Index 
Debates
PDF 6050k
Wednesday, 6 April 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. Implementing measures (Rule 88): see Minutes
 4. Governance and partnership in the single market - Single market for Europeans - Single market for enterprises and growth - Public procurement (debate)
 5. Announcement by the President
 6. Governance and partnership in the Single Market - Single market for Europeans - Single market for enterprises and growth - Public procurement (continuation of debate)
 7. Request for the waiver of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes
 8. Voting time
  8.1. Draft amending budget No 1/2011 - Section III - Commission (A7-0115/2011, Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska) (vote)
  8.2. Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund - Floods in 2010 in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania (A7-0114/2011, Reimer Böge) (vote)
  8.3. EC-Comoros fisheries agreement (A7-0056/2011, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos) (vote)
  8.4. Dispute settlement mechanism under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the EC and Jordan (A7-0067/2011, Emilio Menéndez del Valle) (vote)
  8.5. EU-Morocco agreement establishing a dispute settlement mechanism (A7-0066/2011, George Sabin Cutaş) (vote)
  8.6. Dispute settlement mechanism under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association between the EC and Egypt (A7-0068/2011, Gianluca Susta) (vote)
  8.7. Participation of Ukraine in Union programmes (A7-0063/2011, Ryszard Antoni Legutko) (vote)
  8.8. Imports from Greenland of fishery products (A7-0057/2011, Carmen Fraga Estévez) (vote)
  8.9. Granting and withdrawing international protection (A7-0085/2011, Sylvie Guillaume) (vote)
  8.10. European statistics on tourism (A7-0329/2010, Brian Simpson) (vote)
  8.11. Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea (A7-0017/2011, João Ferreira) (vote)
  8.12. Fisheries - transitional technical measures (A7-0024/2011, Estelle Grelier) (vote)
  8.13. Estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2012 - Section I - Parliament (A7-0087/2011, José Manuel Fernandes) (vote)
  8.14. Authorisation and refusal of authorisation of certain health claims made on foods and referring to children's development and health (B7-0227/2011) (vote)
  8.15. European international investment policy (A7-0070/2011, Kader Arif) (vote)
  8.16. Protection of Communities’ financial interests – fight against fraud (A7-0050/2011, Cătălin Sorin Ivan) (vote)
  8.17. Political parties at European level and rules regarding their funding (A7-0062/2011, Marietta Giannakou) (vote)
  8.18. Governance and partnership in the Single Market (A7-0083/2011, Sandra Kalniete) (vote)
  8.19. Single market for Europeans (A7-0072/2011, António Fernando Correia De Campos) (vote)
  8.20. Single market for enterprises and growth (A7-0071/2011, Cristian Silviu Buşoi) (vote)
 9. Explanations of vote
 10. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 11. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting: see Minutes
 12. Lessons to be drawn for nuclear safety in Europe following the nuclear accident in Japan
 13. Situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen
 14. Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries
 15. 2010 progress report on Iceland
 16. 2010 progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
 17. Situation in Côte d’Ivoire
 18. Request for the defence of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes
 19. Composition of committees and delegations
 20. Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy - Eastern Dimension - Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy - Southern Dimension
 21. Use of sexual violence in conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East
 22. Agenda for next sitting: see Minutes
 23. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: JERZY BUZEK
President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
  

(The sitting was opened at 09:00)

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

3. Implementing measures (Rule 88): see Minutes

4. Governance and partnership in the single market - Single market for Europeans - Single market for enterprises and growth - Public procurement (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The first item is the joint debate on the Single Market, and will include a discussion of the following material: the report (A7-0083/2011) by Mrs Kalniete, on behalf of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, on governance and partnership in the Single Market [2010/2289 (INI)], the report (A7-0072/2011) by Mr Correia De Campos on a Single Market for Europeans [2010/2278 (INI)], the report (A7-0071/2011) by Mr Buşoi on a Single Market for enterprises and growth [2010/2277 (INI)] and the Commission statement on public procurement.

I would like to welcome Commissioner Barnier and the President-in-Office of the Council, Mrs Győri, to the Chamber. I now give the floor to the rapporteurs. The first to speak will be Mrs Kalniete.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete, rapporteur.(LV) Mr President, when we speak of governance and partnership in the Single Market, we in Parliament consider that one of the major requirements for putting the Single Market into practice is to ensure that it has political leadership at the highest level. The President of the Commission must, in association with the President of the Council, take responsibility for consolidation of the Single Market. The Member States must also take an extremely active part in this process. Otherwise, many ideas about what we could do to restart growth in Europe, create new jobs and increase its competitiveness in the globalised world will simply remain good intentions, paving the way to Europe’s transformation into the sick man of the world. That is why, in this resolution, we call upon the President of the Commission and the leaders of the Member States to take part in and assume responsibility for introducing the legislation and changes in policy that the Single Market requires. The resolutions to be adopted today send a clear signal of those directions in which Parliament expects action from the Commission. I shall mention some of the most important work priorities: a single digital market and a unified intellectual property space, professional mobility for European citizens, encouragement of cross-border public procurement and services, and alignment of tax systems. As regards governance of the Single Market, I consider four directions to be decisively important. First, ensuring implementation of Single Market norms that have already been adopted. All Member States must introduce Single Market regulations in a timely and transparent fashion and, for its part, the Commission must monitor their implementation strictly and consistently. Second, reducing protectionist tendencies. Protection will merely encourage fragmentation of the European market and a reduction in our overall competitiveness. Third, a reduction in various transaction costs which are hindering the brisk functioning of the European economy. This refers not only to such mechanisms as an effective, simple and extrajudicial dispute resolution procedure, but also to user-friendly cross-border e-management with functioning electronic exchange of necessary information and documents. The fourth direction is the greater involvement of social groups in policy formation and implementation in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon.

Finally, Mr President, I should like to thank all the shadow rapporteurs and coordinators for their contribution and the business-like collaboration that ensued, which, as I hope, will enable us today to adopt resolutions on the Single Market with a convincing majority, and to continue the work of recent years on the development of legislation that will truly consolidate the Single Market and make it the instrument for creating growth and jobs in Europe.

 
  
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  António Fernando Correia De Campos , rapporteur.(PT) Mr President, Mr Barnier, ladies and gentlemen, Parliament has responded to the Commission’s request concerning the measures needed to revitalise the Single Market by means of the report that we are debating and voting on today.

From the set of 19 proposals relating to the Single Market Act for Europeans, for which I have been rapporteur, we have identified five priorities, using tangibility and feasibility in the short term as criteria.

Firstly, we need to increase the mobility of European citizens through the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, professional identity cards, the European skills passport and the regular measurement of mobility within the EU.

Secondly, we must improve border controls on goods imported from third countries and draw up a multiannual action plan for market surveillance and product safety.

Thirdly, the Roaming Regulation should be extended until June 2015, with price caps for roaming in order to reduce costs for the public and businesses.

Fourthly, we need guaranteed access to basic banking services, with improved transparency and comparability.

Fifthly, the obstacles encountered by mobile workers must be removed in order to ensure the full portability of their pension rights.

This exercise was simple and consensual, but it was more difficult to reach agreement on measures to address the Single Market fatigue mentioned in the Monti report and to achieve the holistic, concerted approach to respond to citizens’ needs and mistrust, which were clearly identified in the Grech report adopted by this House in May last year.

We certainly consider it artificial to divide Parliament’s work into three separate reports, despite the efforts of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection to unify the analyses and actions. The three components – businesses, Europeans and governance – have to progress simultaneously in order to produce a competitive Single Market, with smart, inclusive and sustainable growth making Europeans central to that market’s concerns.

We also acknowledge that the proliferation of Commission initiatives on this subject, together with Europe 2020, the industrial policy and the Europe of innovation, runs the risk of blurring the central issue of revitalisation, which is to make the idea of the Single Market not only more friendly but also more appealing to Europeans.

Consensus, Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, was most difficult on two issues. Firstly, with regard to respect for social values and rights, we came up against the reluctance of Members on the right and in the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe to accept the need to permanently safeguard Europeans’ social rights so that they can never be swamped by market considerations in any future legislation. We especially regret the failure to prioritise a reference to the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive.

Secondly, with regard to safeguarding social services of general economic interest, the aim was to prevent the content of the activities of those services from being subject to purely market considerations or, at least, to eliminate the possibility of turning public social services into private monopolies or oligopolies in areas such as water supply, urban transport, education, health and social support.

Although it would appear to be useful to introduce competitive management and internal market mechanisms to those services, the social values associated with universal access will need to be safeguarded, since the principles of solidarity outweigh mere market considerations in such cases.

In this, we encountered reluctance from the parliamentary groups on our right to accept European legislation on this subject, and they only agreed to ‘using all the options available [...], based upon and consistent with Article 14 [and] Protocol 26’ to the Treaty.

The group to which I belong abstained from the final vote on the three reports in committee since no progress had been made on the social dimension of the Single Market. After the vote in committee, however, a number of positive points were included which improved the report considerably. Consensus was reached through a succession of compromises, with final amendments being subscribed by the main parliamentary groups without winners or losers.

All the parliamentary groups contributed to the end result – which does credit to the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and to those who worked on the report – through 266 amendments, as well as the opinions of five committees. All the contributions were useful. I would like to thank the shadow rapporteurs Róża Gräfin von Thun, Jürgen Creutzmann, Malcolm Harbour, Emilie Turunen and Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, as well as the group coordinators, for the productive criticism and spirit of cooperation that enabled the negotiations to reach a positive outcome. I particularly thank Mr Harbour for the generous, forward-thinking attitude that he has stamped on the committee’s work throughout the last four months.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the internal market is undoubtedly one of the European Union’s greatest successes and one of its undeniable strengths, and something of which we can all be proud. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the internal market is central to European integration. As time has gone by, the internal market has demonstrated its benefits to the consumer as well as to European businesses, and it has contributed to our economic growth.

Recently, however, we have noticed a certain lethargy in the market’s integration. We therefore need to give new momentum to the internal market. We need to renew the confidence of European citizens in it. We need a new start. I greatly value the Commission’s work in this respect and, in particular, the excellent work done by Commissioner Barnier, whom I would like to congratulate once again for his determined commitment and his efforts to revive the internal market. The Commission has set out for us an ambitious and, at the same time, practical and much-needed programme for restoring strength to the internal market. I am quite sure that if these measures are implemented, they will make the internal market more attractive to our citizens and businesses and will help it to function more effectively overall.

Concerning my report, I have to say that we did not have an easy task. Our task was ambitious because we had to find a consensus on the measures laying down the foundation for a strong and modern Single Market which would contribute to future growth and which would, above all, meet the expectations of our citizens and enterprises.

We considered whether the emphasis should be put on innovation, what should be done in the field of intellectual property rights, and what fiscal measures are appropriate in order to enhance the Single Market and, at the same time, respect the sovereignty of the Member States.

Following our discussions, and after many contributions – for which I would like to thank all the shadow rapporteurs, the rapporteurs for opinions and all my other fellow Members who tabled amendments – we managed to identify a set of five priorities to be implemented immediately.

The first priority refers to the means to support innovation and creativity in the Single Market, which is essential if we want stronger and more sustainable growth. The creation of an EU patent and of a unified litigation system, which is already under way, as well as the improvement to management of copyrights, are of paramount importance.

If we want innovation, we also need to come up with a solution for financing it, such as long-term investment and a framework that would make it easier for venture capital funds to be invested effectively. EU project bonds can also be a great opportunity for infrastructure investments in the field of energy or telecommunications.

Our third priority seeks to bring the Single Market in line with our digital agenda by stimulating e-commerce. This requires measures that would enhance consumer and business confidence in e-commerce, such as fighting counterfeiting and piracy and facilitating cross-border deliveries and cross-border debt recovery.

The fourth priority aims to make the Single Market a better environment for SMEs, given their importance for economic growth and their job creation potential. They need better access to capital markets. Fiscal measures such as the introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base, a clear VAT framework and reducing administrative burdens could encourage SMEs to do cross-border business.

Finally, public procurement procedures need to be rationalised. They need simplification to allow SMEs to take part in procedures, and they should be better used in order to support smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

 
  
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  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I believe we are at a crucial point in this work we have undertaken together in the light of Mr Monti’s clear, comprehensive and painstaking examination of the internal market, in the light of Mr Grech’s report, which you adopted by a very large majority, and at a time when, if we are listening attentively to the citizens in each of our Member States, we need to take stock of where we are going in terms of growth, employment and social cohesion.

What messages are people getting from Brussels and Strasbourg? At the moment, the messages are necessary, but they are always difficult or restrictive. They are messages about regulation, or, as in the case of my job, about governance, supervision, deficit and debt reduction. They are essential messages therefore, but restrictive and difficult. I believe we need to add other messages and, above all, other actions to them in order to restore confidence in the European project, and in the reasons why we should all pull together instead of standing alone or doing things alone to tackle the challenges of globalisation.

That is what is really at the heart of our work, and I would like to personally thank our three rapporteurs who have just spoken: Mrs Kalniete, Mr Correia de Campos and, a moment ago, Mr Buşoi. I would also like to thank the Chair, Mr Harbour, who, as has already been mentioned, has succeeded with great efficiency and by listening very carefully in setting nearly 11 parliamentary committees to work in a very short space of time. I would also like to add to these thanks my gratitude to the coordinators of the different political groups, because you had a great many matters to coordinate between you, given the large number of issues we have covered. By doing this, you will be sending a very strong signal to the other institutions, and also to businesses and citizens.

Following on from the Monti report and the Grech report, President Barroso asked me to work with 12 of my colleagues, as a joint task within the college, on reviving the internal market and on the structural reforms that will be required so that the two, three or four points of growth which the market contains can emerge.

I would remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that in this big market, which, moreover, constitutes the basis of the European political project, 60% of our exports go to the other 26 Member States. Each country, from Germany the biggest, down to the smallest of our countries, exports, on average, 60% of its goods and services just next door to the large market itself. It is thought that there is still more potential growth in this market if it functions more efficiently. That is how the Single Market Act came into being. That is how we identified the 50 proposals contained in this little Blue Paper that I sent to all your countries, in the 23 EU languages, to every national MP, trade union and professional organisation.

We then spent time in our discussions to choose from those proposals the ones that will be most effective in improving life for businesses and citizens. On Wednesday of next week therefore, the college will debate the Single Market Act in the wake of these discussions, before taking action and in the light of your deliberation and debates today.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my firm belief that every region is needed, every business is needed and every citizen is needed in order to win the battle for competitiveness and growth. Every region: this is why, right at the beginning of the Single Market and the Single Market Act, the President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, wanted to support the construction of the Single Market with a cohesion policy so that even regions that are behind in terms of development can also take part in the battle for growth and competitiveness: all regions, including the most distant, outermost regions. Every business is needed when it comes to innovating or creating – the patents we are pushing through come to mind – when it comes to small and medium-sized enterprises obtaining financing and having less administrative complexity and red tape to deal with, when it comes to trading securely online, and when it comes to participating in public procurement, which I will return to in a moment.

Every region, every business, every citizen is needed. In our daily lives, we are all, by turns, consumers, service users, savers, shareholders, workers, craft workers, and the objective is that cross-border mobility should be made easier, that professional qualifications, skills and welfare rights should be respected and recognised, that we should be able to access high quality public services, that we should feel safe and protected when we buy products over the Internet or in any other way, and that we should not be taxed twice. Those are just a few examples that we must deal with in order to make the internal market work more effectively.

What is the next step now after your debate? On 24 and 25 March, the European Council welcomed this action we have taken and the action it has taken itself in terms of joint legislation. We were asked to decide on priorities and therefore, as I have said, together with my colleagues, who have worked so hard and whom I thank, next week, I shall propose that the college choose 12 levers which will make the internal market work more effectively for businesses and citizens.

For each of these levers, for example, mobility, financing of small businesses, intellectual property, taxes, public services, or social cohesion, we will propose a key action that will be new, that we hope will be effective for businesses and citizens, and that will be deliverable within two years. Deliverable means that the Commission will table it and that Parliament and the Council will be able to vote on it and adopt it in 2011 and 2012.

It will be the 20th anniversary of the Single Market Act and the Single Market in 2012. If we understand rightly what Europeans are saying to us, we have no right, honourable Members, to allow this anniversary to be a nostalgic or melancholic one. It must be a proactive anniversary, one that boosts growth, and this is how we want to celebrate it through the Single Market Act.

We will have 12 levers: 12 specific but not exclusive proposals. For each of these levers, we will have identified other ideas, actions and proposals that the Commission will develop at the same time, but there will be 12 key actions that will symbolise this work. I hope that the European Council at the highest level, the Parliament that you represent, the Commission for our part, and the Hungarian Presidency – which I thank, Mrs Győri, for its involvement – will be in a position to undertake, somewhat solemnly we hope, before the end of June or July, to deliver this Single Market Act. Mr President, that is all I am able to say on this matter.

You asked me to talk about one of these aspects in a Commission statement. I would like to do that now, in order to leave time for the debate later. This aspect, found in the Single Market Act, relates to 17% of the European economy, namely, public procurement and public contracts. I would also like to say a few words on the four projects we are undertaking with you on public contracts, as highlighted in the Buşoi report.

The first project is the general revision of the 2004 directives aimed at guaranteeing best use of public funds, enabling as many businesses as possible to participate in public procurement contracts and ensuring that high quality products and services can be purchased with less red tape. In practical terms, I would like to simplify the procedures and make them more flexible, and also to look at how we might cater for the specific needs of small local authorities, for example, by making simplified procedures available to them. Secondly, I would like to make access to public contracts easier, especially in terms of cross-border participation by small and medium-sized enterprises. Finally, I would like to encourage in every way possible, as stressed by the Committee chair, Mr Harbour, and your committee, more responsible and more environmentally aware, or greener procurement that also promotes innovation or social inclusion.

The various reform objectives will now be translated into simple, more balanced rules. We have carried out, but not completed, a very extensive consultation and economic evaluation on the ground. We have a Green Paper and we are currently looking for the most effective proposals. The laws will not cover everything. At the same time, the Commission will work on sector-based initiatives aimed at making better use of public contracts, and at promoting objectives such as those contained in the Europe 2020 strategy. These will range from updating the Handbook on green public procurement, which I am preparing with my colleague, Mr Potočnik, to implementation of the European Energy Efficiency Plan, which we are working on with Mr Oettinger or Mrs Hedegaard, or promoting pre-commercial procurement plans and plans for innovative purchasing activities generally, which we are coordinating together with Mr Tajani and Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn. That is the first project.

The second project involves concessions. I would like to make tangible progress quickly on the issue of concessions, without waiting for this long-term work on modernising the public procurement framework to be completed. Ladies and gentlemen, concessions play an increasingly important part in the creation of public service provision infrastructure. Sixty per cent of public/private partnerships in Europe operate through concessions.

Apart from public works concessions, however, at present there is no European law on concessions, and even though the general principles of the Treaty are applicable, there is real legal uncertainty in this area, which is preventing this type of contract from developing. As proof of this, I could mention the 24 judgments by the Court of Justice in recent years. I would like to propose the creation of a simplified framework, limited to certain basic rules, which will not interfere with national legislative frameworks when they are working well. It will not impose an excessive administrative burden on local authorities, primarily because of the thresholds that I will be proposing.

I know that there are doubts and debates going on in several of your groups. For my part, I am convinced, in listening to everyone, that if we set our goals carefully, we will be able to avoid misunderstandings. Public authorities will still be free to organise public services themselves, but if they do decide to outsource them, I do not think anyone will object to a basic level of transparency and rules that ensure there is no discrimination. I believe this is essential in order to optimise the use of public money, reduce the practice of awarding contracts without adequate publicity or without effective right of recourse, and to reduce certain risks of corruption.

From the enterprises’ point of view, if we are trying to revive the internal market, who can object to the idea of putting it into practice in the area of concessions? I am thinking, in particular, of small and medium-sized enterprises which do not currently have the resources that large enterprises have for identifying and winning contracts abroad if they are not published. Having a minimal framework on concessions will mean transparency and information, and will thus make it easier for the smallest enterprises to gain access to some of the contracts. It is also a question of better regulation. Targeted, well thought-out legislation is a better option that will cost less than trying to sort out problems simply through the rule on violations.

The third project, which I will talk about quickly, concerns the European defence market. We will work with Member States in connection with the implementation of the 2009 directive, for which the transposition time limit runs out in a few weeks. It is a question of adapting payment policies, which often conflict with EU law. Together with Mr Tajani, I will organise a conference on this issue of the European defence industry market at the Brussels Parliament buildings on 23 May.

Finally, I would like to quickly raise an issue that has been set aside for too long, namely, the international dimension of public contracts. The aim is clear: increased access to markets for our enterprises, and we too are naturally ready to offer more, in a spirit of mutual reciprocity and benefit. More trade will benefit all.

Now, I must draw attention to a problem that we currently have in connection with this basis of open trade and the benefits associated with it. The truth is that our main partners – the United States, Japan, under the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), and China, under a bilateral agreement – do not really want to commit to opening up their markets further. For our part, we do not have any real levers for negotiation, insofar as our own markets are already considered, virtually as a matter of course, as being open. Ladies and gentlemen, the international undertakings under the GPA and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements have not yet been transposed into EU law.

Against this background, Member States apply the rules in very different ways, and that distorts the internal market. At present in Europe, therefore, our enterprises are suffering from an inequitable situation – I remember the case of motorways in Poland. Foreign enterprises enjoy very wide access here in Europe, often going well beyond what the EU has negotiated, whereas our own enterprises encounter difficulties if they try to participate in procurement contracts of some of our major partners.

That is why this year, with my colleague, Mr De Gucht, we are planning to table legislation that will transpose our international obligations on public procurement contracts into EU law, and this will give us the lever for negotiation that we need. We are in favour of openness, but we do not advocate gullibility. It is a question of giving European purchasers a sound, clear legal basis for dealing with bids from enterprises from a country with which we have an agreement differently than with those from a country with which the EU does not yet have an agreement, and of providing greater legal certainty. Let me be clear: it is not a question of turning Europe into a fortress. We must create an environment for our enterprises that is realistic, fair and open, but not naive.

There we are. As you and your Parliament requested of me, Mr President, I wanted to take the opportunity of this debate on reviving the internal market to bring up this important area which will, moreover, constitute one of the 12 levers for reviving the Single Market that I referred to at the beginning of my speech, namely, that of public procurement and the modernisation that we are going to propose in agreement with you in the next few weeks.

 
  
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  Enikő Győri, President-in-Office of the Council. (HU) Mr President, Commissioner, honourable Members, as Mrs Kalniete, too, has said, the European Union and the economy need a locomotive. This is true. I strongly agree with this idea. Perhaps you remember that, some time ago, at the start of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union, the Hungarian Prime Minister, too, made it clear in this House that it is not enough to cope with and manage the after-effects of the crisis, to encourage Member States to follow a tighter fiscal policy and to also inspect this. We are working on a number of such laws currently as well. A comprehensive economic crisis management package has also been prepared. We also need to pay attention to remaining credible in the eyes of our citizens. This, however, will only happen if we are able to create jobs.

It is for creating these jobs that we are seeking resources, the wherewithal that will enable us to do this. I firmly believe that the Single Market is just that: an unexploited opportunity where our future lies, alongside the implementation of the European Union’s strategy up to 2020 as well. Therefore, along all these lines, I expressly welcome both the European Commission’s and the European Parliament’s commitment to relaunching the Single Market, and the priorities which the Commission has indicated and which this Parliament is also setting out in the three excellent reports. We have already been able to debate the various ideas and positions regarding the report made earlier by your fellow Member, Mr Grech.

Moreover, I believe that the current three reports will also contribute to a targeted debate, as a result of which we will be able to take specific measures jointly by 2012, by the twentieth anniversary also mentioned by Commissioner Barnier. As you, too, know, and the Commissioner has also pointed out, at its meeting on 10 March, the Competitiveness Council exchanged views on the outcome of the social consultation focusing on the criteria defining the prioritised commitment areas of the institutions and Member States. Based on this debate, the Hungarian Presidency is preparing to adopt conclusions on the proposed priority measures at the meeting of the Competitiveness Council on 30 May.

Allow me to remind you of the broader context as well. In the situation today, due to political and economic pressure and measures taken to relieve this, the Single Market may not be at all popular with citizens, enterprises and institutions. However, in Professor Monti’s words, I think that it is precisely at times like this, now, that there is the greatest need for the Single Market, at times when, due to the effect of the crisis, we instinctively try to withdraw into narrow but very familiar national confines. I am convinced, however, that we must not succumb to this temptation. Therefore, the time has obviously come for us to provide a political incentive for the Single Market. As you, ladies and gentlemen, have also emphasised in your earlier report on the creation of a Single Market for consumers and citizens, and Professor Monti’s report, too, has stated, the Single Market is facing a test.

Will it become a means which brings the European Union closer to its citizens by producing a perceptible improvement in their everyday lives? Or will it be merely an arena which serves to protect both the bottlenecks inhibiting the functioning of the Single Market and the sectors maintained? The answer to these questions depends on how committed we are to doing our job over the coming months. After the European Parliament adopts its resolution today, the Commission will be able to adopt its revised communication in the middle of April, as has already been mentioned. We hope that all the political messages and also what you have advocated in your report will be included in the Commission’s document. Once the legislative proposals are made, we are counting on being able to create a special partnership with you and the Commission, which will afford an opportunity for the swift examination and adoption of the main measures designated in the final Single Market Act.

Now, allow me to highlight a few elements of the three reports before us without reacting fully to every point made. The Presidency welcomes the fact that the rapporteur would like to put the issue of the Single Market on the European Council’s agenda. We believe that progress on the Single Market Act falls under the scope of the European Union’s general political guidelines mentioned in the Treaty. Indicating the political guidelines, however, is certainly the European Council’s task. The agenda for this is set by the President of the European Council, but I would like to remind everyone that the European Council’s conclusions of 24 and 25 March also referred to the importance of the Single Market.

The Presidency would like to express its gratitude to Parliament for consistently supporting the Competitiveness Council in drafting specific measures regarding the creation of a unitary patent system. We are all aware that the unitary patent system would boost the competitiveness of enterprises no end. Moreover, we had a very good debate on this here, and I thank Parliament for its cooperation in authorising the Council to initiate this within the framework of enhanced cooperation. We also agree that the completion of the single digital market and strengthening and improving the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises are indispensable in promoting European innovation.

Through the mobility of citizens and, in particular, the recognition of professional qualifications, we can consider further issues concerning European citizens. For this reason, we agree with the statement that our priority task in this area is to take increased EU action and achieve immediate, tangible results. The Presidency has also found that almost all the reports reviewed, including the earlier Grech report and the Correia De Campos report as well, lay particular emphasis on guaranteeing the exercising of internal market rights for EU citizens. In relation to this, we welcome the results achieved in this field, which are due to measures taken by the Commission. These include the creation of the Your Europe portal, the SOLVIT network and points of single contact under the Services Directive.

Nevertheless, we share your view that more can still be done in the interest of EU citizens exercising their rights. Finally, allow me to make a digression concerning the other priority on the Hungarian Presidency’s agenda. During my parliamentary consultations to date on the package of six legislative proposals on the economy, the six-pack, I have frequently heard the criticism that the Member States, by which we should understand the Council, and the European Council, while bearing in mind financial macro-stability, neglect encouraging growth and the recovery of the real economy from the crisis, or, if they do not, they only attribute soft, unaccountable tools to these latter objectives, and that the content of the Europe 2020 strategy is mainly limited to this. Well, I believe, and I referred to this in my introduction as well, that the Single Market and the massive potential for growth concealed in it can give an appropriate answer to these concerns, while also providing a guarantee for the balanced response of the European Union.

I think that our primary task is to complete the entire process, the consolidation of the Single Market, by as transparent means as possible, in close cooperation with the European Parliament. The Council is ready to cooperate in this way, in full partnership with the Commission, Parliament, and their Members. Thank you very much, Mr President.

 
  
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  President. – Ladies and gentlemen, these five speeches – three on behalf of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Commissioner’s speech and that of Mrs Győri – have started a great debate, one which is very important for the future of the European Union and its citizens, and also for our rapid development. I would like to remind everyone again that the initial idea to relaunch the Single Market is one which arose in the IMCO Committee. Once again, I would like to congratulate all fellow Members who serve on the committee, and I would like Mr Harbour to accept these thanks and congratulations on their behalf.

It was the IMCO Committee, too, which came up with the idea of Mario Monti’s report – an excellent report which is of great help to us in our work. I would also like to thank Commissioner Barnier for an excellent and very broad-ranging presentation of the European Commission’s proposals in response to our reports. As for public procurements, they do often prove to be the Achilles heel of our work in the Member States. So it is extremely important that we move this matter forward, and the Hungarian Presidency is certainly going to help with these efforts. We are convinced of the need for this, because this issue is very important for the people of Europe.

The importance of these reports and this discussion can be seen by the number of parliamentary committees which have drafted opinions. Eight committees have done so, and you know as well as I do that it is very rare for eight parliamentary committees to prepare opinions on one set of reports. Those committees will now take the floor in turn. Mrs Andrés Barea on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, you have the floor.

 
  
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  Josefa Andrés Barea, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on International Trade. (ES) Mr President, the Committee on International Trade is one of the eight committees that were involved, and I would like to thank its members for the contributions they made to the report.

The consolidation of the Single Market is one of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy based on growth. The European Union is the main international player. In a globalised market, the EU must meet the challenges it faces.

The challenge for companies, for our companies, in the international market is to generate high expectations and major opportunities, but they also bear social responsibility: social growth with guarantees for workers and public services.

We are also making a commitment with developing countries: the fight against poverty is a Millennium Development Goal. In the future, our industry and companies must be based on knowledge, and we need to fight against counterfeiting in the area of intellectual property.

We must defend our businesses according to research and development criteria and social criteria, as well as defending our foreign interests, for European citizens and those outside the European Union.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.(PT) Mr President, I would like to begin by paying tribute to Commissioner Barnier, the Council representative and, in particular, my colleagues in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.

On behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I would like to emphasise the importance of the reports that we are discussing here today, which strongly echo the spirit of the Monti report, with the idea of promoting a successful liberal economy, promoting competition and promoting a dynamic, innovative market.

It will be these paths that lead us to the point where the Europe 2020 strategy can, in fact, go beyond being a paper initiative and become reality, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the major employers in the European economy, supporting businesses in general, and creating an idea of sustained growth in the economy, which can be based more and more on the internal market, on economic governance that actually works and, essentially, on an idea of real growth for our economy.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassare, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the importance of the Single Market Act lies in its desire to satisfy the needs of the market, facilitating access and participation of all those involved: businesses, consumers and workers. Given this ambitious goal, I am satisfied with the interventions proposed by Mr Barnier and the indications provided by this Parliament.

In my opinion, some priorities are imperative for achieving the objectives that the EU has proposed, in particular: improving the access of small and medium-sized enterprises in the domestic market, reducing their administrative obligations and facilitating their participation in contract bidding procedures, removing all obstacles to the development of electronic commerce, and supporting and financing innovation, particularly through the issuance of bonds for European Union projects, especially in energy, transport and telecommunications.

Finally, only by connecting development and support for the business world with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy regarding employment can we achieve what I believe to be the aim of this act, namely, to create a social market economy based on growth, competitiveness and sustainability.

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. (FI) Mr President, Jacques Delors was wrong when he claimed that you cannot fall in love with the Single Market, because there are so many ardent feelings expressed in the debate surrounding this subject.

The Commission’s approach has been an ambitious one, and there are some very important projects in hand: the European patent, the common energy market, and so on. One issue, however, has remained a nagging problem: the report’s social contribution is very poor. For example, hardly anything is said about posted employees, and the way charitable services and the social clause associated with the Single Market are described is, regrettably, very vague.

It is a mystery to me why the more robust and more integrated social rights are seen primarily as a problem. I would like to remind everyone that, in the Nordic countries, robust social rights have succeeded in combining high levels of competitiveness with productivity. Is that not a much smarter approach, Commissioner?

 
  
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  Jürgen Creutzmann, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.(DE) Mr President, Mr Barnier, I would like to respond to my fellow Member’s remarks. Instead of a social clause, the committee has proposed investigating the impact that the measures in the internal market will have on employment. This is much more important than applying general formulae. If we want to make progress with the internal market, we must pay attention to social issues and put the emphasis on them in everything we do. For this reason, an impact assessment which specifically takes these requirements into account is particularly important.

I would like to make one more comment. I was surprised to hear the President speak about economic governance, which is still translated in German as Wirtschaftslenkung. This term is also used to mean central state control of the economy. We have had very bad experiences of state control of the economy in one area of Germany. I am certain that we can only develop the internal market further if we coordinate all our national economies. That is abundantly clear. However, we will not be able to make progress with the internal market by means of economic governance.

Today, we are discussing how we can bring some momentum to the internal market. This is long overdue, because we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the internal market next year. Therefore, I welcome Mr Barnier’s statement in which he said that he wants to focus on a few specific measures that have not yet been implemented and that will give a new impetus to the internal market. The internal market represents a huge opportunity for all of us. It can lead to the creation of more jobs and our goal must be to find work for people. This is the very best social policy that we can put in place, because people who are employed will also develop self-esteem. Therefore, we must do everything we can to make sure that progress is made in this area.

We need a balanced package of measures which brings advantages for businesses and for citizens. On the one hand, we want medium-sized companies in particular to benefit more from the internal market than they have done in the past. Therefore, we urgently need an EU patent system, so that companies can at last protect and sell their innovative products throughout Europe for a reasonable cost. In addition, businesses need more funding to develop innovations. A European venture capital market is just one of many measures that can be taken. The harmonisation of value-added tax and the corporate tax base that we are now discussing will also give a boost to the internal market.

On the other hand, we also need to take specific measures which will increase citizens’ trust in the internal market. We must improve the recognition of professional qualifications, possibly by means of the European professional card. This will make it easier to work in another Member State and will create more mobility for citizens within the European internal market.

We also need a European market surveillance organisation, and I would like to emphasise this point, because the Member States are constantly failing to put the dossier into practice. We do not want dangerous products to be sold on the internal market.

If we can adopt this proposal with a large majority, we will be able to give a new impetus to the internal market.

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, if we are to restore confidence to the market, we need to prioritise the needs of consumers, workers and businesses.

If we want to strengthen the rights of citizens, workers and users of public services, significant attention should be paid to guaranteeing the social dimension of the future Single Market. Growth, development and social awareness must go hand in hand. There must be economic growth at the service of citizens.

From this point of view, the package of regulations regarding standards for companies contains some good proposals, including the action plan to increase access on the part of small and medium-sized enterprises to capital markets and new lines of financing for innovative firms and regional development. Small and medium-sized businesses are the heart of our economy and the growth engine of the internal market. Mr President, it is up to us to ensure these goals if we are to get out of the crisis and promote a new model of development, sustainable growth and new quality jobs.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Rural Development. (FR) Mr President, Mrs Győri, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I have one thing to say, a word which is perhaps in stark contrast with the current economic situation, but one which needs to be stressed all the more. That word is ‘ambition’: ambition for the internal market, Commissioner, ambition for Europe, ambition to prove to citizens that European integration is a step forward for their rights, their rights as workers, as consumers, as tourists, but, more generally, as individuals. I would like to pay tribute to Mr Barnier, who embodies this ambition through all the projects he wants to implement.

As rapporteur for the opinion of the parliamentary Committee on Rural Development, I welcome the ideas covered: the need for special action for regions with specific geographic characteristics, such as the outermost regions, the creation of a European patent for businesses and of a European statute for foundations, mutual societies and also associations, the issuing of bonds for financing specific projects and the need to encourage sustainable development within the internal market.

 
  
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  Piotr Borys, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs.(PL) Mr President, we will not achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, neither will we make the economy more innovative and competitive, if we do not treat the Single Market holistically. So I would like to thank Commissioner Barnier for his very comprehensive approach to the Single Market and Professor Mario Monti for that superb report.

I would like to draw attention to four important aspects. Firstly, the European patent, which might be brought into use next year, in other words, on the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Single Market. Secondly, the need to give serious treatment to the matter of copyright, because copyright represents a great hope and opportunity for the development of a creative market, and this aspect of the market should be regulated jointly. I am thinking, here, principally of a common system for the management of copyright and serious treatment of orphan works, and also of reducing the burden on small and medium-sized enterprises. This involves very specific steps, such as: simplification of accounting, protection of trademarks, a European Foundation Statute and, above all, the possibility of interconnecting business registers. If we introduce measures in the areas I have listed, I hope that 20 million small enterprises will be able to function effectively and freely in the European Single Market.

 
  
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  Toine Manders, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs. (NL) Mr President, that means that I can cut a minute or two into Mr Lehne’s speaking time. I would like to thank the Commissioner and everyone else for the discussion we have been having here. However, I have not noticed any mention of a couple of matters which are, in my view, extremely important and which I have included in the report. I hope that the Commissioner will assist us in making these a reality.

We have been praising Professor Monti to the skies, but his conclusion was that the transposition of the directive is the major problem affecting the internal market. He says that we need to work with regulations more. My own take on this is that less is more; let us have less legislation from Europe. Whatever we actually do, however, it must be done in a uniform fashion, because we need to prevent the 27 Member States becoming a hotch-potch of states which all transpose legislation in different ways, which creates a huge barrier for small and medium-sized enterprises in terms of working across borders.

