Index 
Verbatim report of proceedings
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Thursday, 17 February 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Situation in Egypt (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 3. Implementation of the EU strategy for the Danube region (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 4. EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU (debate)
 5. Commission expert groups and balanced representation and transparency (debate)
 6. Voting time
  6.1. Bilateral safeguard clause in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (A7-0210/2010, Pablo Zalba Bidegain) (vote)
  6.2. EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU (A7-0019/2011, Ivailo Kalfin) (vote)
  6.3. Free trade agreement between the EU and the Republic of Korea (A7-0034/2011, Robert Sturdy) (vote)
  6.4. Situation in Egypt (B7-0120/2011) (vote)
  6.5. Implementation of the EU strategy for the Danube region (vote)
  6.6. Rule of law in Russia (B7-0101/2011) (vote)
  6.7. World Bank energy strategy (vote)
  6.8. Europe 2020 (B7-0097/2011) (vote)
  6.9. Implementation of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (B7-0127/2011) (vote)
  6.10. Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (A7-0040/2011, Pervenche Berès) (vote)
  6.11. Rising food prices (B7-0114/2011) (vote)
 7. Explanations of vote
 8. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 9. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting : see Minutes
 10. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
  10.1. Border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia
  10.2. Yemen: death penalty against juvenile offenders, notably the case of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum
  10.3. Uganda: murder of David Kato
 11. Voting time
  11.1. Border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia (B7-0132/2011)
  11.2. Yemen: death penalty against juvenile offenders, notably the case of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum (B7-0135/2011)
  11.3. Uganda: murder of David Kato (B7-0133/2011)
 12. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 13. Council position at first reading: see Minutes
 14. Documents received: see Minutes
 15. Decisions concerning certain documents: see Minutes
 16. Written declarations included in the register (Rule 123)
 17. Forwarding of texts adopted during the sitting: see Minutes
 18. Dates of forthcoming sittings: see Minutes: see Minutes
 19. Adjournment of the session
 ANNEX (Written answers)


  

IN THE CHAIR: Miguel Angel MARTÍNEZ MARTÍNEZ
Vice-President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting was opened at 10.00)

 

2. Situation in Egypt (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

3. Implementation of the EU strategy for the Danube region (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

4. EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The first item is the report (A7-0019/2011) by Mr Kalfin, on behalf of the Committee on Budgets, on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union (COM(2010)0174 - C7-0110/2010- 2010/0101(COD)).

 
  
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  Ivailo Kalfin, rapporteur. Mr President, the current mandate of the European Investment Bank for its operations outside of the European Union expires at the end of October. The European Parliament and the Council have to agree on the conditions for its extension beyond that date.

Parliament has discussed the issue very thoroughly over several months. During that period we discussed many ideas and tried to listen to the opinions of many stakeholders. We held dozens of meetings, both outside and within Parliament, between the political groups working on the text.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank very much all my colleagues from the political groups, and the administration, for their dedication, their work based on the highest professional standards, and their endeavouring to achieve a broad consensus on a mandate for the European Investment Bank that will make a difference in fulfilling the EU’s objectives. I also thank very much the European Investment Bank and the Commission for their constant support and advice, which was very valuable for our work.

Now we have a draft decision to be voted by Parliament which provides for more coordination between the European Investment Bank and the other EU bodies, for more transparency and stakeholder participation, and for a better monitoring and reporting system: a decision that will improve the visibility of the impact of the bank’s activities.

With this decision, we shall start elaborating the common EU position with the Council. The draft decision preserves the very successful profile of the European Investment Bank as a top-rated financial institution and investment bank. At the same time, being an EU institution, the European Investment Bank is expected to contribute better to the goals of the Union through its specific means and tools.

The changes proposed are based on accumulated experience and on the understanding that the profile of the European Investment Bank as a top-rated investment bank should not be jeopardised.

Parliament proposes much better coordination between the External Action Service, the Commission and the Bank in implementing the EU’s external policy objectives. The European Investment Bank will have to devise development and environment impact parameters and report on their completion. It will indirectly contribute to the eradication of poverty and to climate change mitigation in the developing countries, and stimulate small and medium-sized enterprises and the development of local communities.

The monitoring and reporting systems guarantee more transparency, better access to information and increased possibilities for the stakeholders to give their opinion at an early stage of the consideration of the projects. An additional sum of EUR 2 billion will be released for use in environment-related projects. This should contribute to the efforts of the European Union partner countries to finance efforts to implement climate-related policies. Let us hope that this new instrument will create incentives for the potential recipient countries to commit more to the climate-related goals of the European Union.

Parliament suggests, also, an increase in the ceilings of the EU guarantees to be used by the Bank. At first glance this is a very difficult decision, because it is extremely sensitive for the Member States. Any increase in the ceilings means effectively a 9% contribution to the Guarantee Fund, but on the other hand this is an extremely good instrument creating leverage and attracting more funding institutions to the EIB projects.

The proposed increase in ceilings amounts to about EUR 1.7 billion, and would allow the bank to at least maintain the intensity of its activities in the pre-accession countries, and especially in the Mediterranean region. In recent years, at the request of the Council, this financing has been intensified. Therefore, the EU has to make an additional effort to support the economies of the countries of the Western Balkans and North Africa, especially in these times.

This would not involve substantial costs, whereas the benefits of achieving the EU’s objectives in these regions would be very high. We ask the European Investment Bank to develop a stronger capacity for assessing and reporting on development, environment, and the human rights aspects of their projects.

It will have to ask loan promoters to consult local stakeholders before deciding on projects. We reconfirm the good practices of the bank in avoiding working with partners incorporated in non-cooperative jurisdictions and using tax havens. We propose to establish a working group that will suggest better cooperation and blending of the funds from different donors by the middle of 2012.

A working party will analyse current practices as regards the disbursement of development assistance by the EU and the Member States, in order to increase its efficiency and the visibility of Europe as the major development assistance provider in the world. (debate)

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, I wish to thank the rapporteur, Mr Kalfin, and other Members of this Parliament for their constructive approach to the proposal, which highlights the significant interest Parliament shows in the European Investment Bank’s activities.

I believe that Parliament has now achieved a balanced report which will provide a solid basis for the upcoming negotiations with the Commission and the Council.

Last April, the Commission issued a legislative proposal to amend Decision 633/2009/EC following a mid-term review of the application of the EIB external mandate.

It is now essential to make a timely decision allowing the EIB to pursue its external work until 2013, while at the same time enhancing the mandate to ensure that EIB investments outside the EU are increasingly aligned with EU policy objectives, in particular in the areas of climate change and development.

As regards today’s vote, several amendments put forward are acceptable to the Commission. Those amendments relate to, firstly, the request to enhance the development aspects of EIB activity and, secondly, the call for an increase in the regional ceilings of the general mandate. This could, inter alia, allow the EIB to maintain a reasonable level of activity in certain regions, notably pre-accession. It should also be instrumental in helping the EIB to take part in our joint efforts to provide support to Tunisia and Egypt in the democratic transition process. Thirdly, the general request for more transparency, better reporting and better efficiency.

On the other hand, additional negotiation will be needed in the context of the trialogue for other amendments. Those points relate to, firstly, the restriction from eligibility under the climate change mandate of countries deemed by the Council not to have committed to meeting appropriate climate-change-related targets.

Secondly, there are some amendments aimed at establishing the regional operational guidelines as delegated acts, which would not allow them to be operational and flexible general orientations as we initially foresaw them in the Commission proposal.

Thirdly and finally, there are some amendments which relate to longer-term issues such as the creation of an EU platform for cooperation and development, or the reflections on longer-term perspectives for cooperation and development financing, that are not strictly related to the implementation of the current mandate.

We should be careful, because the negotiation on these amendments might delay the adoption of the decision, and we might consider not engaging in lengthy and complicated negotiations in the framework of this decision.

Trialogue between the institutions will start on the basis of the report adopted today. The common aim is to have the decision adopted before the summer in order to pre-empt any risk of non-decision by October 2011, which would cause the suspension of EIB external activities after that date.

 
  
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  Vincent Peillon, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. (FR) Mr President, I should like first of all to thank Mr Kalfin for the excellent work we have been able to carry out together and, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for which I was the rapporteur, to thank my colleagues Mrs Hautala, Mr Lambsdorff and Mrs Giannakou.

As he has done so himself, I am not going to review the positive points of the report and the proposal defended by Mr Kalfin on the climate change mandate, the increase in human resources, the attention paid to social and development aspects, the environment, human rights, the shift in focus of the guarantee towards countries that need it most, and a stronger link with EU policies.

Parliament is united on all these points – let me make that clear – and it must remain so during the difficult negotiations that, as I have just heard, await us with the Council.

I would like to draw attention to two shortcomings at this stage. I regret that neither the need to now prepare the EIB for microcredit nor the need to already begin the debate on the post-2013 ceilings has been taken on board, even though the Committee on Foreign Affairs voted for both of these things in the consensus reached by all the political groups. That is why the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament decided, with the consent of Mr Kalfin and of the other rapporteurs, to table amendments in plenary on these two subjects.

Lastly, there is one crucial point to which I should like, politically speaking, to draw your attention and which has been the subject of debate for years. When the Berlin Wall fell, we were able to react not only with the enlargement project, the practical arrangements of which some may question, but which is undeniably necessary, but before that, we established the EBRD so as to be able to support the necessary economic and democratic transition.

The European Union, and also the EIB, as the power behind it, is the largest provider of funds to the other side of the Mediterranean. At the same time, however, we know that the payment of those funds will not continue beyond one programming period – in other words, beyond 2013, as I mentioned just now – and that the discussions that we are having today show that there may be difficulties in the future.

There is a project – already adopted by the European Parliament and endorsed in the report on the Union for the Mediterranean – which is referred to in the Kalfin report being debated today, and it is the creation of a Euro-Mediterreanean codevelopment and investment bank. This would be a practical way, beyond rhetorical statements, of acknowledging the European Union’s will to support the major democratic movement taking place on the other side of the Mediterranean, and I hope that this will be seriously addressed and that steps will be taken, in the coming months, to promote the creation of that bank.

 
  
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  Thijs Berman, draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Development. (NL) Mr President, the rapid rate of economic growth in developing countries is passing huge swathes of people by. Even in African countries, economic growth sometimes hits double figures, as is evident in major cities, such as Addis Ababa. However, inequality is growing just as rapidly.

It is women and farmers, especially, who are not being given enough opportunities to develop their livelihoods. One of the major barriers is access to financial services. Private banks simply have more confidence in traders making quick profits than they do in women and farmers.

Public banks have an irreplaceable role to play here. With this legislative resolution, the EIB is therefore taking an essential step. The bank is no longer granting funds for just dams and roads, for large infrastructure projects of European companies. That arm of the bank’s operations needs to continue but, of course, with procedures which will allow all local stakeholders to be heard, according to the clear criteria of sustainability and social justice. Tax havens should not be given any chance in these projects.

What is new is that the EIB will now also work to help small business owners in developing countries by opening the door for loans. That can be done via local banks, via microfinance institutions, although we need an additional amendment there, and via cooperation with Member States’ development banks. The EIB should be given further scope to develop its expertise internally, with sufficient staff. However, with this new dimension to its operations, the EIB is an indispensable tool for the European Union’s development policy, with a clear commitment to equal opportunities in developing countries and to sustainable economic growth.

I would like to thank the EIB, my colleague, Mr Ivailo Kalfin and all the rapporteurs for their excellent cooperation.

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on International Trade. Mr President, up to now the professionals who run the European Investment Bank have operated the Bank with a culture of financial probity.

Loans have been made, and guarantees provided, on a prudent basis, and that is why the European Investment Bank has had very few bad loans on its books.

However, what this report aims to do is to dilute the professional culture of the European Investment Bank and expand its remit to encompass a series of policy objectives. The Commissioner made this very clear.

A relaxation of the commercial criteria on which the Bank has operated up to now will inevitably result in the guarantee being called on. Now this will cost the taxpayer, and I have to question, once again, whether the hard-pressed taxpayers of Europe and the UK really want their money to be used to advance purely political objectives outside the EU?

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.(RO) Mr President, the purpose of the guarantee offered to the European Investment Bank, based on this report, is to develop social and economic structures and reduce climate change in third countries, while also promoting democracy, the rule of law and human rights. This is why I regard as positive the suggestion to increase the general mandate offered to the bank, given as well that the countries which this guarantee is intended for include accession candidate countries and those which have signed partnership agreements with the European Union.

However, to be able to meet its responsibilities better in third countries, the bank needs substantial resources and more specialist staff. In this context the EIB must consider promoting certain projects of strategic importance to the European Union, such as the Nabucco pipeline and other major road, maritime and energy infrastructure projects.

Finally, I would like to stress the need for the bank to carry out some monitoring of the financed projects, both during their execution and at completion so as to verify compliance with social and environmental criteria.

 
  
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  Giovanni Collino, on behalf of the PPE Group.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Kalfin, for the work he has done. Today’s vote renews the EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank (EIB) against losses on loans for investment in projects outside the European Union. This measure is of even greater significance in the current economic context, which is characterised by profound changes not only in the markets but also in production methods and approaches to the economy.

While on the one hand the EIB is playing a crucial role for the European Union, on the other the Union is strengthening its political and economic presence beyond the borders of the 27 Member States. A compromise has been reached with the other political groups to amend the Commission’s original text. The discussions, which took a range of opinions on board, were constructive both within the Committee on Budgets and during the preparations for today’s sitting.

The topics characterising the negotiations and political debate were: support for local small and medium-sized enterprises; maximisation of synergies in the field of development cooperation, so as to avoid duplicating our efforts in southern countries and wasting resources; the nature of the EIB, which remains an investment bank that provides loans, competes on the international markets and does not provide unsecured funding; the geographical range of the EIB’s investments, which have been extended to countries such as Libya and Iraq, but not to countries such as Belarus, in which respect for human rights as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights must be a minimum requirement for action to be planned.

It looks very likely that the work done in Parliament will very quickly succeed in getting the Council’s and the Commission’s agreement. With regard to the work done, the rapporteur will table an oral amendment to increase the appropriations guaranteeing the EIB’s investments in the Mediterranean region. Such investments may help to stabilise the Mediterranean, not least in view of the problems associated with the streams of migrants in recent weeks.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth, Member. Mr President, I would ask the speaker to consider how much all this costs the taxpayer.

 
  
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  Giovanni Collino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, what specifically is the questioner referring to, the whole operation or one particular point?

 
  
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  Göran Färm, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (SV) Mr President, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the rapporteur, Mr Kalfin, who has done a sterling job. He worked together with both the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the shadow rapporteurs from the five different committees in Parliament that were involved. I really think they have achieved an excellent result.

The financial crisis shows how very important it is to have stable public institutions responsible for granting credit in crucial investment areas when the private financial market is fluctuating. Therefore, we are now discussing the creation of new financial instruments in many different contexts, but also the development of the instruments that we already have, in this case the EIB’s activities outside Europe.

I would very much like to highlight three points that I hope will gain a hearing both in this Chamber and in the Council. The first concerns a greater degree of consistency between the EIB’s activities and the guidelines for the EU’s development and foreign policy. The second relates to an increase in the ceiling for projects to combat climate change, and my third point concerns increased loan ceilings which require increased guarantees from the Member States.

The majority of the EIB’s activities are directed towards Europe, but if we count the number of countries receiving loans, most of them are actually developing countries. Therefore, we are voting today, among other things, on the demand for a more stringent evaluation of projects and the demand for the EIB to carry out, in advance, a thorough assessment of whether the investment really will contribute to the achievement of our development goals. I really do call on everyone to support these demands. In order to achieve this, we also need to increase the transparency of the EIB’s activities in those countries covered by the external mandate. As things stand, we often have long, complicated chains of financial transactions that make transparency very difficult. We are also pressing for even greater attention to be paid to the EIB’s own rules against activities in tax havens.

A sound financial system is a prerequisite for a functional economy in vulnerable parts of the world. I am therefore pleased that we can now also give our support to the oral amendment, which I hope will gain the support of everyone and which will give us more resources to be able to provide to countries like Egypt and Tunisia.

This report represents an important step in a direction that I hope even the Council will support in the forthcoming negotiations.

 
  
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  Carl Haglund, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (SV) Mr President, first of all, I would like to thank the rapporteur for his excellent and professional work on this report. There was good cooperation between the groups, and I think the result is a very good one.

My fellow Members on the other side of the Chamber have expressed fears that we are about to jeopardise the good work that the European Investment Bank (EIB) has done up to now. I think these fears are completely unfounded. The fact is that we are now evaluating the mid-term mandate that we have and we will take the bank in a better direction.

While it is good to remember the new and sound ideas, of which there are quite a few and which it is good to make use of at this stage, it is also good to remember, on the other hand, that sooner or later we will have to start negotiations on the EIB’s mandate for the next financial framework, in other words the one that will start in 2014. At that stage we will have to decide in what direction we want to take the bank, what new tasks we can envisage assigning to it and in what way the new tasks are to be fulfilled by means of the possible provision of new financial resources for the bank. That is important to remember.

In this context, I would like to mention two details. The first is something that Mr Färm mentioned, namely the fact that it looks as though we will be able to agree to increase the resources that the EIB can use in North Africa, which I think is very positive in view of the political situation that exists there. That is precisely why the EIB should have an external mandate, namely to enable us to act in line with the Union’s objectives.

I would also like to emphasise something that I am sure Mr Graf Lambsdorff will also mention, namely that the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe was eager for us to be able to use the EIB’s external mandate to lend money to Belarus. This is part of the policy we want to pursue and the principles we uphold in the European Union and which must in principle be respected by our important instrument, the EIB.

In summary, I think that we worked well with the political groups and that the rapporteur has done a splendid job in finding solutions that mean we will most likely receive very broad support for the report when we vote on it in just over an hour’s time. I think that is a good basis for our negotiations with the Council. I hope that the European Council is willing to view the European Parliament’s good ideas for amendments in a positive light.

 
  
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  Helga Trüpel, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to add my thanks to Mr Kalfin for his ambitious report and I would like to remind you once more that it was the European Court of Justice that demanded that the external mandate be approved under the codecision procedure. In other words, this is about greater rights for Parliament – and as self-confident Members of the European Parliament, of course we welcome that.

The European Union has set itself a whole range of praiseworthy aims in the Treaty of Lisbon: to conserve natural resources, to fight poverty and to work for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It is therefore only right that the EIB acts as an instrument that works towards these aims, that it does not work against them but that instead everything is put in place to ensure that these aims are achieved with the assistance of the EIB. In particular, we are talking about environmental infrastructure, better water supply and sanitation, and more funds for health and training, because we know for sure that these things contribute to securing the future in third countries and make a very important contribution to combating poverty.

From a green point of view, the optional mandate in the area of climate change is also very positive. An additional two billion is to be mobilised and, if we take our own objectives in the area of climate policy seriously, then naturally we must work with the EIB in this area. I find it equally pleasing that Mr Kalfin has now proposed that the EIB should also assist with economic development and democratic change in the Mediterranean area – particularly now in Tunisia and Egypt. We therefore consider these amendments, which we will shortly be voting on, to be right.

We have a great interest in seeing greater transparency at the European Investment Bank. The Commission must now submit a report every year. That alone, however, is not enough; what we want is real transparency. We would also like to see NGOs and other qualified bodies being involved in decisions before they are taken. We believe that this transparency will contribute to acceptance of the EIB and does not undermine it.

With all the good ideas that have been put forward here in this House we also hope that the Council will not lag behind, but that it will support this ambitious political stance of the EIB and of Parliament. We therefore hope that the procedure will be completed quickly, so that we can make policies together for the benefit of citizens of third countries too.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne, on behalf of the ECR Group. Mr President, when guaranteeing loans of this kind for projects inside or, indeed, outside the EU, we need to remember that they are not without financial consequences. While it may seem like a good way of making EU money go further, we must be very careful to ensure that the appropriate risk-management controls are in place to manage these kinds of loans and the balance-sheet implications they pose.

As parliamentarians we need to be fully aware of the liabilities to which we are exposing the EU budget and, therefore, Member States’ budgets. Oversight systems and transparency will be crucial when using the balance sheet for leverage, as has been shown by the financial crisis, where banks were not always fully aware of the extent of their liabilities.

We must learn the lessons from the finance industry and be sure that we know precisely what the EU is guaranteeing and what appropriate levels of democratic oversight are being maintained.

Fundamentally, we must be sure that those individuals at the EIB and the Commission who are tasked with managing these financial products and making such wide-ranging decisions have the appropriate expertise to manage what they are dealing with.

This is taxpayers’ money. We need to spend it carefully.

 
  
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  Miguel Portas, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(PT) Mr President, I believe that what we are discussing here today is both the extension and clarification of the mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) linked to a system of guarantees that are required for its financing operations.

I believe that the extension or clarification of the mandate that is being proposed is along the right lines. It will enable the EIB better to meet its own goals regarding cooperation and development aid. As long as the EIB and the European Union wish to remain in thrall to credit rating agencies there will be a problem with guarantees; that much is clear.

There are those who say that perhaps this increases the risk and that we should therefore be careful when we invest in health, in education, in combating poverty, and in the Millennium Development Goals, because none of those are particularly lucrative; something else needs to be said instead. What needs to be said is, let us discuss our relationship with credit rating agencies. Let us also discuss something else, right now: how is it possible to be so careful regarding the guarantees that the taxpayer would have to give for combating poverty, and so forgetful of the way in which the European Union did not try to regulate the private banks or prevent the financial crimes in which they have been involved for all these years, and which are now being paid for with millions of unemployed? That is actually how this question should be put.

In any case, there is a problem, about which I have reservations. My reservations are very straightforward: firstly, we have a European Union that has been employing double standards in international politics. In fact, there is no reason, from a human rights point of view, why the EIB should be financing projects in Libya but not in Belarus.

When it comes down to it, what are the criteria? We must be very clear about this because I also have reservations about a second issue: the European External Action Service has a very broad mandate, which includes military operations. My question is, do these aspects overlap, and how is it that the EIB cannot be easily diverted from its own goals and from the mandate for which it was created?

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen, on behalf of the EFD Group. Mr President, the European Investment Bank uses public funds from the nations of Europe to guarantee loans, either to financial intermediaries or to the ultimate recipients in 74 countries. When compared to other international institutions performing similar functions, the EIB’s reputation is not one of transparency, and the public disclosure policy still does not cover appraisal reports.

In particular, in the case of EIB lending which is meant to go to SMEs via intermediary banks, the public still does not know where the money is going. This report fails to demand disclosure by those intermediary banks. Bearing in mind that the EIB is making loans that are guaranteed by the EU, whose budget is financed by the European taxpayers, I encourage you all to vote against this report, which fails to adequately protect taxpayers’ interests.

 
  
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  Lucas Hartong (NI). - (NL) Mr President, the EIB supports the foreign policy of the European Union, in particular the development policy. So reads the report of Mr Kalfin, my fellow member from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. However, the delegation of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) does not want the EU to have any foreign policy whatsoever and definitely no bank performing the role of politician.

The EIB is active outside the EU, no idea why, but the EIB budget is guaranteed by the EU budget and funded by the taxpayer. There are some really wonderful countries that are receiving these EIB funds, such as the Palestinian territories, Gaza, Libya, Cuba, Venezuela, Turkmenistan and the Maldives. Not one of these countries is exactly a shining example of democracy.

Now, however, the Commission wants to increase the EIB’ s financial ceiling. Of course, that also means that we will be investing in climate change in these countries. Can you imagine? In Gaza, in Cuba? This is material for a new Mr. Bean film, but it is actually happening!

The PVV will fight this proposal tooth and nail and will, therefore, also be wholeheartedly voting against it.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8)).

 
  
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  Thijs Berman (S&D). - (NL) Mr President, while the Earl of Dartmore does not understand the difference between loans and subsidies, while Mrs Andreasen should give the EIB’s annual report another read, what Mr Hartong has not understood is that Europe is not an island in the world and that, if we want peace and stability, on our continent too, we have to invest in other countries.

This is not only funded through subsidies, but primarily, and this is a better solution, through loans. I am sure you will back me up on that, Mr Hartong, will you not?

 
  
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  Lucas Hartong (NI). - (NL) Mr President, Mr Berman is undoubtedly aware that politics is about political choices. We therefore choose to invest our taxpayers’ money in a much cleverer way, in the foreign policy of the Member States, rather than in the foreign policy of the European Union.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on the work that has been done regarding the external mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB). The Union’s financial arm today plays a very important role in terms of the political commitment that Europe wants to put across concerning the countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Creating lasting democratic institutions requires a great effort from the people, and Europe, which has been working with the EIB in these regions for many years, can give them valuable support during this transition period in setting up infrastructure and strengthening local businesses.

The report on which we are voting today proposes raising the ceilings with which the bank operates outside the Union by almost EUR 2 billion. This decision will enable the bank to see through some important projects that are threatened by a lack of funds but which are also strategic for the stabilisation of the Mediterranean region, as well as for the countries preparing to join the Union. A high level of coordination between the European Commission, the new External Action Service and the EIB is needed, however, in order to achieve these aims.

I believe it is very important to develop joint governance for these three players in the countries of the Union in which it operates, and I am therefore looking forward to the creation by the Commission and the EIB of a platform to examine – together with Parliament and the Council – how best to address the challenges of the Union’s external policy with financial instruments and innovative methods.

 
  
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  Edit Herczog (S&D).(HU) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, as the shadow rapporteur of the European Investment Bank’s discharge, I and my fellow Member, Mr Audy, treat the European Union guarantees provided for the European Investment Bank (EIB) as a very important issue. The European Investment Bank is a key actor in financing projects of major significance both inside and outside the European Union, and its role will continue to grow. At the same time, based on the effective provisions not one European institution has the right to supervise the EIB, and we would like to change this in the future to avoid this being an obstacle to later growth.

Loans granted to countries outside the EU require greater attention and care than projects to be realised within the EU, not only because of what has just been said but also because the degree of control that can be exercised over external developments is far less than is the case for investments within the EU. The solution for this is that these projects require much better preparation. At the same time, external projects are mainly directed at strategically important but politically not always stable regions.

As a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, I wish to shed light on the energy issue from among the projects being realised in these regions. More than 50% of the external investments financed by the EIB are directed at the states of the Eastern Partnership and Russia. The security and progress of these countries serve the interests of the EU directly, as this is where the decisive part of the natural gas imports and a significant amount of the electricity imports of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic come from. Thus it is indispensable for the EIB to focus on supporting projects which directly or indirectly result in an increase of security and the security of supply.

Thus I agree with the rapporteur, Mr Kalfin, – whom I wish to congratulate – that in the area of loans outside the EU closer cooperation must be encouraged between the EIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as well as the World Bank. Significant synergies can be achieved.

 
  
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  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, the Treaty of Lisbon makes new demands of European Union foreign policy and development policy. One has been mentioned here: coherence. In other words, our various instruments, the European External Action Service, the European Investment Bank and the Commission must act in a consistent manner. The Treaty of Lisbon also provides for greater parliamentary control, greater transparency and joint decisions on these matters. All of this will enhance the quality of the debate on foreign policy, particularly if we have greater transparency as a result of the participation of the relevant committees – primarily the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development – in this House.

One result of this transparency is that this Parliament has resolved to remove Belarus from the list of countries in which the European Investment Act can act without first having another debate here in this House. Are human rights being respected? Have opposition politicians been released? Does the state respect the property of its citizens? Is there freedom of the press? Are entrepreneurs able to act freely? Are there free trade unions? In our relationship with such an important neighbour – one which is located directly on the border of the European Union – these are all matters which need to be debated first, before the European Investment Bank becomes active there. I am very pleased that the House has taken up this suggestion and I call on the Council to do the same.

Yesterday we had a debate on Egypt. We debated the instruments and what we could do. Baroness Ashton called for the ceiling applied to the European Investment Bank to be raised. Parliament is happy to pursue this. We need to improve how we work together with Egypt and Tunisia, with North Africa. That is only right. It is also a good example of how this Parliament can react quickly. The same is now required of the Council, which must act accordingly.

I believe that our foreign policy instruments, especially if they are market-oriented, together with the loans from the European Investment Bank can do a lot to assist with development and economic growth in North Africa. That is precisely what is needed. If there is growth there, if there is democracy there, then we will also have fewer migrants arriving at our borders. If I may specifically address our fellow Members from the extreme right, I would like to say that your arguments are really far too rudimentary and simplistic – if not primitive.

 
  
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  Heidi Hautala (Verts/ALE). - (FI) Mr President, the European Investment Bank has excellent aims, including poverty reduction and the notion that the bank’s operations must be in harmony with the EU’s external relations objectives. For this to be genuinely verifiable, it is very important that the bank’s activities are transparent. With this in mind, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance tabled Amendments 6 and 7, which emphasise that all assessment documents must be made public and, in addition, that all documents pertaining to different projects must be available to the public. I would like to point out that, since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Investment Bank, like all other EU agencies, has been bound by the Regulation on public access to documents.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR).(PL) Mr President, the European Investment Bank is de facto a European Union institution, because it is, after all, funded with money provided by the taxpayers of the European Union’s Member States. It is imperative, therefore, that it be a bank which is completely transparent and which shows how it operates, and that it does so in absolutely every detail and particular. I would like to stress very strongly that as a representative of a country which borders with Belarus, I am personally in favour of the European Investment Bank blocking every possibility of extending loans or credit which supports the Lukashenko regime. We must show that human rights to the east of the European Union are as important to us as human rights in Africa or Asia. However, I do agree with the fellow Member who said that we should not apply double standards towards Libya and Belarus.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the aim of this report is to agree on Union guarantees for the external investments of the European Investment Bank (EIB). Many of the EIB’s investments are in countries that in the last few weeks have been at the heart of historic changes, with the toppling of authoritarian regimes by popular uprisings.

The report seeks to extend Union guarantees also to other countries about which we have misgivings because of their lack of internal democracy. I believe it would be contradictory to move in that direction and wonder whether it might not instead be more useful if the EIB were to increase its investments within Europe, by financing small and medium-sized enterprises to a greater extent, for example, a hope that Commissioner Tajani himself expressed in this Chamber on Monday.

Lastly, I am very disappointed to note the inclusion of Turkey among the pre-accession countries. I confirm that we in the Lega Nord will never – and I mean never – agree to any concessions in that respect on this or on any other front.

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI).(BG) Mr President, you can see straight away that a lot of effort has gone into preparing this report, so that the European taxpayer's money can be dished out to so many different countries, including, of all places, Turkey. If Mr Kalfin, when he was minister, and his fellow-ministers had been so diligent in defending the rights of Bulgarian citizens, I think that their party may still have been governing Bulgaria.

As to the essence of the report, I would like to give my wholehearted agreement with what Lord Dartmouth said. It turns out that an English lord has more social responsibility than the socialist Kalfin. We have been elected by the citizens of Europe and we must use the money raised from them through taxes, to first solve their problems and when we have solved their problems, then give money to Turkey and other countries outside the EU.

 
  
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  Georgios Stavrakakis (S&D).(EL) Mr President, I too would like to congratulate our rapporteur, Mr Kalfin, on his excellent report. There is no doubt that the current economic crisis has seriously highlighted the important work of the European Investment Bank in the European Union. The role of the European Investment Bank is also important, albeit less well known, outside the EU, in supporting the EU’s external action through its external mission that we are debating today.

The proposals contained in the report: firstly, to increase transparency; secondly, to introduce the flexibility clause for possibly reallocating regional resources; thirdly, to align EIB activities with EU external policy; fourthly, to extend the list of eligible countries and, fifthly, to increase the financing ceiling, are positive proposals which are both very useful and necessary. I agree with and support these proposals, because they also improve the efficacy of the work of the European Investment Bank and, at the same time, improve the positive image and the interventionism of the European Union itself in the world.

 
  
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  Jan Mulder (ALDE). - (NL) Mr President, if things are as they seem, the role of the European Investment Bank will become more and more important. The most important thing, as far as I am concerned, is that this bank’s triple A rating should never be put at risk by any tasks which it might have to undertake.

If we look at the debates about financial perspectives, it appears that the amount of money Member States will make available will not be much higher than is currently the case. I think that we, therefore, need to consider in particular how we can use the European Investment Bank in order to achieve some of Europe’s objectives. We have actually done that in the past, and what I always find particularly important is: what has been the multiplier effect of the guarantees we have issued to the European Investment Bank?

I think that it would therefore be useful if the bank produced a report indicating which have been the most successful guarantees and what it is that the multiplier factors apply to the most. This will enable us, when preparing financial perspectives, to make better choices as to which funds we should use as guarantees for the European Investment Bank.

 
  
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  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR).(PL) Mr President, optimism is engendered by the fact that in recent years Union policy on and support for external relations have been extended and strengthened by new financial instruments, such as the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. There is no doubt that in its activities the European Investment Bank should place particular emphasis on the integration of transport and energy networks, such as the Nabucco gas pipeline project, for example, and other gas pipeline projects, which are of particular interest to the European Union. In our work as part of the Eastern Partnership, we must not forget that the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights must be upheld in all countries of the partnership, including Belarus. However, until the authorities there understand that respect for human rights is something which has to be one of their most important responsibilities, finance from the European Investment Bank simply cannot be given to Belarus.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). - Mr President, I have no difficulty with the European Union investing in projects outside the European Union, particularly in aspects like combating climate change. However, as an Irish MEP, I find it ironic that we are discussing here this morning how the EU can guarantee against losses on the loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union, while the same EU is trying to make a profit on loans to Ireland under the bailout system – a profit of almost 3%, which equates to EUR 5 billion.

This is not sustainable, it is not fair and I do not think it is legal. It is also unbelievably difficult to understand how we are being charged 5.8%, when loans to other countries within the European Union were set at 3.2%.

I just want to say that under the new government we will be demanding a renegotiation…

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD).(SK) Mr President, the extension of the mandate of the European Investment Bank for a further period confirms that the current partnership between the European Union and the European Investment Bank (EIB) brings positive results in fulfilling the political objectives of the EU through the instruments of the EIB.

One part of the new mandate is the increase in the EIB’s budget guarantee, which covers risks of a public or political nature associated with EIB operations outside the European Union. For activities such as these, it is extremely important to ensure fiscal moderation and internal discipline, in order to ensure that money put into activities in support of the political objectives of the European Union brings the appropriate results in relation to the fiscal volumes.

It is therefore necessary to have a good and transparent mechanism for continuous monitoring of the activities supported. Transparency in handling financial …

 
  
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  Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska (PPE).(PL) Mr President, in my opinion, European Investment Bank activity outside the European Union should take place in accordance with the values which are held in the Union itself and with the principles established as part of the European neighbourhood policy. In the current situation, in my opinion, the European Union cannot allow Belarus to be included in the group of potential beneficiaries of European Investment Bank loans. If the regime in Minsk wants to use European Investment Bank funds, it must respect the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The European Union should present a consistent position on this matter by introducing both political and financial sanctions.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE).(FR) Mr President, the European Investment Bank is an intergovernmental instrument. The Member States provide a guarantee within the Union, and the European Union provides a guarantee outside the Union. It is absolutely vital for the Bank to retain its triple A rating; that guarantee is extremely useful. Moreover, one day, the Union will have to become a shareholder or partner of the Bank so that the intergovernmental and the Community aspects can be aligned.

My proposal is to focus the discussion on the repayment of that guarantee – the 29 billion. The repayment would amount to some EUR 100 million, and at the same time we could provide a subsidy to the EIB depending on the projects it presents to us. With regard to guarantees, I would draw attention to the fact that, with the Stability Fund – EUR 60 billion – and the 30 billion, we have practically a year’s budget pledged by the European Union as a guarantee.

 
  
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  Jan Kozłowski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Kalfin, on a superb report, which in my opinion fully represents the position of the European Parliament. Extending the mandate for a guarantee for the European Investment Bank is very important, and I hope the conciliation procedure will achieve complete success. I also welcome the proposal to increase the amounts covered by the guarantee in relation to the Union for the Mediterranean. As regards the recent events which have taken place in the region – in Tunisia and Egypt or, for example, more recently in Libya – I am of the opinion that we should support the democracy which is coming into being there. On the other hand, I also think it would be a good decision not to extend loans to Belarus – previous speakers have referred to this – where, as the recent presidential election and related events have shown, democracy and human rights are not respected.

 
  
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  Ingeborg Gräßle (PPE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we are facing a new wave of implementation of EU funds via the EIB. I am therefore taking the floor because I want to sound a note of warning.

At present, the EIB has liabilities of EUR 20 billion in the EU budget. If these were to become due, we would have a problem. I would therefore suggest that we need to verify the future implementation of EU funds via the EIB very carefully and precisely.

The EIB does not have even 500 employees in third countries; the European Commission has 3 700. It remains the case that the Commission would actually be much better placed to control the EU’s funds itself, rather than via the EIB. In my view there are numerous aspects of the true motivation for mandating the EIB that remain unclear. I would entreat this House to stop believing that we can allow the profits of others to be privatised and the losses to be socialised. We are going to have to justify this to the taxpayers and voters in our home countries.

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, I would just like to make some brief comments.

First, I would like to underline the importance of following the timetable. The trialogue between the institutions will start on the basis of the report that will probably be adopted today. The common aim is to have the decision adopted before the summer in order to pre-empt any risks of non-decision by October 2011, which would lead to the suspension of EIB external activities after that date. So I would underline that this is an extremely important issue.

