Index 
Debates
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Thursday, 24 March 2011 - Brussels OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. Implementing measures (Rule 88): see Minutes
 4. EU-US air transport agreement - EU-Canada air transport agreement - EU-Vietnam air services agreement (debate)
 5. Preparation of 2012 budget (debate)
 6. Voting time
  6.1. Amendment of Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 introducing autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova (A7-0041/2011, Vital Moreira) (vote)
  6.2. Generalised tariff preferences (A7-0051/2011, Helmut Scholz) (vote)
  6.3. EU-US air transport agreement (A7-0046/2011, Artur Zasada) (vote)
  6.4. EU-Canada air transport agreement (A7-0045/2011, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău) (vote)
  6.5. EU-Vietnam air services agreement (A7-0044/2011, Dominique Riquet) (vote)
  6.6. EU relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (A7-0042/2011, Dominique Baudis) (vote)
  6.7. Appointment of a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank : Peter Praet (BE) (A7-0064/2011, Sharon Bowles) (vote)
  6.8. Appointment of the executive director of the European Banking Authority (EBA) (B7-0222/2011) (vote)
  6.9. Appointment of the executive director of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) (B7-0221/2011) (vote)
  6.10. Appointment of the executive director of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) (B7-0200/2011) (vote)
  6.11. Preparation of 2012 budget (A7-0058/2011, Francesca Balzani) (vote)
  6.12. Single application procedure for residence and work (A7-0265/2010, Véronique Mathieu) (vote)
  6.13. Consumer rights (A7-0038/2011, Andreas Schwab) (vote)
  6.14. European Network and Information Security Agency (A7-0039/2011, Giles Chichester) (vote)
  6.15. Situation in Japan, including the nuclear power plant alerts (B7-0224/2011) (vote)
 7. Explanations of vote
 8. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 9. Request for the defence of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes
 10. Council position at first reading: see Minutes
 11. Decisions concerning certain documents: see Minutes
 12. Written declarations included in the register (Rule 123): see Minutes
 13. Forwarding of texts adopted during the sitting: see Minutes
 14. Dates of forthcoming sittings: see Minutes
 15. Adjournment of the session


IN THE CHAIR: Isabelle DURANT
Vice-President

1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting was opened at 9:00)

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

3. Implementing measures (Rule 88): see Minutes

4. EU-US air transport agreement - EU-Canada air transport agreement - EU-Vietnam air services agreement (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the joint debate on:

- the recommendation by Mr Zasada, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the draft decision by Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Union, meeting within the Council on the conclusion of the Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement between the United States of America, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part (15381/2010 – C7–0385/2010 – 2010/0112(NLE)) (A7–0046/2011),

- the recommendation by Mrs Ticău, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the draft decision of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Union, meeting within the Council on the conclusion of the Agreement on Air Transport between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and Canada, of the other part (15380/2010 – C7–0386/2010 – 2009/0018(NLE)) (A7–0045/2011), and

- the recommendation by Mr Riquet, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam on certain aspects of air services (14876/2010 – C7-0366/2010 – 2007/0082(NLE)) (A7–0044/2011).

 
  
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  Artur Zasada, rapporteur. (PL) Madam President, the Protocol which will be put to the vote is a particularly important document. The aviation markets of the European Union and the United States, taken together, account for around 60% of world air traffic. Opening the market to airlines from the European Union and the United States on a non-discriminatory basis will offer passengers and freight operators improved services, provide substantial economic benefits and create jobs. My dream is for passengers to benefit from competition between airlines on the basis of market principles, for passengers flying in transit to the United States to pass through one security point, for passengers in the European Union and the United States to enjoy the same rights, and, of course, for them to be aware of these rights.

Will this Protocol guarantee these things? No. Yet I am convinced that it is a step in the right direction, and that it will make it significantly easier in the future to achieve these goals. During the successive rounds of negotiations between the EU and the United States, it was touch and go several times whether the Protocol would be signed. Finally, however, we succeeded in adopting it. As a result, a number of risks were avoided, including the greatest risk of all, namely that the suspension clause would be triggered, which would have resulted in the suspension of the agreement and the annulment of the results of both stages of negotiations. This would have meant a return to the legal situation as it stood seven years ago, which would be unacceptable. Six of the EU Member States have no bilateral air transport agreements with the United States, and rejection of the document would have meant preventing these Member States from being able to operate flight connections between their airports and US territory.

The second stage of the agreement does not achieve the ultimate objective of a complete opening of the market without any restrictions on either side, but it does contain a number of incentives to encourage reform. In particular, when the US changes its legislation to allow EU investors majority ownership of US airlines, the EU will allow the same for US investors.

I am particularly pleased by the fact that the significance of the agreement’s social dimension is emphasised. In this context, the Commission should utilise the agreement to promote compliance with the appropriate international regulations on social rights, in particular with the employment standards set out in the conventions of the International Labour Organisation and the OECD, and with the Rome Convention. This will ensure better observance of existing employee rights by airlines. The agreement will also strengthen cooperation on environmental matters by requiring compatibility and interaction in the field of green technologies and fuel and air traffic management.

In my capacity as rapporteur, I endeavoured to place the issue in a broader context and present both the positive and the negative features of the Protocol, without succumbing to the temptation to concentrate exclusively on its weak or strong points. I did not start work with the a priori assumption that we must support or reject this Protocol. Following a great many meetings and discussions, I came to the conclusion that the EU will benefit much more from adopting this document than from rejecting it.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, rapporteur. – (RO) Madam President, the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, extended the circumstances in which Parliament’s consent was required for the conclusion of international agreements. Air transport agreements now fall within this category because they cover a field which the ordinary legislative procedure applies to.

Prior to the current agreement, aviation was the subject of bilateral agreements with 19 of the EU Member States. I am referring by this to the agreements between the European Union and Canada. Many of these agreements contained numerous restrictions and did not offer full access to the respective markets.

In November 2002, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that certain provisions in these bilateral agreements were incompatible with Community law.

The negotiating mandate sets the objective of establishing an open aviation area between the European Union and Canada. This would create a single market for air transport between the European Union and Canada where investment could flow freely and where European and Canadian airlines would be able to provide air services without any restriction, including in the domestic markets of both parties.

The EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement was initialled on 30 November 2008, endorsed by the EU-Canada summit on 6 May 2009 and signed on 17-18 December 2009.

What is the content of the agreement? The agreement includes a gradual phasing-in of traffic rights and investment opportunities, as well as far-reaching cooperation on a number of issues including safety, security, social matters, consumer interests, the environment, air traffic management, state aid and competition.

All European Union airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe. The agreement removes all restrictions on routes, prices or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the European Union. Airlines are free to enter into commercial arrangements such as code-share agreements, which are important for airlines serving a large number of destinations, and to set their fares in line with competition law.

The agreement contains provisions for opening the market in phases. Phase one applies where the foreign ownership of airlines is limited to 25%, as was the case when the negotiations on the agreement were completed. Phase two starts as soon as Canada has taken the necessary steps to enable European investors to own up to 49% of Canadian carriers’ voting equity. Phase three begins once both sides introduce the possibility for investors to set up and control new airlines in each others’ markets. Phase four is the final step with full rights to operate between, within and beyond both markets, including between places in the territory of the other party. I am referring here to cabotage.

I would like to mention a few points about this report. Although this agreement is more ambitious than that with the US regarding market access, it is less explicit when it comes to recognising the importance of the social dimension.

It is important that the Commission uses the agreement and, in particular, the possibility of reference to the Joint Committee, to promote compliance with relevant international legislation on social rights, especially the labour standards embodied in the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organisation.

Given the important role played by the Joint Committee, including in politically sensitive matters such as environmental and labour standards, it is important that the Commission ensures that Parliament is kept fully informed and consulted about the Committee’s work and also about future amendments to the Treaty.

 
  
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  Dominique Riquet, rapporteur. – (FR) Madam President, I shall be very brief, not because the Agreement with Vietnam is any less important, but because Mrs Ticău has reiterated, in the previous report on Canada, the legislative and regulatory framework within which these air agreements between the European Union and a third country will apply.

The context is therefore exactly the same as this one except that our agreement, which is simpler and less ambitious, seeks to regularise horizontally, in the area of air services, the 17 bilateral agreements that previously existed between Vietnam and the countries of Europe, and naturally to extend them to all EU countries. This agreement does not relate to the opening-up of the market because Vietnam’s economy is a regulated State economy and there is obviously no question of opening up the market. The aim is therefore – as the previous rapporteur has already said – to bring into line with European legislation the existing bilateral agreements on air services that have been concluded up to now between the European Union and Vietnam.

One of the main characteristics of this Agreement is a designation clause relating to all EU air carriers. This will give all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the European Union and Vietnam. This Agreement also includes safety provisions designed to standardise and equalise these kinds of provision, in addition to a clause against anticompetitive practices. We have come up against several difficulties, which explains why it has taken some time to reach this Agreement – several years in fact.

As for the inclusion of a fuel taxation clause, this was eventually rejected by Vietnam. This clause, which generally features in air agreements negotiated by the Commission, allows for the taxation of a third-country carrier when it operates a flight within the EU. It should be stated, of course, that Vietnam does not operate nor will operate for the time being any flights within the European Union.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese Government has promised to enter into bilateral negotiations with Member States if this proves necessary or if, indeed, a Vietnamese national airline were to schedule a flight within the European Union.

To conclude, the ratification of the Agreement evidently offers more advantages than does the absence of such an Agreement even though it lacks a fuel taxation clause. It will, however, ensure that the principles of EU law are respected bilaterally and in the case of all EU Member States. We therefore obviously call on the European Parliament to ratify this Agreement.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Madam President, I would like to thank Parliament and the rapporteurs in particular for supporting the Commission on these important agreements. All three have been strongly supported by the Committee on Transport and Tourism.

On the US agreement, let me start by thanking the rapporteur, Mr Zasada, for his very positive recommendation in relation to the outcome of the negotiations with the United States on a second stage air services agreement. You will remember that the aim of the second stage discussions was to facilitate the normalisation of the transatlantic market and extend the scope and depth of the excellent aviation relationship established through the implementation of the first stage agreement, in place since March 2008.

I now want to mention the key elements of the second stage aviation agreement. The second stage agreement creates the prospects for additional investment and market access opportunities. It also further strengthens the framework of cooperation on the environment, social protection, competition and security.

On the environment, the agreement establishes a clear framework for tackling local and global challenges. The agreement seeks to reduce the security burden on passengers, airlines and airports across Europe. For the first time in such an aviation agreement, the need to balance market access opportunities with strong social protection has been recognised through a commitment to implementing the provisions of the agreement in a way which does not undermine labour rights.

On the commercial front, Europe has gained further rights, including immediate access to the ‘Fly America’ programme with the exception of defence.

The second stage agreement is not perfect. Like you, I would have liked to have seen an immediate and irrevocable change to the US laws governing ownership and control of its airlines. This has not been possible, but we were able to secure a commitment from the United States to work towards reforming these rules in the future. As part of the agreement, the EU and the United States have committed to the goal of removing the remaining market barriers in industry, including those that limit airlines’ access to global capital.

Let me now turn to the agreement with Canada. My thanks go to the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and in particular to Ms Ţicău. This ambitious agreement is designed to achieve complete opening of the markets for traffic rights and investment, at the same time reaching an unprecedented level of regulatory convergence and cooperation between the authorities.

With respect to market access, the agreement comprises the full range of traffic rights and investment opportunities: this means 100% ownership and control. It is done through a phased market opening in four phases. Among its multiple benefits for both sides, it is also worth noting the establishment of a level playing field for the industry, as well as common or compatible standards for safety, security and air traffic management. Last but not least, I am convinced that by removing existing regulatory restrictions this agreement will lead to a substantial increase in passengers and generate various consumer benefits and the creation of new jobs.

On Vietnam, let me also start by thanking the rapporteur, Mr Riquet, for his support for this horizontal agreement. Currently, we have negotiated 45 such horizontal agreements with partner countries worldwide. On 4 October 2010, during a visit to the European Union, the Vietnamese Prime Minister signed the agreement, which represents an important step towards strengthening aviation relations between the EU and Vietnam.

The horizontal agreement will restore legal certainty to our aviation relations with Vietnam by bringing the bilateral air services agreements between 17 Member States and Vietnam into line with EU law. Most importantly, it will remove nationality restrictions in bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Vietnam. It will thereby allow any EU airline to benefit from the existing bilateral agreements between Vietnam and the Member State.

Thank you very much for your attention. I am looking forward to the debate.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch, on behalf of the PPE Group. – (DE) Madam President, Mr Kallas, ladies and gentlemen, I too would like to thank all the rapporteurs for their reports. We in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) welcome these agreements.

In this case, 27 agreements which could have been concluded in these areas are being replaced by just one. For us, technical harmonisation is also an important point. It increases levels of safety not just for the airlines themselves, but also for the passengers. The opening up of the market and the cooperation at a European level should be treated in the same way by both sides. It is important to highlight the fact that the agreement with Canada is a very good example of this, while the agreement with the USA leaves something to be desired.

Another area which leaves something to be desired is the lack of regular checks on the social and environmental aspects of these agreements, which should be a part of all future agreements, because the simplification of the economic aspects should also enable us to use these agreements to influence not only the European market but also the global market. Importantly, these agreements also bring benefits for passengers, because they can result in the controls being simplified without them being neglected.

Finally, I would like to say that we welcome this agreement, because, as I have already said, 27 agreements are ultimately being replaced by one. This is a clear indication that we will hopefully soon be dealing with only seven or perhaps even three airspaces, instead of with the current 27, as part of measures to improve air safety and implement the single European sky. This will make negotiations on these agreements much simpler.

 
  
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  Saïd El Khadraoui, on behalf of the S&D Group. (NL) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner, first of all, I would like to thank the three rapporteurs for the work they have done and for the helpful cooperation on their part. When we launch, shortly, a more general debate in response to Mr Brian Simpson’s report on aviation agreements, we will get an opportunity to address more thoroughly the general approach and strategy with regard to this sort of agreement.

We, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, emphatically support the replacement of old bilateral agreements between our Member States and third countries with comprehensive global agreements at European level. This is the best guarantee of a level playing field for all our airlines. It will also strengthen the integration of our own aviation sector as it will, of course, our negotiating position in relation to third countries.

It is important, in that regard, that we pay attention not only to the opening up of the market for additional flying rights and suchlike, but also to a strengthening of the regulatory framework in the environmental and social fields and the fields of safety and security. We absolutely have to bring these into line with each other, at a very high level. Another important point to mention here is that, now that the Treaty of Lisbon has come into force, Parliament is not just supposed to give an opinion, but really has to approve these agreements as well. My message, therefore, to the Commission and the Council is that they should make full use of those powers and that Parliament, therefore, should retain its say in approving or modifying additions or other amendments at a later stage.

With regard to the agreements before us, our group believes that the agreement with Canada comes the closest to the model that we have in mind, that is extensive cooperation in the fields of security, social issues and consumer and environmental protection. Indeed, the rapporteur has rightly observed that the sections on social issues should have been worded a little more strongly, but that can be resolved in the Joint Committee which will now have to make a few things concrete. Besides that cooperation, there is also the gradual introduction of additional flying rights and the gradual extension of the opportunity to become a shareholder in each other’s airlines.

The agreement with Vietnam also reminds us of the growing importance of the Asian market, and I think that, on this particular point, we have to point out that the Council has been dragging its heels for years over giving the Commission a mandate to negotiate with countries such as China and India. That mandate is essential, of course, if we are to make progress on this.

By way of conclusion, I would like to say a few things about the agreement with the United States, particularly regarding the second stage. This concerns an area which covers 60% of the world aviation market and is therefore extremely important. I personally was a rapporteur for this House when, a few years ago, the first stage was approved. With regard to the United States, we are not completely satisfied because some things still have to happen in terms of market access. We ask the Commission to give an undertaking that this will not be the end, that it will proceed on the course of opening up the market and that we, as Parliament, will be fully involved in the activities of the Joint Committee.

 
  
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  Gesine Meissner, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (DE) Madam President, firstly I too would like to thank the rapporteur. We have already discussed the fact that, following the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament now has the opportunity to vote in favour of air service agreements of this kind or to reject them. We cannot change the contents, but we can accept or oppose them. This does not always make things simple, but it is at least a new task, which we are taking very seriously.

It makes sense to replace a number of different bilateral agreements with one standardised EU agreement. It is clear that there are no boundaries in airspace, which is a good way of explaining this. The European Union is also a strong economic community and so it is sensible to discuss agreements made by the EU with different third countries, which is what we are doing now.

We have a number of very different agreements on the table today. I will start with Vietnam. This is the least complex agreement. It concerns different accesses and services and also safety regulations, but it is a relatively short agreement, which is why I am only mentioning it briefly.

The most comprehensive agreement is the one with Canada. In this agreement it was not just a case of ensuring free access to air services which can be used in different ways, but also of covering issues such as the environment, safety and also market access and ownership. In that respect we have long since passed the first stage of 25% and already reached the second stage of 49% ownership of each other’s air services market. Now we are about to enter stages 3 and 4. In stage 3 it is possible to establish airlines in another country and another region. Stage 4 would allow a European airline to fly from A to B within Canada.

We have not come nearly as far as this with the USA, despite the fact that we have been negotiating with the USA for a long time. I would like to make one more point. Mr Kallas said that we were all very much in support of this issue, but in the case of the USA our reaction is more restrained, because the agreement does not represent a true partnership. The USA wants to take more from us than it is prepared to give. We need to continue negotiating on this. Apart from this issue, we will vote in favour, because it is clear that progress has been made.

 
  
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  Jacqueline Foster, on behalf of the ECR Group. Madam President, we also welcome the successful conclusion of the second phase of the EU open skies agreement. Indeed, after several years it was rather overdue. Obviously this agreement is a significant breakthrough and it is to be welcomed. I acknowledge that negotiators have made huge progress in the areas of security, competition, market access and environmental cooperation. But, like the Commissioner, I am disappointed that this agreement did not achieve its ultimate objective of a complete opening of the market without restrictions on either side. The failure to resolve fully issues of foreign ownership and control (cabotage) must be addressed in future discussions if European carriers are to truly benefit. Of course agreements mean compromise, but that does not mean getting a deal at any price.

The aviation industry is massively important to Europe. It facilitates economic growth, trade, investment and tourism. Air agreements with third countries offer our airlines great opportunities in foreign markets, and I therefore urge the Commission to continue to strive to conclude air agreements which are fair, robust and lead to full liberalisation, which will benefit both European carriers and consumers. Finally, can we just add our support to the EU-Vietnam agreement.

 
  
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  Eva Lichtenberger, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DE) Madam President, Mr Kallas, ladies and gentlemen, in recent years we have concluded a large number of air service agreements, which have always involved summarising the old national agreements under a European umbrella. Now things are starting to change with regard to the involvement of the European Union and I think this is very important.

The agreement with Vietnam largely follows the old model that we have always used. However, the agreement with Canada is more ambitious, which I welcome. The cooperation in the field of the environment and social issues is positive, but in my opinion it could be extended even further. The situation concerning the agreement with the USA is quite different. In this case, I believe that we have given in far too early. Market access is a question of fairness and in this agreement the regulations are not fair. Nevertheless, we have climbed down. To a large extent there has been a failure to cover certain aspects of social conditions. Much too little has been done in this area. We must ensure that social dumping does not take place here, because this is also a safety issue when it comes to airlines. We finally need to make this clear.

My second point is that there are major problems with regard to environmental issues. The USA is starting to exert significant pressure to have night flight restrictions, which are in place to protect local residents, relaxed or lifted. The pressure in this area is enormous and I am afraid that we will have to give in. We must make it quite clear that this would be a disaster for everyone who lives near an airport. On the safety question, the USA is gradually tightening the screw and unfortunately the implementation in the European Union is going unchallenged. This is a mistake and I want to be very clear on this.

Finally, I would like to mention code-sharing, which is being presented as a major achievement. I would like to say just one thing. This will ultimately restrict passengers’ choices. I will not be able to choose which airline I fly with and I may find myself confronted with a completely different airline when I reach the gate. The concept of competition in the airline industry is fictitious and it is becoming even more so when it comes to the position of passengers.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas, on behalf on the EFD Group. (LT) Madam President, the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, extended the circumstances in which Parliament’s consent was required for the conclusion of an international agreement. Air agreements now fall within this category because they cover a field to which the ordinary legislative procedure applies. I believe that the implementation of these agreements would provide substantial economic benefits and create jobs. In addition, regulatory convergence could promote fair competition. While the second-stage Agreement represents a significant step forward, it is important for it not to be regarded as the end of the process of establishing a transatlantic aviation market.

As for Canada, it is good that all EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe. The Agreement removes all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU. The ambitious nature of this Agreement is very much to be welcomed. It should serve as a target for other negotiations currently underway. I therefore believe that Parliament should consent to the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement.

The same can be said for the Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on air services. All of these air agreements are beneficial and necessary for the European Union, our airlines and our citizens.

 
  
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  Hella Ranner (PPE).(DE) Madam President, first of all I would like to take this opportunity to thank all three rapporteurs very much for their hard work. These agreements are very important for air travel and, therefore, for the European Union. However, I would also like to take the opportunity to refer once again to the framework agreement of 20 November 2010. I hope that the European Parliament will be informed in an appropriate way and in good time by the Commission about negotiations on future agreements in the interests of good interinstitutional cooperation and an effective flow of information.

We know that the negotiations on these and on other agreements are of the highest quality, but it is important for us to be aware of the strengths and weak points of the agreements after they come into force, so that we can make a better contribution. This will make it easier to guarantee Parliament’s support for the agreements.

 
  
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  Inés Ayala Sender (S&D).(ES) Madam President, tomorrow it will be one year to the day since the second stage of the air transport agreement between the European Union and the United States was finally signed after eight rounds of difficult negotiation. As such, I believe we should feel satisfied – me in particular, of course – that this was accomplished under the Spanish Presidency and under the leadership of the Minister of Public Works and Transport, José Blanco, who achieved considerable progress in aviation matters, including the single sky and labour relations in the air traffic control sector, where a negotiated settlement was reached.

I also welcome the fact that Parliament is using its new powers for the approval of such international agreements, specifically in relation to the transport industry.

The second stage of the EU-US air transport agreement eliminates the suspension clause, which entails the need to continue making progress and improving a number of issues in relation to the environment, competition and passengers’ rights, with which we are not completely satisfied as yet.

For the first time, the agreement also addresses labour relations. I believe this is a matter of paramount importance, as it also enables the safeguarding of workers’ rights for the first time, as well as the future applicability of International Labour Organisation and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development conventions.

The agreement also sets out clear guidelines – and I believe this is quite significant – to build mutual trust in the area of security. The possibility of a one-stop system must remain open.

We therefore believe this is a good agreement, which establishes a new non-discriminatory basis, entails improved service to the public and to companies, is economically and socially beneficial, and encourages fair competition. Nevertheless, it is once again not perfect, as the extent of European ambitions means we must seek to go beyond this second stage.

We therefore need to examine and exploit all the potential that is available to us, including the Joint Committee and its new powers, as well as the new possibilities opened up at the International Civil Aviation Organisation regarding the Single European Sky ATM Research and others. We therefore call on Vice-President Kallas to push for this agreement, to follow it closely and, of course, to report to Parliament.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the Open Skies Agreement between Europe and the United States is an advance, but it is just one stage and it faces Europe with a dilemma. The Committee on Transport and the Commission have themselves pointed this out. Either we accept an agreement that disadvantages European businesses, or we suspend the agreement and risk losing the benefits we have gained since 2008.

So allow me to draw a parallel with the licences of professional and private pilots – a text which will be debated before the summer – because pilots, of whom I am one, face a dilemma. The European Aviation Safety Agency, which wants to harmonise licences throughout Europe, will do so to the detriment of the 80 to 90 000 general aviation pilots directly affected – some of whom hold only a US licence – and to the detriment – and this is the important point – of those companies and jobs connected to this activity.

I wish to draw your attention to this project which has nothing to do with safety. There are 31 times fewer accidents amongst holders of US licences. The objectives of Basic Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 provide for the recognition of and equivalent rating of licences for which it is judged unnecessary to wait for hypothetical agreements that have been pushed back to 2014.

Thus, I propose a very open sky agreement and even invite you to accompany me on those occasions when I come to Parliament flying my own plane, to show you that a US pilot licence is perfectly safe.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you for the invitation, Mr Boulland, I shall see what I can do.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D).(RO) Madam President, I want to congratulate Mrs Ţicău on this ambitious agreement with Canada. The agreement marks an important phase in the process of opening the market. At the same time, it will help create new air routes and develop new opportunities for investors on both sides of the Atlantic, in terms of both the development of new investments and the introduction of new services for European and Canadian citizens.

I think that the decision to allow airlines to operate without restriction anywhere in Europe and Canada is valuable and will be of benefit to consumers, airlines and the economies of both countries in general. The implementation of this agreement will lead to more services being operated by airlines and to new cargo transport opportunities. However, this development must also raise greater concern about consideration of the impact on climate change.

The agreement will also make the European and Canadian markets safer by strengthening cooperation with regard to compliance with certification procedures and inspections aimed at guaranteeing a maximum level of safety for passengers and goods.

 
  
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  Philip Bradbourn (ECR). - Madam President, as Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with Canada, it is with particular pleasure that I speak on this EU-Canada agreement. I think it is very worthwhile reiterating some of the significant features of the agreement. As mentioned before, in Phase 1, airlines have unlimited freedom to operate direct services between any point in the EU and Canada, without limitation on the number of providers or, indeed, services. We move to Phase 3; we will see investors able to set up new airlines in each other’s countries and, in Phase 4, full cabotage rights and the potential for 100% ownership of carriers.

The agreement also sets out mutual standards for safety and security. And that is important because it means that the transfer of passengers, luggage and cargo should benefit from a more streamlined approach.

It is an important agreement for the EU and our aviation sector. It will allow increased competition, greater choice for the travelling public. Not only that, I believe that the comprehensive nature of this agreement can serve as a benchmark for future agreements with other countries. This resolution clearly demonstrates Canada’s position as our most proactive international partner, and I wholeheartedly support it.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL).(PT) Madam President, these agreements are part of the liberalisation process that is currently underway in the air transport sector. They are clearly marked by ideology. Even in this strategic sector, the aim is to cripple state intervention and regulation, opening the doors to the monopolistic concentration that always results from free competition, which is considered sacrosanct.

Under the pretext of facilitating business opportunities within international air transport, this promotes the interests of multinationals within the sector at the expense of national companies and their respective strategic interests, including those that, as is the case in Portugal with TAP, are publicly owned.

This means that both the workers and the passengers lose out. Workers lose out because liberalisation facilitates dumping by multinationals, leading to work-related insecurity due to the forced deterioration of working conditions. Passengers also lose out because, among other things, aeronautical safety will tend to be left to the whim of cost/benefit considerations by companies.

This is nothing new. The situation in other sectors such as rail transport, which has seen increased liberalisation, amply demonstrates the consequences of putting the tenets of the free market into practice.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, I should like to thank the honourable Members very much for their comments. Of course the most complicated issue is the agreement and negotiation process with the United States. I can assure you that this is far from being the end. It is one part of the process and we are definitely continuing to negotiate with the United States but I would like to underline that the United States is a very difficult partner. As many of you mentioned, 60% of world aviation is covered by the EU and the United States. What we decide in cooperation will also define the whole framework and whole environment for aviation in the world, so the cooperation is also extremely important for the whole world. It also must be made very clear that the Americans have the same parliamentary procedures: they have the US Congress, which is very difficult to deal with precisely because of protectionist feeling, but we are working together and developing our relations.

I will be going to Washington in a few weeks’ time, and we have committed ourselves to work in five directions: first safety, second security, third technological cooperation – we signed an important agreement in Budapest about interoperability of air traffic management systems which is extremely important for Europe so that we do not lose our competitive advantages –, fourth the environment and fifth commerce or business.

On business, as you know and as you mentioned, there are ridiculous restrictions on ownership rights. But it must also be very clear that we cannot force the United States to surrender; we must negotiate and this is sometimes not so obvious. We must negotiate and we have to take into account their concerns. It looks quite promising, but we definitely cannot win any commerce or especially technological confrontation: this should be avoided, it can be very dangerous.

So, as I say, in October we committed to moving in these five directions and definitely the next agreements will follow and we will try with the new US Congress to facilitate market openings which will be the most difficult part as several of you have already mentioned.

I would also like to say that, yes, the Vietnam agreement is of course by magnitude much smaller than the other agreements but it is very important that we form an aviation area which behaves with the same rules and which follows the same rules and this is exactly the aim of these agreements, especially – which is a difficult element in negotiations with third countries – the recognition of EU carriers. You know that this has been a very sensitive issue, and with these agreements with third countries we create better possibilities for European airlines as well.

Thank you for your comments. I promise that we will keep you informed about all future developments. We have had several discussions in the TRAN Committee about the concepts of these negotiations and further development and, here again, one has to negotiate with difficult partners. This is the eternal truth of all negotiations but the picture has not been so bad. We have achieved a lot including with the United States, with the recognition of EU carriers and several other things. There I can assure you that I will again meet the leaders of the US transport policy; there is a certain willingness to cooperate and to find ways to solve our conflicting problems.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada, rapporteur. (PL) Madam President, I am very grateful for all the opinions voiced on the air transport agreement between the European Union and the United States. I accept that the agreement is not perfect; it is another step in the right direction, but we have certainly not reached the end of the road. We were not able to amend this document for procedural reasons. Rejection of the agreement would however have meant sacrificing the gains made during both stages of negotiations.

In my report, I have included a call for certain changes which should be the focus of the Joint Committee’s work, or which should form the basis of a third stage of negotiations. In particular, I call for the further liberalisation of traffic rights, additional foreign investment opportunities, the adoption of a much more ambitious position on environmental protection and better coordination of political strategies on passenger rights in order to ensure passengers the highest possible level of protection.

Ladies and gentlemen, my work on this document is not yet complete. I intend to monitor the actions of the Joint Committee, which was appointed in order to ensure that the agreement’s provisions would be implemented appropriately or even extended. I will strive to ensure that a permanent observer sits on the Joint Committee on behalf of the European Parliament. If the committee does not live up to the hopes invested in it, Parliament should call on the Commission to open a third stage of negotiations.

Finally, I would of course like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the shadow rapporteurs for their comments and assistance when drafting this report.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, rapporteur. – (RO) Madam President, the air transport agreement between the European Union and Canada can be described as the most ambitious air transport agreement between the European Union and a major world partner.

It will significantly improve the connections between the markets of both countries and the links between people, while also creating new opportunities for the airline sector through a gradual liberalisation of foreign ownership rules. In particular, the agreement is more ambitious and specific than the agreement between the European Union and United States on traffic rights, ownership and control, even following the provisional application of the amending protocol, which is therefore phase two.

According to a study undertaken by the Commission, an open agreement with Canada would generate an additional half million passengers in its first year and, within a few years, 3.5 million new passengers might be expected to take advantage of the opportunities such an agreement could offer.

The agreement could generate consumer benefits of at least EUR 72 million through lower fares and would also create new jobs.

Madam President, we welcome the ambitious nature of this agreement. It should provide an objective and model for other negotiations currently in progress.

In conclusion, I recommend Parliament to approve the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement.

 
  
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  Dominique Riquet, rapporteur.(FR) Madam President, I shall be extremely brief for, as Commissioner Kallas has pointed out, the Agreement with Vietnam is a simple one, approved by all. It has not caused any difficulties for our own report and has the great merit of opening up the Vietnamese market to all European stakeholders through reciprocity with a country which operates according to a different economic model.

I think that this Agreement should also be regarded as an important step geographically, as it opens up the East and the countries of South East Asia to us. I do not think therefore that there is anything left to be said other I am delighted that we have been able to reach a satisfactory conclusion with this Agreement, which will open up travel between Vietnam and Europe a little more.

 
  
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  President. The joint debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 11:30.

Written Statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In recent years the European Union has negotiated and concluded several agreements with other states in the field of air transport.

According to the Court of Justice, the traditional designation clauses in the existing bilateral agreements infringe EU law, as they constitute discrimination against EU carriers established in a Member State but owned and controlled by nationals of other Member States. As such agreements violate the principle of freedom of establishment, as set out in Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the EU has initiated and is developing a practice for the negotiation and conclusion of agreements between the EU, of the one part, and third countries, of the other part, with regard to air transport. We can identify the main elements of these agreements as the concerns relating to security, passenger rights, the mutual recognition of certification and cooperation on regulation.

In this context, I would like to call attention to Parliament’s limited role with regard to these dossiers. Following the Treaty of Lisbon’s entry into force, its opinion is binding, but only in terms of the final text which has already been signed; it cannot make suggestions or changes to its content.

 
  
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  Judith A. Merkies (S&D), in writing. (NL) The delegation of the Dutch Labour Party to the European Parliament certainly does not consider this second stage agreement to be perfect, but it takes the view that it will lead to progress in important areas. In addition, it will prevent the United States from activating the suspension clause in the absence of such an agreement. Suspension could lead to European passengers and airlines no longer being able to profit from the significant benefits which they have enjoyed since March 2008 thanks to this protocol. The benefits and positive aspects include, in particular, agreements on working standards for airline staff, sharing good practice with regard to noise abatement, strengthening cooperation in the field of environmental protection and so on. The delegation of the Dutch Labour Party to the European Parliament recognises the ongoing need to pursue a proper debate on safety requirements (such as the use of scanners) and the impact on privacy and health of passengers of such requirements. In addition, it would highlight the need for the privacy of European and US citizens to be put centre stage and respected when passengers’ personal data is exchanged between the EU and the US. It is essential that Parliament is and remains involved in these negotiations and that European regulations are not eroded.

 
  
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  Kinga Gál (PPE), in writing. – (HU) It is important to take the concerns of European citizens about respect for their data protection rights seriously. We consider it important that there be an agreement between the European Union and the United States on data protection in the field of cooperation in criminal and judicial matters. We welcome the fact that the Hungarian Presidency is actively engaged in the issue of data protection. We must specifically take note in this regard of the Council conclusions on data protection that were adopted at the February meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council. We are looking forward to the Commission’s proposals to ensure that both our liberties and the security of our data are protected and respected.

 

5. Preparation of 2012 budget (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the report by Mrs Balzani, on behalf of the Committee on Budgets, on general guidelines for the preparation of the 2012 budget [2011/2042 BUD] (A7-0058/2011).

 
  
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  Francesca Balzani, rapporteur.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the document we are examining today is not merely a report on the priorities of the next European budget, but also and above all a strategic document looking at the new role that the European budget must play in the context of greater economic governance.

This is the first year of the European Semester, which has been designed precisely to establish the greatest possible coordination between the Union’s budget and those of the Member States, the greatest possible synergy and the utmost complementarity. All of which essentially means one thing: convergence, and making the budgets of the Member States converge with the major goals of the European budget. Today, these objectives – these European objectives – can only be those laid down in the Europe 2020 Strategy: a grand, ambitious strategy with five highly important targets and seven big flagship initiatives. These are big, important goals, but they are also very specific.

The first target is extremely important and involves building a more fully, better employed Europe by making the right investments. We therefore have a huge priority for the 2012 budget: we must not waste time in executing the 2020 Strategy, beginning with the first of the targets, that of higher employment in Europe. Immediately setting out the dimension of the 2020 Strategy in our budget is therefore essential and a matter of urgency.

