Index 
Debates
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Tuesday, 14 December 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. Oral questions (tabling): see Minutes
 4. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 5. Fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) - Effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (debate)
 6. European Protection Order (debate)
 7. Trafficking in human beings (debate)
 8. Welcome
 9. Voting time
  9.1. Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund: Portugal - floods; France - Xynthia (storm) (A7-0335/2010, Reimer Böge) (vote)
  9.2. Draft amending budget No 9/2010: EU Solidarity Fund (floods in Portugal, Xynthia (storm), France) - Economic recovery: European offshore wind grid system (A7-0341/2010, László Surján) (vote)
  9.3. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: SI/Mura, Slovenia (A7-0336/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.4. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG/Germany (A7-0337/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.5. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Wielkopolskie Automotive from Poland (A7-0359/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.6. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Aragón - Retail trade from Spain (A7-0358/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.7. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Comunidad Valenciana - Textiles/Spain (A7-0357/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.8. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Comunidad Valenciana - natural stone from Spain (A7-0356/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.9. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Lear from Spain (A7-0351/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.10. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: H. Cegielski-Poznań from Poland (A7-0352/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.11. Extension of the scope of Directive 2003/109/EC to beneficiaries of international protection (A7-0347/2010, Claude Moraes) (vote)
  9.12. EU-Georgia agreement on facilitation of issuance of visas (A7-0345/2010, Nathalie Griesbeck) (vote)
  9.13. EU rapid response capability (A7-0332/2010, Iva Zanicchi) (vote)
  9.14. Regulation of trading in financial instruments - ‘dark pools’, etc. (A7-0326/2010, Kay Swinburne) (vote)
  9.15. Strengthening Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security in the European Union – an EU CBRN Action Plan (A7-0349/2010, Ana Gomes) (vote)
  9.16. Good governance and EU regional policy (A7-0280/2010, Ramona Nicole Mănescu) (vote)
  9.17. Creation of an immigration liaison officers network (A7-0342/2010, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra) (vote)
  9.18. Single application procedure for residence and work (A7-0265/2010, Véronique Mathieu) (vote)
  9.19. European Protection Order (A7-0354/2010, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio) (vote)
  9.20. Trafficking in human beings (A7-0348/2010, Edit Bauer) (vote)
  9.21. EU-Georgia agreement on readmission of persons residing without authorisation (A7-0346/2010, Nathalie Griesbeck) (vote)
  9.22. Territorial, social and economic cohesion (A7-0309/2010, Petru Constantin Luhan) (vote)
 10. Explanations of vote
 11. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 12. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting: see Minutes
 13. Question Hour with the President of the Commission
 14. Parliament's position on the new 2011 Draft Budget as modified by the Council (debate)
 15. Credit rating agencies (debate)
 16. Outcome of the Climate Change Conference in Cancún (debate)
 17. Question Time (Commission)
 18. Energy Efficiency Action Plan (debate)
 19. Repeal of directives regarding metrology (debate)
 20. Safety of toys (debate)
 21. Agenda of the next sitting: see Minutes
 22. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
  

(The sitting was opened at 09:00)

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

3. Oral questions (tabling): see Minutes

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

5. Fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) - Effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the report by Mrs Gál, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) – effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (2009/2161(INI) (A7-0344/2010).

 
  
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  Kinga Gál, rapporteur. (HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon brought with it the vision and idea of a strong Europe in respect of Community powers. To the citizens, it offers the promise of the fulfilment of this vision. This also applies to the protection of fundamental rights, and therefore, in contrast to previous years, this year’s report deals with these new legal bases and with the strengthened and newly established powers and institutions, and provides a close examination of the situation thus created. The aim of the report is to offer a new and comprehensive approach in the protection of fundamental rights.

Since December 2009, the protection of fundamental human rights has rested on multiple pillars within the European Union. On one hand, it is based on the Treaty of Lisbon, and on the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which has now become legally binding. The Charter has become a standard for the creation and application of EU laws by both the EU institutions and by the Member States. A similar pillar of the Community legal system will be our accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, a process that is currently under way, but the system of human rights guarantees enshrined in the Member States’ own legal systems will remain a similar pillar. These legal bases will also be reinforced by the established Community institutions, both at Community and Member State level. At Community level, I would like to mention the Commission, the portfolio of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the Council working group, Parliament, and of the agencies, I would like to highlight the role of the Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The aim of my report is to raise awareness in order to ensure that these existing institutions and mechanisms operate in an efficient and transparent way, whether in the monitoring of decision making or legislation, data collection, or information transfer, and that they do not accord priority to some rights while neglecting others. It is important that the individual institutions not only report, but also respond to and comment on each other. They should make use of, and build upon, each other’s work in the field of the protection of human rights, and should take their decisions coherently, objectively, and on the basis of facts.

Thus, in this report, we reviewed what Parliament expects from these institutions. We commented on the Commission communication issued in October, which follows a similar concept. One of the principal aims of the report is to emphasise that the current fundamental rights structure must begin and end with the individual, that is to say, the citizen. This means that we must provide citizens with sufficient information to ensure that they are aware of and understand their opportunities and are able to make use of them. The system of protection of fundamental rights must be comprehensible, accessible and effectively useful, as the entire structure is only worth as much as the citizens of the EU can assert from it. In achieving these goals, the aforementioned institutions and the Member States must assume a balancing role to ensure that the EU can increase its credibility in the eyes of the citizens. Finally, my report focuses on those areas which not only require rapid action but also medium to long-term strategies, such as the integration of the Roma, the fight against child poverty and the issue of language use among minority communities, to name but a few.

I hope that with the report that will be adopted tomorrow, we will be able to send a readily comprehensible and clear message to the aforementioned institutions: to the Commission, the Council, the agencies, the Member States’ bodies and courts, so we can make this system even more effective. In this, I request your support for tomorrow so that in the post-Treaty of Lisbon period, now that the foundations, the institutions, are already in place, we can act in this spirit.

 
  
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  Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, the debate today on the fundamental rights situation in the European Union is very important, not only because it comes 10 years after the proclamation of the charter – the anniversary of the charter was at the beginning of this month – but also because it is the first discussion in Parliament dedicated to that which the rapporteur, Ms Gál, calls the ‘new post-Lisbon fundamental rights architecture’. She is absolutely right. We have started with a new beginning for the meaning of human rights and fundamental rights in Europe. I would like to thank the rapporteur and the members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs for their very valuable contribute to this debate.

We now have a legally binding charter which is part of the EU’s primary legislation. What we need to do now is to put the charter into practice. It was precisely for this reason that, in October, the Commission adopted a communication on the strategy for the effective implementation of the charter. The key objective for the Commission here is to make the rights enshrined in the charter as effective as possible for the benefit of all the people living in the EU and, as Members of this House, you represent those people.

The charter must be our compass and we must lead by example, in particular, when we legislate. This applies to the Commission’s internal preparation work and to adoption by the European Parliament and the Council, as well as to the application of the new rules by the Member States.

The Commission has enforced a systematic assessment of the fundamental rights impact of new legislative proposals through a fundamental rights checklist to be used by all Commission departments. I am pleased to see that Ms Gál’s report supports this approach. It highlights, in particular, how important it is for the European Parliament and for the Council to pay attention to compliance with the charter throughout the legislative process. Not only must the text on the table comply with the charter, but the effects of later amendments to that text must be taken into account as well. Each institution therefore needs to think about how to ensure that amendments to legislative proposals are properly assessed. I welcome the call in the report for improved cooperation among the institutions.

We also have to see how the charter is applied when Member States implement EU law. I would like to reiterate in this House that I will not shy away from starting infringement proceedings whenever necessary.

The report also highlights the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. The speedy accession of the European Union to the Convention is a high priority for the Commission. Negotiations are well under way, and are moving forward in a swift and constructive manner. If everything goes well, as seems to be the case, I hope that we will be able to reach a final agreement in the first half of 2011. So things are moving quickly and they are moving well.

I also fully share the objective of ensuring smooth cooperation with international organisations. We do this as a matter of course, on a daily basis. The Commission already takes into account the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child when it prepares new proposals which can affect children. Recently, we also had a discussion about the disabled, and it is clear that in that field, too, we are applying the United Nations Convention in the Member States and at European Union level.

The rapporteur spoke about the Agency for Fundamental Rights, which has a key role to play in providing us with comparable and reliable data on the situation in the 27 Member States in areas where the EU can act. There, too, we want to work not only in theory but in practice. I have, for instance, asked the agency to contribute to the work of the Roma task force. The Commission is in favour of extending the mandate of the agency to ensure that it can also provide its expertise in the areas of judicial cooperation in criminal matters and police cooperation. To make this possible, on 2 December, the Commission adopted a proposal to amend the multiannual framework, which lists the thematic areas in which the agency can work.

I should now like to move on to something new, which I think tallies perfectly with the rapporteur’s line, and that is the momentum created by the Lisbon Treaty which we have to uphold. With this in mind, in spring 2011, the Commission will publish its first annual report on the application of the charter. The idea is for this to be published as an annual report every spring. I believe this would be the time for Parliament to come in and provoke a real debate on how the charter is being applied in practice. When we prepare our first annual report on the application of the charter in spring 2011, I will pay particular attention to the European Parliament’s report, and to Parliament’s other fundamental rights activities. This will not only allow us to hold a debate on human rights outside the European Union, as is customary in this House, but it will also allow us to hold a yearly debate on fundamental rights and how they are applied by the different governments inside the European Union, as well as to see whether the European institutions are doing their jobs as they should be.

 
  
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  Simon Busuttil, on behalf of the PPE Group.(MT) Mr President, I would like to begin by thanking Kinga Gál for her report and, in particular, for the focus she placed on such an important subject, that is, the Charter of Fundamental Rights for the European Union and its implementation. I believe that Kinga Gál’s concentration on this issue was crucial this year. I would like to make a point on how important it is that we keep considering human rights as fundamental human rights, because sometimes I fear that not everyone interprets the concept of fundamental rights in the same manner. First of all, it must be made clear that human rights do not mean that we should ignore the concept of, say, subsidiarity, or that we should trample upon the different values that Member States embrace. Unfortunately, there are some who are attempting to manipulate the issue of fundamental rights to do just that. The European Union should leave it up to the Member States to deal with ethical issues such as euthanasia and abortion. Secondly, we should take care to ensure that fundamental rights are indeed fundamental rights and do not include other rights which, albeit important, are not fundamental and therefore risk being unrealistic when viewed in today’s context. A case in point would be the rights that are connected to immigration issues, which are of considerable importance, yet are not always fundamental rights. Finally, we must seek to adopt reasonable positions on, for example, security and the importance of data protection. Therefore, to conclude, I believe that we need fundamental rights, yet at the same time, we must ensure that they are both logical and realistic.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová, on behalf of the S&D Group.(SK) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I, too, would like to thank the rapporteur, Mrs Gál, as I think she has managed to fulfil the main aim of the report, which is specifically to clarify the roles which individual institutions and mechanisms will play in the new post-Lisbon architecture of fundamental rights.

I consider three areas contained in the report to be of key importance. It is important for the Union to defend not only the rights of its citizens, or the people on its territory, but also to become a global leader in this area. The newly-established European External Action Service can play a key role from this perspective. I would therefore like to call on the Commission to ensure that the structure, resources and activities of the diplomatic service are established in such a way that European diplomacy can effectively promote fundamental rights abroad as well.

Secondly, following Lisbon, democracy and human rights have a new expression via the European Citizens’ Initiative. The initiative boosts the role of EU citizens, who can use it to initiate the adoption of European legislation. Thirdly, I would like to express my satisfaction over the fact that the report calls on EU Member States and institutions to redouble their efforts on raising public awareness of fundamental rights.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the rapporteur for being responsive to our comments, and for the fact that the report also contains the explicit reference we requested to the fight against poverty and social exclusion in the section mentioning the activities necessary for the protection of fundamental rights.

 
  
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  Renate Weber, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, tomorrow afternoon, we will be able to share our thoughts on the human rights situation in the world, but this morning, we are focusing on the state of play as regards these rights in the European Union. Discussing the European Union first and the rest of the world afterwards is the right order in my view because, before criticising others, we should put our own house in order. If we really want to be taken seriously, we must not turn a blind eye to human rights violations on our own soil.

This resolution, for which I want to congratulate our rapporteur, Ms Gál, focuses on the way forward for EU policy in the field of human rights protection and advancement after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. It deals not only with who bears responsibility for what, but also focuses on the topics that should be at the centre of our concern in the future.

I would just like to emphasise two aspects. I was happy with the support given in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to the idea of a kind of freezing mechanism, by which national contested policies or decisions can be frozen by the Commission until it has taken a formal decision as to whether to start the infringement procedure. I believe such a mechanism will bring added value in creating a more credible fundamental rights policy within the European Union. I hope, therefore, that the entire House will lend its support to this mechanism when we vote tomorrow.

The other aspect relates to the right and the duty of this Parliament continually to analyse the human rights situation in the Member States and to be critical in expressing its views, including naming and shaming when necessary.

 
  
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  Hélène Flautre, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Mr President, this is a very good report, and the first one after the Treaty of Lisbon. I would like to begin by thanking the rapporteur, Mrs Gál, for her hard work, receptiveness and fruitful cooperation. I would like to come back to four messages contained in this report.

The first concerns our requirement for the Commission to fulfil its role with respect to the new resources at its disposal and to the entry into force of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The situation of the Roma people has sadly been the first practical case, and the Commission has, in the end, only gone halfway on this matter, basing itself solely on the Free Movement Directive.

The Commission has sidestepped the non-discrimination issue on the basis of Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, but it cannot be so half-hearted in future, with the ratification, by the Union, of the European Convention on Human Rights, and I am delighted to see the Union’s commitment to seeing this through.

The added value of this report also resides in the fact that it emphasises the need for early detection of potential violations through the implementation of a warning system. This system makes provision, among other things, for measures suspected of constituting such violations to be suspended while the accelerated procedure for determining whether they are contrary to fundamental rights is carried out.

I would also insist on the need to set up a prevention system on the model, for example, of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism within the United Nations Council.

Once again, I would stress the absolute need for consistency between internal and external processes, as you have already mentioned, Mrs Reding. In that respect, the signing of EU readmission agreements represents a real challenge.

We are blindly endorsing these agreements when the actual terms of their implementation are being decided in joint committees from which Parliament is excluded.

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański, on behalf of the ECR Group. (PL) Mr President, now that the Charter of Fundamental Rights has become legally binding in Europe, we are dealing with two systems for the protection of human rights which are, to a certain extent, in competition with one another. One of these systems is based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the case-law of the Court of Justice, and the other is based on the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. I think the fundamental challenge identified in the Gál report is that of ensuring coherence between these systems, both in terms of content and in institutional terms.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights must not be interpreted in such a way that it results in the presumption of new competences for the European Union. Article 51 states this very clearly, but I think it is worth reminding everyone, particularly the Members of this House, that issues relating to marital law, criminal law and the legal protection of unborn life cannot be regulated at EU level, either directly or by the actions of any court or tribunal. This politicisation of human rights protection instruments can lead to only one thing – a fall in trust in the international judiciary.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(FR) Mr President, I should like, in turn, to thank our rapporteur for her willingness to listen and for her work, as well as all the shadow rapporteurs who have contributed to the quality of this report.

For us, this report is important because it draws conclusions from one of the few positive outcomes of the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, if it is effectively implemented. Indeed, the effective implementation of fundamental rights in the European Union is an important, if not fundamental, issue for the European Union’s future. However, using flowery language will not be enough.

The Treaty, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and, soon, accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, will provide us with new tools in this area and will enable the European Union and its Members to reach a new stage.

Many say that human rights are part of the European Union’s essential values but few recognise them as being truly universal and indivisible. Indivisible, meaning that all the human rights enshrined in the Charter, but also in the European Convention, and in all the European and international conventions that stem from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have the same value, whatever they may be.

Civil and political rights are no more important than economic and social rights. The right to live in dignity is just as important as religious freedom for instance.

Universal means that human rights are the same for everyone, regardless of their nationality, regardless of their legal status. However, we know that the right to education and the right to family life, here too for instance, are constantly flouted in nearly every Member State. The situation regarding the Roma people is unfortunately symptomatic of this. So yes, the Commission must resolve to start infringement proceedings and to be as strict as it is on economic matters.

Universal also implies that human rights have the same value throughout the world, meaning that the European Union must attach the same importance to human rights as it does to economic or diplomatic issues in its foreign policy and partnership agreements. This is not the case in countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Colombia, and I could mention many more. So yes, this is a fundamental issue; the European Union’s credibility and the future of its foreign policy are at stake.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI).(HU) Mr President, as a Hungarian and a female politician, I am proud that it was a Hungarian female Member, Mrs Kinga Gál, who created with considerable effort this very significant work on a better assertion of human rights, and brought it before the European Union. For this, I would like to thank her.

What I find lacking, however, is an emphasis on traditional civil and political liberties, and there is hardly anyone in a better position here in the EU than we, Hungarians, to emphasise that in the European Union, the problem does not only lie with discrimination against minorities or the integration of the Roma when it comes to human rights, but with the freedom of expression, assembly and speech, and nothing illustrates this better than the situation in Hungary between 2002 and 2010. The Human Rights Committee of the Hungarian Parliament recently adopted a very thorough and detailed report, which demonstrates through court judgments, reports of the ombudsman and other means that the Hungarian socialist governments between 2002 and 2010 maintained their power by grossly and continuously violating human rights. My question to the rapporteur, on the one hand, is whether this particular Hungarian report can finally be presented to the European Union in the current situation, and whether the European Union will investigate it, because that would indeed be a realistic indication that there has been some measure of change in the field of human rights. On the other hand, if we are able to speak of an increased possibility to assert human rights in the European Union at all, how could we better avoid incidents like the one where people were shot in the eye in Hungary in 2006, particularly if the Vice-President of the LIBE Committee is still an individual who, at that time, was a member of a government that had people shot in the eye?

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, one can only remark favourably on a report such as the one so ably put together by the rapporteur, Mrs Gál, which has the strong point of describing the situation regarding the implementation of fundamental rights both accurately and in detail.

I should like to raise a few minor points regarding the implementation itself. Thanks to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is now obligatory, and the Lisbon Process, which cannot now be halted, there is no doubt that this support for wellbeing and the person derives from a set of values that is truly shared, as is shown in tangible terms by the real results achieved.

Therefore, we must bear in mind the Treaty of Lisbon, the Stockholm Programme, and fundamental principles such as solidarity, integration and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. We must bear in mind that the principle of subsidiarity obviously cannot stand in the way of the implementation of fundamental rights in a Europe of the people.

A few days from now, we shall approve a new dossier and the new regulation regarding the legislative initiative in favour of citizens against the trafficking of human beings. These dossiers are integrated with each other and definitely form an updated legal frame of reference. All the measures have a precise objective: to value human dignity.

I should like to conclude, Mr President, by saying that the power to make checks and apply real sanctions must be properly implemented in 2013, the European Year of Citizenship. This could certainly be an important factor to really assess the significance of the measure.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman (S&D). – Mr President, pre-Lisbon, post-Lisbon, we have very little to be proud of. In Europe, you can still be discriminated against if you are a woman. We have heard it said here in the Chamber today: a woman cannot choose what to do with her body. You can be discriminated against on the grounds of age, disability, religion, belief, sexual orientation. On the supply of goods and services, there is no movement on the Council directive. If you are in a same-sex partnership or a civil partnership or a marriage, you can be discriminated against by a Member State on the precept of the concept of subsidiarity. On that basis, you can promote inequality.

We have a two-speed Europe where some people are equal and others are not. We sit here and do nothing while we see rising xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and transphobia and, yes, look at what is happening to the Roma.

Have we learnt nothing from the Second World War? Have we learnt nothing from the 1930s when we turned away and did nothing because people were different from us? Can we not see that religion, decent religion, is being used as an excuse to increase discrimination against LGBT people in particular? Can we not see that to diminish the rights of another is ultimately to diminish our own? We have nothing to be proud of.

 
  
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  Daniël van der Stoep (NI). (NL) Mr President, it is patently clear that the Treaty of Lisbon takes a different approach to fundamental rights from that we have previously been used to. First of all, of course, because of the European Union’s accession to the European Court of Human Rights, which has brought about a strange situation in which courts are competing with each other. It is still unclear exactly what turn things will take in this respect. I fear that, with the EU’s accession to the ECHR, we may have landed in a legal minefield. Could the Commissioner comment on this?

My second point concerns the lasting impact of the Charter of Fundamental Rights on European law. I have a specific question for the Commissioner concerning a judgment handed down on 9 November 2010 by the Court of Justice of the European Union. This is about the joined cases of Volker and Hartmut Eifert, under references C 92/09 and C 93/09. In brief, these cases were about the right to privacy versus the right of public access to European funding streams.

In these judgments, the Court decided that the right to privacy outweighs the general European transparency interest. I was very surprised by this judgment and I would very much like to know the Commissioner’s point of view on this matter, in the context of the lasting impact of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Charter on current and future EU legislation.

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE). (SL) Mr President, first of all, I would like to congratulate my colleague, Mrs Gál, on preparing a good report. It is true that we have a new situation in the European Union as far as the protection of human rights is concerned. It seems to me that freedom is expanding and that that is a good thing. The report is quite contemporary, or modern; it even speaks of a third generation of human rights and the like.

However, protecting human rights and freedoms also includes righting the wrongs of the past.

We may have highlighted many third generation rights, as they are called, in this report, but we have forgotten some issues, such as returning property that was confiscated by totalitarian regimes to its owners or giving a dignified burial to the many people who were brutally killed in Central and Eastern Europe in 1945 and only given makeshift graves.

For that reason, we, the present generation of political decision makers, are responsible for righting these wrongs of the past. Only then will we be able to speak with a clear conscience about new, third generation human rights and freedoms, as they are called, for the present and for the future, too.

 
  
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  Kinga Göncz (S&D).(HU) Mr President, Commissioner, with the Treaty of Lisbon, the Charter of Fundamental Rights has also become legally binding, and it created the possibility for infringement procedures to be launched in the case of its violation. In some Member States, the social tensions that have arisen in the wake of the crisis have brought about a restriction of democratic rights, instead of steps having been taken in this direction. They have brought about the restriction of the freedom of the media, the restriction of the right to strike, the circumvention and limitation of social dialogue, the strengthening of discrimination, and the shattering of the foundations of the rule of law and legal certainty. The Commission, in its role as the guardian of the treaties, has an obligation to be mindful of such signs. We believe that the creation of the portfolio of a Commissioner for fundamental rights is an important step, and we call on Mrs Reding to regularly monitor the Member States and call attention to cases where fundamental rights and the basic principles of democracy are violated, in order to ensure that these are not only mandatory for candidate countries before their accession, but also later on, as the failure to do so would further undermine the credibility of the EU.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE).(RO) Mr President, let me begin by congratulating Kinga Gál for her report.

We currently have a community of values and principles, reflected in a complex system of human rights protection, which includes the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the most progressive regional code of human rights. Member States must abide by the Charter’s provisions when applying EU legislation. The Charter’s provisions can be applied directly by national courts, thereby also giving them great responsibility.

Secondly, we have the European Convention and the case-law of the Court of Justice in Strasbourg. They provide a guarantee for individual rights in Member States. The European Union’s accession to the Convention will ensure that the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights is also applied to the actions taken by the EU as an institution and by a Member State which applies EU legislation. We certainly must monitor closely the reform of the Court in Strasbourg and its impact on shortening proceedings.

Thirdly, at national level, Member States have the duty and opportunity to implement directly the provisions which guarantee fundamental rights, to apply them in their own countries through the decisions of their own institutions.

Therefore, both legal and institutional mechanisms exist. The keyword is implementation, which must be rapid and effective for victims. Another keyword is coordination between the institutions which deliberate on the violation of rights and award damages.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D). (PL) Mr President, incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into EU law does not extend the scope of the EU’s competences and complies with the principle of subsidiarity, since the Charter is an integral part of EU policy. I therefore call once again upon the Polish authorities to meet their obligations and adopt the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Poland’s opt-out from the Charter has no substantive justification. It is a political decision which compromises my country and is detrimental to Polish citizens.

Adoption of the Charter is particularly important in the context of the upcoming Polish Presidency. All Europeans must have equal rights, regardless of where they live and the extent to which their country is in thrall to the clergy. Unfortunately, even the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland does not always understand this. In my opinion, respect for the rights of women, the only majority to be discriminated against, is particularly important. I therefore call once again for a European directive on violence against women, including sexual and reproductive violence, as practised by certain Member States with the full sanction of domestic law.

 
  
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  Ádám Kósa (PPE).(HU) Mr President, the forward-looking part of the report has already been pointed out by many of my fellow Members. Finally, we have a report that encompasses the various issues related to human rights without giving preference to one area to the detriment of another. I am particularly pleased that that the report specifically highlights non-discrimination and equal opportunities. The report is based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This is the point of my speech. Adherence to, and enforcement of, the Charter can only be successful if European society recognises that all human beings are equal, and that this equality can only be realised through equal treatment. If anyone is put at a disadvantage in any respect through no fault of their own, they must be given appropriate and proportionate assistance so that they can become persons of equal value, citizens of equal value. The road that leads to this goal is a difficult one, and deliberate work will be required to complete it. Mrs Gál’s report is a significant milestone along this road. I am grateful for her very significant work.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Mr President, I would like to point out one danger. The combination of different forms of combating discrimination may lead to discrimination. There was also talk of this at the OSCE meeting last week in Vienna.

It is a paradox, but as anti-discrimination policy becomes an ideology, people begin to discriminate. We see how the actual concept of discrimination goes beyond its definition. If the European Union has any serious shortcomings in this area, it is in the need to restore the original meaning of the word ‘discrimination’, because it is no longer understood either by human rights activists or sometimes even by our own EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. I am therefore calling for democratic control of this institution. If this does not happen, it may even become a financially costly burden, detracting from the reputation not only of the European Commission, but, indirectly, of the entire European Union.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D).(HU) Mr President, the rapporteur has done an excellent job. However, to quote a popular Hungarian saying, unless it is implemented, it will be worth as much as horseshoes on a dead horse. I do not see a political will in the European Commission to enforce these rights and to initiate infringement proceedings against Member States. I have much faith in Mrs Reding. She has more courage than all the male Commissioners combined, as she dared to oppose Mr Sarkozy, even though Mr Barroso had tried to dissuade her from doing so for a long time. In the upcoming period, she will be faced with a considerable challenge, as the Hungarian Government assuming the EU Presidency is committing serious infringements of fundamental rights. It is restricting the freedom of the media, abolishing the rights of trade unions in relation to public servants, and it fails to protect private property when it appropriates the private pension savings of three million citizens. This government is violating fundamental rights, and you, Mrs Reding, must have the courage to initiate an infringement procedure.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, notwithstanding the European Convention on Human Rights, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union and the national constitutions, serious violations of human rights persist on a daily basis in the European Union and in the Member States.

In my country – Italy – there is a regime in force in which freedom of the press is violated, political parties take part in elections by submitting fake signatures, State secrecy covers up violent attacks (including by the Mafia), our Prime Minister – though not for much longer, we hope – profits from international cooperation with regimes like those in Russia and Libya, as was also confirmed by WikiLeaks. The European Union cannot allow itself to turn a blind eye to all of this.

For these reasons, I support the report, which contains many of the amendments submitted by me and approved in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Amongst these, I should like to single out paragraphs 20 and 40, which call for human rights violations to be monitored and penalised, and for national legislative proposals with the potential to violate human rights to be frozen before they become law, until the EU approves them.

I also supported the incentive to use Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union to address human rights violations and to bolster the mandate of the Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The report makes numerous positive references to minorities, rights, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, immigrants and asylum seekers, freedom of the press and social rights. For these reasons, I would urge my fellow Members to vote in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL).(PT) Mr President, we are all aware that many kinds of discrimination still exist in the countries of the European Union, affecting different sections of the population and cultural minorities. However, we cannot forget that there is general discrimination against women: discrimination against women continues to make itself felt to a greater or lesser degree in many different areas in the EU Member States. Women workers still have difficulty in getting jobs and in being promoted in their careers, and they still fall victim to low wages and other forms of discrimination that always affect them. The gender pay gap in the EU stands at about 18%. Urgent measures are therefore needed to combat these discriminatory situations.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, accession on the part of the EU to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms also conceals the risk that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will be able to pass judgment on any EU legal act; the judges of the European Court of Justice have already warned against taking this step.

I very much doubt that the ECHR will always pass neutral and appropriate judgments. Its President has himself admitted that he would examine cases brought by asylum seekers more closely than other cases. Preferential treatment for certain complainants is not fitting conduct for a neutral judge. The ECHR is currently attempting to suspend the Dublin Convention and prevent deportations from Austria to Greece. Why is this? Is Greece unsafe? Do we really want to be subject to a court that wants to ban the cross in classrooms? The cross is the symbol of Christianity, one of the foundations of Europe and of our fundamental values.

If the European Court of Human Rights clearly has no respect for such human rights, I cannot see that it is possible to recognise it here as an approved and appropriate decision-making body.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE).(HU) Mr President, the European Union has always been ready to criticise countries outside its borders in order to promote fundamental rights. In the case of its own Member States, however, it has often been powerless following their accession. This should not be the case any longer, as today it is not only economic principles that bind us together. The report of Mrs Kinga Gál summarises the most urgent and most important steps in the development of internal fundamental rights protection. We need an effective rights protection system, and thanks to the Treaty of Lisbon, we will now be able to establish one. Violations of the fundamental rights of citizens cannot remain without consequence. We must be able to hold those committing infringements to account at both Member State and European Union level.

I can only agree with Mrs Reding in that the Commission should exercise the right to initiate infringement proceedings in all justified cases. The addition to the set of available procedures of a procedure with a blocking effect can serve as an effective tool in the protection of rights against Member State measures violating fundamental rights. Yes, we need to protect persons with disabilities, we need to eliminate discrimination and, last but not least, we need to protect European linguistic diversity.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D). (LT) Mr President, the issue of human rights must be addressed at European level and the Member States themselves must also take responsibility for guaranteeing the fundamental rights of their citizens. At European level, for instance, it is very important to establish a European Union strategy on the rights of the child, because not all Member States are capable of guaranteeing the protection of children’s rights at national level. It is therefore necessary to develop practical measures to combat child abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography.

Disabled people, who still suffer from discrimination in their social, professional and cultural lives, are another priority. We must therefore establish a concrete system of EU legislation on the rights of disabled people and develop an EU strategy on the disabled.

I would like to stress that combating trafficking of human beings, especially women and children, is still a huge problem and one of the worst violations of human rights.

It is also very important to combat poverty and social exclusion, particularly as regards elderly people, who have suffered most during the recession.

 
  
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  Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission.(FR) Mr President, I would like to thank all the committee members who worked alongside the rapporteur, Mrs Gál, on these areas, as well as all those MEPs who took the floor today in this House, thereby showing that fundamental rights are very important. I can only support what has already been said by several MEPs, namely that it is high time that we focused on fundamental rights within the European Union in order to be credible and be able to talk about fundamental rights outside the European Union. This issue has been somewhat neglected. It will no longer be in future.

I think that the Commission’s annual report on the application of the Charter, which will elaborate on all the observations made by everyone regarding specific types of discrimination, will truly enable us every year to discuss what is not working and try to correct it.

Correct it how? There is this idea of a ‘freezing mechanism’, as the rapporteur called it, this prevention system where one would intervene with regard to a measure being taken in a Member State up to the point at which it is implemented. I have asked my experts to analyse this, and the institutional issues that such a mechanism raises are very complex. For the time being, although we will have to continue the analysis and see what is really happening, it seems to me that there is no legal basis to act in such a way and that a change in the Treaty would be needed to activate such a prevention mechanism. It is an attractive idea. We will carry on looking for a mechanism that could be used without changing the Treaty so as to deal with the most pressing issues.

Nevertheless, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Charter is not applicable in absolute terms, because this is a common misconception. It is applicable only when Member States implement European rules, for instance, when a European directive that has been decided between the Council and Parliament is then integrated into European law. In that situation, the Charter does apply, but not in absolute terms. In absolute terms, that is to say, for all other cases, jurisdiction lies with the national courts.

When the European Union becomes a member of the Council of Europe Convention, there will be an extra dimension that we will then have to implement, and it concerns the way in which we manage our rights policy. This is what seems to me to be of utmost importance, beyond all the specific questions that have been asked – and I will respond individually to the MEPs who asked them – I think that the main issue is the fundamental one.

Outside the EU, in our Member States, within governments, the importance of the Charter has not yet been fully realised. Therefore, we have some work to do to raise awareness so that this culture of rights, this policy of values exists throughout Europe, so that, when a law is passed, when a law is applied, people everywhere ask themselves if it complies with the values we have subscribed to; that is to say that, as political leaders, we must ask ourselves almost systematically, when we act, whether what we are doing is compatible with the fundamental rights we have subscribed to.

This seems to me to be the most important element. As a matter of fact, I can tell you that the Commission is due to take a decision today on whether to scrap the exequatur, in other words, that a proposal will be submitted to make court rulings valid anywhere in Europe. This is a decision of major importance, and for the first time, when proposing this new legislation, we focused on respect for fundamental rights. We did not just carry out an economic analysis, or study the impact on the market; we also studied the impact on values.

As you can tell, we are gradually moving towards this new policy, and I think that, between us – the Commission, the Council and Parliament – we should ensure that this annual report on the application of the Charter, which I will submit on behalf of the Commission and which Parliament will criticise or approve, is a great moment of truth and an opportunity to take a close look at matters. This is also about truly showing to the outside world, to our voters, that the Charter is a living entity. The Charter is not merely a text; it is there to be put into practice. And if it is not put into practice, the elected representatives of the people will say so loud and clear.

This is what we must try to establish during the two or three years before the next elections. I think we can achieve this goal gradually, with the first exercise of this kind in spring, then the establishment of a tradition in this House, so that no one can ever say again, when you examine human rights outside the Union on Wednesdays or Thursdays, ‘You have not put your own house in order’. Let us do it together!

 
  
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  Kinga Gál, rapporteur. (HU) Mr President, thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for the encouraging words and the words of support. I would especially like to thank Mrs Reding for the openness and cooperation in which we have been working together for quite some time now, and for the clear and specific answers and messages. I believe that the considerations of the shadow rapporteurs and fellow Members are, after all, all included in this report, and that acceptable compromises have been reached. Therefore, I cannot accept the letters of amendment that have now been re-submitted to the plenary, as I think that this report is acceptable as it is. I would like to point out that we should by no means throw the baby out with the bath water in the general fundamental rights protection system, and therefore, we should always be mindful of the concrete facts and attempt to translate the expectations we are debating here today into something tangible.