Another thing which has been overlooked, Mr President – and which is perhaps our greatest failure of all – is the matter of marketing. We have top lawyers here. We are creating great laws. We believe that it is incumbent on us to improve the market for our citizens. However, the citizens themselves do not seem to be aware of that. We actually have a problem in that we are unable to build a bridge between us and them. We are adept at legal terminology, but we do not appear to be good at communicating directly with our citizens. What is in danger of happening – and I hope that will not be the case – is that we, as the European Union, might drift further and further apart from the citizens of Europe. I think that, over the coming years, we really need to focus on and invest in ways of seeking the support of individual citizens for the European Union and for what we are doing. There is a lot to be done on that score, and I think that we need to invest in that and that we ought to consult our communication advisers on how we can best achieve that.

Finally, it has struck me that our citizens do not know the difference between the European Commission, Parliament and the Council. In each Member State, we have three representatives whose hands are ultimately tied, because they work for official organisations. If Member States express negative views of the European Union, there is no one to parry that. I think that it would make sense to consider having a single EU representative in Member States – call it an ambassador, if you like – who could ultimately respond to any negative pronouncements about the European Union. If we do that, it will prevent us from becoming like the Titanic. On the Titanic, everyone thought that things were absolutely fine, but ultimately the real danger lay outside.

 
  
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  Wim van de Camp, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. (NL) Mr President, I would like to thank the Commission and the Council for this morning’s introduction. I found writing the opinion on the internal market on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs extremely interesting.

I think that the internal market should receive widespread support in the European Parliament, especially in the Committee on Civil Liberties, because freedom of movement within the Union is important, particularly that of persons, of migrant workers and skilled migrants, whom we need in order to increase the internal market’s labour force. However, Mr President, we have so many aims, but have so far achieved so few results.

I am very happy with Commissioner Barnier’s 12 levers and I hope that over the coming months, we will be able to speed things up, because the competition outside the EU is not going to wait for the EU’s internal market to bridge the gap.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Petitions.(IT) Mr President, Mrs Győri, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I believe I can truly say that the work of the rapporteurs is excellent, as are the pleasing and comforting words of the Commission and Council.

These three reports retain the spirit and the far-sighted stimulus that characterise Professor Mario Monti’s new strategy for the Single Market, and they succeed in representing the unity of purpose of reviving the European Single Market via 50 measures, which are then reproduced and synthesised or emphasised, by this Parliament, in 14 priorities.

Within these measures, 19 are devoted to centring the market on the interests of citizens. I believe that in order to realise a Single Market truly and fully, it is important to reduce the gap between citizens and the Single Market by working to restore public confidence, by promoting the process of political and social integration before economic integration and, above all, through establishing a different perception of the Single Market for European citizens. I believe that all these objectives are contained in the measures included in these three reports.

(The debate was interrupted for a few moments)

 

5. Announcement by the President
Video of the speeches
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  President. – Following the advice of the committees, we move on to the speakers on behalf of the party groups. Before giving the floor to the first speaker on the list, Mr Karas, I have two very short notices.

We learned that, early this morning, a boat with over two hundred migrants, spotted off Lampedusa, capsized because of poor sea conditions. The Coast Guard has been doing its best to rescue the missing people. The situation is very grave. We wait anxiously for the commitments made by the Commission and governments in this House to materialise.

I turn now to the second statement. Two years after the tragic earthquake that devastated the city of L’Aquila and the Abruzzo region, I wish to reiterate this House’s care and solicitude for the earthquake victims, and to express our hope that the timetable for the restoration of the region’s historical heritage and housing stock can be accelerated.

 

6. Governance and partnership in the Single Market - Single market for Europeans - Single market for enterprises and growth - Public procurement (continuation of debate)
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  Othmar Karas, on behalf of the PPE Group.(DE) Mr President, many thanks for the information you have given us, Mr Barnier. The Treaty of Lisbon has now been in force for two years and, for the first time, we have a sustainable social market economy as the European social model. This may enable us to make the quantum leap to economic and social union in Europe. The concept of the internal market must be based on this principle.

The internal market has been in existence for 20 years, but it is not yet complete. We have a Europe 2020 strategy, which we cannot put into practice without the backing of the internal market, and we are discussing the financial perspective until 2020, which, if it does not provide more funding for political initiatives on competitiveness, growth, employment and social solidarity, will not allow us to implement the Europe 2020 concept and to meet its targets in full.

The euro is making the internal market into a home market. The internal market is essential for growth and employment. Everything which strengthens the internal market also increases Europe’s competitiveness and, therefore, its independence. For this reason, I am very pleased that we are taking this initiative, because it is the most important move that the European Union can make. This is all about allowing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to capital. We must make sure that the financial support provided to SMEs does not only take the form of credit and the promotion of loans. We also need to look at other approaches.

It is important for us to support venture capital funds, project bonds and e-commerce, combat piracy more effectively, create a common consolidated corporate tax base, regulate public procurement and put in place the four freedoms: the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. We all have a lot to do. Thank you for this initiative, Mr Barnier.

 
  
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  Evelyne Gebhardt, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Mr President, I very much hope that it will be possible to rescue the 200 people who are in distress, because this is a very important matter. Thank you for informing us about this.

Mr Barnier, Mrs Győri, ladies and gentlemen, Article 3 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which enshrines the social market economy, represents a new approach and a new political task for the future. Of course, we now have to complete this task and we have been waiting to do so for the last two years. I am pleased that the European Commission has made the first move in this direction. I am also very pleased that we in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament have succeeded, after a hard struggle, in ensuring that the social clause is included in the European Parliament’s position when we vote on this issue today.

This is a very important question, because it forms the basis for social cohesion and will enable us to ensure that the internal market is regarded by people in the European Union as a social component. This is essential if we want the citizens of Europe to regain their trust in the political system in the European Union. In particular, the Commission must finally acknowledge the decisive significance of social rights in the internal market and put the focus on the social impact of European legislation. This is why it is important for Parliament to remind the Commission once again about the social clause which is enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon.

I would like to thank Mr Barnier for assuring us that he will take this into consideration and will follow this route. He can be sure of the full support of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. Mr Barnier, the social clause also means, of course, that the Posting of Workers Directive must be revised accordingly. It means that the right to work and to strike must be respected in the Member States, together with the issues which really concern people, and that these rights must be incorporated into the internal market policy of the European Union without any ifs and buts and without restrictions. That is what concerns us as Social Democrats. If the internal market is developed on this basis, we will give you our support and our policy will be moving in the right direction.

Of course, other questions are also important in this context. The recognition of professional qualifications, the European qualifications passport and the full transferability of pensions within the European Union are all issues which interest the citizens of Europe and which will ensure that the internal market is a market for the people. This is exactly what we Social Democrats are always saying. The economy is there for the people and not vice versa. If we follow this path, then we will be on the right track.

 
  
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  Morten Løkkegaard, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(DA) Mr President, I would like to thank the rapporteur and the other shadow rapporteurs for their excellent cooperation on these reports. We worked well together, and I am also pleased that, in the end, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament agreed to go along with a compromise. It would have looked strange if we had not succeeded in achieving a broad compromise with regard to these reports.

I would like to mention three things that I believe have been a success for the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the report on which I worked, namely, the report on governance and partnership in the Single Market.

The first priority we have included is the fact that the EU’s Heads of State or Government must take political leadership in this area. This is an absolutely essential prerequisite for achieving results and for achieving the necessary prioritisation.

The second is that we have ensured that we focus on actually getting the legislation in this area implemented correctly and on time. That was a major problem with the Services Directive that we obviously hope will not be repeated in the future.

Finally, we have an alternative form of dispute resolution, which is to be promoted at EU level, particularly for consumers who shop on the Internet. All of the focus on e-commerce in general also represents a major step forward, and in this regard, it must be mentioned that we have also just adopted a directive on consumer rights that is also pointing in the same direction, which is clearly yet another major step in the right direction.

Finally, I would like to appeal strongly to Commissioner Barnier to ensure that, as this large package on the Single Market now goes further through the system, we also promote communication about it. Our experience up to now with regard to communication about the Single Market – the Single Market for citizens – has left something to be desired. All of us have a responsibility, but I would like to strongly urge the Commissioner, if I may, to put a great deal of effort into ensuring that we really promote communication and to give it a boost so that citizens and small businesses become more aware of the fact that this excellent package actually exists. The fact that there is a lack of awareness about this seems to be the biggest problem at the moment. I would therefore strongly recommend that we give communication a shot in the arm.

 
  
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  Emilie Turunen, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DA) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, back in the 1980s, the decade in which I was born, the President of the Commission at that time, Jacques Delors, said that the Single Market should have a social dimension. Now, more than 20 years later, we have a situation where we have 23 million unemployed, there is pressure on wages and working conditions and on public services, there are nearly 18 million working poor and there is increasing inequality in Europe. At the same time, we are losing jobs, and we do not really know how we are to support ourselves in the future.

We have to conclude that we still have a huge amount of work to do when it comes to establishing the European social dimension. Mr Monti took this matter up last year in his splendid proposal for us all. I believe that he made an absolutely key point when he said that there are some bottlenecks, in other words, some critical points, that we need to accept and that we need to deal with if we want to make progress, some of these being social and environmental in nature. In actual fact, it is the central idea that, in my opinion, we should follow up on or pursue in the near future.

It has been a rather tough process debating this document in Parliament, but I am very pleased that we are able, as Parliament in session, to make our recommendation today with regard to how the Commission’s and Mr Barnier’s work should continue.

I would like to mention three points that are very important for us in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, and that constitute absolutely central messages. The first message to take from this today is that we want a green Single Market. This is to be achieved, among other things, through innovation and by using public invitations to tender and procurement in such a way as to actively promote the conversion to a green economy. It is also to be achieved by introducing an environmental footprint for products and by finding financing instruments that can help to enable these green investments to be made, including Eurobonds, which are intended to cover our large requirement for investment in connection with the conversion to a green economy. The second message from us today is that we want a social Single Market. This means, among other things, that we want a fundamental and thorough social examination of legislation before it is tabled, and therefore also that we want a social policy reference – that is the term that we agreed on in the relevant Single Market legislation to remind us all of the obligations imposed on us by the Treaty of Lisbon as regards fundamental social rights.

Our third message is that we want the consumers’ Single Market with, among other things, ambitious initiatives, market surveillance and passenger rights.

This is therefore an excellent document that we Greens are able to support today. I would have liked it to have been a bit clearer in its messages and I would have liked this document to have made us dream that Europe could lead the world when it comes to social justice, new jobs and the switch to a green economy. We probably still have a way to go in this regard, but I think that this is a good start.

 
  
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  Malcolm Harbour, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, it gives me very great pleasure to be able to welcome the excellent reports from the three rapporteurs, and indeed to thank all the Members – not just those on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, but also those on the many other committees represented here, who have joined us in what has been a great enterprise.

We have seen already from the quality of the contributions across the political field how engaged we are with the topic. We have had lively debates and lively arguments, but we have been united in a common goal of wanting to make the competitive Single Market economy work, a competitive social market economy work, and for those two things to be linked together. We have achieved that in what we have done so far.

The history of this important project, referred to by a number of you, had its seeds first of all in Professor Monti’s work, for which I pay him tribute, and in a desire by my committee – and I want to thank all the coordinators particularly for the support and energy they put behind this – to say that Parliament needed a response to this as well. We had a feeling that the completion of the essential foundation of the EU 2020 strategy for smart growth and jobs and innovation – the Single Market – was not really reflected as a political priority. We have been able to work with the Commissioner – and here I pay tribute to Michel Barnier who seized that opportunity to work with us – to express this as a political priority in the form of the Single Market Act.

That has been a real success for Parliament. It is a lesson on how committees can use their power of political initiative by working together to take that movement forward, because if it were not for Parliament, we would not be here today. I am delighted to see that Martin Schulz is here – the only group leader here – whom I warmly welcome. I hope that this is a lesson he will absorb in the future work that he may do in this Parliament.

Thinking about what is in this report, a number of messages have come through. First of all, a number of colleagues have said that in areas like goods and services, in particular, we have done a huge amount of work but that it is not well enough known; people are not taking advantage of it. There are also areas which we really have to develop. Some of them are in the EU 2020 strategy, in innovation and digital networks. Green technologies are not reflected enough, though some are not fit for purpose.

I am very pleased at what you said about public procurement, and mutual recognition also needs to change. We are going to work together on those, but today we have created the framework and the foundation in which to move those forward. Again, I want to thank all of you who are engaged in that great effort on behalf of all European citizens.

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

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). – Mr President, I would like to put a question to Mr Harbour, who is a fellow MEP for the West Midlands in the UK. He talked a great deal about being in the European Union and the influence this gives; indeed, he is the Chair of one of the most influential committees here in the European Parliament – the Single Market Committee. He is actually the only Conservative MEP who is a committee chair. He recently brought forward a written declaration in support of small businesses, but only got just over 200 signatures. Is that the level of his influence? Or is he just a Europhile in Euro-sceptic clothing in a no-meaning ECR Group that deceives the British public over and over again?

 
  
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  Malcolm Harbour (ECR). – Mr President, Mrs Sinclaire and I represent a region of the United Kingdom whose citizens depend on the Single Market for their jobs and for their future. I work with small enterprises all the time, and I can tell her that small enterprises in the Midlands supplying the great companies in the car industry, just down the road from where she and I live, are working overtime at the moment because of new opportunities that we have created by giving them a framework to go and attack a market numbering 500 million people – that big an area.

I do not apologise at all for the work I do here. I wish other people would be more constructive and do real work for their local citizens, instead of merely coming here to complain.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(EL) Mr President, Commissioner, I greatly enjoyed your speech today. However, we are of the opinion that the Commission is sticking to the philosophy behind the Lisbon strategy which, according to the Commission’s official position, failed to meet its targets.

The Single Market strategy must, firstly, clarify its visions and redefine its priorities, at both theoretical and practical level, so that it is sufficiently visible to the public. We believe that the market is useful, that it has its virtues; however, it is not a social model per se. The social dimension must be defined as the top priority and the new agenda for the Single Market must be configured so that it improves social justice. In a free market society, not everything can be for sale. Public utilities, public health services and services of economic interest should not be covered by competition law or Single Market legislation. Universal access to viable and high quality public services is a vital political issue. At the same time, fundamental rights, such as the right of trade union activity, cannot be set aside.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I will not make yet another speech about the individual points. I represent a coalition partner in the government of one of the founding countries of the European Union, namely the Northern League. This is not a matter of better communications – I heard a colleague speak of an ambassador for communications in case the activities of the European Union come under attack – but rather a matter of involving territories.

We appreciate these three measures. They have positive aspects and aspects that need refining, for which, as a group, we have tabled amendments. The fundamental factor is involvement, because Italy is different from Finland, and is different from Portugal. The important thing is that this should be an opportunity and not an imposition, as some directives have often become in the past.

We must be careful when considering as transgressors those countries which fail to follow guidelines, because if they are unable to follow them, it is obviously not just for the sake of it but probably because those directives cannot be homogeneously deployed over the 27 countries.

The Single Market is our goal. It is not an end but a means and, as such, for small and medium-sized businesses and consumers, the important thing is that the process should primarily be concrete, not declarations of principle, but concrete actions starting with those specific twelve points, and secondly, there should be real involvement of governments and territories, because otherwise we risk setting up yet another framework that people and manufacturers do not welcome. No ambassador of communications can determine whether a directive or a Single Market is suited to the social and productive fabric that needs to embrace it.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). – Mr President, on a point of order, first of all, the rule book states that if a Member of this House wishes to make a point of order, the President should give way, and it was a procedural point of order I wished to make.

These blue cards allow a Member to ask another Member a question. Now if the Member disregards that question, I think it is up to you, Mr President, to ask the Member to answer that question.

My question was simple: how did Mr Harbour’s influence help with adoption of his written declaration, which failed to get the requisite number of signatures?

 
  
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  President. – Our honourable colleague, Mr Harbour, has replied. Everyone is now free to interpret this answer as more or less complete. You may consider it wanting, others may consider it complete. But here ends the debate. We cannot turn such an important topic as this into a bilateral discussion between you and Mr Harbour.

 
  
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  Laurence J.A.J. Stassen (NI) . – (NL) Mr President, let me begin with the positives. The reports in front of us include a number of good proposals, such as moving the Services Directive forward, the European patent and addressing excessive roaming charges. These are things which will affect the core issue of the internal market and which will help individual citizens and companies to move forward.

Unfortunately, I also have to note that there are many other initiatives which go far beyond the objective of the internal market. I will mention a few: the climate and CO2 targets, socio-economic equality, fair working conditions and, of course, greater solidarity: that is, a socio-economic redistribution scheme which will undoubtedly involve more money being spent on it. Every one of these proposals is socialist in flavour and, as far as we can see, none of them comes within the scope of Europe’s responsibilities and certainly none of them has anything to do with the internal market. It is pie in the sky to think that differences in Europe can be erased with socio-economic interventions. The internal market was never intended to create all-embracing equality in Europe.

Mr President, the delegation of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) would prefer an internal market which focuses on the core issue, that is, on the promotion of freedom and economic cooperation. Tackle the work on these two concerns that is overdue and get rid of any superfluous initiatives. For the PVV, the vision of the internal market which is propagated here is a bridge too far.

 
  
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  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE). – Mr President, I would like to say to the Commissioner that while we were working on the report on your rich document, we were, just like yourself, constantly conscious that the Single Market is there to serve Europeans. Maybe this is exactly the reason why the negotiations between different political groups on the final form of the text were so difficult. I do agree with them that even if we do not fall in love with the Single Market, we can be very emotional about it.

It is really good that the European Parliament sends a clear signal today to the Commission and to the Council in the form of 15 priority proposals, and I am personally satisfied that we underlined the importance of the mobility of our citizens. Better access to banking services; easier recognition of professional qualifications; full portability of pensions: these are the fields in which citizens need solutions in order to study, work and invest in different Member States throughout their lives.

Europeans expect concrete actions from us for concrete needs, and we must deliver. Take, for example, voice and data roaming charges. It is high time these stop hindering the mobility of Europeans on this continent – our continent without internal borders. This issue is also addressed in the document we are going to vote on today.

Finally, the European Parliament is proposing an idea to organise an annual Single Market forum, and this platform should enable a genuine discussion with citizens. To me, this is a crucial way of involving European citizens in the reform of the Single Market for its 20th anniversary, and for that event I wish all of us much success.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, one reason for the problems of the Single Market is poor governance. At present, an inexcusably large number of directives are waiting too long to be implemented nationally. Far too many have also been implemented unsatisfactorily or incorrectly.

The Member States must themselves take responsibility for the viability of the Single Market. Common rules that are not respected in any tangible way are of no value. One danger lies in the inequality of EU citizens. Rights and obligations must be the same for all EU citizens and companies.

In my opinion, Mrs Kalniete’s report does not sufficiently stress the importance of the role of the European Parliament. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament’s role as a legislator must be on a par with that of the Council. I am convinced that the re­launch of the Single Market will rely on the equal participation and close cooperation of all the EU institutions. Only by acting together can we achieve the objectives that were originally set for the Single Market. These are: the promotion of competitiveness, a social market economy and sustainable development.

In his speech in yesterday’s plenary, Mr Schulz emphatically stated that neither the President of the Commission nor the President of the European Council has the right to play down the role of Parliament. The credibility of EU policy and the future of the European Union ultimately depend on effective democracy. The legitimacy of Parliament’s work is assured by 500 million European voters in a direct national election. It is they who are among Europe’s most important people of influence, actors and decision makers. The viability of the Single Market and the future of the European Union, too, depend on how they behave and the decisions that they take.

 
  
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  Olle Schmidt (ALDE).(SV) Mr President, the EU is certainly more than the Single Market, but without the Single Market, there is no EU. The Single Market is our most important tool for getting the EU out of the economic crisis.

There is therefore no conflict between what is good for Europe’s citizens and what is good for Europe’s businesses. Everyone will be a winner if we succeed in removing the remaining obstacles to free movement of people, goods, capital and services. The Single Market is still far from complete and the services sector in particular needs to be revamped and improved. This also applies to the digital market in order for us to be able to reap the benefits of the dynamic effects of free movement.

One of the cornerstones of the Single Market is the euro. The common currency creates stability for businesses, which do not need to worry about exchange rates. The euro simplifies trade across borders. If the euro were to be introduced throughout the whole of the EU, including in my country, Sweden, it would obviously stimulate and strengthen Europe and give the Single Market additional force. We would have more jobs and more prosperity.

By the way, Mr President, I fully support the remarks made by Malcolm Harbour.

 
  
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  Pascal Canfin (Verts/ALE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, I think that many of my fellow Members will have remembered that the background to this package for the Single Market comes from the Monti report, and the Monti report recommended a considerable compromise between those who advocate more competition, if you like, and those who advocate giving more weight to social, environmental and tax-related aspects.

I believe that, here in Parliament – and as long as the texts are not unpicked in the votes we shall be having in plenary in a few hours – we have succeeded in finding this compromise, including in the 14 proposals that emerge from the three reports as a whole. I also know that you are having discussions, in the College of Commissioners, to determine which central themes you will be retaining, and we shall clearly be paying great attention to whether this balance found within Parliament and desired by Mr Monti is taken up and extended to the 12 central project themes to which you have referred.

I would like to highlight three items which seem particularly important to me, further to what Mrs Turunen said a little while ago on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance. The first aspect concerns competition. The issue of the Single Market is to ascertain where we can focus competition. Do we focus competition on innovation, on products or do we focus competition on the rules, through environmental dumping or social dumping? I believe we have indeed struck a balance here in Parliament – and I hope you can carry it over into the Commission – which is to say ‘yes’ to more competition through innovation, ‘yes’ to more capital investment, but ‘yes’ also to a social clause, ‘yes’ to environmental standards that ensure that competition does not lead to regulatory dumping. Those are the two aspects that I believe are fundamental to our compromise.

The second item that I would like to highlight concerns the tax-related aspects. When you proposed the consolidated corporate tax base for multinational companies in your first version of the Single Market Act, it was not an optional proposal: in other words, all companies had to be subject to this consolidated tax base. In the proposal put out by the Commission 10 days or so ago, it is an optional measure: in other words, instead of building up an aspect of the Single Market, the Commission is tearing one down. You will be adding a new system, you will be adding a layer of complexity, you will be adding regulatory arbitrage instead of creating tax harmonisation. The proposal tabled by the Commission a fortnight ago runs totally counter to what we in Parliament want and to what you had proposed.

The last point I want to highlight very quickly is the notion of reciprocity, in exactly the same terms as you have done. The Single Market accounts for 500 million people; it is an economic entity, but it is also a political entity which must afford us more influence in shaping globalisation.

 
  
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  Edvard Kožušník (ECR). (CS) Mr President, I would like to thank the Commissioner for his 12 measures on the Single Market Act, and for being inspired by the Mario Monti report, but I would like to mention one name which is important here, and which can surely be agreed on by all of us who have worked on internal market activities in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee, and that is the name of Malcolm Harbour.

His is surely one of the most important names in today’s session. The Commissioner will not be offended, because he was sitting with us in the committee when Malcolm Harbour came up with the internal market initiative, an initiative which re-opened the whole debate on the internal market, and everyone – regardless of their political affiliations, whether socialist, green, liberal or from the European Conservatives and Reformists themselves – I would say almost everyone, supported this idea, which is why I want to mention the name of Malcolm Harbour. In my opinion, we now have to fight against economic nationalism, and time is just one of our enemies in that fight. In relation to the lack of time, I am pinning my hopes on Commissioner Barnier being able to turn these 12 measures into legislative measures.

 
  
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  Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL).(SV) Mr President, Mrs Győri began her speech by saying that we need a driving force for the economy. That is true, we do need that, but I would like to add that we also need a driving force for social justice and for a sustainable society. Social rights must never be seen as obstacles. On the contrary, they are a prerequisite for a sustainable and social economy and for growth. No one has mentioned the idea of a new value-added tax strategy. I will do so, as we have different regulations on VAT in the various Member States. Sweden, for example, finances a large part of its welfare system by means of its VAT rules. We are already suffering as a result of EU legislation, as the EU will not let us exempt non-governmental organisations from VAT. This affects all voluntary organisations, for example, those providing activities for children and young people. We must have the right to decide on these VAT rules for ourselves.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the creation of a Single Market is one of the objectives of the European Commission in order to respond to the economic crisis.

There are positive and negative aspects to all three reports. We agree with the use of new technologies, e-commerce and innovation to encourage business growth and increase competitiveness. To encourage the creation of a market for Europeans, greater coordination of trading activity should be a priority in order to control goods from third countries. The creation of a collaborative Single Market can only be an opportunity for economic growth, since it fulfils the criteria of transparency and greater involvement of regional realities.

There are still problems, such as the granting of a special mandate to the President of the Commission as supervisor of the Single Market and the lack of protection for small and medium-sized businesses and their employees. If we want to support the European economy, we must stop businesses relocating.

 
  
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  Csanád Szegedi (NI). (HU) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is possible to agree with the report before us in essence. The question, however, is how much purport we can really give it. That is to say, the freedom of movement of people and the free movement of capital are essentially fine words, yet what have Hungarians seen of these until now? They have seen that Western capital can come to Eastern Europe, but from Eastern Europe, only people can go west, and therefore, only the movement of people is free. It is impossible, is it not, to imagine Hungarian or perhaps Czech or Polish entrepreneurs buying up, for instance, the German company which makes Volkswagen and then closing it in order to create their own market? In contrast, German, French and British entrepreneurs have done this to Hungary when they did away with the sugar industry, the food industry, the canning industry and the textile industry in the country. Indeed, in 2004, they even campaigned on the grounds that we should join the European Union because Hungarian entrepreneurs could then open patisseries in Vienna. Far from being able to open patisseries in Vienna, Hungarian entrepreneurs are not even able to open patisseries in a small village. For this reason, the food industry, the textile industry and the canning industry need to be rebuilt also in Eastern Europe in order that we may be members, respected members, of the European Union with equal rights.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Barnier, ladies and gentlemen, firstly, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone in the European Parliament and in the European Commission who was involved in this joint report.

Almost 20 years ago, the internal market was created by means of the Single European Act. A great deal has undoubtedly been achieved since then, but the process is like a 100-metre race. The last few metres are the most difficult and the most strenuous. Therefore, the fact that Mr Barnier, in consultation with the other Commissioners, has presented us with an unbelievably coherent approach to the last few metres in the race towards the internal market is all the more welcome. In the past, proper progress has not been made in one area or another, precisely because the strategy was not adequately checked by the various Directorates General and the Commission to ensure that it was coherent. We must work together across all the groups in the European Parliament and with the Commission to ensure that this situation changes.

The key note of the last few metres of the internal market race, the final spurt, as I call it, is the guiding principle of the social market economy, which means taking seriously the rights of employees, companies, citizens and all those involved in the world of business and making sure that we achieve a fair balance between the various Member States and also between the differing interests of the stakeholders. I believe that the compromises that we have reached across the different groups come very close to this principle.

Nevertheless, Mr Barnier, I would like to point out that the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) has agreed internally across all the committees a list of priorities for the next measures to be taken from the package that you are proposing. The list consists of four key points. We want to see a final effort being made to put the fundamental freedoms in place in the internal market. For example, a quarter of the professional qualifications in the European Union only exist in one Member State. This shows that there is still a great deal to do and that the market is not functioning properly in terms of openness.

In addition, we want to create a cross-border, digital internal market and to establish a global perspective on the internal market. The proposals on public procurement policy are hugely important in this respect and Parliament will be drawing up a resolution on this subject during the next session.

 
  
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  Bernadette Vergnaud (S&D).(FR) Mr President, Mrs Győri, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to congratulate all those MEPs who had a hand in drafting these reports. I think that we have managed to produce three balanced texts, which send a strong signal from Parliament to the College of Commissioners about our priorities for a Single Market that operates effectively on behalf of our citizens, for growth and for enterprises.

As shadow rapporteurs for Mr Buşoi’s report, we have created a clear road map for the Commission. Firstly, and here we are all in agreement, Commissioner, there is a proposal for a legislative framework for public procurement, public/private partnerships and service concessions which should protect small operators, SMEs and awarding local authorities, and which will guarantee reciprocity between the EU, the industrialised countries and the major developing countries.

Then there is the need to ensure that we prioritise the common consolidated corporate tax base and a clear VAT framework. That is crucial if we want our SMEs to flourish within a healthy competitive environment.

Finally, we must ensure that innovation is funded, in order to stimulate strong and sustainable growth in major European infrastructure projects, through the creation of Eurobonds.

I should like to finish by stressing how important it is, to my mind, that we have reached a satisfactory compromise on the key issues of being able to guarantee social rights in the different legislations of the Single Market and of protecting services of general interest within the spirit of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Commissioner, we are sending you a very clear message: the economy must be at the service of the citizens, and not the other way round. You need our help. Today, we give you this help, along with a major challenge: that of reconciling our citizens with the European project. So do not let us down and give them the confidence they need!

 
  
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  Adina-Ioana Vălean (ALDE). – Mr President, as a Liberal, I welcome the launch of the Single Market Act. Removing national barriers should create an effective Single Market, but is this really applicable in all sectors? It seems obvious to me in the energy sector, and even more in terms of scarcity of resources and international tensions. I strongly believe that Europe has to throw its weight to push Member States to interconnect and invest in their infrastructure as a precondition for a common energy market and security of supply.

However, this new Brussels mantra is only desirable so long as it reinforces competitiveness and lower prices for consumers, and there are sectors where it might not be possible. I doubt whether creating European telecom champions, establishing pan-European licensing in the audiovisual sector or a Single Market for on-line content will bring more competitiveness in the long run or stimulate creativity, culture and growth. So maybe we should take time to sit down and think, and should not charge like bulls into an easy-market concept.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Mr President, I shall start by thanking all the rapporteurs for their efforts, but especially Mrs Kalniete for all her hard work, and for the leadership of our chair, Malcolm Harbour.

The UK Government estimates that the value of a true Single Market would add up to EUR 800 billion of the EU’s GDP – a truly astonishing figure. There is still much to do to deliver this. Improving governance of the Single Market must be a key strategic priority for the EU. It is vital that in these difficult economic times, we look to enhance our competitiveness, increase growth, create jobs and drive innovation. I am pleased with the outcome of this report, which stresses the importance of a clear commitment and ownership by Member States to relaunch the Single Market, which is vital for its success.

By carrying out a rigorous monitoring process, and by reducing the time it takes to transpose directives, Member States will be able to increase trade and ensure a well-functioning Single Market. I am also very supportive of the priority action highlighted in Mr Correia de Campos’ report in relation to the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, for which I will be the rapporteur. We must urgently identify the obstacles faced by Member States in implementing this directive and by the professionals themselves.

 
  
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  Cornelis de Jong (GUE/NGL). (NL) Mr President, as we were debating Mr Louis Grech’s excellent report, I gained the impression that both Parliament and the Commission were aware of the need to make the internal market more socially oriented.


We all agreed that the explanation of the partial failure of the internal market lies in the fact that it has won the hearts of large companies, but not those of ordinary people. However, no proposals have yet come through for a social chapter for the protection of trade union rights and collective agreements. On the other hand, we have had Heads of Government and the Commission going on about pay restraint, with some even calling for the abolition of collective agreements. Even the existence of the trade union movement itself is now in question.

Commissioner Barnier, do not let this throw you. Follow your social heart and ensure that the internal market becomes a market for everyone, not just the plaything of large companies. I therefore urge you to put forward a proposal which will make it quite clear that social rights should not be subordinated to the principle of unbridled competition.

Just one word to my fellow Member, Mrs Sinclaire. It was a pleasure to work with Malcolm Harbour on a written declaration on SMEs. We received no support from you and I find your criticism of the declaration totally unjustified.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr President, the attempt to create a Single Market for companies and for growth is coming up against many administrative barriers, which are a natural consequence of the fact that the business environment has developed independently in the different Member States, in different stages and under different conditions. The effort to synchronise the business environment of all 27 Member States seems to me a highly demanding ambition. I would therefore like to point out the option of an alternative approach, which does not require the full cooperation of all Member States from the outset. The procedure under Article 20 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) has already enabled us to achieve substantial progress over the long-intractable problem of the European patent, through so-called enhanced cooperation in the establishment of uniform patent protection. I firmly believe that, if the group of economically stronger Member States, such as France and Germany, in particular, found the will to unify accounting rules and to create a common accounting and taxation system, it would be possible, through enhanced cooperation under Article 20 TEU, to lay the foundations for a common accounting system, which other Member States could gradually join. I firmly believe that, through a good choice of measured, gradual steps, it is possible to help the functioning of the EU Single Market substantially.

 
  
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  Mike Nattrass (NI). – Mr President, Mrs Kalniete wants to relaunch the Single Market and makes it sound like a V-2 rocket: extremely dangerous but never on target. Mr Correia de Campos is concerned about movement of workers. Well, so am I.

The EU has swamped the United Kingdom with extra workers. The United Kingdom sees the world as the market. The straightjacket of the EU regulation is closing our industry, stopping innovation when it is ahead of the regulations and closing traditional industry, where the product is good but different from the approved continental version.

Small business is the victim here. The United Kingdom is amongst those which do comply, yet it suffers because it does: for example, expensive compliance in the pig and egg industries with regulations that the Commission will not enforce, making our product uncompetitive. I have many more examples, but have been allocated just one minute to save small businesses.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I believe it is now important to unite our voices in thanking Mr Barnier for his work and also for the outstanding work of Mr Harbour.

The initiative that was brought forward by the Commission is the result of many years of work, including that of fellow Members who have preceded Mr Barnier. With its publication, we can, at last, at this point, better highlight and give priority to the issue of the Single Market which, for unavoidable reasons, and which are difficult for the public to understand, has not, in my opinion, received enough attention within the 2020 programme.

I think the Single Market is the European Union’s great challenge. On one hand, it can get us out of a difficult crisis situation and, on the other, it can make us even stronger and more influential regarding policies which are being implemented in the rest of the world. But nevertheless, we always have to fight resistance from Member States and I think the guidance given in this report will require a common effort from all.

As for my group, may I borrow a phrase used by Mr Schwab, with which I fully agree, who said that we are in the final sprint. In this final sprint, things are more exciting but also more difficult. I believe that what we are asking of the Commission, for which we have Mr Barnier to thank, is a focus on the uniformity of professional qualifications, on the digital Single Market, on a Single Market for public procurement and special attention for SMEs. To this I add my usual motto: we must simplify, simplify, simplify.

 
  
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  Patrizia Toia (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I thank the rapporteurs and Mr Barnier for their generous contribution to Parliament.

We support the idea of an internal market which is able to understand and meet the social expectations and the implications that the social dimension requires. It is not a pipe dream; it is realistic and also modern. It is this vision that makes the market stronger, because focusing only on the economic element, essentially reducing the market to a question of economics, has shown that it will solve neither problems of growth nor of cohesion.

This means, in short, that we must now fully realise the ideal of a European social market economy. In today’s texts, we have this. There is recognition of the social enterprises, cooperatives and their role, of mutual insurance companies and of foundations, which represent 10% of European companies and many of our jobs. These are a reality with real businesses demonstrating economic pluralism and the pluralism of business. They work with capital but not for capital and want to create work, welfare, quality of life and innovation, and to demonstrate that these values should and can be part of the internal market in Europe.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR). – Mr President, the European Union’s greatest achievement is the establishment of the Single Market. The free movement of goods, services, labour and capital drives innovation and increases the prosperity of the 500 million people who live in Europe.

The common market was the reason my country joined the EEC, and the Single Market is the reason we remain part of the EU, but in recent years, the EU’s focus has strayed from completing the Single Market. Too much time and money has been wasted on grandiose projects that do not benefit the people we represent. I believe it is time to refocus our attention on the Single Market. Its expansion and success is crucial for our economies. It is one of the few areas where the EU can deliver growth rather than impede it.

I would ask the Commissioner to be bold. Rather than creating more regulations that drive jobs away from the City of London, I would ask him to focus on creating a competitive and job-creating Single Market for Europe.

 
  
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  Thomas Händel (GUE/NGL).(DE) Mr President, public procurement law and the awarding of public contracts are an essential part of the internal market. Mr Barnier, my response to your remarks about wanting to promote social integration in this context is that I have heard very little about protecting social rights or about protecting collective agreements. These are some of the fundamental rules which you, as you have said, do not want to call into question. If we want to protect the fundamental rules, we must ensure in future, during the process of awarding public contracts, that basic social standards are maintained, that collective agreements are not undermined, and that the use of cheap labour is prevented. All of this forms part of modern public procurement law.

I would like to make it clear that we must no longer put greater emphasis on economic freedoms and free competition than on fundamental social rights. Either we want a social Europe or we want permanent conflict with the people who are turning away from Europe because it does not protect their interests.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, economic and social crises always cause our citizens pain and create doubt for the public and our economies.

For three years now, there is considerable evidence that, when faced with difficulties, nations are tempted to turn in on themselves. One minute, we hear of a profusion of penny-pinching measures, the next of difficulties in competing for public procurement, and, now and again, this is something we heard in this House just now, doubts about the very usefulness of Europe. Europe is fingered as being responsible for the crisis.