Two things are fundamental in order to achieve this: we must plan and we must look to the future. Planning means ruling out mathematical approaches to the budget, which are absolutely senseless. Mathematical, general and indiscriminate increases are of no use at all. Instead we must look at what exactly are the programmes and the actions that can contribute to the 2020 Strategy. Looking to the future has an absolutely crucial significance: taking the utmost care over our commitments and not simply over our payments, because commitments are the tool with which to build the sustainable financial future of our Union.

Flexibility is another important subject. We are at the end of the planning period and so the budget is particularly rigid. I therefore think that it is really important that, right from the start, we consider all the available flexibility instruments as fundamental and indispensable for the budget we are going to draw up if we want it to be not only possible or essential to take the first step towards the 2020 Strategy – which absolutely must not be a failure, as we have seen in the past – but also if we want it to be a useful and effective budget.

I am convinced that it will only be possible to reach all these major objectives if we work together patiently, right from the very start, to build a renewed climate of institutional cooperation. Institutional cooperation is one of the major challenges of the Treaty of Lisbon, which we always talk about rather carelessly. Institutional collaboration means really finding a renewed feeling of equality so as to work together on this sensitive issue, the budget, which is not only one of the most strategically important instruments to build our future, but also one of the most tangible and practical.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Madam President, I welcome Parliament’s position on the priorities of the 2012 budget as reflected in the proposed guidelines. The Commission, in line with its right of initiative, will of course take into account Parliament’s guidelines and also assess the guidelines of the Council. On the other hand, we have to take into account the most recent data coming from the 27 Member States, and we will have our services carefully scrutinise and evaluate those elements in order to shape the draft budget on 20 April.

This is now the second test of the annual procedure under the Treaty of Lisbon. The context of financial consolidation is obvious to everybody. I think, in such a context, that it would be responsible to take into account and respond to all the fiscal financial obligations of the European Union, but also to bear in mind the context of austerity which is the reality in the Member States. At this time, more than ever, no-one could argue against the need to base the budget on the principles of rigorous and sound budgeting. It has never been so important to look for savings, but we should also use the tool of the European budget in order to help Europe in this post-crisis situation.

With that in mind, I would point out two differences between national budgeting and Europe’s budget. National budgeting is mainly about social transfers, about consumption. The European budget is about investment with multiplier effects. Therefore it could be conducive to growth and jobs. It is not good or sound budgeting to fail to pay out on the outstanding commitments agreed on in previous years, so both must be taken into account when shaping the final draft proposal for 2012.

As mentioned in the letter from the President of the Commission, and as the rapporteur, Ms Balzani clearly stated, we must ensure sufficient funding for expenditure under the 2020 Strategy. Yes, we have to coordinate the efforts of national and European budgeting, but on the other hand, we must be especially rigorous when it comes to administrative expenditure – hence the Commission’s commitment of less than 1% for administration. That means savings as regards contractual obligations and savings in areas such as conferences, mission costs, meetings and information technology.

Taking into account what happened last year, we hope that this time it will be a smoother procedure, building on the experience of 2011. Therefore I am looking forward to our first trialogue meeting on 30 March. Then we will be ready to present our draft budget for 2012.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via, on behalf of the PPE Group.(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the guidelines we are shortly to vote on are the first step towards the European budget for 2012. Since the beginning, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) has shown its support for a preliminary report containing an indication of Parliament’s priorities for the forthcoming budget, which would then be presented to the Commission, as is done by the Council.

Our contribution has helped broaden the scope of the priority policies and supported the balanced foundations laid by the rapporteur, Mrs Balzani, by inserting a number of strong and distinctive priorities that express the traditions of the PPE Group, namely development and growth for Europe together with research and innovation.

Indeed, I think these are the policies that we should invest in for the future of the Union and that Parliament really ought to stress before the preliminary draft budget is tabled by the Commission. As Mr Lewandowski correctly pointed out a short time ago, we also insisted that the concept of responsibility should be at the heart of the 2012 budget. This is not to say that until now we have not exercised budgetary responsibility, but it highlights the fact that now more than before, as a result of the crisis, we must act responsibly.

Lastly, I think something needs to be said about what has happened and what is happening in many countries in North Africa, simply to show that we reject medium-term approaches that are incapable of properly dealing with unexpected events or new policies. In terms of the technical aspect of the vote, I think it would be worth leaving the report produced by the Committee on Budgets substantially unchanged. I am really puzzled by the insistence of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left on including the tax on financial transactions. Quite apart from the substance of the issue, to me it seems to be of no relevance to the 2012 budget procedure.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (SV) Madam President, firstly, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mrs Balzani. She has chosen a very wise starting point for her report. It is short, specific and constructive and has a clear focus on the most important issues. What then are the most important issues? They involve demonstrating that the Europe 2020 Strategy is not just hot air, but a serious attempt to enable the EU to play a tangible role in promoting growth and jobs.

The EU’s budget is controversial, despite the fact that it is actually very small – around 1% of GDP or a little over 2% of overall public expenditure. However, it can play a strategic role when it comes to investments in projects that the Member States cannot manage by themselves or that require solidarity within Europe. These relate to research and development, infrastructure for transport and energy and being able to realise the true potential of the internal market – a well-functioning labour market in the EU and a real basis for growth and competitiveness.

However, these joint projects cost money. Evidence is therefore required, particularly on the part of the Member States and the Council. Will the Europe 2020 Strategy be put into practice, or will it go the way of the Lisbon Strategy – good ideas that are buried in an office drawer? I believe that the 2012 budget will be crucial in answering that question.

 
  
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  Carl Haglund, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (SV) Madam President, first of all I would like to thank the rapporteur for her excellent work. In times like these it is no easy task to set budgetary priorities. I am also pleased that we are choosing to be guided by Europe 2020 for next year’s budget. As was pointed out earlier, we cannot afford to wait until 2014 when the next budgetary framework enters into force to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The Commission has an important responsibility to put forward proposals in its draft budget this summer. We have so far been unable to direct resources to the Europe 2020 Strategy to the extent that would be needed. There is a risk that it could turn out exactly as Mr Färm warned: that the strategy does not get implemented but gets stuck in an office drawer, which we do not want, of course.

My group tabled a number of amendments to the report and we are very pleased with the way in which they have been incorporated into the proposals. I would like to thank the rapporteur for that. I have to say to the Council that we in the European Parliament most certainly have reason to examine ourselves and the way that we are approaching the 2011 budget. We have succeeded in creating a conflict that has surely given both ourselves and the politicians in the Council cause for reflection.

We must consider how we can make the best possible use of the resources we have. We may perhaps have to consider making cuts in the EU budget, too. At the same time, we must not forget that the Union has been given a large number of tasks that have to be fulfilled. These tasks will not do themselves. Sometimes I have the feeling that the Council believes that things can just happen by themselves without us having to reprioritise or earmark resources, but that is unfortunately not the case. I look forward to a constructive proposal from the Commission that can help us to find a more constructive tone in the negotiations on the 2012 budget.

 
  
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  James Elles, on behalf of the ECR Group. Madam President, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on her report. I think that, unlike the other guidelines which we have discussed over many others years in this House, it is focused and it does not get into a whole lot of different details, which are obviously to come later in the budget procedure.

Firstly I would like to say that we in my group would like to take very much into account what is happening elsewhere in the European Union and not just keep it within the Brussels ‘Beltway’. Therefore the paragraph you have put in paragraph 21 – where you are saying that we should be looking for negative priorities and savings by the institutions, asking our specialised committees to be able to look for priorities – is very important, but very little work has been done on this so far.

Tied in to the desire, which I can fully understand, to have more monies available for the Europe 2020 Strategy and the flagships, we should be looking not just for actions which involve money, but strengthening of the single market. It is not just about monies. Where we are looking for monies we should be thinking about where we can be generating savings from elsewhere in the budget, as we are looking to do in Parliament and in the other institutions. We take the line that if you want more money then you can take it from savings elsewhere. This should also be an important part of our approach to the 2012 budget.

Lastly, therefore, in looking at the kind of responsibility we should take in an era of austerity, if we are going to be able to cope with the savings of financing where we need new expenditure my group believes we should be heading for a freeze in our expenditure for 2012.

 
  
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  Helga Trüpel, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Madam President, Mr Lewandowski, ladies and gentlemen, we in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance are also of the opinion that when budgets are tight and there is a need for austerity policies we must respond, because we have to reduce levels of debt in the Member States. This is not the case on a European level, because fortunately we are not allowed to get into debt. However, the politically clever solution involves not only reducing debt but also achieving a balance, so that it is possible to invest in projects for the future in order not to put the national economy further at risk. Reaching this balance must be one of the guidelines for the European budget in 2012. In addition, we have made commitments in recent years in the European budget which come out of the structural funds and which will have to be financed next year and in the years that follow.

I think we should take Mrs Balzani’s approach very seriously. It involves focusing on the most important areas of the EU 2020 Strategy, which determines where Europe is going. We are calling for more funding at a European level to allow us to combat climate change, to switch more quickly to renewable energy sources and to support education and research. We must continue to focus on these issues and we must not put this at risk.

I also think that the European Semester mechanism is being used correctly to ensure that the Member States and the European budget, in other words a total of 28 budgets, commit to the targets in the EU 2020 Strategy. Where do we need to spend more money? On the basis of what we hope will be democratic change in the Arab countries, we Europeans have an interest in supporting civil society, democratic structures and the move to parliamentary democracy in these states and, therefore, we need flexible funding to promote democracy throughout the world in our own well-understood interests.

As a Member of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, I would like to ask specifically where we can make savings, in particular in the light of recent events in Japan. In my group we are of the opinion that we can save money on the ITER nuclear fusion reactor. We do not know what to do with the nuclear waste from this project. Why are we spending so much money on launching this project, when we should be redirecting the Euratom funding to enable us to move away from nuclear power and introduce renewable energy sources much more quickly? When we look at the United Nations and at climate policy, we all know that we need to change the way we generate energy. The 2012 European budget must also make a contribution in this area. I hope that we will have the power to make qualitative changes of this kind in the next multiannual financial framework.

 
  
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  Miguel Portas, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(PT) Madam President, while we are here discussing the guidelines for the next budget, out there are tens of thousands of workers sending us a very clear message. They are telling us that the EU’s austerity policies are killing the economy and destroying the benefits and the conditions of life for the European public. They are telling us that the model of economic coordination that is being imposed is based on fines and penalties that provide no guarantee of sustainable growth and job creation – quite the contrary, in fact.

They are telling us that the Pact for the euro, which the governments are adopting today, is a pact that is against wages and pensions. It is a pact that is continuing to make the workers pay for the cost of the crisis, although it was not caused by them.

I believe that we should listen to this protest, because it poses a key question from the point of view of the European budget about the place of public investment in discussions about economic policies. We have heard the conservatives say that what we need is a ‘zero budget’, with a ‘zero increase’. We have heard various governments saying that, in the name of austerity policies, we need a European budget with a ‘zero increase’.

The discussion that we are having today is crucial, but this is the wrong answer. It is the wrong answer for one simple reason: it is impossible to have ever stronger austerity policies at a national level yet at the same time say that due to these austerity policies we need ever weaker European budgets.

This reasoning inevitably leads to only one outcome: lower public investment at both national and European level. It also means more unemployment and more social regression. This is the crucial discussion to be held in talks on the 2012 budget. It argues against those who think that the crisis can be resolved by heightening inequality and transforming the recession itself into a policy. This is what my group is opposing. We are going to abstain from this report because it is full of good intentions, but it does not respond in a clear way to this challenge, and the world of work requires a response from us on this matter.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen, on behalf of the EFD Group. Madam President, this report’s fundamental weakness is that it completely ignores the observations made by the Court of Auditors in its annual reports. We should remember that the only information available is on the integrity and efficiency with which European Union funds have been spent. The attempt to justify an increase in the budget on the basis that the Europe 2020 Strategy will take us out of the crisis lacks all credibility when we look back at the complete failure of the Lisbon Strategy.

The threat – and it is a threat – that limiting the level of the European Union budget will have a detrimental effect on European solidarity and the pace of economic development in the Member States is both facile and displays an overwhelming ignorance of the impact of the crisis upon European citizens. On behalf of British taxpayers, I call on David Cameron to demand not a freeze, but a significant reduction of the budget for 2012. Given his track record today, I will not be holding my breath.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my opinion on three areas of Mrs Balzani’s report. The first is that the report on the 2012 budget is based on the assumption of enhanced economic governance involving the EU, the European Semester mechanism and the Europe 2020 objectives to boost growth and employment. In next year’s budget there will be support in particular for two headline targets in the strategy: improving education and promoting social inclusion, which for me are two key aspects with regard to Europe’s future viability.

Secondly, the report emphasises the need to improve synergies between European and national public investments in order to achieve the EU’s political objectives more effectively. We need to encourage more coordination, greater consistency and a focus on sensible, shared objectives in order to make it more likely that the headline targets can be achieved successfully.

My third point concerns climate change and energy targets. In the light of the disaster in Japan, we need to do everything possible to speed up the introduction of renewable energy sources. An active climate policy and the creation of green jobs will not only help us to achieve our climate targets, but will also make a positive contribution to social policy.

Last but not least I would like to remind the House that the EU budget is not permitted to show a public deficit, which is why it is essential that it is implemented properly, and that it makes up only 2% of total public spending.

 
  
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  Salvador Garriga Polledo (PPE).(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to begin by thanking the rapporteur Mrs Balzani for the flexibility she has shown.

I say this because the original idea was not to hold this debate on budget guidelines. I believe, however, that it is a good idea, because it will help to define the priorities that will shape the budget negotiations over the coming months.

I should like to touch on two fundamental matters. First of all, austerity. Austerity is not a principle, it is an instrument. It is an instrument for achieving a truly credible budget that will not lead us to the consequences that are now materialising in many countries: that is, spending beyond our means and later encountering serious political difficulties when it comes to closing the gaps in the budget.

I also believe we should not bring matters into the annual budgetary procedure which actually have a multiannual financial scope. I am referring, for instance, to the issue of the tax or levy on financial transactions. This belongs in a far wider financial framework, so any attempt to artificially bring this debate into the annual budget will only lead to a misguided strategy of negotiation with the Council right from the start.

Only last year we saw what happens when we bring into a single-reading annual budget procedure, policies or ideas that actually have a wider scope: failure, stalemate and, ultimately, a situation – as we are now experiencing in 2011 – in which the level of credit appropriations is, as the Commissioner is perfectly well aware, insufficient to cover the immediate short-term needs of the European Union over the coming months.

 
  
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  Jens Geier (S&D).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner Lewandowski, ladies and gentlemen, this morning we are debating the need to make savings in view of the debt crisis that we are experiencing in the Member States. Mrs Trüpel and others have quite rightly pointed out that this debt crisis affects us only indirectly, as it is not permitted for debts to be incurred at European level.

Yet how can we pursue an austerity policy in the European Union if the volume of European expenditure is only 2% of the total public expenditure of all 27 Member States? I believe that this is not an austerity policy at all. Instead, it is a question of symbols – symbols that are in some way passed to us by the Member States as if money that is transferred to Brussels for the European budget in effect disappears into a deep black hole. This completely ignores the fact that the funds that go into the European budget actually go back to the Member States again. Of course, they do not go back at a ratio of 1:1, as Europe is not a savings bank, and we naturally pursue a policy of solidarity where we support those in the European Union that are less well developed. For example, in my state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, all of the labour market instruments that are now implemented there are cofinanced by the European Social Fund. If we remove this funding, there will be correspondingly less labour market policy. That cannot be what Social Democrats are aiming for.

Let us consider for a moment how the Member States spend European funds. The Court of Auditors’ annual report states that there are deficiencies in the way the management and control systems for spending European funds operate. It states that the recovery of wrongly invested funds in the Member States runs into billions of euro. It also states that the Commission is now, thankfully, going to suspend payments in cases where European programmes are being mismanaged. That is also happening for example in Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Council, which is not here, represents the Member States, which I urgently call on to improve their management of EU budgetary resources. The increase in efficiency that this would make possible would allow us to considerably improve the way we spend EU funds – not by spending more money but by improving the way we spend it. The Member States can play a part in this in order to underline their willingness to make savings.

 
  
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  Anne E. Jensen (ALDE).(DA) Madam President, I would like to thank Mrs Balzani. I think she has a very exciting, but also very difficult task in negotiating this budget, and that is because the framework is tight. The seven-year framework for the EU’s budget is devised in such a way that the framework becomes steadily tighter during the course of the seven-year period, particularly in the area of agriculture. We have actually been able to utilise unused agricultural funds almost as a means of financing new initiatives such as energy investments for the recovery package and the satellite navigation system Galileo. It is therefore becoming more and more difficult to ensure consistency. I do not agree with the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance that we should not finance the ITER fusion energy system. This is important research, particularly in the light of what has happened in Japan and against the background of the need to ensure that we are not dependent on fossil fuels. Thus, this is also a difficult task. We must find funding for the fusion energy project in 2012.

I am pleased that the Commissioner emphasised the fact that the EU’s budget is not the same as national budgets. It is a project budget, and the EU must be able to settle its accounts. We must pay out the money that we have promised. In this regard, I hope that the Commissioner is right that our budget negotiations will be smoother this time around. That will require the Council to behave in a more intelligent and less stupid way – for it to give us a very definite figure for the payments, but to be more specific and look at what the real needs are.

Last but not least, I would like to thank the Commissioner for stating that we must cut our administrative expenditure, because this is one of the few areas where we actually can save money in the short term. I think it is good that he started by saying that the Commission is reducing its administrative expenditure to next to nothing. That is something we should also do in other institutions, and I believe that it is something that we really should take seriously – also in Parliament.

 
  
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  Hynek Fajmon (ECR). – (CS) Madam President, the 2012 budget of the European Union should continue the tradition of balanced budgets. On the other hand, we must not continue with the disputes we saw when approving the 2011 budget. We must not allow the creation of a temporary budget. That would have a very negative effect on the running of the EU. In order to avoid disputes and approve the budget quickly, we need to propose a sensible budget, which, in the current period of lingering economic crisis, means a tight budget. The public in the Member States expect that, in a time of spending cuts, the EU too will run its affairs well and frugally. If we lose sight of this, we will lose credibility.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL).(PT) Madam President, we are having our say in this debate in order to show that there is an alternative to the consensus between law and democratic socialism, which has brought this crisis upon us. This consensus does not, in itself, allow for any possibility of ending the crisis. The alternative, which is both possible and necessary, is also undergoing profound changes due to EU budgetary policies, reconsidering the resources and objectives which these serve.

At a time when inequalities between the different Member States are growing, the EU budget should be at the service of real convergence, promoting the full exploitation of the actual potential of each country, the creation of employment with rights, the eradication of poverty and social exclusion, and the preservation of the environment. It should be a tool at the service of genuine economic and social cohesion.

We reject a budget which is at the service of the commercialisation of more and more aspects of social life, liberalisation in numerous areas of economic activity, and lack of job security, as advocated by the Europe 2020 Strategy. This path will accentuate the existing economic, social, regional and national divisions and disparities, and foment structural unemployment.

We therefore propose a new European strategy for solidarity and sustainable development, underpinned by a new set of economic, social and environmental policies, supported by the EU budget, as we explained in our set of proposed amendments to this report. The Union budget should also be at the service of a genuine policy of development aid, cooperation and peace, not at the service of external interventionism, interference, militarism and war, areas that have taken an increasing toll on the Community budget.

We would therefore like to point out the urgency of steering Europe along a different course, and this should also be reflected in budgetary decisions.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, this report – which ought to map out Parliament’s guidelines for the 2012 budget – seems to me to be pretty much devoid of meaning. It only includes a series of vague statements and therefore it does not seem clear to me what Parliament’s real priorities are for drafting the new budget.

For example, the Europe 2020 Strategy is mentioned a number of times. It is an ambitious, wasteful and perhaps overly broad strategy. What in any case are supposed to be its priorities? It is the Member States themselves that have to come to terms with restricted budgets and the consequences of the crisis; we cannot be so naïve as to the think that we can do much at a European level. Therefore I would have preferred to see fewer statements of intent and fewer words and instead an indication of a few limited and precise areas in which to act. I am aware that this report is dealing with general guidelines, but in its current state it seems to me to be all but useless and merely self-serving.

 
  
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  Lucas Hartong (NI). - (NL) Madam President, Mrs Balzani from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has proved with her report the following fact: the EU does not look after its citizens well, but it does look after itself. The ruling Socialist and Christian Democrat clique is making sure there is a continuing majority in Parliament who are in favour of wasting even more money.

A nice sum of EUR 3 000 per member for a staff allowance, a good job on the side in the House of European History (for those fortunate enough to have the right connections), a totally unnecessary and terribly expensive European TV channel, a prestigious satellite project called Galileo, all of which is leading increasingly to financial disaster. Oh well, things are clear ... and, on top of that, having the nerve to speak about sustainability and responsibility. There is no responsibility to speak of and sustainability is only possible if things are expensive.

Madam President, I will keep it short and clear: throw out this nonsensical report. This is absolutely not what the citizens of Europe are waiting for. The EU is giving no sign of wanting to economise and, on top of that, this will only lead to more money being wasted. I thought that wisdom comes with age, but that unfortunately does not seem to be the case with this Parliament.

 
  
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  László Surján (PPE).(HU) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, after the last few speeches, I recommend that we try to return to the grounds of reason. The rapporteur was in no easy situation when she was preparing her material. After all, we can not yet talk about figures in any meaningful way until the Commission presents to us the boundaries within which it foresees the budget for the next year. We can, however, talk about principles. And in this regard, the rapporteur partially approached the matter very aptly, in that she attempted to integrate the 2020 policy within the bounds of the budget. On the other hand, her decision to not yet get involved in policies at this stage, and to not talk about their outlines and objectives either, indeed justifies certain critical comments that the material seems somewhat hollow.

I believe that we can still all agree that, similar to previous years, we continue to consider cohesion policy extremely important. This policy will only really swing into motion now, at the end of the cycle, and it is here that the greatest payment requests will appear. I would very much like to stress, contrary to others, that these payments are not for their own sake, and that this is not about spending the money, but rather about using it in ways which actually further the European cause, and bring us forward in assisting less developed regions in catching up. If they are not doing this, they are doing wrong. Then Parliament must indeed step up against any kind of inappropriate spending and spending in the nature of prestige investments. I believe that the Committee on Budgets, in cooperation with the committees, is handling this twofold fight quite well. Thank you for your attention.

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to thank our rapporteur, Mrs Balzani, for the consistency of her draft resolution on the general guidelines for the 2012 budget. This resolution sends a clear political message. It is because it is fully aware of the budgetary constraints affecting the European Union that Parliament is today calling for the adoption of a 2012 budget that can respond to the political, economic and social challenges we currently face.

At a time when the sole topic of discussion among the Member States is the implementation of additional austerity measures, Parliament, at least on this side of the House, intends to demonstrate its commitment to the thousands of workers who, today, are marching through the streets of Brussels to show their rejection of these economically questionable and socially unjust measures, the result of which will be a further increase in structural unemployment in Europe.

The fact that the European budget is being aligned with the objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy, in a clear way for the first time in 2012, means that employment and growth can be put back at the heart of European policies, which I would point out are our priorities, since the EU 2020 Strategy has set the objective of an employment rate of 75% of the working population.

However, let us not delude ourselves. This budgetary procedure will be a long and difficult one, contrary to what Mr Lewandowski indicated in the French press when he anticipated the position of the MEPs. The Member States have already expressed their short-term view of the budget, which advocates discipline, and have called for a limit on their contribution to financing Community action. They see the European Union and its action not as a means to achieve added value or as a means to help it achieve ambitious policies, but rather as an additional cost. Let us not be mistaken. The 2012 budgetary procedure will provide another insight into the tactics being used to define the future multiannual financial framework.

The fact is, with a budget which accounts for a mere 2% of the EU’s public expenditure, it will be difficult to pursue ambitious policies in all sectors. We are already seeing stormy debates on whether it will be the CAP or cohesion policy that will be plundered. This pits citizens against each other when it would be to our credit to help them work in synergy. That is why, Commissioner, I would reiterate the importance of your communication on the implementation of own resources.

 
  
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  Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE). - (NL) Madam President, if you are having a house built, the biggest bills come at the end. You know this in advance and that is what you agree to from the very start. The same thing is happening in Europe. The biggest bills come at the end of multi-annual budgets and you know that, too, ahead of time.

Refusals by various Member States, such as my home country, the Netherlands, to pay these bills are therefore nothing more than a reaction by unreliable governments. This is the same as if somebody who is having their house built accepted the offer and then refused to pay the final bill. Obviously, in the final stage, you can look at where you can make savings and we in Europe have to do that as well. In recital 21, in particular, Mrs Balzani has rightly pointed to that fact. However, that final bill will still have to be paid. Refusing to pay it does not only make you unreliable, it is also stoking the anti-European sentiments in Europe.

 
  
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  Edit Herczog (S&D).(HU) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the 2012 budget is the sixth among the seven budgets of the current multiannual financial framework. The two arms of the budgetary authority have therefore gained a clear picture of the deficiencies and positive developments with regard to the existing multiannual programmes. The 2012 appropriations must enable the accomplishment of EU goals and priorities in relation to the 2020 Strategy. That is because it is this that facilitates Europe emerging from the crisis strengthened. The promotion of employment, innovation, research and development, the facilitation of goals related to energy strategy and of social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty.

The 2020 Strategy can of course only be credible if it receives appropriate funding. We would like to remind everyone that Parliament has raised this serious political concern on several occasions. Now we must call on the Member States and the Council to take responsible and decisive steps. We must not be content with a lesser Europe in a world where natural disasters and economic crises can ruin the lives of millions without warning, where the impact of such tragedies not only affects one country, people or religious community, but has an effect on entire regions and across oceans. We need a greater Europe, and a more effective use of Community means. Thank you for your attention.

 
  
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  Monika Hohlmeier (PPE).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the 2012 budget is set against the background of a difficult economic and financial situation in the 27 Member States. For this reason, we will certainly not be able to afford to do everything that we would like to do. I believe that the report tabled by Mrs Balzani is a workable compromise. However, I also have a few critical remarks to make.

In my opinion, more money does not necessarily mean more solidarity and more Europe. What is important is to improve the quality of what we get in return for the money spent and above all to ensure that the objectives we set ourselves are actually achieved rather than the money merely being paid out regardless. We must always examine the question of our potential new own resources with a critical eye, too. These own resources must not lead to the additional burdening of citizens or of businesses that need to be, and should be, able to compete with the rest of the world.

I also think it is important for us not always to emphasise the fact that the EU budget amounts to only 2% because, at the end of the day, many States cofinance the corresponding European funds, thus, of course, making a considerably larger volume of funds available on the basis of EU programmes. I think it is particularly important for us to make progress in terms of research, education, sustainability and strengthening economic growth. In light of this, I think it is also important for large-scale projects such as ITER – and in this regard I would like to thank Mrs Jensen for her comment – to be fully and clearly financed and clearly managed, because otherwise the Americans, who are currently implementing the same project, will be appreciably ahead of us, and we Europeans should not always take second place.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE).(PT) Madam President, I would like to begin by saying that I welcome the work of Mrs Balzani, but that I would nevertheless like to make a few observations here. I believe that the general approach that is being adopted is actually too general. I think that this is more of a resolution for an EU 2020 Strategy than proper guidelines for 2012.

In 2011 the priority has been on young people, and this will no longer be the case in 2012 with these guidelines. However, there is still time. The phrase ‘young people’ does not appear a single time in these general guidelines. Moreover, the focus on the Europe 2020 Strategy, which I support, does lead to cohesion policy, for example, being forgotten. Neither is there a single mention of cohesion policy. Cohesion policy is extremely important, and it cannot be a measure for adapting, or a measure or policy which suffers, for example, if money is taken from it in order to be given to the Europe 2020 Strategy.

There is not a single mention of the cohesion policy, which we believe to be extremely important. I believe that there is time to remedy this omission, as I see it. I believe that there is still time to resolve these two issues.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE).(IT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mrs Balzani, for the work she has done. The 2012 and 2013 budgets will be consolidation budgets aimed at reflecting the Member States’ spending cutbacks and setting a benchmark for amounts that will be established in the next financial framework.

The contribution of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) to the guidelines for the 2012 budget was based on the concept of responsibility, which means pursuing the aims of economy, efficiency and effectiveness using as little as possible of the available resources.

The EU 2020 Strategy is based on important priorities – namely research, innovation, development and growth – that were not initially present in the report by Mrs Balzani, but which have been strongly emphasised by the PPE Group. The Union’s priorities need a suitable level of funding. It is therefore important to ensure flexibility between the expenditure headings in order to more effectively counter the problems linked to the economic crisis and also to propose a budgetary framework that includes own resources.

However, I am not in favour of these resources being raised via the introduction of a tax on financial transactions, as proposed by the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left. Instead, I am in favour of an investigation by the Commission into how to deal with this highly important issue in technical terms, so as to affirm and establish Europe’s added value.

 
  
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  Vladimír Maňka (S&D) . – (SK) Madam President, the European Union has set five measurable objectives for the period up to 2020. The objectives have also been agreed by Member States themselves. The objectives show us the direction we ought to choose. The success of Europe depends on how we fulfil them.

It depends on the responsible conduct of individual states as to whether we will have higher employment, whether we will manage to reduce the proportion of people leaving school early, whether we will achieve the planned parameters in the number of young people obtaining a university education, whether we will reduce the number of people at risk of poverty and whether we will protect our climate.

Despite the prevailing consensus in the EU over the common procedures, the government of my country has decided to restrict the priority operational programmes. It wants to use them for funding high-speed communications, and is discussing this with the Commission. I would like to ask you, Commissioner, whether you personally and the Commission as a whole support states taking a path which goes against the common objectives in this first introductory stage of fulfilling the Europe 2020 Strategy?

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). – (SK) Madam President, the budget is a key instrument for European integration, and how it is set therefore matters.

It is precisely in a time of crisis that the EU budget can contribute to mitigating the restrictive budgetary policies of national governments and direct funding towards desirable long-term investment projects. In this context, I welcome the fact that the report supports the plan to introduce project bonds, for example, in the area of infrastructure. I would like to point out, however, that they should not be regarded as an alternative to Eurobonds. In my opinion, Eurobonds are a special topic and I support their introduction, as they are a logical continuation of the integration process and they mark a deepening of the process.

An opposite tendency – towards disintegration – would result from, for example, attempts to slash EU budget levels. In addition to the unfavourable economic impacts, these attempts also undermine solidarity between Member States. The selfish and short-sighted division into net contributors and net beneficiaries ignores the deeper and more important context of European integration. All Member States can profit from this equally. In my opinion, this is the angle to take in discussions on the EU budget.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). – (SK) Madam President, we are addressing the 2012 budget priorities with an eye to the future as well, and in my opinion we should therefore also look at the possibilities for making savings in the future.

In my view, it is very important to think about the regular journeys made by MEPs and the entire European Parliament to Strasbourg, which is repeated 12 times a year. I believe that we irritate our citizens with these activities, because taxpayers have to finance our trips, and it costs them a great deal of money. We should therefore, if not in 2012, at least in the long-term perspective, look at the possibility of scaling back or modifying this mechanism in the future.

Another potential saving which should be discussed, I think, is the cost of setting up the museum of the European Union or of Europe, which, from a time perspective, could be postponed until a future date, I believe, when the EU is faring better. At present we could transfer this funding to other activities, especially in 2012, in order to fulfil the 2012 programme, and thereby also improve the efficiency of our operations, of course.

 
  
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  Monika Smolková (S&D). – (SK) Madam President, I would first like to applaud the work of the rapporteur, who has correctly identified numerous problems in her report.

The EU budget for 2012, but also for the following years, should be ambitious, if we want to fulfil the tasks and objectives of the 2020 Strategy, emerge victorious from the crisis and compete globally. I support the budget committee proposal for meetings to be organised with national parliaments with the aim of discussing the outlines of EU and Member State budgets for 2012. It should be emphasised at these meetings that the EU budget must not be in deficit, that it represents only 2% of overall public spending in the EU and that there are fundamental differences between Member State budgets and the EU budget. The EU budget largely covers investment in the future of Europe.

The Council, above all, should be aware of this, since we have already heard the representatives of Germany, France and Great Britain talk about trying to freeze the EU budget, through which we would surely slow down European growth.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Madam President, I will address three points only. On the 2020 Strategy adjustment, a clear point in Ms Balzani’s guidelines: in the current 2011 budget, 41% of expenditure could be attributed to the goals of the 2020 Strategy.

The same effort is being made for the 2012 Strategy, but we must make the readjustment effort within the framework which was agreed several years ago, the 2007-2013 framework. It is, of course, limiting our room for manoeuvre that the adjustment must be done within the framework of the multiannual agreement dated 2006.

Secondly, my reaction to Mr Elles – but not only to him: the same remark about negative priorities was also made by Mr Geier and Ms Hohlmeier. I am afraid that this is a true story about 2012’s budget. It should be like that. This time more than ever, in addition to positive priorities, we should examine what is not performing. We are looking at what is not performing, what is not properly administered in order to find savings. We are thinking as much about positive priorities this time as about negative priorities. For the administration, austerity is a must.

My response to Mr Herczog about the waste of money: administration accounts for only 5.7% of the total budget of the European Union. This is a lower proportion than in the municipalities of Rotterdam and many other Dutch cities famous for a frugal approach to budgeting.

In response to Ms Andreasen: she was not only talking about freezing the budget. She was talking about cutting it. Our budget, the European budget, which is without deficit, cannot be blamed for the mismanagement of public finances in many Member States. It has its logic, as so clearly explained by Mr Gerbrandy. The logic is all about the maturity of programmes with time. This is not surprising. This is our credibility. The European budget has its own credibility which is all about commitments and accomplished projects paying out. Even in times of austerity, you have to pay your electricity bills.

This is really about our credibility. This is about cohesion. This is really an investment, and its nature therefore probably also responds to some of the calls by those who are now demonstrating outside Parliament and the Berlaymont building.

 
  
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  Francesca Balzani, rapporteur.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the word ‘responsibility’ has been mentioned a number of times during the speeches. There is, however, one responsibility that I really think takes priority for the institutions: above all we are responsible for implementing our programmes and ensuring that EU citizens are not left with just our words. We have the responsibility to be consistent in what we say and what we promise.

Today’s major projects are those set out in the 2020 Strategy. The first target of ‘more work’ is not only very ambitious but also very precise, since it can even be measured using unemployment reduction parameters. This seems to me to be a very specific and very ambitious goal and I think it is essential to start working to achieve it.

As long as we continue to consider the 2020 Strategy as too big and too ambitious to be squeezed into a practical document like the budget, I think we will achieve nothing more than increasing the risk of another failure, which is exactly what nobody wants, starting with the Commission, if I remember the first communication on the 2020 Strategy correctly.

There is, however, another important issue: austerity is not a policy, it is not an instrument, it is a condition against which we must take action, and not only by consolidating our expenditure, but also by using the European budget, an extraordinary instrument that is radically different from the national budgets and gives us the chance to do something different this year.

This is precisely what the European Semester is for. Clogging up the first six months of the year is not its only use. It enables us to come up with a global strategy and to create synergies; and creating synergies between the budgets of the Member States and our budget is an extraordinarily European system to give more value to public resources and to create a real method to turn the 2020 Strategy – long and ambitious as it is – into a European reality.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place at 11:30.

Written Statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) Unfortunately this report advocates ‘a 2012 budget under the auspices of enhanced European economic governance, the European Semester mechanism and Europe 2020 objectives’. In other words, this is a budget which supports the deepening of neoliberalism, militarism and federalism in the EU through the adoption of profoundly anti-social and anti-democratic measures, the firm establishment of the Stability Pact, the enforcing of brutal fines on the Member States and permanent monitoring of all national macroeconomic activity. This is also a proposal which seeks to achieve a budget that facilitates liberalisation, job insecurity, and an attack on rights and public services.