I am therefore pleased that in tomorrow’s plenary sitting, we will see these concrete facts in the topic of combating human trafficking, where special protection will be provided to child victims in the field of victim protection. This will also be under debate now with the adoption of the Citizens’ Initiative, as a result of which we will truly be able to speak of a citizens’ Europe, as these European citizens will be able to influence the legislative procedure. However, I also consider it symbolic that we will debate on and adopt the report on the situation of human rights in the world tomorrow. The fact that the Hungarian Presidency is also setting its priorities in a similar spirit, and is placing emphasis on the strengthening of an EU that is close to its citizens, is welcome. However, I would like to remind my fellow Members that we should avoid employing double standards, especially here in this House. I say this to my fellow Members who assisted, perhaps for years – and here I address my Hungarian socialist fellow Members – in the gravest human rights infringements, and are now criticising others with unfounded accusations only to regain the voter confidence they may have lost due to these very infringements of human rights. I thank everyone for their cooperation and assistance.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman (S&D). – Mr President, I must refute the slight that was made by Ms Gál against Socialists, saying that they have been undermining human rights. You cannot make challenges like that without being absolutely specific and bringing forward absolutely crucial, concrete-based evidence.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the rapporteur, Kinga Gál, for her effort to open up the problem of the violation of human rights in the European Union. How can we reproach or teach someone outside the EU if, in our own Community, the law is regularly violated? So far, Latvia, a Member of the EU, has not implemented a resolution of the European Parliament of 11 March 2004, where Parliament ‘proposes that the Latvian authorities envisage the possibility of allowing non-citizens who are long-time inhabitants to take part in local self-government elections’. Three hundred and thirty-five thousand permanent inhabitants (15%) of Latvia lack their basic rights, but it does not worry anyone. The European Parliament can discuss cases of breaches of human rights everywhere except in its own territory. I have voted in favour of Kinga Gál’s initiative. I offer my total support and the gratitude of 335 000 people.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. – I would like to use this opportunity to thank the rapporteur for shedding light on such an important issue. The Lisbon Treaty has redefined competences and responsibilities in many fields and, among them, made the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding. The European Parliament has been acting as watchdog of fundamental rights and the Lisbon Treaty has consolidated the fact. I very much support the notion of enhancing the role of the European Parliament with regard to a systematic approach to legislative proposals and amendments. While we are critical of human rights violations around the world, we must apply the same scrutiny to what is going on within the borders of the European Union. There is no reason to be overly pleased, as we receive signals of racism, xenophobia, sexism and other forms of discrimination in the Member States far too often. The work ahead of us remains vast, but I am more than sure that consistent work on upholding fundamental rights in the EU will help us prevail.

 
  
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  Csaba Sógor (PPE), in writing.(HU) The European Union, as a community of states that offer a high level of protection of human rights, always boldly raises its voice against serious infringements taking place in other parts of the world. The European Parliament usually condemns practices that show complete disregard for the universal fundamental principles of human rights, wherever they may occur, in commendable unison. It is less often, however, that we respond with similar determination to infringements within the borders of the EU, even though this would be the most effective way to send out a message to those countries around the world that do not respect human rights. A common EU action would achieve the greatest result if we voiced our dissatisfaction with the same determination and peremptoriness within our own area in respect of the assertion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In very few cases do we call ourselves to account in connection with these ideals, which are an integral part of the European spirit, and which have been legally binding for a year now thanks to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. And in the event that we actually do so, we come across as powerless and impotent in the absence of appropriate sanctions. This, in turn, inevitably affects the force and credibility of our criticisms toward third countries and our foreign policy efforts for the promotion of human rights and democracy. I do not believe that Europe can give these up in the future.

 

6. European Protection Order (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the report by Mrs Jiménez-Becerril Barrio and Mrs Romero López, on behalf of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, on the draft directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Protection Order (00002/2010 - C7-0006/2010 - 2010/0802(COD)) (A7-0354/2010).

 
  
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  Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, rapporteur.(ES) Mr President, today is an important day for all victims, because today we shall adopt the European Protection Order, which is a significant step forward in terms of their rights. Victims are unfairly forgotten about, and it is paradoxical that aggressors often have many more rights and that there is more said about aggressors’ rights than victims’ rights.

Today, Parliament will honour all victims, reminding those who believe that the borders will shield them while they persecute their victims, that this European Protection Order will protect all victims equally in the European Union from this day onwards.

We started working more than a year ago to achieve this objective and make progress with the area of freedom and security that was mentioned in the Stockholm Programme, and today we can say with a degree of pride that, although the path has not been easy, as many people have frequently failed to understand the order, and doubted its effectiveness and clarity, we have achieved it.

I must say that, following the trialogues with the Belgian Presidency, and many conversations with the Commission, we have achieved a text that almost all the political groups were happy with. This report was therefore adopted by a huge majority with no votes against in the joint vote by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

I hope that today, Parliament will reflect the decision made by those committees and by those of us who produced this report, which was adopted by a huge majority. This would send a clear message to the Council about what Europeans want, which is nothing more than to live in an area of security and justice, to be protected, and for a victim who has a restraining order against her aggressor in her country not to have to begin further court proceedings when she moves to another country.

We have an obligation to facilitate access to justice for Europeans, and especially for victims, who are the most vulnerable. The protection of all victims, without exception, has been my beacon throughout the development of this report. I therefore wanted to include victims of terrorism, people trafficking, organised crime and honour crimes, along with a special chapter for minors, who are the most vulnerable victims, and we never think about how to protect them.

Although this order will protect all victims, women who suffer from domestic violence will benefit most from this instrument for judicial cooperation, as their aggressors will not be able to travel through Europe with impunity, and will know that they will be pursued in the same way as in the country where they attacked their partners.

Parliament must therefore send a clear message to the Council today about what we want. We will therefore vote with our eyes fixed on the victims, on those who suffer, on those who need us to protect them, on those who are afraid and need to live in freedom and hope.

We are not going to give up on such a fair and necessary aim that is supported by the majority of Europeans just because there are some who are afraid and never dare to take that one step further. We need to be brave, the Member States need to be brave, and I hope that the vote today will be a majority in favour and encourage those who still have doubts as to whether this instrument will open a door for victims. I also hope that in the near future, the Commission will put forward wide-ranging legislation in favour of victims’ rights, for which it has my full support and, I am sure, Parliament’s support.

I repeat: this small but major step that is the European Protection Order will improve protection for all victims, preventing further crimes and relieving the consequences of those that have already been committed.

Today, we have an obligation to remove the obstacles that have so far prevented real protection across Europe. Through our vote today, we have the opportunity to save lives, which is what we are going to do, and we should be genuinely proud of that.

 
  
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  Carmen Romero López, rapporteur.(ES) Mr President, this proposal for a directive that we are bringing to plenary today to keep away aggressors who pursue their victims until they kill them, wherever they hide, is a clear message that Parliament must send to European society and to the Council.

We are not going to remain defenceless against the crimes that are still repeatedly committed on a daily basis in European countries, and remain hidden in the shadows of people’s homes. These crimes also remain in the statistical shadows, as if the law of survival of the strongest took sole precedence at the heart of cohabitation, but we are trying to enforce the Charter of Fundamental Rights that we adopted in the Treaty of Lisbon.

Did it not occur to those drafting Chapter I of the Charter that a threat to physical integrity and dignity could come not only from the public institutions and the state, but also disguised as affection? For the 25% of European women currently suffering some form of violence, their torturers have private names, and defending themselves against the attacks does not allow them to be citizens.

According to non-governmental organisations, more than 2 500 women die every year in the European Union without us having asked ourselves whether those crimes can be prevented or avoided. European women have therefore welcomed the initiative by the Member States and the Spanish Presidency to bring a European Protection Order before Parliament.

We are creating a European area of security: the European arrest warrant means that none of our countries can be a haven for criminals. Let us create a climate of mutual trust; through the protection order, we are creating an area of justice and freedom, because the victims of these crimes can be received in any country without having to go through further proceedings, as my co-rapporteur, Mrs Jiménez-Becerril, said.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about ‘private terrorism’, which is the name now given to this continuous crime of attacks hidden in the privacy of the home. We are also talking about preventive measures from a different source. Not all countries have or are going to have the same legal traditions: the more progress we make, the more an instrument that can provide for our diversity is and will be necessary The Council’s legal services have taken this view, as have Parliament’s legal services. Where does the resistance lie? Ladies and gentlemen, it does not lie in the complexity of our legal system, which will continue to exist.

The law is not a tool for creating conflicts, but for resolving them. This has been the view of the conservative governments that have supported the initiative based on sound judgment. If we were talking about guarantees and fundamental rights when we talked about terrorism, how could we have implemented international agreements if it was not because we were talking about security? Are 2 500 women every year not a security problem for Europe?

It is not the first time in history that the law has faced a challenge. We therefore regret the Commission’s position throughout the procedure, because we cannot talk about legal basis when we are talking about political will. Let us not invoke the law just when it suits us.

This text is the result of an agreement. The improvements that we have incorporated regarding the right to information, translation and procedural guarantees have taken into account the fact that this is a recognition instrument, and Parliament has decided that it is a priority for the Member States to put the existing data on the table out in the open.

We have not forgotten about victims’ rights to psychological assistance and legal aid. We will continue to fight for these things, and let us hope that they will be included in the next package on victims.

We would like to thank the Belgian Presidency for the work that it has done, along with all the shadow rapporteurs and our team. Through this vote today, we want to send a message to the Council that this is Parliament’s will; now it is up to the Council to take on its responsibilities. We will not succeed in tackling prevention if some Member States believe that we do not have a problem because we do not have the data.

Now it is the Council that is going to decide whether Europe is truly getting involved in combating violence and defending fundamental rights.

 
  
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  Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, the protection of citizens, in practice mostly women, subjected to or at risk of violence is very high on the agenda of all the institutions working on this subject at the moment.

It is important that it be on the agenda because we share the same objective: providing protection for victims in the best possible conditions across the borders of the EU. That is also why I have supported the aim of this protection from the outset, and that is the reason why I am preparing the ambitious package on victims’ rights to be adopted in spring 2011.

I am fully aware of the work of the co-rapporteurs, Ms Jiménez-Becerril Barrio and Ms Romero López, and of both the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, who have added a lot of value to the ongoing work in order to improve the protection of victims. I look at some of the proposals you have made: for instance, that victims do not have to bear the costs, that they receive translation and interpretation services or that delays in the recognition procedures are reduced. I am ready to work on an effective and legally sound mechanism designed to help victims benefit from civil law protection measures across the European Union.

We have been working on the procedural rights for persons who are accused. The corollary of this is that we work on the rights of persons who have been victims, because we very often speak about the accused in court proceedings but forget that there has been a victim, so we have to ‘re-put’ the victim at the centre of attention.

That is why the Commission’s future victims package will build on and develop the excellent work undertaken by the Spanish Presidency, the Belgian Presidency, the Council and, of course, the European Parliament. All this work is very important. It will be put together so that when the victims package is on the table, it will be comprehensive, it will be complete, and it will make a real difference to all victims – be they women, children or men, although most are women and children – to enable us to quickly come up with concrete measures which are applicable and do not create legal uncertainty. Thank you for this work. It is going to be taken into consideration when we prepare the victims package.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei, on behalf of the PPE Group.(RO) Mr President, roughly 8 000 Romanian women in Spain have benefited this year, as victims, from protection orders which are valid in Spain. They must also be extended to Romania and other Member States in which they travel.

According to unofficial estimates, there are roughly 100 000 women in Europe benefiting from protection orders which are valid in the state that issued them. The draft directive changes the limited, territorial aspect of these protection measures. The instrument being introduced will ensure that a protection order issued in one Member State will be recognised in the Member States in which the victim travels so that the area of freedom, security and justice becomes a reality and the victims of violence or other victims can live and travel without fear.

Parliament’s desire is for victims’ protection to be extended. This is why, after this directive, we are asking for and anticipating from the Commission that the next step will be to extend protection to victims in this common area of justice and security. We are therefore awaiting the package with eagerness and interest in spring 2011.

I would like to end by reiterating that the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) gives its support to protection for victims, this draft directive and extended protection for victims.

 
  
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  Silvia Costa, on behalf of the S&D Group.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, through this proposal for a directive – for which I should like to express my great thanks to the rapporteurs, with whom I worked as a shadow – Parliament is supporting and expanding the Council’s proposal, which was designed to protect people across all 27 Member States who suffer forms of persecution or serious and repeated threats from known and previously identified persons – often ex-boyfriends, husbands or partners – who threaten their physical and sexual integrity, dignity and personal freedom.

Indeed, the number of attacks and killings – particularly against women – is on the increase. Their complaints are often not taken seriously enough by the police and the judiciary, and protection orders and measures against the aggressor are currently only valid in the country in which they are issued. Commissioner Reding, the measure under approval may not be perfect, but it plugs a legislative vacuum.

After all, in creating the European area of freedom, security and justice, we have always acted empirically, at times pushing matters through where necessary. Indeed, we believe that this initiative is important because it will allow all citizens of the European Union – men and women – and all European residents to travel freely across borders, taking their human rights and their rights to protection and security with them, as stated in Article 3 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which we in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament intended as the legal basis, in order to give a more coherent direction to the structure of the proposal.

Through the establishment of the European Protection Order, the protected person is guaranteed to be looked after even in other Member States, through a fast and free-of-charge procedure. Each Member State must appoint a competent authority to inform victims of their rights, carry out campaigns, collect statistics and inform the person as soon as their national protection order has been issued. Furthermore, it gives a great boost to the creation of the European legal area and the implementation of freedom of movement, and it also applies the ordinary legislative procedure involving codecision between the Council and Parliament for the first time.

I hope that the Council will confirm this commitment and I hope that the Commission – though showing particular attention to the coming ‘Security for Victims’ package of measures – does not miss this particular chance to respond right now to this extremely serious situation, which is also demonstrated by European and national statistics. Amongst other things, this could lead to important legal convergence among Member States.

I would therefore suggest that we avoid any delays and make a specific commitment to this particular type of victim protection.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(ES) Mr President, I want the European Protection Order to be particularly effective in preventing violence against women and to serve as a helpful prelude to the proposal that the Commission is preparing in order for us to have a similar instrument for all types of crime.

I regret the fact that the drafting of this text has been so difficult and complex, despite the fact that we all share its central objective.

I would also have liked this order to have incorporated two issues. Firstly, the European register of protection orders, with the corresponding privacy guarantees, in order to prevent bureaucracy for the beneficiaries and have the orders applied immediately. Moreover, this would reduce the cost of the processes that have to be carried out by the competent authorities, and would ultimately provide standardised, constantly updated statistics.

Secondly, I believe that we should have made an effort to explore cooperation in this field with third countries, especially if we pay attention to the statistics regarding the origins of the victims and their possible changes of residence.

The incipient European External Action Service has thus lost the opportunity to publicly introduce itself with a mission such as this, which Europeans understand and which solves problems that are real to all Europeans at the moment.

I would like to thank the rapporteurs for all their work, and I hope that Commissioner Reding will be sensitive with this initiative.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(ES) Mr President, I think that we in Parliament need to be very responsible and act within the mandate that we have been given, which tells us that, at European level too, we must protect women who are victims of violence and put a stop to murderers.

As has been said, this is about combating a type of social terrorism, which is chauvinist violence. We must not, therefore, get caught up in statistics or legal ins and outs. We are talking about justice, basic rights, life and death, defending those that must be defended against their attackers, and, most importantly, not having to regret the fact that 2 500 women every year are victims of the legal lethargy in which we are all immersed.

We are all aware of the legal difficulties and that this is an innovative exercise in the post-Lisbon interinstitutional dynamic. However, those difficulties should not, under any circumstances, be an excuse for not moving forward. The protection of the rights of the women who have been or could be victims of violence and murders and the prevention of such acts cannot be subordinated to a few legal issues. We need to adopt the political will required by the urgency and importance of this case.

It goes without saying that it is important to do things well but, above all, it is essential that we do them and, in my view, that is the fundamental vision that we can send to both the Council and the Commission through this text that I hope we are going to adopt. It needs to be understood that under no circumstances can we paralyse initiatives because there are technical difficulties that we have not been able to resolve before.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the two rapporteurs and both the Spanish and Belgian presidencies for the work they have done in order to continue making progress, working and overcoming the scourge of what is, I repeat, chauvinist violence.

 
  
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  Timothy Kirkhope, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, I have been following the trialogues closely and would like to thank my colleagues, especially from the EPP and S&D Groups, for the work they have been doing.

As a lawyer in the UK, I have had experience over the years of providing legal advice and support to people who have been victims of domestic abuse, stalking or harassment by a relative or a former partner. I have seen at first hand the distress that physical, psychological and sexual abuse can cause and the state of vulnerability of its victims.

I fully support the aims and objectives of this proposal. However, I also have to express concerns regarding the legal base and scope. It seems clear to me that this proposal has a criminal base only, through the use of Article 82 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. By their nature and by law, some of the offences that this proposal intends to cover are civil law matters, yet there is a noticeable absence of the use of Article 81.

Whilst I do not object to EU legal cooperation, I strongly believe that we need to ensure that the legislation we produce at EU level is legally sound, robust and can be effectively implemented at Member State level without compromising existing Member State legal systems.

 
  
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  Paul Nuttall, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, I support the protection of victims. However, when I first came across the European Protection Order, I thought it sounded scary, like the European Arrest Warrant, which, in my opinion, is one of the most intrusive and dictatorial pieces of legislation ever to be imposed on the British people.

The proposal for the European Protection Order which is being touted says it is about the protection of women. We were told that the European Arrest Warrant was about helping to fight terrorism – and we all know it has gone on to be a lot more than that. Let us be clear and honest here: the underlying goal is to put in place footings for a pan-European justice system which will undoubtedly undermine British law. If proof were needed, we only have to look at the European Arrest Warrant.

I also see these orders as being extremely difficult to enforce in the UK, for we will end up in a situation whereby an order is handed down by a foreign judge in a foreign land who knows nothing about the conditions of a British town or our way of life. We have a saying in England: ‘once bitten, twice shy’. We have been bitten once by the European Arrest Warrant. I suggest that we shy away from the European Protection Order.

 
  
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  Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (PPE). (PL) Mr President, taking the proposed amendments into account, there is no mistaking the fact that the directive in question is one of the first initiatives aimed at achieving these important goals. We should ensure not only that the victims of violence are safe from further harm in their own country, but also that they benefit from such protection measures throughout the European Union. For this reason, I believe that we should support the rapporteur’s position.

It should be noted, too, that the initiative has a deliberately broad scope. Although the majority of protection orders issued relate to women who are victims of gender-based violence, the initiative can cover all victims of violence – children and adults of both sexes, provided the perpetrator has been identified. In this context, the Stockholm Programme states that the victims of crime, including terrorism, who are most vulnerable or who find themselves in particularly exposed situations, such as persons subjected to repeated violence in close relationships, victims of gender-based violence or persons who fall victim to other types of crimes in a Member State of which they are not nationals or residents, are in need of special support and legal protection.

In connection with the above, the European Protection Order should apply to the victims of all crimes, including human trafficking, the victims of female genital mutilation, forced marriages, honour killings, incest and other crimes of this type. This initiative should therefore be supported, and I lend my full support to the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Emine Bozkurt (S&D). (NL) Mr President, one hundred thousand people are currently benefiting from the European Protection Order. One of them is Rasja, who would like to move to Spain with her children. If the order pronounced against her stalker in the Netherlands does not relocate with her to Spain, she and her children, too, will become a sitting target there, unless the Spanish authorities recognise or enforce the same order. Fortunately, however, Spain does recognise it.

This protection also applies to those being persecuted for exercising their right to free speech. They have to be able to speak in other European countries with the knowledge that those who have threatened them will not be sitting there in the audience. The European Protection Order makes that possible; it is a splendid initiative and one that has been supported by the Dutch Government. Unfortunately, with the new coalition, the status of people enjoying such protection has undergone a 180 degree reversal: women, men and children who are having to live in fear every day are callously being left high and dry. It is simply unacceptable that an individual’s safety should stop at the border.

For the sake of one hundred thousand people, I am now saying ‘yes’ to the European Protection Order. I expect all governments, including that of my own country, to do their utmost to increase the safety, protection and freedom of their citizens, so that all people can live in freedom and security.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I should, of course, like to thank the two co-rapporteurs who, following difficult negotiations in the trialogue, are proposing a compromise agreement which, as shadow rapporteur for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and for my group, I naturally invite you to adopt.

Secondly, although I regret, as some have said today, that certain points such as, for instance, the translation of documents for victims, were not included in the body of the text of this agreement, or that the simplification elements were not sufficiently detailed – and I am counting on the ‘victims package’ to polish them up – I want to stress that in the end, all this sounds like common sense today, like a logical continuation of the ever-greater integration of a European area of freedom and justice and, in essence, of the establishment of a corresponding legal system.

This bears witness to a certain amount of political boldness and of the will to go beyond political posturing for a large majority of us, in order to have a clear tool for cooperation in criminal matters. That tool represents to a certain extent, as Mrs Reding highlighted earlier on, a true ‘rights’ policy in Europe, that is to say, a real policy for the people, especially for women, whose physical integrity can be threatened, a policy that corresponds to the freedom of movement which has existed for a long time, hence, a ‘rights’ policy.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ROBERTA ANGELILLI
Vice-President

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, may I say first of all that I find the Council’s absence since yesterday regrettable, since the Council has generally been present in the negotiations on all the issues we have been discussing since yesterday, namely, those concerning civil liberties, justice and home affairs. We regret the fact that the Council is not here to listen to Parliament’s voice; it is a real shame.

I wish to congratulate the two co-rapporteurs – who have done a huge amount of work on this text – on this landmark progress for victims of all kinds: victims, firstly, of domestic violence – did you know that 45% of European women are victims of domestic violence, as are some men, for we should not forget those men who are subjected to violence by women – and then victims of terrorism, including children, particularly vulnerable ones of course.

The text being presented to us today is an extremely important text, and I once again extend my congratulations. We are anxious to see the ‘victims package’ that you will be presenting to us next year, Commissioner, and which will complete the text that we will vote on tomorrow.

 
  
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  Antigoni Papadopoulou (S&D). – Madam President, domestic violence, genital mutilation, honour crimes, forced marriages and trafficking are just some of the types of violence against 45% of women across Europe.

Women and minors need improved protection. The European Protection Order is a good step forward to doing just that, in full compliance with the vision of the Stockholm Programme for a united Europe: an area of freedom, security and justice serving the citizen.

Protection orders issued in one European country against an offender will thus be enforced in all the other 26 EU Member States. The initiative of the Spanish Presidency, embraced today by all of us, emphasises the protection of victims and prevention, and promotes uniformity in legal order procedures. It empowers victims to break their silence in seeking protection beyond geographical boundaries in Europe.

I hope the Commission fully endorses the report of the two co-rapporteurs in its ambitious package on victims’ rights.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt that this directive on the European Protection Order to safeguard victims is another sign of a momentous shift in real guarantees, above all for women, but not exclusively so, as has already been said.

The guidelines for this measure had already been developed, firstly by the Treaty of Lisbon, and then by the Stockholm Programme. In particular, I should like to congratulate the two rapporteurs, Mrs Jiménez-Becerril Barrio and Mrs Romero López, on their diligent work and on tackling the many problems encountered in the Council to smooth the way for this particularly important proposal, for an area of freedom, justice and security that will really serve citizens.

The proposal combats domestic violence firmly and determinedly, has quite a significant range of measures and a scope that appears to be wholly consistent. These ready-made, timely and effective precautionary measures lead us to believe that this proposal could also be used effectively to protect victims’ families. We await with interest the more structured package announced by Commissioner Reding regarding the protection of victims of violence, which will be ready in the coming weeks.

I should like to conclude, Madam President, by affirming how important it is to have close cooperation between the Member States as well as great sensitivity for the application of this measure in practice, just as it is crucial not to forget the importance of psychological support for the victims. I am sure the Commission will duly bear this in mind in the final phase of the legislative process.

 
  
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  Heidi Hautala (Verts/ALE). (FI) Madam President, the European Protection Order is an important step towards the protection of victims throughout Europe. We are now sending a powerful signal to the Council and the Commission that the European Parliament is keen to have this protection order and that it should enter into force soon. We should now try to overcome the opposition that there is to it in the Council as well as all the legal reasons that the Commission is putting forward for opposing it.

It is important that the directive should be applied over a wide area. It must incorporate not just orders in respect of criminal acts but also various other kinds of protection order. It should not involve any sort of legal hair­splitting. This protection order should also be flexible enough to take account of the differences in national legislation.

It is important that Parliament focuses attention not only on the victims of gender­based violence, but on other victims of violence. The directive needs to spell out what a victim’s rights are and what the procedures are for lodging a complaint, and these are some of the things that I myself have tried to highlight in Parliament’s position. It is also important that the country in which the protection order is being requested informs its citizens of these procedures.

When the protection order enters into force, the work will not have really stopped there. The authorities need to be educated, and we cannot be completely satisfied with an information campaign that is simply restricted to the framework of the present one.

 
  
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  Joanna Katarzyna Skrzydlewska (PPE). (PL) Madam President, the provisions included in the report under discussion today fill me with great enthusiasm. The guarantee that protection granted to victims in one Member State will also apply in any other European Union Member State to which they are forced to travel for fear of repeated violence represents an opportunity for them to lead a normal life. The European Protection Order will mean that protection measures adopted in one EU Member State can be recognised, applied and enforced by courts in another Member State.

What is more, extending the application of the directive to the victims of any kind of violence, not just the victims of gender-based violence, represents a further milestone. All victims deserve respect and expect that the perpetrators of their suffering will be punished fairly. It seems to me that only a protection mechanism which follows the victim can be fully effective and prevent a repeat of the same offence, as well as offering real protection to the victim. I am delighted that Poland was one of the countries that put forward this initiative.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Madam President, if the European Union is to become a genuine area of freedom, security and justice, we must eliminate the differences still persisting in this area between Member States.

Victims of violence must be protected against the perpetrators not only in their own countries, but must have protective measures made available to them throughout the EU. Although this is a broad proposal, it directly concerns women who are victims of domestic violence. It is good that this also provides an opportunity to deal with the situation of other potential victims, whether victims of human trafficking, forced marriages, honour killings or incest, or the situation of witnesses or of victims of terrorism and organised crime. I personally very much applaud the effort to provide the best possible protection to victims also by ensuring the necessary legal certainty, among other things. Victims should be able to rely on clear rules and should always be informed about the measures that are available to them in their country of origin and in the countries they want to move to, or to which they have already moved.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I greatly appreciate the work carried out by the two rapporteurs. However, the problem with this draft directive is that it is based on the most usual kind of stalking, in which a person has been a victim of violence by another and therefore must be defended against a repeat of whatever physical or mental abuse took place. Obviously, this is a matter of fundamental importance for hundreds of thousands of women in the European Union and therefore I fully support its content.

Unfortunately, however, these measures do not take into account the victims of organised crime who, in the majority of cases, do not need to be defended from an identified or identifiable person, but from organisations against which a restraining order certainly cannot be applied. Therefore, I think that the European Parliament should regard this directive as a first step in implementing the Stockholm Programme, which talks expressly about measures to protect the victims of criminal activity, and it seems to me that Mrs Jiménez and Commissioner Reding are of the same mind.

I appeal to the European Commission to ensure that the package of measures to protect victims, which is planned for 2011, also protects victims of organised crime and victims injured in the course of duty on a European level.

 
  
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  Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL).(DE) Madam President, the European Protection Order is a step in the right direction. The principle must be that recognised victims of violence are afforded the same level of protection in all Member States. The best solution would be harmonisation of the laws of the Member States on this matter, but it was not possible to achieve this. A positive aspect of this protection order is that it is to benefit every victim of violence as much as possible and its scope is broad: sexual violence, stalking and, above all, exploitation of minors, which I consider to be very, very important. It therefore sends a positive message to the victims of violence and to women in particular. However, there is one fly in the ointment: the grounds for non-recognition in Article 9 are very extensive and may also, to some extent, represent a means for Member States to avoid compliance with the directive. Therefore, in a year’s time, we need to assess very carefully how we can take this debate further, because all victims in all countries need the same protection.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Madam President, I would like to support the idea contained in the draft European Protection Order.

The protection of persons under threat at the level of individual Member States appears to be insufficient in many cases. Thanks to the openness of the European space today, young people often enter into international marriages and international marriage commitments. Not all of these commitments last long, however, and the children often then become hostages to disputes between their parents. Hostile parents often refuse to respect the decisions of courts from other countries granting custody of the children to one of them and simply take justice into their own hands and carry off the children of former partners to their own countries, exploiting differences between the legal systems of individual Member States to overcome valid court decisions. The victims of this European legal anarchy are often small, innocent children. I hope this problem will be resolved by the European Protection Order.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Madam President, even though some measures have been taken in recent years to protect victims, many of the people affected often feel left in the lurch. While lawyers and judges hear a great deal in their training about the rights of defendants, they learn very little about dealing with victims. This is not the only area where greater awareness is necessary. It is also needed in medical training so that the use of violence can be better recognised. For child victims, the matter of the statutory limitation of civil compensation claims in the case of sex offences is essential. Only those who have an unblemished criminal record are allowed to work with children. If, for example, forced marriages are now being prosecuted in Liechtenstein, even without the consent of the victim, and it is possible to take legal action in the case of genital mutilation performed on a minor, this clearly shows the potential danger of the much lauded multicultural enrichment. In my opinion, it is important to take this development in the EU into consideration, as well as its significance in the fight against human trafficking.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI).(HU) Madam President, as a lawyer, I have dealt with cases of victims of violence against women and children for over ten years, whether it was domestic violence, rape or trafficking in women; and I had the opportunity to see for myself that the protection order, which is the topic of today’s debate, is one of the important and indispensable means of protecting victims, but it is far from being the only one. Complex measures are required, such as legal advice, psychological support, support to the children concerned, and it is very important to listen to the victims, who are, I am sorry to say, the greatest experts in terms of what they need.

I have two questions for Mrs Reding and the rapporteurs. First, I would like to know to what extent they are involving the victims of violence against women in this work in order to enable them to share their experience. Secondly, I would like to know how familiar Mrs Reding and the rapporteurs are with the convention on violence against women that is currently under preparation by the European Union’s twin, the Council of Europe, and to what extent we are participating in the preparation of this work.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI).(DE) Madam President, the safety of the women affected really ought to be a matter of concern to all of us. Regardless of where victims are, it is a question here not only of them receiving physical protection from their aggressors, but also of their human dignity being taken into account. This European Protection Order should apply to all victims of violence, irrespective of their age or gender.

 
  
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  Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE). – Madam President, I would like also to thank the rapporteur. Safeguarding life, physical and psychological integrity, as well as sexual integrity and freedom, are priority objectives where victim protection is concerned. With our political support for the European Protection Order Directive, we have given the issue the visibility it deserves and provided a Europe-wide, comprehensive package of special protection measures that are effective within the Union and grant legal protection and assistance for victims of crime, in particular, violent crimes.

The right to protection from violence is a basic human right regardless of ethnicity, legal status or immigration status, and it is therefore a moral duty for all of us to uphold this right within and beyond national borders. I am convinced that this new approach to the protection of vulnerable victims is a very strong political message with a view to strengthening freedom, security and justice within the European Union.

 
  
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  Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, rapporteur.(ES) Madam President, I think that in this debate, we have clearly seen that we are all in agreement in supporting the objective of this report.

The various political groups have shown their support for this directive, which offers greater protection to victims. My question is, therefore: what obstacles are there to adopting this instrument? I repeat: what fears are there regarding something as essential and simple as protecting victims equally across Europe finally becoming a reality?

In the hope that Parliament will adopt this report by a majority, I would like to address the Council and the Commission to remind them that we have overcome the legal hurdles in our negotiations, and I welcome the fact that the Commission acknowledges our work, just as we acknowledge the work that it will do in the future.

We should not therefore exclude ourselves, but rather help ourselves by adopting this more specific instrument today, and tomorrow by adopting the broader package of measures to help victims that will be presented by the Commission, with which I promise to cooperate.

Let us therefore be brave and responsible, and let us help all those who have the right to live in a safer Europe. I repeat: let us help everyone, be they men, women or children. Let us help those who are looking to us today to give them a better life, a life that will restore to them their freedom, their security and, above all, their dignity.

 
  
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  Carmen Romero López, rapporteur.(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, we know that there are no legal measures included in the package that is being prepared for victims. This has just been criticised by the European women’s lobby in Parliament: there is talk of good practice and coordination, but we still have a long way to go

I would also like to say that the origins of the violence that we are experiencing are not exotic: it is our own violence. I would like to say to the Council and the Member States that violence that comes from other cultures also requires a legal instrument. It is not possible to combat genital mutilation, honour crimes and all the harassment suffered by women from other cultures without an instrument of this nature.

This is why it is so important that they are also included, and Parliament has worked, through all the amendments from the shadow rapporteurs, to ensure that all these victims are also included in this legal instrument.

This is why it is so important that we work together on this issue, and why we regret the fact that Parliament and the Commission have not agreed on the same text throughout this procedure. Even if Parliament and the Commission had agreed on the same text, we would still have a battle to fight.

Commissioner, it does little to help victims of violence to consider that delaying the initiative by two, three or four years would be better for them, because that is not the case.

You said during your previous appearance that we had not realised the significance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. We did realise its significance. The problem is that it has to be applied; the problem is that we need to take measures, and sometimes when measures need to be taken, they are legal measures, and sometimes there are obstacles in their path. The greatest obstacle is political will.

This is why it is so important that we all agree on an initiative of this nature, and it is now up to the Council. It is now up to the Member States to decide whether this instrument is really one that is going to be effective for victims and necessary. We believe that it is, which is why we have defended this instrument and why we are here. We also defend its urgency.

That is why we wanted Parliament to vote in favour by a huge majority, so that the countries that have not yet decided or have decided that they are against this initiative will see it as the only procedure that can be used now and in the future. It is an instrument that is difficult and complex in nature, but which opens the way and will protect victims and the citizenship of women.

 
  
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  Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, I did not intend to speak again, but what has been said needs to be corrected. The measures which will be part of the victims package include an overarching communication, the Lisbonisation of the 2001 framework decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings, a proposal on civil protection measures and, if necessary, a proposal on criminal protection measures. This will be put on the table of this House in May next year.

