Index 
Debates
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Tuesday, 27 September 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. European disaster response: role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance (debate)
 4. New trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy (debate)
 5. Question Time (Commission)
 6. Establishment of Euro-Mediterranean Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci programmes (written declaration)
 7. Corrigendum (Rule 216): see Minutes
 8. Voting time
  8.1. Trade in agricultural and fishery products between the EU and Palestine (A7-0300/2011 - Maria Eleni Koppa) (vote)
  8.2. EU-Mexico agreement on certain aspects of air services (A7-0298/2011 - Silvia-Adriana Ţicău) (vote)
  8.3. EU-Cape Verde Fisheries Partnership Agreement (A7-0299/2011 - Pat the Cope Gallagher) (vote)
  8.4. EU-US Memorandum of Cooperation in civil aviation research and development (A7-0301/2011 - Herbert Reul) (vote)
  8.5. Extension of scope of regulation on the professional cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (A7-0077/2011 - Sophie Auconie) (vote)
  8.6. EU research and innovation funding (A7-0302/2011 - Marisa Matias) (vote)
  8.7. European Schools system (A7-0293/2011 - Jean-Marie Cavada) (vote)
  8.8. Future EU cohesion policy (A7-0287/2011 - Michael Theurer) (vote)
  8.9. European disaster response: role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance (A7-0283/2011 - Elisabetta Gardini) (vote)
  8.10. Professional cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (A7-0076/2011 - Sophie Auconie) (vote)
  8.11. Dual-use items and technology (A7-0028/2011 - Jörg Leichtfried) (vote)
  8.12. Tourism in Europe (A7-0265/2011 - Carlo Fidanza) (vote)
  8.13. European road safety (A7-0264/2011 - Dieter-Lebrecht Koch) (vote)
  8.14. Dam infrastructure in developing countries (A7-0213/2011 - Nirj Deva) (vote)
  8.15. Assisting developing countries in addressing food security challenges (A7-0284/2011 - Gabriele Zimmer) (vote)
  8.16. Unilateral statements entered in the minutes of Council meetings (A7-0269/2011 - Rafał Trzaskowski) (vote)
  8.17. New trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy (A7-0255/2011 - Daniel Caspary) (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. Question Hour with the President of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker
 13. Ministerial week’s activity at the UN General Assembly, in particular the Middle East peace process and North Africa (debate)
 14. Eastern partnership summit (Warsaw, 29 September) (debate)
 15. Sexual orientation and gender identity at the UN Human Rights Council (debate)
 16. Tensions between Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus (debate)
 17. Agenda of the next sitting: see Minutes
 18. Closure of the sitting


IN THE CHAIR: RODI KRATSA-TSAGAROPOULOU
Vice-President

1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting opened at 09.05)

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

3. European disaster response: role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The first item is the report by Elisabetta Gardini, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, on ‘Towards a stronger European disaster response: role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance’ (Α7-0283/2011).

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini, rapporteur.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I really must thank everyone who, over recent weeks and months, has helped to produce the document on which we are voting in this Chamber today.

I have to say we worked very well and a really constructive debate was developed. The motion for a resolution that we are voting on today is the outcome of a truly joint effort, with contributions from all the political groups and from Parliament as a whole. I believe everyone has come to share very strong feelings on this subject, not least because we have to remember that we are living in a period marked by an exponential increase in disasters.

The figures in all their starkness speak for themselves: the number of disasters in the world has risen fivefold; just think that 78 catastrophic events were recorded in 1975, whereas today, we have nearly 400 disasters every year. Over the past 20 years, disasters have sadly killed 90 000 people and affected more than 29 million, while economic losses have amounted to EUR 211 billion.

We are clearly facing problems on such a scale that they require a more vigorous and effective response and a really strong commitment on our part. We all have images in our minds of the earthquake in Haiti, the floods in Pakistan and what happened in Japan. Europe itself witnesses flash floods and forest fires within its territory every year, and we all remember the ash cloud after the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

There is no need to go any further to demonstrate the importance of the work being done here in Parliament, based on two fundamental principles which are our guiding stars: the principle of solidarity, which is reinforced by the solidarity clause in the Treaty of Lisbon, and the principle of subsidiarity. We are working along these lines.

Past interventions by the European Union have always been generous and effective – I think the tireless work done by Commissioner Georgieva bears witness to that – but today, we need to make a qualitative leap. We must be prepared to make a qualitative leap from ad hoc responses to responses that are enhanced through the prior identification of the assets available in the Member States that can be placed at the disposal of the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

Moreover, it is also important to emphasise the crucial role that services such as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES) can play in this qualitative leap and in moving on from information sharing and emergency response to the planning, monitoring and coordination role that we want. I also take this opportunity to mention the concern that exists at what is happening to the budget for these essential new technologies.

We have included the importance of communicating with the public, because the Japanese experience has clearly taught us that one can never do this enough. We are also asking the Commission to come up with a legislative proposal on civil protection as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, I am very grateful for the debate today and very grateful to Mrs Gardini for leading the preparation of the report. As she so clearly stated, we live in a world where the frequency and intensity of disasters is on the increase, and climate change, population growth and urbanisation, as well as terrorism, put us at a higher risk.

We have witnessed over the years the role that Parliament has played in creating a high level of ambition to make solidarity work for European citizens and for the citizens of the world. I would quote the initiatives taken on the EU Forest Fire Tactical Reserve, on creating multi-country pilot modules like the BaltFloodCombat module, as well as on bringing transportation capacity to bear. We saw how much it helped us during the Libya crisis.

Against that background of growing needs, the Commission has taken its responsibility very seriously, and has put forward the communication that is now to be turned into a legislative proposal, for which I very much count on Parliament’s help.

That communication is based on four very important principles. The first is to respect the primary role of Member States in securing the safety of their citizens. Therefore, what we have put forward is a ‘bottom-up’ approach where we bring the assets of Member States together for collective action when either a Member State or a third country is overwhelmed by a disaster.

Second, we recognise that we must be better in anticipating risks so that we can act decisively when they materialise. Therefore, we raise the role of the Commission in bringing Member States into scenario plannings.

Third, there is a very important move away from the ad hoc response we currently have to one that is pre-planned, pre-arranged and predictable.

Fourth, we are very mindful of the tough budgetary times in Europe, so we are looking at ways in which working together will create savings for Member States. In this sense, the proposal which we have designed is a very modest increase, at the level of the Commission, from EUR 25 million to EUR 65 million, but generates on that basis not only high impact but also savings for Member States.

Let me finish with one very crucial point. We are doing this for our citizens, and over 90% of them want us to act together in the face of disasters. We owe it to them to do exactly that.

 
  
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  Michèle Striffler, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Development.(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, given the proliferation of major natural disasters and current budgetary pressure, the European Union must substantially strengthen its disaster response capacity and make optimum use of its limited resources.

Following numerous calls from our House, the European Commission should clearly draw up ambitious legislative proposals as quickly as possible, but not later than by the end of 2011, to create at last a genuine EU civil protection force. This would entail some Member States committing to make pre-identified and immediately deployable civil protection assets available on a voluntary basis for EU disaster relief interventions in the event of major disasters. I welcome the recent communication from the Commission on the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 which has a budget of EUR 455 million for the Civil Protection Mechanism and which attaches great importance to disaster preparedness and prevention.

Finally, the Commission must make active efforts to ensure the visibility of the resources and capacities deployed in the field, particularly through the use of EU symbols in conjunction with national badges.

 
  
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  Georgios Stavrakakis, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development. (EL) Madam President, firstly, I should like to congratulate the rapporteur on the excellent work she has done and to express my satisfaction, both at the particular emphasis placed on forest fire prevention and management and at the fact that the main positions expressed in the Committee on Regional Development have been incorporated into the final text.

The Committee on Regional Development mainly wishes to emphasise the fact that the solidarity clause introduced in Article 222 of the Treaty of Lisbon can, and must, provide an important basis for further reinforcement and support, on the part of the European Union, of action by the Member States in the civil protection sector.

Moreover, we reiterate the role and the responsibility of regional and local authorities, the important role of the European Regional Development Fund, and the need to utilise the valuable experience gained at regional level under INTERREG programmes and, finally, that coastal, insular and mountainous areas are extremely vulnerable to disaster on account of their geography.

To close, I should like to ask the Commissioner to comment on point 7 of the report on the establishment of an EU civil protection force.

 
  
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  Richard Seeber, on behalf of the PPE Group.(DE) Madam President, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the rapporteur. She has done the right thing and kept the own-initiative report to a minimum, addressing only the essential issues that Parliament wants to include in the legislative proposal that the Commission will propose this autumn. It would not have been right to inflate the report. Instead, we must now debate just the basic principles.

It is clear to all of us that this could affect any Member State. A natural disaster or technical disaster could descend upon it, causing a great deal of human suffering and enormous economic damage. The scale of the damage has, of course, been mentioned many times. In recent years, we have noticed that this damage is increasing considerably and the degree of interconnectivity and complexity of our societies is increasing. A logical consequence of this is that greater action needs to be taken by Europe. In its proposal, therefore, the Commission ought to take into consideration – as the Commissioner has already mentioned – the fact that, first and foremost, the Member States must retain their responsibility – thus, a bottom-up approach – but that Europe must play a very strong coordinating role.

In this connection, I also have a question for you, Commissioner. It is your quintessential responsibility that we are discussing here, is it not? Nevertheless, the Committee on Foreign Affairs is calling for the High Representative to take a very strong role here. I am concerned that, with the disputes over competence in the Commission, we will not know who is actually responsible. This ought to be clarified right at the start in order to avoid duplication of work.

It is also important that we concentrate resources, plan in advance and improve our preparation so that we really are able to act quickly. I was actually rapporteur for the Floods Directive and, in this regard, we also saw that if we are well prepared, we can save lives and also prevent economic damage. I hope, Commissioner, that you will table a proposal along these lines as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Jo Leinen, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, we, too, welcome your communication on improving civil protection in the European Union. Citizens in Europe expect us to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of a disaster and, above all, to help each other. In the past, we have sometimes sat helpless in front of the television watching forest fires in southern Europe and asked ourselves: why are the others not helping? Your communication now represents the next step towards European solidarity and the efficient use of the capacities that we have in Europe. We have everything that we need. We really do have all of the facilities we need to deal with disasters in Europe. In that respect, this is a positive step forward.

As a previous speaker said, national capacities should not be replaced by centralisation at EU level, but we do need to exploit synergies. We really do need everyone to act swiftly together. This is also urgently needed now. I also agree that we need to think more and more in terms of prevention. We need to deal in the right way with the information that we have and must not wait until a disaster has occurred. We can do a great deal with regard to flooding or potential droughts, where fires frequently break out. I am pleased that we will now organise civil protection, both in the EU and also outside the EU, in a coherent way. I agree with Mr Seeber: the areas of responsibility ought to be clear. You are responsible. You ought to accept that responsibility and not permit the areas of responsibility to be mixed up so that we no longer know who is responsible.

Finally, I believe that this 24/7 preparedness must always be ensured, including at Christmas, during New Year, on public holidays, and during the summer, too. That is very important. I would like to thank Ms Gardini for her excellent report.

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(IT) Madam President, Commissioner Georgieva, ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased, and first of all, therefore, I would like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Gardini, and the shadow rapporteurs for their fruitful collaboration on such a highly topical and extremely important dossier as this.

As I was saying, we are pleased with the balanced, rational approach adopted in the report, which perfectly takes account of the principle of subsidiarity and the idea of a solidarity clause, which should guide the Member States’ actions in their response to disasters and in their civil protection role. Specifically, I believe it is necessary to develop a predictable, pre-planned system within the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism that is in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity. In other words, it must not involve setting up a supranational body, which would be liable to duplicate costs and powers without any assurance that it would work efficiently.

I particularly welcome the attention devoted to extremely vulnerable areas such as islands, which is clearly expressed throughout the body of the report, as well as the emphasis on the link between disaster preparation, prevention and response, which make up an inseparable trio. Lastly, I am pleased to see how sensitively other Members have addressed the subject of major regional threats, which I believe deserves our attention; in particular, there have been many references to actions and strategies targeting forest fires.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki , on behalf of the ECR Group.(PL) Madam President, I am pleased that we are doing something about this matter, since the number of natural disasters has increased around the world by 500%. At the same time, I would like to emphasise that this problem applies not only to Pakistan or Haiti, but also to Europe, and to Europeans who lose their lives in natural disasters or who sustain significant material losses. This initiative on the part of the European institutions is much needed, as, to be frank, individual countries are not always able to cope with the problem. This is the case in my country, Poland, where the government let down the victims of the latest series of natural disasters, which included hurricanes – both the victims who lost their homes and those whose businesses were affected.

Therefore, this initiative at European Union level is unquestionably necessary. Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about genuine assistance, since what the victims expect is not a physical display of European Union symbols in places where help is needed, as we have heard, but real support. Such assistance will serve as the best way of promoting the European institutions. It is very important that we are not only talking about post-disaster aid, but also about prevention and averting disasters such as forest fires or, as is significant in the case of my homeland, flood prevention.

 
  
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  Bairbre de Brún, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (GA) Madam President, I wish to welcome Elisabetta Gardini’s report, and I thank Ms Gardini for her hard work. I thank her especially for her cooperation with us as she took our recommendations and amendments into consideration.

Disaster reduction is an important part of sustainable development. If we plan our development in a way that reduces the risk of disaster, we can save a large number of lives. We can reduce social, economic and environmental destruction as a result of natural hazards, and along with that we can gradually reduce the destruction connected to technological and environmental disaster.

Disaster response begins with prevention and preparedness. I urge the European Commission and the Member States to invest more in disaster reduction and to improve disaster response efficiency in a spirit of solidarity.

Clarity, consistency and coherence are the principal columns on which a strong, working European disaster response system is built.

It is important that there is proper coordination so that we can provide efficient humanitarian aid. However, important humanitarian principles must also be observed, including impartiality, neutrality and independence. We must ensure that international humanitarian law is implemented.

We must ensure that political and strategic affairs do not affect decisions in relation to the distribution of aid. We must ensure that disaster relief is never governed by the strategic trade or political interests of the EU.

We should provide the EU’s humanitarian aid regardless of any political consideration and, at the same time, adhere to agreed international humanitarian principles.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I, too, would like to join in thanking Ms Gardini for doing such an excellent job.

As we all know, of course, the best thing would be to prevent natural and man-made disasters, but it is not always possible. In any case, when they occur, we need to be ready to intervene as effectively and as swiftly as possible.

The Treaty of Lisbon allows the European Union to act in matters of civil protection as well, and therefore, in the event of a disaster, we need to be able to set up emergency response centres that are operational 24/7. We need to avoid overlapping and duplication of efforts on both the political and the operational side, and it is therefore important to stress that all Member States need to contribute to this project in the spirit of European solidarity.

There must be no barriers when people are in need, but it is essential to intervene rapidly and as efficiently as possible. Of course, it would also do no harm if we managed to keep costs down at times of crisis.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Madam President, it will be important to increase the efficiency of our disaster response in the EU. We need to learn from the experience of the most recent disasters and abandon particularly risky technologies such as nuclear power or deep-sea drilling. In addition, directives relating to potential risks must be properly transposed. That did not happen, for example, in the case of the sludge spill in Kolontár in Hungary.

A permanent EU civil protection force is something that I think is appropriate to a limited extent only. In some areas, it is indeed appropriate, for example, shared aircraft for fighting fires, but I am essentially of the opinion that the principle that people should help themselves absolutely must be adhered to. In this regard, we absolutely must ensure that we have a risk prevention system in place in the Member States. In countries like Austria or Germany, or in South Tyrol in particular, this disaster prevention is exemplary and it is provided by voluntary components. This should also be upheld as an example in the EU. I say this as someone who has been a member of a voluntary fire service since the age of 14.

 
  
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  Michail Tremopoulos, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (EL) Madam President, I should like to thank the rapporteur and all my colleagues who helped to draft this consensus report, a report which underlines both the need to upgrade European disaster response mechanisms, by improving the utilisation of resources, and to safeguard the European solidarity sorely needed at this juncture.

With more and more frequent and increasingly serious, natural and man-made disasters, there is an increased need for greater efficiency at all levels of European disaster management, including prevention, response readiness and restoration.

I should like to focus on the prevention aspect: we could save time and money by investing more in prevention than in response and restoration. The faster pace of climate change and of the rate at which natural resources are being depleted will further increase the probability of more frequent and more serious natural disasters. Action to combat climate change and rationally manage natural resources is a smart preventative investment that will save not only human lives, but also valuable resources at this time of economic crisis.

Within this framework, our amendments, which were adopted by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, stressed precisely this conclusion and the need for more effective emergency response planning for oil spills and nuclear and other dangerous materials. They also underline the need for the ‘polluter pays’ principle to be applied more effectively in terms of responsibility for environmental damage. The accidents in the Gulf of Mexico and Fukushima must remain forever in our minds.

 
  
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  Horst Schnellhardt (PPE).(DE) Madam President, first of all, I would like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Gardini, who has produced a very concise and clear report that also consolidates our tasks. If you read the report and see that there are 16 references to the legal bases underpinning our work to date in disaster prevention and in the area of humanitarian aid, you would have to assume that that would be sufficient. The most recent disaster response results have also shown that we have responded well. However, we also have a new situation in Europe. We are experiencing more environmental disasters and we have terrorist attacks that require rapid responses. I therefore think that it is right for the Commission to table a legislative proposal in this regard.

However, there is one thing that we need to bear in mind, and it has been said many times already, and that is that the Member States must be at the centre of this. However, if we want to set up a disaster response unit, then, Commissioner, it can only be created from the resources of the Member States. When it comes to coordination, however – the important point is that you know where the units are, what they can do, and then coordinate this – the Commission is very well placed to do that and that should be our starting point. Although the financial resources have been increased, I think it is much more important to increase efficiency. That is necessary, and that is why we can actually do without financial resources.

I have another couple of comments regarding the disaster relief fund. There have been calls once again here for this to be extended. I am opposed to this, because we will then have so many variations and options for where the disaster relief fund should be deployed. We ought to leave it as it is. It is there to enable us to reduce the impact of unforeseen disasters, and that is the way it should stay.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D).(PT) Madam President, disasters are a recurring theme in our debates in Parliament, which is only natural given that they are becoming more frequent and devastating. I should therefore like to welcome Commissioner Georgieva’s initiative, because it seems very relevant to me, and to congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Gardini. We in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament agree with the analysis of the effects of climate change on the increasing number and seriousness of disasters, and would prioritise prevention policies.

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces provisions enabling us to strengthen our response to disasters, and to make it more comprehensive, coordinated and efficient. We therefore welcome the proposal to establish a European emergency response capacity, as well as the proposal to develop a European emergency response centre.

The objective of maintaining a permanent 24/7 operational centre working in conjunction with the Member States through focal points that are also permanent also seems to be of the greatest importance to us.

I should like to welcome the rapporteur’s proposals, notably as regards pilot projects. For example, I would stress the importance of the pilot project concerning a tactical reserve for aerial fire-fighting to combat forest fires, whose success justifies its continuation and consolidation.

The Treaty of Lisbon also introduced a solidarity clause, and I believe solidarity is an aspect of disaster response that had to be stressed in this report. As such, that is indeed why we tabled amendments to reinforce the solidarity aspect.

 
  
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  Vladko Todorov Panayotov (ALDE). – Madam President, we know that if a catastrophe is well handled with a good reaction capacity, many lives can be saved and colossal damage can be avoided. Nevertheless, prevention is the best solution of all. In particular, with regard to man-made disasters such as Fukushima or the oil spill in Mexico, we have to enhance the benefits of ensuring our safety by anticipation. Paying particular attention to climate change and developing a greener economy will surely be a way to reduce considerably both man-made and natural disasters.

Finally, I would like to thank our rapporteur for the work done on a very important, but also an extremely complex, issue. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to find a common guideline to these phenomena, which are all different and which all need a very prompt and accurate reaction.

 
  
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  Godfrey Bloom (EFD). – Madam President, I rise with some humility as representing a country which managed to elect a Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Scotsman, the only Scotsman in the world who actually does not care how much money he spends: it is an interesting phenomenon! So as I say, I rise with some humility. However, I look forward with the great British sense of humour which is one thing nobody can take away from us in this place which gave us an energy policy, an employment policy, a fisheries policy, an agricultural policy that have been – as almost everything that this place has done has been – a complete and total disaster. We are now contemplating a response to disasters, most of which of course we create for ourselves in this place. So I can say I look forward to seeing how this develops, how it goes forward in the future, and I am just interested to see what kind of pig’s breakfast you are going to make of this one!

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE).(FR) Madam President, Ms Gardini explained quite clearly in her preamble that this is about solidarity, subsidiarity and, I would add, effectiveness. It is true, as has been said, that the frequency of disasters in the European Union is on the increase, which is why it is important to be able to unite our efforts or, in other words, pool them.

In fact, this idea is entirely based on Michel Barnier’s excellent report of 2006, in which he called for the European Union to allow a number of the resources at its disposal to be pooled, so as to create a sort of European civil protection force that would enable these resources to be brought together and to provide a quicker and more effective response. This would allow us to make use of our most sophisticated technology. We have both the Galileo and the GMES programmes and we also have telecommunications, which enable us to access critical information quickly and, hence, always respond as promptly as possible.

With regard to telecommunications, I should like to take this opportunity to remind people of the benefit of the European emergency number that we sought to create, 112, which has the power to save the lives of thousands of Europeans every day. It is crucial that this number be communicated more effectively to our fellow citizens so that they can be aware of the resources which are available to them.

The report by Ms Gardini therefore proves we can make a radical difference without overhauling existing structures, but rather by pooling resources, paying careful attention, of course, that subsidiarity is respected, and that this can be done without creating inadequate and costly structures. We are calling for the European Commission to ensure the proper coordination of those resources. Commissioner, you said that you were expecting Parliament’s support on this and you can count on us to have it.

 
  
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  Kriton Arsenis (S&D). (EL) Madam President, firstly, I wish to congratulate my colleagues who worked so hard on this report. This report appears, from what my colleagues have said, to be a broad consensus report. My congratulations therefore to the rapporteur, Ms Gardini, and to Mr Stavrakakis from the Committee on Regional Development. This is the second report being put to the vote here in the European Parliament; it comes shortly after the report on forest protection, which calls on us to take measures to protect European forests.

European forests, which are necessary if we are to combat climate change, are also necessary if we are to adapt to and to prepare our communities to combat climate change. With the planet overheating, forests are at risk of fire, flood and numerous other disaster scenarios, just as the whole of Europe is at risk of such disasters, the cross-border consequences of which are such that we have no choice but to take action.

The Commission must act accordingly and we await its response as to whether or not it will proceed with the White Paper on forest protection and we shall finally have legislation to adapt our forests to climate change. In this report, Parliament is, for the second time, calling for legislation to prevent forest fires, a measure which will help save resources and which is necessary at this economic juncture. When fires and other disasters occur, we need a flexible solidarity mechanism adapted to local requirements which will provide a common European response.

 
  
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  Charles Goerens (ALDE).(FR) Madam President, there are only a few ways of improving the EU’s disaster response capacity. Prevention, coordination and mutualisation are the key policy words in this area. That means prevention though a policy with a greater focus on sustainable development, coordination and a constant exchange of information to avoid duplication, and the pooling of the resources available in EU Member States, in the interest of efficiency, on the one hand, and proper management of public funds, on the other.

Could Commissioner Georgieva tell me what main obstacles could still oppose the integration of these principles into EU policy? Could you, Ms Georgieva, tell us what main difficulties you are still encountering at Member-State level when it comes to compliance with these principles or the achievement of objectives which, incidentally, Member States are requested to meet by the Treaty of Lisbon?

 
  
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  Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines (PPE).(ES) Madam President, I think that Ms Gardini’s report is very good and a great effort has been made. However, I would have liked it to have looked not only at prevention, but also at what will happen next.

One of the extremely serious problems in Haiti, for example, in Lorca during the recent earthquake, and in L’Aquila, is precisely that, while lives have been saved and life has returned to normal, there is a need to rebuild cities, cities that took years and thousands of years to be built. They have to be rebuilt all of a sudden. They have to be built, and there is a science and technology to help with this.

It is not possible to build on just any ground after an earthquake. It is important to find out which ground is the most suitable. Where is the special European Union unit to coordinate all the knowledge within all the sections? We are told that the new cities must be energy efficient, that they have to be smart cities, but how does one make the transition from a destroyed city to a smart city?

In this area, Europe has abandoned its people. It has not put in place any coordination measures, and there is a need, Commissioner, to coordinate the reconstruction work and ensure true flood prevention. There is a need to look at how to control the rivers. Other countries, such as Spain, have achieved this to a large degree.

One cannot stop talking about a disaster the day after it has happened. This is why I am much more concerned about what happens next, and I believe that this is where Europe must start to act.

 
  
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  Jolanta Emilia Hibner (PPE).(PL) Madam President, on behalf of our group, I would like to thank Ms Gardini, who has drawn up a very comprehensive report containing all the salient points.

The establishment of a European emergency response capacity will help EU citizens to feel more secure. It will also play a major role internationally, from the perspective of rescue and humanitarian operations in countries which may be affected by disasters in the future. The proposal to establish a European emergency response capacity is crucially important. I do hope, however, that Member States will maintain full autonomy in managing relief resources and retain the right to use these resources at any time, and I also trust that such resources will be made available on a voluntary basis in keeping with the spirit of European solidarity. It is vital to create a 24/7 European emergency response centre, and given that many already exist in other countries, we can draw on the experience of such centres. These centres will coordinate international operations with our existing practices. It is also essential to draw up scenarios for particular types of disaster, both within and outside the EU.

It is essential to use the emergency response centre to improve the flow of information between the EU and other countries.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE).(FR) Madam President, as everyone has said, in recent years, the European Union has been struck by unprecedented disasters and to name them would take up the entire debate time. I do, however, wish to mention the AZF explosion whose ten-year anniversary we commemorated less than a week ago in Toulouse.

Establishing a stronger response at European level, as proposed in Ms Gardini’s report, would be a real opportunity to demonstrate the solidarity between our people. The Union has already been attempting to operationalise this pooling of our efforts for several years and it is now time to act together and stop waiting for a new disaster to strike the EU in order to learn lessons from it.

It is now a question of making our material, human and financial capacities available to each other, in order to prevent new tragedies from occurring. Commissioner Georgieva, just now, you said that it was necessary to anticipate risks. It is extremely regrettable in this regard, that the European Commission intends to withdraw its funding of the earth observation programme GMES, which is recognised by all as an essential instrument in the prevention and coordination of disaster responses. I urge the Commission to reconsider this position and to support flagship programmes which generate undeniable added-value for Europe.

I would like to thank Ms Gardini for her excellent report. I hope that we are going to adopt it as it will pave the way for European solidarity at the service of citizens.

 
  
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  Marco Scurria (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, in the minute I have to speak, I would certainly like to thank Ms Gardini for the excellent report she has drafted, not least because it comes out of discussions with the competent institutions and the associations working in this area.

However, we need more than that. We need a legislative resolution that can go a step further and organise civil protection across Europe with no more gaps and no more overlaps. At a time when the role of the European Union is being debated, this is an area in which there is a demand for more Europe in order to develop united, coordinated action by the whole EU, particularly because civil protection depends on solidarity and volunteering. That fits in nicely with the aims of the Treaty of Lisbon and the current European Year of Volunteering.

A financial instrument is needed as well, of course, and I thank the Commissioner for pointing this out and requesting an increased budget.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D).(RO) Madam President, the European Union’s Solidarity Fund operates well on the whole, but based on the experience acquired during the early years of its implementation, it is clear that there are still major constraints and weaknesses in the fund’s operation. These are linked to the fund’s lack of speed in providing funding, to the level of transparency of the criteria for mobilising the fund in the event of regional disasters, as well as to the restrictions to natural disasters.

I must remind you that several Member States received financial support from the European Union for the projects implemented in the areas affected by various disasters. However, the funds were released late in relation to the time when maximum effectiveness would have been achieved. With this in mind, I think that the possibility of assistance being granted in the form of an advance payment scheme, based on an initial estimate of the losses, to a country affected by a disaster, at its request, would be a facility greatly appreciated by the affected areas, immediately after a disaster has occurred.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL).(PT) Madam President, Commissioner, exactly one year ago, in September 2010, a report on a Community approach to the prevention of natural and man-made disasters, for which I was rapporteur, was adopted by a large majority in Parliament.

It stated that prevention, as the first and decisive stage in the disaster management cycle, should be ascribed more importance. Through prevention, the occurrence of many disasters could be avoided, whilst the effects of others could be significantly reduced.

Examples of the measures we proposed in that report include the creation of an appropriate financial framework for prevention; actions in the area of forest management and fire prevention, the protection and defence of coastlines, and the restoration and protection of river basins; the creation of an agricultural public insurance scheme and the establishment of a minimum compensation scheme for disaster-affected farmers; the enhancement of early warning systems; and the revision of the Solidarity Fund Regulation.

One year on, it is easy to see that almost all this remains to be done. It would be worth bearing that in mind when the other stages of the disaster management cycle – preparation, response and recovery – are being debated.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Madam President, there is a saying in my country that misfortune walks not over mountains, but over people. Earthquakes, major floods, fires and other disasters do not sidestep European countries, and the rescue teams of the states affected are often unable, especially in the initial phases of disasters, to provide the necessary assistance in major disasters, and international assistance often becomes a necessity.

We must therefore welcome the Commission’s decision to merge the monitoring and information centre with the Echo crisis centre, creating one independent centre for emergency responses operating on a continuous basis and which is ready at any time to coordinate the EU's emergency humanitarian aid operations. The development of this institution as a focal point for the rapid coordination of European material and financial aid would underline the good sense of the institution even more. I firmly believe that we can effectively protect the lives and health of our people in emergency situations through well-prepared mechanisms and crisis and humanitarian assistance teams.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE).(RO) Madam President, the European Union and its citizens are faced with an alarming rise in the number of disasters and in their level of severity. The disasters which have occurred in every state across the world prove the need to create a strong European rapid response force for dealing with emergencies. The events which cause disasters cannot be avoided. However, they can be managed and their impact mitigated. A series of measures and actions turned into policies aimed at disaster impact prevention are needed to reduce the risk associated with natural phenomena.

More than EUR 2 billion has been provided in financial aid by the Solidarity Fund between 2002 and 2010, confirming the key role played by the EU in supporting disaster-stricken countries. However, it is difficult for the money allocated to reach the people affected. What is needed is to create an efficient mechanism for mobilising immediately the sums allocated from the Solidarity Fund, with a corresponding mechanism being available in each Member State which is equally rapid. I would like to thank and congratulate Ms Gardini.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D).(HU) Madam President, it was a year ago that Hungary suffered through the tragedy of the red mud industrial disaster. We could see precisely just how valuable EU assistance can be, and I would once again like to express my thanks for that. Voluntary aid helped Hungary a great deal but, at the same time, revealed its own ad hoc nature. It is for this reason that I find the objective of the report to create a European emergency response centre excellent.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Georgieva for her assistance and, at the same time, ask my fellow Members to please learn to pronounce the name of a Commissioner, who is doing such an excellent job, correctly: it is Georgieva.

I should also point out that after the disaster, the authorities obliged the company responsible to pay six times its own assets in damages, so it has to pay six times that amount. Liability insurance should be mandatory for industrial plants.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE).(PL) Madam President, a rapid and coordinated response, as well as the ability to engage fully all available resources, are vital in the face of increasingly frequent disasters and catastrophes. For only such measures will limit human tragedy and reduce material losses.

I am very pleased that the report has emphasised the role of local and regional authorities, which are at the frontline when disasters strike. We are all aware that they fulfil a crucial role, both in terms of the prevention of natural disasters as well as in terms of the relief they provide in the aftermath of such disasters. I am also glad that the issue of making the Solidarity Fund more flexible has been raised, ladies and gentlemen, for it is quite unacceptable for victims of tragedies to wait for months or years to receive financial assistance. I would like to congratulate and to thank the rapporteur, and I hope we will accomplish all the proposals contained in the report and that we will improve the coordination, communication and speed of response at all levels.

 
  
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  Ioan Mircea Paşcu (S&D). – Madam President, the multiplication of natural disasters and human-produced disasters is a fact. At the same time, there is more and more strain on the national means available for response, not least because the rest of the world expects the EU to respond to their disasters, too.

Until now, that response has been ad hoc and too bureaucratic. Therefore, a complete overhaul of the entire system is indispensable, and this very detailed report provides the necessary orientation. In essence, we have to eliminate redundancies and increase the efficiency of what we want to keep. In that respect, we need to shift the emphasis from reaction to prevention, stressing monitoring, scenario preparation and education. We need to create a permanent pool of the national means placed at our disposal for such purposes and increase the flexibility of our procedures to make the entire system more operative.

The main conditionality would be subsidiarity, then availability of means – both material and financial. Finally, let us not forget that civil protection is entirely in line with the EU philosophy of intervention, and let us stress the civilian element over the military which, even if not entirely eliminated, will not be central.

 
  
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  Silvia Costa (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, as I congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Gardini, and the Commissioner, I must say that I agree with the calls for European legislation, a bottom-up approach and a coordinating centre that draws on the best experience and the models of civil protection intervention used in the various Member States, bringing together expertise and voluntary resources, national coordinators and local bodies.

I would like to refer to two points. Regarding the consolidation of 112 as the single emergency number in Europe, I would ask the Commission to carry out an active check, given that my country, for example, is moving towards further fragmentation of emergency numbers and the services that answer emergency calls. There are even two numbers for fires. Secondly, we should increase the part played by new technologies in the field of early warning and warning systems, for example, by supporting the roll-out of prototypes that the EU finances but which are not then taken up by the Member States.

Lastly, in terms of the organisation of civil protection, I think it is also important to highlight the social changes that have occurred in the European population, which, to an increasing extent, is elderly, of foreign origin and concentrated in outlying areas where there is little infrastructure. Hence, there is a need to safeguard access and the possibility for this most vulnerable section of the population to be supported.

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, thank you very much for the excellent comments and suggestions for the legislative proposal. I shall try to group my answers, starting with what this proposal would do in bringing together a true European capacity.