We therefore propose an important set of changes, aimed not only at denouncing this approach, but also at presenting guidelines for an alternative which is both possible and necessary. These proposals are crucial in order to improve the situation of unemployment, poverty and inequality which exists and is worsening with capitalism, of which the EU is a tool. The EU budget needs to be based on another vision in order to address the economic and social crisis, rejecting the neoliberal path, so-called economic governance and the strengthening of militarism.

 
  
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  Jiří Havel (S&D), in writing. (CS) In her report on general guidelines for the preparation of the 2012 budget, Mrs Balzani set out the five key budget priorities of the EU. I fully support her view that it is the Europe 2020 Strategy that should help Europe overcome the global economic crisis and emerge stronger from the crisis through the creation of new jobs based on the five priorities, that is, support for employment, improved conditions for innovation, research and development and the provision of funding for these from the public purse, the fulfilment of objectives on climate change and energy, higher levels of education and support for social inclusion, and, above all, reduction of poverty in Europe. However, if we want to be successful and to implement this strategy in earnest, we must assign sufficient funding for it, without substantial compromises or cuts. The current multiannual financial framework now offers very little room for manoeuvre, and I therefore agree with the rapporteur that further attempts to limit or cut budgetary resources related to the fulfilment of key priorities are simply out of place at the moment. I support the rapporteur’s idea that the fulfilment of key priorities can work as a catalyst for boosting investment, growth and job creation throughout the Union. In general, I agree with the proposed guidelines and I recommend the approval of this report.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. Across Europe governments and public authorities are having to find ways to save money and show restraint. My own country, Scotland, was hit by a double whammy – a global recession exacerbated by misrule by governments in London, always willing to plunder Scotland’s resources but intent on denying the people of Scotland control over their own affairs. The Scottish government has therefore had to work extra hard to succeed in maintaining Scotland’s vital public services. In these economic circumstances it is wholly unrealistic for this house to call for a budgetary increase – Europe’s public services must have priority over the operations of the EU’s institutions.

 
  
  

(The sitting was suspended at 10:55 and resumed at 11:35)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: Stavros LAMBRINIDIS
Vice-President

 

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

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

 

6.1. Amendment of Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 introducing autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova (A7-0041/2011, Vital Moreira) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE).(FR) Mr President, I should like to take the floor briefly under Article 15(6)(d) of the Treaty on European Union, which stipulates that the President of the European Council shall present a report after each of the meetings of the European Council.

An extraordinary meeting of the European Council was held on 11 March. I regret that no such report has been presented.

 
  
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  President. − Mr Audy, I take your point but if I recall correctly the President of the Council was in Parliament after the 11 March extraordinary session of the Council, in an extraordinary Conference of Presidents that was open to all Members. Can we now please move on to the votes?

- After the vote:

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I have just one comment. Yesterday, I was denied the opportunity to respond directly to Mr Schulz. I have sent you all an email – initially in German, but the English and French versions will follow – in which I make a statement in this regard, and I will also duly reject the accusation.

 

6.2. Generalised tariff preferences (A7-0051/2011, Helmut Scholz) (vote)

6.3. EU-US air transport agreement (A7-0046/2011, Artur Zasada) (vote)

6.4. EU-Canada air transport agreement (A7-0045/2011, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău) (vote)

6.5. EU-Vietnam air services agreement (A7-0044/2011, Dominique Riquet) (vote)

6.6. EU relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (A7-0042/2011, Dominique Baudis) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis, rapporteur.(FR) Mr President, I would like to thank the shadow rapporteurs, in particular Mr Howitt, Mrs Brepoels, Mrs Brantner and Mrs Jäätteenmäki, with whom we prepared these amendments. Thanks to the amendments, we have a report that fully accounts for the events taking place in the Gulf, and which states very clearly Parliament’s position on the repression afflicting that region.

The first amendment, 16th new citation, is as follows:

‘- having regard to the declarations by the High Representative of 10, 15 and 17 March, and the Council conclusions of 21 March on Bahrain and underlining in this context its full support for the freedom of expression and the right of citizens to peacefully demonstrate,’

This is the first amendment, and it is of course the English-language version, which has been distributed, that is deemed authentic.

 
  
 

(Parliament agreed to accept the oral amendment)

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis, (PPE).(FR) The second amendment, recital A, is as follows:

‘Whereas current EU-GCC relations require constant reviewing and updating in view of recent important and rapidly unfolding developments on the ground, which are evolving rapidly, at the heart of which needs to be the pursuit of human rights and democracy.’

 
  
 

(Parliament agreed to accept the oral amendment)

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis, (PPE) . – (FR) A new recital A bis:

‘A bis. Whereas demonstrators have expressed legitimate democratic aspirations in several GCC States; whereas the violent reaction of the authorities to the protests in Bahrain resulted in deaths, injuries and imprisonments; whereas Saudi, UAE and Kuwaiti troops have arrived in the country under the banner of the GCC to participate in the repression of demonstrators,’

 
  
 

(Parliament agreed to accept the oral amendment)

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis (PPE).(FR) In paragraph 7, after the first paragraph, the first indent should now read:

‘- ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, with special regard to the freedom of speech and of assembly and the right to demonstrate peacefully, and to listen to and take into account the legitimate demands of protesters as well as to ensure their security;’

 
  
 

(Parliament agreed to accept the oral amendment)

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis (PPE).(FR) A new paragraph 7a:

‘7a. Calls on all Member States in the Gulf Cooperation Council to recognise a continuing popular movement for democratic reform within the wider region, and calls for the full engagement with emerging civil society groups to promote a process of genuine peaceful democratic transition, within their own countries, with partners in the region and with the full support of the European Union;’

 
  
 

(Parliament agreed to accept the oral amendment)

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis (PPE).(FR) A new paragraph 7b:

ʻ7b. Expresses its deep concern at the violent response of and the use of force against protesters by Bahraini authorities and at the participation of foreign troops under the GCC banner in the repression of demonstrators; whereas this stands in stark contrast to the GCC’s support for the protection of the citizens demanding freedom and democracy in Libya; calls for an immediate end to violence against peaceful protesters and for a political dialogue that can lead to further necessary political reforms in the country;ʼ

 
  
 

(Parliament agreed to accept the oral amendment)

 
  
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  Dominique Baudis (PPE).(FR) A new paragraph 18a:

‘18a. Takes note of the declaration by the GCC of 7 March 2011 in Abu Dhabi, which states that “the Ministerial council demands that the Security Council takes the steps necessary to protect civilians, including a no-fly zone in Libya”, which declaration has contributed to the decision of the Arab League and then the United Nations Security Council to pronounce themselves in favour of such a zone;’

 
  
 

(Parliament agreed to accept the oral amendment)

 

6.7. Appointment of a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank : Peter Praet (BE) (A7-0064/2011, Sharon Bowles) (vote)

6.8. Appointment of the executive director of the European Banking Authority (EBA) (B7-0222/2011) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Sharon Bowles (ALDE). - Mr President, I will not keep you long. Today we are voting on the resolutions to approve the executive directors of the European supervisory authorities. Issues concerning the overall procedure for the future were dealt with last month in the negotiations surrounding the appointment of the Chairs of the authorities.

For the Banking Authority, the proposed executive director is Adam Farkas; for the Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority it is Carlos Montalvo, and for the Markets Authority it is Verena Ross. The nominees all attended confirmation hearings in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs last week. These were webstreamed, and are therefore available on the ECON website, as are the candidates’ biographies. The full committee decided by a substantial majority that we should vote in favour of these candidates, so that is the recommendation from the committee.

 

6.9. Appointment of the executive director of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) (B7-0221/2011) (vote)

6.10. Appointment of the executive director of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) (B7-0200/2011) (vote)

6.11. Preparation of 2012 budget (A7-0058/2011, Francesca Balzani) (vote)
 

- Before the vote on paragraph 29:

 
  
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  Jürgen Klute (GUE/NGL).(DE) Mr President, I just wanted to provide a brief explanation. We have withdrawn Amendment 25, which related to the financial transaction tax. We have agreed with the other groups that we are able, and indeed intend, to negotiate in a more intensive and meaningful way within the Policy Changes Committee.

 

6.12. Single application procedure for residence and work (A7-0265/2010, Véronique Mathieu) (vote)
 

- Before the vote on Amendment 123:

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès (S&D).(FR) Mr President, unless I have misunderstood, I believe that you should have put the original text of Article 12(2)(e) to the vote, but we have not voted on this item.

 

6.13. Consumer rights (A7-0038/2011, Andreas Schwab) (vote)
 

– Before the vote on the motion for a legislative resolution:

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab, rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, firstly, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of my fellow Members who voted in favour. In view of this broad majority, I think it important that the Commission should give a brief comment in this regard.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Mr President, we take note of the vote here today. We are looking forward to constructive cooperation with a view to coming to a final agreement. A few very important issues are still outstanding. This proposal on the single permit act is very important, and therefore we hope to come to an agreement very soon. I would like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Mathieu, and wish her and the Hungarian Presidency my best.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I actually expected a different sort of comment. I expected the Commission to say that it is not able to agree on all of the points.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I was supposed to comment also on the previous vote, and therefore I did so. I now wish to comment again on the latest vote on the Schwab report.

The fact that we are well into the third year of negotiations indicates very clearly that it is difficult to find an agreement on this important issue. I believe that the Council’s position was a really good starting point. Parliament has added its own position. The Commission is not ready to accept everything that was proposed but we are ready to cooperate as much as possible to reach a final result.

Incidentally I was told I should also comment on the result of the previous vote; this is why I am making two comments, which have not taken too much of your time.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab, rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, with regard to the Commissioner’s last point, I would like to request that we refer the matter back to committee in accordance with Rule 57(2). I would ask for your support in this regard.

 
  
 

(The European Parliament approved the request for referral back to committee)

 

6.14. European Network and Information Security Agency (A7-0039/2011, Giles Chichester) (vote)

6.15. Situation in Japan, including the nuclear power plant alerts (B7-0224/2011) (vote)

7. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Report: Elmar Brok, Roberto Gualtieri (A7-0052/2011)

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE). (ET) Mr President, inherent in the concept of Europe working together is the idea that, in principle, the euro area can only go in two directions: it can either become stronger or disintegrate. In the current economic situation, a practical and decisive political response is needed. I support the creation of the stability mechanism, and accordingly I also supported the report, which paves the way for a legal framework enabling the creation of this mechanism.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). - Mr President, yesterday we voted on the permanent stability mechanism and we flunked it. Amendment 33, which would have given the fund the ability to purchase bonds on the secondary markets, was withdrawn. The Parliament, like the European Council up to now, refused to take the hard decisions. Yes, they are hard decisions, but these decisions will determine the future or the failure of the euro zone.

Our heads are in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich. We do not just have a currency crisis; we have a banking crisis and we have a sovereign debt crisis. And yet we persist in putting sticking plaster on deep wounds.

My own country, Ireland, is shouldering intolerable debt, all because German, French, Irish, British and other banks – along with lax regulation and non-existent supervision – acted like casinos. Bad debt has become citizens’ debt. I will not say sovereign debt, it is citizens’ debt. All of this happened under the noses of the ECB, with interest rates that were totally inappropriate. Irish citizens are expected to deal with all of this. Nobody is prepared to face reality. The debt is unsustainable. We have been trying to buy time with bailouts. What we need is major restructuring.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, the creation of a permanent crisis management mechanism for Europe is justified in case of future economic and financial crises. No one wants crises, but they are bound to happen and we need to prepare for the worst.

It is unfortunate that the plan is to establish this crisis management mechanism outside the EU institutions. The mechanism should now be brought as close as possible to EU institutions. It is also important and a good thing that the United Kingdom and Sweden, countries outside the euro area, can participate in this mechanism.

I support the attempts to step up coordination of economic policy in Europe, and the notion that, if there are to be sanctions, the Commission will decide on them, and they will apply automatically and not become the subject of discussions or ‘horse­trading’.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). - Mr President, I had thought that after 12 years in this House nothing could faze me any more, but I was shocked by the tone in which Mr Brok introduced his report yesterday. What shocked me was not the arrogance or the disconnection from reality, or even the disdain for public opinion, but the flagrancy. He said in so many words that we have had to avoid the usual Treaty revision procedure because otherwise it might have triggered a referendum in some Member States! There you see unsheathed the contempt for the voters that the elites of Europe now habitually display.

Public opinion is treated not as a reason to change direction, but as an obstacle to be overcome. I cannot help being reminded of Mr Brok’s countryman’s words following the rising in East Berlin. Would it not therefore be easier to dissolve the people and elect another in their place?

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). - Mr President, one of the inherent problems of a single currency which has a number of different Member States, with economic cycles at different rates, is that it is pointless having one set of interest rates if you have different spending decisions. The result of that has obviously come to bear, because we can see the problems that the euro zone is in. On top of that, governments have to understand that they cannot spend more money than they get in revenue. When governments do that and cook the books, or do not fulfil the roles of economic governance and economic discipline, the others get into trouble.

Of course, we want a strong euro zone, especially for those members outside the euro zone. We want to continue to trade with countries in the euro zone. We do not benefit from a weaker euro. However, at the same time, we have to be quite clear that the countries in the euro zone should fight their own problems themselves, and not rely on others. I wish you luck in the euro zone, but please learn the lessons of not spending more money than you earn.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR). - Mr President, I want to make clear on behalf of the European Conservative and Reformist Group that we are in favour of the European Stability Mechanism which has been set up, but we voted against the Brok/Gualtieri report because that opinion was not in line with the conclusions reached by the Council.

What the Brok/Gualtieri report wanted was for the European Parliament and for the Commission effectively to interfere with an intergovernmental mechanism. It is entirely appropriate that this mechanism should be intergovernmental because of the enormous sums of money which are being committed to it. National ministers responsible to their national parliaments: that is the correct line of responsibility. Underlying the whole euro crisis, of course, is not a problem with the euro, but a problem with governments that are spending too much of their taxpayers’ money.

 
  
  

Report: Artur Zasada (A7-0046/2011)

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). - Mr President, I welcome the conclusion of the second phase of the US-EU open skies agreement. I think this is a breakthrough, but obviously there are those of us who would want more liberalisation and a move away from the protectionism which still hinders this industry in many ways. I would like to see the US remove its barriers or its restrictions on foreign ownership, and I think passengers across the world would benefit from more open skies agreements.

I also pay tribute to the ECR shadow rapporteur, Jackie Foster, who is an expert in this area, and who has worked in the area of air transport as well as in the Transport Committee. However, I think it is very important that we continue to push for further liberalisation not only on the EU-US agreement but also in the emerging markets of Asia, so I welcome the move today with regard to the agreement on the EU-Vietnam agreement. Long may we continue to have better access to the growing markets of the world.

 
  
  

Report: Francesca Balzani (A7-0058/2011)

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to thank the rapporteur, Mrs Balzani, for the excellent work she has accomplished. Getting to the heart of the matter, there are four points in this own-initiative report that I think are crucial.

The first, in general terms, is the explicit reference to the European Union budget and its redistributive nature, which are the cornerstones of European solidarity. The second, in specific terms, reaffirms the principle that outstanding commitments – which are particularly high in the cohesion sector – ought to be carried out and not, as the Council suggests, simply cut out. The third sets out some doubts – entirely reasonably in my view – as to the effectiveness of an estimate criterion based on performance in the previous year. The fourth urges the Commission to formulate proposals for the creation of new resources and, in particular, new resources must be designed to combat the persistent effects of the crisis with a robust and effective commitment to policies for innovation, research and growth in economic, productive and employment terms across Europe.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, at such an important time, a document like the one approved today is certainly based on criteria of good sense and reason. Supporting the 2020 Strategy is without doubt not only a sign of credibility but also of consistency in the actions of Parliament. However, a number of important criteria and guidelines must be strengthened further by means of a list showing the priorities of the interventions.

Today, at such a delicate time in which the difficulties in the Mediterranean above all, but also in Japan, are directly linked to a rapidly changing situation, an authoritative and credible Parliament is needed, together with responses that provide a boost for growth, competitiveness and intelligent sustainability in the things that need to be done.

 
  
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  Mario Borghezio (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I think that at such a delicate time for the finances of the Member States of Europe, as was said a short time ago, I should like to sound an alarm about an expenditure that is under discussion in the Committee on Budgets: the astonishing case of the vast expenses set aside for the House of European History. I think it would be a disgrace if it were approved.

We already own the Eastman Building, but between EUR 26 million and EUR 31 million have been allocated merely for renovation costs, plus EUR 3.3 million for the plans alone. The fixed costs amount to more than EUR 3 million whilst the variable costs come to EUR 3.2 million, plus EUR 3.2 million for a 50-strong staff, EUR 2 million for security and then EUR 13.45 million are required just to manage it. I think we ought to set an example of prudent spending through our institutions. This, however, would be a disgrace.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I would like to make three comments, if I may, with regard to the general guidelines for the preparation of the 2012 budget. Firstly, I think it is good that we are debating the 2012 budget at an early stage, because – secondly – we do not want another calamity like we had between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission with regard to the 2011 budget. Thirdly, I am particularly proud of the fact that the European budget does not need to go into borrowing. I believe that should also continue to be the case.

 
  
  

Report: Véronique Mathieu (A7-0265/2011)

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE). (ET) Mr President, legal immigration undoubtedly has a large role to play in promoting European economic development and improving competitiveness. There is certainly a recurring problem here, though, and that is the lack of a firm legal status for immigrants and, as a result, the possibility of discrimination against them. It is not normal to have a situation where, in the 21st century, we still see incidents which essentially involve slavery. Everyone must be treated equally in the labour market. This report contained the provisions that are currently lacking in our framework of standards, and I therefore supported the creation of a legal framework in this area, something which I consider to be very important.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, administrative simplification and facilitating access to relevant information are the right instruments to make the European labour market more attractive to third-country workers.

Provisions for a single application procedure leading to one combined title encompassing both residence and work permits within one administrative act will contribute to simplifying and harmonising the rules currently applicable in Member States. This will make for a clearer and more efficient procedure both for the migrants and for their employers, whilst at the same time allowing for easier controls of the lawfulness of their residence and employment. The single procedure will also mean that the rights gap between EU citizens and third-country citizens can also be reduced. That is why I voted in favour of the report by Mrs Mathieu.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). – (SK) Mr President, I voted against the approved draft of the directive. I consider it important to apply a single procedure for handling work permits and residency permits. It is equally vital to try and create a single set of rights for third country nationals legally living and working in any of the EU Member States.

It is without doubt also necessary to have legal certainty and transparency in respect of the decisions taken by the competent national bodies when handling these applications. Since they have a considerable influence on the lives of these people, they should be assessed as objectively as possible.

Equal treatment should be guaranteed in all areas of social provision, and their rights must be upheld in legislation. Since these changes were not incorporated into the directive on economic migration, I think it was not correct of the parties on the right to approve it.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, first of all, the fact that this single permit promises the same rights and the same treatment for foreign workers is a good starting point. We have to ensure that human rights in the European Union are implemented in such a way that workers coming here from third countries also receive the same pay and the same levels of social security, and that the same conditions of employment apply to them as well as the other employees. This is obviously a basic consideration.

I am rather worried about one matter concerning the report, although I did vote in favour of it. This is the scope of application of Article 3, which still does not cover posted or seasonal workers or intra­corporate transferees from third countries. It is to be hoped that progress will be made on this, so that everyone will be considered equally in this single permit package. The one­stop­shop principle is a positive thing: the idea that everyone can apply for this permit in one place and that they no longer have to hop from pillar to post because of red tape.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I absolutely agree with those Members who say that we must ensure equal treatment for workers from third countries who have been employed in the EU for more than a year. I also agree that workers who have been working in the European Union for less than six months must not receive equal treatment in respect of family allowances and unemployment benefit. However, I am very much in favour – and I would like to emphasise this once again – of these groups also being insured against accidents and sickness. Thirdly, I believe that old-age benefits are a component of a person’s wages and, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 883/2004, it should be possible to transfer them according to the rules of the Member States, provided that this only happens if the third country is also happy for this to be done and if it actually transfers them.

 
  
  

Report: Francesca Balzani (A7-0058/2011)

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR). - Mr President, I welcome the fact that we are beginning our preparations for the 2012 budget so early. It allows for there to be proper consideration of the issues. One of the matters that we talk a great deal about in the European Union, and in this Chamber, is the issue of solidarity. We are often very keen to show solidarity for various groups of people.

I would ask this Parliament to show some solidarity with the taxpayers of our constituencies, because we have so far failed to do that. In this age of austerity we need to show restraint. We should set an example. We should do so by freezing the salaries and allowances of all MEPs and officials in this place for 2012, and we should also abandon plans for the House of European History, which will cost millions of euros to construct and for which there is no long-term plan to fund. No doubt that will fall on the taxpayer as well.

 
  
  

Report: Andreas Schwab (A7-0038/2011)

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt that the fragmentation of the rules on consumer rights creates a very significant obstacle to cross-border purchases and sales and is also a problem for the effective creation of a real internal market. I believe that the proposal for a directive, which was sent back to committee today with important additions, can contribute to mapping out a clear legal framework on consumer rights.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, by revising the four current directives, this report aims to bring an end to a fragmentation of the legal framework that has so far hindered the completion of the internal market. The objective is to improve the functioning of the market for consumers and undertakings, boosting consumer confidence and reducing the reluctance of undertakings to operate at a cross-border level.

The proposal is complex and contains many specific aspects which have been scrutinised and debated ever since France last held the rotating presidency. Under the new Commission headed by Mr Barroso, Mrs Reding’s work has led to total harmonisation no longer being thought of as dogmatic and we have rightly started out on the road towards a more targeted harmonisation.

Despite not being completely satisfied by the end result achieved – which I consider to be mediocre and the fruit of a poor compromise – I believe and I hope that this proposal can offer a starting-point for further developments. I therefore supported this report.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the text voted on today is the result of a long and complicated journey that began in October 2008 with the aim of putting the consumer at the heart of the protection offered for purchases made abroad.

The objective that the Union and the EU institutions must set themselves is to help the internal market to function better, with the aim of increasing consumer confidence whilst at the same time supporting our businesses.

The directive voted on today by this House represents the synthesis of four directives on this issue which were in force until today. The directive shows our desire to harmonise the regulations currently in force in the different legal systems in a much more incisive way, avoiding the legal fragmentation that unfortunately has very often ended up being a hindrance both to undertakings – whose aim is to be able to be competitive on the cross-border market – and to consumers. For these reasons, I consented to and voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). - (FI) Mr President, the reform of the directive on consumer rights has been a long and sporadic process. The Commission’s original idea for full­scale harmonisation threatened to impair levels of consumer protection, particular that of consumers in the Nordic countries. This would have been contrary to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, according to which consumer legislation must be based on levels of consumer protection that are as high as possible. We should therefore always remember that the markets are for consumers, and it is not the case that consumers are for the markets.

Legislation on consumers and small entrepreneurs must always be as clear as possible and easy to understand. Legislation that is precisely and carefully drafted is in the interests of all parties. Accordingly, it is good that the directive is being referred back to committee, as Parliament today decided it should.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, up until now the internal market of the European Union has been developed on the terms of mainly large companies. Now it is time to turn our attention to small and medium­sized enterprises and, above all, consumers, to ensure that their interests in the internal market are more vigorously protected. This Commission proposal to reform consumer protection has met with a fairly controversial reception. In Finland, for example, the Consumers’ Association collected signatures on a petition, stating that the proposal, if it had gone ahead, would have harmed consumer protection in Finland irreparably.

This compromise we have now voted on, which will go for further discussion, is very obscure. A large number of the original proposals have been cut out, with the result that it is in no way ambitious. The biggest problem, however, is that it is actually hard to understand. I would like to make it a condition that the directive on consumer rights should be one that consumers also understand, thus offering them protection.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, my Finnish fellow Members who spoke before me, Mr Repo and Mrs Jäätteenmäki, expressed some welcome views regarding this directive on consumer rights. As Finns and Nordic people, we are worried that consumer protection might be impaired. Full harmonisation would mean just that, especially as far as the Nordic countries are concerned. Moreover, it would delay measures in those countries where things at present are hardly perfect.

It is excellent that this proposal is being referred back to committee, because it contains certain slightly problematic points, particularly for small entrepreneurs. I would like the Committee to focus attention on one small issue. Amendments 18 and 107 suggest that this would have a very negative impact on travel companies in northern Finland, for example. Frequently a decision to go to a company, hotel or tourist accommodation is made on the road, and people call and book. Under this directive, that would not be enough: people would have to send a fax or something similar. This is not always possible in practice. This issue should be approached at the level of the public, and the different situations in the various Member States need to be understood.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I think the approach being taken to harmonise our fragmented European consumer law, which poses a barrier to trade, is a sound one and the right way to go. It is also important for consumers to be able to develop a sense of European law, in other words for it to be possible for them to be confident when they do business or when they buy or acquire something anywhere in the European Union. That will bring certainty not only for consumers, but also for producers.

I am particularly pleased about the improvements in the information requirements for door-to-door selling and for distance contracts. In future debates – and I am therefore very pleased that this report has been referred back to committee once again – we should ensure that, when we talk about producers, we do not just consider the large corporations but also the small family businesses, and we should not overburden them with legal subtleties.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR). - Mr President, when my constituents ask me about the main benefit of being part of the European Union, my reply is always the free trade that exists between nations and the internal market that we are seeking to complete.

I therefore welcome this consumer rights directive. I welcome it because it takes an – albeit small – step towards completing that single market. It will give some benefits to consumers and small businesses. It will assist in Internet and cross-border trade. However, I have to say that this directive has taken a long time to come about, and progress is modest.

The plea that I would make to the Commission is that we need a framework for completing the single market, as opposed to the rather disconnected series of initiatives that we have at the moment.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE). (ET) Mr President, the adoption of the harmonised European Consumer Rights Directive is certainly one way of improving the functioning of the internal market. This harmonised directive, which brings together a number of directives relating to consumer rights, will considerably simplify the legal framework, will undoubtedly help to increase consumer confidence, and of course will also encourage cross-border trade. This is a step towards reducing fragmentation. Unfortunately, the full harmonisation of consumer rights in the European Union is still not a reality today. Nevertheless, this is an important step towards better consumer protection and trade. I therefore supported the adoption of this document.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0224/2011)

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, news of the earthquake swarm that has been affecting the Far East and Japan in particular since 11 March has left us all astonished by the scale of the human tragedy that is unfolding. For these reasons, I think this resolution represents a necessary first step to guarantee the people of Japan all the humanitarian, technical and financial support they will need in the coming months and years.

I believe that the incident at the Fukushima plant should force us all to reflect carefully, scrupulously and calmly on the risks of nuclear power. Europe must invest and must also direct the Member States to concentrate more closely and more effectively on alternative energy sources. Our thoughts go out to Japan today and our commitment for the future must be to avoid similar situations being repeated in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I believe that we can all learn lessons from the situation in Japan. These lessons relate in particular to nuclear power stations. I call on the Council urgently to table proposals in this regard. What the Commission has so far presented provides an incentive for the European Council Atomic Questions Working Group finally to address the demands made by the European Parliament. We need an intensive debate on this issue, and I believe that the time has now come for this to happen.

 
  
  

Written explanation of vote

 
  
  

Report: Vital Moreira (A7-0041/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report, which once again points out that we should help Moldova to recover economically, taking into account that about 40% of its economy is dependent on agriculture. I completely agree with the measures proposed by the rapporteur in order to have an agreement that is more comprehensive and relevant to the economic recovery of this country, which is an EU partner.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this report which increases Moldova’s duty free tariff quotas for wine. Moldova is experiencing difficulties related to wine exports, which poses a threat to its economic recovery and agriculture, in particular medium-sized and family farms. The agricultural sector accounts for around 40% of Moldova’s economy. The wine sector alone employs approximately 300 000 people, most of whom live in rural areas. Hitherto Moldova has fully exhausted the quota it was allocated, therefore an increase in duty free tariff quotas will enable Moldova to increase sales of its production in the EU, without damaging the EU’s wine industry.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) Russia is an important market outlet for Moldova’s winemakers. However, recently, the Russian market is no longer a certainty for wine product exports. In its quest to find an alternative to the Russian market, the European Commission has proposed increasing duty-free quotas from 100 000 hectolitres (hl) to 150 000 hl this year, from 120 000 hl to 180 000 hl in 2012 and up to 240 000 hl from 2013. I voted for this amendment in trade relations with the Republic of Moldova in order to increase the volume of duty-free wine imports. This amendment to Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 may provide a solution for the Republic of Moldova’s wine producers so that they can benefit from a more reliable market outlet, compared to when Russia imposed an embargo on Moldovan wines in 2006 and 2010, causing a number of winemakers to go bankrupt.

 
  
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  Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I abstained from voting on the proposal introducing autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova as I believe that its current wording does not adequately address the necessary provisions for the protection of EU geographical indications (GIs), particularly the GI that relates to port wines.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I would like to express my support for the economic recovery of Moldova and offer a positive outlook for the people who work in the country’s wine industry. I agree with the increase in the duty free tariff quota for wine, from 120,000 hl to 180,000 hl for 2011, and from 2013 onwards to 240,000 hl per year. I therefore voted in favour of this report, which in no way jeopardises the EU wine industry.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on introducing autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova, given that this sends a positive signal from the EU to this country, a member of the Eastern Partnership, which recently stated that it hopes to be able to submit its application to join the European Union in 2011. Moldova has undertaken an ambitious set of political, economic and social reforms, which must be encouraged to continue. At the same time, the Republic of Moldova has been hit hard by the economic and financial crisis. During the last four years, 40% of its wine producers have either ceased trading or gone into liquidation, while the companies still operating in this key sector of its economy have accumulated losses. Increasing the duty-free tariff rate quota for wine and extending the validity of Council Regulation No 55/2008 until the end of 2015 would help this country where the number of workers in the wine industry has risen to 300 000 and the agricultural sector accounts for 40% of GDP, without affecting the Union’s economy at the same time. These measures would also leave sufficient time to prepare the negotiations on creating an expanded, comprehensive free trade area, which is an objective shared by the EU and the Republic of Moldova.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as I believe that the Commission’s proposal, which amends the regulation that is currently in force, may serve to support Moldova’s economic recovery and provide a positive outlook for people working in the country’s wine industry, without damaging the interests of EU producers.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Moldovan wine industry is going through a period of crisis sparked by the reduction in exports, which have set back its economic recovery and reforms that would enable it to aspire to EU integration in a more realistic way. The increase in the duty free tariff quota, particularly for Moldovan wine, may help to alleviate the pressure on this sector.

I must stress that despite the EU’s willingness to help Moldova, the Union and its Member States should seek to ensure that wine from other states does not have quality standards that are below those required for EU wines.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This draft legislative resolution by Parliament is based on a proposal for a regulation by Parliament and the Council which amends Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 introducing autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova. Despite the efforts being made by its people and the reforms implemented by its government, the Republic of Moldova is undergoing a difficult situation due to the crisis which the wine sector, the most productive sector in the country, is facing, as it represents 40% of Moldova’s economy and employs more than a quarter of its working population.

It is therefore important to support Moldova’s economic recovery and give a positive sign of EU solidarity with a population that lives mostly in rural areas. I also welcome and am voting in favour of this draft legislative resolution to extend Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 until 31 December 2015, and I hope that a ‘deep and comprehensive free trade area’ will be set up between the EU and the Republic of Moldova by that date.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report approves a Commission proposal to authorise the increase in the duty free tariff quota for Moldovan wine. The Commission is proposing an increase in the quota from 100 000 hl to 150 000 hl in 2011, from 120 000 hl to 180 000 hl in 2012, and from 2013 onwards to 240 000 hl per year. According to the Commission, the proposed increases are based on the fact that Moldova has systematically exhausted the existing quote, and take into account ‘the potential of the sector to improve its niche markets in the EU’.

Although it has been stated that the proposed level of increase does not jeopardise the EU wine industry, we believe that there are still some doubts as to whether this is indeed the case, and that is why we have abstained. This consideration has taken account of the situation of crisis which many producers, particularly small and medium-sized producers, are currently facing in countries such as Portugal, with the dramatic drop in production prices and the incessant increases in input costs. These difficulties are exacerbated by changes introduced with the reform of the Common Market Organisation (CMO) and the planned aim of production rights. This reform has benefited large wine industry most of all, along with some importers…

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Mr Moreira’s report was adopted today, supporting a Commission proposal to authorise the increase in the duty free tariff quota for Moldovan wine. Although the Community’s executive states that the level of increase does not jeopardise the EU wine industry, given that there is doubt, and in the interests of Portuguese agriculture, we have abstained from voting.

Moldova has asked the Commission to increase its duty free tariff quota for wine under the autonomous trade preferences granted to the country in a 2008 regulation.

In order to support Moldova’s economic recovery and provide a positive outlook for people working in the wine industry in the country (one quarter of the workforce), there is a proposed increase in the duty free tariff quota for wine, from 100 000 hl to 150 000 hl for 2011, from 120 000 hl to 180 000 hl for 2012, and from 2013 onwards to 240 000 hl per year.

The Commission states that ‘as the general level of imports from Moldova is merely 0.04% of all EU imports, further market opening is not expected to create negative effects for the EU. Currently around 90% of all imports from Moldova…’

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The Commission’s proposal provides for a change to the regulations for relations with the Republic of Moldova. Given the period of crisis that the country in question is facing, the plan aims to increase the amount of wine imported from Moldova. According to the Commission, these imports would have a minimal impact on our markets and yet I do not feel that I can support the proposal in this current period of major economic crisis, which is already putting our farmers and wineries under serious pressure.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because in order to support Moldova's economic recovery and provide the people working in the wine industry in Moldova with a positive outlook, it is proposed to increase the duty free tariff quota for wine for 2011 from 100,000 hectolitres (hl) to 150,000 hl, for 2012 from 120,000 hl to 180,000 hl, and from 2013 onwards to 240,000 hl per year. The level of the proposed increase is based on the fact that Moldova has systematically exhausted the existing quota and the potential of the sector to improve its niche markets in the EU. Moreover, the level of the increase does not destabilise the EU wine industry. It is expected that Moldova's wine sector will continue to improve the quality of its wines. As Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 expires on 31 December 2012, and as it is important to ensure legal certainty for producers, exporters and importers, it is proposed to extend the validity of Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 for another three years to 31 December 2015.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. I will always declare that the Republic of Moldova has to be encouraged in its pro-European path. Moldova is experiencing difficulties with its wine exports to some of its traditional markets, which threaten its economic recovery and the reform process that it is vigorously pursuing. The arguments given in Vital Moreira’s report are convincing, Moldova needs Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 to be extended for a further three years, until 31 of December 2015. The request made by the Republic of Moldova in July 2010 is justified. Moldova needs the European Union to be a trustworthy partner. For these reasons, I endorse the report drafted by Vital Moreira on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The trade preferences granted to the Republic of Moldova by the EU have proven to be appropriate. Furthermore, no damaging effects on the EU wine industry have been recorded. As the poorest country in Europe, the Republic of Moldova needs the support of the EU. This is our moral duty in the interests of European unity and harmony. I therefore welcome the Commission’s proposal to extend the period of validity.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 introducing autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova. This brings our trade relations with Moldova into line with other neighbouring countries.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In the context of the Union’s neighbourhood policy, Moldova has always adopted an ambitious programme of political association and increasing economic integration with the EU, thereby making decisive progress towards convergence of its own laws with EU legislation and regulations ahead of the preparation for future, more extensive negotiations. Moldova has shown that it is ready to promote and bear the effects of such an ambitious undertaking, continuing along the lines of the progress already made in terms of the free EU market. We do however agree with the rapporteur, Mr Moreira, when he says that the Republic of Moldova is currently in a difficult situation over the export of some products, with consequent problems for its economic recovery. We therefore believe it is necessary to extend the validity of the regulation on some autonomous trade preferences by three years so as to give Moldova enough time to adequately prepare for the negotiations on the free trade area. Beginning with these considerations, the report that we have adopted aims to encourage Moldova’s economic recovery, in particular by increasing the tariff quota exempt from duties of some products subject to current autonomous trade preferences.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Moldova has been making efforts in recent years to move ever closer towards European standards of freedom, democracy and good governance. The efforts highlighted here have been consistent and have demonstrated Moldova’s concern with continuing on the route towards possible enlargement. Thus, in order to support Moldova’s economic recovery and provide a positive perspective for people working in the wine industry in the country (one quarter of the workforce), there is a proposed increase in the duty free tariff quota for wine, from 100 000 hl to 150 000 hl for 2011, from 120 000 hl to 180 000 hl for 2012, and from 2013 onwards to 240 000 hl per year. This is the direction which the amendments to this regulation are taking, and this will help the Moldovan economy and its development.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. Given that Moldova is experiencing difficulties with its wine exports to some of its traditional markets, which threaten its economic recovery and the reform process that it is vigorously pursuing, and in order to take measures to increase Moldova’s wine exports to support its economic development, it is necessary to: 1. increase the duty-free tariff quota for wine under the autonomous trade preferences; 2. extend the validity of the relevant regulation (which is due to expire on 31 December 2012) for another three years, until 31 December 2015; 3. increase the duty-free tariff quota for wheat, barley and maize.