I can also say that the EIB has been active in many countries which have become very important. The Egyptian portfolio is one of the largest in the EIB. From the start of its activities, the Bank has provided financing of more than EUR 4.3 billion, mostly to the private sector.

I would also like to clarify that the Bank and the budget are two different things. The Bank is operating with shareholders’ money, in this case capital paid in by the Member States. The Bank must be responsible for ensuring that all money lent is paid back. It is part of banks’ culture that they are evaluated by ratings. It has already been mentioned twice here that the EIB has the highest rating. These ratings must not deteriorate. That is very important. The professionalism of the Bank must ensure that this rating, which is also a symbol of European finances, is maintained.

Regarding how the EIB is controlled, there is a board. The Commission and all Member States are members of the board. The EIB can be investigated by OLAF and, of course, the Court of Auditors gives its opinion about the EIB. So there are democratic mechanisms and the Bank must operate within this framework. The EU guarantee only covers sovereign and political risks and it has never created a loss for the EU budget since its creation in 1960.

The EIB is a solid institution. Of course there is a large variety of choice in decision-making – whom to lend to and how to lend – and so these political guidelines discussed here today, and your opinions, are highly valued. They will definitely be taken into account.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Alejo VIDAL-QUADRAS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Ivailo Kalfin, rapporteur. Mr President, I have just three points.

First, the European Investment Bank is a European institution. It is part of the Lisbon Treaty. As such, it should be one of those helping to achieve the goals of the European Union, be these inside or outside the Union. I would draw the attention of the people who said that the Bank should not have involvements outside the Union to the fact that the European Union has an external policy and the European Investment Bank might be helpful in achieving its goals.

Second, the European Investment Bank is a financial institution which is top-rated. It is a very stable financial institution and all the amendments that we tabled were targeted at keeping its stability on the market. At the same time, this is not in contradiction with the possibility of reporting and assessing the development and the climate impact of European Investment Bank projects. Again this is not increasing the risk; this is increasing the transparency of the Bank.

I appreciate very much what the Commissioner said. He is right: I expect we touched on some sensitive issues that have been discussed in the Council where no decision has been taken so far, including the blending between EU loans and the grants from the Bank, and how to make European development aid more efficient. The European Union is the largest donor – not only as a Union but as regards the Member States – with very low visibility.

We have two alternatives: either not to touch this issue because it is sensitive or to try to work with the Council to work out a better option and to increase the efficiency of all the funds spent by the European Union.

Thank you very much for your support. I would expect a very broad consensus and a very strong vote in Parliament, on the basis of which we can enter into negotiations with the Council.

 
  
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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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  Zuzana Brzobohatá (S&D), in writing. (CS) This report focuses on several aspects of the activities of the European Investment Bank (EIB). Some of its activities are directed towards meeting EU development policy goals in countries that have difficulty obtaining finance on the capital markets on reasonable terms. The EU is using the EIB, under this policy, to try and bridge the gap between the North and the South, as less developed countries inevitably have poorer access to financing to develop their economies. I firmly believe it is right for EU instruments assisting third countries to be maintained and adequately expanded, as an expression of EU solidarity with third countries, and to fulfil the EU’s share of responsibility for the functioning of the global economy. I consider the extension of the EIB mandate to include regional operational guidelines, which will be developed by the Commission in cooperation with the EIB, following consultation with the European External Action Service, to be a step in the right direction for meeting the external policy objectives of the EU. I also think it would be beneficial to activate the EIB mandate for providing credit to Iceland, Belarus, Libya, Iraq and Cambodia. Whilst loans have been extended to Iceland to support its economy, loans to the other countries have been granted on condition that the finance is used exclusively to support the development of democracy and human rights.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The budget guarantee provided by the European Union to the European Investment Bank (EIB) ensures the bank’s stability and covers political or country-specific risks arising during the bank’s activity, primarily for countries and projects which could only access funds from the capital market with difficulty, if at all. The Decision is about the renewal of the guarantee’s mandate. It sets the ceiling for financing, lists eligible countries and defines the extent of the support available to them. The system of regional objectives is replaced by high-level, comprehensive objectives covering all regions in accordance with the principles laid down in the Decision. The European Commission, in cooperation with the EIB and in consultation with the European External Action Service, is developing operational guidelines reflecting the EU’s regional strategy for each region affected by the mandate. Among developments, greater emphasis will be laid in the future on sectors such as health, education, environmental infrastructure, water, sanitation, the development of sustainable transportation, mitigating the effects of climate change, and adapting to them. The special task of the Committee on Budgetary Control was to reinforce the budgetary control functions in the Decision. In order to enhance transparency, the future disclosure to Parliament of all reports and information related to the EIB’s activity as well as the measurement of the concrete results of projects financed by the EU guarantee, and safeguarding the right of the European Court of Auditors to audit the use of funds from the EU budget are particularly important.

 

5. Commission expert groups and balanced representation and transparency (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the debate on:

- the oral question (O-0009/2011) by Mr de Jong, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group, Mr Cashman, on behalf of the S&D Group, Mr Canfin, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group, and Mrs Macovei, to the Commission on the revision of the framework for Commission expert groups and balanced representation and transparency (B7-0010/2011);

- the oral question (O-0035/2011) by Mrs Lepage, Mrs Wallis and Mrs Ries, on behalf of the ALDE Group, to the Commission on the revision of the framework for Commission expert groups and balanced representation and transparency (B7-0014/2011)

 
  
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  Cornelis de Jong, author. (NL) Mr President, at the end of last year, the Commission revised the rules for its expert groups. In the run-up to that revision, I was able to engage in good informal discussions with the Commission’s representatives.

Nonetheless, it is strange that the European Parliament has never been formally involved in this. After all, transparency is a common concern of both the Commission and the European Parliament.

Can the Commissioner assure me that, in the future, we will have a formal dialogue on such questions before final decisions are made?

In the last week, I again contacted all kinds of civil society organisations. Unfortunately, they have not received any reassurances whatsoever that the composition of expert groups will be more balanced in the future. In fact, they have received information about the creation of new expert groups.

I know from my own experience, from the days when I myself was working for the Secretariat-General of the Commission, that Directorates-General are small kingdoms. However, if there is political will, then it must be possible for the Commission to decide to post on a single website all information about the new expert groups and about the accompanying notification procedures. Will the Commissioner ensure this is the case or will he bow to the Commission’s official bureaucracy?

All civil society organisations are facing a huge lack of resources. That applies to the unions, consumer organisations and to representatives of SMEs. They are having to make do with a small office in Brussels, in contrast to large companies which have the resources to hire professional lobbyists. This means that, in the interests of workers, consumers and SMEs, people from outside Brussels, in particular, should be enabled to take a seat on expert groups.

However, this comes with a price tag. The Commission’s website should indicate very clearly that travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed and, also, that a reimbursement scheme exists for other costs directly associated with work in expert groups. NGOs are often not aware of this nor do the Commission’s officials bring this to their attention voluntarily. For a self-employed person, for example, it is impossible without reimbursement to just drop their work in order to participate in an expert group in Brussels. Such reimbursement should therefore be mandatory.

Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) has a policy that experts who are recruited in a personal capacity should not be allowed to have any links to organisations which have a direct interest in the remit of a particular expert group. I call on the Commissioner to make DG SANCO’s policy mandatory for all DGs.

Finally, I would like to hear from the Commissioner how it is possible that the Commission’s website lists Greenpeace as a participant in Implementing Geological Disposal of Waste - Technology Platform, while I am in possession of correspondence between Greenpeace and the Commission which suggests that Greenpeace’s application for participation was explicitly rejected by the Commission.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman, author. Mr President, I should like to welcome the Commissioner to the world of politics, where no one is interested in what the Commission gets right, but is only interested in what it gets wrong.

This is a very good initiative, but Parliament, as Mr de Jong says, has some concerns. We have to ensure that expert groups are open to wider groups that can at least apply to get onto these expert working groups, and obtain information on how to do so.

We need to instil confidence in the expert working groups. To do that, we must have absolute transparency and, as has been said, they must not be dominated by big business, because this leads to the accusation of there being vested interests, and that undermines the work of the Commission and the work of the expert groups.

I say this as the rapporteur on the original regulation on public access to documents, which we implemented in this House in 2001.

As you well know, Commissioner, the whole principle of openness and taking decisions as closely to the citizens as possible emanates from the Amsterdam Treaty. We put this into practice with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, which is currently under revision. I would have thought that this would have presented a good opportunity for the framework programme on expert groups to be introduced into the regulation – the recast proposal of 2008, which interestingly Parliament does not accept.

You will notice that Mrs Macovei is in the Chamber. She has a great history of challenging for greater openness and transparency. Most political groups attach high importance to this.

I would like to know why Parliament was not consulted. Is the Commission going to open a website giving greater information as to how citizens’ representatives and civil societies can become engaged? If not, why not?

As I said at the very beginning, Commissioner, welcome to the world of politics, where everyone is obsessed with what has not been done rather than with what has been achieved.

 
  
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  Pascal Canfin, author. (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, I have given my backing to this oral question because I think it is of the utmost importance for the European Commission, and the European Union in particular, to be transparent and irreproachable where lobbying is concerned.

As you know, Brussels is the international lobbying capital, before Washington. There are more lobbyists in Brussels than in Washington, and one of the ways in which they exert their influence on the Commission is through these famous expert groups.

I am a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. You have, for example, a group of banking experts. Ninety-five per cent of the members of that expert group are bankers, and not just any bankers: only bankers from finance and investment banks, money market banks, and all the major US banks – J.P. Morgan, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs – are represented in it. On the other hand, there are no NGOs or trade unions in that expert group. The idea that the Commission should be advised only by investment bankers, and US investment bankers at that, with regard to changing banking rules seems totally surreal to me after the financial crisis we have gone through.

Hence there are some very precise questions and some very precise points in this oral question being put to you: are you going to change the composition of these expert groups? Are you going to ensure that the minutes are made public and that conflicts of interest are avoided? In the European Parliament, in fact, this is a completely transpartisan issue. There are left-wing MEPs, right-wing MEPs, Green MEPs and liberals who are very interested in these issues. Why were we not involved earlier in the reforms that you have introduced?

 
  
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  Corinne Lepage, author. (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, I fully support what my fellow Members, and in particular Mr de Jong and Mr Canfin, have said. I can only regret that Parliament was not consulted before a final decision on the review was taken.

The issue of transparency and expertise is one that we debate on a very regular basis, in particular within the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, where my experience in my field is somewhat comparable to that which Mr Canfin has just demonstrated.

I should like, Commissioner, to emphasise two points. The first concerns the balance of the groups. This is an extremely important issue. The composition is very imbalanced: there are many very large companies, very few SMEs, and above all the industrial sector but not civil society. The fact is, the weight of the groups clearly has an impact on the decisions that the Commission has to take, since it relies on the experts’ reports. If those expert reports were of no interest, they obviously would not be consulted. Consequently, restoring the balance so that it is representative of European society is absolutely vital, and I do not see any proposals in these new rules that favour either SMEs or civil society.

The second question concerns the selection of external experts. It is absolutely vital that we know, or at the very least that you know, exactly who is who and where those people who are talking to you come from. If experts present themselves as independent when in reality they are representing a lobby, the expertise they provide clearly cannot be regarded as a conclusive piece of information.

Extremely strict supervision and monitoring of declarations of interest is therefore absolutely vital to ensure that, if an expert is consulted as an industrial expert, things are at least clear. If he is consulted as a teacher when he is actually the representative of an industry, then things are no longer clear and they are not acceptable. I think that the issue of conflicts of interest is crucial. We have another example of this in the shape of a major problem at the Medicines Agency, which I believe we will have the opportunity to discuss again.

Therefore, I beg you, Commissioner, please restore our faith in the experts, as their opinions inform the decisions that are taken.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, of course, I do not know how much you know of the history of this issue, but I am particularly pleased to replace my colleague, Maroš Šefčovič, in replying to this question, because for the last five years it has been my domain. I was responsible for this area and am very pleased to tell you what has really been changed. It was an expert groups issue and, of course, unfortunately I have only three minutes to reply to your question. I will try to do my best.

As we mentioned, the new framework for Commission expert group was adopted in November 2010. It provides that, when defining the composition of these groups, the Commission departments concerned shall aim to ensure the balanced representation of relevant areas of expertise and areas of interest, while taking into account the work to be carried out and the specific expertise required.

The new framework for Commission expert groups provides for clearer and stronger horizontal rules on how to manage conflicts of interest. According to these rules, the relevant Commission services shall inform experts who are appointed in a personal capacity that, by accepting to be members of the group, they commit themselves to acting independently and in the public interest. These rules, which apply to all expert groups, constitute the Commission’s sole policy on this matter and are requirements that all services must fulfil.

In October 2005, in an example of good cooperation with Parliament and Jens Bonde, MEP, the Commission launched an online public register of expert groups which provided valuable information on different aspects, such as the group’s mission, tasks and composition. Since 2007, the Commission has been gradually publishing the names of expert group members, whether formally or informally established. This goes beyond the commitment made by the Commission in the 2005 framework for expert groups, which applied only to members of formal groups.

In 2009, the composition of expert groups was fully disclosed in the register. Thus, in principle, the names of all members of expert groups are available. This was a very strong requirement that Parliament imposed in 2005 and it has been complied with.

Following the adoption of the new framework for Commission expert groups, the Commission drew up a new version of the register in December 2010. This new version enhances transparency by providing new and more accurate information, notably on the type of entities listed and the procedures used to select members.

Furthermore, the new register increases transparency on the activities carried out by each group by allowing Commission departments to either publish relevant information in the register, or to provide a link from the register to a dedicated website where information can be found.

Finally, the presentation and readability of data encoded in the register has also been improved. Given the huge amount of information to be treated, the transition from the old to the new version of the register is still ongoing. Thus, some of the data still needs to be validated. The transition needs to be completed over the next few months.

Moreover, because for five and a half years I discussed these issues with various civil society organisations and Members of Parliament, I would ask you not to mystify the experts. There is no arithmetical link between the composition of expert groups and a decision. The decision is the Commission’s political responsibility.

Parliament’s committees have the same political responsibility when they meet in the presence of the same lobbyists. Do not forget that in 2005 we also launched a transparency register, then called the ‘lobbyist register’ and now the ‘register of interest representatives’, which has now developed into a joint register with Parliament. That is a great step ahead.

So something has been done. Things do not look so bad.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei, on behalf of the PPE Group. Mr President, I would like to thank the Commissioner for his response. I am glad that I am speaking after him.

I would like to say that we would rather look to the present and the future than back to the past. We would rather see bigger steps being taken towards transparency. I join with my colleagues on this question and recall that Parliament has asked the Commission to take action to ensure the balanced representation of interest groups in the membership of expert groups.

As the Commissioner mentioned, we have a revised framework. In our view, however, there are still major shortcomings which undermine people’s confidence. I will mention some of them.

Procedures to detect and eliminate conflicts of interest are missing. We need a procedure to detect and eliminate these. It is not enough to send a letter to the experts asking them to decide if they have a conflict of interest or not. Professional secrecy clauses have been extended beyond Commission staff to include members of expert groups so that, instead of moving towards more transparency, we are moving towards more secrecy. The lack of transparency persists with regard to the disclosure of expert groups’ documents. Next, small and medium-sized enterprises and civil society organisations are not properly represented. Safeguards against industry dominance are insufficient. There is a risk of ‘corporate capture’ of expert groups.

So we ask for all information about the existing expert groups to be placed on a website in a timely manner, including information about membership and members and all calls for applications.

I take this opportunity to insist again on the need for transparency concerning EU fund beneficiaries. Finally, I would like to say that transparency ensures good governance and trust in the institutions. If we want people’s trust, more and full transparency is the only way to go.

 
  
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  Zita Gurmai, on behalf of the S&D Group. Mr President, we know that there are many clichés concerning European decision-making.

The first one is that it is not transparent, but the EU is a tricky political system even for those who understand its functioning. Standard definitions hardly apply, therefore. Transparency and simplicity should be a basic aim for all actors in the EU. Our political system is sufficiently difficult on its own; we are not here to make it more difficult. Finding a legislative proposal somewhere on an EU website should not require special skills, so the user-friendly website the oral questions mention is not just an option – it is a must.

Another accusation is that the role of lobbying is unclear, and the role of big business is disproportionately strong. I know that lobbying can be useful for the Commission, as lobby groups often think up important points and provide information or even whole, ready-made, policy solutions. Here again I believe that transparency is a must and I am hopeful that this will be reflected in the future lobby register.

When it comes to expert groups, they should be seen for what they are: another playing field in which participants can put their interests forward. If the composition of those expert groups is biased, then expert groups merely provide one more opportunity for interest groups to succeed. However, these players are usually already good at putting their interests forward without the additional help of public authorities.

I can only repeat my colleagues’ question: is it obligatory or not for the Commission to obtain balanced advice?

 
  
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  Zbigniew Ziobro, on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) Mr President, it is obvious that transparency in the work of every official body should be guaranteed in every democratic society. This is needed for good decisions to be made objectively and to take account of all of society or the whole country or organisation which will be affected, and not some particular interests.

Therefore there is all the more reason why we should stress, whenever possible, that bodies connected with the European Union or the European Commission, as well as all other bodies which perform an official function, and this includes the European Parliament, should work as transparently and as openly as possible. This means the proposals that expert groups, too, should work in line with these requirements and with as much openness and transparency as possible are fully justified and warranted. This is necessary to eliminate possible conflicts of interest and to eliminate possible activity on behalf of particular interests when we do not know of this and when these actions may influence decisions which are important for the whole European Union.

 
  
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  Gerard Batten, on behalf of the EFD Group. Mr President, last October this Parliament introduced six new directives giving the EU powers to regulate the UK financial industry. On 7 February, I submitted a written question to the Commission advising it of one aspect of the UK Companies Act 1976. Section 27 of the Act gives a significant exemption to just one company, the Bank of England Nominees Limited. This exemption means that the identities of the shareholders of the Bank of England are kept secret.

I have asked the Commission if this exemption contravenes EU law and if the new regulatory bodies will have the power to require the disclosure of the names of the Bank of England’s shareholders. Of course, I and my party do not want any EU law, but the Commission and the British Government do. Presumably then, the Commission should ensure that its law is equally, consistently and transparently applied throughout its empire.

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI).(DE) Mr President, I am delighted that you are here today, Commissioner, because your efforts over the years for which you were responsible for this area achieved widespread recognition. Nonetheless, you know from your own experience that there is still a very long way to go.

It is vitally important that people who sit on expert groups are subject to a procedure and that sanctions can be imposed on them if they make incorrect statements. It is outrageous that people can claim to be independent when in reality they are clearly not independent. There must be sanctions for this; otherwise, what we have is a paper tiger.

My second point is the issue of who is being represented; you will be familiar with this from the business world. Here, in particular, it must surely be in the interests of the Commission to open up the groups at last to representatives of civil society. Looking at what has been achieved in respect of the financial scandals and the economic crisis it is clear that a great deal of poor advice has been given. This is something that we need to work on urgently.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE).(SK) Mr President, I would like to thank the group of Members for raising this urgent issue. The issue of experts does not only concern the economy. The Commission does not respect the principle of impartiality and balance in other fields either, and the resulting composition of expert groups is one-sided and does not represent the interests of all citizens.

The first example I would like to give is that, according to Eurostat, 90% of EU citizens are in favour of families consisting of a wife, a husband and their children. The Commission, however, selects only experts from organizations such as the European Women's Lobby or the Family platform, which seek to break this family model. The Commission has, in contrast, long rejected those women’s organizations and experts who, just like the majority of EU citizens, do not agree with one-sided feminist theory.

Another example is the Agency for Fundamental Rights, created and financed by the Commission. The experts of this agency support a one-sided policy agenda, without trying to reach balance and objectivity. This is evidenced by the speeches of its Director in this Parliament. Even the European Commission has distanced itself from the attitudes to freedom of religion and conscience promulgated by the chairman of this agency’s independent panel of experts, because it was drafted by lobbyists for pro-abortion organizations.

I believe that if an official European expert agency elevates political interests above professionalism and impartiality, it should be abolished. I could mention many more such cases. I would therefore like to add my voice to the questions that have been submitted to the Commission by the Members. I would like to ask the Commission to throw open the windows of the cabinet of experts, because the air in there is not clean, and this applies not only to the field of economics.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE).(FR) Mr President, the cooperation and consultations of experts put in place by the European Commission really must be irreproachable from the point of view of transparency, because this is a dangerous exercise. Indeed, members representing an interest, who are chosen according to their specific tasks and their type of expertise, may represent the same interests without, however, reflecting the general interest.

The Commission must therefore be particularly careful to ensure that they are representative, but even more so, it should encourage contradiction. I find it unacceptable that these members should include numerous NGOs that have similar interests and a similar scope. The working papers, acts and agendas of meetings should also be made public so that they can be consulted by the general public, elected representatives and entities for which the group’s work does not have immediate implications but which will be affected from time to time. The unclear content of the expert groups’ work cannot possibly lead to reliable results, and here I am thinking in particular of the expert groups coming under the DG Sanco.

Lastly, I believe that, in an effort to ensure the transparency of its operations, the Commission must involve Parliament in reviewing the supervision of its expert groups and similar entities.

As Article 9 of the Treaty makes clear, transparency is not just a matter for the European Commission; it concerns the people of Europe, too.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in our daily parliamentary activities we realise that added value is given by access to selected information that supports our legislative role and our work of providing political direction. We make use of outside human resources – although the Commission does so much more often – to supply us with analyses and guides to the current political, social, industrial and entrepreneurial situation.

Policy, however, is made up of decisions and choices, and these remain fully in the hands of politicians. It is a matter of making choices that may be supported by expert groups endowed with a high degree of professionalism and specific levels of competence, who are capable of expressing their opinions objectively.

Hence there is a need to identify effective instruments and transparent procedures that will allow the Commission to fulfil its role with the support of these autonomous or independent expert groups. We are aware that this is an extremely problematic aspect. The 2010 plan is certainly a significant step forward, but much more needs to be done. The experts’ impartiality and authority also depend on how autonomous they are and on how able they are to support political decisions fairly and loyally.

Publicity mechanisms, the web and other effective methods can be simplified even further in both the Commission and Parliament. Therefore, the right of access is good; transparency is certainly good; the balance between the right to transparency and those things that cannot be handed over or passed on or made recognisable is good; and the register of lobbyists that is to be set up soon is good.

However, we must emphasise once again that it is policy that is paramount. If the policy is credible and competent, the experts’ role is one of consultancy and support. The decision will always be made by the one who takes responsibility for it.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD).(SK) Mr President, the European Commission has recently revised its framework document governing the operation of expert groups. Given that we are all interested not only in the best possible functioning of the institutions of the European Union, but also in the transparent and fair creation and functioning of expert and advisory bodies, we would welcome a higher degree of openness on the part of the European Commission regarding implementation of the mechanism for the selection of experts for European Commission expert groups.

Reference was made here a few moments ago to the example of the European Medicines Agency, where the list of experts actually raises doubts as to the provision of independent expert advice. Therefore, Commissioner, we should work together to prevent any doubts as to the expertise, balance and independence of our advisory bodies. If we feel that the framework for expert groups still has certain shortcomings, despite the current revision, let us give the matter some thought and try to improve it even further.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner Barnier has admitted that some of the Commission’s expert groups in the financial area are unbalanced and one-sided in their composition. At present, 11 of the 25 expert groups in the financial area are dominated by the financial industry. Some groups have more representatives of the finance industry than responsible officials. Moreover, these representatives merely have to sign a preprinted declaration that they will act in the public interest if they see a conflict of interests. Such ridiculous platitudes are hardly conducive to creating transparency and neutrality.

The situation where the reports of the European Food Safety Agency are concerned is equally concerning. The statements on risks posed by genetic modification cite manufacturers’ reports and the involvement of genetic modification lobbyists is clear. The Executive Director of the most important specialist EU authority on genetically modified plants is thus working for the industry-funded International Life Sciences Institute.

In other words, EU legislation that is primarily based on statements by banks and large groups is irresponsible and dangerous for EU citizens, and should therefore be stopped immediately.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. − Mr President, it really warms my heart to listen to this discussion. In fact, it would be good to have some kind of memo about the history of this issue.

The Commission takes note of all these good ideas and advice on how to increase transparency. I should point out that in 2005 we launched a transparency initiative which included the question of expert groups. This was very largely my brainchild, as Mr Hans-Peter Martin has just recalled.

There have, of course, been huge changes in relation to this question, with all the websites and information now available. But you should never regard the experts as some kind of decision-makers. They are not decision-makers and they clash with each other.

It is the same issue as has just been raised in relation to genetically modified organisms. One knows that it is not just industry that is concerned. There are different groups of experts. In the last months of the last Commission I also had responsibility for security, so all information about demonstrations came to my desk. One of the last huge demonstrations was against the abolition of subsidies for tobacco producers.

So there are different views, but we are the decision-makers: the Commissioners and Members of Parliament and our Institutions. Agencies also make decisions, as do the Council and the Member State governments. Experts are not the decision-makers. There is no arithmetical link.

Yes, I am in favour of greater transparency. It is clear that some very high-level expert groups were set up only to quietly disappear because they were not able to give any advice as they held such contradictory views.

So let us work with this transparency register, which I also consider to be a great achievement, because experts and advisers are everywhere. No politician survives without advisers. Political groups have advisers and are approached by different interests, and finally it is for political decision-makers to take one stand or another. There will always be subjects where the experts will say that now you must take this or that position. This is a matter for the political decision-makers: Commissioners, parliamentarians, political groups, in accordance with the democratic system.

There is also the question of the composition of the expert groups. Many issues have been raised about composition. Who should assess whether their composition is balanced or not? The composition of the expert groups is determined by specific cases. Some people may mistakenly want to enter these expert groups to be part of the decision-making process, but expert groups are not decision-makers.

Back in 2005, as some of us remember, there really was an element of opacity and the Commission, together with Parliament, has introduced substantial changes in this regard. By this I mean the transparency register, which registers representatives of interest groups. This applies to lobbyists at Parliament and the Commission, and a lot of information is now available to assess how great their influence is and the composition of the expert groups.

Let us develop our response in this issue, but let us also not underestimate the efforts which have been made so far.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

(The sitting was suspended at 11.45 and resumed at 12.00)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Libor ROUČEK
Vice-President

 

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

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

– Before the vote:

 
  
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  Sajjad Karim (ECR). - Mr President, the Figaro newspaper this morning reports that last week a journalist not only entered the European Parliament with an imitation gun, but was also able to get extremely close to Prince Charles, the next British Head of State.

Given the ongoing concerns about security in this House, can you assure us today that you are taking these matters seriously, and that the so-called review being conducted in secret by Parliament’s Bureau will not merely be a tinkering exercise, but a root-and-branch reform of security?

 
  
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  President. − Mr Karim, I can assure you that this matter is being taken very seriously. According to my information, it is being discussed at the Conference of Presidents, so you can be sure Parliament is paying great attention to this problem. It is a very serious matter.

 
  
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  President. − In the light of recent developments, the text on the media law in Hungary, the vote on which was tabled for today, will have to be revised. I therefore propose that this vote be postponed under Rule 177(4). The decision on further action on this issue and on the necessary new deadlines will be taken at the meeting of the Conference of Presidents on Thursday, 3 March 2011.

Who wishes to speak in favour? Who wishes to speak against?

 
  
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  Renate Weber, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Mr President, after the recent developments that are on the table at the Commission but not at Parliament, I feel that we have to postpone the vote on the resolution because it needs to be adapted to suit this new development.

 
  
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  President. − So that was the proposal in favour. Who wants to speak against? No one? Then we will proceed to the vote. Who is in favour of postponement? Against? Abstentions? The proposal is carried. The vote on this item is postponed.

 

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

6.2. EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU (A7-0019/2011, Ivailo Kalfin) (vote)
  

Before the vote on Amendment 1:

 
  
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  Ivailo Kalfin, rapporteur. Mr President, in the light of the recent developments in the countries of the Mediterranean and North Africa, the democratic changes and the consequences of those developments, including the migration flow towards the European Union, I would like to suggest an oral amendment to the report, with some figures.

The amendment is as follows: in annex 1 the new figure for item B ‘Neighbourhood and Partnership Countries’ should read 13 664 000 000, with the figure for the sub-ceiling for ‘Mediterranean countries’ 9 700 000 000. The result of these changes would be a correction to the figures in Article 2(1)(1). The correct figure for the ‘maximum ceiling’ is now 29 567 000 000 and the correct ‘General Mandate’ figure is 27 567 000 000.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

6.3. Free trade agreement between the EU and the Republic of Korea (A7-0034/2011, Robert Sturdy) (vote)
 

– Before the vote:

 
  
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  Robert Sturdy, rapporteur. Mr President, I know everybody wants to rush off, but I just want to thank the Commission and the shadow rapporteurs on this.

This is a ground-breaking free trade agreement, which is outstanding. Parliament has a huge opportunity to support it and to put forward wonderful ideas for the future.

 
  
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  President. − I put this fantastic agreement to the vote. It is a roll-call vote. It is carried. Congratulations to Mr Sturdy.

 

6.4. Situation in Egypt (B7-0120/2011) (vote)

6.5. Implementation of the EU strategy for the Danube region (vote)

6.6. Rule of law in Russia (B7-0101/2011) (vote)

6.7. World Bank energy strategy (vote)

6.8. Europe 2020 (B7-0097/2011) (vote)
  

Before the vote on paragraph 10:

 
  
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  Udo Bullmann (S&D).(DE) Mr President, on behalf of my group I would like to table an oral amendment to strengthen equal opportunities and the aspect of gender policy in the Europe 2020 Strategy. I will read the text out in English – new paragraph 10 a:

‘Insists that gender equality is a key target for achievement of the ambitions of EU 2020. Calls therefore for the full participation of women in the labour market and the full inclusion of female workers in vocational training. Calls also for an agenda to eradicate the pay gap that exists between women and men.’

(Applause)

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

6.9. Implementation of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (B7-0127/2011) (vote)

6.10. Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (A7-0040/2011, Pervenche Berès) (vote)

6.11. Rising food prices (B7-0114/2011) (vote)
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  President. − That concludes the vote.

 

7. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of the vote

 
  
  

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

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE).(SK) Mr President, I would like to talk about the vote on the bilateral safeguard clause. I support the adoption of the regulation on the implementation of a safeguard clause concerning free trade between the EU and Korea. I also support all amendment proposals calling on the Commission to monitor the proper and timely implementation of this legal instrument in order to prevent serious damage to industries in the European Union, and to take account of the legitimate interests of Member States regarding the specific economic situation in certain sectors of manufacturing industry.

The Free Trade Agreement will affect the industrial sectors of Member States in different ways, and we therefore need the option of applying protective measures at the regional level in exceptional cases. In my opinion, the regions concerned must have the option of applying measures to prevent a serious negative impact on the regional economy and employment.

 
  
  

Report: Robert Sturdy (A7-0034/2010)

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to highlight the fact that last week six important Member States of the European Union – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Portugal – stated that Europe needs to be less ingenuous.

The six countries are calling for a more effective and strategic defence of European foreign trade, because the very existence and development of the European economic and social model are at stake. The six countries point out that the European Union has opened up 80% of its market to third countries, while the other major developed economies have only opened up 20% of theirs. It is therefore claimed that there are asymmetries in foreign trade and the concept of reciprocity needs to be developed. This problem has brought many of our small and medium-sized enterprises to their knees, because they are suffering from unfair competition that stops them from being competitive in the markets.

Mr President, I come from Prato, a town that was once considered one of the most important textile areas in Europe. Today, unfair competition from Asia has turned it into a ghost town, because business in Prato has been utterly devastated. All these reasons have led us to vote against this agreement.

 
  
  

Report: Ivailo Kalfin (A7-0019/2011)

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE).(SK) Mr President, in the framework of the revision of budgetary guarantees provided to the European Investment Bank (EIB) by the European Union, I support particularly those elements, which have been designed to boost the momentum of this institution. From the standpoint of future prospects, it is primarily about strengthening and making better use of the external mandate of the bank in the period between 2014 and 2020 in terms of increasing the volume of loans and their quality.

I also support the intention of allowing the EIB to reinvest venture capital and special loan reflows from earlier operations into new operations of the same type for the benefit of partner countries. In order to improve access to financial resources for poorer groups in the eligible countries, an additional grant of EUR 500 million should be allocated to the EIB immediately to finance micro-credits.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Mr President, I voted against the report, since I find it unacceptable that we should be supporting investment in third countries instead of facilitating investment for European small and medium-sized enterprises, which really form the most important economic fabric of the Union. I am firmly against the inclusion of Turkey among the pre-accession countries: I would point out that Turkey still illegally occupies part of the territory of Cyprus, an EU Member State.

Moreover, there is no guarantee of transparency when the European Investment Bank (EIB) grants Union guarantees and finance to third countries. I would point out that European citizens contribute to EIB funds, which is why priority should be given to investment within Europe itself. Many of the investments supported by the EIB are in countries where clashes and uprisings against the various regimes are taking place.

The report seeks to extend Union guarantees also to other countries, such as Cuba, that are known for their lack of democracy.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Robert Sturdy (A7-0034/2011)

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE).(IT) Mr President, while we voted firmly in favour of the safeguard clause in the report by Mr Zalba Bidegain, whom I thank once again for his excellent work, we abstained on the trade agreement with Korea with some regret. We did so with regret because, although this agreement does indeed open up an important new market for the Union, paving the way for further trade agreements in future with other economic partner countries of the Union, it is also true that many doubts and misgivings remain. These doubts and misgivings affect major commercial sectors, especially the motor industry, and also textiles and agriculture.

Although Europe has not yet defined the regulation on the indication of country of origin for products from outside the European Union, we continue to offer countries privileged status for importing products into Europe without demanding rules to ensure true equality for companies or information for people that purchase the goods.

Our abstention confirms that we are in favour of a free market, but one that includes the necessary guarantees, whereas we are against the conclusion of trade agreements that do not sufficiently guarantee the rules of competition.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement will bring innumerable benefits to European industry, businesses, entrepreneurs and employees. It will contribute to overall economic growth and open up effective new opportunities for European goods and services. However, certain industries will be exposed to additional competition, and the EU should therefore ensure effective monitoring of the implementation of the agreement, the rapid settlement of disputes and the subsequent rapid safeguarding of the legitimate interests of European industry and European entrepreneurs.

It is obvious that strict compliance with labour, technical and environmental standards, as well as provisions on the protection of fair competition have to be ensured by both parties. Goods and products placed on the European market must comply with all standards of the European Union, and I welcome the establishment of a monitoring committee for the motor industry, which should help prevent so-called hidden protectionism through new technical barriers to trade.

I am therefore in favour of granting final approval to the agreement in question, provided that a bilateral safeguard mechanism will be created as well, in order to prevent possible serious damage to Member State industries, or even the threat of such damage.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Mr President, I voted for this Agreement; I followed it from the beginning and was glad that it was accepted today.

At a seminar in Brussels last week, a credible economist said that this is one of the best Free Trade Agreements the European Union ever concluded. At the same time, he said that 90% of these agreements are not worth a pin. Be that as it may, I welcome the opportunity it provides for agricultural products, especially whiskey, pork and dairy products. I hope the opportunity will be grasped.

It is a great thing, too, that it contains a protection clause. Because if things do not change as they ought, we can do a review. Therefore, I am very pleased that it was accepted.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Mr President, I think it is a really splendid agreement that has been finalised here today, and I only regret that there are some people who believed that they could protect inefficient European enterprises by saying ‘no’ to this agreement. South Korea is the 15th largest economy in the world and the third largest in Asia. We will see better and better opportunities for exporting. We have a country with respectable economic growth, a population of 50 million and increasing purchasing power. The agreement will quite simply provide the opportunity for Europe, in some service sectors where we are extremely competitive, to now become even better: these include telecommunications, the environment, shipping and financial and legal services. I would also just like to point out today that the EFTA countries have had a free trade agreement since 2006, and this has resulted, among other things, in Norway tripling its exports to South Korea since 2006. Hence, this is a very good agreement for Europe and I have therefore voted in favour of it.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0120/2011

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D). - Mr President, Europe could do many things to support Egyptian democracy, and one of the most important would be to look at the events in Egypt as part of a genuine wave of democratisation.


In the space of a few weeks, a tyranny collapsed, and with it we have seen the collapse of a number of stereotypes such as the theory of a clash of civilisations.

No conflict of civilisations whatsoever is occurring in the Arab World today – exactly the opposite. Egyptian youngsters are putting their lives at risk for the same values that we hold. They are showing that democracy is a universal aspiration and that there are no cultures, religions or civilisations that are against it.

Nonetheless, an army of sceptics and doomsayers is at work today, diminishing or distorting the meaning of the Egyptian transition to democracy.

People are engaged in raising all sorts of doubts, describing the latest development as a ‘coup d’état’ as though these events have simply paved the way for an Islamic Government that will end up in another autocracy.

If we want to help the Egyptian people, we should be ready to counter these reactionary views of the unfolding of history.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Mr President, Egypt is an important economic and commercial partner of the European Union. Many people from Poland go on holiday to Egypt on a regular basis. In recent weeks, we have witnessed a national rebellion in Egypt, which has resulted in President Mubarak stepping down after 30 years of authoritarian rule. It is always right when the will of the people prevails, and the Egyptians deserve recognition for their victory. I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution, and in doing so I expressed my hope for a rapid stabilisation of the political situation in Egypt and further development of good relations with the countries of Europe. Not long ago, we witnessed shameful events relating to discrimination against Coptic Christians, and this makes concentrating EU diplomatic efforts on stabilisation and law and order in Egypt an essential condition for mutual relations to develop properly. It is also necessary to make every effort to ensure that the coming elections are held in a way which does not attract criticism and which is in accord with democratic standards.