Madam Striffler brought up this question first. We also had a question from Madam Grossetête on how this relates to the Barnier report. What we are proposing is to integrate the capabilities of Member States and, in this sense, it is more lexis than substance: where the Barnier report was leading us on to and where we are going to be. In the Barnier report, from which we have adopted a total of 12 proposals, the idea is to integrate the capabilities of Member States but there the approach was more top-down, whereas what we are coming with is bottom-up. I can say with confidence that we have support from Member States for this proposal, especially from Member States where the national requirements are such that the delegation is not even at the level of federal or central government but goes down to regional authorities.

So we will have an integrated capacity, we can call it a force, of Member States’ assets. I want to stress that we are not waiting for the legislative proposal to advance. We have already made significant advancements in integrating the capabilities of Member States. When I took office, we had less than 40 modules registered at European level. I can report today that we have 124 modules registered at European level, plus eight coordination teams. The advancements we have taken are in response to the needs. Just for information, in 2010 alone, we activated our Civil Protection Mechanism 28 times. For reference: in previous years, it would be two, three, four or five times and this year, we already have activated it 11 times and the probability is that there may be more activations.

Let me take a second point that was brought up by many MEPs – Mr Arsenis, Mr Czarnecki and Madam de Brún and, I am sure, others – on the importance of preparedness and prevention. We know that a euro invested in prevention brings four to seven euros in return. Yet, moving ahead with prevention has proven to be difficult in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

We recognise how critically important prevention is. I have just come back from Washington where we in the Commission took the lead, together with the World Bank and the government of Japan, in making this question of preparedness and of prevention a high global priority, and we will continue with structured measures focusing on actions taken in prevention in order to boost this work.

We will come back with additional legislative proposals in this area as we advance in our operational thinking. Of course, forests are a big part in our prevention measures. They matter in floods, they matter in being ready for forest fires, they matter in the ecological system for cities and rural areas. So, Mr Arsenis, you will see forests becoming a big part of our preparedness and prevention work.

But preparedness is also training together, and this is where the Commission has already advanced our role. Just last Friday I was in Poland taking part in a five country preparedness exercise, Carpatex, and I can tell you that bringing our community of civil protection together is paramount in saving lives, and reducing property, and we in the Commission are dedicated to do more of it.

I was asked by Mr Leinen and Mr Seeber how we coordinate with the High Representative and I can give you a very positive report that, on the basis of activations and practice in dealing with crises, we have advanced significantly the institutional arrangements and we have much more clarity in who does what, when and where.

Clearly, inside Europe, the High Representative has no role. Two-thirds of activations of the civil protection last year were inside Europe and there it is a matter of internal EU action. Outside Europe, we act as a first responder bringing civil protection humanitarian aid, whereas the High Representative has a role in political and defence coordination. Of course, in complex crises, the High Representative takes the lead and there we bring our skills and capabilities – this is best practice in our Member States, where civil protection is coordinated. Member States have their own civil protection coordination centres and politics and defence are coordinated. Sometimes, civil protection steps in and sometimes they have no role, depending on the type of crisis. Those of you who watched President Obama of the United States responding to the floods recently will have seen that he did it from the civil protection centre of the United States, but when you watch him, in the case of Bin Laden, he was in the situation room of the United States, in the White House.

So, we do have separate roles, we do of course have to coordinate in complex emergencies and, depending on the emergencies, we define exactly how this coordination takes place.

What obstacles do we face from Member States? The critical issue we face is to assure Member States that we are mindful of their legislative conditions, in other words, that we respect how civil protection is organised in each and every one of our Member States, and recognise that in national disasters, where there is no role for the European Union and the country can cope on its own, of course we will not interfere in this response.

Member States in current fiscal conditions and the budgetary environment want to be sure that we will be mindful of cost efficiency. I can give you my word that I am very fiscally prudent and that, yes, we will make sure that every euro of our taxpayers’ money is spent in the best possible and most effective manner. In other words, at Community level when it makes sense, and at the country level when it is more appropriate.

I was also asked about how we deal with post-disasters. It is a very critical question to link relief to rehabilitation and development and to make sure that development assistance, including technical capabilities from the European Union, is made available to countries affected by disasters. We have taken some measures in that respect to improve the post-disaster risk assessment that is carried out and then make sure that the European contribution is in this context of internationally coordinated efforts in developing countries. I do agree that this is an area where more work needs to be done, and we have made it a priority with Commissioner Piebalgs for our cooperation.

I very much agree with Ms de Brún that we must respect the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence when we provide humanitarian assistance, including civil protection in-kind assistance in developing countries, especially in areas that are affected not only by disasters, but also by conflicts. This must always be respected and I am grateful to Baroness Ashton for very much supporting this principle of neutrality and independence in humanitarian work.

Speakers including Ms Dăncilă – I apologise if I mispronounced the name – made a point on the Solidarity Fund. We work together with Commissioner Hahn to make a proposal for redefining the Solidarity Fund so that it can act immediately through a pre-funding arrangement in case a country is affected by disasters. Last year, I faced a very uncomfortable situation when floods affected Moldova and Romania. In Moldova, we can provide humanitarian assistance overnight, in Romania we cannot. I am therefore a very strong proponent of making sure that solidarity is expressed right at the time when people need it when a disaster hits.

On the question of GMES, this is a pilot project that is very much on the priority list of the working programme for the Commission. The pilot project is now completed but the Commission intends to support GMES financially to the extent possible in the next multi-year financial framework and, of course, we count on Parliament to support our proposal so that it can be done.

Last but not least, on the forest fire-fighting reserve, this is a pilot project that unfortunately came to an end. We cannot extend it, but we are going to include it in the legislative proposal. Talking about where we have difficulty with Member States, some of our Member States are really not in favour of it so we would need your support in Parliament. It is the right thing to do, we have seen it in the years we have applied it, but we still have some work to do to convince Member States that this funding arrangement has to be continued once the legislative proposal is being done. I apologise for taking so long, but there were very many good questions and I did not want to skip any of them.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini, rapporteur.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you, I was already planning to give back the extra time I had unduly used at the beginning of the debate.

There is not much to add, in fact, because I feel the House has confirmed the great chance we have in this case to be really ambitious and to give the people more Europe, as Europe is all too often felt to be remote. This time, though, we have a wonderful tool to make people feel Europe is close to them even in minor matters, leaving aside the fundamental issues that it would be pointless to repeat. The 112 number might appear to be minor, although it has been mentioned several times, as might Article 23 of the Treaty – which needs to be brought to the public’s attention – which says that European citizens who are in a third country where their country of birth or nationality is not represented are entitled to protection by any diplomatic authority of any EU Member State.

This is the kind of Europe we need.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: DAGMAR ROTH-BEHRENDT
Vice-President

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 12.30.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  János Áder (PPE), in writing.(HU) The debate about strengthening EU disaster response gives us a good opportunity to examine the system of European disaster management in a broader context. Although I agree with the conclusions of the report, I believe that there are quite a number of questions that remain unanswered: Does the EU possess the appropriate financial means to protect not only against natural disasters, but also against industrial accidents with serious consequences? Do we have the means to allow rapid and effective damage control in the case of industrial disasters? If we have no answer to these questions – and I believe that we do not – then would this not be the right time to begin to develop a new set of effective financial instruments as soon as possible? I am convinced that the solution lies in a European disaster insurance system based on the principle of mandatory liability insurance, which would provide sufficient extra resources from the payments of potential industrial polluters to enable the EU to implement quick and efficient intervention. Injured parties would receive money immediately, while the risks deriving from potential non-payment by polluters could be spread out at EU level. Furthermore, payers could also become beneficiaries of the system by submitting applications for assistance for their safety and environmental investments from any unused funds. I believe that a substantive debate on this matter should begin as soon as possible, and we should not wait for another disaster to remind us of its necessity.

 
  
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  Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing. – The 2010 floods in Romania brought sudden disaster and tragic loss of life to many communities. Since then, we have seen many natural disasters unfold around the world, with significant human, environmental, and economic costs. The costs of both the immediate emergency response and long-term reconstruction are considerable. So I welcome this report’s emphasis on improving the flexibility and efficiency of the Solidarity Fund, which can provide valuable assistance to Member States and the assurance they need to release funds in the aftermath of a disaster. I also support the calls for a response capacity based on the European Civil Protection Mechanism, which pools capabilities and expertise from across the EU so as to provide the best and most efficient expert help during times of crises. Many disasters happen despite being entirely preventable. Last year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a complete ban on the use of cyanide technology in mining projects because of the potential for cross-border environmental catastrophe in the event of an accident. Yet, despite this, the Romanian Government is about to approve such a mining project, which poses a grave threat to the environment and valuable cultural heritage of a whole region.

 
  
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  Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu (S&D), in writing. (RO) We are living in an interconnected world where an adverse change in one element can have unexpected repercussions elsewhere. The lesson learnt from the numerous disasters highlights the significant role played by information and the exchange of information between actors, not only with the aim of preventing disasters, but also of responding efficiently in critical situations.

This is why I regard as imperative and support the creation of a European emergency response centre. Since cooperation has allowed us to prosper as a continent and play a leading economic role for a long time, it is appropriate for us to create a pool of resources, capacities and assets for the European Union not only to intervene in crisis situations, but also to take united action globally.

We must bear in mind that our ecological footprint extends far beyond the EU’s borders. As a result, we need to show solidarity not only in sharing the benefits of our actions, but also in sharing the relevant costs.

 

4. New trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the report by Daniel Caspary, on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, on a new trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy [2010/2152(INI)] (A7-0255/2011).

 
  
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  Daniel Caspary, rapporteur.(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the global economy has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. Alongside the traditional economic powers like the European Union and the United States, thriving regions like Asia, in the form of China and India, or South America are emerging more and more out of the economic shadows.

That also has to have an impact on our policies and our strategy. However, I am not convinced that the Commission’s new trade strategy will provide adequate answers to these changes. The challenges that the European Union is facing in the area of external trade can be illustrated very well with a few figures.

By 2015, 90% of global growth will be generated outside the Union, with 50 countries, including the 27 Member States of the EU, accounting for 80% of world trade. However, the European Union’s share in the world’s relative GDP is continually declining and is faced with a rapid increase in the performance of the emerging countries.

In 2000, at the launch of the Lisbon strategy, the European Union still accounted for 25% of world GDP. By 2020, this share will fall to just 18% of world GDP. While the two biggest developed economies, Europe and the United States, accounted for 48% of world GDP in the year 2000, this share will be down to a third by 2020. That is a relative decline of 27%.

China and India will account for around a quarter of world economic output by 2020. That is a relative increase of 150%. In this regard, we need to bear in mind that the European Union’s economy is highly dependent on participating in external growth. Even today, 18% of the Union’s labour force, in other words, almost 40 million jobs, is dependent on the Union’s trade performance.

The comparison between trade opening and employment over the past 10 years in almost all countries in the world shows that trade opening goes together with higher employment and job creation. Therefore, we must make use of these opportunities.

There is something that I believe to be particularly important. The Commission is called on to present a revised mid- and long-term trade strategy by the summer of 2013. This should be possible on the basis of a thorough analysis of the current trends in world trade and a forecast of developments within and outside the European Union over the next 10 to 15 years.

I would be very pleased, Commissioner De Gucht, if you could assure us of that already today. I think that we need a genuine future-oriented strategy in order to better deal with the changes that have occurred over the last 10 years.

I would also briefly like to mention one particular paragraph contained in the report, and that is paragraph 11, because many people still only associate bad news, such as job relocations and environmental and social dumping, with trade or globalisation. Yes, these things do exist too, and it is our job to work together to tackle them.

However, we all experience the good side of trade on a daily basis: affordable products in our shops, export opportunities and new jobs, for example, in mechanical engineering, vehicle manufacturing or with service providers. The positive contribution made by trade policy to the combating of poverty also gets far too brief a mention in the public debate. In this regard, I would like to see a balanced information campaign by the Commission highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of external trade, and I would be extremely grateful if we could uphold this demand contained in the report.

I would like to thank everyone who has worked on this report most sincerely – all of the many colleagues in various talks and with more than 200 amendments in committee. I would like to thank Parliament’s administration and various external partners in dialogue from numerous different spheres who have supported us all with their background knowledge and their convictions and provided both positive and negative comments. It is now up to the Commission to take up our proposals and to implement them. We will be keeping a very watchful eye on this, Mr De Gucht.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, I would like to thank Members for this opportunity to comment on the excellent report prepared by Daniel Caspary. I appreciate the frank and comprehensive analysis it makes of our communication on trade policy.

First of all, I would like to address one unwarranted criticism that this report raises, which is its lack of long-term vision. Parliament will also have seen the two detailed staff working documents which accompany our communication. One contains rigorous economic analysis as well as available long-term forecasts. The other presents an assessment of the Global Europe strategy adopted by the Commission in 2006.

One of the key priorities of our new trade strategy is to ensure stronger and sustainable growth in Europe by engaging with other strategic growth poles in the world: China, Russia, Japan, etc. I am sure that Members will agree with me that this is a legitimate long-term objective and not just a misguided short-term vision.

We also strive to uphold the value of multilateralism and project our European values in the rest of the world, in an ever-increasing complex world where global governance and strong leadership seem to be in short supply. Unless you believe that multilateralism and our strong engagement with strategic partners will not be objectives worth pursuing by 2030 or beyond, then I find it hard to accept the report’s criticism of a lack of long-term vision.

I would also like to stress that the objectives and priorities set in the communication will produce economic effects in the next five to ten years. Today, 36 million jobs in the EU depend on our external trade. These jobs are important today and they will be as important in decades to come. If we are successful in our strategy, and not least if Parliament lends its support, our new trade policy can generate EUR 150 billion every year, and more jobs at the same time. These gains are long-term gains, which can only be reaped if we set a strong foundation for our policy today.

Secondly, I notice that we both share the aim of higher growth and consider that we should harness all the growth potential of external trade. The growth potential of the various trade initiatives that we are considering or pursuing is therefore a major factor allowing us to set priorities among the many negotiations which the Commission can engage in.

Thirdly, the report considers that we are not ambitious enough and that our trade negotiations are too slow. Let us talk again when I return to this House to present concluded free trade agreements in the months and years to come. Of course, while it is important to be ambitious, it is equally important to understand that European trade policy does not solve all global issues and that global agreements are based on mutual obligations and commitments. Imposing obligations on our partners is only feasible if we ourselves are willing to make commitments which they consider equivalent. Otherwise, no deal is possible.

That is why I am pleased to see that we agree on many of the priorities for the EU’s trade policy: multilateralism remains our top trade priority. The EU has a deep commercial and systemic interest in a strong multilateral trading system, and the Commission has played a proactive role in the Doha negotiations throughout 2011, including by developing a solid compromise proposal in the key area of tariffs on industrial goods.

We also consistently called for deliverables for Least Developed Countries and we have an established, excellent track record already. In the coming period, ahead of the December Ministerial Conference, the Commission will continue its work in Geneva with the objective of finding a road map that can take the Doha negotiations out of the present impasse.

The report also states the importance of ensuring that trade works for poverty reduction. This is an issue that is also important for me and is why the Commission will submit to college a communication on trade, investment and development, by the end of November.

Another area of importance mentioned several times in the report is ensuring that we are open but not naive, which I fully agree with. One initiative the Commission is working on is a legislative proposal for an EU instrument that will help secure and increase symmetry in access to public procurement markets in developed countries and large emerging markets. Procurement markets represent a substantial part of national economies, but European businesses cannot always get equal or easy access. The Commission has just ended the public consultation, is reviewing different options and will put forward a proposal within the coming months.

I note that the report acknowledges the achievements of the market access strategy and the importance to continue to work towards keeping markets open. The Commission produced a trade and investment barriers report for the Spring European Council this year, which was shared with the Parliament as well. The report monitors barriers and protectionist measures and sets out a number of key priorities for market access action vis-à-vis our strategic partners, and should become the public reference document and benchmark for our enforcement action at political level. I welcome Parliament’s decision to also prepare a report on this matter.

We are actively pursuing our market access work, in particular, in relation to intellectual property rights in third countries, access to key raw materials for EU industry and securing reliable energy supplies. We will also continue to enforce EU rights and defend the interests of EU businesses of all sizes – anti-dumping or anti-subsidy cases, bilateral discussions on market access barriers, negotiating trade deals and bringing cases before WTO. One example is how we have actively and consistently – and so far successfully – addressed issues relating to access to raw materials in China through the WTO’s dispute settlement system. In keeping with our enlightened openness, we have no qualms about using all instruments to ensure that all countries and companies comply with WTO rules.

Finally, I welcome a reference to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in the report. The Commission is currently finalising a proposal to improve the fund and to extend it to the agricultural sector. This is scheduled for adoption on 5 October 2011.

I see much agreement between this report and the Commission’s own communication on trade policy and look forward to discussing it with Parliament. On the last question from Mr Caspary as to where I am going, I have only one answer: I am going forward.

 
  
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  Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Development.(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr Caspary for this report.

Commissioner De Gucht, you said to us here in March 2010: ‘viewed in the long term, trade is intended to help all inhabitants of this world to a better existence’. Unfortunately, in the Commission communication, this approach is not taken quite so clearly. For that reason, too, it was important for the report to deal expressly with the duty to provide a coherent policy. That is particularly important for the area of trade, as trade plays a very significant role in development cooperation. That makes it even harder to understand why it has not been included in the five key areas for policy coherence.

In my opinion, the Committee on International Trade has done a very good job on this report. Many of the suggestions from the Committee on Development have been included, for example, regarding the necessity and essential business friendliness of transparency initiatives, for example, in the raw materials sector. So thank you very much. The communication promised for the end of February will be important from the point of view of development policy.

 
  
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  Bogdan Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.(PL) Madam President, I am speaking today on behalf of Andrzej Grzyb, the rapporteur for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on the new trade policy for Europe. Mr Grzyb has drawn special attention to the need for equal access to new markets for enterprises both within and outside the EU, and has stressed, in particular, that EU enterprises should have access to foreign public procurement markets.

The opinion also emphasises the strategic importance of access to global raw materials and energy resources in order to sustain European security. This access should be guaranteed by appropriate international EU agreements. The opening up of markets should ensure that there is no adverse impact on the competitiveness of EU enterprises and should protect them against unfair competition. The solutions adopted should also eliminate pressure on these entities to move their business activities outside of the EU internal market. These issues are of specific importance to small and medium-sized enterprises, which are at particular risk of unfair practices and for which opportunities must be created to enable them to develop and compete in the global market. I am pleased that most of these proposals have been included in Mr Caspary’s report.

 
  
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  Malcolm Harbour, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. – Madam President, I am speaking in this debate first of all as the rapporteur for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, but also on behalf of my group as well.

I welcome this extremely comprehensive – and, I am pleased to say, very well-structured – report by Daniel Caspary, particularly as it incorporates many of the points that my committee made. In particular, I draw attention to the first clause of our report, which you incorporated in full and which in a way encapsulates our engagement with the issue.

The Single Market Act proposal on regulatory convergence is fully endorsed by this report. I think nothing could illustrate better the engagement of my committee with the trade process. We have had the pleasure of welcoming the Commissioner to come and talk to us because he knows our engagement with that. Non-tariff barriers are going to become more and more difficult to deal with and they will be the big areas of action, as the Commissioner already knows.

Our work in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection is dealing with non-tariff barriers within the single market all the time. We do not exist in isolation. That is why we have also recently visited both India and China to get an idea about how the impact of the internal market will work there.

I want to pick up two points in particular because I think they are important, forward-looking points. I would say to Mr Caspary that we welcome inclusion of these but I do not think they have had enough emphasis. The first one is the question of standardisation. We must collaborate more with our trading partners to avoid inventing the new barriers to trade in developing technology areas – things like nanotechnology, smart grids and electric cars. Why should we be inventing new barriers there?

Secondly, innovation, which is linked to that. There is hardly anything in here about the need for encouraging science technology collaboration in innovative products. That is a key imperative.

I conclude with this point: trade for growth – unlocking the benefits of trade – is indispensable to growth in the European economy. I hope that trade issues will be absolutely on the agenda of the forthcoming European Council where we start talking about growth in the future.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi, on behalf of the PPE Group.(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, I should like firstly to congratulate Daniel Caspary, not only for the excellent quality of his report, but also for the open and collaborative method which guided all of the work involved.

The text which we are going to adopt reflects the aspirations and doubts of MEPs, whatever their political group or nationality. In particular, it highlights one of our main concerns, which is the need for a genuine long-term trade strategy. Moreover, I think, Commissioner De Gucht, despite what you just said, that the Commission’s communication of November 2010 is insufficient in this respect.

Indeed, the communication fails to take account of the current context of crisis and not only that of economic crisis, but also that affecting international trade. I am referring here, for example, to the stalemate in the Doha Development Round negotiations and to the emergence of new non-tariff barriers which we are seeing even from our oldest trading partners. Moreover, this communication does not take account of changes in trade policy. The rapporteur states it clearly: ‘Trade policy is not an end in itself.’ Yet, we get the impression that the Commission has yet to integrate this new reality into its work.

I shall cite another example: members of your departments regularly come to the Committee on International Trade to inform us of progress in free trade agreement negotiations. In this context, we question them on the inclusion of social and environmental standards, the importance given to the agricultural chapter, or even on the reciprocity of market access. However, in the evasive answers we receive, these issues are often eluded in favour of purely trade-related chapters.

Today, this bias is no longer viable. Commissioner, I should like to declare my support for Mr Caspary’s request: the Commission must quickly present a clear, global and long-term vision for trade policy.

 
  
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  David Martin, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, let me add my congratulations to Daniel Caspary for his report and for his cooperation. I welcome the report and the Commission’s communication on the future of EU trade policy. As the rapporteur points out, the harsh reality is that the EU share of global trade is declining, and without action it will continue to decline. Thirty-six million jobs in the European Union depend on external trade. Unless we boost our exports, there will be no economic recovery. Job creation and poverty alleviation at home and abroad must be at the core of our global trade strategy.

The report acknowledges, as Mrs Saïfi has just said, that trade is not an end in itself. It can, of course, be a driver for growth, which, in turn, fuels prosperity and rising living standards, but trade is also influenced by, and can influence, human rights standards, labour standards, environmental standards, and they must be key components of our trade policy, not as an alternative to trade liberalisation, but as a key component of it. We need policy coherence between our trade policy, our development policy, our environmental, social and labour policies. The promotion of fair trade is already benefiting around 7.5 million people across 58 developing countries. I hope the Commission will listen to Parliament and continue to promote fair-trade policies.

The key message I want to take out of this report, though, is that, across the groups, we have managed to create a good framework for Europe’s trade policy. The test, however, is not in creating such a framework, the test is in applying that framework to the individual free trade agreements that we are about to debate, the individual legislation such as the GSP legislation that is going to come before this Parliament. Unless we put the contents of this report into action in our individual free trade agreements, the individual pieces of trade legislation, it will end up being a meaningless piece of paper.

 
  
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  Metin Kazak, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(FR) Madam President, I would like to commend Mr Caspary for his excellent report which addresses all aspects of the EU’s trade strategy from a truly liberal point of view. It is extremely important that the EU remains committed to this approach and avoids repeating the errors made in the 1930s, when the economic crisis marked the emergence of aggressive protectionism. The danger of this is even more flagrant considering the difficulties being encountered in concluding the Doha Development Round negotiations.

Ladies and gentlemen, I expect a more exhaustive strategy on trade from the Commission. I should like to know, for example, with which countries we are intending to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement between now and 2020. I would also like to know which non-tariff barriers we are aiming to eliminate between now and 2020 with Russia, the US and China. Furthermore, I would like to know how we are going to address the problems with countries with whom we are bound by a Customs Union.

I would like to see more ambition from the Commission, in order to ensure growth, and also that our principles on development, human rights and the environment are integrated into trade policies. Trade must be used to help poor developing countries and the Least Developed Countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

That is why we must provide the tools required to boost growth, which the European Union absolutely needs, while forging an ambitious and coherent trade policy.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(SV) Madam President, I would like to thank Mr Caspary for addressing all of the issues that are important to us – human rights, labour law, social responsibility, the environment, the climate, consumer protection, in particular, protection of generics, and the right to take non-protectionist measures by way of protection against unfair competition and dumping.

However, both the Commission communication and the report still have an outdated focus on continued liberalisation. The demand for the elimination of export taxes is reminiscent of colonial raw materials policy.

What would we say if the Swedish steel industry was not permitted to work with high-grade steel, but was forced to export all raw materials? No, those countries that want to should be able to retain the added value in their country with the aid of export taxes, which are often also an important source of income.

The same applies with regard to the continued demand for procurement and the liberalisation of services. These countries must be able to decide for themselves whether to benefit from this or whether it is more important to promote certain local industry. Each country must be able to decide this for itself.

I then wonder how this policy – it is even referred to as ‘growth’ – could be compatible with our climate ambitions. Show me an analysis and demonstrate that there has been some decoupling between global trade, growth, emissions and the use of resources.

I would like the Commission to show me these studies before it presents the next outdated growth proposals. You need to have more green economy that is not dependent on growth.

Not all trade is necessary. Half of the world’s trade is in equivalent products. We should trade when it provides significant added value: we should buy those things that we are not good at producing ourselves and export those things that we are good at producing.

 
  
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  Helmut Scholz, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, Mr Caspary, I acknowledge the fact that, as rapporteur, you have shown yourself within your own group to be thoroughly open to the demand for a modern trade policy with this report. Paragraph 5 of your report in particular emphasises the fact, at last, that trade policy requires coherence with a great many other policy areas as well as future viability, and I expressly support your call for a thorough revision of the trade strategy by Commissioner De Gucht.

Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of this report then falls back into the old way of thinking. You want to promote the interests of the EU instead of establishing partnerships. You support an aggressive market access strategy by the Commission, which would weaken the development potential of other countries. You want to use whatever means necessary to secure access to raw materials for European enterprises instead of finally offering fair prices and providing assistance for the development of manufacturing industries.

We will vote against this old way of thinking, because the consequence of continuing with this old strategy will, above all, be the extension of the spiral of poverty in most parts of the world. That is short-sighted, also because it will ultimately harm Europe.

How do you actually imagine it will end if we pursue competition for the raw materials of the world by aggressive means? Where will we be in 2050? Will all of the states in the world then have a raw materials management strategy like that of Norway? Will it have been possible to develop manufacturing industries? Will Europe have helped them to do this in an environmentally sound way and to create respectable jobs? Europe’s future lies in a smart trade policy that aims to strengthen its partners and which recognises that combating poverty is a prerequisite for its own survival.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, this is a snapshot of a disaster: it talks about a strategy for Europe, but we see no strategy. It is a snapshot of a hopeless disaster.

Thank you for the report, which offers no way out at all. Somebody will have to explain to me what the Commission’s farsightedness entails. The details put forward here actually portray a debacle of what Europe is not. The prevailing interests are those of certain Northern European countries that want to liberalise everything and trade, regardless of social dumping and the imbalances we have with our so-called partners, but without any interest or protection for our small and medium-sized enterprises. It is essentially British and German interests that are being defended both by the Commission and by the report.

I smile when I see in the report that the Member States and the Commission are being urged to communicate better, since the people of the European Union are sick to death of globalisation because of the loss of productivity. If, in your view, we can solve things by communicating better, then we really have not understood where to go.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Madam President, the Caspary report rightly points out that free trade is not an end in itself, that there are economic, social, environmental and moral interests which must be defended, and that perhaps globalisation is not as wonderful as the Commission continues to believe.

The problem is that the Caspary report is founded on a belief that this globalisation is inescapable and, inevitably, in a belief in the virtues of global free trade, slightly improved at the fringes by some regulation or other. Yet, this system, as it has been operating for almost 60 years, has proven to be deeply unfair and destructive. It must therefore be changed. Widespread free movement of capital, goods, services and people has led to mass unemployment, relocalisation, deindustrialisation, pressure on wages, frenzied speculation and ultimately, whether you like it or not, to the unprecedented global crisis which we are experiencing today.

We will not, in the near future, be competitive in relation to countries which use and abuse their comparative advantages, which do not respect their international commitments, and which practise dumping and counterfeiting. The global trade war is inequitable; we must restore the necessary protection.

 
  
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  Kader Arif (S&D).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, aside from the work which Mr Caspary has done, I find that the new trade strategy proposed by the Commission does not address the challenges which Europe has to face in light of the financial, economic, social, environmental and food crises we are experiencing, nor does it address the expectations of our fellow citizens who are calling for stronger regulation and for a new sustainable growth and development model for the planet. Unfortunately, however, this does not or no longer comes as a surprise. Faced with these calls for new regulation and new solidarity, the Union must establish a new doctrine for an alternative trade policy. If Europe does not advocate a fairer form of trade that is founded on the values of justice and that generates quality employment in both Europe and the rest of the world, who will?

Solely promoting services is not a policy. We need to preserve strong industrial and agricultural sectors through an employment-generating industrial policy and an updated CAP. The inclusion in all of our free trade agreements of social and environmental standards, and stringent human rights rules which guarantee decent working conditions, is fundamental.

Europe must lead the way in balancing trade openness with room for public intervention and the legitimate protection of various economic sectors both in Europe and in its partner countries – a fair trade policy for fair trade should be the aim.

 
  
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  Franziska Keller (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, we Greens deeply regret that the revised trade strategy marks a clear shift away from multilateral trade talks towards new bilateral trade agreements. We are concerned that the Commission is seeking liberalisation commitments from developing countries on services, intellectual property and the so-called ‘Singapore issues’ that go well beyond what they would agree to in multilateral fora such as the WTO.

The introduction of the reciprocity principle regarding public procurement can be extremely harmful for developing countries as it will, among other things, hamper the development of infant industries and processing. I therefore ask the Commission to define its trade strategy in full respect of the special and differential treatment granted to developing countries by the WTO. Governments and parliaments must be able to regulate investment, both to discriminate in favour of investors that support their country’s development, and to ensure that obligations and duties fall on all investors, including foreign investors.

 
  
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  Laurence J.A.J. Stassen (NI) . – (NL) Madam President, when reading the list of objectives in this report, you could almost forget that it is supposed to be about trade policy. From climate policy to employment law, Europe is trying to push a socialist agenda from all sides. Such things have no place in a report on trade policy.

If Europe is going into the negotiations with this shopping list, then it will be putting paid to any chances of success from the outset. Do you really think that developing countries are crying out for European social standards and climate objectives? Surely, these countries have other things on their minds.

Do you know what would really help these countries? Being able to freely export their agricultural products to Europe. Europe has the audacity to impose all kinds of demands, whilst protecting its own agricultural sector with subsidies which cost billions. That is hypocritical and is costing us loads of money. If the European Union is attempting to conclude trade agreements on the basis of these conditions, it will fail.

 
  
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  Gianluca Susta (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the future of our trade policy coincides with the future of European competitiveness itself.

For years, we have justifiably pursued a policy of opening up our market – and perhaps we have been more generous to others than to ourselves – but the slowdown in the Doha Round, the resurgence of protectionist measures by several partners, including strategic ones, and the enterprise shown by emerging countries must lead us to reconsider the way in which we Europeans want to relate to the world.

In this context, words like ‘reciprocity’ and ‘protecting European interests’ must become the litmus test to show whether what we are doing is right. We have to play a leading role and not a supporting one in seeking to conclude the Doha Round with a well-balanced global agreement, which is an essential condition for arriving at a free-trade agreement that really opens up the markets and, above all, creates equal opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Trade policy and economic governance go hand in hand in this world, and we are therefore calling for a new financial system and a new monetary and exchange rate policy, as well as a redefinition of trade protection measures.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, the statistics quoted by Mr Caspary are rather frightening – from 25% of GDP in 2000, now the European Union will have only 18% by 2020, from 19% of world exports in 1999 to 17% of world exports in 2009, and yet the Union’s population is due to increase 5% by 2035 – all pointing to a poorer, and therefore less influential, European Union.

It is time for action, and aggressive action at that. I would note that two committees – the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Development – both point to the need to reduce the existing trade deficit with China and have increased access to this expanding market. That is certainly an area we need to address and address fairly quickly. Our FTAs, such as the one we have with Korea, also need to be expanded.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D).(RO) Madam President, unstable prices for food products and goods have become a major issue, exacerbating the state of deprivation of millions of people, and jeopardise the operation of the global financial system. Trade imbalances and speculative activities are the source of this volatility, and climate change will continue to make it worse. A European strategy on trade policy must deal with the key role that the European Union needs to assume as part of the multilateral trade system. This long-term strategy must have precise goals, take into account the development of the international trade system and highlight aspects which are compatible with EU principles, such as the importance of making generic medicines available to the poorest or the need to include, as a matter of course, fair trade, human rights and social and environmental standards in every trade agreement.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, the fact that the European Union generated 25% of global GDP at the time when the Lisbon strategy was implemented in 2000, but is expected to have a share of just 18% in 2020, is clearly a cause for serious reflection. A sober assessment of the current situation, taking account of the reality of today’s global economy, is acutely necessary in order to draw up resolute short, medium and long-term strategies for the revival of the EU economy and its competitiveness.

I firmly believe that the concluding of trade agreements and the opening up of the European market should not take place at the expense of the safety of EU consumers and the values on which the EU is based. I would therefore like to say again that all free trade agreements should include provisions on respect for fundamental human rights and certain minimal environmental and social standards.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the recitals of this report quote data that clearly show that the European Union has lost a large share of world productivity over the last 10 years to the so-called emerging powers, China and India in particular.

Paragraph 11 in the report seems to suggest, however, that everything comes down to a mere problem of communication. On the contrary, the crisis in Europe is real and certainly not a problem of communication. It is due to the fact that the European Union has not taken the trouble to protect our businesses and workers, but has allowed other countries, especially those in Asia, to take advantage of our open markets without giving anything in exchange.

I do not want to resign myself to seeing our economic fabric disappear. If opportunities present themselves in international trade, it is only right to take them, but not if it means having to sell off our history and traditions.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Madam President, the Commission’s communication on trade is essentially a continuation of the Global Europe strategy of 2006. Unfortunately, the strategy also results from the frustration of European businesses over the dead-end street which the Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation negotiations ended up in.

Since things have gone wrong at the multilateral level, the EU is trying to engage in bilateral agreements, particularly with countries that have rapidly growing economies. This form of EU trade policy is ultra-liberal, however, focusing almost exclusively on economic development and economic motivations. All other non-trade aspects such as sustainable development, social cohesion, human rights and the like are sidelined. These aspects should be a priority, however, cutting across all EU policies, including trade policy. Unfortunately, it is not only outside the Union that this does not apply. An attempt to undermine social and environmental standards is also under way inside the Union.