I therefore voted ‘for’.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I welcome the vote in favour of this report. The Republic of Moldova needs the European Union’s support at this juncture when it is facing economic problems, like most countries in the world, but also problems intrinsic to political transition. At a time when Moldova is virtually facing a boycott of its wine exports in the Russian Federation’s market, increasing the duty-free tariff rate quota for wine is a timely measure and one which, I hope, will benefit this country’s economy.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agree with this resolution which proposes increasing autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova in the wine sector, which is vitally important for this country. It is noted that this would be an even greater incentive to enhance mutual relations between the European Union and Moldova, and to develop the European neighbourhood policy. As hitherto Moldova has fully exhausted the quota set, I agree with the proposal to increase the duty free tariff quota for wine. Attention is drawn to the fact that such regulation will not have a negative impact on the EU’s wine industry. Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries, facing major economic and political problems. The EU should create favourable conditions for Moldova to choose an appropriate geopolitical direction that would help address the country’s difficulties. Furthermore, the provisions of this resolution will create favourable conditions for the Moldovan wine sector to improve the quality of its product. I believe that it is reasonable to extent the validity of the entire regulation for another three years, to ensure legal clarity and certainty for producers, exporters and importers.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Moreira on autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova because it is consistent with the Union's neighbourhood policy and the economic agreements already in place with other bordering countries. Indeed, I think it is a good idea for the countries bordering the EU to receive reciprocal trade concessions, both for economic development and socio-political issues. The free movement of goods or a reduced customs duty allow a greater flow of capital and facilitate cooperation agreements. This will benefit bordering countries as well as the internal market. Clearly, its commercial purpose is important, however in doing this it is important not to forget other aspects that must be kept under consideration.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) As I had the chance to say earlier, it is vital that the EU has a coherent and effective European neighbourhood policy. Within the scope of this neighbourhood policy, Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 introduces a specific system of autonomous trade preferences for the Republic of Moldova, which provides free access to the EU market for all products from Moldova, with the exception of certain agricultural products listed in its annex, for which limited concessions have been given either in the form of exemption from customs duties within the limit of tariff quotas, or in the form of lower customs duties.

One of the exceptions to free movement is focused on the wine industry, with the implementation of a tariff quota that, according to the available data, has been fully used up months before the end of the year. Given the fact that the economy of Moldova is being heavily hit by the negative effects of the global financial and economic crisis, and that its wine sector employs about 300 000 workers, this report, which I voted for, proposes the increase of the current tariff quota for wine in order to support Moldova’s efforts and to provide an attractive and viable market for its wine exports, which, moreover, do not compete with Portuguese products.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) In order to support Moldova’s efforts at economic recovery and encourage the movement that has been seen towards convergence with EU legislation and standards, the Commission has put forward a proposal to increase the tariff quota for Moldovan wine. According to the Commission, this measure will not have any negative effects on the European wine industry, so I felt that it was worth supporting the granting of this aid to Moldova.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. The text of the report is short. It says: ‘The European Parliament, – having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0649), – having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0364/2010), – having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, – having regard to Rule 55 and 46(1) of its Rules of Procedure, – having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0041/2011), 1. Adopts its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal; 2. Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text; 3. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments’.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Republic of Moldova is going through a difficult period in terms of its wine exports, which is having a negative effect on the process of reform and economic recovery being undertaken by its government. The wine sector provides work for around 300 000 people (a quarter of the active population of the country) who mostly live in rural areas, cultivating small or medium-sized family plots. With these changes, I think that Regulation (EC) No 55/2008 can contribute to supporting Moldova’s economic recovery, providing workers in the country’s wine sector with better prospects for the period 2011-2013. In order to achieve the best possible neighbourhood policy it will now be important to pursue tariff preferences, with the aim of halting the decline of Moldova’s economy whilst at the same time reducing fiscal losses for the EU as much as possible.

 
  
  

Report: Helmut Scholz (A7-0051/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this report, given the amendments that were introduced in order to extend the validity of the current system – the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) – until December 2013, taking into account the uncertainty as to the time required to complete the current legislative process. The adoption of this report thus avoids a break in the legal coverage of the GSP and prevents disparities in treatment between different countries.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report since the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is a highly important trade and development mechanism that the EU has at hand. However, I would like to urge the Commission to come up with a more substantial review of the GSP scheme as soon as possible. I also think it is time for us to engage in a more substantial review of the GSP and GSP+ beneficiaries’ lists. The European Parliament should be consulted on this issue from the earliest stage. I also expect that Parliament will be involved in the process of monitoring whether the GSP+ beneficiaries uphold the 27 ILO and UN conventions, something that must be scrutinised thoroughly in order to maintain the reliability of the GSP+ mechanism.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. In 1968, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recommended the creation of a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) under which industrialised countries would grant trade preferences to all developing countries on a non-reciprocal basis, not just to former colonies. The European Community was the first to implement a GSP scheme in 1971 and it has been one of the key EU trade and development policy instruments to help developing countries reduce poverty by generating revenue through international trade. The GSP scheme applied by the EU offers the most favourable treatment, granting the least-developed countries duty-free and quota-free access to the EU’s market. This system also helps promote sustainable development and good governance for developing countries ratifying and implementing international conventions and protocols on human and labour rights, environmental protection, drugs and the fight against corruption.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) In 1968, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development recommended the creation of a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) under which industrialised countries would grant trade preferences to all developing countries on a non-reciprocal basis. The European Community was the first to implement a GSP scheme and since its creation the GSP has been one of the key EU trade and development policy instruments to assist developing countries reduce poverty by generating revenue through international trade. Although the system is the most used of the industrialised countries’ systems, I agree that we need to review the regulation in question so as to simplify the application of the scheme.

Additionally, I think that the general review should be dealt with in the proposal for a new regulation, which I hope will be tabled without delay. The new proposal must aim at making the GSP a clearer and more transparent system. I should also like to call on the Commission to look at the possibility of checking that the commitments have been fulfilled by periodically carrying out investigations that would also involve Parliament and representatives of civil society in the country in question.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. – (BG) I voted for this report because I think that the impact of the present system needs to be increased and the use of the Generalised System of Preferences improved by providing technical assistance specifically designed to create the institutional and regulatory capacity required to allow the countries most in need to take maximum advantage of the benefits of international trade and the system of preferences. Assistance must also be provided with the effective implementation of the international conventions required by this scheme and with the fulfilment of their commitments. I think that developing countries must offer assistance in the battle against poverty by generating revenue through international trade. This is the system most widely used among such systems available to the developed countries. I think that it must be extended in order to achieve legal certainty and guarantee the interests of both the EU and the beneficiary countries. However, during that time, the current unsatisfactory situation should be resolved without delay, accompanied by constant efforts to find a way of assisting the weaker countries which are in need.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I decided to vote for the report on generalised tariff preferences as it proposed the immediate adaptation of the ‘Generalised System of Preferences’ to the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon, as well as a general review of the scheme in the future. This general review would be aimed at increasing the involvement of beneficiary countries in the reform processes which affect them, granting technical assistance to help develop their institutional capacity, as well as at reviewing and harmonising the rules of origin.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Parliament has just agreed to extend the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for developing countries to run from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013. The GSP scheme is due to be reviewed this year, a process that should take into account the concerns expressed in the Committee on International Trade. We are calling for greater transparency and genuine cooperation during the GSP negotiations with each country. Commissioner De Gucht has undertaken to ensure that the European Parliament is closely involved in the decision-making process. He must now keep that promise.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The current regulation which establishes the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) will expire by the end of this year. However, since the Commission is still awaiting the conclusion of a study on the matter, so as to present a new proposal for the GSP, in order to avoid a legal vacuum it was decided to extend the existing regulation and its current arrangements for another two years. However, the Commission needs to present a legislative initiative on this subject very soon, because the current system needs to be reviewed and made more effective as a matter of urgency.

I therefore endorse the main points highlighted by the rapporteur, to be reviewed in this legislative proposal by the Commission. These propose an effective system that will respond better to the interests of the recipient countries and economic operators, and rules that provide for a reform process which ensures the participation of the recipients and which will also ensure that Parliament can carry out its task of democratic oversight.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) In 1968 the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recommended the creation of a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) under which countries that were considered to be more developed would support developing countries by granting trade preferences. The European Community was the first to implement a GSP scheme in 1971. This has proved to be one of the key methods for cooperation at the level of international trade with developing countries, by reducing poverty. The current regulation needs to be updated as it is due to lapse and as it is not covered in the Treaty of Lisbon. It also requires substantial reform. Although this proposal does not yet constitute a new regulation, the drafting of which is necessary, I would like to express my agreement with the report under discussion, and I hope that the Commission will submit a new proposal as soon as possible, so that the EU can continue to support developing countries.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is a trade mechanism which allows the EU to grant developing countries preferential, non-reciprocal access to its market through tariff reductions. While it is defined as a tool for development aid, this mechanism is not free of contradictions, especially between some of its stated purposes and the results that are actually obtained.

In effect, many developing countries have become increasingly economically dependent and have been shaping their economies according to a model of reduced diversification, based on a limited set of products for export, instead of developing their internal markets. An international division of labour has become ingrained. This is unfavourable to these countries; it is often the large multinationals, some of them European, that reap the greatest benefits from this system.

There needs to be a comprehensive review of this mechanism, along with a thorough discussion of its various aspects and complexities and their impact not only on developing countries, but also on the EU Member States, particularly the weakest. Given the Commission’s delay in submitting a new proposal for regulation, which means that it cannot enter into force immediately after the term of the existing regulation, there needs to be an extension of the existing…

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The current scheme of generalised tariff preferences expires at the end of this year, so this is simply about voting for the necessary extension in order to ensure legal certainty and the mutual interests of the approximately 150 countries involved.

However, the importance of this subject for both developing countries and EU Member States with weaker economies, whose industrial, agricultural or social interests are not always respected in the international trade agreements promoted by the Commission, makes it necessary to conduct a thorough discussion on the new regulation. The Commission should submit the proposal for this as soon as possible so as to allow all the different aspects and complexities of the Generalised System of Preferences to be properly analysed, along with its impact on different areas and countries.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) has been one of the key EU trade and development policy instruments to assist developing countries to reduce poverty. This measure prolongs the current situation since a new regulation has not been tabled, which is somewhat regrettable. Despite this, considering the importance of the instrument under discussion, I will vote in favour.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) Trade is an important and efficient instrument for combating poverty in developing countries. The transitional regulation on a scheme of generalised tariff preferences legally enshrines preferential access to the EU market for 176 developing countries. I supported the regulation, which ensures legal continuity, so that opportunities for trade remain available to developing countries. Moreover, it is the EU’s moral duty to support these countries in the development of democracy and the rule of law by enabling fair trade.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The resolution on the proposal to amend Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 applying a system of generalised tariff preferences for the period from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2011 was adopted by a wide majority in this House. If the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) were not extended, many developing countries could actually find themselves in hugely difficult situations. Ever since 1971, Europe has tried to support and assist developing countries in order to reduce poverty by generating revenue through international trade. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the procedure to change the GSP requires the intervention of the Council and of Parliament, which must pursue the creation of an effective system that is sensitive to the interests of the beneficiary countries whilst also requiring them to ratify and implement 27 international conventions on the protection of human rights, sustainable development, fundamental labour standards and good governance. Despite my support for this proposal for an extension valid until 2011, I feel I must emphasise the regret – which was also expressed by my group – over the Commission’s tardiness in dealing with this bill.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted in favour of this report which is a technical rollover to the GSP regulation. It extends the duration of the regulation until 31 December 2013 in order to allow sufficient time for the new regulation to be drafted by the Commission and for Parliament to exercise its new powers in international trade policy. This report is therefore not intended to tackle the substance of the regulation and it does not comment on whether GSP+ beneficiaries do in fact continue to qualify for these trade preferences on the basis of good governance, sustainable development and ratification and implementation of UN conventions in the field of social, environmental and human rights.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) We are all convinced that since its creation the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) has been one of the key European Union trade and development policy instruments. It has represented a major incentive for developing countries, long embroiled in the fight against poverty, to favour free access to their market and imports of their goods via tariff reductions. However, we agree with the rapporteur, Mr Scholz, who has expressed hope that the current Regulation on the subject will need to be extended, since this would ensure legal certainty and guarantee the interests of both the EU and the beneficiary countries and also avoid the current situation (which is still unsatisfactory) being extended. So far we have seen a certain underuse of the trade preferences guaranteed by the GSP, above all those related to the rules of origin, caused by a problem in the administrative procedures that characterise them. It would therefore be advisable to provide targeted technical assistance, for instance by operating twinning programmes, with the principal aim of promoting the development of regulatory capacities and guaranteeing the proper transposition of the international conventions. Finally, we are of the opinion that the Commission should carry out constant monitoring, with greater involvement from Parliament and the relevant social partners.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The existing regulation on generalised tariff preferences expires at the end of this year. Given the impossibility of a new regulation coming into force in due time because of the delay in the submission of the study requested by the committee, we are obliged to extend the existing regulation for two more years. However, given the importance of this regulation for governing trade between developing countries and the EU, the Commission needs to submit a new, updated version very soon.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) There can be no development without economic growth. Yet as I have said before, in the absence of an impartial state, economic growth is no guarantee of development. EU trade policy has an essential part to play in combating poverty and achieving the Millenium Development Goals. The EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is one of the tools that enables developing countries to compete on the international markets by offering either reduced customs duties or zero-rate access to the EU market for their exports. The GSP also releases countries from dependency on aid. We have approved the extension of the current regulation while we await the new draft regulation that has been requested in order to guarantee legal certainty. However, the European Parliament’s new powers in the field of trade following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon must be taken into account. Under the Treaty, measures in the GSP Regulation are considered to be delegated acts, which means that the European Parliament will have greater supervisory powers in future.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) As long ago as 1964, some developing countries were already calling loudly for trade preferences in order to improve their economic situation. In 1968, after an agreement was reached, a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) was introduced. The European Economic Community introduced the GSP in 1971 and other nations like the United States followed suit. The temporary granting of trade preferences sought to achieve the following goals: an increase in developing countries’ export proceeds by diversification of the exported products, promotion of industrialisation and an acceleration of economic growth in the developing countries. Furthermore, the GSP was intended to ensure that the products supported originated in developing countries. To date, the GSP represents one of the most important EU instruments in the area of trade and it is monitored by the European Commission. As the current scheme expires on 31 December of this year, the Commission already presented a new proposal back in May 2010. No amendments are proposed for the new regulation, although the rapporteur definitely believes that a redrafting of the schemes is necessary. I am abstaining from the vote because there do not seem to be any new, tangible proposals for the new regulation.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The regulation currently in force for generalised tariff preferences that enable free trade or lower duties in the trade of products between Member States and third countries, a regulation which is generally used to encourage trade with poor and/or developing countries, needs to be changed and put back into place, given its forthcoming expiry. I voted in favour of the report on the proposal for a new regulation on this subject because I agree with the objectives of the changes it aims to bring in. The amendment aims to create an effective system that is more sensitive to the interests of the beneficiary countries and economic operators, to develop more comprehensive rules and to guarantee Parliament’s role as the body of democratic control. I hope that this is the first step towards a solution to be identified at a global level for a general agreement on trade. After the failure of the Doha negotiations, these measures can only really be provisional, ahead of a more long-term solution.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 established a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that is valid until 31 December 2011. The GSP has been one of the EU’s main trade and development policy instruments for helping developing countries to reduce poverty, by generating income through international trade. Parliament’s consultation process with regard to the latest GSP was insufficient, and did not allow for wide-ranging negotiation. Parliament emphasised that in future more time will be needed for it to carry out its functions.

On 26 May 2010, the Commission proposed simply extending the period of application of the current regulation, claiming that there was not enough time to table a new regulation. This proposed extension did not take into account the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. Parliament raised this failure and proposed amendments to the Commission’s draft, with a view to ensuring that the rights and powers that Parliament had acquired through the Treaty of Lisbon would be respected.

I therefore voted in favour of this report, which approves the extension of the regulation in question and amends the elements required for respecting the new powers acquired by Parliament in the light of the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular guaranteeing new powers with regard to delegated acts.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) industrialised countries guarantee trade preferences to all developing countries on a non-reciprocal basis. It is one of the key EU trade and development policy instruments to assist developing countries to reduce poverty by generating revenue through international trade. The regulation currently in force and valid until 31 December 2012 does not respect the new powers granted to Parliament by the Treaty of Lisbon. The new proposal for a regulation aims to create a system that is more sensitive to the interests of the beneficiary countries and economic operators, to develop more rules that allow for a better regulated reform process and to ensure that the regulation gives due importance to the task of democratic control asked of Parliament. For these reasons I voted in favour of the proposal for a new regulation that aims for greater clarity and transparency in the GSP system.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since 1971, the European Union has been awarding preferential trade arrangements to developing countries within the framework of its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). The GSP is applied through successive regulations implementing a system of generalised tariff-related preferences, generally for three years at a time. The current system was instituted by Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 and applies until 31 December 2011, when it will be replaced by a new regulation, yet to be drawn up. However, the remaining period of application of Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 is not sufficient to allow a Commission proposal to be drawn up and a new regulation to be adopted by means of the Ordinary legislative procedure, so it would appear necessary to extend this regulation’s period of application until 31 December 2013, in order to ensure continuity in the functioning of the system.

I voted in favour, in the expectation that the Commission will table a new proposal quickly, which would contribute to making the GSP a clearer, more transparent and more effective system.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. The idea of a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) goes back to 1968, when tariffs were much higher in general and when they were still seen as the main barrier to trade from developing to industrialised countries. The concept was initially proposed by the UNCTAD as a development tool: industrialised countries should grant non-reciprocal trade preferences to developing countries, allowing them to generate revenue not via aid, but via international preferential trade. The European Community started to apply this scheme in 1971. The first three-year scheme was implemented from 2006 to 2008. The second scheme is due to expire on 31 December 2011. The current scheme was adopted in 2008 under the consultation procedure. However, at that time, the referral arrived in Parliament at very short notice. Meaningful Parliament involvement in the regulation was impossible. This should not happen again for the forthcoming regulation, in particular given Parliament’s new competencies under the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the text of this resolution because I think that the European Union’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is one of the key instruments to make it easier for developing countries to achieve growth. For this very reason it must be put into practice without delay.

As far back as 1971, the European Union stood out from the other economic powers as it was the first to establish a preferential tariff system for developing countries. The main aim is to eradicate endemic poverty everywhere, enabling countries in difficulty to draw the greatest benefits from international trade. Now the tariff agreement is close to expiry and the Commission has decided that the new proposal will be tabled in the coming months, though its entry into force will be delayed until at least the second half of 2012.

This delay will result in a legal vacuum of more than six months, causing a discontinuity in the programme that even risks putting the many results already achieved under threat. I hope that this lamented delay will not cause the use of the generalised tariff system to decline and that the new agreement will provide a stimulus for the implementation of a global trade system based on ethics and democracy.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) It is very important for the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences to become more transparent. It is important for the EU’s tariff preferences for imports from third countries to be based on democracy and ethics, and not simply the pursuit of profit. Tariff preferences should be beneficial to the whole of society and not just a certain number of companies. The rapporteur accurately observed that the proposal to extend the current regulation is not ideal, but it would allow us to avoid a legal vacuum lasting more than six months. Under the current regulation, the European Parliament has no say on the criteria for eligibility, or on the list of the beneficiary countries. This should change: The time has come for Parliament to make use of its new post-Lisbon powers in the trade arena. The EU should pay more attention to the development of cooperation with neighbouring countries in the area of trade policy. This would help establish a stable and liberal business environment and would facilitate the gradual enlargement of the European single market. It is in the EU’s interests to sign a free trade agreement with Ukraine and begin negotiations with other Eastern Partnership countries which are members of the World Trade Organisation – Georgia, Moldova and Armenia.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) I have voted against this report. As the rapporteur himself states, the system in its current form has more than a few shortcomings. Although the Commission was called on to table a proposal for a new regulation which would, on the one hand, address the inadequacies of the legal framework and, on the other, take account of the institutional changes since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, ensuring among other things that Parliament is given greater powers of scrutiny than it has under the procedure that is currently applied, the draft that has been tabled contains an unnecessary extension of the current unsatisfactory situation. In the parliamentary report, the rapporteur also discusses some of his proposals for improvements which could or should be included in the future proposal for a new regulation. The Commission should take these proposals on board and table a new, improved regulation without delay.

 
  
  

Report: Artur Zasada (A7-0046/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, given that the combined air space of the US and the EU represents 60% of global air traffic, and current bilateral agreements between Member States and the US do not reflect reality. The opening up of air space between the US and EU on a non-discriminatory basis should provide improved services for the transportation of passengers and cargo, economic benefits, and above all jobs.

I would therefore say that this is beneficial, as a convergence regulation could promote free competition, particularly with regard to state subsidies, and social and environmental criteria.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The US and European aviation markets represent over half of the world’s air traffic. Consequently, in view of global warming, the European Union and the United States need to work together to reduce the environmental impact of international aviation. I have therefore voted in favour of the Agreement in which both parties undertake to adopt environmental and social standards that will considerably reduce noise pollution and mitigate the effects of air traffic emissions on air quality, whilst also committing to developing sustainable alternative fuels. For the first time, both parties have also agreed to guarantee the social rights of airline staff.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this Protocol to amend the EU-US air transport agreement. The Protocol contains important elements of progress in EU-US cooperation on air transport issues. It also avoids the risk that, in the absence of such an agreement, someone might trigger the suspension clause, contained in the first-stage Agreement. Suspension could lead to European passengers and airlines losing the significant gains that have been enjoyed since March 2008. Attention should also be drawn to the fact that this new Agreement has opened the way to opportunities in terms of additional investment and market access as well as strengthening cooperation in regulatory areas such as safety, security and the environment, where both sides agreed a dedicated Joint Statement on the Environment.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. (PL) The EU Member States and the US account for a share of 60% of global aviation markets. We should therefore strive to ensure a steady increase in the quality of services in this area. By agreeing to the conclusion of an air transport Agreement between the EU and the United States, we are contributing to the growth of the aviation sector by making it possible to attract greater investment on both sides of the Atlantic. Furthermore, the Agreement will help to strengthen the protection of employee rights within the sector, step up cooperation on air travel safety and also, thanks to the compatibility requirement, strengthen cooperation on environmental matters. It is also significant that the role of the EU-US Joint Committee is strengthened, by enabling it to promote new initiatives when putting the Agreement into effect. I believe that the new Agreement will help further to open up access to the market, which will mean higher-quality services and more stringent safety requirements, and I therefore endorse the resolution.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this initiative because air transport markets represent 60% of world traffic. This Agreement will bring about the changes in United States legislation that are necessary for increasing convergence on regulations preventing unfair competition. New routes will be opened, and operators and passengers will be offered improved services and prices, which will, in turn, contribute to economic growth, leading to job creation on both sides of the Atlantic.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Although far from perfect, the EU-US Air Transport Agreement marks a step forward, paving the way not only for future opportunities in terms of additional investment and market access, but also for measures providing increased safety and security. The air transport market has not been completely opened up by both sides as a result of the version of the Agreement reached through negotiation. However, it contains sufficient incentives to encourage reform. The US needs to change its domestic legislation to allow EU investors majority ownership of US airlines, generating reciprocal measures from the EU. The EU-US Joint Committee has received increased powers, which means that it will be able to enhance cooperation by promoting new initiatives. The new rules will reduce red tape, including through mutual recognition of each other’s regulatory decisions, and avoid the wasteful duplication of resources. The recognition of the importance of the social dimension and the responsibility given to the Joint Committee to monitor the social effects of the Agreement and develop appropriate responses as necessary are an innovation introduced in the second stage of the Agreement.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I welcome the fact that the European Union and the United States have declared their intention of working together to reduce the impact of international aviation on the environment. I applaud the initiatives for reducing noise, for reducing the impact of aviation on air quality and the global climate, for encouraging the development of environmentally friendly aviation technology, and for innovation with regard to air traffic management, and for the sustainable development of alternative aviation fuels.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted in favour of this recommendation, as I believe that the Agreement under consideration may be an important step towards opening up the market to EU and US airlines on a non-discriminatory basis. This opening up of the market may contribute to the improvement of services provided to passengers, in terms of both variety and cost, and provide substantial economic benefits.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Although it has not yet achieved a single transatlantic market for air transport, the amendment to the Air Transport Agreement between the United States and the European Union contains significant improvements compared to the previous version, particularly in terms of the environment and security.

I hope that the progress made will enable continued efforts towards reducing the obstacles to creating this market, particularly with regard to the inter-operability and compatibility of systems, and the imbalance in competition laws, which favour US firms in terms of the ownership and control of airlines, not least the Fly America Act.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This draft legislative resolution is based on the draft decision of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Union, meeting within the Council on the conclusion of the Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement between the United States of America, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part. The ideal agreement would be one that proposed a complete opening up of the aviation market, without any restrictions on either side. However, this objective has not been achieved.

Therefore, taking into account the regulatory changes due to the Treaty of Lisbon, the size of the aviation markets within the EU and the US, which account for 60% of global air traffic, the need to respect the privacy of European and US citizens, and the existence of rules ensuring respect for the rights of passengers, I welcome this Agreement. It represents significant progress compared with the status quo. However, it is important to emphasise the need for the European Parliament and the United States Congress to maintain dialogue on issues not covered by this Agreement.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The objectives of this Agreement are set out clearly by the rapporteur: the ‘opening of the market’: in other words, the deepening of the liberalisation under way within this sector, ‘creating a single market for air transport’. It should be stressed, as pointed out by the rapporteur, that the aviation markets of the EU and the US together represent around 60% of global air traffic.

The promises of benefits for workers and passengers that always accompany these liberalisation processes are as old and trite as they are false, as demonstrated by the reality in cases where liberalisation has gone ahead, whether in this sector or in other sectors. Propaganda relating to ‘environmental cooperation’ has now been added to these promises; a question that can and must be tackled without doubt, but not within this context. Even here, it is clear what the intention is: promoting the compatibility and interaction of emission licence-trading regimes.

In the name of free competition, which justifies everything and to which everything is subject, severe limitations are being placed on state intervention in defence of the interests of national airlines, and therefore in defence of national strategic interests in a number of areas, such as links with migrant communities.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) These agreements are another part of the process of liberalisation under way within the air transport sector, which obstructs state intervention in and regulation of this strategic sector, opening the door to the monopolistic concentration that always results from free competition, which is sacrosanct and defended at all cost.

In the name of facilitating business opportunities within international air transport, which promotes the interests of multinationals within the sector at the expense of national companies and their respective strategic interests, including those that are publicly owned, as is the case in Portugal with TAP Portugal. As a result, aviation company workers lose out, passengers lose out, and other workers lose out, as liberalisation facilitates dumping by multinationals, imposing unsecure jobs through the levelling down of working conditions.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing.(LT) I agreed with this document, because the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, extended the circumstances in which Parliament’s consent was required for the conclusion of an international agreement. Air agreements now fall within this category because they cover a field to which the ordinary legislative procedure applies. The EU-US aviation markets account for about 60% of world air traffic. Opening the market to EU and US airlines on a non-discriminatory basis would offer passengers and freight operators improved services, in terms of both variety and cost, provide substantial economic benefits and create jobs. Regulatory convergence could do much to promote fair competition, particularly with regard to state subsidies, social and environmental standards. While the second-stage Agreement represents a significant step forward, it is important for it not to be regarded as the end of the process of establishing a transatlantic aviation market. I believe that the Commission needs to look forward towards negotiating another stage of this Agreement covering issues including: further liberalisation of traffic rights; additional foreign investment opportunities; the effect of environmental measures and infrastructure constraints on the exercise of traffic rights; and better coordination of passenger rights policies in order to ensure the highest possible level of protection for passengers. Consistent standards of passenger rights, including those for people of reduced mobility, are of particular importance so as to avoid travellers facing inconsistent treatment while travelling. All of these air agreements are beneficial and necessary for the European Union, our airlines and our citizens.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this Agreement, which is correct in so far as it goes. However, while the incentives to further market opening are welcome, the absence of substantive progress in removing outdated regulatory constraints in the area of foreign investment is disappointing, as this will maintain the current unbalanced restrictions on foreign ownership and control in the United States. In addition, EU carriers will only gain limited access to US Government-financed traffic. This again represents the continuation of an unbalanced situation, given that EU national governments do not impose similar restrictions.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) This amendment to the Agreement on air transport between the European Union and the United States represents an excellent opportunity to develop the potential of a market that accounts for 60% of world air traffic. The European Commission has by now made significant progress in the attempt to establish an Open Aviation Area between the EU and the US, in which investments could flow freely and both EU and US airlines would be able to provide air services without any restriction. We now recognise the need for more intense cooperation in order to face up to ever-changing challenges in the fields of security and the environment, as well as to promote further investment in order to guarantee free access to the market. The provision of an EU-US Joint Committee is crucial: it will monitor the social impact of the regulatory cooperation programme, which will help reduce existing red tape. We would mention the problematic issue of exchanging personal passenger data between the EU and the US, and therefore the relationship between international security and the privacy of citizens. We consider it essential that Parliament be kept fully informed about the work of the Joint Committee, foreign investments, infrastructure constraints on the exercise of traffic rights and the coordination of passenger rights policies.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-US Agreement is very important for the future of relations between both sides. As such, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament needs to be fully informed and consulted with regard to the work carried out by the Joint Committee, as well as all of the entities involved.

Any agreement that is to be concluded will need to be adopted by Parliament, which will therefore need to be kept up-to-date with all negotiations, and it will be important in the future for regular meetings to be held between Members of this House and members of the US Congress, in order to debate all questions relating to aviation policy between the EU and the US.

This Agreement is therefore an important step towards opening up the market to airlines from the EU and the US without any discrimination. This opening up of the market may contribute to the improvement of services provided to passengers.

 
  
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  Judith A. Merkies (S&D), in writing.(NL) The delegation of the Dutch Labour Party to the European Parliament certainly does not consider this second stage Agreement to be perfect, but it takes the view that it will lead to progress in important areas. In addition, it will prevent the United States from activating the suspension clause in the absence of such an Agreement. Suspension could lead to European passengers and airlines no longer being able to profit from the significant benefits which they have enjoyed since March 2008 thanks to this protocol. The benefits and positive aspects include, in particular, agreements on working standards for airline staff, sharing good practice with regard to noise abatement, strengthening cooperation in the field of environmental protection etc. The delegation of the Dutch Labour Party to the European Parliament recognises the ongoing need to pursue a proper debate on safety requirements (such as the use of scanners) and the impact on privacy and health of passengers of such requirements. In addition, it would highlight the need for the privacy of European and US citizens to be put centre stage and respected when passengers’ personal data is exchanged between the EU and the US. It is essential that Parliament is and remains involved in these negotiations and that European regulations are not eroded.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. The Agreement is not perfect but does herald some serious progress. If there is no such Agreement, someone might trigger the suspension clause, which would deprive the EU’s passengers and airlines of the significant gains that have been enjoyed since March 2008. Given the fact that US is a difficult partner in negotiations we should aspire for progress in further negotiations in this direction.

I therefore voted ‘for’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Air transport has increased in general and therefore the aviation markets of the EU and the United States have also grown. For a long time, the Member States have negotiated with the United States on an individual basis and concluded bilateral agreements. The shift to EU level enables European airlines to fly to any destination in the United States from any point in the EU. As a precondition for this, some reforms had to be carried out both in the United States and in the European Union. The new Agreement is intended to open the way to future opportunities in terms of additional investment and market access and improve cooperation between the regulatory authorities. However, the agreement is one-sided if existing restrictions on foreign ownership and control in the United States continue to remain. Thus, with this new agreement, the EU is allowing itself once again to be deceived by the United States, and that is something that I cannot support.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) It makes perfect sense for air transport agreements with the United States to now be concluded at European level instead of separately with individual Member States as they were previously. This will allow European airlines to fly to all destinations within the United States. What I am not happy about, however, is the one-sided nature of this Agreement, in which the EU, on the one hand, is making numerous concessions, while the United States, on the other, is insisting on restrictions on foreign ownership, for example. The EU must put itself in a stronger position in relation the United States in this regard.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The open-skies agreement reached between the United States and the European Union is a guarantor of progress and a mirror of economic development for both regions. Fully opening the transatlantic market would represent an important step towards improving the situation in the global aviation sector. There would be an economic benefit for both parties worth millions, and many new jobs would be created, along with business development opportunities. While striving for economic benefits, we must not forget security requirements. Standards of flight safety and security are vitally important to passengers, crew and the whole aviation sector. Security standards must be harmonised in ascending order. EU and US institutions responsible for flight security must cooperate at all levels. EU security standards must meet the requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. We must make every effort to ensure that our own lives, as well as those of our children and the loved ones, are taken seriously. We cannot allow the flying, working and rest time of flight crew members in the European Union to be subject to lower security requirements, which could endanger people’s lives.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the Agreement on Air Transport between the European Union and the United States. I did so precisely in order to make our political weight felt since, although they are not considered the best even by Mr Zasada himself, the agreements reached do offer a way to manage air transport that will in any case benefit the citizens of the two continents, both in terms of travel and trade. Thanks to further liberalisation of traffic rights, additional foreign investment opportunities and better coordination of passenger rights policies, the EU and USA have both been guaranteed important benefits.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I voted in favour of this amendment to the EU-US Air Transport Agreement. Any suspension would lead to passengers and airlines from the Union experiencing significant losses to the benefits that they have enjoyed since March 2008. I agree with the rapporteur’s analysis that this Agreement is not perfect. However, it has the merit of tabling important elements that enable this process to move forward, and avoid the risk of the activation of the suspension clause in the absence of an agreement of this nature.