 
  
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  Bernd Posselt (PPE). (DE) Mr President, we enthusiastically support the movement for democracy in Egypt, but it is important to realise that free elections are not enough. We need an integrated approach in order to give the people prospects – a kind of Mediterranean Plan, a kind of Marshall Plan for North Africa and Egypt. This will involve giving people social prospects, strengthening education policy, strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises, ensuring that criminality and corruption are combated and above all, initiating close cooperation in the area of energy policy, where in the area of solar energy North Africa and Europe have a lot to offer each other.

We have yet to complete the real major tasks. Egypt’s democrats have completed the first phase of the work; now it is up to us to step up to the mark.

 
  
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  Traian Ungureanu (PPE). - Mr President, the situation in Egypt is still developing, but in what direction is it moving?

While we have rightly expressed our support for the popular desire for an open society, we should be aware of the complex, and yet unsolved, problems in Egypt and in the Middle East. The situation in Egypt could be adequately described as a revolt in waiting for a revolution. A new generation has brought novelty to Egypt, but social media skills are not enough. Egypt is still mired in backwardness, anti-Semitism and extreme practices.

The EU has yet to formulate a proper policy towards the new developments in North Africa. Egypt needs our support, but we need an Egypt ruled by law and human dignity. Our task is just beginning. Let us not forget the last message to come from Iran, where the Parliament has noisily called for the execution of opposition leaders. This proves that we should be well prepared, and stand our ground.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, the motion for a resolution is good, and it adopts a position in favour of democratic and peaceful forces of change. Perhaps, though, it is worth remembering and acknowledging that for 30 years the EU and the West have supported Mubarak. It is stability that has been important for the EU. That means equilibrium and the supply of oil, and, in addition, the fact that money has been made out of the arms trade. Now the EU needs to find ways, including financial measures, to boost its support for civil society actors, both in Egypt and in other undemocratic countries in Africa and the Arab world.

I think that it is something of a setback that this resolution makes no mention of the arms trade between countries of the EU and Egypt and other undemocratic countries. The arms trade ought to be in line with international agreements on human rights and humanitarian treaties.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, Egypt is at the beginning of its democratisation process. I believe that all of the victims who lost their lives during the revolution should be atoned for through positive progress towards democracy. Europe should certainly assist Egypt in this, and I believe that we will find ways of preventing Egypt from taking one direction in a totalitarian manner, for instance through an extreme step toward a militant Muslim movement which does not respect democratic rules and which would hinder democratic elections and the application of civil society. I believe that Egypt will uphold its international agreements with its neighbours, including Israel, even under these new conditions, and that it will be a society which treats all of its citizens fairly, including non-Muslims, and including Christians.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0129/2011

 
  
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  Bernd Posselt (PPE).(DE) Mr President, this motion for a resolution represents another important step in the right direction, but no more than that. However, as Commissioner Hahn proposed, people are now talking about a strategy for the Danube region rather than a Danube strategy, because this is not just about cleaning up the river – as important as that is – but is about cooperation across a major region that extends from Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg through the former Austria-Hungary and across large parts of the Balkans. I am pleased that, at our request, Bohemia and Slovenia are also included, even though they are not situated directly on the Danube.

To this end I would also like to see included in the future projects such as the main railway line from Strasbourg to Bratislava and Budapest, TEN 17 and other projects that may not be located directly on the Danube, but which cross it repeatedly and are of strategic importance for the Danube region. I particularly welcome Articles 36 to 40, which deal with culture and the involvement of civil society, because without these the strategy for the Danube region will not be a success.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0101/2011

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Mr President, for many years, it has been clear that the legal system in Russia is not infrequently in conflict with the standards of international conventions and human rights. The majority of cases which come before the Court of Justice and here in Strasbourg are brought against Russia. The independence of the Russian courts is, therefore, the subject of a great deal of doubt. Recent events, such as the trial of Mr Khordorkovsky and the arrest of demonstrators are clear examples of this. Mysterious murders and beatings only serve to further reinforce the impression that Russia is a lawless country.

I hope the motion for a resolution we have adopted today will make it easier for representatives of European Union bodies to take up these thorny issues in diplomatic relations with Russia. I would like to express my anxiety concerning the Russian authorities in relation to the dramatic situation on human rights and the restrictions placed on civil society there. I appeal to international institutions to put diplomatic pressure on the Russian authorities to bring about a restoration of the rule of law and respect for human and citizens’ rights in Russia.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE). - Mr President, I voted for this resolution. However, as a result of compromises, paragraph 8 has become too ambiguous and non-committal.

The EU must take concrete measures to show that it is serious about the need for a real improvement of the rule of law situation in Russia.

While economic and political contacts need to be continued, a clear signal should be sent to those state officials who are considered responsible for grave breaches of law that they are not welcome in the capitals or tourist resorts of Europe.

Against this background, I do not consider it proper to officially invite President Medvedev to address the European Parliament until he has lived up to his promises to improve the rule of law situation in Russia.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE). - Mr President, I welcome the fact that we have finally adopted the resolution on this very important topic. I have been a close observer of political developments and the situation as regards the rule of law in Russia for many years now. Most recently, I had a chance to visit Russia with an official delegation of the Human Rights Subcommittee in September last year.

During the visit I had a first-hand opportunity to observe how the rule of law is upheld in Russia when attending the trial of the former Yukos boss, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business associate, Platon Lebedev. The trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is only the most conspicuous of many examples of the selective application of the rule of law in Russia, which means that there is no genuine rule of law. If Russia wants to be a strategic partner of the EU it must follow a path of comprehensive modernisation. Any modernisation plan will be a failure if the rule of law is not vigorously developed in Russia.

 
  
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  Bernd Posselt (PPE).(DE) Mr President, the miniscule signs of the beginnings of the rule of law in Russia are disappearing and the country is not only not moving forward, but is sliding back. The man responsible for this is Mr Putin. It is Mr Putin who is bringing about this deterioration in the rule of law. We need to realise that he is not the solution to the problem, but rather is a major part of the problem. President Medvedev has yet to prove – and here I agree with Mr Kelam – that he is not simply the charming face of Mr Putin, the slightly more friendly face, but that he is actually attempting or in a position to consolidate the rule of law somewhat more in this member state of the Council of Europe, which is after all obliged to ensure the rule of law under the European Convention on Human Rights.

To this extent we need to be highly critical; naturally we must maintain a dialogue, but we also need to ensure that the rule of law prevails. It is shocking that the court that sentenced Mr Khodorkovsky has now publicly stated that it was ordered by Moscow to hand down this verdict. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the rule of law.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0097/2011

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this motion for a resolution. However, as the final text made no mention of the role of cohesion policy, I signed an amendment on this, along with fellow Members from the other political groups, which was also voted on today.

The Structural Funds and the basic principles of cohesion policy, such as an integrated approach, multi-level governance and real partnership, are key elements in achieving the EU 2020 Strategy’s objectives, which also means that they must be fully integrated into it. I agree that we need an ambitious social agenda which will include combating poverty and social exclusion. However, to be able to create sustainable jobs, we need to have primarily a competitive economy, which is precisely the role played by cohesion policy. Therefore, if we continue to deprive cohesion policy of the attention it is due, we will record the failure of the EU 2020 Strategy in the coming years.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE).(IT) Mr President, we will still have to suffer the damage caused by the financial crisis for a long time. The brake on the real economy caused by financial malpractice must be released as quickly as possible to enable the single market to resume its development.

The Europe 2020 Strategy does not appear to us to be the most appropriate one for delivering the growth we are hoping for. Structural obstacles – such as weak governance, the intergovernmental method compared to the Community method, percentage and numerical targets analogous to those used in the old Soviet five-year plans, and programme forecasts that give no assurance of ever being achieved – remind me of all the flops we have endured, of which Lisbon will not be the last, without realising that our absolute priorities should be to create jobs and tackle unemployment.

We need impetus, effort and stimulus, which unfortunately I do not find in the proposed strategy. ‘Release’ needs to become the watchword, but it is also vitally important to define rules to prevent the creation or strengthening of monopolies and to ensure that the ones benefiting are the people and the economy as a whole, and not some financial or political group that is more ruthless than the rest.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0114/2011

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D). - Mr President, the rapid rise in food prices has been a burden on the poor in developing countries, who spend roughly half of their household incomes on food.

This calls for an integrated response from the international community. The wholehearted involvement of the EU in issues of global food security is urgently required. The resolution approved today is a first step in the right direction.

The resolution states that the right to food is a fundamental human right and makes several useful recommendations. However, we need to go ahead with further proposals. We need to change the aspects of CAP international aid policies that are not in line with the task of increasing global food production, in full respect of environmental concerns, food safety and labour standards.

 
  
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  Marek Józef Gróbarczyk (ECR).(PL) Mr President, food is also of strategic importance for the European Union. Food has to be produced, and so it is also important for labour markets. I would like to focus in particular on an industry which, alongside others, is also a source of food production – fishing. The fishing industry is one which supplies the EU and world market with a substantial amount of food. However, the European Union is the greatest importer of fish products from other parts of the world. Excessive liberalisation of this market may lead to its collapse, and as a consequence to the loss of this source of food in Europe. Therefore, attention should be paid to this aspect of common policy.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, this is an extremely important issue. Right now, there are a billion starving people in the world. Since the EU set its target to eradicate hunger and poverty, things have in fact gone in the opposite direction.

I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution and I would hope that the EU High Representative, Baroness Ashton, will make food security and all its various aspects one of the priorities of the EU’s foreign policy. Obviously, too, Parliament and the EU as a whole should support her in this. It is important that people should have food, that people should be able to buy food, and that, here in the EU, we should obviously also discuss the need to end the food scandals.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, a billion of the world’s people are suffering hunger. In 2008, rising food prices caused riots in 30 countries. Today, we have a similar situation. This situation has been caused, in addition, by the general economic crisis, and it is now even more necessary to make a concerted effort to find fair ways of distributing food products on a global scale.

Food prices are rising, but farmers’ profits are falling. This, too, should be stressed very strongly. Unfortunately, it is being forgotten in the European Union that the common agricultural policy is principally a policy intended to secure the supply of high quality food at a suitable price to all European consumers, with a guarantee of a decent return for farmers. We must not allow further elimination of instruments which regulate the market and maintain stocks at suitably high levels, and this includes cereal stocks. It is also essential to put an end to speculative activities in the market. It is reprehensible that capital groups are condemning millions of people across the world to suffer hunger.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

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

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because the safeguard clause provides for the possibility of re-imposing the most-favoured-mation rate when imports increase to such an extent – either in absolute terms or in relation to domestic production – that they could undermine industry in the European Union, which is in direct competition with imported products. I therefore agree with the introduction of this safeguard clause, and recall that following the Treaty of Lisbon the European Parliament has powers of codecision with the Council. An effective regulation should serve to provide an assurance if the Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Korea should fail.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD), in writing. I voted for the Zalba Bidegain report on a bilateral safeguard clause in the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of South Korea because it adequately protects the increase in trade with Korea that is brought about by the Free Trade Agreement. The bilateral safeguard mechanism will permit the EU to revert to the prior MFN rates of duty if this agreement even threatens to damage our industry. This Free Trade Agreement opens up our service industry, agriculture and manufacturing industries to increased access to the large and growing Korean market.

 
  
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  Antonello Antinoro (PPE), in writing. (IT) This is an extremely important vote for the European Union’s new international trade strategy. In fact, the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea is the first example of a new generation of agreements that aim at lowering trade and non-trade barriers and expanding investment prospects in the partner country. As soon as it was signed in October 2009, the agreement was received with fierce criticism from the European motor industry, which felt it was being severely penalised by certain clauses conceded to the Korean partner, duty drawback in particular.

Those concerns have now been partly dissipated, not least due to Parliament’s work on the attached regulation on the safeguard clause annexed to the agreement and to a clarification by the South Korean Government on the amendments to internal legislation on carbon emissions. Today, therefore, we confirmed the vote of the Committee on International Trade in order to allow the procedure to be completed, given that the Council has already agreed to it.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) On 23 April 2007, the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with the Republic of Korea with a view to concluding an EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The agreement incorporates a bilateral safeguard clause that provides for the possibility of re-imposing the most-favoured-nation (MFN) rate when, as a result of trade liberalisation, imports increase to such an extent and take place under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to the EU industry producing a similar or directly competing product. For such measures to become operational, the safeguard clause must be incorporated into EU law, not least because the procedural aspects of the imposition of safeguard measures, as well as the rights of interested parties, need to be specified. The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council that is before us constitutes the legal instrument required for implementation of the safeguard clause in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement. I would stress that legislative work on this regulation should be confined to issues relating to its implementation, without unilaterally altering fundamental provisions of the agreement and adopting measures that go against its spirit. For instance, no changes should be made to the type of safeguard measures applicable, to the length of time for which they may apply or to the period during which the safeguard clause may be brought to bear.

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (EFD), in writing. UKIP wants the UK to leave the European Union and retain friendly trading links through a UK-EU Free Trade Agreement, similar to that with non-EU Switzerland and Norway. I voted in favour of this EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement as it can be a model and a template for a future UK-EU Free Trade Agreement, and because it demonstrates that tariff-free and favourable trading access to the EU can be achieved without the UK (or South Korea) being a member of the EU. This is especially true in the case of the UK, which would be the EU’s largest single trading partner. A UK-EU Free Trade Agreement would be likely merely to replicate existing trading arrangements with the UK as a member of the EU, and would therefore require far less negotiation (e.g. over tariff reductions) than did the agreement with South Korea.

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD), in writing. UKIP desires to leave the European Union and retain friendly trading links through a UK/EU Free Trade Agreement, similar to that of non-EU Switzerland and Norway. I voted in favour of this South Korea/EU Free Trade Agreement as it can be a model and a template for a future UK/EU Free Trade Agreement, and as it demonstrates tariff-free and favourable trading access to the EU can be achieved without the UK (or South Korea) being a member of the EU. This is especially the case for the UK, which is the largest single trading partner with the EU. A UK/EU Free Trade Agreement would be likely merely to replicate existing trading arrangements with the UK as a member of the EU, and would need therefore far less negotiation (e.g. over tariff reductions) than those with South Korea.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe that the bilateral safeguard clause can guarantee that industry in the European Union, which produces a similar or directly competing products would not be damaged as a result of trade liberalisation by the Republic of Korea. This clause should also function as an instrument to which European industry can turn to prevent serious losses, or to enable it to adapt to unfavourable situations, resulting from the volatility of the international market.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In relation to the conclusion of the process of adopting the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Korea, the European Commission has drafted a proposal for a regulation on a safeguard clause that would ensure the reintroduction of customs tariffs if increased imports of a specific product put the related industry at serious risk. The number of amendments of which the Commission’s proposal has been the subject seems to reflect a certain lack of clarity in its wording, as well as the Members’ desire to protect various interests.

I hope that the resolution that we have adopted today will contribute to improving the original text, and that the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Korea will be established in a way that enables a significant increase in trade between the two markets, as is expected. I am hopeful that the aforementioned agreement will be fruitful and that the safeguard clause – which it is hoped will be clear and capable of functioning effectively whenever needed – will never need to be enforced.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns a proposal for regulation of the European Parliament and the Council, which applies to the bilateral clause of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Korea. This agreement was concluded on 15 October 2009 and includes a safeguard clause guaranteeing the reinstatement of tariffs when imports increase to such an extent as to damage industry in the European Union (EU) which produces competing products. In order for it to be possible to apply this measure, it is necessary for it to be incorporated into EU legislation. I hope that it will be an effective clause, which can be implemented with minimum bureaucracy. I welcome the adoption of this proposal, which introduces increased guarantees for European companies, and I hope that the European Union will receive periodic reports to assess compliance with these safeguard mechanisms.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Our position in the vote on this report should be considered in the light of the profoundly negative assessment that we have made of the signing of this Free Trade Agreement. The establishment of this clause represents, above all, recognition of the devastating consequences of the liberalisation and deregulation promoted by the agreement. Moreover, it does not remove the dangers and concerns that this agreement involves and raises regarding the future of various sectors of economic activity, particularly in some Member States, such as Portugal, and in the regions that are most dependent on those sectors. The particular goal of the bilateral safeguard clause is to enable the EU to re-impose most-favoured-nation (MFN) customs duties if it is proven that liberalisation resulting from the agreement could cause serious injury to EU industries.

We have serious doubts as to whether this mechanism will be enough to protect small producers or small and medium-sized enterprises, which will find it very difficult to stay afloat in a liberalised market; to prevent the decimation of their production capacity and, consequently, the loss of many jobs. It is significant that the possibility is being raised of mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to alleviate the impact of this agreement. The solution ought to be to prevent the consequences that are currently being anticipated, not to remedy them in this way.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The vote by the European Parliament in favour of Mr Zalba Bidegain’s report on the bilateral safeguard clauses represents an important step in the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Korea. I would like to thank the rapporteur for his involvement in the trialogue negotiations between Parliament, the Council and the Commission and emphasise the importance of these safeguard clauses for the European economy. They allow a temporary raising of duty in order to protect the European economy from excessive growth in imports. I am a clear advocate of such safeguard clauses and I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) During this sitting, this House has expressed its opinion on the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement and has adopted the report on the bilateral safeguard clause of said agreement. My opinion and my vote on the latter are positive. The fact that I supported the report, however, does not prevent me from offering the advice that greater attention should be given to the farming sector. Korea is in fact known to be keeping in force certain laws that contain major plant-health restrictions, which severely constrain our agricultural producers. It would be beneficial to update these safeguard clauses in that respect as well because, although it is a fact that agricultural trade with Korea is worth approximately EUR 1 billion every year, it is also true that removing or at least limiting those barriers would enable us to defend our products and farmers in the best possible way. Otherwise, they could be placed in a less favourable position than their Korean counterparts.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I welcome this regulation, which incorporates a bilateral safeguard clause into the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement providing for the possibility of re-imposing the most-favoured-nation (MFN) rate when, as a result of trade liberalisation, imports increase to such an extent – in absolute terms or in relation to domestic production – and take place under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to the EU industry producing a similar or directly competing product. For such measures to become operational, the safeguard clause must be incorporated into EU law, not least because the procedural aspects of the imposition of safeguard measures, as well as the rights of interested parties, need to be specified. The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council for which I voted provided the legal instrument required for implementation of the safeguard clause in the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 23 April 2007, the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with the Republic of Korea with a view to concluding a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and this country. The agreement was initialled on 15 October 2009. The bilateral safeguard clause incorporated into this agreement, which provides for the possibility of re-imposing the most-favoured-nation (MFN) rate when, as a result of trade liberalisation, imports increase to such an extent – in absolute terms or in relation to domestic production – and take place under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious injury to the Union industry that produces similar or directly competing products, is very important for maintaining healthy competition that is not damaging to either party.

However, for practical effects to be achieved, the aforementioned safeguard clause must be incorporated into European Union legislation, since not only do the procedural aspects of the application of the safeguard measures need to be specified, but also the rights of the interested parties. The proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council under consideration constitutes the legal instrument for implementing the safeguard clause in the EU-Korea FTA.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I think the bilateral safeguard clause of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement is insufficient, and it will not be effective in dealing with the disastrous and dramatic consequences that will arise from the signing of the Free Trade Agreement. Various sectors of the economy, such as textiles and agriculture, will be seriously damaged by this agreement, and the very fact that this clause needs to be included is proof of that. I was therefore unable to support this instrument, because although I feel that it could alleviate a small proportion of the negative consequences of the signing of the Free Trade Agreement that I am opposed to, I consider it to be insufficient and ineffective.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) The Free Trade Agreement between the EU and North Korea contains a bilateral safeguard clause under which the most-favoured-nation duty rate can be reintroduced if, as a result of a liberalisation of trade flows, a product is imported in such increased volumes – either in absolute terms or in comparison with domestic production – and under such conditions as to cause or threaten to cause significant damage to a branch of the economy in the EU that produces equivalent or directly competing goods. The report contains important proposals for ensuring that this safeguard clause can actually be implemented in serious cases in order to avoid substantial damage to EU industry. I therefore voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing the bilateral safeguard clause of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement is, in my view, an important instrument designed to defend European production in sectors that are currently in danger of incurring serious difficulties because of the rise in imports from Korea. This situation, a consequence of the entry into force of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement, should provide for all customs barriers to be gradually and fully removed on a bilateral basis. I therefore voted in favour of this proposal, since its adoption is a necessary condition for the above-mentioned agreement to enter into force as planned on 1 July 2011. Safeguarding the free trade agreements between the two parties is essential for an increase in products made in Europe.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I consider the introduction of a bilateral safeguard clause to the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union (EU) and Korea to be very positive. This clause provides for the possibility of re-imposing the most-favoured-nation (MFN) rate when, as a result of trade liberalisation, imports increase to such an extent – in absolute terms or in relation to domestic production – and under such conditions as to cause, or threaten to cause, serious damage to the Union’s industry producing similar or directly competing products. I hope that the final draft of this mechanism will be clear and that actioning it will be easy and free of bureaucracy. I hope that the European Commission will monitor the implementation of this agreement and check compliance with this safeguard mechanism.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. We seriously regret that MEPs have unquestioningly approved this problematic trade agreement. The far-reaching EU-Korea FTA sets a dangerous precedent for future EU trade policy, going far beyond mere tariff elimination to include sweeping market access provisions at the expense of social and environmental standards.

Among the more odious provisions of the agreement, the EU succeeded in pushing Korea to massage its rules on CO2 emissions from vehicles in order to allow European car makers to export more big gas-guzzling cars to Korea. This arm-twisting by the EU, which has undermined the environmental integrity of Korea’s vehicle emissions rules, is nothing short of scandalous. Worse, the EU is trying to spin this environmental loophole as allowing Europe’s car industry laggards to ‘compete fairly’ in the Korean market with smaller, cleaner and more efficient Korean cars.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I supported this report because I believe that the bilateral safeguard clause of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement is an effective tool for defending European production. In fact, it is predicted that this agreement’s entry into force in July this year is liable to leave the European internal market in difficulties. The gradual removal of customs barriers on a bilateral basis will in fact result in a significant increase in imports from Korea. I am pleased to note that it will be possible to introduce specific measures even when the increase in imports into Europe is concentrated just in certain areas. This provision takes up the Italian request to introduce a genuine ‘regional safeguard clause’, applicable only in certain regions of the European Union. Shutting ourselves off from the international market today is a mere pipe dream: it is not only impossible but it would also be damaging. It assumes, however, that any opening must be balanced and gradual and takes account of the European Union’s internal requirements. Protecting jobs remains a priority for Europe, as does the quality of the products placed on the market. It will only be possible to build economic relations of benefit to both parties if these fundamental criteria are respected.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) We are in favour of the bilateral safeguard clause of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement because it mitigates the damaging effects of this instrument. The purpose of this clause is to make it possible to suspend or reapply tariffs if it is believed that trade liberalisation has seriously damaged our industrial system.

The safeguard clause may only be applied for a maximum of 10 years from the removal of customs tariffs. The introduction of this clause does not, of course, make us change our vote against the text of the Free Trade Agreement, which in any case will result in severe economic damage to our businesses.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing.(FR) In the same way as I gave my support to the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement, I also voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation implementing its bilateral safeguard clause. In my view, it is a vital addition to the agreement, because it guarantees the reintroduction of customs duties in the event of a detrimental increase in imports of a particular product, and in this sense responds to the fears that we expressed during the debates held prior to its conclusion, in September 2009. The reimposition of the most-favoured-nation rate can be requested by the Member States, the European Parliament or European associations representing the industry concerned, thus ensuring that companies have a real opportunity to react.

 
  
  

Report: Ivailo Kalfin (A7-0019/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this regulation because of the elements introduced in the new decision. The European Investment Bank (EIB) can invest in projects essential to the EU: in particular, in combating climate change, in developing social, economic and environmental infrastructures, and in local business sector development. Another element of this regulation that I consider to be pertinent is the fact that the EIB can support EU presence in third countries through foreign direct investment, contributing to the promotion of new technology and to knowledge transfer. However, I consider it opportune to review the annual evaluations regarding access to loans, so as to promote transparency and speed up bureaucratic procedures. In short, the EIB can contribute effectively to EU development cooperation objectives. Fair and balanced distribution across the regions for the allocation of financing is crucial. Small and medium-sized enterprises should be a good way to stimulate economies to fight against unemployment.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD), in writing. I voted against the Kalfin report on granting EU guarantees to the EIB against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU. I am not satisfied with the level of transparency in lending to SMEs via intermediary financial institutions. It is not enough that only the EIB knows who gets these monies. These are very large loans that are being used ostensibly to further EU policy abroad and the taxpayer, who is the ultimate guarantor, has the right to know who the recipients are. Some of these loans go to worthy causes but, in this day and age, the taxpayer must know what is being done in his name and why.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this text because I think it is important for the EU to support the EIB with the aim of extending the funding of investment projects in third countries in order to achieve the European Union’s foreign policy objectives. Activating the mandate of EUR 2 billion to fund measures to combat climate change offers significant potential support for countries in the Eastern Partnership, such as the Republic of Moldova. The Republic of Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and is severely affected every year by flooding disasters, which inflict significant losses on it. Therefore, the development of EU projects in this state coincides perfectly with the Union’s priority to eradicate poverty. In addition, we must support the reform efforts which this country has recently undertaken. At the same time, one main objective of EU foreign policy, in accordance with Article 21(2) of the Treaty on European Union, is independence. The EU’s energy independence will be guaranteed by the implementation of the Nabucco project. Consequently, the development of economic and political relations with the main suppliers, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, is vital, and this decision contributes to this.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This decision aims to keep the mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in place, specifically as regards the guarantee provided by the European Union against losses resulting from loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union. Under this decision, the EIB’s mandate is also expanded in terms of competences, with new elements introduced that aim to direct the EIB’s activities toward investment in projects that contribute to combating climate change, to developing social, economic and environmental infrastructure, and to developing the local private sector, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). I want the EIB to continue with the excellent work that it has been doing, supporting numerous projects undertaken since it was set up.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is on a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council granting a guarantee from the European Union (EU) to the European Investment Bank (EIB) against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union. The EIB’s mandate expires in October. In addition to financing projects in the European Union, since 1963 the EIB has undertaken financing operations in outside regions, so contributing to the implementation of EU external objectives as regards cohesion and development policy. Therefore, so that there would not be a vacuum after October 2011, the parties initiated a series of meetings aimed at a consensus that would enable its adoption by the European Parliament and would not interrupt the aid granted by the EIB after that date. I agree with this proposal because it reflects better cooperation between the EU and EIB; it contributes to the struggle to eradicate poverty; it stimulates small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as local communities; it introduces greater transparency; it promotes sound practices at the EIB; it increases funding for projects combating climate change; and it makes countries that do not pay attention to environmental issues ineligible.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The decision of Parliament and of the Council intends to grant a European Union (EU) guarantee to the European Investment Bank (EIB) against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU. The objectives of these EIB projects, currently being carried out in a number of countries on different continents, focus on development cooperation and aid. Where these objectives and the projects that serve them relate to genuine cooperation, taking into account the interests, priorities and specific conditions of the countries where they are taking place, we value them, naturally. Nevertheless, whilst this financing for local development projects is positive, we cannot fail to be very critical of the attempt – clear in Article 1 – to make them subordinate to or conditional on the guiding principles of European external policy, ascribing secondary importance to the real development needs of third countries, limiting their capacity for administration and legitimate options, interfering with and pressuring their political decisions, and threatening their sovereignty and independence.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing.(FR) I am taking advantage of the vote on this report on EIB financing of projects outside the European Union to denounce a very serious matter to which European shipbuilders have drawn our attention: that a public bank is financing the construction of vessels in Korea by a shipyard which charges rock-bottom prices and which benefited from a public bail out a few years ago. While it may not seem all that illogical for the European Investment Bank to support, through its loans and guarantees, the Union’s external policies, it is completely unacceptable for it to undermine European economic interests and contribute to the deindustrialisation of our countries. The Commission and the Member States must react.

 
  
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  Jiří Havel (S&D), in writing. – (CS) In addition to its core mission of financing investment in the European Union, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has, since 1963, undertaken financing operations outside the EU in support of the EU’s external policies, particularly in the field of development cooperation. The aim of the proposed EU guarantee for the 2011–2013 period is to allow the EIB to finance investments outside the EU without affecting its credit rating. The proposal also contains a number of new elements, for example activation of the EUR 2 billion ’optional mandate’ for combating climate change in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy, the introduction of new horizontal goals, and the expansion of the group of countries eligible for EIB loans. The proposal also calls for greater transparency, the evaluation of concrete results and the involvement of the European Court of Auditors in auditing the transactions in question. The proposal rightly includes arrangements for the EIB to act in such matters in accordance with the principles of aid effectiveness outlined in the European Consensus on Development and also Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Paris Declaration of 2005 and the Accra Agenda for Action of 2008. Overall, I believe that the report submitted by my colleague Ivailo Kalfin provides a detailed analysis of the given issues, makes reference to the relevant EU legislation and also contains relevant recommendations with respect to monitoring the effectiveness of the proposed guarantee, and I therefore recommend approving it in its proposed form.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for the Kalfin report on the new external mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB), providing for an increase in its budget from EUR 27.8 billion to EUR 29.567 billion until the end of 2013 and expanding its fields of competence to climate change action and the advancement of development goals for countries outside the EU. I believe the EIB should focus much more attention on social problems and building capacity in the countries in which it operates.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union provides the European Investment Bank (EIB) with a budgetary guarantee to cover risks of a political and sovereign nature in connection with its loan and loan guarantee operations for projects carried out outside the EU. This EU guarantee is an effective means of combining EU budgetary funds with the EIB’s own resources, while ensuring that the EIB’s financial health is not affected.

The EIB has made great progress in implementing its mandate: it has strengthened its coordination with the Commission and shifted its focus towards support for the EU’s political objectives. The development of its external action will now have to be reflected in an increase in the volume and quality of loans and a diversification of new recipients (local authorities).

The EIB should immediately be given an additional EUR 500 million mandate for microcredit financing to increase access for the poorest people to bank finance in eligible countries. On the question of internal organisation, the EIB should gradually be encouraged to divide up all its external activities on a geographic basis so as to better adapt to the specific requirements of each area and promote the participation of partner countries.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The EIB has not fulfilled the minimum conditions to assure us that its investments will be socially, environmentally and even ethically responsible. The repeated scandals concerning the financing of offshore subsidiaries do not seem to worry the Commission, any more than dictatorships do, provided that, as in Libya’s case, they are financially worthwhile. As for environmental and social issues, they are of no interest to this report. It proposes that we support such harmful projects as Desertec and Invest in Med. I voted against this text.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In addition to its core mission of financing investment in the European Union, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has, since 1963, undertaken financing operations outside the European Union in support of the Union’s external policies, enabling the EU budget funds available to the external regions to be complemented by the financial strength of the EIB for the benefit of recipient countries. In so doing, the EIB contributes to the general guiding principles and policy objectives of the European Union, including the development of third countries and the prosperity of the Union in the changed global economic climate.

The EIB operations in support of the Union’s external policies must continue to be conducted in accordance with the principles of sound banking practices.

The majority of its operations in external regions have benefited from an EU budgetary guarantee administered by the Commission with a view to supporting the EU’s external action, and enabling the EIB to finance investments outside the EU without affecting its credit standing. This additional guarantee makes it possible for the EIB to continue with its investment policy, which is of great benefit to the world economy.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) To support the EU’s foreign policy the European Investment Bank also finances projects outside the territory of the EU, such as in the area of development cooperation. The guarantee fund established in 2009 is intended to guarantee the liquidity of the EIB in the event of payment defaults. Following the assessment and evaluation, the list of countries eligible for EIB financing was expanded – with a corresponding adjustment of the financial framework. I am not entirely in agreement with all of the amendments proposed and I therefore abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is about a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank (EIB) against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union. In fact, the EIB also finances projects in outside regions, contributing to the realisation of EU external objectives as regards cohesion and development policy. This proposal reflects better cooperation between the EU and EIB; it contributes to the struggle to eradicate poverty; it stimulates small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as local communities; it introduces greater transparency; it promotes sound practices at the EIB; it increases funding for projects combating climate change; and it makes countries that disregard environmental issues ineligible. I am voting for this report and I support the strengthening of the EIB’s external mission, which I would like to see accompanied by enhanced parliamentary oversight, in order to uphold the democratic legitimacy of the EIB’s operations. The EIB should step up its reporting back to Parliament on all aspects under its external mandate, from overall policy to practical implementation, including assessment of social, environmental and human rights criteria.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. Article 208 of the Treaty of Lisbon states that the EU must ‘take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries’. This is a commitment from the EU to avoid policy choices that undermine its salutary work in the field of development cooperation and, indeed, to pursue actions, across the policy spectrum, that will benefit developing countries. This applies to all EU institutions, including the EIB. The vast majority of eligible countries under the EIB’s external mandate are developing countries. Consequently, it is fundamental that the underlying objectives of the EIB’s external mandate should explicitly target poverty reduction. In addition, the EIB must align its external activities with the European consensus on development.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe it draws attention to a subject that is very seldom in the news. In addition to its core mission of financing investment in the European Union itself, the European Investment Bank (EIB) undertakes financing operations outside the European Union in support of the EU’s external policies. This allows the EU budget funds available to the external regions to be complemented by the financial strength of the EIB for the benefit of beneficiary countries. In so doing, the EIB contributes to the general guiding principles and policy objectives of the European Union, including the development of third countries and the EU’s prosperity in the changed global economic circumstances. The EIB’s operations in support of the Union’s external policies must continue to be conducted in accordance with the principles of sound banking practice.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The goal of the document in question, voted on today in the European Parliament, is to ensure the granting of an European Union guarantee to the European Investment Bank (EIB) against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union. The ceiling set for the EIB under this guarantee is EUR 27.8 billion for the remainder of the current period, 2007-2013.

In addition to this aspect, Parliament’s proposal seeks certain amendments to improve the EIB’s work outside the EU, such as the activation of EUR 2 billion available for combating climate change. Improving access to EIB financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), increasing the transparency of its operations, and introducing greater flexibility in terms of risk-capital investment are other new measures proposed by Parliament. The intention is also to replace the current system of regional objectives with a programme of horizontal objectives, and to implement a mandate for relations with countries such as Iceland, Libya, Iraq and Cambodia.

I support the European Parliament’s position and the external activity of the EIB, although I would stress the regrettable fact that financing projects outside the European Union often harms competitiveness within the EU in cases of direct competition.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) Through its financing outside the Union the European Investment Bank makes a contribution to the realisation of EU foreign policy. I voted in favour of Mr Kalfin’s report, because I particularly welcome the EUR 2 billion for the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as the express promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises. Moreover, the report calls for comprehensive obligations in respect of information and transparency for citizens, Parliament and the Commission. The rights of Parliament have been taken into consideration, which is something that I also consider to be absolutely essential.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE), in writing. (SK) The European Union has a commitment to solidarity, which arises directly from our Christian heritage. Even those who would like to eliminate Christianity from the public space recognize that the EU must contribute to development aid. This solidarity, however, is directly derived from Christian teachings on the dignity of every human being and the moral imperative to help those in need. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has become an important instrument of the Union for eradicating poverty in less developed regions. As such, its primary purpose is to provide assistance, and to this end it needs financial guarantees. On the other hand, it should remain a bank, that is, an institution, which does not spend the funds entrusted on it, but invests them effectively. I therefore voted in favour of the report on providing a guarantee to the EIB.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Robert Sturdy (A7-0034/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation as the South Korean market offers new trade opportunities, not least in the agricultural and service sectors. The Republic of South Korea is currently one of the most profitable export markets for EU farmers, with annual sales in excess of EUR 1 billion. As regards services, specifically financial and legal, telecommunications, environmental and maritime transportation services, it is estimated that the volume of transactions will increase by 70%. Moreover, the Free Trade Agreement stipulates an effective and clear safeguard mechanism in the interests of EU industries, contributing to the growth of European industry.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD), in writing. I voted for the Sturdy report recommendation on the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of South Korea because it will increase trade and is advantageous to the United Kingdom and the other twenty six European Nations. The most important factor in this agreement is the safeguard clause without which I could not have voted for it. The bilateral safeguard mechanism will permit the EU to revert to the prior MFN rates of duty if this agreement even threatens to damage our industry. The agreement opens up our service industry, agriculture and manufacturing industries to increased access to the large and growing Korean market.

 
  
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  Antonello Antinoro (PPE), in writing. (IT) This is an extremely important vote for the European Union’s new international trade strategy. In fact, the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea is the first example of a new generation of agreements that aim at lowering trade and non-trade barriers and expanding investment prospects in the partner country. As soon as it was signed in October 2009, the agreement was received with fierce criticism from the European motor industry, which felt it was being severely penalised by certain clauses conceded to the Korean partner, duty drawback in particular.