We cannot just go ahead and put our ideas on paper. All our proposals must be accompanied by a thorough impact assessment. We need to take this very seriously, aiming for sound studies with real added value. That is what we are doing at the moment. We are finalising the impact assessment in order to determine the details of any actions on legislative and practical measures, with the aim of legal certainty and rapid and efficient protection measures.

Having said that, I would also like to inform this Parliament that, to date, four opinions have been sent by national parliaments on the protection order: positive ones from the Italian, Greek and Portuguese parliaments and a negative opinion from the German Bundesrat arguing that the directive goes beyond the scope of Article 82, as it covers non-criminal measures and the prevention of crime. It has been rejected on the basis of subsidiarity. We are in the middle of a very complicated issue. By carrying out a serious analysis before putting the legal and non-legal proposals on the table, I will try to propose measures which are sound enough not to victimise victims a second time when it comes to protection measures.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 12:00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing.(RO) In Romania, domestic violence incidents are estimated to affect 1 200 000 people every year, yet only 1% of the victims of violence are brave enough to report it to the authorities. Frequent domestic tension, brawls and beatings turn family members into traumatised victims who are forced to accept this situation as being the norm. Violence affects a child’s normal, harmonious development. Studies show that the pattern of violent behaviour is passed down from one generation to another in 75% of cases. Stockholm syndrome must be treated, but not through feeble reforms, as is happening in Romania. Proactive measures are required to combat this phenomenon, along with amending the relevant legislative framework and establishing dialogue and cooperation between all the state institutions with powers in this area and civil society. In this respect, the European Protection Order must be a strong instrument capable of providing a safer haven for victims of violence across Member States’ borders. This will also include protection against acts of violence committed by groups of people and will apply to all victims of crime, such as victims of human trafficking, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, honour crimes, incest, gender-based violence, as well as witnesses and victims of terrorism and organised crime.

 

7. Trafficking in human beings (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the report by Mrs Bauer and Mrs Hedh, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims, repealing Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA (COM(2010)0095 - C7-0087/2010 - 2010/0065(COD)) (A7-0348/2010).

 
  
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  Edit Bauer, co-rapporteur. – Madam President, first of all, I would like to express my gratitude to my co-rapporteur, Ms Hedh, the Council and the Commission and all those who were involved in this demanding work.

The current trafficking situation is worrying. The estimated volume is several hundreds of thousands of victims inside Europe, the second biggest crime-related business, with an estimated profit of USD 32 million. There are new trends in trafficking in human beings. We have more victims in forced labour. We have more victims coming from Member States and, in addition, we have more children among the victims. The estimated global share of child victims is between 40% and 50%. A recent report from the OSCE called on countries to change their perception of considering human trafficking as a marginal phenomenon and instead encourage them to recognise it as modern-day slavery on a massive scale.

Combating trafficking in human beings needs a holistic approach, although we only have a limited set of tools. Our task is to amend the legislation. The Lisbon Treaty gave us a new legal basis – Article 83. This gives us the means to establish a common approach with a view to creating a more dissuasive environment for traffickers and, at the same time, stronger protection for victims.

The proposal, which is a consolidated text agreed upon with the Council and the Commission, broadens the definition of trafficking, bearing in mind that the forms and trends are changing. The draft gives opportunities for higher penalties, defining a minimum for maximum penalties, encouraging seizing and confiscating the proceeds and assets resulting from trafficking. The proposal opens the issue of the victimisation of victims, entitling courts not to impose penalties on criminal activities of victims which are committed under duress.

Assistance and support should be provided for victims before, during and for an appropriate time after criminal proceedings, while assistance and support for victims is not made conditional on the victims’ willingness to cooperate in criminal investigations, prosecutions and trials. The proposal contains a special provision to enhance the protection of children during the investigation and assistance.

The draft directive also has a provision on the European Anti-Trafficking Coordinator who, in the future, could contribute to a more comprehensive, more coherent and more coordinated anti-trafficking policy.

 
  
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  Anna Hedh, co-rapporteur. – (SV) In 2010, people are being bought and sold as slaves in Europe. This is happening despite the fact that slavery was prohibited more than 250 years ago. They are being forced into prostitution, forced labour or begging. They suddenly find themselves with an owner, who they absurdly enough often believe they are indebted to. Human trafficking is one of the most serious crimes in the world and, unfortunately, it is growing in extent all the time. It is a serious violation of the human rights which we in the EU defend fiercely and fight every day to uphold.

I would therefore like to begin by thanking Mrs Malmström for producing a legislative proposal on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings so quickly. I would also like to thank my fellow Member from the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Mrs Bauer, for her excellent cooperation, and all of the shadow rapporteurs who have worked on the directive. Finally, a big thank you to all of the other members of staff, who have done a fantastic job.

Human trafficking is currently the fastest growing cross-border crime. According to the UN report ‘Trafficking in persons’ for 2009, human trafficking is the activity that provides the second-largest income for criminal networks after arms trafficking. It is absolutely clear that no country can solve the problem of human trafficking on its own. Trafficking in human beings is going on in all countries in Europe and the human traffickers move their victims across national borders every day.

We therefore need to work together, and our legislation in this area needs to be as harmonised as possible. Therefore, the proposal for an EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, who will review and coordinate the EU’s work together with the national coordinators, is also a good one.

In order to tackle the problem of human trafficking, we need to have penalties that reflect the seriousness of the crime and that really hurt those who are making money out of trafficking in human beings. I think that we have made some progress with the proposals for penalties contained in the legislative proposal. It has also been proposed that the Member States should, in a legally certain manner, seize the human traffickers’ assets gained from their crime.

However, it is not enough to punish the perpetrators. Protection for victims of human trafficking must also improve. Without protection for victims, we will never be able to prosecute the human traffickers. Victims must receive the help they need and it is important, above all, to create a safe environment that will enable them to choose to cooperate with the police.

A passage is also proposed concerning enhanced protection for children who are victims of human trafficking, and that is something that I am very pleased about. Since 79% of victims of human trafficking are women and because sexual exploitation is by far the most usual type of human trafficking, it is crucial to view the legislation from a gender perspective and for all measures that are proposed to be analysed from the point of view of gender.

Ultimately, if we are ever to get to grips with this problem, we must do something about the uneven distribution of power between men and women. Inequality between men and women is a contributory cause of the vulnerability that leads to human trafficking.

In order to really tackle the problem of human trafficking, all Member States must put a great deal of effort into preventive work. In principle, this is a matter of reducing the demand in our countries for services provided by victims of human trafficking. If we can reduce demand, then access to services will also reduce. This means that we must deal with those who make human trafficking profitable. We therefore proposed that it should be mandatory for all Member States to criminalise those who knowingly use the services of victims of human trafficking. Under current EU legislation, it is a punishable offence for employers to exploit victims of human trafficking. The same principle ought to apply to individuals who exploit victims.

Unfortunately, we did not succeed in getting this proposal accepted. Thus, the Member States will not be forced to criminalise these people, but they will have to report on the measures they have taken to tackle demand for services provided by victims of human trafficking.

However, we have put this issue on the agenda, and at EU level we received support for our proposal from the relevant committees in Parliament as well as from experts, the police and voluntary organisations. I think that, with the agreement that we are to vote on today, we have come a good way along the road. Let us now stand together to put a stop to the trafficking in human beings in Europe, which is a modern form of slavery.

We must not give up, because people’s right to decide when it comes to their own life and their own bodies is a human right that cannot be bought and sold for money like shoelaces or bananas.

 
  
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  Cecilia Malmström, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, let me start by recalling that this is indeed an historic text we will adopt today – hopefully – in the vote in a few minutes.

This is the first EU criminal law instrument after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. I think we can be satisfied with the agreement that we have today.

It is a balanced compromise between the institutions. I am aware, of course, that Parliament, as represented by the rapporteurs, and the Commission would have preferred some different phrasing in some paragraphs. Globally, however, this is a good result which is fully in line with the objectives of Parliament, of the Council and of the Commission, namely, to fight human trafficking, this horrible modern slavery, this horrible crime which is not worthy of Europe in 2010 and which is a grave violation of the fundamental rights of so many citizens.

I have met some of these victims: children, men and many women in the sexual slavery business. Their stories are, of course, horrible. Today, when this directive is adopted, we will have a better tool to help them. This is, indeed, a good Christmas present.

I would really like to thank Parliament, in particular, the two rapporteurs, Ms Bauer and Ms Hedh, the shadow rapporteurs and all the others who made it possible to reach an agreement.

There are several examples of the European Parliament helping to improve the directive. I would note the specific provision concerning the status and rights of unaccompanied minors who are victims of trafficking in Article 14. That was introduced at your request, and we agree that this made the directive better. There are other examples as well.

I would like to mention one point where I regret that the Commission proposal was not supported by the Council, although we had your support. However, it was not possible to reach an agreement in the Council regarding extraterritorial jurisdiction for offences committed abroad by habitual residents of the EU.

I still believe that a provision guaranteeing that all persons living with us in Europe who commit trafficking offences in other countries could be prosecuted in the EU would have added considerable value. However, it was not possible. The issue will be back again when we deal with the directive on child exploitation and child pornography. Extraterritorial jurisdiction for habitual residents will be even more important when we discuss the possibilities of bringing paedophile sex tourists who live in Europe to justice.

I believe that we should together continue, in talks with the Council, to insist that such a provision should be included in the directive. As I said, we have all done very good work together. Today, we have a very important tool to fight trafficking, protect victims, and make sure that we send the message that this is a very severe crime. It should be punished accordingly and it is now defined in the same way in all Member States. Again, thank you for your contribution.

 
  
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  Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra, on behalf of the PPE Group.(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, trafficking in human beings is a harsh reality in the EU.

Sexual exploitation is the main objective of the mafias that traffic human beings, followed by forced labour, domestic service, forced marriages, exploitation of children for begging, illegal adoption and the removal of organs, which are other scourges and aspects of the problem.

The new powers that Article 63 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives Parliament must be used in order to strengthen EU legislation in this field. This includes, among many other issues, calling for the classification of crimes that are still not covered by some European criminal legislation.

We need to strengthen our legislation to protect victims of trafficking from two perspectives: prevention and protection, and integration into society and the labour market. We need to establish specific measures to protect minors; to criminalise traffickers and middlemen; to establish measures to discourage demand and confiscate the proceeds of the crime; to establish the criminal responsibility of any legal persons that take part in any phase of trafficking; to step up employment inspection and penalties for the exploitation of employees and illegal hiring of irregular immigrants; to strengthen the role of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders and of the immigration liaison officers in detecting the channels used by traffickers and their modus operandi; and finally, strengthening the role of the joint investigation teams of the European Police Office (Europol) in combating the mafias.

I would like to conclude by adding that the figure of the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator could make a significant contribution to achieving the objectives that I have mentioned, although his powers and capacities must be clearly defined in order to prevent actions from being duplicated or interference with the functions entrusted to Europol.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová, on behalf of the S&D Group.(SK) Madam President, I would like to begin by applauding Mrs Bauer and Mrs Hedh for their comprehensive treatment of this extremely important issue.

Human trafficking is a reprehensible phenomenon in today’s civilised society. It is the third most lucrative illicit trade in the world, after arms and drugs trafficking. This so-called modern form of slavery is a serious crime which violates fundamental human rights. The Treaty of Lisbon has enhanced the activity of the European Union in various areas of criminal law, including the fight against human trafficking. The European Parliament plays an important role here as joint lawmaker. Experience shows, however, that the current legal framework is not sufficiently effective and we must do even more to protect human rights. We must adopt preventive measures targeting human trafficking itself. The greatest attention must be paid to children and women, as the most vulnerable groups. We must do all we can to contribute to dignified living conditions for potential victims of this crime, who tend to be people living on the margins of society.

 
  
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  Antonyia Parvanova, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, despite increasing efforts to combat trafficking in human beings, this complicated problem continues to flourish and expand across Europe. This is the reason for intensified actions and adequate measures to protect individuals from the practice of trafficking for different purposes, to prosecute traffickers and to provide effective remedies for victims at national and EU level.

The current legal framework will effectively deal with complex transnational problems and will coordinate joint efforts at both national and EU level when addressing this profound human rights abuse and a particular form of violence against women. By means of this legal instrument, we make a joint commitment to ensure that women’s rights across Europe are elevated to a priority level, taking into consideration that this wider phenomenon indisputably has a disproportionate impact on women and girls.

I would like to point out another important issue which I propose should be included in this piece of legislation. It relates to the socio-economic aspects of this widespread problem with European countries or regions where social and economic inequalities are the most important single cause of trafficking. Thanks to our joint efforts, we have achieved a positive outcome in the provision on the issue related to practices such as illegal adoption.

In conclusion, I would strongly highlight that the primary responsibility for combating trafficking rests with the Member States. They should take concrete actions to prevent and suppress trafficking and to protect the human rights of trafficked persons, and should play a greater role in addressing this significant problem.

 
  
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  Judith Sargentini, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (NL) Madam President, let me start by thanking Mrs Hedh and Mrs Bauer for their hard work as co-rapporteurs.

This directive concerns prosecution, prevention and protection in the area of human trafficking. The Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance would have liked to have seen somewhat more thorough work, in particular, as regards protecting the victims of human trafficking. I refer here particularly to the right of residence in a country after the victim has been trafficked and, perhaps, rescued. How do we ensure that victims really can build a new life?

Now, that question has not been sufficiently regulated by this directive. Here, we are merely talking about a form of temporary residence permit, after which you do not know whether or not you will be sent back to the place from which you have been trafficked. We are therefore pinning our hopes on the directive being recast, so that we can sort out some solution or another. We are hoping that that will enable us to start giving real help to the victims.

Another aspect that leads to heated debate in this House is the question of whether or not those who use the services of a trafficked individual should be penalised. However, the majority of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance remain of the opinion that penalising such people only serves to push the trafficked individual into deeper misery, because his or her activity then becomes totally illegal.

I am also pleased to see that, in this directive, Member States will retain freedom of choice on that score, but I would like to ask any Member State dealing with such issues the following: how should we then empower the victim?

 
  
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  Andrea Češková, on behalf of the ECR Group. (CS) Madam President, I consider the improved legal measures for the fight against human trafficking, together with the European Protection Order, to be extremely important, as they represent a further step towards protecting women and children in particular from violence. A large part of the text is devoted to the protection of child victims and to helping these victims, who are the most vulnerable section of the population. I am delighted that there has been a compromise with the Council, and that this text is sufficiently emphatic while making it possible to retain the key provisions of substantive criminal law. In my opinion, a European level legal measure criminalising clients who use the services of trafficked persons could be highly problematic. I would therefore like to express my thanks for this directive, which deserves our full support.

 
  
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  Cornelia Ernst, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Madam President, first of all, I would like to thank the two rapporteurs. They have done a huge amount of work and, as a result, definite progress has been made. It could be said that the draft directive is extremely important for the hundreds of thousands of victims of human trafficking and it should put an end to their lawless status. It goes as far as to say that not only protection, but also prevention and, above all, compensation, should play a part.

It has a broad area of application relating to human trafficking. We believe this to be right, even though we, of course, have difficulty with the problem of begging – which I openly admit – and also in many respects with illegal migration.

It is right that references to gender are to be found throughout this directive and – what to me is the most important point – that the welfare of children is taken into account in the case of unaccompanied minors. I would also like to say from a German point of view that in this respect, we have a lot of ground to make up and I am very pleased that this aspect concerning the children plays a very important part in this draft directive.

Another point worthy of recognition is the fact that, when dealing with this problem, special account must be taken of pregnant women and people suffering from illness or disability. Preventive measures, such as the training of public officials and the introduction of coordinators in the Member States, constitute major steps in the right direction. If we vote in favour of this today, we deserve to be congratulated.

I also hope that this subject will be taken more seriously in the Member States, because in any case, they now have to present reports. Perhaps that will also go some way towards achieving this.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, according to estimates from international organisations and police forces, trafficking in human beings is now globally the second largest source of profit for organised crime, after drug trafficking. It is thought that around 30 million people are victims of organ trafficking, prostitution and forced labour.

This means that the fight against this enormous criminal phenomenon is, above all, a battle for the safety of our citizens against illegal immigration and against crime that generates crime. Faced with a problem of these proportions, Europe must rightly take drastic measures against those who exploit human beings in various ways.

The fight against this phenomenon requires cooperation between Member States and between police forces but, above all, certainty regarding the punishment for traffickers. It must also be remembered that many people are exploited because they do not have decent living conditions in their countries of origin: they live in poverty and in desperation and are ready to do anything – even leave their own country for the promise of a better life, which, alas, is never to be found.

As well as preventing crime and protecting the victims of trafficking, Europe must also make a greater and more deliberate effort to ensure that these people can find acceptable living conditions in their own countries. The basic principle of European political action must be to ‘help them in their own homes’, so that our efforts are directed not only at suppression, but also at prevention.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). – Madam President, human trafficking is, quite rightly, a pejorative term because it describes a disgusting practice. Human beings, disproportionately women, are treated as though they were commodities, even livestock, to be transported, used and often abused.

However, the term is used too narrowly. Very little legal economic migration is truly voluntary. Most people, other things remaining equal, would prefer to remain with their own people in their own countries. They migrate for economic enrichment or because economic forces have removed their means of maintaining their livelihoods.

Migration is the by-product of global capitalism that sees people not as human beings, but as factors of production that are expendable. Economic migration is as much a form of human trafficking as illicit migration organised by criminal networks. The human traffickers are the governments that quite deliberately unleash supposedly blind economic forces in the service of global capitalism. Economies should exist to serve the people. People do not exist to serve economic forces.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE).(IT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the gender dimension of this proposal for a directive facilitates the instrument to defend the most vulnerable people. The fact that there are numerous references to the trafficking of human beings in the Treaty of Lisbon confirms the immediacy and the seriousness of the problem. Article 5(3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union bans the practice, recognising it as a form of slavery and forced labour.

The rapporteurs have extended the scope of the protection, with a particular focus on children and women, and on the vulnerable situations that make this form of slavery easier to carry out. The report is also correct in remarking that trafficking in human beings also hides illegal forms of adoption and forced marriages.

I feel I must point out the difficulties that border EU Member States have in fighting illegal immigration. Above all, Italy, my own country, has to deal on a daily basis with instances of trafficking that spill out onto our roads and our spaces. We need to communicate and therefore raise awareness so as to involve civil society. The report, as tabled, provides for the careful protection of victims, with the aim of eradicating the phenomenon. I should therefore like to show my support for this proposal, as tabled, and also congratulate the two rapporteurs.

 
  
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  Silvia Costa (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, as shadow rapporteur, I should like to thank the rapporteurs and say that I think this directive is extraordinarily important because it is the first time that the European Union has taken legally binding action in the fight against the trafficking of human beings.

Fifty years after the United Nations convention, there are still hundreds of thousands of people in our civilised Europe – mainly women and children – who are reduced to slavery. For the first time, the EU is equipped with a single instrument to fight against the trafficking of human beings, whether for reasons of sexual or labour exploitation, including forced begging.

Our group had three priorities: to hit traffickers with uniform, more severe sanctions, including confiscating assets and using them to support the victims of trafficking; to ensure a high level of protection and social rehabilitation for victims, with free legal representation and immunity from prosecution for crimes committed in connection with being trafficked; and to promote the crucial role of the non-governmental organisations, both secular and religious, that work to support the victims.

However, I am hoping for a revision of the 2004 directive on the resident permit for victims. I would also underline that in the proposal, we provide for the safeguarding of children through strengthened measures and I support Commissioner Malmström’s call for further measures against sex tourism and child pornography.

 
  
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  Nadja Hirsch (ALDE).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, as shadow rapporteur for the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I, too, would like to express my sincere thanks to the two rapporteurs. Thank you for your cooperation. I think we have put together a good document today. We can take a decision on something today that can really put paid to human trafficking. However, the challenge will be getting the Member States to put this directive into practice. It is crucial that the enforcement bodies, such as the police and the courts, are made aware of how to actually recognise and to prosecute this crime. This is vital, and it is also very important to raise public awareness – as Mrs Matera has already mentioned – so that people are aware of the fact that human trafficking is happening within the EU. It is not just happening somewhere else; theoretically, it could also be happening right outside my front door.

Another important point that, as Liberals from Germany in particular, we had difficulty with – although this has now been resolved in a positive manner by empowering the Member States – is the criminalisation of people who make use of this sort of service, because if someone is liable to prosecution, he can refuse to make a statement in a subsequent trial. If someone makes use of this right to refuse to give evidence – for example, a man who had been with a prostitute who had been endangered through human trafficking – information will be lost that could be used further to finally uncover this network of human traffickers. It is therefore a good thing that this rests with the Member States, and I would like to thank you very much for your cooperation.

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen (ECR). (NL) Madam President, the basis of many of the current developments was laid down as far back as hundreds of years ago. I am thinking here of the Industrial Revolution, the advent of representative democracy and the abolition of slavery.

The current fight against human trafficking is a continuation of the struggle that William Wilberforce once began. Unfortunately, human trafficking is one of the worst covert problems in the European Union. It undermines the fundamental rights of our people and the foundations of our democracy. For that reason, I fully support the present report.

However, as I understand it, the proposed sentencing tariff for reoffenders will, unfortunately, remain low. The current proposal does not require that any particularly heavy penalties be imposed on human traffickers who have been arrested a number of times. That seems to me to be an unfortunate state of affairs. I am in favour of an approach where a trafficker who is arrested for a second or a third offence must receive a mandatory life sentence.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL).(PT) Madam President, it is important for everyone to join in the fight against trafficking in human beings, with a view to eradicating it. This kind of modern-day slavery is known to be highly lucrative for criminal organisations, which conduct it in a multitude of ways, from sexual exploitation and forced labour to the illegal trade in human organs, or even domestic work and other kinds of undeclared work.

These practices – which particularly involve women and, increasingly, children – therefore need to be fought effectively, by criminalising the perpetrators of such crimes and providing support for the victims to escape from their dependency on the criminal organisations. That is also why it is vital to combat the causes of this situation, by creating the conditions for lifting people out of poverty, promoting policies for the fair redistribution of wealth, ensuring access to essential public services, and promoting the creation of jobs with rights and pay levels that afford a decent living. That is also a way forward which it is essential to promote here in the European Union.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD).(EL) Madam President, Commissioner, it has been proven that the most effective way of combating trafficking in human beings is to set an example by imposing strict penalties on traffickers. I strongly recommend, as we tend here in Parliament to set targets and to say ‘20%’ or ‘30%’, that we recommend a standard European legislation which sets a minimum prison sentence for human traffickers of 10-15 years, which cannot be reduced or replaced by a fine. You will see how effective that will be. Standard EU legislation and a minimum term of imprisonment of 10-15 years. I think it will be the most effective measure we have ever taken. We cannot adopt measures here on climate change and environmental pollution without setting quantifiable targets for combating this crime.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE).(PT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I must congratulate Mrs Bauer and Mrs Hedh on the excellent work they have done in this report. Trafficking in human beings is a disgrace to our society and requires a strong, concerted reaction from everyone.

The organised crime behind sexual exploitation, forced labour, the trade in the removal of human organs and other ignoble practices must be fought effectively, but primarily it must be prevented. What is at stake is the defence of human rights and the protection of the most vulnerable individuals, women and children in particular. Experience has shown that the legal framework in force is not effective enough and that the European Union has to work harder.

Closer cross-border cooperation is essential, including the effective sharing of information and good practice. This proposal rightly emphasises a victim-centred approach. Policies in this field should cover aspects linked to social affairs and social inclusion, such as the social rehabilitation of victims.

 
  
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  Claude Moraes (S&D). – Madam President, this is no ordinary day for Parliament. We should be proud of the historic step that has been taken today, both on human trafficking and, indeed, on the European Protection Order. For the first time, criminal law and all the tools we have at our disposal after Lisbon have been brought into action on one of the most complex and horrific problems that we have to face collectively.

We are proud, in the S&D Group, of the work done by Anna Hedh and her co-rapporteur, Ms Bauer, and we are proud of the ‘firsts’ that are marked by this report. For the first time, the EU will define, in a binding legislative act, a high level of sanctions against trafficking. For the first time, there are strong guarantees concerning the protection of victims, special attention for child victims, the non-prosecution of victims who break the law due to their enslavement and the recognition of the role and support of NGOs in the process.

Finally, the complexity of this cause in relation to children and women – because we were moving into criminal law – should not have been a reason to stop a very good report. We are very proud in our group that this has happened across the House. It is a very proud day for the whole Parliament.

 
  
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  Axel Voss (PPE). (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, with this directive, we are taking a huge step towards combating human trafficking in an efficient manner. The rapporteurs have achieved a good result in relation to minimum thresholds for sentences, jurisdiction, non-prosecution and statutory limitation – not all of this is perhaps quite what we would have liked to have seen, but it is nevertheless a very practicable solution. Anything else would also, to some extent, have disrupted national criminal law in the legal systems of the Member States. We need to be more restrained in this regard. I am also convinced that we would have done ourselves a disservice by making customers of prostitutes liable to prosecution, because this is not something we would have prosecuted otherwise.

However, I would like to come back to the general question of criminal law and criminal procedure in the Member States. This is a very sensitive area of national legislation, which has developed over hundreds of years. We should therefore tread very carefully where this is concerned. I am also mentioning this in view of the imminent European Investigation Order.

However, we have today established a good basis for cross-border cooperation in criminal matters. I am pleased that we have now taken this step.

 
  
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  Britta Thomsen (S&D).(DA) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, if we know that several hundred thousand people are sold as slaves each year to Western Europe, we have a duty to take action. I am therefore very pleased that an agreement has successfully been reached between the Council and Parliament on this new directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings. The new legislation is significantly stronger than the current legislation and it is a major victory in the fight to ensure better help and protection for victims. At the same time, the hunt for the unscrupulous people behind this will become even more targeted and efficient.

I am pleased that the directive emphasises the fact that the victims shall be protected from any form of prosecution or punishment. When someone has been forced to carry out criminal acts, it is the people behind this who must be punished, not the victims. The European Parliament also believes it is important that the help being offered to victims is always provided in a language and in a format that they can understand. Moreover, we must not forget that voluntary and non-profit-making organisations play a crucial role when it comes to both preventing and combating human trafficking. Today could be an important day for decency, as the European Parliament will hopefully vote in favour of this new legislation, which will provide a much needed helping hand to the victims and result in an intensive hunt for the people behind these crimes.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, the punishment of legal persons for crimes connected with human trafficking helps to intensify the fight against this modern form of slavery.

Of course, the punishment of a legal entity must not exclude the punishment of specific natural persons who have taken part in this activity in any way. Apart from the imposition of financial penalties, effective measures against legal entities include, in my opinion, exclusion from the right to public grants or assistance, suspension of commercial activities and, above all, court decisions on the closing down of said entity. Member States must ensure the adoption of legal measures so that national bodies can decide not to pursue or impose punishments on the victims of human trafficking, and so that they can continue with investigations even when victims withdraw their statements. Last but not least, I would like to point out that the victims of these appalling crimes often continue to be victimised, and find themselves in very precarious circumstances, which is the reason for special protection and support. Special attention must also be paid to underage victims, for whom it is necessary to find even more comprehensive and lasting solutions.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D). (CS) Madam President, all of the reports discussed this morning have one thing in common – the protection of fundamental human rights in the European Union and a common European process in this area. It is almost beyond belief that in the EU in the 21st century, several hundred thousand people a year fall victim to human trafficking, most of them women and children. It is a sad fact that in the current era, this problem is highly topical, and the statistics unfortunately do not indicate that it is in decline. Quite the reverse. The perpetrators of this serious crime earn astronomical profits from human trafficking, estimated at up to USD 32 billion annually. The protection of human rights and human dignity must be a clear priority in our work, and a common approach by the Member States is essential. I therefore fully support the proposal for a directive, which will introduce further instruments for combating this type of crime, and more effective protection for the victims, compared to existing legal measures, and which will attempt to achieve a more coordinated approach at EU level.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE). (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased that, in the final version of the report, involvement in criminal organisations for offences relating to the trafficking of human beings is an aggravating factor that doubles the minimum penalties from five to ten years in prison. In addition, Article 6a makes explicit reference to the seizure and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds from this kind of offence.

This approach – which I believe is absolutely right and I hope may also be carried over to other legislation – looks the facts in the face and recognises that the trafficking of people for various forms of exploitation, such as, for example, prostitution, criminal activities and organ trafficking, is carried out by international criminal organisations.

I am also pleased with the provisions of Article 7, which directs Member States not to prosecute people for their involvement in criminal activities that they have been compelled to commit as victims of trafficking. Often, in fact, those who suffer the violence of trafficking not only suffer injuries, but also the insult of being incriminated for doing what they were compelled to do, prostitution being a typical example. Therefore, I support the report and I should like to thank the two rapporteurs.

 
  
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  Elie Hoarau (GUE/NGL).(FR) Madam President, one cannot but endorse the draft directive by the two rapporteurs, which should be extended to all Member States for a stronger and firm jurisdiction in order to prosecute and severely punish the perpetrators of the crime that is human trafficking, and also to protect, help and rehabilitate victims, who are overwhelmingly women and children.

However, to be more effective and credible in this fight, Europe, as the heir to the history of the European States, should recognise the slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity, as some Member States have done, and I want to mention France in particular.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Madam President, the plague of trafficking in human beings is a phenomenon that has taken on particularly worrying dimensions. Whereas originally, it essentially involved women and children being recruited for prostitution, now the victims are people of all ages and both sexes, who are placed into a cycle of exploitation that is not necessarily sexual but also economic. Organised crime networks take advantage of social vulnerability, family difficulties, domestic violence and disabilities to favour immigration, exploiting the people involved through the use of force, abuse and threats.

We are in favour of the proposed directive. We need to increase the penalties for traffickers of human beings, confiscating their assets. In addition, there should be a concerted effort by all Member States to strengthen policies preventing trafficking in human beings and training people to identify victims or potential victims.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI). – Madam President, this report was certainly a major step along the road to fighting trafficking in human beings in general and trafficking in women in particular. The next major step should be to explore the crystal clear relationship and connection between trafficking in women and prostitution.

On the one hand, we rightly talk about trafficking in women as a brutal, terrible crime that we should fight. On the other hand, we talk about prostitution as ‘sex work’, as a service. We talk about pimps and brothel-keepers as entrepreneurs, and we normalise prostitution.

What I want to say is that the client who goes to a brothel, or the client who asks for the services of a prostitute, has basically no way of knowing whether she is a ‘normal’ prostitute – if that even exists since it is another matter whether there is ever consent to prostitution – or a trafficked woman.

There is therefore no way of really attacking trafficking without attacking the sex industry.

 
  
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  Cecilia Malmström, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, thank you for this important debate. I would like to inform you that today, the Commission will appoint an Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, who will take office in the next month. That person will improve coordination and coherence between the EU institutions and agencies and the Member States, will help ensure that best practices are shared in the different Member States, develop existing and forthcoming policies and be a contact for third countries. This is very important. By bringing together prevention, law enforcement and victim prevention, this person can ensure that appropriate methods to combat trafficking are used and mobilised appropriately. I will ask the Anti-Trafficking Coordinator to liaise closely with the European Parliament and to keep you informed on these developments.

The criminalisation issue merits a debate in itself, but it is stated in Article 19 of the directive that the Commission will, in some years, submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council ‘assessing the impact of existing national law criminalising the users of services which are the objects of exploitation of trafficking in human beings on the prevention of trafficking in human beings, accompanied, if necessary, by adequate proposals’. We will surely come back to this issue and I do not rule out our having further proposals on this.

Having said all this, I think we can be proud of this directive today. It is a very important tool for fighting trafficking and protecting the victims. It has given us an important tool, it has shown the world our commitment to fighting modern slavery and it will strengthen our efforts.

I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to the two co-rapporteurs, Ms Bauer and Ms Hedh. Today’s debate has shown how important your work has been, because you have the support of all the groups. I would like to congratulate you on that.

 
  
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  Edit Bauer, rapporteur. (HU) Madam President, I would especially like to thank Mrs Malmström for calling the report an historic text. This statement is probably accurate, as it is the first time that we are adopting a criminal law based on the Treaty of Lisbon, but I should also hope that this is a great step forward in ensuring that not a single perpetrator, not a single perpetrator of human trafficking, can remain unpunished. What was especially reassuring to see in the debate that took place here was the presence of a political will. I myself have frightfully often seen, and have sometimes myself shared the view, that there is a lack of political will to make any serious progress in this area. What I have heard today was the opposite of that, and I would like to thank my fellow Members for exhibiting this political will to take a tremendous step forward in relation to human trafficking.

We have received two motions for amendment from the EFD, and I would like to ask my fellow Members not to support them, as they intend to reduce the penalty to a minimum. I would also like to thank Mrs Tzavela for requesting the very opposite, that we make the penalty even stricter. I am convinced that this is an important step, but today’s step must be followed by an array of subsequent steps. We have much work to do in combating demand. We can certainly not solve all the problems related to supply, but there is much we could do about demand, and I have a feeling that in this area, the time is not yet ripe, that here, the political will is perhaps insufficient for taking a step forward. I am convinced that the scope of the law will sooner or later need to be extended to third-country perpetrators residing in the EU with a residence permit, as I am also convinced that we will need to review the directive on temporary residence permits to ensure legislative consistency in this area. Thank you very much for your support.

 
  
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  Anna Hedh, rapporteur. (SV) Madam President, I would like to offer my thanks for all of the excellent contributions and the support that we have received in the Chamber for this legislation to prevent human trafficking. I now hope that, in the future, we may even improve on this legislation and tighten our common EU rules against human trafficking.

However, we must not forget to go on working continually on what are the real reasons for, and root of, all trafficking in human beings, namely poverty, social exclusion and demand. We must apply our energies to these problems, above all, so that we can tackle the problem of human trafficking.

As I said earlier, we must not give up. People’s right to decide when it comes to their own life and their own bodies is a human right that cannot be bought and sold for money like any old commodity. The fight against human trafficking in Europe and the rest of the world will continue. Thank you for all your support.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today, in a few minutes.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing.(IT) Trafficking in human beings – in the various forms that this can take, including sexual exploitation, illegal trading in human organs, forced labour or illegal adoptions – represents a serious violation of the human rights set out in the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The extent of this problem is striking, and experience has shown that the European Union’s current legal framework on the issue is not effective enough. Cooperation between Parliament, the Commission and the Council therefore plays a strategic role in developing a European policy to address this problem effectively.