In fact, this Agreement – a second-stage Agreement – does not achieve the end objective of a complete opening up of the market, with no restrictions on either side, although it does contain a series of incentives promoting reform. In concrete terms, when the US amends its legislation to allow EU investors to become majority shareholders in US airlines, the EU will reciprocate. In any case, this process will not be straightforward, and any decision relating to it will depend on monitoring and the final proposal arrived at, under circumstances that are instrumental to ensuring improved air transport and the success of European companies.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union and United States aviation markets, taken together, account for about 60% of world air traffic. The Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement provides for the market to be opened up to EU and US airlines on a non-discriminatory basis and offers passengers and freight operators improved services, in terms of both variety and cost, provides substantial economic benefits and creates jobs. In addition, further progress on cooperation and regulatory convergence in this area could do much to promote fair competition, particularly with regard to State subsidies and social and environmental standards. For the reasons outlined above, I am therefore voting in favour of the adoption of the Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement between the EU and the US.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Despite not having achieved the end objective of the complete opening up of the transatlantic air market, this second-stage Agreement between the EU and the US represents significant progress in this direction, providing new commercial opportunities for European airlines and substantial benefits to passengers and cargo operators, in terms both of strengthening the provision of services and of reducing costs.

I therefore voted in favour of the conclusion of this signing of this Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement between the EU and the US, as I would like to see a continuation of negotiating efforts towards greater liberalisation of traffic rights, the strengthening of cooperation in different areas, and the abolition of regulatory restrictions in place in the US with regard to the ownership and control of US airlines by non-nationals.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, extended the circumstances in which Parliament’s consent is required for the conclusion of international agreements. Air transport agreements now fall within this category because they cover a field to which the ordinary legislative procedure applies. Previously, Parliament was only consulted on such agreements. As a result, this Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement is subject to Parliament's consent, whereas the initial Agreement was concluded after consultation of Parliament. The EU-US aviation markets, taken together, account for about 60% of world air traffic. Opening the market to EU and US airlines on a non-discriminatory basis would offer passengers and freight operators improved services, in terms of both variety and cost, provide substantial economic benefits and create jobs. In addition, regulatory convergence could do much to promote fair competition, particularly with regard to state subsidies and social and environmental standards.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) European and United States airlines, taken together, account for around 60% of world air traffic, thereby representing an unrivalled economic force in the sector. Opening up the EU and US aviation market would, de facto, enable more services to be offered at lower costs, with positive repercussions for both the economy and employment. Indeed, common standards would favour a more uniform integrated development, above all from the social and environmental point of view.

I am therefore pleased to see that the agreement reached contains numerous incentives designed to encourage these changes. The ability to make equity investments in the respective airlines, as well as increased consultation and cooperation on security, are just some examples of this. I now hope that Parliament adopts the Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement between the EU and the US, avoiding triggering the suspension clause, which would cause the benefits achieved so far to be lost.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The European Parliament today adopted an Protocol to Amend the Air Transport Agreement in place between the European Union and the United States, and I voted in favour of it.

The proposal is a significant step toward improving transatlantic relations in the area of aviation. The aviation markets in the EU and the US together represent around 60% of global air traffic. The opening up of markets to airlines will provide improved services for passengers and cargo operators, and will bring great benefits in terms of the economy and of job creation.

However, the Agreement should not be seen as the end of the process. The Agreement in question, described as second-stage, does not achieve the end objective of the complete opening up of the market, with no restrictions on either side. It is also extremely important to have consistent rules with regard to the rights of passengers, and better coordination of policies relating to this. Finally, it should also be emphasised that issues such as greater liberalisation of traffic rights, increased opportunities for foreign investment, and the effect of environmental measures on traffic rights will need to be taken into account during any future phase of negotiation.

 
  
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  Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (PPE), in writing. (PL) I am in favour of adopting the motion for a resolution on the above matter. The Treaty of Lisbon extended the circumstances in which Parliament’s consent was required for the conclusion of an international agreement. Air agreements now fall within this category, because they cover a field to which the ordinary legislative procedure applies. Previously Parliament had only been consulted on such agreements. The EU-US aviation markets, taken together, account for around 60% of world air traffic. Opening the market to EU and US airlines on a non-discriminatory basis would offer passengers and freight operators improved services in terms of both variety and cost, provide substantial economic benefits and create jobs. In addition, regulatory convergence could do much to promote fair competition, particularly with regard to state subsidies and social and environmental standards. At the same time, we should recognise that a number of issues remain outside the scope of the Agreement as amended by the new Protocol. For this reason, the Commission needs to look forward towards negotiating another stage of this Agreement, covering issues including: further liberalisation of traffic rights, additional foreign investment opportunities and the effect of environmental measures and infrastructure constraints on the exercise of traffic rights.

 
  
  

Report: Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (A7-0045/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, firstly because it is a substantial improvement on the current bilateral agreements between Member States and Canada, which are quite restricted, and secondly because of the significant improvement that it offers in terms of services and air connections between the two markets, with the resulting economic, environmental, security, passenger transport, competition and legal benefits, amongst other things.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union and Canada have agreed to cooperate on air transport with the aim of mitigating the impact of aviation on climate change. In terms of security and passenger safety, the Agreement envisages mutual recognition of standards and ‘one-stop’ security. All European Union airlines will be able to operate weekly flights between Canada and the EU. This Agreement will significantly improve the connections between the markets of both countries and the links between people, while creating new opportunities for the airline sector through a gradual liberalisation of foreign ownership rules. I voted for this report as it contains specific provisions for improving consumer interests.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Until now, air transport between EU Member States and Canada has been regulated solely by bilateral agreements. As the European Union and Canada have long maintained economic and political links, it has become necessary for the two parties to reach an agreement on air transport. I have therefore voted in favour of this Agreement, which provides for the phased implementation of traffic rights, investment opportunities and cooperation in a number of areas (not least air safety through the creation of a shared security system, but also social matters, consumer interests and environmental issues). Under the Agreement, all existing restrictions on routes, pricing and the number of services flying between the European Union and Canada will also be removed. This Agreement is both ambitious and essential.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agreed with the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement. The Agreement includes a gradual phasing-in of traffic rights and investment opportunities, as well as far reaching cooperation on a number of issues including safety, security, social matters, consumer interests, environment, air traffic management, state aids and competition. All EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe. It is also to be welcomed that this Agreement removes all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU. Airlines will be free to enter into commercial arrangements such as code-share agreements, which are important for airlines serving a large number of destinations, and to establish their tariffs in line with the countries’ competition law.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) In 2007, the Council granted the Commission a mandate to negotiate a global aviation agreement. That year 9 million people travelled between the United States and Canada. The purpose of the Agreement was to create a single market for air transport. This entailed the need to modify Canadian legislation. Progress in totally opening up the market and implementing the necessary legislative changes has been gradual. Nonetheless, the fact that restrictions on routes have been eliminated, weekly flights have been introduced and commercial agreements are now open to airlines, all constitute advances. Despite the difficulties, I believe we must continue to work until the single market becomes a reality. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. – (BG) It is well known that prior to this Agreement, aviation was the subject of bilateral agreements with 19 of the EU Member States. I supported this proposal because it will facilitate air transport, but mainly because it includes a gradual phasing-in of air traffic rights and investment opportunities, as well as far-reaching cooperation on a number of issues including safety, security, social matters, consumer interests, the environment, air traffic management, state aids and competition. Such an Agreement was a necessity.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) An aviation agreement between the EU and Canada would, under normal circumstances, have my full support, as I am wholly in favour in removing barriers to free movement, both within the EU and between the EU and third countries. In a situation where Canada continues to impose a unilateral visa requirement on citizens of the Czech Republic, however, I regard this Agreement as the misguided accommodation on the part of the EU of a country which does not deserve such accommodation. The EU should have the courage to link both of these issues – the visa requirement and the signing of the international agreement – as this may provide a rare opportunity to put effective pressure on Canada over the visa affair. It is astonishing that Canada, on the one hand, allows EU airlines to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in the EU, and, on the other hand, prevents the citizens of one Member State from travelling freely to Canada. It is widely felt that the relationship between the EU and Canada has gradually developed into a strategic partnership, and the concluded Agreement will confirm and strengthen the nature of the partnership. However, if Canada continues to impose a unilateral visa requirement against Czech citizens, this partnership will have a very bitter taste to it.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This Agreement, which will enable European airlines to establish direct flights to Canada from any point in Europe, as well as to explore code sharing for these routes, can be described as the most ambitious air transport agreement concluded by the European Union. It seeks to eliminate provisions included in previous bilateral agreements that violated Union Law, and which threatened equality of treatment between companies owned by nationals of different Member States.

I would like to see European Union–Canada relations strengthened, and for us to be able to move more and better toward air space with fewer barriers between states.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This recommendation deals with the draft decision of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Union, meeting within the Council on the conclusion of the Agreement on Air Transport between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and Canada, of the other part.

Economic and political relations between the European Union and Canada date back a long time, and have given rise to bilateral agreements in this area. However, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, which requires European Parliament approval for agreements relating to air services, the Commission began a process of negotiation that has now come to an end, through which a set of traffic rights and investment possibilities have been established, together with cooperation in several areas: security, defence of consumer rights, the environment, management of air traffic, social rights and fair competition.

I therefore welcome the adoption of this proposal, which will facilitate travel for EU and Canadian citizens by removing various restrictions, enabling code sharing and establishing fairer pricing.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The similarities between the objectives in this case and the Agreement with the US are clear: the creation of a single market for air transport between the EU and Canada, a market that, in 2007, represented a volume of 9 million passengers.

The rapporteur stated that the Agreement is even ‘more ambitious and specific than the EU-US Agreement’, but also acknowledges that ‘Although this Agreement is more ambitious than that with the US regarding market access, it is less explicit when it comes to recognising the importance of the social dimension’. In other words, even the empty references made to the impact of the Agreement on jobs, workers and working conditions were overlooked in this case. The truth is that, in this case as well, the absence of restrictions that was demanded with regard to suppliers and services provided – for operations between countries, within each country, and even outside the EU and Canadian markets, as provided for by the Agreement – and to limitations on state intervention in airlines will contribute to the objective of opening the way to monopolistic concentration within the sector…

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The objectives of this report are clear: the creation of a single market for air transport between the EU and Canada, a market that, in 2007, represented a volume of 9 million passengers. The rapporteur stated that the Agreement is even ‘more ambitious and specific than the EU-US Agreement’, but also acknowledges that ‘Although this Agreement is more ambitious than that with the US regarding market access, it is less explicit when it comes to recognising the importance of the social dimension’.

In other words, even the empty references made to the impact of the Agreement on jobs, workers and working conditions were overlooked in this case. Even the absence of restrictions that was demanded with regard to suppliers and services provided – for operations between countries, within each country, and even outside the EU and Canadian markets, as provided for by the Agreement – and to limitations on state intervention in airlines will contribute to the objective of opening the way to monopolistic concentration within the sector, with adverse effects for workers and passengers, contrary to what has been said. That is why we voted against.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because the Agreement includes a gradual phasing-in of traffic rights and investment opportunities, as well as far reaching cooperation on a number of issues including safety, security, social matters, consumer interests, environment, air traffic management, state aids and competition. All EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from anywhere in Europe. The Agreement removes all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU. Airlines will be free to enter into commercial arrangements such as code-share agreements, which are important for airlines serving a large number of destinations, and to establish their tariffs in line with competition law. The Agreement contains provisions for the phased market opening linked to the granting of greater investment freedoms by both sides. The ambitious nature of this Agreement is very much to be welcomed. It should serve as a target for other negotiations currently underway. I therefore believe that Parliament should consent to the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement. All of these air agreements are beneficial and necessary for the European Union, our airlines and our citizens.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I welcome this Agreement, which can fairly be described as the most ambitious air transport agreement between the EU and a major world partner. It will significantly improve both the connections between respective markets and people-to-people links, as well as creating new opportunities for the airline sector through a gradual liberalisation of foreign ownership rules. In particular, it is more ambitious and specific than the EU-US Agreement with regard to traffic rights, ownership and control, even following the provisional application of the amending Protocol (‘second stage’).

According to a study launched by the Commission, an open agreement with Canada would generate an additional half a million passengers in its first year and, within a few years, 3.5 million extra passengers might be expected to take advantage of the opportunities such an agreement could offer. The Agreement could generate consumer benefits of at least EUR 72 million through lower fares and would also create new jobs.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) Although the European Union and Canada have long-standing economic and political ties, prior to the current Agreement, aviation was the subject of bilateral agreements with a number of the Member States. It is therefore necessary to pursue the objective of establishing an Open Aviation Area that clears the way for the creation of a single market for air transport, in which investments would flow freely and both parties’ airlines would be able to provide air services without any restrictions. We think that existing legal restrictions on ownership of Canadian airlines should be removed and, at the same time, new traffic rights and cooperation on a range of issues – including passenger safety, respect for the environment, air traffic management and security – ought to be introduced. We can therefore surely say that the Agreement adopted today is truly ambitious. It will bring about a decisive improvement in connections between the respective markets and will create new opportunities for the sector. However, we do recommend increased consultation and cooperation on the delicate issue of security and we call on the Commission to keep Parliament informed of all developments and to watch over the work of the new Joint Committee.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement is very important for the future of relations between both sides. As such, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament needs to be fully informed and consulted with regard to the work carried out by the Joint Committee, as well as all of the entities involved. Any Agreement that is to be concluded will need to be adopted by Parliament, which will therefore need to be kept up-to-date with all negotiations.

This Agreement is therefore an important step towards opening up the market to airlines from the EU and Canada without any discrimination. This opening up of the market may contribute to the improvement of services provided to passengers. This is the most ambitious transport Agreement ever signed between two countries.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. I fully agree with Silvia-Adriana Ţicău: the Agreement is the most ambitious air transport agreement between the EU and a major world partner. It will significantly improve both connections between the respective markets and people-to-people links, and will create new opportunities for the airline sector through a gradual liberalisation of foreign ownership rules. In particular, it is more ambitious and better focused than the EU-US Agreement in terms of traffic rights, ownership and control.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this agreement on air transport between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and Canada, of the other part. This is a very ambitious Agreement, which provides for the gradual establishment of traffic rights and investment possibilities, together with full cooperation in several areas, including questions of security, social questions, the defence of consumer interests, the environment, the management of air traffic, state aid and competition. All European Union airlines will be able to operate direct flights to Canada from any European airport. The Agreement removes all existing restrictions on routes, prices and the number of weekly flights between Canada and the EU. It is with satisfaction that I am voting vote for this Agreement, given its ambitious nature and the possibilities that it opens up for making the historical ties that exist between the Azores and Canada even closer.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement is one of the most ambitious air transport agreements between the EU and a major world partner. It includes a gradual phasing-in of traffic rights and investment opportunities, as well as far-reaching cooperation on issues such as: safety, security, social matters, consumer interests, the environment, air traffic management, state subsidies and competition.

The Agreement will improve the connections between the respective markets and people-to-people links, as well as creating new opportunities for the airline sector through a gradual liberalisation of foreign ownership rules. According to recent studies, an open agreement with Canada would generate an additional half million passengers in its first year and, within a few years, 3.5 million extra passengers might be expected to take advantage of the opportunities such an agreement could offer. The Agreement could generate consumer benefits of at least EUR 72 million through lower fares and would also create new jobs. For the reasons outlined above, I am voting in favour of the adoption of the Agreement on air transport between the EU and Canada.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of concluding the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement, which will enable European airlines to establish direct flights to Canada from any point within Europe, generating, firstly, new opportunities for European companies – in particular, thanks to the possibility of reaching code-sharing agreements and the progressive liberalisation of rules in the area of foreign investment – and, secondly, substantial economic benefits, both for consumers and with regard to job creation.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE) , in writing – (CS) In my opinion, the aviation agreement with Canada is a fundamental commercial instrument which will deliver benefits to both sides, but in view of the discrimination against Czech citizens and the position of MPs from the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, I am abstaining from the vote. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic has suspended talks on the ratification of the Agreement until such time as there is clear progress by the Commission in talks with Canada over ending the unilateral visa requirement for Czech citizens. For almost two years there has been a two-tier citizenship of the EU, as Czech citizens cannot travel freely to Canada like others do, while Canadians can travel freely to the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic cannot respond reciprocally because of the common visa policy of the EU, but the Commissioner is failing to safeguard this policy.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, extended the circumstances in which Parliament’s consent was required for the conclusion of an international agreement. Air agreements now fall within this category because they cover a field to which the ordinary legislative procedure applies. Previously Parliament had only been consulted on such agreements.

Although the EU and Canada have long-standing economic and political ties, prior to the current Agreement, aviation was the subject of bilateral agreements with 19 of the EU Member States. Many of these agreements were restrictive and did not offer full access to the respective markets. In November 2002, the European Court of Justice ruled that certain provisions in these bilateral agreements were incompatible with Community law.

The Council therefore gave the Commission a mandate, in October 2007, to negotiate a comprehensive aviation agreement in place of the existing bilateral agreements. In that year nine million people were travelling between the EU and Canada. The EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement was initialled on 30 November 2008, endorsed by the EU-Canada summit on 6 May 2009 and signed on 17-18 December 2009. The EU and Canada also negotiated an agreement on air safety. This is the subject of a separate recommendation (A7-0298/2010).

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Although the European Union and Canada have long-standing economic and political ties, until today the only existing Agreement on aviation between the EU and Canada was borne out of a combination of bilateral agreements between countries. This protocol includes the introduction of traffic rights and investment opportunities, as well as cooperation on a number of issues, particularly increased guarantees on safety and security. I am in favour of the text of this Agreement because it introduces measures designed to gradually open up the Canadian air market, allowing greater investment freedoms for both parties. In order to properly fulfil the mandate, Canada needs to change its legislation to remove the existing legal restrictions on ownership and control of Canadian airlines and on the number of services offered by each airline.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This Agreement, which can be described as the most ambitious air transport agreement concluded by the European Union, will enable European airlines to operate direct flights to Canada from any European airport, while also introducing commercial mechanisms such as code sharing. The Agreement provides for the gradual establishment of traffic rights and investment possibilities, together with full cooperation in several areas, including questions of security, social questions, the defence of consumer interests, the environment, the management of air traffic, state aids and competition.

In the document adopted today in the sitting, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, of which I am a substitute member, calls upon the European Commission to ensure that Parliament be informed and consulted systematically with regard to the activities of the Joint Committee established, so that it can monitor the various stages of the opening up of the market. I voted in favour of the recommendation, and the Agreement in question should serve as an example for other negotiations currently under way.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) This Agreement serves as a model for current and future negotiations with other States. It will remove all restrictions on routes, prices, or the number of weekly flights between the two parties to the agreement. According to predictions, the potential savings as a result of cheaper flight prices amount to EUR 72 million, which would benefit consumers directly. The Aagreement will have further indirect benefits for our citizens as a result of the creation of new jobs. I therefore voted in favour of the Agreement.

 
  
  

Report: Dominique Riquet (A7-0044/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because the continuation of the existing bilateral air agreements with Vietnam would not be in line with European law, and because of the possible opportunities that this greater openness could bring about.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Until now, bilateral agreements on air transport concluded between EU Member States and third countries have created the potential for discrimination against certain European Union carriers. The new Agreement therefore includes an EU designation clause that encompasses all European Union carriers and will replace the traditional designation clauses which referred to air carriers from individual Member States. In doing so, the Agreement is designed to prevent discrimination amongst European Union carriers and to eliminate anti-competitive practices. I have therefore voted in favour of the Agreement, which will allow all European Union air carriers to operate flights between any Member State and Vietnam.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agreed with the conclusion of this Agreement. The Agreement’s objective is to give all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the European Union and Vietnam. This Agreement also ensures that safety provisions in bilateral agreements are applicable to situations when regulatory control over an air carrier is exercised by a Member State other than the Member State that designated that air carrier. Furthermore, I believe that it is very important that the Agreement prohibits anti-competitive practices.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) The Court of Justice has ruled that all bilateral agreements signed before now are in contravention of European Union law. It has therefore been necessary to amend three articles in order to prevent discrimination between airlines and outlaw potentially anti-competitive activities, as well as to ensure that safety clauses apply where a Member State controls transport designated by another Member State.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. – (BG) I wish to explain my vote on the Aair Transport Agreement between the European Union and Vietnam. I voted in favour of this Agreement because I learnt that the Agreement concluded by the Commission replaces, for the better, certain provisions in the existing 17 bilateral air services agreements concluded between EU Member States and Vietnam. As we are aware, according to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, no amendments can be tabled, but I think that the Commission has agreed the necessary arrangements and I support this Agreement.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission has been asked by the Council to seek the replacement of certain provisions within the agreements relating to air services, after the Court of Justice found that they did not comply with Union Law.

The amendments in question provide for granting all European airlines access to routes between the European Union and Vietnam, and prohibit anti-competitive practices. These amendments ensure compliance with the principle of freedom of establishment, and seek to ensure identical treatment within a host Member State to that availed to nationals of that Member State.

I would like to see contacts and exchanges between the European Union and Vietnam benefiting from the mutual advantages offered to airlines, and for these to lead to their peoples to have better knowledge of each other.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I welcome the adoption of this draft Council decision seeking the conclusion of an agreement between the European Union on the one hand, and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on the other, relating to certain aspects of air services. International relationships in the area of aviation between Member States and third countries used to be regulated through the establishment of bilateral agreements. However, a 2002 judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union deemed this situation to be illegal, as it contravened Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Commission therefore initiated a negotiation process seeking to replace the 17 bilateral agreements on air services that are in force between Member States and Vietnam. This process, which has now come to an end, aimed to provide all EU carriers with non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU and Vietnam, require compliance with safety standards, and prevent anti-competitive practices.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This Agreement, like the others, serves the objectives of liberalisation within the air services sector, with the justification, as in other cases, that the 2002 judgement of the EU Court of Justice deems existing bilateral agreements to contravene Union law. As in other regrettable situations, the interpretation of Union law once more seems to give priority to freedom of competition over all other social and economic precepts.

We are expressing here the same reservations that we have about other agreements, their scope and the possible consequences that they may have. Within the current context in which civil aviation activity is taking place, the creation of equal conditions for the various European companies could contribute to facilitating the process of monopolistic concentration within the sector that is already under way, with all the adverse effects that this would have for aviation company workers and for passengers. In order for the market to be dominant within this sector, the ability of Member States to defend their flag carriers has to be reduced.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We are faced with an agreement that serves the objectives of liberalisation within the air services sector, with the justification, as in other cases, that the 2002 ruling of the EU Court of Justice deems existing bilateral agreements contravene Union law. Once again, as in other regrettable situations, the interpretation of Union law seems to give priority to freedom of competition over all other social and economic precepts, even where there are bilateral agreements between Member States.

We are therefore expressing the same reservations that we have about other agreements, their scope and their possible consequences. Within the current context in which civil aviation activity is taking place, the creation of equal conditions for the various European companies could contribute to facilitating the process of monopolistic concentration within the sector that is already under way, with all the adverse effects that this would have for aviation company workers and for passengers. The ability of Member States to defend their flag carriers should not be reduced.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) The new competences acquired by the European Union also include air transport agreements. The Agreement in question with Vietnam sets out procedures to implement a number of regulations, particularly in terms of security. The recommendation is clear and I support it.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this report, because international aviation relations between Member States and third countries have traditionally been governed by bilateral air services agreements. As for bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and Vietnam, I am pleased that the objective is to give all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the European Union and Vietnam; safety provisions in bilateral agreements are applicable to situations when regulatory control over an air carrier is exercised by a Member State other than the Member State that designated that air carrier; and anti-competitive practices are prohibited. All of these air agreements are beneficial and necessary for the European Union, our airlines and our citizens.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted in favour of this report. International aviation relations between Member States and third countries have traditionally been governed by bilateral air services agreements. The EU Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that traditional designation clauses in Member States’ bilateral air services agreements infringe EU law. They allow a third country to reject, withdraw or suspend the permissions or authorisations of an air carrier that has been designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and effectively controlled by that Member State or its nationals. This has been found to constitute discrimination against EU carriers established in the territory of a Member State but owned and controlled by nationals of other Member States. This is contrary to Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees nationals of Member States who have exercised their freedom of establishment the same treatment in the host Member State as that accorded to nationals of that Member State. There are also further issues, such as competition, where compliance with EU law should be ensured through amending or complementing existing provisions in bilateral air services agreements between Member States and third countries. That is why the Commission negotiated this agreement.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The bilateral agreements on international air transport entered into by the European Union with third countries now require a radical overhaul. The Court of Justice has ruled that traditional designation clauses in such agreements are entirely incompatible with EU law since they violate the freedom of establishment of foreign companies and do not guarantee them the same treatment that the host Member State accords to its own companies. We therefore welcome the conclusion of this agreement tabled by the Commission, which aims to give all European Union air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes to and from Vietnam, while avoiding any anti-competitive practice. The clauses on possible fuel tax for air services ought to be removed and it would be desirable for the traditional designation clauses referring to air carriers of third countries to be replaced by a European Union designation clause referring to EU air carriers. By doing this, an extra balancing factor would be added to the bilateral agreements. Lastly, it would be worth establishing increasingly stringent safety measures, particularly in situations where regulatory control over an air carrier is exercised by a Member State other than that which designated it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Vietnam Agreement is very important for the future of relations between both sides. As such, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament needs to be fully informed and consulted with regard to the work carried out by the Joint Committee, as well as all of the entities involved. Any agreement that is to be concluded will need to be adopted by Parliament, which will therefore need to be kept uptodate with all negotiations. This Agreement is therefore an important step towards opening up the market to airlines from the EU and Vietnam without any discrimination. This opening up of the market may contribute to the improvement of services provided to passengers.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The bilateral agreements on air services between the European Union and third countries include clauses that have proved to be in breach of EU law as they do not guarantee equal treatment outside the EU for the various air carriers, which is why we need a specific agreement that protects passengers and airlines. I voted in favour of the agreement precisely in order to guarantee that all European air carriers can use Vietnamese air routes equally, without running the risk of being banned. Furthermore, the scope of the agreement aims at greater flight and passenger safety. If, in fact, for various reasons we cannot have the same standards that we have within the Union, then it is appropriate that some core points and rules are established.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following the 2002 judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling that the traditional designation clauses included within bilateral Air Services Agreements signed by Member States contravened Union law, it became necessary to negotiate an agreement that sought to replace certain provisions within the current 17 bilateral air services agreements between Member States and Vietnam.

The clause in question contravened Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees nationals of Member States exercising their freedom of establishment the same treatment within a host Member State as that given to nationals of that Member State. Thus, in order to avoid discrimination between EU air carriers, the traditional designation clauses relating to air carriers of a Member State that is a party to a bilateral Agreement are being replaced by an EU designation clause, applicable to all EU carriers. The aim of this is to provide all EU air carriers with non-discriminatory access to routes between the European Union and Vietnam.

In light of all of the above, I voted in favour of this report, which also merited a favourable opinion from the Committee on Transport and Tourism.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the conclusion of the Agreement on Air Transport between the EU and Vietnam, which is aimed at replacing certain provisions of the 17 existing bilateral air services agreements signed by that country and the Member States, guaranteeing EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the European Union and Vietnam, in accordance with what was established by the Court of Justice in 2002, along with compliance with Community law on competition.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. International aviation relations between Member States and third countries have traditionally been governed by bilateral air services agreements. The EU Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that traditional designation clauses in Member States’ bilateral air services agreements infringe EU law. They allow a third country to reject, withdraw or suspend the permissions or authorisations of an air carrier that has been designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and effectively controlled by that Member State or its nationals.

This was found to constitute discrimination against EU carriers established in the territory of a Member State but owned and controlled by nationals of other Member States, contrary to Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which guarantees nationals of Member States who have exercised their freedom of establishment the same treatment in the host Member State as that accorded to nationals of that Member State.

There are also further issues, such as competition, where compliance with EU law should be ensured through amending or complementing existing provisions in bilateral air services agreements between Member States and third countries.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I think the final text voted on today is pleasing because it allows all European Union carriers to have access to routes between the EU and Vietnam, avoiding discrimination between the various air carriers. In addition, guarantees have been made on security and competition which are crucially important for improving air services on this route, which will benefit operators and passengers alike. The constant economic growth of this country, which, thanks to the flexibility of its entrepreneurial fabric, has managed to deal with the international crisis better than many, makes it a favoured partner for the EU and today’s vote cannot but support this important line of development.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission has negotiated an agreement between the EU and the Republic of Vietnam which replaces the 17 existing bilateral air services agreements between that country and the Member States. The Agreement in question does not contain the usual provision on the taxation of fuel in the EU on flights conducted by third-country operators. However, the Agreement entails significant benefits for the EU, and my vote goes towards supporting Parliament’s recommendation.

To this end, I would like to highlight the clause on the designation included in the Agreement which is aimed at giving all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU and Vietnam, but also the provisions relating to security and compliance with competition rules.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The Agreement brought the designation clauses of the previous bilateral air services agreements into line with EU law in accordance with the ruling of the European Court of Justice in 2002. I have voted in favour of the conclusion of the Agreement.

 
  
  

Report: Dominique Baudis (A7-0042/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this report because it is necessary to conclude negotiations on trade with this region, and I believe that there are positive developments by virtue of the fact that this document includes sectors like energy, industry and raw materials, and, above all, research, innovation and education.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report and would like to urge EU and GCC leaders to intensify cooperation, especially in the area of trade, since negotiations on a free-trade agreement between the EU and the GCC were opened 20 years ago and still have not been concluded. Apart from being strategically a very important region for the EU and the West in general, the GCC states are also important trade partners. Our trade with this region has been on a constant rise and in 2009 it amounted to EUR 79.7 billion. We also have a positive trade balance with GCC countries, as we export goods worth EUR 57.8 billion and our imports amount to EUR 21.8 billion. The EEAS should pay more attention to this important region and new EU diplomatic missions should be opened in the GCC member states. In this way we would be able to raise the profile of the EU and have more influence in this part of the world. EU engagement is needed now more than ever considering the turmoil and unrest this region is experiencing.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union and Gulf Cooperation Council have been negotiating a free trade agreement for some 20 years. Both parties would benefit from more in-depth relations, especially as there are numerous opportunities for cooperation in the fields of education, scientific research and renewable energies. On the domestic front, the GCC countries have, for some years now, been going through a new process of political and social modernisation, which must be supported and encouraged. I think that we need continuous dialogue between the European Union and Gulf Cooperation Council in order to make progress in promoting human rights and freedoms, as well as those of minorities, and in the battle against every form of discrimination, including discrimination based on gender or religion. This is the reason why I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) For some 20 years, the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council have been trying to negotiate a free trade agreement. The negotiations have still not been concluded. A great deal has changed over those 20 years. The Gulf Cooperation Council members have now become the economic powerhouse of the Middle East and North Africa region. They also constitute the main investors in the European Union’s southern Mediterranean neighbourhood. Consequently, the potential for cooperation between the European Union and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council goes beyond trade, extending to fields such as science and education. This is why I voted in favour of the own-initiative report which calls on the European Parliament to devise a more ambitious policy with regard to the Gulf Cooperation Council.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been negotiating a free trade agreement for some 20 years. These are the longest-running and hitherto non-concluded trade negotiations that the EU has undertaken. In the course of this period, the situation in this region has changed profoundly. Over two decades, the GCC member states became the main economic powerhouse for the Middle East and North Africa, while the newly emerging region itself has significant influence on the development of the global economy. I agree with the proposals made in the report that it is necessary to swiftly conclude a free trade agreement with this region that is important for the EU. The potential for cooperation between the EU and the Gulf region applies not only to the realm of trade, but to other shared interests in international security, in combating terrorism, in diplomatic mediation in Middle Eastern trouble spots, in regional crisis management and in intercultural dialogue and global economic governance.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. – (BG) Through this own-initiative report the European Parliament aims to call for a more ambitious EU policy to be devised in relation to the Gulf Cooperation Council and its member states. I voted for this report because I think that this is the direction we should choose. All the more so as the Gulf Cooperation Council recently declared that it no longer recognises Muammar Gaddafi’s regime as legitimate. We are pleased and encouraged by this policy. The Council condemned the crimes perpetrated by the Gaddafi regime against the civilian population and called for immediate intervention from the League of Arab States and the UN Security Council. The integration process initiated 30 years ago by the six member states of this Council is still so far the only experiment of its kind in the Arab world. We must support them.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) It is more important than ever for the European Union to have a free trade agreement with the Gulf states. The record in terms of negotiations on such an agreement is poor as far as their duration is concerned. The situation has obviously changed several times in the 20 years since they started. The Gulf region’s geopolitical climate is different now, entailing global and regional implications. We have to deal with the liberalisation and diversification of the economies in these states. At present, the Gulf states are much more than mere trade partners, as they have an ever-increasing influence on the financial sector and diplomacy, not to mention other areas. Indeed, their influence will continue to grow. This creates a new outlook for the European Union, which understands that cooperation between both regions extends beyond trade. We have shared interests in the areas of international security, the fight against terrorism, diplomatic mediation in the tension zones in the Middle East, regional crisis management, intercultural dialogue and global economic governance. The EU has certain advantages to draw on by comparison with the new players in the Gulf region, provided that political will is shown at the highest level.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report on trade, economic and financial relations between the EU and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), namely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. I agree with the provisions in the text as regards relations between the EU and the Arab countries in the Gulf region, especially in relation to strategic agreements in the areas of energy, science and education. It is also important to achieve a free trade agreement.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I believe that it is in the interests of the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to forge closer relations at all levels, be they political, cultural, commercial or financial.

On the matter of this report, for which I was the rapporteur for the Committee on International Trade, I would like to highlight three proposals which I have advocated from the beginning and which have been warmly welcomed by the other members: 1) an increase in the diplomatic presence in the region by setting up an EU delegation in each of the GCC member states, through the European External Action Service (EEAS); 2) the holding of regular Heads of State or Government summits between the EU and the GCC; and, finally, 3) an invitation for the High Representative/Vice-President and the Commissioner for Trade to consider alternative approaches to future trade relations with the GCC countries, in the form of bilateral agreements between the EU and the Gulf States that already feel prepared to enter into further commitments with the EU.

Although the latter proposal represents a new EU approach to relations with third countries, I believe that neither the EU nor every one of the GCC countries willing to forge closer relations in all areas can remain hostage to other GCC countries that do not yet feel comfortable to do so.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report because it argues that the potential for cooperation between the EU and the Gulf region goes beyond the merely commercial sphere. Good relations between these regional blocs can make an important contribution towards safeguarding common interests such as international security, the fight against terrorism, and global economic governance.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The recent turmoil and social, political and military unrest in various Muslim-majority countries add to the need for the EU to develop a strategy for the Gulf region and to establish contacts and lasting partnerships with the leading multilateral institution in the region, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). There are obvious security and economic-financial issues that connect both parties, so the EU should increase its efforts and channel resources in order to better raise awareness and seek to complete the draft trade agreement which, I believe, may not only increase trade but also help to bring their respective populations into greater contact.

I hope that the reforms that have been undertaken by some of these countries will be consolidated and the Europe can contribute to this process in a positive way.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This motion for a Parliament resolution deals with relations between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with a view to establishing a strategic partnership involving their member states. Despite the turmoil in certain Arab countries that has been reported recently, the Gulf states have great economic potential and present an excellent opportunity for cooperation with the EU. These countries represent an excellent opportunity for trade not only because they are producers of oil, of which reserves are becoming exhausted, but mainly because they are beginning to invest in alternative energies, and Europe is also known for its expertise in this field. I am therefore pleased that this report has been adopted and I hope that we will soon be able to adopt an agreement that will strengthen the EU’s partnerships with the Islamic community.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) There is no shortage of causes for concern and areas of instability which are making the geopolitical regional context extremely complex: the situation in Palestine, the war in Iraq, the situation in Iran, the recent popular uprisings in several countries, such as Yemen, and the situation in Darfur. In the face of this situation, the EU has been using double standards in their relations with states in this region, which has hindered the resolution of conflicts, negotiations and peace processes. Moreover, it often interferes in the uprisings, without respecting the sovereign laws of the peoples of the region.