Those concerns have now been partly dissipated, not least due to Parliament’s work on the attached regulation on the safeguard clause annexed to the agreement and to a clarification by the South Korean Government on the amendments to internal legislation on carbon emissions. Today, therefore, we confirmed the vote of the Committee on International Trade in order to allow the procedure to be completed, given that the Council has already agreed to it.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The Free Trade Agreement between the EU and South Korea will yield immediate, general benefits for many economic sectors in the EU, even though it will highlight the vulnerability of some. Furthermore, it will establish strict dispute resolution and safeguard procedures and provide monitoring intended to ensure that European companies have an adequate degree of security. The Korean market obviously offers significant opportunities for EU goods and services, but has remained until now relatively closed off due to high tariffs and costly non-tariff barriers. The agreement will succeed in quickly removing almost EUR 2 billion worth of EU export duties levied annually on exporters of industrial and agricultural products. It will generate immediate, substantial savings in several economic sectors. The benefits will become even more evident in the agricultural and services sectors as Korea is one of the most valuable export markets in the world for EU farmers, with annual sales in excess of EUR 1 billion. Against this background, all that remains for me is to welcome the adoption of the EU-Korea Agreement in the European Parliament, and I hope that there will be as many such free trade agreements as possible, starting with Canada and the US and ending with the BRIC states.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) South Korea is the fourth most important market for the European Union’s exports outside Europe. However, European exporters faced tariff barriers and regulatory obstacles when trying to take their products into the country. The current Free Trade Agreement is the most comprehensive one ever negotiated by the Union, lifting charges on almost all products and expanding the range of services covered by it. It is positive in all senses and enables both parties to make significant gains. European exports to South Korea are expected to increase by more than 80%. I hope that European companies, and those of my country in particular, will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge from the opening up of this market.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Three years ago, the European Parliament adopted a resolution aiming to improve the European business sector’s access to foreign markets. We are now being called on to adopt a Free Trade Agreement that, in practice, makes it possible for the European Union’s companies to access the South Korean market – which, as we know, is important for Europe – by increasing exports and so creating jobs. As the first in a series of trade agreements to be established following the Treaty of Lisbon and the first use of codecision powers, this represents significant innovation as regards bilateral respect for International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards, compliance with legislation on public procurement, the transparency of state aid and the implementation of sustainable development. I welcome the adoption of this report, which represents a set of new opportunities for the European Union – previously closed off due to the tariffs being applied and which defends business interests with the added value of the ‘safeguard clause’; in other words, the re--imposition of customs duties.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Having voted against it, we view the adoption of this report with concern. We have many times decried in Parliament the disastrous consequences of the liberalisation of world trade for many economic sectors, particularly in some Member States, such as Portugal, and the regions most dependent on these sectors. In this case, the following sectors are of particular concern: textiles, automobiles and related components, and electronics. However, the agreement also covers agricultural products, promoting intensive, environmentally unsustainable production models; models that are at odds with local production and consumption, which are needed to safeguard food sovereignty and safety. We are faced with the largest free trade agreement concluded by the European Union in many years, which is now intended to function as a first step in concluding a ‘new generation of bilateral new business agreements’.

The Commission’s analysis of these agreements is always in terms of millions of euros earned by economic groups and multinationals. It is important to do the same for the number of jobs lost, which the rapporteur assumes is inevitable; for the number of small and medium-sized enterprises which have gone bankrupt; or even for the number of tonnes of CO2 emitted because of the increased flows of energy and goods that these agreements involve. It is interesting to see where the EU’s much-vaunted environment/climate commitments stop in these cases…

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on the safeguard clause that accompanies the Free Trade Agreement with Korea, even though it seems inadequate and its implementation uncertain. On the other hand, I voted against the agreement itself. Opening our borders without protection to imports that are in direct competition with our products is suicidal, particularly in the automotive sector. The explanatory statement in the Sturdy report, which claims that this will have only a minimal effect on employment while at the same time anticipating the large-scale mobilisation of all the European Union’s instruments so as to lessen the impact of job losses, is both extremely inconsistent and extremely cynical.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. – (DE) In voting through Mr Sturdy’s report the Members of the European Parliament have sent out a clear signal. We have today approved by a large majority the most extensive Free Trade Agreement negotiated by the EU to date. That represents a clear YES to the European economy and a clear YES to Europe as a base for economic activity. With EUR 1.6 billion of duty saved and a EUR 19 billion increase in the volume of trade, the benefits are obvious. In particular, the agricultural sector can expect to save EUR 380 million in duty. This opens up new export opportunities for our domestic farmers. I voted in favour of the entry into force of the Free Trade Agreement.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I warmly welcome the approval of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The deal is expected to more than double bilateral trade in the next 20 years. Import duties will be eliminated on 98% of all products and other non-tariff barriers will be removed over the next five years. The Agreement includes important social, labour and environmental standards, and I hope the implementation of these will be closely monitored.

 
  
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  Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (CS) I would like to add some comments in respect of my own position regarding the process for drafting the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and the Republic of Korea, and the accompanying fears and expectations of the industries affected and other parties. This dramatically changes the long-standing trade rules between the EU and Korea. Only in the long term will it be possible to make a realistic assessment of the impact of the agreement. It is only the findings and calculations made over a longer period of time that will reveal the economic situation of the two parties, the bilateral improvement in the trade balance, or the contribution made to improvements in the social situation.

The total volume and range of mutually-traded products must be monitored and assessed closely and in a coordinated manner, together with their certified quality and verifiable place of origin. Any direct application of the previously-mentioned safeguard mechanisms based on the bilateral safeguard clauses of the EU-South Korea FTA would be a very sensitive matter, and the result could contrast sharply with the euphoria surrounding the adoption of this agreement.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) This Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is designed to provide EU businesses with a wide variety of economic sectors with extensive and broader access to the South Korean market through a series of unprecedented tariff liberalisations.

Being the first step in a new generation of bilateral FTAs, this agreement contains important innovations such as a chapter on sustainable development which obliges both parties to respect core International Labour Organization standards and creates a peer review based system to deal with complaints for non-compliance, as well as establishing several working groups and monitoring committees to ensure quality implementation and conciliation.

I welcome this FTA because it is the most comprehensive ever negotiated by the European Union.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I reject and regret the establishment of a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Korea, as I consider that, being one of the major trade agreements signed by the EU in recent years, it deepens the negative consequences of the global liberalisation of trade by responding to the multi-millionaire interests of the big European multinationals without taking into account the serious economic, social, employment and environmental consequences of it being adopted under the terms given. Therefore, as the rapporteur acknowledges, this agreement will mean the irreversible destruction of numerous jobs for thousands of workers in Europe, in very sensitive economic and strategic sectors such as agriculture or the textile industry. This agreement is another step backwards in terms of the need to move towards food sovereignty and security, which requires the EU to promote and make a firm commitment to local markets and agricultural products. This agreement forces European farmers to compete with agricultural imports for which the production methods have not been required to comply with the most basic workers’ rights or to comply with minimum health and quality standards.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I took care to familiarise myself with the agreements, and I consider that many of its clauses are incomplete and superficial. In this context, there are parts that could be interpreted ambiguously. For example, the rules on public procurement let the most important questions, associated with competition and abuse, go begging. It is, of course, essential to increase the process of cooperation with the Far East. Nevertheless, superficial and imprecise wording leads one to suspect that this work has not been brought to a conclusion. I voted against.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing.(LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution on the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States and the Republic of Korea. Firstly, in order to achieve more effective cooperation between the EU and Korea it is important to remove existing trade barriers, which have hitherto isolated the Korean market. The entry into force of this agreement will create favourable conditions for economic growth and the creation of new jobs. A favourable business environment will be created for growing, competitive EU companies to access South Korea, where many new opportunities are opening up for EU trade and services, increasing companies’ volume of trade and reducing export costs. Given the predicted future development of trade between the EU and South Korea, this will save a lot of money collected from customs duties, particularly in the chemical, industrial and pharmaceutical sectors. Furthermore, it will ensure fair competition in the car manufacturing, consumer electronics and textile sectors, where Korea has a comparative advantage over the EU. In addition, liberalising export tariffs will be of great benefit to the agricultural and services sectors. I welcome the fact that the agreement pays significant attention to sustainable development.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) concluded between the EU-27, on the one hand, and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), on the other, aims to improve European companies’ access to the South Korean market through a series of unprecedented tariff liberalisations. I voted in favour because the agreement is overall very positive and enables both parties to make significant gains, with European exports to South Korea expected to rise by more than 80%. I hope that Portuguese companies too can make use of this window of opportunity, specifically in the agricultural and services sectors, areas in which the advantages are particularly impressive. In fact, South Korea is currently one of the most profitable export markets in the world for European Union farmers, with annual sales in excess of EUR 1 billion. The FTA will fully liberalise almost all the EU’s agricultural exports, enabling the agricultural industry to save EUR 380 million; I cannot fail to welcome this.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. We seriously regret that MEPs have unquestioningly approved this problematic trade agreement. The far-reaching EU-Korea FTA sets a dangerous precedent for future EU trade policy, going far beyond mere tariff elimination to include sweeping market access provisions at the expense of social and environmental standards.

Among the more odious provisions of the agreement, the EU succeeded in pushing Korea to massage its rules on CO2 emissions from vehicles in order to allow European car makers to export more big gas-guzzling cars to Korea. This arm-twisting by the EU, which has undermined the environmental integrity of Korea’s vehicle emissions rules, is nothing short of scandalous. Worse, the EU is trying to spin this environmental loophole as allowing Europe’s car industry laggards to ‘compete fairly’ in the Korean market with smaller, cleaner and more efficient Korean cars.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this recommendation because I feel it takes a balanced view of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Until now the South Korean market place has remained relatively closed off due to high tariff levies and costly non-tariff barriers, but it will soon be able to offer significant new opportunities for EU goods and services. The Free Trade Agreement will quickly remove EUR 1.6 billion worth of EU export duties levied annually on EU exporters of industrial and agricultural products, with the comparable figure for South Korean exporters standing at EUR 1.1 billion. It will be important, however, to carefully monitor the volume of goods coming from that country, so that we can make use of the safeguard clause in the event that it increases excessively and threatens European jobs.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) We strongly oppose this Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Korea because it would present our Korean competitors with undue competitive advantages. Korea could easily export cars, for instance, and European manufacturers would find themselves at a disadvantage, since 95% of the cars purchased in Korea are manufactured there.

The removal of tariff barriers would play against the interests of our productive sectors. The only clause that can be applied to mitigate the disadvantages is the one that can lead to the adoption of emergency measures. Temporary emergency measures, such as suspending the tariff cuts, can be adopted in the event that serious damage is caused to European producers.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Korea because it will genuinely benefit European businesses. Indeed, their exports to Korea should increase by almost 40%, and exports of industrial and agricultural products will be exempted from customs duties amounting to some EUR 1.6 billion per year. What is more, it will be possible to limit any adverse effects on the European economy thanks to the implementation of a safeguard clause. Lastly, this agreement crowns the new generation of free trade agreements in that it contains a chapter on sustainable development which commits the two parties to respect ILO conventions, as well as provisions laying down conditions for the genuine involvement of civil society.

 
  
  

Motions for resolutions B7-0210/2011 and B7-0034/2011

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. I want to congratulate the two rapporteurs – Mr Sturdy and Mr Zalba Bidegain – for guiding us through the complicated adoption procedure for the Free Trade Agreement itself, as well as the important safeguard clause. The EU-South Korea FTA is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement of its type that the EU has concluded so far. It covers many areas beneficial to EU producers and consumers, such as the elimination of tariffs on EU exports of industrial and agricultural goods, improved market access for EU services suppliers, the removal of non-tariff barriers in electronics, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, enhanced access to government procurement, protection of intellectual property rights, improved market access for EU car manufacturers and, very importantly and thanks to the safeguard clause, the protection of European car manufacturers against any imbalances that may occur in the sector in the future.

I hope this agreement will be a model for many other FTAs that are in prospect – with Canada, Singapore and MERCOSUR, for example. At the same time, I congratulate Parliament on the use of its new powers, this being the first FTA to which we are giving our consent under the terms of the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0120/2011

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution, because the European Union (EU) needs to respond rapidly since Egypt can play a key role, both in efforts for peace in the Middle East and in reshaping mentalities in this region of the world. In order to achieve this, I consider it essential that the EU review its neighbourhood policy. We also need to mobilise and review current instruments so as to assist social, political and economic reforms, and strengthen cooperation with civil society organisations, inasmuch as events in Egypt and other countries have highlighted the need for policies and instruments that are more ambitious. The EU’s efforts should focus on strengthening the rule of law, on good governance, on combating corruption, and on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, so as to ensure the creation of the proper conditions for a stable democracy to emerge.

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution, which I believe is fair and balanced. The people of Egypt are seeing their legitimate expectations met. Mr Mubarak’s departure is an essential condition, but it is not enough to ensure that Egypt embarks on a path towards democracy and human rights. The transition is being overseen by the army, which has given itself six months to rise to this challenge. During the 18 days of demonstrations that led to this result, Egypt suffered financial losses, and they are becoming worse each day. The European Union must offer its support to Egypt so that the achievements of the revolution are not destroyed by a harsh economic and social crisis. So far the EU has harnessed substantial resources under the European neighbourhood policy with little in the way of results, and this has not done much for the EU’s image. However, our role remains crucial. We should not criticise ourselves unfairly. Revolutions are peculiar in that they always seem inevitable after the fact but impossible before it. However, self-criticism is justifiable, and we are on the right track, since the Council and the Commission have demonstrated their desire to radically rethink the European neighbourhood policy.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The last few weeks have been historic. In this sense, after Tunisia, what has just taken place in Egypt is a source of great hope, especially among young people. The European Union must size up the situation and support the democratic process without prevaricating. Furthermore, these events should be an incentive for us to overhaul our partnership agreements so that we do not remain on the fringes of the movement. The European Parliament must strive to ensure that our words and deeds are aligned in a comprehensible and identifiable European policy towards Egypt and the whole of the region.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I would express my solidarity with the Egyptian people, and congratulate them on their courage and determination, especially the younger generations, in their struggle for their legitimate democratic aspirations. I condemn the violence and disproportionate force used against the protesters. I deeply regret the high numbers of dead and injured, and extend my condolences to the families of the victims. There needs to be a dialogue with all the political and social forces that respect democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. These are fundamental principles of the European Union and constitute a common basis for the development of the Euro-Mediterranean area. I call for an independent enquiry into the incidents that led to deaths, injuries and imprisonments, and for those responsible to be brought to justice. I call for the immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful protesters, prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders, both Egyptian and those from other countries, as well as journalists and jurists. I call on the EU to revise its policy to support democracy and human rights, so as to create a mechanism for implementing the human rights clause in all agreements with third countries.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Firstly, I should like to say that I welcome the broad consensus achieved in Parliament on the joint motion for a resolution just adopted. It is a show of unity regarding the fundamental values that we defend as a Union of peoples and countries, which I would not like to go unmentioned. Secondly, I hope that the transition between Egypt’s old regime and its future democracy will take place peacefully, sensitively, and with broad-based agreement between the various political, civilian, military and religious players in this important Middle Eastern country. Thirdly, I hope that this historic moment will serve as a positive response to the people’s true desires: freedom, democracy, and the combating of corruption, unemployment and social exclusion. Finally, I would restate that the future of this region requires solid, tolerant democracies, which respect minorities and in which the state is pledged to all and not abused by the few.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution on the situation in Egypt because I believe that the European Union should express its solidarity with the Egyptian people in their legitimate democratic aspirations and support a rapid transition to true democracy. In order to achieve this, the EU must support Egypt in tackling the economic and social difficulties that it is experiencing, with a view to a lasting democratisation process that involves all of civil society.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. − (PT) In the same way as when the Berlin Wall came down, the international community and press, and even the leading countries’ intelligence and security services, were taken by surprise by events that they were unable to predict, and which call into question many notions and theories on politics in the Middle East, as well as the region’s very stability. Its strategic importance puts Egypt right at the heart of this change and whatever takes places there will have a decisive influence on the region’s other countries. It is still far too early to say what direction will be taken by this force that led thousands of people onto the streets demanding the end of regimes that had been in power for decades in their respective countries. Nevertheless, I believe that the European Union cannot be indifferent to its development or ignore what is happening on its borders. We must seek to help those who are struggling to establish democracy and the rule of law, and who reject the dichotomy between militarised secular regimes or radical Islamist revolutionaries.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Last week, following a number of days of popular unrest, we witnessed the resignation of President Mubarak of Egypt, who had governed the country for more than 30 years. I would join the European Union in congratulating the Egyptian people, who fought hard for democratic change.

The EU now has a great task in monitoring the political and social transformations in Egypt, not least the revision of the Constitution, and the holding of free and fair elections without human rights violations. However, it also has the obligation to support the Egyptian people with funding, so as to promote the necessary economic development.

I agree with this motion for a resolution and hope that the transition from a dictatorial to a democratic regime in Egypt takes place quickly and peacefully, as it is a nation that could play a crucial role as a mediator with a view to establishing lasting peace in the Middle East.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Although they just relate to the circumstances, the words in this motion for a resolution that refer to ‘solidarity with the Egyptian people’, that welcome their ‘courage and determination, especially that of the younger generations’, whilst firmly supporting ‘their legitimate democratic aspirations’ are positive.

The majority of the European Parliament, which until now pointed to Egypt as an example of stability in the region, is now obliged to applaud the actions of the Egyptians aimed at breaking from this ‘stability’.

The demonstrations by Egyptians that led to Hosni Mubarak’s resignation are an example of the immense possibilities for democratic victories by groups alienated by capitalism, and by the forces and regimes that serve it. The Egyptian people have demonstrated with great tenacity and combative unity that it is possible to achieve resignations, and move forward towards winning political and democratic freedoms, even in a country profoundly dominated by imperialist interests, particularly those of the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom.

Until it is finally overthrown, imperialism will never admit defeat or give up. Despite their fine words, the forces that defend their interests in Parliament are counterattacking, assuming the right to interfere and, hypocritically, wanting to give lessons on democracy through their political ‘parties and foundations’.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) After Tunisia, now it is Egypt’s turn, with further protests spreading throughout the Middle East. Now that the geopolitical map of the Mediterranean and probably the balance of world power are changing, the European Union needs to bring its foreign policy up to date by reviewing and improving its strategy for providing political and financial assistance for democratic transition in countries, including support for the organisation of free elections. The European Union should take action to support the Egyptian people with every financial assistance instrument as well as initiatives to promote democracy and defend human rights. Similarly, we need to monitor the situation that has come about in the Mediterranean, particularly on the Italian coast, where 4 000 landings were recorded in just four days. These figures echo the exodus that took place on a biblical scale in the 1990s, when unseaworthy boats brought hordes of dispossessed people from Albania to the Adriatic coast. The Italian Government’s declaration of a state of emergency is, in my view, an important and necessary decision, but it is only the first step, because there is a real fear that Egypt and Algeria may be affected after Tunisia. This is a problem that Italy is not in a position to cope with alone: it is therefore up to Europe as a whole to examine countermeasures, to take direct action, and to provide hope at home for those who are tempted to set off on the wave of feeling that is sweeping through the Maghreb countries.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. The EU and particularly the European Parliament took too long to respond to and address the warning signs of political and social turmoil in Egypt – leading ultimately to the geopolitical debacle of the last three weeks – and this in relation to a region that is very close to it and despite the fact that stability in the Mediterranean basin is essential for political well-being, economic strength and security in Europe itself.

At this point there is a dire need for strong leadership from the European institutions: leadership that must be coupled with a pragmatic, integrated and holistic approach geared to restoring stability and security to the region. It is up to the EU to be proactive and aid in Egypt’s political transition to a democratic system of governance.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) Following the unprecedented wave of revolutionary movements currently sweeping through the countries of the southern Mediterranean and which, in Tunisia and Egypt, have led to the fall of the government, the European Union must rethink its vision and its relations with those countries. Although it was a little late in coming, the joint motion for a resolution that we adopted today, Thursday 17 February 2011, was necessary, because it sends a strong message to the Egyptian people, by showing them that the European Union supports them in their aspirations and is ready to assist their efforts to turn their country into a democracy and to support them in their economic development.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The events in Egypt may be termed historic, as they involve the crumbling of a particular political model that has permeated the whole country for two decades. This has happened, unfortunately, at the cost of a considerable number of people injured or killed during the demonstrations and clashes for the sake of the freedom they so desired. Through this motion for a resolution, this House wishes to extend its solidarity to the Egyptian people and to praise the courage and determination of the young protesters, who have certainly played a key role this month. With President Mubarak’s resignation, Egypt finds itself in the position of a free country, but one that is entirely in need of reconstruction. The European Parliament’s intention is to be able to come to their aid by appealing, for example, for talks between the political parties to be set up as soon as possible in order to find the best way to combat corruption and violations of the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of information, so as to lay the foundations for the rule of law. We are also calling on the High Representative to promote the setting-up of a task force, with Parliament’s assistance, to help forge a new reality consistent with the principles of a democratic state.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution, although I cannot quite get the strong smell of hypocrisy, on the part of the EU institutions, out of my nostrils.

 
  
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  Kyriakos Mavronikolas (S&D), in writing. (EL) The Egyptian issue is very serious, bearing in mind the size of the country and its geographical position. Cyprus has always maintained good neighbourly relations with Egypt and its potential contribution to developments should not be underestimated. What is important is that the present crisis should result in the creation of a democratic regime and rule of law and the creation of a hardcore Muslim state that will destabilise the region should be avoided. Egypt has always stood out in the Middle East for its positive contributions towards resolving problems in the area.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union must continue to develop a genuine foreign policy that is consistent and effective with regard to its partners, and it is crucial that it speak decisively, with one strong voice, reiterating their call for the defence of human rights to become a reality.

Egypt is a key partner for the European Union in the Arab world, and plays an active and crucial role in supporting the Middle East Peace Process and reconciliation between all sections of Palestinian society. We must therefore express our solidarity with the Egyptian people, support their legitimate democratic aspirations, and condemn all forms of violence as well as the disproportionate force used against protesters, while lamenting the high numbers of dead and injured.

Having reached this point, the Egyptian authorities must put an immediate end to further violence, as it is not a solution for any of the problems expressed by the Egyptian people in their protests The Egyptian authorities and the security forces now have an obligation to ensure the security of all citizens and their property, as well as to protect the cultural heritage.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution in order to show my unconditional support for the peoples who are fighting for their rights, and in this particular case for the Egyptian people in their fight against authoritarianism and the deplorable political, social and economic conditions that they have been subjected to for the last 30 years by the regime led by President Mubarak. I also support the strong condemnation of violence and the use of force against peaceful protests. Despite my support, I do not agree with a large proportion of the resolution, as I deplore the European Union’s interfering attitude and its desire to take charge of the transition towards democracy. I believe that the Egyptian people alone are responsible for defining their future, and that they should be able to do so without the intrusion of external players, who in many cases are only seeking to defend privileges acquired with and through the support of the illegitimate authoritarian regime. I also deplore the fact that the resolution does not include clear, firm self-criticism of the European Union, as through its current neighbourhood and trade policies it has supported and made possible the Mubarak regime in recent years.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) As Khaled Hroub wrote, the Arab spring has shown that freedom and dignity are aspirations shared by all human beings, all nations and all peoples. We must not forget that the initial requests made by the populations that revolted were social: the people of Egypt, like the people of Tunisia for that matter, are requesting a better distribution of wealth and a future. The populations are being driven to change their living conditions for economic, social and political reasons. They want a ‘fair’ and democratic State in which there is a fair distribution of wealth and they have access to healthcare and education. The only way to respond to this is to organise elections, more or less in a hurry, even though the (former) opposition is very unorganised. The people’s political rights must be guaranteed, but so must their economic and social rights. Therefore, the European response must consist in building a democracy but also economic development, so as to help as many people as possible. The EU should introduce a policy for genuinely supporting the democratic process and should play a leading role in this matter.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) Before expressing solidarity with the Egyptian people, we must understand what gave rise to this process. According to data in my possession, radical Islamists are behind this destabilisation. I am decidedly against chaos in the Arab world. I am opposed to financial aid for any kind of extremism or disorder. Parliament has been overhasty in announcing financial support for the protesters, many of whom were openly displaying anti-Semitic slogans. Members’ callous and emotional spasm could be interpreted in the Arab world as an incitement to disorder. The Iraq war and the dual power situation in Pakistan are enough. We must be considered and pragmatic when it comes to Islamic countries. I voted against.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The EU needs to revise its naïve expectations of Arab efforts to achieve democracy. Amongst all the celebrations of the ‘Arab spring’, Brussels now needs to acknowledge that the changes in Tunisia and Egypt are not only devouring hundreds of millions of euros in local aid payments, but are also becoming apparent to the citizens of Europe in the form of thousands of economic migrants who have already come to Europe. After all, the people of Tunisia and Egypt took to the streets not just to achieve democracy and freedom of speech, but also and above all because they want greater prosperity. Such prosperity will not come about overnight, and therefore we can expect a further increase in the stream of economic migrants leaving North Africa. Some more of these will come to Europe, particularly since there has been a real explosion in the population of Arab countries over the past two to three decades. The EU will also be judged by whether it continues to respect democratic elections when Islamists come to power.

In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood, which could potentially win 30% of the vote, is the only well-organised opposition force; the EU should have no illusions here, but should instead give serious consideration to how it will deal with an electoral victory by Islamists. Since the text essentially takes these circumstances into account, I have voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) The motion for a resolution welcomes the reforms in favour of democracy, the rule of law and social equity in Egypt. It calls for emergency rule to be lifted, for government to lead responsibly, for corruption to be combated and human rights and basic freedoms to be respected in Egypt, including freedom of conscience, religion and thought, freedom of speech as well as freedom of the press and the media. The aim is a rapid transition to a peaceful, democratic and pluralistic Egypt. I therefore voted in favour of this motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing.(PL) Recent events in Egypt and Tunisia have shown that the idea that society in Arab countries is not capable of accepting democracy is erroneous. Working on this mistaken assumption, the European Union – and almost all other global political forces – placed the stability of the region above the right of the people of the Arab world to decide their own future. That policy has proved mistaken. It is to be hoped that the effects of that mistake will not be too serious. We must, today, take action to mitigate these effects. Mistakes, unfortunately, have to be put right. One step resulting from this motion for a resolution should be the freezing of assets belonging to Egyptian leaders responsible for the embezzlement of state funds in Egypt. Therefore, I appeal to all Member States to do to everything possible to achieve this. The next few months will be decisive for Egypt. The European Parliament should give every possible assistance to Egypt’s nascent civil society and democratic institutions. Support for free and democratic elections should be a priority. For the next few years, we should be guided by one objective. Democracy in Egypt is an excellent long-term investment, which will bring dividends both to the citizens of Egypt and to the people of Europe.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the situation in Egypt in order to give full voice to the European Parliament, which – in line with the statements by Baroness Ashton, President Van Rompuy and President Barroso – applauds the courage of the Egyptian people and extends its solidarity to them. The European Union will now have the task of monitoring the situation and seeking to support political dialogue through the neighbourhood policy, in order to guarantee a transition to democracy and free elections while avoiding a slide into fundamentalism. Egypt plays a key role in supporting the Middle East peace process, and the army has promised to continue to play this role, respecting the balance of power and the stability of the region, during Egypt’s transition to democracy I also believe that the EU should take action to protect itself against any potential mass exodus from the North African coast, by helping Egypt with all the necessary resources.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution and would highlight Parliament’s firm support for reforms aimed at democracy, the rule of law and social justice in Egypt. I hope that it will be possible to lift the state of emergency, and that good governance, the fight against corruption, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms will soon become the reality in Egypt; in particular, freedom of conscience, religion, and thought, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and mass media, freedom of association, women’s rights, the protection of minorities, and the fight against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Egypt is a country with thousands of years of history, which deserves to open a new, democratic chapter in its history.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution, and echo its expression of solidarity with the Egyptian people, who, prompted by legitimate aspirations of democracy, freedom and better living conditions, have opened up a new phase of political transition in Egypt. I hope that the conditions will now be created for Egypt to make progress with the political, economic and social reforms necessary for social justice, and for the establishment of a robust and tolerant democracy that respects human rights and civil liberties; I also hope that the country will be guaranteed total support in this.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The wave of protest that has swept through Egypt in recent weeks and resulted in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, marks an important stage in the country’s political transition. By lending my support to the European Parliament’s joint motion for a resolution, I wish to express my solidarity with the Egyptian people and to pay tribute to their courage and their determination in fighting for democracy. I think it is crucial for the EU and the Member States to actively support a swift transition to democratic governance, in particular by establishing a ‘task force’ involving the European Parliament so as to respond to the requests made by Egyptians carrying out that transition. Furthermore, the events that have taken place in Egypt and Tunisia, and which are still taking place at the moment in other countries, show the need for Europe to review the European neighbourhood policy (ENP) so that the assistance that it provides to its partners is strictly dependent on respect for human rights and democratic principles. The review of this policy must be accompanied by the introduction of a set of political criteria that neighbouring countries should meet in order to obtain a superior status in their relations with the EU.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing.(FR) Today, it has to be said that everyone recognises that Mr Mubarak was a dictator, whereas only a month ago few people, including in the European Parliament, stood up to assert that fact. It is therefore vital for the European Commission and the Council to call into question the realpolitik they have been practising for years in these parts of the world, both in Egypt and in Tunisia, just as it is crucial to question the ambivalence of the relations that the EU maintained with the dictators who have been ruling these countries for decades. The financial assets not only of Mr Mubarak and his associates, but also of his family, must be frozen.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution because of the exceptionally important part that the recent demonstrations in various Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East have played in institutional, political and economic change in the area. The wind of change is again blowing on the groundswell of strong popular demand for freedom and real democracy, as a basis for achieving better living conditions for the whole population. It is a fundamental objective of the European Union to promote respect for democracy, human rights and civil liberties, and it constitutes a common ground for the development of the Euro-Mediterranean area. The priority will now be to establish a government chosen directly by the Egyptian people in free elections, which, with international support, can tackle the transition period towards full democracy, when the Coptic Christian communities will no longer be the victims of current events and all religious communities can live in peace and freely profess their faith throughout the country.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE), in writing. (SK) I voted for the joint motion for a resolution on the situation in Egypt, because, for anyone in public governance who puts the human dignity of the individual above all else, democracy is the best possible form of government, and that applies both in Europe and in Egypt. However, I could not help thinking of Iran, where the overthrow of the corrupt, autocratic regime of the Shah led to the formation of a repressive Islamic Republic. I could not help thinking about the elections in Palestine, where the first democratic elections resulted in terrorists and thugs being voted into government. I also thought of Iraq, where six years after the overthrow of the dictator, members of the oldest Christian communities in the world are being harassed, expelled and killed. I pray that everything goes well this time. Egypt is at a crossroads, and I just hope that it chooses the path of freedom for all of its citizens, including the Coptic Christians.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0129/2011

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this motion for a resolution, drawing attention to the importance of an approach that is simultaneously top-down and horizontal, whilst also involving all actors in developing a Strategy. Experiences such as this one demonstrate that a coordinated approach is needed in order to use the available funds efficiently. In this context, I would stress the importance of technical assistance for the implementation of actions and projects. I would also remind you that this macro-region is of particular significance to Europe, since it can improve neighbourly relations with south-east Europe and encourage political and economic cooperation with the Balkans. In order to evaluate this strategy’s effectiveness, I agree that its implementation should be analysed; along with an analysis of the Baltic Sea Strategy, which could point to possible sources and methods of funding for pilot projects of other macro-regional strategies in Europe.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. The Danube region, comprising 14 European countries and 115 million people both within and outside the EU, is an area where enhanced synergies between various EU policies – cohesion, transport, economic, energy, environment, culture, education, agriculture, fisheries, enlargement and neighbourhood policies – can be developed. Importantly, the strategy should contribute significantly to improving multi-level governance and involvement of partners operating in the Danube region and civil society, and would ensure prosperity, sustainable development, job creation and security in the area. I agree with the resolution’s call for the Member States and the regions to use the Structural Funds intended for the period 2007 to 2013, in order to ensure as much support as possible for the implementation of this strategy, particularly by promoting the creation of new jobs and economic growth in the areas worst affected by the economic crisis. The Danube region is Europe’s gate to the Western Balkans, and therefore I believe that the European Strategy for the Danube Region will not only be conducive to the improvement of neighbourhood relations in Central and South Eastern Europe, but will provide important added value in the EU’s Eastern European policy. This will be an excellent opportunity for the entire Union to fortify its political and economic cooperation with the Balkans, and to contribute to the expansion and consolidation of European integration in the region.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The Strategy for the Danube Region is a European Union project which third countries bordering the river are also invited to participate in, with the aim of developing the Danube region’s huge economic potential. The River Danube links 10 European states, six of which are European Union Member States. All these countries are encouraged to cooperate in areas such as river transport, social protection and development, sustainable economic development, transport and energy infrastructure, environmental protection, tourism, culture and education. In addition, it identifies common responses to challenges such as improving quality of life, boosting the competitiveness and attractiveness of the localities on the Danube and attracting investment in strategic areas. I believe that better coordination is required between local and regional authorities and the organisations doing business in the Danube region in order to ensure job creation and security in this area. I also support the economic and social development of the Danube region as a priority community area and the promotion of deeper regional integration in this zone, which would provide dynamic impetus for a wider European economic area. I support the implementation of this strategy as the Danube region offers significant socio-economic potential within Europe.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of adopting the Strategy for the Danube Region. This is the outcome of major efforts made by Romania and Austria right from the outset. By promoting and supporting this project, which is now taking shape under the Hungarian Presidency, which I would like to congratulate, the Strategy will become a political, economic and financial priority. Romania will coordinate four priority areas: river transport, tourism, culture and the management of risks produced by extreme phenomena. At the same time, the new strategy will enable the new concept of territorial cohesion to be implemented, which is included in the Treaty of Lisbon. The financial resources not used from the instruments featuring in the current EU financial framework can be used as part of the Strategy for the Danube Region for macro-regional projects. I wish to emphasise the importance of cooperation with other partners, including NGOs and the private sector. I would like to end by saying that Romania, as a coordinator, will monitor compliance with the obligations assumed by the states bordering the Danube, in accordance with the Action Plan.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcome the Strategy for the Danube Region adopted by the European Commission and agree with its action plan which devotes most attention to four areas (connecting the Danube region, protecting the environment, building prosperity and strengthening the Danube region), and takes into account the need to improve movement in the Danube region, energy security, social and economic development, cultural exchanges, security and civil protection. Furthermore, I welcome the fact that this Strategy was prepared following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, including national, regional and local government institutions and representatives of the academic and business community and non-governmental organisations, because this is an important factor for its success. It is necessary to establish a civil society forum in this region, which would bring together actors in the public and private sectors and would give them the opportunity to participate in the preparation of macro-regional strategies. It is necessary to enhance the Danube’s cultural environment by promoting cultural dialogue, supporting university exchange programmes and youth projects based on transnational cooperation, fostering sustainable tourism, and protecting the historical and built heritage. Cooperation in the area of cultural projects plays a vitally important role in supporting cultural dialogue and mutual understanding between the countries of the Danube Region.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) It is important for the EU Strategy for the Danube Region to be adopted during the European Council summit in June so that its implementation can be launched as soon as possible. However, it is just as important to attract the existing European funds for developing this region, amounting to EUR 100 billion, through the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund and European Social Fund. These funds will provide direct support to the strategy’s implementation. If there are no definite projects which will use these funds, the strategy will become worthless. The purpose of the Strategy for the Danube Region is to create jobs and boost economic growth in the crisis-hit regions. Utilising the regions’ specific features could result in a much more efficient use of the Structural Funds and in creating added value at regional level, while the financial resources which have not been used could also provide a source of funding for macro-regional projects. The adoption of the Strategy for the Danube Region is a natural outcome of the summit on this region which was held in Bucharest at the end of last year when a significant indication was given of the economic importance that the EU attaches to this river.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) The River Danube links ten European countries. The Danube also represents significant socio-economic potential, with over 200 million people living in the surrounding region. The Danube region is an important focal point for EU cohesion policy programmes. The Strategy for the Danube Region is focused on three priority areas: connectivity and communications (including transport, energy, and the information society); environmental protection and prevention of natural disasters; and boosting the potential for socio-economic development. In my opinion, the Strategy for the Danube Region should be implemented with a bottom-up approach by facilitating the movement of goods and upgrading infrastructure, and thereby improving general business conditions throughout the region. The Strategy should not be a reason for setting up new institutions. Its main purpose should be to strengthen coordination between the individual regional players. For this reason, the Strategy should not be allocated any specific funds.