I would therefore like to call on the Commission not to succumb to pressure, and to draw up a strategy that will genuinely respect our European values.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, unfortunately, I will have to be very brief. I would very much like to go into the arguments that have been put forward, but I will just give one overall reply, taking up the idea that was put forward by David Martin. You have to see in practice what all these big ideas mean.

Let me begin with development. Everybody is saying that a development strategy should be part of our trade strategy. Whatever you may think about human rights in China – that is quite a different chapter – it is very difficult to deny that their development over the last three decades has contributed largely to remedy the shortage of jobs and livelihoods in that country and has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

On the non-tariff measures, in recent days, we have been discussing the last phase of Russia’s entry into the WTO. This concerns non-tariff free barriers. and the discussion on cars. I can assure you that this is a very tough discussion. It is not about principles but about money, cars, parts and components, jobs, and delocalisation.

You speak about sustainable development. I am very much in favour of that and we make sure that in every free trade agreement which we conclude, this sustainable development chapter is included. But I can assure you that when you discuss this with India, first of all, you have to spend quite a long time discussing whether or not they will agree that such a chapter is in the agreement and then you still have to start discussing the content of such a chapter. They have completely different ideas about this which can be explained by a lot of reasons, development, culture, etc.

Raw materials are a very important example, as has been said here, but we are doing something about it. We are on the case on raw materials with China and you can see that this is already influencing the quota on rare earth materials. It is also having an impact on the prices, as prices of rare-earth materials are going down. There are also a lot of initiatives in Europe and elsewhere in the developed world to use those materials less, thus also contributing to the protection of the environment.

They were just a couple of examples. Unfortunately, I cannot develop this further because I must keep to the time.

 
  
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  Daniel Caspary, rapporteur.(DE) Madam President, thank you very much for today’s debate. We have all once again obtained a few insights into the thoughts of our fellow Members. Today, I have learnt, for example, that not even the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance has escaped globalisation if even Ms Keller is speaking in English rather than German in plenary.

I thank the Non-attached Members for their fundamental opposition. Mr Gollnisch was fundamentally opposed to the report because it is too liberal, Ms Stassen was fundamentally opposed to it because we are too protectionist; however I have not seen a single amendment from either of them in committee. I think that is a shame, because all of us in Europe need less empty rhetoric in plenary and more constructive work in the committees. Our committee, in particular, is one of the most constructive and collegial committees that I know in the European Parliament.

I would like specifically to thank the advisory committees for their excellent input, and I would also like to offer my sincere thanks to my fellow Members for their contributions to the debate. I think that the report and today’s debate will have given the Commission a clear idea of the tasks it needs to do. I would be very grateful if we could continue the debate at another opportunity.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 12.30.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, we tabled 41 amendments in committee, so it is a false claim that the Greens did not table any amendments and try to influence the outcome.

 
  
  

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing.(DE) First of all, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Caspary, on his excellent report. He covers the important areas that are essential for a revised trade strategy for the European Union and points out the approaches that need to be taken in order for Europe to remain competitive at international level in the future. I would like to address three issues in particular here. The first is the clear commitment of the European Parliament to a multilateral trading system that establishes uniform rules and standards. We need a common trading framework on which we also all need to continue to work and which we must also continue to develop together. Therefore, I would once again call for the Doha Development Agenda to be brought to a conclusion that is acceptable to everyone. Secondly, Europe is facing strong competition from new economic powers that, over the next few years, will continue to develop their position. Therefore, we must speed up the removal of unjustified barriers to trade, particularly where our most important partners, the US, China, Russia, Japan and India, are concerned. I would like to highlight the demand that I made, which received majority support in the European Parliament: a sustainability chapter must be included in any trade agreement between the EU and third countries, covering the production and processing of goods. In the event that this is not complied with, trade with these third countries should be stopped. Ensuring food quality as well as hormone-free food must have top priority in the interests of our citizens.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Although the European economy is the largest in the world, with the EU being the main exporter, as well as the main provider and beneficiary of direct foreign investments, it is estimated that 90% of global growth will be generated outside Europe by 2015. In the coming years, the European Union must capitalise, without fail, on the opportunities provided by high levels of growth outside the EU. In this regard, I would like to mention public procurement, as this is an area where foreign markets are largely closed to EU companies. Accounting, on average, for more than 10% of these countries’ GDP, public procurement contracts offer considerable commercial opportunities in the sectors where EU industry is highly competitive. Given that our market is already wide open, I think that the clear priority for establishing reciprocal access is not to close European markets, but to open up foreign public procurement markets. Therefore, I strongly urge the EU to step up its efforts to facilitate access for European companies to public procurement contracts outside the EU and to eliminate discriminatory practices.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing. (PL) Global trade brings benefits to all involved. It is my opinion, therefore, that we should proceed towards the elimination of barriers and restrictions. However, the necessity to retain a balance of benefits between participating parties is a limiting factor in such liberalisation. Trade policy has to fulfil certain criteria, particularly in terms of the requirement for imported goods to comply with European safety standards, as well as in terms of social issues, manufacturing conditions and the environmental impact of manufacturing, as these are the basis for maintaining competitiveness. It is especially important in the context of the costs that must be borne by European manufacturers to comply with environmental standards and maintain working conditions and levels of pay. Trade strategy is a significant element of a broader development strategy. It gains further importance in the context of the struggle to cope with the economic crisis. Therefore, trade conditions established by the World Trade Organisation need to promote equality in trade levels and capacity. I would also like to highlight the critical issue of unity and solidarity within the EU in terms of foreign trade. There are numerous examples of our partners dividing the Union by offering preferential conditions for selected Member States. The single market requires uniformity in foreign trade.

 
  
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  Monika Smolková (S&D), in writing. (SK) The EU 2020 strategy has ambitious and measurable objectives, and the new trade policy for Europe is an essential component of the strategy. A number of factors are important for trade, and have an effect on it. As an example, I could mention adequate protection for intellectual property, particularly trademarks. Counterfeiting and the importing of counterfeit products lead to job losses, undermine innovation and reduce the competitiveness of the EU, and also involve safety risks in relation to consumer products. Another important factor is support for job creation, according the same rights and tax advantages to domestic investors as to foreign investors, expanding free and fair trade in agricultural products, and the sharing of innovations and technologies not only between Member States, but also within the framework of trade relations with superpowers such as China, Russia, the US and Japan.

 
  
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  Indrek Tarand (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I think that the proposed new trade policy for Europe under the 2020 strategy is good. Have we not noticed, however, that Russia will be governed for the next 12 years by President Putin, who will be ‘elected’ in 2012? And that is why I do not think that the recent decision by the French President to sell a Mistral-class warship to Russia was good; I believe that it is not wise to sell such a warship to Russia, which attacked Georgia under the premiership of Mr Putin. Ceterum censeo, this deal can still be recalled!

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: EDWARD McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 

5. Question Time (Commission)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is Question Time. This is the second new format Question Time, an experimental process, and I am going to read a brief instruction. The topic is EU trade and third country relations. I will interpret this topic as widely as possible, but I should warn you that if your question is off topic and deals, for example, with the common agricultural policy, you are liable to be cut off. I would also like to remind you of the ground rules which have been agreed for this new formula. Each Member has one minute to put his or her question, and 30 seconds for a supplementary after the Commissioner’s reply. The Commission has two minutes to reply if only one Commissioner is to be responsible for answering, and if more than one Commissioner is to reply, each Commissioner has one minute speaking time.

We welcome this morning Commissioner De Gucht, our former colleague, Mr Piebalgs, Mrs Georgieva and Mr Füle.

 
  
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  Anna Ibrisagic (PPE).(SV) Mr President, I have a question for Mr De Gucht. I would like to know how he intends to exploit relations between the countries, that is to say trade relations, in order to ensure that security will also be promoted.

We sometimes see trade being used both for the purposes of war and as a way of ensuring peace. We have seen this in certain parts of Europe and also in Eastern Europe. Do we have any plans for how we can use trade to promote democracy and ensure peace in troubled conflict areas?

 
  
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  President. – Before Mr De Gucht answers, could I suggest to colleagues and to my colleagues here on the bench that, once a questioner has been identified, the staff acknowledge this so that you do not have to keep waving.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – I thought they were waving at me.

I believe that trade can contribute to peace but, of course, more trade does not automatically result in a more peaceful environment. We believe, for example, that trade could play a very important role in the next stages of the Arab Spring, and we will consider next month negotiating directives for free trade agreements with the four countries concerned: Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, so we will continue in that way.

You could say exactly the same about the African countries. For example, I firmly believe that the EPAs could contribute a great deal to regional integration in Africa; regional integration is probably one of the important factors also for more peace and stability in Africa.

 
  
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  Anna Ibrisagic (PPE).(SV) Mr President, I completely agree with the Commissioner.

That is precisely the answer that I was hoping to hear. You talked about promotion and how trade can promote a secure situation, but do you also have plans to introduce some form of penalty to deter trade with certain countries that pose a security risk for certain areas?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – We keep that in mind, of course, when we negotiate free trade agreements. Obviously, we would not continue negotiations with a country where there is, for example, a revolution. To give you a very recent example, we had negotiations with Libya on a cooperation agreement and, as soon as the problems occurred in Libya, we immediately stopped those negotiations. We are now considering how we can take up those negotiations again now that the situation in Libya has changed.

 
  
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  Thijs Berman (S&D).(NL) Mr President, I have two questions. My first question is for Commissioner De Gucht. There are still extremely disturbing reports coming from Colombia in relation to the human rights situation in the country’s regions. Human rights activists, lawyers and trade unionists are still being murdered in Colombia.

I would think that, before we move on to ratifying the free trade agreement with Colombia, we would first need to see real improvements in this regard. Despite the promises of President Santos, with whom we spoke last year – or at least some of us did – the situation has still not really improved significantly. I would like to hear a word from you on this – an undertaking might suffice.

My other question is for Commissioner Georgieva and concerns linking relief, rehabilitation and development. I would appreciate it if you could explain to us how you see the improvement in this essential linking up of emergency relief and development policy at this point. Perhaps Commissioner Piebalgs might also have something to say in this connection, you never know.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission.(NL) Mr Berman, you will be aware that we have concluded an agreement with Colombia. I expect this agreement to be brought before the European Parliament at some point over the next year, at which point you should have your say.

I am convinced, personally, that this agreement can help to stabilise peace in Colombia. In other words, I believe that the economic progress that will surely result from the agreement can make a positive contribution. I know that there are problems with human rights. Indeed, it is stated explicitly in the agreement that the observance of human rights is one of the material elements of the agreement and that, if we –or you – determine that these human rights are being systematically violated, we will have the ability to immediately terminate the agreement without giving any further justification.

Overall, I believe that this agreement can make a positive contribution. I am convinced that the Colombian Government is acting in good faith in its efforts to curtail and eliminate violations of human rights. I am also convinced that, if problems should present themselves, we have included precisely the right tools in this agreement to do something about them.

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. – We have made linking relief, rehabilitation and development a priority for cooperation with Commissioner Piebalgs. The way we approach it is at three levels: a strategy level, an operational modalities level and then a country-specific level.

Strategically, we launched a high-level dialogue on humanitarian action in development in Washington just a couple of days ago, and made a commitment to link the work we do in protracted-crisis and in disaster-prone countries – some 30 countries in the world fall into this category – in order to make that a strategic area for collaboration.

In terms of instruments, we are looking at how we can better align the instruments we have on the humanitarian side, which work fast, with instruments on the development side, which sometimes require more time. We will be making appropriate proposals in this area.

I will give two examples at the country-specific level: Côte d’Ivoire, where, after the crisis, we committed EUR 60 million for relief and EUR 180 million for development, viewing those operations in synergy; and the Horn of Africa, where very clearly we need to do more to build resilience in the countries concerned.

 
  
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  Thijs Berman (S&D).(NL) Commissioner De Gucht, last week, I had a lady in my office who, 15 years ago, had set up an NGO in her home town with 60 other human rights activists in order to protect human rights. Out of those 60 people, 42 have been murdered in the course of those 15 years. She herself has suffered three gunshots to her body but survived. The remaining activists have fled and she is now the only one left in her home town. You cannot look someone like this lady in the eye and simply say that we need to just sign this agreement. You need to use the leverage that you have before the agreement is actually ratified.

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. – Actually, it was about linking relief and development. When we talk about Somalia, we should remember that Mali and Niger have also been affected. We have actually already used this cooperation between the humanitarian aid services and development services to anticipate that challenge. In Mali and Niger, because of our common work, we can manage or diminish considerably the risk of famine there.

As regards Colombia, I think the question Mr Berman has asked is very challenging because when you commit, you need to analyse all elements of the relations with the country and the processes of the country. For this reason, I think that, when we enter into relations of whatever kind in the future, all the aspects should be analysed before we go in. We are doing this in development policy with regard to which aid modality to use.

 
  
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  Fiona Hall (ALDE). – Mr President, I understand that the Commission is currently challenging Canada at the WTO over Ontario Province’s use of local content requirements for renewable energy sources. I very much welcome that, because an open global market for green goods is vital for EU manufacturers, but I am concerned to hear that Ukraine recently ratified Law No 8231, which also introduces local content requirement of 50% for wind and for solar.

Will the Commission also be challenging this at the WTO and will it be raising it in the context of the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement? Surely this move by Ukraine contravenes the competition and regulatory convergence chapters which are in that agreement?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – It is a fact of life that Ukraine has been introducing legislation under which the local content for wind turbines would go down to 15% as of 1 January 2012 and then rise again to 30% in 2013, and to 50% in 2014.

Obviously, this is unacceptable to us. We are, as you know, in a negotiating round with Ukraine on a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement (DCFTA), and one of the main elements of that agreement is that policies would be modelled on EU directives. The EU directive concerned relates to public procurement and says very clearly that, unless justified by the subject matter of the contract, technical specifications shall not refer to a specific make or source or a specific origin or production with the effect of favouring or eliminating certain undertakings or certain products. This means that once the DCFTA is concluded – in any case as regards the European Union – Ukraine will not be in a position to uphold that legislation.

 
  
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  Fiona Hall (ALDE). – Thank you for that helpful response. I wonder whether Commissioner Füle has anything to say on the Ukraine agreement, given his recent comments about the charges against Tymoshenko.

 
  
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  Štefan Füle, Member of the Commission. – I have nothing to add to what I have said already on that particular issue. Of course, the DCFTA negotiation is part of the association agreement. It is ongoing, not in a political vacuum, but very much based on the values that are at the centre of our relationship. In my recent discussions with the Ukraine authorities, I used the opportunity to make that link between the new contractual arrangement that we are ready to engage in, on the one side, and, on the other side, Ukrainians delivering on fundamental rights: freedom, the rule of law and justice.

 
  
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  Sajjad Karim (ECR). – Mr President, Commissioners Georgieva and De Gucht will recall putting forward a very comprehensive package to assist Pakistan following the flooding which took place there some time ago. We are, of course, now witnessing a repetition of what happened previously, but the initial package that we put in place is still blocked at the WTO. I note that there is a trade delegation from Pakistan visiting India today for official negotiations and I understand that the Indians are due to put forward a proposal whereby they would withdraw their objections at WTO level.

Is that something that you would push for and congratulate the Indians on and welcome their support if that was to happen today?

Secondly, in the Foreign Affairs Council yesterday, the EU-India Free Trade Agreement was due to be raised. Was it raised and if it was, what was said?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – As you know, we have asked the WTO for a waiver with respect to the measures that we have proposed to alleviate the serious problems that Pakistan faced last year and is facing again. We also have ‘information’ whereby India would now be prepared to lift its veto. I hope this will come about. Then, of course, the discussion would have to be pursued here in this Parliament as to whether or not we vote on the proposals that we have put forward, because there will still need to be then a decision from Parliament.

On the FTA, yes, we discussed this yesterday in the Foreign Affairs Council. I mentioned that we are facing quite a lot of problems with these negotiations, be it with respect to wine and spirits, services or cars, but I also stressed that we are continuing to negotiate and that we will insist in our contacts with the Indian authorities at the highest level – this will, of course, be through Mr Barroso – that the negotiations are completed by the next summit.

I do not know whether Ms Georgieva wants to add anything.

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. – I would just like to confirm that the floods this year are very severe. We have increased humanitarian assistance from EUR 76 million to 86 million because of these floods. In my meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, she did bring up the question of alleviating constraints to free trade as another way to help people in a very difficult situation. I would, of course, welcome that from a humanitarian perspective.

 
  
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  Sajjad Karim (ECR). – Mr President, I thank the Commissioners for the rather comprehensive answers that they have provided. The EU-India Free Trade Agreement has now been ongoing for some considerable time. Whilst we are extremely ambitious about what we are seeking to achieve, what sort of timeframe can this Parliament now start to expect? Is there a fuller role that we, as parliamentarians, can play to try and bring about a successful conclusion to those negotiations?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – At the last EU-India Summit, Prime Minister Singh declared that his vision was for an accord by the next summit, which will be next February. I hope that by then, we will be in a position to conclude the negotiations but, of course, it will be very important to achieve the necessary level of ambition.

 
  
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  Franziska Keller (Verts/ALE). – Two weeks ago, the plenary held a vote on the Doha resolution, in which the amendments of the ALDE Group were rejected. Those ALDE amendments were the very reflection of the position of DG TRADE, namely, to regard any kind of LDC package delivery at the December WTO Ministerial as a mere down payment and to ask WTO members to agree on a road map for reaching agreement on all outstanding Doha issues. Instead, Parliament’s resolution gives a clear message to close up the Doha negotiations now in order to pave the way for WTO reform. Can you tell us how the Commission will adjust its Doha strategy in light of those Parliament positions on how you will take our position into account?

I have a second question on the FTA with India as well. Since it now seems it will continue for the next year, will you have any new strategy, or any change in strategy, in case a conclusion cannot be reached by February? Are you just going to continue or are you going to come up with an alternative package?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Firstly, I will consider the latter question next February. I will then see what happens and what our next steps should be. It is very difficult to answer hypothetical questions. It is certainly very dangerous in politics.

With respect to Parliament’s resolution of last month, we tried to find a solution for Doha. We have repeatedly tried to make proposals so that we could have a final decision on the Doha package. We have made interim proposals with respect to the industrial sectors, chemicals, machinery and microelectronics, but you need two to tango. We simply could not reach an agreement. I have to come to the conclusion that, for the time being, the US are out of business with respect to the Doha negotiations.

Pascal Lamy has been putting forward an interim package for December. Unfortunately, I think that there again we will fail, not because we have not been making proposals – we have been making numerous proposals – but simply because we cannot reach an agreement on that. That is where we are. We tried to find a way out and it is extremely difficult.

 
  
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  Franziska Keller (Verts/ALE). – Sorry, but you did not really answer my question. The question was: how will the Commission adjust its Doha strategy in the run up to the December Ministerial to take account of Parliament’s position as expressed in its recently adopted Doha resolution? How will you take account of our position in your new strategy, which you will now have to revise, because we did not apparently agree with your original strategy?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – That is what we have been doing ever since. We are trying to find a way out and have been putting proposals on the table for a package in December as a step up to a final conclusion on the Doha Round. We cannot find agreement around the table, although I think you would agree with the measures that we have been proposing such as, for example, multilateralising the ‘everything but arms’ legislation that we have already had for some time in the European Union. We have, of course, taken note of Parliament’s resolution, but we also have to adapt our strategy regarding the evolution on the international scene.

 
  
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  Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL). – I have a question for Commissioner De Gucht. I have just been appointed as a European Parliament standing rapporteur on trade relations with China, as well as on relations between the EU and Ecuador and Bolivia. I would like to ask you two questions regarding these two complexes.

Firstly, what is your projection for the development of trade relations between the EU and China by the year 2020, and what are the current issues, or even agreements, in EU-China trade talks?

Secondly, you informed yesterday’s Council on Foreign Affairs and Trade that the multiparty agreement with Colombia and Peru remains open for signature by Ecuador and Bolivia. Do you want those two countries to simply sign the negotiated text which is, as you well know, subject to well-founded criticism from trade unions and a number of economists?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Members will understand that it is difficult to reply in two minutes on what our trade relations with China will be in 2020. Having said that, I believe that you will see a situation evolving between the European Union, China, the United States and the other emerging economies – and by 2020, there will also be other emerging economies – that is more and more multipolar, with everybody then having to take up their responsibilities. You cannot be one of the biggest economies in the world – and by 2020 we could very well be the biggest – and not take up responsibility for the global functioning of the world trading system. So I am not desperate about this, or even negative about it. I think we can find a way out.

Secondly, on the agreement with Colombia and Peru, it is true that the agreement is open for accession by Ecuador and Bolivia. We realised that if they were ready to do so – and at least for one of them, we have signs in that direction – some further discussions would, of course, be needed. However, I am sure that Mr Scholz will agree with me that we cannot change the structure of that agreement. We will have some specifications for the countries concerned, but we are certainly not going to restart the whole process.

 
  
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  Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL). – I can agree with your remark concerning the last issue, but that means that if Ecuador wants to have a chapter on trade and cooperation included, as is just now under discussion, and also the specific needs of the new raw materials and public services policy pursued by Bolivia are to be included, then I think we have to come to the point where we have to add this point to the negotiations as well; so not just to simply sign or not sign, but to reopen the understanding of the agreement itself.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, we will consider that once we have a concrete request from one of those two countries.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD). (EL) Mr President, I should like to put a question to Commissioner Georgieva. The report refers, in point 7, to the establishment of an EU civil protection force. I do not understand exactly what force this is, Commissioner.

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, my apologies but I did not understand the question. I mentioned a clash between civil protection and ... what? I apologise, may I just ask for clarification?

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD). – Point 7 of the report mentions the establishment of a civil protection force. What will this force look like? I would like to have some details on this.

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. The proposal for building the civil protection system of Europe in a more predictable manner in order to act when a country is overwhelmed by disaster either inside Europe or outside Europe requires countries to identify modules, civil protection modules, which they are willing to deploy in a disaster outside of their borders.

As of today, we have 124 such modules registered at European level, plus eight coordination modules, and the proposal means that we will be able predictably to match the needs of a country in a disaster, whether this be floods, forest fires or summer or winter storms or an earthquake, and then bring help from those pre-identified and pre-committed modules to the affected population. We already have examples of how this can be achieved.

The proposal will take one step forward by having Member States commit these modules to be available, provided they are not needed at home, for immediate deployment inside the European Union or at the request of a third country outside of the European Union.

That brings the capacity of the European Union together, to respond to disasters with a stronger force than we could provide for our citizens and the citizens of the world without this pre-commitment.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD). (EL) Mr President, may I remind everyone that, with the new strategic concept and competences of NATO, much of what is contained in the report will come under the responsibility of NATO, as decided by the members of the North Atlantic Alliance themselves. There is no mention of coordinated action or cooperation with NATO. What is the relationship between this EU unit and NATO which, according to the new strategic concept, has competences in this sector?

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. – The civil protection systems of our Member States are organised somewhat differently, but they have one thing in common, namely, that they bring together fire-fighters and first responders for action inside or outside – primarily for action inside, but with coordination with the Union, it could be action outside.

The way in which we cooperate with NATO is through the EU military staff. In other words, we make our capabilities known and available, and then the EU military staff are our link to NATO. The defence policy of the Union is the responsibility of the High Representative. If there is a complex emergency – as we had with Libya – in which NATO takes a role, our contribution is as a building block bringing our assets to bear as needed.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI).(HU) Mr President, I have two questions for the attending Members of the European Commission. First, have you ever entertained the thought that food and agriculture should be excluded from the scope of global free trade, and should instead be governed by food sovereignty – based on local production, local sale and local processing – as its fundamental principle?

My second question is that if I were to organise it, would you be willing to sit down to negotiate with representatives of the most important stakeholders, that is, farmers, not only from Europe, including my home country, Hungary, and other EU Member States, but also from the third world, from so-called developing countries, poverty-stricken countries, from where I would similarly invite representatives of small producers? Would you be interested in hearing their own experience in how global free trade, which continues to be glorified by the European Union, is making small producers and smallholders ever more impoverished and vulnerable?

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. – I think that trade plays a very fundamental role on the markets, because markets provide price signals and the need for investment. Having said this, in development policy, we have clearly seen the need to go towards more sustainable agricultural investment.

In many parts of the world, there is not sufficient infrastructure to access the market. Farmers in developing countries do not have sufficient means or knowledge to produce more food. In Africa, we will need to nearly triple yields over the next 40 years. That is why development policy will, in particular, be focusing on supporting farmers.

I would definitely discourage a sub-culture of working towards self-sufficiency methods. There have been such attempts in the world. They always failed.

We should also take a very important factor into account. There are good and bad years in agriculture. If a region has a bad year, what should we do? Humanitarian aid can give the chance of surviving for a certain period, but basically, we very much need to have global trade systems in agricultural commodities.

I believe that the right answer is that one of the pillars of EU development policy should be to support sustainable agriculture, with a special focus on smallholder farmers, who are, in the majority, women.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI).(HU) Mr President, I am still waiting for an answer to my question whether you would be willing to engage in constructive consultations with representatives of farmers from Europe and from so-called developing countries and let them share with you their own experience in this matter.

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. – We are in contact all the time, but it is definitely a very important point to consider when we design the next step for our next financial framework – how to achieve this goal in the best possible way.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE). – My question is to Commissioner De Gucht. I would like to raise an issue that has caused significant controversy in this House, namely that of ACAA, an agreement on conformity assessment and acceptance of industrial products between the EU and Israel.

This agreement has already been kept on hold in this House for more than a year, even though it is purely technical in nature and concerns mutually accepted standards that will facilitate trade in pharmaceutical products. We have seen the swift acceptance of trade agreements with some third countries that are not always the most democratic or respectful of human rights. At the same time, Parliament – or at least some political groups in this House – have been effectively boycotting our relations with Israel. I would like to ask what political consequences such behaviour in one of the institutions – namely the European Parliament – will have on EU-Israel relations and the EU’s influence in the wider region?

Secondly, is the Commission monitoring and assessing the damage to European pharmaceutical companies, and the additional costs European consumers of pharmaceutical products are experiencing, owing to the deliberations on this agreement in the European Parliament?

My supplementary question will be that I would appreciate the comments of Commissioner Füle on this issue.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – As the honourable Member rightly mentioned, this agreement was initialled, I would think, a little more than a year ago and you have not yet come to a decision. But once an agreement is in your hands, we are also in your hands and it is up to you to ratify or not to ratify this agreement. It is not for me to pronounce on what Parliament should have done, does or does not do. Yours are the powers to ratify or not to ratify.

Secondly, regarding the impact, we consider this to be limited at this moment in time, but obviously when we conclude an agreement with a third country, the idea is that it should also be ratified. So we will continue asking you to do so, but finally it is up to you.

I give the floor to Mr Füle.

 
  
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  Štefan Füle, Member of the Commission. – This House has a very important role in monitoring that human rights are observed and Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are no exception to that. This House also plays a very important role in helping the Commission and Council to uphold a balanced sectoral cooperation with our partners. It is within that context that I plea for the early adoption and consent of this House to the respective agreement as mentioned earlier.

Let me add that we decided some time ago not to upgrade the relationship between the European Union and Israel because of the current state of the Middle East peace process – or rather the lack of that peace process – but let me make absolutely clear that this agreement and proposal to adopt it is very much within the current action plan we signed with Israel six years ago.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). – Mr President, on a point of order: you mentioned that 49 people had submitted questions and that approximately eight would be taken. I think it would be helpful if you could read out the names of those likely to be taken. There is no point in 30 people sitting around if their turn will not come.

 
  
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  President. – Mr Higgins, I am glad that you made that suggestion. I am sure that all colleagues would agree and after this next question, I will read out those who have been put on the list.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D).(RO) Commissioner De Gucht, one of the international trade dossiers for which I was appointed rapporteur relates to the extension of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Uzbekistan on textiles. However, the use of forced child labour for harvesting cotton makes it difficult to adopt a strictly technical approach to the protocol. In actual fact, at the beginning of October, hundreds of children will be forced to harvest cotton by hand in order to supplement the shortage of adult labour. This is an extreme form of labour for children who, according to NGOs, are punished by those in charge if they fail to meet the quotas they have been set. Uzbekistan’s ratification of the International Labour Organisation conventions on the minimum employment age and the elimination of the most severe forms of forced child labour are a positive sign, but these actions actually fall short in terms of their implementation.

My question is: How does the European Commission see that this situation can be resolved, given that Parliament cannot ignore Uzbekistan’s failure to respect children’s fundamental rights?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – The honourable Member did not really put a question but I imagine that he does not agree with the practice, just as I do. He is probably trying to mention the case of Uzbekistan as he is known to be somebody who follows it very attentively.

We are of the opinion that, at the present moment, we should not launch a special investigation on Uzbekistan because we are in the ‘extra time’ of the current GSP regulation. Obviously, we are going to address this in the new regulation and it is also clear to me that the situation in Uzbekistan is one that has to be followed attentively. We continue to insist that the authorities should take the necessary measures, but we have no intention of launching a separate investigation now because, by the end of next year, the GSP will also be over.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D).(RO) Thank you very much for your reply, which I appreciate. However, I believe that it needs to be understood, at least by Uzbekistan, that a first step to resolving this situation is to agree to a monitoring mission from the International Labour Organisation, because I do not see any other solution to resolving this dossier.

 
  
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  President. – We are now half way through and I am going to read out the names I have on the list in front of me here: Theocharous, Guerrero Salom, Aylward, Kelly, Leichtfried, Schmidt, Albrecht, Deva, Murphy, Morganti, Brons, Kukan and Flašíková. It is highly unlikely that we will get to the bottom of that list but that is the situation.

 
  
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  Eleni Theocharous (PPE).(EL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Cyprus is a small country which relies on trade, shipping and tourism. I trust you realise that, at present, Cyprus is basically isolated by the Turkish war machine, by Turkish warships patrolling very close to our shores and by the Turkish air force which overflies Cyprus and its seas. Do you think that this promotes international trade, trade with third countries? Do you consider that is conduct becoming of a candidate Member State? Will you include this conduct on the part of Turkey in your reports Mr Füle? How much longer will this conduct towards a small, weak country be tolerated? Does the whole of Cyprus need to be occupied in order for the European Union to react?

 
  
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  Štefan Füle, Member of the Commission. – Needless to say, we are following the developments in and around Cyprus very closely. As far as I know, later today in this plenary, there is going to be a discussion on the issue specifically relating to the drilling and hydrocarbon project in Cyprus, which has an exclusive economic zone around it.

The first point I would like to make is that the very first priority there is to reach a comprehensive settlement. Both parties, both leaders, made a commitment to the Secretary-General of the United Nations – if I am not mistaken – on 7 July not to be distracted and to focus solemnly on reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue.

It was in that regard that we made a very clear statement on behalf of the Commission. We also made it absolutely clear, on behalf of the Commission, that it is the right of Cyprus to delimit its exclusive economic zone and to conclude treaties with third countries if that is in accordance with the acquis and international treaties. That commitment to Cyprus was repeated in the Council declaration last year.

Following on from this, we have taken a number of steps to calm the situation around the drilling, which started just a couple of days ago. Because of that, we have not seen some of the threats by Turkey actually being delivered. Needless to say, our line is very clear. All the problems need to be solved through peaceful means and, if necessary, through arbitration before the International Court of Justice. Any threats of the use of force need to be rejected. We are continuing to monitor the situation.

 
  
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  Eleni Theocharous (PPE).(EL) Of course, Commissioner. I should like to cite the statements by the Turkish Prime Minister reported just yesterday by the Turkish news agency Anatolou, in which he referred to the entire Mediterranean as a Turkish lake and said that Turkey will do whatever it pleases there. I mention this simply as a warning to the European Union of what is to come, because at the moment, the principles, values and interests of the European Union are being undermined.

 
  
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  Štefan Füle, Member of the Commission. – I would just add that what really matters is action. I do not want to speculate on this, and would just refer Members to the statement.

 
  
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  Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D).(ES) Mr President, I would like to ask what efforts are being made to integrate the principles and objectives of European Union development policy into the reform of the generalised system of preferences, primarily to ensure that development policy coherence is compatible with this reform of the system of preferences, as required under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – We have recently been proposing a new scheme for the GSP that should come to fruition, and for decision in this Parliament, by the end of next year. Obviously, in drafting the GSP proposal, we have duly taken into account the development aspects of this specific tool.

The idea is that we would limit the number of countries so we can concentrate much more on those which are more in need of these unilateral deductions. However, there are also a lot of other schemes which are sometimes, by the way, much more advantageous – for example, the ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme for LDCs.

We also believe that at a certain moment in time, it is very important to have reciprocal arrangements and obligations so that you can really develop trade. We certainly bear this in mind, and already did so when drafting the proposal. We will certainly do so when discussing it with you further.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE). – My question relates to the Mercosur trade deal. According to the Commission’s preliminary assessment, it is estimated that European Union beef prices will fall by 8% and that meat production in the European Union will fall by EUR 3 billion in value if this deal goes ahead, with an estimated loss of 33 000 agricultural jobs in the European Union. How does the Commission respond to claims that European agriculture, farmers and the agrifood sector are to be sacrificed in order to secure the Mercosur trade agreement? Can the Commission clearly outline what specific benefits this trade deal will bring to European farmers, particularly beef farmers?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – We are not sacrificing anything. What we are trying to do is to negotiate a balanced deal with Mercosur, taking into account the interests of the farming community, as well as our very important export of industrial products to Mercosur, the markets with respect to services, and European investments in the Mercosur countries.

We are by far the most important investor in those countries and we will try to get to a balanced deal. We cannot make much progress at the present time because, as a result of – let us say – internal political agendas in Mercosur, we have decided to wait for the exchange of offers. This will take some time but, in the meantime, we are already addressing the problems that you have raised. For example, there is the Commission proposal that the Globalisation Adjustment Fund would also be eligible for farmers.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE). – Another supplementary. Our competitors are outstripping us in agricultural trade in the growing and new markets of China, South Korea and Japan, amongst others. What action is the Commission taking to instigate and develop trade deals with third countries that will be advantageous to European farmers, and what framework is being developed to put in place trade deals which would suit agriculture in European farming for greater access to the growing markets of China, South Korea and Japan, where European agricultural produce is in high demand?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – This is not really a supplementary question but a completely new topic. We are doing this, for example, in any trade deal that we are pursuing. We try to introduce the protection of geographical indications, indications that are very important for European agricultural exports.