In this context, this report takes as its background the negotiations that took place 20 years ago to reach a free trade agreement between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), making these the oldest trade negotiations initiated by the EU, but which have not been concluded to this day. This alone would be reason enough for us not to support the report. However, some of the oral amendments tabled during the vote have made it even more inacceptable, particularly the reference to the position of the UN Security Council on the establishment of an air exclusion zone in Libya, which, as we are aware, is masking the war which is being waged against this country.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We are aware that the geopolitical situation of the Gulf region is very complex and includes sensitive and serious issues concerning security and peace. Notable among these are the peace processes in the Middle East, the war in Iraq, the situation in Iran, the popular uprisings in Yemen and the recent developments in Darfur, besides the latest events in North Africa.

However, the report notes that ‘the Gulf states’ sovereign wealth funds account for more than one third of the world total and those funds helped to rescue the global and European financial system’. This was the context in which the negotiations took place 20 years ago to reach a free trade agreement between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which were the longest-running non-concluded trade negotiations that the EU has undertaken.

The fact is that the EU has been interfering and using double standards in their relations with states in this region, which is hindering the negotiations and even peace processes relating to the sovereign rights of the peoples of the region. Moreover, the resolution adopted by Parliament includes new proposals that do not help the peace process in the region...

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) By voting in favour of this report, I support the demonstrations for democracy and human rights in Bahrain and condemn the government’s violent response. The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, currently represent the EU’s sixth largest export market and the EU is currently the GCC’s main trading partner. Notwithstanding this already intensive level of trade, there is still scope for deepening it, as well as room for greater diversification of trade between the two parties, given the size of the EU market and efforts on the part of GCC member states to diversify their exports. A free trade agreement would also provide new opportunities for technical cooperation and assistance and the conclusion of the EU-GCC FTA would foster closer ties and further diversification. This document restates the EU’s opposition to the death penalty and calls for a global moratorium on it; deplores the continuing retention of the death penalty by all GCC member states; therefore invites them to adopt a moratorium on executions; and calls in particular on states practising executions and punishments involving methods such as decapitation, stoning, crucifixion, flagellation or amputation to cease these practices.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. I voted for the report on the EU relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council. I would like to point out my support for the oral amendments introduced by the rapporteur Mr Baudis to update the report in the light of recent developments.

It is important to call on all member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council to recognize the continuing popular movement for democratic reform within the wider region with the appeal to the emerging civil society groups to promote the process of genuine peaceful democratic transition within their respective countries.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. – (FR) For various reasons, the Persian Gulf region is of strategic importance for the European Union, particularly in terms of energy supply. The European Union wants to enter into closer cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – an organisation made up of the six richest nations in the region – with the conclusion of a free trade agreement forming a key component of that process. I voted in favour of this report, which prepares the ground for future cooperation between the Union and the GCC. Covering all of the issues relevant to such a partnership, such as the rights of minorities, women’s rights, freedom of conscience and expression, but also support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and areas for strategic partnership such as research, education and fossil and renewable fuels, the motion proposed by my colleague, Mr Baudis, has achieved a fairly broad consensus among the political groups. However, recent events in Bahrain have given rise to concerns as to whether the report is sufficiently up-to-date. Goodwill on all sides has resulted in some excellent compromise oral amendments being negotiated, thereby bringing the report up to date and ensuring that months of hard work have not been in vain.

 
  
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  Krzysztof Lisek (PPE), in writing. (PL) I voted in favour of adopting the Baudis report. Mr Baudis’ comprehensive report covers all the interesting issues concerning human rights, equal rights for women, freedom of the press and democratisation. The report also takes account of recent changes in the political arena in Bahrain. I believe that it is absolutely vital to condemn the violence which is being used in this conflict. A strategic partnership in many areas, which is highlighted at many points in the report, should make it possible to avoid crises in relations between the EU and the region, and to increase Europe’s energy security. The Persian Gulf countries are extremely important players in the peace process. I would therefore like to say how pleased I am that the report was adopted, and I hope that cooperation between the European Union and the Persian Gulf countries will be even more productive in many areas.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this report, and particularly welcome the oral amendment adding a new paragraph 7a, which ‘calls on all member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council to recognise a continuing popular movement for democratic reform within the wider region and calls for the full engagement with emerging civil society groups to promote a process of genuine peaceful democratic transition, within their own countries, with partners in the region and with the full support of the European Union’.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) Over the 20 years of trade negotiations between the European Union and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) the context of the negotiations has changed profoundly and these relations must be able to reach a turning-point.

The conclusion of a free trade agreement remains both a political and a commercial priority. The GCC’s geopolitical environment is characterised by the emergence of a series of security challenges with global and regional implications that means that a process to liberalise and diversify the basic economic structure of these countries needs to be started up. These countries should be able to continue down the path of cooperation and multilateralism.

The European Union therefore has the task of developing a new strategic partnership that is capable of supporting the ongoing regional integration process. Furthermore, it would be desirable for the European External Action Service to open new diplomatic missions in these countries. It would therefore be a good idea for Parliament to encourage a more ambitious EU policy with regard to the GCC. We should be able to step up relations in areas of cooperation, such as the field of scientific research and technology, while continuing to discuss issues such as the protection of religious minorities, the right to work and freedom of opinion.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Negotiations between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have already been taking place for more than two decades, in an attempt to negotiate a free trade agreement. This puts these among the longest-running non-conluded trade negotiations that the EU has undertaken.

Now, in the course of 20 years, the context of the negotiations has changed profoundly. The GCC states have subtantial financial clout in the form of sovereign wealth funds, which amounted to more than USD 1 380 billion in 2009, in other words over 35% of the world total. The GCC member states have become the economic powerhouse for the entire Middle East/North Africa region, representing more than 40% of the national wealth generated in this area and holding 50% of its official currency reserves, in other words USD 1 070 billion.

Given the massive financial and economic potential of these countries, we have to make use of the current context if the negotiations are to reach a successful conclusion.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. The EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council have been negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA) for some 20 years: the longest-running non-concluded trade negotiations that the EU has undertaken. The report underlines that concluding the FTA remains a priority. However, it goes beyond trade relations and also includes the issues of energy, industry and raw materials, R&D and innovation and education.

I abstained from voting because the agreement should be drawn up in the context of a political response to the situation in the region. There should be a separate approach to every single country. Let us take Iran as an example. It would be a mistake to include Ahmadinejad’s regime in the process of negotiations. More precise geographical or economic clarifications are necessary.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this resolution on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, because the Gulf region is seen today in terms of the emergence of a new global economic hub, whose geopolitical environment makes the Gulf a focus of security challenges that have global and regional implications. Furthermore, the GCC is the EU’s sixth largest export market and the EU is currently the GCC’s main trading partner and it is necessary to develop and diversify mutual relations. We must make every effort to ensure that cooperation is extended in various areas of economic and technical activity, and this includes enhancing the process of economic development. In addition, strong economic interaction would provide more opportunities to strengthen the EU’s regional integration and would create more possibilities for the EU to contribute to increasing the stability of this strategically important region. We must do our utmost to ensure that negotiations between these two regions are finally brought to a close and a free trade agreement is concluded which would guarantee new opportunities for technical cooperation and assistance.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) Right up until the breakthrough of the wave of democracy in the Arab countries, the European Parliament has constantly been calling on the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council to improve the situation as regards democracy, the rule of law, and human rights and freedoms. Our Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats stressed in particular the need for reforms in social policy and the safeguarding of increased freedoms for unions. We firmly opposed executions and the trampling of women’s rights. By voting in favour of this report, I support the demonstrations for democracy and human rights in Bahrain and condemn the government’s violent response. I support the rapporteur’s calls to share with the Gulf countries the EU Member States’ experience introducing technologies for extracting renewable energy sources. I also spoke in favour of speeding up negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EU and the countries of the Gulf. There is clear potential for cooperation between these two regions not just on the economy, but also on issues of international security, combating terrorism, diplomatic mediation in Middle Eastern conflicts, intercultural dialogue and global economic governance.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report by Mr Baudis on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) relates to the negotiations for free trade between the EU and the countries of the Persian Gulf. I think that an agreement that facilitates trade and therefore strengthens all the socio-political ties that reintegrate the region into the global context is fundamental for its future stability following the wars of past few years and recent events, as well as in commercial terms. I therefore voted in favour of the report, hoping furthermore for the relationships to be intensified, as this would be of mutual benefit, including in view of a new global governance.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this own-initiative report, which constitutes an appeal by Parliament for the formulation of a more ambitious policy on a strategic partnership between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its member states.

The EU and the GCC have been trying to negotiate a free trade agreement for about 20 years. These are among the longest-running non-concluded trade negotiations that the EU has undertaken. However, in the course of 20 years, the context of these negotiations has changed profoundly. In fact, the potential for cooperation between these two regions goes beyond the merely commercial sphere. The two blocs share common interests such as international security, the fight against terrorism, diplomatic mediation in areas of tension in the Middle East, regional crisis management, intercultural dialogue and global economic governance.

I voted in favour of this own-initiative report as I believe that Parliament’s appeal for the formulation of a more ambitious EU policy in relation to the GCC and its member states is very timely. I hope that the political will that is needed on this matter is felt at the highest level.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The free trade agreement between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been under discussion for around 20 years. Over this period, the financial and geopolitical circumstances of the GCC have changed drastically: security challenges have emerged (such as, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Islamic terrorism, and piracy) and new commercial players have appeared in the area.

At the same time, the GCC member states have become the economic powerhouse of the whole Middle East-North Africa region and are now the main investors in the EU’s southern Mediterranean neighbourhood area. The two regions also have common interests on security, combating terrorism, managing the regional crisis and global economic governance. That is why Parliament is today called to formulate a more ambitious cooperation policy with the countries of the GCC. The EU has certain advantages to draw on in comparison with the new players operating in the Gulf, above all in terms of education, scientific research, energy and technology. We cannot allow the opportunities offered by this particular moment in history – as world economic governance is defined and regional balances are reshaped – to pass unfulfilled.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Gulf region is greatly important to the EU, and it is therefore vital to develop a strategy that is aimed at strengthening political, financial, economic, social and cultural ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In view of this, the conclusion of the free trade agreement between the EU and the GCC is a priority. The potential of this cooperation also extends to other areas, such as education, energy and scientific research.

I therefore support the appeal made in this House today for the formulation of a more ambitious EU policy in relation to the GCC and its member states, and I hope that the strengthening of dialogue and cooperation between the EU and the GCC will help to promote and consolidate progress with regard to respect for democratic principles and fundamental rights.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. Among the reasons to vote in favour of this text, one should mention the adoption of Amendment 7a (new) that states the following: ‘Calls on all member states in the Gulf Cooperation Council to recognise a continuing popular movement for democratic reform within the wider region, and calls for the full engagement with emerging civil society groups to promote a process of genuine peaceful democratic transition, within their own countries, with partners in the region and with the full support of the EU.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The free trade agreement between the European Union and the Gulf region is a priority for both parties’ interests and will emphasise the importance of their mutual recognition. The presence of the European Union in the region strengthens trade policy, contributing to the development of targeted and effective information on the EU in the Gulf countries.

Concluding the agreement in question makes it possible to facilitate increased visibility for the Union by following a strategy of opening new European diplomatic missions in the Gulf states which would encourage political dialogue and make Europe’s efforts more effective. This also applies in terms of the EU’s energy needs, still largely met by fossil fuels, even though future oil demand will be influenced by a climate policy increasingly focussed on renewable sources. The social and political developments that have taken place in recent years in most Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states encourage the promotion of human rights and the fight against all forms of discrimination, including those based on gender, sexual orientation or religion. A reliable partnership between the EU and the GCC therefore needs to be built, which will favour open markets for goods and the removal of non-tariff barriers.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. The UK Conservative delegation and the ECR Group voted in favour of the Baudis Report on EU-GCC relations, including the extensive oral amendments submitted by the rapporteur today in plenary, as it is important to condemn any disproportionate use of force in Bahrain by the authorities, in particular allegations of the shooting of unarmed peaceful protestors.

We accept that the mainly majority Shia community protestors have themselves in some measure also resorted to unacceptable violence and we call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint. Bahrain is a loyal western ally and home to the US Fleet and we welcome the offer of dialogue by the Crown Prince of Bahrain. We accept that under the GCC rules the government of Bahrain is entitled to call in Saudi and Kuwaiti assistance in enforcing law and order, but again foreign forces in Bahrain should respect fundamental human rights, including the right to peaceful demonstration. We hope an EU-FTA can be concluded as soon as possible as economic growth and job creation, particularly amongst the disadvantaged Shia community, will assist in stabilising the island state and reducing social tension.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the motion for a resolution which sends a clear signal to our partners in the Arab peninsula. Against the backdrop of extreme economic, social and geopolitical tensions, it was essential that this House reiterate its willingness to review our cooperation agreements in light of the events in the Arab world. We are not suggesting abandoning historic links, but rather adjusting our relations to reflect the realities on the ground and the needs of the people, making respect for the values championed by the Union a prerequisite for developing economic and political links. Dialogue with civil society will also be a key and indispensable feature of each partnership. Whilst progress and reforms must be welcomed, a lot remains to be done in order to set these countries firmly on the road to democracy, respect for human rights and civil liberties. Part of Europe’s destiny is being played out in the Near and Middle East. Under the association agreements concluded between the Union and these countries, we now need to find a middle way that is fair to all sides, balancing the pursuit of economic and trade relations against promoting core values.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the report on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council. As thoroughly explained in the report, due to the many advantages for both contractual parties and after 20 years of negotiations, it is time that we made a targeted effort to push for the conclusion of a free trade agreement. Above all, however, I support the main points of focus for the negotiations stated in the report, which take account of developments in the area of climate change and the obligation in terms of human rights.

 
  
  

Report: Sharon Bowles (A7-0064/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this appointment because all the legal procedures have been carried out, including a rigorous Curriculum Vitae assessment.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The Executive Board of the European Central Bank requires a new member. I have voted in favour of appointing the Belgian candidate, Mr Praet, in view of his acknowledged authority and professional experience in the field of monetary affairs and banking.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I support the favourable result of the voting by the Council with regard to the appointment of Mr Praet as an Executive Board Member of the European Central Bank, on the basis of a positive assessment of his Curriculum Vitae and the written responses that he provided to the questionnaire given out to candidates for the post in question.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) At a pivotal moment in the life of the European institutions, when the European Central Bank, in particular, is required to perform an especially careful and interventionist role in monitoring the sovereign debt crisis, the stability of the euro and economic recovery, I wish the newly appointed Mr Praet every success in his office, and I believe that he will perform the functions for which he has been appointed with dedication and competence.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because by letter of 18 February 2011 the European Council consulted the European Parliament on the appointment of Peter Praet as a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank for a term of office of eight years with effect from 1 June 2011. Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs then proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, and in carrying out this evaluation, the committee received a CV from the candidate as well as his replies to the written questionnaire that was sent out to him. The committee subsequently held a one-and-a-half-hour hearing with the nominee on 16 March 2011, at which he made an opening statement and then responded to questions from the members of the committee. A favourable opinion was delivered to the European Council on the Council recommendation to appoint Peter Praet as a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this report which, on the basis of a recommendation from the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, delivers a favourable opinion to the European Council on the Council recommendation to appoint Peter Praet as a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European institutions have to be served by the very best. In this instance, the newly appointed Mr Praet comes with an unblemished record and was approved with distinction at the hearing carried out by Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. I wish him every success for the eight years of his term.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I am delighted that Mr Praet has been selected to become a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank. As an expert on financial stability and on supervising financial infrastructures and payment systems and as a member of the Management Committee of the Belgian Banking, Finance and Insurance Commission (CBFA), Mr Praet is highly regarded in economic and academic spheres. He also has a wealth of experience that can now be put at the service of the European Union.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the appointment of Dr Praet as an executive committee member of the European Central Bank (ECB) as he has shown that he is an excellent candidate. During the hearing with the candidates held in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Dr Praet proved to be the most knowledgeable and competent candidate by a wide margin. In recent years the European Central Bank has shown that it is an essential institution which was capable of managing the crisis and preventing even greater damage being caused. Indeed, beginning with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the role played by the ECB – independently and separately from national governments – ensured that the extremely serious consequences of the crisis were not devastating. The ECB is and remains a bulwark in defence of the monetary union and the euro. For this reason, it is crucial that the members of its executive committee are equipped with exceptional qualities and experience.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the appointment of Mr Praet to the post of Executive Board Member of the European Central Bank (ECB) for a term of eight years, to begin on 1 June 2011. All of the information presented for this option and which formed the basis for my own decision indicates that the criteria set out in Article 283(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union have been met, and show that there is a need for the ECB to be fully independent, in accordance with Article 130 of that treaty, and I therefore welcome the appointment of Mr Praet.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this decision, under which Parliament gives its assent to the Council’s recommendation to appoint Mr Praet to the post of Executive Board Member of the European Central Bank. I would like to wish him every success in performing the duties which are entrusted to him.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0222/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this appointment because all the legal procedures have been carried out, including a rigorous Curriculum Vitae assessment.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The purpose of the European Banking Authority, which came into being on 1 January 2011 under the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010, is to guarantee the stability of the financial system, transparency of financial products and markets, and to provide protection for savers and investors. The European Banking Authority has nominated Adam Farkas, an economist from the Hungarian National Bank, to become its Executive Director. The European Parliament has to approve the selection in order for it to be valid. I have voted in favour of the appointment of Mr Farkas.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I support the appointment of Mr Farkas to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority), based on the answers that he gave to the Board of Supervisors of the European Banking Authority (European Banking Authority).

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) If there were a lesson to be learnt from the recent crisis, it would be that we need to reform the institutional supervisory structure by creating European agencies and thus reformulate the entire concept of macro and micro-economic monitoring. The European Banking Authority is the result of that.

Confidence in banks having been dealt a severe blow by the global financial crisis, it is important for the markets, and for Europeans in general, to start trusting the solidity and robustness of the banking institutions again and, in particular, regain confidence in the supervisory bodies. That is why the role reserved for this new European Banking Authority is so crucial for the future.

Now that Parliament has approved the appointment of the Authority’s Executive Director, I hope that he will have an active, prudent and successful term.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because at its meeting of 17 March 2011, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs heard the candidate selected by the Board of Supervisors of the European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority), and it was decided that Adam Farkas fulfils the criteria set out in Article 51(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010), and the appointment of Adam Farkas as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority) was also approved.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which approves the appointment of Adam Farkas as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority).

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The recent financial crisis has highlighted major weaknesses in financial supervision, both in individual cases and in relation to the financial system as a whole. Supervision models had a national perspective and did not adapt to the globalisation that has occurred within the financial system, where various financial groups conduct their operations across borders, with the systemic risks that this entails.

I believe that the creation of the European Banking Authority is essential in order to achieve an effective supervision model. However, many other steps need to be taken to prevent the truly immoral situations of the recent past, which have damaged economies, shareholders, depositors, taxpayers and the credibility of the system, from reoccurring.

I am therefore voting in favour of the choice of Mr Farkas as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority, and wish him a term of high quality in all respects.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) As a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), I carefully followed the entire process leading to the creation of the European Banking Authority. For this reason, I voted in favour of the appointment of Mr Farkas as its executive director. The European Banking Authority must be put in a position to be able to start carrying out the tasks assigned to it by Parliament some months ago. I sincerely hope that the Authority is provided with the human and economic resources it needs so as to ensure that its supervisory role is implemented seriously and precisely. During the hearing held in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the new executive director convinced me and my colleagues of his competence and professionalism, as today’s vote shows. An additional positive factor, which will benefit the process of European integration, is that the new executive director comes from a Member State that only recently acceded to the European Union.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the appointment of Mr Farkas to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority). Mr Farkas was the candidate selected by the Board of Supervisors of the European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority) and was heard, in accordance with the established procedures, by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. All of the data presented for this option, and on which my decision was based, indicates that the criteria laid down within Article 51(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010 were met, and so I am happy with the appointment of Mr Farkas.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under this resolution, Parliament has approved the appointment of Mr Farkas to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Banking Authority). I would like to wish him every success in performing the duties which are entrusted to him.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0221/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this appointment because all the legal procedures have been carried out, including a rigorous Curriculum Vitae assessment.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), which was created on 1 January 2011 under the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010, is tasked with promoting supervisory convergence and advising the European Union institutions on matters pertaining to the regulation and supervision of insurance, reinsurance and occupational pension schemes. The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority has selected the Spaniard Carlos Montalvo, who worked as Acting Secretary General at the forerunner to the new authority, to be its first Executive Director. The European Parliament has to approve the selection in order for it to be valid. I have voted in favour of the appointment of Mr Montalvo.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I support the appointment of Mr Montalvo to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority), based on his selection by the Board of Supervisors of the European Banking Authority.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) One of the lessons learned from the crisis was the need to create independent European agencies for monitoring the banks and insurance in the financial markets. These agencies will not replace national supervisory agencies, but will work with them, exercising their mandate for prudence and systemic risk analysis in order to prevent a new crisis of the proportions of the one we are faced with at present from striking European states once more.

Now that Parliament has approved the appointment of the Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pension Authority), I wish him every success in the important role that he is taking on.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because at its meeting of 17 March 2011, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs heard the candidate selected by the Board of Supervisors of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority), and it was decided that Carlos Montalvo fulfils the criteria set out in Article 51(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1094/2010), and the appointment of Carlos Montalvo as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority) was approved.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which approves the appointment of Carlos Montalvo as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority).

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The recent financial crisis has highlighted major weaknesses in financial supervision, both in individual cases and in relation to the financial system as a whole. Models of supervision have had a national perspective and have not adapted to the globalisation that has occurred within the financial system, in which various financial groups conduct their operations across borders, with the systemic risks that this entails. The creation of a European authority for the insurance and occupational pensions sector is therefore essential in order to achieve an effective supervision model, alongside many other monitoring mechanisms, to be decided on and implemented as a matter of true urgency. I am therefore voting in favour of the choice of Mr Montalvo as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority), and I wish him every success in carrying out his office.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today’s favourable vote sees us add another important piece to the European supervisory structure that Parliament has felt it so important to support since the start of the current legislature. During the hearing held last week in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the new executive director demonstrated his competence and knowledge of the sector and the problems that he will have to deal with. Additionally, I do not think that the fact that the top two positions at the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) are being filled by people that had the same role in the preceding organisation will be a problem. Indeed, I am confident that the new powers granted to EIOPA will ensure that its managers will be able to carry out their task as well as possible.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the appointment of Mr Montalvo to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority).

Mr Montalvo was the candidate selected by the Board of Supervisors of the European Banking Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority) and was heard, in accordance with the established procedures, by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. All of the data presented for this option, and on which my decision was based, indicates that the criteria laid down within Article 51(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1094/2010 were met, and so I am happy with the appointment of Mr Montalvo.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under this motion for a resolution, Parliament has approved the appointment of Mr Montalvo to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority). I would like to wish him every success in performing the duties which are entrusted to him.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0200/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this appointment because all the legal procedures have been carried out, including a rigorous Curriculum Vitae assessment.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), established on 1 January 2011 by the 24 November 2010 regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, is designed to help maintain the stability of the financial system of the European Union by safeguarding the integrity, transparency, efficiency and orderly functioning of financial markets, and by strengthening investor protection. ESMA has appointed Mrs Ross, a German former economist at the Bank of England, as its first Executive Director. The European Parliament should vote in favour of this nomination in order for it to come into effect. For my part, I voted in favour of Mrs Ross’ nomination.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since the financial markets have been badly affected by the crisis, there is an urgent need to restore confidence. To a large extent, this will depend on the role of the supervisory authorities, which will have to carry out their mandates competently and effectively so as to pass on the necessary confidence to investors and companies.

It is in this context that the European Securities and Markets Authority has been created, which, while not claiming to replace national supervisory agencies, will have an important part to play in the new European supervisory framework. Therefore, it is important that this agency begins operation soon.

Now that Parliament has approved the appointment of the Authority’s Executive Director, I wish him a successful term.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because at its meeting of 17 March 2011, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs heard the candidate selected by the Board of Supervisors of the European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority), and it was decided that Verena Ross fulfils the criteria set out in Article 51(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010), and the appointment of Verena Ross as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority) was also approved.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which approves the appointment of Verena Ross as Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority).

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The recent financial crisis has highlighted major weaknesses in financial supervision, both in individual cases and in relation to the financial system as a whole. Supervision models had a national perspective and did not adapt to the globalisation that has occurred within the financial system, where various financial groups conduct their operations across borders, with the systemic risks that this entails.

The creation of the European Financial Markets Authority is essential to achieving an effective supervision model. However, many other steps need to be taken to prevent the truly immoral situations of the recent past, which have damaged economies, shareholders, depositors, taxpayers and the credibility of the system, from recurring.

I am therefore voting in favour of the choice of Mrs Ross as Executive Director of the European Securities and Markets Authority, and wish her a term of high quality in all respects.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the appointment of Mrs Ross as Executive Director for a number of reasons. The recent legislative acts we have adopted, or will be called to adopt, grant a huge range of powers in terms of supervision, analysis and evaluation. Just think, for example, of the various technical standards that the authority is asked to evaluate and bring to the attention of the Commission for approval. For this reason, it is important for the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to be capable of starting work as soon as possible in order to begin carrying out the mandate granted to it by Parliament last year. Lastly, I applaud the fact that a woman has been appointed to one of the highest-profile roles, not only for gender reasons but because of her excellent curriculum vitae. As with the other two authorities, I hope that this one is put in a position – in terms of budget, structures and human capital – to function as well as possible.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the appointment of Mrs Ross to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority). Mrs Ross was the candidate selected by the Board of Supervisors of the European Banking Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority) and was heard, in accordance with the established procedures, by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. All of the data presented for this option, and on which my decision was based, indicates that the criteria laid down within Article 51(2) of Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 were met, and so I am happy with the appointment of Mrs Ross.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under this motion for a resolution, Parliament has approved the appointment of Mrs Ross to the post of Executive Director of the European Supervisory Authority (European Securities and Markets Authority). I would like to wish her every success in performing the duties which have been entrusted to her.

 
  
  

Report: Francesca Balzani (A7-0058/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour as there is now greater commitment. However, it is important to maintain the focus on the connection with the Europe 2020 objectives; on an approach based on ‘sustainability and responsibility’, not simply ‘austerity’, as the Council is suggesting, and on the new needs arising from the Treaty of Lisbon, without putting existing, successful programmes at risk.

Above all, the EU 2012 budget should promote growth and high-quality employment, and help to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD), in writing. I voted against the Balzani report on General guidelines for the preparation of 2012 budget because it believes that the Europe 2020 Strategy will pull Europe out of the economic downturn, when what the nations of Europe really need is to be freed from the dead hand of EU overregulation and overtaxation. This 2020 Strategy is not a cure for the problems of the economies.

In addition, the report claims that European solidarity and economic development will be threatened by a reduction of the budget. The European budget has become an expensive luxury that the citizens and taxpayers of Europe cannot afford. Calling for a small increase or a freeze is derisory – that is why I voted against a freeze – when what is really needed is a sharp cut in the budget to give the taxpayer a break.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) In the current financial, economic and social crisis, the European institutions are duty-bound to follow the example of Member States in adopting austerity measures. That is why I voted in favour of this report which provides for a strict 2012 budget for the European Parliament. This budget should still enable Parliament to achieve the objectives set by the EU while using ‘the least possible resources’. This budget will be established within the context of Europe 2020, a strategy that should help Europe come out of the crisis stronger.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The priority objectives set in the Europe 2020 Strategy (promoting employment, improving public spending on innovation, research and development, meeting our climate change and energy objectives, improving education levels and promoting social inclusion) should help Europe recover from the crisis and come out stronger, through smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Some consistency must be ensured between achieving these objectives and the funding allocated to them at European and national level. We must endow the EU with the necessary financial means to be able to respond adequately to growing global challenges and to defend and promote its common interests and ensure that the economies of the Member States enjoy a speedy recovery.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for Francesca Balzani’s report because, in line with this document, I think that the European Union’s 2012 budget must be drawn up with the aim of pursuing the Europe 2020 Strategy’s targets. In spite of the current economic and financial crisis, it is now important for us to lay the foundations for sound, future economic growth through investments in education, research and development, innovation and SMEs. These areas provide the basis for the EU’s progress and competitiveness and must be developed from the perspective of creating jobs and increasing territorial and social cohesion. I want to stress that we must not reduce the funding in these areas and it is vital for us to monitor constantly that the available resources are being managed with the utmost efficiency. I also believe that there is fundamental synergy between national budget priorities and the EU budget. I wish to take this opportunity to welcome President Herman Van Rompuy’s efforts as part of the European Semester to tighten EU Member States’ discipline by promoting clear targets which are measurable and realistic for every country. Parliament is the most democratic European institution, directly representing EU citizens’ interests. This is why I insist that Parliament should be much more actively involved in the European Semester exercise.

 
  
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  Bastiaan Belder (EFD), in writing. – (NL) I cannot endorse the Balzani report. The first reason is the call for the introduction of a type of EU tax. The second reason concerns the economic crisis and the painful interventions being undertaken by Member States. The EU, too, must make efforts to ensure that its budget does not continue to run out of control and that it carries out the necessary cuts. With this in mind, I advocate a dynamic approach to tackling the ever growing gap between annual appropriations and the amounts being paid out. Limiting appropriations would lead to payments and appropriations becoming more closely aligned. I realise that multiannual programmes which are coming to an end because of the 2007-2013 Multiannual Framework will entail an increase in payments. I propose in that regard that, where some increase in payments is inevitable, it is offset by significantly lower appropriations. This also applies to budget lines for which implementation is lagging behind. These measures provide a logical and persuasive step towards a more realistic budget in difficult economic times.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I would like to emphasise how important this report is as the European Union’s 2012 budget will help revitalise the European economy. At the same time, next year’s EU budget must be the main instrument to bring about the European economy’s recovery, with great importance being attached to employment, economic governance and growth. I think that the 2012 budget must help implement the EU 2020 Strategy’s five objectives: employment, innovation, research and development, climate change and energy, education and social integration. The EU budget is a budget for investment and 2012 is the sixth year in the current ‘financial outlook’ (2007-2013), with projects rolling out at a regular rate, which results in an increase in payment levels as the work is carried out. In my view, an increase in payment levels is predictable in 2012.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the general guidelines for preparing the 2012 budget. I believe that the Community budget for 2012 should be one of the main tools in helping the EU to recover from the crisis and come out of it stronger, focusing on employment, economic governance and growth.

Employment, innovation, research and development, climate change and energy, and training and social inclusion are the five objectives that should guide the drafting of the EU 2012 budget. This will allow Europe to experience intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth.

 
  
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  Derek Roland Clark (EFD), in writing. I voted against the Balzani report on General guidelines for the preparation of 2012 budget because it believes that the Europe 2020 Strategy will pull Europe out of the economic downturn, when what the nations of Europe really need is to be freed from the dead hand of EU overregulation and overtaxation. This 2020 Strategy is not a cure for the problems of the economies. In addition the report claims that European solidarity and economic development will be threatened by a reduction of the budget. The European budget has become an expensive luxury that the citizens and taxpayers of Europe cannot afford. Calling for a small increase or a freeze is derisory – that is why I voted against a freeze – when what is really needed is a sharp cut in the budget to give the taxpayer a break.

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD), in writing. I voted against the Balzani report on general guidelines for the preparation of 2012 budget because it believes that the Europe 2020 Strategy will pull Europe out of the economic downturn, when what the nations of Europe really need is to be freed from the dead hand of EU overregulation and overtaxation. This 2020 Strategy is not a cure for the problems of the economies. In addition, the report claims that European solidarity and economic development will be threatened by a reduction of the budget. The European budget has become an expensive luxury that the citizens and taxpayers of Europe cannot afford. Calling for a small increase or a freeze is derisory – that is why I voted against a freeze – when what is really needed is a sharp cut in the budget to give the taxpayer a break.

 
  
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  Lena Ek, Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) We share the committee’s view that the difficult economic situation across the Union makes it more important than ever to ensure proper implementation of the EU budget, quality of spending and optimal use of existing Community financing. We welcome the call for ambitious proposals for the EU’s own resources and believe that the focus should in general be placed on those budget appropriations that are important for achieving results within the Europe 2020 Strategy. We also supported the amendment that called for every increase in a budget line to be matched by a reduction in another line. However, as this amendment was not voted through and, moreover, the adopted text contains the statement that lowering the level of the EU budget could ‘harm European solidarity’, we have chosen to abstain in the final vote.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the drafting of the 2012 budget as I believe that, given the difficult economic situation throughout the EU, it has never been so important to ensure the proper performance and quality of the budget expenditure and optimal use of existing EU funding. The Community budget should be one of the main tools in helping the EU to recover from the crisis and come out of it stronger, focusing on employment, economic governance and growth.

 
  
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  Nigel Farage (EFD), in writing. I voted against the Balzani report on General guidelines for the preparation of 2012 budget because it believes that the Europe 2020 Strategy will pull Europe out of the economic downturn, when what the nations of Europe really need is to be freed from the dead hand of EU overregulation and overtaxation. This 2020 Strategy is not a cure for the problems of the economies.

In addition the report threatens with the prejudice a reduction of the budget would have on European solidarity and economic development. The European budget has become an expensive luxury that the citizens and taxpayers of Europe cannot afford. Calling for a small increase or a freeze is derisory when what is really needed is a sharp cut in the budget to give the taxpayer a break.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report sets out the priorities for Parliament to follow in preparing and discussing the 2012 budget, taking into account the start of the trialogue at the end of this month.

This report is groundbreaking, given its imminently political content: it seeks to highlight and step up the important discussions that are taking place in the European institutions and the Member States on all items in the economic governance package. It is also aimed at drawing attention to the impact and importance that the 2012 budget may have in meeting the objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy for growth and sustainable job creation across the EU.

Parliament is sending an important political message to the European institutions and the Member States about its firm commitment to strengthening economic governance and fulfilling the objectives set out for growth and employment.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I agree with the EU 2020 Strategy as it advocates stronger economic governance and the provision of the funds needed to implement its seven key actions. The EU 2020 objectives will only be achieved if there is strong governance and European coordination, and if the Member States make the investment needed to carry out their actions. However, this strategy can only be fully achieved if there is a new multiannual financial framework. This report neglects to mention the importance of cohesion policy even once. It also omits any mention of agriculture. However, about 80% of the budget is for the cohesion policy and agriculture. Young people do not get a single mention in the report either, which is incomprehensible. This is the priority for the current budget proposed by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) (PPE). Moreover, young people feature in the five objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The objectives of reducing school dropout levels to below 10% and ensuring that 40% of young people aged between 30 and 34 have a university degree also pertain only to young people. However, I hope that the 2012 budget will contribute to sustainable growth in the EU, enhance competitiveness and promote employment.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is one of those times when the objective of economic and social cohesion should demand a completely different vision and content from the EU budget.