However, ladies and gentlemen, the crisis is what is responsible for the doubts. Your message, Commissioner, is to tell the European citizens that Europe is back again and that its role is to protect them.

In the past, Europe has been ingenuous in matters of external trade. This must stop. Europe is frequently hard to comprehend. It should become easy to comprehend. We are all responsible for the regulatory nit-picking which gives Europe the reputation for being a factory churning out complex detail. Europe must embody a constant striving for simplification. Too frequently, Europe is a collection of 27 rules which, too often, are mutually contradictory. Europe must continue to harmonise.

Then the time will come to talk of social dumping and tax dumping between Member States, because how do we think that we can ever achieve our Single Market if regulations continue to differ so greatly from one State to another? Lastly, Europe is often seen to be a source of constraints. It should henceforth be seen as a source of enablement.

Ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner, what indeed you want – and I applaud this – is to give the Single Market back to the citizens. That will assuage their fears and provide them with new reasons to live together. Commissioner, in building the Single Market, you want political and not merely economic foundations. Parliament, I am sure, will support you in this matter.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: LIBOR ROUČEK
Vice-President

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D). (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the Single Market, when it was set up, was a source of hope for European consumers. However, over time, they have entertained serious doubts about the benefits it might bring to their daily lives.

I am thinking, in particular, of e-commerce, which is still insufficiently used due to a lack of confidence. I am also thinking about the lack of passenger protection and the non-compliance, by Member States, with regulations in this area. I am thinking of the fact that we still need a European statute for mutual companies and consumer associations. I am also thinking of the total lack of transparency in the financial services sector, but I am aware, Commissioner, that you are working tirelessly on these issues.

In order to restore the confidence of our citizens and finally to ensure that this Single Market operates effectively, we must take ambitious and targeted measures. That is what we propose in the three reports that we are debating today. I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of the horizontal social clause and the services of general economic interest clause which allow us to take a first step towards a more social Europe. It is our duty, the duty of all of us here, of the institutions –and I have confidence in you, Commissioner – to swiftly put into effect our proposals for a Single Market operating on behalf of its citizens.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE). (CS) Mr President, if we want to revitalise the European economy and boost competitiveness in the global environment, our core objective must be, finally, after 20 years, to remove all barriers preventing small and medium-sized enterprises in particular from developing their business activities. It is therefore necessary to complete the harmonisation of technical and accounting standards, to promote electronic commerce, to link commercial registers, to implement the interoperability of on-line identification systems and the recognition of qualifications, to eliminate on a consistent basis discrimination against business on the grounds of their place of origin, and to streamline the conditions for participating in public tenders.

The 50 points which the Single Market Act currently contains are of absolutely key importance, and we must bring them to life. Differences in national legal systems create bureaucratic barriers for companies, slow down investment and limit efficiencies of scale and the benefits of synergy, but these differences exist even in areas that have already been harmonised by directives, but the directives have been implemented inconsistently in the Member States, and therefore the barriers to doing business on the Single Market persist. Would it not be better to adopt measures which allow uniform legal interpretation and uniform implementation in all countries, and to limit directives which allow variations in national law?

I very much appreciate the fact that Commissioner Barnier has made it his top priority to complete the Single Market, and he has our full support. I would like to thank all MEPs who participated and cooperated in this objective.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D). – Mr President, in May 2010, Parliament voted for the Single Market to be perceived as a holistic, unified project, finding an equilibrium between an open SME-friendly economy and a citizen’s social and basic rights. This should be factored into all Single Market legislation, regaining, in the process, citizens’ trust.

However, implementing and adopting the many excellent proposals found in the various reports and in the Act itself is a difficult task. We have to ensure that a revitalised, redefined Single Market does happen and does not get sidelined. Ultimately, it is up to the institutions to politically support the Single Market and give it the necessary momentum and leadership, which is sadly lacking at times.

In this respect, therefore, I am proposing that one of the permanent features of the Single Market forum should be to carry out an annual appraisal and audit to gauge the state of play of the Single Market, primarily, whether the objectives and aims set out in the Act have been achieved or not, thus convincing European citizens that the Single Market truly represents their interests and aspirations.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Zwiefka (PPE).(PL) Mr President, the Single Market may have seemed a pipe dream 60 years ago, but today it is a fact and a reality in the everyday lives of nearly 500 million Europeans. Of course, on the one hand, we can be proud that the idea of the European Union has been put into effect with such excellent results but, on the other, we have to be aware that this project will, in fact, never end, because the world is moving forward, Europe continues to develop, and the citizens of the European Union are going to continue, to an ever greater degree, to use the opportunities the Single Market offers them.

The Single Market Act which we are debating, today, and the results of the social consultations show unequivocally that harmonisation of the EU market involves not just economic processes in the broad sense of the word, but also legislative solutions which are intended to help ordinary citizens in making full use of the opportunity presented by the EU’s internal market. Therefore, I greatly welcome Commissioner Barnier’s proposals, which are closely related to improving legal certainty and the functioning of the principles of international private law, because they produce practical solutions to problems which arise from the mobility of citizens. They are matters which perhaps, at first sight, are not directly related to improving the functioning of the free market, but which are becoming increasingly problematic for ordinary citizens and business people operating beyond national borders.

More efficient functioning of the Single Market will, to some extent, force the whole European Union to develop cooperation, too, in the areas of civil law and administrative law. The European market must adapt to the latest methods, and this will always present us with new challenges related to its modernisation. Therefore, I am going to expect fulfilment of the principles enshrined in the Single Market Act with great hope and enthusiasm.

 
  
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  Evelyn Regner (S&D).(DE) Mr President, Mrs Győri, Mr Barnier, the internal market lies right at the heart of the European Union and, following several years of chaos, we must establish a new regulatory framework for citizens, workers, consumers and businesses.

The magic word in all these measures is inclusion – the inclusion of civil society, social dialogue and the active application of the horizontal social clause in accordance with the principles of the social market economy. What I believe is missing, which represents a genuine shortcoming of the internal market, is a proposal for the cross-border transfer of the place of business of public limited companies. The current situation leads to negative competition between the systems. That is not a good thing for businesses or for their employees.

Mr Barnier, we have seen that you are very hard-working and that you are prepared to present a wide range of proposals. Please come to grips with this subject as well.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE).(PT) Mr President, the reports that we are debating – and I congratulate their rapporteurs – reinforce a series of initiatives for revitalising the internal market. I would like to highlight the commitment shown by the Commission, particularly Commissioner Barnier, whom I thank, and this Parliament’s positive response, through the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, to prioritising competitiveness and market dynamism, a fundamental pillar of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Europeans and businesses are hoping for effective stimulus measures so that Europe’s economy can start growing again. They are hoping for higher employment and look forward to the creation of greater prosperity. As the Commissioner pointed out, opening up markets to our businesses by removing obstacles and difficulties will provide very special relief and an unparalleled opportunity for them to pursue their mission as the driving force of our economy. The measures aimed at cutting the administrative and bureaucratic burden on small and medium-sized enterprises, facilitating their access to credit and to the services market, and promoting the European patent and the recognition of qualifications, are essential. The development of e-commerce is important for improving confidence among consumers and businesses in this kind of trade; the focus on innovation is vital for strong, lasting growth; and the social business initiative is essential for creating innovative entrepreneurial projects for social inclusion.

These are a few measures that will guarantee this ambitious project for completing, deepening and making full use of the Single Market for the benefit of the European people. Lastly, there is the important recommendation for the Member States to redouble their efforts to improve their transposition and implementation of internal market legislation.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, you are doubtless aware that the exhaustive discussions that we have had in this House on the subject of your communication have revolved around the role of public services, of services of general interest in the Single Market and how they are embodied in legislation.

We have managed to formulate a compromise, which invites you to move beyond your proposal 25, and we invite you to move beyond a mere communication, which would not meet the expectations and needs of stakeholders, users and all parties concerned in the public services, and nor would it meet the objectives which, moreover, you are setting.

The European Union must send a clear and unequivocal message about public services. In order to do so, we must set up a proper legal framework, whether that consists of a regulation or a directive. The Treaty of Lisbon provides us with the legal foundations to do so. It is now up to you to turn them into a legislative proposal. Parliament, I am sure, is ready to follow you in this matter.

 
  
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  Małgorzata Handzlik (PPE).(PL) Mr President, Commissioner, I first want to congratulate the rapporteurs on a job very well done. We all agree with the statement that the European Union needs a Single Market which works better, so I welcomed the proposals on deepening and improving it. I would not like discussion on deepening the internal market to lack reference to the biggest and most ambitious plan – a plan which, despite many years of work, is not, however, a reality – the plan to create a Single Market for services. The European Commission has put forward many ambitious and new ideas for deepening this market. They are valuable and necessary for it to function efficiently, but I would also like to appeal for a continuation and strengthening of plans which are still not serving citizens and businesses fully.

The Services Directive is one of the first stages of opening up the services sector, but we should not stop at that. We should use the experience gained working on the Services Directive to remove other obstacles and to simplify existing regulations. Many sectors still remain closed, many practices in our Member States hinder the free flow of services, and the flagship idea of the Services Directive – the points of single contact – is not fully working.

Commissioner, in my opinion, many of the initiatives of the Single Market Act will not bring the expected benefits if we do not improve the Single Market for services. Effective accomplishment of the Act’s numerous initiatives depends on the efficient functioning of the market for services. It is enough to mention here the recognition of professional qualifications, e-commerce and better conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises, although the list is, of course, much longer. So I appeal to the European Commission to be consistent in opening up the services sector as a foundation for the success of the other initiatives of the Single Market Act.

 
  
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  Sergio Gaetano Cofferati (S&D).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, Professor Mario Monti, a man whose liberal culture is appreciated and never questioned, says in his report on the domestic market that it is necessary to strike a balance between the market, its rules and the rights of people who live and work within that market. He says so because he is convinced that social cohesion is an important factor in competition and because he, like us, thinks that people’s dignity should never be questioned, neither as citizens, nor, of course, as employees.

For this reason, the social clause is important. It is an instrument which is supported by the overwhelming majority in this Parliament, and this is why we ask you and President Barroso to include it in all legislative acts governing the internal market. Only in this way, through the enhancement of the role and contribution of individual workers, will the market achieve its potential.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D).(RO) Mr President, I would like to congratulate the rapporteurs for the quality of their work, particularly Mr Campos, and for drafting the ambitious proposals for responding to the challenge of reconciling two seemingly contradictory objectives: relaunching the Single Market and restoring European citizens’ confidence in the proper functioning of the market.

As I see it, the Single Market Act must comprise a coherent, balanced package of measures, in keeping with the Grech report and the Monti report, which will lay the foundations for a Europe of Added Value for both citizens and businesses.

Citizens’ concerns and rights must be at the heart of the measures for relaunching and strengthening the internal market. In this respect, I welcome the proposal for a citizens’ charter at EU level, which will provide multilingual information about the right to live and work in any Member State.

 
  
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  President. – We now come to the catch-the-eye procedure. Unfortunately, I have about 18 names on my list, so not everybody will get the floor because we do not have enough time. However, I will try to divide that time fairly and evenly.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE).(HU) Mr President, numerous factors of equal importance guide the internal market. The problem at EU level is caused by the absence of a comprehensive platform, yet this also creates the opportunity for growth. The three reports took account of these shortcomings and also defined them excellently. However, simply describing these will not, in itself, encourage the stakeholders. I proposed numerous amendments to the draft report, one area of which was the resolution of certain pending issues related to the free movement of employees. Moreover, the Single Market should benefit all enterprises equally. Here, I have in mind small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. More intensive economic growth in the EU can only be achieved by removing the obstacles of the internal market. In other words, an extensive, integrated market itself can be the engine of innovation in the future. I congratulate the rapporteurs, I thank Commissioner Barnier for his work, and I congratulate the Hungarian Presidency. Thank you, Mr President.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Mr President, it is often the case that the effort to maintain the Single Market takes place at the expense of social rights and compliance with certain national traditions on the labour market. At present, moreover, the Single Market also faces another problem, as the economic crisis casts a shadow over the prospects for its further successful development. However, I consider it necessary to include a social element in the laws applying to the Single Market in order to direct policy genuinely towards citizens, and in order to ensure cohesion through compliance with social rights and workers’ rights.

Our common endeavour must be to ensure that the Single Market and its functioning are of benefit both to citizens and companies, thereby contributing to the overall growth of European competitiveness. We must also direct the adopted legal measures towards the fulfilment of objectives such as a stable and responsible policy on pay and the adequate representation of women in managerial positions.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). – Mr President, when dealing with European Union reports, never trust the label and always look at the contents of the packet. These reports appear to be about the Single Market, trade and the transfer of jobs from higher-wage economies to lower-wage economies. However, one rapporteur has not lost the opportunity to look for yet another pretext for yet further immigration – not just within Europe, but by clear implication from outside Europe.

The Correia de Campos report refers to an influx of highly-qualified workers and seasonal workers – not usually known for their surfeit of qualifications – as being beneficial to the European economy. People are seen not as human beings, but as mobile factors of production. Bringing skilled workers from the Third World robs poor countries of people they can ill afford to lose.

Furthermore, bring Third World people to Europe and you bring part of the Third World with them. You cannot turn them into new Europeans by the application of a little cultural stardust. People are not the product of distinctive cultures; distinctive cultures are the product of distinctive peoples.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I agree with the guidelines laid down by this important communication prepared by the European Commission in response to Professor Monti’s report of last May.

Governance and partnership are two aspects essential to reviving the market. Indeed, to enable it to become ever more efficient and competitive, it needs strong political guidance and high-level leadership. This is also achieved by making the whole European system more democratic. The positions, decisions and acts we adopt must be the result of highly coordinated collaboration between the various European institutions.

In addition, Parliament’s role in drawing up legislation on the Single Market can be strengthened further. The Treaty of Lisbon has already made a great contribution in this direction; that is, it has established new rules to ensure greater power for Parliament, but this alone is not enough. I am thinking especially of those files on which Parliament expressed a position which is strong and clear but divergent from that of the Council and governments of the Member States.

 
  
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  Catherine Stihler (S&D). – Mr President, the debate is essential because by making the Single Market work more effectively, we have the potential to create economic growth, which fundamentally results in the creation of jobs. I was pleased that a compromise has been reached on the subject of the social clause. The balance between the market and our social values is vitally important; to have lost this principle would have been deeply damaging.

On the digital agenda, although many Member States are making progress, it is sadly also seen by many as non-essential. If Member States do not deliver on this agenda, the competitiveness of the whole EU suffers. What pressure can be brought to bear to ensure that no EU citizen, wherever he or she lives, is left behind in this digital revolution which surrounds us?

Finally, on public procurement, I welcome the Commission’s proposals. However, how do we ensure that innovative public procurement is at the heart of our agenda?

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, the idea that Europeans must create more employment, or more jobs, is fundamental for us. It is necessary, above all, to understand that the citizen must be at the actual heart of the initiative, whether from the perspective of consumer rights or at the level of communications strategies or copyright, or improving the environment for cross-border operations of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of every economy.

We must speed up the process of recognising professional qualifications in order to boost mobility, while taking account of collective agreements. I also attach key importance to the implementation of the same laws in all Member States, adequate social protection – I repeat, social protection – and the fight against social exclusion.

Mr President, I would finally like to say that the incorporation of these elements into the European qualifications framework will be of real profit to citizens, as well as an effective mechanism for workforce mobility.

 
  
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  María Irigoyen Pérez (S&D).(ES) Mr President, Commissioner, thank you for your words, and I agree with you that we must listen to our citizens and restore their faith in the European project. Today could, therefore, be a great day for Europe and European social integration. This is because, with the adoption of these reports, we are not only moving towards the revival of the Single Market, a key element in tackling the current economic crisis, but also responding to the demands of citizens who wish to move towards a larger Europe and strengthen social rights.

Europe must respond to new global challenges, turning the European economy into a highly competitive social market economy and stimulating noticeable growth, with more and better jobs. However, this goal should be based on the insertion of a social clause in all legislation related to the internal market, making citizens the focal point of our attention and priority, thereby strengthening their social rights.

Finally, I would ask the Commission to present these proposals as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Mr President, without a doubt, the Single Market has been very important for Member States in the progress they have made in economic affairs. It will be more important in the future, especially for countries such as my own, which are trying to emerge from the economic downturn.

The Single Market requires two things, as I see it: one, a greater awareness amongst the public and particularly SMEs as regards its potential and two, we need to unlock the barriers to its progress.

Firstly, for the development of e-commerce, high-speed broadband is an absolute prerequisite. Secondly, for energy as a Single Market in Europe, the European super grid, which is a long-term project, is absolutely vital. Thirdly, in the area of innovation, we will need the European patent, which Mrs Győri referred to, under enhanced cooperation, and also centres of excellence at universities that are independently assessed.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL).(PT) Mr President, experience has shown that there is no balance between competition and the defence of social and workers’ rights. What we have today in the name of the liberalisation of the Single Market is a rise in privatisations, the rise in unemployment that that has created, more precarious work and, in many cases, poorer services for consumers. There are huge examples, including in my own country, Portugal, with the spread of liberalisations in transport, the post office and communications, where services are now worse, fewer people are employed and jobs are more precarious. That is why we say it is important to defend the social clause in all these processes. The main problem is that it is not complied with either by governments or by the Commission itself or by the Council, as the Council deliberations on 25 March made very clear.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D). (CS) Mr President, I firmly believe that the awareness and confidence of citizens are of key importance to the success of the single internal market. Of course, this presupposes, among other things, communications that are accessible and comprehensible to citizens. I would like to call again on the Commission to think seriously about how it will explain its plans to citizens. The public consultation over the single internal market document itself showed what people are asking for and what they see as the main weak points of European integration. Most people identified proposal number 48 as the main priority, under which the Commission makes a commitment to strengthen consultation and dialogue with civil society. It will then pay particular attention to the views of consumers when drafting legislation. I trust that the results of the public consultations will be brought into the equation in this case.

I would like to end by thanking and congratulating all of the rapporteurs, and I wish you, Commissioner, all the best for the continuing work.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). – Mr President, it is time to put back the real economy at the heart of the European agenda and to restore citizens’ confidence in our common market. The relaunching of the Single Market is a historic chance for Europe to get back to business. Let us take it.

The best way to pursue social Europe is to create jobs and that is what the Single Market Act is about. That is why I have been engaged in trying to avoid watering down this important act and to boost European capability to compete on the global market and generate jobs. I have resisted attempts to introduce unnecessary regulation and additional bureaucracy or issues such as the social clause. I have supported the consensus reached to give the Commission a broad mandate to move forward.

Now is the time for action. All EU institutions, stakeholders and the Council should take their shared responsibility in moving forward to implement issues such as the goods package, the Services Directive and the Small Business Act, and to boost confidence in e-commerce.

Last but not least, I hope that retail, which is a pillar of the European economy, would also be high on the political agenda.

 
  
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  Sylvana Rapti (S&D).(EL) Mr President, Commissioner, do you realise that you hold the future of Europe in your hands? I think that today’s debate is hugely important to the future of the European Union, to the future of European citizens, and to the future of the euro. It is extremely hard for European citizens in the 27 Member States to withstand and understand the austerity measures imposed on them if they do not understand the value and importance of the internal market. Thus, today, I consider that this debate will decide if the 20th anniversary of the Single Market next year is a celebration or a memorial service.

I believe that there is a triangle formed by citizens, undertakings and governance. This triangle needs to be an isosceles triangle. At the present stage, the citizens’ side is extremely weak. This can only be corrected by a horizontal social clause, which is why we have asked for one, which is why we are trying to achieve a compromise. To close, Mr Delors said that no one can fall in love with the internal market. You should make it lovable.

 
  
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  Michel Barnier, Member of the Commission.(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I am very grateful to every one of you for the quality of your speeches across a whole range of views. I listened with great attention to everything you had to say, the expression of your vigilance, and also, in general – and I am very conscious of this as it is something we need – the expression of your encouragement and your support for our approach.

I should like to reiterate my thanks to your three rapporteurs, Mrs Kalniete, Mr Buşoi and Mr Correia de Campos, and to tell Mr Kožušník that he was right to emphasise the central role in this debate of Mr Harbour, because it was not a foregone conclusion that 11 committees, and I should like to thank the rapporteurs who have spoken, would be able to work together. This holistic or global approach had been recommended by Mr Grech and by Mr Monti, and, in parallel, ladies and gentlemen, the Commission under the authority of President Barroso carried out the same work. We have, with 12 other Commissioners, worked to formulate these 50 proposals and, finally next week, to identify the 12 levers for the modernisation of the Single Market and the 12 symbolic proposals for these levers.

Just now, Mr Zwiefka spoke of utopia, recalling the founding fathers. I remember something that one of these founding fathers, Mr Jean Monnet, said when the very first step towards the Single Market was taken and coal and steel were first brought together in 1950. He said: ‘I am neither pessimistic nor optimistic, I am merely determined’. I believe, ladies and gentlemen that at present – and I am repeating myself here – when you listen closely to the public and hear their anger, their concern, when you see how many of them are suffering, when you see the lack of jobs and of growth, it is time for renewed determination, particularly in the areas of the economy and growth. Moreover, Mrs Thun referred to this European determination just now. I feel that it is very important, thanks to the extremely constructive work you have done jointly with the different committees and different groups, that you are able to arrive shortly – at least I hope you are – at a vote which expresses this determination and which the Council and, for its part too, the Commission will have to take into account. In any case, this supportive work you have carried out jointly makes me feel secure in my own determination, and I have felt reassured by the success of the public debate which we held for four months on the Single Market Act, since we received, as I recall, 850 contributions, and also by the fact that the European Council itself has signalled its support for our approach.

That is how the Commission will identify the proposals for which it is committed to provide the texts over the next 12 months, and I hope that we, the Council, Parliament and the Commission, are able to implement these texts in 2011 and 2012.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, we, the Commission, through your legislation, produce a great deal of regulations. Those that I am currently drafting on the lessons to be learnt from the financial crisis are reactive or preventive regulations. Here, with the Single Market Act, our ambition is to construct a proactive and dynamic regulation, and to turn, as Mr Juvin and Mrs Auconie have recommended, this internal market into what it should be: a space of opportunity, much more than a space of constraints, which is the view that small and medium-sized enterprises and the citizens have of it.

Citizens are consumers, and we are going to work to guarantee the safety of the products that they consume and to lift all discriminatory barriers. Citizens are workers, and we are going to work on the recognition of professional qualifications and the respect of social rights for those who work in another country. That is what Mrs Jaakonsaari and Mrs Gebhardt have recommended. Citizens use public services. That is a concern that many of you have voiced, in particular, Mr Triantaphyllides, and, moreover, I recommend that Mrs Castex, who spoke just now, read carefully – which she no doubt has already done – my colleague, Mr Almunia’s proposal on the revision of the Monti-Kroes package. It contains, to my mind, new and open responses regarding the quality of and access to public services. In addition, citizens are savers and borrowers and I have just outlined provisions regarding a single integrated mortgage market.

Then there are, in addition to the citizens, the businesses that create the jobs. Mr Creutzmann, Mr Karas, just now, and Mrs Corazza Bildt have spoken of the need for competitiveness, particularly in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises. We shall work on more favourable accounting and fiscal conditions, on progress in innovation, patents and copyright, which Mr Manders mentioned, on access to investment and also, I believe, on public/private partnerships. I would like to thank Mrs Vergnaud for the support she has shown for our project on concessions.

We must improve the governance of the internal market. Mr Schwab said something very important just now on de-compartmentalisation and I have tried to work on this with my colleagues inside the Commission. This de-compartmentalisation applies to the assessment of the different directives.

I am currently carrying out an assessment, as you already know, country by country and service by service, on the Services Directive that Mrs Handzlik and Mrs Roithová mentioned just now, and I can see clear evidence of compartmentalisation. There is sometimes a concertina effect, for a particular worker or a particular engineer or architect, in the use of the Services Directive, the Professional Qualifications Directive and the E-commerce Directive.

I wish to work, Mr Schwab, towards the de-compartmentalisation needed.

Mr Løkkegard and Mr Grech also mentioned communication. Before you communicate, you have to do something and when you do something, you need to explain it in such a way that citizens grasp what has been done. That is why I attach a great deal of importance, in the entire system of the internal market, to those tools that bring Europe closer to its citizens: the Solvit system, which is starting to work well, the Internal Market Information System (IMI), points of single contact, Your Europe and the forum, which Mr Grech mentioned, to improve dialogue between all stakeholders and civil society.

In conclusion, Mr President, I should like to remind everyone of some of the beliefs that have guided what I have done throughout the mandate that was entrusted to me with your support.

Let me start with my principal belief, since we are talking about the economy and employment. Ladies and gentlemen, the rest of the world does not stand by waiting for us. It is going much faster than us in certain areas. We must not let ourselves stand by and be spectators of our own future. We, Europeans, must be the driving force behind our own future. Moreover, the main argument, the driving force impelling us to be the agents of our own future, is the Single Market. I was in China a few days ago. We are respected there because we represent a market of 500 million consumers and citizens. Let us continue to strive to pool our resources and let us strengthen our core – the Single Market.

The Single Market is the keystone, the platform of our economy. If it operates effectively, everything that we build on it in terms of private initiatives for businesses or local, national and European public and private initiatives will work better. Why, for example, are we fighting to re-launch the patents issue which has remained deadlocked for the last 30 years? The reason is that all public and private initiatives in the areas of innovation and creation have been weakened, seriously weakened, because we do not have a European patent or because our patents cost 10 times more than in the US So the platform must operate effectively. That is the nub of the issue and, once that happens, we shall be able to build more effectively a great number of initiatives on its foundations.

My second main belief is that the time has come to work towards renewed growth. Here, I should like to signal my agreement with Mrs Turunen who, just now, called for a different kind of growth. The growth that will emerge from this crisis, and here Mrs Turunen is correct, must be different from previous growth, must pay more respect to natural resources, natural spaces, which are neither free nor inexhaustible, and we shall incorporate these objectives in particular into the new code or new regulations for public procurement, as well as for taxation, which must play a role in achieving a more ecological growth.

My third belief, ladies and gentlemen, is that there cannot be sustainable economic performance without innovation or social cohesion. That is the dynamic compromise to which Mr Canfin referred and that Mr Monti had recommended, including in the area of taxation. Mr Canfin and Mr Cofferati both mentioned this subject and Mrs Toia mentioned just now a subject that will feature in the proposals for a Single Market Act, namely, the development of a sector in which I believe, that of social business.

My fourth belief, and I repeat it here, is that if we are to win the fight for competitiveness, each of our territories, no matter how weak or how distant from Brussels it may be, has a role to play. Each business is able to win its own battle, even the smallest amongst them, and we must help them do so. Finally, all our citizens, even the weakest, those who are sometimes excluded through handicaps, can win their own battles for competitiveness, providing that they receive encouragement and support.

My fifth belief is that, in relation to what is happening in the rest of the world, our ambition must, I insist, be one of being agents and not spectators. Furthermore, we must not merely be happy for Europe to be a continent of consumption. Europe must continue to be a continent of production, not only of services, but an area in which we maintain a productive base, and that is also the objective of a number of the proposals that we shall make about long-term investments.

Honourable Members, I outlined to you what my dual ambition was upon becoming Commissioner. It has not changed and will remain the same until the end of my mandate. We are going to put the financial markets, which we need, back in the service of the real economy, and not the other way around as it has been over the last 15 years. It is not the role of business to work for the markets, but of regulated financial markets, that are better governed and supervised, to be at the service of the real economy. Our aim is to place the real economy, namely the large Single Market, back at the service of growth and at the service of human progress. You should read next week – it may not be perfect and can doubtless be improved – the draft Single Market Act proposed by the European Commission in the light of your debates, and also in the light of this dual ambition: that of placing the market back at the service of the economy and of placing the economy back at the service of growth and human progress.

 
  
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  Enikő Győri, President-in-Office of the Council. (HU) Mr President, I wish to thank everyone who participated in this debate today. For me, this is extremely important from two aspects. On the one hand, you have confirmed the Hungarian Presidency’s conviction that the internal market plays a huge role in stimulating, at long last, economic growth in the European Union, and in ensuring that finally we can create new jobs again. The other great benefit of this debate is that very many thoughts and ideas have been voiced which we will be able to incorporate into the Council’s work as well. The Commission has already completed a good part of the job. Naturally, however, they, too, still have much to do. The Council wishes to cooperate extremely closely with this House later in the adoption of specific legislation. Thanks are therefore due to everyone who has assisted in this process up to now, either as a rapporteur or member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and whose involvement we are counting on in the future as well.

As has been mentioned many times already, the Hungarian Presidency has advocated the goal of a strong Europe. This is the Hungarian Presidency’s motto as well. What is more, we always say that we are thinking of a strong Europe which places the citizen, the people, at the centre of its policies, and this is what we must not lose sight of either when we consider the Single Market.

I would like to address separately some of the most widely discussed issues in the debate. The first is the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They are, indeed, the key players in the internal market, and in consequence of this, we intend to do everything to put them on the map. This partly means making access to finance easier for SMEs, reducing administrative burdens and ensuring simplified access to public procurements. We attribute great importance to reviewing the Small Business Act, which will be on the Competitiveness Council’s agenda in May. We intend to adopt conclusions on the subject as well.

The other such topic is the digital agenda. A very great deal has been said about this, too, here in today’s debate. We all know that there is enormous unexploited potential in this area. We need to improve the options and conditions of paperless administration and business transactions. The e-commerce and e-government initiatives serve this purpose, but in a broader sense, I believe that the aim of the Consumer Rights Directive is also to encourage cross-border transactions based on a single set of European rules. Here, I could also mention the implementation of the Services Directive, which affects a significant part of the internal market, a major element of which is simplified electronic administration.

A third point I would like to raise is that the completion of the internal market is, in my view, inconceivable without building and completing the energy and transport infrastructure. The Hungarian Presidency has already devoted special attention to the realisation of the single energy market in the first three months. Several Members mentioned infrastructure bonds as well in the debate. We look forward with interest to the outcome of the public consultation in relation to this. Protecting intellectual rights is also an issue to which we have devoted much attention to date. I mentioned the European patent system in my introduction as well, and I trust that, after enhanced cooperation has begun, we will be able to formulate its content together and that, as regards implementing rules, we will be able to achieve the greatest progress possible at the Competitiveness Council in May. Moreover, I also hope that there is even a possibility that we will be able to reach an agreement.

Lastly, I would like to address social aspects. This is the issue which generated the greatest interest in today’s debate, too, and aroused the most emotion in the Chamber as well. I believe that there has been a very lively debate about this in the Commission as well as in this House, and I am certain that this will be the case in the Council, too.

As I have said before, we need a strong Europe with a human factor at its centre. I think that this clearly indicates the Hungarian Presidency’s approach to this issue, yet we can only do this in a balanced way and by considering all aspects. That is to say, if we place the human factor centre stage, creating jobs certainly is the most important task, because if we can guarantee that everyone who wants to work can do so, I believe that we cannot offer more than this to our citizens.

The other thing is that, as we are all aware, the European social model, the European social market economy, has been put to the test. It is our common interest to protect this. Of course, there is no single model in all the 27 Member States, as we all implement this differently. We must also be realistic. This model has been put to the test: the EU’s competitiveness, the Member States’ competitiveness, depends on whether we can adapt this social model to the challenges of the 21st century. For this reason, we must not treat this as sacrosanct but as something that we defend through joint efforts while adapting it to the 21st century.

Finally, mobility has also been mentioned frequently. I believe that this is the area where we may be able to make progress most urgently and most easily, and we would like to adopt conclusions about this in the Competitiveness Council in May by all means.

Finally, it is the Hungarian Presidency’s intention to ensure the greatest possible visibility for the Single Market, and we are prepared to make commitments at the highest level. In this, we are counting on the Members and President of the Commission as well as the Members and President of the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete, rapporteur.(LV) Mr President, in concluding this most fruitful discussion, I should like to underline that this discussion has shown that we, the Members of the European Parliament, recognise our responsibility towards the people of Europe for reviving the economy and creating new jobs. Consolidation of the Single Market is just as significant for reviving the economy as the other two initiatives: the reinforcement of economic management and the 2020 strategy. We must raise the political profile of the Single Market. Both politicians and society as a whole must understand its significance, so communication is a very important element in the revival of the Single Market: communication with business, communications with Europeans and also communication between the three institutions. I am delighted that we are united in our aim to revive, unify and strengthen the European market.

 
  
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  António Fernando Correia De Campos , rapporteur.(PT) Mr President, I would like to begin by thanking everyone for this debate, which has been very worthwhile. Just now, however, I did not have time to read the last part of my speech, which was basically to thank Commissioner Barnier. There is no better way for me to thank him than by recalling the first sentence in his speech. He said that it is time for Europe to raise the bar, and not just to give people bad news. I could not agree with you more, Commissioner, and I would like to tell you that in this respect, Parliament has done its job in good time and is ready to give the people good news.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi, rapporteur. – Mr President, I would like to thank you all for your contributions to this debate and for your positive remarks. I would also like to congratulate my colleagues, Mrs Kalniete and Mr Correia De Campos, for their good work.

We now have on the table three reports which are the result of a couple of months of hard work. Despite the difficulties we have encountered, I am pleased with the results we have achieved. We have identified the right challenges and a set of viable solutions. They are also a clear expression of the European Parliament’s commitment to deepen and strengthen the Single Market.

I strongly believe that the three reports will be a useful complement to the broad public consultation organised by the Commission, which generated almost 750 responses. I welcome the interest that enterprises, individuals, NGOs and public authorities have shown in the Single Market Act, since it is crucial that we have a broad consensus on measures to tailor the Single Market according to the expectations of our citizens and enterprises.

I am pleased to see that the Commission is really active and that some of the initiatives are already under way. I have no doubt that the Commission will take due account of the views of the European Parliament, because in the end, the most important question is: can we make a significant difference with our actions and our efforts? My answer is, yes we can, but to do so we need courage and not shyness. We need to take action immediately and not after some years. We need to all act together in our efforts and not separately with some isolated actions. It is time to act.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). – Mr President, earlier in this debate, my colleague, Mr de Jong, said I was out of order in the comments I made in my question to a colleague. I do not think it is out of order to request a question on the balance of influence of a Member of this House on that institution.

Can I respectfully ask that I have some silence so I can actually make a speech?

It is not fair that a person can be criticised for asking a question in this Parliament. The question was not answered and should be answered. Instead, my colleague answered the question about jobs in the West Midlands. Would he then be reminded how the EU subsidised jobs out of the Ryton Plant in Coventry?

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

Vote: 6 April 2011.

The vote on the Commission statement on public procurement will take place at the next part-session.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) This proposal simplifies legislation by gathering together several directives. In fact, it clarifies laws and makes them easier for businesses and consumers to understand and adopt. I believe this will be a way to give new impetus to the internal market and, I hope, to those regions with weaker economies due to their scale, remoteness and economic dependence on a small number of products, as is the case of the outermost regions. In general, measures are needed to address the fall in demand resulting from cross-border purchasing, and it is important to ensure that this legislation is beneficial for regions such as the Azores. More isolated areas have a greater interest in seeing many of their products shipped out. Their businesses need access to clear legislation and their consumers need to have access to a wider range of goods at more competitive prices. In situations where there is harmonised legislation in areas such as that of precontractual information, which this new proposal enshrines, one way of further raising levels of confidence in products from outermost regions – and thereby increasing their availability and consumption in the internal market – will be to enhance their image through quality certification, by introducing specific measures to that effect.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing.(RO) The economic and financial crisis which we are still enduring has shown us that, if we move away from the economy’s essential objective, which is to ensure citizens’ welfare, we risk pushing the whole of society towards collapse. This also applies to the Single Market. We must not forget that its role is to allow every European citizen to enjoy equivalent economic and social rights ensuring their welfare, across the whole European Union. The Single Market must be deepened and geared again towards citizens and their interests. I believe that during this crisis period, it is important for us to gain the maximum possible benefit from something that Europe has which is more precious, namely, human capital. Worker mobility within the EU is the key to economic recovery and the Single Market’s development. We must encourage this mobility, and the first step it is worth taking is to remove any barriers preventing the movement of labour inside the EU. The restrictions imposed on workers from the new Member States are hindering the healthy development of the Single Market and must be lifted immediately.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) For the revival of the Single Market, our European policies must operate in a business friendly environment which aims at encouraging innovation and growth and a strategic repositioning of the European economy. Europe needs strong political leadership to establish and implement economic priorities of this magnitude. The new European strategy, inspired by the guidelines of the Monti report, has the merit of indicating concrete measures for getting out of this period of economic crisis by restoring productivity and employment levels. Of the 50 proposals presented by the Commission, I would like especially to highlight the steps taken to ensure increased competitiveness of SMEs, easier access to credit and to internationalisation, so that they can seize the new investment opportunities offered by the global market. I should take this opportunity to remind you once again that SMEs are the most authentic representatives of the European economic fabric and provide numerous examples of excellence that should be encouraged and supported. The Digital Agenda, combating counterfeiting, strengthening e-commerce and streamlining the contract procurement system are other widely supported priorities to ensure the concrete realisation of economic benefits which favour monetary stability and cohesion.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing.(PL) The expression ‘Single Market Act’ has been on everyone’s lips since Professor Mario Monti wrote his report. I eagerly await the 12 measures which the European Commission will identify as being crucial for the future of the Single Market. At the same time, I can imagine what they will include. So today, I would like to refer not so much to specific ideas, such as the EU patent, copyright or public contracts, but to concentrate on the principles by which, in my opinion, we should be guided.