The Treaty of Lisbon strengthened the powers of the European Union regarding judicial and police cooperation between Member States in criminal matters. However, I believe that the penalties for traffickers in human beings still need to be increased and that the assistance given to victims of violence needs to be developed yet further.

I agree that, in order to discourage demand, it would be a good idea for the European Union and the Member States to make a greater commitment to awareness-raising campaigns in the countries of origin, transit and destination of trafficking. Lastly, I support the appointment of a European Anti-Trafficking Coordinator to manage the European Union’s work and policies in this specific sector.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I would like to congratulate both rapporteurs for the work they have done, because this historic directive is a very important step in combating the scale of trafficking in human beings, by laying down clear levels of penalties and sanctions. Although numerous EU and national laws have already been adopted and multiannual political commitments have been made in this area, it is calculated that several hundred thousand people are trafficked each year within the EU and beyond its borders. This demonstrates that combating trafficking in human beings, in particular, women and children, remains a huge problem and one of the worst violations of human rights. I would like to emphasise that considering the fact that children are more vulnerable and that they face a greater risk of becoming victims of trafficking in human beings, particular attention should be paid to this group of victims. Given that trafficking in human beings is a modern form of slavery and an extremely profitable business for organised crime, more attention must be paid to preventive efforts, the protection of victims and social issues. Furthermore, a hostile environment must be created for human traffickers. The level of penalties and sanctions for people who profit from trafficking in human beings should reflect the gravity of the offence committed and act as an effective deterrent to such activities. In addition to penalties, the Member States should include such sanctions as the seizure of assets and take the necessary measures to seize and confiscate instrumentalities and proceeds from the offences, because then these offences would not be economically viable.

 
  
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  Nessa Childers (S&D), in writing. – Today’s vote on human trafficking comes at a crucial juncture in the ongoing fight against this form of modern-day slavery. As Irish director Ciarán O’Connor outlined last year in his film ‘Trafficked’, which documented the ongoing impact of trafficking in Ireland, it is a crime which is becoming more advanced and more ruthless as authorities fight harder to drive it away. Measures such as this are crucial in order to give authorities the tools and common purpose they need to tackle this Europe-wide problem. At a national level, legislatures need to come down hard on those convicted, and resources must be given to police forces so that it is not for lack of finance or manpower that trafficking is allowed to continue. However, this is a crime without borders, and as such, it is European legislation as much as national laws that will truly put an end to slavery in Europe.

 
  
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  Giovanni Collino (PPE), in writing.(IT) The European Union’s action on trafficking in human beings cannot be limited to denouncing it, but recognises the need for precise, ex-post actions to ensure that those responsible for such a barbaric practice do not go unpunished.

These actions include the harmonisation of penalties, as well as the coordination of the interventions provided for by the EU with those already implemented by other international organisations, such as the United Nations. The ex-post actions must be combined with preventive actions, which are just as important. Above all, there must be close cooperation between judicial and financial police authorities to ensure that the economic systems that revolve around these criminal activities are blocked at source and all ramifications cut off.

Furthermore, it is increasingly important to have accurate and reliable databases that distinguish between the various specificities and provide a starting point for a variety of interventions that contribute to hitting each individual case right at its core. Through this proposal for a directive, the European Union is aiming to attack the entire supply chain of an inhumane trade that tramples on its principles and founding values.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – The phenomenon of organised crime is something that the European Union needs to tackle head on. We need to be seen as proactive rather than reactive to situations of human trafficking. It is important that we research new emerging ways of human trafficking, in order to intercept and pre-empt emerging human trafficking routes. As a member of the S&D Group, I would like to emphasise that one of our key objectives is to fight cross-border crime. I therefore voted in favour of this legislative initiative. As legislators of the European Union, we must ensure respect for the right to human dignity, the right to integrity, prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the prohibition of slavery and forced labour. We cannot allow the trafficking and subsequent auctioning of children to continue. Traffickers are also using Internet recruitment. This is very alarming as many children have access to the Internet.

 
  
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  Zita Gurmai (S&D), in writing. – Trafficking in human beings is a crime against human dignity that ruins the lives of many children and women throughout the world. The current proposal is a breakthrough because it puts victims first and tackles the problem in a complex, cross-border manner. These new measures will facilitate the reconnaissance and prosecution of trafficking cases and will encourage victims to cooperate with the authorities. This will be binding legislation, subject to state enforcement. This type of regulation is the only one that can make a difference for all vulnerable people who might fall prey to trafficking. I also call on Member States to follow the proposal in this text and punish those who knowingly accept the services of a victim of trafficking. Fighting demand is key to fighting the roots of trafficking. This report is an excellent proposal, morally and professionally, and I congratulate my distinguished colleagues, Bauer and Hedh, for this. I am particularly happy that the Council and FEMM and LIBE Committees managed to create a text that is backed by all relevant institutions in the EU. I hope that it will soon be formally adopted and transposed into national law. The victims are eager to see it.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE), in writing. (FI) The directive relating to human trafficking is an important step forward, because human trafficking is a reality, even in Europe. What is most important is to prevent human trafficking by addressing the problems of poverty and inequality and by making people more aware of the issue.

It is vitally important to recognise the existence of human trafficking and to help its victims. Victims can be women or men, children or adults. An employee on a construction site could be a victim of human trafficking. The situation surrounding a Roma beggar may match the human trafficking criteria if it is organised and based on compulsion.

Unfortunately, often human trafficking is linked to sexualised practices: women and girls end up as prostitutes or they are forced into it. It is important that the victims of human trafficking are given the chance of protection and legal advice.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – As a result of the harmful tendencies affecting Roma communities – such as low levels of education, deep poverty, marginalisation and discrimination – Roma women and children are extremely vulnerable to trafficking. This modern-day slavery is deeply rooted in poverty and exclusion and, therefore, the elimination of the unacceptable living conditions that many Roma face must be a major strategic objective. Furthermore, the EU and the authorities of the Member States must take much more vigorous action to combat this phenomenon, particularly regarding the eradication of organised crime and the protection of groups at risk, namely women and minors of minority origin.

This initiative aims to adopt a broader concept of what should be considered trafficking and I believe that exploitation for begging, including the use of a trafficked-dependent person for begging, regardless of his or her relationship with the perpetrators, must fall within this scope. Penalties should be more severe when the offence is committed against persons vulnerable on grounds of age, gender, pregnancy, health conditions, or disability, and must pay due account of cases where the victim has been subjected to torture, the forced administration of drugs or medication, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical and sexual violence.

 
  
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  Debora Serracchiani (S&D), in writing.(IT) Every year in Europe, hundreds of thousands of people are sold as if they were objects and, fortunately, today we feel an ever-increasing need to protect the victims of trafficking in human beings from the use of false documents, from prostitution and from immigration.

When we speak about trafficking in human beings, we must think about not only sexual exploitation, forced labour and illegal adoptions, but also the problem of trafficking in organs, which is becoming an increasingly widespread crime. The European legal structure is not effective enough and the European Union and Member States must do more. We need an established structure for coordination between the institutions and the agencies of the EU, as well as those of the Member States and international partners.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing. (PL) In today’s debate, I should like to touch on the problem of child trafficking. We should make every effort to develop and improve the legal and institutional systems and childcare systems in all Member States. The scope of activities covered by the term human trafficking should be revised and extended. This is the only way we will be able to prevent problems such as: 1) commercial adoption, or, in other words, private adoption involving the relinquishment of rights to the child before the family courts, most frequently for payment; 2) pregnant women leaving the country and returning with no child; 3) the disappearance of children whose parents have died in countries affected by armed conflicts.

Given that a good many crimes are now committed via the Internet, it is worth appointing special interdisciplinary teams specialised in fighting this type of crime. They would deal not only with the surveillance of criminal milieu, but also the collection of evidence by means of monitoring the financial situations of individuals involved in trafficking children. We should train public officials and make them more aware of the situation of children in families from which children may be trafficked. This applies particularly to services working with families receiving state assistance due to difficult material circumstances. The only way we will have any chance of eliminating or at least limiting human trafficking and, in particular, child trafficking, is by means of multilateral and harmonised measures, taken at the level of the 27 Member States.

 
  
  

(The sitting was suspended for a few minutes)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ALEJO VIDAL-QUADRAS
Vice-President

 

8. Welcome
Video of the speeches
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  President. – I am delighted to inform you that there is an official delegation in the Chamber made up of religious leaders, in particular, from the Christian world in the Middle East, from Iraq and Lebanon.

(Applause)

We are aware of the difficult situation in the region for many Christian communities, and consequently we are delighted to express our support. You are therefore very welcome to the European Parliament.

 

9. Voting time
Video of the speeches
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take a few seconds to express my disapproval of the Council’s decision to reject the report by Mrs Estrela on maternity leave.

Today, I am acting as the spokesperson for millions of European mothers and fathers who, like me, are very disappointed by the Council’s decision. It is an admission of a lack of values, which I do not identify with and which I condemn with every fibre of my being. I wonder what kind of Europe we are heading towards. Rejecting this proposal is a decision that hurts not just the families of today but, above all, the families of tomorrow.

 
  
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  President. – We shall now proceed to the vote.

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

 

9.1. Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund: Portugal - floods; France - Xynthia (storm) (A7-0335/2010, Reimer Böge) (vote)

9.2. Draft amending budget No 9/2010: EU Solidarity Fund (floods in Portugal, Xynthia (storm), France) - Economic recovery: European offshore wind grid system (A7-0341/2010, László Surján) (vote)

9.3. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: SI/Mura, Slovenia (A7-0336/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.4. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG/Germany (A7-0337/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.5. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Wielkopolskie Automotive from Poland (A7-0359/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.6. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Aragón - Retail trade from Spain (A7-0358/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.7. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Comunidad Valenciana - Textiles/Spain (A7-0357/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.8. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Comunidad Valenciana - natural stone from Spain (A7-0356/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.9. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: Lear from Spain (A7-0351/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.10. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: H. Cegielski-Poznań from Poland (A7-0352/2010, Barbara Matera) (vote)

9.11. Extension of the scope of Directive 2003/109/EC to beneficiaries of international protection (A7-0347/2010, Claude Moraes) (vote)

9.12. EU-Georgia agreement on facilitation of issuance of visas (A7-0345/2010, Nathalie Griesbeck) (vote)

9.13. EU rapid response capability (A7-0332/2010, Iva Zanicchi) (vote)

9.14. Regulation of trading in financial instruments - ‘dark pools’, etc. (A7-0326/2010, Kay Swinburne) (vote)

9.15. Strengthening Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Security in the European Union – an EU CBRN Action Plan (A7-0349/2010, Ana Gomes) (vote)
 

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Ana Gomes, rapporteur.(PT) Mr President, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks are inherent to possible terrorist attacks, industrial accidents or natural disasters. Incidents of this kind, whether accidental or criminal in origin, know no borders and are potentially devastating for human lives, infrastructure, the environment and public health. They do not occur just in remote areas: we need only recall the recent disaster caused by the leak of toxic sludge from a factory in Hungary and the series of letter-bombs posted from Yemen to various addresses in the United States and Europe.

It is crucial for the European Union to make every effort to develop the necessary cooperation between the Member States’ civilian and military capabilities and resources in order to prevent, detect and respond effectively to CBRN attacks or disasters. Such cooperation requires a special European crisis-response mechanism, working in collaboration with a European civil protection force. In fact, this House has long been calling for such a force to be established.

The EU Action Plan therefore needs strengthening. The existing plan, which the Council approved in 2009, is weak and, in practice, is not being implemented by all Member States. It just needs one link to crack for the whole chain of intervention to fail. It is vital to give the Commission a stronger monitoring, guiding and coordinating role, and the plan urgently needs to be implemented in all Member States.

This report proposes greater civilian-military cooperation in terms of pooling efforts for CBRN disaster prevention, detection, preparation and response. The EU has to bring all the Member States together to put in place integrated national systems for implementing the plan. In this respect, the CBRN Action Plan is an opportunity to put the Treaty of Lisbon solidarity clause into practice.

 

9.16. Good governance and EU regional policy (A7-0280/2010, Ramona Nicole Mănescu) (vote)

9.17. Creation of an immigration liaison officers network (A7-0342/2010, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra) (vote)

9.18. Single application procedure for residence and work (A7-0265/2010, Véronique Mathieu) (vote)
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  Francesco Enrico Speroni (EFD).(IT) Mr President, is it possible to put the list of amendments back on the screen?

 
  
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  President. – Yes, Mr Speroni, they are looking into what is happening.

However, can you see it on your small screen? Yes? Well that is something.

Following the vote on the amended proposal:

 
  
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  Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, as you are aware, I am just listening and I am looking. I got the message that I have to sit here and take the message – and it is a clear one – to the college. I promise you that I will take the message and, of course, it will be an objective one, as there was quite a lot of action. But my colleague will return to this after a discussion in the college.

 
  
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  President. – Consequently, the proposal shall be sent back to the Commission.

 
  
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  Alejandro Cercas (S&D).(ES) Mr President, in accordance with Rule 175(56), we need to know whether the Commission is withdrawing this legislative proposal. Therefore, the proposal is not automatically sent back to the responsible committee. The Commission needs to decide now whether it is withdrawing its proposal and tabling a new proposal before Parliament.

 
  
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  President. – Mr Cercas, I deduced from the Commissioner’s words that it will go back to the Commission. That is what I deduced. We will, however, ask the Commissioner to clarify the Commission’s position.

Commissioner, please clarify the Commission’s position.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu, rapporteur.(FR) Mr President, I must admit my surprise.

(Noise)

We have already been negotiating this text for a year. For a start, I would like to tell you that we had reached an agreement with the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. I then discovered at the last moment that voting advice had been given that totally contradicted the agreements we had reached. I discovered that the agreements that we had with the ALDE Group have not been adhered to. We went to plenary with agreements that had not been honoured.

Secondly, Mr Cercas is proposing that we amend – I would like to be able to speak, otherwise there is no point – the Socialist Group, and Mr Cercas in particular, are proposing that the Commission amend its proposal.

But, Mr Cercas, we have now been discussing this for a year. You are proposing a number of things. For a year now, we have failed to reach an agreement. So, what is the point of starting all over again? We could debate for 10 years, Mr Cercas, and you would still disagree. We have tried everything possible and you have never agreed with anyone.

I do not see, therefore, how submitting more proposals will mean that we move forward. That is a real shame. You opposed migrants entering the European Union. The Socialist Group is denying these migrants the same treatment as that enjoyed by European workers.

(Protests)

That is all I have to say, and it is a real pity because the group was in agreement on this issue of equal treatment, and I find this situation regrettable.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – Ladies and gentlemen, please stop shouting for a moment, and we are going to apply the Rules of Procedure.

The Commission has to tell us whether or not it is maintaining its proposal.

Therefore, please allow the Commissioner to tell us, welcome objective messages aside, whether or not she is maintaining her proposal.

 
  
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  Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, you will not blame me, following this discussion which was not completely clear, for taking the outcome of this discussion home to Brussels. I will certainly put it on the table of the college. The Commission will inform you later of the outcome of its discussions.

 
  
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  President. – The Commissioner has therefore clearly told us something: that for now, she is not withdrawing the proposal.

That is what she said; we will see what happens next.

For now, the Commission is not withdrawing the proposal.

 

9.19. European Protection Order (A7-0354/2010, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio) (vote)
 

Before the vote on the amended proposal:

 
  
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  Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, rapporteur.(ES) Mr President, I have asked for the floor to remind you of the importance of today’s vote in order to send a clear message to the Council, aimed at the countries that have still not equipped themselves with security in this field. I believe that today, we have an opportunity to defend victims and ensure that they can live without fear and in freedom. It is very important, not only for women, but also for men, children, victims of terrorism, victims of organised crime, victims of trafficking of women and for victims in general.

 
  
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  Carmen Romero López, rapporteur. (ES) Mr President, there are two of us who are rapporteurs. I just want to remind the liberal ministers of the European Union that currently, it is also very important that this report is endorsed in order to support the fundamental rights of women. It is in the hands of a liberal minister, but also of other governments that have so far not signed up to it. We will see if they support this initiative now.

 

9.20. Trafficking in human beings (A7-0348/2010, Edit Bauer) (vote)

9.21. EU-Georgia agreement on readmission of persons residing without authorisation (A7-0346/2010, Nathalie Griesbeck) (vote)

9.22. Territorial, social and economic cohesion (A7-0309/2010, Petru Constantin Luhan) (vote)
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  President. – That concludes the vote.

 

10. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
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  President. – We will now proceed to the explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Claude Moraes (A7-0347/2010)

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, not for the first time in this Chamber, I feel that I have fallen through some kink in the space-time continuum, some warp or tunnel that has led me back to the 1970s. Here we are in a world of state control of industry, of price and income policies, of limited working hours and of subventions to unprofitable corporations.

I can do no better than to read out the voting list of what we have been voting on today: subsidies to SI/Mura in Slovenia, to Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in Germany, to the automotive industry in Wielkopolskie in Poland, to the retail trade in Aragón in Spain, to the textile sector in the Comunidad Valenciana in Spain, to the manufacture of natural stone products in the Comunidad Valenciana in Spain, to Lear in Spain, and to H. Cegielski-Poznań in Poland. In the 1970s, we used to talk about picking winners. What we are actually doing here is picking losers. We are making the EU step in with money where the free market has decreed a failure.

Why are we doing so? Because the EU is now a mechanism for the redistribution of wealth to favoured client groups. Mr President, you know as well as I do that this is nonsense. You were a brilliantly successful Conservative leader in Catalonia. You understand the importance of free peoples and free markets, and so do our voters. The money is running out. We are reaching the moment when, as in George Orwell’s magnificent metaphor, the people will shake off the system like a horse shaking off flies.

 
  
  

Report: Nathalie Griesbeck (A7-0345/2010)

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE). (LT) Mr President, today, the European Parliament demonstrated a strong position by taking a step towards deeper cooperation between the European Union and the South Caucasus. The South Caucasus and Georgia are regions that are strategically important for the EU. My country, Lithuania, has always had a special relationship with Georgia. We supported it at the most difficult moments and not simply at state level as a government. There was always huge public support for this country. I believe that the whole of the European Union wants Georgia to join the family of European nations. This country has made huge efforts to be part of Europe and therefore, we must assess them accordingly. Visa facilitation will help to ensure people’s mobility, their cooperation and, at the same time, both economic and cultural links. I would very much like to welcome Georgia and its people with this decision, adopted today in the European Parliament. The EU is sending them a message that we expect them to become members of the European Union.

 
  
  

Report: Ramona Nicole Mănescu (A7-0280/2010)

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE). (PL) Mr President, we cannot allow the huge sum of money we spend on cohesion policy to be wasted or squandered. It is therefore vital to improve the way in which the money is managed, and also to ensure that it is spent more effectively. Local authorities, which are most aware of the needs of their region, play a key role in this regard. Attention should also be paid to cross-border areas, in order to facilitate their integration. In order for there to be proper vertical and horizontal cooperation, procedures must be streamlined, and more money spent on the training of specialists from implementing bodies in the individual Member States. We also need to support modernisation and expansion of the IT system, which will ensure easy and equal access to information for all beneficiaries.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I agree with the rapporteur that we should proceed towards multi-level governance for greater involvement of sub-national authorities in drawing up development policies, above all, in the convergence objective areas, which are interested in increasing their ability to come into line with the areas of the Member States and to compete on the global market.

In order for the regional development policies to be more effective, we need to involve those who know their own regions and can help drive their development. That is the link between multi-level governance and territorial cohesion highlighted by the rapporteur.

Regarding the simplification of regulations, the lighter the burden of bureaucracy, the greater the acceleration and quality of European investments for regional development. Greater assistance for the Managing Authorities from the Commission would contribute to reducing the mistakes made in the past at the first level of controls.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE).(HU) Mr President, the controllability and efficiency of regional policy contributes to the security of the economic and social status of EU citizens. I voted on the course of good governance laid out by Parliament because I agree that the key to the progress of our countries lies in closer regional cooperation. It is therefore desirable to call upon the Member States to make better use of the available forms of cooperation across regional borders. Priority multi-level governance is precisely what may help local regional authorities and the private and public sectors to find each other.

The idea formulated with regard to implementation, according to which the local and regional authorities must also be involved in policy making, also deserves support. The large number of participants involved in the policy at Community, national, regional and local level represents both opportunities and uncertainties. The framework set up by the EU must ensure an appropriate balance between the two.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, firstly, I want to thank the rapporteur, Mrs Mǎnescu, for her excellent work. It is very important to point out that there is a need for good governance in regional policy. In my opinion, good governance mainly involves the principles of fairness and impartiality. We need to look at the European Union as an entity and not just cherry-pick and provide support for certain areas only. The whole of Europe must be developed impartially, and we also have to ensure that that can and will be done, using the tools of regional policy.

I am also very concerned that when we look at the criteria for regional policy and funding, it should not just be GDP that we consider. That is not a sustainable criterion in itself, as we will be examining remote regions in the EU, and for that reason, it is important to include the notions of sparsely populated areas and long distances.

When we talk about good governance, we are talking, above all, about impartial, fair governance in the European Union’s regional policy.

 
  
  

Report: Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra (A7-0342/2010)

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, the immigration issue is a very topical one throughout the European Union. For that reason, it is very important that we create a network of liaison officers. We also need to try and act in a way where we are becoming more objective in these matters in Europe.

Recently, however, there have been worrying examples of our failures in some aspects of immigration policy. People who have arrived in Europe and settled here have not been prepared to accept fundamental European values. Accordingly, as Europeans, we need to ensure, in particular, that those core values, on which the whole of the European Union is built, are preserved, and that they are adhered to. They include democracy, human rights and freedom of opinion. It is these that we especially need to uphold.

For that reason, alongside the creation of a liaison officer network, it is also important to establish codes of ethics and values for it, as a point of reference when immigration policy is being laid down. It is important that migrants can integrate and accept fundamental European values when they are resident in the European Union.

 
  
  

Report: Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Carmen Romero López (A7-0354/2010)

 
  
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  Andrea Češková (ECR). (CS) Mr President, I would like to talk about the vote on the European Protection Order, because I personally consider this instrument to be enormously important. I can well imagine the position of the women to whom the order mainly applies, and who find themselves in situations where they are literally being persecuted, wanting to move and needing protection. For this reason, I am concerned that the text we have voted on is not established on a reliable legal basis. I firmly believe, however, that the text can be modified, and I believe that this obviously good idea will be fully implemented. At this point in time, however, I have abstained from the vote for these reasons.

 
  
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  Jens Rohde (ALDE). – Mr President, I just want to say that my voting machine did not work for the vote on the European Protection Order, but I would have voted in favour because this is a very important issue and it was important for Parliament to adopt the European Protection Order today.

This legislation is essential for Europe. The mutual recognition of judgment and judicial decisions is fundamental in an area of freedom, security and justice. In order to prevent a crime, or a new crime, being committed against a protected person, the executing state is now given a legal base for recognising a decision previously adopted in another Member State.

This legislation is needed for the prevention of violence against women and the other victims of violence. It is an essential and important step in enabling victims to reside or stay wherever they want in the EU and thereby be included in the freedom of movement.

 
  
  

Report: Edit Bauer, Anna Hedh (A7-0348/2010)

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, human trafficking is a very serious issue. Since 2008, 35 people have been rescued from exploitation in my own constituency of Northern Ireland; 25 of these were rescued in 2009. However, no one has yet been convicted of an offence of human trafficking. It is a form of modern-day slavery, a serious crime and a violation of a person’s fundamental human rights. Indeed, many of the women taken or rescued in Northern Ireland are from the Far East and are there through organised crime gangs who are making huge profits and exploiting these people both for labour and sexual exploitation.

While there are many valuable aspects to this report, and I believe that this is an area where there can be considerable cooperation between national police forces – indeed the police force of Northern Ireland has been leading the way in this – I abstained in the eventual vote because I firmly believe that the setting of minimum tariffs is a matter for the Member State alone.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, currently, human trafficking is one of the biggest and most crucial issues and one of the most serious threats facing the European Union. We need to recognise the problem and admit that there is one, even if often, it is as if we were hiding behind the notion that we have already resolved it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We need to ensure that the fundamental rights of each person can become a reality.

The term ‘human trafficking’ is something of a misnomer, because there is nothing human about it. It is an appalling business, where people are stripped of the one­time chance of life and of human dignity. Women and children are in the special risk group. Prostitution and the trade in organs are the most glaring examples of this.

I would like to call on the European Union actually to start to act – not just talk, but act – to bring human trafficking in the European Union to a complete end, using this report as a point of reference. We need to take action to fight against it properly, using the sanctions that would ensure that each person would have a chance to preserve their human dignity and enjoy a good life.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Mr President, I supported the directive, because human trafficking is a denial of freedom in the broadest sense of the word.

I am pleased that the new directive places a duty on states to improve their legislation with the aim of combating this crime effectively, but I would also like to point out that a Community-wide condemnation of exploitation must come before the pursuit of traffickers. Every trade involves a buyer and these are often people from the rich democratic countries, and they may be our neighbours. The report pays attention to victims, but we must do more, we must open our eyes and notice what is happening around us, so that people who see no way out of their poverty never become victims.

We must concentrate on educating children and young people, we must inform parents and teachers, and we must talk about this in the media, since the most effective form of prevention is a lack of demand.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE). (IT) Mr President, I asked for the floor to give an explanation of vote on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings.

Obviously, I voted in favour of the report by Mrs Bauer because the fight against trafficking in human beings is, and must remain, one of our priorities. This problem has grown to such an extent that it can be called a new form of slavery. The most vulnerable parts of society – women and children – are taken abroad and exploited through the most abominable forms of prostitution, slavery and pornography.

Each year, this phenomenon has 1 million victims around the world and 500 000 in Europe alone. Those who take advantage of this phenomenon are committing a criminal act, financing the trafficking of human beings and using people as goods to be bought and sold.

As the report emphasises, we need to take action in the countries where the victims of trafficking come from and where they are moved to. We will only be able to find a solution through a common effort, by carrying out collective awareness raising and supporting and assisting the victims and, above all, by fighting the root causes of this phenomenon so as to help those countries involved to develop suitable legislation to combat all forms of slavery.

 
  
  

Report: Nathalie Griesbeck (A7-0346/2010)

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I am pleased that, in Parliament today, we have talked not only about the agreement between the European Union and Georgia on the facilitation of the issuance of visas but also about the agreement between the European Union and Georgia on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation.

In this regard, it is important that we do not merely deal with the pleasant things in life, but also with the serious issues, and I hope that, as Parliament, in perhaps a year’s time, we will receive an interim report on how this agreement between the European Union and Georgia has been implemented and, above all, how well it has worked. I would also like the European Parliament to be much more involved in the initial discussions next time.

 
  
  

Report: Iva Zanicchi (A7-0332/2010)

 
  
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  Nirj Deva (ECR). – Mr President, I wanted to explain why my group and I abstained on the vote on the EU rapid response capability. The multiplication of major disasters outside the EU in recent years has led to increased calls to improve the effectiveness of the EU disaster response capacity. While I can agree with many of the excellent points raised in this report, I cannot support the call for the establishment of a new EU civil protection force.

While I support calls for the EU to coordinate its response to humanitarian catastrophes with the wider development community, I can only support such developments when they take place within already existing mechanisms, such as the Community’s civil protection mechanism. While it is extremely important that the EU responds effectively to humanitarian catastrophes, it is equally important that we are not the only ones responding.

In addition to focusing our attention on improving the EU’s response, we must also focus on strengthening the capacity of developing countries and regions and sub-regional capacity in the affected area, so that we do this together as an international community. Otherwise, we will be doing all the hard work and they will be doing nothing.

 
  
  

Report: Petru Constantin Luhan (A7-0309/2010)

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE). (PL) Mr President, many EU citizens are still not aware of the significance of cohesion policy for the development not only of individual regions, but also of entire countries. Its main task is to create a level playing field for regions within the European Union. As a result, populations from less privileged regions with difficult farming conditions and poor access to communications benefit from the same level of access to social, education, transport and energy services as the citizens of areas enjoying better social and economic positions. The idea of cohesion is therefore one whose significance cannot be overestimated.

We must therefore support all measures aimed at making better use of money granted under the Structural Funds and at making more effective use of its integrating role, all the more so because the effects of cohesion policy measures are most keenly felt at local level and, therefore, to a significant extent in rural areas too. These are the reasons why I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, I would like to talk about the Luhan report, which is the final topic in today’s debate.

Competitiveness and cohesion are elements which complement and support one another. The competitiveness of the EU as a whole, however, can be secured only if economic growth is genuinely sustainable. Many investments co-financed from the Structural Funds have proved their worth, among which I would like to emphasise infrastructure improvement, because it has resulted in foreign investment being attracted into many regions, contributing to economic development. Cohesion policy, however, has also proved its worth in a time of financial crisis as an effective instrument for responding flexibly to new socio-economic challenges.

I also agree with the rapporteur’s view that the economic competitiveness of EU regions is closely connected with the average level of employment, the education and qualifications of the workforce, social security and access to public services, because support for social cohesion is of key importance for overall regional competitiveness, even on a global scale.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Reimer Böge (A7-0335/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (flooding in Madeira, Portugal, and a storm in France). Portugal applied for assistance from the Solidarity Fund after unusual and abnormal rainfall on the island of Madeira in February 2010 triggered landslides and flooding, causing severe damage to public and private infrastructure, businesses and agriculture. The Portuguese authorities officially estimated the damage caused by the floods in Madeira at EUR 1.08 billion. The Solidarity Fund is contributing about EUR 31 million. I was in Madeira myself and witnessed the need for this fund to be more flexible and generous in its support, particularly for the more remote and island regions, which are often battered by bad weather.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) On the basis of the report by my esteemed German colleague, Mr Böge, I voted for the proposal for a decision by the European Parliament and of the Council on mobilising the European Union Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 67 million to help Madeira (Portugal), which was hit by landslides and floods, as well as France, affected by floods following storm Xynthia in February 2010. I note that the amount represents 2.7% of an estimated EUR 2.5 billion of total direct damage. Of course, this is a substantial amount of funding, but given that it is a relatively small proportion of the total damage (2.7%), I cannot help but wonder whether the European Union should not use this fund to finance a European civil protection force which could immediately come to the aid of disaster victims, in order to cope with extremely acute situations that are beyond the capabilities of national forces. This force would not be very expensive because, initially, it would involve coordinating existing national civil protection forces. In addition it could be used for missions abroad (such as Haiti).

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the adoption of the report awarding Portugal EUR 31 255 790 from the European Union Solidarity Fund, following the flooding that occurred in Madeira last February. The torrential rain that fell on the island of Madeira caused chaos and extreme material damage, with landslides, collapsed bridges, closed highways, and houses and cars swept away by the floods.

Forty-two people died and 13 disappeared in the disaster that struck Madeira. Today, the European Parliament here in Strasbourg has witnessed a genuine demonstration of European solidarity, which is one of the most important values of the European project and one that deserves to be emphasised.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I agree that, in respect of the general budget of the European Union for the 2010 financial year, the European Union Solidarity Fund should be mobilised to provide the sum of EUR 66 891 540 in commitment and payment appropriations in order to address the application made by Portugal to respond to a disaster caused by landslides and flooding on the island of Madeira and also the application by France with regard to a disaster caused by storm Xynthia.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I, of course, welcome the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund to aid the victims of the tragedy that struck Madeira following abnormal rainfall. I congratulate my fellow Member, Mr Teixeira, on his able and continual efforts to raise awareness in the European institutions and to establish a basis for the necessary support. I reiterate my strong belief that the procedures need to be simplified so that the Solidarity Fund can be mobilised more swiftly in future. Emergency aid that arrives too late tarnishes the Union’s efficient image and undermines the feeling of European solidarity.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Portugal applied for assistance from the Solidarity Fund after unusual and abnormal rainfall on the island of Madeira in February 2010 triggered landslides and flooding, causing severe damage to local public and private infrastructure, businesses and agriculture. The Portuguese authorities, in conjunction with the regional government of Madeira, estimated the total direct damage at EUR 1.08 billion, equivalent to 0.68% of Portugal’s gross national income. The flooding caused considerable damage to many homes, farms, roads and water mains. The financial aid released through the fund will enable the Portuguese authorities, particularly the regional government of Madeira, to recover part of the expenses they incurred in responding to the emergency. I voted overall in favour of this report out of a sense of responsibility and a commitment to avoid unnecessary delays in mobilising financial aid for the regions of Portugal and France that have been struck by natural disasters.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Ten months after storm Xynthia hit the French coast, killing 53, injuring 80 and causing substantial material damage, Parliament has adopted a budgetary amendment in order to mobilise the EU Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 35.6 million. The reconstruction process aside, however, how many other tragedies will there have to be before we finally have a Community approach to preventing natural disasters? Natural and man-made disasters are becoming more and more frequent, which is why we must ensure that national measures are more effective and better coordinated, and that European measures are more flexible. I also want to point out that since 2006, we have had a report by Mr Barnier on establishing a rapid reaction force for responding to natural disasters: what is stopping us from adopting it? What is stopping us from using it?

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report today which means that the EU Solidarity Fund can be mobilised following the damage in the wake of major floods in Portugal and storm Xynthia in 2010. This demonstrates the strong ties between the Union’s Member States and underlines the importance of coming to the aid of regions struck by natural disasters. I am delighted that over EUR 35 million have been released from the Solidarity Fund to repair the considerable damage caused by Xynthia in some coastal areas, primarily Charente-Maritime, Vendée and the Côtes-d’Armor.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission is proposing to mobilise the Solidarity Fund to provide a total sum of EUR 66 891 540 in favour of Portugal and France: EUR 31 255 790 for Portugal and EUR 35 635 750 for France. Portugal requested assistance following a storm in Madeira in February 2010, which caused severe damage to public and private infrastructure, businesses and farms. France, for its part, requested assistance from the Solidarity Fund following storm Xynthia, also in February 2010, which struck a significant part of the country, killing 53 people, injuring 80, and also causing severe damage to dams and dykes, public and private infrastructure, road and rail networks, farms and businesses.

While I am wholly in favour of this mobilisation, not least because of its importance to the Autonomous Region of Madeira, I have to express my disappointment that the aid is only being made available in December, 10 months after the disasters that struck the French coast and the island of Madeira. We urgently need to find faster ways of getting the Solidarity Fund procedure to work and we must focus our efforts on achieving that.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We, of course, voted in favour of this report, which proposes mobilising the Solidarity Fund to address the enormous damage that occurred on the island of Madeira following the storm that struck the region in February 2010. Nonetheless, we would like to reiterate some remarks here.