At a time when inequalities between the Member States are worsening, the Community budget should be at the service of real convergence. It should promote economic growth, the creation of jobs with rights, the promotion of progress and social welfare, the eradication of poverty and social exclusion, and environmental preservation. At the very least, this would require funds to be doubled, based on a greater contribution from countries with a higher GDP per capita. This should be followed by a fair and balanced distribution of funds, focusing on countries with greater difficulties.

We disagree with a budget that focuses on supporting the reconstruction of monopolies and the growing militarisation of the EU, on the liberalisation in numerous sectors of economic activity and the lack of job security, as advocated by the EU 2020 Strategy. This path will accentuate existing economic, social, regional and national differences, and will not resolve the problems of unemployment and poverty. We therefore voted against.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. (PL) Since the beginning of the year, the Committee on Budgets has been drafting the European Parliament’s priorities for the 2012 EU budget. Parliament’s position, which is necessary for talks with the EU Council, will be formulated on the basis of these priorities. It would appear that this year’s conciliation between Parliament and the Council will be even more challenging than was the case in 2010. The Council, which is opposed to any increase in the EU budget, has already announced its own savings plan, which is rather convenient, since it concerns budget lines which have not been fully exploited to date. At the same time, Parliament is in favour of an increase in the 2012 budget, but only in line with the Eurostat inflation rate. The latter is an objective rate which we cannot vote upon, as some people seem to believe. How can the European Parliament justify the proposed increase?

Firstly, implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the twin goals of increasing education and employment levels. Without adequate funding, these goals will remain defunct, and Europe 2020 will follow in the footsteps of the renowned and ineffective Lisbon Strategy.

Secondly, the EU budget is already bursting at the seams; the European External Action Service, the Galileo system, the Solidarity Fund and the Globalisation Fund are generating expenditure which it was impossible to predict six years ago, when the current financial perspective was negotiated.

While on the subject of rational expenditure, I would also call upon Members of this House to take a critical look at the ‘buildings policy’, which we cannot afford. One example of this would be the increase in office space announced for Brussels.

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D), in writing. (FR) Here we are at the start of a difficult negotiation between Member States on the 2012 budget while, in the background, the debate is already underway on the post-2013 financial perspectives. At this time of crisis, it will be necessary throughout the budgetary process to reiterate our expectations with regard to European policies. Unlike some Council members who consider the EU to be an additional cost, an expense to be reduced at the risk of pitting current and future policies against each other, Parliament, through the resolution on general guidelines for the preparation of the 2012 budget, has reiterated its vision of the Union as a vector of added value and an ally of Member States in implementing ambitious policies. Furthermore, I voted in favour of the resolution presented by Mrs Balzani because of its consistency and the clear political message it carries, calling for the adoption of a budget that is consistent with the objectives for employment and growth of the EU 2020 Strategy. Finally, I took advantage of the debate in plenary to challenge the Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget on the urgent need for a communication on the implementation of new own resources, which, I hope, will carry this debate forward.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because under the auspices of enhanced European economic governance, the European Semester mechanism and Europe 2020 Objectives, the 2012 budget must boost growth and employment. The Europe 2020 Strategy should help Europe recover from the crisis and come out stronger, through smart, sustainable and inclusive growth based on the five EU headline targets, namely promoting employment, improving the conditions for – and public spending on – 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. The difficult economic situation across the Union makes it more important than ever to ensure proper implementation of the EU budget, quality of spending and optimal use of existing Community financing. The EU budget has an instrumental role to play in helping the EU to exit the current economic and financial crisis through its capacity as a catalyst to boost investment, growth and jobs in Europe.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I welcome this report, which is of the opinion that the EU budget brings added value to national public expenditure when initiating, supporting and complementing investments in those policy areas which are at the core of Europe 2020. The European Parliament believes, moreover, that the EU budget has an instrumental role to play in helping the EU to exit the current economic and financial crisis through its capacity as a catalyst to boost investment, growth and jobs in Europe; takes the view that the EU budget could at least mitigate the effects of current restrictive national budgetary policies while supporting the efforts of national governments; stresses also that, given its redistributive nature, lowering the level of the EU budget may harm European solidarity and have an adverse impact on the pace of economic development in many Member States; believes that a purely ‘net contributor’/‘net beneficiary’ approach does not take due account of spill-over effects between EU countries and therefore undermines common EU policy goals.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) In order to tackle the current economic and financial crisis it is essential to promote inclusive, sustainable European growth, aligning the European Union’s budget with its main objectives. This report identifies a number of guidelines that will help to: promote employment; improve public expenditure on innovation, research and development; meet our climate change and energy objectives; improve education levels; and promote social integration. The European Semester, a new mechanism to strengthen European economic governance, should provide the chance to determine the best way to achieve these goals. It is essential to guarantee a certain level of coherence between the attainment of the results in question and the resources assigned to them at EU and national level, thereby improving synergies between European and domestic public investments. The European budget represents real added value, thanks to its ability to function as a catalyst to boost investment, growth and employment. The appropriations already planned must be kept at a suitable and flexible level of expenditure. Otherwise, their reduction would lead to the failure of the Europe 2020 Strategy. We call on the Commission to develop ambitious proposals for the provision of new own resources, based on a comprehensive impact assessment, in order to bolster competitiveness and economic growth.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of the report by Mrs Balzani on the guidelines for the 2012 budget which, with the 2013 budget, will be consolidation budgets aimed at reflecting the Member States’ spending cutbacks and setting a benchmark for amounts that will be established in the next financial framework. The contribution of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) to the guidelines for the 2012 budget was based on the concept of responsibility, which means pursuing the aims of economy, efficiency and effectiveness using as little as possible of the available resources. The 2020 Strategy is based on important priorities – namely research, innovation, development and growth – that were not initially contained in the report by Mrs Balzani, but which have been strongly emphasised by the PPE Group, as well as achieving the employment objectives initially set out. The Union’s priorities in the budget require adequate financing and it is also important to ensure flexibility between the expenditure headings in order to more effectively counter the problems linked to the economic crisis, as well as to propose a budgetary framework that includes own resources.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Community budget for 2012 is the main tool for the EU to recover from the crisis and come out of it stronger, focusing on employment, economic governance and growth. The adoption of these general guidelines is an example of this. Employment, innovation, research and development, climate change and energy, training, and social inclusion are the five objectives which should form the focus for the drafting of the EU 2012 budget.

Based on these five objectives, the Europe 2020 Strategy should help Europe to recover from the crisis and emerge from it stronger, through ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’. We must therefore oppose any attempt to limit the budget allocations for achieving the high-ranking objectives and flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − The key requirements for the draft resolution on the EU general budget for 2012 are ensuring sufficient resources for the implementation of the EU-2020 Strategy and enhanced cooperation between European and national budgets. The 2012 EU budget should boost growth and high-quality employment, and start implementing the EU 2020 objectives. The motto for deciding on the EU 2012 budget should therefore be ‘sustainability and responsibility’ rather than ‘austerity’.

Although I voted ‘for’, I would like to stress that the budget should be distributed so that financial resources are used for the benefit of citizens in the Member States and not for the benefit of financial and political groups, as it is currently the case in Latvia, where officials distribute EU funds among their acquaintances and friends!

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The report on the 2012 budget refers to the Europe 2020 Strategy, which once again contains lofty goals that no one expects to meet. The fact is that the precarious budgetary situation of some Member States that have lived it up in the past has become a financial millstone around the necks of the other Member States in connection with the rescue package. It then often only needs something trivial to tighten the noose. These fundamental requirements make it all the more important not only for the 2012 budget to be correctly executed – in which regard we must not overlook the fact that budgetary control still leaves a great deal to be desired – but also for us to manage our resources in an economical way. The reference here to ‘adequate financing’ of the Europe 2020 Strategy, when billions from the EU budget are still mysteriously disappearing and available opportunities for potential savings, for example in relation to the jungle of EU agencies or the locations for Parliament, are not utilised, represents a waste of European taxpayers’ money. On the basis of this conviction, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) The current euro crisis underlines the central importance of a correct and economical budgetary policy. The increase in funds on grounds that this is required for the Europe 2020 Strategy is something I reject, as for one thing the strategy is unachievable and for another it has inappropriate goals: for example the massive increase in the number of academics, when we actually have a shortage of specialist staff. Instead, we should utilise the numerous potential opportunities for savings, whether in relation to the decentralised agencies, the two locations of the European Parliament or the pre-accession aid for Turkey. I therefore voted against this report on the 2012 budget.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) As every year, we, along with other institutions, will be asked to adopt the EU budget. In view of this, I have voted in favour of the report on the general budget for 2012 because I agree with the main guidelines defined, namely: incentivising funds to promote growth and overcome the economic crisis by following the Europe 2020 Strategy; giving greater consideration to the European Semester as the ideal instrument for coordinating economic policies; not leaving room for differing availability in different sectors but using only the flexibility mechanisms of available funds by establishing a serious and rigorous management of the resources available for the allocation of funds.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report on general guidelines for the preparation of the 2012 budget. The general principles and targets set out in the report are on the right lines, in emphasising that forthcoming EU budgets must focus on policies to boost employment and national economies (the total EU budget for implementing flagship initiatives up to 2020 is estimated at EUR 1.8 trillion). Nonetheless, it is important to point out at every opportunity that the sine qua non to achieving the targets set in the Europe 2020 Strategy is their endorsement by the Member States. Unfortunately, according to the Commission’s findings, national plans to date do not safeguard basic priorities of the strategy, such as increasing employment to 75% in 2020 from its current level of 69%.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report on the general guidelines for preparing the 2012 budget. This is a budget for 2012 under the auspices of stronger economic governance, the European semester mechanism and the Europe 2020 objectives to encourage employment.

Given that the Europe 2020 Strategy should help Europe to recover from the crisis and emerge from it strengthened through smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, based on the EU’s five top objectives – namely by promoting employment; improving conditions and expenditure for innovation, research and development; meeting our targets in the areas of climate change and energy; improving levels of education; and promoting social inclusion, in particular by reducing poverty – I agree with the recommendations presented in this report, in order to fully attain these five objectives.

I also agree with the rapporteur that there must be consistency between the achievement of these goals and the funding allocated to them, and the new mechanism for enhanced economic governance in the EU should be an opportunity to study how best to accomplish these five objectives.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report, which sets out the general guidelines for the drafting of the 2012 budget, with a view to the trialogue on this subject, scheduled for 30 March 2011. On that matter, allow me to emphasise the need to properly assess the impact that the budget will have on the achievement of the EU’s objectives and the implementation of the EU 2020 Strategy, as well as the role that budgetary policy should play in the area of investment, growth and employment.

 
  
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  Britta Reimers (ALDE), in writing. (DE) It was not possible to give a roll-call vote on paragraph 29, as I was actively prevented from doing so by the usher.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. A 2012 budget under the auspices of enhanced European economic governance, the European Semester mechanism and Europe 2020 objectives to boost growth and employment

1. Takes the view that the Europe 2020 Strategy should help Europe recover from the crisis and come out stronger, through smart, sustainable and inclusive growth based on the five EU headline targets, namely promoting employment, improving the conditions for – and public spending on – 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; recalls that the Member States themselves have fully endorsed these five targets;

2. Points out that some consistency must be ensured between achieving these objectives and the funding allocated to them at European and national level; insists that EU budgetary policy must be in line with this principle; takes the view that the European Semester, as a new mechanism for enhanced European economic governance, should afford an opportunity to consider how best to deliver on these five headline targets;

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) This report outlines the general guidelines of the European Parliament on the 2012 budget and I believe that the text promotes sustainable growth to help overcome the economic crisis. Its redistributive approach consists of added value to the future public expenditure by Member States. According to financial planning by the Commission, the amount of committed funds will reach the sum of EUR 147.88 billion. In that regard, my country is in favour of strict management of resources in a context of expenditure restraint, especially in administrative costs, in line with the austerity policy implemented in its national budget. I hope now that the redistribution of available resources aimed at optimising their allocation is carried through to the end, in order to counter the effects of the international crisis that we are all experiencing in our daily lives.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (S&D), in writing. On the budget vote for 2012 (General Guidelines) I voted to freeze the budget and against any indication of additional spending because of the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. I believe the budget set to be adequate to the commitments set out under the Treaty as currently planned.

 
  
  

Report: Véronique Mathieu (A7-0265/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am not in favour of this report as the final version with the votes on the amendments is manifestly unfair, as it allows migrant workers to remain legally unprotected in some important areas such as social security. The EU should not allow this kind of treatment; when it comes to human rights, the EU should be a model.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing.(LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work. This document establishes a single application procedure for third-country nationals who wish to be admitted to the territory of a Member State in order to work there, and offers them a secure legal status. This will undoubtedly simplify the often complex administrative procedures for receiving economic migrants. I agree with the rapporteur’s position that one of the best ways of combating illegal immigration and undeclared work is to develop balanced legal immigration channels which meet the needs of our labour markets. Economic immigration is a reality on which we must impose order, but it is also a necessity in view of the demographic and economic challenges which the EU will face in the near future. It is important to note that this proposal does not stipulate the conditions for admitting third-country nationals. Member States retain the power to decide these conditions and to set the number of migrants that they wish to admit to their territory for employment purposes. It is time for the European Union to legislate on economic immigration in order to establish an approach common to the 27 Member States. The changes brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon have made this progress possible, and it is now up to us to make it a reality.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The European Union, a symbol of human rights around the world, must guarantee fair treatment of third-country nationals residing in its territory and establish an inclusive policy towards them. It has therefore been necessary to harmonise Member States’ national laws relating to the admission and residence of those third-country nationals. That is why I voted in favour of this text which should help simplify admission procedures, fight against the unfair competition that takes place at the expense of European workers, and establish better control in the fight against illegal immigration and undeclared work.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this text because I think that the European Union needs uniform administrative procedures for dealing with third-country immigrant workers. Adopting this act will have a significant beneficial impact. It will reduce public sector expenditure, discourage illegal immigration and ensure fair rights for third-country nationals wishing to work in the European Union. Economic immigration is a necessity which must be encouraged in a controlled manner, given the demographic and economic challenges which the European Union is going to face. Let us not forget that the progress made by countries such as the United States, Canada or Australia is due to immigrants. They belong to an extremely dynamic social group which brings additional enthusiasm and a fresh outlook in their approach in their adoptive societies, making the latter more competitive. In this respect, we must ensure that the conditions exist to allow them to work legally and that they have the chance to fulfil their dreams without being obstructed by pointless red tape. I would also like to hope that in the very near future, the issue of access to the entire European Union labour market for citizens from the Member States of Romania and Bulgaria as well will be resolved once and for all.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Europe is facing the demographic problem of its aging population, and so it needs to look for manpower, which makes an important contribution to economic development, an increase in competitiveness and the vitality of the European economy. Europe will have to respond to its current and future manpower needs and provide a means to combat the exploitation and discrimination that workers often suffer.

By creating a single application procedure for third country nationals who are seeking admission to the territory of a Member State in order to work there, and offering them a secure legal status, this draft directive responds to these needs and also simplifies the often complex administrative process.

The power to determine the number of migrants seeking admission to their territory for the purposes of paid employment and the conditions for this admission continue to be the responsibility of the individual Member States. For all the above reasons, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) We have been talking for years now about creating a single permit for nationals of third countries who wish to live and work in a Member State. It was a commendable initiative at the beginning, but the text as it is contradicts the stated goals: it is both discriminatory, because the basic principle of equal treatment for all is not respected, and restrictive, since several categories of workers are excluded. Despite the improvements made since December 2010, there is a continued fear of social inequality among nationals of third countries. What is more, by voting in favour of the proposed ‘single permit’ for third-country nationals, the European right is voting for an immigration policy that is both discriminatory and restrictive. The text as it stands does not provide for equal treatment for all workers in terms of working conditions and social rights. It creates different categories of workers, by nationality and by type of contract, and this is simply unacceptable. We cannot compromise on equal treatment. We should say ‘yes’ to a common immigration policy, and ‘yes’ to a genuine single European permit, but we do not want a policy that is restrictive and therefore discriminatory.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. – (BG) I voted in favour of the proposal for a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State because I think that the growing wave of immigration to the EU needs adequate regulation. The administrative requirements for admitting third-country citizens to work in the EU are excessively complicated and vague. Introducing a single-permit system will help improve the whole procedure, making it more efficient and far cheaper. We should not forget either that creating a single document will make it easier for local authorities to carry out checks on citizens arriving in the EU. Last but not least, I must say how pleased I am that the text voted on was supported by my fellow Members because it is designed to guarantee social and economic rights for immigrant workers, with the aim of avoiding social dumping or unfair competition inside the EU.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report, because the directive on a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work should be a general framework directive on rights for third-country workers, because only then will this European legislative act be able to contribute to the European Union goal of a common migration policy. Unfortunately, the position adopted by the European Parliament today on the directive on a single permit to reside and work has not improved the Commission’s proposal for this directive. It has not been accepted that immigrant workers from third countries, who arrive here legally and do the same work as European Union workers, should enjoy the same rights and working conditions as local workers. It should be understood that legal migrant workers make a contribution to the EU economy through their work and the taxes and social security contributions they pay, therefore they must be guaranteed the same minimum rights and be treated in the same way in the labour market. I would like to stress that it is impossible to create a two-tier labour market, either within the European Union itself or outside. We cannot allow the creation of an underclass of workers in the EU labour market that faces discrimination and does not enjoy any rights or any guarantees, because this would lead to the erosion of all the social standards that have hitherto been won.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Adopting the directive on introducing a single procedure for third-country citizens to obtain a work permit for the EU will simplify considerably the system which is currently decided on by each Member State. Two separate procedures entail a longer period for processing applications and higher administrative costs. This one-stop shop system will make the administrative procedure simpler, less expensive and quicker. In actual fact, issuing a single document will also make it easier to check on people admitted to a Member State and authorised to work there. This document will have the residence permit format common to all Member States. Member States will also be able to decide to introduce an additional document which will be of a purely informative nature. This will help supplement the information contained in the single permit, thereby facilitating monitoring. We are therefore dealing with advantages for every party involved – immigrants, employers and national administrations. Establishing a single application procedure will simplify the often complex administrative procedures for admitting economic migrants. This would provide an adequate response to the labour challenges which the EU is facing and will continue to face.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) The benefit of the approved directive lies in the fact that it creates a unified approach to handling applications from third country citizens for permits to live and work in a Member State, and provides workers from third countries who are legally residing in the EU with a common set of minimal rights. The horizontal and framework character of the directive is unfortunately violated by the exemptions from the scope of the directive and variations regarding the rights of certain specific population groups. There has been an undermining of the principle of equal treatment for all third country workers legally working in the Union compared to EU citizens. This equality should be an expression of recognition of the benefit migrant workers bring to the EU economy through their work and also through their payment of taxes and social contributions. The accompanying effect should be a restriction on unfair competition, making the practice of illegal employment more difficult and preventing third country workers from becoming victims of exploitation and social exclusion. Contrary to the Commission proposal, it is therefore necessary to ensure that no specific group is excluded from the scope of the directive, and particularly not the group comprising temporary workers. The directive must specify the conditions of entry into the EU and any concrete rights, but it must not create a barrier to a situation where all legal migrant workers can enjoy fair and equal treatment, but, on the contrary, should secure and guarantee such treatment.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) This report marks a very important step for European Union legal migration legislation as it creates a single application procedure for third-country citizens. I welcome that the text adopted today makes no mention at all of the possibility of a Member State being able to introduce additional documents required by a third-country national to obtain a work permit. In addition, migrants will not become a burden on national social welfare systems because Member States will be able to decide that third-country citizens can have access to the social welfare system only after they have worked for a minimum of six months, while those who have come to study cannot claim these benefits. The one point which must be welcomed in this report is that it defines a set of common measures relating to third-country workers’ rights, thereby facilitating the legal migration which the European Union needs. I welcome the call for Member States to produce correlation tables as this will enable us to verify the directive’s proper transposition.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this draft report which allows a single residence and work permit for legal immigrants, provides a ‘single permit’ for third-country nationals and grants them rights similar to those of EU citizens. I agree with this proposal, which is aimed at simplifying administrative procedures and ensuring equal treatment between EU and immigrant workers for a range of social rights, such as access to social security. This measure will facilitate legal immigration when it is necessary in order to meet the needs of the European labour market.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against the directive on a ‘single permit’, because it is inspired by the Bolkestein Directive, which adopted the principle of the country of origin, thereby permitting different treatment of workers in respect of wages, terms, working times, social protection and so forth. The same approach is applied here to workers from ‘third countries’ outside the European Union. Different treatment has been adopted for European and non-European workers, thereby increasing competition between them and between foreign workers, depending on whether they are seconded or seasonal workers, students or residents. All these differences do is to increase exploitation and uncertainty. Despite moves by European trade unions and the progressive forces in Parliament to obtain full equality of rights for all workers, the text mainly reflects a compromise between the right and the socialists. The future directive will not apply to seconded workers or to students, will allow discrimination based on criteria such as knowledge of the language and will refuse family benefits to families of seasonal workers. Likewise, the call for the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants and Members of Their Families has been removed.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal is aimed at responding to the concerns expressed in the Stockholm programme in order to create flexible immigration policies to support the development and economic performance of the EU.

It is thus aimed and simplifying and harmonising the existing standards in the Member States by creating a single application procedure leading to one combined title encompassing both residence and work permit. This should make for a more efficient procedure and bring clear benefits for both employers and third-country nationals who want to immigrate to the territory of the Member States. It will ensure that these migrants have rights and obligations comparable to those of citizens of the EU in terms of working conditions, training and education, recognition of diplomas, social benefits, and so on. At the same time, it allows the lawfulness of their residence and employment to be monitored more easily.

I therefore voted in favour of the excellent report presented to us by Mrs Mathieu.

 
  
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  Karima Delli (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) The European Parliament has voted in favour of the principle of creating a single work and residence permit for third-country nationals in a Member State. This procedure provides a set of common rights for these workers, particularly with regard to working conditions, such as working time and holidays. The text also sets out the principle of reimbursing pension contributions already made by workers who leave the EU, since they will be unable to receive their pensions after they retire. This text is problematic, however, since it reinforces the ‘country of origin’ principle for some categories of workers, a principle that was fought by the European left during the time of the famous ‘Bolkestein’ Directive. This principle creates a kind of two-speed labour market depending on the worker’s origin, and contributes to a form of social dumping. There is a contradiction here: do we really want to protect the European social model, and should it exclude non-European workers, or should it take a universalist approach and stop discriminating against workers by giving them different rights? This text does not yet resolve this fundamental issue, which is why I decided to abstain from voting on the text.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. I voted against this report that seeks to establish unfair competition between EU workers and migrant workers coming to Europe. The ‘single permit’ directive, as amended today by Parliament at first reading, will apply to non-EU nationals seeking to reside and work in a Member State or who already reside legally in an EU country, with the exception of posted workers, seasonal workers, long-term residents and refugees, who will therefore not be covered by its anti-discriminatory provisions It is unacceptable that legal migrants coming to Europe to work are to endure worse working conditions than EU workers doing the same job. Once a migrant enters the EU and starts working, he stops being a migrant and becomes a worker. Therefore, he has the right to be treated as such, like any EU worker and regardless of his country of origin. There can be no exceptions. EU legislation must apply to all workers in the EU, regardless of their country of origin.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) We have been talking for years now about creating a single permit for nationals of third countries who wish to live and work in a Member State. It was a commendable initiative at the beginning, but the text as it is contradicts the stated goals: it is both discriminatory, because the basic principle of equal treatment for all is not respected, and restrictive, since several categories of workers are excluded. In December 2010, Members of the European Parliament rejected the text for the first time. Despite the improvements made since then, there is a continued fear of social inequality among nationals of third countries. The text as it stands does not provide for equal treatment for all workers in terms of working conditions and social rights. It creates different categories of workers, by nationality and by type of contract, and this is simply unacceptable. We therefore voted against the final draft. We remain in favour of a single European permit, but we do not want a policy that is restrictive and therefore discriminatory.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The issue in question in this proposal is the introduction of a one-stage procedure to grant both employment and residency authorisation and the definition of a common set of rights to all nationals of non-EU countries who legally reside and work in the EU. This presupposes the existence of rules which are common to all Member States, something which would put an end to the current differences in approach of the various EU countries and which would make the process of giving legal status to workers quicker, more uniform and more transparent throughout the Union.

While the legal migration of labour, and above all qualified labour, helps to fight clandestine working and can improve the competitiveness of the economy and overcome existing shortages, we cannot forget that, during a period of economic crisis and vulnerability where unemployment is growing, labour migration policy must be flexible, as argued by the Commission, but must also be sustainable and reasonable.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report addresses an issue which needs to be discussed with increasing urgency. Indeed, the expected decrease in the number of Europeans making an active contribution requires the EU to open its borders to third-country nationals, so that they can live and work here; otherwise the current social security systems will fail.

In 2004, the Hague programme, which focused on the need to combat illegal migration, recognised that legal migration would play a vital role in the economic development of the EU. The Stockholm programme adopted by the Council on 10 and 11 December 2009 acknowledged that the migration of labour can increase competitiveness and economic vitality.

I therefore agree with the position expressed in this report on the proposal for a directive of Parliament and the Council on the regulatory amendment which is aimed at implementing a single procedure in order to grant authorisation to third-country nationals legally resident in one of the Member States, taking into account the demographic challenges which Europe is starting to face. Moreover, this is a process of simplification which is more efficient and economical.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The proposal for a directive on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State, hinting at alleged improvements in the situation of workers from these countries, may in fact represent an attack on the rights of workers in general.

Let us not forget that the proposal had its genesis in the country-of-origin principle established by the notorious Bolkestein Directive, which promoted the increase in inequalities between workers, particularly in terms of wages, and which was ultimately detrimental to all workers due to the pressure to level down working conditions. By attempting to establish disparities and differences in treatment between European workers and third-country workers, this proposal for a directive increases the segregation of immigrant workers and further weakens the situation for all workers, forcing them into a situation of greater instability. Basically, we may be facing an attempt to promote social dumping.

In our view it is necessary to strengthen the rights of all workers, including immigrants, seasonal workers and posted workers. We therefore regret that restrictive measures are being insisted upon following the rejection of the first version of this report...

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule  170 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The adoption of the report on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State may constitute an attack on the rights of workers in general. The proposal has as its genesis the Bolkestein Directive, which established the country-of-origin principle, promoting an increase in divisions between workers, particularly in terms of wages, and which proved detrimental to all workers. By attempting to establish differences between European workers and third-country workers, this adds to the segregation of immigrant workers, widening differences in treatment and further weakening their living conditions through the vulnerability and instability of their working conditions.

This proposal for a directive may promote social dumping and make labour relations more unstable. In view of this, it is necessary to strengthen the rights of all workers, including immigrants, seasonal workers and posted workers. However, the struggle of the workers in many European countries, particularly in Portugal, meant that the proposal for a directive was rejected at the last plenary session of 2010. We regret the insistence on restrictive measures…

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170 of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) Although overall it would be good if a residence permit and a work permit could be issued together, the following questions remain unanswered and the following remarks are necessary:

1. Application of the Posting of Workers Directive must take priority and the principle of the application of the social legislation of the country of employment must always be regarded as fundamental.

2. No worker must be employed as legal ‘cheap’ labour under this measure, as this is damaging to our labour market and it is socially unjust.

3. The countries must carry out more checks in these areas.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) After the report was initially rejected in plenary, the European right made mistakes in procedural manoeuvres, and has now shamefully contributed to the recognition of a two-speed job market that depends on the worker’s origin; this will create social dumping and therefore exert a downward pressure on the level of protection of European workers, which is unacceptable. I therefore voted against the report which is nothing but an attack against the European social model. This text establishes exclusions and unequal treatment in social security, pensions and access to employment and training for legal migrant workers, which runs contrary to my values.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The Hague Programme recognised that legal immigration would play an important role in economic development. It was with this in mind that it called on the Commission to submit an action plan to enable the labour market to respond rapidly to the constantly changing demand for manpower from abroad. The Stockholm Programme adopted by the European Council on 10 and 11 December 2009 expressed the view that labour immigration may increase competitiveness and economic vitality. In view of the considerable demographic challenges which the European Union will face in future, with growing demand for manpower, this new multiannual programme calls on Member States to adopt flexible immigration policies in order to support the Union’s long-term economic development and performance. The provisions in the proposal have the advantage of conferring better protection on workers from third countries than is currently the case on the basis of international conventions only ratified by certain Member States. I abstained because the proposal does not state who may submit an application – the employer or the employee – and from which State an application may be made, and it was necessary to clarify this important issue. It also failed to stress the requirements of legal certainty and transparency of decision making by national authorities. These decisions have a strong impact on the lives of the people concerned and Member States, and they must therefore be taken in a way which is completely transparent. Any rejection decision must be duly substantiated, transparent and objective.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The draft resolution voted in Parliament today on the provision for a single application procedure for the issuance of a permit that would allow third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of the Union represents a further step towards the harmonisation of national laws of Member States. Establishing the same legal immigration measures in all EU countries, setting out common procedures for those who intend to apply for admission to the territory of a Member State for employment, will allow the EU to meet the needs for workers in domestic labour markets by providing, through the establishment of equal rights, a tool to fight exploitation and discrimination. I believe, nevertheless, that Member States should be allowed, under certain conditions, to set limits to the capacity to accept citizens from non-EU countries and offer them a job in their area. Obviously, the proposal has the aim of combating illegal immigration and clandestine employment, but it can and should be interpreted as a useful contribution to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy, allowing also simpler border control.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) It has been some 20 years since the European Union established the internal market envisaged by the founding fathers. Its implementation has led to the increasingly advanced integration of a vast area of trade. However, that area still experiences unequal treatment between nationals of a Member State and those from third countries. This difference in treatment is a two-fold problem. It both penalises migrant workers, who do have the high expectations usually brought about by the social rights of Member States, and harms European workers who, faced with unfair competition, suffer from social dumping. The ‘single permit’ resolution, presented by Mrs Mathieu, specifically targets migrant workers’ rights. It simplifies procedures by establishing a single permit for residence and work, and gives foreign workers rights and obligations comparable to those of European workers. The full establishment of the internal market is a powerful tool enabling Europe to return to growth, which is why I supported this text.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted against this report because key paragraphs on posted workers, pension rights and social security were defeated.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. − (IT) I voted in favour of this report, which returns to the House for the second time, because I believe that it is a good response to the considerable demographic challenges that the European Union will face in the coming years, establishing a single application procedure for third-country nationals who wish to be admitted to the territory of a Member State for work purposes and offering them a secure legal status.

Economic immigration is a reality that must be organised, but it is also a necessity with regard to the democratic and economic challenges which will face the European Union in the near future. Thus, immigration policy must be thought of as an instrument of adjustment regarding our workforce needs, thus contributing to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy. From a technical point of view, the exclusion of seasonal workers and workers transferred within their company is justified by the presentation by the Commission of proposals for specific directives for these workers. However, as regards the exclusion of asylum seekers and persons benefiting from international protection, it is important to emphasise that the existing tools in these areas provide greater protection than the present proposal.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Now that this draft directive has been adopted, immigrant workers will have the same rights as national workers, at least in terms of remuneration and dismissal, health and safety in the workplace, working hours and holidays. This proposal is aimed at introducing a procedure to give a single residence and work permit to legal immigrants, and to grant them a common set of rights throughout the EU.

It is thus possible to simplify the procedures so that the national authorities can grant a single residence and work permit for legal immigrants, so that they can benefit from a set of rights similar to those of the workers in the Member State where they are living. However, the admission of immigrants for the purposes of work, and the number of admissions, should remain the responsibility of the individual Member State.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) We can best protect against illegal and irregular immigration if we try to prevent it. We could lend support to people to find a livelihood and social security in their countries of origin, that is, we could eliminate the causes of their emigration. If that is not feasible, we should create legal channels of immigration, which naturally also fulfil the needs of our own labour market. Economic immigration is a real phenomenon these days, which, on the other hand, is also a necessity, since with its help we can more readily defend against demographic and economic challenges. Consequently, we may consider immigration policy a regulatory means by which we can become able to control our labour needs. Through it we give opportunities to third-country immigrants who can legally enter the territory of the EU for the purpose of finding employment. The system of reception procedures would be significantly simplified by the creation of a merged procedure, which would confer the right of residence and employment at the same time. For this reason I, too, voted in favour of this horizontal legislative framework being created as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) By establishing a single application procedure for third-country nationals seeking to reside and work in the territory of a Member State, and by providing a secure legal status, this proposal for a directive will simplify the often complex administrative steps involved in receiving economic migrants.

The existence of a harmonised procedure for issuing a single document that authorises residence and access to the labour market constitutes a significant simplification of the admission system. In addition, the proposal provides for treatment equal to that enjoyed by national workers and therefore has the advantage of giving better protection to third-country workers than they have at present. This status will also help fight against the unfair competition that often results from the absence of a protective legal status for these workers.

The text adopted today also includes the two main priorities of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE): it removes any reference to additional documents and requests Member States to draw up ‘correlation tables’ enabling the Commission to verify the transposition of the directive. It is a clear sign of the willingness of the European Parliament to move towards a European legal framework for legal immigration.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. The purpose of this directive is to enable potential immigrants into an EU Member State to obtain work and residence permits via a single procedure. Under the original proposal, non-EU workers would get equal treatment with EU nationals as regards pay and dismissal, health and safety at work and the right to join trade unions. The Employment Committee wants to extend those rights to include equal working time and leave, while clarifying workers’ rights to social security and tax benefits. Non-EU workers would also be able to receive their pensions when moving back to their home country on the same terms as nationals of the Member State concerned. What is more, all EU Member States will issue single standard permission for residence and work.

I disagree with this because the EU still has an unemployment problem, and therefore voted ‘against’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The entry and residence of third-country nationals are an issue, but in the past the rights in relation to these have been extended more and more. Thus, it is now the case that the autochthonous population quite rightly feels increasingly disadvantaged as a result of the access of third-country nationals to social services, specifically in the area of social housing. In the area of economic migration, it is mainly well educated and badly needed workers that move to other States. Whereas in the United States, for example, they do not burden the social system, and in some States they also have to leave once their job comes to an end, through the increasing level of equality with the resident population that they have been afforded in recent years, they constitute an ever greater burden for those States with traditionally well-developed social systems if they remain in the country permanently after losing their jobs and if, as a result of them bringing any family they have to join them, all the relatives have to be supported, too. This proposal is another step in this direction and therefore is to be rejected in the strongest possible terms.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I wanted to express my vote against the report in relation to single residence permits for citizens of third countries because today, in the House, some amendments were voted to exclude the requirement for employment as being necessary in order to have access to benefits and social services. It seems to me to be a dangerous lowering of the minimum required standards and it enables a third-country citizen, obviously with a valid residence permit in the EU, to have access to the same working and social conditions as an EU citizen. If a European Union exists, it is to ensure, also, that the inhabitants of Member States that are its citizens can enjoy greater rights and guarantees than are called for in this report.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this resolution because I think that non-EU workers should enjoy the same rights on work conditions as EU citizens, in accordance with the ‘Single Permit’ Directive. I would like to mention in particular at this point working time, leave and social insurance. The aim of this draft bill is to cut red tape and simplify the procedures for applying for residence and work in an EU Member State, both for migrants and their employers, by means of a combined residence and work permit. The proposal does not specify the conditions for admitting third-country nationals. Member States retain their power to set these admission criteria and the number of migrants they wish to admit to their own country with a view to taking up employment. The new rules will be applied to non-EU citizens already living legally in a Member State or wishing to do so.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mrs Mathieu’s proposal for a directive on the single application procedure for a residence and work permit for third-country nationals. I did so because I think it is important for Europe to equip itself with EU-wide rules to manage the influx of manpower from third countries, both for economic and social reasons. Labour immigration can increase the competitiveness and the vitality of the economy, helping Europe to tackle the future demographic challenge as well as possible. The proposal for a directive calls on the Member States to adopt flexible immigration policies to support the long-term development of the Union. In addition, it will simplify the often complex administrative procedures for receiving migrant workers, while also providing a tool to combat the exploitation and discrimination imposed on some categories of workers.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this Parliament legislative resolution on a proposal for a directive of Parliament and the Council on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State, and a common set of rights for third-country workers who are legally resident in a Member State. This matter is all the more relevant in the current economic and social situation. Indeed, one of the best ways of combating illegal immigration and clandestine working is to develop balanced channels for legal migration which meet the needs of our labour markets, along with the social requirements of successful integration into the host society.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Stockholm programme adopted by the European Council of 10 and 11 December 2009 calls on Member States to adopt immigration policies marked by flexible arrangements to support the development and economic performance of the Union. With this proposal, Parliament wishes to contribute to the implementation of this programme.