It is therefore necessary to insist that the Council-approved principle of the ‘3 NOs’ be applied: in other words, that there is budgetary, legislative and administrative neutrality. In this respect, the macro-regional strategy should primarily be a tool for boosting the effectiveness of cooperation and making better use of existing resources. It is also necessary to respond to criticism of the Commission's intention to encourage shipping on the Danube by improving its navigability. Critics say that engineering changes to the riverbed will cause damage to bankside vegetation and an overall deterioration of the environment in the surrounding area.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome an integrated approach, which includes drawing up macro-regional strategies applicable to the entire European Union, in order to make regional policy more effective. The Baltic Sea Strategy already provides a model for coordinating European Union policies and funding in geopolitical territorial units – macro-regions – defined on the basis of specific criteria. I particularly welcome the adoption of the Strategy for the Danube Region and support the Action Plan that accompanies it, which satisfies the need to improve mobility, energy security, environmental protection, social and economic development, cultural exchanges, security and civil protection in the Danube region. Like this regional strategy, I call for the Euro-African Atlantic Space also to be created, which would enable the deepening of relations between the south-west coast of Europe, the outermost regions (OR) and the neighbouring countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. This would also improve cooperation on issues such as transportation, energy security, scientific exchange, the development of tourism, security and the fight against illegal immigration.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I think that the EU Strategy for the Danube Region offers a means of coordinating EU policies and that it will need to respond to the challenges facing this region. We want a proper strategy based on new technologies, innovation and investment, one which, once it has been implemented, will ultimately improve the quality of life for all European citizens in the Danube region.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the resolution on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region because it satisfies the need to improve mobility, energy security, environmental protection, social and economic development, cultural exchanges, security and civil protection in the region.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Danube region has its own characteristic features and a particular historical importance which, as with the Baltic, justify a specific strategy from the European Union. At the heart of this macro-region is its principal river, which is a waterway of particular importance in Europe. Mobility, energy security, environmental protection, social and economic development, cultural exchanges, security and civil protection in the surrounding area can be improved through the intended increase in interdependence. Given the countries that make up the Danube region, such a strategy can contribute to mending previous splits and prevent old disputes from being reignited, enabling increased European cohesion and opening the doors to future expansions of the Union. I hope that investment in these regions will neither compromise nor reduce the support given to the outermost regions, whose very nature makes them deserving of special assistance and incentives. This measure will also help European cohesion.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) As a result of the European Council’s request to the Commission for a document to be drawn up setting out the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, on 8 December last year the Commission tabled a draft ‘EU Strategy for the Danube Region’, which included an Action Plan. This region’s geo-strategic importance in a number of sectors – tourism, transport, the environment, energy, good neighbourliness, territorial cohesion, and so on – meant that Parliament was a key partner in setting out the strategy and must continue to be so throughout its implementation. I therefore welcome the adoption of this motion for a resolution, in the knowledge that it will bring sustainable development to a region crossed by the European Union’s largest river, where almost 160 million people live, and whose environmental and heritage resources merit classification as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union acknowledges territorial cohesion as an objective of the EU. The joint motion for a resolution, on which Parliament voted today, calls for that principle to apply also in relation to the Danube region. Fourteen EU Member States are included in that region, including Germany as well as Romania and Bulgaria, and it is primarily for those countries that we call for the effective application of the principle enshrined in Article 3. Back in 2008, Parliament urged the Council and the Council Presidency to draw up a strategic plan that would provide for and implement aid for that region, so as to give it the input it desperately needs to be able to enjoy a strong economy independent of other funding sources. Three years later, we are again calling for the implementation of a policy committed to achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; we are calling for the promotion of the most disadvantaged areas, the development of which would result in improved environmental and social conditions. My vote in favour of the motion for a resolution is merely a small gesture towards a region in need of European aid; we cannot back away from it now.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I welcome this Resolution which: points out that, from an ecological point of view, Central and South-Eastern Europe is one of the richest but at the same time one of the most vulnerable areas of Europe, characterised by an ecosystem of high ecological complexity and great value, therefore requiring a high level of protection; welcomes the aim of the European Strategy for the Danube Region to create a liveable, sustainable and at the same time developed, prosperous Danube region by managing environmental risks, such as floods and industrial pollution, preserving the quality and quantity of water reserves and ensuring their sustainable use, and preserving biodiversity, landscapes and the quality of air and soils; stresses that protecting the environment in the Danube basin is an important aspect which should stimulate responsible agricultural and rural development of the region; calls for improvements to the ecological status of the Danube, and for measures to reduce pollution and to prevent further releases of oil and other toxic and harmful substances; stresses that a good ecological status of the Danube is a prerequisite for all human activity along the river and recommends that the environmental targets should be considered in particular

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) With a population of 100 million spread across 14 countries, eight of which are EU Member States, the Danube region covers some of Europe’s richest and poorest regions, and can be defined as a macro-region with heterogeneous economic capacities.

Regional policies’ effectiveness equates to support for development, as well as to the application of strategies that will solve a series of local problems and will stimulate the economic growth of countries whose populations are linked to the river, so as to promote sustainable development. That being the case, and as this Strategy – which is based on the three interlinked objectives of socioeconomic development, improved transportation, and support for alternative energy sources and environmental protection – and the accompanying Action Plan will contribute to promoting this region and minimising existing regional differences by better coordinating the efforts of the eight Member States in the region, I welcome its adoption.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The Strategy for the Danube Region aims to improve how this river is used as a transport route, which is likely to involve deepening the navigation channels. In addition, the Strategy also covers the field of energy – which in some circumstances could include an expansion of hydroelectric power. The Strategy is furthermore intended to be an important stimulating factor for the economy. We must hope that the EU’s new flagship project that is the Strategy for the Danube Region will subsequently be given some observable and tangible content. How much life will actually be breathed into this project will certainly depend, amongst other things, on how the tension between the objectives of environmental protection and drawing the Danube region together are resolved and whether the Danube will suffice as the common denominator for the implementation of this mammoth project. I voted in favour of this project.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), in writing. – (BG) I was happy to sign and vote in favour of the motion for a resolution of the European Parliament on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

The Danube Strategy is a chance to unlock the potential for development and cooperation of many European regions in different fields. I would like to concentrate on two very important aspects for me of the Danube Strategy: the development of tourism; and maintaining security in the region. As regards the role of the Danube Strategy in developing tourism, it can contribute to levelling out socio-economic differences in Europe, to create jobs and to encourage cultural dialogue and knowledge of the rich European cultural, ethnic and natural heritage in the region.

The Danube Strategy can help to maintain security in the region surrounding the Danube, and play an important role in controlling migration in and outside the Union and in the fight against crime.

In order to achieve real results, joint operations in sensitive areas such as security and migration are of primary importance. That is why I welcome the strengthening of regional cooperation in these areas and ensuring a better institutional capacity in this regard.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) The EU Strategy for the Danube Region and its 115 million inhabitants offers an opportunity to accelerate cross-border cooperation as well as sustainable economic and cultural development in this region. In June, the Council was supposed to establish a timetable and specific steps for its implementation. At the heart of the strategy lie improvements to mobility, energy supply, security, protection of the environment and disaster management. I hope it will bring about a new regional dynamic and that all the interest groups and stakeholders in civil society will be involved, so that the projects supported are used optimally. We would also wish to see an initiative at macro-regional level for greater safety as regards nuclear policy in the Danube region. This region in particular still has nuclear power stations that represent a risk to the environment and the population, yet in the environmental impact assessment procedure there is insufficient consultation or no consultation whatsoever with neighbouring states and regions. There is a need to act here. I very much welcome the fact that only funds that have already been made available in the Structural Funds (around EUR 1 billion for the period 2007-2013) can be used within the framework of the Strategy for the Danube Region – in other words, that no additional funding is being allocated and that neither new institutions nor new legislation are needed. I therefore voted in favour of this motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing.(PL) At the vote, today, I endorsed adoption of the joint motion for a resolution on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. The idea of an integrated approach, including the creation of strategies for macro-regions that are EU-level strategies, is the best example of territorial cooperation, is a good way to increase the effectiveness of regional policy and should be supported and developed. The Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, which was adopted in the middle of last year, is a model of the coordination of EU policy and the financing of macro-regions – geopolitical territorial units defined on the basis of particular criteria.

The extensive Danube region, which includes 14 European countries and numbers 115 million people both within and outside the EU, required the creation of a single plan combining economic, environmental, social and cultural aspects (these are also the four pillars of the strategy).

In the context of the need to carry out interim analyses of the implementation of the strategy, analogously to the report on the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the resolution calls on the European Commission to prepare concrete instruments and criteria for evaluating projects based on indicators that allow comparisons to be made. Parliament has also committed the Commission to analysing the first results and experiences in connection with the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region and, using the example of the two strategies (for the Baltic and the Danube), to map out possible sources and methods of financing for macro-regional strategies.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) In light of the countless considerations on the implementation of this strategy, I personally have decided to vote in favour, particularly in view of the fact that the Danube region, comprising 14 European countries and about 115 million people, is an area where enhanced synergies between various EU policies – cohesion, transport, economic, energy, environment, enlargement and neighbourhood policies – can be developed. In my view, the strategy should therefore combine economic, environmental, social and cultural elements, since a macro-region such as the Danube would significantly increase the economic wealth of the whole European Union by stimulating employment and promoting integrated development. I therefore believe that the unifying and integrative character of the strategy expresses the conviction held by all EU Member States that it could represent a significant contribution to overcoming past divisions in Europe and to the overall success and greater efficiency of Europe.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) In 2009, the European Council asked the Commission to draw up a European Strategy for the Danube Region bearing in mind that the Danube region comprises 14 European countries and 115 million people both within and outside the European Union (EU): Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Moldova and Ukraine, and is therefore an area where enhanced synergies between various EU policies can be developed. I cannot fail to welcome the adoption of the Strategy for the Danube Region by the European Commission or to support the accompanying Action Plan, which is based on four pillars: linking up the Danube region, protecting the environment, creating prosperity, and strengthening the Danube region. The strategy satisfies the need to improve mobility, energy security, environmental protection, social and economic development, cultural exchanges, security, and civil protection in the Danube region. I hope that the European Strategy for the Danube Region will be adopted by the European Council and that progress will be made with applying it as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The Danube’s job is to provide the backbone for a macro-regional structure which features Länder, regions and Member States, along with countries which do not belong yet or at all to the EU, all in search of common prosperity. The Danube is no longer blue, as in the title of Strauss’s waltz and, indeed, environmental protection projects are estimated at EUR 9 billion. All the investments which will be made in the Danube Basin must be for smart systems based on state-of-the-art scientific and technological developments, with environmental protection included right from the system design phase (‘green knowledge intelligent systems’).

These investments mean the creation of new opportunities for sustainable economic growth and an improvement in quality of life, thereby developing natural/environmental assets and promoting the EU’s environmental policy, for example, creating an environmental factor management and control system, eliminating the adverse environmental impact in the event of natural disasters, protecting biodiversity, preserving and extending forested areas, parks and green belts in urban areas. Support from the local authorities and citizens is extremely helpful, highlighting that internal dialogue is working and effective at every level, so that the Danube Strategy is a strategy for the European citizen.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. With this resolution, the EP: 1. welcomes the approval by the Commission of the Strategy for the Danube Region and supports the Action Plan accompanying it, focused on four pillars (connecting the Danube region, protecting the environment, building prosperity and strengthening the Danube region) and meeting the need to improve mobility, energy security, environmental protection, social and economic development, cultural exchange, security and civil protection in the Danube region; 2. recalls that the European Parliament has been calling for this strategy since 2008 and calls on the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and on the European Council to endorse the EU Strategy for the Danube Region by the June European Council and to start its implementation as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution because the Danube region, which comprises 14 European countries and 115 million people, needs to be managed through a joint, collective plan aimed at promoting it economically and culturally, so as to preserve its inestimable artistic and environmental beauty. The Member States should now take advantage of the Structural Funds available for 2007-2013 in order to ensure maximum support for the strategy. In particular, there should be a commitment to job creation, especially in areas most affected by the economic crisis. If the Danube Strategy is underpinned by strong political commitment, it could then contribute to overcoming past divisions in Europe, thus taking a further step towards the true integration of Europeans. If successful, the plan will have positive repercussions over a much wider geographical area, emphasising the region’s strategic position as Europe’s gateway to the Western Balkans.

 
  
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  Csanád Szegedi (NI), in writing. (RO) The Strategy for the Danube Region is a European Union project in which third countries bordering the river are also invited to participate, with the aim of developing the Danube region’s huge economic potential. The River Danube links 10 European states, six of which are European Union Member States. All these countries are encouraged to cooperate in areas such as river transport, social protection and development, sustainable economic development, transport and energy infrastructure, environmental protection, tourism, culture and education. In addition, it identifies common responses to challenges such as improving the quality of life, boosting the competitiveness and attractiveness of the localities on the Danube and attracting investment in strategic areas. I believe that better coordination is required between local and regional authorities and the organisations doing business in the Danube region in order to ensure job creation and security in this area. I also support the economic and social development of the Danube region as a priority community area and the promotion of deeper regional integration in this zone, which would provide dynamic impetus for a wider European economic area. I support the implementation of this strategy as the Danube region offers significant socio-economic potential within Europe.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Danube region comprises 14 European Union (EU) Member States and a total of 115 million people. It is a very heterogeneous region where there is a great deal of mobility and a high level of interconnectivity. This demonstrates that it is a suitable area for strengthening synergies between several policies, such as cohesion, transport, economic, energy, environmental, and even the enlargement and neighbourhood policy.

It is a rich region with strong economic capacities but that requires coordinated efforts in order for it to develop in a cohesive, integrated and sustainable way. An integrated and coordinated strategy with a view to cooperation between the Member States and their regions seems a suitable way to achieve the goal of territorial cohesion. In order to achieve that, it seems essential to me to involve all institutional and civil actors, specifically through participation in local and regional entities.

Implementing the strategy must also involve more efficient use of the Structural Funds and, above all, the possibility of putting financial resources not used in macro-regional projects to use.

I am voting for this motion for a resolution on the Danube and hope that similar strategies will be developed for other European macro-regions.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0111/2011

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution because it deals with issues relating to the stability of legislation regulating the field of business, with the Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev cases, with the way that the Russian authorities combat terrorism, particularly in the North Caucasus, and with the human rights situation. This resolution is important because it places an emphasis on the Partnership for Modernisation. I am therefore voting for this resolution because I believe that the modernisation of Russian society involves implementing the rule of law.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution because I advocate that full respect for human rights and the rule of law by the Russia Federation will improve its image and credibility in the world, in particular as regards its relations with the European Union. It is important for the Russian Federation to respect the international commitments it has made, not least in the context of the Council of Europe, where it has committed to respect fully European standards regarding democracy, human rights, fundamental rights and the rule of law.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Although I share the concerns expressed by my fellow Members, I still cannot fail to note the enormous progress already made by Russia towards democracy and the rule of law. Any impartial observer is bound to acknowledge that respect for human rights and individual freedoms has significantly improved in the present Russian State compared with the Soviet regime that preceded it; a regime that still continues to shock us the more we find out about it. While we are discussing the rule of law in Russia, I cannot fail to express my regret and to condemn vehemently those who are putting it at risk by attacking, wounding and killing innocent people in order to follow radical terrorist agendas. I therefore express my sincerest condolences to the victims. I hope that Russia will continue to distance itself from its brutal Soviet heritage, will increasingly converge with the European Union on respect for the rights, freedoms and guarantees of its citizens, and will take on its role as the European power that Peter the Great dreamt of.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Russia is an important partner of the European Union and should contribute to the establishment of sustainable cooperation based on democracy and the rule of law. It is therefore important that there be no doubt regarding the Russian authorities’ defence of the rule of law. Therefore, the Russian judicial bodies and institutions responsible for applying the law must exercise their obligations in a way that is effective, impartial and independent.

I condemn the attack on Domodedovo Airport and offer my condolences to the families of the victims. I would stress the need for the Russian authorities to respond to this attack using a legal and moderate means, and to allow the Russian judicial system to operate freely and independently to try and sentence those responsible for the attack.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete (PPE) , in writing. – (LV) With this motion for a resolution, Members wish to draw attention to the disquieting events in Russia, which, as a member of the Council of Europe, has undertaken to comply fully with European standards of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In truth, these standards are being ignored and crudely infringed. A glaring example of this is the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, the former owners of Yukos. This case has descended to the level of farce, and does not give the impression that there is one law and one system of justice for all in Russia. Whereas efforts are being made to convict the opponents of Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, nothing is being done to solve the murders of Anna Politkovskaya and other journalists who have been killed. The right to hold meetings is being withheld from those who think differently in Russia, and defiance of the ban can lead to imprisonment. All of this is unacceptable.

We want Russia to be a democratic, economically developed and stable country that can be a reliable partner to its neighbours, the European Union and NATO countries. Unfortunately, Russia’s leading politicians carry on a wholly different policy, which increasingly alienates Russia from other democracies. If Russia wishes to become a member of the World Trade Organisation, its leading politicians must greatly change their attitude towards democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

 
  
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  Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. – (LV) I supported the European Parliament motion for a resolution on the rule of law in Russia, drawing attention to infringements of human rights and fundamental rights, as well as to the threat existing in that country to the development of democracy. I am pleased that Parliament, in adopting this resolution, recognises in principle that the rule of law and democracy do not exist in Russia. Nevertheless, I should like to stress that the European Union policy towards Russia will be successful only when Member States pursue a common foreign policy. Recent events, when France concluded an agreement to sell Mistral class warships to Russia, are evidence that Europe’s common foreign and security policy is a mere fiction. The interests of France were more important than a common foreign policy. The agreement was concluded despite objections by the Baltic States and comments by Russian generals about the potential of these ships, which was lacking in the war with Georgia. Transactions of this sort undermine trust between European countries and testify to the success of Russia’s ‘divide and rule’ policy. The European Union can promote the rule of law in Russia only if the Member States place the common interests of all European countries above their own individual interests.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which condemns the fact that, in Russia, independent journalists, civil society activists, lawyers and human rights defenders have often been the victims of threats and acts of violence and in addition that the anti-extremist legislation and the new provisions of the law on the Federal Security Service (FSB) are unclear and, as a result, are often used to harass NGOs, religious minorities and media organisations.

 
  
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  Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing.(CS) I have read through the motion for a resolution on the rule of law in Russia. I have three short comments. First and foremost, I think that it is right that the European Parliament has used every opportunity to open up the issues of human rights and the quality of the rule of law. We should do this more often, and with more countries. My second comment concerns the format. Our comments must be businesslike. That means not just preaching to others in a paternalistic way, but also offering a helping hand. Frankly, I have no idea how the critics of the Yukos oligarchs’ trial can be so certain that political pressure is being put on the trial process. Attacking a verdict, and ignoring evidence that has been presented on tax evasion and other offences is surely a form of political pressure. Why do critics automatically assume that the evidence has been falsified? I have numerous other similar examples. Russia has two main problems associated with the rule of law. The first is the fact that the country is undergoing a transformation of its law and legal culture. That takes time and will not happen through the good will of the Kremlin alone. The second problem is the unstable security situation and the lack of trust in the good intentions of some advisors. How will the European Union help Russia in the fight against terrorism and the extradition of terrorism suspects who have found a safe haven in EU countries? How will the EU act against the violation of the political rights of so-called ‘non-citizens’ in EU countries? It is not enough just to hand out advice; we need to offer help as well.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am convinced that Russia remains one of the European Union’s most important partners in maintaining world security and stability, and that EU-Russia cooperation must therefore be stepped up. We must strengthen our commitment to working with Russia to respond to shared challenges in key areas, such as combating terrorism, energy policy and world economic governance. The EU and Russia need to intensify negotiations on a new partnership and cooperation agreement that is comprehensive and binding, and which covers the areas of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human and fundamental rights. It is necessary to develop joint initiatives with the Russian Government aimed at enhancing world security and stability and, in particular, on common neighbours, in order to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, in Transnistria and in Georgia, in line with international law.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The rule of law is indeed under threat in Russia. One could paraphrase Marie Mendras by saying that we are witnessing the catching up of history being thwarted. Ever since the end of the Yeltsin era, we have witnessed a policy that consists in weakening all the public institutions. Things may appear legal on the surface, but respect for the law has been suffocated by too many rules and regulations. The Khodorkovsky and Lebedev trials are a typical example: the facade of the law is being maintained, but the law itself is being used for purposes other than its primary function. Economic growth will not allow for the rule of law. The economy for the economy’s sake leads to abuses, exploitation and partisan interests. Wealth must make for freedom, encourage collective progress and enable every individual to flourish. The market economy cannot be virtuous without a fair State, by which I mean a State that fully assumes its normal tasks in a fair and just way; a State that can guarantee that its citizens have impartial access to all fundamental rights such as access to education, healthcare, justice, culture, administration and vital basic needs.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The joint motion for a resolution on Russia covers some important points that are existential issues for any democracy: independent courts, fast and fair trials and the effective prosecution of criminal acts. To this extent I am in favour of the text when it talks of the need to remedy existing shortcomings in the Russian legal and justice system. The condemnation of the terrorist attacks on Domodedovo airport is also important and demonstrates the EU’s solidarity with this important partner state. However, the tone adopted in respect of certain pending or current court proceedings (for example, in the Khodorkovsky case) is wrong and undiplomatic. If we talk of ‘politically motivated trials’ or ‘serious judicial questions’ then we are adopting the language of the Russian prime minister’s political opponents. This becomes evident when calls are made for ‘an independent judicial review’ of the verdicts.

It insinuates – based on no knowledge or prior investigation – that the whole of Russian justice is not independent and hands down ‘wrong’ verdicts. These ‘judgments’ from outside without knowing the true facts are not meaningful, and moreover represent interference in internal affairs. For this reason I abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) In view of the talks between the European Union and Russia on the subject of human rights, and as the EU is still committed to strengthening and further developing EU-Russia relations, with respect for democratic principles and fundamental rights, I believe that Russia remains an important partner for the EU, in line with greater development of cooperation between the countries. I voted in favour of the motion since I believe that intensifying the negotiations and the new partnership agreements with Russia will reinvigorate the Member States’ broad agreement in favour of democracy and the proper operation of the justice system. I would also emphasise the fact that fully respecting human rights and the rule of law would improve Russia’s image and credibility on the world stage, particularly as regards its relationship with the European Union, by virtue of a strategic partnership.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Respect for European standards regarding democracy, human rights, fundamental rights and the rule of law is fundamental for all European peoples. Respect for the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights must be fundamental to a policy of people being good neighbours and moving closer together. I agree with this motion for a resolution’s call for the Russian State to apply measures to remedy violations in individual cases, including ensuring effective investigations and holding perpetrators accountable, as well as to adopt general measures to implement any judgments that involve political and legal changes, so as to prevent human rights violations from being repeated. I should like the Council and Commission to offer Russia concrete assistance and specialised knowledge so as to increase the independence of the legal system and of the services responsible for applying the law, in order to improve the capacity of the country’s legal system for resisting political and economic pressure. In particular, I should like to see the creation of a programme of judicial assistance that would contribute to the education and training of magistrates, public prosecutors and the judiciary, not least as regards human rights.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. With this resolution the EP: 1. reaffirms its belief that Russia remains an important partner for the European Union in building sustainable cooperation based on democracy and rule of law; 2. strongly condemns the terrorist attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and its solidarity with those wounded in the attack; underlines the need for the Russian authorities to respond to this attack in a lawful and measured way and to allow the Russian judicial system to work freely and independently to prosecute and convict those responsible for the attack; 3. expresses concern over reports of politically motivated trials, unfair procedures and failures to investigate serious crimes such as killings, harassment and other acts of violence; urges the Russian judicial and law enforcement authorities to carry out their duties in an effective, impartial and independent manner in order to bring perpetrators to justice.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution because I believe it can strengthen the existing partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia. Eighty per cent of foreign investment in Russia comes from Europe, and therefore strengthening this partnership would help Europe to implement a more competitive policy in all spheres of activity. In terms of energy, over 45% of our gas and 29.9% of our oil is imported from Russia; without it, kitchens and heating systems across half of Europe would stop working. Given our shared interests in the economic, energy and security areas, a new partnership agreement with the Kremlin would guarantee Europe’s economy greater stability following the recent financial crisis. Moreover, this resolution encourages Russia, as a member of the Council of Europe, to commit itself to complying fully with European standards on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Adopting a joint, consistent policy for promoting human rights would be a step forwards in asserting human rights worldwide.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) It is strange how, on the subject of Russia, the European Parliament has lapsed either into indulgence or into what I would call an ‘anti-Russia’ sentiment, motivated in the past by anti-sovietism and hence by dyed-in-the-wool anti-communism. It is time to realise that the Berlin Wall fell more than 20 years ago and that the current regime no longer bears any relation to its predecessors. Nevertheless, this is a regime that has nothing to do the rule of law and which constantly flouts the most basic human rights. To my mind, there is no reason why Russia should be treated any differently from the other countries in the world.

At the very least, the attacks on freedom of expression and the poor administration of the judicial system there must be denounced.

This resolution is too indulgent towards the Russian Government, and particularly towards Dmitry Medvedev. I therefore chose to abstain.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE), in writing. (SK) I supported the motion for a resolution on the rule of law in Russia, although I think that this is not the last such resolution to be discussed and voted on in the European Parliament in relation to Russia. It fills me with hope, however, that Parliament has found the political will to address critical words to a country on which Europe is largely dependent for the supply of raw materials. Europe and Russia are destined to cooperate with each other – and not just in the field of manufacturing. We are two facets of a single civilization; our histories are two interpretations of the same set of values. If this civilization is to survive, these two views of universal values have to converge. I would be happy if our critical resolution was understood by the Russians as an effort to find common ground, and as a warning that some of the specific steps and approaches of the state authority are in sharp conflict with this value base.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0128/2011

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution, the main objective of which is to reconcile the World Bank’s investments relating to energy with the development goals. I agree that energy strategy should tackle and facilitate the transition to environmentally sustainable energy development, and that the World Bank should adopt an approach to private sector development that provides the greatest benefit to the poor whilst simultaneously combating climate change. I find it regrettable that lending for fossil fuels continues to play a dominant role, despite the strategic objective being gradually to abolish financing for this type of project. I also note with concern that there is still little oversight of the majority of multilateral financing that is awarded through financial intermediaries: these should be pursuing clear development objectives. I call on the World Bank to reorient its current strategy from a large-scale, export-oriented energy model to small-scale, decentralised energy projects that respond more clearly to basic needs in rural areas. Finally, I would express my total agreement with the need for the World Bank clearly to identify and publicly disclose the development benefits before financing is committed.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution, because the energy strategy should specifically address how access to energy can help lift people out of poverty, while facilitating the shift to an environmentally sustainable energy development path. The World Bank should pursue an approach to private-sector development that delivers maximum benefit to the poor while tackling climate change. Environmental and social factors, at both national and regional levels, must be taken into account in a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of energy options. It should be noted that fossil-fuel lending continues to play a dominant role in the World Bank’s overall energy portfolio, despite recent increases in lending for renewable and energy efficiency initiatives. Fossil-fuel investments are also taking place through financial intermediaries, and this is not being accounted for by the Bank in its annual energy sector figures. Also of concern is the fact that the Bank is continuing to make significant investment in coal-fired power plants, locking developing countries into coal-based energy for decades to come.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against the report on the World Bank energy strategy for developing countries, mainly because a very negative amendment by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) was adopted, which alters an important point in the initial motion for a resolution. To be precise, this change removes from the motion for a resolution the concern that the World Bank will include nuclear energy as a ‘clean form’ of energy. Thus, the motion for a resolution accepts the use of nuclear energy as a solution for reducing carbon emissions. To conclude, therefore, not only is nuclear energy accepted; the proposal is to promote it as a ‘clean’ form of energy to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions. However, promoting nuclear energy directly conflicts with the demand for a world free of nuclear energy, be it for military or for ‘peaceful’ purposes.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the motion for a resolution on the World Bank’s energy strategy because I think that it should support the transition to a route toward energy development that is sustainable in environmental terms in the least developed countries, whilst simultaneously contributing to European Union objectives regarding climate change and combating poverty.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) According to the data in the motion for a resolution, 1.5 billion people are currently without access to electricity, four out of five of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and nearly 2.4 billion people still use traditional biomass fuels for cooking and heating, which is an unsustainable use of natural resources. For this very reason it is crucial that the World Bank adopt a new strategy for financing energy projects, committing to providing efficient, accessible and clean energy as a means of reducing poverty and fostering economic growth. In this context, when the World Bank finalises its energy strategy, given that it has previously committed to making half of its energy investments ‘low-carbon’, Parliament calls for clean energy projects to be prioritised and, especially, for a clear commitment to renewable energy, as a means of promoting sustainable development in underprivileged regions.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This motion for a resolution of the European Parliament, deals with the World Bank’s energy strategy for developing countries. We can understand the importance of this subject if we consider that more than 1.5 billion people currently do not have access to electricity, which is a fundamental right of all citizens. At a time when the World Bank is finalising its new energy strategy, a detailed approach becomes even more relevant. In truth, and despite this subject having been debated more than 20 years ago, the results are in no way satisfactory.

We remain too dependent on fossil fuels instead of exploring alternative energy sources. We are speeding up climate change and harming peoples who live in extreme poverty. I therefore believe that the World Bank must review its policy of exploiting energy derived from fossil fuels – making aid to this sector more transparent – and encourage green energy so as to reduce, not just atmospheric pollution, but, above all, the dependence of developing countries on outside energy sources.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for the resolution, which welcomes the World Bank's energy strategy and recalls that it should specifically address how access to energy can help lift people out of poverty, while facilitating the shift to an environmentally sustainable energy development path; urges the World Bank to pursue an approach to private-sector development that delivers maximum benefit to the poor while tackling climate change; and underlines that environmental and social factors, at both national and local community levels, must be taken into account in a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of energy options.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Nobody doubts that access to modern energy services is a prerequisite for poverty eradication and economic development, or that in order to achieve this it is necessary that energy services be reliable, affordable, especially for the poor, and evenly distributed, so as to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas. Well into the 21st century, some 1.5 billion people remain without access to electricity, four out of five of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, mainly in rural areas, and nearly 2.4 billion people still use traditional biomass fuels for cooking and heating, causing severe health problems and the death of 1.9 million people per year from indoor pollution, as well as environmental damage resulting from unsustainable use of natural resources.

The World Bank should therefore prioritise small-scale, local access to energy, particularly in the least developed countries in Africa and Asia.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Around 1.5 million people worldwide, mainly in the developing countries of Africa and east Asia, still have no access to electricity. In rural areas in particular it may be observed that the population for this reason frequently makes recourse to traditional fuels made from biomass, such as charcoal ovens. However, it must be borne in mind that this presents a not inconsiderable risk to health. The World Bank, which has undertaken to promote sustainable energy, should be called on to give priority to such regional projects rather than large-scale commercial projects. This would firstly enable sustainable ecological energy production to be promoted, and secondly would also allow regional requirements to be taken into account. To achieve both ecological and economic sustainability it would be desirable to give priority to small, alternative, local energy projects, since this could prevent having to buy in energy that is often expensive. I am abstaining because I think we should wait to find out the strategy of the World Bank, which is expected to be announced midway through the year.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the World Bank’s energy strategy for developing countries. Energy needs in developing countries are growing and it is therefore necessary to take into account energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy. Energy services must be reliable, affordable and evenly distributed throughout society in order to combat poverty effectively and bridge the gap between urban and rural areas. Given the needs of developing countries, the World Bank must diversify the energy portfolio and increase lending for renewable and energy efficiency initiatives. I agree with the proposal that the funding allocated must above all promote a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Priority must be given to small-scale decentralised energy projects and to ensuring energy access for the populations of developing countries. Attention is drawn to the fact that the World Bank must attach greater importance to the threat of biofuels to food supply. Furthermore, there must be more stringent monitoring and control of the activities of financial intermediaries.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I share the concerns and agree with the suggestions set out by the European Parliament in this motion for a resolution on the World Bank’s energy strategy, for which I voted. Given that access to modern energy services is a prerequisite for poverty eradication and economic development, and that the right to energy implies that energy services will be reliable, affordable and evenly distributed, so as to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas, it seems crucial to me to promote an investment policy based on the sustainable use of natural resources. I therefore agree with the European Parliament’s recommendations to the World Bank in this area.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. We have finally voted in favour of the proposed resolution because Amendments 2, 3, and 4, which intended to remove the phrase 'low carbon', have been adopted.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution because access to modern energy services is a prerequisite for poverty eradication and economic development. The right to energy means that energy services must be reliable, affordable, especially for the poor, and evenly distributed so as to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas. The World Bank’s energy strategy takes that approach and must make a growing commitment to lifting people out of poverty, while facilitating the shift to an environmentally sustainable energy development path. The World Bank should therefore pursue an approach to private-sector development that delivers maximum benefit to the poor while tackling climate change.

 
  
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  Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL), in writing. (SV) I voted in favour of the report, which is a good one overall. However, I do not support the view that nuclear power is a clean energy source.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0097/2011

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution because the current crisis underlines concerns that the present mechanisms will not allow the crisis to be overcome;, as the lack of coherence in achieving the five major objectives, not least as regards employment rates, is making this worse. The Annual Growth Survey and the framework of the European Semester constitute key instruments, but they should not replace nor diminish the broad economic and employment policy guidelines. We should commit to a series of measures that give visibility to the body of economic measures, which include a system of Eurobonds, a highly liquid public bond market, lower interest rates, and the creation of a European financial transactions tax to curb speculation. We should not compromise the development or creation of jobs, so I propose a stronger role for the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in supporting investments in infrastructure, technologies, and small and medium-sized enterprises. I would also stress that the strategy for growth and jobs cannot be threatened by the current short-term vision of budgetary consolidation: due consideration must be given to public investment in its objectives.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy. The European Parliament expresses its conviction that the EU2020 Strategy should help Europe recover from the crisis and come out stronger, through job creation and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth based on five EU headline targets as regards promoting employment, improving the conditions for innovation, research and development, meeting our climate change and energy objectives, improving education levels and promoting social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty. I believe that the Europe 2020 actions are of crucial importance to the future prospects of all European citizens, delivering sustainable jobs, long-term economic growth and social progress, but I share the fears set out in the motion for a resolution that the Europe 2020 Strategy will not be able to deliver on its promises due to its weak governance structure. It is important to note that for the Europe 2020 Strategy to be implemented successfully, we must close the gap between its declared ambitions, the resources available and the methodology used and must carry out reforms and ensure very substantial and early public and private investments in a wide range of projects. The European Commission and the Council must make a major contribution here. At the same time Member States should be encouraged to give the highest priority to tackling unemployment in their National Reform Programmes. The Europe 2020 Strategy will only be implemented successfully if the EU and the Member States combine efforts.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The economic and financial crisis that we are currently experiencing has caused significant job losses in Europe. The priority for the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Employment Strategy is to create more and better jobs in Europe. The aim is to transform Europe into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, whilst providing high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. Europe must take collective action to overcome the current situation.

This motion for a resolution is a step in this direction, calling on the Commission and the Council, along with the European Parliament, to involve national parliaments, social partners and regional and local authorities in policies designed to restore jobs and growth. To achieve this, the Community method needs to be reinforced and the European Semester adopted into the legislative governance package. We welcome the emphasis on the roles of small and medium-sized enterprises, and of the Single Market in job creation. Finally, we would stress the role attributed to the ‘agenda for new skills and jobs’ in achieving these goals. That is why I am voting for this resolution.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Before the European Council in March and the presentation by the Member States of their national targets in April, we gave our verdict on the EU 2020 Strategy. That strategy is only a paper strategy at the moment, and the more time that goes by, the more likely it is that the failure of the Lisbon Strategy will be repeated. That is why we must react: we must say ‘yes’ to ambitious targets, but not without the budgetary resources to achieve them. Targets must go hand in hand with real budgetary commitments, or else how can we produce anything other than a paper strategy? Whether it be during the negotiations on the next multiannual financial framework or in the debate on EU own resources, Parliament will have to make itself heard to ensure that the commendable targets of the EU 2020 Strategy are matched by appropriate funding options.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution, because the European Union Member States should be encouraged to give the highest priority to tackling unemployment and preventing long-term exclusion from the labour market in their national programmes and plans. This should be combined with measures to ensure more job creation, better jobs and high levels of high quality employment in the medium and longer term. I would like to stress that the Member States should pay more attention to tackling child poverty through appropriate measures so that children are not restricted in their personal development and are an equal and full part of society when entering professional life. I welcome the flagships aimed at implementing the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, such as ‘An industrial policy for the globalisation era’, ‘An agenda for new skills and jobs’, the ‘European platform against poverty and social exclusion’ and other initiatives. I agree with the proposals on the ‘European platform against poverty and social exclusion’, but I would encourage more specific action to be taken to ensure social inclusion. It is also very important to draw up a specific programme aimed at promoting decent work, guaranteeing workers’ rights throughout Europe and improving working conditions, combating inequality, discrimination and in-work poverty.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Europe 2020 Strategy aims to ensure emergence from the crisis and to prepare the economy of the European Union for the next decade. It aims to promote knowledge, innovation, education and the digital society; to make our manufacturing infrastructure more resource-efficient, whilst reinforcing competitiveness; and to increase the rate of involvement in the labour market and the acquisition of qualifications, whilst combating poverty. In particular, I would stress the ‘Innovation Union’ initiative, which addresses major social challenges like energy and food security, climate change, health, and the ageing population. However, there is a need to enhance, stimulate and secure the financing of research, innovation and development in the EU. I call for increased funding for crucial instruments for research, innovation and deployment that have already been adopted, such as the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). I would also emphasise the important contribution of the Research Framework Programme, and the contribution the Structural Funds are making in stimulating research, development and innovation at national and regional level.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against the motion for a resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Europe 2020 Strategy follows on from the failed Lisbon Strategy and cannot provide answers to questions such as how we are to recover from the crisis and create new jobs. Applying this strategy – and hence the erroneous policies that resulted in the crisis – to the letter will undermine the rights of European workers still further. The socio-economic governance of the EU needs an alternative policy that will reject any ‘Competitiveness Pact’ and help to bring about real economic convergence between the Member States. The European Union is in dire need of strategies that will promote values such as solidarity, social justice, gender equality and an honest effort to combat poverty. Together with other MEPs on the left of the House, we tabled an alternative motion for a resolution describing the measures and mechanisms needed for a Europe which targets economically, socially and environmentally viable growth with full employment and rights for its workers.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I think that the inclusion on the European Union’s list of objectives of economic growth, the social objective and the fight against poverty is also important for Europe because achieving them will help safeguard the European Union’s economic independence. The major challenges facing the EU and its Member States in terms of employment and unemployment should be reflected in and integrated into the political framework of the EU employment guidelines.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) At a time when the economic governance package, which aims to shore up the finances of the Member States and the Union as a whole, is under discussion, I cannot fail to underline the importance of its relationship with the Europe 2020 Strategy. I see the strategy’s contribution to improving the consolidation of national and Union finances, innovation, and, consequently, competitiveness and growth as particularly important. This motion for a resolution, which is in line with some proposals on economic governance currently under discussion, sets out basic principles to be followed in future discussions, and establishes key ideas to take into account. In particular, I am referring to the need to follow a Community method that leads to increased unity between Member States, to the inclusion of a European Semester that enables improved coordination between national policies, and to the need for policies that encourage European competitiveness, such as support for innovation, for small and medium-sized enterprises and for the implementation of the Single Market.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The world in general and the European Union in particular have been experiencing difficult times, of which the current economic and financial crisis is an example. With the goal of bringing about the end of this situation, on 17 June 2010 the European Council adopted the Europe 2020 Strategy for employment and smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It is a growth strategy for the next decade that boosts the European economy to achieve high standards of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The goals to be achieved by 2020 are ambitious: in terms of education, reducing school drop-out rates to below 10% and increasing the percentage of 30- to 34-year-olds who are graduates to 40%; in social terms, pulling 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion. The intention is also to invest 3% of gross domestic product in scientific research.