According to the Solidarity Fund Regulation, ‘in the event of major disasters, the Community should show its solidarity with the population of the regions concerned by providing financial assistance to contribute to a rapid return to normal living conditions in the disaster-stricken regions’. The regulation also states that this instrument should enable the Community ‘to act swiftly and efficiently to help, as quickly as possible, in mobilising emergency services to meet people’s immediate needs and contribute to the short-term restoration of damaged key infrastructure’.

However, the rules and procedures involved in mobilising the fund have already shown that this principle of helping the affected populations quickly is not being observed in practice. In this case, this House is only voting to mobilise the fund 10 months after the disaster. That is why we have argued – and we do so again now – that the rules for mobilising this fund need to be adjusted to allow for more flexible and timely mobilisation and to reduce the time that elapses between the disaster and the point at which the funds are made available.

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D), in writing. (FR) In my view, the EU Solidarity Fund, like the Globalisation Adjustment Fund, is one of the budgetary tools that give the strongest practical expression to the ‘solidarity’ value that we Members of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament strive to promote when drafting Community policies. On 27 and 28 February 2010, storm Xynthia killed 53 and injured around 80 in Vendée and Charente-Maritime. It was a genuinely traumatic experience for the region and the nation, and its psychological and economic impact is still being felt 10 months later. As from the March 2010 plenary session, Parliament took action, adopting by a very large majority a resolution calling for the fund to be used to provide assistance to the victims.

Today’s vote, which confirmed the release of EUR 35.6 million for these departments, as well as EUR 31.2 million for Portugal, which suffered flooding in Madeira caused by this storm, is an example of this common desire to show true solidarity between European citizens. This is the Europe we wish to build, a Europe close to its citizens, alert to the issues affecting them, and capable of addressing those issues collectively.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Solidarity Fund. I believe, in fact, that the fund is a valuable tool for enabling the European Union to show solidarity with the populations of regions affected by natural disasters, by providing financial support to help ensure a swift return to normal living conditions. Today’s vote concerned two requests for assistance. The first was made by Portugal, following the abnormal rainfall on the island of Madeira, which triggered landslides and severe flooding, causing damage to public and private infrastructure, to businesses and to agriculture.

The second request for mobilisation was made by France following storm Xynthia, which caused the deaths of 53 people and flooded wide areas, including residential areas, and caused severe damage to dams and dykes, public and private infrastructure, road and rail networks, agriculture and businesses. Lastly, I would add that the Fund was mobilised to the tune of EUR 31 255 790 for the flooding in Madeira and EUR 35 635 750 for storm Xynthia, totalling EUR 66 891 540.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report which grants 31 million euro to Portugal and 35 million euro to France from the EU Solidarity Fund. This is an important gesture of support following flooding and landslides in Portugal in February, and destruction caused by the storm ‘Xynthia’ on the Atlantic coastline in France.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of mobilising the European Union Solidarity Fund for the areas hit by floods in Portugal and the French regions hit by storm Xynthia in February 2010. The Atlantic coastal regions were the worst affected, with the storm flooding vast areas, including residential areas, causing serious human and material damage. Today’s vote responds to the request by the French authorities for these regions to receive, among other things, European financial assistance for an ‘extraordinary disaster, mainly a natural one, affecting the major part of its population, with serious and lasting repercussions on living conditions and the economic stability of the region’. Of the estimated EUR 1 425.43 million of direct damage caused by the disaster, EUR 35 635.750 will be paid out to France. The mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund is a practical expression of a Europe that is close to its citizens, which is what they expect. The European institutions still need to work towards delivering swifter operations and procedures, which are justified by the urgency and scale of natural phenomena.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The aid that the European Union is allocating to Portugal and France following the storms in February 2010 is good news. It is, however, regrettable that the EU does not act as swiftly to help citizens devastated by the consequences of climate change as it does when it has to bail out the banks.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union is an area of solidarity, and the EU Solidarity Fund is a part of that. Support from the fund is crucial for aiding areas affected by natural disasters, such as the flooding in Madeira (Portugal) and storm Xynthia in France. After verifying that both applications meet the eligibility criteria of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, the Commission proposed to mobilise the Solidarity Fund for an amount of EUR 31 255 790 for Portugal (Madeira flooding) and EUR 35 635 750 for France (storm Xynthia), resulting in a total amount of EUR 66 891 540 to be deducted from the ceiling of EUR 1 billion in commitment and payment appropriations. I would, however, like to highlight the delay in mobilising this type of support. The procedure needs to be made less bureaucratic and more streamlined in order to respond to future disaster situations in a timely manner.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) Although I voted in favour of this proposal to grant aid, I consider that this is an analgesic and palliative measure for the consequences of the capitalist model, and that it does not represent any progress in the fight against the root causes of the crisis. I agree with the mobilisation of resources from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for citizens made redundant due to structural changes in commercial models or as a direct consequence of the current economic and financial crisis. I believe that the sum of more than EUR 250 million that is being requested as additional assistance and aid for the more than 600 employees made redundant from the retail sector in the Netherlands can help to achieve the ultimate goal of facilitating the reintegration of these workers into the labour market. I also voted in favour because I am convinced that this assistance complements the redundancy aid provided for in all national legislation and collective agreements. Therefore, this mobilisation of funds from the EGF cannot, under any circumstances, replace the legal responsibilities of governments and business vis-à-vis employees who have been made redundant, or enable the evasion of such responsibilities.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) In such circumstances, support is essential, so that all EU Member States may feel they belong to a united family. It would be many times cheaper if European Union funds were to be granted to projects that were capable of alleviating the consequences of natural disasters. For instance, construction of dams and protective structures, and investment in public information and warning measures. I consider that it would also be useful to develop building regulations for higher-risk regions. If the European Union merely provides funds and does not work towards prevention of natural disasters, this may have graver consequences in the future.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Portugal applied for assistance from the Solidarity Fund after unusual rainfall caused landslides and severe flooding on the island of Madeira in February 2010, which resulted in damage to public and private infrastructure and to businesses and agriculture. The Portuguese authorities estimate the total cost of the direct damage to be EUR 1 080 million. France applied for assistance from the Solidarity Fund after the major part of France was hit by storm Xynthia in February 2010, with the Atlantic coast region, particularly Charente-Maritime and Vendée, being worst affected. The storm claimed 53 lives and nearly 80 people were injured. For the designated zone, the French authorities estimate the total cost of the direct damage caused by the disaster to be EUR 1 425.43 million.

After verifying that both applications comply with the eligibility criteria of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, the Commission proposed to mobilise the Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 31 255 790 for Portugal (flooding in Madeira) and EUR 35 635 750 for France (storm Xynthia), resulting in a total amount of EUR 66 891 540. As all conditions for the assistance are met, I voted in favour of the report in order to show solidarity with the victims and the states affected.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the vote of the European Parliament, which today, Tuesday 14 December 2010, approved the release of EUR 35.6 million for France, whose Atlantic coastline was partly devastated by storm Xynthia in February. This money will be used to finance the rehabilitation of infrastructure damaged by the disaster. As MEP for the worst affected regions, I welcome the allocation of these funds to repair the damage caused by the storm: it comes as a real relief to all the French départements affected. This mobilisation proves that solidarity is not a hollow word where the European Union is concerned.

To conclude, I wish to point out that storm Xynthia in February 2010 affected a large part of France, with the départements of Charente-Maritime and Vendée being the worst hit, leaving 53 people dead and 80 injured. The material damage was estimated at EUR 1 425.43 million. A total of EUR 35.6 million has been released from the EU Solidarity Fund to repair this damage.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) According to the Böge report, EUR 66.9 million have been made available to combat the effects of severe natural disasters in France and Portugal. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that, in respect of the general budget of the European Union for the 2010 financial year, the European Union Solidarity Fund should be mobilised to provide the sum of EUR 66 891 540 in commitment and payment appropriations in order to address the applications made by:

- Portugal to mobilise the fund in response to a disaster caused by landslides and flooding on Madeira Island; and

- France to mobilise the fund with regard to a disaster caused by storm Xynthia.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I warmly welcome the adoption of this report providing for the allocation of EUR 31 255 790 to Portugal to address the terrible damage caused by the disaster that struck the island of Madeira in February 2010. In this respect, I should point out the major commitment shown by the Portuguese delegation from the Partido Social Democrata, particularly the work done by Mr Teixeira, which proved decisive in obtaining this result.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The Commission proposes to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Portugal and France under point 26 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (IIA). The IIA allows the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. In 2010, so far, only one proposal to mobilise the Solidarity Fund has been submitted by the Commission, a proposal of 24 September 2010 to mobilise EUR 13.02 million following severe flooding in Ireland in November 2009 (COM(2010)0534). This proposal and the corresponding draft amending budget (DAB No 8/2010) are still in the process of being adopted by the two arms of the budgetary authority. In parallel to the proposal to mobilise the Solidarity Fund in favour of Portugal and France, the Commission has presented a draft amending budget (DAB No 9/2010 of 13 October 2010) in order to enter the corresponding commitment and payment appropriations in the 2010 budget as provided in point 26 of the IIA.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Solidarity Fund was set up with the aim of demonstrating the European Union’s solidarity with the people of regions affected by natural disasters. In February this year, the region of Madeira, where I come from, was struck by a disaster caused by landslides and flooding. Following this tragedy, Portugal submitted an application to mobilise the Solidarity Fund in order to address the damage, particularly by repairing infrastructure and rebuilding the affected areas.

The French authorities also submitted an application to mobilise the fund following storm Xynthia. The total damage caused by both disasters has been assessed at EUR 66 891 540, and this amount will soon be mobilised once the amending budget has been changed as required to make it available. The effects of February’s disaster made themselves felt straight away, and extensive and severe damage was caused to public and private infrastructure, businesses and crops. However, even though the effects of the tragedy that devastated the region were so severe, European help was not immediately forthcoming. Ten months have now passed. Since I endorse the need to make the whole procedure less tardy, I am voting for the fund to be mobilised for the affected regions and appeal for it to be done as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D), in writing. (FR) The adoption today in plenary of a budgetary amendment to mobilise the EU Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 35.6 million following a proposal by the Commission is good news. This is in response to the request made by the French Government following storm Xynthia, which hit the French coast on 27 and 28 February 2010, leaving 53 people dead and 80 injured in Vendée and Charente-Maritime. The procedure is undoubtedly long and in need of improvement, but I am pleased to see European solidarity being shown in this way, in the face of the tragedy the victims have experienced. I had written to Commissioner Hahn to support the French Government’s request for aid, and he has honoured the commitment he made to me during his visit to La Rochelle in early March. This fund is more than much-needed financial assistance; it symbolises the common values shared by our continent.

 
  
  

Report: László Surján (A7-0341/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) In view of the opinion by the Committee on Regional Development and the proposal to reduce payment appropriations from the line ‘Energy projects to aid economic recovery – European offshore wind grid system’ so as to aid the countries (Portugal and France) affected by major natural disasters through the Solidarity Fund, and also bearing in mind the fact that this decision sets out the basic criteria for the operation of the Solidarity Fund, I agree with this report.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) We all remember storm Xynthia, which devastated the Vendée coast nearly a year ago. Since then, where water had destroyed everything, reconstruction has had to take place. The European Union Solidarity Fund is the ideal instrument for supporting local efforts. By voting for this text, I have helped to release EUR 35 635 750, earmarked not for compensation of damage suffered by private individuals, but for infrastructure rehabilitation. Created following the 2002 floods in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and France, the Solidarity Fund is meant to assist European regions affected by unforeseeable disasters. This text also allocates an equivalent amount to the areas affected by recent flooding in Portugal.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I, of course, welcome the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund to aid the victims of the tragedy that struck Madeira following abnormal rainfall. I congratulate my fellow Member, Mr Teixeira, on his able and continual efforts to raise awareness in the European institutions and to establish a basis for the necessary support. I reiterate my strong belief that the procedures need to be simplified so that the Solidarity Fund can be mobilised more swiftly in future. Emergency aid that arrives too late tarnishes the Union’s efficient image and undermines the feeling of European solidarity.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) The sole purpose of Draft amending budget No 9/2010 is to formally enter the budgetary adjustment arising from the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund into the 2010 budget. I have already voted in favour of a parallel draft report recommending that mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund be approved for Portugal (Madeira flooding) and France (storm Xynthia), and so it is out of the same sense of responsibility that I am voting in favour of this report on the amending budget to mobilise EUR 31 255 790 for Portugal and EUR 35 635 750 for France, making a total of EUR 66 891 540 to be deducted from the fund’s ceiling.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Despite the importance of investment projects for energy infrastructure, and most especially wind energy, I am voting in favour of reducing the payment appropriations from budget line 06 04 14 03 so that the funds can be reallocated to the EUR 66 891 540 in payment appropriations (line 13 06 01) required to cover needs relating to the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As we vote on this draft amending budget, which will allow for the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund in favour of the people of Madeira and the regions of France affected by the storm Xynthia – which, of course, we supported – it is important to highlight a few points here, in addition to the delay in mobilising the fund, which we mentioned previously.

The Commission believes that the eligibility criteria for mobilisation have been met, particularly, in Madeira’s case, as regards the threshold for damage. It should be noted, however, that the Union support now made available will only cover 2.89% of the total damage caused by the disaster. Madeira is an outermost region and, hence, has to bear the resulting constraints. It is also pursuing convergence objectives (despite the damaging changes in this field since the last enlargement). These particular characteristics ought, therefore, to be taken into account by increasing support for the region, either from this fund or through other measures.

Consequently, when the rules of the fund were being discussed, we proposed considering the idea of increasing financial assistance to cohesion countries and convergence regions by introducing an indispensable cohesion dimension into this question of providing support for damage caused by natural disasters. That would also reduce the disparities between the various regions and Member States in the European Union.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing.(FR) At a time when we are facing ever more frequent natural disasters in Europe, the European Union must be able to provide appropriate aid to its Member States when one of them is hit by a disaster of this kind. Consequently, following storm Xynthia in March, which hit the coastal areas of Charente-Maritime and Vendée, and the floods that affected the island of Madeira in Portugal in February, it was only natural that I should approve the mobilisation of the European Solidarity Fund in order to compensate for the damage caused by these disasters. To my mind, this vote illustrates the solidarity that exists between the nations of Europe, and which should exist in many other areas too, for that matter.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. (PL) When faced with a natural disaster – and we are facing ever more disasters of this type – it is imperative that the European Union provide aid to Member States and regions which are grappling with the lasting effects of such tragedies. The EU Solidarity Fund was established to precisely this end.

The fund makes it possible to grant financial assistance to victims in areas affected by ‘major natural disasters’, such as the Portuguese island of Madeira which was destroyed by floods, or the French regions devastated by storm Xynthia. With the memory of this year’s floods in Poland and other parts of Europe still fresh in my mind, I concur with the proposal to grant support to the countries that have suffered, in solidarity with the thousands of citizens of regions affected by such devastating cataclysms.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report which approves the transfer of 66 million euro from the European offshore wind grid system to the EU Solidarity Fund in order to help the victims of flooding in Portugal and storms in France.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) This draft amending budget makes sense, considering the purpose of the funds mobilised through the Solidarity Fund to address the effects of the landslides and severe flooding that took place on the island of Madeira, Portugal, and the effects of storm Xynthia in France. After verifying that both applications meet the eligibility criteria of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, the Commission proposed to mobilise the Solidarity Fund to the tune of EUR 31 255 790 for Portugal (flooding in Madeira) and EUR 35 635 750 for France (storm Xynthia), resulting in a total amount of EUR 66 891 540 to be deducted from the ceiling of EUR 1 billion in commitment and payment appropriations. I would, however, like to highlight the delay in mobilising this type of support. The procedure needs to be made less bureaucratic and more streamlined in order to respond to future disaster situations in a timely manner.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) An increase in the budget in times of financial and economic crisis should, in principle, be rejected. In this case, however, it is a matter of an adjustment on account of storm damage in France and Portugal caused by storm Xynthia. Mutual aid and assistance in the event of natural disasters is a true sign of active European solidarity and is therefore to be welcomed and supported. For this reason, I have voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) According to the report, it must be ensured that the funds made available for Portugal and France are used to help in the rebuilding of infrastructure in both countries, and they are to be used as a ‘tool of refinancing’. I therefore voted in favour of it. The people affected must be helped and their living conditions and the economic stability of the region must be improved.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing. (PL) I fully support the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund in response to the natural disasters in France and Portugal. I regard the Solidarity Fund as one of the most important ways to build European identity and a sense of community between EU citizens. In 2010, Poland was one of the countries to benefit from the Solidarity Fund, and this met with a positive response from the media. I would like to highlight the need to raise public awareness of the Solidarity Fund and the effects of its use.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that, in respect of the general budget of the European Union for the 2010 financial year, the European Union Solidarity Fund should be mobilised to provide the sum of EUR 66 891 540 in commitment and payment appropriations in order to address the applications made by:

- Portugal to mobilise the fund in response to a disaster caused by landslides and flooding on Madeira Island; and

- France to mobilise the fund with regard to a disaster caused by storm Xynthia.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome this draft amending budget making it possible to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide a total of EUR 66 891 540 in commitment and payment appropriations, EUR 31 255 790 of which is to address the request for assistance submitted by Portugal following the considerable damage caused by the storm that struck the Autonomous Region of Madeira in February 2010.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – According to Article 37(1) of the Financial Regulation, the Commission may present draft amending budgets if there are ‘unavoidable, exceptional or unforeseen circumstances’. On this aspect, and regarding the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund, the Commission proposes to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Portugal and France on the basis of point 26 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (IIA). The IIA allows the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. The conditions for eligibility to the fund are detailed here as well as in Council Regulation No 2012/2002 establishing the EUSF. It is important to note that the objective of the fund is not to compensate private damage but to repair infrastructure and is a tool for refinancing. In 2010, so far, only one proposal to mobilise the Solidarity Fund has been submitted by the Commission, a proposal of 24 September 2010 to mobilise EUR 13.02 million following severe flooding in Ireland in November 2009 (COM(2010)0534).

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The aim of this European Parliament document is to approve the Council’s position on Draft amending budget No 9/2010 with a view to implementing the changes needed for the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund. The disasters that occurred in Madeira and France were considered by the Commission to be a ‘major natural disaster’ and an ‘extraordinary regional disaster’, respectively, and both applications by the national authorities for mobilisation of the fund were accepted.

According to the Financial Regulation, the Commission may present draft amending budgets ‘if there are unavoidable, exceptional or unforeseen circumstances’. In this case, the Commission proposed to mobilise the Solidarity Fund to provide EUR 31 255 790 for Portugal and EUR 35 635 750 for France, making a total of EUR 66 891 540. Today, in the name of European solidarity, we are approving the redeployment of this amount in payment appropriations from budget line 06 04 14 03: Energy projects to aid economic recovery – European offshore wind grid system, for the repair of infrastructure and reconstruction of the areas affected by the disasters.

I welcome the measure that has been adopted, although I regret the slowness of the whole procedure for mobilising the fund, given the extent of the tragedy that devastated the region that I come from, the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0336/2010)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing.(FR) On the basis of the report by my excellent Italian colleague, Barbara Matera, I voted in favour of the proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the sum of EUR 2.2 million in aid to Slovenia, which is facing redundancies in the textile industry. The plant in question is Mura, European Fashion Design, which has laid off 2 554 workers. I find it strange that 583, or 22.8%, of the 2 554 workers made redundant in total have a long-standing health problem or disability. I am not sure they fulfil EGF criteria. It should be noted that 1 114 of the 2 554 dismissed workers ‘have not concluded primary school education’. It is legitimate to question the educational level of those recruited and their suitability with respect to current industrial standards. I question the independence of the civil servants at the Slovenian Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs who have to assume the role of certification authority for supervising this expenditure.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Like the proposals she tabled in the last plenary session, Mrs Matera’s resolutions advocating the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in six specific cases are entirely justified. This fund will provide assistance to employees suffering from the harmful effects of globalisation in Slovenia, Germany, Poland and Spain. I have always felt that using this fund was effective, because it produces concrete results and meets specific and perfectly identifiable needs. As a member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, I simply had to vote in favour of adopting these resolutions.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Slovenia has requested assistance for 2 554 redundancies at Mura, European Fashion Design, a company operating in the wearing apparel sector, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament. I also agree that the Commission’s proposal, in its explanatory statement, should include clear and detailed information on the application, analysing the eligibility criteria and explaining the reasons that led to its approval, in accordance with the requests made by Parliament.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Aid to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation should be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In light of structural changes in international trade, it is important that the European economy is able to quickly implement assistance policies for workers affected by such changes whilst also giving them the skills required to return swiftly to the labour market. Financial assistance should therefore be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for the responsibilities normally incumbent upon companies, nor is it intended for the financing and restructuring of companies. Given that Slovenia has requested assistance in respect of 2 554 redundancies at Mura, European Fashion Design, a company that operates in the wearing apparel sector in the NUTS III region of Pomurje, and that 7% of all people employed in the region of Pomurje were working for Mura and incomes in this region were already below the Slovenian average, I am voting overall in favour of this report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Slovenia.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The number of times in recent months that this House has approved the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which was set up to provide additional support for workers suffering from the consequences of major changes in the structure of world trade, is, in my view, highly indicative of the crisis that Europe is going through. The EGF is not the answer to this crisis, but it is a considerable, significant help. In this specific case, the aid is intended to address the consequences of 2 554 redundancies at Mura, European Fashion Design, a company in Slovenia that operates in the wearing apparel sector. This sector has been particularly badly affected by changes in the structure of world trade and is the victim of cheap textile imports.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European citizens and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, and, at the same time, developing a new, skilled workforce to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in this context that this intervention plan for Slovenia is being put forward, in relation to 2 554 redundancies at Mura, European Fashion Design, a company operating in the wearing apparel sector. I therefore hope that the European institutions will redouble their effects to implement measures to speed up and improve the rates of utilisation of such an important resource as the EGF, which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Applications to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund are being submitted month after month. Thus, there are now eight more applications from four Member States: Slovenia, Germany, Poland and Spain. Several hundred more companies are shutting down in various industries, from car manufacturing to the textile sector via the retail trade. In all, over 6 500 workers (6 592 to be precise) have been made redundant. That makes almost 10 000, if we also add in the ones discussed here a month ago.

As we approve this mobilisation, I cannot avoid reiterating that what is needed is a clear break with the neoliberal policies that are causing the obvious economic and social disaster to be seen in the countries of the European Union. Palliative measures are indeed necessary, but it is the causes of the disaster that have to be addressed.

It has become increasingly urgent to implement the proposal that we made during the debate on the 2011 budget, to create a European programme for employment and sustainable development, to which 1% of EU gross domestic product would be allocated, supplemented with funds from the Member States. The aim of this would be real convergence, promotion of each country’s potential, the sustainable use of its resources, investment in production and the creation of jobs with rights.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Slovenia because I consider that instrument to be a valuable resource for the support of workers in difficulties on account of the economic crisis. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

Today’s vote concerned a request for assistance for 2 554 redundancies in Mura, European Fashion Design, an enterprise which operates in the wearing apparel sector, amounting to a total of EUR 2 247 940 financed by the EGF. To conclude, I welcome the adoption of the report, which shows that the EGF is a useful and effective resource for combating unemployment resulting from globalisation and the economic crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Fund to help the 2 554 workers made redundant in the Mura, European Fashion Design, enterprise in Slovenia. I hope the EUR 2.2 million will help the workers and the region recover quickly from the structural changes they are facing.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I am abstaining out of consideration for the Slovenian workers of the Mura Group, who have been sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. In the situation into which they are plunged as a result of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union, one could be inclined to vote against, given the pitiful amount of this handout. However, the little that is being given may help to ease their pain. This does not make the rationale of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any less intolerable. It endorses a rationale that has led the investment funds that own this Group and the banks that invest in them to make profits at their expense.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of the company relocations that occur in a globalised world. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of the lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF is aimed at helping workers who are victims of company relocations, and it is fundamental in facilitating their access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Slovenia, which has applied for assistance for 2 554 redundancies at Mura, European Fashion Design, a company operating in the wearing apparel sector.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I voted in favour, as I have done on previous occasions relating to mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. We must support people who have lost their jobs and give them the opportunity of applying their potential in different areas. It is a real shame that, despite the fact that I made a personal approach to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia, pointing out to him the opportunity of drawing on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, Latvia has nevertheless not made use of this opportunity, even though 15% of Latvia’s population is unemployed. It appears that a signal needs to be sent to the leadership of the European Commission about the inaction of the powers that be in the Republic of Latvia. More than 100 000 people from Latvia have already left their native country. It seems that the fate of these people is of no concern to the government of the Republic of Latvia.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The Slovenian clothing company Mura, European Fashion Design, had to make 2 554 workers redundant between 21 October 2009 and 20 February 2010 as a result of the economic and financial crisis. Slovenia is therefore applying for EUR 2 247 940 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in order to be able to take measures for the rapid reintegration into the labour market of the workers affected. I have voted in favour of the report, because mobilisation of the funding is fully justified.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) According to the report by Mrs Matera, we need to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers in Slovenia who have been made redundant as a result of the global financial and economic crisis. I think this is a positive thing to do and have therefore voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Slovenia has requested assistance for 2 554 cases of redundancy at Mura, European Fashion Design, a company operating in the wearing apparel sector, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the Commission’s proposal to establish an alternative source of payment appropriations to unused European Social Fund resources, following Parliament’s frequent reminders that the EGF was created as a separate, specific instrument with its own aims and deadlines, and that suitable budget lines for transfers must therefore be identified.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request presented by Slovenia for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for 2 554 redundancies at Mura, European Fashion Design, a company operating in the wearing apparel sector, in the period from 21 October 2009 to 20 February 2010, fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. In effect, under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily expanded to cover its intervention in situations like this in which there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of four months in an enterprise in a Member State’ as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, in the hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will help these workers successfully rejoin the labour market.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0337/2010)

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Germany has requested assistance for 1 181 redundancies spread across the four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Baden-Württemberg, a company operating in the printing machinery manufacturing sector, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament. I also agree that it should be ensured that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) supports the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Aid to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation should be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In light of structural changes in international trade, it is important that the European economy is able to quickly implement assistance policies for workers affected by such changes whilst also giving them the skills required to return swiftly to the labour market. Financial assistance should therefore be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for the responsibilities normally incumbent upon companies, nor is it intended for the financing and restructuring of companies. Given that Germany has requested assistance for 1 181 redundancies spread across the four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Baden-Württemberg, a company operating in the printing machinery manufacturing sector, I am voting overall in favour of this report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Germany.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Today, we are approving a package of EUR 8 308 555 in aid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in favour of Germany, in order to address the consequences of 1 181 redundancies spread across the four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in Baden-Württemberg, a company operating in the printing machinery manufacturing sector. As I have always pointed out, although such assistance is extremely important in dealing with the current symptoms, it is not a final solution to the problems affecting European industries, which lie not only in the economic crisis that we are experiencing, but also in the need for Europe to adapt to a changing world, one in which it is essential to be competitive.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European citizens and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, and, at the same time, developing a new, skilled workforce to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in this context that this intervention plan for Germany is being put forward, in relation to 1 181 redundancies spread across the four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Baden-Württemberg, a company operating in the printing machinery manufacturing sector. I therefore hope that the European institutions will redouble their effects to implement measures to speed up and improve the rates of utilisation of such an important resource as the EGF, which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE), in writing. (DE) Today’s decision will result in the workers from the enterprise Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in Baden-Württemberg who are threatened with redundancy receiving around EUR 8 million in assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. These funds are to be used to assist these workers in finding new jobs as quickly as possible. It is important to me that these people receive these funds quickly and without significant bureaucratic frictional losses. The assistance is needed now and not in six months’ or a year’s time. The European Union and the Member States must also endeavour to do more than simply counter the negative consequences of globalisation. Globalisation is a process the progress of which we can, and indeed must, control.

 
  
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  Wolf Klinz (ALDE), in writing. (DE) My abstention from this vote is not only due to the sceptical attitude of the German Free Democratic Party to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, but is also based on a possible conflict of interests as a shareholder in Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Germany because I consider that instrument to be a valuable resource for the support of workers in difficulties on account of the economic crisis. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

Today’s vote concerned a request for assistance for 1 181 redundancies at four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in Baden-Württemberg, an enterprise which operates in the manufacturing of printing machinery sector, amounting to a sum of EUR 8 308 555 financed by the EGF. To conclude, I welcome the adoption of the report, which shows that the EGF is a useful and effective resource for combating unemployment resulting from globalisation and the economic crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The European Globalisation Fund was created in order to provide assistance for workers suffering the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. The 1 181 redundancies at four production sites of the enterprise Druckmaschinen AG in Baden Württemberg (manufacturing of printing machinery sector) fall exactly into this category and I therefore supported the mobilisation of EUR 8 308 555 to assist them.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I am abstaining out of consideration for the German workers of the Heidelberger Druckmaschinen Group, who have been sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. In the situation into which they are plunged as a result of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union, one could be inclined to vote against, given the pitiful amount of this handout. However, the little that is being given may help to ease their pain. This does not make the rationale of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any less intolerable. It endorses the rationale that has led this Group, a world leader in the manufacture of printing machines, to relocate with the aim of increasing its profits.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of the company relocations that occur in a globalised world. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of the lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF is aimed at helping workers who are victims of company relocations, and it is fundamental in facilitating their access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Germany, which has requested assistance for 1 181 redundancies spread across the four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Baden-Württemberg, a company operating in the printing machinery manufacturing sector.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The effects of the economic crisis are still being felt throughout Europe. In Germany, too, some enterprises are still struggling to survive and are making numerous people redundant. Between 26 January 2010 and 26 May 2010, the printing machinery manufacturer Druckmaschinen AG, based in Heidelberg, had to make 1 181 workers redundant as a result of the crisis. The Federal Republic of Germany has therefore applied for EUR 8 308 555 in assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I am voting in favour of the report, as all of the stipulated criteria for mobilisation of the funds are met.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) I support the mobilisation of the fund in connection with this application because this measure can provide additional support to workers who are suffering the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and assist their reintegration into the labour market. I therefore voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Germany has requested assistance for 1 181 redundancies spread across the four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Baden-Württemberg, a company operating in the printing machinery manufacturing sector, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the Commission’s proposal to establish an alternative source of payment appropriations to unused European Social Fund resources, following Parliament’s frequent reminders that the EGF was created as a separate, specific instrument with its own aims and deadlines, and that suitable budget lines for transfers must therefore be identified.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request presented by Germany for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for 1 181 redundancies spread across the four production sites of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Baden-Württemberg, a company operating in the printing machinery manufacturing sector, in the period between 26 January and 26 May 2010, fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. In effect, under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily expanded to cover its intervention in situations like this in which there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of four months in an enterprise in a Member State’ as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, in the hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will help these workers successfully rejoin the labour market.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Apart from the application from the enterprise Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, I have, without reservations, voted in favour of all of the applications for mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund that have been voted on today, as I support the general idea of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund and, in particular, the direct support given to the people who, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs as a result of globalisation. However, with regard to the aforementioned enterprise, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, I abstained from the vote. In this case, I have definite reservations. It is well-known that Heidelberger Druckmaschinen is a jewel of the German mechanical engineering sector. The company made excellent profits for many years.

Then, admittedly, came two or three financially difficult years. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen reacted with the reflex typical of large companies: it reduced staff numbers in the area where wages were high, in other words, in Germany, and, at the same time, invested and increased the number of staff in China, where wages were low. If, during such a process, an application is made for mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, this represents a negative example of how a socially meaningful and very responsible EU measure is exploited by international companies to wheedle out of their social responsibility.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0359/2010)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing.(FR) On the basis of the report by my Italian colleague, Barbara Matera, I voted in favour of the proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the sum of EUR 0.6 million in aid to Poland, which is facing redundancies in the automotive sector. Five hundred and ninety workers have been made redundant from two companies within the automotive industry. I support the fact that this aid is being managed and controlled by the bodies responsible for the European Social Fund (ESF) in Poland, thereby limiting monitoring costs to a mere EUR 2 000. Like Mrs Matera, I congratulate the Commission on the fact that, in the context of mobilising the EGF, it has proposed an alternative source of payment appropriations to unused ESF funds. Nonetheless, I regret the fact that, in order to mobilise the EGF in favour of this case, payment appropriations have been taken from a budget heading designed to support SMEs and innovation. We must deplore the Commission’s shortcomings in implementing competitiveness and innovation programmes, especially during an economic crisis that is likely to significantly increase the need for assistance.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Poland has submitted a request for assistance for 590 redundancies at two companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) in the NUTS II region of Wielkopolskie, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament. I also agree with the Commission’s proposal, in relation to the mobilisation of the EGF, to establish an alternative source of payment appropriations to unused European Social Fund resources, following Parliament’s frequent reminders that the EGF was created as a separate, specific instrument with its own aims and deadlines, and that suitable budget lines for transfers must therefore be identified.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Aid to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation should be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In view of the structural changes in world trade, it is vital that the European economy is able to promptly deploy the instruments designed to support workers affected in this way, and to provide them with new skills so that they can be quickly reintegrated into the labour market. Financial assistance should therefore be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for the responsibilities normally incumbent upon companies, nor is it intended for the financing and restructuring of companies. Given that Poland has submitted a request for assistance for 590 redundancies at two companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) in the region of Wielkopolskie, I am voting in favour of this report or, in other words, in favour of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Poland.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The financial and economic crisis that we are going through, combined with the constant shifts in the labour market caused by changes to the structure of world trade, has resulted in countless victims of unemployment, which, in many cases, is long term. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created to respond to situations like these. In this particular case, we are talking about the mobilisation of in excess of EUR 600 000 in favour of Poland to support 613 redundancies at two companies in the motor vehicle manufacturing sector between 1 March 2009 and 30 November 2009. As the Commission has assessed this application and considers it to be suitable and to meet the set requirements, and as it recommends that the request be approved, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European citizens and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, and, at the same time, developing a new, skilled workforce to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in this context that this intervention plan for Poland is being put forward, in relation to 590 redundancies at two companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) in the NUTS II region of Wielkopolskie. I therefore hope that the European institutions will redouble their effects to implement measures to speed up and improve the rates of utilisation of such an important resource as the EGF, which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Poland because I consider that instrument to be a valuable resource for the support of workers in difficulties on account of the economic crisis. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

The request for assistance concerned 1 104 redundancies (of which 590 have been targeted for assistance) made redundant by two companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers), amounting to a sum of EUR 633 077 financed by the EGF. To conclude, I welcome the adoption of the report, which shows that the EGF is a useful and effective resource for combating unemployment resulting from globalisation and the economic crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The Commission has proposed granting EUR 633 077 from the European Globalisation Fund to help 1 104 workers made redundant in Poland in two enterprises involved in the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers. I voted for this proposal.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I am abstaining out of consideration for the workers of the Polish car industry, who have been sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. In the situation into which they are plunged as a result of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union, one could be inclined to vote against, given the pitiful amount of this handout. However, the little that is being given may help to ease their pain. This does not make the rationale of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any less intolerable. It endorses the rationale that leads companies such as SEWS and Leoni Atokabel to shamelessly relocate in order to increase their profits.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of the company relocations that occur in a globalised world. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of the lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF is aimed at helping workers who are victims of company relocations, and it is fundamental in facilitating their access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Poland, which has applied for assistance for 590 redundancies at two companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) in the NUTS II region of Wielkopolskie.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In order to be able to prevent a significant increase in the level of unemployment as a result of the financial and economic crisis, the EU Member States need funds to be able to implement effective political measures quickly. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund makes available an annual amount of EUR 500 billion for this purpose. If more than 500 workers from one or more enterprises are made redundant during a specific period, an application may be made for mobilisation of funds. I am voting in favour of the report, as assistance amounting to EUR 633 077 for 1 104 redundant Polish workers from enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 is fully justified.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the report because it concerns targeted measures to help workers suffering as a result of the economic crisis and its consequences.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Poland has submitted a request for assistance for 590 redundancies at two companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) in the NUTS II region of Wielkopolskie, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the Commission’s proposal to establish an alternative source of payment appropriations to unused European Social Fund resources, following Parliament’s frequent reminders that the EGF was created as a separate, specific instrument with its own aims and deadlines, and that suitable budget lines for transfers must therefore be identified.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request submitted by Poland for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for 590 redundancies at two companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) in the NUTS II region of Wielkopolskie fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. In effect, under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily expanded to cover its intervention in situations like this in which there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’ as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, in the hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will help these workers successfully rejoin the labour market.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0358/2010)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of the aid to Aragón. This autonomous community has a population density of less than the EU average (112 inhabitants per square kilometre); its traditional economy is growing cereals and rearing sheep; its retail trade has suffered 1 154 redundancies from 593 businesses in a nine-month period; 56% of people in its service sector were unemployed in February 2010, 73% of whom were women; 73.9% of workers made redundant were sales assistants in shops and markets; 14.4% were doing unskilled jobs. It is regrettable that measures began to be adopted too late, 11 months after the first redundancies.

