labour market.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In view of the fact that, as the report states, ‘gender is a significant factor in ageing as life expectancy is about six years longer for women than for men’, and that Europe has an ageing society, the fact is that we are set to have an increasing number of elderly women in our society. We will have to ensure that these women have adequate living conditions and, in many cases, an active life.

We must not forget, as the report rightly reminds us, that elderly women are the most vulnerable to poverty, and therefore need to be given particular attention. However, more than solutions based on welfare or the social state, I believe that these women should be given an active role in society. Many of them are professionals with vast experience that can be used to the benefit of younger people. Others are grandmothers and great-grandmothers, and can take up key caring roles within the family, allowing young mothers a better opportunity to reconcile family and professional life. These roles are invaluable and will help us to encourage and protect them, creating a society of real solidarity between generations.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This resolution tackles the vulnerability of older women in the context of the phenomenon of an ageing population in the EU, which is seen as a future burden for national economies, and where the potential of the elderly is often ignored as they are more often seen as passive objects than active subjects. I would stress the particular risk of poverty to which older women are subject, so I agree with incentives to employ older people, for example by compensating employers. However, I do not agree with specific arrangements for older LBT women.

With the entry into force of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, prohibition of discrimination for whatever reason has come under the European Union’s legislative jurisdiction. Pursuant to Article 21 of the Charter, ‘Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited’; meanwhile, Article 25 establishes that ‘The Union recognises and respects the rights of the elderly to lead a life of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life’. I believe that the implementation of these directives will serve to combat any form of discrimination.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Although this report is generally positive, it could have gone further in many areas, specifically regarding the analysis of the causes of the double discrimination of which millions of women in the European Union are the victims, which gets worse when they are older: migrant women, women with disabilities, women who belong to minorities and women with few qualifications.

Working women who have been victims of the discrimination of low wages and the devaluation of their work, to which, in many cases, has been added the discrimination of motherhood, receive smaller pensions and live below the poverty line. It is time to bring an end to this situation by changing the European Union’s policies and breaking with neoliberal policies, and by committing to enhancing the value of labour, to complying with human rights, and to guaranteeing access to quality public services, specifically healthcare and social protection, and to pensions that enable women to live with dignity.

We will therefore continue to fight for policies that value the role of women and fully respect their rights.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted for the Pietikäinen report on the role of women in an ageing society because, while life expectancy is greater for woman than for men, women are at greater risk of insecurity as they get older. We can see this in France at the moment with the debate on pensions, the pay gap, and women taking a break from or stopping work to take on family responsibilities, with a corresponding reduction in their pensions. The text reminds us that a wide-ranging anti-discrimination directive is needed more than ever before.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) With the entry into force of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009 and the spring of 2010 respectively, the European Union has undertaken to prohibit discrimination of any kind within the EU, whether on the basis of social class, race, skin colour or gender. However, EU citizens, particularly older women, are still the victims of discrimination. I endorse this report because I think it is particularly necessary to place women from all age groups on an equal footing with younger people. Older women are disadvantaged in many areas of public life. One serious example of this is their dependence on public services because there is a direct impact on women if these services are poorly structured. In addition, the low pension entitlements associated with salary levels is a further disadvantage because men generally have a higher income. Older women should not be perceived as a burden, but rather as active participants in our society and should be recognised as such in the European Union.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias and Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted in favour of this resolution because we agree with its rights-based approach to ageing, specifically its view of older people as empowered subjects. Women continue to see their careers hindered, leading to men’s over-representation in better jobs with higher pay; this is particularly visible among older women and men. Added to that, older women run into insuperable obstacles when looking for a new job, as they are completely devalued in the eyes of employers.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The ageing of the population and reduced demographic growth that have been occurring in the EU have been causes for concern regarding the sustainability of social security and healthcare systems. However, the above is even truer for women, as older women feel gender inequality with far greater intensity. This situation is of particular concern because women play a very significant role in society, especially as regards essential community and family support as carers for dependent people. Therefore, it is very important to combat the age-based discrimination, which affects women the most. That is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I voted for this resolution, namely so as to draw society’s particular attention to elderly women. Their pensions are usually considerably lower than men’s pensions. Normally, women live longer than men and are left solitary in old age. Not many politicians give a thought to the fact that, outside work, where they earn their pensions, practically all women have worked in the family, raising children and grandchildren, and that their work in this sphere of life is much greater than the contribution of men.

Bearing in mind that women are physically frailer than men, we must treat elderly, solitary women with particular care. It is our duty to initiate a discussion on this question so that society’s attention can be drawn to the unfair and sometimes indifferent attitude towards the ‘weaker sex’. I voted in favour of paying attention to our mothers and grandmothers – to women who have dedicated all of their lives to children and grandchildren. We must not leave them in their solitude; we must not forget them.