It introduces, in particular, a single application procedure for third-country nationals wishing to be admitted to the territory of a Member State for employment, by: (i) simplifying the often complex administrative procedures for receiving migrants; (ii) defining an instrument for the prevention of exploitation and discrimination in the workplace; (iii) ensuring that labour markets of Member States will definitely be able to respond to the need for workers, now and in the future. The Directive applies to all citizens admitted to the territory for work and those who were initially admitted for other reasons and who have subsequently obtained a work permit in accordance with the provisions of national or EU law. This proposal, therefore, contributes to promoting a common approach from the 27 Member States with regard to economic migration, which is why I reiterate my vote in favour.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. – (RO) Economic immigration is a reality on which we must impose order, but it is also a necessity in view of the demographic and economic challenges which the EU will face in the near future. Immigration policy can be regarded as an instrument for regulating our labour needs, thereby helping to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy. Having a single procedure enabling a single document to be issued authorising residence and access to the labour market marks a considerable simplification of the admission system. The directive will apply not only to any third-country national admitted to the territory of a Member State for employment purposes, but also to all those who were originally admitted for other purposes but who have acquired the right to work there on the basis of national or Community law. Each Member State must lay down the conditions under which social security benefits are granted, as well as the amount of these benefits and the period for which they are granted. I regret that seasonal workers and workers posted within their undertaking are excluded from this directive, but I call on the Commission to table a proposal on this soon.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the demographic challenges that Europe will face in the future, it is vital that the EU develops a balanced and flexible immigration policy which allows it to meet its labour needs and contribute to the competitiveness and vitality of the economy.

The adoption of this directive, which establishes a single application procedure for third-country nationals who wish to be admitted to the territory of a Member State in order to reside and work there, and grants them a common set of rights in areas linked to the work market, will address these concerns head-on, and so it deserves my vote.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Today’s vote in favour of the directive on a single permit for third-country nationals seeking to reside and work in a Member State is a further step towards achieving a harmonised immigration policy at European level. The idea of combining a residence permit and a work permit is good. It shows that the Union is genuinely committed to promoting legal migration and is not the European fortress that some people believe it to be. To achieve this, it was important for Parliament to support the idea of a single application procedure that is easier and faster for both the employer and the migrant. The European Parliament has also made the right choice by excluding four categories of workers from the field of application: seasonal workers, workers posted within their undertaking, self-employed workers, and seafarers, all of whom are already or will soon be covered by specific directives. Another positive point is the flexibility given to Member States as regards the effective rights of third-country workers. The 27 capitals will have the final say in determining whether or not to grant or withhold unemployment benefits and family allowances, and on the non-allocation of public housing during the first three years of residence. These are simple, common sense measures.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. The directive as it stands excludes a lot of categories such as seasonal workers, intra-corporate transferees, refugees and posted workers, etc. I totally oppose the further segregation into categories of workers and the differential treatment granting some workers and their family members less rights than others.

Even if some of these categories are covered by other directives, the example of the Commission proposal on seasonal workers shows that these directives are not sufficient in terms of rights. We should stand for a common framework for all workers, as it would unify the legislation in working places by avoiding fragmenting the workers’ situation with the risk of jeopardising the integration of migrants and the cohesion in the EU.

Even if very important issues such as the portability of pensions to third countries no longer being conditional on the existence of bilateral agreements have been won thanks to Jean, I cannot help thinking that we should advocate the equal treatment and non discrimination of all workers in the EU. That is why I have abstained.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today’s vote represents a step towards the adoption of a single application procedure for third-country nationals seeking to enter European territory and work there. The European Union aims to simplify administrative procedures and to issue a single document for both residence and work permits.

I want to emphasise that today’s vote does not focus on indiscriminately attracting new workers to our territory, nor is its objective to combat illegal immigration. Every non-EU worker wishing to settle in Europe will still have to get a residence permit first. The proposal adopted today also confirms full observance of the principle of subsidiarity, by setting minimum standards on rights and obligations, but leaving Member States the flexibility and freedom regarding the introduction of procedures in their national legislation and their practical application. The European Union cannot limit the power of Member States in the organisation of social security, and each state must be allowed to establish its own rules in this area.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) Although the directive on a single application procedure for a residence and work permit is far from being ideal or complete, I voted in favour of it nonetheless. I regret the shortcomings concerning seasonal workers, posted workers, the right to change employer and the right to enter and re-enter, because these subgroups will be protected in other (future) legislation. All in all, this directive is extremely important given that it is the first of its kind to grant a common set of minimum rights (including salary rights, equal treatment at work, pension rights and access to health care) to workers from third countries who are legally resident in Europe, which it does on the basis of equal treatment with national workers of Member States. In addition, the directive provides for a system with a single simplified application procedure for a residence and work permit. This scheme is far from a complete common immigration policy, but in view of increasing immigration flows, the constantly changing demand for foreign labour and the prevention of abuse and discrimination in this regard, this first form of protection is essential. Third-country workers will now receive greater protection than has been the case. Taken as a whole, this was the deciding factor for my ‘yes’ vote.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. I voted against as I feel that it opens the door to unfair competition to EU workers and low-cost migrant workers coming to the EU.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is aimed at establishing a single residence and work permit for third-country nationals in a Member State, and thus speed up and make more uniform the admission process, while also reducing its bureaucratic and financial burden. Economic migration is now a reality which should be analysed in view of the development of legal and balanced migration channels to meet the needs of European labour markets.

The economic and demographic challenges which Europe is facing mean that a common immigration policy needs to be drawn up for the 27 Member States. The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon has established a new legal basis on this matter, the codecision process, and so I believe that it is vital to establish a common and harmonised approach in order to reduce the differences between national laws.

Besides what has already been said, the proposal also provides for equal treatment for national workers, creating a secure and protective legal status, since the immigrants participate in the economic activity of the host country. Decisions that have been dismissed should be properly justified and transparent, and the costs should be commensurate with the services that are actually provided.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) The adoption of this report is a significant step forward in protecting the rights of third-country workers in the EU by granting them a single permit for residence and work. This illustrates the EU’s willingness to enhance its attractiveness on the world stage by facilitating conditional access to the European labour market. I am pleased that the procedure for obtaining this permit has been simplified through a one-stop shop system, which will ease administrative procedures for foreign workers. The creation of a single working document represents significant progress in the control and regulation of migration flows from Member States and will enable legal immigration to be monitored more easily. With this text, Parliament has stated that controlled, regulated immigration of workers is beneficial to all. Establishing a common legal framework for European and foreign workers protects our citizens against all forms of unfair competition in the labour market. I voted in favour of this resolution because I support the idea of a Europe that protects its workers while remaining faithful to the principle of free movement of individuals, which is a cornerstone of the European project.

 
  
  

Report: Andreas Schwab (A7-0038/2011)

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on consumer rights, which merges four existing Community directives in a single legal instrument. I agree with the rapporteur’s opinion that the fragmentary nature of existing legislation deters consumers and undertakings alike from participating in cross-border trade. However, we must be cautious, because due to the nature of this area, it is rather difficult to fully harmonise legislation in the realm of consumer rights, and moreover, this may reduce the level of protection of consumer rights in certain Member States.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) In the face of recent digital developments, the EU should update consumer rights. This draft directive aims to provide better protection for consumers in all Member States of the European Union by enabling them, in particular, to enjoy an adequate right of withdrawal. Every citizen and consumer should be guaranteed the same rights within the Union. We will thus promote a level of consumerism that satisfies our citizens, who will find it easier to make purchases in other Member States. Furthermore, given that it preserves the vital acquis of French consumer law, such as the ‘latent defect’ guarantee, and the fact that all methods of payment are free of charge, I believe this new directive to be a step forward. I therefore supported it.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report which will be reconsidered by the parliamentary committee responsible. This directive is aimed at combining EU legislation regulating consumer rights, safeguarding a high level of consumer protection across all EU Member States and encouraging businesses to provide services and sell goods in other Member States. Currently there remain obstacles to the smooth functioning of the market. Companies are not inclined to trade in other Member States and consumers are unlikely to award contracts due to the different rules that apply to consumer contracts in the Member States. Legislation in force until now set only minimum requirements for the protection of consumer rights, and the Member States were able to apply more stringent measures, thus leading to different legal regimes in the Community. I believe that it is necessary to review this directive again and strengthen its provisions. We must ensure that the same standards of consumer rights protection apply in all EU Member States, enabling us to avoid the inconsistency that currently exists in the internal market, strengthen consumer confidence in the internal market and encourage companies to trade in other Member States.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) The proposal for a directive on consumer rights presented by the Commission combines four previous directives in a single legislative instrument. It is the result of revision of the acquis related to the consumer, which started in 2004 with the aim of simplifying and completing the existing regulatory framework relating to consumer protection. The current regulatory framework results in significant compliance costs for European companies that wish to operate across borders and have to comply with differing legislations. I believe the fragmentation of legal rules acts as a deterrent both to companies and consumers from buying or selling across borders.

The report under discussion aims to achieve necessary balance between a high level of consumer protection and the competitiveness of companies in the insurance market, while at the same time respecting the principle of subsidiarity. Therefore I support the rapporteur's proposals that tend towards a kind of targeted harmonisation, that is to say harmonisation limited to specific aspects of certain contracts such as, in particular, information obligations or the right of withdrawal in remote or off-premises contracts, while managing to maintain a high level of protection for European consumers.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I congratulate Mr Schwab for the work done so far. I voted in favour because the Schwab report has the merit of protecting consumers in their cross-border purchases. The text voted today, in fact, proposes guaranteeing a high level of protection for the consumers of the 27 Member States. At the same time, it seeks to protect and support companies, regardless of their size, which can provide goods and services to consumers in Europe without encountering unnecessary legal barriers. By bringing together four directives on this subject, we hope to harmonise the current rules in a more defined manner, avoiding the fragmentation of laws which is very often an obstacle for both consumers and businesses. In this sense, the document could contribute to a better functioning of the internal market by increasing consumer confidence.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) The approved report sweeps away the fragmentary nature of existing regulations in the area of consumer protection, which ends up discouraging consumers and businesses from getting involved in cross-border trade. Consumers in particular often complain that they cannot make full use of the advantages of the single market, especially in relation to trading over the Internet. In my opinion, the correct response to these complaints is an approved set of common definitions, such as the concept of a consumer, a seller or a distance agreement. Also beneficial is the creation of a list of basic information to be provided by the seller before any kind of consumer contract is concluded, and the unification of the deadline for withdrawing from a contract at 14 days in the case of distance or off-premises contracts, including the creation of a single form for withdrawal from a contract. Unfortunately, in the case of this report we have seen how the left has, at the last minute, failed to support the compromise agreed with the rapporteur, and we have therefore had to put it to the vote. However, that is no disaster in my opinion, and on the contrary it is perhaps an illustration of the fact that the European Parliament works as a political body in which an open and genuine ideological conflict between the European right and the left unfolds. It would be useful if Parliament were presented in this way more often.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In October 2008, the Commission submitted a proposal for a directive aimed at bringing together in one text the acquis on consumer protection, which covers four directives on unfair contract terms, certain aspects of sales and guarantees on consumer goods, consumer protection in distance sales and consumer protection in contracts concluded away from business premises. It is worth noting that these directives, which have been subject to revision, provide for minimal harmonisation clauses, which has led many Member States to maintain or adopt stricter rules on consumer protection, creating a fragmented regulatory framework throughout the Community with consequences in terms of the internal market, particularly for businesses and consumers in cross-border transactions.

I believe that this legislative text, which was voted upon today, strengthens consumer protection while taking into account the characteristics of the sector, in which complete harmonisation may not always be feasible. I welcome the proposal for the creation of a mutual evaluation system, whereby the Member States must detail why diverging provisions of national law are essential and how they conform with the principle of proportionality and effectiveness.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report. The objective is very ambitious: it means to create a complete reform of consumer legal protection which addresses the entire subject of contracts and which brings into play the 27 national laws that provide different levels of protection. About a year ago, Prof. Monti said in his report to President Barroso: ‘…the legislator should find without delay an agreement on the draft directive on consumer rights, in order to ensure a high level of protection for consumers in an integrated retail market’. I fully agree with Prof. Monti. The absence of common rules in various Member States has given way to fragmentation of legal frameworks which is harmful for both consumers and manufacturers and in fact prevents the realisation of a common market. At a time of crisis like the one we are living through globally, Europe cannot afford to let its manufacturers lag behind and its consumers be insufficiently protected. It is therefore a matter of urgency that we come to an equitable common denominator in order to harmonise laws throughout Europe. We must all make an effort to reach an agreement with the Council, even at first reading.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Consumer rights are one of the main pillars of the internal market. Their protection and security are vital to greater security in driving the acquisition of goods on a day-to-day basis for cross-border trade and, as a result, for the competitiveness of businesses.

In this sense, a balance between consumer rights and the cost that these may impose on businesses is crucial. Moreover, it is important to bear in mind the different national characteristics and the protection that is offered, with due respect for the principle of subsidiarity.

I therefore believe that this is an area where, on the one hand, maximum harmonisation may be useful, but, on the other, minimum harmonisation may also be adopted according to the type of contract, as being more appropriate.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This draft directive on consumer rights merges the four Community directives in force into a single legislative instrument. On the one hand, it is aimed at ensuring that consumers in all of the 27 Member States have confidence in a high level of consumer protection, and, on the other hand, that businesses, whether large or small, can provide goods and services without unnecessary legal obstacles to consumers in the 27 EU Member States.

As for the consumers, this proposal aims to ensure that, no matter where in the EU they make their purchases, they have access to clear information about prices and additional charges before signing a contract. It strengthens consumer protection against late or non-delivery, giving consumers rights in relation to cooling-off periods, returns, refunds, repairs, guarantees and unfair contract terms. On all contracts concluded with consumers, the dealer is required to provide clear information that allows an informed choice.

I am pleased with the exemption of the requirement to provide information for contracts that involve ‘day-to-day transactions and in which the trader has to deliver the good or provide the service immediately when the contract is concluded’, as this avoids an unreasonable administrative burden.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is yet another proposal by the Commission in which the promotion of cross-border trade appears to be the main motivation for exercising legislative initiative. In this case, and due to the fact that this is an unoriginal proposal for ‘protecting the interests of consumers’, it goes back to arguing that free trade is the be-all and end-all of consumer interests, thus making, once again, a profession of faith in the virtues of the free market. In truth, it is more relevant to the rights and interests of businesses than to those of the consumer.

The Commission is advocating a total harmonisation of the rules laid down for consumers. If this harmonisation is not brought about by progress and by taking into account the legislation that is already in place in each country, in practice it could lead to the loss of consumer rights in some Member States where the legislation is more advanced in this field.

As this is a first reading, and given that in the course of the debate in the committee it was possible to improve upon the Commission’s initial proposal, we hope that it will be able to go even further in defending the rights of consumers.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We are at the stage of the first reading of the draft directive on consumer rights, submitted by the Commission. This is focused on the promotion of cross-border trade, based on the principle that free competition is what best serves the interests of consumers. In fact, however, it gives more attention to the rights of corporations than to the rights of consumers.

Moreover, the Commission advocated the total harmonisation of the established rules on consumers, without taking into account the legislation that is already in place in each country. This could lead to the loss of consumer rights in some Member States. There has been an intense discussion in Parliament’s internal market committee, and it was possible to reach a broad consensus that allowed the initial proposal tabled by the Commission to be changed substantially. However, the conditions seem to be in place to go even further in protecting consumer rights by seeking to influence the negotiations with the Council in a positive way.

We therefore agree with the rapporteur’s request to return this report to Parliament’s internal market committee.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) Facilitation of cross-border trade by means of uniform rules and at the same time a strengthening of consumer rights, above all in connection with purchasing goods in another Member State, are the reasons why I expressly welcome the ‘new’ Consumer Protection Directive. The current uncertainty that still remains with regard to the applicable consumer rights deters companies from offering their goods across borders and consumers from ordering these goods, as there is a lack of clarity over what happens in the possible event of withdrawal. A European single market expressly requires the removal of such barriers.

The uniform definitions proposed in this report, which among other things harmonise the withdrawal right and rules relating to unfair contract terms in contracts, will create legal certainty and thus increase the appeal of cross-border trade for companies, which will ultimately benefit consumers.

Chapter V was not adopted and therefore consumer protection will be applied throughout Europe according to the highest criteria.

Referral back to committee is therefore necessary in order to negotiate with the Commission once again.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) Faced with a text that was more than questionable at the outset, I am delighted that some major progress has been made by the European left. It was indeed absurd to impose on Member States legislation that goes against consumer rights and to force them to revoke some of their national laws that were considered too protective in relation to the directive. However, I voted in favour of deferring the final vote in order to strengthen consumer protection against certain abusive practices, for which the chosen level of protection remains insufficient. In any event, I will not vote in favour of a text that violates the most basic consumer rights.

 
  
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  Carl Haglund (ALDE), in writing. (SV) The amendments tabled by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection are, unfortunately, of poor quality from a purely legislative perspective, and Chapters II, IV and V are superfluous. Amendment 141 is unreasonable for small and medium-sized enterprises. In the compromise proposals (block II), the restrictions on distance and direct selling are unreasonable and unacceptable.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. The Commission’s original proposal for a consumer rights directive was an unwelcome, unnecessary attempt to enforce maximum harmonisation for no apparent reason other that to satisfy those who believe that cultural and legal diversity runs counter to the EU’s principles. The proposal would have led to a reduction in consumer rights in various European countries and there was no evidence it would have benefitted the market. The compromise package agreed in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection is far from perfect but marks a significant improvement and a base upon which we can build in negotiations with the other institutions.

 
  
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  Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE), in writing. (DA) I am pleased that, after more than two years of negotiations in Parliament, we have succeeded in agreeing on a position which both strengthens consumer rights in the EU and makes it easier for enterprises to operate on the internal market.

On account of the decision to vote on the amendments in blocks, many of us are unhappy about the fact that we were not able to vote against certain amendments. Allow me to highlight the following cases.

Chapters 4 and 5: I would have liked a compromise, with Chapters 4 and 5 being completely removed from the proposal. I know that the Council in particular, but also the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC) and the Danish Consumer Council, would have preferred that to the compromise we currently have with regard to these two chapters. In this connection, we have to smile at the fact that the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament have chosen to ignore the recommendations of the consumer organisations.

Article 22a: I would also have liked to delete the much-criticised Article 22a. It does not make things particularly easy for small and medium-sized enterprises. However, I am more confident than my fellow Liberal Members from Germany that we will probably succeed in amending this provision during the negotiations with the Council. One idea was to bring this article into line with Article 20 of the Services Directive, which would also reduce the risk of contradictory legislation.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) According to the EU 2020 Strategy, high-quality and environmentally sustainable production is one of the EU’s competitive advantages. A high level of consumer protection guarantees high-quality products and improves consumer confidence, thereby making the internal market more effective. I welcome the proposals tabled by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection on a new consumer rights directive as they strive to ensure transparency for companies, with the aim of unlocking the potential of cross-border trade in the EU. The new consumer rights regulations include almost every type of sales, in stores, via telephone or online. They reinforce in particular the provisions on international sales, based on the proposals made in the report drafted by my colleague Andreas Schwab. Unlike the four existing consumer protection directives, I think that the new legislation provides added value because it stipulates what kind of information the purchaser must receive from the seller, the delivery terms and the rules applied when the risk lies with the purchaser, not to mention the latter’s right to cancel or refuse purchases or the right to have an item repaired or replaced.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted to send this report back to committee because the Commission's response to Parliament's amendments was woefully inadequate.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. − (IT) The Commission’s proposal aims to improve the functioning of the internal market by reducing trade barriers across borders, but poses problems for both consumers and manufacturers. It should support all efforts aimed at making the internal market more effective and encourage cross-border trade, but Article 38 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights requires that EU policies ensure a high level of consumer protection.

It is therefore necessary to aim to increase the minimum level of current harmonisation by applying available best practices. It will be appropriate to develop a European system of liability in the event of non-compliance to improve consumer protection and confidence in the markets. In line with the Europe 2020 Strategy, their high level of protection ensures quality products and at the same time fosters the performance of the internal market. Regarding the rights of consumers, the current minimum regulations allow Member States to adapt European regulations to national principles: we should proceed further in this direction. Unfortunately however, we note that the proposed directive does not take into account new products on the market due to changes taking place in development and innovation, as in the case of digital products.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) I cast my vote in favour of the report on consumer rights by Mr Schwab because I see the need to simplify and complete the existing legal framework relating to consumer protection.

It is essential that consumers of the 27 Member States can rely on a high level of protection and that manufacturers, regardless of their size, can provide their goods and services to consumers in the 27 Member States without having to deal with unnecessary legal barriers. Parliament’s action is necessary both to strengthen consumer confidence and to encourage and support manufacturers wishing to engage in cross-border trade.

The diversification of rules on consumer rights in Europe is a serious deterrent to manufacturers even in their buying and selling of goods and services across borders. In particular, e-commerce is an area where consumers cannot benefit from the internal market nor from their consumer rights, which is due to the fact that manufacturers in a given sector are reluctant to comply with different rules as they enter a new market and thus run the risk of being sued in another Member State.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on consumer rights. The text replaces four existing directives with one, with a view to simplifying and improving the regulation of consumer protection. The added value of the European Union must translate into a clear benefit for consumers by facilitating cross-border online transactions in particular. The proposal for a directive thus seeks to address issues raised by consumer protection rules that differ from one country to the next. Specifically, the text proposes a model withdrawal form for distance contracts and off-premises contracts, and the period of the right of withdrawal is harmonised at 14 days. Similarly, the rules contained in the text would enable consumer rights to be strengthened with regard to information and delivery.

 
  
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  Gesine Meissner (ALDE), in writing. (DE) In today’s vote on the text of the directive on consumer rights, some members of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament abstained. The compromise adopted undoubtedly contains many improvements on the original draft from the European Commission. For example, we have succeeded in ensuring that small businesses are not affected by most of the new rules or burdened with additional bureaucracy. However, the text adopted today also contains rules that would heavily burden companies without increasing consumer protection. Article 5, for example, will mean that a company will have to provide very extensive pre-contractual information even when goods are purchased in store. This will hardly benefit consumers, as they can assess the product directly in the shop. Article 22a places companies under obligation, in the case of distance contracts, to supply their goods to customers in any Member State. Such an obligation contradicts the freedom of contract and exposes small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to considerable legal and financial risks. Furthermore, the FDP was unable to succeed in its core demand for the complete deletion of Chapters IV and V of the directive. The FDP calls for these provisions to be amended during the trilogue negotiations with the Council and Commission.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal involves the replacement of the four directives currently in force on contracts concluded away from business premises, unfair terms, distance contracts and the sale and guaranteeing of consumer goods into a single piece of legislation. The aim of this draft directive is to increase the confidence and protection of consumers in the purchases that they make in shops or on the Internet, and to reduce the reluctance of businesses to sell in other EU countries.

The draft directive on consumer rights is aimed at ensuring that, no matter where in the EU they make a purchase, consumers have access to clear information about prices and additional charges before signing a contract. In general, all contracts are covered, whether a purchase is made in a shop or at a distance, or away from the business premises. This directive will strengthen the internal market.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. The aim is to increase the confidence of shoppers and provide transparency for businesses so as to unleash the potential for growth in cross-border commerce within the EU. The new rules will cover almost all sales made in shops, by phone or online but will particularly strengthen the rules on cross-border transactions. Buyers will know what information they are entitled to receive from the seller, and rules on deliveries will be spelt out. There will also be clear rules on precisely when risk is passed on to consumers as well as on customers’ rights to cancel a purchase, change their minds or have a product repaired or replaced.

I would like to add that public transport and air transport tickets should be covered by rules on consumer rights. For example, I could cite the case of airBaltic where passengers’ rights are being ignored and the company refuses to accept responsibility for poor-quality service.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) There are indeed a few points that speak in favour of the directive on consumer protection, such as improvement of the obligations to provide information, extension of the withdrawal period and also the increased obligations for sellers to provide protection in the case of online shops. Consumer protection must be increased even more in order to create a foundation of trust between seller and consumer. There are a few reasons why I abstained in the vote, namely that in my opinion inadequate sanctions are provided for, no right of withdrawal is planned in the case of Internet auctions and, above all, the definition of doorstep selling is very vague.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) This report concerns the bringing together of four different directives on consumer protection and thus contains the acquis communautaire since 2004. In some areas there are simplifications and additions. It is important that any higher standards of protection in the Member States are able to be retained. On the other hand, the bringing together of the directives results in more extensive harmonisation. Therefore, I have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I have voted in favour of the report by Mr Schwab as I believe that the report represents a fair balance between protecting consumers on the one hand, who must be protected from fraud and unorthodox behaviour by manufacturers and third parties, and, on the other, avoiding regulations that are too stringent for manufacturers, by imposing obligations which, given the size of their business and turnover, they sometimes cannot put up with. Take the case of a craftsman who, in theory, can work outside business premises: he cannot be subjected to the same requirements as a large multinational company which manages and concludes thousands of contracts every day. Harmonisation that is focused and balanced, taking into account the peculiarities of the European manufacturing base while preserving consumer protection, is therefore the way forward.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour because I believe that the codification of consumer rights in a single document is a positive step. It is worth highlighting the reduction of barriers to cross-border trade and commending the attempt to make the internal market more effective and promote cross-border trade through a combination of four directives that are now consolidated into one. The draft directive does contain aspects that can and should be improved, but it is a very positive development in this area nonetheless.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Commission’s proposal concerning consumer rights, filed on 8 October 2008, aims to unite the four previous directives in a single instrument on the basis of the principle of ‘full harmonisation’. The fragmentation of rules is, in fact, considered a deterrent for both consumers and businesses who buy or sell across borders.

Given the situation regarding the consumer acquis, the approach in favour of complete harmonisation in this proposal is not practicable at present. Therefore, it is necessary to correct its scope by making a structural change. In line with the resolution of Parliament and with the statement made in the working document of the Committee for Internal Markets and Consumer Protection in 2009, a new approach based on full harmonisation is preferred, that is to say harmonisation limited to specific aspects of certain contracts while maintaining a high level of consumer protection. Based on the above, I hereby give my favourable vote to ensure ever greater protection of consumer rights.

 
  
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  Hella Ranner (PPE), in writing. (DE) I am pleased with today’s decision on consumer protection. We have taken an important decision for Europe’s citizens, enterprises and the single market. It is heartening that it was possible to find a sensible approach for a partial standardisation of the multitude of European systems of law. Nevertheless, from an Austrian viewpoint there are a few problematic points which now urgently need to be discussed and clarified in the trilogue negotiations between Parliament, the Council and the Commission: (1) The ‘procurement element’ must be included in the text. Procurement element means, for example, that if someone asks a beautician to come to his or her house in order to utilise the beautician’s services (in other words the person procures the business connection him- or herself), the right of withdrawal should no longer apply. (2) We need to ensure that no additional burdens for SMEs arise, provided that adequate consumer protection is ensured. Ultimately, additional financial and administrative burdens on SMEs would be passed on to customers. (3) Chapters IV and V (liability and unfair terms) should be deleted, because even after lengthy negotiations it was not possible to achieve the desired full harmonisation. Deletion would avoid a standstill and open up the way for new possibilities in the trilogue negotiations. (4) With regard to the welcome rule on Internet scams, a few adjustments still need to be made in order to ensure a balance between consumer protection and the burdening of businesses.

 
  
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  Evelyn Regner (S&D), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the compromise package on consumer rights negotiated between the groups, because it was possible to introduce some improvements to the directive compared with the Commission’s proposal. It is important that the basis of the directive is once again minimum harmonisation and services like those in the health or social sphere are removed from the directive. There was also an improvement in the area of distance selling, where the withdrawal period for consumers has up to now been a week, but under the European Parliament’s amendments two weeks would now be provided for. Purchases at trade fairs are now also classed as direct selling. In Austria, a purchase at a trade fair has up to now been treated, from a legal point of view, in the same way as a purchase in a shop. However, some important points still need to be improved. The highest priority in this regard is Chapter V of the directive, with which the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament is completely dissatisfied. We must prevent the list of unfair contract terms from being exhaustive – the Member States should not be prevented from extended their level of consumer protection. Many consumers in Member States with a long tradition of consumer protection would otherwise find their protection worsening. I have therefore also voted for referral back to committee, so that these essential points can also be resolved and improved.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) A well-protected consumer is a citizen at ease and a sign of maturity in our modern democracies. It is this that makes the directive adopted today important.

Not a day passes in which the European consumer, when choosing to make an online purchase or accepting an amendment to a subscription on the telephone, is not faced with a question as to the conformity of the contract he has signed or approved. It is in response to the often unequal relations between professionals and consumers that the European Parliament has opted for a right of withdrawal set at 14 days. This is a clear signal for the same rights to be exercised throughout the Union.

It is true enough that the adoption of the Schwab report does not fully satisfy either consumer groups opposed to the principle of full harmonisation or the representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises and chambers of commerce who wanted the legislation to be restricted to boosting e-commerce. The European Parliament has opted for compromise and has not yielded to the siren voices of alarmists. It can take comfort in this choice from the recent European survey, which has shown that 79% of traders surveyed consider that the legislation that has been adopted will have little impact on their foreign sales.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. We, the Greens/EFA, wanted to ensure minimum harmonisation for all EU consumers. This would allow Member States to introduce or maintain higher levels of protection than the EU ‘average’. In addition, we wanted to ensure a high level of protection for all consumers. We were of the opinion that a good legislative proposal would be a good example to show citizens that the EU has their interests at its heart.

Following much hard negotiation and misunderstanding, we made good improvements to the text, notably the inclusion of digital content, the exclusion of health and social services, the inclusion of legal as well as natural persons and good provisions for withdrawal rights and passing of risk.

However, we voted against in IMCO as the flaws remaining were too large. We could not accept a text that would mean a reduction in consumer protection for any EU citizen. The text was not fully subject to minimum harmonisation, and the text of individual Articles was neither clear nor good enough to ensure that there would be no reduction in consumer protection for some EU citizens. After today’s vote in the EP, the text is back with the Commission.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Europe’s task is to protect the interests of citizens and consumers in Europe and today the House finally recognises the just protection of these rights. Until now, consumers have all too often risked being the victim of the market’s deceit and fraud, particularly due to their limited knowledge of their rights. With the adoption of this resolution Europe expects all consumers to have clear and precise information, which will enable them to make informed and targeted choices.

Greater protection will be given, especially for online sales, and all citizens who have purchased a product which turns out to be different from what they wanted can request a replacement, a price reduction or cancellation of the contract. All contract conditions deemed unfair will be listed in a proper ‘black list’ and may not be used in any type of contract. Historically, Europe bases its foundation on the single European market. Establishing common guidelines appears, now more than ever, to be a priority for our institutions: only then can you guarantee increasingly freer trade for all European citizens.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D), in writing. I welcome the implementation of rule 57 with the report returning to the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection as this will ensure greater consumer protection.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission is seeking to simplify and complete the regulatory framework on consumer rights, and it is therefore proposing the fusion of the four existing directives into a single legislative instrument. On the one hand, this proposal envisages giving consumers throughout the 27 Member States a high level of confidence in the protection of their rights, and, on the other hand, envisages that the entities that provide goods and services will reduce the legal and administrative obstacles to cross-border sales.

The adoption of this report is another step towards the full achievement of the internal market, since the existing legal fragmentation is a deterrent for both consumers and businesses when they want to conduct cross-border trade. The proposal allows for full harmonisation, aimed at contracts signed away from business premises and distance contracts, particularly transactions carried out online.

At the same time, the rapporteur includes flexibility clauses that allow the Member States to maintain a high level of consumer protection. The application of a set of rights and duties for consumers and businesses under a single legal framework will enable a simplified network for the growth of internal market transaction.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) The new rules intended to renew current EU legislation on consumer rights need to cover all types of purchases, whether they are made over the telephone, online, in a shop or at home. The amendments should boost consumers’ confidence when making purchases in other countries and ensure the same conditions for companies, thus fully exploiting the potential of the common market. On the other hand, the new rules must be balanced in such a way that they do not become an intolerable burden for small and medium-sized enterprises. Consumer protection is very important. Only by taking levels of consumer protection seriously, will it be possible to achieve full harmonisation. It is also important for citizens to know their rights. This is a problem throughout Europe, but particularly in my own country. According to data from the Eurobarometer poll, initiated by the European Commission, the vast majority of Lithuanians would like to learn more about their rights as consumers. According to the poll, two-thirds of Lithuanians (66%) believe that the Lithuanian legal system does not provide adequate protection by issuing penalties to companies which deceived or defrauded them. The message is clear. We cannot ignore it. Statistics also demonstrated that people have little confidence in the government and EU information offices – less than 7% of Lithuanians trust these institutions which provide them with correct information and advice on consumer rights. We cannot leave things as they are. The EU must act now.

 
  
  

Report: Gilles Chichester (A7-0039/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I support this report because communications, infrastructure and electronic services are essential in today’s society, and because the European Network and Information Security Agency has done important work, still underway, particularly on cybersecurity. Extending its mandate and responsibilities therefore makes sense.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Network and Information Security Agency plays a specific role in supporting Member States in their efforts to cooperate in this area at EU level. Information and communications technologies have become key elements in our economy and society as a whole. They are vulnerable to threats which no longer respect national borders, as a result of their interconnection with and interdependency on other infrastructures and the inability to guarantee their security and resilience based on purely national approaches. The report focuses on protecting Europe against cyber attacks and disruptions to IT systems by increasing the level of preparation, security and resilience. I voted for this report as it aims to develop an IT network and data security culture which will benefit citizens, businesses and public sector organisations in the European Union. I believe that the European Network and Information Security Agency’s mandate is needed to enable the European Union, Member States and stakeholders to develop a level of preparation and the capacity to prevent and detect network and data security problems, and to respond to them more effectively.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Even though the mandate of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) expires on 13 March 2012, the European Union must still take measures in this area. It was therefore necessary to adopt an extension of the Agency’s mandate, which would guarantee coherence and continuity on the issue of network and information security. This explains why I voted in favour of this text.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report extending the mandate of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) until the adoption of a new regulation on this agency’s revised provisions and principles at work. ENISA was established in 2004 for an initial period of five years, with the main goal of ensuring a high and effective level of network and information security within the Union, thus contributing to the smooth functioning of the internal market. Recent cyber attacks in the Member States are making us rethink and reformulate the Agency’s mandate to attain a more flexible response capability and to bolster the Agency’s operational efficiency. Giving all EU citizens the opportun