I welcome the choice for Europe 2020 of flagship initiatives aimed at education, employment, young people, innovation, the digital agenda, the environment, globalisation, resource use, and combating exclusion, which will encourage growth and competitiveness. I also welcome the adoption of this strategy and call on the institutions of the European Union and the governments of the Member States to spare no efforts to achieve the goals set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Reality is demonstrating that it is not enough to make statements of intent, however modest in social terms, in order for those goals to be achieved. This is particularly true when the proposed policies follow exactly the same course as those adopted before now, which are the root cause of the social crisis we are experiencing. That is the case with the Europe 2020 Strategy, with which they are now associating so--alled ‘economic governance’.

The leap they are attempting to make in this so-called economic governance with the creation of the ‘European Semester’ – the deepening of the penalties relating to compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, of the economic policy guidelines, and of any indicators that may be adopted – is not accompanied by a significant increase in the Community budget, which is always a crucial condition for moving towards economic and social cohesion, and for preventing the worsening of the current divergences. What they are intending is to create a veritable straightjacket for the Member States so that they will implement so-called austerity measures, which involves the deepening of the neoliberal agenda with all its serious antisocial consequences.

If there are any doubts about this, take a look at the Franco-German project on the so-called Pact for Competitiveness, which aims to raise the retirement age, put collective bargaining at risk, and deliver yet another blow to labour and social rights, all so as to ensure increased earnings for economic and financial interest groups.

We therefore voted against this motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. – (DE) Amendment 2 is intended to point out that the Commission needs to give greater consideration to the role of mobility and transport in this strategy. In the transport sector we need not only to contribute to CO2 reductions, but also to maintain Europe as a centre of production and development. Among other things, this includes increased investment in research and effective co-modality in the creation of trans-European networks.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. – (DE) In the Europe 2020 Strategy the European Union declared employment policy to be a key issue. It is important that all the Member States pursue the declared objectives both jointly and individually, so that a high level of employment and productivity can be achieved in Europe. These aims can only be achieved if we all act together in areas such as combating structural unemployment, developing a skilled workforce, promoting job quality and improving the performance of education systems. I therefore support the motion for a resolution, which sets out economic and employment policy guidelines for the Member States.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) ‘Europe 2020’ is nothing less than a project comprising all the measures that the European Union must adopt to bring down by at least 20 million the number of people living in or at risk of poverty. Although ambitious, that target is the guiding principle behind the European Union’s economic activity. That, of course, includes responsible activity aimed at changing the economic strategy itself, as far as the Member States are concerned, but even before that it is necessary for all the European institutions to work together towards a single goal. With the motion for a resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy, Parliament has today adopted a series of proposals for the Council, so that together we can achieve the final target without crushing the hopes of every European citizen. These requirements pertain to the need to work with the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in drawing up a package of measures in the fields of energy, food security, climate change, health, youth policy, research and, above all, industrial policy aimed at creating strong social protection systems and cutting the unemployment rate.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which underlines that the Europe 2020 actions are of crucial importance to the future prospects of all European citizens, delivering sustainable jobs, long-term economic growth, and social progress; fears that the Europe 2020 Strategy will not be able to deliver on its promises due to its weak governance structure, and strongly urges the Council, therefore, to strengthen the Community method; reiterates the importance of integrating the EU 2020 goals into the economic governance framework and calls for the European Semester to be part of the legislative governance package, while including national parliaments and social partners at an early stage in order to foster democratic accountability, ownership and legitimacy; stresses that the achievement of Europe 2020 is essential and not optional.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The economic crisis has had a disproportionate impact on social groups. It is alarming that the youth unemployment rate is double the average European rate. Reform programmes are needed to mitigate the effects of the crisis, which will result in the creation of jobs. In this context, I can mention the measures adopted by the Romanian Government aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial initiative among young people. In addition to increasing the number of jobs, it is also vital to improve their quality. We can achieve this objective by encouraging research and innovation, by having the business sector involved more in academic life and by adapting the school curriculum to the needs of the labour market.

In this regard, studies need to be carried out on economic development in Member States. In particular, they need to be coordinated at EU level and those areas need to be identified where the European Union can develop a comparative edge on the global market. Furthermore, recognition of diplomas at EU level would facilitate the free movement of labour and support the creation of a proper single European market. We will only be able to achieve the objectives set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy by devising specific proposals and allocating sufficient funds. Otherwise, we risk facing failure, just as happened in the case of the Lisbon Strategy.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This motion for a resolution endorses the Lisbon ‘social breakdown’ Strategy of which Europe 2020 is the continuation. What is worse, it makes it easier to control the national budgets via the European semester and promotes free trade. I voted against it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The goal of the Europe 2020 Strategy is to lead Europe to recover from the crisis and emerge from it strengthened through job creation, and through smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This is to be based on the European Union’s five major objectives, namely: promoting employment; improving conditions for research, development and innovation; meeting climate change and energy targets; increasing levels of education; and promoting social inclusion, in particular by reducing poverty. These objectives are ambitious and we all need to make an extra effort to achieve them for the good of the EU and its citizens.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I reject the motion for a resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy as I think it continues along the anti-social lines of the Brussels Consensus, which does not concern itself with the European people, but is designed to consolidate the neoliberal policies that have led us to the serious economic crisis that we are suffering. This crisis that we are going through is not a natural disaster but rather the consequence of the way in which the conservative, liberal and social democrat political forces have moved from the Washington Consensus to the Brussels Consensus, imposing no public intervention in the economy, pay restraint, and the privatisation of public services and of the main businesses in key sectors of the economy, such as energy and telecommunications. We already know the consequences of these neoliberal measures and of the Brussels Consensus: crisis, widespread unemployment, poverty and cuts in workers’ rights and the welfare state. I therefore voted against this resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy, because I consider this ‘new’ strategy to be more of the same: neoliberal measures that do not incorporate the necessary distribution of wealth, and improvement of the social and employment rights of the European people.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The realisation of the Europe 2020 Strategy is of fundamental significance for strengthening the EU and should not be merely an adjunct. The strategy is intended to promote the future prospects of European citizens as regards secure and sustainable jobs, long-term economic growth and social progress. If we are to implement this, the Community method needs to be reinforced and the objectives included in our economic policies. In order to guarantee the financing of the strategy it is essential that we have a catalogue of political initiatives, which no doubt includes the involvement of the EIB and EBRD as well as attracting private financing. Rejuvenating the internal market should also enable us to advance the ambitious aims more quickly and more effectively. In addition, there are numerous flagship initiatives such as Innovation Union, Youth on the Move and An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era, to name but a few. I did not vote in favour of the motion for a resolution, mainly because the financing of the Europe 2020 Strategy was unable to be resolved.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing.(PL) I should like to comment on the motion for a resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy which has been adopted by the European Parliament. I fully agree with the position of Parliament, and I think we should strengthen the structure of governance of the strategy, because what has been done to date has not been specific enough and so has not been very effective.

In my opinion, gender equality is the key factor for achieving the ambitions of Europe 2020. Above all, we need to increase the proportion of women in work by eliminating by 2020 the current pay gap between women and men (the strategy assumes this will be done by 1% per year, in order to close the gap by 10% by 2020). Another very important question is the reduction of poverty among women. Iit is estimated that 17% of women live in poverty, and that most of these are lone mothers and immigrants.

The objectives of the strategy can be achieved principally by education and training. I am thinking, here, of financial support for young people and support for programmes related to the mobility of students and academic staff. Major emphasis should also be given to training and programmes which support a change of qualifications.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The need to emerge from the economic crisis, ensure sustainability and develop a ‘smart economy’ are the underlying objectives of the strategy that will mark out the future context of the European Union’s market economy. High employment levels favouring social and territorial cohesion, productivity, efficient resource use, innovation and especially stronger economic governance should be the foundations of Europe’s new path. They will be the subjects of our work over the coming years, based on which the Council’s deliberations, the Commission’s assessments and proposals and Parliament’s political guidance should lead to concrete conclusions. For all the reasons above, I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy. This resolution will supplement the initial proposal, highlighting the need to strengthen the strategy’s governance proposals and calling on the Member States to give more careful thought to the ambitions of the strategy from a budgetary viewpoint and to focus on fighting unemployment through national programmes of reform.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The first signs from the implementation of the EU strategy for this decade are not particularly encouraging, just as the results of the Lisbon Strategy were not encouraging. It is clear from economic developments in the euro area and the problems of monetary union which the debt crisis highlighted in the region, that the Europe 2020 Strategy needs to focus on budgetary stability, policies for growth and the need for European economic governance, if it wants the ambitious targets it has set, such as increasing youth employment to 75% and increasing investments in research to 3%, not to end up as simple symbolic pronouncements. The motion for a resolution by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) on the Europe 2020 Strategy moves in this direction and I voted for it.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The document Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth sets out a series of measures that should help Europe to recover from the crisis and emerge from it strengthened through job creation, and through smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This is to be based on the EU’s five great objectives: promoting employment; improving conditions for research, development and innovation; meeting climate change and energy targets; increasing levels of education; and promoting social inclusion, in particular by reducing poverty. I voted for this motion for a resolution because I agree with the proposals tabled by the European Parliament, specifically the need for the governance of the Europe 2020 Strategy to be strengthened. We cannot over-emphasise the actions taken under the banner of the ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy are crucial to realising the expectations of the European public.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. Among the articles that brought us to support that text, is Article 12, which: welcomes the flagship initiative on 'Innovation Union' as a key driver to achieve Europe 2020 objectives, which addresses the major societal challenges like energy and food security, climate change, health and an ageing population; recalls that the 3% target is composed of a 2% (private expenditure) share and a 1% (public expenditure) share; notes that there are still particular shortcomings in the field of private research spending which can only be overcome by adapting the regulatory environment for companies, including SMEs and welcomes, therefore, the Commission's intention to improve framework conditions for business to innovate, in particular with respect to intellectual property rights.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Europe is facing a difficult challenge: to cut unemployment and at the same time build a people-oriented economy. We realise that the Europe 2020 Strategy has high ambitions and requires us to stand firm at both national and European levels. The global economic crisis has unfortunately wiped out many of the results achieved so far, showing just how fragile the national economies often are. That is why now more than ever we need to redouble our efforts, sustained by the principle that together we are stronger. No Member State should or can effectively tackle global challenges by acting alone. To revive the challenge of sustainable growth, we have to use all the political means and financial instruments at our disposal. I voted in favour of this resolution because stronger coordination of the Member States’ employment policies is essential, and that can only be achieved if the common goals are consistent and credible. We have to build a new economic model based on knowledge and high employment. This challenge marks the beginning of a new stage of European integration, one that pays greater attention to employment and social security and mobilises all the actors present in Europe.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Europe 2020 Strategy establishes European Union goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for the coming years. There are certain crucial aspects to achieving this goal, such as strengthening the governance and funding of the cohesion policy. The current European Union programme should involve increased participation by all stakeholders in setting out its policies and implementing actions, as this is suggested to be the main cause of the Lisbon Strategy’s failure. Therefore, all institutional actors – at European, national, regional and local level – must be called on, as well as civil society, to implement this strategy.

In this context, I would stress the need to implement the Territorial Pact of Local and Regional Authorities for Europe 2020. Strong cohesion policy is needed for all European regions, as an essential prerequisite for implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy. The cohesion policy is cross-cutting in nature and is therefore a key element in the strategy’s success, so its complementary nature should be made clear. Economic growth and an atmosphere of job creation should be incentivised as part of this programme, in order to reserve a particular role for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), which are the engine of European economic growth.

For the above reasons, I voted for this motion for a resolution in plenary.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. The Commission’s EU 2020 Strategy is essential in order to enhance the EU’s growth and competitiveness as it emerges from the economic crisis. However, its objectives can only be achieved with a coordinated and focused approach from all member states. I voted in favour of the resolution on the Europe 2020 Strategy because I believe that it sets out the need for Member States to be completely committed to the strategy’s targets. The resolution calls for the economic governance of the EU 2020 strategy to be better coordinated and I fully support this because it outlines the need for a credible funding framework to be established by national governments. Member States should also ensure that policies, as well as budgets, are aligned with EU 2020 targets, especially with regards to objectives such as tackling unemployment and social inclusion. I also welcome the resolution’s proposals that the next Multiannual Financial Framework should reflect EU 2020 ambitions.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0127/2011

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The employment guidelines proposed by the Commission and approved by the Council present the European Union’s current common priorities and Member States’ objectives regarding their national employment policies. Some of the EU-level employment guidelines entail increasing participation in the labour market, including that of specific population sub-groups, reducing structural unemployment and promoting the quality of jobs, developing a well-qualified workforce which will meet the labour market’s needs and improving the performance of education systems which will provide vocational training at every level.

I think that Member States and the European Union must get involved in drawing up a coordinated employment strategy which will promote a skilled, qualified and adaptable workforce, as well as labour markets capable of responding quickly to the economy’s development.

I also support the initiative from the rapporteur to promote the battle against social exclusion and the reduction of poverty, key objectives in the Europe 2020 Strategy. These are the reasons why I voted for this resolution.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution, because there is an urgent need to step up efforts at all levels to ensure that the European Union employment guidelines are properly implemented. Only by properly implementing these guidelines will it be possible to increase labour market participation, develop a skilled workforce, and improve the quality and performance of education and training systems. Furthermore, the goal of the guidelines for the employment policies is to ensure that, under the Europe 2020 Strategy and economic governance, the employment targets are achieved and sustainable economic growth and social progress are guaranteed. I believe that it is very important for the Member States to make every effort to deliver on the commitments made to increase employment levels, improve people’s skills, create job opportunities, reduce poverty and enhance social inclusion. The European Commission and the Member States must be ready to ensure that these guidelines are implemented together with social partners and regional and local institutions, which must participate in drawing up and implementing national reform programmes. As a result of the economic and financial crisis, the situation in Europe’s labour market is still tense and therefore combating unemployment must be one of the most important policy priorities for both the European Union and Member States.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Employment Strategy and the national strategies applied by the Member States are among the main instruments designed to ensure the Europe 2020 Strategy objectives are achieved. It is therefore very important to work with the business sector and social partners to implement the employment policy guidelines correctly and effectively. I enthusiastically welcome the guidelines and concerns set out in the proposal: the need to strengthen government responsibility and create ambitious targets, in order to achieve the goals stipulated in the 2020 Strategy; the need to ensure that the employment policy guidelines are implemented; and the need to ensure that job creation is given the highest priority in the National Reform Programmes.

The Union lacks a strong horizontal policy to combat unemployment and social exclusion, which would undeniably involve a cohesive economic governance package suited to responding to the needs of the Union and its Member States; it would also require ambitious targets such as those set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy to be achieved.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This motion for a resolution of the European Parliament on implementation of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States rests on a number of pillars, of which I would highlight: the current economic crisis, which is increasing unemployment and social exclusion; the need to create synergies that encourage development with a view to pursuing the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy; and the Commission’s proposal that, under the terms of the Annual Growth Survey, the same employment policy guidelines should be adopted for 2011 as for 2010. To overcome this situation, it is crucial to make a joint effort at all levels: governments, social partners and civil society.

The European Union is playing a crucial role here in directing the policies to be followed and in respect for the principle of subsidiarity, by encouraging social dialogue and promoting the adoption of fair and effective measures. I hope that these guidelines will contribute to helping to overcome the crisis, consolidate social-protection systems and relaunch the economy so that we can achieve the goals set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We find it regrettable that the European Commission is maintaining the same employment policy guidelines as those adopted for 2010, so we are maintaining the same critical position as we adopted then.

Although the European Parliament’s motion for aresolution makes some criticisms of the policies that have been followed and calls for the very limited social objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy to be met, it does not get to the root of the problem of unemployment and job insecurity, it does not seek to eliminate their causes, it does not resolve to revoke these austerity programmes, and it does not make serious criticisms of the demands being made of the Member States with the most serious difficulties in blindly complying with the ridiculous criteria of the Stability Pact.

On the contrary, it puts forward the opinion that the tools included in the European Semester are a positive response, forgetting that the European Commission’s proposals on so-called ‘economic governance’ not only constitute an attack on the Member States’ sovereignty, but will also aggravate the social situation by continuing to prioritise monetary criteria over social welfare and progress.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Following the Commission communication on the Annual Growth Survey: advancing the EU’s comprehensive response to the crisis, Parliament, myself included, has voted in favour of a resolution urging the Council and the Commission to work together to achieve our employment targets, as contained in the Europe 2020 Strategy. In the opinion of the rapporteur, Mrs Berès, we need to provide the Member States with policy advice without, however, interfering too much in national policy, and to supply guidelines so that the interested parties can all work to the same plan. The lack of jobs, particularly in recent years, is a serious problem and must be tackled with a dash of ambition to ensure that by 2020 we can guarantee 75% of Europeans decent, secure jobs that meet the needs of the wide range of people who are preparing for the world of work. A particular effort is needed for certain groups, including women – especially mothers – young people and immigrants.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which stresses the importance of policies facilitating the transition of young people from school to work; stresses that it is clear that early school leavers are a group at high risk of poverty, and emphasises that any flexible or temporary forms of work used in this context should incorporate the right to training and access to social security and ensure that people make the transition into more secure employment.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) During these years in which we are recovering from the economic and financial crisis that has hit many countries in the Union, when our governments are striving to implement common policies and strategies in order to attain the goals that we have all identified and decided to pursue together, I believe it is important to acknowledge Parliament’s deserved and rightful central position as the most representative institution in the European Union. It is a matter of acknowledging its representativeness and its function, not least with regard to the provisions of the Treaties.

The importance of the economic and employment policy guidelines must certainly be a focus of the European Semester and must adapt to the variations in the Annual Growth Survey and to our countries’ implementation times. The consultative function deserves the right amount of space and the time needed for analysis and adjustment to the general framework. I therefore declare that I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The guidelines for employment are synonyms for an increased retirement age and a flexible labour market. Although this motion for a resolution has the virtue of reminding the EU that wage policy is a national responsibility, it still endorses the above. I therefore voted against it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Employment Strategy and the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States are some of the main instruments aiming to guide the policy of the European Union and the Member States in achieving the objectives and targets set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Combating unemployment and creating sustainable jobs is the European Union’s great challenge for the next 10 years, and we must all play our part in making it a success.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) One of the key objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy is to achieve an employment rate of 75%. The economic crisis faced by the EU continues to pose the challenge of how to curb increasing unemployment and social exclusion. The European employment strategy and its guidelines therefore represent an important instrument for curbing unemployment. It is also intended to steer efforts by the Member States in the right direction. As a result, the Member States are required to include social partners, regional and local authorities as well as civil society in their actions. In addition, it should be able to be guaranteed that both employment policy guidelines and the creation of new jobs will be ensured. To underline the seriousness of this key objective, the Member States are in future required to submit reports on their progress. In addition, the individual Member States are required to pay attention to national objectives, including the problems of integrating sub-groups such as women, people with disabilities and older workers, as well as the problem of the working poor. I did not vote in favour of the motion for a resolution because in my opinion there is too much interference with national law here, particularly in the area of the regulation of social partners.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The implementation of the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States is crucial for the implementation of the guidelines included in the Europe 2020 Strategy. European Parliament involvement in these policies must not be neglected. Debate encourages ideas, and ideas and strategies are needed to overcome the current economic crisis. There are a number of important concerns in this motion for a resolution that I share: ensuring that the employment guidelines are implemented; stepping up action to deliver on more and better jobs; and acting decisively to deliver on fighting poverty and social exclusion. In order to ensure success in all these policies, it is crucial to make a joint effort at all levels: governments, social partners and civil society.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. In this resolution, Parliament (1) considers that, in the light of the Commission’s proposal to maintain the employment policy guidelines adopted in 2010 for 2011, the recommendations on the Member States’ national reform programmes (NRPs) have become the main macroeconomic surveillance and orientation tool, and deplores the failure to involve Parliament in this process and the lack of debate concerning it; and (2) considers that the major challenges faced by the EU and the Member States with regard to employment and unemployment should also be duly reflected in the future process to address macroeconomic imbalances, within the policy framework of the European Employment Guidelines;

 
  
  

Report: Pervenche Berès (A7-0040/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because I agree with the rapporteur’s position on the need to keep the Employment Guidelines stable until the midterm review of the Europe 2020Sstrategy. The integrated economic and employment policy guidelines must be the main thrust of the European Semester, and if the key messages of the annual growth survey depart from the content of the guidelines, these should consequently be amended to ensure consistency. I also agree with the involvement of stakeholders in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Reform Programmes. I would also stress the recommendations of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) so that the importance of the guidelines for the economic and employment policies of the Member States should not be diminished in order to achieve ownership and democratic accountability.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) Following the assessment of preliminary National Reform Programmes (NRPs), the European Commission presented a proposal to keep the employment guidelines adopted by the Council last year stable until 2014 in order to devote most attention to their implementation. This proposal by the Commission is understandable because the employment guidelines are an integral part of the Europe 2020 Strategy and they must be fully transposed into the Member States’ national programmes, and therefore the Member States should focus as much as possible on their implementation. Although these guidelines will not be reviewed annually as a rule, the main priority of the European Union’s employment strategy must continue to be full employment which would increase economic growth and competitiveness and strengthen social cohesion.

The examination of the Member States’ draft National Reform Programmes shows that Member States should continue to make every effort to address the following priority areas: increasing labour market participation and reducing structural unemployment, developing a skilled workforce responding to labour market needs, promoting lifelong learning, improving the performance of education and training systems at all levels and increasing participation in tertiary education, promoting social inclusion and combating poverty. I would therefore like to call on the Member States to ensure the employment and social policy is implemented as effectively as possible, by drawing up, observing and assessing these national programmes.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to express my concern at the current employment situation. I would argue that unemployment is the real social problem of today. Although good signs of recovery can be glimpsed at a macro-economic level, industry cannot reabsorb all the workers that it has laid off in recent months, who now face the difficulty of re-entering the labour market. The same applies to young people and women. These problems are extremely important and pressing. Among the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Commission prioritised increasing employment, strengthening the single market and encouraging growth. The European Union and this Parliament in particular have done well in tackling the problem, but concrete action is needed to attain these goals.

The EU must work towards channelling and rationalising its resources, while investing in transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure: in this respect, the turning point will be the creation of project companies guaranteed and financed by project bonds. That will both enable the Union to retain its competitive edge in the global market and provide people with new job opportunities. The whole system should be put into practice, albeit step by step, as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against the Beres report on the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States. The report proposes that the integrated economic policy and employment guidelines for the Member States adopted for 2010 should be upheld in 2011 and thus that the Europe 2020 Strategy should be fully integrated into National Reform Programmes. Unfortunately, the report calls for the same economic policies and the same employment guidelines to be applied that resulted in the crisis and the failure to deal with it. It calls for the same political choices and practices to be followed that made Europeans suffer austerity measures and sovereign Member States fall prey to the speculation mafia. Finally, it calls for the employment policies that have resulted in a mediaeval labour market, that have increased unemployment and under-employment, that promote flexible forms of work and attack the wages and pensions and rights of European workers, especially young workers, to be continued.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I advocate an annual review of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the main focus of which should be the integrated economic and employment policy guidelines. It is necessary for the Commission and the Council to ensure that the integrated guidelines constitute the main thrust of the European Semester. The involvement of stakeholders, including the social partners and parliamentary bodies in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Reform Programmes, is a crucial element of effective governance of the employment and social policies by the Member States.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As I said about the report by my colleagues Ms Gruny and Mr Ory, ‘society has evolved, the world has changed, and labour relations must accompany this change’. For that very reason, I believe that the review of the employment guidelines under the umbrella of the Europe 2020 Strategy should commit to flexibility and to new ways of working as a way of fostering economic development and of combating poverty.

Given that the crisis has meant that the number of unemployed people in Europe has increased from 16 million in 2008 to 23 million in 2010, any exit strategy has to involve the recovery of jobs. This is only possible if there is a clear focus on innovation, flexible working and new models for work, and training for young people in an increasingly competitive market. The Europe 2020 Strategy leaves the way open to these, and the Member States must make proper use of them so as to boost employment and give impetus to the European economy.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union obliges the Council to produce guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States every year and to consult the European Parliament before adopting these decisions. These, then, are the circumstances under which we are asked to give our opinion on this matter.

The economic and financial situation being experienced by the majority of the countries requires the attention given to the Member States’ employment policies to be redoubled. The Europe 2020 Strategy sets out these guidelines, but it is necessary for all Member States to transpose these guidelines and turn them into concrete measures to be integrated into the National Reform Programmes that they have to submit this April.

I agree with the rapporteur’s recommendations, so I am voting in favour of this proposal for a Council decision on the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We disagree that the European Commission should maintain the same employment policy guidelines for 2011 as those adopted for 2010, so we are maintaining the same critical position as we adopted then. In fact, the aforementioned guidelines are clearly inadequate when we look at the figures relating to the 25 million unemployed and 30 million people in precarious or poorly paid jobs.

It is also unacceptable that the European Parliament supports the close link between these guidelines and the neoliberal economic measures that the Commission continues to develop, specifically those included in the Europe 2020 Strategy, or also in the six pieces of legislation included in the package of the so-called ‘European Semester’. It is well known that the European Commission’s proposals on so-called ‘economic governance’ not only constitute an attack on the Member States’ sovereignty but will worsen the social situation by continuing to prioritise monetary criteria over social welfare and well-being.

For all these reasons, we voted against this report.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) In view of the ageing of society, demographic changes indicating a movement of population from rural to urban areas and the increasing stratification of society in terms of income, it is essential to take preventative action. Particularly adverse phenomena are to be seen in rural areas, where the number of young people wanting to take over the running of farms continues to fall. They are leaving rural areas to get away from low incomes and poor access to services. Those who stay cannot find work outside of agriculture. In the worst situation, however, are the female residents of rural areas, who very rarely are the owners of farms, but despite this they work very hard on their husband’s farm.

This is why it is essential to keep young farmers in rural areas by guaranteeing them a decent income and standard of living. Those, however, who do not find work in rural areas, should be guaranteed education which will allow them to find employment. Also needed is a campaign to persuade people to join the Lifelong Learning Programme and to retrain. It is also essential to have programmes which support the enterprise of women and make it easier for women to run their own business, including businesses not connected with agriculture.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this report. Following the assessment of preliminary National Reform Programmes (NRPs) presented by the Member States under the Europe 2020 strategy, and in parallel with the presentation of the first Annual Growth Survey, the Commission adopted on 12 January a proposal for a Council decision that suggested confirming the validity, for 2011, of the integrated economic policy and employment guidelines of the Member States adopted in 2010. This proposal takes account of the fact that the new Europe 2020 integrated guidelines are to be fully transposed into the policy measures and sequencing of the reforms of the Member States to be presented in the final NRPs due in April 2011. Furthermore, the Commission's proposal is based on the commitment included in the Employment Guidelines of 2010 to keep the guidelines stable, as far as possible, until 2014 so that the Member States can focus on their implementation

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This report endorses the harmful employment guidelines of the Commission and the Council. It actually supports EU authoritarianism where increasing the retirement age, creating a flexible labour market and cutting budgets and wages are concerned. The rapporteur also endorses this. She is, all the same, a member of a party that claims to be socialist. I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Employment Strategy and the guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States are some of the main instruments aiming to guide the policy of the European Union and the Member States in realising the objectives and targets set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Combating unemployment and creating sustainable jobs is the EU’s great challenge for the next 10 years, and we must all play our part in making it a success. We must stress the importance of focusing the annual review of the Europe 2020 Strategy on the integrated economic policy and employment guidelines.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I am against this report on the employment policies of the Member States essentially for one reason, which is that it repeats and includes the guidelines adopted by this House last September, which sought to facilitate access to employment for the Roma people. I agree with facilitating access to the labour market for people with different abilities, the young, the elderly and women, but I really fail to understand on what grounds we should particularly facilitate access for a given (and rather problematic) ethnic group such as the Roma.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the Berès report because, with the adoption of this text, the Member States will, according to the Europe 2020 Strategy, have to present their 2010 employment initiatives and guidelines by April 2011. The Commission’s proposal to maintain the guidelines for the Member States’ employment policies adopted in 2010 for 2011 is perfectly in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy and is supported by Parliament through this report. All EU Member States are therefore called on to fight unemployment, especially youth unemployment, by means of constructive proposals with precise deadlines for providing a concrete response to the problem of employment and poverty.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States and I agree with the rapporteur’s recommendations. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union obliges the Council to produce guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States every year and to consult the European Parliament beforehand. I believe that it is necessary for the Commission and the Council to ensure that the guidelines are the main thrust of the European Semester. The involvement of stakeholders, including the social partners and parliamentary bodies in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Reform Programmes, is a crucial element of effective governance of the employment and social policies by the Member States. Without the Member States’ profound involvement, the Europe 2020 Strategy cannot succeed; I hope that this will not come about.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. On 12 January 2010, following assessment of preliminary national reform programmes (NRPs) presented by the Member States under the Europe 2020 strategy, and in parallel with the presentation of the first Annual Growth Survey, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council decision in favour of confirming the validity, for 2011, of the Member States’ integrated economic policy and employment guidelines adopted in 2010. This proposal takes account of the fact that the new Europe 2020 integrated guidelines are to be fully transposed in the Member States’ policy measures and sequencing of reforms to be presented in the final NRPs due in April 2011. Furthermore, the Commission’s proposal is based on the commitment included in the 2010 Employment Guidelines to keep the guidelines stable, insofar as possible, until 2014 so that the Member States can focus on their implementation.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mrs Berès because I agree with what it says about the policies that should be adopted to promote employment in the European Union. The new Europe 2020 integrated guidelines must be fully included in the Member States’ policy measures and initiatives. Each individual Member State’s ongoing commitment to stick to the 2014 targets will be crucial. Unemployment, especially youth unemployment, remains one of the targets requiring the greatest commitment from us to tackle it at its roots, because it reduces not only immediate spending power but also all future investment strategies, causing very serious social unease that goes beyond mere economic factors. It is not only the number of jobs that must be increased, but also their quality, and this requires action particularly by the Member States, which must also maintain their commitment to fighting poverty and promoting social inclusion.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing.(PL) Unemployment is a major problem and a difficult one to solve. It puts a drain on public finances. On the expenditure side, amounts paid as benefits and other social allowances go up, increasing the cost of various kinds of programme for combating unemployment and for encouraging a return to work. On the income side there is no production and no tax is collected. The number of unemployed people in the Union has reached over 23 million, which means that in the last year half a million people have lost their jobs. Every effort should be made to achieve the target set in EU2020 of raising the level of employment among people in the 20-64 age bracket to 75%. Let us remember that unemployment is highest among citizens under 25 – over 20%.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0114/2011

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution because I believe it is necessary to face up to the increasing volatility in food prices and commodities, with an increase of around 90% in 2010, which have led to problems in the operation of the food supply chains that make the measures proposed in this resolution necessary. These measures include internal action, such as: a strong common agricultural policy that is capable of compensating farmers facing increased costs; greater commitment to small, organic farms producing for local consumption; tabling adequate proposals relating to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the Market Abuse Directive; giving the European Securities and Markets Authority more powers to oversee raw materials markets or even to issue a mandate to regulators and supervisory bodies to restrict speculation. The European Union also needs a strategy at global level to combat speculation, which includes international coordination of a mechanism to prevent excessive price fluctuation and the creation of specific regulation to be applied to the greatest possible number of countries.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution on rising food prices. Food prices have peaked for the seventh consecutive month between 2010 and 2011, reaching the highest levels since 1990. Commodity price hikes have become a destabilising factor in the global economy, which have helped spark riots and unrest in a number of developing countries and most recently in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Poverty and famine still exist in the European Union, and 79 million people still live below the poverty line. I therefore agree with the call made in the resolution for immediate action to ensure food security for EU citizens and at global level. It is also very important for food to be available to consumers at reasonable prices, and, at the same time, for a fair standard of living to be ensured for farmers. I therefore call on the EU to support rural development, increasing investment in food security, and taking particular account of urgent hunger needs, small-scale farming and social protection programmes.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The index of food prices on the financial markets has shown an uncontrollable rise in these prices over recent months, due to the international economic and financial crisis and also the recent environmental disasters resulting from climate change. The situation is aggravated even further by speculation, which has been responsible for up to 50% of the price rises, preventing many people from enjoying food security and generating political instability especially in poorer nations. As we know, this can have a domino effect and end up threatening peace and security in other countries.

Food security is a fundamental human right and is included among the Millennium Development Goals, as well as being a common agricultural policy objective. The European Union therefore has a duty to confirm both its commitment to establish a sound agricultural and rural development policy and also its support for research and technological innovation aimed at improving productivity, while meeting energy efficiency and sustainability requirements.

Sustainability also means promoting the production and marketing of traditional local produce, by offering suitable financial incentives and the chance for small and medium-sized enterprises to access credit. I believe it is equally important to adopt clear and transparent regulations to prevent speculation, which is particularly damaging to the health of many Europeans, and to make Europe’s agricultural production competitive.

 
  
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  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and the mass demonstrations in a series of other countries are directly challenging poverty and unemployment. The angry demonstrations by people living below the poverty line highlight the dead end into which the general economic crisis and their efforts to shift the burden of it on to the workers have brought the political forces of capital and its political representatives The FAO emphasised just a few years ago that the number of people who found it difficult or impossible to obtain the food they needed in order to survive was higher than ever before in the history of mankind, having passed the 1 billion mark, and that this would inevitably cause serious social unrest. The problem of poverty in the world is not a matter of inadequate resources; it is the result of imperialist aggression and capitalist exploitation of natural resources based solely on the profit motive.

Food prices did not stop rising after the 2007 food crisis; on the contrary, they continued to rise even more sharply. Within the context of the economic crisis, stock exchange gambling on the back of farm production and human hunger is the way to over-concentrate capital and maintain its profitability. In 2010, agricultural produce generated the biggest gains on the stock exchanges.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Rising food prices in the European Union and worldwide pose a major problem in 2011. There are different causes for this and it is difficult to anticipate and control them. However, there are also causes which we can and need to control. A slow supply chain with too many intermediaries, natural disasters caused by climate change, low incomes earned in the agricultural sector or the volatility of the agricultural product market are just some of the reasons why the price of agricultural products has risen in an unacceptable manner across Europe.