It would be interesting to analyse the results of the temporary and extraordinary assistance measures for those made redundant which will be adopted for their reintegration into the labour market. It must, however, remain clear that these actions must not substitute those that the businesses are obliged to adopt under national legislation or collective agreements.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has submitted a request for assistance for 1 154 redundancies at 593 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 47 (retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles) in the NUTS II region of Aragón, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament. I also agree that the functioning and added value of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006, within the framework of the 2007–2013 Multiannual Financial Framework mid-term review process.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Aid to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation should be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In view of the structural changes in world trade, it is vital that the European economy is able to promptly deploy the instruments designed to support workers affected in this way, and to provide them with new skills so that they can be quickly reintegrated into the labour market. Financial assistance should therefore be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for the responsibilities normally incumbent upon companies, nor is it intended for the financing and restructuring of companies. Given that Spain has submitted a request for assistance for 1 154 redundancies at 593 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 47 (retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles) in the region of Aragón, I am voting overall in favour of this report or, in other words, in favour of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Spain.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The financial and economic crisis that we are going through, combined with the constant shifts in the labour market caused by changes to the structure of world trade, has resulted in countless victims of unemployment, which, in many cases, is long term. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created to respond to situations like these. In this particular case, we are talking about the mobilisation of in excess of EUR 1.5 million in favour of Spain to support 1 154 redundancies at 593 companies in the retail trade between 1 June 2009 and 28 February 2010. As the Commission has assessed this application and considers it to be suitable and to meet the set requirements, and as it recommends that the request be approved, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European citizens and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, and, at the same time, developing a new, skilled workforce to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in this context that this intervention plan for Spain is being put forward, in relation to 1 154 redundancies at 593 companies operating in Division 47 (retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles) in the NUTS II region of Aragón. I therefore hope that the European institutions will redouble their effects to implement measures to speed up and improve the rates of utilisation of such an important resource as the EGF, which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Spain because I consider that instrument to be a valuable resource for the support of workers in difficulties on account of the economic crisis. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

Today’s request for assistance concerned 1 154 redundancies in 593 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 47 (retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles), amounting to a sum of EUR 1 560 000 financed by the EGF. Lastly, I must emphasise the importance of the EGF, which has proved to be a useful and effective resource for combating unemployment resulting from globalisation and the economic crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The extent of the global downturn is revealed in this application from Spain to mobilise EUR 1 560 000 from the European Globalisation Fund to help 1 154 people made redundant in 593 different retail enterprises over a nine month period. I supported this request.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of the company relocations that occur in a globalised world. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of the lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF is aimed at helping workers who are victims of company relocations, and it is fundamental in facilitating their access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Spain, which has applied for assistance for 1 154 redundancies at 593 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 47 (retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles) in the NUTS II region of Aragón.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) There have been 1 154 redundancies affecting 593 Spanish enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 47 in the NUTS II region of Aragón. The financial and economic crisis has resulted in a drastic downturn in sales in the retail sector. This situation has serious consequences, particularly for the region of Aragón, which has a lower population density than the EU average. Further emigration from this region, which, prior to the crisis, was experiencing a slight upturn, is to be feared. I am voting in favour of the report, as immediate action must be taken to respond to increased levels of unemployment, particularly in small regions with struggling economies.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) Since this is a matter of additional support for workers made redundant as a result of the consequences of the global financial and economic crisis so as to provide them with additional funds for their reintegration into the labour market, I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has submitted a request for assistance for 1 154 redundancies at 593 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 47 (retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles) in the NUTS II region of Aragón, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the Commission’s proposal to establish an alternative source of payment appropriations to unused European Social Fund resources, following Parliament’s frequent reminders that the EGF was created as a separate, specific instrument with its own aims and deadlines, and that suitable budget lines for transfers must therefore be identified.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request submitted by Spain for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for 1 154 redundancies at 593 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 47 (retail trade, except for motor vehicles and motorcycles) in the NUTS II region of Aragón fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. In effect, under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily expanded to cover its intervention in situations like this in which there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’ as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, in the hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will help these workers successfully rejoin the labour market.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0357/2010)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of European Globalisation Adjustment Fund aid for Valencia because, as a result of the structural changes in world trade and the financial crisis, there were 544 unexpected redundancies from 143 businesses between 13 April 2009 and 12 January 2010 in the Valencian textile industry, which have had a serious impact at local level. Out of those dismissed, 61.7% are men, 22% are over the age of 55, 79.9% only have a basic education and four are disabled.

I believe that the training that they will be given during the 14 months of paid part-time work experience will improve their professional qualifications so that they can enter the labour market. As in the previous case, it is regrettable that the measures were applied too late, one year and two months after the first redundancies.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has submitted a request for assistance for 350 redundancies at 143 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacture of textiles) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament. I also agree that the Commission’s proposal, in its explanatory statement, should include clear and detailed information on the application, analysing the eligibility criteria and explaining the reasons that led to its approval, in accordance with the requests made by Parliament.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Aid to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation should be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In view of the structural changes in world trade, it is vital that the European economy is able to promptly deploy the instruments designed to support workers affected in this way, and to provide them with new skills so that they can be quickly reintegrated into the labour market. Financial assistance should therefore be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for the responsibilities normally incumbent upon companies, nor is it intended for the financing and restructuring of companies. Given that Spain has submitted a request for assistance for 350 redundancies at 143 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacture of textiles) in the region of Comunidad Valenciana, I am voting overall in favour of this report or, in other words, in favour of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Spain.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The financial and economic crisis that we are going through, combined with the constant shifts in the labour market caused by changes to the structure of world trade, has resulted in countless victims of unemployment, which, in many cases, is long term. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created to respond to situations like these. In this particular case, we are talking about the mobilisation of in excess of EUR 2 million in favour of Spain to support 544 redundancies at 143 companies in the textile sector between 13 April 2009 and 12 January 2010. As the Commission has assessed this application and considers it to be suitable and to meet the set requirements, and as it recommends that the request be approved, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European citizens and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, and, at the same time, developing a new, skilled workforce to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in this context that this intervention plan for Spain is being put forward, in relation to 350 redundancies at 143 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacture of textiles) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana. I therefore hope that the European institutions will redouble their effects to implement measures to speed up and improve the rates of utilisation of such an important resource as the EGF, which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Spain because I consider that instrument to be a valuable resource for the support of workers in difficulties on account of the economic crisis. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

Today’s request for assistance concerned 544 redundancies (of which 350 have been targeted for assistance) in 143 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacture of textiles), amounting to a sum of EUR 2 059 466 financed by the EGF. To conclude, I welcome the adoption of the report, which shows that the EGF is a useful and effective resource for combating unemployment resulting from globalisation and the economic crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The textile industry is currently facing a challenging time all over Europe. The Commission proposes mobilising EUR 1 422 850 in response to 528 redundancies in 33 enterprises in the sector in Spain. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of the company relocations that occur in a globalised world. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of the lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF is aimed at helping workers who are victims of company relocations, and it is fundamental in facilitating their access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Spain, which has applied for assistance for 350 redundancies at 143 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacture of textiles) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Between 13 April 2009 and 12 January 2010, 544 Spanish workers were made redundant from 143 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacturing of textiles). In order to be able to provide 350 of them with assistance, Spain has applied for the mobilisation of EUR 2 059 466 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I am voting in favour of the report, as all the criteria for the mobilisation of the fund have been met in full.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Since the proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises specialising mainly in the manufacture of furniture, shoes, textiles, ceramics and toys in Comunidad Valenciana is very high and the service sector represents 60% of total employment in this region, this sector has been particularly badly affected by the high number of redundancies in the last two years. This has a high impact at local level. It is therefore particularly important for us to strengthen and continue to support the textile industry. I therefore voted in favour of this application.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has submitted a request for assistance for 350 redundancies at 143 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacture of textiles) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the Commission’s proposal to establish an alternative source of payment appropriations to unused European Social Fund resources, following Parliament’s frequent reminders that the EGF was created as a separate, specific instrument with its own aims and deadlines, and that suitable budget lines for transfers must therefore be identified.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request submitted by Spain for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) concerns 544 redundancies (350 of which are eligible to receive support) at 143 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 13 (manufacture of textiles) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana. According to the Commission’s assessment, this application fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. In effect, under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily expanded to cover its intervention in situations like this in which there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’ as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, in the hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will help these workers successfully rejoin the labour market.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0356/2010)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this initiative so that 330 people out of the 528 who were made redundant over a period of nine months from 66 companies in Valencia in the natural-stone processing sector can receive additional aid in order to make it possible for them to re-enter the labour market. Of those dismissed, 62% are over the age of 45, three are disabled, 51% do not have any training and 34.4% only have a basic education.

This community has already received other aid due to job losses in the manufacturing sector. Therefore, other measures urgently need to be adopted. The mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund can only form part of those measures. To conclude, I must once again regret the fact that the Spanish State applied measures too late: one year and three months after the redundancies, when these types of measures have to be applied immediately and urgently.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has submitted a request for assistance for 300 redundancies at 66 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23 (manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament. I also agree that the functioning and added value of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006, as part of the 2007-2013 Multiannual Financial Framework mid-term review.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Assistance to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation must be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In the light of structural changes to international trade, it is important for the European economy to quickly implement instruments to aid workers affected by such changes, whilst also giving them the skills required for their swift reintegration into the labour market. On this basis, financial assistance should be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for companies’ normal responsibilities, nor is it intended to finance companies or lead to their restructuring. Given that Spain has requested assistance for 300 individuals who have lost their jobs at 66 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23 (manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products) in the region of Comunidad Valenciana, overall, I am voting in favour of this report or, put another way, in favour of mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to support Spain.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) We are today approving the mobilisation of an aid package totalling EUR 1 422 850 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in favour of Spain, a country that has been badly affected by the global economic crisis and, in particular, has seen unemployment rise above the European average. In this specific case, the aid concerns 528 redundancies at 66 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23 (manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products). I hope the Spanish economy will be able to respond adequately to the crisis, as the mobilisation of this aid is only part of that response.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European individuals and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, while, at the same time, supplying new qualified resources to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in such a context that this intervention plan for Spain has been designed, a plan implemented regarding 66 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23 (manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana. I hope, therefore, that the European institutions will consolidate efforts to implement measures designed to accelerate and improve the level of utilisation of a resource of such importance as the EGF which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Spain because I consider that instrument to be a valuable resource for the support of workers in difficulties on account of the economic crisis. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

Today’s vote concerned a request for assistance for 528 redundancies (of which 300 have been targeted for assistance from the fund) in 66 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23 (manufacture of non-metallic mineral products), amounting to a sum of EUR 1 422 850 financed by the EGF.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – This application refers to the mobilisation of a global amount of EUR 1 422 850 from the EGF for Spain. It concerns 528 redundancies in 66 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23, namely ‘Manufacture of non-metallic mineral products’, during the nine-month reference period from 31 March to 30 December 2009. The Commission’s assessment was based on: the evaluation of the link between the redundancies and major structural changes in world trade patterns or the financial crisis; the unforeseen nature of the redundancies concerned; demonstration of the number of redundancies and compliance with the criteria of Article 2(a); the explanation of the unforeseen nature of those redundancies; the identification of dismissing enterprises and workers targeted for assistance, the territory concerned and its authorities and stakeholders; the impact of the redundancies as regards local, regional or national employment; the coordinated package of personalised services to be funded, including its compatibility with actions funded by the Structural Funds; dates on which the personalised services to affected workers were started or planned to start; procedures for consulting the social partners, management and control systems. In accordance with the Commission’s assessment, the application fulfils the eligibility criteria set up by the EGF Regulation and I therefore support it.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I am abstaining out of consideration for the Spanish workers of companies such as Levantina who have been sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. In the situation into which they are plunged as a result of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union, one could be inclined to vote against, given the pitiful amount of this handout. However, the little that is being given may help to ease their pain. This does not make the rationale of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any less intolerable. It endorses the rationale that has enabled the Charterhouse and Impala Funds to increase their capital at the expense of the Levantina workers in Comunidad Valenciana.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of this. This aid is essential in helping the unemployed and victims of the relocations occurring in an era of globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on countries which respect workers’ rights. The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of companies relocating and is crucial in facilitating access to new jobs. The EGF has been used in the past by other EU countries, so it is proper to provide aid to Spain which has presented a request for assistance relating to the 300 individuals who have lost their jobs in 66 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23 (manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) EUR 500 million is the annual ceiling for the funds that can be mobilised through the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. As there were a total of 528 redundancies in 66 enterprises in Spain between 31 March 2009 and 30 December 2009, the mobilisation of funds from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund amounting to EUR 1 422 850 is not in the least surprising. I am voting in favour of the report, as the full utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is extremely welcome.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) I support this application, which seeks to cushion the effects of the numerous redundancies in this sector and to assist the reintegration into the labour market of workers who have been made redundant as a result of the global financial and economic crisis.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has requested assistance in respect of 300 redundancies at 66 companies operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 23 (manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal and with the amendments to it tabled by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the European Commission’s proposal to establish a source of funds other than unused European Social Fund resources, in response to the repeated statements by the European Parliament that it is necessary to identify appropriate budgetary mechanisms for the transfer of funds, given that the EGF was set up to be a specific and separate instrument with its own aims and funding periods.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request submitted by Spain to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in relation to 300 of the 528 redundancies at 66 companies operating in NACE 2 Division 23 (manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products) in the NUTS II region of Comunidad Valenciana fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. Under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily widened: intervention was envisaged in situations like this where, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, and I hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will contribute to the successful reintegration of these workers into the labour market.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0351/2010)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) The crisis has led to a 28% decline in vehicle registrations. In Terres de l’Ebre (Catalonia), employment in the service sector is at 60%. The closure of Lear Automotive led to a 4% increase in unemployment in the area, which, in 2009, stood at 22.7%.

This aid aims to provide a package of personalised services similar to other aid granted in the same region and to the same sector, in another case that covered 1 429 of the 2 330 people made redundant. This case will apply to 508 of the 515 redundancies recorded over a period of four months in 2010 due to the closure of Lear Automotive. I voted in favour of this initiative so that its application will enable those affected to re-enter the labour market and it will help to reduce unemployment.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has applied for assistance for 508 redundancies at Lear Automotive (EEDS) Spain, S.L. Sociedad Unipersonal, a company that operates in the automotive sector, I voted in favour of the resolution because I agree with the Commission’s proposal as amended by Parliament. I also agree that the Commission’s proposal, in its explanatory statement, should include clear and detailed information on the application, analysing the eligibility criteria and explaining the reasons that led to its approval, in accordance with the requests made by Parliament.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Aid to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation should be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In view of the structural changes in world trade, it is vital that the European economy is able to promptly deploy the instruments designed to support workers affected in this way, and to provide them with new skills so that they can be quickly reintegrated into the labour market. Financial assistance should therefore be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for the responsibilities normally incumbent upon companies, nor is it intended for the financing and restructuring of companies. Given that Spain has applied for assistance for 508 redundancies at Lear Automotive (EEDS), a company operating in the automotive sector in the region of Catalonia, I am voting overall in favour of this report or, in other words, in favour of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Spain.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) We are here again today to adopt the mobilisation of a European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) assistance package totalling EUR 382 000 to support the Spanish automotive industry. In this particular case, the assistance relates to the 515 jobs which have been lost at Lear Automotive (EEDS) Spain, S.L. Sociedad Unipersonal, a company which operates in the automotive sector in Catalonia. Before the crisis, the automotive sector was Spain’s most important source of exports. However, the reduction in demand for such products in the European Union as a result of the crisis promises to threaten yet more job losses, not only in Spain but throughout the Union, and, as a consequence, it is important that utilisation of the EGF can effectively assist a sector which is so important to the European economy.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European individuals and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, while, at the same time, supplying new qualified resources to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in such a context that this intervention plan for Spain has been designed, a plan which will assist the 508 individuals who have lost their jobs at Lear Automotive (EEDS) Spain, S.L. Sociedad Unipersonal, a company which operates in the automotive sector. I hope, therefore, that the European institutions will consolidate efforts to implement measures designed to accelerate and improve the level of utilisation of a resource of such importance as the EGF which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Spain because I consider that instrument to be a valuable resource for the support of workers in difficulties on account of the economic crisis. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

The report adopted today concerned a request for assistance for 515 redundancies (of which 508 have been targeted for assistance from the fund) in Lear Automotive (EEDS) Spain, an enterprise which operates in the automotive sector in Catalonia, amounting to a total of EUR 382 200 financed by the EGF. To conclude, I welcome the adoption of the report, which shows that the EGF is a useful and effective resource for combating unemployment resulting from globalisation and the economic crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The economic downturn in the automotive sector has led to 515 redundancies in the enterprise Lear Automotive (Spain). I support the proposal to mobilise EUR 382 200 from the European Globalisation Fund to assist them.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I am abstaining out of consideration for the Spanish workers of Lear Automotive, who have been sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. In the situation into which they are plunged as a result of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union, one could be inclined to vote against, given the pitiful amount of this handout. However, the little that is being given may help to ease their pain. This does not make the rationale of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any less intolerable. It endorses the rationale that has led this US multinational and its main shareholders, Pezna Investment Management and the Californian teachers’ pension fund, to relocate without any consideration for those who made them wealthy.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This aid is essential in helping the unemployed and victims of the relocations occurring in an era of globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of companies relocating and is crucial in facilitating access to new jobs. The EGF has already been used in the past by other EU countries, so we should now grant this aid to Spain for assistance with respect to 508 redundancies at Lear Automotive (EEDS) Spain, S.L. Sociedad Unipersonal, a company which operates in the automotive sector in Catalonia.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In order to be able to apply for funds from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and for the application subsequently to be approved, there are clearly defined criteria that need to be met. It is intended to benefit workers who have been made redundant as a result of the global financial and economic crisis by establishing measures that will guarantee their rapid reintegration into the labour market. The fund provides an annual amount of EUR 500 million for such cases. However, an enterprise must have made at least 500 redundancies – like the Spanish enterprise Lear Automotive, which meets all the criteria – for Spain to be able to apply for funds. I am voting in favour of the report, as this is precisely what the funds from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund are for.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Spain has requested assistance in respect of 508 redundancies at Lear Automotive (EEDS) Spain, S.L. Sociedad Unipersonal, a company which operates in the automotive sector, I voted in favour of the resolution, because I agree with the Commission’s proposal and the amendments to it tabled by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the European Commission’s proposal to establish a source of funds other than unused European Social Fund resources, in response to the repeated statements by the European Parliament that it is necessary to identify appropriate budgetary mechanisms for the transfer of funds, given that the EGF was set up to be a specific and separate instrument with its own aims and funding periods.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request submitted by Spain to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in relation to 508 redundancies at Lear Automotive (EEDS) Spain, S.L. Sociedad Unipersonal, a company which operates in the automotive sector, fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. Under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily widened: intervention was envisaged in situations like this where, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of four months in an enterprise in a Member State’. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, and I hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will contribute to the successful reintegration of these workers into the labour market.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0352/2010)

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Poland has requested assistance in respect of 189 redundancies at H. Cegielski-Poznań and at four of its suppliers, all operating in the marine diesel engine sector, I voted in favour of the resolution, as I agree with the Commission’s proposal combined with the respective amendments introduced by Parliament. I also agree that we should ensure that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Aid to workers made redundant due to restructuring and relocation must be dynamic and flexible so that it can be implemented rapidly and effectively. In the light of structural changes to international trade, it is important for the European economy to quickly implement instruments to aid workers affected by such changes, whilst also giving them the skills required for their swift reintegration into the labour market. Given this, financial assistance should be provided on an individual basis. It is also important to emphasise that this assistance is not a substitute for companies’ normal responsibilities, nor is it intended to finance companies or lead to their restructuring. Given that Poland has requested assistance for 189 cases of redundancy at H. Cegielski-Poznań, a producer of diesel motors used in ships and electricity stations and four of its suppliers, overall, I am voting in favour of this report or, put another way, in favour of mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to support Poland.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) We are here today to adopt a European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) assistance package of EUR 114 250 for Poland to allow it to address the consequences of the 658 job losses at four productive facilities at H. Cegielski-Poznań, a company involved in the production of maritime diesel motors, and four of its suppliers in the cities and district of Poznań. As I have always warned, whilst such assistance is very important in dealing with the present symptoms, it is not a final solution to the problems affecting European industries which relate not only to the economic crisis we are facing but also to the need for Europe to adapt to a changing world, one in which competitiveness is fundamental.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the social impact of the global economic crisis, which has had a particular effect on employment, proper utilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is of pivotal importance in alleviating the plight of many European individuals and families, contributing to their social reintegration and professional development, while, at the same time, supplying new qualified resources to meet the needs of companies and boost the economy. It is in this context that this intervention plan for Poland has been designed, a plan which relates to the 189 individuals who have lost their jobs at H. Cegielski-Poznań, a firm which produces maritime diesel motors, and four of its suppliers. I hope, therefore, that the European institutions will consolidate efforts to implement measures designed to accelerate and improve the level of utilisation of a resource of such importance as the EGF which currently has very low levels of mobilisation. This year, only 11% of the EUR 500 million available was requested.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. (PL) The global economic crisis has given rise to major structural changes in many businesses, resulting in a huge number of people losing their jobs. The proposal under examination relates to assistance for a large group of workers laid off in the Polish region of Wielkopolskie. A second proposal for financial assistance upon which we are voting today relates to several hundred more lay-offs in the same region. There is therefore a huge amount of upheaval on the local market in this region of Poland. I am delighted that the European Commission has confirmed that the application meets the conditions required for the granting of financial support. As a result, the laid-off workers will be able either to get back their old jobs or find new ones, and the owners of the businesses will make use of the support to mitigate the negative effects of the global crisis and to maintain their place in the market.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Poland. The EGF was set up in 2006 to provide practical support to workers made redundant either for reasons associated with the relocation of their companies or, following the 2009 amendment, on account of the economic crisis, in order to assist their reintegration into the labour market. Today’s vote concerned a request for assistance for 658 redundancies (of which 189 have been targeted for assistance) at H. Cegielski-Poznań and four of its suppliers, enterprises which operate in the sector concerned with the manufacture of marine diesel engines in the cities of Poznań and Poviat, amounting to a total of EUR 114 250 financed by the EGF.

Lastly, I would note that the adoption of today’s reports once again shows the importance of the EGF, which is a valuable resource to assist workers in difficulties due to the economic crisis and is also an effective tool for combating unemployment.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this application for the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist 658 redundancies in the enterprise H. Cegielski-Poznań and four of its suppliers, which operate in the manufacture of marine diesel engines in Poznań and the surrounding district. The Commission proposed mobilising EUR 114 250 and I support the proposal.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I am abstaining out of consideration for the workers of the Polish car industry, who have been sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. In the situation into which they are plunged as a result of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union, one could be inclined to vote against, given the pitiful amount of this handout. However, the little that is being given may help to ease their pain. This does not make the rationale of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund any less intolerable. It endorses the rationale which leads to the privatisation of State-owned companies such as Ciegielski-Poznań.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This aid is essential in helping the unemployed and victims of the relocations occurring in an era of globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of companies relocating and is crucial in facilitating access to new jobs. The EGF has been used in the past by other EU countries, so it is appropriate for providing aid to Poland, which has presented a request for assistance relating to the 189 redundancies at H. Cegielski-Poznań, a company which produces marine diesel engines, and at four of its suppliers.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In order for States in which workers have been made redundant as a result of the global financial and economic crisis to be able to provide these workers with practical assistance, the EU has set up the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. The mobilisation of funds is intended to facilitate the reintegration into the labour market of those affected. I am voting in favour of the report, as Poland needs to support 658 workers who have been made redundant from the enterprise H. Cegielski-Poznán.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that Poland has requested assistance in respect of 189 redundancies at H. Cegielski-Poznań and at four of its suppliers, all operating in the marine diesel engine sector, I voted in favour of the resolution, as I agree with the Commission’s proposal combined with the respective amendments introduced by Parliament.

I also agree that:

- the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and I would reiterate that assistance from the EGF is not a substitute for measures that are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor is it intended to finance the restructuring of companies or sectors;

- the operation and added value of the EGF should be evaluated in the context of the general assessment of the programmes and various other instruments created by the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006.

I welcome the European Commission’s proposal to establish a source of funds other than unused European Social Fund resources, in response to the repeated statements by the European Parliament that it is necessary to identify appropriate budgetary mechanisms for the transfer of funds, given that the EGF was set up to be a specific and separate instrument with its own aims and funding periods.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request submitted by Poland to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in relation to 189 of the 658 redundancies at H. Cegielski-Poznán, a company which produces marine diesel engines, and four of its suppliers, in the period from 1 September 2009 to 1 January 2010, fulfils all the legally established eligibility criteria. Under Regulation (EC) No 546/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, the scope of the EGF was temporarily widened: intervention was envisaged in situations like this where, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of four months in an enterprise in a Member State, including workers made redundant within its suppliers or downstream producers’. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, and I hope that the mobilisation of the EGF will contribute to the successful reintegration of these workers into the labour market.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0336/2010), (A7-0337/2010), (A7-0359/2010), (A7-0358/2010), (A7-0357/2010), (A7-0356/2010), (A7-0351/2010), (A7-0352/2010)

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – With the adoption of this text, the EP has requested the institutions involved to make the necessary efforts to accelerate the mobilisation of the EGF. It also recalls the institutions’ commitment to ensuring a smooth and rapid procedure for the adoption of decisions on the mobilisation of the EGF, providing one-off, time-limited individual support geared to helping workers who have suffered redundancies as a result of globalisation and the financial and economic crisis. It emphasises the role that the EGF can play in the reintegration of workers made redundant into the labour market. Finally, it stresses that, in accordance with Article 6 of the EGF Regulation, it should be ensured that the EGF supports the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment, and reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, nor measures restructuring companies or sectors.

 
  
  

Report: Claude Moraes (A7-0347/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) It is regrettable that this proposal, dating back to 2003, and which aims to provide refugees with long-term resident status after five years of continuous legal residence, has not been implemented in the intervening period. With the amendments proposed by the European Parliament in April 2008, which provide for, amongst other measures, the calculation of the five years of residence preceding the application for residence status, and with the lack of unanimity in the Council, this new proposal will directly aid beneficiaries of international protection who have been residing within EU territory for more than five years but still do not have resident status.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report which supports the application of the proposal to both Geneva Convention refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. In its report, the European Parliament supports the European Commission’s proposal and takes into account the commitment to protect the interests of beneficiaries of international protection. I would like to draw attention to the fact that currently, the situation for citizens of third countries who are beneficiaries of international protection is confusing and unclear because the conditions for granting this status are not harmonised. According to the Commission’s proposal, the conditions and procedure for granting status will become simpler and clearer in the European Union. Furthermore, this new directive will enable beneficiaries of international protection who become long-term residents to take up residence in a Member State other than the one in which they were recognised.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This initiative has been tabled to follow up on the 2007 proposal for a directive on the extension of long-term resident status to refugees and persons under subsidiary protection, which never achieved the unanimity in the Council that was necessary before the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force. It aims to give beneficiaries of international protection who have been legally residing in a Member State for a period of five years legal certainty about their right of residence in a Member State, as well as a set of rights comparable to those of EU nationals.

The compromise reached is of the greatest importance, not only because it allows refugees within the EU to have a high level of protection and legal certainty, but also because the discriminatory treatment of all nationals of countries outside the EU has finally been abolished.

It is also an important political signal, because the adoption of this first initiative of a series of six pieces of legislation is not only a first step, but also a reflection of the constructive approach guiding the three institutions in the establishment of a Common European Asylum System by 2012.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of adopting this directive. The proposal for a directive amends another directive from 2003 so as to allow beneficiaries of international protection as well (refugees in particular) to be granted the right to be eligible for a long-term residence permit within the EU if the relevant person has already lived legally in the EU for at least five years. Once they have this permit, they will enjoy similar rights to the rest of citizens and will be able, for example, to move around and settle in any EU state (apart from the UK, Denmark and Ireland). It is further stipulated that these beneficiaries of international protection may continue to be expelled from the EU, but only under very strict rules, bearing in mind the principle of refoulement and the rights granted primarily under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal aims to extend the scope of Council Directive 2003/109/EC concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents and beneficiaries of international protection who have been legally residing in a Member State for a period of more than five years. By treating beneficiaries of international protection equally in all Member States, such a measure puts an end to the inequalities which have hitherto existed between Member States and will allow the individuals in question to reside in a Member State other than the one in which they gained legal recognition, something which did not happen previously. These measures are important precisely because we are building a common area of freedom and security within Europe, creating an area in which those who are duly recognised as having the protection of international law must benefit from the same rights in the various Member States.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) After a first failed attempt, it was about time that beneficiaries of international protection finally enjoyed equal treatment with other third-country nationals who are long-term residents. Indeed, there is no reason why they should be treated so differently or why there should be such uncertainty over their status within the Union. I therefore supported Claude Moraes’s report, which, among other things, has made it possible to further strengthen the guarantees against ‘refoulement’ and, despite the reservations expressed, to arrive at the favourable figure of five years’ residence. Another significant fact to be welcomed is that this is the only text of the ‘asylum package’ to have ultimately been adopted under the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and this in spite of the commitments made at the beginning of its mandate. Therefore, we need to continue to work hard to ensure that the Common European Asylum System, founded, inter alia, on common procedures and reception conditions, finally becomes a reality within the Union. Today, the issues at stake are clear to see: only by improving and harmonising national asylum systems, which differ so much at present, will we be able to have a common system.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/109/EC to extend its scope to beneficiaries of international protection. I did so because I believe that it is important to guarantee refugees the same rights as citizens from third countries who hold a long-term residence permit.

Through today’s vote, the European Parliament has plugged a gap in European Union law regulating the legal status of long-term legal residents, which did not apply to refugees and beneficiaries of international protection. Thanks to the new rules, these people will be able to enjoy greater certainty with regard to their legal status in the European Union and will not be subject to inequality of treatment compared to citizens of third countries.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal which intends to give long-term resident status to beneficiaries of international protection who have been residing legally on the territory of the EU for more than 5 years. This gives them an opportunity to integrate, which means being able to communicate in one of the official languages of their Member State of residence, and to increase their awareness of their rights and obligations, as well as of the core values of the Member State of residence. To this end, language training should be provided by the Member State to long-term residents. Member States should also be encouraged to develop training programmes about the fundamental laws and core values of the Member State of residence and principles of democracy, human rights and equality, as well as individual rights and obligations in that Member State.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this report because I am convinced that it would have positive effects for all beneficiaries of international protection who have been residing legally on the territory of the European Union for more than five years, but who currently have no entitlement to long-term resident status.

We are convinced of the need to ensure greater certainty regarding their legal situation in the EU, avoiding all possible differential treatment vis-à-vis other third-country nationals. We share the serious concern of some Member States that they may host a disproportionate number of beneficiaries of international protection due to their particular geographical or demographic situation.

Therefore, it seems that further measures to deal with any unwanted consequences are more necessary than ever, including, for instance, the adoption of measures to make it easier for such people to move to and establish residence in a Member State other than the one that afforded them international protection. We therefore support all possible proposed safeguards against refoulement (only the Member State which granted international protection should be authorised to carry out expulsions), striving to uphold family unity where desirable.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The intention is that the adoption of this report will extend the scope of Council Directive 2003/109/EC concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents and beneficiaries of international protection who have been legally residing in a Member State for a period of more than five years. From now on, this will allow equal treatment of beneficiaries of international protection in all Member States and will allow the individuals in question to reside within a Member State other than the one in which they gained legal recognition, something which did not happen previously. The importance of these measures is directly related to the aim of creating a common area of freedom and security within Europe, creating an area in which those who are duly recognised as having the protection of international law must benefit from the same rights in the various Member States.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) International law and moral principles give the European Union the opportunity of accelerating the granting of legal status to individuals whose life in their country of birth, outside the European Union, is impossible. Every individual has the right to be treated humanely. However, refugee status must be defined taking into account all the circumstances and prohibiting any kind of speculative dealings, be it of a financial nature or pertaining to migration policy. Unfortunately, facts that have not been thoroughly verified are often accepted as true in both the European Union and the European Parliament. Sometimes, the false statements made by defenders of rights and various assorted individuals are accepted as true. It is important not to tolerate populism. Otherwise, whole peoples may be able to settle in Europe under refugee status.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Whether, under what circumstances and after what period of legal residence refugees are granted a long-term residence permit is a matter for the Member States to decide and must not be dictated by the EU. The fact that this proposal was adopted two years late and in a revised form is not without its problems, because a correct interpretation of the much cited Geneva Convention would result in only a fraction of the asylum applications being accepted. The fact that after five years of legal residence, beneficiaries of international protection are to have rights comparable to those of EU nationals has raised problems and questions, particularly in those EU states with strong social systems, which will give rise to inestimable costs.