For example, we have been opening new markets for farmers with respect to South Korea. We are not yet negotiating with Japan but we are in the scoping exercise. With China, this is part of an overall trading relationship that is not governed by any specific arrangement or by a specific treaty.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Like my colleague, Mr Aylward, I want to ask a question about the proposed Mercosur trade deal, but from a different angle.

The Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden published a report this year which showed that beef coming from Brazil has carbon emissions of 700 kilograms per kilogram of beef, taking into account deforestation, etc. The corresponding figure for grass-based production in Europe, especially in my own country and others, is 20 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of beef. That is 35 times higher for Brazilian beef.

Bearing in mind this fact, and our commitment to reduce CO2 emissions in the 2020 strategy, how can we even countenance a proposal to have agriculture included in a Mercosur deal, especially beef products?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Honourable Member, we do, of course, keep in mind the environment when we negotiate trade deals. I understand why this kind of remark is made.

I am not aware of the specific study carried out by the Swedish University. However, when you compare farming in Mercosur and in Europe, there are, of course, huge differences. What we have to look at, and what is also our limit, is what is enforceable within the WTO. For instance, the example that you gave – provided that it is completely correct, which I do not doubt but cannot confirm either – does certainly not come within the scope of the WTO.

We should also look at the global balance with respect to climate change. The Commission and Ms Hedegaard are taking a leading role in this respect and are making the most advanced proposals by far at international conferences about climate change, for example, at the Club 17 in a couple of months.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – I have a supplementary. Is the Commissioner aware of the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Paraguay? Would this not also cause us to rethink a proposed deal, including agriculture, given the laxity of controls across borders, etc., and the difficulty of monitoring those? Or would this not cause us, at the very least, in terms of the Latin phrase festina lente, to hasten slowly?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – I was in Paraguay some months ago, but the disease had not yet broken out then. Having said that, you know very well what the framework is. If there is a connection with health, then we can enforce against first countries. That is part of WTO case-law. If that is the case, we will certainly do so.

 
  
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  Jörg Leichtfried (S&D). – As everybody is speaking English here, maybe in honour of the President, I will try to do so as well, so I hope it works. Mr De Gucht, I have a question regarding the WTO case concerning China and the rare earth problem. I think nobody would say that China is right in this case. I think what the WTO did in this case is the right step, but I have one concern. If the tendency in general is to make countries export rare materials, as the WTO is doing now, do you not think, if a very small country or a developing country or a very weak country is involved, this tendency of the WTO might allow big companies to force these countries to do as they want them to do? Or do you think that will not be a problem?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – The case before the WTO was about dual pricing, namely, that China obtained prices for local consumption and production that were different from the prices for exports, by imposing export duties and enforcing a quota. What the WTO panel has been deciding – the matter is now before the Appellate Body, so we will have to wait for the final decision – is that the justification that China was giving was not correct. The justification was for environmental reasons. The panel said that, if the environmental reasons were valid for export, they were also valid locally, so this was not a valid answer to the questions put by the European Union, the United States and Mexico.

That is what we have been enforcing. I hope this will have an impact on the rare earth materials. We already see that: quotas are not going down and prices are going down.

Regarding your specific question with respect to weaker countries, first of all, we have launched this case against China because the trade with China in raw materials is of paramount importance. I do not think we would immediately start such a case against whatever small country you might have in mind because what we are worried about is, of course, the global balance in the trade in raw materials.

 
  
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  Jörg Leichtfried (S&D). – Commissioner, I do not want to be misunderstood, I completely support the action of the European Union and yourself in this question. What I am just a little bit fearful of is that there might be a tendency, if the direction taken in this case continues as it is now, that maybe we will go further, from rare earth to raw materials. Ultimately, states will not be able to fulfil their obligations towards their own people with their own raw materials.

Do you think that this is a possibility or not? I personally think it will not happen but I would like to hear you say this as well.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Mr Leichtfried, I do not think that will happen. I explained what the judgment by the panel was about. It was about abusing the environmental elements in it – the environmental explanation.

However, if a country were to say, for example, that it could not export because it only had that kind of production and had a traditional industry which was using it, I see no reason why, if ever there were a case before the WTO, then the WTO would take the same kind of decision. You have to look at the specific case of course.

Let me assure you that this is not on our minds, and is not what we are going to pursue. What we want to secure is that China treats on an equal basis their internal production and world production. That is all.

 
  
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  Olle Schmidt (ALDE). – My question is for Commissioner Piebalgs and it concerns Eritrea and Dawit Isaak. As of Friday last week, this Swedish/Eritrean citizen has been imprisoned for ten years, ten years in these prison holes in Eritrea. Is it not time to act now, Commissioner, to link development aid to the constant suppression of human rights in Eritrea? Last week in the UN General Assembly, President Isaias Afewerki was there; I saw him on television. Did anyone from the EU delegation try to contact Mr Afewerki, to have some contact and get some reactions? And what have you been doing in the last year, Commissioner?

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. – It is a very serious case and the Commission is definitely doing everything possible. I have written letters and I am trying to get an official visit at which I could meet the President and raise this issue.

As concerns our development cooperation, at this stage, practically nothing is moving. There is no positive response to our initiatives from the Eritrean side. We will continue to pursue the case because it is very clear that the Eritrean people are our target for development aid. We should not let them down, but political issues also need to be handled with the Eritrean Government.

 
  
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  Olle Schmidt (ALDE). – This is now 10 years and probably Dawit Isaak is dying in prison. I have a proposal: could you and I go together to Asmara and try to get in contact with the leadership, with President Afewerki? At least try to make it possible to visit the prisoners, Dawit Isaak and the other prisoners of conscience. He is the only prisoner of conscience from the European Union. We have to do something, Commissioner. I am willing to go, are you willing to go?

 
  
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  Andris Piebalgs, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I have always said that I officially wanted to go to Eritrea, but at that stage, none of the leadership was ready to meet me, stating continually that they were out of the country. We are continuing to pursue these attempts to visit the country and I will be going as soon as I have a definite guarantee of access to the leadership of the country. That is an absolute precondition so that my visit could have some type of result. I have not stopped activities, but you need two to tango. I would first need a positive response that President Isaias will agree to meet me before arranging to visit Eritrea.

 
  
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  Jan Philipp Albrecht (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, members of the Commission, Commissioner De Gucht, more and more trade agreements in the European Union lay down rules on matters that are nothing to do with trade policy. One example of this is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Instead of restricting itself to the key issue of anti-counterfeiting and setting the appropriate boundaries in connection with trade, this agreement is used as a way of harmonising comprehensive rules for enforcing intellectual property rights in the contracting states. However, that is definitely not your job as Commissioner for Trade – in my view, it would instead be Ms Reding’s job – nor is the content formulated in line with EU contract law or the legal bases in the Treaty.

My question to you, therefore, is: how do you actually intend to ensure that issues relating to fundamental rights in particular are debated in a democratic way at international level in connection with enforcement of the law and are also given a mandatory influence in the legal bases?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – We have repeatedly discussed the ACTA agreement and the ACTA negotiations over the last year. We will, of course, continue to do so. Within a reasonable time, the agreement will come to you for ratification. Let me repeat what I have already said a dozen times before this Parliament. This is not about changing the material law on intellectual property rights in Europe. It is about enforcement. It is about creating the possibility, on a wider scale, to enforce intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights are important, especially for a very mature economy like ours. I know that there is opposition. I know that we will have to face that opposition, but I trust that, in the end, you will agree.

 
  
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  Jan Philipp Albrecht (Verts/ALE).(DE) It is certainly the case that, especially with regard to the revolutions in North Africa for example, we can see that an open Internet and access to the Internet are essential – the question therefore is how you, as Commissioner for Trade, intend to protect fundamental rights, for example, access to the Internet, in a positive way in such trade agreements. If you say that violations do not occur, well that is disputable. However, it is also possible to take preventive action to ensure that these violations do not occur as things progress. I would be grateful for an answer to this question.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – We can build all kinds of things into trade agreements and we do so, provided that both sides agree. We are presently discussing trade agreements with a number of African countries – the so-called economic partnership agreements – and one of the general reservations – if I may say – is that most African countries ask that services not be discussed because the first one to put their act together ... and if they do not want to do so, we do not discuss services with them. If they want to do so, we discuss services with them. We do this with a view to the development of those societies.

By the way, there is no direct link with ACTA because ACTA is a plurilateral agreement which is only binding upon the signatories and there are no developing countries that are signatories to this agreement.

 
  
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  Nirj Deva (ECR). – I was wondering whom to address this question to because my question has development implications but it has also got financial implications. Are the Commissioners aware that EUR 800 billion worth of funds come from the developing countries to European banks and European offshore banks every year? It was recently reported that USD 1.3 trillion, which is the entire debt of Italy, has come from India into Swiss and European banks as black money.

These are staggering figures that we are talking about and they have huge development implications for developing countries, because if that money were to work and remain in those countries, and were a part of those countries’ economies rather than sitting around outside them in our banks, that would have huge implications for development. What are we doing in our trade relationships to prevent corruption from being a part of our trade interaction and our bilateral relations?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – This is a very general question indeed. I believe that, when you make trade agreements, you make trade relations more transparent and, to the extent that trade relations become more transparent, the playing field for corruption shrinks. I believe that well drafted and balanced free trade agreements help to eradicate this very difficult topic of corruption that is very widespread throughout the world. We try to contribute to that.

I cannot answer the specific question that you are posing because I am not aware of the figures that you have mentioned. By the way, not all money that is wired into a bank account is necessarily the result of corruption; it could also, for example, be the result of making a profit.

 
  
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  Nirj Deva (ECR). – Quite so, but could we in future start the process of negotiating with our interlocutor partners on the basis of their being corruption-free? After all, India is in flames at the moment over corruption.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Just one sentence: if we can only negotiate with those countries that are corruption-free, then from tomorrow, I will have a part-time job. I pass the floor to Mrs Georgieva.

(Interjection from Mr Deva: ‘I said “Start!”’)

 
  
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  Kristalina Georgieva, Member of the Commission. – I would like to add that the European Union and our Member States have been very active in supporting the stolen assets recovery initiative. These are initiatives that bring this issue to the forefront. They enforce more transparency in developing countries. We will continue to support actions and initiatives of this nature.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Commissioner De Gucht, earlier on, you said that the Colombian Government was acting in good faith in the human rights field. You also said the same about the former Colombian Government of Uribe. However, the Colombian High Court of Justice has now established definitively that that government was working hand in hand with the death squads responsible for killing hundreds of trade unionists, including by directly fingering trade unionists to be murdered.

I would like to ask you: how many more trade unionists and how many more human rights offenders have to be killed before your attitude is changed and before the FTA is halted?

Secondly, I would ask you for a response to the decision by the British Trades Union Congress to campaign against the EU-India FTA and Mode 4. It decided to oppose it on the grounds that it will be almost impossible to enforce employment rights for Indian workers. In effect, it leads to a race to the bottom in terms of wages and conditions, and will act to undermine collective agreements and trade union organisation.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – I think it is very important, when you want the rule of law to be respected, that you have an independent judiciary. That is why I think, as a politician, that we should not comment on decisions by the judiciary. We should take note of them and we should put them into practice. Obviously, there, the Supreme Court has rendered a judgment that we will keep in mind in further discussions with Colombia. On the other hand, I must say – and of course I may be mistaken, I am only a human being – that, from what I have seen with the Uribe Government and now again with the Santos Government, they are making real efforts to advance the cause of human rights. I can only say that and I think I have enough arguments to defend that case.

But of course, Mr President, I would then need a little more time on Mode 4. Mode 4 is about exchanging personnel within an organisation and it really means that a number of Indian workers could be active in the European Union. These are not enormous figures and, as it is within the organisation of a company or within the organisation of a multinational, I cannot see why this would infringe on workers’ rights in Europe.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – I find it hard to see how you can say that real efforts are being made in Colombia when the killings of trade unionists continue at the same pace that they have continued. Between 2000 and 2010, over 60% of all trade unionists killed in the world were killed in Colombia, yet we are supposed to believe that real efforts are being made somehow. Yes, we should take note of the decision that has been made by the Colombian court. The key people surrounding Uribe are now in jail because of this collaboration. Does this not have any impact in terms of your assessment that these people are operating in good faith when it comes to the question of human rights?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Let me give you just one example: under the Uribe Presidency, a brother of the Minister of Foreign Affairs was suspected of having links with the death squads. The following day, he and his sister also – although she had nothing to do with this – were no longer in the government. This is one example of the action that has been taken, and I could give you many more.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to ask Mr De Gucht a question.

You recently gave me an answer to a question I asked about the difficulties in obtaining supplies of raw materials in the tanning industry. Many countries in fact place severe restrictions on the export of raw hides, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for our companies to work with the product. An agreement is currently being drawn up with Ukraine which seems to provide for a 10-year transitional period before the sector is fully liberalised. Do you not think that 10 years is too long? Maybe just three or five years would be enough.

In Tuscany (Italy), the historical home of tanning, a large number of firms are in difficulty and need help as quickly as possible. Ten years is too long and may even set a negative precedent for other agreements in future.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – I imagine that you are talking about the export duties on some raw materials. The export duties are on a very limited number of products and they will disappear within a period of 10 years, which means that it is going steadily down and will be zero at the end. I think that we will probably be able to make quite a good agreement in this respect because the safeguard clause too, with respect to those materials, will disappear and will go down to zero over a period of 15 years. This is creating quite an additional amount of space for trading in these materials with Ukraine.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Mr President, I have another question, as a point of interest. I would like to know what the Commission is doing about the problem of counterfeiting.

There are increasing numbers of counterfeit goods circulating in Europe, especially in Prato, due to unfair competition from China. These products are constantly arriving at customs and getting onto our markets, where they are really creating difficulties and, worst of all, causing health problems.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – We are taking measures on the demand side within the European Union and, of course, there is also the supply side. As you know, China is responsible for the most part. About 60% of all counterfeited goods that are halted at borders are of Chinese origin so we are taking the necessary measures at our borders. We are also discussing with China that they should do much more to combat counterfeiting and to implement intellectual property rights. We are having an intellectual property rights dialogue with them, but I must say that up to now, the results have not really been convincing.

 
  
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  Eduard Kukan (PPE). – My question is for Commissioner De Gucht and it concerns EU trade with the Western Balkan countries, I mean those countries which are waiting either for a date to start accession negotiations or to get the status of a candidate country. My question is: does the Commission have any plans – because strategy would be too strong a word – to increase or to strengthen trade with those countries in order to emphasise the positive aspects of European integration or the European perspective for those countries?

 
  
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  Štefan Füle, Member of the Commission. – As regards the Western Balkans, the Commission has a very useful instrument. The overall enlargement policy is giving us an opportunity, through a number of the chapters, not only Chapter 30 which relates to trade, but also other chapters, rules of law and so on, which also benefit the more appropriate business and investment climate in those countries, to work quite efficiently. I think the results prove that too.

As regards the Western Balkans and the European Union, you can see that trade exchange between those countries and the European Union has actually increased every year by 10%. We are not only keen to develop bilateral relations between the EU and those countries – although our first priority is to bring those countries closer and closer to the European Union and make sure that there are no flaws in the approximation to the EU’s rules – but we also support the regional aspect of trade. The Commission supports CEFTA financially and through various projects, which include the Western Balkans and also Moldova. Very recently, it supported Cathy Ashton’s efforts to find a solution to the remaining issues between Serbia and Kosovo over custom stamps.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). – Whilst free trade might be shown in economic textbooks to make the world as a whole richer, would you not agree that trading with countries like China, with an artificially low exchange rate, deliberately depressed wage rates and a brazen disregard for patent rights, leads to unfair competition, job losses and destruction of industry in the developed world, particularly Europe? Indeed, the conditions and pay rates in China’s factories are inhumane and allow China and its collaborators and multinational companies to use Chinese goods to compete unfairly with goods produced in the developed world. Has the Commission raised the question of working conditions in China with that country and with multinationals?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, of course our relations and our trade relations with China are a very vast topic. Let me just say that, as far as we can see, the biggest problem with China is more with subsidisation than it is with wages. Subsidisation in all kinds of ways: cheap loans, cheap land for plants and so on. What we do see is a very rapid wage rise in the coastal area, which is the developed area of China.

So the idea that it is merely because of low wages that the Chinese can compete on the world market is certainly not correct. There are many elements in play and what we should do instead is look at how we can integrate the Chinese development into the world economy and there we have obligations on both sides. We have them on our side. They should also realise that they have their obligations and that they should live up to the WTO obligations. When they do not do so, we question that, and once we have a decision, we also want to see this implemented, but it is a very complex matter and it certainly cannot be reduced to a discussion on wages.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). – I did not, of course, attribute it just to depressed wage rates. I mentioned the artificially low exchange rate, also the brazen disregard for patent rights and working conditions generally.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – On the currency issue, it is true that the currency of China is undervalued and it is not good that a currency does not reflect the strength of an economy, so they should adapt. But on the other hand, there are always two sides to every coin. You should realise that two thirds of what we import from China we re-export, to the extent that if the Renminbi were to suddenly rise, a surge would also certainly harm our economy. So, let us try to look at it from both sides.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Mr President, I will try to be brief, so that we can let the Commissioners go. In the previous debate on trade policy, we discussed and perhaps agreed that every EU policy, including trade policy, should be coherent with our European values and should have global objectives.

Trade policy in particular could, and should, be an effective instrument for supporting fair trade, taking account of social, employment and environmental standards, as well as economic benefits. We agreed in Parliament a year ago that the future common trade policy of the Union would be friendlier to people and to the environment. In concrete terms, every international agreement should include clauses on transparency, corporate responsibility and the like.

I have just one question for Commissioner De Gucht: Has the Commission set a concrete measurable objective within the framework of the 2020 strategy for assessing progress in terms of the impact of EU trade policy on human rights and social and employment standards, and on the environment?

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Between now and 2020, you will have numerous occasions to ask questions about the progress we have been making. We have no specific statistic tool, but we have a Parliament that is very anxious to get all the information. I will do everything possible to get you that information.

 
  
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  President. – That concludes Question Time to the Commission. We have had this morning questions to all the External Affairs Commissioners. Thank you Mr De Gucht, Mr Füle, Mrs Georgieva, Mr Piebalgs. The other Member of the Commission responsible for external affairs will be answering Question Time in Brussels.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 

6. Establishment of Euro-Mediterranean Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci programmes (written declaration)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two announcements to make. The first concerns the written declaration submitted by Ms Castex, Ms Brantner, Mr Peillon, Mr Preda and Mr Vajgl regarding the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci programmes.

This written declaration has been signed by a good majority of Parliament’s component Members and therefore, pursuant to Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure, it will be transmitted to its addressees and published as a text adopted in this part-session, and the signatories’ names will be recorded in the Minutes. I would like to congratulate the signatories and the authors. I believe Mr Peillon is asking to take the floor briefly.

 
  
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  Vincent Peillon (S&D).(FR) Mr President, on behalf of my four colleagues, I should like firstly to extend my warmest thanks to the MEPs who enabled the adoption of this initiative, and secondly to say that the European Parliament, in my view, is sending a very strong message today to our southern partners and, especially, to their young people, and that Parliament now expects the Commission to make proposals promptly so that the Erasmus and Leonardo programmes actually become a reality for these countries.

 

7. Corrigendum (Rule 216): see Minutes
Video of the speeches

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

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

 
  
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Antonello Antinoro (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to take up just 20 seconds of this House’s time.

We are lucky to have to come to Strasbourg every month, and it is a pleasure for us to do so, but I would like to appeal to the President to speak on our behalf, together with the Commission President, with a view to simplifying our travel arrangements.

We in the Italian delegation – and I believe other fellow Members feel the same – cannot get direct flights from our capital city, Rome, to Strasbourg, and we have to undergo a tiring journey that takes a whole day. Yesterday, it took me from 10.00 to 22.00 to get to Strasbourg.

We would like to see a proactive stand taken once and for all with both Air France and the French Government to enable us to get to Strasbourg with as little discomfort as possible.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, I would like to say something about the botched attempt at evacuation that took place in Parliament in Brussels last week.

I think what happened was totally against the rules, because nobody came round to our rooms to warn us and tell us that we had to leave and evacuate the building, and then outside Parliament we were all free to do whatever we liked. I would therefore like to know how much this Parliament spends every year on evacuation procedures and Parliament’s safety. I would expect an institution of this kind to have somewhat stricter rules, at the very least.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Ms Alfano. The department in charge took steps to warn the Members present and everyone in the offices through the security guards, which was the only way possible at that time. Anyway, please let us now concentrate on the vote and not start debating other matters.

 

8.1. Trade in agricultural and fishery products between the EU and Palestine (A7-0300/2011 - Maria Eleni Koppa) (vote)

8.2. EU-Mexico agreement on certain aspects of air services (A7-0298/2011 - Silvia-Adriana Ţicău) (vote)

8.3. EU-Cape Verde Fisheries Partnership Agreement (A7-0299/2011 - Pat the Cope Gallagher) (vote)

8.4. EU-US Memorandum of Cooperation in civil aviation research and development (A7-0301/2011 - Herbert Reul) (vote)

8.5. Extension of scope of regulation on the professional cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (A7-0077/2011 - Sophie Auconie) (vote)

8.6. EU research and innovation funding (A7-0302/2011 - Marisa Matias) (vote)

8.7. European Schools system (A7-0293/2011 - Jean-Marie Cavada) (vote)

8.8. Future EU cohesion policy (A7-0287/2011 - Michael Theurer) (vote)

8.9. European disaster response: role of civil protection and humanitarian assistance (A7-0283/2011 - Elisabetta Gardini) (vote)

8.10. Professional cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (A7-0076/2011 - Sophie Auconie) (vote)

8.11. Dual-use items and technology (A7-0028/2011 - Jörg Leichtfried) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Jörg Leichtfried, rapporteur.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, there is something that I need to mention very briefly.

Up to now, this House has always been on the side of the democrats, not on the side of the dictators; it has been on the side of those who stand up in support of human rights. That is demonstrated in resolutions, which are certainly very important. However, I am even more pleased that this is now being demonstrated in a report, which also concerns economic interests. Nevertheless, many people have often expressed doubts as to whether we should support this, and this time we have done so for the first time.

We are preventing surveillance software, which could be used to monitor Twitter and Facebook conversations and to create movement profiles, from being supplied unchecked to dictators in the future. These are European products that, up until now, have also been supplied to North Africa. That will change in future.

The only fly in the ointment is that we currently only check after delivery. Perhaps in our next report on dual-use items, we will succeed in establishing these checks prior to delivery. That would be my request for next time.

 

8.12. Tourism in Europe (A7-0265/2011 - Carlo Fidanza) (vote)

8.13. European road safety (A7-0264/2011 - Dieter-Lebrecht Koch) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, rapporteur.(DE) Mr President, I just have a brief comment to make. At the last minute, a spurious voting list for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) has been distributed. I just wanted to say that the one that was given to you in your files is the correct one.

 

8.14. Dam infrastructure in developing countries (A7-0213/2011 - Nirj Deva) (vote)

8.15. Assisting developing countries in addressing food security challenges (A7-0284/2011 - Gabriele Zimmer) (vote)

8.16. Unilateral statements entered in the minutes of Council meetings (A7-0269/2011 - Rafał Trzaskowski) (vote)

8.17. New trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy (A7-0255/2011 - Daniel Caspary) (vote)
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  President. – That concludes the vote.

 

9. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Recommendation: Maria Eleni Koppa (A7-0300/2011)

 
  
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  Guido Milana (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Ms Koppa’s report is exceptionally current in what it really implies, and it comes at a time when the debate on Palestine is particularly important.

Initiating this trade highlights the fact that we can no longer use this country just as a potential market, since until now, our exports to Palestine have been worth EUR 50 million and our imports from there only EUR 6 million. Instead, away from Israeli control, the country is preparing itself to play a role as an exporter to Europe, which we hope can truly help to change the fortunes of the Palestinian people in particular.

I therefore voted wholeheartedly in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – I welcome this agreement which, if implemented, could provide a level of assistance for the Palestinian people. However, we have to recognise reality here and the reality is that its impact will be extremely limited because the problem is not simply goods entering the European markets but goods exiting the occupied territories in the first place.

The collective punishment of the blockade of Gaza has inflicted a humanitarian catastrophe on the people of Gaza. Eighty per cent of people now are reliant on food aid. Unemployment is at 45% and 300 000 people are forced to try and survive on less than one dollar a day.

Also, the economy has been deliberately destroyed by Israeli actions. Before the blockade, over 700 trucks used to leave Gaza with exports on a daily basis; today, less than 2% of the pre-blockade level of exports exist and simply tonnes and tonnes of fruit and flour are rotting and so, if the EU is serious about assisting the Palestinian people, gestures like this are simply not enough. It must end its complicity with the Israeli occupation.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR). – I strongly support the revision of the EU-Palestine Association Agreement regarding agricultural and fisheries products. The liberalisation of trade is extremely welcome, bringing opportunities and wealth to both the EU and the Palestinian territories on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestine is one of our smallest trading partners and granting them duty-free and mostly quota-free access will go some way to improving the lives of their citizens whilst having little or no impact on our own agricultural market.

I believe this agreement is a good example of how the EU can do a little bit of good in the world and make a small difference to the condition of the Palestinian people. I would urge the Israeli Government to do rather more to improve the condition of the Palestinian people as well, and encourage them to allow freer trade with the territories.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, having read this recommendation, I am happy to support the liberalisation of trade in general. In the current context, of course, the eyes of the world are focused on the Palestinian territories. However, I do believe that this House should have the issue of balance, fairness and equality uppermost in its mind.

At present, the ACCA agreement between the European Union and Israel, signed in May 2010, has come to a standstill as a result of this institution’s reluctance to approve it. It is common knowledge that Israel is one of the most advanced countries in the fields of medicine and technology. In postponing approval for this agreement, we are denying European consumers access to a wider range of high-quality medication, and blocking the possibility of lower prices for these products as well as the introduction of innovative technology into the European market.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, like others, I am very happy to support this report on trade in agriculture and fishery products between the European Union and Palestine. It is a very timely report, given that Palestine is very much on the global agenda.

When we look at the problems that Palestinian farmers face, we know there are problems for many farmers around the globe, but in Palestine, there are particular difficulties – simple but huge difficulties – in accessing water, land and, of course, accessing markets, which is why this agreement is hugely significant. It means that we can help development through trade and – as others have said – it will not have any negative impacts for European Union agriculture.

There is also the issue of standards. While the Palestinians are very keen to meet our standards, they also have to meet Israeli standards that are not the same as European Union ones. We need to see some progress in this area.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, I gave the report my support. The proposed agreement will allow Palestinian agricultural products, fish and fish products to access the EU market.

The agreement, however, has a more profound objective than commercial interests, as Europe will benefit very little from trade with Palestine. With this agreement, we will help the economic development of the Palestinian territories; we will reduce poverty in the area and be instrumental in promoting its political stability. Trade can help facilitate the development of the economy and social issues in the Palestinian territories in Gaza and on the West Bank.

In future, the European Union must have a strong role to play in foreign policy, and particularly with regard to its neighbouring states. Trade is our strongest political tool. The European Union always needs to consider its trade policies as a whole, in conjunction with European values and democratic principles.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, if you were badly in debt, if you were overdrawn on your credit card, if you were struggling to meet your mortgage payments, what would you do: spend more, or spend less? The European Union has not hesitated to answer that question collectively. It has responded to the debt crisis by a massive increase in debt, forcing additional liabilities on to countries that could not meet their existing liabilities.

Rather than correcting the malinvestments of the decade of cheap credit, we have rewarded those malinvestments, bailing out, first, banks and then entire countries. And now, that ‘bailout-and-borrow’ policy has reached is apogee. If reports are to be believed, the European Stabilisation Fund is going to be quadrupled – with yet more borrowing – into a EUR 2 million fund: a sum that our minds are not designed to comprehend.

That is the logical end of the policy we began on when we started borrowing. And who, ultimately, is going to stand behind this fund? Why, the taxpayers of the eurozone: in other words, the taxpayers of, among other places, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. ‘My masters, are you mad?’

 
  
  

Report: Marisa Matias (A7-0302/2011)

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we welcome the adoption of this report because it has the great merit of combining European programmes for research, competitiveness and technological innovation with the structural and cohesion funding allocated for these sectors.

It is a necessary step in the right direction in its attempt to reorganise the existing schemes and programmes, with a view to producing a new long-term strategic policy. Strengthening convergence, consolidation and the EU’s global competitiveness – the last of which should be based on a cooperation model – are among the ways to achieve economic recovery and bring about a development model based on sustainable growth and job creation.

Proposing a common framework, notwithstanding the obvious differences that exist in the European context, offers an opportunity to strengthen the European Research Area and devise a clear-cut convergence strategy. The outcome of all that will be to restore a proper balance in terms of access and participation.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I have fully endorsed the Matias report because it combines the multiple factors that should promote and implement innovative processes in future.

Scientific research must play the strategic role of finding cures and solutions to the problems experienced by Europeans, and innovation must transform those results into more accessible operational reality. That is particularly true for agriculture.

In fact, as rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, I sought to highlight the role that research should play in the farming sector, where it should aim not only at achieving results in the laboratory, but, in particular, at transferring their effects to the field as well, to the benefit of farmers and all farming stakeholders.

We must also invest in human resources, since distribution, training and consultancy services are crucial for promoting the knowledge-based growth of agricultural and agri-food businesses.

 
  
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  Jens Rohde (ALDE). – In Europe, we are actually great at research. The problem is that we are lousy at innovation. US companies obtain more than twice as many patents per year as European companies. We cannot afford to spend millions of euro and not get full use from them. Therefore, we need a much more focused and result-driven research programme. We need a direct route from research to retail. We need industry to participate, especially SMEs. Finally, we need the Commission to dramatically simplify its grant procedures. The ideas and talents are out there; it is time for Europe to move.

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this report is an important step in the right direction.

Research and innovation are both vital for development and economic growth. It is therefore urgent to propose a common framework for reorganising the existing schemes and programmes. Although Europe is the richest macro-region in the world, it has not actually invested properly in research, development and innovation. Suffice it to say that investment in these areas has been appreciably higher in the United States and Japan.

We therefore have to act quickly to remove the inequalities that remain between the various countries of Europe. That will be the only possible way to prevent the scientifically or technologically more advanced countries from continuing to benefit more from existing European programmes. I therefore reiterate the need to reorganise the existing schemes and programmes and provide for new schemes with a view to producing a sustainable and inclusive growth strategy, while bearing in mind the objectives of stability, economic convergence and employment.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, I am very happy with this report but wish to bring to the attention of this House an event that I was involved in recently in the Commission on food safety research and innovation spending, a conference that was not just telling us the results but seeing how it could be put into practice.

While we are often very critical of ourselves, and indeed the Commission, it was noteworthy that the Chinese delegation that spoke at this event put on screen its plans for food safety legislation and it looked like a mirror of what the European Union has already in place. So we do sometimes lead very much from the front and therefore what we do is positive.

My last comment is to pick up on my colleague, Mr La Via, in relation to agriculture research. We need to refocus on productivity because the world has to start being able to produce more from less and, in particular around food security, that must be a priority in our future research.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE). – Mr President, having supported this report, I would like to draw attention to the need to create top-level scientific centres in the less developed and disadvantaged regions of Europe on the basis of competition. It is competition that provides the best incentives for the creativity and dynamism that will result in early future-oriented jobs, even in structurally weaker regions of Europe.

At the same time, the key element of the framework programme has to be its scientific quality. Only scientific excellence provides for credibility, which should become the main criterion for scientific funding.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Mr President, I was pleased to vote for this report, which contains many good suggestions. I would like to focus on one aspect, that is, the health of our people.

Now Mr Rohde made a very interesting point. He said that Europe was good at research but not in innovation. This came home very clearly to me recently when I chaired here in Parliament a hearing on IT and the future of medicine, where many billions have been spent on research and medicine but the prevalence of the major disease continues to rise. Therefore, there is a need for a change of tactics and, hopefully, with this programme, which will be coming before the Commission in due course, research and innovation will produce a different approach where we can deal with the patient as the virtual patient with specific diagnosis and specific remedies as opposed to the generic which we have at present.

 
  
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  Patrizia Toia (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the preparation of the common strategic framework for research and innovation funding represents a huge opportunity for the development and economy of Europe.

It is a matter of pulling the lever that can truly usher in a period of growth and also of new skilled employment, such as that done by researchers and young people who devote themselves precisely to the new opportunities in innovation and technology and associated professions.

One observation in particular emerges from this work, which is that we in Europe must put increasing emphasis on the kinds of research and innovation that find practical application, originate new companies, result in new patents and do not remain pure basic research or pure knowledge, which is certainly important, but not to the extent that it actually triggers development.

The second observation is the relationship with local bodies, regions and territories, which are an important tool for territorial planning and for bringing together research, universities, centres of excellence and businesses.

 
  
  

Report: Jean-Marie Cavada (A7-0293/2011)

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my appreciation for Mr Cavada’s report, and I think it tackles a highly important and highly topical subject: the ability to make selective decisions when faced with the need to reduce budget expenditure.

At times of crisis, unfortunately, there is always a tendency to cut spending almost across the board on culture, education and social matters, and there is especially a tendency to take a conservative approach, something that should certainly not be supported. This report highlights a concern expressed by a large group of representatives of parents whose children attend European Schools, who also turned to the Committee on Petitions because they had the feeling that the budgetary changes would not include a commitment to the new programme for European Schools.

This report certainly presents an intelligent plan to try to respond positively to the concerns expressed by the people in question and, at the same time, to give some substance to the European institutions’ policy. The European Schools are a new frontier that this Parliament and the European institutions have provided for everyone. The policy that has been adopted, however, is liable to put an end to the prospect of a European education for all.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I, too, have with great pleasure voted in favour of this report on the problems relating to the European Schools’ system, also because, as the previous speaker, Ms Mazzoni, has already mentioned, we are also dealing with this problem in the Committee on Petitions in the context of an urgent petition. In committee we found that, firstly, the European Schools’ system exists, secondly, it is a success story and, thirdly, we obviously need to carry out structural adjustments, but these must not be at the expense of the European Schools or the concept of European Schools.

I am therefore particularly pleased that the essence of the debate in the Committee on Petitions has also been expressed in this report. I was therefore able to vote in favour of it, and I would be very pleased if what is stated in this report were to be implemented immediately and – to put it nicely – promptly.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE) . – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Schools were set up with the aim of ensuring that the children of the European institutions’ staff who are required to live and work abroad in a different cultural environment from their own have access to education in their mother tongue.