I think that decision makers at European level must make reducing food prices a major objective on the European and global political agenda. Obviously, we are not talking about interfering in the operation of the free market, but about eliminating the speculative behaviour which sponges unjustifiably off the demand and supply chain, having an illegal influence on and distorting how prices are set. I voted for this motion for a resolution as Europe needs measures to ensure that food prices are not increased artificially by intermediaries involved in speculation. The European Union needs to simplify the food supply chain so that parasitic intermediaries are removed from the trade cycle. This will allow both citizens and producers to benefit, while making it easier to overcome the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of this document. Although, according to forecasts, global cereal, wheat and sugar stocks will be higher than in 2007 and there does not seem to be any recurrence of the situation that led to the food crisis in 2008, there is an over-reaction by the markets, causing excessive volatility, which can be explained by the actions of speculators’ investments funds. Furthermore, whole sectors of the agricultural industry are under threat. I see this situation in my own country, Romania. Indeed, the 5% increase in the VAT rate, which has reached 24%, was reflected immediately in price rises. It is difficult to accept that a livestock farmer toiling day in day out is the victim of a market game which is played tens of thousands of kilometres away on the computers of companies which have nothing to do with agriculture, but have sufficient money to destabilise global markets.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) In our report on the recognition of agriculture as a strategic sector in the context of food security, adopted in December, we stated that the right to food security is a fundamental human right, and that the EU has a duty to feed its citizens. In line with our position, it is our duty today to denounce the rise in food prices, which have soared over the last seven months. There are many reasons for this rise, but we should focus above all on price volatility and speculation on basic foodstuffs, since they destabilise our economies and create uncertainty. Stopping speculation is absolutely crucial, as is combating climate change. Indeed, food security and climatic and environmental conditions are closely linked; they make the coordination of environmental and agricultural policies vitally important. We should also turn our attention to developing countries and support them in their efforts to achieve food self-sufficiency, in contrast to everything that has been done in recent years. The challenge is huge: in Europe alone, almost 80 million people still live below the poverty line.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution, because there is a need to take specific action to ensure food security for EU citizens and at global level. Food prices have peaked for the seventh consecutive month between 2010 and 2011, reaching the highest levels since the Food and Agriculture Organisation started measuring food prices in 1990. Commodity price hikes have become a destabilising factor in a number of developing countries. Furthermore, the recent riots and unrest in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt have had a significant impact on this. Food must be available to consumers at reasonable prices, and, at the same time, a fair standard of living should be ensured for farmers. The European Union therefore has a duty to ensure food security for its citizens. Attention should be drawn to declining farm incomes in the EU, caused by rising production costs and price volatility, which impact negatively on farmers' ability to maintain production. There is also a need to highlight the costs that European farmers have to bear in meeting the highest food safety, environmental, animal welfare and labour standards in the world. Farmers should be compensated for these additional costs and for providing public goods to society.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I abstained from the vote on rising food prices. The motion for a resolution contains a number of positive points, such as the priority of the agricultural sector in development policy. However, important points contained in the initial motion for a resolution by the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left are missing from the joint motion for a resolution. To be precise, no link is made between the food crisis and the price rises caused by the agricultural and trade policies applied and, therefore, no proposal is made to change that framework. Also, the motion for a resolution calls for the food problem to be resolved by the World Trade Organisation and the G20, which is not only contrary to the demands by farmers; it also replaces the UN framework, thereby promoting decisions by the same people who caused and perpetuated the problem with their political choices. Also, the motion for a resolution does not make any reference whatsoever to the basic concept of food sovereignty, even though it is prerequisite to food security. Finally, it addresses the problem of speculation and rising food prices in a very inadequate manner, by referring simply to ‘transparency’ in food prices, with no mention as to how to put an end to financial mechanisms which can be used to create speculation.

 
  
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  Ole Christensen, Dan Jørgensen, Christel Schaldemose and Britta Thomsen (S&D), in writing. (DA) We have voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on rising food prices. We recognise the fact that we currently have major problems in the food sector, and in this regard we believe that we can achieve a great deal by intervening with regard to speculation on foodstuffs. That is why we have voted in favour of this resolution. However, we do not support an increase in the budget for the EU’s agricultural aid, nor do we support an extension of the market management instruments. Furthermore, we are not in favour of the increased use of GMOs in food production.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) Global food prices have reached dramatic levels recently. Indeed, last December they overtook the prices recorded at the peak of the economic crisis. The UN stated recently that it considered improbable the scenario where excessive demand in relation to supply would be behind these price fluctuations. In the mid-1990s a speculative market was created which had food products at its heart and has grown during the financial crisis. Speculators are currently taking advantage of the lack of regulation of the markets, earning millions from this activity. This type of speculative behaviour has a direct impact on people’s standard of living and can contribute to political instability. Therefore, I think that the European Union needs to combat speculation involving food prices through regulation and transparency. For this reason, I voted for the motion for a resolution on rising food prices.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The global economic crisis and the rise in food and fuel prices have caused poverty and hunger for millions of citizens, but especially for poor people living in developing countries, who are the most vulnerable to the adverse impact of price volatility and the food crisis. The European Union as a whole is and remains the main producer of food. For this reason, common skills must be developed in conducting research and providing training in sustainable farming methods and new technologies so as to ease the collapse of agricultural systems and prevent this crisis temporarily. I believe that the European Union and Member States have a duty to adopt a joint commercial strategy which will provide sufficient protection to food markets, and to decide together on their own agricultural and food production policies.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats voted against the motion for a resolution on rising food prices. We welcome the debate on food prices and price fluctuations, particularly with regard to speculation on food commodities and the weak competition in certain parts of the food chain, but we nevertheless do not believe that this resolution provides an adequate description of the problem. The claims of direct threats to Europe’s food supply are grossly exaggerated. We are also opposed to the concern about rising food prices being used to justify a European agricultural policy based on extensive direct subsidies and regulation of the market. The resolution’s monotonous focus on the agricultural sector means that the significance of other social factors for the ability to deal with substantial price rises is ignored – we are thinking primarily of the lack of democratic institutions in many countries, inequality when it comes to income and weak welfare systems.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) warned in January of possible increases in the price of food products in 2011 after they had hit record highs in 2010 and following the increase during the 2008 food crisis. The FAO food price index of 55 basic foodstuffs has increased for the sixth consecutive month to 214.7 points, above the previous record high of 213.5 points that was hit in June 2008. As it stands, food prices increased for the seventh consecutive month between 2010 and 2011 to the highest levels since the FAO started analysing food prices in 1990.

As I have already argued in the past, I believe that concrete measures must be taken in the context of the common agricultural policy to increase production, to better supply markets and to ensure greater price stability, as well as to ensure that production meets Europeans’ consumer needs. As I have been arguing, agriculture must be viewed as a strategic sector that is crucial to guaranteeing the food security of populations, especially at times of crisis like the one we are experiencing.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The right to food is a fundamental right that is achieved when all people have permanent physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their requirements for living an active and healthy life.

I consider it to be an unacceptable failure that hunger exists in the European Union and the world. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the number of undernourished people in the world reached 925 million in 2010. Rising food prices coupled with unpredictable shortages of supply may cause this situation to worsen.

I therefore advocate a strong and sustainable agricultural sector across the EU and a thriving and sustainable rural environment. The common agricultural policy should ensure this objective. I would also draw attention to declining farm incomes in the EU, caused by rising production costs and price volatility, which impact negatively on the farmers’ ability to maintain production. Moreover, European farmers have to meet the highest food safety, environmental, animal welfare and labour standards in the world.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The motion for a resolution includes several significant aspects, such as: the need to prioritise agriculture in development aid and acknowledge the divestment that has been taking place in this area; the need for strategic stocks and intervention; and the need for market intervention instruments to become a key aspect of the future common agricultural policy, even though these instruments are not specified later and it is true that many people are only advocating so-called ‘emergency mechanisms’, compatible with the liberalisation of the market that has been pursued. Nevertheless, the resolution misses out crucial points and includes others that are negative or even unacceptable.

It does not mention that the food crisis is the result of current agricultural and trade policies such as the CAP and free trade, and it does not make the fair and necessary criticism of these policies or call for the change that is needed. It accepts the integration of agriculture into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), although it does propose measures to mitigate this inclusion; for our part, we maintain that agriculture should remain outside the WTO. The basic concept of food sovereignty, which cannot be dissociated from food security, is not touched on. The problem of speculation is touched on, but very inadequately. The measures suggested do not go much beyond demands for ‘greater transparency’ in the market, which is clearly insufficient.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Climate change and speculation on the commodity markets are among the main factors threatening food security both within the European Union and outside. Based on this belief, I support the motion for a resolution calling for urgent measures to combat the manipulation of food commodity prices and to ensure that agricultural production is maintained in the EU. It is in fact beyond doubt that droughts, floods, fires and storms – phenomena that occur more frequently now than in the past – are reducing agricultural production capacity worldwide. Good soil and water management are therefore essential to prevent the loss of farmland. It is also necessary to curb the abusive speculation that burdens the markets for food products, agricultural raw materials and energy. Food security depends on having a strong policy that guarantees a future for our young farmers and encourages the introduction of more effective and sustainable farming practices in the less developed countries.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (S&D), in writing.(FR) The rise in food prices is unacceptable. Poor harvests in Russia and Ukraine cannot possibly explain the 91% rise for wheat, and still less the rise of 57% for maize, 33% for soybean and 32% for sugar. Clearly, the crazy world of finance is today speculating on the food markets, without ever wanting to touch the goods themselves, which are constantly bought and sold. Access to these markets should be reserved for professional buyers only. However, the main problem remains the need to increase world agricultural productivity. In order to feed 9 billion people better, agricultural production needs to increase by 60-70%. Only access to more efficient agriculture will enable us to conquer hunger. New seeds, as well as input- and water-saving techniques, will be able to produce the required yields. The number of farmers growing GMOs is increasing every year. There are more than 14 million of them, working more than 10% of the world’s arable land. Only Europe claims to want to do without GMOs, even though European livestock is already fed on feedingstuffs of which two thirds come from genetically modified crops from the Americas.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) At a time when food security must be declared a fundamental human right, world food prices have peaked at the beginning of 2011, affecting both producers and consumers within the EU and everyone throughout the world. This trend, which is exacerbated by price volatility caused by speculators, is completely unacceptable, when we know that more than a billion people are suffering from poverty and hunger worldwide. I therefore voted in favour of this motion for a resolution, which recommends the introduction of global regulation to prevent speculation from violating the right to food; reaffirms the European Union’s commitment to becoming one of the main actors in the field of food and agriculture at global level; takes account of climate change; and encourages the Member States to increase the share of official aid dedicated to agriculture.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. – (DE) I welcome the motion for a resolution tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) on the current problem of rising food prices. The European Union is called on to speed up the progress of the global fight against poverty and hunger; in developing countries this concerns the provision of the very basics of life. However, the high prices are also a problem within the EU. This situation has come about as a result of commodity shortages, high fuel prices, dependence on harvests and exports, the world market situation and profiteering. The only means of guaranteeing the future food supply in Europe is through the common agricultural policy. The farmers themselves are equally dependent on reasonable prices; they are facing high production costs. Higher consumer prices are not reflected in farming incomes. Parliament demands of the Commission that urgent action be taken and that measures be created across all policy areas.

 
  
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  Astrid Lulling (PPE), in writing.(FR) The current hike in food prices, and especially in the prices of food commodities such as cereals and oilseeds, is primarily due to natural disasters in Russia and Australia.

Even though this rise in food commodity prices could conceivably boost our European farmers’ incomes, we must not forget that the livestock sector is seeing a corresponding hike in the price of animal feed.

We are painfully aware of the European Union’s extreme dependence on supplies of food commodities, which means that food security in Europe is far from being achieved.

We do not have to go very far – the proof can be found in the countries of North Africa – to realise the dangerous consequences that such uncertainties can have.

Our life insurance consists in maintaining a common agricultural policy worthy of the name, so as to ensure a fair income for our farmers, and in maintaining productive agriculture in every region of Europe.

That is why I played an active part in this resolution and why I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution on rising food prices. According to the resolution, food prices have reached the highest levels since the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) started recording them in 1990. Anger over soaring food prices has led to great unrest in a number of countries. A crucial cause has been speculation by traders and brokers who have no commercial interest in these markets. Action must be taken to fight against the excesses of speculation on commodity markets.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this motion for a resolution because I agree with all the principles set forth in it. I am in favour of producing healthy food in sufficient quantities to contribute effectively to the global demand for food. It is essential to ensure income for farmers and create mechanisms to prevent enormous volatility in terms of prices and markets. In order to ensure that we will have enough food globally to feed the whole of the world’s population, it is essential to support farmers in developing countries. We have to ensure that everything is being done to combat climate change at a global level so that natural resources and income from farming do not decrease. It is essential to strengthen the farmers’ position in the food supply chain. In order for the productive sector to prosper, it is essential to evaluate the issue of price increases relating to other outside costs and to speculation on basic agricultural products.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) Food safety is a central issue for Europe and precisely for this reason it demands an unabatedly robust common agricultural policy (CAP) and, as an objective, is unattainable unless we find a solution to the two most important current problems, the volatility of markets and prices, and dwindling food stocks. Growing speculation related to agricultural and food commodities lies in the background of the current increase in food prices. Investment funds are pumping huge amounts of money into food price speculation, thus forcing consumers to pay prices that exceed the production costs several times. Price rises exacerbate the problem of accessibility, in particular for people with low or no income. Expenditure on food is one of the main components of family budgets, accounting for 60 to 80% in developing countries and 20 to 30% in the less developed Member States. Financial instruments must serve the economy and must help agricultural production overcome major crises and climatic events, and for this reason speculation cannot be permitted to jeopardise agricultural production. I condemn speculation in agricultural commodities and raw materials, which contributes to increased price volatility and the deepening of the global food crisis. For exactly this reason I agree, and I support, that in the future CAP effective action cannot be taken against major price fluctuations without strategic stocks and so the role of market intervention instruments must be strengthened.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution because I support the measures that it contains for combating the obstacles that hamper global food security: commercial speculation, concentration in the food distribution chain, price volatility, low levels of income for farmers and climate change. I think that the call for immediate and sustained action to guarantee global food security is positive, and I welcome the re-affirmation of the right to food as a human right. I support the call for the EU to increase its rural development aid by investing in social protection programmes and small-scale agriculture, and to undertake effective measures to combat climate change. I welcome the fact that the resolution asks the Commission to include compliance with EU-equivalent standards in terms of the environment, animal welfare and food safety and quality in trade negotiations with EU partners. I also support the call for the EU to respect and promote the guarantee of a sustainable future for farmers in the context of trade agreements, and not to put European agricultural production, rural agriculture and global access to food at risk.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Food prices have risen to a record high. This rise is resulting in food insecurity for millions of people, destabilising the world economy and causing riots and unrest. The international community made a commitment, moreover, to halve world hunger by 2015 as part of the Millennium Development Goals. Guaranteeing adequate and regular food for every human being is not only a moral requirement, it is also the fulfilment of a fundamental human right. This inalienable and universal right was confirmed during the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly held in Kinshasa in December. While the Commission must honour its commitments to developing countries and the least developed countries, it must also promote a strong and sustainable common agricultural policy that reflects the needs of European farmers. I share the latter’s concerns, because their drop in income as a result of the rise in production costs and of price volatility has meant that they have not benefited from the rise in food prices. Effective, coordinated steps must be taken to solve these problems. Opulence and waste are unacceptable when the tragedy of hunger is assuming ever greater proportions.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. (LV) I agree with the motion for a resolution, but it says nothing about what is to follow. It is not enough to establish the single fact that foodstuffs are expensive. It is essential that we rapidly develop a management system for the control and optimisation of food prices. It is essential to develop an anti-monopolistic and anti-speculative mechanism for regulation and the elimination of abuse. Such a mechanism would need to establish a General European Control and Supervision Agency for Prices and Services. It would also need to forecast productivity and efficiency in the spheres of production. That would offer us the possibility of preventing overproduction and shortages, and reduce losses to a minimum. A serious task of analysis is essential. That would enable us to define the true costs and avoid destabilisation.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The combined effect of increased commodity prices, export restrictions, poor harvests as a result of weather conditions, higher transport costs, agricultural speculation and increasing demand is pushing up prices. The EU should look at its own behaviour. When it is more lucrative to use agricultural land to produce biofuels than for food production it is scarcely any wonder that there is competition for land, with all the negative consequences that this has. I took these considerations into account when voting.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), in writing. – (BG) I was pleased to sign and vote in favour of the motion for a resolution on rising food prices, as special measures are needed to ensure the stability of food prices.

My colleagues and I want a solution to be found to the problems which are at the root of the rising food prices: buyers abusing their dominant position, unfair practices in negotiating prices, lack of information on price formation, the distribution of profit along the food chain and speculation on the commodity markets. We want the reform of the common agricultural policy to secure a stable first pillar to maintain the incomes of farmers and to undertake measures to support the market.

In order to reduce speculation on the commodity markets, the European Parliament wants the Commission to ensure greater transparency by exchanging good and timely information regarding developments on the market.

In addition, we aim, with this resolution, to improve the position of agricultural producers in the food chain, so that they can get a greater share of the profits in the food industry. I also welcome the call for prompter action on the part of the G-20 to coordinate the mechanisms to prevent rising prices and to prepare regulation for dealing with crises which affect food and agriculture.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing.(PL) The vote was held today on the motion for a resolution on rising food prices. Rapidly rising food prices are causing the food security of millions of people to be undermined, both in developed and in developing countries.

In relation to the fact that the effects of the rise in food prices have been felt most by groups that are in a difficult social situation, Europe, together with third countries and international institutions, should take the following action without delay. It is necessary to introduce regulation and oversight at national and international level which will solve the problem of speculation in agricultural markets (dealing with food commodity derivatives restricted as far as possible to investors directly linked with agricultural production).

The common agricultural policy should be provided with appropriate market intervention instruments, because I think a strong common agricultural policy is the only guarantee of solving the problem of food security. It is very important to set up adequate risk prevention and management measures to limit the consequences of natural disasters for agricultural production. Attention should also be given to supporting agricultural production for local and regional consumers.

Lack of coordination in combating major price fluctuations may contribute to a still greater disproportion in the distribution of food between wealthy countries and poor ones, and in the longer term may endanger us with a food crisis. Questions relating to the need to supply food to a continually growing population remain unanswered.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution on rising food prices in Europe. The right to food is a basic and fundamental human right, and we therefore have to make every effort to ensure that food prices are regulated and accessible to all, paying particular attention to the issue of food accessibility in developing countries. I agree with the proposal that the Commission must adopt a new trade and development strategy which would give developing countries greater independence in solving the issue of rising food prices. Attention is drawn to the fact that we need to create a favourable support and business environment for farmers, in particular small-scale farmers, Export tax rates must be reduced and we must restrict industrial farming activities that may have a negative impact on food production capacities. We must make every effort to ensure that greater support is given to development in the agricultural sector, supporting rural development, introducing innovative production methods and providing effective humanitarian aid. Only by implementing measures to prevent concentration along the food supply chain and speculation in agricultural commodities and to reduce production costs, can we limit the rise in food prices. Given the need for food and energy security, we must develop alternative energy supply sources and minimise food waste both at EU and national levels. So that the measures for combating rising food prices provided for in the resolution function effectively, we must establish an independent regulatory agency and ensure that food safety systems work properly and effectively at regional and local levels.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The hike in food commodity prices is causing difficulties for the European Union as well. They have risen constantly over recent months and have reached the highest levels ever recorded in the history of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. That is due to a whole range of factors, including the lack of a global trade agreement, the increase in certain raw material prices and the increased demand for foodstuffs, but it is also due to speculation and ‘financial games’ that are played out on other markets but have repercussions on the global market. Added to that is the opposition between developed and developing economies, in which the latter – which have been hit hard, albeit indirectly, by the crisis – use foodstuffs as the only weapon at their disposal. That situation has implications not only for the global market but also for small producers and for consumers, who are faced with sometimes significant price rises for essentials. I therefore believe that food security is a priority that must be defended and pursued, and it is both necessary and right to seek a global solution to this instability that is as widely acceptable as possible.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution on food prices. As a global power in agricultural production, the EU needs to take account of and effectively adapt to emerging challenges, such as extreme weather conditions, limited availability of natural resources, dependence on food imports and increasing speculation in commodities. Moreover, the food crisis also applies to Europe. Seventy-nine million Europeans, 16% of the population of the EU, are in receipt of food subsidies and price inflation of staples is rising constantly; this, in conjunction with the recession, is being felt very acutely in Greece. Clearly Europe needs to produce more today, using fewer resources more efficiently.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the motion for a resolution on rising food prices because in six months, the cost of the food basket prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), including 55 of the basic essentials, has increased by 34%. In Portugal we have an unsustainable situation for farmers with agricultural diesel approaching 2008’s record price of EUR 1 per litre; electricity prices have risen almost 4% and the plan is to end agricultural electricity this year; prices for animal feed, fertiliser and pesticides have also rocketed; and interest rates for agricultural loans are around 6%. These are just a few examples. I also think that it is unacceptable, at a time when things are made worse by a widespread crisis, that consumers should pay inflated prices without farmers’ incomes increasing. I argue that the European Commission must face up to its responsibilities and that it should consider the whole chain when it is looking at these serious problems in the agricultural sector and not, as it did with the ‘Milk Package’, leave out one of the key players: the large retailers.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on rising food prices, because no one can be content with the situation that has prevailed for months and which is primarily affecting small-scale farmers and consumers. Cereal prices have even surpassed the highs of 2008, when soaring food prices already caused unrest in Haiti and Egypt. While the responses must, first and foremost, be on a global scale and coordinated together with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, they must be extended to Europe, where the objective of price stability must be attained. That is why I welcome the adoption of proposals, such as reducing food waste, that are full of common sense, and the request made to the Commission to ensure that dealing with food commodity derivatives is restricted to investors directly linked to agricultural markets. These are all measures that make for strong and sustainable European agriculture. Commissioner Cioloş rightly reminded us yesterday that Europe is not there to subsidise biofuels, but to promote the use of arable land for food production purposes – it is as simple as that.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing.(FR) On the eve of the G20 Finance Ministers’ meeting, Europe is once again arriving at the negotiating table unprepared. Since January 2011, the US administration has been demanding that the positions adopted by financial funds on the agricultural markets be controlled and transparent. The Commission must quickly make proposals along these lines. This advance is a first step towards denying the speculators what they crave. The impact on European livestock farmers is dramatic and immediate, too. They can no longer feed their animals.

Hundreds of farms are going bankrupt. Five years ago, wheat was worth EUR 100 per tonne. Today, it fetches almost EUR 300. The Commission is demanding that farmers adapt to market signals. It would do well today to follow its own advice. In the face of this crisis, the European Union cannot wait until 2014 to come up with solutions.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution because it strongly criticises the rise in the food commodity price index, which in recent months has reached its highest level for 20 years. This has caused social crises, such as the uprisings that have been convulsing the entire Maghreb since December. Increased food prices are clearly bringing down living standards for the majority of workers, who as a rule spend 50% of their household income on food products. In the European Union alone, around 80 million people still live below the poverty line, and many of them are helped through food aid programmes. Poor harvests in the United States, natural disasters in Russia and Brazil, the hike in energy and crude oil prices and the ageing of operators in the farming sector are among the problems that need to be addressed without further ado. It is now more important than ever to condemn speculation, and to examine the idea of a European food stock system in order to withstand crises such as the one we are now experiencing. The aim is to look for shared, collective strategies to respond promptly to the increased demand for foodstuffs, not least through specific incentive policies to attract young people into the world of farming.

 
  
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  Brian Simpson (S&D), in writing. The EPLP is supportive of the resolution drafted in response to the current steep food price hikes we are seeing and their impact on global food security. The most recent price increases bring to the fore many of the concerns the EPLP have long held over distortions in the food supply chain, the role speculation can play in exacerbating the situation and the lack of agricultural investment in many developing countries to build up production capacities.

The EPLP is supportive of the need for a global response to the food security challenge but would also like to stress the role an ambitiously reformed CAP can play in helping to address this challenge. A reformed CAP must be in line both with global food security and development policy objectives, abolishing once and for all export refunds, that undermine the ability of developing countries to build up their own agricultural production, limiting market intervention mechanisms, which also serve to distort the market and promoting sustainable agricultural production to help both the agricultural sector mitigate and adapt to climate change, thereby protecting the EU's natural resource base and food production capacity.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (NL) Food safety policy is first and foremost defence policy. Any country which fails to provide safe and affordable food to its people and ensure a reasonable standard of living for its farmers is heading towards instability and food riots. The right to food is a basic and fundamental human right. The text before us rightly emphasises the need for a multidimensional approach. The steps needed to ensure safe food have much in common with the steps needed for a more efficient fight against climate change, improved development aid, the development of other commercial structures, greater transparency on the commodity markets and measures against speculation. I would have liked the text to have been even stronger, in particular by pressing for the establishment of an independent global agency that will strictly regulate speculation with food commodities.

The Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance also wanted to propose actions which are necessary to reduce food waste: 20 to 30 per cent of crops are lost at as early a stage as sowing and harvesting. In developing countries half the harvest rots because it is not being stored or transported. Meanwhile, consumers and distributors in developed countries throw 40 percent of their food products untouched into the waste bin. This is unacceptable and unethical! Finally, I think that food does not belong in the forum of the WTO. Food can never be an ordinary commodity. Never!

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing.(FR) I welcome the adoption of this joint motion for a resolution, which highlights the main factors contributing to today’s soaring food prices. They are: the rise in oil prices; the growing production of biofuels, which is devouring huge swathes of agricultural land; the ever-more frequent occurrence of natural disasters; and speculation on the markets. The aim is no longer to supply food products at the best price, but to make as much profit as possible out of them. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, food prices peaked in January, and it is estimated that, when food prices rise by 1%, the nutrition of an additional 16 million people is put at risk. Price hikes thus become a huge challenge for developing countries, which already devote almost three quarters of their income to buying basic foodstuffs. Consequently, we fear a social and political situation even more dreadful than that during the 2008 ‘hunger riots’. Europe has a vital role to play in guaranteeing global food security. Let us hope that the G20 ministers, who will meet in Paris in June, come up with solutions to combat food price volatility.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The right to food, established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Article 39 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, has been severely affected by the current economic and financial crisis. The population growth that is forecast, particularly in emerging economies, and the growing rise in global poverty and hunger demonstrate that at least a 70% increase in food production is needed to satisfy the population’s needs. At the same time, financial speculation on food commodities that leads to volatility in food commodity prices is adding to this scenario, as are extreme weather events and the constant increase in bioethanol production instead of food. I believe that measures urgently need to be taken to combat the destabilisation of the agricultural markets, so supporting farmers and promoting innovation in the sector, whilst reinforcing the role of the common agricultural policy as a key objective of the European Union. This cross-cutting issue must be discussed multilaterally as it affects people worldwide and the multiplying effects are indisputable. The riots that have taken place in developing countries are examples of this. Support for at-risk countries should be reinforced to prevent future food crises.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. I supported the resolution drafted in response to rising food prices, which are having an impact on global food security. The most recent price increases highlight many of concerns relating to distortions in the food supply chain, the role speculation can play in exacerbating the situation and the lack of agricultural investment in many developing countries to build up production capacities. We need a global response to the food security challenge but also to stress the role an ambitiously reformed CAP can play in helping to address this challenge. A reformed CAP must be in line with global food security and development policy objectives, abolishing once and for all export refunds that undermine the ability of developing countries to build up their agricultural production. Promotion of sustainable agricultural production is necessary in order to help the agricultural sector both mitigate and adapt to climate change, thereby protecting the EU’s natural resource base and food production capacity.

 

8. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 

(The sitting was adjourned at 13.05 and resumed at 15.00)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Rainer WIELAND
Vice-President

 

9. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting : see Minutes
Video of the speeches

10. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law

10.1. Border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia
Video of the speeches
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  President. − The next item is the debate on seven motions for a resolution on border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia(1)

 
  
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  Barbara Lochbihler, author.(DE) Mr President, the border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia at the beginning of this month placed the decades-long conflict over access to the temple of Preah Vihear back in the consciousness of the international public. Although the armed clashes have abated somewhat at present, we must push for a political solution to be found to this conflict. ASEAN, the United Nations and the EU have a duty to work more intensively on this now, and not to wait until the situation escalates again before reacting.

In the most recent clashes civilians and soldiers on both sides were injured and killed. The use of cluster bombs was particularly perfidious. These cluster munitions wreak havoc on civilians that continues long after their launch. Up to 30% of cluster munitions fail to explode and remain on the ground as unexploded bombs, where they later explode when disturbed perhaps by playing children. We call on Thailand and Cambodia to stop using these terrible weapons immediately. We also call on both governments to sign up to the international convention banning cluster munitions.

Finally, I would urgently appeal to the governments of Thailand and Cambodia to make every effort to resolve this conflict without resorting to arms. The civilian population on both sides will only suffer further; suffer for something to which politicians can find a negotiated solution if they only have the political will to do so, rather than attempting to pander to cheap nationalism on both sides of the border.

 
  
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  Marietje Schaake, author. Mr President, since the beginning of this month there have been fights between the armed forces along the Thai-Cambodian border, near the temple of Preah Vihear, which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. We have a responsibility to protect the lives of people first and foremost, but we also have a responsibility for cultural heritage.

Particularly worrying is the reported use of cluster munitions. Those reports may well be true, as neither Thailand nor Cambodia has ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

To prevent further escalation, which would put the region at risk of destabilisation, both governments have to assume their responsibilities and also have to care for people displaced as a result of this conflict.

We welcome the efforts by the ASEAN chair to facilitate a dialogue between the two countries so that the dispute can be resolved in a peaceful manner.

Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to join an urgent meeting of South-East Asian nations to discuss the conflict. The Director-General of UNESCO will also send a special envoy to Bangkok and Phnom Penh to urge both sides to cooperate with a possible UNESCO mission.

 
  
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  Bernd Posselt, author.(DE) Mr President, Mrs Lochbihler is quite right: it is firstly about people, about the dead and wounded, and about this scandalous use of cluster munitions.

Secondly, of course, it is about containing a border conflict, settling it by peaceful means and ensuring that it does not broaden into a war.

The third aspect – and we want to address this too – concerns the irreplaceable world cultural heritage of the temple complex in this border region. Karl von Habsburg, a former Member of this House and the son of Otto von Habsburg, is responsible for these matters at Unesco and will attend the March plenary here in Strasbourg to tell us more about it. It is my feeling that we actually need to make concentrated efforts to combine attempts to bring about peace and protect people with the protection of cultural heritage. Here in Europe we know only too well what terrible gaps wars can leave in the cultural landscape. We must therefore take action wherever there is a threat to the world’s cultural heritage.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella, author. (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, since the beginning of February, there has been renewed fighting between the armed forces of Cambodia and Thailand at the border near the temple of Preah Vihear, the surrounding area of which is claimed by both countries. Regrettably, there have been fatal casualties on both sides, and more than 3 000 people living close to the conflict area have had to be evacuated.

In 1962, the United Nations International Court of Justice, acting in accordance with French historical maps, recognised Cambodia’s rights over the temple of Preah Vihear and the land adjacent to it. However, Thailand has never accepted that decision. What is more, some parts of the border have not been demarcated, a situation which already caused several armed incidents in 2008 and 2009.

In 2008, UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage site, which also provoked anger among Thai nationalists. Although a memorandum of understanding on the demarcation of land boundary was signed in 2000, Thailand’s PAD nationalists are calling for it to be revoked because they feel it is too favourable towards Cambodia. I should like in particular to highlight the action taken by Indonesia, the current chair of ASEAN, which has offered to play the role of mediator in this conflict.

On Monday 14 February, the UN also urged the two countries to observe a permanent ceasefire, while it made no plans to send UN peacekeepers to the area. I hope that these two countries will finally be able to settle this land issue peacefully and to stop taking thousands of people wishing to live in peace hostage in this way.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock, author. Mr President, for us in the European Union, the idea of taking military action over border disputes is now thankfully unimaginable. However, this is sadly not the case on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, whose armies have clashed several times in the past couple of weeks over a disputed, tiny, part of their border near to an ancient temple.

Aid agencies report that some 30 000 people have been displaced by the fighting, so it is hardly surprising in such circumstances that innocent civilians have been killed, although both sides contest the actual numbers.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has referred to the clashes as a ‘real war’. Such bellicose and incendiary rhetoric can only make matters worse. The short-term solution to this dispute lies in the hands of both governments and the UN Security Council, which should take the lead in imposing solutions to de-escalate the crisis. In the longer term it is to be hoped that further ASEAN regional integration will help to make such clashes a thing of the past, as has been the case here in the EU for decades.

 
  
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  Cristian Dan Preda, on behalf of the PPE Group.(RO) Mr President, new incidents, apparently minor, took place on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. Extremely tense relations have developed between the two neighbouring nations and I believe that this is the reason why the debate we are having today is welcome. I would actually like to thank Mr Posselt for the initiative he came up with.

I would also like to say that I too deplore the human losses resulting from the armed clashes since the start of the month. Especially in the current charged atmosphere, we must firmly ask both sides to act with the utmost restraint and comply with the request from the UN Security Council to establish a lasting truce. Whatever the source of disagreement between Thailand and Cambodia, resorting to force is not a solution. I therefore wish to appeal to both sides to find an urgent peaceful solution to the territorial dispute in the area around the temple of Preah Vihear.

I must actually remind you that an unequivocal decision was made by the International Court of Justice in 1962 and that there are ample opportunities for resolving the dispute, including via mediation through ASEAN. All that is needed, in accordance with international law, is to conduct negotiations in good faith.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (PL) Mr President, the 11th-century temple of Preah Vihear has many times been the scene of clashes between the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as the Khmer Rouge army and the regime of Lon Nol. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the temple has been the subject of a dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, who each in turn claim the right to the building and the surrounding terrain as well as the right to establish the border between the two countries. We have been witnessing the latest developments in this dispute since the beginning of February this year.

Despite the decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which ruled that the temple belongs to Cambodia, there are other questions which still have to be decided. Both governments should make every effort to find a compromise which will provide the foundation for a permanent agreement. A repeat of the conflict of a week and a half ago, when the armies of both countries shelled each other, is unacceptable both from the point of view of the people of the region, who are in danger of being killed, and from that of the temple, which, despite its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list, has sustained damage. UNESCO has already offered its help, as has the Association of South-East Asian Nations. Today, the European Parliament has joined the appeal. A ticket to gain entry to the temple of Preah Vihear costs five dollars. I would like to ask what the price is of the conflict between Cambodia and Thailand, which has lasted for over 100 years.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Mr President, I find it appalling that, in the 21st century, there are some political forces that keep operating in a 19th century paradigm. Growing nationalism in many parts of the world is giving rise to conflicts based on ethnicity as well as on religion.

The Governments of Thailand and Cambodia must consider that the border clashes have an impact on peace and stability in the region as well as on relations between the two countries. Even if there are unresolved political issues between countries, it should not reflect on people-to-people contacts. Otherwise there is an imminent danger of growing nationalism as well as xenophobia.

The situation on the border between Thailand and Cambodia should be resolved peacefully in accordance with the ruling of the International Court of Justice of 1962. The beginning of this year has seen already far too much bloodshed around the world.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki, on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) Mr President, it is a particular strength of the European Union that we are not egoistic, that we can see past the end of our own European nose and that we do look at what is happening outside Europe and in far-off exotic Asia. This conflict, as has been rightly emphasised, in fact has a history of over a century. However, it is good that the European Union and the European Parliament, which is in fact the heart of the Union, has something to say on this matter. It is good, because we should be present wherever there is debate about human rights, wherever there is debate about this most important matter, and this conflict most certainly shows that people have died and are fighting today, although not with such deadly results, about matters which perhaps could be decided in a more peaceful way. It is good that the European Parliament is intervening in this matter.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška, on behalf of the EFD Group.(SK) Mr President, in the International Court of Justic ruling of 15 June 1962, it was decided that the Preah Vihear temple falls within the sovereignty of Cambodia. It is the obligation of the Thai Government to respect this fact and to refrain from attempting to change the internationally recognized boundaries through military force. At the same time, the Cambodian government is obliged to allow access to this temple to worshippers from Thailand.

In a situation where one of the parties to a dispute is inclined to go beyond the rules and to impose its interests by force, it is necessary to mobilise international institutions in order to convey a clear verbal message that the world wishes to live under stable political conditions and does not wish to see disputes settled through the use of military force.

It is therefore necessary to mobilise the relevant international institutions locally, in order to prevent the spread of unnecessary conflict and trauma to the civilian population. The offer of Indonesia, as the presiding country of ASEAN, to mediate in the border dispute is the best way to find a first step towards resolving this situation.

 
  
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  Bogusław Sonik (PPE).(PL) Mr President, UNESCO is trying to rescue the temple of Preah Vihear – a monument on the World Heritage list – and to finance its conservation. However, not only are Thailand and Cambodia failing to respect that effort, but they are also breaking the international Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which is binding on both countries. I think this thoughtlessness may mean the destruction of a building which has lasted since the 11th century.

Above all, however, I think this example should raise the question of responsibility. There must not be a repeat of what happened in Afghanistan in 2001, when a unique statue of Buddha was destroyed. This was the result, not only of the religious fanaticism of the Taliban, but also of the lack of sufficient commitment from western countries. The destruction of the world’s cultural heritage must not go unpunished. This is such an important matter, that by analogy with the International Criminal Court in The Hague which tries war criminals, an institution should also be established which tries and brings to justice people who destroy priceless monuments.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D). - Mr President, the resolution on border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia condemns the armed conflict and urges both countries to stop fighting, reduce tensions and accept the mediation of ASEAN and the United Nations.

We are dealing with a totally unjustified conflict. In 1976, as ASEAN members, Cambodia and Thailand signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, which commits them to rejecting the use of force in relations between member states and to the peaceful settlement of interstate disputes. The conflict is unreasonable, also, because the International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the Temple of Preah Vihear, close to where the fighting is occurring, belongs to Cambodia.

There are many reasons to believe that the armed clash is linked to nationalist fervour in Thailand, steered by elements in the government which are provoking the fighting to curry favour with hardline voters with a view to this year’s elections.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE). - Mr President, border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia have left an estimated 1 000 dead and another 30 000 displaced. We deplore the loss of life and make the prevention of any further such losses a priority.

I would also like to express my concern at the alleged use of cluster munitions and call on both countries to refrain from using such munitions. Killing people and endangering people’s lives is never a solution. We therefore strongly support all the parties currently working to find a solution and to stop the violence. We stand for peace and we urge peace.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I too would like to join my fellow Members who are calling for the peaceful resolution of the tense situation on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. The clashes which broke out at the start of the month mark the resumption of an older conflict over the UNESCO temple located on the border between both countries. I should stress that a decision made by the International Court of Justice in 1962 confirmed that this monument belongs to Cambodia, and the authorities must respect this decision. While it is true that the area around the temple was not demarcated by the Court, I believe that Thailand and Cambodia can reach an understanding by means of negotiation and not through the use of weapons.