Extension of the area of application to include refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection can only serve to burden the public purse even more. We must, in particular, always take into account the enticement to refugees, in other words, the fact that the measures intended to provide protection and financial security are exactly those that represent an incentive for many economic migrants to immigrate illegally into Europe on the pretext of seeking asylum from inhumane and life-threatening conditions. Equally questionable is the idea of taking into account the duration of the asylum procedure when calculating entitlement to a residence permit. For these reasons, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) After residing in a Member State for five years, refugees are to be granted a long-term residence permit, which is then to apply throughout the whole of the EU. Since the asylum systems in the different Member States have different levels of stringency, a well-advised refugee would settle initially in the Member State that has the most lenient asylum law with the most loopholes. After five years, he can then leave his place of residence and move to any other Member State of the European Union of his choosing. The result is secondary migration from countries with low standards to Member States with generous social systems. People will first choose the Member States according to the stringency of the asylum law and then according to the level of social services. That would, of course, put a particular burden on countries like Austria, Germany or the Netherlands. The approach taken by this report is certainly not a sensible way to deal with asylum challenges in the EU and pursue appropriate integration policy. I therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the present report as I agree with the extension of the scope of Directive 2003/109/EC to provide long-term resident status to individuals who benefit from protection under international law and who have already legally resided in the territory of a Member State for a period of five years.

In particular, I would emphasise the inclusive nature of the policy which would result from the present proposal. Long-term resident status provides the opportunity to integrate these individuals, particularly through the language training which must be provided by Member States to long-term residents.

For the same reasons, I support the rapporteur’s proposal to encourage Member States to develop educational programmes on the fundamental values and legal principles of the Member State of residence, as well as on the general principles of democracy, human rights and the rights and duties of individuals.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I should like to thank Mr Moraes for his excellent work and I share with him the idea of adopting a constructive approach that includes most of the amendments proposed by the Commission, as well as numerous technical amendments agreed in the Council during negotiations on this instrument. The draft report reflects the desire to take some of the Member States’ concerns into consideration, with the aim of reaching an agreement at first reading, as well as a commitment to protect the interests of beneficiaries of international protection before and after they obtain long-term residency status.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I believe that the extension of long-term resident status to beneficiaries of international protection who have been legally residing in a Member State for a period of five years is quite clearly justifiable, since it guarantees equality of treatment to all nationals of third countries, and promotes the economic and social cohesion of the European Union.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In 2001, the Commission presented a proposal for a directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents. In this proposal, it was originally foreseen that refugees could qualify for long-term resident status after five years of legal and continuous residence in a Member State. In the course of the negotiations, it was nevertheless decided by the Member States to exclude refugees from the scope of the directive. Subsequently, in the Joint Statement from the Council and the Commission, made at the JHA Council of 8 May 2003, it was agreed that the Commission would table a proposal for a directive on the extension of long-term resident status to refugees and persons under subsidiary protection.

This proposal was tabled by the Commission in June 2007 using the same legal base as the act it was supposed to amend, i.e. Articles 63(3)(a) and 63(4) of the EC Treaty. The main objective of the proposal was to give beneficiaries of international protection who have been legally residing in a Member State for a period of 5 years legal certainty about their right of residence in a Member State, as well as a set of rights comparable to those of EU nationals.

 
  
  

Report: Nathalie Griesbeck (A7-0345/010)

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution which approves the conclusion of an agreement with Georgia on the facilitation of the issuance of visas. This agreement shows a clear desire for rapprochement between Georgia and the EU which has been expressed in recent years through a series of significant political acts, ranging from improved bilateral cooperation between the EU and Georgia to Georgia’s accession to the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights. I supported the resolution as I strongly believe that the agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of visas will facilitate people-to-people contacts, which are a very important condition for the development of economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, scientific and other ties.

I believe that the elimination of the visa requirement for the citizens of Georgia will mark an important step on their path to European integration. A visa facilitation regime is of great significance in people’s lives as it strengthens contacts between peoples and brings about the realisation of the idea of free movement, which is one of the fundamental rights in Europe.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament recommendation on the facilitation of the issuance of visas for Georgia, because the enlargement of the European Union was an opportunity for the Union to create a new framework for cooperation with its neighbours to the east and the south. In particular, the agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of visas will facilitate people-to-people contacts that form a major precondition for developing economic, humanitarian, cultural, scientific and other ties. Furthermore, a visa facilitation regime is of great significance in people’s lives as it strengthens contacts between peoples and brings about the realisation of the idea of free movement, which is one of the fundamental rights in Europe. The elimination of the visa requirement for citizens of Georgia will also mark an important stage on their path to European integration. I agree with the European Parliament’s position that agreements concluded between the Union and Georgia, such as that on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation and on the facilitation of the issuance of visas, are, first of all, a very important stage, a step forward in relations between the European Union and Georgia. Furthermore, these agreements are also relevant from a regional point of view and will support EU efforts to enhance cooperation with other countries in the region.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union has speeded up the process of opening up to the states of the South Caucasus ever since its expansion towards Eastern Europe, at a time when this region has become extremely important from a strategic, stability and security perspective. Europe now has a duty to the countries in this region. Its commitment is clear, especially given the proximity of these countries to the EU’s eastern border. Apart from the economic and commercial potential offered by these states, the agreement between the EU and Georgia on the facilitation of issuance of visas to citizens from this state is also a measure for encouraging democracy in this country. It is important for the EU to export the principles of good governance, fair justice and total respect for human rights. This action will also be boosted by the two agreements signed recently with Georgia. One concerns the readmission of persons residing without authorisation and the other the facilitated issuance of visas.

Waiving the compulsory requirement for Georgian citizens to have visas will mark an important step on the road to bringing them closer to Europe. A visa facilitation scheme is of paramount importance to people’s lives as it increases contacts between people and makes a reality of the idea of free movement, one of the European Union’s fundamental rights.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The actions of the European Union must be based upon the principles of good governance and respect for democracy and human rights. In relations with the South Caucasus region, the EU must be a partner to it, assisting with economic and commercial development, with security, with stability, with the promotion of prosperity, and with conflict resolution. The agreement to facilitate the visa process for Georgia will contribute to the EU’s enlarged neighbourhood policy by promoting cooperation and the exchange of individuals between the two parties. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Without any doubt, this agreement constitutes significant progress in relations between the EU and Georgia. Following on from the strengthening of bilateral cooperation with the EU, and from Georgia’s participation in the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights, this agreement represents another step towards improving the operation of justice and increased respect for basic freedoms by Georgia. It is to be hoped that this agreement will provide Georgia with the incentive to carry out the necessary reforms in the areas of freedom, security and justice.

At the same time, the agreement should make it easier for citizens of the two contracting parties to move and maintain personal contacts, something which is essential to ensuring the development of economic, humanitarian, cultural and other relations. I also hope that the necessary information campaigns will be implemented in Georgia, in order to inform the Georgian public both of the entry into force of this facilitated visa regime and of the new opportunities from which they can now benefit.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Two important agreements for relations between the European Union and Georgia have just been adopted: one on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation and one on visa facilitation. These agreements represent a first step in the process of strengthening relations between the European Union and Georgia. Thus, the EU wishes to encourage Georgia to implement the reforms required in the areas of freedom, security and justice. These agreements are also beneficial at a regional level. They will contribute to the efforts made by the Union to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the South Caucasus region, such as Armenia and Azerbaijan.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The growing relationship between Georgia and the European Union, evident in a range of recent actions, is to be welcomed. The agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of visas is another important step towards Georgia’s integration into Europe. The freedom of movement of individuals is one of the most important rights which the EU provides to its citizens and, for this reason, I view cooperation between the EU and Georgia favourably. Combating illegal immigration and providing incentives for reform in the spheres of security, freedom and justice could bear ample fruit if there is a spirit of commitment from both sides.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete (PPE) , in writing. (LV) I have always emphasised that it is the European Union’s duty to lend a helping hand to those peoples who feel that they belong and wish to belong to the West and to accept our values. In the Rose Revolution, the people of Georgia rejected stagnation, dishonest governance, the past and post-Communism, and chose development, the future and Western values. By its actions, that country has confirmed that it wishes to be a partner of a modern international society, one that does not shirk taking responsibility. Georgia has achieved much in a short time. It has substantially improved its governing structures, attracted significant investment and significantly reduced corruption. I consider the facilitated issuance of visas to be an essential step in opening up new opportunities for study to Georgian citizens, and in allowing Georgian entrepreneurs to make new contacts with entrepreneurs in European Union Member States. In this way, we shall all be winners, but Georgia’s citizens most of all. Just as we Europeans take pride in our achievements, our history and cultural values, so Georgians take pride in their country, its natural beauty and ancient culture. I hope that a facilitated visa regime between the EU and Georgia will also encourage Europeans to become acquainted with Georgia.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I supported this report on the EU-Georgia agreement on the facilitation of issuance of visas. The process of deepening the relations between the EU and the countries of the South Caucasus, including Georgia, will undoubtedly contribute to improving the exercise of justice and the respect for freedoms. The two agreements recently concluded with Georgia, one on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation and the other on the facilitation of the issuance of visas, will contribute fully to achieving these objectives

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Georgia has made noteworthy efforts to develop closer relations with the European Union, as is evident in a range of recent actions. The present agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of visas is thereby another important step towards Georgia’s integration into Europe. The freedom of movement of individuals is one of the most important rights which the EU provides to its citizens and, for this reason, this cooperation between the EU and Georgia is very important. It is, however, essential for the struggle against illegal immigration to continue and for there to continue to be incentives for reform in the spheres of security, freedom and justice in Georgia.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The South Caucasus is of strategic importance to the European Union. The process of strengthening relations between the European Union and the countries of the South Caucasus, including Georgia, will help to improve the exercise of justice and the level of respect for freedoms. This agreement represents an important stage in the relations between the European Union and Georgia and an encouraging step forward, given Georgia’s European aspirations. Furthermore, the agreement is also beneficial at a regional level and will contribute to the efforts made by the Union to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the region.

For Georgia, this also represents a step forward and an encouragement to cooperate further with its neighbours and with the European Union. Moreover, this type of agreement will encourage Georgia to implement the reforms required in the areas of freedom, security and justice, such as the fight against illegal immigration, the strengthening of democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I abstained in the vote, because I am well informed about the situation in Georgia and about the Georgian President’s determination to increase his prestige with the signing of this agreement. I consider Mr Saakashvili to be a war criminal. His regime is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. I saw it with my own eyes in August 2008 in the city of Tskhinvali. Any kind of flirtation with a criminal will inspire him to commit further crimes.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) An agreement with Georgia would bring a wave of bogus asylum seekers. Thus, we first need to dispel our security concerns. As the experience with the Balkans shows, visa-free travel is not just used for travel to the EU, but also sets a real stream of asylum shopping in motion. It is to be feared that the same thing would also happen in the case of visa facilitation for Georgian citizens. In general, the facilitation of the issuance of visas to citizens of non-EU states should not be granted too hastily. Before doing so, it must be examined as carefully as possible whether appropriate readmission agreements for bogus asylum seekers and economic migrants could prevent the abuse of the system.

The problems with the Schengen Information System II must also be resolved beforehand. Finally, it must not primarily be asylum seekers, or even criminals, that benefit from visa-free travel. The preconditions mentioned have not been met and I therefore reject an extension of the visa-free area in the strongest possible terms.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) According to the report, visa liberalisation for Georgia would provide an incentive for necessary reforms in the areas of freedom, security and justice. Quite apart from the opportunities for abuse of the system that visa liberalisation would open up, this logic needs to be turned on its head: no visa negotiations until all of the necessary reforms have been implemented. At the end of the day, this is about the security of EU citizens, who must be protected against visa tourists and organised crime. I therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The process of strengthening relations between the European Union and the countries of the Southern Caucasus, including Georgia, is vital if we are to create a solid, coherent and effective foreign policy. The conclusion of an agreement to simplify the visa process has clearly contributed to the realisation of this objective.

The draft decision regarding the conclusion of the agreement includes standard elements of the facilitation of the issuance of EU visas and establishes timescales for decisions to be made, along with the relevant costs and exemptions, the necessary documentation, and a joint declaration concerning cooperation and travel documents. I support the proposal to include an EU declaration regarding facilitation of the process for family members, as this responds to specific requests made by Georgia and aims to improve the mobility of a significant number of individuals who have family ties with those Georgian citizens residing legally in the territories of the Member States.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Regarding the implementation of the two agreements recently concluded with Georgia, I fully support Mrs Griesbeck’s assertion that the people need to be informed of the new situation and benefit from the new possibilities that derive from it. In addition, the changes in the visa policy should also appear as soon as possible on the European institutions’ websites.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the signing of this agreement as I believe that, combined with the agreement on the re-admission of illegal residents, it constitutes very significant progress in relations between the EU and Georgia, signalling an important stage in its integration into Europe and, at the same time, providing an incentive for the country to promote the necessary reforms in the areas of freedom, security and justice.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The enlargement of the European Union to 25 Member States in 2004 and then to 27 in 2007 was an opportunity for the Union to create a new framework for cooperation with its neighbours to the east and the south. The European Union thus engaged in an enlarged neighbourhood policy extending as far as the countries of the South Caucasus region and aimed at deepening its relations with the countries located at the EU’s external borders, promoting their security, stability and development and preventing new divisions on the European continent. Europe thus signalled its growing interest in the States of the South Caucasus and it must today pursue its engagement with the countries of this region as an area to be protected near its new frontiers.

The process of deepening relations between the EU and the countries of the South Caucasus, including Georgia, will undoubtedly also help to improve the exercise of justice and respect for freedom. The two agreements recently concluded with Georgia – one on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation and the other on facilitation of the issuance of visas – will contribute fully to achieving these objectives.

 
  
  

Report: Iva Zanicchi (A7-0332/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on setting up an EU rapid response capability to address the various major natural or man-made disasters which have occurred outside the EU in recent years. This is because I believe that it is important to improve the efficiency of EU disaster response capabilities and that a preventive action plan has become increasingly necessary as a global, integrated EU response. The disaster which occurred in Haiti demonstrated the need for the EU to implement fundamental reforms in terms of its rapid and efficient response to emergencies and catastrophes. In order to have a quick and effective response, I believe that it will also be necessary for there to be more political will amongst the different parties involved. It is also necessary to implement a restructuring of competences in order to provide greater coherence and coordination in responses to disasters by the EU. I believe that it is essential to put into practice certain concrete proposals included in the 2006 Barnier report concerning the creation of a European civil protection force.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I supported this resolution as it is obvious that the multiplication of major disasters outside the European Union in recent years has led to increased calls to improve the effectiveness of the existing EU disaster response capacity. One of the major steps towards a more integrated response has been the inclusion of civil protection and humanitarian aid under the portfolio of one single Commissioner to create opportunities for enhanced coherence and coordination of the EU disaster response. It is, however, regrettable that two years after the publication of the 2008 Commission Communication, many actions from the Action Plan still remain to be implemented, while the EU response to recent crises has revealed the limitations of the existing system.

If efforts have recently been made to reinforce coherence and coordination between the civil protection and humanitarian aid dimensions of the EU response, steps towards the creation of a European civil protection force have remained minimal. Therefore, a strong political will is needed for a more efficient and rapid response to emergencies.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I support the need for the EU to provide a coordinated, coherent and high-profile response in the event of disasters. This is why I consider it important to develop EU civil capabilities which will be permanently available and take action independently of the military structures. I think that the EU civil protection force should enhance the instruments currently available, whether in terms of disaster response training or disaster management by developing initiatives taken during preparatory actions.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing. (FR) Given the numerous serious disasters in the world and their increasing frequency, caused mainly by climate change, I voted for the excellent report by my Italian colleague, Mrs Zanicchi, containing a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on setting up a rapid response capability. The moment has come to improve the EU’s disaster response in terms of efficiency, coordination and visibility. It is becoming more and more urgent to create a European rapid response capability, or ‘European civil protection force’, as Mr Barnier has suggested. Clearly, the coordination of national civil protection forces seems to be a useful means of assisting a Member State which could not cope on its own with a large-scale disaster (fire, flood, natural disaster, and so on). This European civil protection force would also be very useful for intervening in external situations such as in Haiti. At a time when we are going to celebrate, in 2011, the European Year of Volunteering, an action such as this would trigger European interest and could help to consolidate European citizenship.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report. Disasters causing significant human, economic and environmental damage are on the increase worldwide and such crises are happening with greater frequency and scope in more parts of the world. Although progress has been made in recent years towards a more coherent EU disaster response, efforts must continue to ensure effective, coherent and coordinated EU actions in this area.

It is necessary to develop an Action Plan with a number of concrete actions to build up a more integrated coordination between the various instruments for disaster response, and to assess possible responses by the EU and the Member States. The recently established European External Action Service should be included in these activities in order to coordinate aid more effectively outside the EU. Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure there are sufficient financial resources to fund the aid measures required.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report because the multiplication of major natural or man-made disasters outside the European Union in recent years has led to increased calls to reform EU disaster response capacity and improve the effectiveness of the existing EU disaster response capacity. For example, the lack of visibility of the EU response has also been highlighted as one of the main shortcomings of disaster response. Clear agreements and procedures should therefore be established to ensure a dual visibility (for both the Member States and the European Union) for civil protection assets deployed by Member States through the EU civil protection mechanism. Another problem with EU response concerns coordination and, therefore, the European Parliament trusts that in future, the European External Action Service will create a single crisis response, which will require a rationalisation of the existing crisis platforms. Furthermore, clear mechanisms for coordination between the Commission and the Council should be ensured, also in relation to the coordination and the use of EU military assets in a disaster response.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) A rapid response agency for dealing with emergencies would make the European Union’s interventions in the event of natural or accidental disasters much more coherent and effective. The European Union clearly intervened rapidly and responded to real needs in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. However, it is also just as obvious that we need to learn from real situations and improve the service we give every time. The earthquake in Haiti was immediately followed by a period of confusion over who should take the lead for the coordination of the EU’s overall action. In the future, it is expected that the EEAS will create a single crisis response, which will require streamlining of the existing crisis platforms.

Clear responsibilities need to be defined for each Member State in the event of a disaster, with the necessary logistical preparations so that capabilities can be mobilised as quickly as possible to the highest possible standards. The intervention in Haiti highlighted that actions of this kind become effective when each state specialises in a particular service, as was the case with France, which provided a water purification unit, and Italy, an advanced medical unit.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) I expect the recommendation on the creation of an EU rapid reaction instrument to result in greater pressure to improve the effectiveness of existing EU capabilities to respond to catastrophes, whether natural or man-made. I consider the existing civil defence mechanism of the Community to be an important, but insufficient, step towards a genuinely operational civil defence mechanism that is as effective as possible. The limits of the current civil defence mechanism were apparent, for example, in the reaction to this year’s crisis in Haiti, which was relatively flexible and extensive, but, on the other hand, suffered from a lack of efficiency, coordination and visibility. It was also unclear who was supposed to lead coordination of the overall EU operation. In view of the extent of the crisis, High Representative Ashton finally secured the coordination of EU assistance in close cooperation with Commissioner Georgieva, who is responsible for humanitarian assistance, civil defence and international cooperation. I see scope for extending the operational ability of the EU to cope with catastrophes, particularly through the creation of a permanently available civilian capability which will operate independently of military structures, and in the creation of budgets and research and industrial potential (for example, satellite imaging in the GMES programme).

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In light of the increasing frequency and impact of natural disasters which have had serious consequences in human, economic, social and environmental terms, the European Parliament recommendation to the Council on setting up an EU rapid response capability is particularly important. I voted in favour of the proposal, as I believe that it covers the fundamental issues which should be considered. Amongst these issues, it reiterates that cooperation between Member States could provide operational and financial benefits, and it recognises that there must be an integrated approach to disaster management, which also includes prevention of, preparation for, and management of disasters, as well as post-disaster reconstruction. Furthermore, I believe that it is important for the coordination and efficiency of the European response to be improved, not least through a European civil protection force.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I abstained on the report on setting up an EU rapid response capability to humanitarian disasters because, although it contains positive ideas and elements, it also attaches military means and a military presence to this capability. It is a very good thing that the reports states that ‘the use of civil protection resources, where deployed in any humanitarian crisis, should be needs driven and complementary to, and coherent with, humanitarian aid…, with a view to ensuring compliance with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, humanity, impartiality and dependence’. However, there are also points in the report which go in a completely different direction, which is why I abstained. For example, the facility to also respond to ‘military crises’ or ‘to use military assets and capabilities in disaster response’, even if it is ‘exceptional’.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The recent natural disasters afflicting the world highlight the pressing need for rapid and effective response mechanisms to reduce their disastrous social, economic and cultural impact on affected regions.

Following previous European Parliament resolutions, particularly those on the Haitian earthquake and on preventing natural or man-made disasters, this House is once again wrestling with this topic. In general, I support the report by my colleague, Mrs Zanicchi, and I emphasise that future EU capacity relating to disasters must be based on mechanisms available at European and international level, avoiding any duplication, making the best use of resources and enabling the European civil protection force to be based on the already existing Community Mechanism for Civil Protection.

I welcome the fact that, following the tragedy in Haiti, there has been greater political will and more efforts to strengthen coherence and coordination between the civil protection and humanitarian assistance sectors. I also welcome the work done by the parties involved on achieving this objective. However, it is regrettable that the previous proposals of the European Parliament still have not been fully implemented, notably, those relating to the Barnier report.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Whether in Haiti following January’s earthquake, or in Pakistan following this summer’s floods, whenever there is a disaster, Europe does a lot but in a disorganised manner. Each Member State sends its own staff, its own rescue dogs, its own aeroplanes, and so on. Taken together, however, the hastily organised individual responses will never beat a planned and organised European response. The European Union, with the 27 Member States acting collectively, is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid and development aid. We have at our disposal a vast array of civil and military resources to meet emergency and reconstruction needs. However, as long as there are still national knee-jerk responses, we will unfortunately be unable to derive any real benefit from this virtual collective force. What we need is a true ‘rapid response capability’. Equally, increased efficiency and speed when dealing with an emergency requires a strong political will on the part of the various parties concerned.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Rapid response to catastrophes and natural disasters is essential, since it is in the first few hours following such an event that the greatest number of people can be saved. Furthermore, in recent years, we have witnessed a significant increase in disasters, whether natural or man-made, and these require a high level of technical expertise and coordination of the different means of responding to disasters. The creation of a Community Mechanism for Civil Protection may be a first step but I agree with the rapporteur that there is more to be done in this area. EU coordination and cooperation on rapid and effective response to disasters can be very successful, as it was in the case of the Haitian earthquake in January 2010. It is essential that the response should be of this kind.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Natural disasters can and must be prevented. Factors such as intensive soil use, poorly planned urban growth, rural flight and desertification, among others, are the causes of an increased risk of disasters. The promotion of sensible land use, and of economic and social development in harmony with nature, is a vital factor in disaster prevention. It is, above all, in this respect that the EU should intensify its efforts, implementing the recommendations made in a recent Parliamentary report and strengthening this aspect of its cooperation policy.

With regard to responses to those disasters which cannot be prevented, there is also clearly a place for strengthening cooperation, mutual assistance and intervention between the various Member States and third countries.

The best forms and means of achieving this must be the result of a debate involving the various national civil protection and other authorities, whilst respecting the sovereignty of each Member State. This should be the path set out by the report, not the ‘immediate establishment of an EU Civil Protection Force’ or the use of military means in response to humanitarian aid situations, which the report admits could act without being under the aegis and coordination of the UN.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) This vote represents an important step towards the creation of a European civil protection force that could intervene quickly and effectively wherever there is a serious emergency.

As we will all remember, although the European response in providing aid to the people of Haiti was swift and on a large scale, it highlighted a number of critical problems in the management, coordination and visibility of the operation, which are down to the mechanics of the current system, which is based on voluntary and ad hoc contributions subject to different national decision-making processes.

The recent European Commission communication on the role of civil protection and humanitarian support aims precisely to lay the foundations for an effective and coherent synergy of the actions already taken at national, regional and local levels. The Treaty of Lisbon provides the opportunity to develop a more thorough, coordinated and functional disaster response capacity. The time has therefore come to speed up the process that will equip the EU with a modern and efficient civil protection capability.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report with a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on setting up a European Union rapid response capability because I believe that the European Union must make significant efforts to ensure coordinated and effective responses to the various major disasters that we have recently witnessed.

The need for such a commitment was emphasised in the latest Commission communication on ‘Reinforcing the Union’s disaster response capacity’, which included an Action Plan designed to establish integrated coordination between the various instruments for disaster response. In addition, I agree with Mrs Zanicchi that it is high time we recognised the political importance of reinforcing the EU disaster response capability and that all means should be mobilised to achieve this objective.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report which:

recalls the pivotal role of the High Representative/Vice-President in coordinating EU operations in third countries and regions;

underlines that the structure and working methods of the European External Action Service (EEAS) should aim at ensuring the coherence and consistency of EU action in crisis situations;

calls therefore on the Council to grant the HR/VP a permanent mandate allowing her to activate a crisis cell, gathering representatives from all the appropriate services of the Commission and the Council and from all EU planning capabilities (MIC, CMPD, EUMS, CPCC) to coordinate the EU response in the event of disaster, in order to be able to start work quickly without having to systematically go to the Council;

suggests that this cell could be supported by a team, deployable within the first hours of the crisis, could be composed of civilian (CRT, MIC), military and civ-mil (EUMS, CPCC) experts and could also benefit from SITCEN and SATCEN intelligence;

emphasises the need for optimal coordination between an EU disaster response and other EU instruments – particularly common security and defence policy (CSDP) civil or military missions and instruments (i.e. Battlegroups).

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The creation of a means of responding rapidly to catastrophes and natural disasters is essential, since it is in the first few hours following such an event that the largest number of people can be saved. Furthermore, in recent years, we have unfortunately witnessed a significant increase in disasters, whether natural or man-made, and these demand meaningful and swift intervention capability. The creation of a Community Mechanism for Civil Protection is very important for these reasons, but much remains to be done in this area.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The number of major disasters in EU countries and third countries alike is increasing all the time, not least because of climate change and increased urbanisation. Developing countries are the worst affected by disasters, with a particularly high death toll as a result. The economic cost of such disasters is also much greater in these countries. The creation of a rapid response force will enable the EU and the Member States to better coordinate their efforts and give better visibility to EU activity. That is why I supported this recommendation. Like its author, I call for the many excellent practical proposals made in the Barnier report to be taken into account.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) The rapporteur, Mrs Zanicchi, has updated the question of the possibility of rapid response only after considerable delay, but its topicality has not been diminished thereby. I am convinced that it is the European Union’s duty to increase significantly financing for the preparation, provisioning and expansion of rapid response forces. Natural cataclysms will occur ever more frequently as a result of climate change. We cannot get by here without a professional rescue team, whose professional preparedness will permit rapid localisation and effective control over fires and technogenic disasters. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) A strong rapid reaction unit would be a good thing and would be able to help citizens of Europe and other states during their most difficult times. Sadly, the rapporteur does not seem to be concerned with strengthening humanitarian aid or the EU’s civil protection programme, but rather with making the ‘EU’ stamp as visible as possible. It must not be the goal of this rapid reaction unit to promote the EU throughout the world. As a result of the leadership of the United Nations and the involvement of the military in providing emergency aid, we also risk giving up our independence, which I do not wish to support. It is for that reason that I voted against this report.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) It has proved necessary to improve the effectiveness of the existing EU disaster response capacity in many situations which we have tackled during recent years. I would just like to mention the disastrous floods or the forest fires which have affected a number of European states. Another example is the recent large-scale environmental accident which occurred in Hungary. Faced with such incidents, no state has the capacity to respond at a sufficiently high level on its own. There is also a duty of solidarity between EU Member States. The report spells out the criteria which need to be met by a rapid reaction force, as well as the conditions which would be required for it to carry out its activities.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) It seems the report has less to do with increasing the efficiency of development aid or the protection of citizens than it has with promoting and drawing attention to the ‘EU’ brand. It is for that reason that I voted against this report.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The need for an effective European Union response capability to deal with the increasing number of major disasters over recent years is what drove me to vote for this report. There have been numerous calls in the last few years for the EU to improve the effectiveness of its response and, as we stand, much more needs to be done to ensure more coherent and visible progress. In my opinion, we need to mobilise all available resources to achieve this objective because, since 2008 and the last communication from the Commission on this matter, we have moved towards a comprehensive and integrated EU response. We all expect that the implementation of this report will result in a concrete action plan to gradually build up more integrated coordination between the various instruments for disaster response.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I agree with the proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on setting up an EU rapid response capability for natural disasters. In fact, an analysis of the lessons learned in Haiti clearly shows the need for renewed reform of EU disaster response capability, as I had, as a matter of fact, already stated in my opinion ‘on a Community approach on the prevention of natural and man-made disasters’.

Rapid and effective response in emergency situations is absolutely essential if we are to ensure that the EU demonstrates solidarity, whether with Member States or with third countries, and this requires strong political will from the various decision-making bodies.

It is generally acknowledged that major efforts are currently under way to strengthen coherence and coordination between the civil protection forces and the various areas of humanitarian aid. However, meaningful steps must be taken towards the creation of a European Civil Protection Force, as is also stated in my opinion ‘on a Community approach on the prevention of natural and man-made disasters’. I agree with the rapporteur: it is time to make greater progress in this matter, particularly in terms of implementing the concrete proposals of the 2006 Barnier report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I share the rapporteur Mrs Zanicchi’s belief that it is high time to recognise the political importance of strengthening the European Union’s disaster response capability and that all means should be mobilised to achieve this objective. I also agree with Mrs Zanicchi’s view that the encouraging results of the 2008 Preparatory Action should be further assessed and that the idea of a voluntary pool of Member States’ assets on stand-by for immediate deployment in EU operations should be further developed.

In this regard, the rapporteur wished to remind the Council and the Commission of the recommendation in the report by Mr Barnier, according to which only preventive organisation and a pooling of existing resources can bring about the emergence of a European civil protection force.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree that it is essential that we endeavour to implement policies to strengthen the EU’s capacity to respond to disasters, promoting the efficiency, coordination and visibility of these activities.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The multiplication of major disasters (natural/man-made) outside the European Union in recent years has led to increased calls to improve the effectiveness of the existing EU disaster-response capacity. If the EU disaster-response capacity has constantly evolved since the establishment of the Community civil protection mechanism in 2001, the rapporteur believes that much more needs to be done to ensure a coordinated, coherent and visible EU response. This need for a more coherent response was also highlighted in the latest communication from the Commission on ‘reinforcing the Union’s disaster response capacity’, which dates back to March 2008. This communication was supposed to be a first step on the road to a comprehensive and integrated EU response. It included an action plan with a number of practical actions to gradually build up more integrated coordination between the various instruments for disaster response. Today, we have Parliament’s response to that problem.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) Now that, because of climate change, the number of natural disasters across the world resulting in serious humanitarian, economic and environmental damage has increased, it is imperative that the European Union is able to act quickly. The creation of a European civil protection force provides a clear structure for this kind of rapid response. After the earthquake in Haiti, we have learned the lesson that we need to increase the efficiency, coordination and visibility of the Union. I am therefore in favour of civil protection and humanitarian aid being brought together under the portfolio of a single Commissioner. I also believe that, where possible, humanitarian relief operations should always be carried out under the coordinating umbrella of the UN.

In this report, the Commission has been invited to set up programmes in the affected areas, working together with national governments, local authorities and NGOs, in order to enable local communities to prevent and manage disasters. Military and civil defence resources should only be used in disasters as a last resort.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The incidence of natural and man-made disasters has been increasing, not only in number but also in impact and scale and, as a result, in terms of human, socio-economic and environmental impact. This obliges the EU to rethink its response strategy in terms of prevention, management and assistance, so that it becomes more concerted and efficient in operational terms.

I welcome the adoption of this report, which uses the recent disaster in Haiti as a case study and calls for the creation of a European Union Civil Protection Force capable of creating synergies between the Member States and European institutions in order to prevent disasters and assist third countries, especially any developing country that has been struck by a disaster. The humanitarian nature of this initiative is representative of the increasingly concrete nature of the external dimensions of EU solidarity.

However, I believe that it is extremely important for this same initiative to be regarded as leading to the coordination and management of those disasters which occur inside the European Union. I recall the disaster which devastated the island of Madeira last February and, on that basis, I consider it essential to create this Civil Protection Force whilst, at the same time, making best possible use of existing mechanisms.

 
  
  

Report: Kay Swinburne (A7-0326/2010)

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) Work is continuing in the field of financial regulation. I voted for this own-initiative report by the European Parliament, which seeks to subject all financial products to supervision by the market authorities. Lack of transparency is detrimental to market efficiency and has helped exacerbate the financial crisis. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive facilitated the transfer of market activities to better regulated and more transparent negotiating spaces. Echoing the conclusions of the September 2009 G20 summit in Pittsburgh, this report aims to ensure that ‘all standardised OTC derivative contracts [are] traded on exchanges or electronic trading platforms’.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since the implementation of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), the European financial markets have undergone unprecedented changes, both as a result of the directive and for other reasons linked to the crisis. As a consequence, it has not been possible to achieve the desired regulatory aims. The implementation of the MiFID has caused the fragmentation of the markets, which has encouraged the explosive growth of high-frequency trading strategies. The market has adjusted to the use of dark pools for trading large orders in private broker crossings, and to exemptions established in the MiFID for such actions when they are conducted through organised trading venues, called ‘dark transactions’, where transactions were formerly undertaken in regulated markets. It is essential to apply legislation, designed to ensure the effective regulation and transparency of these technological developments, in order to prevent the creation of any systemic risk to the overall functioning of the markets.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The European Parliament continues to adopt reports relating to certain elements of financial regulation, but without ever getting to the bottom of the matter. Of course, it is better for there to be some regulation of financial transactions by private brokers and/or financial institutions. However, this is not the fundamental issue.