I think future regulation of the Single Market should, on the one hand, reflect the philosophy of the Single Market which has been developed over the years but, on the other, it must be adapted to 21st century reality. As an example, I will refer to a principle which guided the European Community from its inception – defence of what is known as parallel trade, or trade in legal products outside official channels of distribution, for example, the sale in Germany of Grundig televisions which have been purchased legally in France. Today, parallel trade very often takes place on the Internet on a variety of sites. This right should be defended by supporting development of the Single Market on the Internet and development of e-commerce in general, and by ensuring greater access to cultural goods in legal Internet shops. We have much to do in this area, both in terms of making it easier for enterprises to operate in the virtual world and also in terms of increasing consumer confidence in Internet transactions.

 
  
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  Kinga Göncz (S&D), in writing.(HU) The Single Market is the main driving force behind the development of the European Union, and besides improving competitiveness, it also creates a framework for social inclusion and job creation. Proposals for deepening the Single Market, whether they are about removing the administrative barriers faced by small enterprises or stimulating e-commerce, must be for the benefit of the citizens. The realisation of the strategy must be without prejudice to social rights and must not erode welfare achievements. There are still too many barriers to employees’, buyers’ and consumers’ rights being enforced without internal borders. The implementation of the Free Movement Directive is also incomplete, despite the fact that the employment of as many people as possible and the best possible management of the European workforce are particularly important from the perspective of recovering from the crisis. The smooth operation of the internal market is assisted by the common European action against corruption and organised crime, and by the implementation of the Stockholm Programme aimed at creating an area of freedom, security and justice. We must take steps to ensure the recognition of professional qualifications within the EU, the transferability of pension rights, and access to basic banking services. We also have further tasks ahead of us in ensuring the free movement of services and respect for the rights of posted workers.

 
  
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  Liem Hoang Ngoc (S&D), in writing.(FR) Given the importance of this issue and the strict time constraints to which Parliament has had to work, we can all be pleased with what we have accomplished. In general, I agree with the priorities identified by the various reports, particularly the recognition of professional qualifications, the portability of pension rights, the rationalisation of procurement procedures, initiatives for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and access for all to certain basic banking services

Certainly, in my opinion, other measures deserved to be highlighted, such as the issue of collective resources, but I am well aware that it was difficult to decide between these 50 proposals. I am also pleased that we were able to reach a compromise on the social clause, which states that any legislation on the Single Market should be subject to a social impact assessment and, if justified by the findings, should contain a reference to political and social rights.

Finally, another reason for us to be satisfied is the fact that Parliament calls for guaranteed access, quality and affordability of services of general economic interest (SGEIs) and social services of general interest (SSGIs), and invites the Commission to take sectoral legislative initiatives in this area.

 
  
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  Jan Kozłowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) I would first like to thank the rapporteurs for the amount of work they have put in to preparing the reports on the Single Market, and also to congratulate them on the end result. I am pleased that on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Single Market, we have before us a resolution which will help Europeans make full use of the Single Market’s potential. I am certain that its entry into force will allow the competitiveness of European markets to be strengthened and will bring us closer to achieving the goals set by the Europe 2020 strategy. I consider the TEN-T networks to be an important factor in achieving an efficiently functioning Single Market. I am pleased, therefore, that in the reports, attention has been drawn to their particular significance. The TEN-T networks are one of the mainstays of an efficiently functioning market economy, creating the conditions for fair competition on the scale of the entire European Union. In the context of decisions awaiting us on the future form of the TEN-T networks, I would like to draw attention to the need for better connection of the ‘old 15’ with the new Member States, and to the fact that greater internal transportation cohesion of the enlarged European Union is an important factor for the EU’s competitiveness.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing.(HU) The Single Market is crucial for the future growth of the EU economy. Special attention must be paid to small and medium-sized enterprises, as it is these that hold the greatest potential for growth and job creation. The Single Market must offer advantages to small enterprises, because it is they who provide the majority of jobs but which, at the same time, have greater difficulty in making use of the opportunities presented by the Single Market. The financing of development and innovation represents a problem for them. Similarly, we must pay attention to local enterprises in disadvantaged, sparsely populated areas and in urban districts facing difficulties. Competition policy is a fundamental means of enabling the EU to have a dynamic, effective and innovative internal market, and to be competitive at the global level, too. The EU must take important measures to ensure the improvement of SMEs’ access to information in order for them to be aware of the opportunities offered by the Single Market and the financial measures provided by the EU. I, too, believe that the incorporation of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy and elements of the Small Business Act into all EU policies concerning the Single Market is important. This is crucial for overcoming existing barriers at the national and EU level.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. – In my opinion, a Single Market for Europeans should also mean a Single Market of quality. Unfortunately, this report does not make any kind of reference to this issue. In the European Union, products are sometimes offered under the same brand names, but with a different product formulation, in different countries. Products reportedly have the same brand name but are available in different concentrations or strengths. Situations have been reported where products of four different quality categories were sold under the same brand, depending on the destination country. As a result, the – apparently – same product is of different quality depending on the country of purchase. As a brand name is associated with perceived quality, this practice could result in misleading the public. Businesses must avoid misleading consumers about the advantages related to the brand of goods. If producers want to reduce the quality of the goods they offer, they should use a different brand name. Our citizens believe that the quality of brand goods should be identical on every market, based on the principle that one brand equals one level of quality. As my constituents are preoccupied by this issue, I would like to see it raised in our discussions in this House.

 
  
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  Marianne Thyssen (PPE), in writing. (NL) I am pleased that the report by former Commissioner Monti, which has been generally praised, in which he argues for further development and completion of the internal market as ‘a prerequisite for a highly competitive social market economy’ has met with a ready response from the European Parliament. After all, it is undeniable that the financial and economic crises have dealt Europe a heavy blow. Further development of the internal market, which is the largest market in the world, will be one of our most important assets in this respect.

We need to take targeted action for our SMEs, which make up the economic hub of Europe: sufficient access to capital markets, facilitating online trading and a first step towards a common consolidated corporate tax base. Our citizens stand to benefit from this as well: for example, from opportunities to study abroad, more stringent toy safety, cheaper roaming rates. As European policy makers, we cannot emphasise this enough. The challenges are considerable, which is why we need to do our best to create a fully fledged framework for an internal market for online services. With these three reports, the European Parliament is sending out a clear signal that we are serious about reforming the internal market. Let us now be consistent in getting down to this work.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD), in writing.(EL) If Europe is to overcome today’s difficult conditions and compete with rapidly emerging economies, it needs to invest in sectors which will give it a competitive advantage. The common market is Europe’s biggest competitive advantage and it should be exploited accordingly. Moreover, the recession is taking the EU Member States into deeper economic unification and we must take advantage of this to consolidate the European economy so that it is more competitive at both domestic and international level. Consequently, we must aim in our official documents to foster a more ambitious deepening of the common European market, especially in services. Also, the role of undertakings in creating a functioning Single Market should be acknowledged.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 

7. Request for the waiver of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes
Video of the speeches
 

***

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, before the vote, I should like to take a few moments to remind the House, the Council and the European Commission that two years ago, there was an earthquake in L’Aquila in which 309 people died and over 1 650 people were injured. Now I have raised the matter, I will send all MEPs today a video that was filmed in L’Aquila on 13 January. I urge all colleagues to look at it because the citizens of L’Aquila are waiting for a strong response from Europe.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Mrs Alfano. I, too, during this morning’s debate, mentioned this terrible anniversary. You were quite right to remind this packed House of it.

 
  
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  David-Maria Sassoli (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, last night, there was another tragedy in the Mediterranean. Immigrants from north Africa died trying to reach Italy and Europe. There are 130 missing and 20 bodies have already been found.

When it comes to immigration, we must never forget that we are talking about men, women and children, not just numbers. There must be no more reticence; the Council and governments must act. Civil and democratic Europe must show its sorrow and, for this reason, Mr President, I ask you to invite the House to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of immigration.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. Thank you, Mr Sassoli. – Of course, I will grant your request. Before asking the House to observe a minute’s silence, to reflect on the memory of these victims, I would like to give the floor to Mr Tavares who has asked to speak on the same subject.

 
  
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  Rui Tavares (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, we have received information that a boat from Libya carrying refugees has capsized in the Mediterranean. We know that there are dead bodies and 150 people are missing.

Almost a year ago, this Parliament approved a codecision instrument providing for an emergency mechanism in order to resettle refugees who were under armed attack or in crisis situations, such as is the case with the civil war in Libya. That instrument has now been sitting on the Council’s table for a year. Last month, we addressed an oral question to the Council saying that this concerned people’s lives and was important. And now, sadly, that goes without saying.

 
  
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  President. – Following Mr Sassoli’s request, which I believe will be shared by everyone, we will now observe a minute’s silence in memory of those who died last night.

(The House rose and observed a minute’s silence)

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Mr President, 20 seconds just to make a voice of dissent heard in this chorus of political correctness. You alone are responsible for these deaths on account of the false hopes you are creating across Europe and the world that we are ready to welcome all of those people. They are entirely your responsibility.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I just wanted to ask how many more minutes’ silence we will have to observe before we get a common European policy on immigration.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. – This is not the time to open a debate on an issue we discussed just yesterday.

 

8. Voting time
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item on the agenda is the vote.

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

 

8.1. Draft amending budget No 1/2011 - Section III - Commission (A7-0115/2011, Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska) (vote)

8.2. Mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund - Floods in 2010 in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania (A7-0114/2011, Reimer Böge) (vote)

8.3. EC-Comoros fisheries agreement (A7-0056/2011, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos) (vote)

8.4. Dispute settlement mechanism under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the EC and Jordan (A7-0067/2011, Emilio Menéndez del Valle) (vote)

8.5. EU-Morocco agreement establishing a dispute settlement mechanism (A7-0066/2011, George Sabin Cutaş) (vote)

8.6. Dispute settlement mechanism under the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association between the EC and Egypt (A7-0068/2011, Gianluca Susta) (vote)

8.7. Participation of Ukraine in Union programmes (A7-0063/2011, Ryszard Antoni Legutko) (vote)

8.8. Imports from Greenland of fishery products (A7-0057/2011, Carmen Fraga Estévez) (vote)

8.9. Granting and withdrawing international protection (A7-0085/2011, Sylvie Guillaume) (vote)

8.10. European statistics on tourism (A7-0329/2010, Brian Simpson) (vote)

8.11. Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea (A7-0017/2011, João Ferreira) (vote)

8.12. Fisheries - transitional technical measures (A7-0024/2011, Estelle Grelier) (vote)

8.13. Estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2012 - Section I - Parliament (A7-0087/2011, José Manuel Fernandes) (vote)
  

Before the vote

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes, rapporteur.(PT) Mr President, I would like to make a simple technical correction that does not alter this report in any way. There is a transcription error in Article 400 on own revenue; this article concerns proceeds from taxation on the salaries, wages and allowances of Members of the institutions, officials, other servants and recipients of pensions. The figure given is 48 103 216, whereas the correct figure is 63 103 216. This is merely a technical amendment or correction that does not alter the report in any way or have any other implication.

 

8.14. Authorisation and refusal of authorisation of certain health claims made on foods and referring to children's development and health (B7-0227/2011) (vote)
  

Before the vote

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D). – Mr President, MEPs have an important role to play in scrutinising decisions on health claims. I have received many letters and emails of concern from parents, major health and consumer organisations, midwives, nurses and doctors’ organisations, as well as Unicef and the WHO. Until there is real consensus in the scientific community about the validity of this claim, we must not allow it. The evidence we currently have is not conclusive and no evidence exists to support the use of such a claim on follow-on formulas.

If, in the future, synthesised DHA is proven to be truly beneficial to babies, we should make it an essential ingredient in all formulas, and not allow it to be used as a marketing ploy by a specific brand. I would urge you to support this resolution.

 
  
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  Esther de Lange (PPE). – Mr President, I definitely do not want to reopen the debate, but we really should think twice about giving the floor to people who can put their personal opinion forward under the disguise of scientific evidence. Let us just vote. We have made up our minds.

(Applause)

 

8.15. European international investment policy (A7-0070/2011, Kader Arif) (vote)

8.16. Protection of Communities’ financial interests – fight against fraud (A7-0050/2011, Cătălin Sorin Ivan) (vote)

8.17. Political parties at European level and rules regarding their funding (A7-0062/2011, Marietta Giannakou) (vote)

8.18. Governance and partnership in the Single Market (A7-0083/2011, Sandra Kalniete) (vote)

8.19. Single market for Europeans (A7-0072/2011, António Fernando Correia De Campos) (vote)
  

– Before the vote on Amendment 2

 
  
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  Jürgen Creutzmann (ALDE). – Mr President, on behalf of the ALDE Group, I wish to propose an oral amendment to Amendment 2. It takes the following words out of Amendment 2: ‘by providing public authorities with a ‘tool-kit’ to evaluate the quality of such services’.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was not accepted)

 

8.20. Single market for enterprises and growth (A7-0071/2011, Cristian Silviu Buşoi) (vote)
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  President. – That concludes the vote.

 

9. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Recommendation: Luis Manuel Capoulos Santos (A7-0056/2011)

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, the aim of the proposal is to establish a new protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros.

The proposed resolution will determine the fishing opportunities for European Union fishing vessels, depending on the surplus fish stocks available, and the financial contribution required in return for the access rights and the support for the fishery sector.

In principle, I welcome this agreement. Controlled fishing is always better than uncontrolled fishing. However, we must make proper use of this agreement and constantly assess its performance. For me, the simple, naïve question is that even if there are currently surplus fish stocks, we must ensure that this situation remains unchanged in the years to come.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, reading our voting list today, I have the feeling that I am reading a long and expensive bill of fare. Each of these items comes down to a reallocation of resources from European taxpayers either to some fishing fund, or the solidarity fund, or rescuing flood-stricken areas, or whatever it is.

I would like to focus on one particular abuse of this process, which is the use of Article 122(2) to mobilise money for bail-outs of stricken economies, specifically that of Portugal. This fund was designed for natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. It has been reinterpreted to mean an economy that has run out of money. It is patently illegal. Not only is it not provided for in the Treaties; it is expressly forbidden under the ‘no bail-out clause’. This Chamber is in plain violation of its own regulations. In bailing out these countries, we are hurting them – because you do not help an indebted friend by pressing more loans on them – and, of course, we are hurting our own taxpayers as well as violating the law. It is absurd that Ireland and Greece will be joining the bail-out of Portugal. You cannot carry on forever getting deeper and deeper in debt. The day of reckoning is coming.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Mr President, in yesterday’s votes, we discussed the issue of migration. One of the issues that should have been discussed concerning migration is how do we make it less attractive for people to leave their own country, or more attractive to stay in their own country, and why do they seek to leave their country, often breaking family and other local emotional ties?

One of the things we have to look at is the impact of our policies in the EU. When we sign these fishing agreements – often with governments of countries and they benefit from this – do these agreements really benefit local fishermen?

Surely we should be re-examining all these fisheries agreements, and instead of signing fisheries agreements, we should perhaps be increasing the fishing capacity of local fishermen to spread wealth and create more jobs locally so that people want to stay in their own countries rather than seek to leave.

If we do not think carefully about the implications of some of these agreements, we will see more demand for migration and will end up debating migration rather than the issues we are debating here.

 
  
  

Report: Carmen Fraga Estévez (A7-0057/2011)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE). – (ES) Mr President, I voted in favour of this agreement because Greenland’s exports of fishery products represent 82% of their exports. Eighty-seven per cent of those are sent to the European Union, mainly to Denmark, that is, 97%.

There is disagreement with the Commission over the legal basis, but I share the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs, which unanimously adopted the application of Article 43(2), and Article 204 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Sole Article of Protocol (No 34) on Special Arrangements with Greenland.

The position is also supported by the European Parliament’s Legal Service. Therefore, in accordance with the legislative process, it should be understood that this is the first reading in Parliament.

Finally, I appreciate the Commissioner’s position in accepting the legal basis and showing her willingness to facilitate an agreement with the Council and not to further delay such an important agreement.

 
  
  

Report: Sylvie Guillaume (A7-0085/2011)

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D). – Mr President, my group voted in favour of this report. I take note that the discussion in Parliament on the issue of asylum seekers did not have the inflammatory tone frequently used in several EU Member States.

This is probably due to the fact that, contrary to widespread perceptions, the overall number of people claiming asylum in the west has dropped by more than 40% over the past decade, according to data just released by the United Nations.

A total of 358 000 asylum applications were made in industrialised countries in 2010, compared with 620 000 applications filed in 2001. The drop is mainly due to push factors in the areas of origin. This means that the picture is much more encouraging than is usually thought.

 
  
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  Silvia Costa (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, naturally, I wish to offer my congratulations to the rapporteur on this report which really signals a significant step forward in EU policies, in its invitation to the Commission to submit a proposal for a directive on the procedures to be adopted by Member States to recognise, and possibly revoke, international protection. I believe that the events of recent days between the African and European coasts indicate that we need the ‘asylum package’ – as it is to be called – to become a binding rule.

In particular, I think of the positive amendments that were approved; for example, the whole question of greater safeguards with regard to minors, since I believe that children must not be detained under any circumstance (which is exactly what has been happening in Lampedusa, where children have been treated in exactly the same way as adults, together with adults, often in totally unacceptable conditions). It would have been better to have this directive in place before these dramatic events took place in Europe and Africa.

Another very important issue is that of vulnerable people and their issues, especially women, and problems relating to family matters and reunions. Congratulations also to the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, let me say that perhaps, before making judgments about how children are treated in Lampedusa, Mr Costa should go there himself. I have been to Lampedusa and have seen that all the children were treated according to Italian and, above all, international rules.

Now back to the subject which, as everyone has said, is very current. I believe that all Member States should be obliged fully to respect the principle of non-refusal and the right to asylum. Responsibility must, therefore, be shared, using the resources of the European Fund for Refugees and asking the European Office for strong support to implement the right of asylum, including provision for support in terms of border staff training and improving European asylum mechanisms.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Mr President, the report that we have adopted today states that the Commission’s proposal is pragmatic. I find it very difficult to see what is pragmatic about taking away the opportunity for people in the 27 Member States to decide for themselves the population makeup of their own countries.

Asylum policy and policy relating to foreigners are so closely linked to a country’s existence that it is appalling that the EU is starting to interfere in these matters. It is also precisely why Denmark has retained its opt-out on justice and home affairs so that in the Danish Parliament, we have the chance to decide for ourselves on these matters and so that these are not issues which the European Parliament and the other EU institutions are to concern themselves with.

It is therefore shocking to see how the European Court of Justice is now trying to undermine the Danish justice and home affairs opt-out, and even more shocking is the fact that this Parliament can adopt a report – never mind that it is in contravention of my vote and that of the Danish People’s Party – without even dealing with this matter – the matter that entails removing people’s right to determine their own policy relating to foreigners and, in particular, in cheating and deceiving with regard to the promises that were originally given to a country like Denmark.

 
  
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  Gerard Batten (EFD). – Mr President, I and my UKIP colleagues abstained on the amendments to the Guillaume report on granting and withdrawing international protection, but one should not take this as indifference.

This report is a development of the common immigration and asylum policy under the Lisbon Treaty. I do not want the Lisbon Treaty, or a common immigration and asylum policy. The peoples of Europe do not want a common immigration and asylum policy, and that is why they were denied a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

I abstained on the amendments because it would have involved endorsing existing EU law and a nit-picking exercise to decide which bits were worse than others. I leave it to the quisling MEPs of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democratic and Green parties to haggle about the terms of surrender of their country. I and my UKIP colleagues voted ‘no’ to this report and ‘no’ to a common immigration and asylum policy.

 
  
  

Report: Brian Simpson (A7-0329/2010)

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I worked as shadow rapporteur on this dossier and so could not but vote in favour, together with my group. I did so believing it to be a very useful tool for the development of a sector that will be a driving force for the European economy.

Industry is moving away from Europe; agriculture suffers from serious deficiencies; meanwhile, tourism is one area that can certainly offer prospects for employment, economic development and intelligent, inclusive and compatible growth. To this end, the instrument we have approved today, which allows for more modern data gathering, processing, treatment and transmission than the previous situation, will surely give impetus to this activity. This is why the ALDE Group and I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, since December 2009, tourism has been recognised in the Treaty and so at last has a legal basis for development and support at European level. Moreover, tourism represents a strong growth engine for Europe. We have already noted that the tourism industry generates more than 5% of GDP in the European Union, involving nearly two million small and medium-sized enterprises and contributes an employment rate that exceeds 12%.

We need more studies and more comparable statistics, because these are useful for monitoring activities, making comparisons between Member States, showing how EU funds are used, helping develop best practice, and also for assessing and developing tourism programmes for those categories of people on low budgets.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, with 40% of all arrivals, the European Union continues to be the world’s number one tourist destination. It is therefore an economic force for employment that also promotes the integration of rural areas.

However, tourism demand has changed in recent years. That is why I supported the objective of creating a common framework for the systematic production of harmonised European statistics on supply and demand in Member States, and of adapting, as is necessary, the legal framework to reflect recent trends, such as same-day visits. The systematic collection of information is a necessary tool for defining effective policies and facilitating decision making in the private sector.

I also supported the introduction of satellite accounts, because they would be better able to show the effects of tourism on the economy and on jobs, and would have enabled us to more accurately define policies for the future.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Mr President, the tourism industry has been very important for Europe and will be more important in the future, especially if we are to create jobs, particularly in remote and rural areas. However, it must be based on planning, especially planning based on the statistics we have.

So if we want to have proper planning and develop tourism, it has to be based on statistics that show trends regarding rented accommodation, one-day tourists, etc. Based on that we can develop tourism, particularly to end seasonality, to encourage an ageing population to holiday more and, indeed, also to encourage young people to do so. Any football team now has at least one statistician and bases its plans on that, and that applies also to the tourist industry.

(GA) I am pleased to vote for this report.

 
  
  

Report: Estelle Grelier (A7-0024/2011)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, Regulation (EC) No 1288/2009 extends the transitional technical measures so that they can be applied until the adoption of permanent measures.

It is preferable for everyone if these measures are adopted definitively and as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, in view of the forthcoming reform of the common fisheries policy, the measures need to be adopted after a new legislative framework is in place.

That new framework is planned for 2013, and it is therefore necessary to extend the validity of the transitional technical measures until 31 December 2012, bearing in mind that the current regulation will cease to be in force in 2011.

That is why I voted in favour of this initiative.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). – Mr President, I voted for the Grelier report but I voted against my group on four amendments – amendment 4, amendment 5CP, amendment 6 and amendment 3.

Amendment 4 is an amendment by my colleague, Pat the Cope Gallagher, to allow the use of tangle nets, which Irish fishermen use inshore. Otherwise, we risk forcing the fishermen further out to sea in the North Atlantic, which is not practical and is very unsafe. A 50 metre boat on the Atlantic is very different to a 50 metre boat in the Mediterranean.

I voted for amendment 5CP in relation to mesh sizes. Again, this causes a major problem for our own fishermen on the west coast who are working in mixed fisheries with megrim, monkfish and hake. This will not have adverse impacts on cod stocks, as there is very little low bycatch of cod at present.

I also voted for amendment 6 by Mr Struan Stevenson in relation to doing away with the scandalous business of the discarding of haddock.

Last, and by no means least, I supported amendment 3, which was proposed by my Portuguese colleague, Mrs Patrão Neves, which supports Portuguese fishermen. I have no problem with that.

 
  
  

Report: João Ferreira (A7-0017/011)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, I made a mistake in my previous speech: I spoke about the wrong subject because of a translation problem, so I will reverse my speeches and say now what I should have read out before.

I voted in favour of the financial measures because it was necessary to amend the regulation in order to adapt it to current demands and to the functioning of the Union.

I would also emphasise that the regulation envisages expanding the list of organisations eligible for financial aid and updating the list of advisory bodies. It also guarantees uniform conditions for implementing measures concerning control and enforcement, and for the expenditure incurred by Member States in implementing the control system and enforcement applicable to the common fisheries policy, and in the area of the collection, management and use of basic data.

The financial measures also include the economic aspects of fisheries and aquaculture and a reference to data collection relating to environmental measures.

That is why I voted in favour of the initiative.

 
  
  

Report: José Manuel Fernandes (A7-0087/2011)

 
  
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  Ville Itälä (PPE). (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of the report, but we have to set an example and be very meticulous, especially as far as budgetary discipline is concerned.

I would like to say why I voted against the group with regard to Amendment 8, which the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament had tabled. In it, the rapporteur mentions the use of unspent appropriations for construction projects. This has been a custom here for many years now, but financing construction projects in this way is not open or transparent. We have to state what construction projects we have right at the stage when the budget is being planned, and we should not engage in a transfer of appropriations in this way, which is contrary to budgetary discipline. That is why on this point, I voted against the group’s proposal on behalf of the S&D Group regarding Amendment 8.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Mr President, I voted against this budget report, but I would actually like to thank the many fellow Members – a few too many, unfortunately – who voted in favour, because it gave a wonderful picture of the shift in the perception of reality here in the European Parliament and here in the EU’s institutions in relation to the outside world where the people who we are actually creating regulations for are to be found.

Despite the fact that we have asked the Member States and other institutions to make cuts, we have doubled the expenditure in a number of areas for the European Parliament itself and for the EU institutions in general. This has happened, for example, by introducing the intention now to build a completely new museum for glorifying European history and the European institutions, etc.

I believe that an incredible number of people out there in the Member States, where they are experiencing cuts at national level, are wondering how their representatives in the European Parliament can so casually play fast and loose with money, even in the middle of a financial crisis.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, if you do not mind, I would like to mention something before I finish. In my previous point I said, ‘because of a translation problem’, not meaning the excellent translators here, but an error I made when reading the text. I am the one who made the translation error, and I wanted to make that clear because the translators always seem to get the blame.

 
  
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  President. – Indeed, the interpreters merit our appreciation for the excellent work they do both in the House and in the Committees.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, I would like to say a few words about this budget, revenue and expenditure. We must definitely ensure in this economic situation and, furthermore, here in the European Parliament, that expenditure is kept under control. For that reason, I voted differently from what had been recommended with regard to some aspects of the matter.

In my view, we should be prepared to cut down on travel costs, for example, but if we cut the number of flights, the airline tickets of Members of the European Parliament should be exchangeable. Sometimes, the problem is that these cheap airline tickets cannot be exchanged. I myself have to take several flights to get here; for example, to get to Strasbourg, you have to take three different flights. It is therefore important that airline tickets should be exchangeable. Occasionally, proposals to make savings such as these can end up costing more, simply because there is no flexibility with them.

We have to cut costs, however; that is absolutely clear. Some costs are to be seen as investments, and I think that this European House may be a good investment and one which, in the future, will produce added value, even in economic terms, for the European Union and its institutions.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). – Mr President, it is spend, spend, spend, isn’t it? We keep hearing about the 500 million citizens in this Chamber, but this Chamber separates itself from them as much as possible.

Amendment 15 insisted that the salaries and allowances of MEPs should not be updated in 2012 to set an example, but 391 of our colleagues voted against it because they obviously do not care about the average EU citizen, do they? The average EU wage is EUR 368 a week, but some of our colleagues – 60 to 70 of our colleagues – continually sign in on a Friday here in Strasbourg, when there is no business, to claim EUR 304.

What example is that giving? Another waste of money: how many billions is this House of History going to cost, to sell propaganda and tell how the European Union ‘saved the world’?

 
  
  

Report: Cătălin Sorin Ivan (A7-0050/2011)

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, the consolidation of democracy in the EU requires a constant effort towards building a fair and transparent environment both for the running and the funding of political parties at the European level. EU citizens should be more involved in political life at the EU level, and it is therefore necessary to create favourable motivational conditions for the operation of political parties. This is in order to avoid situations where, for example, less than 20% of registered voters participate in European Parliament elections, as happened in my own country.

I agree with the idea that these political parties should have a common and single legal statute, as well as their own legal personality based directly on the laws and treaties of the EU. As far as the funding system is concerned, transparency forms an inseparable part of the implementation of values, and the first priority must therefore be to have unambiguous funding conditions.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Article 325 obliges the Commission and Member States to protect the financial interests of the European Union and to combat fraud in areas where this responsibility is shared between the Union and the Member States. According to Article 325(5), the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, shall submit to the European Parliament and the Council an annual report on measures taken for the implementation of this Article.

I agree that we need to quantify in greater detail the recovery levels of funds unduly paid to the EU Member States by gathering specific data. Another important point, rightly highlighted by Mrs Ivan in her report, is the use of better investigative methods regarding fraud carried out by Member States. In this way, we can standardise counter measures throughout the European Union and determine whether similar types of fraud have been committed in other countries. This is why I have supported this report.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I voted against Amendment 1, which stresses the need for zero tolerance for error. I think it is extremely important to distinguish between fraud and error. Yes, there should be zero tolerance for fraud, and indeed criminal prosecution, but in many cases, the error is inadvertent. While we need to uncover all errors and ensure the recovery of such monies, I cannot agree with zero tolerance for one very simple reason. This is that I have worked with many community groups, voluntary groups, leader companies and partnership companies, and seen the level of sheer and utter frustration at the myriad of rules, the revision of the rules half-way or three-quarters of the way through the programme and the different interpretation of rules at local, at regional, at national and at European level – with any infringement considered an error. Therefore, while we do need to remain vigilant about fraud, we also need to simply, simplify and simplify again the rules.

 
  
  

Report: Marietta Giannakou (A7-0062/2011)

 
  
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  Ville Itälä (PPE). (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of this proposal, which is a very worthy one, as it concerns whether we should fund parties using taxpayers’ money. In a case such as this, there obviously need to be clear rules that are the same for everyone.

In my opinion, the parties must also have their own system of fund raising, even if it is on a small scale. In Amendment 2, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament suggested that this share of self­funding should be just 5%. I think that it should be at least 10%. That is a very small amount when we consider that this is a matter of taxpayers’ money, and we should be very meticulous in these matters.

 
  
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  Andrzej Grzyb (PPE).(PL) Mr President, the Giannakou report paves the way to fulfilment of the provisions of Article 10(4) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 244 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Parliament and the Council should work together to define the status of a party at European level and their foundations, and should establish rules for funding both parties and foundations. However, it is necessary to call attention to the provisions of paragraphs 10 and 11 of the report, which concern the future of transnational lists in elections to Parliament. It is, admittedly, only a proposal for the future, but at the present time, it does not have the approval of the citizens. This concerns, in particular, Member States which have had experience of national lists and have abolished them. Another important matter is the timing of these proposals – the crisis and the proposed savings are also a cause of reluctance to increasing the size of European institutions. From our point of view, I think a more important matter is the possibility of increasing the size of the European Parliament in connection with enlargement of the European Union by the accession of new Member States rather than the possibility of increasing its size on the basis of new lists.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Mr President, I, too, would like to see clear rules for the European parties, but I must essentially question what the point of the European parties actually is.

The report states that they will create a greater understanding among European citizens for the EU’s institutions and cooperation across borders. However, what we actually see is that, as the European parties grow larger, as more money is continually used both within the parties and in the funds and all manner of other institutions relating to these, in line with these things, the European people’s support for and understanding of the EU’s institutions falls.

The latest Eurobarometer survey showed support for the EU among the European people to be at an all-time low, so this is not working. I would therefore ask the fundamental question of whether there really is any point continuing to waste billions of euro on these European parties. I do not believe that there is, and therefore I voted against this report.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). – Mr President, I voted against this report. You can keep your 30 pieces of silver. I will not be joining any pan-European party. I will not be selling out my principles as some in this Chamber are willing to do.

It is not fair that the public, once again, have to use their resources to fund politicians. Politicians should be privately funded through donations, etc., and that should be heavily regulated. This Chamber found out only recently how politicians do need to be regulated, but the funding of political parties for a European ideal can never be right. I will never join a pan-European party. I will stand up for my principles and to hell with the lot of you.

 
  
  

Report: Sandra Kalniete (A7-0083/2011)

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have voted on three own-initiative reports on the Single Market Act, which is an important mechanism for growth in the European economy, and obviously for the creation of jobs, with concrete and direct results both for European citizens and for small and medium-sized enterprises.

There are many proposals made by the European Commission which tend towards the integration and liberalisation of European markets, resulting in measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, to have an effect on innovation and the protection of creativity, improving the efficiency and sustainability of both material and non-material networks and infrastructure.

I hope that we will confront some obstacles in this structural context of support to small and medium-sized enterprises, such as the diversity of national laws, including rules and tax systems that fragment the market resulting in higher compliance costs for businesses to shoulder.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Mr President, today, we have voted on the three Single Market Act reports and their key priorities; I hope the Commission and Council have taken note of these. We need to make sure that we deliver on this for all citizens in order to allow the European economy to grow, provide jobs and compete globally. We need to make sure that EU legislation is implemented across the board to reduce the barriers to trade, but also that we do not make EU legislation that increases the burden on our businesses.

 
  
  

Report: António Fernando Correia De Campos (A7-0072/2011)

 
  
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  Ville Itälä (PPE). (FI) Mr President, this was a very important report for taking the Single Market forward.

When we talk of consumer protection, however, Amendment 3 was important in that connection. It dealt with the fact that minimum harmonisation in the area of consumer legislation must be given priority over complete harmonisation. I voted in favour of this amendment and against the recommendations of my group, because I believe that levels of consumer protection in my country, for example, are extremely high. If we now quickly move to a position where we have fully harmonised consumer protection throughout the EU, I know that standards in my country will fall. That is why I think that we can approach this harmonised standard of consumer protection only by first establishing certain minimum standards, and then, on that basis, taking the path to a completely harmonised standard.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE). (SK) Mr President, the volume of the EU internal market in goods represents 17% of the global market in goods. The volume of the EU internal market in services represents 28% of the global trade in services. If this mass is set in motion in the right direction, it should achieve results in the form of economic growth based on the dynamic of our own resources. This will hold true, however, only on the assumption that the implementation of the proposed measures, which I supported, results in the elimination of bottlenecks in the movement of people, capital, goods and services between the individual countries of the Union, increasing the availability and reliability of loans and banking services, as well as Internet commerce.

It will hold true only if a more functional Single Market unlocks new potential for the implementation of products and activities originating from the EU, and on the markets of the EU. If that happens, a 4% contribution to economic growth over the coming decades might not be unrealistic.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Mr President, I share the view that the Single Market is essentially a good idea and that better governance of the Single Market is sensible and in the interest of consumers. However, I am surprised that the six amendments I tabled for this report were voted against by such an overwhelming majority. What does it boil down to in essence? Well, it came down to the fact that we should apply minimum harmonisation instead of total harmonisation and thereby ensure that the countries that already have good regulations for consumers are not forced to lower their level of consumer protection. It was also about the totally unique labour market model that we know from the Nordic countries, where it is not legislators but the social partners who decide on wage conditions and conditions for the labour market, the fact that it is they who set the rules and that we should retain and protect the Nordic labour model rather than undermine it; two completely harmless proposals that I am convinced would receive a significant majority in a vote amongst European citizens are voted down in this House. This reveals the shift in the perception of reality that is characteristic of the Members here in the European Parliament.

 
  
  

Report: Cristian Silviu Buşoi (A7-0071/2011)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the Single Market is a valuable tool for economic recovery in the European Union, particularly for the creation of new jobs.

The reports regarding the Act for the Single Market are, generally speaking, contributions made by the European Parliament in the consultation process begun by the Commission with its announcement ‘Towards a Single Market Act. Fifty Proposals for improving our work, enterprises and dealings together for a highly competitive social market economy’.

I think we should have put more emphasis on the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, and the stimulation of innovation and competitiveness by the lifting of bureaucratic, administrative and regulatory burdens.

However, I agree with the general structure of the report and, in particular, with the measures mentioned which aim to strengthen e-commerce and the simplification of the procurement system. For this reason, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of this resolution because I believe it represents a further step forward towards the creation of a well-functioning, integrated single European market. Today, Europe is one of the major economies of the world but its potential is still huge, especially with regard to economic and employment growth.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engine and the main players in the current economic recovery. Europe needs to offer them greater protection, facilitating their access to credit, reducing bureaucracy and promoting the development of electronic commerce. Only in this way will we be able to create a social economy based on growth, competitiveness and sustainability.

Giving the EU an efficient and innovative Single Market in today’s globalised world means making it the undisputed protagonist of the global economic scene.

 
  
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  Pascal Canfin (Verts/ALE).(FR) Mr President, I wanted to clarify why we voted in favour of this Single Market Act. I think it is a step forward. Parliament managed to find the right compromises that do not flush the text of its content but, instead, put real pressure on those who, in the Commission, want the Single Market to continue to adopt a purely free market approach, without including social issues, tax issues or environmental issues.

I also merely wanted to clarify that paragraph 54, which deals with public services, services of general interest, is problematic, and we therefore voted against part of this paragraph, which continues to call, ideologically but in veiled terms, for further liberalisation. We argue instead in favour of European public services and securing the European framework, leaving each Member State the option to continue organising public services as they wish, especially at territorial level.