The first European School was founded in Luxembourg as long ago as 1953 at the instigation of a group of officials. As this form of teaching was considered successful, 14 European Schools were founded in various Member States over the years. Although I recognise that the European Schools system is a necessity rather than a luxury, it is clear that, more than 50 years on from the founding of the first European School, the system may include some obsolete aspects and, in any case, needs to be brought into line with and adapted to the economic and social requirements of today.

I have therefore voted in favour of Mr Cavada’s report, which calls for greater involvement by the European Union to support and coordinate the actions of the Member States, which are expected to work towards developing and improving the European Schools system. As we know, investing in education means investing in the future of our young Europeans.

 
  
  

Report: Michael Theurer (A7-0287/2011)

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, … the report on the absorption of EU funds because we need to have an objective analysis of both the problems and the definite successes from the current programming period. The lessons learnt from this will therefore play a key role in drawing up a more effective cohesion policy in the future. The problems facing Member States at the moment with regard to regulation, eligibility, public procurement, and incompatibility between EU and national requirements, compounded by excessive, inefficient control and a severe lack of the necessary technical assistance, especially in new Member States, have the immediate effect of putting beneficiaries off.

In order to increase the absorption rate, cut down on the errors, encourage private sector involvement and boost efficiency, we need, first and foremost, to simplify current regulations and procedures. We need a common set of rules for using EU funds which are applicable to all Member States, so as to remove the excessive red tape imposed at national level. We must also ensure that local and regional authorities will be actively involved in the decision-making process.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, what clearly emerges from this report is that many European regions find it difficult to administer the Structural Funds made available by the Union through its cohesion policies.

They often find themselves caught in a maze in which, if the regions succeed in organising the administration of these funds, it is often the national governments that then find it difficult to activate the cofinancing funds. Sometimes it is like a dog chasing its own tail: the money that we consider fundamental for growth and cohesion in Europe cannot then be spent, as it now appears is happening in my own country, Italy, as well.

I have therefore voted in favour of this report, but I believe that, on the one hand, we should speed up the adoption of the new economic programming period 2014-2020 to enable the individual Member States and regions of Europe to prepare themselves in time and, on the other, that the cofinancing mechanism should perhaps be reviewed. That could be a way forward and so I have voted in favour, but I think a lot more needs to be done to ensure that European funds can actually be spent to benefit the people.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE). (SK) Mr President, as far as the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund are concerned, in the first programming period 2004-2006, disbursements reached a level of 99% in Slovakia, amounting in total to EUR 1.2 billion.

In the second programming period from 2007-2013, disbursement had reached the level of 18.5% by the end of June, which, in absolute terms, represents EUR 2.1 billion. At the same time, it is assumed that there will be full disbursement of the revised commitment for 2008, i.e. of the resources that can be disbursed up to the end of this year.

I agree that the problems with disbursement are mainly caused by the Member States, especially in the excessively bureaucratic procedures for approving projects, and in changes to national strategies related to changes of government.

 
  
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  Markus Pieper (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I voted in favour of the Theurer report, but I would nevertheless like to emphasise a couple of points. Many EU States do not absorb the European structural policy funds. They cannot absorb them because they lack the expertise needed to use them and because they themselves are unable to pay the small cofinancing amounts. Of course, the European response must now be to send European teams of experts to Greece, and perhaps to Romania, too. However, I also believe that in future, we must tailor the programmes more closely to the most important needs of the weaker countries. Furthermore, large parts of the Europe 2020 strategy simply fail to meet the needs of the less development regions. They are too ambitious and too complex. Therefore, we must, in future, take more action to improve the expertise in these regions and we should not treat them like developing countries.

Furthermore, it needs to be much easier to use private funds for the cofinancing of projects. That is also something for which we need greater flexibility in the next programming period.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I, too, voted in favour of the report. I would like to make three additional comments. I, too, am of the opinion that we must, of course, monitor the programmes according to the objective criteria, but that when setting out the objective criteria, we must ensure that the criteria are not too ambitious, that they, quite simply, are possible for the countries to implement, and that the bureaucracy associated with the monitoring is also tolerable and feasible.

I also believe that cohesion funding should always be provided according to the principle of ‘helping people to help themselves’; that is to say, we should not forget to carry out an evaluation of the objective criteria and to check whether the objectives that were intended to be achieved with the money have actually been achieved. After all, cohesion is intended to have a beginning and an end.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, cohesion and structural funds are very much a sign of European solidarity, so it is important that this funding is properly used and used in the best possible way. But, as this report points out, there are huge problems in relation to Member States accessing this funding and coming up with the necessary cofinancing that is required.

One of the problems this creates is in the public mindset. When we hear announcements of major funding being made available from the European Union budget and the public read these stories, later to read that some of this funding has not been accessed, there is a delay in getting access to it, or they themselves have problems in trying to access funding, that creates a negative attitude towards the European Union. We do need to make these funds work for the betterment of citizens and therefore, the recommendations of this report should be implemented.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I have voted for this report because I believe it is an excellent piece of work. What Mr Theurer has produced is an assessment that will certainly also be useful for the imminent legislative work that the Committee on Regional Development is about to tackle in relation to the new funding regulations.

The problems that have been revealed are many and varied, just as the individual Member States’ absorption capacities are varied – as the rapporteur points out – because each one performs differently regarding the volume of spending and, hence, its efficiency and effectiveness. Out of all the problems highlighted in this report, I think the two that we ought to focus our attention on most are, first, the programming periods, as Mr Antoniozzi has already mentioned, and secondly, the issue of control, insofar as control requirements lead the Member States to focus more on the procedures than on the objectives.

We should, however, concentrate on the objectives in order to perform effectively and efficiently. To that end, I reiterate the proposal that I make to this House on every possible occasion, which concerns the possibility of replacing contributions with taxation. I believe that tax exemptions could help to reduce the number of control regulations without going against the Treaty requirements, and could focus attention more on fulfilling the objectives and achieving results.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE). (LT) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because it mentions specific problems that are faced when implementing projects financed by the Cohesion Fund, and indicates means of addressing those problems.

First of all, we have the complicated rules surrounding the application of financial instruments and the need to simplify them, taking into account the specific characteristics of each Member State. Secondly, there is a need for greater synergy and complementarity between all the funds (the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Social Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) and flexibility. This is required to facilitate the financing of integrated projects. For example, the potential of cross-financing, which is not yet being fully exploited. Thirdly, the Commission and the Member States must give priority to the integrated approach for local and regional development projects, encouraging the development of bottom-up local initiatives, and must also ensure that there is an opportunity to finance as many small and individual projects as possible.

I hope that this time, the European Parliament’s opinion will be heard, and that its proposals will be taken into account, thus promoting more rapid absorption of Cohesion Funds.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I supported this report, but there are two issues I would like to draw attention to. First of all, there are the over-complicated and over-strict procedures that are often involved. I have community and voluntary groups coming to me all the time, talking about the complexity and also the inconsistency of the rules – then the changes in the rules and, furthermore, the interpretation of the changes in the rules. People are tearing their hair out with frustration.

Another issue that a lot of community groups have a problem with is late payments. I know many community groups that are going to the wall because they are awaiting payments from European funds.

There is another very important issue that we need to look at, and that is the issue of intermediate regions. When we are determining eligibility, it is important that we use the most up-to-date figures. It looks as if we might end up using 2008 GDP figures to determine eligibility for cohesion funding post 2013. That is simply not acceptable in the current situation. Up to now, a lot of regions’ GDP was increasing but, of course, now, because of the economic crisis, a number of regions’ GDP is decreasing and we will find that in 2010 and 2011, it will be lower than it was in 2007 and 2008. So, it is crucial that we use the most up-to-date figures to ensure that the regions that need cohesion funding are those that get it.

 
  
  

Report: Elisabetta Gardini (A7-0283/2011)

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, in view of the dramatic increase in natural disasters both inside and outside the European Union, we increasingly often have to intervene and guarantee a rapid and effective response, as provided for by the new legal basis introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

We should, however, be able to concentrate on pre-identification of the assets available in the Member States that are placed at the disposal of the European Civil Protection Mechanism on a voluntary basis. This would be a significant move away from the current ad hoc response to disasters towards advance planning through the development of reference scenarios, mapping of Member States’ assets and contingency planning.

We therefore advocate greater simplification of the European Civil Protection Mechanism, which so far has proved to be too bureaucratic, and support the creation of a 24/7 European emergency response centre which, in agreement with the Member States, would make decisions on the assets to be deployed in the event of a disaster in order to ensure immediate and effective assistance to the victims.

 
  
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  Guido Milana (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, many thousands of people die every year due to natural disasters and tens of billions of euro are lost. These are dramatic figures, and disasters are not always avoidable.

Ms Gardini’s report is right on the mark in this respect, because it essentially identifies the two fundamental points in the new European civil protection strategy. The first is a thorough prevention plan, which can no longer be just the sum of the national prevention plans, and proper rules concerning prevention procedures. The second is the real, concrete idea of European civil protection, which cannot result from mere coordination but must be based on a genuine network.

We have to move on from an emergency response requested by a country in relation to a disaster and the subsequent intervention, seen almost as a concession by another country, to a genuine strategy. With this hope in mind, I think the resolution adopted today is a useful one for the people of Europe.

 
  
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  Jens Rohde (ALDE).(DA) Mr President, the earthquake in Haiti, the floods in Pakistan and, in particular, the events in Japan last spring, have shown us that we need to have a common European approach and strategy for dealing with disasters.

It is no good us sending multiple, uncoordinated civil protection teams from the different Member States which then arrive in the disaster zones at completely different times. As Mr Mastella said a moment ago, the Treaty of Lisbon provides us with a new legal basis on which to take the right decisions and on which to coordinate our response. However, let us use this new instrument in an active way.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Gardini¸ and our colleagues in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, in which we adopted this report almost unanimously.

That shows how our different political ideologies have been overcome on important issues, such as this one of humanitarian aid. The principle of European solidarity among Member States in the event of a disaster is the central pillar of this report, supported by liaison and interaction initiatives within the European Union. The merging of the humanitarian aid crisis rooms is a step in that direction.

The 24/7 European emergency response centre will act as a planning and operational coordination platform and will become the central hub for requests for assistance relating to all types of disasters.

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, over recent years, we have seen an increase in the number and intensity of natural disasters, which have become increasingly global in scale, with disastrous consequences.

A genuinely European response to such disasters that involves, and is binding on, all the various levels of government in which the European Union is structured is crucial to address this scenario. Ms Gardini’s valuable report, which I voted for, highlights the importance of a simplified and rationalised Civil Protection Mechanism that is more extensively and effectively coordinated at a political and operational level and is not encumbered by red tape. It must allow for the pooling of resources and skills and the optimisation of existing assets without increasing the financial burden in times of austerity.

Greater attention to cross-border and geographically vulnerable areas and implementation of a culture of prevention will complement this new approach to ensure a rapid, speedy and effective response to any future needs.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE).(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today is a great day since the European Parliament has just expressed its desire to create a European civil protection force.

Obviously, this European force will enable EU Member States to be more effective in the event of major disasters occurring inside or outside of the EU, and we must welcome that. However, in reality, I do not think that this is the most important thing. The most important thing is that if we want to build Europe, we must do great things together. We must make Europeans proud of their Union. The fact that Europeans have done great things together in the present or the past will mean that they will be prepared to do even greater things together in the future.

Let us not be mistaken, Europe cannot only be seen by our fellow citizens as an accumulation of legislation, no matter how useful that legislation may be. Europe must have a soul. This European Civil Protection Mechanism that we are going to create will be a part of this soul. It is one of the tools which can create this European soul. If we give Europeans a sense of pride from knowing they are acting together, this will make the usefulness of legislation seem weak in comparison. That is why we must build this European civil protection force together.

 
  
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  Christa Klaß (PPE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, every disaster, irrespective of whether it is caused by a storm, fire or an accident, poses new challenges for us. We are currently living in a highly mechanised, highly sensitive and specialised world, and we are increasingly reliant on experts.

Within Europe, it must now be a foregone conclusion that we should help each other across our borders and that the Member States should support one another. Cross-border drills by the fire service and civil protection force must be in the utmost interests of the Member States and must also be well funded. We need to make effective logistics arrangements in advance.

The common 112 emergency number within Europe is a positive step towards simplification. However, this number must be communicated repeatedly so that it becomes fixed in people’s minds.

With all the good equipment and the good organisation, however, the most important thing we need is the people who, with considerable personal commitment, get involved in dealing with the disasters. I would also like to take this opportunity to say a very big thank you to them.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE) . – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the exponential rise in the number of natural disasters in recent decades has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in various parts of the world.

Last year, in the Committee on Development, I followed the work on the report on the European Union’s disaster response capacity, which revealed just how much still needed to be done to guarantee a coordinated EU response in view of the increase in earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. The EU’s response to the earthquake in Haiti, for example, clearly illustrated the complexity of the existing instruments and procedures.

Even though the Member States and EU institutions acted promptly in terms of sending humanitarian aid, the management of the crisis raised a series of issues regarding efficiency, coordination and transparency. That is why I voted in favour of Ms Gardini’s report, which calls for greater efficiency in all stages of disaster management, better coordination among all actors and simplification aimed at avoiding pointless overlaps and wasted time, which impede the rapid and effective provision of help.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR). (CS) Mr President, I voted in favour of Ms Gardini’s report because it strengthens coordination in the area of preparation, capacity planning and implementation, in respect of both civil protection and humanitarian assistance. In the case of humanitarian assistance in particular, this means even closer cooperation with the non-governmental organisations that are often present in a disaster location. In the rapid and common response to a crisis, logistics are a particularly acute problem where I would welcome concrete proposals for improvement. I also see a solution in the interlinking of existing monitoring centres and the mapping of Member State capacities for individual types of crisis.

At the same time, I firmly believe that greater coordination on the part of the EU does not have to ‘compete’ with the global coordinating role of the UN, but, on the contrary, should support it. The responsibility of the Member States should also be emphasised, particularly in external humanitarian assistance. I therefore consider it important for European emergency response capacities to be led exclusively by the contributing Member State or the affected state for now, and not by a European emergency response centre.

Regarding the visibility of EU symbols when providing assistance, I just want this to be kept within sensible limits, and not to use up a significant portion of the allocated resources.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE). – Mr President, this is a really comprehensive and important report. I have two observations.

Firstly, the prevention of disasters has to be seen as being equally important as the response to them. Therefore, enhancing the EU emergency reaction capacity has to be linked with the Commission preparing an efficient EU strategy to reduce the risk of disasters and ensure their early identification.

Secondly, I support the European Parliament’s call for the Commission to come forward with proposals for an EU civil protection force based on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. That would better combine the resources necessary to provide both civilian protection and immediate emergency aid to the victims.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, it seems to me that it is in times of calm that we should prepare for the next crisis. We are doing this with regret on the economy. We need to do it equally when there are disasters, which this report deals with. Yes, prevention is our priority – as it should be – in order to minimise problems in all Member States.

Just a word in relation to voluntary effort: very often, when there is a disaster in a Member State, it is the local community itself which responds most rapidly. We need to better coordinate the national and EU response, working on the ground with local communities.

Finally, we need to make the emergency response number 112 more widely known to our citizens, so that it is used.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, the EU’s readiness to respond to natural disasters is not presently at the level that the public has the right to expect.

The European Parliament has proposed that an EU civil protection force be set up. It would deliver emergency assistance within 24 hours in response to any disaster taking place at that time. It would require coordination and cooperation between the Member States. This would be just the sort of cooperation that would bring added value to the European partnership.

I shall await a proposal from the Commission concerning the establishment of the civil protection force, and particularly at the civilian level. This is not a military matter: it is a civilian one.

 
  
  

Report: Carlo Fidanza (A7-0265/2011)

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). (GA) Mr President, I voted for this report as it seems to me that the industry is so important for the economy in the European Union. On account of Article 195 of the Treaty of Lisbon, this matter is a new development and I welcome this.

I am certain that this report is a good start to ensuring the future of this industry. This industry has a central role in creating jobs locally, and in helping with economic growth. In Ireland, for example, the industry is worth ten per cent of our gross national product, and more than twelve per cent of the workforce are employed in the tourism industry, or in a dependent industry.

An integrated approach is needed in relation to the industry in the European Union. The European Union is not doing enough in my opinion about the problem of red tape in relation to visa applications and there is a great need for a simplified system of getting tourist visas throughout the European Union.

 
  
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  Guido Milana (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this is just a good initiative, but I think we will later have to develop a European policy on tourism.

The European framework is a good idea, but I would like to focus on two issues. There is no sea or coastal tourism, we might say, but a coastal planning policy. I think the time has come for Europe to protect this important sector by producing an initiative in which ideas about the sea and coastline are not limited to a kind of town planning that ends at the foreshore and does not involve the sea as a whole.

I think it will be useful to have an integrated policy on this, just as there will be a need to develop everything that lies behind the claims about rural tourism: rural tourism can be an excellent source of income for disadvantaged areas and areas where there is no work any more, where it is important to stop depopulation and instead encourage people to settle.

For that, it is not enough just to make claims. We would need to suggest that Europe and the Member States take action on taxation. Perhaps developing tourism in rural areas could mean paying less tax; maybe that would create a real opportunity for tourism as a resource and for the people living in those areas.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Mr Fidanza for the excellent report he has drafted. Parliament has today voted in favour of setting up a new common framework for European tourism in line with the new powers introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Emphasising the importance of the quality of the tourist services offered as a decisive variable in the choices made by tourists was an appropriate decision to increase the competitiveness of Europe’s tourism industry. Niche tourism – religious, spa, mountain, rural, etc. – should be encouraged through measures to improve it in terms of quality and quantity.

Lastly, I hope that the harmonisation of the hospitality industry classification systems will continue so as to define unequivocal quality standards for all Member States.

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to congratulate Mr Fidanza on the report he has drafted, which fits logically into the framework of actions undertaken and promoted at Union level relating to tourism, now that the Treaty of Lisbon has given the European Union new powers in this field.

I must stress the fact that I endorse the statement about the importance of Europe as a single destination for certified, quality tourism, as well as the intention to promote this idea by turning it into actions in terms of structures, allocation of resources, funding, and coordination of actions among the various levels of government in the countries of the Union. This is an approach to be valued and rewarded, given that the sector in question – with its implications in terms of the percentage of GDP produced, employment and new opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises, and emphasis on environmental protection and enhancement – is in a position to develop and thus to respond to the major challenges of today.

For all these reasons, I believe this report is positive, as it sends out an important signal for the promotion of a European tourism policy.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). (GA) Mr President, the Treaty of Lisbon now gives us a chance to establish a policy for the benefit of the tourism industry and we see in this report a strategy for doing so. The European Union is the world’s primary tourist destination and we must keep it this way. Tourists come to certain places naturally. In the South, they have the sun, they have the sea and so forth. I, myself, was in Rome during the summer and it was clear why tourists were coming there on holiday. In other parts of Europe, however, especially in the North, they do not have the same advantages. They do not have much sun and they do not have the sea. Therefore, we must help those countries especially to extend the season and we must emphasise events that are based around sport. We have a great chance to do this in future.

 
  
  

Report: Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (A7-0264/2011)

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). (GA) Mr President, we must understand that 38 000 people are killed annually as a result of road accidents in the European Union. This figure is terrible and it appears to me that it is extremely important to reduce the incidence of fatal and serious injuries and to improve safety on our roads.

We, as Europeans, must work together to reduce the number of deaths on our roads. We must admit that we have a huge problem in relation to the amount of drivers that use text messaging while driving on the roads of the European Union.

The possibility of an accident increases twenty-three times when the driver watches the screen of his mobile phone. I am extremely grateful to my colleague, Mr Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, for the great work he has done and for presenting this report to us.

We want to protect road users, if there is the political will to do so, and I firmly believe that there is, because this report shows, for example, that we will be able to improve road safety.

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I have voted overall in favour of Mr Koch’s report because I agree with its targeted approach inasmuch as it asks the Commission for a concrete, circumstantiated commitment to road safety, including the development of the proposed models into a fully-fledged new action plan.

The plan must incorporate a set of detailed measures, with clear timetables and monitoring instruments to assess the progress made, as well as a mid-term review. Conversely, I did not wish to support the idea of appointing an EU road safety coordinator, which, in my view, would be likely to duplicate powers and generate an excessively bureaucratic mechanism.

Of course, it seems obvious that achieving the target of halving road accident victims by 2020 would also require a financial commitment that currently appears to be difficult to achieve. In conclusion, however, I regret the fact that the Committee on Transport and Tourism was not bold or ambitious enough to accept a complete harmonisation of important road safety rules, such as standardising the EU direction of travel in the United Kingdom and Malta as well, as I proposed in an amendment which the committee chose not to accept.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the report shows that the social cost of road accidents is enormous, standing at an estimated EUR 130 billion per year. Mr Koch’s proposals are along the right lines and I particularly support the idea of creating the role of EU road safety coordinator.

However, I think that we do need to come up with targets and measures that are far more ambitious than those put forward by the Commission thus far; above all, I think that Parliament ought to make its presence felt to the Commission. We cannot accept the fact that in recent years, the European Union’s budget for road safety measures has been slashed. We are therefore duty-bound to ensure that this trend is reversed as soon as possible and that road safety receives greater funding.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, all the measures we have just approved will help to reduce the number of injuries and deaths, two in particular: zero tolerance in drink-driving checks and the use of alcolock devices.

However, I am sorry that the first of these will only apply on a permanent basis to professional drivers, and the second only to industrial passenger and goods vehicles, and additionally with a small margin of tolerance.

We must work in future to extend both these measures to all drivers and all circumstances, because we can all cause accidents, and we should work to achieve coherence too and eliminate the margin of tolerance with the alcolocks.

We are all capable of causing accidents, and this is why we should not criminalise people in the transport sector.

 
  
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  Christa Klaß (PPE).(DE) Mr President, every year, there are 35 000 deaths and serious injuries and economic damage amounting to EUR 130 billion on our roads. These figures are a call to action for us. The Member States, but also the responsible parties at regional and municipal level, businesses and every individual road user are involved in many individual activities and measures. In order to recognise both positive and negative synergies, we need coordination of the activities of the Directorates-General for Transport, Economic and Financial Affairs, the Environment, Health and Consumers, Communication and the Internal Market and Services. Coordination of this kind helps to spread knowledge, and bring about the application, of the best experience, the latest technology and innovative approaches. The Member States will evaluate the experiences gained and then draw the best conclusions. This applies to speed limits just as it does to alcolocks, sight tests, tests on fitness to drive and to the transport of infants. Such decisions should be left to the Member States.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, this is a very positive report. It is interesting that we are debating it following the protests over the weekend by European Union motorcyclists. Many came out in protest – certainly in Ireland and in other Member States – over what we would describe as positive initiatives regarding road safety for that particular sector of the commuting community.

It is interesting to note that, in Ireland, a motorcyclist is 12 times more likely to be killed than any other road user. There is clearly a problem in relation to the safety of this section of road users. I think we should try to work better with stakeholders, so that we do not have protests over something which we believe is important for overall road safety. Some of the issues that were raised by the protestors may not be true, but we can address others when we move forward. Let us involve those that we are trying to legislate for.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). (GA) Mr President, this is a very important matter and it is terrible the amount of people that are killed and injured on European roads, not only every year but every day. It is appropriate to do something about it.

Mr President, regarding the support, there are just two points I just want to make.

One is that right across the European Union, when it comes to speed limits, there is a complete variance from country to country. There should be coordination whereby the same quality of road, on the same motorway, would have the same speed limit right across Europe.

Secondly, I find it very difficult to understand how there is no tapering system. I have seen places where you are expected to go from a 120 mile limit or a 120 kilometre limit to 60 automatically. I have seen people pulled over for going over the speed limit just inside the 60 sign. I think there should be a tapering system where you go from 100 to 90, to 80, to 70, to 60.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D). (CS) Mr President, I voted in favour of Mr Koch’s report on a European strategy for road safety during the period 2011-2020 because the situation in the area of safety on Europe’s roads is still critical, requiring a solution that is rapid and, in particular, thorough. More than 35 000 people die every year on Europe’s roads, and 1.5 million are seriously injured. I therefore support this own-initiative report, and I call on the Commission to submit specific legislative proposals in this area as soon as possible. We should aim to improve safety on Europe's secondary roads, where, on average, more than 70% of accidents take place every year. I also support the rapporteur’s so-called Vision Zero objective, or an end to fatal accidents on Europe’s roads. If we cannot prevent accidents from happening, we should at least prevent them from being fatal. Vision Zero applies in both air and rail transport, and I therefore fully support implementing this target in road transport as well.

 
  
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  Guido Milana (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I have just three small points I should like to make, all centred on the fact that we need ‘more Europe’ in this area. I think it is an inescapable fact that on certain issues, we must not merely hope for more Europe, but actually set about building it.

For example, more Europe means starting to really think about common traffic police and uniform safety rules. More Europe means having a European policy on training, not simply delegating it to the individual Member States, but instead putting together a proper training policy for schools, for young people and for slightly more at-risk categories, among whom motorcyclists were mentioned a moment ago, but we could talk about lorry drivers as well.

More Europe means everyone having the same devices in their cars to improve safety conditions, such as alcolocks and anti-tiredness devices. This, in my view, would be a strategy well worth pursuing with businesses in the sector and European carmakers. Indeed, if all this was incorporated in a common policy, then I really think that conditions would, perhaps, improve.

 
  
  

Report: Gabriele Zimmer (A7-0284/2011)

 
  
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  Patrizia Toia (S&D). (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this report looks at global food security. This means that what is at stake here is not only hunger in the world or in the very poorest countries, but that the subject of food supply affects all communities, including those in the most developed countries.

I would like to pick out a few key points of consistency between European policies and this target of global food security, because we in Parliament are quite accomplished at preaching, but often we are not consistent in our decisions. I only wish to highlight three innovative areas, which I think we ought to develop further.

Firstly: food supply is currently jeopardised by price volatility, caused by speculation in food markets – through derivatives and so forth – that must be contained, if not banned outright.

Secondly: the subject of land grabbing, which I think needs to be addressed in some form of treaty or negotiation, because democracy and the survival of many populations are at risk.

Thirdly: consistency between food supply and energy policies. In our efforts to produce new energy, we must not make it impossible to produce food for the people of the world.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE). – The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that there were 925 million hungry people in the world in 2010. This is a terrible figure. While this represents a reduction of 1 023 million on the 2009 figure, there is strong evidence that food price increases during the last few months have already augmented that number for this year. Meanwhile, in Europe, about 89 million tonnes of food is wasted every year. That is 179 kg per person. Without any prevention measures, it is expected that the total amount of wasted food will reach 126 million tonnes by the end of this decade. Our colossal wastage of food represents an inefficient use and management of our food resources. Successful commitments to fight poverty and hunger worldwide must begin by addressing our terrible wastage of food. Our right to food must be accompanied by a duty not to waste food.

In conclusion, I would say that I disagree totally with paragraph 63 of the report which calls for a complete phasing out of export subsidies. This flies in the face of the rapporteur’s arguments that she wants local production for local use.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I support a lot of what is in this report on global food security. I think it is very important to remember that, as technology and innovation leap forward, we sometimes lose sight of the basics. Of course, one of the basics that we need to remember is our need for food or food security, not just in developing countries but in the EU as well.

One of the issues that we face at a global level is the financial speculation and trade in agricultural commodities. This simply worsens volatility; it means, at the end of the day, that many people go hungry. We also need to ensure greater transparency in the food chain to ensure a fair revenue for farmers. The primary producers are being squeezed; their share of the cake is getting smaller, and that cannot continue.

My final comment – and, I think, a very important one – is that the right to food must always take precedence over energy security. In many countries, but particularly in Africa, food security is being jeopardised by the development of agrofuels. We in the EU often clap ourselves on the back about our alternative energy targets, but we must recognise the price that others may pay for the targets that we set.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, as someone who has authored a report on food security and the common agricultural policy and worked hard on this issue for seven years, I very much welcome the renewed emphasis on food security. Those of us who can afford to buy food have taken for granted that there will always be a supply of food. Of course we are targeting those parts of the world where there is real hunger, but there is also hunger within the European Union. We have to tackle it at every significant level.

I want to repeat a point I made in another explanation of vote. We are in a very serious situation, where agricultural productivity is declining because of a lack of focus on research and innovation and on transferring the knowledge gained to farmers on the ground. This is a problem within Europe, but it is a particular problem for the developing world. We need to target research there, and we need to make sure that people get the knowledge gained by research and put it into practice in food production.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, today’s vote on food security was very important. I think that political institutions in the developed world that ignore the problems in less-developed regions do so in grave error and show a lack of compassion.

However, sometimes I think we in this House miss the point completely. It is important that we assist in food security in developing countries, but it is also important that we actually provide food security for the people that we represent. The National Farmers Union in the United Kingdom has indicated that the United Kingdom will be less than 50% self-sufficient in staple food types by 2026 unless production is increased. We in this House talk endlessly about the increase in world population, the effects of climate change, increase in biofuel demand and the increasing demand for western eating habits, yet we have decreased agricultural output and, due to decoupling, provide no incentive to produce food.

I urge the Commission and Parliament to look at these issues, but I am not hopeful. The recent leak from the Commission in relation to a 7% regulation for set-aside in the new CAP proposals will only restrict food production further.

 
  
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  Salvatore Caronna (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I had no hesitation in voting in favour of the report by Ms Zimmer, above all, for one purely political reason: I think we need to bring this major issue of food security right back to the core of all European Union initiatives.

It is not only a matter of helping developing countries to tackle this issue more effectively. Rather, since the demand for agricultural products is set to increase by more than 70% between now and 2050, the food crisis is a key issue that must be dealt with quickly and decisively. Otherwise, it may become one of the main threats – if not the main threat - to stability, peace and, as we have seen, even democracy.

I think it is therefore incumbent upon the European Union and the Member States to take the required steps to properly tackle this important issue, beginning with adequate investment, as the report proposes.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, hunger and malnutrition are the main causes of human mortality in developing countries. According to the latest estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the number of people suffering from hunger reached 925 million last year.

The global food crisis is becoming not only a pressing humanitarian issue, but is also exacerbating poverty and posing a threat to world peace and security. The effective interlinking of humanitarian and development assistance is beginning to look essential, in the interests of a long-term solution to food security. The international community and all interested parties must show genuine political will to ensure food security and stability, and adopt additional steps aimed at fulfilling their international obligations. In addressing these issues, we must clearly take care that there is no repeat of the disproportionate increase in food prices caused by speculation in food commodities, as happened in 2008. It is also necessary to take measures to limit the competitive threat to food production from so-called agri-foods and agrofuels.

 
  
  

Report: Daniel Caspary (A7-0255/2011)

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE). (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, global trade has genuinely increased over recent years thanks to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and numerous multilateral and bilateral initiatives.

However, although the European Union accounted for 25% of global GDP when the Lisbon strategy was adopted in the year 2000, it is now estimated that it will account for no more than 18% in 2020. At the same time, an ever increasing number of developing countries and emerging economies have become involved in world trade and developed into the new engines of the world economy. This was particularly evident during the 2008-2009 crisis, when it was, above all, the emerging economies that played a stabilising role at a time of widespread financial turmoil.

The European Union cannot ignore the fact that the pattern of population growth is being reversed in the EU. The population of developing countries continues to increase rapidly and this will also have repercussions for their economies.

We therefore urge the Commission to carry out a more careful analysis and to develop forecasts that incorporate both the current situation in the global and EU economy, as well as probable future changes.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE). (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the forecasts in Mr Caspary’s report on gross domestic product and export growth in the European Union are truly disheartening. We cannot continue to plan our commercial strategy on the premise that the current situation in international trade will remain.

The Global Europe strategy has been a failure and I think that the Commission ought to investigate the reasons behind this. We need critical and detailed analysis, but especially an overview of how to deal with future economic challenges. The commercial policy must be coordinated with the European Union’s other economic policies, but, above all, it needs to be accompanied by a parallel policy to combat the phenomenon of population decline.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE). (SK) Mr President, the new involvement of third countries is dramatically changing world trade. The share of EU and US exporters in world exports in 1999 was 37%. In 2009, it was just 29%. The share of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) has risen from 9% to 20%. In 2015, 90% of worldwide economic growth will take place outside the EU.

The importance of drawing up and promoting a long-term EU foreign trade strategy is clear from this. In the EU, 36 million jobs, or 18% of the total, depend on foreign trade. In my opinion, however, the further development of the internal market and the strengthening of its parameters are also important, because this can form the basis for further economic growth in the EU.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Mr President, it may well be a coincidence that we are speaking on our trade policy following our explanation of vote on the Zimmer report on food security, but there is a link, and those of us who have concerns about agriculture and food security would equally be concerned about the direction of Europe’s trade policy.

The inclusion of agriculture in the WTO is of concern, and some of us are battling to have that looked at again in the light of our concerns over how the world will provide security of food supply to its citizens. We now have the emergence of bilateral trade agreements. They are second best to a global trade agreement and we must, in each and every one of the bilateral trade agreements, look beforehand at the likely impacts it will have, particularly on Europe’s food security concerns. That is why, while we do look to the future and the issues around this report, I want to stress, in particular, my concerns around food security and trade.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, over the past number of months, the Commission has been negotiating with the Mercosur bloc to agree a trade policy which would apparently benefit both regions. DG AGRI has put forward its impact assessments to Member States.

In the toughest scenario, the EU’s beef sector could see production levels drop by over 150 000 tonnes, with the producer price for beef falling by over 8%. EU meat production value could fall by almost 3 billion, whilst overall EU agricultural income could drop by 3.2%. The best case scenario is also damaging. There is, unfortunately, no good news story from these impact assessments.