The report does not go beyond arguments for greater regulation of trading platforms, referring to the need for ‘increasing transparency and safety within the markets in financial instruments’, and to the need for ‘equitable treatment’ of multilateral trading facilities and regulated markets.

The fundamental question at issue here is the continued existence of the same old speculative system, yet the report only addresses the form of this speculation, and not the most important aspect: the content.

For our part, we continue to argue for an end to the derivatives market and to tax havens, as well as for effective control of financial powers by political powers, rather than vice versa. Until this happens, any other policy will be merely cosmetic.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. It seems that a significant consequence of the competition brought about by implementation of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) has been market fragmentation which has, in itself, encouraged the explosive growth of HFT strategies. Regulation must reflect the fact that these technological advances are in need of suitable provisions in the legislation, so that they do not fall through regulatory gaps and inadvertently cause systemic risk to the overall functioning of the markets.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) With the recent implementation of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), the European financial markets have undergone unprecedented changes, both as a result of the directive and for other reasons linked to the crisis. As a consequence, it has not been possible to achieve the regulatory aims intended by the adoption of the MiFID. The market has adjusted to the use of dark pools for trading large orders in private broker crossings, and to exemptions established in the MiFID for such actions when they are conducted through organised trading venues, called ‘dark transactions’, where transactions were formerly undertaken in regulated markets. For these reasons, it is essential to start applying legislation designed to ensure the effective regulation and transparency of these technological developments, in order to prevent the systemic risks to the overall functioning of the markets from being created again in the future.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Data acquisition costs in Europe are much too high. They are sometimes ten times higher than they are in the United States. The report contains some good proposals for reducing these and other unnecessary costs. However, I fear that the author is on the wrong track with her plans to achieve this goal of cost reduction by introducing numerous additional provisions. There is a danger that doing so will merely replace one bureaucratic obstacle with another one. It is for that reason that I abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) My decision to vote for report A7-0326/2010 is in line with the current situation on European capital markets, which are going through a period of unprecedented flux thanks to new technological advancements. Thanks to the introduction of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), which promotes competition between trading venues for execution services, the efficiency of the price formation process has increased, widening choice for investors. Market fragmentation has, however, led to poor post-trade transparency in over-the-counter (OTC) trades and this situation means a more effective regulatory framework for consolidated post-trade information is required. In my opinion, regulators need to ensure that they can, at any time, recreate every detail of the trade in order to understand the market dynamics and the participants’ involvement. The impact of new technology and the advent of new market participants has led to faster trading speeds and to an increase in direct market access by clients of trading platform members. Although the introduction of MiFID brought innovation, it seems that it also contributed to the fragmentation of the market. I voted for the report because I believe that these technological advances need to be adequately regulated in order that they do not cause systemic risk to the overall functioning of the markets.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I support the call for the Commission to strengthen market infrastructures across all trading venues and clearing systems to enable them to cope with future risk through enhanced transparency, improved resilience and regulatory oversight of all aggregated trades. I thus voted in favour of Parliament’s resolution, as it supports the idea that:

- multilateral trading facilities should be subject to the same level of oversight and, therefore, regulated in a comparable manner;

- investment firms which provide a portfolio management service and act in a portfolio management capacity should benefit from the best possible terms from investment companies;

- the Commission should evaluate the effects of setting a minimum order size for all dark transactions;

- firms that pursue high-frequency trading strategies should be analysed to ensure that they have robust systems and controls with ongoing regulatory reviews of the algorithms they use.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I fully support the rapporteur, Mrs Swinburne, and her idea to promote competition between trading venues for execution services. This has led to increased investor choice, lowered transaction costs and has helped increase the efficiency of the price formation process. There are now 136 multilateral trading facilities (MTF), as well as the primary exchanges, which collectively make up the organised trading venues.

These organised venues account for some 60% of the trading volume, with the remainder being carried out by broker-dealers, collectively termed ‘over the counter’ (OTC). Bilateral trades, where the client gives the broker an order and he finds a match, have migrated from mainly verbal orders to predominantly electronic orders. Although, by definition, there is no pre-trade transparency for OTC trades, they are still required to be reported under the rules of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID).

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I agree that the Commission should evaluate the impact of setting a minimum order size for all dark transactions, and whether it could be rigorously enforced so as to maintain adequate flow of trade through the lit venues in the interests of price discovery.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – It seems that a significant consequence of the competition brought about by the implementation of MiFID has been market fragmentation which has, in itself, encouraged the explosive growth of HFT strategies. Regulation needs to recognise that these technological advances are in need of suitable provisions in the legislation so that they do not fall through regulatory gaps and inadvertently cause systemic risk to the overall functioning of the markets. That is, in summary, the proposal in the text adopted today by the EP.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (S&D), in writing. – This own-initiative report sets the framework for the discussion of MiFID, to which the OTC Directive, the rise of ESMA and, of course, EMIR are related. Even the name of this report allows people to understand the nature of necessary, but often complicated, regulatory changes.

Unregulated markets have been allowed unfiltered access by means of sponsorship to formal trading venues. This must change.

Similarly, I can agree with the rapporteur that pre-trade, post-trade transparency needs improvement, and particularly that post-trade data for non-equity products are provided in a form which is readily consolidated.

Understanding the market dynamics and equipping regulators with instruments plus information/data is vital.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Banks, stock exchanges and funds develop new financial products and trading practices so quickly that the directive on markets in financial instruments is already out of date. The scope of the transparency rules must also be extended to include the internal trading systems of banks and the exceptions must be more narrowly worded so that financial institutes and financial products cannot escape effective supervision.

The disclosure of pre- and post-trade data, previously only stipulated for shares, is now to be extended to bonds, centrally cleared derivatives, structured products, funds and certificates, which will increase the efficiency and transparency of the price formation process.

 
  
  

Report: Ana Gomes (A7-0349/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that it is essential for the EU to be prepared for the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks which have given a new dimension to terrorist attacks, to industrial accidents and to natural disasters, since such risks know no borders and could result in innumerable victims. The response of the EU to this danger should not be limited to ex post facto intervention programmes but starts much earlier when dealing with the proper storage of, limiting of access to, and controls of such materials. I consider it essential that intervention following an incident should be matched by significant cooperation between the different authorities of a Member State (civil protection, military, police, etc.), as well as between the national authorities of the various Member States and European institutions. In other words, I consider a coordinated and comprehensive approach to be essential. In June 2009, the Commission tabled a three-year EU CBRN Action Plan for 2010-2012, with the following elements: prevention, detection, and preparedness and response. In this regard, I believe that recognising the importance of each of these stages is crucial to ensure the proper implementation of risk assessment studies, response and counter measures.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this important resolution because it is high time to pay attention to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) risks which present a new dimension of possible terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters and/or pandemics due to their transnational character and mass-scale victimisation. It is necessary to start dealing with such materials, and their proper storage, limited access, controls, etc., from the very beginning and not just create ex post facto intervention programmes. At the same time, aftermath intervention demands large-scale cooperation between different national authorities inside a Member State. Therefore, the CBRN Action Plan should ensure the efficient interaction of national and EU initiatives in addressing CBRN risks and preparing the necessary response.

Considering that CBRN accidents or attacks pose serious threats to the security of the people living in the European Union and can disrupt critical infrastructure and the normal functioning of societies in any or several EU Member States and are oblivious to borders, I support the European Parliament resolution which calls on the Council and the Commission to rapidly review and strengthen the Action Plan according to the recommendations in this report and to ensure its swift implementation.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks present a new challenge to society, as well as a new basis for possible terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters or pandemics. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Mrs Gomes’s report as this report will enable us to establish the foundation for a suitable disaster response mechanism. We must also take into consideration, while reassessing the EU CBRN Action Plan, the suggestions put forward by Parliament, aimed at improving the basic areas which improve security in the event of such risks. I agree that it is vital to share best practices with countries which have developed a specialist mechanism in the field of CBRN risk assessment, prevention, detection, communication and response.

I think that it is important for us to stress the need to maintain well-managed stockpiles to ensure that disaster response resources, whether medical or any kind of other relevant equipment, are fully functional, current and up to date. This is why I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear disasters, whether accidental or resulting from a terrorist attack, pose serious threats to the security and health of EU citizens and are the cause of environmental pollution and contamination. Although the number of incidents in the EU involving CBRN material has so far been relatively small and have been due to industrial accidents or to the increase in, and worldwide spread of, dangerous pathogens, there remains a risk of CBRN disasters, whether accidental or intentional. I voted for this report because I agree with the rapporteur’s position that the CBRN Action Plan proposed by the European Commission, the goal of which is to ensure the efficient interaction of national and EU initiatives in addressing CBRN risks and preparing the necessary response, underestimates the risks which are not confined by the EU’s borders. I believe that international CBRN risks should also be properly assessed by and included in the CBRN Action Plan, and therefore preventive actions must ensure an international dimension, emphasising the implementation of international agreements in the areas of nuclear and chemical weapons.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is essential that we adopt an effective Action Plan so that we can confront the existing and continuing risk of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) disasters within EU territory. Whether accidental or intentional, these represent a serious threat and have the potential to cause devastating and far-reaching effects on the security, welfare and health of the European public, as well as on the environment, our cultural heritage and basic infrastructure. Fortunately, the number of incidents related to CBRN materials, including acts of terrorism, has been relatively low.

This Action Plan shows the need for a comprehensive and transnational response, since the effects of a CBRN disaster know no borders and such a plan should be based on the following elements: prevention, detection, and preparedness and response. It should also ensure effective interaction between national and EU initiatives in order to tackle CBRN risks and prepare capabilities to respond to and limit the consequences. Like the rapporteur, Mrs Gomes, I have no doubt that we need to adopt an EU Action Plan but I regret the fact that the Commission has not been more ambitious, because the proposed Action Plan shows a lack of strength and coherence on certain matters.

 
  
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  Cornelis de Jong (GUE/NGL), in writing. – Although I agreed with the majority of the Gomes report, I have voted against it as it focuses too much on the EU coordinating civil-military cooperation. Military competences should remain with the Member States and not with the EU and the Commission. I have no problem with Member States cooperating on an equal level in the case of a CBRN event – and in the case of an environmental disaster resulting from such an incident, it is crucial – but I do have a huge problem with this report potentially opening the door for militarisation of the EU.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report as I think that it proposes effective measures for preventing, combating and managing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents. It is of paramount importance that this report promotes the notion of a rapid response mechanism in the event of a CBRN disaster in one of the Member States. In addition, this mechanism will be based on a response inspired by solidarity from all EU Member States. Another point which is just as important is that the report adopted by Parliament proposes the creation of mixed European rapid intervention teams which will be made up of military personnel, police officers and medical staff who will provide an effective response in the event of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear disasters.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As a result of the compromises obtained by the shadow rapporteur from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), my colleague, Mrs Hankiss, the text upon which we are voting today is much more detailed and balanced, giving many specialist matters relating to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear safety significant priority, not only in terms of preventing accidents and responding appropriately to natural disasters, but also with reference to the clear and present danger presented by terrorism of this nature. We are increasingly faced with diffuse and unconventional threats and, with this in mind, Europe must have an adequate strategy for prevention, detection and protection, so that the safety and health of Europeans can be guaranteed. The Commission should continue along these lines and so I am voting in favour.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks have given a new dimension to terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, natural disasters and pandemics, given that such threats know no borders and could result in innumerable victims. In June 2009, the Commission tabled the EU CBRN Action Plan, which was amended by the Council in November. The plan will be implemented over the next three years – 2010-2012 – and is based on three principal elements: prevention, detection, and preparedness and response. However, the amendments introduced by the Council have made the Action Plan less robust, and have rendered both the planned measures and the monitoring and inspection of their application less binding. I therefore welcome the adoption of this report, which aims to entrust the Commission with a strengthened regulatory role, as I believe that is the only way it will be possible to fill in the existing gaps in the powers conferred in this area by the different Member States.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) If there were genuine concern regarding chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, there would be no insistence by certain EU countries on maintaining extremely powerful nuclear arsenals that could be used in military attacks. Nor would US nuclear weapons still be stationed in various European countries, an action which blatantly contradicts one of the three pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is supposedly supported.

The report makes no reference to certain decisions such as that recently taken by the UK to sell nuclear technology to India, a country which is not a signatory to the NPT, nor to the decision by France and Germany to cooperate in the maintenance of their nuclear weapons, justifying this by a hypocritical ‘cost rationalisation’. Nothing is said either about the assistance given by the main EU powers and by NATO to the project to install anti-missile systems in Europe, or on the decision by NATO to maintain its role as a ‘nuclear alliance’.

At a time when the crisis of capitalism has intensified, this report makes it clear that concrete actions are what matter, and not declarations of intent: such actions demonstrate that military might continues to be a resource used by capitalist economic globalisation.

 
  
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  Kartika Tamara Liotard (GUE/NGL), in writing. – Explanation of Vote on the Gomes report ‘Strengthening chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security in the European Union – an EU CBRN Action Plan’ (A7-0349/2010). Although I agreed with the majority of the Gomes report, I have voted against it as it focuses too much on the EU coordinating civil-military cooperation. Military competences should remain with the Member States and not with the EU and the Commission. I have no problem with Member States cooperating on an equal level in the case of a CBRN event – and in the case of an environmental disaster resulting from such an incident, it is crucial – but I do have a huge problem with this report potentially opening the door for militarisation of the EU.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks present a new dimension of possible terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters and/or pandemics due to their transnational character and mass-scale victimisation. An appropriate response against such a danger does not include only ex post facto intervention programmes but starts much earlier when dealing with such materials, their proper storage, limited access, controls, etc. At the same time, an aftermath intervention demands large-scale cooperation between different national authorities inside a Member State (civil protection, military, law enforcement, etc.) as well as between national authorities of different Member States and EU instances. Therefore, an all-hazard coordinated approach is needed. I voted for this report which sets out such a coordinated approach.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) There is no doubt that we need to protect ourselves from any malicious use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear products, material and organisms. However, it is their everyday use that we should be most wary of. The fact is, this text never once mentions the need to find an alternative to nuclear energy. At present, the latter poses a serious threat to our fellow citizens. As for terrorism, which is at the heart of this report, why call on NATO, the organisation that poses the biggest threat to world peace, to deal with it? These are all inconsistencies that prevent me from voting for this text.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I think that the EU should be prepared to face any attack or accident which jeopardises Europeans’ security and health. For this reason, the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear Action Plan is necessary, both to prevent and to respond to any type of threat or accident occurring in EU territory. The current threats are varied, meaning that this issue is complex in nature, but we now have an appropriate and adequate mechanism to confront the most diverse of situations. This is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks present a new dimension of possible terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters and/or pandemics due to their transnational character and mass-scale victimisation. An appropriate response against such a danger must start when dealing with these substances, their storage, limited access and controls. Aftermath interventions demand large-scale cooperation between different national authorities inside a Member State as well as between national authorities of different Member States and European bodies. The priority is to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and disarmament through the universal and full implementation of all relevant treaties and international agreements.

It is also important to address the risk of proliferation by terrorists. The urgent establishment of a European crisis response mechanism is also necessary. It should coordinate civilian and military means so as to ensure that the European Union has a rapid response capability to deal with a CBRN disaster. Finally, European quality and security standards should also be adopted.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I voted in favour because, unfortunately, at the given moment, if there is going to be no improvement in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security, the European Union will not be fully aware of the possible consequences. This report is a little note of explanation, not an action plan. In order to draw up a comprehensive document on the subject of nuclear security, specialists with wide experience of nuclear energy and in the uses of nuclear technology need to be involved. Such work can require several years, but it must be carried out. The European Union, and the European Parliament in particular, cannot draw up such a document on its own. I voted in favour, but I consider that this report is a mere epilogue for a book on EU nuclear security. I hope that work on that book itself will begin in the immediate future.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The security of the civilian population in the event of possible incidents of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear nature is a very important matter and ambitions in this regard should essentially be supported. Unfortunately, where this report is concerned, I have the feeling that the desire is to fight a terror spectre that, fortunately, does not exist in Europe in this highly organised form. Thus, the intention is to create more panic in order then to be able to implement a particular policy. Moreover, the report appears to deal predominantly with the subject of solidarity. I believe there is a point at which we should say ‘enough’ where terror prevention measures are concerned and the same goes for EU solidarity. I therefore abstained from voting on this report.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of increasing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security in the European Union and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to be the shadow rapporteur on this issue. Although prevention and protection from disasters caused by the substances mentioned is an issue for the Member States themselves, we need a common approach. This European Commission communication is a step towards a common action plan aiming to protect the public in the EU from various disasters. We are living in rather unstable times, and threats arise not only because of irresponsible human activity and accidents but also intentional acts. This issue is particularly relevant in my country, Lithuania, which is surrounded by chemical and nuclear hazards. Firstly, at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, there remain chemical weapons from the Second World War, and secondly, there are plans to construct two nuclear power plants near the Lithuanian border. We must assess the situation, the security standards currently in force and their suitability as regards current needs. Only by assessing the existing situation can we determine whether we need new security standards. This assessment and standard-setting framework must be sufficiently flexible so that it can be adapted to changing technologies, which, as well as making our lives easier, can also become a deadly weapon when in the hands of terrorists. On the other hand, providing security should not become a reason or a pretext to centralise civil protection. Although the establishment and supervision of common security standards would help to provide security, we should not, in every case, create new institutions or unduly complicated procedures.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on strengthening chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security in the European Union – an EU CBRN Action Plan, for the same reasons as those being put forward by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats). I would emphasise the need for an EU-level approach to prevent and detect attacks and/or accidents because the threat of CBRN attacks is ‘global’, and the focus given to the need to strengthen CBRN security if we are to prevent terrorist attacks.

I would also point out the importance of the compromise reached between the two largest political groups in terms of reducing the extent to which the entire chemical industry was to be obliged to replace high-risk materials regardless of the risks involved.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I can only support the rapporteur, Mrs Gomes, and I agree fully with the goal of the adopted chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) Action Plan. It should ensure the efficient interaction of national and European Union initiatives in addressing CBRN risks and preparing the necessary response.

I agree, however, that the adopted EU CBRN Action Plan is weak and lacks coherence on several points. It is of crucial importance to stress that a CBRN Action Plan offers a valuable opportunity to implement the solidarity clause enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon. Unfortunately, the Action Plan adopted by the Council does not even make reference to the solidarity clause.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks present a new dimension of possible terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters and/or pandemics due to their transnational character and mass-scale victimisation. An appropriate response against such a danger does not include only ex post facto intervention programmes but needs to start much earlier when dealing with such materials, their proper storage, limited access, controls, etc. At the same time, an aftermath intervention demands large-scale cooperation between different national authorities inside a Member State (civil protection, military, police etc.), as well as between national authorities in different Member States and EU instances. Therefore, an all-hazard coordinated approach is needed.

I voted for this report because it calls on the Council and the Commission to rapidly review and strengthen the Action Plan according to the recommendations in this report and to ensure its swift implementation, given that CBRN accidents or attacks pose serious threats to the security of the people living in the European Union and can disrupt critical infrastructures and the normal functioning of societies in one or more EU Member States without any respect for borders.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Attacks using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials constitute a grave threat to the European public. This means that there must be recognition of the need to implement an effective Action Plan in order to ensure appropriate linkages between the approaches and initiatives of the different Member States and the EU regarding the prevention of, detection of, preparation for and response to CBRN incidents.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks present a new dimension of possible terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters and/or pandemics due to their transnational character and mass-scale victimisation. An appropriate response against such a danger does not include only ex post facto intervention programmes but starts much earlier when dealing with such materials, their proper storage, limited access, controls, etc. At the same time, an aftermath intervention demands large-scale cooperation between different national authorities inside a Member State (civil protection, military, law enforcement, etc.) as well as between national authorities of different Member States and EU bodies. Therefore, an all-hazard coordinated approach is needed. That is what we intend to do with the adoption of this report.

 
  
  

Report: Ramona Nicole Mănescu (A7-0280/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the present report and I consider it to be of great importance during a period of economic and financial crisis, since it is necessary to ensure that all European Union regions develop harmoniously. I agree with the general intention to create a tripartite agreement between the EU, Member States and the regions, since modernisation, interconnected infrastructure and assistance for investment plans and development projects respecting the specific characteristics of each region are fundamental. I also believe that continued investment in infrastructure in many European regions, particularly in the south and east, is essential. Given the different levels of decentralisation of the European regions, a balance must be found when designing a horizontal approach between the different levels of government and between all areas of activity. Efforts towards the administrative modernisation and reform of the regions, combined with high quality technical assistance from the Commission, are essential prerequisites to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of EU investments. The simplification of procedures and the allocation of resources from the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund in a manner which is accessible to all interested parties is essential. This will guarantee, on the one hand, the participation of all actors in society and, on the other, better application of EU programmes, instruments and policies.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this important resolution as the implementation of the cohesion policy is predominantly decentralised and based on sub-national authorities assuming responsibility. I agree that the multi-level approach should be applied not only vertically but also horizontally, among actors of the same level, in all shared-competence Union policies including the cohesion policy, which plays a forerunner role in the application of multi-level governance, as an instrument to improve the quality of decision-making processes through the active involvement of sub-national authorities from the pre-legislative phase of the debates.

Also, it is important to stress that funding application procedures are too complicated, and an excessive number of checks are likely to discourage potential beneficiaries of cohesion policy from the efficient absorption of funds and maximisation of their impact. Therefore, there must be sufficient administrative capacity both at EU and at regional and local level in order to increase the added value of the cohesion policy and ensure the sustainability of actions.

 
  
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  Antonello Antinoro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I decided to vote for this report because we need to send out a strong signal of Europe’s desire to work with local, and particularly regional, administrations.

At a time of various degrees of decentralisation in the Member States, we need to show that the European Parliament is also fully engaged with making regional politics an instrument for better governance in Europe.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) To my mind, regional policy is one of the EU’s most important policies. The funds it distributes throughout Europe contribute to cohesion between the different regions and help them to become competitive. However, certain things can be improved, particularly in the area of multi-level governance; in other words, the coordinated action of the Union, of Member States and of regional and local entities. Regional policy suffers from the complexity of its procedures, which often deter local players from having recourse to it. Nevertheless, despite these procedures, the number of irregularities is still too high. I voted for this European Parliament initiative, which emphasises the crucial role that local authorities play in implementing regional policy while, at the same time, calling for multi-level governance to be improved. It also recommends better follow-up on the part of the Commission, with regard to both supporting regional players and making sure the funds are put to good use.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the own-initiative report by my Romanian fellow Member, Mrs Mănescu, on good governance with regard to the EU regional policy: procedures of assistance and control by the European Commission. I welcome the demand for simplification, because this is a precondition for a better understanding and use of European funds by local officials. Like the overwhelming majority of my fellow Members, I am in favour of a strong cohesion policy where financial resources are maintained after 2013, while rejecting any attempts at renationalisation. I would add, on a personal level, that the best way to prevent cohesion policy from being renationalised is to ‘Europeanise’ it. I find it regrettable that all too often, cohesion policy resources are used for projects with a regional or sometimes national dimension, but rarely with a European one.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) European Union cohesion policy is the principle means of ensuring sustainable regional development. Implementation of cohesion policy is predominantly decentralised and based on sub-national authorities assuming responsibility. The Treaty of Lisbon has allowed territorial authorities to be more deeply involved in the decision-making process, to facilitate better and more effective implementation of cohesion policy measures, adapted to the needs of individual regions and their populations. I voted in favour of this report. I feel that it is necessary to maximise the potential for territorial cooperation, which, in some regions, has hitherto gone untapped, and to promote more active application of the principle of partnership, ensuring effective cooperation between the private and the public sectors.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Mrs Mănescu’s report seeks to bring the European Union closer to its citizens: it advocates better control by the Commission of local authorities’ involvement in the development of cohesion policy. This document is part of a process to simplify very complex administrative procedures aimed at developing our regions and stepping up collaboration between local authorities in the various Member States. The fact that it has been adopted by a large majority confirms the importance given to improving the use of European funds.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because in cohesion policy, decision-making processes are improved through the application of multi-level governance and the involvement of sub-national authorities. Supervision by the Commission, as currently foreseen, is considered insufficient and cannot compensate for ineffective control systems at national level persisting throughout the whole multiannual period. Therefore, in order to improve the control system and increase assistance to sub-national authorities, it is necessary for the Commission to strengthen its supervisory role and procedures. Higher investments, both in financial assistance and training, should be ensured for national and regional administrations to increase the capacities and knowledge of rules by authorities in charge of programme management. It should also be noted that the current funding application procedures that are too complicated are likely to discourage potential beneficiaries of cohesion policy. Therefore, in the future, we need to develop a more user-friendly policy with better coordinated Structural Fund rules.

 
  
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  Philip Bradbourn (ECR), in writing. – Conservative MEPs abstained on the final vote on the Mănescu report for the following reasons.

Firstly, the report promises to maintain a strongly-funded cohesion policy, whereas we believe that the cohesion and social funds should not be ring-fenced, and that the EU should rather concentrate spending on the new challenges it faces instead of old priorities such as cohesion policy. It is also our contention that the content of this report fails to provide meaningful progress in terms of more stringent and greater control over the funding allocated under these programmes; if anything, the proposals in this report only serve to further obfuscate delivery mechanisms and muddy the waters.

We would also have liked to see the report cogently address the issues raised by the European Court of Auditors related to such funding, which it singularly fails to do. Consequently, Conservative MEPs have abstained on the final vote.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The decentralisation of Member States’ powers is based on sharing responsibilities between the different levels of government. For this reason, the capacity of regional and local authorities to implement EU policy has been strengthened. I agree with the adoption of this resolution, since it focuses on the specific nature of local and regional challenges, calling attention to the need to consider integrated approaches which emphasise the regions’ specific characteristics, such as their geographical and natural disadvantages, depopulation and the specific characteristics of the outermost regions, but which also recognises the different administrative processes existing in the various Member States. These approaches must also allow the coordination of the interests of the various actors involved in order to facilitate governance at several levels. The resolution also points to the fact that application procedures are too complicated and have an excessive number of checks which discourages potential beneficiaries of cohesion policy, as well as to the requirement to consult the general public in order to legitimise the decision-making process. I also agree that a stronger role for the regional and local level must correspond to a strengthened supervisory role for the Commission, and to increased coordination between cohesion and structural policies.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report which proposes to reinforce multi-level governance with a view to achieving greater involvement by sub-national authorities at the policy development stage. I think that citizens’ interests will be much better represented if regional and local authorities are involved in the decision-making process right from the outset.

Furthermore, the European Commission’s role in monitoring the way in which the Structural Funds are managed is unarguable. However, this audit role of the European Commission needs to be enhanced.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Cohesion Fund accounts for more than one third of the total EU budget. Its ultimate aim is to reduce disparities between levels of economic development in the various regions, targeting resources specifically towards growth and employment. However, the Financial Times newspaper recently published an investigation over how Cohesion Fund resources are, in fact, spent and the scenario described is very worrying: the fund is used for purposes which are categorically not those intended. For this same reason, I consider it crucial to strengthen the Commission’s control procedures relating to the application and usage of the Cohesion Fund, reinforcing the mechanisms of good governance.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We agree with the need to guarantee respect for criteria relating to effectiveness, efficiency, rigour and transparency ‘in all the phases of Structural Fund programming and implementation’. We recognise that the ‘ongoing simplification of the Financial Regulation and of the Structural Funds rules’ could be essential in terms of lifting certain existing barriers to accessing them, particularly by less developed regions. Regarding the principle of cofinancing, whilst we recognise the importance of the assumption of responsibilities by national authorities when applying cohesion policy, we consider that, in view of the current profound crisis, something which has particularly affected certain Member States and their regions, the rules relating to cofinancing should be made more flexible. This will allow a better absorption of the funds set aside for cohesion policy. In particular, the maximum rate of cofinancing should be lowered to 10% for all Structural Funds.

We still disagree with and oppose some aspects of the report. One example is the ‘good governance’ advocated for public services which, according to the rapporteur, can only be achieved through a partnership of ‘public and private parties’. Another example is the patchwork of uncritical references to the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy: a strategy driven by liberalisation, privatisation and increased labour market flexibility which is an approach entirely at odds with the objectives of cohesion policy.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I approved of this report because the 2006 report of the European Court of Auditors showed that the control systems in place for the cohesion policy were not effective enough, and the error rate in the expenditure reimbursed was too great (12%). The 2008 report confirmed this data with 11% of funds unduly reimbursed. Overly complex rules governing the Structural Funds are partly responsible for these errors. The shared management system characterising the cohesion policy implies a high degree of complexity in the interpretation and application of the rules given the numerous actors involved. Therefore, rules should be simplified to ensure more user-friendly procedures and not discourage potential beneficiaries from participating in projects.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Over the last decades, decentralisation of powers in several Member States has considerably reinforced regional and local authorities’ competences in the delivery of Community policies. The incorporation by the Reform Treaty of sub-national subsidiarity into the Community law for the policies of shared competence allows today territorial authorities to be more deeply involved in the decision-making process, both for the design and the implementation of policies, as fully dignified partners, to participate in achieving the Community objectives. This important step towards better multi-level governance answers repeated requests by the Parliament to reinforce the involvement of the sub-national authorities in the conception of policies, always respecting the different national constitutional assets.

An efficient implementation depends strongly on how policies are conceived; involving local and regional authorities also in this phase – as those knowing best the needs of their territory and of its population – is an assurance of more effective results at a later stage. It is crucial to place the emphasis on the pre-legislative phase of the decision-making process and on the added value offered by policies and best practices implemented at local and regional level to the development of territorial strategies in the EU.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This text acts as a foil to the creation of European macro-regions. In order to further impose these competitive clusters to serve the interests of the sacrosanct common market, this House is proposing that they be overseen by the European Commission to the detriment of elected governments. EU regional policy should be centred on reducing inequalities in the income and living conditions of those living in the European regions. We are a far cry from that.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that some regions possess clear geographical and natural disadvantages such as depopulation, among other things, I believe that this measure is fundamental if we are to make cohesion policy more effective. It is fundamental for there to be greater rigour in applying the Cohesion Fund so that asymmetries between the Member States and regions of the EU can be reduced. In this way, we will create a process which is more transparent, less bureaucratic and more equitable in terms of funding distribution. As a result, there will be fewer gaps between levels of competitiveness. This is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) At last! At last, someone has given some thought to what is referred to as regional policy. Taking the example of Latvia alone, I can honestly say that not even I have been able to extract information from the officials at the Latvian Ministry of Economics on plans for the application of EU Structural Funds. This information is kept in great secrecy from the people of Latvia. In return for what sort of ‘appreciation’, however, is it possible to find out about the European Commission’s plans in relation to Latvia and, possibly, receive funding? I voted in favour in the hope that the process will become accessible to everyone, and that no one will make a secret of the European Commission’s plans.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The report aims to strengthen the role of the Commission in supporting regional and local authorities. This is an attempt to extend the overall power of the Commission and that is something to which I must most definitely express my opposition. I therefore voted against this motion.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) Over recent years, the European Union has seen local authorities become increasingly significant in the Member States. Decentralisation of the management of the territory to smaller, local bodies has meant that, due to the principle of subsidiarity, these have assumed greater power and influence, mainly concerning specific competences delegated to them by the Member States. Regional authorities have therefore found themselves in direct contact with the European institutions. I voted for Mrs Mănescu’s report, precisely because in this situation, there is a need for greater control and support for regional policies from the European Commission. The report also targets the adoption of a White Paper on territorial cohesion, which would be a real step forward for the EU towards a new multi-level governance that ingrates perfectly with European, national and regional competences.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The principle of sub-national subsidiarity, introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, puts into practice the aim of involving the regions in the European decision-making process. The increase in dialogue with the European Commission involves the principles of good governance in relation to regional policy and the adoption of other procedures of assistance and control. I voted in favour of the present report, which deals with the competences and role of regional and local authorities in the process of implementing cohesion policy. Regional authorities can now participate more directly and more actively in the decision-making process. This includes drawing up and implementing policy, and being treated as true partners in realising EU objectives.

I welcome this important step for governance, which responds to the repeated calls by the European Parliament for an increase in sub-national entities’ participation in drawing up and implementing European policy.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I should like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mrs Mănescu, on her excellent work and I agree with her that the potential of territorial cooperation can be better exploited through multi-level governance, thanks to the relationships developed between private and public actors across national borders. I also agree on promoting the exchange of information between the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) that have already been created, as well as those in the process of being set up within the framework of existing programmes.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) Over recent decades, the decentralisation of powers in several Member States has reinforced regional and local authorities’ competences considerably in the development of Community policies. Emphasising the prelegislative phase of the decision-making process and the added value offered by the policies and best practices implemented at local and regional level to the development of territorial strategies in the EU helps ensure their effectiveness and sustainability. The following aspects need to be considered to see how the multi-level governance approach can be improved in the area of cohesion policy: the vertical and horizontal dimensions of governance, setting up real partnerships with local and regional authorities, territorial cohesion and cooperation, simplification of rules at EU and national level (Member States should simplify their national provisions and develop a stronger culture of evaluation at all levels in order to ensure effective controls and avoid errors – in 2008, 11% of funds were mistakenly reimbursed).

The Commission’s role needs to be strengthened in supporting regional and local authorities, with serious reflection about the ways in which to improve governance and, consequently, the effectiveness of the delivery system of the Structural Funds for the period after 2013.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I believe that it is necessary to improve governance in the area of regional policy with a view to making the management of the Structural Funds and of cohesion policy not only more effective, but also more balanced. I agree with the rapporteur in seeking from the Commission a policy which will, in future, put more emphasis on results, based, above all, on the quality of intervention and the development of strategic projects. I also believe that European networks for exchanging best practices should strengthen their initiatives, as this will contribute to our assurance with regard to the application of these procedures in practice.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Over the last few decades, the decentralisation of powers in several Member States has considerably reinforced regional and local authorities’ competences in the delivery of Community policies. The incorporation by the reform treaty of sub-national subsidiarity into Community law for policies of shared competence today allows territorial authorities to be more deeply involved in the decision-making process, both for the design and the implementation of policies, as fully dignified partners, to participate in achieving the Community objectives. This important step towards better multi-level governance answers repeated requests by Parliament to reinforce the involvement of the sub-national authorities in the conception of policies always respecting the different national constitutional assets.