 
  
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  Andrzej Grzyb (PPE).(PL) Mr President, a Single Market without exclusions, either of citizens or of businesses – that, in a word, is how I could describe the main thrust of today’s debate on the now endorsed package of reports on the Single Market Act. It is with great interest, and also with pleasure, that I would like to emphasise the proposals which are intended to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to operate. It is very important for SMEs to have access to public procurement procedures. The announcement that these procedures are to be simplified, and, in particular, that the financial barriers in public procurement which exclude SMPs are to be reduced, and also that specific features of the local market are to be taken into account in procurement, is deserving of particular support.

Similarly, it should be recognised that SMEs expect help in gaining access to the market, they expect administrative measures which will make it easier for them to operate and they also expect a solution in the area of patents. It is with great interest that I, personally, await the presentation announced by Mr Barnier of the 12 levers for stimulating the Single Market. Greatly encouraging is the announcement that the period in which it will be possible to evaluate innovative solutions in particular which are related to these levers will also be relatively short.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska (A7-0115/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing.(PT) I am in favour of this report, since I agree with the amount recommended for repairing the damage caused by flooding in the countries of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania, totalling EUR 182 388 893.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this report which approves without amendment the Council's position on Draft amending budget 1/2011. This Draft amending budget aims at mobilising the EU Solidarity Fund for an amount of EUR 182.4 million in commitment and payment appropriations in order to mitigate the effects of flooding resulting from heavy rainfalls in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania. I believe that in general, the EU Solidarity Fund should be mobilised as swiftly as possible following a natural catastrophe, and that applications for financial assistance should be dealt with in an effective and fast-acting manner, so that it is possible to provide urgent financial assistance to countries that have suffered natural disasters.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) I supported the report because the Member States which were affected by the flooding caused by torrential rain expect the sum of EUR 182.4 million to be included. These are Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania. Like the rapporteur, I believe that it should be possible to mobilise the contributions from the Solidarity Fund much more quickly and efficiently than happens at present.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I agree with the adjusted amount for mobilisation from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), given that in several countries, namely Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, the direct damage caused by natural disasters exceeds the normal threshold of 0.6% of Gross National Income required for mobilising the EUSF. I also consider it important that the EUSF should be mobilised as swiftly as possible following a natural disaster, and that all related organisational, legislative and executive procedures should be dealt with quickly and efficiently. I therefore agree with the Council’s common position on the Draft amending budget of the European Union for the financial year 2011.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission proposes to amend the Commission budget for 2011 so as to cater for the need to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund to the sum of EUR 182.4 million in commitment and payment appropriations in order to mitigate the effects of flooding resulting from heavy rainfall in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania. This proposal should be approved by Parliament on the terms proposed by the rapporteur.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The report under discussion deals with the Council’s position on Draft amending budget No 1/2011 of the European Union for the current year. The Commission is empowered to present draft amending budgets whenever there are ‘unavoidable, exceptional or unforeseen circumstances’. Certain EU Member States have suffered natural disasters that have destroyed various infrastructures, the damage amounting to some EUR 5.5 billion and exceeding the threshold of 0.6% of Gross National Income in some cases. This situation constitutes justification and grounds for mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), the objective of which is solely to repair infrastructure. Since existing budget appropriations are insufficient to cover the applications, I agree with this amending budget – the first proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF presented by the Commission – which proposes a reinforcement of EUR 182 388 893 in commitment and payment appropriations.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This amending budget aims to respond to the request for mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to repair the damage caused by disasters that affected five Member States as well as Croatia in May and June 2010. These were ‘unavoidable, exceptional or unforeseen circumstances’, as defined in the Financial Regulation, and therefore, in our view, this procedure is both justified and necessary.

The amount mobilised in support of these countries – EUR 182.4 million – represents only about 3% of the total damage, which is estimated at about EUR 5 512.7 million. The Member States of the EU have been hard hit by a considerable number of disasters in recent years. In the first six years of the EUSF, the Commission received 62 requests for financial support from 21 different countries. About a third of these qualified as ‘major natural disasters’, as do four of the cases that we are considering here today. The EUSF is an important instrument for helping to remedy the almost always considerable and often long-lasting impact of disasters on people, the environment and the economy. However, there must also be a corresponding commitment to disaster prevention, putting into practice the recommendations recently approved by Parliament to that effect.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is a report on the Draft amending budget that aims to respond to the request for mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to repair the damage caused by disasters that affected five Member States, as well as Croatia, in May and June 2010.

These were ‘unavoidable, exceptional or unforeseen circumstances’, as defined in the Financial Regulation, and therefore, in our view, this procedure is both justified and necessary. The amount mobilised in support of these countries – EUR 182.4 million – represents only about 3% of the total damage, which is estimated at about EUR 5 512.7 million.

The Member States of the EU have been hard hit by a considerable number of disasters in recent years. In the first six years of the EUSF, the Commission received 62 requests for financial support from 21 different countries. About a third of these qualified as ‘major natural disasters’, as do four of the cases that we are considering here today.

The EUSF is an important instrument for helping to remedy the almost always considerable and often long-lasting impact of disasters on people, the environment and the economy. A commitment to prevention is also important.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with the report and the rapporteur’s proposal to accept without amendment the Council’s position on Draft amending budget 1/2011, because financial assistance to these countries, i.e. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Romania, has to be delivered and cannot be delayed further.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this Commission proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF which is based on point 26 of the IIA of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management that allows for such mobilisation within an annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. The conditions of eligibility to the Fund are detailed in Council Regulation No 2012/2002 establishing the EUSF. It should be recalled that the objective of the Fund is to repair infrastructure and act as a refinancing tool, and not to compensate private damages. This proposal for mobilisation of the EUSF is the first to be presented by the Commission for the year 2011.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing.(PT) This Draft amending budget makes sense, considering the purpose of the funds mobilised through the Solidarity Fund to address the effects of the landslides and severe flooding resulting from heavy rainfall in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania. After verifying that the requests meet the eligibility criteria of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, the Commission proposed the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund for the sum of EUR 182.4 million in order to deal with the events in those countries. However, I would like to highlight the delay in the mobilisation of this type of support. The procedure needs to be made less bureaucratic and more streamlined in order to respond to future disaster situations in a timely manner.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Taking into account the fact that Draft amending budget No 1/2011 to the general budget 2011 aims at mobilising the EU Solidarity Fund for an amount of EUR 182.4 million in commitment and payment appropriations in order to mitigate the effects of flooding resulting from heavy rainfall in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania, I voted ‘for’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Natural disasters are no longer a rarity in Europe. The most recent events, such as the floods in 2010 in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Hungary, show that the Solidarity Fund is essential. This fund is not used to compensate private individuals for damage to property, but primarily to rebuild infrastructure. Therefore, it can be regarded as an appropriate refinancing instrument. In particular, in countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, there have been large-scale disasters and the direct damages exceed the usual threshold of 0.6% of Gross National Income. For this reason, I have voted in favour of this proposal.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing.(PT) This report refers to Draft amending budget No 1/2011 to the general budget for 2011, the aim of which is to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund to the sum of EUR 182.4 million in commitment and payment appropriations in order to mitigate the effects of flooding resulting from heavy rainfall in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania. The only purpose of Draft amending budget No 1/2011 is to formally incorporate this budgetary amendment into the budget for 2011. The reasons given fully justify this amending budget, and I therefore voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this Draft amending budget, the aim of which is to respond to the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to the sum of EUR 182.4 million in commitment and payment appropriations in order to mitigate the effects of flooding resulting from heavy rainfall in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – We have abstained. The report concerns a transfer in payments for mobilising the EU Solidarity Fund for floods in 2011 in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania. We agree with the urgent need to mobilise the funds, but not with the proposed financing method (via a ‘negative reserve’).

 
  
  

Report: Reimer Böge (A7-0114/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this report, which aims to provide EU aid from the European Union Solidarity Fund for Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania, following the flooding in May and June 2010 that affected these areas and their populations. The EU must continue to be an organisation that shows solidarity.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this report on allocating financial assistance from the European Union Solidarity Fund to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania. The interinstitutional agreement allows a mobilisation within an annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. I believe that in general, the EU Solidarity Fund should be mobilised as swiftly as possible following a natural catastrophe, and that applications for financial assistance should be dealt with in an effective and fast-acting manner, so that it is possible to provide urgent financial assistance to countries that have suffered natural catastrophes.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing.(PT) The aim of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) is to provide swift, effective and flexible assistance to the population of a Member State, or a country negotiating accession, in the event of a major natural disaster.

This fund supplements the Member States’ public funds in emergency situations, specifically for urgent infrastructure repairs, temporary shelter and emergency services to cater for the people’s immediate needs, as well as clearing up in the areas affected by the disaster. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania were affected by torrential rains in 2010, which caused serious flooding resulting in huge losses in those countries. Following the disasters, the countries in question requested assistance from the EUSF. Since the eligibility criteria laid down in the relevant regulation were met, mobilisation of the EUSF was approved with a view to mitigating the pain, suffering and losses of the people affected by the abovementioned disasters. For the above reasons, I supported this report.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) The floods which hit the countries in the east of the European Union last year caused huge material damage in practically every region. Many of them continue to struggle with the flood’s tragic effects. Many people are still waiting for the financial assistance promised by the authorities. The serious damage primarily concerns agriculture, infrastructure, the transport network and cultural heritage sites. Many people have suffered, often losing everything they owned. In Poland alone, direct losses have been estimated at nearly EUR 3 billion. This, therefore, significantly exceeds the threshold for mobilising the Solidarity Fund. A similar situation exists in the case of the other countries which are applying for support from the fund. Finding the European funds foreseen in the interinstitutional agreement will bring significant relief to the regions worst affected by the catastrophe by allowing work to be carried out to mitigate the effects of the natural disaster. I am strongly in favour of mobilising the Solidarity Fund.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) I welcome the decision of the European Parliament to release funds from the EU Solidarity Fund for the Central European states affected by last year’s floods. In the case of the Czech Republic, there is a sum of CZK 125 million to cover some of the damages caused by the floods in Northern Moravia last May and June. As the overall level of damage was estimated at CZK 5 billion, which represents less than 0.6% of Czech GDP, it did not constitute a ‘serious natural disaster’ under European law, in the case of which assistance from the Solidarity Fund is virtually assured. It was therefore necessary to request an exemption for the Czech Republic, based on the fact that our land was affected by the same natural disaster as neighbouring Poland, where the consequences were more destructive. In the original draft resolution of the European Parliament, only Poland was mentioned as an affected country, and it was only after I pointed out that the floods had also affected other states that its scope was extended to the entire region of Central Europe. I am pleased that the Czech Government, after its initial laxity and hesitation, swung into action and managed, within the set deadline, to submit an application for financial assistance from the Solidarity Fund, which will now undoubtedly prove very useful.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing.(PT) In light of the significant damage caused by the major natural disasters that have occurred, particularly with regard to private property, transport networks and cultural heritage sites, and also since the estimated total direct damage in all these countries exceeds the normal threshold for mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund, which stands at 0.6% of Gross National Income, I agree with the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted in favour of the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania following the severe flooding that affected these countries in May and June 2010. I should like to reiterate that the Council must urgently continue to revise the new Solidarity Fund regulation approved by Parliament, so as to make it swifter and more effective.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing.(PT) Mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania is justified in view of the heavy rain and flooding that affected these countries and the serious damage which resulted. The support that this decision received from a large majority in the relevant parliamentary committee shows the breadth of support that it enjoys. I regret the suffering that people have endured, and I hope that mobilisation of the fund will mitigate it and help provide swifter and more effective reconstruction in the worst-affected areas.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing.(PT) In May and June 2010, Central and Eastern Europe was lashed by a severe storm which caused enormous damage in certain Member States, particularly through the destruction of public infrastructure, farms, road and rail networks, and public and private assets. Flooding in Poland affected almost the whole country, causing damage exceeding 0.85% of Gross National Income (GNI); in Slovakia, the storm left some areas under water, caused landslides and flooding, and led to damage in the order of 0.89% of GNI; in Hungary, the damage amounts to 0.73% of GNI; in Romania, it is estimated at over EUR 875 million, or 0.67% of GNI; in Croatia, it exceeds EUR 153 million (0.6% of GNI); and in the Czech Republic, the amount is EUR 204 million (0.6% of GNI). This situation justifies the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund and has led to the approval of the first amending budget for 2011. Thus, since it is covered by the Draft amending budget that has already been approved, and in view of the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development, I agree with the rapporteur’s position on the mobilisation of EUR 182 388 893 to help with the repair of public infrastructure damaged by the storms in the abovementioned Member States.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report endorses the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to assist six countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania. These countries were affected by torrential rainfall, in some cases, without precedent, extensive flooding, landslips and mudslides. In four countries – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania – the disasters qualify as ‘major natural disasters’ according to the definition given in the EUSF Regulation; in other words, the damage is estimated to exceed 0.6% of their Gross National Incomes. We consider the mobilisation of this support to be important and necessary, and we therefore voted in favour of the report.

Once again, we must draw attention to the excessive delays between the occurrence of the disaster, the decision to mobilise the EUSF and the actual delivery of EU support to the Member States and regions affected. In this case, the disasters occurred in May and June 2010. Parliament has only just approved mobilisation of the EUSF, almost a year later. Now, other procedural requirements will delay the money’s arrival at its destination even more. That is why we have been advocating the need to adapt the rules for mobilising this fund, so as to make its mobilisation more flexible and timely.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted in favour of this report, which endorses the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to assist six countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania.

These countries were affected by torrential rainfall, in some cases, without precedent, extensive flooding, landslips and mudslides. In four countries – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania – the disasters qualify as ‘major natural disasters’ according to the definition given in the EUSF Regulation; in other words, the damage is estimated to exceed 0.6% of their Gross National Incomes.

We consider the mobilisation of this support to be important and necessary, and we therefore voted in favour of the report.

We must, however, draw attention to the excessive delays between the occurrence of the disaster, the decision to mobilise the EUSF and the actual delivery of EU support to the Member States and regions affected. It should be noted that the disasters occurred in May and June 2010. Parliament has only just approved mobilisation of the EUSF, almost a year later. Now, other procedural requirements will delay the money’s arrival at its destination even more.

That is why we advocate the need to adapt the rules for mobilising this fund, so as to make its mobilisation more flexible and timely.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The floods of 2010 affected extensive areas across several Central European countries. The natural disaster mainly affected Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania. The people living in these areas cannot cope with the consequences of the floods on their own. They cannot resolve the consequences from their own resources, because the budgets of the individual states are burdened with the economic and financial crisis. However, the Commission is proposing to mobilise the EU’s Solidarity Fund for the benefit of the affected countries. All of the countries mentioned requested assistance from the fund after they were struck and paralysed, in the spring and summer months of last year, by landslides, flood waves and almost continuous rainfall.

The natural elements consequently did extensive damage in the affected areas to both public and private infrastructure, as well as road and rail transport, while agriculture was also affected. There was also serious damage to property, residential buildings and cultural monuments. It is therefore appropriate to provide the affected European states with the necessary financial assistance, so that they can tackle the consequences of the natural disaster and be able to return to normal life as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document, because the Commission has informed Parliament in its proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund (COM (2011)0010) that, on the basis of applications for assistance by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and candidate country Croatia relating to the flooding disasters of May, June and July 2010, it proposes the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund. In order to avoid undue delay in approving this measure, which the Committee on Budgets intends to adopt as soon as possible, it should be noted that the Committee on Regional Development has no objection to the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund to provide the sum of EUR 182 388 893 to the countries concerned as proposed by the Commission, and in accordance with the rules laid down in the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 and in Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. (RO) The Solidarity Fund is an instrument of paramount importance to the EU. Apart from its financial impact, it also conveys an expression of European solidarity. However, the Council has just shown us that this solidarity is starting steadily to diminish. At the moment, in order to help citizens who have already suffered so much following last year’s floods, the Council is forcing us to slash funds from very important programmes.

Furthermore, if we look at which Member States are currently blocking in Council the notion of ‘new money’ to cover the fund’s needs, we will notice that it is those which, in their turn, have benefited from receiving large sums of money in previous years.

The Union is based on the concept of solidarity. Without it, we could not have shaped the Europe we have today, nor will we be able to shape the Europe of tomorrow.

 
  
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  Edvard Kožušník (ECR), in writing. (CS) In contrast to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, I consider the Solidarity Fund, the resources of which are intended for covering damage caused by natural disasters, as a genuine manifestation of European solidarity. I very much appreciate the fact that this report also proposes the allocation of resources to cover flood damage to public property in the Czech Republic. This is specifically in Northern Moravia, which was affected in May last year by the same flood wave that caused damage throughout the region of Central Europe. I appreciate the fact that the Czech Republic has obtained resources from the Solidarity Fund to cover damages all the more for the fact that the surrounding countries were affected by the flood wave more than the Czech Republic.

Compensation for the Czech Republic was nonetheless not forgotten within the framework of European solidarity. I would also like to thank Mr Březina and Mr Tošenovský, with whom I successfully pushed for the inclusion of the Czech Republic in the group of countries to receive compensation from the Solidarity Fund in connection with this flood wave. Special thanks are also due to the President of Parliament, Mr Buzek, for visiting the affected areas of Moravia together with us, and personally backing support for the Czech Republic.

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing.(PL) The year 2010 was marked by disastrous flooding in many countries of Europe, with Poland suffering two floods. We should welcome the expressions of solidarity of the European Union in mitigating the effects of the flooding and the action taken to relieve the terrible plight of those affected – people who have lost a large part and, in many cases, all of their material possessions, suffered damage to their health and even lost their loved ones.

As part of support for the idea of solidarity in times of need and suffering, reflection is needed on how to prevent floods. The way to do this is to undertake water management: regulation of rivers, construction of reservoirs, etc. We should direct much more of the money allocated to environmental purposes in the Cohesion Fund to the purpose of flood prevention. In endorsing the Böge report, I call for support for the proposal for greater funds in the budget after 2013.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) I am very pleased that such constructive decisions are made in the European Parliament. The Members who come from regions affected by the floods tried very hard for Union assistance to be granted and, as we know, the route to this success has not been easy. The provision of EUR 182.4 million as compensation for the effects of last year’s floods is extremely important, not only for the regions affected by the natural disaster, but also for the people who live there.

Poland and the Podkarpacie region is an area which has particularly suffered as a result of the disaster, and it is my hope that the financial resources made available for the reconstruction of infrastructure will be used effectively. Today’s decision of Parliament is final and begins the procedure for the provision of EU money, and this is why I voted in favour of the resolution on mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund – floods in 2010 in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I support this Commission proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund. On the basis of applications for assistance by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and candidate country Croatia relating to the flooding disasters of May, June and July 2010, it proposes the application of the EU Solidarity Fund.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to express my satisfaction at today’s vote in favour of approving mobilisation of the European Solidarity Fund in order to provide aid to Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Croatia for the floods there last year.

Although there remains disagreement between Parliament and the Council on the technical procedure for the procurement of EUR 182.4 million needed to compensate Member States for damages, Europe has once again demonstrated its solidarity with its citizens. I agree with the use of the 2010 budget surplus to cover the ‘negative reserves’ used to find the necessary funds. Indeed, this reserve is an ‘accounting’ method which should be used for any emergency contingencies that may arise during the current financial year.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) Solidarity is the main feature of the European Union. Based on this solidarity, I consider timely and necessary the report on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund for the floods which affected Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania in 2010. This solidarity will be all the more necessary as climate change continues to trigger disasters throughout the whole of Europe. In this respect, strategies need to be devised which will also help reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Union’s efforts must be channelled towards consolidating the actions taken by Member States to prevent and reduce the impact of major floods in Europe, which have become increasingly frequent. One priority on this point must be for Member States to assess the activities which raise the risk of flooding and increase the speed of response, mobility and flexibility of the interventions made. Last but not least, I would like to stress how important it is for citizens to be informed about and participate in the actions and plans for flood management.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) This solidarity instrument has been used in the past – specifically in my country, with the support sent to Madeira following the heavy rains there in February 2010 – and now it makes every sense to mobilise it in an attempt to mitigate the effects that natural disasters always have on the populations of the countries they affect.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) Last year’s intense rainfalls resulted in a disastrous situation in Central European countries. Overflowing rivers flooded streets and homes. People became destitute, and many of them lost almost everything they had. This is why a rapid assessment of the situation and quick assistance were crucial at that time. Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania all requested assistance from the European Union in order to be able to help those in need by drawing on the Solidarity Fund. I am very pleased to note that the European Parliament, too, recognised this situation, and it, too, intended to help these countries. This is why I consider supporting this proposal for a decision very important, and I would like to use this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all who expressed their solidarity with my fellow Central European citizens at that time. Thank you.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Following the heavy rainfall in August 2010, which caused rivers to burst their banks and forced people to leave their homes, the Czech Republic applied for assistance from the Solidarity Fund in October 2010. The threshold of 0.6% of Gross National Income was not exceeded, but the majority of the population suffered as a result and the economy of the region was on the brink of collapse. Important areas such as tourism and industry were severely damaged. This assistance will cover part of the cost of the immediate measures needed to rebuild damaged infrastructure. Therefore, I support this proposal.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Last summer, most of Romania’s territory was hit by severe flooding and landslides. The damage was estimated at almost EUR 900 million, which is nearly 0.7% of Romania’s GDP. I welcome the assistance from the Solidarity Fund and it will help both to mitigate the impact of the disaster and prevent other incidents of the same nature occurring. The Solidarity Fund is one of the specific examples which can be offered to our citizens showing the importance of joint actions at EU level.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission is proposing to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania, in accordance with the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (IIA). The IIA allows for the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. Alongside this proposal to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund in favour of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania, the Commission also presented a Draft amending budget (A7-0115/2011). It is clear from the report that all the applications meet the eligibility criteria laid down in Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002. I therefore voted in favour of the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund for the amounts of EUR 105 567 155 for Poland, EUR 20 430 841 for Slovakia, EUR 22 485 772 for Hungary, EUR 5 111 401 for the Czech Republic, EUR 3 825 983 for Croatia and EUR 24 967 741 for Romania, making a total of EUR 182 388 893 in commitment and payment appropriations.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) The direct costs of the floods which hit Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Romania in 2010 amount to EUR 5 512 719 662. I voted for this report so that the mobilisation of EUR 182.4 million from the EU Solidarity Fund intended for these floods is approved. I disagreed with the source of funding, a ‘negative reserve’ proposed by the Council. However, I voted for the Council’s proposal as I think that citizens who were victims of the flooding cannot become victims of an interinstitutional battle between Member States and the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The issue at hand is the requests for assistance submitted by Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Croatia (as a candidate country) in order to deal with the substantial damage caused by the disastrous floods in these countries in May, June and July 2010. Since all these requests meet the eligibility criteria laid down in Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, I voted in favour of this proposal to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund to allocate the sum of EUR 182 388 893 to the countries in question, in the expectation that this support may help to speed up the reconstruction of the areas affected and mitigate the suffering of their populations.

 
  
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  Zuzana Roithová (PPE) , in writing. (CS) I was delighted to vote for the draft decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the release of funds from the EU Solidarity Fund to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania. All of these states were affected last year by powerful floods, as a result of torrential rain which caused landslides and substantial loss of human life, as well as damage to residential buildings, businesses, farming areas, the road and rail networks and other infrastructure. Although the amount of the proposed assistance represents only a few percent of the total quantified damage for most countries, it is still significant assistance, amounting in total to EUR 182 million. I would like to point out that the EU established the Solidarity Fund in order to assist the inhabitants of regions hit by natural disasters. I would like to thank Members for supporting this report.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The Commission proposes to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund for Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania on the basis of point 26 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (IIA). The IIA allows for mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 1 billion. In parallel to the proposal to mobilise the Solidarity Fund for Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania, the Commission has presented a Draft amending budget (DAB No 1/2011 of 14 January 2011) in order to enter the corresponding commitment and payment appropriations in the 2011 budget, as foreseen in point 26 of the IIA.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because we need to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund on behalf of those countries in Central and Eastern Europe which suffered damage due to flooding in 2010.

Countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania incurred huge costs following the heavy rains of that period, which caused massive damage to their infrastructure. Poland alone, for example, suffered two consecutive floods of its major rivers in May and June 2010, which caused serious damage to agriculture, transport networks and sites of cultural heritage, resulting in total damage of almost EUR 3 billion. The priority now is to rebuild the regions most affected by the tragic events of last year, allowing them to restart their systems of production without further delay.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D), in writing. (CS) The floods of 2010 affected several European countries, to varying degrees. For example, in the Czech Republic, the flood was smaller in terms of the area of land, but the consequences were truly destructive for this country, just as in Poland. I therefore supported the release of funds on the basis of the option provided under Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 for such exceptional situations. I voted for the adoption of the report, including the release of funds for the Czech Republic and for Croatia, which presents a similar case.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the report on mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund, in accordance with point 26 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management. It is extremely important for the EU to support those countries which have suffered as a result of natural disasters. The losses caused by this disaster exceed EUR 2.9 billion. EU financial support will help in the reconstruction of public infrastructure which was damaged by the disaster: water mains, sewage systems, roads and bridges. Almost a year has already passed since the floods. Help is still imperative. It should be mobilised faster. To do this, procedures for granting financial aid from the Solidarity Fund should be shortened.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Luis Manuel Capoulos Santos (A7-0056/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of this report since it advocates responsible fishing in the Comoros fishing zone based on a policy of non-discrimination between the various fleets in the zone, while launching a dialogue on necessary reforms. I am also in favour of this report because it represents an advance on the previous agreement, in that it provides for implementation of the protocol to be suspended in the event of human rights violations. However, since the aim of this protocol is to strengthen partnership and cooperation in the fisheries sector through the use of all available financial instruments, I would draw attention to the immediate need for a framework favouring increased investment in the sector and optimisation of small-scale fishery production in the sector.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing.(RO) I supported this report as it marks a commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable fishing wherever EU vessels might be operating, based on a thorough assessment of the resources available and making sure that the fishing opportunities to be used have been vouched for by credible scientific opinions and ruling out any risk of depleting local stocks. The Union of the Comoros is regarded as one of the least developed countries, with an economy which depends, to a huge extent, on foreign subsidies and technical assistance. While exploitable stocks in the Union of the Comoros, mostly large pelagic fish, are estimated at 33 000 tonnes per year, annual catches by local fishermen amount to approximately 16 000 tonnes, which are completely absorbed by the local market. The main objective of the new protocol is to define the fishing opportunities offered to EU vessels for access rights and sectoral support and to continue the cooperation between the EU and the UoC, with a view to expanding the partnership framework within which to develop a sustainable fisheries policy and responsible exploitation of fisheries resources in the Comorian fishing zone in the interests of both parties.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. (BG) The conclusion of bilateral agreements in the fisheries sector between the European Union and countries outside it, termed ‘Fisheries Partnership Agreements’, is standard practice under the common fisheries policy. I voted in favour because I think that the new protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the Union of the Comoros also serves the interests of both parties. On the one hand, it improves the fishing opportunities offered to EU vessels in the Comorian fishing zone as any opportunities for depleting the local stocks in the area are excluded. On the other hand, the EU allocates funds for the development of the sectoral fisheries policy in the Comoros.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I agree with the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros. I consider said protocol to be positive since it promotes responsible and sustainable fishing in Comorian territorial waters and serves the interests of both parties, as it offers EU vessels fishing opportunities in exchange for important sectoral support for the community in the archipelago of the Comoros.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the recommendation on the EC-Comoros fishing agreement, since the parties undertake to promote sustainable and responsible fishing in the Comorian fishing zone and since it provides for a suspension clause in the event of human rights violations in the Union of the Comoros.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The current protocol to the Fisheries Agreement in force between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros, one of many fisheries partnership agreements of which the European Union is a co-signatory, expired on 31 December 2010. The new protocol will be concluded for a three-year period (2011-2013), starting with the entry into force of the Council decision on the provisional application of said protocol and following the expiry of the protocol in force. The aim of the proposal for a decision is to set out the fishing opportunities for European Union vessels on the basis of the excess stock available, as well as the financial contribution separately due for access rights and sectoral support.

The new protocol serves the interests of both parties and aims to reinforce fisheries cooperation through the use of the financial instruments that are available. The need has been felt to create a framework favouring the development of investment in this sector and to optimise small-scale fishery production. Like the rapporteur, I believe Parliament should be allowed to closely monitor the way in which the agreement develops and is complied with, and it is up to the Commission to ensure that it can do so.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing.(PT) This report focuses on a proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of a protocol setting out the terms on which European Union (EU) fishing vessels can carry out fishing operations in the waters of the Union of the Comoros. Over the years, the EU has established fisheries partnership agreements with a number of countries and, in exchange, has made a certain financial contribution intended essentially to support national fisheries policies, particularly to protect stocks. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament has taken on increased responsibilities in this sector, and we now have to give our consent to new fisheries agreements. As the EU/Union of the Comoros protocol expired on 31 December 2010, it urgently needs to be renewed. The proposal in question serves the interests of both parties, as the rapporteur explains very well, and I therefore voted in favour of the proposal. It is just a pity that it is overdue.

 
  
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  João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report supports the new protocol of the partnership agreement in the fisheries sector between the EU and the Comoros, which will be in force for three years, and whose main objective is to define the fishing opportunities offered to EU vessels, the financial contribution owed for access rights and sectoral support. This is an agreement concerning access rights to Comorian waters for 70 European boats in exchange for a financial contribution of around EUR 600 000 per year, with around half of this amount being intended for the development of the country’s fisheries sector. This country has practically no other resources; 30 000 of the country’s 800 000 inhabitants depend on this sector.

It is here that the so-called partnership agreements in this area have failed most visibly, which should be cause for reflection and for policy changes. Authorisation to fish will be given to 45 tuna seiners – 22 of which are French and 22 Spanish – and 25 surface longliners: this is more than the protocol currently in force, which authorises 40 seiners and 17 longliners. Portugal still has the five longliners it had before. France and Spain are still the major beneficiaries.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agree with this document, because the conclusion of bilateral fisheries agreements between the European Community and non-member countries, termed ‘Fisheries Partnership Agreements’ (FPA) since 2004, has been standard practice under the common fisheries policy (CFP) and is central to the policy’s external dimension. Under the agreements with African and Pacific countries, the EU’s financial contribution is, to a large extent, expressly intended to support national fisheries policies based on the principle of sustainability and sound management of fishery resources. The partnership agreements therefore amount to a commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable fishing wherever EU vessels might be operating, based on a thorough assessment of the resources available and making sure that the fishing opportunities to be used have been vouched for by credible scientific opinions and rule out any risk of depleting local stocks. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, increased powers have been conferred on Parliament regarding fisheries partnership agreements: under Article 218(6)(a) TFEU, the EP now has to give its prior consent to the conclusion of an agreement, a requirement that replaces the earlier ordinary consultation procedure. I believe that the proposed new protocol for the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the Union of the Comoros serves the interests of both parties.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The fisheries sector in the region of the Comoros is very specific. The catches made by local fishermen hardly ever suffice to meet the needs of the local community. This is caused by poorly developed and, frankly, non-existent port and fishing fleet infrastructure. The people who live on the islands in this part of the Indian Ocean are very poor, face the problem of unemployment and, as the rapporteur himself writes, are, in practice, dependent on financial help from abroad. The partnership agreement, which allows vessels from the EU to fish in Comorian territory in exchange for financial support, will undoubtedly contribute to a strengthening of the region’s economy. We should, however, monitor the way in which these funds are spent, and whether they do, in fact, contribute to an improvement in the situation in the sector.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The aim of the new protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the partnership agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros is to strengthen the partnership and cooperation in the fisheries sector using all the available financial instruments. The protocol will create a framework which is conducive to the growth of investment in this sector and which will help to increase the value of the products of small-scale fisheries. I welcome the proposal to establish this new protocol.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Council’s draft recommendation regarding the establishment of a protocol which stipulates fishing quotas and financial contribution as set out by the partnership with the fisheries sector of the Union of the Comoros is intended to outline the role that the European Parliament should play in the procedure of reviewing this agreement. Europe has always pursued partnership agreements in the fisheries sector and the partnership with the Union of the Comoros has been in force since 1988. The objective of this new protocol is to set out the fishing quotas to be offered to fishing vessels of the Union of the Comoros, providing a sustainable and responsible use of fishery resources, increasing investment in small-scale fisheries and enhancing their activity. The draft Council decision on the project ensures that both partners, Europe and the Union of the Comoros, will benefit from the renewal of the agreement but, since, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament has gained a specific role in the implementation of the agreements, it seems inevitable that, at each step until the final approval of the agreement, we must identify the measures that will involve Parliament.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. The conclusion of bilateral fisheries agreements between the European Community and non-member countries, termed ‘Fisheries Partnership Agreements’ (FPA) since 2004, has been standard practice under the common fisheries policy (CFP) and is central to the policy’s external dimension. Under the agreements with African and Pacific countries, the EU’s financial contribution is, to a large extent, expressly intended to support national fisheries policies based on the principle of sustainability and sound management of fishery resources. The partnership agreements therefore amount to a commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable fishing wherever EU vessels might be operating, based on a thorough assessment of the resources available, making sure that the fishing opportunities to be used have been vouched for by credible scientific opinions and ruling out any risk of depleting local stocks.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing.(PT) This new agreement replaces the one previously in force, which expired on 31 December 2010. This kind of agreement makes it possible for EU fishing vessels to access the fishing zones of the Comoros islands in exchange for a financial contribution. The great advantage of this kind of protocol is that the European Union can help with these countries’ development. In this case, it will give more help to the fisheries sector, since this sector will absorb about 50% of the funds contributed. We should bear in mind that about 30 000 people in the Comoros depend directly on the fisheries sector, hence the importance of this support.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Comoros expired in December 2010. The new protocol is valid from 2011 to 2013 and should be provisionally applied while the European Parliament’s consent procedure is not closed. Under the draft agreement, the parties undertake to promote responsible fishing in the Comoros fishing zone based on the principle of non-discrimination between the different fleets fishing in this fishing zone. With regard to fishing opportunities, 45 tuna seiners and 25 surface longliners will be authorised to fish. The new agreement in comparison with the former one contains a clause to interrupt the implementation of the protocol in case of human rights violations. I believe that it is necessary to strengthen partnership and cooperation in the fisheries sector using all financial instruments available. Therefore, I voted ‘for’.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing.(PT) The conclusion of bilateral fisheries agreements between the European Community and non-member countries, termed ‘Fisheries Partnership Agreements’ (FPA), has been standard practice under the common fisheries policy (CFP) and is central to the policy’s external dimension.

This proposal for a new protocol to the FPA between the European Union and the Comoros islands is an integral part of the CFP’s external dimension and serves the interests of both parties.

This report makes the following recommendations, which are considered relevant:

• The Commission should send Parliament the conclusions of the meetings and proceedings of the Joint Committee provided for in Article 9 of the agreement, as well as the multiannual sectoral programme referred to in Article 7(c) of the protocol and the findings of the annual assessments;

• Representatives of the European Parliament, acting as observers, should be allowed to attend Joint Committee meetings and proceedings;

• The Commission should submit an implementation review of the agreement to Parliament and the Council before the agreement is renegotiated;

• Parliament and the Council should be treated fairly both as regards the right to be immediately and fully informed and in connection with the monitoring and assessment of the implementation of international fisheries agreements and with negotiations on their revision.

For the above reasons, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this protocol is to replace the protocol annexed to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Comoros islands, which expired on 31 December 2010. The main objective of the new protocol is to define the fishing opportunities offered to EU vessels for access rights and for sectoral support and to continue the cooperation between the European Union and the Union of the Comoros, so as to encourage the establishment of a partnership framework within which to develop a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of fisheries resources in the Comorian fishing zone. Based on the new protocol, the overall annual financial contribution by the EU will be EUR 1 845 750 over the whole three-year period. The development of investments in the fisheries sector in order to optimise small-scale fisheries operations is also envisaged. Since I believe this proposal for a new protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Comoros islands serves the interests of both parties, I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted against. The conclusion of bilateral fisheries agreements between the European Community and non-member countries, termed ‘Fisheries Partnership Agreements’ (FPA) since 2004, has been standard practice under the common fisheries policy (CFP) and is central to the policy’s external dimension. Under the agreements with African and Pacific countries, the EU’s financial contribution is, to a large extent, expressly intended to support national fisheries policies based on the principle of sustainability and sound management of fishery resources. The partnership agreements therefore amount to a commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable fishing wherever EU vessels might be operating, based on a thorough assessment of the resources available and making sure that the fishing opportunities to be used have been vouched for by credible scientific opinions and rule out any risk of depleting local stocks.

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, increased powers have been conferred on Parliament regarding Fisheries Partnership Agreements: under Article 218(6)(a) TFEU, the EP now has to give its prior consent to conclusion of an agreement, a requirement that replaces the earlier ordinary consultation procedure. We, as Greens, are very critical of how these types of agreements have been implemented so far.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The signing of bilateral fisheries agreements between the European Community and third countries has always been a practice of the common fisheries policy and, hence, a central aspect of its foreign policy dimension.