I have voiced this opinion since the very beginning of this process, along with other MEPs and farming organisations. I have spoken to the Commission and highlighted the impact that these decisions would have on Northern Ireland. Now that the Commission has carried out this impact assessment, it is important that this is taken on board during the negotiations. However, my fear is that the Commission will look at other possible gains. While these are impressive and good for the EU in a time of global recession, EU agriculture must not be sacrificed in this way.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Recommendation: Maria Eleni Koppa (A7-0300/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation, as I agree with the rapporteur’s view that the April 2011 agreement, providing for the duty-free access of Palestinian imports of agricultural products to the European market and of EU exports of processed agricultural products to Palestine, will help strengthen the poverty- and crisis-scarred Palestinian economy. However, I also agree with the rapporteur that we need to know the exact origin of products, so it is necessary to ban products from any settlement in the territory occupied by Israel, as there is still no solution to the control imposed by Israel on exports from the Palestinian Territories.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this important recommendation on trade in agricultural and fishery products between the EU and Palestine. This agreement comes at a very important and highly symbolic moment, when we are dealing with the issue of Palestinian statehood. Currently, the level of trade between the EU and the Palestinian territories is extremely low. The EU imports are worth around EUR 7 million of Palestinian goods, of which 72% consists of agricultural products. We, Members of the European Parliament, can therefore expect that the agreement will have a substantial impact on the Palestinian economy. However, we should also think about other ways to increase our bilateral trade, especially by improving the conditions for market access of Palestinian exports to the EU, which would certainly be beneficial to all parties concerned. Regardless of whether the Palestinian people obtain their legitimate statehood in the coming months or some years later, the state of their economy will be a crucial factor which will determine whether there can be sustainable peace between Palestine and Israel.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted against this document on liberalising access to the European Union for Palestinian agricultural products.

Firstly, the document specifies that the primary aim of the agreement between the EU and the Palestinian Authority is to support the development of the Palestinian economy. Since, in recent years, the Palestinian territories have become a place of increasing discrimination and violence against Palestinian Christians, I think that any EU aid for the Palestinian economy could only be acceptable if it was tied to an unbending conditionality mechanism that makes the aid subject to proper protection for the rights of the Christian minority.

Furthermore, trade in Palestinian agricultural products would also probably lead to health risks, given the difficulties in establishing what methods were used to produce them. I therefore decided to vote against this document.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) By giving its green light to a trade agreement with Palestine, the European Parliament has sought to send a strong political message of support and cooperation to the people and authorities of these territories. At present, trade between our two entities is non-existent. By abolishing customs duty on numerous imports, the EU is helping to boost the Palestinian economy as, aside from diplomatic negotiations, the consolidation of peace also hinges on the raising of local people’s living standards.

 
  
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  Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. (CS) The recommendation on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the EU and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on liberalisation in the area of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products, will introduce customs-free and quota-free access of these products imported from the territory of the Palestinian Authority to the European market. In return, some products from the EU will have customs-free access to the Palestinian market, but an upper limit will be set on imports of these products. I understand that the main aim of this agreement is to support the development of the Palestinian economy and facilitate the export of Palestinian products to the EU, and thus to help boost the economic development of the region. I therefore accept the unequal terms.

Since European citizens want to know the origin of the products they consume, it is essential to ensure in this context that the application of the agreement does not lead to abuse of the rules on product country of origin. The European Court of Justice, in its decisions, considers the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to be Palestinian territory; in other words, Israel cannot market the products of Israeli settlements in this area as Israeli goods. We surely cannot hope to solve the Palestinian-Israeli issue in this report, as its main aim is to help farmers and fishermen to export and sell products within the law. The report is, on the whole, beneficial, and I will therefore vote for its adoption.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this recommendation because I argue that increasing Palestinian exports of its products to the EU constitutes crucial support for the development of the Palestinian economy, whilst not harming the European markets in these sectors. The implementation of this agreement could be the first step in building a Palestinian state, in line with the two-state solution, given the beneficial impact it will have on the political stability of the region.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Irrespective of the political considerations surrounding the current state of relations between Israel and Palestine and their future development, I consider it undeniable that the populations of both states should be deserving of European support, particularly those worst off. I believe this latter group will be the greatest beneficiaries of the agreement under consideration, and I am voting for its conclusion with their needs in mind. Greater liberalisation of trade could be an effective means of promoting the normalisation of life in the Palestinian Territories, the strengthening of the local economy and the improvement of the inhabitants’ living conditions. I hope that our partner in this agreement will make good use of it, and that this use will be of sufficient benefit to the Palestinian people.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation concerns an agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and aims to provide further liberalisation of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products, so amending the Euro-Mediterranean Interim Association Agreement on trade and cooperation between the European Community and the Palestine Liberation Organisation for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The purpose of this agreement, concluded in April 2011, is to support the development of the Palestinian economy, which is undergoing a very serious crisis due to poverty and unemployment, through the duty-free export of agricultural and fishery products to the EU. Although the Palestinian Authority is the EU’s smallest trade partner, I am voting for this recommendation aiming to free exports from the Palestinian Territories from the control of Israeli customs, and I hope it will be the first step in building a Palestinian state, whose right to self-determination must be respected by Israel.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The end of the blockade imposed by Israel on Palestine and its people is indispensable to the development of the Palestinian economy. By proposing increased exports of Palestinian products to the EU and facilitating imports to Palestine, this agreement represents, in the current context, a contribution to the achievement of this aim. Nevertheless, the scope of this agreement is severely limited by the specific situation facing those living in the occupied territories today, which is characterised by violent and persistent attacks on the Palestinian people’s most basic rights. Amongst numerous other things, this brutal and illegal occupation leads to countless obstacles for Palestinian exports and imports, not to mention the day-to-day barriers and constraints on the movement of people and goods. This problem urgently needs to be solved, most immediately by supporting the request made to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly by the Palestinian National Authority for recognition of Palestine as a full member of the UN.

The problem of the EU’s economic relations with the State of Israel still persists. In other words, the EU’s unacceptable complacency and connivance with regard to the clear and repeated human rights violations perpetrated by Israel in the occupied territories: these are an insult to the Association Agreement’s own human rights provisions, which we have always said are almost worthless.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted for this report because we believe the adoption of this agreement could aid the development of the Palestinian economy and facilitate the possibility of exports of Palestinian products to the EU. However, it is important to stress the urgent need to bring an end to Israel’s blockade of Palestine. The Commission cannot, with the conclusion of this report, ignore the slow torment of the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli occupation of its territory. This brutal and illegal occupation leads to countless obstacles for Palestinian exports and imports, not to mention the day-to-day barriers and constraints on the movement of people and goods.

Although the Commission decreed in 1998 that ‘no settlement in the occupied territories should be regarded as Israeli territory’, it has washed its hands of its obligations, leaving the duty of monitoring any irregularities regarding the origin of products up to the Member States. We therefore support the Palestinian people’s demand for, and right to, recognition of a sovereign and independent state of Palestine, on the pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. –?? (SK)? In 2005, in accordance with the Rabat Road Map, the Council authorised the Commission to conduct negotiations with several Mediterranean countries in order to establish the conditions for the liberalisation of trade in agricultural and fishery products. The Palestinian Authority was also included on the list. Negotiations were initiated in May 2010 and were concluded in December 2010. The agreement, in the form of an exchange of letters, was signed in April 2011. It provides for duty-free (and mostly also quota-free) access to the European market of Palestinian imports of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. The ultimate aim of the agreement is to help the development of the Palestinian economy and to facilitate the possibility of exports of Palestinian products into the EU.

I believe that this agreement will help, to a certain degree, to strengthen the Palestinian economy, which is currently in crisis, and will help to deal with the situation in the Palestinian territories, which is dire because of severe poverty and unemployment. The future of the region depends on improving economic development and trade can also serve as a development mechanism that contributes to the reduction of poverty and the establishment of political stability.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because this agreement provides for duty-free (and mostly also quota-free) access for Palestinian imports to the European market of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. Several products of the same nature originating in the EU will have duty-free (but not quota-free) access to Palestine, with some exceptions. The ultimate aim of the agreement, however, is to help the development of the Palestinian economy and thus to facilitate the possibility of exports of Palestinian products into the EU.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. – (DE) The EU has given itself the task of improving the economic situation in Palestine and, hence, the living conditions of the Palestinians living there. Trade has an important part to play in this regard. With this agreement, the EU is ensuring that Palestine can have tariff-free access to the European market in agricultural and fishery products and is thus sending an important signal for the sustainable development of the region. In this connection, it is important, however, that the preferential customs treatment should only benefit those concerned and that it is not abused. Safeguard clauses are supposed to guarantee this. In 2010, the import of goods into the EU from Palestine amounted to a trade value of just EUR 9.3 million. That thus precludes any major impact on the EU market.

 
  
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  Vladimir Maňka (S&D), in writing. (SK) The situation in the Palestinian territories is dire because of severe poverty and unemployment. The aim of the agreement is to help the development of the Palestinian economy and to facilitate exports of Palestinian products into the EU. The agreement provides for duty-free (and mostly also quota-free) access to the European market of Palestinian imports of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. Several products of the same nature originating in the EU will have duty-free (but not quota-free) access to Palestine, with some exceptions. Opening the European market directly to Palestinian products is only the first stage in the construction of a Palestinian state, in line with the two-state solution and Palestine’s economic development. It then needs to be ensured that all stakeholders in the process of Palestine’s economic development are provided with the necessary resources. In other words, farmers must have access to water, the Palestinians must have the right to obtain a building permit in the Jordan Valley, etc. Matters are not made any easier by the fact that it is very complicated for foreign investors to obtain visas. The Commission should submit a detailed report on all these factors to try and prevent this kind of risk in future.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report. It is an economic opportunity for the region that may bring prosperity and growth. Easier access to our market will help to cut poverty. I hope it will bring confidence for the future and more political stability to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In 2005, in accordance with the Rabat Road Map, the Council authorised the Commission to conduct negotiations with several Mediterranean countries, including the Palestinian Authority, in order to establish conditions for the liberalisation of trade in agricultural and fishery products. More specifically, the agreement provides for duty-free – and mostly also quota-free – access to the European market of Palestinian imports of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. Several products of the same nature originating in the EU will have duty-free, but not quota-free, access to Palestine, with some exceptions. However, the ultimate aim of the agreement is to support the development of the Palestinian economy and, hence, to facilitate the possibility of exports of Palestinian products into the EU. The future of the region depends on improved economic development. Trade can also serve as a development mechanism contributing to the reduction of poverty and the establishment of political stability.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) European consumers have a right to know the provenance of the products they buy. Equally, Palestinian products must be recognised as such in order to facilitate Palestine’s economic development as, while there cannot be sustainable development without peace and security, there cannot be lasting peace without economic development and without the eradication of poverty. A comprehensive approach based on economic development, governance, security and respect for human rights is the only way to help Palestine progress towards political stability. Liberalising trade between the EU and Palestine is a vital ‘step’ which will contribute to Palestine’s economic development. By opening the doors of the European market to Palestinian products, we are making progress towards the creation of a Palestinian state.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The Palestinian Authority is the EU’s smallest trading partner: exports from the two territories to the EU totalled EUR 6.1 million in 2009. The proposed agreement would allow Palestinian agricultural products, processed agricultural products, as well as fish and other fisheries products, duty-free access to the European market. The proposed agreement is more of a political nature than a trade deal per se. The rapporteur believes that it should help the region to develop economically, reduce its poverty and contribute to some political stability. I voted against, because I am not confident that profit from the trade will not be used for financing terrorist objectives. I am ‘against’.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I support the draft agreement with Palestine to liberalise trade in agricultural products and fish. Ever since the initial establishment of the European Union, we have tried to create open markets without barriers to movement so that everyone – or nearly everyone – could enjoy different products. This exemption from customs duties is designed to support the development of the Palestinian economy and will lead us ever closer towards a state of interconnection, which will surely have beneficial outcomes. I hope this agreement can contribute to the peace process. Peaceful cohabitation in the area is essential and I hope that the revenues that the Palestinians will gain thanks to this agreement will be used to support the local economy and to benefit the people through the construction of social facilities that will favour the peace and democratisation process.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The basis of this report is the agreement with the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip providing further liberalisation of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. Negotiations were initiated in May 2010 and concluded in December 2010. The agreement, in the form of an exchange of letters, was concluded in April 2011. The agreement provides for duty-free – and mostly also quota-free – access to the European market of Palestinian imports of agricultural products, processed agricultural products, and fish and fishery products. Several products of the same nature originating in the EU will have duty-free, but not quota-free, access to Palestine, with some exceptions. I voted in favour because I agree with the ultimate aim of this agreement of supporting the development of the Palestinian economy.

 
  
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  Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. – I support this resolution and the recognition of Palestine as a formal trade partner and a distinct entity to our trade relations with Israel. The Palestinian economy is currently in crisis, something we in the EU understand all too well, and we must do all we can to assist them. By recognising Palestine as a trading partner and opening our markets to its products, we will be helping to ensure the economic future of the region and will boost the Palestinian economy. Allowing Palestinian imports duty-free access to our markets will provide much needed support to producers and may help to tackle the widespread poverty and unemployment levels in the territory.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The ultimate goal of this report, whose immediate purpose is the liberalisation of trade between the EU and the Palestinian Territory, is supporting the economic development of Palestine. Indeed, as well as offering a new avenue for trade, the creation of economic bridges between the EU and Palestine aids the development of local production and strengthens the ties between their peoples. Despite the political issues always raised by an approach of this nature, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing.(IT) I should like to offer my congratulations on the excellent work carried out by Ms Koppa.

The trade agreements between the European Union and the Palestinian Authority will help to strengthen the Palestinian economy, allowing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to export agricultural products and fish to the EU from 2012 onwards. In fact, this agreement guarantees direct, duty-free and largely quota-free access to the European market for agricultural and fishery products from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as access to Palestinian markets for some European products.

The agreement represents an opportunity for the Palestinian people and the first step towards the development of a nation. Giving Palestinian products direct access to European markets, which, until now, took place under the direct control of the Israeli authorities, will contribute to the development of Palestinian trade and the expansion of their economy.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The present revision of the existing EU-Palestinian Association Agreement from 2005 provides for the removal of essentially all duties and quotas for Palestinian agricultural and fisheries products originating in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The revision was negotiated between May and December 2010. The result was signed in April 2011, in the form of an exchange of letters. The EP had to give its consent. The trade volume of products from Palestine entering the EU is rather limited (in 2009, the amount of imports was EUR 6.1 million, with an increase of 32.6% in 2010). The elimination of tariffs and quotas would not significantly change the EU import landscape. Accordingly, the INTA battle was around the political approach.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) In 2005, in accordance with the Rabat Road Map, the Council authorised the Commission to conduct negotiations with several Mediterranean countries in order to establish the conditions for the liberalisation of trade in agricultural and fishery products. The Palestinian Authority was included on the list.

Negotiations were initiated in May 2010 and were concluded in December 2010, while the final agreement was signed in April 2011. The agreement will certainly help to strengthen the Palestinian economy, which is currently in crisis. The future of the region depends on improvements in economic growth and trade can serve as a development mechanism to help reduce poverty and build political stability.

Opening the European market directly to Palestinian products is only the first stage in the construction of a Palestinian state, in line with the two-state solution and Palestine’s economic development.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini (EFD), in writing. (IT) I should like to explain why I voted against this report, highlighting the fact that our delegation has always opposed the use of trade policy for humanitarian purposes and has a marked preference for tangible aid involving a number of economic sectors and all Member States. Our reservations on liberalising trade in agricultural products and fish from Palestine has nothing to do with a possible reduction in trade flows in economic terms. Rather, it is borne from concern over plant health requirements and the procedures for producing and selecting traditional products from the area.

 
  
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  Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DA) I voted in favour of this report on the basis of my general support for Palestinian autonomy and the opportunity for Palestine to trade with the Member States of the EU. This should not be taken to mean that I support the liberalisation of trade in general in the forms and on the conditions mapped out by the EU. In this case, however, I consider support that will enable the Palestinians to sell their products and thereby strengthen their own independent economy to be more important than the criticisms that I have in general of the EU’s trade policy.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of this report as it will mean a further improvement in the quality of life in the Palestinian territories. All in all, it represents a further step on the road to normalising relations between the EU and Palestine, while at the same time guaranteeing the existence of Israel.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) At a time when the Palestinian issue has been greatly debated, including in the European Parliament, this legislative resolution has been somewhat overlooked. It represents, however, a new and positive chapter in EU-Palestine relations. It will indeed strengthen economic cooperation with Palestine for whom access to the European market is vital owing to the obstacles which the Israeli Government imposes on any Palestinian economic activity.

Through this resolution, the European Parliament is agreeing to give a number of Palestinian imports, mainly agricultural products, free access to the European market.

Ms Koppa, the rapporteur, also took the opportunity to point out that the Union and Parliament are committed to ensuring stringent compliance with the rules of origin, or, in other words, to the fact that products originating from Israeli settlements in occupied territories cannot be considered as Israeli products. I wholeheartedly endorse that.

Member States must therefore, as the Court of Justice of the European Union highlighted in February 2010, do everything within their means to check the origin of imports so that European consumers can genuinely exercise choice. Member States’ tax and customs authorities must not be bound by Israel’s position on this matter.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) An agreement between the European Union and the Palestinian Authorities providing liberalisation of agricultural and fishery products was signed in April 2011 in the form of an exchange of letters. According to the case-law of the European Court of Justice, the Palestinian Territories are legally not regarded as Israeli territories – and that means that such products cannot be granted tariff preferences under the EU-Israeli agreement. At the same time, this report also calls on the EU to observe the rules of origin. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) At a time of huge historical and political significance for the Middle East, with the United Nations engaged in discussions over the possible recognition of the Palestinian state, I welcomed the report by Ms Koppa on trade in agricultural products and fish between the European Union and Palestine.

The agreement excludes some products, such as fruit and flowers, and is designed to facilitate greater trade in European markets of agricultural and fisheries products from the Palestinian territories. It should also enable the development of these economic sectors, which are so important for this troubled geopolitical area.

 
  
  

Report: Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (A7-0298/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation, since agreements in the field of civil aviation that have been regulated by bilateral agreements have to be replaced with a general agreement between the European Union – which includes all the Member States – and third countries, so as to prevent discrimination as regards free competition. This agreement is also particularly important because it relates to Mexico, which is an important partner in the market for European carriers, with approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document. International aviation relations between Member States and third countries have traditionally been governed by bilateral air services agreements. In 2002, the EU Court of Justice ruled that traditional designation clauses in Member States’ bilateral air services agreements infringe EU law because they allow a third country to reject, withdraw or suspend the permissions or authorisations of an air carrier that has been designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and effectively controlled by that Member State or its nationals. This is contrary to Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees nationals of Member States who have exercised their freedom of establishment the same treatment in the host Member State as that accorded to nationals of that Member State. Mexico is an important market for EU carriers with approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009. In view of the size and importance of the EU-Mexico aviation market, the new agreement aims to guarantee all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between EU Member States and Mexico.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that traditional designation clauses included in Member States’ bilateral air services agreements infringe EU law. Following this judgment, the Commission has negotiated an agreement which replaces certain provisions of the 13 existing bilateral air services agreements between the Member States and the United Mexican States. The horizontal agreement with Mexico will restore a sound legal basis for the EU’s aviation relations with Mexico. Mexico, which registered approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009, is an important market for EU carriers. In view of the size and importance of the EU-Mexico aviation market, this report, for which I voted, advocates the conclusion of a more comprehensive air transport agreement, thereby contributing to the enhancement of EU-Mexico cooperation on aviation matters, and to the fostering of opportunities and benefits for industry and consumers, in both the EU and Mexico.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because, in order improve and consolidate aviation relations between the European Union and the United Mexican States, certain provisions on air services agreements must be amended. The Mexican market is very important for European Union carriers, and more agreements relating to air transport must therefore be concluded in order to expand benefits for consumers in Mexico and the European Union. The new agreements and amendments must provide better access to the market and help to strengthen trade links with Mexico. At present, the European Commission has set out 13 existing bilateral air services agreements concluded between EU Member States and the United Mexican States. According to several of the key points of the agreement, anti-competitive practices are strictly prohibited, and all consumers who wish to travel from the European Union and Mexico must not face discrimination. However, as I mentioned, Mexico is an important market for European Union carriers, and more aviation agreements therefore need to be concluded in order to further improve cooperation between these parties.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – International aviation relations between Member States and third countries have traditionally been governed by bilateral air services agreements, yet the Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that many bilateral air services agreements infringe EU law as they allow a third country to reject or suspend permissions of an air carrier designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and controlled by that Member State. I have voted against the implementation of this agreement as an unnecessary infringement into another area of domestic sovereignty.

The air space over a country, operation of its airports and, thus, bilateral air services agreements should be the provision of the Member State and related third country alone. Creeping jurisdiction in this area of legislation will lead to the Commission assuming judicial priority in air services as a whole and open up the floodgates to a raft of laws which may dissuade foreign carriers from utilising UK airports as principal departure hubs.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that the traditional designation clauses included in bilateral air services agreements concluded by Member States infringe Union law because they allow a third country to reject, withdraw or suspend the permissions or authorisations of an air carrier that has been designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and effectively controlled by that Member State or its nationals. This has been found to constitute obvious discrimination, violating Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees the nationals of Member States who have exercised their freedom of establishment the same treatment in the host Member State as that accorded to nationals of that Member State.

This new agreement negotiated by the Commission, in addition to correcting a discriminatory situation, brings obvious benefits in that it replaces provisions in the existing 13 bilateral agreements with a horizontal agreement that restores a solid legal basis for EU-Mexico relations.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this recommendation because, as a member of the Delegation to the EU-Mexico Joint Parliamentary Committee, I am delighted that the economic ties between the two economies are becoming ever tighter. The roughly 2.5 million people and 90 000 tonnes of cargo that travel each year between these two areas are a sign of a significant economic relationship, which is now also expressed through a number of sectors where problems existed previously. I am referring, in particular, to the parts of the recommendation that extend the agreements which formerly related only to the individual Member State, such as on safety and designations, to the whole of the EU. I therefore offer my congratulations to Ms Ţicău.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which will help to enhance EU-Mexico cooperation on aviation matters while also eliminating anti-competitive practices. With the signing of this agreement, both parties will be able to trade freely on a sound legal basis and I welcome that.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Ensuring aviation safety and harmonised rules for the various market players is the main objective of this agreement between the European Union and the United Mexican States on civil aviation safety. This agreement will prevent the duplication of procedures, including tests, evaluations and certifications. It should also be noted that the rule of mutual acceptance and joint inspections, investigations and exchange of safety data allow improved efficiency for all stakeholders. Moreover, the agreement guarantees all EU carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between any EU Member State that is party to a bilateral agreement and Mexico. Last but not least, the agreement will ensure not only significant savings for the aviation industry, but also improved efficiency for the airlines themselves.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Ţicău, concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement on certain aspects of air services between the European Union and the United Mexican States. The Mexican market, which recorded approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009, is important for EU air carriers. International relations in the field of aviation between the Member States and third countries were regulated by bilateral agreements until the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, which makes it necessary for Parliament to give its consent to agreements on air services. Although this agreement was signed on 15 December 2010, Parliament needs to adopt it before it can be concluded. I welcome the establishment of another agreement whose purpose is to give all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes with Mexico as their destination, which represents an important step in strengthening EU-Mexico relations in the aviation sector.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As we mentioned with regard to previous agreements covering the same area, in the specific context in which civil aviation operates, this draft agreement raises serious concerns about its scope and possible consequences. Moves to ‘avoid discrimination between EU air carriers’ with the supposed creation of a level playing field for the various European companies could contribute to facilitating the monopolistic concentration within the sector, which is already under way.

The reference to the primacy of free competition in Article 4 comes under this heading, seeking to reduce the Member States’ ability to defend their flag carriers, in a sector that is strategic in terms of safeguarding national interests for a number of reasons. Although the possible implications for Portugal are comparatively less than in those of previous agreements already concluded with Brazil, the United States and Canada, we voted against this report for the sake of consistency with the reasons that we have put forward previously.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As we mentioned with regard to previous agreements covering the same area, in the specific context in which civil aviation operates, this draft agreement raises serious concerns about its scope and possible consequences. As the report says, moves to ‘avoid discrimination between EU air carriers’ with the supposed creation of a level playing field for the various European companies could contribute to facilitating the monopolistic concentration within the sector, which is already under way.

The reference to the primacy of free competition in Article 4 comes under this heading, seeking to reduce the Member States’ ability to defend their flag carriers, in a sector that is strategic in terms of safeguarding national interests for a number of reasons. It is true that the possible implications for Portugal are comparatively less than in those of previous agreements already concluded with Brazil, the United States and Canada. However, we voted against this report for the sake of consistency with the reasons that we have put forward previously.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) International aviation relations between Member States and third countries have traditionally been governed by bilateral air services agreements. The EU Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that traditional designation clauses in Member States’ bilateral air services agreements infringe EU law. They allow a third country to reject, withdraw or suspend the permissions or authorisations of an air carrier that has been designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and effectively controlled by that Member State or its nationals. The Commission has negotiated an agreement that replaces certain provisions in the existing 13 bilateral air services agreements concluded between EU Member States and the United Mexican States. Mexico is an important market for EU carriers with approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009.

In view of the size and importance of the EU-Mexico aviation market, the potential for a more comprehensive EU-Mexico air transport agreement should be explored. Such an agreement could enhance EU-Mexico cooperation on aviation matters and expand the opportunities and benefits for industry and consumers both in Mexico and the EU. On the basis of the above, I therefore support the conclusion of this agreement.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. – I very much welcome this latest in a series of agreements as a result of the Lisbon Treaty. This should hopefully make air services more efficient, thus improving the environment and, at the same time, lowering the cost of air services for consumers.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I supported this report and welcome the restoration of a sound legal basis for EU-Mexican aviation links. Mexico is an important market for the EU and this is a welcome addition to the existing agreements with Canada, the US and Brazil.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because I believe that certain aspects of this agreement are important. For instance, to avoid discrimination between EU air carriers, the traditional designation clauses, referring to air carriers of the Member State party to the bilateral agreement, are replaced by an EU designation clause, referring to all EU carriers. The aim is to guarantee all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between European Union Member States and Mexico. Safety provisions in bilateral agreements would be applicable to situations in which regulatory control over an air carrier is exercised by a Member State other than the Member State that designated that air carrier. Anti-competitive practices are also prohibited.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Ţicău on the agreement on certain aspects of air transport between the European Union and Mexico. Mexico represents a significant economic and future investment opportunity for the Member States. In 2009, nearly 2.5 million European passengers chose to travel to Mexico. That is why an agreement on air transport is particularly important, including in view of the conclusion of the agreements with other countries in the Americas. This agreement represents an important first step ahead of the strengthening of trade policies designed to increase exchanges between the Member States and Mexico.

 
  
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  Vladimir Maňka (S&D), in writing. (SK) Mexico is an important market for EU carriers with approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo annually. In view of the size and importance of the EU-Mexico aviation market, the potential for a more comprehensive EU-Mexico air transport agreement should be explored. Such an agreement could enhance EU-Mexico cooperation on aviation matters and expand the opportunities and benefits for industry and consumers both in Mexico and the EU. Moreover, it would complete the EU-Americas open aviation area following the comprehensive agreements already reached with the US, Canada and, most recently, with Brazil. The objective is to give all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU Member State which is party to the bilateral agreement and Mexico. Safety provisions in bilateral agreements are applicable to situations when regulatory control over an air carrier is exercised by an EU Member State other than the Member State that designated that air carrier. Anti-competitive practices are prohibited. The agreement with Mexico will restore a sound legal basis for the EU’s aviation relations with the country. This is an important first step in strengthening EU-Mexico aviation relations.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. The horizontal agreement with Mexico will restore a sound legal basis for the EU’s aviation relations with Mexico. This is an important first step in strengthening EU-Mexico aviation relations. Mexico is an important market for EU carriers with approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009. In view of the size and importance of the EU-Mexico aviation market, the potential for a more comprehensive EU-Mexico air transport agreement should be explored. Such an agreement could enhance EU-Mexico cooperation on aviation matters and expand the opportunities and benefits for industry and consumers both in Mexico and the EU. Moreover, it would complete the EU-Americas open aviation area after the comprehensive agreements already reached with the US, Canada and, most recently, with Brazil.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) It seems to me that the text of the recommendation on the draft Council decision on the Agreement on certain aspects of air services between the European Union and the United Mexican States is certainly an important way to strengthen EU-Mexico relations in this sector.

I therefore voted in favour of the report by Ms Ţicău.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Mexico air agreement is very important for the future of relations between both sides. As such, and following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament needs to be fully informed and consulted about the work carried out by the joint committee and all the entities involved. Any agreement that is to be concluded must be adopted by Parliament, which will therefore need to be kept up to date with all negotiations, and it will even be important, in the future, for regular meetings to be held between Members of this House and members of the US Congress in order to debate all issues relating to aviation policy between the EU and Mexico. This agreement is therefore an important step towards opening up the market to airlines from the EU and Mexico, without any discrimination. This opening up of the market will contribute to improving the services provided to passengers.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I know that Mexico is an important trade partner and aviation market for EU carriers, with approximately 2.5 million passengers per year. The committee unanimously recommended concluding the agreement. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) Given what we have just voted on, I think it is quite right to re-examine the relationships between airlines from the European Union and those from the United Mexican States. I say this because Mexico is an important market for EU air carriers and, given time, I would not bet against a further, more binding agreement being signed on this issue. The fact that previously there was no clause binding the bilateral agreements between Member States and Mexico caused blockages and breaches of European regulations, specifically Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Hence, I think this decision is both right and necessary.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under the terms presented in this report, the horizontal agreement with Mexico will restore a sound legal basis for the EU’s aviation relations with the country. This is an important first step in strengthening EU-Mexico relations in the aviation sector. Mexico, which recorded approximately 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009, is an important market for EU carriers. In view of the size and importance of the EU-Mexico aviation market, a comprehensive agreement should be explored, like those already reached with other countries in the Americas, specifically, the US, Canada and, most recently, Brazil. I voted in favour of this report because it represents a positive step in that direction.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following the conclusion of agreements with the United States, Canada and Brazil, the EU-Mexico agreement represents another open door to relations between the Union and the Americas. In this case, it is an agreement concluded with an important trade partner – around 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009 – which will most probably lead to closer relations. I voted in favour because I agree with this course of action.

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

This is contrary to Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees nationals of Member States who have exercised their freedom of establishment the same treatment in the host Member State as that accorded to nationals of that Member State. There are also further issues, such as competition, where compliance with EU law should be ensured through amending or complementing existing provisions in bilateral air services agreements between Member States and third countries.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because I think that, in order to avoid discrimination between the various European air carriers, it is essential for there to be a single designation clause, replacing the traditional clauses of each individual Member State.

Indeed, the aim is to grant all European airlines equal access to routes between the Member State that signed the bilateral agreement and Mexico, which is a strategic market for the EU in this sense. This horizontal agreement will make it possible to establish a sound legal basis for aviation relations with Mexico.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Commission has negotiated an agreement that will replace the 13 existing bilateral agreements between EU Member States and the United Mexican States. This agreement, known as the horizontal agreement, like the many others in the area of civil aviation that the European Union has negotiated and concluded with various international partners, will serve as a common legal framework for the relationships of the various Member States of the European Union with the United Mexican States, and constitutes a first step in strengthening their relations in this area. The scale and importance of the Mexican aviation market for the European Union justify moving towards an agreement that is more comprehensive and able to benefit the civil aviation industry and both EU and Mexican consumers. Furthermore, the agreement is the last in a series of agreements concluded with other countries of the Americas, such as those recently reached with the United States, Canada and Brazil.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) The Agreement on certain aspects of air services between the European Union and the United Mexican States marks an important first step in strengthening EU-Mexico aviation relations. This replaces certain provisions in the existing 13 bilateral agreements with an EU agreement on air services concluded between EU Member States and the United Mexican States. The purpose of the agreement is to provide non-discriminatory access to air routes between EU Member States and the United Mexican States, with a ban on anti-competitive practices.

Mexico is an important market for EU carriers with a total of 2.5 million passengers and 90 000 tonnes of cargo in 2009. In view of the size and importance of the EU-Mexico aviation market, the potential for a more comprehensive EU-Mexico air transport agreement must be explored. Such an agreement would enhance EU-Mexico cooperation on aviation matters and generate more opportunities and benefits for this sector and for Mexican and EU citizens. Moreover, it would allow the EU-Americas open aviation area to be expanded, supplementing the comprehensive agreements already reached with the US, Canada and Brazil.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the Ţicău report on the strengthening of air services between the EU and Mexico. This will safeguard non-discriminatory access to flights between the EU and Mexico and will also improve the level of flight safety.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The bilateral air service agreement with Mexico has been brought into line with the case-law of the European Court of Justice in respect of the designation clause (Article 2), safety (Article 3) and compatibility with EU competition rules (Article 4). I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Following the ruling of the EU Court of Justice in 2002 that traditional designation clauses in Member States’ bilateral agreements in the international air transport sector infringe EU law, the Commission has negotiated a series of agreements in order to restore a valid legal basis for relations on air services between the EU and third countries.

Mexico is an important market for EU air carriers, with around 2.5 million passengers travelling from Europe to this central American country. I have therefore voted in favour of this agreement which, following those already signed with the United States, Canada and Brazil, among other things, helps towards the completion of the series of agreements on the EU-Americas open aviation area.

 
  
  

Report: Pat the Cope Gallagher (A7-0299/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation, since I consider it very advantageous to the EU. The new protocol permits 5 000 tonnes per year and an EU contribution to Cape Verde of EUR 435 000, thereby presenting new fishing opportunities for Portuguese, Spanish and French ships. This agreement is of the greatest importance, given that fishing represents 2% of Cape Verde’s gross domestic product, that this is an African country that has been achieving good results in political, social and economic development, and that Cape Verde has a special partnership with the outermost regions of the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands. This agreement will enhance these relations.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the conclusion of this agreement. Based on a mandate from the Council, the European Commission has negotiated with the Republic of Cape Verde to renew the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde, dated 19 December 2006. The aim of this protocol is to continue the cooperation between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde, thereby creating a partnership framework within which to develop a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of fishery resources in the Cape Verde fishing zone, in the interests of both parties.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of the report on the fishing agreement with Cape Verde because it is an improvement on the previous one, for various reasons. To start with, it maintains the levies imposed on ship owners for each tonne caught (these do not increase), reduces advances and improves the fishing capacity of tuna seiners, although this is offset by the reduction in surface longliners, calculated in line with the observed use in the previous agreement. The clauses maintaining the agreement on respect for human rights in the region are also more stringent. Lastly, it increases support for the Cape Verde sector and insists on responsible fishing by obliging the local authorities to install a satellite tracking system to monitor boats.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I decided to vote in favour of this document on the renewal of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde, which allows EU vessels to carry out fishing activities in Cape Verdean waters.