The clashes in the area are not only putting a UNESCO monument in danger, but the lives of the population as well. A border conflict is always a source of instability. This is why I encourage the initiative from both governments to resolve the issue bilaterally. I think that the project aimed at setting up a buffer zone to prevent the destruction from spreading is a step towards peace.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D).(RO) Mr President, I too would like to express my regret at the loss of human lives, especially in the case of innocent civilian victims. I am also alarmed that thousands of people have been obliged to abandon their homes due to the clashes on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. As summarised in the joint motion for a resolution, there is an international legal framework which both sides must comply with.

I believe that the appeal made by the European Parliament must be followed by strong pressure from the High Representative for Foreign Affairs. However, what may be even more serious is the use of cluster munitions. I believe that we have a duty to demand Thailand and Cambodia to ratify the convention banning this type of weapon.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). - Mr President, this situation is a further reminder for the European Union of the importance of mediation and conflict prevention. To use its soft power to the fullest extent, the EU needs to invest more in conflict prevention. It is high time that the Vice-President/High Representative Catherine Ashton came up with an initiative to build up a credible mediation and conflict prevention capacity. This requires policy coherence, standing as a good reminder for the EU Member States.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE).(ES) Mr President, I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight two matters that have already been mentioned, but which I consider to be fundamental.

The first is the use of cluster bombs by both Thailand and Cambodia, and the need for both countries to ratify the international Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The second matter is also one that we frequently discuss in these debates on urgent issues. It relates to freedom of expression, fundamentally on the Internet.

I believe that the weakness and fragility of the Thai political system reveals some serious situations. For example, the trial being held against Chiranuch Premchaiporn for comments on his website criticising the Royal Family. The person responsible for the comments has been freed, while the person responsible for the website has not yet been freed.

I also believe it is necessary to point out the need for freedom of expression and, above all, for freedom of association in each of these countries.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). - Mr President, unfortunately this dispute is over a century old. It re-emerged in June 2008 and has escalated since the beginning of this month. Many people have different views as to why it should have escalated at this particular time. There are those who think that hawkish Thai generals are using it as an excuse to overthrow the government and to cancel the elections proposed for later this year.

Be that as it may, this dispute – particularly looked at from a distance – should be solvable. It is not a major dispute, particularly if the United Nations uses its mandate and its influence to bring about three things: firstly, an agreement to end cluster munitions; secondly, a permanent ceasefire; and thirdly, if necessary, deployment troops to oversee that ceasefire. If these happen, then this dispute can be brought to an end.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, I can confirm that the Commission is following the events along the Thai-Cambodian border closely.

On 7 February 2011, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton, expressed her concern about the armed clashes. She called on both countries to exercise the utmost restraint, to take the necessary steps to reduce tension, and to resume dialogue with a view to resolving their differences peacefully.

The points raised by the Parliament’s draft resolution were discussed on 14 February 2011 in the United Nations Security Council, in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, the latter in its capacity as current chair of ASEAN.

We agree with the conclusions of UN Under-Secretary Pascoe that the situation is indeed serious. The issue is not only about a world heritage site. It is also about – perceived or real – national and cultural identities and national pride. Most importantly, the issue is about human lives and about regional stability.

There are two questions: what can the region do to redress the situation, and how can the EU contribute to a peaceful settlement? It is obvious that this kind of conflict cannot be solved by armed force. ASEAN has a role to play, and we are pleased to see that ASEAN is assuming its responsibility.

The Indonesian Foreign Minister has rightly invoked the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. This agreement requires all parties to settle their differences by peaceful means. We welcome the decision by Indonesia to convene a special ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting on this subject on 22 February 2011 in Jakarta.

There is broad agreement in the United Nations on not letting this issue get out of hand. Members of the Security Council have called on both parties to refrain from provocation and from deploying military reinforcements along the border.

It is becoming clear that regional efforts offer the most promising avenue for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. For the EU, this implies giving full support to ASEAN.

The External Action Service is following the matter in detail and will be considering options for supporting ASEAN, if such support is appropriate and is requested from their side.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place at the end of the final debate.

 
  

(1) See Minutes.


10.2. Yemen: death penalty against juvenile offenders, notably the case of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum
Video of the speeches
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  President. − The next item is the debate on six motions for a resolution on Yemen – death penalty against juvenile offenders, notably the case of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum(1).

 
  
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  Marietje Schaake, author. Mr President, I look with great admiration at the courage of citizens who defy the repression and violence of their governments. We have seen this happening in popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, Algeria, Bahrain and also in Yemen. The young generation wants hope to replace cynicism, opportunities to replace poverty, justice to replace impunity and internet freedom to replace repression and censorship.

We have a long list of serious concerns about developments in Yemen in relation to democracy, human rights and the independence of the judiciary, as well as to the persecution of journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. In particular, we are concerned about the climate of fear that is created by the execution of juveniles, despite Yemen’s commitment to the international community not to execute juvenile offenders and the reflection of that commitment in its own penal code.

There is a lack of adequate means to determine the age of defendants, so it is difficult for people to defend themselves. We call on the President of Yemen and the authorities to at least respect Yemen’s own laws and commitments to the international community and halt the execution of juveniles. We also stress the need for reforms in Yemen, as called for by so many demonstrators in the streets, and we want their living conditions and their rights to be improved.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat, author. (FR) Mr President, the Arab countries are being rocked by a wave of popular uprisings that are spreading to them all, one by one, and I hope that this will continue.

An unprecedented wave of protest against the dictatorships in power in those countries is gaining ground. These dictatorships are in place more often than not with the support and, at best, amid the silence of all of the Western regimes. No country seems immune to popular uprisings, and that is all to the good. We took too long – you took too long – to realise what was happening in those countries, and you are still delaying now. It took until 2 February for the European Parliament to adopt a resolution on Tunisia, and it is only now, at this part-session, that we have adopted one on Egypt.

We had requested, in connection with these emergency situations, a resolution on Algeria. Our request was refused once again, just as, for months, you – or at least the vast majority of you – refused to see what was happening in Tunisia.

Today, protest movements are being formed, as we speak, in Iran, in Libya, with regard to which you have just given your support – your conditional support, but your support nonetheless – to a partnership agreement, and also in Bahrain and in Yemen, to mention only those that we know the most about. Yes, that is right, in Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in power for no fewer than 33 years. Talk about a managed democracy! Of course, it is much better than the situation in Libya, since Mr Gaddafi has been in power for 42 years!

We were among the few who said that we could not vote today on a resolution on Yemen without taking account of what was happening in that country. Men and women there are fighting for their freedom. Violence is erupting between supporters and opponents of the regime.

Since the rallies began at the end of January, hundreds of people have been injured. Yesterday in Aden, a young demonstrator was shot dead during clashes with the police, who opened fire to disperse a gathering. Right now, students in Saada are barricaded inside their campus, where they are still surrounded by the police, and we remain silent.

When we think of Yemen, we think only of the problem of capital punishment for minors. I am by no means suggesting that the abolition of the death penalty should be abandoned – I have always been a staunch supporter of its abolition, and I believe that any supposedly democratic country that is incapable of abolishing such a punishment is criminal and should not lecture others on democracy and human rights, even if it is the world’s leading power.

Yes, this capital punishment is even more unacceptable when it is applied to minors, especially in a country where it is impossible to know for sure when a person was born and where this impossibility is used to sentence people to death, the benefit of the doubt being given, dare I say it, because of the failure to establish their date of birth and so prove that they were minors at the time of the offence.

And you would like us to adopt a resolution focusing on just one issue, a resolution that merely emphasises, in paragraph seven, the need for reforms, as called for by, I quote, ‘so many demonstrators’? That is a bit weak.

Therefore, I and my fellow Members from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance have tabled three amendments to update this resolution, and I hope that, together, we will be able to adopt a resolution worthy of the name.

 
  
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  Cristian Dan Preda, author. – (RO) Mr President, I want to assure Mrs Vergiat that, as anyone can see, we are debating not only the death penalty, but also the events taking place recently on the streets of Yemen. I believe that when it comes to the vote, she will also be able to see what stance our group adopts on these issues.

However, we must not forget that the subject of the emergency resolution which was adopted to be discussed today is the persecution of juvenile criminals and the imposition of the death penalty in this case. As you are aware, if we Europeans find the death penalty unacceptable and barbaric, it is even more awful and terrible when juveniles are involved. The bottom line is that the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by an offender under the age of 18 even violates Yemeni legislation, although the authorities in this country continue to carry out such executions.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda, author. Mr President, the topic of the urgent resolution is important in itself. I too want to call on the President of Yemen to halt the execution of Thabet Samoum, as well as to call on him and the authorities to commute the death sentence passed on him and other juveniles such as Ali Abdulla.

However, as has been said, it would be unfortunate to miss this opportunity and not raise some of the basic and more important issues that are emerging now in that country.

That is why I would also like to see Parliament add, at the end of the resolution on which we will be voting, that it notes that in Yemen as in other Arab countries, notably Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrators have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand more democracy and reforms of the state.

‘Whereas many protestors have been attacked or taken into custody by the security forces’: that is our first amendment. Secondly: ‘expresses its deep concern about the long-standing political and socio-economic problems in Yemen and calls for considerable efforts by the international community to prevent the escalation of the current crisis’. Finally, our third amendment: ‘expresses its solidarity with the demonstrators who demand democratic reforms and improved living conditions; welcomes in this context President Saleh’s announcement that he will step down in 2013 and calls on the authorities to stop violence against peaceful protestors and to release all demonstrators who express their dissent peacefully’.

If all three of these amendments are included, the resolution would be really very good.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu, author. – (RO) Mr President, the death penalty is truly the most inhumane punishment possible and I have appealed against it on countless occasions. Indeed, the European Parliament has made appeals for its abolition in the countries which still retain this barbaric practice.

However, the executions in Yemen referred to in our resolution are especially outrageous as juveniles are involved. Even before a crime has been committed, the victims are children. This therefore violates the fundamental right to life, as well as the international conventions which Yemen is party to and, last but not least, even the penal code in this country, which explicitly forbids the use of capital punishment against juvenile offenders. The difficulty in determining the exact age of those convicted due to the lack of birth certificates is a circumstance which increases the discretionary nature of this type of punishment.

We cannot discuss this specific issue without taking into account the state of affairs in Yemen. The Yemeni authorities are violating human rights. Journalists and activists are being imprisoned illegally. Women are discriminated against regarding their participation in public life and access to education, while the judicial system is anything but independent. The recent riots are not only motivated by economic and social concerns, but they also express the strong desire to make Yemeni society democratic.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock, author. Mr President, Yemen is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which expressly prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders – those convicted of crimes committed when the perpetrators were under the age of 18.

The impending execution of Muhammed Samoum, and indeed the detention on death row of several other juvenile offenders, is an affront to international law. By pursuing such policies, on the bizarre excuses of the accused not having proper birth certificates or of uncertainty about their age, Yemen is aligning itself with the brutal theocracy of Iran. However, the difference between the two countries is that Yemen receives massive aid from the West, including the EU, in order to root out al-Qaeda terrorists, whereas Iran is an international pariah.

Therefore, we have considerable leverage here in the EU over President Ali Abdullah Saleh. I urge the High Representative to take all possible steps to persuade him to grant clemency in this case. Having announced that he will shortly relinquish his post, President Saleh has a real chance now to leave a positive and enlightened legacy in his country, which has been brutalised by conflict and terrorism for so long and now dreams of a democratic future.

 
  
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  Filip Kaczmarek, on behalf of the PPE Group.(PL) Mr President, the use of capital punishment on juveniles under the age of 15 was prohibited in Yemen in 1991. Since 1994, this ban has applied to people below the age of 18. Unfortunately, this prohibition is not always respected in practice, for example in the case of people who do not have any documents which confirm their age, as has already been mentioned in this Chamber. Other dangerous things are also happening in Yemen. It is a country where the number of weapons has long ago exceeded the number of people, where brutal tribal battles are a daily occurrence and where teenagers with weapons do not cause a stir. There is even a saying in Yemen that ‘if you are old enough to use a knife, you are old enough to fight for your tribe’. Besides, everyone who has been to Yemen knows that almost everyone carries a knife, and a teenager with a Kalashnikov is nothing unusual. Yemeni society is also a very young society – almost half of Yemenis are still under 14. The different militias recruit young soldiers, and we should also fight against this.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Mr President, the death penalty is still in use in 58 countries and one of these countries is Yemen. My Group condemns the death penalty in general and the planned execution of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum in particular.

We want to remind the Yemeni Government of its international commitments regarding the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Both conventions prohibit the executions of people under the age of 18.

On Monday, Amnesty International reported on the actions of Yemeni security forces. According to Amnesty, the security forces beat protestors with sticks and shocked them with electric batons during peaceful protests in Sana’a. My Group condemns these violent actions and urges the Yemeni Government to cease all violence against its own people.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki, on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) Mr President, I promise I will not read quickly, because I am going to speak slowly. It is an honour for me to speak straight after the former Prime Minister of Finland. I would like to say that the call for Yemen not to carry out the death sentence on juveniles is an example of the European Union’s characteristic minimalist approach. I am opposed to capital punishment, though I know that in this Chamber there are people who support it, although they do not say so publically. I am opposed to capital punishment, irrespective of whether it concerns a juvenile person or an adult. However, on this particular question I hope we are going to rise above our national and political divisions to demand unequivocally from the authorities in Yemen that on this matter the President of Yemen should make use, after all, of his right to grant a pardon. This really is a question of a truly united fight.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška, on behalf of the EFD Group.(SK) Mr President, the Yemeni administration has made a commitment to accept the application of both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Both of the cases of condemned juvenile offenders are subject to the regime of these documents, and it should therefore not be possible for a judicial body in Yemen to issue a legal decision denying the rights and protection arising from these documents.

Penalties imposed in violation of the valid commitments of a country, and hence the applicable law, cannot be accepted. If the Yemeni Government claims that its power is based on civilized democratic principles, then it cannot use barbaric forms of governance based on arbitrariness and injustice. In my opinion, we should make this fact clear to the Yemeni Government today.

 
  
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  Csanád Szegedi (NI). - (HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, naturally I believe that it is important that here in the European Parliament we condemn dictatorial means, that we condemn dictators and dictatorships, but I also believe that it is important that we urge Yemen in general towards democratic structures. However, I think that, although this Yemen affair has been raised in the European Parliament, it is not the European Union’s job to adopt a position on this. This affair is totally confused. There are totally unclarified circumstances in it. Even the particulars of the crime cannot be made out satisfactorily. For one thing, we do not even know how old the young man accused and convicted of the crime was at the time the offence was committed. It is possible that he was not a minor. We do not see clearly in this case. Nothing illustrates Yemen’s astonishing backwardness better than the fact that not even the birth certificate of Mohammed Taher Thabet Samoum has surfaced. Neither has it been proven to this day whether his school papers presented by his lawyer are genuine or whether these are false school papers. Moreover, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this is not about stealing a hen but this is a case of murder, and so here I prefer to be a little restrained and more measured than the speakers so far.

The European Union must consider, similarly to the world’s other democratic countries such as the United States of America, the option of the death penalty for certain exceptionally serious crimes proven beyond doubt.

 
  
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  Sari Essayah (PPE). - (FI) Mr President, the Samoum case is not a one­off event in Yemen: at least eight other juvenile offenders are in custody awaiting a death sentence. This is especially challenging in a country where there are no birth records, so it is impossible to say with any certainty whether someone was underage in a situation when a crime was committed.

It is nevertheless important to remember that the state of Yemen is party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which expressly prohibit the death sentence against juvenile offenders and harsh sentences in general for such people. The execution of juvenile offenders is, furthermore, forbidden in Yemen’s own penal code.

In contrast to the previous speaker, I would like to say that the death penalty is always cruel, inhuman, and a punishment that strips a person of human dignity. For that reason, the EU will fight against the death penalty in all situations, and we too in this House will appeal in favour of that.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, sentencing a child to death is unacceptable in the world we live in. Turning this practice into a habit is a crime in itself. This is why I want to express my disagreement with the decision made by the Yemeni authorities to continue such actions. The government is violating both the international treaties on this matter and the penal code which prohibits the use of the death penalty for juveniles. In addition, the way in which the justice system tries to find out the age of those brought before it remains unclear. This case is a sad example of what is going on in Yemen.

As an MEP and citizen of the EU, I believe in the fundamental importance of a person’s right to life, and children must be the first to be protected. I appeal to the EU’s High Representative to halt the succession of these bloody executions.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE).(RO) Mr President, Thabet Samoum and Fuad Ahmed Ali Abdulla were probably minors, as they maintain, when they committed the offences for which they were sentenced to death. They received their sentence years ago and it may be carried out at any time. They are being subjected to huge psychological strain, which is inhumane and degrading treatment in itself. We call on the authorities to refrain from carrying out these punishments.

In addition, neither offender can prove that they were under the age of 18 because they do not have birth certificates. Obtaining a birth certificate is a serious problem in Yemen where only 22% of births are officially registered, according to UNICEF. Some of the funds we use to help this country will perhaps resolve this problem. Public discussion about these cases must lead to the abolition of capital punishment in Yemen and to the sentences of hundreds of people condemned to death being commuted. I call on the European Commission and Council to insist on achieving this objective in the dialogue with this government.

 
  
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  Róża, Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE).(PL) Mr President, adult or juvenile – capital punishment is a subject to which we ought to devote a lot of time. After managing to develop our ethical code in the wake of the nightmares which have affected Europe, we should be promoting it in other countries – in countries with which we have any kind of economic contact, but I am also thinking here of countries in Europe. In Belarus, sentences of capital punishment are still imposed and the death sentence is still in use.

What is happening in Yemen must attract our attention and we must make the loudest appeals to the Yemeni Government to put an immediate stop to these awful practices, and also to look into the fact that – as my fellow Member said a moment ago – there are still a number of juveniles in prison awaiting execution. I appeal, too, to all of us: we should be working more closely together with organisations such as Amnesty International and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, so that our voice will be heard better and have greater force throughout the world.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, the decision in Yemen to impose the death penalty on someone who was a minor at the time of the offence is shocking. Yemen has clearly acted unlawfully here, since like nearly every country in the world Yemen is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under Article 37 of the Convention, neither the death penalty nor life imprisonment may be imposed for crimes committed by persons before their 18th birthday. This decision has been justified by the claim that the age of the accused is uncertain.

However, death sentences are also passed against minors in other parts of the Islamic world. Sharia courts are imposing capital punishment on youths in Somalia, for example. Together with the UN, the EU must act more resolutely and more speedily here to prevent breaches of international law with such serious consequences. Dialogue is good, but Realpolitik and economic pressure are better ways to advance our argument. At any rate, they tend to get things moving much faster.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, while we are speaking, hundreds of prisoners packed into Yemeni gaols are waiting for their death sentences to be carried out. I think this debate should call for greater attention and a swifter commitment from the European institutions.

The ongoing violation of the International Convention on Human Rights is a topic on which Europe must be neither silent nor absent, least of all with regard to a country such as Yemen, with which we maintain economic relations. Inevitably, therefore, we must also pay great attention to issues of this kind.

In Europe and the Western world, rehabilitation is clearly an important, basic aspect of a sentence. A death sentence has absolutely no rehabilitation purpose, which is why we need to intervene with the utmost firmness and determination and to make our voice heard in this respect.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, the European Union, in implementing its well-established Death Penalty Guidelines, has long been active in fighting the death penalty in Yemen, both generally and by targeting individual cases.

The capital punishment of juvenile offenders has always taken place in Yemen. In earlier times, however, cases were largely unknown and civil society was not as active. The EU-funded and UNICEF-implemented Juvenile Justice Programme has contributed significantly to raising awareness, both in Yemen and within the international community. This programme was carried out together with a coalition of civil society organisations and the Higher Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

However, awareness-raising is not enough. We need to follow up with actions. As a last resort, the EU delegation actively carries out démarches to halt executions. The two most recent cases were in December 2010 for Fuad Ahmed Ali Abdulla, and in January 2011 for Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum. In both cases, the execution was halted – after EU intervention – to allow for presentation of evidence of age. The issue of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum was taken up again last week. It seems now as if a presidential pardon is the only hope for a formal reversal of the sentence. The EU and UNICEF have again contacted President Saleh and now, according to our own feedback from Sana’a, the execution is on hold again.

Yemen is bound by international obligations, and by its own juvenile justice legislation and penal code, not to execute juveniles. The reasons for having juveniles on death row are mainly attributed to a lack of capacity in age determination. We are therefore, together with UNICEF, looking into how to assist Yemen in building up such expertise, so as to arrest the issue at its roots. In the immediate term, the EU will encourage the setting up of an independent body to re-examine the age of juvenile offenders. We will also aim to support the capacities of lawyers to provide legal assistance to juveniles. In the medium-term, we are looking to develop EU support for an effective civil registry authority.

We are thus taking this extremely grave issue very seriously and using all available means. The Government of Yemen has shown receptiveness to our démarches. The EU remains prepared to assist them, now and in the future, to achieve our goal of eradicating the death penalty totally.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place at the end of the final debate.

Written Statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE), in writing. (FI) We have frequently addressed the subject of the death penalty in our resolutions. Condemning minors to death is rare, but Yemen is one of those countries in which it has happened. Although Yemen has made progress in its efforts to prohibit death sentences against minors, courts have continued to pass them. The case of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum is not the only one.

Generally speaking, and in connection with intercultural dialogue, it is worth giving serious consideration to what radicalises young people, prompting them to commit crime, even murder, and how best to prevent them from going down the road of crime. As is known, the death sentence does not reduce crime.

The pro­democracy demonstrations that began in Tunisia and Egypt have received much support from the local youth. The lack of prospects and opportunities, in addition to a desire for democracy, has provoked resistance. This wave of resistance also spread to Yemen last week.

I share my fellow Members’ concerns and demands with respect to Samoum and others who have received the death sentence. Although we are now waiting with interest and hope to see what political changes the demonstrations in the Arab countries will lead to, we cannot for a moment close our eyes to outrages which contravene international human rights agreements, such as the death sentence for minors.

 
  

(1) See Minutes.


10.3. Uganda: murder of David Kato
Video of the speeches
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  President. − The next item is the debate on six motions for a resolution on Uganda – murder of David Kato(1).

 
  
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  Ulrike Lunacek, author. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, we all would wish that David Kato, who was murdered a few weeks ago, was still alive and that he could be here with us – as he was just last November – to speak about the rights of lesbian and gay people and the lack of rights for lesbian and gay people in Uganda, and to plan together with us what can be done to change that. We all would rather he was alive and had not been the victim of a brutal murder. David Kato worked in his home country of Uganda to defend the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I am pleased that we have succeeded in bringing about agreement between six political groups in this resolution to condemn the murder of David Kato and to call on the authorities, the new political leadership that will be elected in Uganda tomorrow and also religious leaders to bring to an end once and for all the persecution of and violence against lesbian and gay people and against other minorities, and to contribute to enabling lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to live freely in Uganda too.

Here in the European Union we also have a responsibility to work for such equal rights and to honour the memory of David Kato and others who sacrificed their lives before him in the fight for equal rights. To this end it is also essential that Baroness Ashton – our High Representative for Foreign Affairs – and the new European External Action Service work for these same equal rights; for example, in order that the Toolkit to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People is also used in all non-European countries.

 
  
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  Marietje Schaake, author. − Mr President, today we have an urgent resolution on LGBT rights in Uganda for the third time in this parliamentary term. The previous two were warnings and attempts to prevent what happened to David Kato, the human rights activist who was brutally murdered.

We must condemn LGBT discrimination across the world, including in Europe and even in this House.

The murder of David Kato is a crime that needs to be fully and impartially investigated. Not only do the perpetrators have to be brought to justice, but the broader context of intolerance, discrimination and threats to LGBT people needs to be analysed, and changed. Local publication Rolling Stone and Ugandan parliamentarians have played a role of incitement rather than one of protecting citizens. Since David Kato’s murder, the authorities have been too silent.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe has put the rights of LBGT people on the agenda over and over again and, with the support of all Members of this House, we have urged respect for their human rights – because that is what LGBT rights are – and we will not be silent.

I hope that those Members who are sometimes hesitant or even reluctant to stand up for gay rights will think again and realise that killing people is never justified and that it needs to be met with our ongoing and unequivocal condemnation, just as we address the violations of the rights of other minorities across the world, such as Christians.

The Commission and the External Action Service need to use the toolkit to promote, and protect the enjoyment of, the rights of LGBT people to the full extent with regard to Uganda.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock, author. Mr President, the murder of David Kato is the direct result of the hatred and hostility towards Uganda’s LGBT community, whipped up by certain hard-line parliamentarians in that country. Twice in the past year we have lambasted the outrageous attempts by some MPs in Uganda to mandate the death penalty for the so-called crime of same-sex activity.

It is inevitable that in a climate of such bigotry the lives of gay rights activists would be endangered, and so it has sadly proved to be the case with David Kato. He knew the risks of publicly defending gays. He and other alleged homosexuals were outed last year by a newspaper which printed their photos next to a headline which said, disgracefully, ‘hang them’. I am sure that many of my London constituents are deeply concerned about the European Union giving financial aid to a country where such disgusting sentiments are not only tolerated but sometimes apparently officially condoned.

I hope that Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Pan-African Parliament will consider carefully what action it can take to register our anger and disgust at Mr Kato’s murder and, more generally, to underline that the EU’s continuing engagement and financial aid to African countries must be reciprocated with progress on fundamental human rights on that continent.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat, author. − (FR) Mr President, we are now on to the third European Parliament resolution of this parliamentary term on discrimination against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) population in Uganda. Today we are dealing specifically with the case of Mr David Kato, whose killing has been strongly denounced by many NGOs and international bodies. Mr Kato was, in fact, a symbol of the fight against homophobia in his country, and more specifically of the denunciation of the Bahati bill, which goes very far in cracking down on homosexuality, since it envisages sentences right up to life imprisonment and even the death penalty. We must pay tribute to him, but we must also think of all those whose photographs, names and addresses have been publicly disgraced by a rag whose name I shall not even mention. The climate with regard to the LGBT community is unacceptable, exacerbated as it is by the religious authorities and in particular by the evangelist fundamentalists close to the Head of State.

Tomorrow, presidential elections will take place in Uganda. Although there are eight candidates, the outgoing President has already declared himself certain of his re-election and announced that he will imprison anyone who protests against the elections. Those elections are undoubtedly an opportunity to remind Uganda of its human rights obligations, to tell it that the fight against discrimination of any kind, including against LGBTs, is an integral part of these universal values and that we should together respond to Mr Ban Ki-moon’s appeal to make the decriminalisation of homosexuality a universal fight for human rights.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly, deputising for the author. Mr President, for those of us who live in the developed world, the chasm between us and the sub-Saharan area both in terms of thinking and practice is very difficult to comprehend.

The case of David Kato is an example of that. He was a man who was regarded as the father of the Ugandan human rights movement. As a founder member of SMUG, Sexual Minorities Uganda, he was condemned by a magazine called Rolling Stone, and won his case against them. The editor said that the persecution of homosexuals and their execution should continue. Sure enough, David Kato was murdered, on 26 January.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman, author. Mr President, it is always a sad moment when we have to pass a resolution on the death of a human rights defender.

For me it is even sadder because, like others in this House, I met him when he came to Parliament to plead for it to act on behalf of those living in Uganda.

As a gay man, can I personally thank this House for the way it has united in this resolution in saying that hatred against lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and the diminishing of their human rights, is totally unacceptable.

The justice that we can give David Kato is not only to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice for the crime that they have committed – the senseless murder of this young man. The real issue is that in the continent of Africa, as Mr Tannock quite rightly said, on issues of human rights and civil liberties, we have given our colleagues too far and too easy a ride on these vital matters. The best thing that can come from this is that the colonialism that we imposed through our laws, and sometimes through our religion, can actually end in the repeal of the law in the 38 countries that criminalise homosexuality and bring to an end the death penalty in Somalia, Mauritania, Sudan and Northern Nigeria.

That would be a memorial not only to David Kato, a giant amongst the pygmies who preach prejudice and persecution. It would also be a memorial to this Parliament speaking up for those who have no voice.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu, on behalf of the S&D Group.(RO) Mr President, I truly believe that the discussion about the violation of the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda ought to go further than voicing criticism. We should reflect on the effectiveness of our measures supporting human rights and examine the level of contribution from European diplomacy towards this.

In December, we adopted a resolution against the punishment of homosexual persons in Uganda and the incitement to crimes against a community stigmatised for its sexual orientation. I abhor this awful crime, but at the same time, I also abhor the reluctance of European institutions and European Union Member States to resort to the tools of persuasion and pressure which they have available. I believe that it is appropriate for us to firmly request the Ugandan authorities to guarantee respect for fundamental rights, conduct a fair investigation into this case and prevent other such crimes. I also think that we need to issue a warning to the Commission for it to become involved much more actively in defending human rights.

 
  
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  Alexandra Thein, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today we will pass our third resolution against the criminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda. Within a short space of time gay people have been declared fair game in Uganda. Even children or minors are affected. This is all due to the irresponsible actions of a US-based Christian sect and the call by local newspaper Rolling Stone for a hundred people whom it named as being gay to be hanged.

Now David Kato – one such person publicly named as being gay – has been hammered to a pulp on a public street; this is, in fact, what we were hoping to prevent with our last resolution. We call on Uganda firstly to hold an independent investigation into the murder of David Kato and not to arrest just anybody for the crime. Further, we call on Uganda to prosecute those who call for the public murder of gay people. We also call on Uganda to revise its legislation.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(ES) Mr President, I would like to join in expressing my sadness, emotion and, above all, my outrage at the murder of David Kato, and to say that what we need to do now is to show clear determination and a firm will to combat not only this type of murder but also insults and any type of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In Africa homosexuality is only legal in 13 countries, and in 38 countries it is considered a crime. This is unacceptable and, moreover, as the European Union we must fight it both politically and economically. We should not forget that finally we also have the opportunity to contribute, from an economic point of view, to combating this type of measure.

Persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation also needs to be considered as an essential element of the basis for applying for refugee status, and for the right to protection from the European Union and from the Member States that, unfortunately, do not currently grant that right.

If we had had that possibility in the case of David Kato, perhaps we would not be mourning his loss. How many more deaths are we going to have to mourn in the future.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki, on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) Mr President, I think a situation in which we are talking about Uganda for the third time in 14 months and for the second time in only a few months is one which is very disturbing. I agree with previous speakers that in fact this is not about the human rights of just one group, but it is about human rights in Uganda in general as all minorities there are facing extreme challenges. I think it is particularly important for the European Parliament to speak again on this matter. I welcome the fact that the representatives of different political groups are speaking together on this matter and are, in fact, speaking with one voice, although of course they may have different emphases. Human rights are not respected at all in Uganda, especially the rights of this group. We should therefore protect this group in particular. We should also defend the right to unhindered political activity and we should also stress, in this context, the rights of human rights defenders.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D).(PL) Mr President, the brutal murder of David Kato, one of Uganda’s best-known human rights defenders, is the result of hatred towards homosexual people. Even if the murderer is punished, the atmosphere of hatred will still remain, sanctioned by the law which discriminates against LGBT people. Homosexuality is a crime in as many as 38 African countries, and in four of those countries it carries the death sentence.

The European Union actively supports democratic change in Africa. We must not allow human rights to be violated in such a drastic way. How much blood must still be shed, how many more people have to die before the international community can force a change in legislation in Africa which violates human rights? It is also necessary to examine the role of the Church, which instead of promoting love and peace, is promoting hatred against homosexual people, teaching the ridiculous theory that homosexuality is a serious illness which needs to be treated.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Mr President, I would just like to make a point of order before I go on to my speech. This is the third time that we have been promised speaking time but then not been listed. Just because we are independent Members of this House, it does not mean that we do not have a say as well.

Going on to my speech as I wish to give it, I would like to take the time to commend the late David Kato for his brave work in Uganda, for defending not just his rights, but also the rights of other LGBT people in Uganda, and indeed of those in Africa. It is only too sad that, although he came to this Parliament last October, we obviously did not heed his warnings – nor did the international community – and now he has been killed.

I find it unbelievable that the European Union is still giving aid to Uganda. I would hope that, after the elections in the next couple of days, we will review that. I hope that, if there is no amnesty for people being prosecuted for LGBT offences, we would withdraw all aid.

I would just like to make one final point. It is very sad that the current Presidency of the European Union, the Hungarians, have decided to ban an LGBT pride march this June. What message does that send out ... ?

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  President. – Mrs Sinclaire, I have been told that your staff did not notify your speaking time. If your staff can forward proof of such notification then I assure you personally that I will look into the matter. I will attend to it personally if you submit the proof of notification to me.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the murder of David Kato has been met with harsh and decisive condemnation from the European institutions.

We must not forget, however, that this violent act is just a single episode in a wider state of affairs, in which cultural, ethnic or religious minorities suffer discrimination in various parts of the world. Just a few weeks ago, we adopted an urgent resolution condemning what had happened to Coptic Christians in Alexandria, Egypt, who had been cruelly murdered just because they wanted to profess their faith freely and respectfully.

Looking beyond gay rights, Uganda is an extremely vulnerable country, the victim of financial speculation by certain powers interested in profiting from this country’s weakness. The European Union must therefore devote its attention to Uganda so that the country can benefit from our ability to promote democracy and civil rights even in non-EU countries.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). - Mr President, hatred and human rights violations against sexual minorities continue worldwide. The recent news of the killing of David Kato in Uganda is yet another sad example of the discrimination and brutality that sexual minorities are facing.

The killing of Mr Kato has to be investigated thoroughly, and the person or persons responsible have to be brought to justice. It has been reported that certain sources, including the Rolling Stone tabloid, had publicly called for the killing of Mr Kato. These allegations need to be investigated.

I must say that I was appalled by the comments of the Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity, who announced that homosexuals can forget about human rights.

 
  
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  Róża, Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE).(PL) Mr President, when I think of Uganda, I think of how much that very beautiful country has suffered since the times of Idi Amin and of how human rights are still being violated there, and I am grateful to all the fellow Members who so diligently draw attention to this. I think that while we are on the subject we should also talk about the language of hatred and what it can produce. For ultimately it was the language of hatred (the tabloid which published photographs of Mr Kato) which led to this horrendous murder. The language of hatred is also in use here in the European Union. There are Internet sites such as Redwatch, and on these sites the names and sometimes even the addresses are given of people who have a different sexual orientation, a different religion or a different world-view. In fact, on these Internet sites violence is openly incited against minorities. We must protect human rights and the safety of minorities around the world, but we must also do the same here in the European Union.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, let me start by paying tribute to the late David Kato. David Kato was a courageous human rights defender and fearless LGTB rights activist.

As a leading voice on LGTB rights, his life was under threat. On 2 October 2010, David Kato’s name and picture, along with the names and pictures of other alleged LGBT persons, were published by a Ugandan tabloid, the Rolling Stone, under the headline ‘Hang them’, shamelessly putting their lives at risk.

It was a success that he won an appeal against the paper. On 3 January, a court ruled that the paper had violated their constitutional rights to privacy and safety and awarded the three plaintiffs damages.

It was his last success. On 26 January, David Kato was killed. The EU, through its heads of mission in Uganda, expressed its shock and called on the Ugandan authorities to investigate David Kato’s murder vigorously and to ensure that the perpetrators of this terrible act were brought to justice.

David Kato will be a great loss to the global community of human rights defenders and to Uganda. His death also reminds us of the volatile situation for LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere. Right after his death, on 28 January, another paper, Red Pepper, published an outrageous article with very insulting statements about homosexuals. The draft anti-homosexuality bill put before the Ugandan parliament has been temporarily shelved, but can be re-tabled once a new parliament is established after the upcoming elections in Uganda.

The EU position on LGTB rights is very clear. The criminalisation of homosexuality, as foreseen in the draft Uganda bill, goes against international human rights standards. The draft bill also goes against the EU-supported United Nations Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of 18 December 2008.

The EU heads of mission have raised this issue with the Ugandan Government on several occasions at the highest level: with the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice and the Uganda Human Rights Commission.

On 9 February, the Human Rights Working Group, which brings together several partners in Uganda, invited human rights defenders to give an update on actions undertaken by the LGBT – and broader human rights defenders’ – community, following David’s murder.

On 3 February, the EU Delegation, together with ten EU Member States represented in Uganda and Norway, launched the Local Implementation Strategy on the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. The strategy set out, in a more practical way, how EU missions and Norway can work to assist and acknowledge the work of human rights defenders, including LGBT activists.

The EU intends to keep raising its concerns in relation to the draft anti-homosexuality bill and other cases of the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda on every suitable occasion, in dialogue with the government. In addition, the EU will continue to support local human rights organisations in their efforts to change attitudes in the country. The EU delegation will shortly meet with a protection organisation for human rights defenders to discuss ways of supporting their work for LGTB activists.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place immediately.

Written Statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing.(RO) It was with great concern that I learnt about the death of human and LGBT rights activist David Kato Kisule in Uganda. We already condemned in this Parliament the criminal sanctions applied to consenting relations between same-sex adults in private and the Bahati Bill, which provides for stiffer penalties right up to capital punishment. The murder of David Kato Kisule proves that there is both a major and real danger that hate and discrimination will cost human lives. I welcome the statements made by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who condemned David Kato Kisule’s death and highlighted his efforts to establish a life of dignity in Uganda, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I share the sentiments of those who are calling on the European Commission and Council to take rapid, effective action in condemning and halting this discrimination under the law and in reality.

 
  
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