The agreements with African and Pacific countries provide that a substantial share of the EU reciprocal financial arrangements be designated to support the national fishery policies based on principles of sustainability and good resources management.

Bilateral relations in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros date back to 1988. The resolution adopted today emphasises the fact that better information for and greater control by the European Parliament at all stages of negotiations would strengthen the partnership and would have a positive impact on the development of fisheries. It is necessary that both the European Parliament and the Council be placed on an equal footing, whether regarding the right to be fully and immediately informed, or relating to the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of international agreements in fisheries and also to any negotiation of revisions to those agreements.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The EU fishing fleet is in operation throughout the world. A bilateral relationship has been in place between what is now known as the EU and the Union of the Comoros since 1988. The current revision of the 2006 Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector as part of the process of extending it has also resulted in the basic principles of a sustainable fisheries policy and the responsible use of fishery resources in the Comoros fishing zone being included in the agreement. This is not only a welcome development, but also a necessity, if the EU and its common fisheries policy are to remain credible. In this context, the rapporteur’s call for more information and more control on the part of Parliament must be strongly supported. For this reason, I have voted in favour of the report.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Emilio Menéndez del Valle (A7-0067/2011)

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Improving the Euromed trade agreement may contribute towards economic and political stability in this region with a view to consolidating a single space governed by values such as peace, justice, equality, freedom and democracy. The creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism is intended to provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within fixed time limits, which could increase the security and the predictability of bilateral trade relations, thereby improving the functioning of the Euromed Free Trade Area. I voted in favour of this draft resolution.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. – (BG) I voted for this resolution because an effective mechanism needs to be established for settling trade disputes between the European Union and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The proposed mechanism is modelled on the dispute settlement mechanisms from the most recent agreements concluded by the European Union, which comply with the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement rules and procedures. This mechanism will support the functioning of the Euromed Free Trade Area, but will mainly bring stability to bilateral trade relations between the European Union and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) All improvements to the Euro-Mediterranean agreements have an important impact on the countries’ economic and political stability, contributing to the innumerable social and democratic gains that result from them. I therefore welcome any efforts in that direction. Given the incomplete resolution of certain disputes under the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, I acknowledge that the diplomatic approach has been ineffective in this context. I therefore accept the need for a mechanism to apply resources simply and effectively, so I agree with the draft Council decision on the conclusion of an agreement in the form of a protocol between the European Union and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The aim of this protocol is to establish a dispute settlement mechanism applicable to disputes under the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing.(PT) The Euro-Mediterranean agreements contain provisions to liberalise the trade in goods, but the rules for settling disputes arising from them relied primarily on diplomacy and could easily be blocked by the ‘injuring’ party. The Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with its partners from the Mediterranean in 2006 with a view to establishing trade dispute settlement mechanisms, modelled on the dispute settlement mechanisms of the most recent agreements concluded by the European Union within the World Trade Organisation. A draft agreement was initialled with Jordan on 9 December 2009.

I support the dispute settlement mechanism and hope that it will have a deterrent rather than repressive function. I also hope that Jordan can withstand the instability affecting the region and remain the moderate and responsible partner that it has been during the reigns of King Hussein and King Abdullah II.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation is based on a draft Council decision on the conclusion of a protocol between the European Union and Jordan, the aim of which is to implement a dispute settlement mechanism as part of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement. In general, resolving trade conflicts between countries by diplomatic means has not always had the desired effect. Therefore, in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean region, negotiations were started between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, specifically Jordan. The draft agreement was signed on 9 December 2009 at the conference of Euro-Mediterranean Trade Ministers held in Brussels. I am voting for this draft legislative resolution of the European Parliament, as I am aware that it will significantly improve relations between the states in terms of free trade and contribute to the political and economic stability of this region. I therefore welcome the new agreement and hope that, after it comes into force, no conflict of any kind will arise between the EU or its Member States and Jordan.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As is mentioned in this report’s explanatory statement, to date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. The ‘alternative’ model being proposed to us fits into the logic promoted within the World Trade Organisation which, in search of supposed efficiency, seeks to bypass national sovereignty, the resolution of disputes through respect for each country’s particularities, and the right of these countries to defend their interests and those of their peoples. Resolving disputes by diplomatic means guarantees equality of treatment between countries. This mechanism, by contrast, subverts this principle, encouraging the movement of capital and putting economic power before political power, and the interests of capital before the interests of countries and their peoples.

Our opposition to this mechanism and its implications is all the more justified because it results from the conclusion of an agreement between the EU, whose legitimacy resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon is questionable (and in any case deplorable), and the regime of King Abdullah, which continues to violently repress the emerging, peaceful youth movement demanding reforms and democratic freedoms.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) To date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for resolution. The ‘alternative’ model being proposed to us fits into the logic promoted within the World Trade Organisation which, in search of supposed efficiency, seeks to bypass national sovereignty, the resolution of disputes through respect for each country’s particularities, and the right of these countries to defend their interests and those of their peoples. Resolving disputes by diplomatic means guarantees equality of treatment between countries. By contrast, the mechanism now proposed subverts this principle, encouraging the movement of capital and putting economic power before political power, and the interests of capital before the interests of countries and their peoples.

Our opposition to this mechanism and its implications is all the more justified because it results from the conclusion of an agreement between the EU, whose legitimacy resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon is questionable, and the regime of King Abdullah, which continues to violently repress the emerging, peaceful youth movement demanding reforms and democratic freedoms.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. The creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism is welcomed, as it should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits. The rapporteur believes that these upgrades to the Euromed free trade agreements can contribute towards economic and political stability in this key region with a view to consolidating a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. Furthermore, the proper application of such a mechanism could increase the security and the predictability of our bilateral trade relations and could represent a further step towards the setting up and proper functioning of the Euromed Free Trade Area.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The past shows us that diplomacy has not managed to be effective at resolving the various disputes that exist. I therefore welcome the creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism, which should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits. I agree with the rapporteur that these improvements to the Euro-Mediterranean free trade agreements can contribute to economic and political stability in this region, which is key to the consolidation of a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. In addition, the proper application of such a mechanism could increase the security and predictability of our bilateral trade relations, and represents a further step towards the creation and proper functioning of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I know that the proposed mechanism is modelled on the dispute settlement mechanisms of the most recent agreements concluded by the European Union and on the WTO. Bilateral trade agreements should always be fully compatible with the multilateral trading system. The Commission needs to ensure that the implementation is effective. Lingering disputes have a negative effect on the business community. Therefore, I voted ‘for’.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) With this report, the European Parliament is agreeing to the creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism, which will provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits when there is a need to settle conflicts between the European Union and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, resulting from the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement. To date, the settlement of disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic means. In practice, such an approach proved ineffective and led to situations in which certain disputes remained unresolved, as they could easily be blocked by the ‘injuring’ party. These upgrades to the Euro-Mediterranean free trade agreements can contribute to economic and political stability in this key region, consolidating a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. The proper application of such a mechanism could increase the security and the predictability of our bilateral trade relations, and could represent a further step towards the creation and proper functioning of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. My vote in favour was motivated by each of these facts.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of concluding this EU-Jordan agreement whose goal is establishing a mechanism for settling disputes under the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean agreements. To date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. In practice, this approach is not effective and has led to situations where disputes remained unresolved or were blocked. I hope that the application of this standard dispute settlement mechanism will increase the security and the predictability of EU-Jordan trade relations.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) Within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean association agreements, trade disputes that may arise between two parties, the European Union on the one hand, and Jordan on the other, are still settled through diplomatic channels. This solution is neither efficient nor transparent, which is why I voted in favour of establishing a standard dispute settlement mechanism, as this will enable players on both sides of the Mediterranean to trade in a safer and more predictable environment. This standard mechanism is based on solutions advocated by the World Trade Organisation in its memorandum of understanding on dispute settlement, as well as mechanisms incorporated into bilateral trade agreements recently concluded by the EU.

Ultimately, therefore, adding such mechanisms to an increasing number of agreements will create a level playing field not only for European economic players, but also for their partners in third countries.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) These negotiations originate from what was, in fact, an area ungoverned by legislation, which meant that no procedures were available for resolving disputes between the EU and the Mediterranean countries. The dispute settlement mechanism is modelled on standard international procedures. As the existing approach has led to insoluble problems in the past, I have followed the rapporteur’s recommendation.

 
  
  

Recommendation: George Sabin Cutaş (A7-0066/2011)

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. (BG) I voted for this resolution because an effective mechanism needs to be established for settling trade disputes between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco. The proposed mechanism is modelled on the dispute settlement mechanisms from the most recent agreements concluded by the European Union, which comply with the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement rules and procedures. This mechanism will bring stability to bilateral trade relations between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) All improvements to the Euro-Mediterranean agreements have an important impact on the countries’ economic and political stability, contributing to the innumerable social and democratic gains that result from them. I therefore welcome any efforts in that direction. Given the incomplete resolution of certain disputes relating to the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and the Kingdom of Morocco, I acknowledge the inefficiency of the system created in relation to this area using diplomatic means. I therefore accept the need for a mechanism that will enable the application of resources in a simple and efficient way, so I agree with the draft Council decision on the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco establishing a Dispute Settlement Mechanism.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) Given that the current regulations for settling disputes rely on a diplomatic approach and can easily be blocked by the party which is failing to fulfil its obligations, I think that adopting this agreement will improve the security and predictability of trade relations between the European Union and Morocco, making it beneficial to both companies and consumers. The adoption of the agreement follows the Euro-Mediterranean road map for trade after 2010.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Like the others, the agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco lacked conflict resolution measures which, naturally, contributed to making it less reliable and to reducing the expectations of the parties as regards obtaining fair solutions in cases of dispute. I hope that the envisaged mechanism will come into force and that it will contribute to reinforcing the parties’ trust, as well as that the Kingdom of Morocco will be able to continue with the reforms already started by Hassan II and carried forward by Mohammed VI.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation is based on a draft Council decision on the conclusion of a protocol between the European Union and Morocco, whose goal is to implement a dispute settlement mechanism as part of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement. In general, resolving trade conflicts between countries using diplomatic means has not always had the desired effect. Therefore, in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean region, negotiations were started between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, specifically Morocco. The draft agreement was signed on 9 December 2009 at the conference of Euro-Mediterranean Trade Ministers held in Brussels, and was confirmed on 7 March 2010 during the EU-Morocco Summit. I am voting in favour of this draft legislative resolution of the European Parliament as I am aware that it will significantly improve relations between the states in terms of free trade and contribute to the political and economic stability of this region. I therefore welcome the new agreement and hope that, after it comes into force, no conflict of any kind will arise between the EU or its Member States and Morocco.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As is mentioned in this report’s explanatory statement, to date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. The ‘alternative’ model being proposed to us fits into the logic promoted within the World Trade Organisation which, in search of supposed efficiency, seeks to bypass national sovereignty, seeks to bypass the resolution of disputes through respect for each country’s particularities, and seeks to bypass their right to defend their interests and those of their peoples. Resolving disputes by diplomatic means guarantees equality of treatment between countries. This mechanism, by contrast, subverts this principle, encouraging the movement of capital and putting economic power before political power and the interests of capital before the interests of countries and their peoples.

Our opposition to this mechanism and its implications is all the more justified because it results from the conclusion of a free trade agreement with Morocco, a country that continues to occupy Western Sahara, and to make use of and profit from resources that do not belong to it: it is violating international law and denying the Sahrawi people their right to self-determination.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report is about changing the current situation by creating a mechanism for conflict resolution. As is mentioned in this report’s explanatory statement, to date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution.

However, the Commission is now proposing an ‘alternative’ model that fits into the logic promoted within the World Trade Organisation which, in search of supposed efficiency, seeks to bypass national sovereignty, seeks to bypass the resolution of disputes through respect for each country’s particularities, and seeks to bypass their right to defend their interests and those of their peoples.

Resolving disputes by diplomatic means guarantees equality of treatment between countries. This mechanism, by contrast, subverts this principle, encouraging the movement of capital and putting economic power before political power and the interests of capital before the interests of countries and their peoples.

Our opposition to this mechanism and its implications is all the more justified because it results from the conclusion of a free trade agreement with Morocco, a country that continues to occupy Western Sahara, and to make use of and profit from resources that do not belong to it: it is violating the Sahrawi people’s rights and denying their right to self-determination. For this reason, we voted against.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I support the rapporteur who proposes that Parliament gives its consent to this agreement. Lingering disputes have a negative effect on the business community and on end consumers on both shores of the Mediterranean.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) Civil rebellions against Arab despots have set the other side of the Mediterranean alight. This is clearly not a sufficient reason for the EU to stop advancing towards the establishment of the free trade area it agreed to with those same despots. We have sent a clear signal: the EU does not want to negotiate with the Arab democracies that might emerge. This is absurd. I shall vote against.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The past shows us that diplomacy has not managed to be efficient in resolving a number of existing disputes. I therefore welcome the creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism, which should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits. I agree with the rapporteur’s opinion that these upgrades to the EU-Morocco free trade agreements can contribute to economic and political stability in this key region, with a view to consolidating a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. Moreover, the proper application of such a mechanism could increase the security and the predictability of our bilateral trade relations, and represents a further step towards the setting up and the proper functioning of the EU-Morocco Free Trade Area.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Until now, one of the tasks of diplomatic services has been to arbitrate in disputes relating to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement. Now, the plan is to introduce mechanisms at an EU level to settle disputes and to support politically unstable regions, such as Morocco, in establishing a homogeneous state characterised by peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. I have abstained from voting because the rapporteur has not described in detail how we can guarantee that these mechanisms are complied with.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) The liberalisation agreement between the EU and Morocco should be an emblem for the development, the stability and the economic recovery of the entire North African region. The Union cannot and must not lose the opportunity to play a part in creating a renewed trade policy, able to assist those countries which have been overwhelmed by social and political turmoil with dramatic consequences for national economies and, consequently, our investments in those areas.

With today’s vote on creating a standard mechanism for appropriate and efficient dispute resolution, we have a greater guarantee in support of European investments in Morocco, investments which are key to economic wellbeing in the entire region, covering almost all sectors.

Today’s vote also highlights the Union’s desire to avoid having a negative effect on the economies and end consumers on both sides of the Mediterranean by opting for protectionist policies which continue to prioritise special interests, delaying the ratification of agreements which are fundamental to rebalancing and stabilising the economic choices of an area that is beginning to be of interest to our trade competitors like China and the countries of the Middle East.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) With this report, the European Parliament is approving the creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism which should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits in disputes resulting from Euro-Mediterranean agreements between the EU and Morocco. Dispute resolution through diplomacy was not effective and led to situations in which certain disputes remained unresolved, as they could easily be blocked by the ‘injuring’ party. Delays that occur in dispute resolution have a negative impact on companies and end consumers on both sides of the Mediterranean. These upgrades to the Euro-Mediterranean free trade agreements can contribute to economic and political stability in this key region, with a view to consolidating a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. The model for the proposed mechanism is the dispute settlement mechanisms included in the latest agreements concluded by the European Union and the World Trade Organisation’s Understanding on Rules and Procedures governing the Settlement of Disputes. The Commission must ensure that the mechanism is effectively and efficiently implemented. For the above reasons, I voted in favour of this resolution approving the conclusion of the agreement.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of concluding this agreement between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco, whose goal is establishing a mechanism for settling disputes under the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean agreements. To date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. In practice, this approach is not effective and has led to situations where disputes remained unresolved or were blocked. I hope that the application of this standard dispute settlement mechanism will increase the security and the predictability of trade relations between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. To date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. In practice, this is not efficient and has led to situations were disputes remained unresolved, as they could easily be blocked by the ‘injuring’ party. The Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with its partners from the Mediterranean in 2006 with a view to negotiating a proper dispute settlement mechanism. A draft agreement was initialled with Morocco at the Euro-Mediterranean Trade Ministerial conference in Brussels on 9 December 2009, and confirmed during the EU-Morocco Summit on 7 March 2010. The creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism is welcomed, as it should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Gianluca Susta (ALDE) (A7-0068/2011)

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I support the creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism with Egypt, enabling inefficiencies and deadlocks to be resolved and concluding the draft agreement with that country. This agreement can help contribute to economic and political stability in the Euro-Mediterranean area, which will allow a future based on peace, justice, freedom, plurality and democracy.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. (BG) I voted for this resolution because an effective mechanism needs to be established for settling trade disputes between the European Union and the Arab Republic of Egypt. The proposed mechanism is modelled on the dispute settlement mechanisms from the most recent agreements concluded by the European Union, which comply with the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement rules and procedures. This mechanism will support the functioning of the Euromed Free Trade Area, but will mainly bring stability to bilateral trade relations between the European Union and the Arab Republic of Egypt.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the dispute settlement mechanism as proposed by Mr Susta. I completely agree that proper application of a standard mechanism for the settlement of disputes could be a further step towards the establishment and effective functioning of Euro-Mediterranean free trade. Until now, disputes arising from Euro-Mediterranean agreements have only been resolved, where possible, through diplomatic channels. Instead, we need a firm procedure because dragging out commercial disputes can result in adverse effects on final consumers on both sides of the Mediterranean. In the light of what is happening in some North African countries, there is no doubt that the path towards economic and political stability in those territories passes through, among other things, well-functioning free trade agreements in the Mediterranean.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) All improvements to the Euro-Mediterranean agreements have an important impact on the countries’ economic and political stability, contributing to the innumerable social and democratic gains that result from them. I therefore welcome any efforts in that direction. Given the incomplete resolution of certain disputes relating to the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and the Arab Republic of Egypt, I acknowledge the inefficiency of the system created in relation to this area using diplomatic means. I therefore accept the need for a mechanism that will enable the application of resources in a simple and efficient way, so I agree with the draft Council decision on the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Union and the Arab Republic of Egypt establishing a Dispute Settlement Mechanism.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The present situation in Egypt perhaps eclipses the need to press ahead with adopting agreements like this. Nonetheless, with the turbulence and uncertainty characteristic of times like those recently experienced in Cairo now over, the Egyptian State should be careful to take up once again its functions in their entirety. Amongst those is foreign relations, specifically with the European Union, which is its partner in a Euro-Mediterranean agreement. While putative future disputes with the EU are probably the least of Egypt’s concerns for the moment, I believe that there can be no disadvantage in adopting mechanisms that enable these to be resolved easily, for the good of both parties. Egypt is inseparably bound up in the history of Europe and the world. I hope that it will have a future as great as its past.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation is based on a draft Council decision on the conclusion of a protocol between the European Union and the People’s Republic of Egypt, whose goal is to implement a dispute settlement mechanism. This protocol takes on a very special meaning at a time when Egypt is taking the first steps towards implementing a democratic regime. In general, resolving trade conflicts between countries using diplomatic means has not always had the desired effect. Therefore, in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean region, negotiations were started between the EU and its Mediterranean partners, specifically Egypt. The draft agreement was signed on 27 April 2010 at the EU-Egypt Association Council held in Luxembourg. I am voting for this draft legislative resolution of the European Parliament as I am aware that it will significantly improve relations between the states in terms of free trade and contribute to the political and economic stability of this region. I therefore welcome the new agreement and hope that, after it comes into force, no conflict of any kind will arise between the EU or its Member States and the Arab Republic of Egypt.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As is mentioned in this report’s explanatory statement, to date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. The ‘alternative’ model being proposed to us fits into the logic promoted within the World Trade Organisation which, in search of supposed efficiency, seeks to bypass national sovereignty, seeks to bypass the resolution of disputes through respect for each country’s particularities, and seeks to bypass their right to defend their interests and those of their peoples. Resolving disputes by diplomatic means guarantees equality of treatment between countries. This mechanism, by contrast, subverts this principle, encouraging the movement of capital and putting economic power before political power and the interests of capital before the interests of countries and their peoples.

Our opposition to this mechanism and its implications is all the more justified because it results from the conclusion of an agreement between the EU and the regime of the dictator Mubarak. The Egyptian people’s uprising in favour of democratic changes, defending its sovereignty against foreign interference, and the regime’s collusion with the interests of imperialism in the region is a positive sign, which we hope will end up having practical expression in relation to this agreement and others.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) To date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for resolution. The ‘alternative’ model being proposed to us fits into the logic promoted within the World Trade Organisation which, in search of supposed efficiency, seeks to bypass national sovereignty, seeks to bypass the resolution of disputes through respect for each country’s particularities, and seeks to bypass their right to defend their interests and those of their peoples.

Resolving disputes by diplomatic means guarantees equality of treatment between countries. This mechanism, by contrast, subverts this principle, encouraging the movement of capital and putting economic power before political power and the interests of capital before the interests of countries and their peoples.

Our opposition to this mechanism and its implications is all the more justified because it results from the conclusion of an agreement between the EU, whose legitimacy resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon is questionable, and the regime of the dictator Mubarak. The Egyptian people’s uprising in favour of democratic changes, defending its sovereignty against foreign interference, and the regime’s collusion with the interests of imperialism in the region is a positive sign, which we hope will end up having practical expression in relation to this agreement and others.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Notwithstanding the uncertain situation in Egypt, I think Parliament is right to press ahead with the approval of this agreement which should make life easier for businesses without making any political comment on the current Egyptian Government.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The past shows us that diplomacy has not managed to be efficient in resolving a number of existing disputes. I therefore welcome the creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism, which should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits. I agree with the rapporteur’s opinion that these upgrades to the EU-Egypt free trade agreements can contribute to economic and political stability in this key region, with a view to consolidating a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. Moreover, the proper application of such a mechanism could increase the security and the predictability of our bilateral trade relations, and represents a further step towards the setting up and the proper functioning of the EU-Egypt Free Trade Area.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I voted against this report as I have serious concerns in relation to the EU´s economic and political approach towards the countries that are covered by the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement. The establishment of a free trade area would have dramatic consequences for working people in the region. On the basis of the EU´s own figures, Egypt is expected to lose 1.5 million jobs. The dire economic prospects for young people and the anger against corruption and excesses of the tiny dictatorial elite lie at the heart of the revolutionary movements and the aspirations of the Egyptian people. A continuation of the free trade doctrine in the interest of European big business and the rich elites mean more of the same and therefore needs to be rejected. The negotiations on this deal were led by representatives of the dictatorial Mubarak regime which has been ousted by the revolutionary upheaval. The top tier of the army, however, is deeply tied to the economic interests of the former regime and does not represent the legitimate demands and aspirations of the working people. Trade relations must be based on the needs of the majority of the population, not the greed of tiny elites and corporations.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) With this report, the European Parliament is approving the creation of a standard dispute settlement mechanism which should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits in disputes resulting from Euro-Mediterranean agreements between the EU and the Arab Republic of Egypt. Dispute resolution through diplomacy was not effective and led to situations in which certain disputes remained unresolved, as they could easily be blocked by the ‘injuring’ party. Delays that occur in dispute resolution have a negative impact on companies and end consumers on both sides of the Mediterranean. These upgrades to the Euro-Mediterranean free trade agreements can contribute to economic and political stability in this key region, with a view to consolidating a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. The model for the proposed mechanism is the dispute resolution mechanisms included in the latest agreements concluded by the EU and the World Trade Organisation’s Understanding on Rules and Procedures governing the Settlement of Disputes. The Commission must ensure that the mechanism is effectively and efficiently implemented. For the above reasons, I voted in favour of this resolution approving the conclusion of the agreement.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of concluding this EU-Egypt agreement whose goal is establishing a mechanism for settling disputes under the trade provisions of the Euro-Mediterranean agreements. To date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. In practice, this approach is not effective and has led to situations where disputes remained unresolved or were blocked. I hope that the application of this standard dispute settlement mechanism will increase the security and the predictability of EU-Egypt trade relations.

 
  
  

Recommendations: Emilio Menéndez del Valle (A7-0067/2011) - George Sabin Cutaş (A7-0066/2011) - Gianluca Susta (A7-0068/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation and welcome the creation of a dispute settlement mechanism, which should provide streamlined and effective redress procedures within firm time limits. I also agree with the rapporteur’s position that upgrades to the Euro-Mediterranean free trade agreements can contribute to economic and political stability in this region that is key to consolidating a single area of peace.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this document because to date, disputes arising from the Euro-Mediterranean agreements relied solely on diplomatic approaches for a resolution. In practice, this is not efficient and has led to situations where disputes remained unresolved, as they could easily be blocked by the ‘injuring’ party. The upgrades to the Euromed free trade agreements can contribute towards economic and political stability in this key region with a view to consolidating a single area of peace, development, justice, equality, freedom, plurality, democracy and respect. Furthermore, the proper application of such a mechanism could increase the security and the predictability of our bilateral trade relations and could represent a further step towards the setting up and the proper functioning of the Euromed free trade area. Lingering disputes have a negative effect on the business community and on end consumers on both shores of the Mediterranean. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, foreign direct investment became part of EU trade policy, and thus part of the Union’s exclusive competence. In an era where foreign direct investment plays an important role in the economic welfare of countries and regions, a well functioning and effective dispute settlement mechanism will also serve to solve disputes in this area.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) As the rules for resolving disputes are based on a diplomatic approach and have led to a situation where disputes can easily be blocked, the new settlement mechanism for trade disputes deserves our support. This mechanism is modelled on the most recent agreements concluded by the EU and on the World Trade Organisation understanding. Draft agreements with Jordan, Morocco and Egypt are already in place, which also cover trade in agricultural products. I welcome the decision by the European Parliament to support these agreements.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I am voting in favour of this resolution because I consider it essential that the EU provide a suitable mechanism for resolving disputes arising from the implementation of Euro-Mediterranean agreements. In 2006, the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with partners in the Mediterranean region and only in 2009 was that agreement signed.

The creation of a standard method for resolving disputes should ultimately introduce simplified and effective resolution procedures within specific time limits. I agree with the opinion of the rapporteur who considers it essential that revisions of the Euromed free trade agreements be made in order to contribute to economic and political stability in this region and to consolidate an area of peace and development. The proposed method is modelled on the most up-to-date mechanisms for dispute resolution in partnership agreements as agreed by the European Union and the WTO. At a time when foreign direct investment has a crucial role in the economic wellbeing of European Member States, I hope that an effective dispute settlement mechanism will help to resolve disputes in this area also.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Ryszard Antoni Legutko (A7-0063/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, and would stress that it is an important step in the pursuit of negotiations between the EU and Ukraine towards establishing a path that may enable its full accession to the EU in the future.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. With the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy, partner countries are gradually being given the opportunity to participate in certain Union programmes and agency activities. This is one of many measures aimed at promoting reforms, modernisation and transition in countries neighbouring the European Union. In June 2007, the Council of the European Union once again stressed the huge importance of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and therefore this protocol will create the conditions for Ukraine to participate in important EU programmes and benefit from EU best practices contributing to the development of democratic processes.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) I voted for our rapporteur’s proposal. I believe that both parties will stand to gain if the obligations assumed under this protocol are fulfilled. The European Union will gain a sound, stable, democratic partner at its eastern border, while Ukraine’s citizens will gain a somewhat clearer European perspective.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) From the very outset of my work in the European Parliament, I have strongly supported the pro-EU aspirations of Ukraine. Ukraine is one of the most important partners in Poland’s Eastern policy. In addition, together with Ukraine, my country is preparing to host next year’s European football championship. In order to achieve the objectives of Union foreign policy, and also for reasons of security, it is extremely important for the whole of the EU to step up cooperation with Ukraine. I consider supporting the fledgling democracy in Ukraine to be one of our most important obligations. I support, therefore, acceleration of negotiations concerning the free trade zone, and the broadest possible participation of Ukraine in Union programmes. I voted in favour of the resolution, and in so doing expressed my consent to the conclusion of the protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. (BG) This protocol contains the framework agreement on the general principles for the participation of Ukraine in Union programmes. It includes standard clauses which are intended to be applied to all European Neighbourhood Policy partnership countries with which such protocols are due to be concluded. In my view, Ukraine is making the necessary efforts, and I support the conclusion of this agreement.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this legislative resolution on the consent of the European Parliament to the draft Council decision, on the basis of which there will be a supplementary protocol to the EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. On the basis of this protocol, Ukraine will be given the opportunity to participate in EU programmes concerning businesses and entrepreneurship, energy and information and communication technologies. According to this agreement, Ukraine will have to make a financial contribution to the EU’s general budget depending on the programmes it wishes to participate in, and the EU will, in turn, guarantee that these programmes are controlled and audited by the EU institutions. I am the Vice-President of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, and I am convinced that the conclusion of this protocol will give Ukraine more opportunities for the convergence of its policies with policies, standards and norms pursued by the EU in the areas mentioned.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The relationship between the European Union and Ukraine has experienced progress and setbacks which have, at times, resulted from the country’s decreased or increased strategic closeness to its neighbour Russia. On 18 June 2007, the Council issued guidelines to the Commission on negotiating framework agreements with Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Ukraine on the general principles governing these countries’ participation in EU programmes. I believe that the conclusion of the aforementioned agreement is positive, because of the need to stipulate clearly the framework in which Ukraine will participate in European programmes, thereby contributing to improving its relations with the Union.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) provides for the gradual opening up of European Union programmes to the participation of neighbouring countries, with the goals of promoting reform, of modernisation and, often, of their democratisation. As such, on 5 March 2007, the Council adopted a general approach intended ‘to enable ENP partners to participate in Community agencies and Community programmes’. As a result of this approach, the Commission started negotiating framework agreements with neighbouring countries, including Ukraine, whose documentation is complete and ready to be submitted for the European Parliament’s approval, under the terms of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I am voting for this Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, on the general principles for the participation of Ukraine in Union programmes, and I welcome it because it is another step in pursuing the objectives that guided the creation of the common market.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) For us, the conclusion of this agreement poses a number of questions, given the extremely vague nature of the proposal tabled. Mention is made of programmes, but we have not been told which programmes Ukraine will be able to participate in, what form such participation will take, or what the financial conditions and implications of this will be. Benefits are announced, without making it clear where they will come from.

We believe that the establishment of agreements with objectives such as those announced should be based on respect for the sovereignty of countries and their peoples, on mutual interest, on reciprocity, and on cooperation, taking into account each country’s particularities; that they should evaluate what each may bring to the agreement from the economic, social and cultural points of view. There is little else that we can say about this report, other than that it is regrettable that it agrees to the establishment of a protocol whose exact content and implications we are not allowed to know.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The establishment of this agreement poses a number of questions, given the extremely vague nature of the proposal before us. Mention is made of programmes, but we have not been told which programmes Ukraine will be able to participate in, what form such participation will take, or what the financial implications of this will be. Mention is made of the general principles governing participation, but these are not specified. Benefits are mentioned without this report making it clear where they could come from.

We believe that it is still essential to refer to the following when establishing agreements between sovereign countries: respect for the sovereignty of the country and its peoples, mutual interest, reciprocity and cooperation, taking into account each country’s particularities; evaluation of what each may bring to the agreement from the economic, social and cultural points of view.

It is regrettable that we have voted for a report that agrees to the establishment of a protocol, having been given almost no information about its content and implications.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the consent of the European Parliament to the draft Council decision, on the basis of which there will be a supplementary protocol to the EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Ukraine will be given the opportunity to participate in EU programmes concerning businesses and entrepreneurship, energy and information and communication technologies. Ukraine will have to make a financial contribution to the EU’s general budget depending on the programmes it wishes to participate in, and the EU will, in turn, guarantee that these programmes are controlled and audited by the EU institutions. This partnership and cooperation policy will give Ukraine more opportunities for the convergence of its policies with policies pursued by the EU in these areas.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this technical report giving approval for the Ukraine to participate in European Union programmes.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the draft resolution on the Council’s decision on a framework agreement between the European Union and Ukraine on the general principles concerning this country’s participation in Union programmes. This document is part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, but also meets Ukraine’s desire to participate in more current and future EU programmes. Furthermore, Ukraine will be able to request assistance from the Union to participate in a particular programme in accordance with the general provisions on setting up a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument or based on any other similar regulation which provides for external assistance. This may also give a new lease of life to Romania’s relations with Ukraine. We must develop these ties in a pragmatic way so that citizens benefit directly from our political decisions.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) For a long time, EU-Ukraine relations have been going through their good and bad moments. The majority of the time, these moods are dictated by Ukraine’s increased or decreased closeness to its neighbour Russia. This protocol will contribute to the creation of a clear framework for Ukraine’s participation in the various European programmes so that in the future, EU-Ukraine relations do not have the highs and lows they have had to endure hitherto.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The participation of Ukraine in European Union programmes represents an important step both for Ukraine and for the EU. This will help to promote the exchange of scientific knowledge and research. The student programmes will be expanded and there will be financial, economic and social benefits for both sides. The geographical position of Ukraine is an important factor and also represents a major advantage for the EU, because it will enable the EU to improve its contacts with other Eastern European states. For this reason, I am in favour of this project.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the recommendation to allow Ukraine to participate in current EU programmes and those established in the future, in areas such as enterprise, energy, technologies and communications. This agreement will accelerate the reform of public administration in Ukraine and the convergence of various areas of the country’s economy with EU legislation, standards and examples of good practice. In exchange for its financial contribution to programmes, Ukraine will have the right to participate as an observer in committees coordinating EU programmes. The programme initiatives proposed by Ukraine will be taken into account like those proposed by EU Member States. This will enable Ukraine to gradually come closer to the EU.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Relations between the European Union and Ukraine have been up and down. On 18 June 2007, the Council mandated the Commission to negotiate framework agreements with Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Tunisia and Ukraine on the general principles governing these countries’ participation in EU programmes. It is essential to establish a clear and precise legal framework for Ukraine’s participation in European programmes, thereby contributing to improving its relations with the Union. I therefore voted for the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, on a framework agreement between the European Union and Ukraine on the general principles for the participation of Ukraine in Union programmes.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Having regard to the draft Council decision (13604/2010), having regard to the draft protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part, concluded on 14 June 1994, on a framework agreement between the European Union and Ukraine on the general principles for the participation of Ukraine in Union programmes (13962/2010), having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 114, 168, 169, 172, 173(3), 188 and 192 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0401/2010), having regard to Rules 81, 90(8) and 46(1) of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, and having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0063/2011), we consent to conclusion of the protocol.

 
  
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  Rafał Trzaskowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) Participation in EU programmes and agencies by countries which are included in the Neighbourhood Policy is one of the most specific forms of those countries’ cooperation with the Union. We should endeavour to ensure that the programmes which are offered give the greatest possible support to the reforms being undertaken in these countries to bring them closer to the Union.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) The 18th round of Ukraine-EU negotiations on the signing of the association agreement is taking place this week in Brussels. The process has taken too long. It is time to sign the agreement, because it is in the interests of both the EU and Ukraine. With a population of 46 million, Ukraine needs stability in the region. In recent years, Ukraine has turned into a political football pitch: it must not be forced to choose between Russia and the West. It is important for EU Member States, in particular, Lithuania, to actively seek closer cooperation with their Eastern neighbours, even if some differences remain. The conclusion of a successful association agreement would encourage modernisation and reforms in Ukraine and help it to come closer to EU standards.

As for negotiations on the free trade area, we must seek agreements on tariff proposals, energy taxation procedures and sustainable development. Liberalising the movement of people is also crucial. Lithuanians still remember the travel restrictions they experienced. We know what it means to live on Europe’s external border. It is important for the issue of visa-free travel to be the number one priority.

 
  
  

Report: Carmen Fraga Estévez (A7-0057/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since it is in the interests of the affected regions to establish a legal basis for trade between the EU and Greenland, in this case, coming under the umbrella of the rules of the EU’s internal market.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) In 2010, the Commission submitted to the Council a proposal for EU rules on the importation of fishery products, using Article 203 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as its legal basis. I agree with the interpretation that this activity should be regulated on the legislative basis of Article 43, in conjunction with the provisions of Article 204, thus allowing revisions to be made through the ordinary legislative procedure.

In 2007 alone, almost 87% of fishery products exported from Greenland came to the EU. For this reason, establishing general rules for trade and the importation of fishery products originating from Greenland cannot be left entirely to the Commission and the Council because this would contradict the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon. This is why I believe that Parliament should make its voice heard in such an important sector.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on imports from Greenland of fishery products, which aims to apply internal market rules to these imports once Greenland undertakes to transpose European legislation, notably, legislation on animal health and food safety. However, I believe that the proposal’s legal basis should be adapted so that the text takes the form of a regulation rather than a Council decision.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal sets out general rules for EU-Greenland trade in, inter alia, fishery products, live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods and their by-products. The Member States should authorise the importing of products originating in Greenland, in line with Union legislation on internal trade. The importing of products to the Union will be subject to a number of conditions, including the effective transposition and application of applicable rules established in Union legislation regarding animal health and food safety. Like the rapporteur, I believe that the proposed text should be adopted using the ordinary legislative procedure, and that Parliament should exercise its legislative rights in similar cases in the future.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Exports of fishery products from Greenland represent around 82% of its total exports, totalling EUR 255 million in 2007. The majority – 87% – were directed to the EU, notably to Denmark, at 97%. The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted unanimously an opinion supporting the request that Articles 43(2) and 204 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Sole Article of the Protocol (No 34) on Special Arrangements for Greenland must form the legal basis for the proposed legislative text, instead of the legal basis chosen by the Commission: that is, Article 203 of the TFEU. Therefore, given that it is a legal issue that is in question and not the content of the proposal for a resolution, and given the consensus obtained, I agree with its adoption.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The great debate surrounding this report is a side issue to its motivation. Specifically, the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries expressed its disagreement with the legal basis chosen by the Commission for tabling this proposal: Article 203 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which provides for the Council examining ‘provisions as regards the detailed rules and the procedure for the association of the countries and territories with the Union’ after consulting the European Parliament. The Committee on Fisheries believed that Articles 43(2) – referring to the ordinary legislative procedure, or colegislation – and 204 of the TFEU should be adopted as its legal basis, along with the Sole Article of the Protocol (No 34) on Special Arrangements for Greenland.