The document underlines the need to maintain transparency and clarity on the implementation of the agreement, particularly through controls on the management of financial contributions to the Republic of Cape Verde and by periodically updating Parliament on relevant developments. Accordingly, I think this document is worthy of support and hence, decided to vote in favour.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because a new protocol must be concluded in order to improve and reinforce the fight against illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing in Cape Verde. Cape Verde is a small island state with 465 000 inhabitants located in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 500 km west of Senegal in West Africa. Cape Verde is considered one of the African countries that has achieved the best results in terms of political, economic and social development. The conclusion of the new protocol will have a significant impact on the political and financial stability of Cape Verde because the annual financial compensation is EUR 435 000, of which EUR 110 000 will be earmarked to support the fisheries sector of Cape Verde (EUR 50 000 more than in the previous protocol). In order to contribute to the viability of European enterprises, the new protocol must maintain access for the European Union to the fishing zones in the West African region and improve the partnership between both parties.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Gallagher because I am a strong believer in partnership agreements in the fisheries sector. One of their advantages is that they ensure the sustainability of fish stocks and guarantee jobs.

In the particular case of the text voted upon today, Cape Verde is among those African countries with which the best results have been seen in terms of political, economic and social development. Even if its fishery resources are not considerable, they do include commercially important species of migratory fish such as tunas, small pelagic fish and lobsters. In particular, catches of tuna no longer account for more than 0.2% of all catches from the fish stocks concerned and the impact of the tuna fishing opportunities on sustainability is therefore minimal.

The agreement has had a positive impact on building Cape Verdean institutional capacity, providing facilities for fishing and 113 jobs. I therefore agree with the rapporteur, Mr Gallagher, that it is well worth renewing it. Furthermore, for Europe, the conclusion of the new protocol will help maintain continuity in the fishing zones covered by agreements and contribute to the vitality of European industries.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against the conclusion of a new protocol governing a Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde. Imports of foreign fish undermine domestic markets but also usurp vital industries in third countries upon which whole communities depend. European waters have been grossly mismanaged by the Commission so I morally cannot support the EU now seeking to fish in foreign waters. It is extremely important that if third countries wish to trade with European nations, it is done on a Member State basis and with competitive freedoms to ensure the best deals are secured for both parties. In the UK, it should be up to the government to decide, with respect to British freedom of choice, how to create and develop fisheries and with whom negotiations on fisheries agreements should take place.

 
  
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  Ole Christensen, Dan Jørgensen, Christel Schaldemose and Britta Thomsen (S&D), in writing. (DA) We voted against the recommendation. The proposed new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the Republic of Cape Verde contains a reference quota of 5 000 tonnes of fish. However, this reference quota can be increased against a payment of EUR 65 for each additional tonne of fish caught, thus precluding a definite ceiling on the catch quantity. In light of the relatively low cost of each additional tonne of fish caught – in relation to the value of the fish – a financial incentive for EU fishermen to catch more than the reference quota could easily arise, thus contributing to the over-exploitation of fish stocks in Cape Verde’s waters.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) This legislative resolution concerns the draft decision regarding a new protocol for the EU-Cape Verde Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The goal is to promote cooperation between the EU and the Republic of Cape Verde, so as to develop a policy of sustainable fishing and ensure rational exploitation of the resources in Cape Verde’s fishing zone. This partnership ensures the sustainability of resources, and clearly benefits both parties. I am voting for this report, as I believe the agreement promotes a privileged relationship between the EU and an important region, thereby promoting the Atlantic dimension of the EU’s integrated maritime policy. I also believe this report to be consistent with EU fisheries, maritime and development policy. By way of example, I should like to highlight the case of Portugal, which is guaranteed an increase in the number of its longliner licences from seven to nine with this protocol. In a wider context, I also await a strengthening of the EU-Cape Verde special partnership agreement, which has made significant progress over recent years, and has undeniably contributed to the desirable process of EU-Cape Verde dialogue and convergence.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe that the agreement promotes the development of a sustainable fishing policy and the responsible exploitation of fishery resources in the Republic of Cape Verde’s fishing zone. It should be stressed that the new protocol now authorises 35 EU surface longliners to fish in Cape Verde waters, including nine Portuguese vessels, which is two more than under the previous protocol.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) With particularly close ties in terms of population, history and culture to the European Union, Cape Verde has embarked upon a process of moving increasingly closer to Europe, which has culminated in the conclusion of the special partnership, in which the country’s specific characteristics have been clearly acknowledged, as well as the notable progress it has made, which constitutes a positive example for developing countries. I hope the partnership established in the fishing sector will complement the other areas of privileged cooperation with the Union, and that they will all be fruitful for both parties. I hope that, in the area of fisheries too, Cape Verde will again set an example and demonstrate that, even with scant resources, it is possible to make progress and construct a stable, democratic country. Like the rapporteur, I believe that, in the future, the agreement could complement a future Atlantic dimension to the EU’s integrated maritime policy.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation on a draft Council decision concerns the conclusion of a new fisheries partnership agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde, which sets out the fishing possibilities and financial contribution. The fisheries protocol concluded between the European Community and Cape Verde came to an end on 31 August, after having been in force for five years. Last December, a new protocol was negotiated, which will be in force between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2014. However, pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, conclusion of the new protocol requires the consent of Parliament. Given that this is a country with very privileged relations with the EU, and with which the EU even concluded a special partnership in 2007, and taking account of the fact that it also has very close ties with the European outermost regions of the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands, I welcome the conclusion of this protocol. It will not only enable the fishing fleets of Portugal, Spain and France to continue fishing in Cape Verde waters, but will also contribute to the sustainable economic development of a country lacking abundant financial resources.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This fisheries protocol guarantees fishing opportunities off Cape Verde for the Member States’ fleets until 31 August 2014. The islands’ volcanic origins mean that the continental shelves around Cape Verde are generally narrow, thus limiting the productivity of fisheries. Cape Verde fishery resources are not considerable, but they do include commercially important migratory species such as tunas, along with small pelagic fish, and some demersal fish and lobsters. Overall employment in the fisheries sub-sectors and related public administrative activities accounted for around 10 400 jobs in 2008, about 5% of the total workforce.

We share the concerns expressed by the rapporteur when he calls on the Commission to provide Parliament with all the relevant documentation and information relating to the conclusions of the meetings of the joint committee, as well as the multiannual sectoral programme and the outcome of the corresponding annual evaluations; to facilitate the participation of Parliament’s representatives as observers in the meetings of the joint committee; and to submit to Parliament, within the final year of application of the new protocol and before the opening of negotiations for its renewal, a full evaluation report on its implementation, without imposing unnecessary restrictions on access to this document.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the fisheries protocol, which guarantees fishing opportunities off Cape Verde for the Member States’ fleets until 31 August 2014. It is an important agreement for tuna fishing, where Portugal’s licences for surface longliners have increased from seven to nine. As is the case with other fishing agreements with third countries, this agreement raises important issues with regard to the economic viability of EU countries’ long-distance fishing fleets and the actual fishing opportunities granted under them, to the development of third countries, and to the support for development actually granted.

These agreements remain commercial in nature, although their partnership and development aspect has been stepped up: this agreement is an example of that, with the annual financial contribution having increased to EUR 435 000, with EUR 110 000 earmarked for supporting the development of the sectoral fisheries policy of the Republic of Cape Verde. Let us hope it will be enough to support the fishers and people of Cape Verde.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) On 19 December 2006, the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 2027/2006 on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde. This agreement, which is applicable for a period of five years and automatically renewable unless terminated by one of the parties, repeals and replaces the first agreement between the EC and the Republic of Cape Verde, which was concluded in 1990. The current protocol expired on 31 August 2011. In order to allow EU vessels to carry out fishing activities pending the completion of the procedures for the conclusion of the protocol, Article 15 of the new protocol provides for it to be applied on a provisional basis as from 1 September 2011. Cape Verde is an archipelagic island state situated in the Eastern Atlantic, 375 miles to the west of Senegal and Mauritania, with around 465 000 inhabitants. It has limited natural resources and fresh water and ranks 121 out of 182 countries in the UN Human Development Index.

Cape Verde is considered as one of the best performing countries in Africa in terms of political, economic and social development. I therefore express my belief that the new protocol will contribute to the strengthening of the capacity of the Republic of Cape Verde to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, will help to maintain continuity in the fishing zones in the western African region, and will bring an additional dimension to the special partnership between the EU and the Republic of Cape Verde.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – The current protocol expires after 4½ years. The European Commission started negotiations in December 2010 on a new protocol to cover a period of another 3 years. The conclusion of the protocol by the Council is subject to the prior consent of the European Parliament. Cape Verde can be considered as one of the best performing countries in Africa in terms of political, economic and social development. The fishery resources are not considerable, but they do include commercially important species of migratory fish such as tunas, small pelagic fish, and some demersal fish and lobsters. According to the evaluation report, the impact of the tuna fishing opportunities on sustainability is minimal. As the rapporteur, I recommend to give consent to the conclusion of the new protocol to the agreement.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, and I want to congratulate my constituency colleague Pat the Cope Gallagher. Some of the main elements of the new protocol which I am pleased with include specific payments for support for the development of the sectoral fisheries policy of the Republic of Cape Verde. This is something I welcome. This new agreement also provides for fishing opportunities for 28 tuna seiners, 35 surface longliners and 11 pole-and-line vessels and advances and fees payable by shipowners are also set out.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted against this report. As we begin our work on the vital reform of the CFP, it is apparent that certain Member States have fleets which exceed their national waters’ fishing capacity. We should not resolve that issue by exporting this over-capacity to other countries.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because 28 tuna seiners, 35 surface longliners and 11 pole-and-line vessels will be authorised to fish, with an annual reference tonnage of 5 000 tonnes. On the basis of the annual assessments of the state of stocks, these fishing opportunities could be revised upwards or downwards, which would lead to a corresponding review of the financial contribution. Annual financial compensation: EUR 435 000 (a total of EUR 1 305 000 over the whole period), on the basis of: a) an annual payment for access to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Cape Verde of EUR 325 000; b) a specific payment of EUR 110 000 per year in support for the development of the sectoral fisheries policy of the Republic of Cape Verde. The allocation of these fishing opportunities among the Member States concerned will be the subject of a proposal for a specific Council Regulation.

 
  
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  Vladimir Maňka (S&D), in writing. (SK) The validity of the Protocol to the Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde in the fishing sector expired on 31 August 2011. A new protocol was negotiated and initialled on 22 December 2010, covering a period of 3 years starting from 1 September 2011. Its conclusion by the Council was subject to the prior consent of the EP.

When voting, I therefore supported the financial compensation for support for the development of the sectoral fisheries policy of the Republic of Cape Verde, as well as fishing opportunities and advances and fees payable by shipowners which correspond to the annual reference catches.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal and applaud the fact that this protocol introduces new provisions whereby the payment of the financial contribution or even the implementation of the protocol can be suspended in cases of violation of human rights and democratic principles.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of renewing the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde starting from 1 September 2011 for a duration of three years. The partnership seeks to ensure EU access to Cape Verde’s fertile waters and that this access is carried out in the most sustainable manner. As its fishery resources account for 2% of Cape Verde’s economy, it is reasonable to suggest that EU access to its waters does not encroach on the nation’s means of development. The fact that a 13% increase in funding will be given to Cape Verde attests to the EU’s desire to fuel its partner’s economy in return for the use of its waters.

I would like to draw attention to a problem which has arisen in my own country. Romania receives funding from the EU to enhance regional development, and fisheries is one sector that benefits from this funding. However, due to the regulations upholding sustainable fishing practices, a large decrease in employment has resulted. It is likewise my recommendation that the jobs of Cape Verdean nationals employed in the fishing industry be protected under this new agreement.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing.(IT) I am in favour of the recommendation on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of a new protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde.

The protocol intensifies the partnership with an important peripheral region nation and fully meets the European Union’s fishing needs and the need to maintain the activities of our industries whose ships cross the region of West Africa.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am convinced that this new protocol will help strengthen Cape Verde’s capacity for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, in particular, by improving its infrastructure for monitoring and controlling fishing activities in its exclusive economic zone. It will also have a major impact on the country’s budgetary and political stability. For the European Union, the conclusion of the new protocol will help maintain continuity in the fishing zones covered by agreements in the western Africa region, and contribute to the viability of European industries by offering EU vessels and the industries that depend on them a stable legal environment and medium-term predictability. Moreover, the agreement provides an additional dimension to the special partnership between the EU and an important peripheral region nation, and could complement a future Atlantic dimension to the EU’s integrated maritime policy.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – As is known, the new protocol, which will cover the period of November 2011-August 2014, leaves the reference tonnage of 5 000 t/year unchanged, and increases the financial contribution to EUR 435 000 (of which EUR 110 000 will be earmarked for sectoral support). The new protocol provides fishing opportunities for Spanish, French and Portuguese vessels. But where are Latvian, British, Netherlands vessels? I am against the report.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the agreement on the fishing sector and the relations between the EU and Cape Verde since I believe that the agreement we have ended up with is a beneficial one that could have positive results for both parties. The renewal of the old agreement, which expired in August 2011, can only confirm the theory that it creates favourable and profitable conditions that benefit both parties, including in the area of illegal fishing, through the improvement of surveillance infrastructure to ensure responsible and sustainable fishing activities.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The conclusion of this agreement is of great importance to the European Union, as it is a key means of pursuing the foreign policy objectives of the common fisheries policy, specifically in the western Africa region. In addition to providing the EU fleet, including the Portuguese fleet, with interesting fishing opportunities, this agreement will help strengthen Cape Verde’s capacity for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, in particular, by improving its infrastructure for monitoring and controlling fishing activities in its exclusive economic zone. It will also have a major impact on the country’s budgetary and political stability. Moreover, the agreement provides an additional dimension to the special partnership between the EU and an important peripheral region nation, whilst strengthening important aspects of the EU’s integrated maritime policy.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 2027/2006 on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde was accompanied by a protocol setting out the fishing possibilities and financial contribution. This protocol expired on 31 August 2011, and the intention is to adopt a new protocol, which was signed on 27 July 2011. From the point of view of the Republic of Cape Verde, the agreement with the EU is the closest that it has concluded with any trade partner as regards fisheries as, besides the financial compensation aspect, it has already led to an increase in the instruments available to local fishers. On the other hand, this is a fishing area of great importance for the sustainability of EU operators. I voted in favour because I agree with the balance achieved.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Against. On 19 December 2006, the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 2027/2006 on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) between the European Community and the Republic of Cape Verde. This FPA, which is applicable for periods of 5 years, tacitly renewable unless either party terminates it, entailed the repeal and replacement of the first agreement between the EC and Cape Verde, concluded in 1990. The FPA was accompanied by a protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial compensation originally for a 5 year period (from 1 September 2006 to 31 August 2011).

However, the agreement and the protocol only entered into force on 30 March 2007. The current protocol expires on 31 August 2011, after a duration of 4 years and 5 months. A new protocol was meanwhile negotiated and initialled on 22 December 2010, covering a period of 3 years starting from 1 September 2011. Its conclusion by the Council is subject to the prior consent of the EP under Articles 43(2) and 218(6) (a) of the TFEU.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this agreement because it updates guidelines on fishing and Member States’ financial compensation in the national waters of Cape Verde.

I am also pleased to see that the new protocol includes specific clauses that could also lead to the suspension of any form of financial compensation in the event of violations of fundamental human rights.

This document will also bolster Cape Verde’s ability to fight illegal fishing, in particular, by improving infrastructure for monitoring and controlling fishing activities, which will have an important impact on the financial and political stability of the country.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The new protocol to the EU-Cape Verde Fisheries Partnership Agreement contributes to maintaining the continuity of fishing opportunities, in the interests of both parties. The special partnership was concluded in 2007, taking into account Cape Verde’s status as a peripheral region nation and how much it has in common with the EU’s outermost regions of Madeira and the Azores. Their proximity in terms of geography and challenges faced contribute to an increasingly close relationship, complementing a future Atlantic dimension to the EU’s integrated maritime policy. With a view to creating a framework of partnership for the development of a sustainable fisheries policy, the protocol provides for an annual contribution of EUR 1 305 000. In addition, it will be desirable to foster synergies with various regional development programmes, and for the agreement to have been developed in line with the EU’s common fisheries policy (CFP) and development policies. I voted for the document for the reasons that I have given.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde is classified as important for the EU’s fishing activities, yet at the same time, the fishing activities of the EU in Cape Verde’s waters – according to the evaluation report – will have a minimum impact on sustainability in those waters. The new protocol contains explicit clauses concerning the suspension and revision of the financial compensation in the event of the breach of fundamental human rights or democratic principles. Furthermore, the new protocol is expected to make a significant contribution to Cape Verde’s fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the text presented by Mr Gallagher on the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Cape Verde.

In addition to being Vice-Chair of the Committee on Development, I am a member of the Delegation for Relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries, and therefore am aware of the significance that signing such agreements has for developing countries. In the specific case in question, the European Union undertakes, with immediate effect, to pay annual financial compensation of EUR 1 305 000 over three years, in exchange for the right to fish tuna, of which there are abundant stocks in the waters of Cape Verde.

 
  
  

Report: Herbert Reul (A7-0301/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation as I see no reason not to.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document. On 30 March 2009, the Council asked the Commission to take all necessary action to achieve the highest level of interoperability between the European air traffic management (ATM) modernisation programme, SESAR, and the corresponding programme in the USA, NextGen, as well as other regional projects in ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) regions. Based on the Commission’s recommendation, on 9 October 2009, the Council adopted a decision that mandated the Commission to open negotiations on behalf of the EU with the FAA for a memorandum of cooperation for research and development in the field of civil aviation. The Council also asked the Commission to develop, in parallel, an Annex addressing SESAR-NextGen interoperability. The proposed draft memorandum defines the terms and conditions for mutual cooperation between the EU and the USA for the promotion and development of civil aviation research and development. It constitutes an important instrument that will allow the parties to jointly pursue their common objective of ensuring greener and more efficient air transport systems. The draft memorandum will allow the two parties to establish cooperative research and development activities in relation to any civil aviation issue.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this recommendation because I am in favour of greater integration on a practical level between the economies of Europe and the United States. We are talking about two of the world’s largest markets, which have very high trading levels and share several fundamental values. These values mean that it is both convenient and useful to share policies underlying a further increase in trade and direct investment between the two. In an industry like that of civil aviation, in which the United States and the EU account for a significant proportion of global traffic, and international cooperation is a crucial requirement for maintaining services, it does not make sense to erect barriers. On the contrary, the Council is to be commended for focusing on cooperation, especially in an area like that of research and development, which benefits from spillovers.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) The memorandum of cooperation before us today proposes terms and conditions for collaboration between the EU and the United States to encourage research and development in the field of civil aviation. This cooperation could take place through exchanges of information on programmes and projects, research results or publications, and of specific equipment, software, and systems for research activities and compatibility studies. It could also include the coordination of research and development projects, as well as their implementation. I voted for this report, since I believe it promotes solidarity and transatlantic cooperation, thereby establishing new opportunities for future cooperation in other areas. This memorandum removes technical barriers, by enabling shared research structures and so creating synergies with a view to achieving scientific results that are faster and more rigorous. The conclusion of this agreement strengthens mutual trust, shared research, and economic and scientific growth and development. I am, therefore, fairly pleased at the increasing closeness of the two sides, and would stress the importance of this continuing, not just in the field of civil aviation, but also in any other areas where there are synergies to be achieved.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Cooperation between the EU and the United States on civil aviation research and development is all the more important because of the significance of the aviation industries of these two areas, since the adoption of common rules secures efficiency gains for all concerned.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The issue of international air traffic management is extremely important, not just because of its exponential growth, but also owing to the security problems that have become more acute than could have been expected since the attacks of 11 September 2001. This recommendation, drafted by Mr Reul, concerns Memorandum of Cooperation NAT-I-9406 between the European Union and the United States of America on research and development in the field of civil aviation. The memorandum in question is a result of the Council’s 2009 request to the Commission to obtain the greatest possible degree of interoperability between the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research programme and the equivalent programme in the United States, known as NextGen, as well as other regional programmes of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. I am voting for this memorandum, since, as well as promoting technological innovation and increasing research in the field of civil aviation, it constitutes an instrument that will enable the parties to secure air transport systems that are more environmentally friendly and more efficient, whilst boosting the global competitiveness of European industry.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The memorandum of cooperation in question establishes the terms and conditions for mutual cooperation on promoting and increasing research and development in the field of civil aviation. To that end, the parties – the United States and the EU – can, provided that adequate funding and the other necessary resources are available, provide related personnel, resources and services, with a view to cooperation to the extent provided for in its annexes and appendices. This cooperation could take place through exchanges of information on programmes and projects, research results or publications; of scientific and technical personnel; and of specific equipment, software, and systems for research activities and compatibility studies. It could also include the coordination of research and development projects and their implementation on the basis of a division of labour.

Unless otherwise indicated in an annex or appendix to this memorandum, the parties will share any intellectual property rights that they develop jointly in the context of this memorandum and its annexes or appendices. With respect to this issue, it will be important to monitor its developments and consistency with the stated objectives in the future, and to evaluate its implementation.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This memorandum of cooperation, including its annexes and appendices, establishes the terms and conditions for mutual cooperation on promoting and increasing research and development in the field of civil aviation. To that end, the parties can, provided that adequate funding and the other necessary resources are available, provide related personnel, resources and services, with a view to cooperation to the extent provided for in its annexes and appendices. Cooperation could take place through exchanges of information on programmes and projects, research results or publications; of scientific and technical personnel; and of specific equipment, software, and systems for research activities and compatibility studies. It could also include the coordination of research and development projects and their implementation on the basis of a division of labour. Unless otherwise indicated in an annex or appendix of this memorandum, the parties will share any intellectual property rights that they develop jointly in the context of this memorandum and its annexes or appendices. We will see how well it is implemented.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) European civil aviation industry expects that through the implementation of reciprocity principles underlying the memorandum, it will be able to take advantage of comparable opportunities to engage in cooperative activities with the USA on the basis of transparency, mutual benefits, and equitable and fair treatment. The memorandum of cooperation between the EU and the USA provides a sound legal basis that allows for an in-depth technical and operational cooperation, leading to the early development of common standards in civil aviation. It is an efficient binding legal instrument that fosters technical cooperation between the two parties.

It establishes a general framework that allows setting up cooperative activities ensuring both parties comparable opportunities for participation in their research and development activities in any field of civil aviation. The proposed memorandum of cooperation with the USA also provides a sound and legally binding basis for establishing cooperative research and development activities. In addition, it has the potential to set the international standards in aviation, providing the European civil aviation industry with wider market opportunities.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because it defines the terms and conditions for mutual cooperation between the EU and the USA for the promotion and development of civil aviation research and development. It constitutes an important instrument that, through a legally binding framework and respecting commonly agreed reciprocity principles, will allow the parties to jointly pursue their common objective of ensuring greener and more efficient air transport systems. The draft memorandum will allow the two parties to establish cooperative research and development activities in relation to any civil aviation issue. The memorandum of cooperation with the USA provides a sound and legally binding basis for establishing cooperative research and development activities, while duly addressing sensitive issues such as liability, intellectual property rights and reciprocity. In addition, the memorandum has the potential to set international standards in aviation providing worldwide interoperability in response to aviation stakeholders’ expectations, and providing the European industry with wider market opportunities.

 
  
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  Bogdan Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz (PPE), in writing.(PL) I voted in favour, since in my opinion, the EU-US Memorandum of Cooperation on civil aviation research and development creates an opportunity for stronger cooperation and exchange of experience in this field. It is my belief that it will have a direct impact on the establishment of a more efficient and environmentally-friendly air transport system, and will assist in the standardisation of the industry at international level.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Memorandum of Cooperation NAT-I-9406 between the United States of America and the European Union.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The adoption of this memorandum of cooperation, with all its annexes and appendices, establishes the terms and conditions for mutual cooperation on promoting and increasing research and development in the field of civil aviation between the EU and the United States.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) We have a string of cooperation agreements with the United States. Within the oft-cited trans-European partnership, and given the fiasco of the air passenger data agreement, you cannot help but get the impression that the EU regularly allows itself to be outmuscled at the negotiating table. As experienced Europeans, it is only natural for us to be cautious about each agreement that has been negotiated with the United States. I decided to abstain from the vote, as there are no clear advantages for the EU or signs of equality of treatment like true partners.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Research and development are the cornerstones of the future, and in the civil aviation industry, too, ensuring greater passenger safety, comfort and rapid transport links with countries outside Europe. In this case, the memorandum of cooperation between the United States and the European Union, which I voted in favour of, allows designs, research and innovative projects to be shared and exchanged. In addition to these, coordinated research also produces new technical instrumentation and qualified personnel.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This memorandum of cooperation, for which I voted, on the basis of the detailed opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, establishes the terms and conditions for mutual cooperation on promoting and increasing research and development in the field of civil aviation. The envisaged cooperation could take place through exchanges of information on programmes and projects, research results or publications; of scientific and technical personnel; and of specific equipment, software, and systems for research activities and compatibility studies. Cooperation could also include the coordination of research and development projects and their implementation on the basis of a division of labour. Everything indicates that the foundations are being laid for better and more productive cooperation.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-US Memorandum of Cooperation concerns cooperation on civil aviation research and development between the two areas. As set out in the text, it is a model that aids EU-US cooperation, whether in the form of knowledge sharing, of exchanges of researchers, of launching joint research programmes, or of reciprocal enquiries with a view to harmonising the positions of the relevant international authorities. I voted in favour because I agree with the aim of this agreement.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The European Parliament, – having regard to the draft Council decision (09390/2011), – having regard to the draft Memorandum of Cooperation Nat-I-9406 between the United States of America and the European Union (06458/2011), – having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 100(2) and 218(7) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0141/2011), – having regard to Rules 81, 90(8) and 46(1) of its Rules of Procedure, – having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0301/2011), 1. Consents to conclusion of the agreement; 2. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the United States of America.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Article 216 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) states that ‘the Union may conclude an agreement with one or more third countries or international organisations where the Treaties so provide or where the conclusion of an agreement is necessary in order to achieve, within the framework of the Union’s policies, one of the objectives referred to in the Treaties’. Pursuant to Article 100(2) and Article 218(6a) of the TFEU, the Council has asked the Commission to take the necessary measures to establish a framework for cooperation with the US Federal Aviation Administration on civil aviation research and development. I am voting for this recommendation, because I believe it is positive for both regions to pursue common goals as regards designing new systems of air transport that are more environmentally friendly and efficient. I also consider it crucial to implement this agreement quickly, since the European industry will be able to cooperate on new activities with the United States on the basis of transparency, mutual benefit, and equal and fair treatment. I would also stress the need for European civil aviation companies to have access to new markets, which will enable them to increase their productive capacity and create new jobs.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the European Parliament recommendation on the Council decision on the conclusion of the memorandum of cooperation between the US and the EU in the area of civil aviation research and development (R&D). The memorandum sets out the terms and conditions for cooperation between the parties, with the aim of ensuring global interoperability between their programmes for modernising air traffic management (ATM), NextGen and SESAR, taking into account the interests of civilian and military air space users.

The memorandum’s objectives can be achieved through cooperation in the following areas: exchanging information on programmes and projects, research results or publications; conducting joint analyses; coordinating R&D projects and programmes, based on joint efforts; exchanging scientific and technical personnel; exchanging hardware, software and specific research systems for research activities and compatibility studies; jointly organising symposiums or conferences, and mutual consultation with a view to defining concerted action by the relevant international bodies.

Producing joint aviation R&D programmes will promote and develop cooperation in this sphere, as well as help enhance civil aviation safety in the United States and the European Union.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of Mr Reul’s report on the memorandum of cooperation between the United States and the European Union which, after lengthy negotiations, sets out the conditions for mutual cooperation in the promotion of research and development in civil aviation.

Coordinating research programmes and projects, exchanging technical and scientific personnel (and information useful to both sides, such as the results of research and publications), and carrying out shared analysis work are the tools that will ensure fruitful cooperation and deliver the memorandum’s underlying objectives.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Sophie Auconie (A7-0077/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this recommendation, since its simplification of regulatory constraints will be of benefit, by enabling euro cash to move more freely between euro area Member States, whilst ensuring a high level of professionalism and security. Moreover, this regulation facilitates transport to Member States about to introduce the euro, since the change in currency normally increases the need to transport euro cash. However, it is regrettable that the Commission wanted to unilaterally amend the text, without taking into account the opinion of social partners, as the European Parliament requested.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The measure is the logical complement to the regulation on the cross-border transport of euro cash.

It is right to ensure that countries about to join the euro area, not only those which are already part of it, include in their laws regulatory measures and specific provisions governing the professional qualities of personnel responsible for the cross-border transportation of euro cash, the security of euro cash transportation, and deterrents against raids and robberies during all stages of transportation.

The period before a Member State joins the euro is a particularly vulnerable time for euro cash transportation security, given the large quantity of cash that needs to be transported in the country about to adopt the euro as its national currency, and the measures proposed seem both necessary and appropriate. I therefore voted in favour of Parliament’s recommendation.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I am against extending the scope of the proposal for a regulation on the cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (the main proposal) to the territory of Member States that are about to introduce the euro. Maybe in certain eurozone countries, there is an increased need for euro cash transportation in the run-up to the changeover, but, bearing in mind the potential of a future collapse of the common currency and the eurozone, this report is ill timed when focus needs to be on whether or not to maintain the currency and, if so, how to keep it afloat.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I agree with the rapporteur as regards the extension of the provisions in her initial report on the professional cross-border transport of euro cash to the territory of Member States that are about to introduce the euro.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The recommendation tabled by Ms Auconie relates to a draft Council regulation on the extension of the scope of the EU Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the professional cross-border transport of euro cash by road between euro area Member States. The proposal, which falls within the framework of Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, was unanimously adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, so it just requires Parliament’s consent. There is nothing to prevent this proposal’s adoption, given that it will facilitate the circulation of euro cash within the European Union; in other words, its transport between euro area Member States and those that are about to introduce the euro.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The introduction of the euro has considerably increased the need for cross-border transportation of cash by road. Within the euro area, banks, the large retail sector and other professional cash handlers should be able to enter into a contract with the cash-in-transit (‘CIT’) company and to take advantage of the cash services of the nearest national central bank (NCB) branch or CIT cash centre, even if it is located in another Member State.

The purpose of the present proposal is to extend the scope of the proposal for a regulation on the cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States to the territory of a Member State that is about to introduce the euro, since there will normally be an increased need for cross-border euro cash transportation in the run-up to the changeover. The extension of the regulation should be automatic and take effect as from the date when the Council decides to lift the derogation of a Member State from its participation in the euro area.

The applied measures are appropriate and are necessary in order to facilitate a smooth changeover to the euro. The Regulation (EU) of the European Parliament and of the Council applies to the territory of those Member States which have adopted the euro as their single currency. There is a need for transportation of euro cash in the run-up to the euro changeover since the euro banknotes needed for the changeover are usually transported from existing euro area stocks and since euro coins are often fully or partly minted abroad.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this regulation because the purpose of this document is to extend the scope of the proposal for a regulation on the cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (the main proposal) to the territory of Member States that are about to introduce the euro, since there is normally an increased need for euro cash transportation in the run-up to the changeover.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal, the purpose of which is to extend the scope of the proposal for a regulation on the cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (the main proposal) to the territory of Member States that are about to introduce the euro, since there is normally an increased need for euro cash transportation in the run-up to the changeover.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The aim of this report is to simplify the circulation of coins and banknotes between Member States in the euro area.

We believe the proposal is quite evenly balanced, because it underlines the fact that Member States are directly responsible for implementing the security regulations review. However, we will all have to work to make sure that levels of transportation security and the experience of cross-border transporters improve in Europe.

We also support the adoption of an intelligent banknote neutralisation system. Finally, we ask the Commission to consult the social parties once again.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is evident that expansion of the euro area requires an extension of the scope of this regulation in order to meet the greater euro transportation requirements in the period before expansion takes place. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) It makes complete sense to extend the scope of the regulation on the professional cross-border transport of euro cash by road between euro area Member States and those about to introduce the euro.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The purpose of this regulation is to simplify the regulatory constraints so that euro notes and coins can circulate more easily among the Member States of the euro area, ensuring a high level of professionalism and safety. The amendments adopted in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs concern the involvement of EU institutions and social partners, reference periods and professional training. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the text on extending the scope of the regulation on the professional cross-border transport of euro cash by road between Member States because it encourages monetary exchange. It is also a hope that countries that are members of the European Union but have not joined the single currency will do so in the future. The single currency has shown that it is strong, and that in the current crisis, it is the only weapon against further speculation.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this regulation is to extend the scope of the proposal for a regulation on the cross-border transport of euro cash by road between euro area Member States – the main proposal – to Member States that are about to introduce the euro. There is an increased need for euro cash transport in the run-up to the changeover. The report was adopted in committee and I welcome the extension of its scope. I voted in favour of the report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The scope of the regulation on the professional cross-border transport of euro cash is limited to Member States that have adopted the euro as their currency. However, its subjective scope of application needs to be extended to countries in the process of joining the single currency for the same reasons, since there is already a need for the cross-border transfer of cash in these cases. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The purpose of the present proposal is to extend the scope of the proposal for a regulation on the cross-border transportation of euro cash by road between euro area Member States (the main proposal) to the territory of Member States that are about to introduce the euro, since there is normally an increased need for euro cash transportation in the run-up to the changeover.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The scope of the draft regulation concerning the cross-border transport of euro cash by road between euro area Member States should be extended to those Member States that are on the verge of introducing the euro. That would ensure continuity while also taking account of the fact that, in the run-up to a currency changeover, there is, as a rule, a greater need for euro cash to be transported. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Marisa Matias (A7-0302/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report on the Commission’s initiative to create a common strategic framework for research and innovation funding after 2013, combining the European programmes – namely, the Research Framework Programme, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – with the structural and cohesion funding allocated to research and innovation. However, I would make specific demands, namely, regarding the need to separate research funding from the Structural Funds, which is crucial to the implementation of the 2020 strategy and of new means of assisting regions that are performing poorly in this area.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on EU research and innovation funding since it deals with crucial sectors that need investment for sustainable development and the growth of our European economy. Europe is among the richest regions in the world, but despite increased investment in research, development and innovation over recent years, this has not led to an actual increase in cohesion between the Member States. Inequalities persist and are at their sharpest between the most scientifically and technologically advanced countries and those countries that recently joined the EU and the peripheral economies, which currently benefit less from the existing European programmes. We therefore need to activate a reorganisation of the existing programmes and financing in order to create a strategy that works effectively at all levels, without forgetting the fundamental importance that research and innovation have for our small and medium-sized enterprises, for reducing poverty, and for promoting our image in the world.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. (GA) The Seventh Framework Programme is the largest funded research programme in the world with more than EUR 53 million of funding available for the period 2007-2013. Ireland has gained greatly from the programme, with EUR 300 million allocated to researchers, universities and the Irish private sector up to now, and that amount is likely to be EUR 600 million by the end of the programme. That investment is of great assistance in terms of job creation and encouraging viable growth, and with the help of that same funding, Ireland and the EU will remain at the forefront in terms of research and innovation. The good work of this framework programme must be continued and a common strategic framework must be established to provide funding for research and innovation after 2013.