This position was supported by the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs. The important issue that should, at its base, constitute the substance of the report remains on its margins: the defining of rules applicable to imports of fishery products from Greenland to the EU. Key fisheries exports from Greenland include prawn (59%), Greenland halibut (23%), cod (9.5%), crabs (1.9%), scallops (1.4%) and spawn (1.3%).

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted in favour of Ms Fraga’s report, which allows Greenland to export fishery products to the EU despite not being a member. When Greenland won significant home-rule and decided to opt out of the EC, they had to negotiate their exit. This precedent gives the lie to false claims that internal enlargement of the EU would require newly independent EU states to reapply for membership.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the proposal for a Council decision laying down rules for imports into the European Union from Greenland of fishery products, live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods and by-products thereof. Greenland’s exports of fishery products, approximately 82% of its total exports, totalled EUR 255 million in 2007, the largest part of which (87%) were directed to the EU, notably (97%) to Denmark. Key fisheries exports from Greenland include prawn (59%), Greenland halibut (23%), cod (9.5%), crabs (1.9%), scallops (1.4%) and spawn (1.3%). This decision includes an amendment to the legal framework, from a Council decision to a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. – (DE) The trade in fishery products, live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods and their by-products between Greenland and the European Union in accordance with the rules laid down in Union legislation and other conditions is perfectly acceptable. Therefore, there is no reason to object to the content of the agreement. The import of these products makes a welcome contribution to trade within the Union.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Commercial relations between the EU and Greenland have been significant in nature for some years. Indeed, since 2007, Greenland has exported 82% of its fishery products, of which 87% comes to the European market. We can therefore say that this is an important resource for Greenland, in addition to what Europe offers in terms of financial support in exchange for maintaining their fishing rights in Greenland’s waters. On 26 April 2010, the European Parliament asked the Committee on Legal Affairs to give an opinion so as to determine a legal basis on which to establish agreements with Greenland. The Committee on Legal Affairs recently supported Parliament and confirmed that the legal basis of the agreements can be found, as upheld, in Article 43(2) and in Article 204 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal which lays down rules regarding imports into the EU from Greenland of fishery products and other marine products. Greenland and the EU intend to enter into a sanitary arrangement on these products, with the objective being that Greenland can trade these commodities with the EU on the basis of internal market rules, provided that Greenland transposes EU sanitary and animal health rules on fishery products.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) With the laying down of rules on EU-Greenland trade in fishery products, live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods and their by-products, imports from Greenland are in compliance with EU legislation. Imports of products to the Union have to be subject to applicable rules established in Union legislation regarding the issues of animal health and food safety. That is why the adoption of this report is important.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – It is known that Greenland and the European Union intend to sign a sanitary arrangement concerning fish and fishery products for human consumption. The objective of such an arrangement would be that Greenland can trade these commodities with the Union on the basis of internal market rules, provided that Greenland transposes EU sanitary and, where appropriate, animal health rules on its fishery products. I support that arrangement and I voted ‘for’.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 26 April 2010, the European Parliament was consulted on this proposal by the Council under the consultation procedure provided for in Article 203 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The Committee on Fisheries and Parliament’s legal service expressed serious doubts as to the Commission’s choice of Article 203 of the TFEU as the legal basis, suggesting instead as its correct legal basis Articles 43(2) and 204 of the TFEU and the Sole Article of the Protocol (No 34) on Special Arrangements for Greenland.

The Commission’s draft was amended in line with the report that is currently being voted on, following the recommendations of the Committee on Legal Affairs.

This report deserves my vote in favour as it is absolutely desirable that it be adopted now, at first reading.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Greenland’s exports of fishery products, approximately 82% of its total exports, totalled DKK 1.9 billion (EUR 255 million) in 2007, the largest part of which (87%) went to the EU, notably (97%) to Denmark. Key fisheries exports from Greenland include prawn (59%), Greenland halibut (23%), cod (9.5%), crabs (1.9%), scallops (1.4%) and spawn (1.3%).

On 26 April 2010, the European Parliament was consulted on this proposal by the Council under the consultation procedure provided for in Article 203 TFEU. The Committee on Fisheries and the Legal Service of the European Parliament expressed serious doubts as to the choice of the legal basis by the Commission, i.e. Article 203 TFEU, suggesting instead Articles 43(2) and 204 TFEU and the Sole Article of the Protocol (No 34) on Special Arrangements for Greenland as the correct legal basis.

Accordingly, the Committee on Fisheries asked the Committee on Legal Affairs for an opinion on the proposed legal basis. At its meeting of 28 October 2010, the Committee on Legal Affairs adopted unanimously an opinion entirely supporting the request that Articles 43(2) and 204 TFEU and the Sole Article of the Protocol (No 34) on Special Arrangements for Greenland form the legal basis for the proposed legislative act.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) At the moment, a special agreement exists between the EU and Greenland by which the European Union maintains its fishing rights in the waters of Greenland in exchange for financial support.

Greenland, a former Danish colony, attained full independence in 1985, while maintaining ties with the European Union as one of its overseas territories. In 2007 alone, 82% of Greenland’s exports were fishery products, and of those, 87% came to the EU.

On 26 April 2010, the Committee on Fisheries and the Legal Service of the European Parliament expressed serious doubts about the legal basis chosen by the Commission to draw up the agreement. I hope that the agreement voted on will produce an extension of the application of internal EU rules relating to fishery products including those from Greenland. At the same time, existing European rules on animal health and food safety in the fishing industry must always be respected.

 
  
  

Report: Sylvie Guillaume (A7-0085/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I agree with the position set out in this report, taking into account the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, and because this is, therefore, a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection. Work on the creation of a common European asylum system (CEAS) started immediately after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in May 1999, but despite the efforts made over the last ten years to achieve harmonisation in the asylum sector, major discrepancies still remain between national provisions and the way they are applied. I agree with the opinion that in whichever Member State applicants lodge an asylum request, they must enjoy a high standard of treatment that is equivalent throughout the Union. Legislative harmonisation alone in this area is therefore insufficient and must be backed up by enhanced practical cooperation among the Member States. It is clear that in order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to adopt reforms without delay, so that people seeking asylum in EU Member States are provided with effective protection. By voting in favour of this resolution, we MEPs are contributing to the creation of a fair and effective European asylum policy.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing.(BG) I think that the proposals are contradictory. On the one hand, their aim is to achieve greater harmonisation, improve international protection standards and enhance the quality and efficiency of asylum procedures. On the other hand, they will result in an unjustified administrative burden, the simplified court procedures will make it much more likely for courts to make rash decisions, various groups of people may be treated differently for no good reason, and Member States’ sovereignty may be greatly restricted. Weighing up the pros and cons of the proposals, as neither is clearly supported by more convincing arguments, I abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) The European Union’s key objective in the area of asylum entails establishing a common area of protection and solidarity by 2012 based on a common asylum procedure. Despite the efforts made over the last ten years to achieve harmonisation in the asylum sector, major discrepancies still remain between national provisions and the way they are applied. In whichever Member State applicants lodge an asylum request, they must enjoy the same treatment, taking into account common standards applicable throughout the European Union. The adoption of a sound European legal framework is a sine qua non if the Union wishes to introduce a common European asylum system in an adequate and effective manner. Thus, only by improving and harmonising the procedures and related guarantees will it be possible to achieve a common asylum system. Furthermore, a fundamental revision of the Procedures Directive is vital, so as to provide an accessible, fair and effective procedure, as much in the interests of asylum seekers as in those of the Member States. I would like to stress that the Commission’s new revised proposal for this directive may genuinely help to achieve greater harmonisation, improve international protection standards and enhance the quality and efficiency of asylum procedures.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) In spite of the efforts made over the last 10 years to achieve harmonisation in the asylum sector, major discrepancies still remain between national provisions and in the way they are applied. Such discrepancies are incompatible with a common European asylum system and are an obstacle to its development. They run counter to one of the cornerstones of the Dublin system, which is based on the presumption that Member States’ asylum systems are comparable. In whichever Member State applicants lodge an asylum request, they must enjoy the same high level of protection across the whole Union.

While legislative harmonisation will not suffice to reduce these differences and will need to be supplemented by practical cooperation among Member States, adopting a sound European legal framework is an absolute prerequisite for the Union to implement a common European asylum system in an adequate and effective manner, just as it has repeatedly pledged to do so. The Commission’s proposal will rectify the mistakes of the past, when the previous approach to asylum encouraged a series of shortcomings regarding procedural guarantees for asylum seekers.

 
  
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  John Bufton, David Campbell Bannerman and Nigel Farage (EFD), in writing. – UKIP MEPs abstained on the amendments to this report. This was not due to indifference on our part; rather, it is because this report is a development of the Common Immigration and Asylum Policy under the Lisbon Treaty. The peoples of Europe do not want the Lisbon Treaty or a Common Immigration and Asylum Policy either, which is why they were denied a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. To vote on the amendments would have entailed endorsing existing EU legislation (which we don’t want either) and a nit-picking exercise in order to decide which bits were worse than others. Therefore, UKIP MEPs abstained on the amendments, but voted a resounding ‘No’ to the report as a whole.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this resolution to harmonise the various national systems while better protecting applicants’ rights and improving the quality of procedures. This resolution provides legal assistance right from the start of the procedure while taking better account of the specificity of vulnerable applicants such as unaccompanied minors. However, I regret that for the vote in plenary, the European right targeted the strengthening of accelerated procedures based on the notion that asylum seekers are all potential fraudsters. I regret that these amendments were adopted, because this perspective on asylum is out of all proportion.

 
  
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  Derek Roland Clark (EFD), in writing. – As a UKIP MEP, I am against any kind of EU interference in the UK system of asylum and in any related directive which would force EU rules on the UK. I therefore abstained on votes to all amendments because I will not accept even those that might be seen to be helpful; this is a matter for the UK alone. I therefore voted against the amended proposal and against the legislative resolution.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Enormous progress has been made towards the creation of a common European asylum system in the last decade. However, major discrepancies still remain between national provisions and in the way they are applied, which need to be overcome if we want to establish a common area of protection and solidarity by 2012, based, inter alia, on a common asylum procedure.

The great objective is that, irrespective of the Member State in which applicants lodge an asylum request, they must enjoy a high standard of treatment that is equivalent throughout the Union. That is why a fundamental revision of the Procedures Directive is important, so as to provide an accessible, fair and effective procedure. The Commission’s initiative is generally positive, enabling greater consistency and harmonisation, improving protection standards, and enhancing the quality and efficiency of procedures.

I would congratulate the rapporteur on her work and commitment, but I regret that some of her proposals went a little too far, which ended up making agreement with the Council impossible on this initiative that appears so urgently needed so as to increase the efficiency of the asylum process and prevent abuses.

 
  
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  Harlem Désir (S&D), in writing.(FR) The report by Mrs Guillaume is an important step towards the revision of EU rules on asylum and protection for applicants for 2012. In view of the terrible tragedies that have taken place, such as the recent sinking of a Libyan boat off Lampedusa, this revision is vital, particularly considering that an applicant’s chances of obtaining asylum may differ greatly according to the Member State. With this text, we are calling on the European Commission to include in the proposed revision the right to free legal advice from the start of the procedure; better consideration of vulnerable applicants, such as unaccompanied minors; and a framework for the time limit for appeals. My one regret, however, is that the European right adopted a tightening of accelerated procedures based on the notion that asylum seekers are primarily potential fraudsters, limiting their rights. However, the adoption of Mrs Guillaume’s report sends a clear signal to the Council and Commission that they need to work to guarantee all asylum seekers in Europe decent, fair conditions and procedures.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted in favour of this report because I argue that these measures contribute to the creation of a common European asylum system that is fair and efficient. These measures have a direct impact on those seeking protection, as well as on the European Union’s ability to develop and create a genuine area of freedom, security and justice.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union and the Member States have been working towards implementing a common European asylum system for a long time. It is easy to understand the sensitivity and complexity that efforts to this end take on, since this issue gets right to the heart of states’ powers as regards foreigners. The Commission has, however, been tabling proposals to Parliament and the Council aimed at providing suitable solutions to the problems that have been detected. The recasting of the Procedures Directive, proposed by the Commission on 21 October 2009, is part of this improvement process. Despite the distance already travelled, we are still a long way from the harmonisation that many of us want. Increasing the harmonisation of procedures and guarantees will make a positive contribution to clarifying the process, so the proposed revision of the directive seems opportune.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Work on the creation of a common European asylum system started immediately after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999. In December 2005, with the objective of harmonising the Member States’ legal procedures, Council Directive 2005/85/EC on asylum procedures was adopted, laying down the rules for granting and withdrawing ‘refugee status’. The recent social and political upheaval in a number of countries, specifically in North Africa and the Middle East, have brought issues relating to asylum applications in the European Union onto the agenda. In truth, when refugees cross a border, they should not be persecuted or received with mistrust. I therefore welcome the adoption of this proposal, which has ended up with a Manichaean interpretation of this problem, acknowledging that the right to asylum is a fundamental right and must be treated fairly and equitably by the Member States. I welcome the rapporteur’s proposals which aim to develop a legal aid system, given that these are vulnerable people who lack effective guarantees; to improve procedures; and to improve procedures and give applicants better rights, minors in particular.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The proposal for a directive on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection follows the same lines as the creation of a common European asylum system. Nevertheless, it should be understood that the progress of this legal ‘harmonisation’ goes hand-in-hand with overall foreign policy followed by the European Union, and its hypocritical positions on immigration and aid for refugees. The situation in Lampedusa, where there are thousands of refugees without adequate protection, is a clear demonstration of this, not to mention the hundreds or thousands who have been dying in boats crossing the Mediterranean, as has just happened again, disgracefully.

We are extremely concerned with the scale of the current problem, especially given what is happening in the serious armed conflicts, in Libya in particular. We would also stress the fact that this proposal for a directive includes aspects that will end up restricting the right to asylum and applying conditions to it, above all, limiting each Member State’s sovereign right to make its own choices and decide on its own asylum procedures.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The proposal for a directive being voted on in the European Parliament today on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection follows the same lines as the creation of a common European asylum system. Nevertheless, it should be understood that the progress of this legal ‘harmonisation’ goes hand-in-hand with overall foreign policy followed by the European Union, and its hypocritical positions on immigration and aid for refugees, such as the situation in Lampedusa, where there are thousands of refugees without adequate protection, not to mention the hundreds or thousands who have been dying in boats crossing the Mediterranean.

We are extremely concerned with the scale of the current problem, especially given what is happening in the serious armed conflicts, in Libya in particular.

We would also stress the fact that this proposal for a directive includes aspects that will end up restricting access to the right to asylum and applying conditions to it, above all, as regards each Member State’s sovereign right to make its own choices and decide on its own asylum procedures. Hence, our critical position as regards this report.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) International protection is supposed to enable people who are truly persecuted in their own country to seek refuge under better circumstances. However, as it is, and although some amendments have helped to improve it, the report by Mrs Guillaume is a real incentive for people to abuse this process, clogging up the relevant services and depriving those who really need their case to be reviewed quickly.

Minors, whatever their age or true circumstances, benefit from total goodwill that is entirely unjustified; there are limited opportunities to use the accelerated procedure in order to reject manifestly unfounded applications; appeals are systematically of a suspensive nature; the request for a review of negative decisions has become a right; and the necessary cooperation of the applicant for protection is hardly ever required, even when it is a matter of proving his or her identity and origin, which is nonetheless the minimum requirement for reviewing the case.

Applications for international protection cannot and should not be a means of circumventing restrictive measures against unwanted economic migration. It is disgraceful that Parliament lends a hand to this kind of circumvention by granting inordinate rights to false asylum seekers.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – With reference to the Guillaume report, although, in principle, this represents a significant step towards the realisation of a common asylum policy system for Europe, I voted against the group on a number of clauses as I felt that they did not reflect realistically the complexities and problems faced by my country, Malta, which is a regular recipient of migrants. Having said that, however, when it came to the final vote, I voted in favour of the whole report which ultimately contained a number of very good clauses addressing Member States’ needs and preoccupations. One example is the call for the immediate mobilisation of financial, administrative and technical support for Member States receiving disproportionately large numbers of asylum applications. Such an initiative is essential for all Member States, but especially so for countries like Malta – often burdened with responsibilities and complexities, due to the reception of large inflows of migrants, which it cannot shoulder on its own.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing.(FR) On Wednesday, 6 April 2011, the European Parliament adopted the report on the so-called Asylum Procedures Directive. This vote represents an important step towards creating a genuine European policy on asylum, which we have long requested. Furthermore, this adoption is a clear sign that the EU needs a common European asylum system (CEAS) by 2012, especially since recent events in the Southern Mediterranean and the recent migration flows from North Africa have clearly proved the limitations of the current European system. There is an urgent need to revise the EU directives for a credible and efficient system. Specifically, it is my firm belief that the provisions relating to the accelerated procedure and the rejection of manifestly unfounded applications should not apply to unaccompanied minors or asylum seekers with special needs, so I voted in favour of those amendments that specified otherwise. Secondly, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe was totally opposed to adding further grounds for allowing an accelerated review of an application for asylum, given the risks that these provisions present for asylum seekers, and I deeply regret that the corresponding amendments were adopted by such a small majority. Finally, with regard to the ‘safe third country’ concept, I chose to abstain.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) We must work harder than ever to establish a genuine common European asylum system (CEAS) for 2012 by better protecting applicants’ rights and improving the quality of procedures. My report goes in that direction, in particular, by including the right to free legal advice from the start of the procedure; better consideration of vulnerable applicants, such as unaccompanied minors; and a framework for the time limit for appeals. I regret that the European right only targeted the tightening of accelerated procedures based on the notion that asylum seekers are almost all potential fraudsters, because this perspective on asylum is out of all proportion. In my opinion, more robust procedures and decisions and faster examination of cases will mean that there are fewer appeals and unfounded applications will be more easily identified.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The Guillaume report covers important areas of law and emphasises the need for human rights to be fully respected in relation to people seeking asylum. My own country, Scotland, does not as yet have control over immigration. However, the policies which have been implemented by successive UK governments have been quite inhumane. I am proud to be a member of a party which has actively campaigned against the brutal incarceration of young children seeking asylum.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because I believe that we should seize this opportunity to develop a common European asylum system that is fair and efficient. Asylum policies have a direct impact on those seeking protection, as well as on the European Union’s ability to develop and create a genuine area of freedom, security and justice. It is necessary to ensure harmonised, fair and efficient procedures under the common European asylum system.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The proposal referred to Parliament for a directive regarding the possible provision of a unified procedure for the 27 States of the Union in granting the right of asylum is an important step, but the delicacy of the issue requires careful and thorough reflection. The ultimate goal is to ensure that States draw their laws closer to one another in accordance with the commitments made under the Treaty of Stockholm, simplifying and speeding up the procedures. Another goal is to provide a high degree of protection for asylum seekers, ensuring a rapid verdict in the first instance, free legal assistance and permission to stay in the country until the final ruling. Notwithstanding the good intentions, I voted against this draft directive as it is imprecise on some technical and procedural aspects and some of the definitions are ambiguous. In fact, it is formulated in such a manner that the directive would lend itself to easy abuse on the part of applicants. For these reasons, I decided not to support this version of the text as I do not agree with it totally.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. – (FR) As part of its policy plan on asylum, the European Union aims to create a common European asylum system. Indeed, freedom of movement within Member States that are party to the Schengen Agreement now requires us to make a concerted effort to understand immigration issues. The report on the granting and withdrawing of international protection will reform the system that exists through Directive 2005/85/EC. The demographic pressures on Europe today require us to consider these issues with increased vigilance. Unfortunately, the report by Mrs Guillaume does not reflect those considerations, which led me, along with the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), to oppose it. Indeed, it leaves too much vagueness and laxity in the procedures, which creates the risk that this historic right will be misused. For example, the notion of ‘family members’ is too broad and risks being abused. After six months of procedures, it will be up to the Member State in question to prove that the applicant is not being persecuted, making the task much more complicated for the relevant authorities. Restrictions on the use of accelerated procedures will further increase all these difficulties.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. The first days when refugees arrive in Europe are crucial in determining their status and European countries must, by 2012, improve their asylum procedures at that very first stage, according to the report. Notably, the adopted report calls on EU countries to enhance the minimum procedural safeguards, particularly as regards the right to free legal assistance, the right to information, and the right to personal interview; to give special attention to vulnerable applicants, like children; and the adoption, in codecision with the European Parliament, of a common list of safe third countries.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted against the report by Mrs Guillaume because it establishes criteria for the harmonisation of asylum procedures that are unrealistic in relation to those procedures currently in force in our Member States. We certainly want a common asylum system, but not at the cost of a utopian harmonisation. Parliament’s vote today clearly shows the unease that is felt in this House, of which half rejected this demagogic approach, preferring a more responsible approach advocating the adoption of asylum systems that are effective and workable in practice.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) All UN Member States have an obligation to protect refugees and asylum seekers. The EU gets away with ignoring this law by requiring Member States with EU borders to hold refugees and asylum seekers in camps to await a decision that is even more uncertain, given that suspicion is the norm, accelerated procedures have been maintained, and the number of officials in charge of these cases has been reduced.

On the other hand, I would note that this text makes some significant improvements, such as the end of the absurd ‘safe country of origin’ concept, the ban on detaining minors and the inclusion of persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) More than 10 years have already passed since work on the creation of a common European asylum system (CEAS) started immediately after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in May 1999, on the basis of the principles approved by the Tampere European Council. During the first phase of the CEAS (1999-2005), the goal was to harmonise Member States’ legal frameworks on the basis of minimum standards. There is still a long way to go before true harmonisation will have taken place, but we have to be conscious that only by improving and harmonising the procedures and related guarantees will it be possible to achieve a common system. With this in mind, a fundamental revision of the Procedures Directive is absolutely vital, so as to provide an accessible, fair and effective procedure, as much in the interests of asylum seekers as in those of the Member States.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – If the aim of the resolution is to create an accessible, honest and efficient procedure for granting asylum on the territory of the European Union, in that case, people looking for protection will be granted standard European Union guarantees and EU Member States will be able to distinguish asylum seekers from other migrants. I voted ‘for’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In the efforts to create a common European asylum system, the focus is on the rights of asylum seekers. However, this ignores the fact that the majority of these people are not genuine asylum seekers but economic migrants, who have no right to asylum under the Geneva Convention and who have taken up the authorities’ time by providing incorrect information and employing a range of delaying tactics, giving rise to costs of billions of euro. In the other direction, very little progress is being made with regard to repatriation.

In the light of the flood of refugees from the overpopulated regions of the world, most of whom are motivated by economic considerations, who are importing the problems and conflicts of areas all over the world into Europe and who are not required to cooperate in the process, we must oppose unequivocally the introduction of stricter unilateral standards of protection which will attract asylum seekers and economic migrants like a magnet and only exacerbate the problem.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal because we must make every effort to ensure that we achieve a European asylum system that is even more efficient and has a positive impact on people. Asylum policies are very important as they have a huge impact on the European Union’s ability to develop and create a common area of freedom, security and justice. Above all, we must achieve greater consistency between asylum instruments. Procedures must be harmonised so that they can proceed in a fair and effective manner. Furthermore, we must enhance the minimum procedural safeguards. We must ensure that asylum applicants enjoy the right to information, the right to be heard and the right to free legal assistance, and that there are no restrictions on these rights. All procedural instruments must be non-discriminatory and uniformly applied with due regard for minimum rights guarantees and principles. Particular attention must be paid to vulnerable asylum applicants. The interests of children must be adequately ensured and represented by applying the necessary procedures. I agree with the proposal providing for the opportunity to immediately deport a person who may be a danger to the Member State’s national security or who has been forcibly expelled from a country for reasons of public security under national law. Such an opportunity is very important and necessary because it provides Member States with increased opportunities to stop terrorist networks from operating and to take appropriate preventive measures.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) It was in May 1999, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, that work on the creation of a common European asylum system (CEAS) started, on the basis of the principles approved by the Tampere European Council. There has been significant progress towards it. The proposal now being tabled of a fundamental revision and recasting of the Procedures Directive represents another step forward. In fact, the discrepancies still remaining between national provisions and in the way they are applied were totally incompatible with a CEAS, and are the reason for these amendments. The goal of the CEAS is for an applicant to enjoy a high standard of treatment that is equivalent throughout the Union, irrespective of the Member State in which they lodge an asylum request. To that end, I agree that there is a need to establish a robust European legal framework that enables the creation of an adequate and effective CEAS. I voted for this report because I think that only improving and harmonising the procedures and related guarantees will enable the construction of a common system.

 
  
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  Vincent Peillon (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by my colleague and friend, Mrs Guillaume, on procedures for granting and withdrawing asylum in Europe. This text marks a major step forward in establishing a common European asylum system (CEAS) by 2012, thereby putting an end to the intolerable situation whereby, depending on the European country in which an asylum seeker applies for protection, his or her chances of being recognised as a refugee vary between 1% and 65%. Parliament has therefore spoken out in favour of greater justice and greater efficiency in the processing of asylum procedures. It proposes that each country observe the same enhanced rules on protecting rights and modernising procedures: free legal advice from day one, a framework for the time limit for appeals, special assistance for unaccompanied minors, and a faster examination of cases. Also, although I regret that the European right, which has a majority in Parliament, has managed to adopt amendments to the text which cast widespread, exaggerated suspicion on the sincerity of asylum seekers, I warmly welcome the adoption of this report. The ball is now in the court of those Member States that have yet to decide on our proposals.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. I am particularly happy that our centre-right colleagues agreed on the need for special protection, regardless of their general position on asylum. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fleeing countries such as Iraq, Uganda, Honduras or Indonesia must receive particular protection taking into account cultural sensitivity. This is a major step towards fully complying with our engagements under international asylum law. The European Parliament is showing that asylum rules need updating to reflect reality: 76 countries criminalise homosexual acts and 7 foresee the death penalty (maybe 8 soon with Uganda). I regret that other progressive provisions did not pass, but today’s text will ultimately bring more fairness for LGBT asylum seekers. The text adopted today is the European Parliament’s formal position at first reading. Asylum rules will effectively be amended once EU governments examine the text and conclude an agreement with the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) After years of debate and having signed the Treaty of Lisbon, the Committee has submitted to Parliament the first draft for a common asylum procedure between Member States.

The objective is to establish by 2012 a common area of security and solidarity based on harmonised asylum policies between Member States, despite the persistent differences between national regulations. In fact, these national differences are inconsistent with a common European asylum system and constitute an obstacle to its realisation.

In particular, the new law states that asylum seekers should be granted an equivalent level of treatment throughout Europe, irrespective of the Member State in which the application is made. It is important that we work towards a gradual improvement and harmonisation of procedures and effective guarantees of asylum, in order to implement a common European system. I hope that in the context of this review, we ensure an accessible, equitable and effective procedure, in the interests of both asylum seekers and the need for protection for Member States.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) We have expressed such convinced opposition to the Parliamentary directive on the unified asylum procedure because, if implemented, it would, in effect, override the sovereignty of Member States. We consider it unacceptable to prevent Member States from denying asylum and favourable treatment to unwanted people throughout the European Union when there are European families who do not even enjoy the right to housing. Asylum seekers are also granted the right to legal advice, aid and representation totally free of charge. It also specifies that NGOs can play an active role in providing services, giving information on procedures for obtaining protection and offering guidance and advice to asylum seekers which should be supplied at border crossings or in reception centres. Bear in mind that all these benefits will be paid for by European taxpayers and will be granted not only to refugees but to all asylum seekers and, consequently, to any illegal or clandestine immigrant who requests it.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. – (DE) I have voted against the report. It concerns the implementation of a well-organised, common and rapid asylum procedure in Europe based on uniform legal standards. However, the amendments tabled by the greens and the socialists will ensure that foreigners can live in the EU with almost no means available for exercising control over them. As a result, we will be doing a disservice to the genuine asylum seekers who are applying for asylum because their lives are at risk or on political, religious or ethical grounds, as we will be grouping them together with all the other migrants. That is not my idea of asylum policy. Asylum policy should be an act of humanity and solidarity. If we provide these people with a service, then they must offer something in return, for example, by acknowledging and respecting the structures of their host country.

 
  
  

Report: Brian Simpson (A7-0329/2010)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) The tourism sector has been increasingly important to European companies and people in recent times. As such, it is important that statistics for developing more effective tourism policies at European, national, regional and local level be as reliable as possible, since they are instruments for supporting the decision-making process in companies and in the private sector. I should also stress that it is important that the Commission welcome these suggestions in the terms in which they are proposed.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing.(RO) Tourism statistics play a major role in the development of more effective tourism policies at European, national, regional and local levels. However, these statistics are not only used to monitor tourism-specific policies, but also play a key role in the context of regional policy and sustainable development. I think that the European Union tourism sector needs to be strengthened through coordinated action at EU level which will complement Member States’ initiatives. I welcome the aim to update and optimise the legal framework for European statistics on tourism, which will better address the challenges facing this sector, such as climate change, environmental constraints, global competition, demographic trends and seasonal distribution of tourist movements. This new common framework for systematically generating European statistics on tourism must be established by the Member States collecting, compiling, processing and transmitting harmonised statistics on supply and demand. I voted for this report as tourism is an important economic activity in the European Union, contributing to higher employment and economic growth.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. (GA) It is to Europe that most of the world’s tourists come: some 370 million international tourists visiting annually. About 7 million overseas tourists visit Ireland every year. The tourism sector is of great importance to European enterprises and to the economies of Member States. Currently, 1.8 million enterprises and 9.7 million jobs depend on European tourism. There are significant growth opportunities in the same sector, in terms of eco-tourism, heritage, sport and gastronomy. To get the best value from these opportunities, the tourism sector must be properly understood. To this end, I support this report on statistical information and tourism. Accurate information on local, national and European tourism will help the EU to develop effective policies and to encourage tourism in Europe.

Since the tourism sector is vital for Ireland and in the context of the country’s geographical location, I especially welcome what the report contains about the special situation of islands and outer regions, and about the discussion of those special cases in the EU Action Framework for European Tourism.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. Tourism is an important economic activity in the EU with a high potential for contributing to greater employment and economic growth, as well as to playing an important role in socio-economic integration in rural and less-developed areas. With some 1.8 million businesses, primarily SMEs, the European tourism industry employs approximately 5.2% of the total workforce (approximately 9.7 million jobs). I support the Commission’s aim to define a new policy framework for tourism in Europe, drawing on the new competences introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. The tourism sector faces major challenges, such as increasing global competition, demographic trends, climate change and environmental constraints, the seasonal distribution of tourist movements and the increasing use by customers of new information and communication technologies. I believe that it is necessary to strengthen the EU tourism sector by coordinated action at EU level that complements Member States’ initiatives. This regulation, whose aim is to establish a common framework for the systematic production of European statistics on tourism by means of the collection, compilation, processing and transmission by the Member States of harmonised European statistics on tourism supply and demand, is very important because, if it is implemented properly, it will be possible to ascertain the true situation as regards tourism in the Member States and it will be easier to adapt to tourists’ changing needs.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Tourism is an important sector of the European economy, with around 1.8 million companies, primarily small and medium-sized enterprises, employing approximately 9.7 million workers. It is estimated that the tourism industry produces more than 5% of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product.

With the tabling of Communication COM(2010)352, the Commission aims to define a new policy framework for tourism in Europe, seeking to reinforce the sector through coordinated action at EU level that complements the Member States’ initiatives. Therefore, in order for the new political framework to be successful, decisions must be taken, founded and based on reliable and comparable statistical data.

This report, which deserved my support, recognises the important role of statistics for developing better tourism policies at European, national, regional and local level, since they represent useful instruments for supporting the decision-making process. It also supports the establishment of a common legislative framework for the systematic production of European statistics on tourism by means of the collection, compilation, processing and transmission by the Member States of harmonised European statistics on tourism supply and demand.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing. (BG) Statistics plays an important role in the development of more effective tourism policies and in making business decisions. I support the text because, on the one hand, the changes that have taken place in the tourism industry in recent years have created the need to update the legal framework for European statistics on tourism. Once adopted, the proposal will improve the timeliness, comparability and completeness of the statistics transmitted, as well as make data processing more efficient.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The Simpson report, and the regulation to which it refers, propose the establishment of a common framework for the collection and distribution of European statistics on tourism through data gathering and processing, to be carried out by individual Member States with harmonised statistics on demand and supply in tourism using aggregated tables which are then transmitted electronically to the European Commission (Eurostat). Despite the commendable work of the rapporteur, I cannot vote in favour of the report because it does not change the quantity of work and data collection set out in the regulation. The compilation of tables proposed by the regulation is somewhat complex and the collection of so much information is, in my opinion, an unreasonable burden. I cannot, therefore, approve the bureaucratic burden and interference which this regulation would produce.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because it is necessary to improve European tourism policies, particularly given the fact that the European tourism sector has recently had to endure a difficult economic situation. With the change in the legal framework following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union received more competences and the European Commission presented a proposal on the new policy context for tourism. The aim of this proposal for a regulation is to update and optimise the legal framework for European statistics on tourism, but there is concern that the proposal does not provide for the introduction of tourism satellite accounts (TSAs). These TSAs are crucial to progressively developing integrated systems of tourism statistics and to better understanding the true value of tourism, as well as its effects on jobs and the economy. Furthermore, with a view to enhancing the knowledge base for the development and growth of tourism, the Commission should draw up a programme of pilot studies on tourism. These studies would be carried out by Member States on a voluntary basis in order to develop a system for the compilation of data showing the effects of tourism on the environment

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In several Member States, as is the case with mine, Portugal, tourism occupies an important place in the economy that has intrinsic potential for generating new sources of revenue and economic growth. Tourism represents the third largest European socio-economic activity, generating over 5% of EU Gross Domestic Product. European Union remains the world’s number one tourist destination, with 40% of arrivals worldwide in 2008.

The EU aims to define a new policy framework for tourism, with the objective of reinforcing the sector so as to address the great challenges, such as climate change, demographic trends and globalisation, through coordinated action at EU level that complements the Member States’ initiatives. Compiling data on tourism enables better knowledge of the volume represented by this sector, of its characteristics, of the profile of the tourists and of the various travel patterns, which contributes, not just to the proper formulation of policies for the sector, but also to better understanding of its socio-economic implications.

I therefore support the updating and optimisation of the current statistics system so that we can have reliable and comparable statistics.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) We cannot deny that over the past decade, tourism has changed radically, thanks, among other things, to technological progress. It is therefore necessary to update the legislation on the collection of data and statistics.

In this regard, I agree with the Commission’s proposal to introduce a new regulation which repeals some obsolete items. At the same time, however, I am in favour of the amendments to the regulation of Parliament, especially with regard to, on the one hand, the need to introduce harmonised statistics that reflect the purely social aspects of tourism and, on the other, the position opposing the adoption of actions delegated by the Commission on key issues and for an indefinite period.

Also, I consider it a serious shortcoming that the Commission has failed to take into account the introduction of tourism satellite accounts (TSAs), as this type of data would provide a more complete picture of the impact that tourism has on the labour market and the economy.

Finally, I am very interested in the proposal to introduce the voluntary collection of tourism statistics regarding the habits of people with disabilities or restricted mobility and the subsequent establishment of pilot projects in order to improve such persons’ participation in tourism.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Europe occupies seventh place in the top 10 destinations in a statistical survey covering the 50 most popular countries in the world. This shows very clearly that Europe has great tourism and cultural potential, still offering opportunities to be utilised, including for European citizens. I think that one such opportunity is encouraging the participation not only of the elderly, but also of young people, families living in difficult circumstances and people with reduced mobility in the social tourism programmes developed by the Union. However, adequate statistics are required to do this, compiled using common collection methods, aimed at developing programmes targeted at these groups of tourists in every EU Member State.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the European statistics on tourism report today. It is a positive step to establish a regulation that will take account of tourism statistics from all Member States. The importance of tourism in European law was greatly elevated when it was made a competence under the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Going forward, Member States will have to ensure the accuracy of statistical data transmitted in order to achieve quality results.

While European-level coordination will be very beneficial for the European tourism sector, any pan-European initiatives should seek to complement Member States’ initiatives and tourism strategies. By providing statistical data, the EU will be in a better position to help the tourism industry, including SMEs, and to improve the overall marketing of Europe as a highly desirable tourist destination.

The distinction between internal and national tourism is drawn in the report. Internal tourism covers the capacity of tourist accommodation establishments, and national tourism covers participation in tourism, including excursions.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe that tourism statistics contribute to the development of more effective policy and represent a useful tool for supporting the decision-making processes of companies and the private sector. There is no doubt that this new regulation will improve the timeliness, comparability and completeness of the statistics transmitted, as well as the efficiency of the data processing.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) According to the report’s figures, Europe remains the world’s number one tourist destination, and tourism is the third largest socio-economic activity in the EU, with some 1.8 million businesses, primarily small and medium-sized enterprises, 9.7 million jobs and production equivalent to 5% of EU Gross Domestic Product. For this very reason, it is an activity that should be properly monitored, regulated and supported, particularly in the specific context of the economic recovery and the need to increase production of saleable goods.

While this is the reality for the whole EU, it is especially important for Portugal, which is a country that has, for a long time, been very invested in tourism, as a particularly dynamic economic activity with vast potential for growth. In this context, and given the importance that a profound and realistic knowledge of the reality of tourism has for developing appropriate policies, the Commission’s proposal intended to update and optimise the legal framework for European statistics on tourism that we voted on today is important.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is on an area that is fundamental to the future of the EU: tourism. Despite the crisis that has taken hold at global level, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), in 2010, this sector saw growth of 2%, despite all the political upheavals in a number of areas of the world. At European level, as well as growing steadily, tourism encompasses 1.8 million businesses, the large majority of these being small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), providing 9.7 million jobs, ranking as the third largest socio-economic activity in the EU, and generating more than 5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Moreover, Europe is the top tourist destination in the world, with 40% of all tourist arrivals. This activity is vital to realising the objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. This regulation updates the one currently in force, particularly with regard to the collection and processing of data on provision and accessibility for people with reduced mobility, which are essential to preparing the new EU tourism strategy. I welcome the adoption of this proposal, which, as well as creating a programme of pilot studies to be carried out by the Member States, will include data on rural tourism and green tourism, which cover over 50 000 lodgings, the overwhelming majority of which are managed by SMEs.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The usefulness of statistical information depends on its comparability in time and space, which entails the adoption of a common set of definitions and classifications. In the particular case of tourism, this sector includes concepts and definitions that have long been unclear, which has made it difficult to obtain reliable and credible information. It is therefore necessary to clarify and harmonise criteria and definitions that enable comparable data to be obtained. The existence of these statistics is of great importance in determining the direct and indirect impact of tourism on the economy, supporting the planning and development of new tourism options, or adapting existing ones.

The proposal included in the report is aimed at improving the timeliness, comparability and completeness of the statistics transmitted, as well as the efficiency of the data processing, including improved data evaluation. It is also aimed at adapting the legal framework so as to reflect the latest changes to the sector with the introduction of new variables, such as tourist movements over a single day. We therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) We know that it is important to have statistical information, although its usefulness depends on its comparability in time and space, which entails the adoption of a common set of definitions and classifications.

In the particular case of tourism, this sector includes concepts and definitions that have long been unclear, which has made it difficult to obtain reliable and credible information. It is therefore necessary to clarify and harmonise criteria and definitions that enable comparable data to be obtained.

The existence of these statistics is of great importance in determining the direct and indirect impact of tourism on the economy, supporting the planning and development of new tourism options, or adapting existing ones.

The proposal included in the report is aimed at improving the comparability and completeness of the statistics transmitted, as well as the efficiency of the data processing, including improved data evaluation. It is also aimed at adapting the legal framework so as to reflect the latest changes to the sector with the introduction of new variables, such as tourist movements over a single day.

We therefore voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Jacqueline Foster (ECR), in writing. – My group supported the report on Statistics on Tourism, which updates and modernises the method for collecting European statistics on tourism, particularly in the light of modern trends such as low-cost flights and short-stay holidays.

Politicians need to acknowledge the great importance of the tourism industry to Europe. Individual Member States realise that more must be done to help this sector, which contributes greatly to economic growth.

For example, tourism is one of the largest sectors of the UK economy. It directly supports 1.36 million jobs – and an expected 1.5 million by 2020 – and nearly 3 million if indirect employment is included. These figures speak for themselves!

The UK is keen to participate actively and positively in discussions on tourism at EU level, supporting fully the need to improve the competitiveness of the European tourism industry and its capacity for sustainable growth. However, we must ensure that EU-level action does not encroach on the principle of subsidiarity.

Member States are competing with each other, despite being able to share best practice and cooperate on certain issues, such as improving transport links across Europe and other measures enabling easier consumer travel.

Let me end with a simple message – Visit Britain!

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) The Treaty of Lisbon has increased the EU’s responsibility for tourism. It goes without saying that statistics provide fundamental information and allow interesting conclusions to be drawn not only at an EU level, but also at a national and regional level.

In my region, which is home to the German-speaking community in Belgium, tourism is not only an important area of competence, but also a crucial economic factor. For this reason, these statistics represent a significant element of policy making. However, it is also clear that the different levels – regional, national and cross-border – must work together to define the regions of Europe more accurately as a tourism location, particularly in border areas.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document because it is necessary to define a new improved policy framework for tourism in Europe. Tourism is an important economic activity in the EU with a high potential for contributing to greater employment and economic growth, as well as to playing an important role in socio-economic integration in rural, peripheral and less-developed areas, such as areas rich in industrial heritage. Statistics in this field are not only used to monitor tourism-specific policies, but also play a role in the wider context of regional policy and sustainable development. We need to address the main challenges facing the sector such as increasing global competition, demographic trends, climate change and environmental constraints, the seasonal distribution of tourist movements and the increasing use by customers of new information and communication technologies. There is a need to strengthen the EU tourism sector by coordinated action at EU level that complements Member States’ initiatives. In order to implement successfully the new policy framework, policy makers at all levels of governance need to take well-informed decisions, based on reliable and comparable statistical data. Tourism is an important economic activity that has a positive impact on economic growth and employment in Europe, and therefore it is necessary to update and optimise the legal framework for European statistics on tourism, thereby strengthening the tourism sector at EU level. Consequently, implementing the measures mentioned will increase the competitiveness of European tourism and encourage its harmonious growth.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing.(IT) I think the proposal for a regulation on European statistics on tourism, being voted on in this House, should be considered of particular interest and also very useful. The tourism industry is, for Europe, a leading sector of great importance within the community because it occupies an important role in the individual economies of Member States. The tourism industry still has significant potential in terms of employment and it would therefore be useful to adopt measures to facilitate better organisation, which would allow the development of its full potential. The creation of a common framework for the collection and compilation of comparable and comprehensive statistics on European tourism can only be helpful in improving the situation. Understanding consumer demand will enable private and public companies to intervene to address the needs of the sector, improving performance and competitiveness. I support the proposed regulation because I believe that unified European statistics which are transparent, reliable and objective are an effective way to support this large industry which is of considerable importance for my country.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report as I think that we must do our utmost to remain the number one tourist destination in the world. To achieve this, we need to make maximum use of every possible funding option. The development of a sustainable, responsible, high quality tourism sector requires the legal framework for European statistics in this area to be updated and improved. If we improve the quality of statistical reporting, based on reliable, comparative data, we will benefit from a solid foundation when it comes to making decisions on devising EU financial policies and instruments.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report which recognises the major role of statistics in the development of more effective tourism policies at European, national, regional and local levels. In the same manner, tourism statistics represent a useful tool to support decision making in business and in the private sector. Therefore, the rapporteur supports the aim of the proposed regulation to establish a common framework for the systematic production of European statistics on tourism by means of the collection, compilation, processing and transmission by the Member States of harmonised European statistics on tourism supply and demand. Once adopted, the proposal is likely to improve the timeliness, comparability and completeness of the statistics transmitted, as well as the efficiency of the data processing, including better validation of data. Furthermore, it is necessary to adapt the legal framework to reflect recent trends in the tourism industry by introducing new variables, for instance, concerning same-day visits.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Tourism is undoubtedly one of the economic sectors with the greatest potential for development. In the last few decades, tourism has grown steadily more important for European businesses and people. With around 1.8 million businesses, most of them small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), employing about 5.2% of the total workforce, that is, about 9.7 million jobs, it is estimated that the European tourism industry generates more than 5% of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism therefore represents the third largest socio-economic activity in the EU. Moreover, the EU continues to be the world’s top tourist destination, having recorded 370 million tourist arrivals in 2008, or 40% of world tourist arrivals. However, there is still potential for further growth.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – It goes without saying that tourism possesses a high potential which creates an opportunity to increase employment and economic growth. Tourism plays an important role in social-economic integration of rural, peripheral and less developed areas which have a rich cultural heritage. Statistics in the field of tourism are not used only for monitoring of tourism policy but also play an important role in the broader context of regional policy and sustainable development. I totally agree with the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Meaningful statistics which provide answers to questions concerning the reason for successes and trends in the tourist industry could help to prevent many mistaken investments. Many cities have been wondering for years why their expectations concerning tourism remained unfulfilled after they were chosen to be the European Capital of Culture. However, the limited availability and comparability of tourism data is also a problem from the point of view of town planning. At the end of the day, if there is the potential for an increase in visitor numbers, it is important to organise things in such a way that this does not have a negative impact on the local population.

Too many uncertain factors, differing expectations and intangible attractions, such as specific weather conditions, have turned tourism forecasts into a game of chance. Flexible working hours and safety have an influence on tourism, in the same way as social changes do. The decisive factors will probably ultimately be the global economy and the price of oil. Even the best European tourism statistics cannot change these, which is why I have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Today, the European Parliament adopted an important document on the legal framework for European statistics on tourism. The Member States must provide a regular set of data on the capacity and occupancy of accommodation establishments and on tourism demand. As European travel habits change (e.g. the increase in short haul flights), and the tourism sector switches over to certain innovations (e.g. online bookings), it is necessary to update the legal framework, regulating the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism. However, in my opinion, a particularly important provision, supported by the European Parliament, concerns the collection of data regarding people with limited mobility, and its impact on the ability of such people to obtain fully-fledged tourism services. We constantly discuss improving quality of life for disabled people and we must include tourism in this area. Only then will we be able to implement tourism policy effectively and protect the rights of consumers.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report by Mr Simpson on European statistics on tourism is a text that will replace the directive on the matter, which is now 15 years’ old. Moving with the times and redrafting its regulations is a prerogative of the European system, particularly in view of the importance and continuous development of the tourism sector in Europe over the last decade. That is why I voted in favour of the report. New requirements in the sector, which needs increasingly detailed, up-to-date and comparable data, make it essential to update tourism statistics. Access to facilities, services for disabled people and costs for essential goods are key data that require an up-to-date database that users can consult.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Tourism is of huge economic importance in the EU, and mechanisms that contribute to promoting it are desirable and should be encouraged. Statistics play an important role in developing more effective tourism policy at European, national, regional and local level. Indeed, they are a useful instrument for supporting the decision-making process in businesses and the private sector. This regulation is aimed at establishing a common legislative framework for the systematic production of European statistics on tourism by means of the collection, compilation, processing and transmission by the Member States of harmonised European statistics on tourism supply and demand. This proposal should improve the timeliness, comparability and completeness of the statistics transmitted, as well as the efficiency of the data processing, including improved data evaluation. This regulation also adapts the legal framework to reflect the latest changes in the tourism industry through the introduction of new variables, such as tourist movements over the course of a single day. I voted in favour of the report for those reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Tourism is an important economic activity in the EU. Statistics are helpful for monitoring specific policies for tourism and are useful in the context of regional policies and sustainable development. Within the EU, the tourism statistics system is governed by Directive 95/57/EC. However, since the entry into force of this directive, the tourism industry and relative demand have changed significantly. The Commission has therefore set out a new proposed regulation aimed at establishing a policy framework for tourism by making use of the powers introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. Its goal is to update and streamline the regulatory framework applicable to the European statistics on tourism in order to take into account the latest trends in the area. In this regard, it is necessary to not only strengthen the tourism sector through coordinated action at EU level, but also to create a common framework for the systematic production of statistics through the collection, compilation, processing and reporting by Member States of harmonised European statistics on supply and demand in the sector.

On the basis of the aforementioned, I hereby give my favourable vote to the proposed regulation.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted in favour. Tourism is an important economic activity in the EU, with a high potential for contributing to greater employment and economic growth, as well as for playing an important role in socio-economic integration in rural, peripheral and less-developed areas, such as areas rich in industrial heritage. Statistics in this field are not only used to monitor tourism-specific policies, but also play a role in the wider context of regional policy and sustainable development.

In the EU, Directive 95/57/EC on the collection of statistical information in the field of tourism organises the system of tourism statistics. Eurostat publishes these statistics, which are collected and compiled by national statistical authorities. In order to successfully implement the new policy framework, policy makers at all levels of governance need to take well-informed decisions, based on reliable and comparable statistical data.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report because tourism is an important economic activity in the EU, with a high potential for contributing to the creation of jobs and growth. Tourism plays an essential role in the socio-economic development of rural areas, which are often marginalised and underdeveloped.

In this context, statistics not only monitor specific tourism policies, but are also useful in the broader context of regional policies and sustainable development. The document also addresses the main challenges that the sector is facing, such as increased global competition, demographic trends, climate change and environmental restrictions, the seasonal distribution of tourist movement and the increasing use of new information and communications technologies by customers.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted against the report because the proposed rules would require a monthly collection of data to measure the seasonal influences and the economic and social aspects of the sector, run mostly by small and medium-sized enterprises. This strategy’s objective is to gain a thorough understanding of the dynamics, characteristics and volume of tourism, but it appears to me to be excessively cumbersome, bureaucratic and costly. In addition, the Commission asks for delegated powers and, therefore, the ability to modify elements of the proposal. The tables to be compiled monthly under the proposed regulation are complex and require the collection of an excessive amount of information.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I voted today in favour of the report under discussion concerning European statistics on tourism. I think that this report is an important one, given the influence of the tourism sector on the European Union’s economy and the proportion of jobs it provides. 1.8 million businesses employ around 10 million people, accounting for approximately 5.2% of all jobs.

The European Union gives considerable support to the development of tourism in the various regions in order to increase the availability of different types of tourism. It is therefore necessary that we possess accurate and relevant statistics, both for the private and public sectors. The European Union is visited by over 370 million foreign tourists a year, a total of 40% of the tourists in the entire world. At the same time, this makes it more important that we have timely and impartial statistical data. Thank you.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing.(PT) Tourism is the third most important socio-economic activity in the EU, which means that its economic dimension, as a generator of jobs, is vital for the Member States. Moreover, its private aspect not only enhances the image that Europe presents to the world, but also promotes European citizenship. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has assumed new powers on tourism, as confirmed by Article 195 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This new legal framework allows the EU to support, coordinate and supplement action by the Member States, and to reduce the administrative burden. I am voting in favour of this report for these reasons, as I believe that it is vital to equip all stakeholders in the tourism sector with reliable statistical data so that they can adapt to the challenges that European tourism is facing.

European coordination, with the effective participation of the Member States, is crucial in order to implement this system and for a concrete evaluation of the competitiveness of the tourism industry. Knowledge of the volume of this sector, its characteristics, tourist profiles, spending in the sector and the benefits and/or problems it brings to national economies should form part of this extended study.

 
  
  

Report: João Ferreira (A7-0017/011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing.(PT) I am voting in favour of this resolution as it looks at important measures relating to the increase in cofinancing rates for action in the areas of international relations, governance, data collection, scientific advice, and the monitoring and implementation of the common fisheries policy. Since scientific knowledge depends on the sustainable development of activities, the increase in cofinancing rates relating to database collation, management and use becomes an asset. It is also worth highlighting the focus on the development of aquaculture, with measures for growth, along with tracking and monitoring from an environmental and health standpoint, which will enable its sustainability. With regard to measures for controlling their waters, carried out by the supervisory authorities of the Member States, these will only be successful if there is investment in technology and control systems that are more effective and less costly. Action relating to control measures for waters should also be considered for a higher rate of cofinancing, as a way of enabling and implementing greater compliance with the rules.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 sets out Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and the Law of the Sea, this being an important EU financial instrument in the area of fisheries. Several elements of the legislation have evolved since the adoption of this regulation.

The Commission is proposing to amend it, with the aim of ensuring consistency between all the elements of the legislative framework, and also of clarifying the scope of some of the financed measures. I voted for this report as it proposes making certain amendments to the Commission’s proposal, which will contribute to clearer legislation. These amendments are based on recent developments in the fisheries sector and future prospects, namely, the possibility of increasing Union cofinancing from 50% to 60%, which represents an asset for the development of the fisheries sector in Portugal, and greater importance given to aquaculture, which justifies introducing the possibility of the collection, management and use of environmental data in this area, in addition to socio-economic data.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) I supported this report as Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 establishing Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea is an important EU financing instrument where fisheries are concerned. It is one of the two principal means employed to put the CFP into practice, the other one being the European Fisheries Fund. Like the rapporteur, I believe that it is increasingly obvious in general that fisheries management has to be based on up-to-date scientific knowledge of stock status. This is a prerequisite for sustainable fisheries development. As regards control, there is undoubtedly greater awareness at the present time of its importance for the future and sustainability of the fisheries sector and as a means of fostering a culture of compliance with the rules. Member States and their control authorities are playing, and must continue to play, a central role in overseeing and enforcing control measures in their territorial waters. This is a key way to ensure compliance with the rules and respect for stocks.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report amending Regulation (EC) No 861/2006. In May 2006, the Council approved this important instrument for financing fishing activity. Now, however, we need to revise the regulation, to ensure consistency between all the elements of the legislative framework. Adapting to the times means making use of new technologies that can ensure a better service with less waste of economic resources.

To respond better to real needs, we think it appropriate to clarify certain articles of the regulation and clarify the scope of certain financed measures. Finally, I agree with the rapporteur on the need for fishery management based on updated and rigorous scientific knowledge of resources and greater control in order to make fishing more sustainable.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I think that the importance of the aquaculture sector is steadily increasing. This report is proof of this, highlighting ‘a new impetus for the strategy for the sustainable development of European aquaculture’ and offering realistic prospects for this sector’s development. Environmental and health monitoring and surveillance carried out in the appropriate manner therefore help to make this important sector more sustainable.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted in favour of the report on ‘Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea’. I regret, however, that the proposal to increase cofinancing rates in the area of additional data collection, management and use to 60% of eligible expenditure has not been adopted.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing.(PT) Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 of 22 May 2006, which the Commission is proposing to amend, is that regulation establishing Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and in the area of the Law of the Sea, and it provides for funding in the following areas: international relations, governance, data collection and scientific advice, and the monitoring and implementation of the CFP. This revision does not entail any fundamental change to the objectives, the type of activity financed, or the financial structure and budget. The rapporteur considers it important, however, to table changes that bring the legislation more into line with recent trends in the sector and its future prospects, particularly with regard to fisheries management supported by scientific knowledge of stock status and to investment in aquaculture.

That is why the proposal to increase cofinancing rates provided for in the context of basic data collection, management and use is being tabled. I am voting for this from a purely national perspective, in order to support the fishing industry in our country.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 of 22 May 2006 establishing Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea. Since 2006, several aspects of the aforementioned regulation have changed and become outdated, so their amendment is justified. This proposal is based on the regulation in force and is intended to safeguard coastal activities by financing the sector’s modernisation, not least, equipment and computerisation. I am voting for this proposal for a regulation because the proposed amendments tabled by the Commission have been taken into account, along with other contributions that significantly improve the previous regulation, particularly in terms of financing for investment – which is crucial in order for us to have accurate and up-to-date scientific data that enable us, fundamentally, to take the measures required by each situation – and of increased cofinancing rates.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We value Parliament’s adoption of the amendments to the Commission’s proposal for a regulation included in the report. These amendments will enable financing for the Member States to develop diverse technology to be used in the fishing industry, along with equipment and software or IT networks which allow them to compile, manage, validate, analyse and develop sampling methods, and move towards the exchange of fisheries data. One new possibility for financing relates to studies regarding dependence on imports of fisheries products. Within the area of aquaculture, it will also be possible to fund the collection, management and use of environmental data, promoting environmental and health monitoring and surveillance in this sector, in order to contribute to its sustainability.

However, we cannot but regret the rejection of the amendments aimed at increasing, albeit modestly, the maximum Community cofinancing rate for the Member States in the area of the collection, management and use of scientific data on stock status, and in the area of monitoring. This therefore shows the inconsistency of an EU which, on the one hand, has encroached upon the powers of the Member States in this area, but which, on the other, refuses to strengthen the financing resources dedicated to these activities.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) This report has amended Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 establishing Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and in the area of the Law of the Sea. It constitutes an important European Union financial instrument in the area of fisheries. Together with the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), these represent the two main instruments for the application of the CFP.

The Commission also believes that, in some cases, experience has demonstrated the need to ensure that the provisions of the regulation be adapted slightly to better respond to needs.

It therefore offers us a limited scope for this revision, with the objectives and structure of the original regulation essentially being retained. However, the rapporteur, the Member from the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), Mr Ferreira, has considered it appropriate to propose certain additional amendments, which although quite specific, could contribute to an improved alignment of this legislation with recent changes in the sector and with its future prospects.

However, I regret that not all of the proposals that he tabled have been adopted, especially the confirmation of the possibility of increasing Community cofinancing rates provided for in the area of collection, management and use of both basic and additional scientific data on fishery stock status, including the proposal to raise the maximum limit from 50% to 60%, and in monitoring activity.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I was able to support Mr Ferreira’s report. It is essential that there should be adequate funds for enforcement of the Law of the Sea, and this is one of the few fisheries-related areas where the EU provides some added value.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document, because it is being increasingly recognised across the board that fisheries management has to be based on up-to-date accurate scientific knowledge of stock status. This is a sine qua non of sustainable fisheries development. I therefore believe that it should be permissible to raise the cofinancing rates laid down in the area of basic data collection, management and use, with a proposed maximum of 75%. Given that aquaculture is being viewed as a sector of increasing importance – witness the report recently produced, debated and adopted on ‘a new impetus for the strategy for the sustainable development of European aquaculture’ – with realistic prospects for growth, relevant collection, management and user arrangements should apply to environmental data as well as to socio-economic data. Environmental and health monitoring and surveillance could accordingly be carried out. This would help make the sector more sustainable. At present, the sustainability of the fisheries sector is particularly important. Member States and their control authorities are playing, and must continue to play, a central role in overseeing and enforcing control measures in their waters: this is a key way of ensuring compliance with the rules and respect for stocks. If this work is to be carried out effectively, Member States have to acquire, or be in a position to develop and modernise, the technologies available. The investment entailed could make control systems more efficient and cheaper to operate.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The regulation is an important instrument for implementing the common fisheries policy. The control activities are playing a growing role in supporting sustainability and the continued existence of the fisheries sector. It is important that the Member States and their supervisory authorities enforce control measures in their waters to ensure that we have fisheries which comply with the rules and respect stocks. In addition, aquaculture is increasing in importance, which justifies the introduction of options for collecting, managing and using environmental as well as socio-economic data. I welcome the revision of the regulation, because it will guarantee that the measures referred to will be put in place.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The proposal to amend Council Regulation (EC) No 861/2006, establishing Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea is an important financial instrument aimed at protecting fisheries. I voted in favour of the proposal because I believe we need to change the current version of the regulation in order to bring its provisions in line with the Treaty of Lisbon. The review has allowed us to make improvements to the text, enabling us to respond appropriately and effectively to the needs of the sector. The growing importance of aquaculture justifies the introduction of provisions regarding the collection, management and use of environmental, socio-economic and health data, in order to contribute to its sustainability. A fundamental role is given to individual states, which have the duty to ensure compliance with the rules and control of the use of water, taking advantage of new technologies, in light of scientific developments.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. The modifications made in this legislation should facilitate moves towards a policy of regionalisation for the CFP which I welcome.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The existing Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 establishes Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and the Law of the Sea, and constitutes an important EU financial instrument in the area of fisheries. Together with the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), these represent the two main instruments for the application of the CFP. This regulation provides for financing in the following areas: international relations, governance, data collection and scientific advice, and the monitoring and implementation of the CFP. I regret, however, that the proposal to increase the potential level of cofinancing to 60% of eligible expenditure, particularly for measures relating to the monitoring of fisheries activities and to the collection, management and use of data, has not been adopted, as the adoption of this increase would be beneficial to the fisheries sector in my country.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The amendment of Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 establishes the second main financial instrument of the common fisheries policy after the European Fisheries Fund. The so-called ‘second instrument’ provides funding for data collection, and control measures, scientific advice, common fisheries policy control systems and enforcement. It is necessary to clarify the scope of some of the measures financed and to improve the wording of certain articles. Furthermore, it considers, in the light of experience, that a number of minor adjustments should be made to enable the provisions of the regulation to be geared more effectively to real needs. The amendments to be tabled to Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 should help to allow the specified cofinancing rates of clearly defined common financing to be raised in the area of the Law of the Sea.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The financial action on the part of the Union concerning implementation of the EU’s common fisheries policy and the Law of the Sea gives us the economic means to implement the common fisheries policy with funding targeted at those areas in need of development and coordination regarding the Law of the Sea. For this reason, I voted in favour of Mr Ferreira’s report. The amendment of this regulation will help enforce the common policy and utilise funds for collecting data, international relations, and scientific and technical areas regarding fisheries.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted in favour. Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 establishing Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea is an important EU financing tool where fisheries are concerned. It is one of the two principal means employed – the other being the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) – to translate the CFP into practice. It provides for funding in the following areas: international relations, governance, data collection, scientific advice, and CFP control systems and enforcement. In each sphere of activity, this regulation applies in conjunction with other regulations or decisions. That related legislation has changed in some respects since the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 861/2006, which consequently needs to be amended in order to bring all elements into a coherent relationship within the legislative framework. The Commission is also seeking to clarify the scope of some of the measures financed and to improve the wording of certain articles. Furthermore, it considers, in the light of experience, that a number of minor adjustments should be made to enable the provisions of the regulation to be geared more effectively to real needs.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Regulation (EC) No 861/2006 establishing Community financial measures for the implementation of the common fisheries policy and in the area of the Law of the Sea is an important EU instrument for funding fisheries.

This document is also one of the two main means used to implement the common fisheries policy. It provides funding for the following areas: international relations, governance, data collection, scientific consultancy, as well as control and implementation of the common fisheries policy.

The resolution adopted today recognises the importance of fisheries management based on up-to-date and rigorous scientific knowledge of resources. The document recognises the growing importance of aquaculture, an activity which generates feasible prospects of development of this activity, as well as others related to it, justifying the introduction of the possibility of applying guidelines regarding the collection, management and use of environmental and socio-economic data, thereby enabling environmental and health control in this sector which will contribute to its sustainability.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The document voted on today is aimed at adapting the financial measures for implementing fisheries policy to the evolution of the legislative framework, to changes in current needs, and to legal clarification on actions to be undertaken, particularly those included in Decision 2000/439/EC that have not yet been taken up by the text of Regulation No 861/2006. With regard to data collection, Parliament’s proposal considers it essential to broaden the scope of implementation so as to include its management and the terms of its use. It is also vital to facilitate the conclusion of public contracts with international bodies, and to provide for the obligation to possess detailed information in order to carry out joint projects.

It would be desirable to increase the potential level of cofinancing, particularly as regards measures for monitoring fisheries activities, and the collection, management and use of data, to 60% of eligible expenditure. Aquaculture is no less important, and data for this should stress both the socio-economic and the environmental fields. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly necessary to make use of new techniques here, which requires the constant adaptation and modernisation of existing techniques.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I would like to congratulate my colleague in the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, Mr Ferreira (PCP), on his report, which was adopted today by a very large majority in the European Parliament.

This report confirms the importance of fisheries management based on up-to-date, accurate scientific knowledge of stock status. This is a sine qua non of sustainable fisheries development. Some of Mr Ferreira’s amendments, for example, those enabling an increase in cofinancing rates (from 50% to 60%) in the area of collection, management and use of scientific data on fish stocks, were, regrettably, not adopted.

This report shows the contribution that the GUE/NGL Group can nevertheless make to debates in the European Parliament, and I know that we can count on Mr Ferreira to continue this fight for sustainable fisheries, giving priority to small-scale fishermen over industrial groups in the sector.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Ferreira to improve the management of financial instruments for fisheries which govern the funding of a range of activities, among which are, typically, fishing controls. I therefore consider the general agreement on the text between the Council and the European Parliament to be a good compromise in terms of the common fisheries policy and the Law of the Sea.

 
  
  

Report: Estelle Grelier (A7-0024/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. I believe that the purpose of this report is important, as it aims to extend the transitional arrangements for another 18 months, until 1 January 2013, so that the new package of technical measures can be designed as part of the continuation of the common fisheries policy.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing.(PT) Since agreement on the draft regulation to simplify and clarify the Community rules on the conservation of fisheries resources was not possible in 2008, a regulation was adopted establishing a set of transitional measures for the period from 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011.

This report, which merited my support, is aimed at extending this transitional period until January 2013, so that a new set of technical measures can be drawn up as part of the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy. It also calls on the Commission to take the initiative during this new extension period for the existing regulation and to proceed, alongside the involved parties, with an assessment of the impact that the measures currently in force have on the ships implementing them and on the ecosystems covered. The results of this assessment should be considered when drawing up the new draft regulation. It is equally important that the future Commission proposal on technical measures clearly establish the competences of the Council and Parliament, in line with the ordinary legislative procedure.

 
  
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  Slavi Binev (NI), in writing.(BG) I voted for the proposal because the absence of an agreement on the conservation of fisheries resources may produce undesirable consequences. The proposal to extend the validity of the 2009 Council Regulation on establishing transitional technical measures by 18 months, which means until 31 December 2012, will enable the Commission to prepare a new package of technical measures which will become part of the reform of the common fisheries policy. I think that the amendments are acceptable because the common fisheries policy must, on the one hand, conserve fisheries resources and, on the other, be beneficial to ordinary citizens, in this case, Ireland’s small-scale fishers. This is precisely the reason why I think that a balance needs to be struck between catch limits, technical measures and the fishers’ needs.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report because technical measures are very important in that they determine the activities of fishermen and have an impact on the future of fisheries resources. We all have an interest in reconciling the economic equilibrium of the sector, and therefore in ensuring a decent income for fishermen, with renewable and sustainable fish stocks.

 
  
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  Nessa Childers (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report to support the fishing industry in Ireland and Europe over the longer term. Sustainable fishing must be our guiding principal. I found many very strong arguments in favour of the Gallagher amendments but, in the end, voted with my group to maintain political cohesion within the group.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on fisheries and establishing transitional technical measures. I regret, however, that the proposed repeal of the Commission’s decision prohibiting fishing for hake or anglerfish using trammel nets along the Portuguese coast, without any scientific studies to substantiate it, has been rejected.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing.(PT) In 2008, the Commission tabled a draft Council regulation on the conservation of fish stocks through technical measures, which aimed to replace a previous regulation. As a similar proposal was not adopted for reasons of legal certainty and in order to maintain appropriate conservation and management of marine resources, Regulation (EC) No 1288/2009 was adopted, establishing transitional measures from 1 January until the end of June 2011.

In the light of the obligations arising from the Treaty of Lisbon, in 2010, the Commission withdrew its proposal for a Council regulation on the conservation of fish stocks through technical measures. The basic principles relating to these technical measures should now be incorporated into a new basic regulation on the reform of the common fisheries policy, and there is expected to be another proposal to this effect in 2011. As there is currently no other legislation in force, it is proposed that the validity of this regulation be extended for an additional 18 months, until 1 January 2013. Given the arguments of legal certainty and protection that have been made, I believe that this extension is worthy of support. I hope that this additional time will allow the impact of the measures in force to be assessed.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing.(PT) The fisheries sector is crucial for the European Union, not only because of the food issue, but also because of the environmental issue, as aquatic ecosystems are at risk. As Parliament is aware of the importance of this sector, it has often discussed this matter. In 2009, it adopted Resolution A6-0206/2009 on the need to conserve fish stocks in the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. The regulation in force, which was adopted in 2008, established a set of transitional measures that were intended to be in force until June 2011, the provisional date for the entry into force of a new legal framework under the common fisheries policy. However, the Commission was unable to table a draft regulation. The Commission is therefore seeking the extension of the current regulation until 1 January 2013, by which time the EU is expected to have legislation for adoption by the Council and Parliament, in line with the ordinary legislative procedure set out in the Treaty of Lisbon. This legislation will be based on up-to-date scientific studies, so that it does not jeopardise the planet’s marine resources. In view of this, I agree that the current regulation should remain in force until 1 January 2013.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) The existence of adequate regulation in terms of technical measures is an instrument necessary for the sustainable use and proper conservation of fisheries resources. This regulation on transitional technical measures resulted from the lack of agreement in 2008 on the draft regulation aimed at simplifying and clarifying Community rules on the conservation of fisheries resources. It was intended to apply for the period from 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011. It is now proposed that it be extended for an additional period of 18 months, or until 1 January 2013, with the aim of establishing a new set of technical measures in the context of the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy, pending a Commission proposal during 2011.

We believe that this extension should not be made without correcting the shortcomings and problems raised by the current legislation. Unfortunately, the rapporteur and the majority in Parliament, following the Commission’s position, have prevented that. This is a case of discrimination without any scientific justification against a section of the small-scale Portuguese fishing fleet, aimed at fishing for sole and hake using trammel nets, which is prohibited under the current rules. This will have negative economic and social consequences which could and should be avoided.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) This regulation on transitional technical measures resulted from the lack of agreement in 2008 on the draft regulation aimed at simplifying and clarifying Community rules on the conservation of fisheries resources. It was intended to apply for the period from 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011. It is now proposed that it be extended for an additional period of 18 months, or until 1 January 2013, with the aim of establishing a new set of technical measures in the context of the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy, pending a Commission proposal during 2011.

We believe that this extension should not be made without correcting the shortcomings and problems raised by the current legislation. Unfortunately, the rapporteur and the majority in Parliament, following the Commission’s position, have prevented that.

This is a case of discrimination without any scientific justification against a section of the small-scale Portuguese fishing fleet, aimed at fishing for sole and hake using trammel nets, which is prohibited under the current rules. This will have negative economic and social consequences which could and should be avoided.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – ‘No more discards!’ cries the Commission. ‘Listen to the industry’ is its pretended watchword. Then it seeks to reimpose fundamentally flawed regulations for a further 18 months. No less than 42% of West of Scotland haddock catches are dumped back into the sea because of these rules. Today’s vote means that this obscenity will continue for another 18 months. London Labour backed the Commission: yet another shameful betrayal of our coastal communities!

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because, in 2008, in the absence of agreement on a draft regulation to simplify and clarify the Community rules on the conservation of fisheries resources, a regulation was adopted establishing a package of transitional technical measures intended originally to apply from 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011. The purpose of the present proposal is to extend these transitional arrangements for a further 18 months, i.e. until 1 January 2013, so that a new package of technical measures can be drawn up – which will be the subject of a proposal submitted by the Commission in 2011 – as part of the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy. The Commission must take advantage of this extension of the current regulation’s validity to carry out an evaluation – with stakeholder involvement – of the impact of the current measures on the vessels applying them and on the ecosystems concerned. It will have to take the results of the evaluation into account in drawing up a new proposal for a regulation which will apply from 1 January 2013 and which, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, will be adopted under the codecision procedure.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) Extending the validity of the regulation for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for a further 18 months opens up the possibility of analysing and evaluating the current impact on the vessels and ecosystems affected by the regulation. The proposal is therefore very welcome as it will allow the best possible use to be made of the opportunities for improvement that have been identified. The results of the evaluation can then be incorporated by the Commission into the process of drawing up a new proposal for a regulation for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution but, in order to support the Scottish fishing industry, I want haddock exempted from the regulation.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing.(PT) In 2008, the lack of an agreement on a draft regulation on simplifying and clarifying Community rules on the conservation of fish stocks led to the adoption of a regulation establishing a set of transitional measures which were originally envisaged for the period from 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011. With this legislative proposal, we are aiming to extend this transitional system for another 18 months, until 1 January 2013, in order to establish a new set of technical measures as part of the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy, pending a Commission proposal during 2011. The Commission should thus make use of the new extension period for the current regulation to carry out – with the participation of the involved parties – an assessment of the impact of the measures currently in force on ships that implement them, and on the ecosystems affected.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted in favour. In 2008, in the absence of an agreement on a draft regulation to simplify and clarify the Community rules on the conservation of fisheries resources, a regulation was adopted establishing a package of transitional technical measures originally intended to apply from 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011. The purpose of the present proposal is to extend these transitional arrangements for a further 18 months, i.e. until 1 January 2013, so that a new package of technical measures can be drawn up – which will be the subject of a proposal submitted by the Commission in 2011 – as part of the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The lack of agreement in 2008 on draft legislation aimed at simplifying and clarifying the Community rules on the conservation of fishery resources meant that we approved a regulation establishing a set of temporary measures initially foreseen for the period 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2011.

The legislative proposal voted on today is to extend the term of the transitional arrangements for another eighteen months, that is, until 1 January 2013, with the aim of setting out a new set of technical measures within the framework of the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy, on which the Commission will submit a proposal in 2011.

Parliament has also passed Resolution A6-0206/2009 on the proposal for a Council regulation on the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures in the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. The text stresses the importance of an appropriate division of powers between the Council, Parliament and the Commission.

With today’s vote, Parliament asks that the Commission’s forthcoming proposal on technical measures to establish the essential elements of the rules be the responsibility of the Council and Parliament in accordance with a shared decision.

 
  
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