I support what is in the report in terms of small and medium-sized enterprises, and that it should be easier for them to obtain funding. A European Bank for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, as is proposed in the report, would greatly help with this. Measures must be taken according to the words of the report to develop the research and innovation system and to improve access to the programme.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. In February 2011, the European Commission approved a Green Paper that seeks to lay down a strategic framework for research and innovation funding after 2013. The EU has set itself the objective of increasing spending on research and development (R&D) to 3% of EU GDP by 2020. Given that many countries are still a long way from achieving this goal, increased public and private investment in R&D is particularly important. The EU is currently experiencing an economic, social and environmental crisis, and research, education and innovation are crucial instruments for both economic recovery and job creation. I agree that Europe must make better use of its huge potential in research, technology and innovation and help address global challenges such as demographic changes, the sustainable management of resources and the creation of a stable and strong economic base.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) As has been stated on several occasions, research and innovation should be considered a sine qua non for consolidating any growth strategy seeking to be sustainable and inclusive. This statement is particularly important in view of the present prolonged economic and social crisis.

Europe’s aggregate investment in research, development, and innovation has not been commensurate with its status as the richest region in the world. The United States, Japan, and, for that matter, the BRIC countries, have been investing on a much larger scale. The Commission has published a Green Paper defining a common strategic framework for research and innovation funding for the post-2013 period, which integrates EU programmes and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme with the Structural Funds for research and innovation.

Proposing a common framework encompassing all of the funding schemes and programmes, notwithstanding the inequalities in terms of financing and the firmness of their position within the European context is, to my mind, an opportunity to strengthen the European Research Area. However, I believe that progress towards excellence of research will be impossible unless the necessary resources are earmarked and resolute steps are taken to simplify the procedures and cut the cost of the related red tape and administrative overheads.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the European Commission plans to adopt a Green Paper aimed at strengthening the European Research Area and investing more in research, encouraging industrial investment and development, improving overall EU competitive capacity and promoting innovations. The Commission plans to launch a strategic framework after 2013. These strategies will try to address many existing problems in Europe relating to unsuitable programmes. The aim is to establish new instruments for various stakeholders that would guarantee a favourable programme. In order to take action relating to research and innovation systems, the European Union must ensure better conditions and opportunities for obtaining funding for small and medium-sized enterprises. It is also important to encourage and involve more citizens in this process, so that they are more active, and it is crucial to acquaint them with the new programme rules.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union has failed to confirm its status as the richest region in the world, based on funds allocated to research and innovation. This state of affairs is also attributable to the states which have recently joined the EU, which find themselves in the position of making significant efforts to manage revenues restricted by the economic crisis in areas with a short-term social impact.

Research and innovation produce results which are not seen immediately, but which make an impact on the future when they are carried out in an efficient environment. The total volume of European investments in research and innovation has actually grown in recent years, but has not made Europe more cohesive.

The level of investment varies hugely between countries. Only six countries currently invest more than 2% of GDP in research and innovation, 10 countries invest less than 1% of GDP, and the figure varies between 1% and 2% in the other 11 countries. Unfortunately, Romania features among the states which allocate less than 1% of GDP to research. I hope that the initiative of publishing a Green Paper on establishing a common EU strategic framework for research and innovation will boost this sector.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) I firmly believe that the common strategic framework should not be limited to focusing on research-driven or technology-based innovation alone, but that it should support different sources of innovation. Many companies – especially small and medium-sized enterprises – use other sources of innovation such as clients, markets, users and, not least, employees, and that this form of innovation is often of a more practical nature and is focused on solving specific problematic issues related to processes, services or products. Proposed solutions are often found by the employees that are closest to the production process, markets and clients. The EU should therefore strengthen practise-oriented, employee-driven innovation. The funding of collaborative research should have greater thematic flexibility (broader calls) and user-friendly funding arrangements in order to attract outstanding scientists and to respond to the needs of both large consortia and smaller groups. The whole innovation chain from exploratory research to large-scale pilot projects and demonstrations should be covered. I would like, at the same time, to voice scepticism about the effectiveness of utilising the funds for creating research networks of excellence and organising conferences and events, and to call for a strengthening of electronic networking measures for research and innovation and the dissemination of research results via the Internet.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) Lack of research and innovation is one of the principal reasons for the gap between the EU and other advanced economies, like the US, in terms of economic growth. This is why we need a coherent strategy for streamlining research and innovation and facilitating market access for innovative products, in order to ensure strong, sustainable growth.

I think that a partnership is needed between research centres, universities, businesses, civil society and public authorities so that research and innovation address the needs of society to the maximum possible extent and to ensure the coherence and convergence of the actions taken by those involved in this process. Furthermore, it would also be desirable for the objectives of research and innovation to be consistent, as far as possible, with industrial policy.

Last but not least, I believe that efforts need to be made to make the rules for participating in the various research projects simpler, as universities and SMEs do not have the staff and time available to deal with excessively complicated administrative procedures. Consequently, a balance must be struck between the need to control expenditure and the administrative burden which the control process generates. This simplification would make it easier for SMEs to get involved in research projects, which is imperative, given the potential for innovation they offer.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for Ms Matias’ report on research and innovation funding because I am profoundly convinced that these two aspects are essential and fundamental objectives for the European Union if we wish to remain competitive on the international scene. I believe it is important that Parliament has been able to express itself in such a coordinated manner on a document responding to the Green Paper, and I hope that the European Commission will take serious note of this input in the legislative proposal that it will present before the end of the year.

I think that the reference to simplifying bureaucratic procedures is important as it is necessary to make the measures we wish to adopt truly effective and efficient, and it is only in this way that they will be truly useful for citizens.

I also appreciate the reference to the importance of involving the industrial sector, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises, perhaps by developing public-private partnerships, promoting funding for research projects which will then have concrete repercussions in terms of their usefulness. Finally, I agree with the recognition of the role of local authorities, particularly regional governments, as a focal point and stimulus for the various parties involved in research and innovation.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome Parliament’s main proposals in this report: • increasing the research and innovation budget in the next Framework Programme; • coordinating the budget with the Structural Funds; • including the ‘stairways to excellence’ concept; • creating conditions for substantial involvement on the part of industry, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises; • promoting young researchers’ participation; • administrative and financial simplification. Research and innovation are the two key pillars of economic development and job creation in Europe. It is crucial to increase the funding allocated to research and innovation within the overall EU budget. The first objective of the Framework Programme is to promote excellence. However, it is also important to create conditions for the participation of small research groups and innovative businesses. The Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) is proposing the ‘stairways to excellence’ concept with a view to this goal. Finally, there is an urgent need to simplify access to funds for research, developing a culture of trust between all those involved, so as to strengthen research and innovation in Europe.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing.(FR) The European Parliament today adopted the Matias report which aims to establish a new strategy for research and innovation. As someone committed to the idea of progress, I believe that investment in research and innovation is fundamental to improving each of our lives. While I am delighted that there are several European programmes in this area, I, like my socialist colleagues, am convinced that numerous aspects could be improved upon: excessive bureaucracy, barriers to risk-taking by researchers, complexity, etc. All of this makes participating in these programmes difficult, particularly for SMEs.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I fully support the objectives of the report. It is important to consider the coordination of research and innovation programmes, strengthening the role of regional and local governments, along with simplification of the procedures for updating policy priorities, allocation of part of the budget to small and medium-sized enterprises run by young people and businesswomen, and the link to the system for creating standards. Personally, I would like to focus in particular on the vouchers for innovation (and look at testing based on the credit/voucher principle) because they bring companies closer to the issues of technological development and innovation, creating a system in which the various parties – companies, universities, research centres and institutions – actively participate in the creation and implementation of innovative processes. This mechanism could provide innovative businesses with vouchers to spend at research centres or accredited public or private bodies, supporting the development of innovation. The vouchers would not be subject to cost reporting by the beneficiaries because their use would be certified by the centres using them. This would simplify procedures, supporting small and innovative enterprises. The centres could be accredited on a national or regional basis, and validated by a European body (such as the Joint Research Centre) which would strengthen their role, functions and cooperation with the industrial world.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) As a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, I think that the European Commission should adopt an approach that maximises the relevant synergies from the Common Strategic Framework for research and innovation, the European Fund for Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Structural Funds. A strategy must be adopted based on as many additional funds as possible which is aimed at research and innovation at regional level and which supports the development of the institutional capacity of the regions targeted by policies promoting research and innovation in agriculture.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) The report calls for the Common Strategic Framework (CSF) budget to be doubled and for large-scale projects (such as ITER, Galileo and GMES) to be financed outside the CSF from autonomous budget lines. The report also highlights the need for greater involvement by SMEs as well as young and female researchers.

Finally, it reminds us of the role of innovation and encourages broader cooperation between universities, businesses and research institutes. The report fully endorses a set of priorities which include increasing the next budget for research and development, building ‘stairways to excellence’, establishing synergies between research and development and Structural Funds and enhancing EU competitiveness through greater involvement on the part of industry and SMEs. It was important to vote in favour of it.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on EU research and innovation funding because I support the creation of the Common Strategic Framework for research and innovation funding after 2013. This can strengthen the European research area and may contribute to the development of an effective convergence strategy. However, there are currently numerous disparities in Europe in terms of research and development capacity and the industrial structure of the various Member States.

This is why we need to step up cooperation at EU level, and cohesion funding must supplement the future framework programme so that the countries lagging behind have increased access to the funds available and can develop effective projects. Improving convergence and regional balance at EU level will strengthen Europe’s global competitiveness, generate economic growth and create numerous jobs and sustainability from a research perspective.

I support the rapporteur’s position in emphasising the need to simplify procedures and increase transparency in order to reduce the costs incurred by red tape and facilitate wider access to the funding programmes.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the ‘Green Paper: From challenges to opportunities: towards a common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding’, because investment in research, education and innovation, specifically through the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy, are key to economic recovery and job creation, as well as to setting out a model for sustainable and inclusive growth.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Commission has published a Green Paper on a common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding after 2013. The purpose of this common strategic framework is to group together the already existing funding schemes and programmes for the development of research and innovation. I believe commitment to research and innovation will be key to the Union’s future, to economic recovery, and to competitiveness. I am pleased to see that the rapporteur, my colleague Ms Matias, whom I should like to congratulate on her work, is proposing project bonds here as a means of promoting research and innovation in Europe; it is an idea that I have been advocating and one I believe should be taken forward.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Matias, concerns the Green Paper ‘From challenges to opportunities: towards a common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding’, for the post-2013 period. Although the European Commission has proposed the merger of all research-related funds – specifically, the Structural Funds – the rapporteur believes they should remain separate, so as to prevent the exacerbation of inequalities between the various Member States. It would also be desirable to double the sum allocated to EU research and innovation programmes from 2014. I voted for this report, since I agree with the rapporteur that keeping the Structural Funds separate enables them to be put to better use, and prevents resources from being diverted into areas with greater capacity for absorption – like cohesion funding – to the detriment of the innovation and technological development that could create sustained employment, and the training that fosters competitiveness by giving workers new skills.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report includes positive aspects, which we value. Some of these are ideas that are relatively consensual, but which need to be put into practice, such as making research and development (R&D) funding more efficient at regional, national and European level. In the face of the clear failure to meet the R&D investment targets of 10 years ago, a new deadline is now being set for us to achieve 3% of gross domestic product invested in R&D: 2020, or rather two decades after this target was set. However, it is easy to see that it will be hard to hit this target, even in 2020, without a profound change in the overall political and macro-economic framework. Many Member States are frankly a long way off that goal and, even worse, are moving further away from it rather than closer to it.

In the crisis situation we are experiencing, research, education and innovation are key instruments of economic recovery and job creation, as well as of setting out a model for sustainable and inclusive growth – commonplace in speeches but necessary in practice, having been trampled on by existing policies. The rapporteur gives a timely warning of the extremely precarious situation faced by many science workers. However, the report does contain some contradictions, which reflect the majority in this House, such as the importance it gives to the market.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Europe’s aggregate investment in research, development and innovation has not been commensurate with its status as the richest region in the world. The total volume of European investment has admittedly risen in recent years, but that fact has not made Europe more cohesive. There are still very substantial inequalities among the Member States, and I therefore believe that the aim must be to move closer to those in a stronger position and intensify cooperation. To that end, cohesion funding must play a complementary role within the common framework while still being treated as a separate entity. The social dimension and impacts of research and innovation also need to be taken into account, and studied, given that we cannot bring effective action to bear when we are not familiar with the societies at which it is aimed.

This report is attempting to reorganise the existing schemes and programmes and provide for new schemes with a view to producing a strategy to benefit stakeholders in overall terms. An appropriate level of commitment is particularly important in view of the present economic and social crisis. In today’s Europe, there are many differences. For this reason, I believe that it is important to provide a basis on which to link together the resources available with a view to producing a framework making for coherence in the relationships established between the sources of financing and the nature and scale of the projects.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) I voted in favour of this important report because it asks Member States to encourage research and innovation for the purposes of developing an up-to-date competitive sustainable fishing sector. It is an incentive for small and medium-sized enterprises to take part in the EU’s research programmes, too, because there is a proposal in it in relation to simplifying the system as it is and to reducing bureaucracy.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing.(FR) I support this report because, without confidence in scientific and technological progress, there will be no future for industry. In Europe, the low level of direct investment during the very early stages in the development of innovative businesses is limiting the pool of high-potential projects. Furthermore, I recently met some managers of SMEs who told me that they would need a research grant just to understand how European documents are put together! The red tape involved in answering calls for projects is discouraging them.

There will be no more innovation unless the European Union converts the quality of its research into growth. It is no longer possible to innovate by oneself; the Framework Programmes for Research and Development must offer more effective financing solutions to networks and partnerships.

We should be ‘champions of innovation’, not ‘followers of innovation’. We should look at the United States, which is launching a ‘Made in USA’ federal programme relating to energy efficiency, robotics, advanced materials, and so on. Europe must identify the ‘Ariane’ and the ‘Airbus’ of 2050 and adapt outdated regulations to reflect the current economic climate. Finally, Europe is suffering from technology transfer. Let us not create a gap between know-how and the act of actually bringing that know-how to market. Our innovations will not create new jobs if we outsource them to Asia!

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – It is important that Europe takes a lead role in research and innovation. In this regard, the Scottish Government is playing its part – and initiatives such as the Saltire Prize should be commended to this House.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this proposal because it aims to promote the reorganisation of existing schemes and programmes, coordinating them with new schemes in order to establish a strategy to benefit various stakeholders. Research and innovation should be considered a sine qua non for consolidating any growth strategy which aims to be sustainable and inclusive. This is all the more important given the present economic and social crisis.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I support the Matias report because it sets out clearly the objectives which we need to have in this area, with pride of place given to researchers. European institutions must work together to achieve common objectives. This will enable them to help us offer opportunities to those who want to focus on research so that the results of this activity generates added value. We must also recognise that local authorities have an important role to play in revitalising research. I think that this report marks an important step in strengthening research and innovation and can give Europe the chance to take on the United States in this area.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) Research, development and innovation require enormous financial expenditure. The European Union is perceived as a land of prosperity, a place where people live in affluence, with EU funds ensuring sustainable economic, social and scientific development. Nonetheless, as is emphasised by the rapporteur, the total funds that we allocate to scientific research and innovation are less than the amount allocated by countries in Asia or even South America. Are we not heirs to an impressive cultural legacy? Do we not count our education systems as amongst the best in the world?

Has Europe not been the home of many outstanding inventors, a pioneer in the development of solutions which benefit us all and improve the quality of our lives? In order to support the growth of our continent, we should consolidate all our efforts in the field of innovation, intensify cooperation between Member States, and standardise the procedures which regulate scientific research. In this way, we will guarantee permanent and sustainable growth in Europe.

 
  
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  Krzysztof Lisek (PPE), in writing.(PL) I am in favour of adopting the report of our Portuguese colleague, Marisa Matias. The report discusses a crucial issue, as scientific research and innovation represent our future and we are obliged to provide the necessary funding for this. Adopting an appropriate strategy and setting specific objectives will enable the EU to maintain its role as a major global player. We should pay particular attention to the need to establish and intensify cooperation between Member States. This will allow us to benefit from the effects of scale and achieve synergies in the field of scientific research and development. We should remember that the defence sector also has to focus on achieving these objectives, and it is my hope that this goal will be achieved within a reasonable timeframe.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing.(RO) Echoing the view we have expressed so far about the role played by SMEs in promoting economic development and increasing the European Union’s competitiveness, I think that the funding allocated to research and innovation must go to private companies, in particular, SMEs. They need funds, new products and services to create new jobs. This is why the cohesion policy and research and innovation policy in the forthcoming programming period must be accompanied by common objectives and activities.

I think that SMEs need access to research and innovation services, especially when the services provided to public sector customers include added value. Health care is one of the areas in need of new solutions to enable the elderly and other sections of the population to face the problems caused by any illness.

Furthermore, the infrastructures which can be created at local and regional level using cohesion policy funding will need state-of-the-art technological equipment to be able, for instance, to continue anti-cancer research, an area which you are already aware that I support.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) In shaping the future of Europe, we have to focus on developing scientific research and investing in innovation, since these two fields contribute to increased employment, on the one hand, and to improved quality of life for its citizens, on the other. The advanced technologies and innovative solutions available to small and medium-sized enterprises increase their global competitiveness and also allow additional jobs to be created. It was for these reasons that I voted in favour of adopting the Matias report on EU research and innovation funding.

 
  
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  Vladimir Maňka (S&D), in writing. (SK) No joint strategy will stand a chance of succeeding if we keep on ‘moving the goalposts’ at every turn. Investment in research, development and innovation cannot be considered a certainty for as long as access to the European funding available remains beset by inequalities and intrinsically skewed.

Europe’s aggregate investment in research, development and innovation has not been commensurate with its status as the richest region in the world. There are very substantial inequalities among the Member States Scientifically and technologically more advanced countries are continuing to derive greatest benefit from the Europe-wide programmes. The new Member States and outlying economies again rank near the bottom.

We must attempt to reorganise the existing schemes and programmes and provide for new schemes with a view to producing a strategy to benefit stakeholders in overall terms. Research and innovation should be considered a sine qua non for consolidating any growth strategy seeking to be sustainable and inclusive. A commitment along those lines is particularly important in view of the present economic and social crisis.

We need the coherence and comprehensiveness of the European research and innovation system, covering every sphere from universities to the market, while making for the more effective involvement of citizens and those who have traditionally remained outside the process, transparency, and defining clear rules.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Coherence and comprehensiveness of the European research and innovation system, covering every sphere from universities to the market, while making for the more effective involvement of citizens and those who have traditionally remained outside the process, transparency, and defining clear rules: those are the words that could sum up the proposals contained in this report.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the resolution on the Green Paper on EU research and innovation funding. It opens the debate on the forthcoming ‘Common Strategic Framework’ (CSF), which will replace the current Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7). The European Union must plan for the future and invest in fundamental research right up to the point at which innovative products and services are placed on the market. In order to improve the functioning of this programme, the rules must be simplified so as to facilitate participation by a greater number of Member States and under-represented regions. The report draws attention to the role played by innovation and underlines the need to establish more cooperation between universities, businesses and research institutes.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) A common framework encompassing all of the funding schemes and programmes, notwithstanding the inequalities in terms of financing and the firmness of their position within the European context, offers, to my mind, an opportunity to strengthen the European Research Area and devise an approach enabling this consolidation to be effectively dovetailed into a clear-cut convergence strategy. This report proposes that the existing schemes and programmes be reorganised with a view to tackling the challenges that Europe is facing. Moreover, to deal with specific cases, I believe that a new agency should be set up – a European Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Investment Bank – and that project bonds should be used to complement the framework put forward by the Commission. The approach set out here is aimed, first and foremost, at stability and convergence. No joint strategy will stand a chance of succeeding if we keep on ‘moving the goalposts’ at every turn, and investment in research, development and innovation cannot be considered a certainty for any strategy for as long as access to the European funding available remains beset by inequalities and intrinsically skewed.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) Europe is among the wealthiest regions in the world, and yet this is not reflected in terms of investment in research, development and innovation. Although, without doubt, there has been an overall increase in investments in recent years, this did not result in greater cohesion between individual countries; there are still considerable differences. One of the goals of the European Union is that its total investments in research and development reach 3% of GDP by 2020. We must ensure that other Member States can catch up with those better off, and that we follow a path of increasingly strong cooperation. In order for this to actually happen, it is crucial for the Cohesion Funds to supplement the common framework while retaining their independence. Research and innovation are fundamental means of solidifying a sustainable and inclusive growth strategy. I believe it is very important that in the course of preparing for the post-2013 financial period, we should try to establish the next package by collecting proposals from sectoral stakeholders in innovation and research. Existing means and programmes will therefore need to be reorganised in line with new means so as to allow for the creation of a strategy that is favourable overall for individual stakeholders.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – This report encompasses all areas related to the successor of the Seventh R&D Framework Programme: the need to keep separate EU research funds and programmes and the Structural and Cohesion Funds; demanding new approaches to assist underperforming regions and Member States to achieve excellence and smart regional specialisation; asking Member States to consider funding ERC, Marie Curie or collaborative projects proposals that have met the criteria of excellence, but which cannot be funded owing to a lack of European funds; in the light of the future gearing of cohesion policy to the Europe 2020 strategy, calling for the ‘innovation’ priority to be binding and for that priority to be reflected in the funding allocated at all levels; recommending that the Commission analyse the possibility of setting up an all-European common fund financed by the Structural Funds to promote collaborative European research. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Research and development (R&D) is a very important issue for European growth and progress, and efforts to facilitate participation in R&D programmes and to ensure that money is used more efficiently are therefore essential. The Common Strategic Framework (CSF) proposed by the European Commission and set out in the Green Paper is a very important instrument for achieving the goals of the European Research Area (ERA). We should welcome the fact that the Green Paper underlines the complexity of financing R&D and innovations and compatibility with the financial instruments of the cohesion policy, but this programme must also be more focused on the important challenges facing the EU, such as climate change, energy efficiency and the development of green technologies. It is also important for the programme to underline and strengthen regional cooperation, and as for human resources, more attention should be paid to young researchers, involving them more actively, both in calls for proposals and in the project assessment process, as well as finding means of establishing separate instruments aimed at young researchers or groups of them. This would not only increase the competence of young researchers and the attractiveness of EU research programmes, but would also help rejuvenate the human potential of R&D throughout the entire EU. Having studied the Commission’s vision published in the Green Paper, I must draw attention to the fact that there is insufficient emphasis on certain issues. One such issue is that of a ‘two-speed Europe’, because it is clear that the EU-12 lag far behind the older Member States. The new framework should find means of closing the gap and ending the new Member States’ isolation from the most important EU research processes.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because it sets out a long-term strategy for research and innovation in the European Union for the years 2014-2020. Over this period, the EU plans to invest EUR 80 billion in research. On the initiative of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, money has been earmarked to remedy certain injustices. Currently, 60% of young graduates in the EU are women, but most university professors are men. Some universities have more funds so they can attract top lecturers and researchers, while others cannot even provide their lecturers with computers. I welcome the rapporteur’s proposal for the EU to set up ‘Regions of Knowledge’ and establish a better system for distributing EU money to universities. There is also a significant proposal to cancel debts for those researchers who are able to achieve particularly important results. I believe that this comprehensive document will help the EU, including Lithuania, to implement the 2020 objectives: to increase the importance of research in Europe and reduce the concentration of researchers in just a few regions.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Matias on research and innovation funding because the need for a common strategic framework for funding research and development is one of the Europe 2020 strategy objectives. The report makes specific proposals for increasing funding levels and improving the systems for allocating funding. A practical example is the creation of specific accreditations, which, depending on the research project, would offer different levels of funding for allocation and completion in specific research centres. Public or private bodies with a valid project would be able to access such funding.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) Despite the economic crisis which it faces, Europe is the wealthiest region on the planet. However, overall spending on research, development and innovation (less than 2% of EU GDP at present) is much lower than the level of investment in other developed countries, such as the US and Japan. Consequently, development prospects and, of course, our leading position in terms of high living standards, are not safeguarded. On the contrary, given the circumstances, we need a common and bold strategic framework for funding research and technology in the EU that will encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and growth sectors. We need to strengthen the European Research Area and reorganise existing bodies and programmes and we need bold policies, such as funding via the European Investment Bank for small and medium-sized enterprises that promote innovation. The own-initiative report contains such proposals, which is why I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Commission has taken the initiative to publish a Green Paper that seeks to lay down a common strategic framework for research and innovation funding after 2013. This common strategic framework combines the European programmes – in this case, the Research Framework Programme, the European Institute of Technology, and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – with the structural/cohesion funding allocated for research and innovation. In this report, the rapporteur – whom I would congratulate – is attempting to reorganise the existing schemes and programmes, and provide for new instruments, with a view to producing a strategy to benefit stakeholders in overall terms. Indeed, this report’s starting point is the supposition that research and innovation are important for economic growth, which is essentially to be expected, so I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this Green Paper on the challenges and opportunities in moving towards a common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding. In particular, I welcome the three-layered approach which this paper adopts. The first layer, which is infrastructural in nature, establishes a credible formula for building a capacity to research and innovate. The second layer provides a broad framework for the types of research in which we should invest. The final layer attempts to create a link between research undertaken, and the potential market for that research. Furthermore, I welcome this paper’s focus on including SMEs in research and innovation programmes. As the backbone of our economy, it is important that this sector is adequately represented in all relevant research projects. The advocacy for soft loans and comprehensive financing models for research and development in the SME sector is also to be welcomed.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union’s sustainability depends, to a large extent, on its capacity for research and innovation. However, the figures show differences in the incentives awarded for undertaking these activities in the various Member States, which prevent them from developing evenly throughout the EU. Moreover, funding for supporting these activities indeed ends up being channelled into entities with higher levels of development, exacerbating the gap in relation to smaller-scale organisations, such as small and medium-sized enterprises. As such, Union action should seek to ensure a solution that enables robust incentives for research and innovation throughout the EU by seeking to distribute resources as well as possible. I therefore voted for this report.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Only six Member States – Germany, France, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Sweden – currently invest more than 2% of their GDP in research and innovation. We are clearly a long way from fulfilling the Europe 2020 strategy objective of investing 3% of European GDP in research and development. This is also the conclusion reached in the Matias report adopted this lunchtime.

I would like to draw special attention to our desire, as clearly expressed in our resolution, to support innovation by creating a European Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Investment Bank and financing arrangements for innovative projects – even though, in many cases, European funding is actually in place, but scientific projects are not completed. As the Head of the Aalto Centre for Entrepreneurship quite rightly said, too often, European universities adhere to the traditional, but outdated, distinction between scientific research, on the one side, and management training on the other. As he also said, we need a new model; our researchers and students must become entrepreneurs. This represents a genuine plea for a change in attitude and for a coming together of universities and businesses throughout the European Union which I support and which will enable us to get the Europe of research truly up and running.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Abstention. Some of the points were very good; others were a bit dubious or confusing.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) In recent months, the European Commission published a Green Paper defining a common strategic framework for research and innovation funding for the post-2013 period.

The document integrates EU programmes with the structural and cohesion funds for research and innovation. Proposing a common framework encompassing all of the funding schemes and programmes is an opportunity to strengthen the European Research Area and devise an approach allowing this consolidation to be effectively dovetailed into a clear-cut convergence strategy.

Whatever strategy we adopt in response to our current economic and social situation, investment in research, development and innovation cannot be considered a certainty for as long as access to the European funding available remains beset by inequalities and intrinsically skewed. The text adopted today aims to stimulate an effort to reorganise existing instruments and programmes, and create new instruments, and aims to define a positive strategy for the various stakeholders involved.

Research and innovation should be considered a sine qua non for consolidating any growth strategy seeking to be sustainable and inclusive.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD) , in writing. (IT) I am in favour of the report as it recognises that research, education and innovation are crucial instruments for both economic recovery and job creation.

In order to tackle the challenges of the future, Europe must be committed to reorganising existing financial schemes and programmes in order to make them more effective on a regional, national and European level. Simplification of research and innovation funding management and a reduction in procedural bureaucracy are a necessary condition for increasing the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are a driving force of the European economy.

We need to have the courage to channel unused funds from some regions to other virtuous regions which have requested more funds than those available.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing.(FR) While the priority is to find ways of containing the current crisis in Europe, we must also think of the future and the vital tools that will ensure the return of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Thus, the European Commission has proposed, in the Europe 2020 strategy, that 3% of EU GDP be invested in research and innovation. I can only support this objective, particularly in view of the fact that only six countries, including France, currently dedicate more than 2% of their GDP to these areas. Europe must provide itself with the means to meet the 3% target. I am delighted to see that the Commission has put forward ambitious proposals to that end. The news that EUR 80 billion will be dedicated to research in the next multiannual financial framework is particularly welcome.

However, it is essential that the forthcoming Common Strategic Framework for Research simplifies its procedures and speeds up the decision-making process in comparison with the current Framework Programme for Research and Development, and that it enables SMEs to participate more. It must also be more consistent with other instruments for investing in innovation, in particular, the Structural Funds, which devote more than EUR 86 billion to innovation.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing.(PL) I voted in favour of the report on EU research and innovation funding. As a member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, I would like to focus on two issues. Firstly, the need to increase the number of women in leading positions in research institutes and in research projects. The format here is always the same: the higher the position in the scientific hierarchy, the lower the number of women involved. I, therefore, support the initiative for universities to appoint at least one female professor to their decision-making bodies, especially the staff appointments committees. Moreover, I am in favour of increased support for female scientists returning to work after maternity leave, as well as those who have to combine work with family life.

I propose that a share of all grants, scholarships and research programmes be offered exclusively to women. Furthermore, I appeal to the Commission to increase the number of female entrepreneurs within the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. I also support the Commission’s initiative aimed at promoting women’s entrepreneurship and the creation of an environment that is conducive to the development of female-led enterprises – the European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing.(PL) In my view, the use of multidimensional efforts is vitally important to the development of industry and research. In a time of increasing globalisation, and faced with the current economic crisis, maintaining competitiveness is a great challenge in which scientific research and innovation play a key role.

The funding of scientific research and innovation at national level leads to duplication of procedures. The management of funding at a higher level, the Union level, would result in increased efficiency. The integration and provision of a common financing framework are essential to ensuring the effectiveness of decisions aimed at safeguarding our common future. Ensuring equal opportunities is a major factor in the consolidation of Europe, but is not the only factor. Increased investment, particularly in the case of new Member States, should be one of our fundamental objectives. These States, as mentioned in the report, require significant assistance in order to increase their level of investment to the required 3% of GDP, including investment in both short-term and long-term objectives. It is essential to engage the regions and countries which are not benefiting from the relevant European programmes, and to provide support to small and medium-sized enterprises.

We should also take note of the social aspect of scientific research and innovation. There is an emerging need for direct communication with the general public through education or the promotion of science in order to encourage and, if you like, awaken European potential. Moreover, the simplification of procedures is essential, for this will not only facilitate participation in programmes, but will also provide further financial opportunities.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Commission has published the Green Paper entitled ‘From challenges to opportunities: towards a common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding’, with the objective of launching a public debate on defining innovation funding in the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. I agree with this report when it argues that EU research funding should not be directly related to the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, and that it is the responsibility of the Commission to develop a multi-fund approach that fosters the creation of synergies among all existing programmes. I am voting for this report, since I consider the doubling of the EU research and innovation programmes’ budget extremely positive, along with the guarantee of greater equality, transparency in the management of funds, increased administrative simplification, and the adoption of the ‘stairways to excellence’ idea. I believe that only the involvement of all actors in creating regional poles of excellence will enable us to achieve a culture of innovation and make the EU more competitive internationally. Finally, I should also like to raise the Commission’s awareness of the need to pay particular attention to the outermost regions, since they have to bear location-related costs that make it hard to perform well in this field.

 
  
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  Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The Greek Communist Party voted against the report because it harmonises scientific research within the framework of the anti-grassroots EU 2020 strategy, which views scientific research as a basic pillar subjugated to capital. The report proposes greater funding for ‘centres of excellence’ and funding for the industrial sector. It urges researchers to set up in business and to seek funding, so that scientific research can be used to generate profit for capital. It calls on the EU to create supervision and financing cells for research activities at local and European level. In the capitalist crisis, the research sector is important, on the ground, as part of the strategy of euro-unifying capital to increase its profits and compete with major and emerging imperialist states.

The aim of these euro-unifying cells is to invest large amounts in research based solely on the criterion of producing ‘competitive products, technologies and services’ (such as the Galileo satellite programme), via researcher mobility programmes (Marie Curie programme), centres of ‘excellence’ of researchers and institutes, public-private partnerships and grants for undertakings, so that research by universities and research centres can adapt more organically to the strategy of capital. It is now more urgent and necessary than ever before that research should be uncoupled from the laws of personal property and monopoly profit.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Research and innovations are important for ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth in Lithuania. Unfortunately, according to data from the European Innovation Scoreboard, Lithuania is well below the EU-27 average – Lithuania’s Summary Innovation Index is 0.23%, whereas the EU-27 average is 0.52%. This is partly down to inadequate funding for research and development and the lack of an innovation-friendly environment in Lithuania. As the rapporteur observes, we urgently need better coordination of research projects and cofinancing within the Union. In my country, corporate funding of research and development is less than a quarter of the EU norm, and public funding for research and development is 15% less than the EU figure. Other data from the European Innovation Scoreboard is also worrying: in Lithuania, for example, 39% fewer people work in jobs requiring intensive knowledge than in other EU Member States. Lithuania needs a more attractive and more dynamic research environment. Lithuanian scientists who have obtained their academic degrees at foreign universities rarely return to Lithuanian institutions due to a lack of competitive funding, poor career prospects, complicated administrative procedures and closed hierarchical structures. It should not be this way. A new report by the World Bank notes that Lithuania has great potential to become a vibrant knowledge-based economy if it improves its level of governance, regulation and management.