Index 
Debates
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Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. Implementing measures (Rule 88): see Minutes
 4. Delegated acts (Rule 87a): see Minutes
 5. Economic governance
 6. Voting time
  6.1. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2010/019 IE/Construction 41 from Ireland (A7-0375/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)
  6.2. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2010/021 IE/Construction 71 from Ireland (A7-0377/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)
  6.3. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2010/020 IE/Construction 43 from Ireland (A7-0376/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)
  6.4. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2011/001 AT/Lower and Upper Austria/Austria (A7-0379/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)
  6.5. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2011/004 EL/ALDI Hellas/Greece (A7-0378/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)
  6.6. ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2010 (A7-0315/2011 - Filip Kaczmarek) (vote)
  6.7. European Heritage Label (A7-0331/2011 - Chrysoula Paliadeli) (vote)
  6.8. Single European railway area (A7-0367/2011 - Debora Serracchiani) (vote)
  6.9. Climate change conference in Durban (B7-0571/2011) (vote)
  6.10. Accountability report on financing for development (B7-0574/2011) (vote)
  6.11. European cinema in the digital era (A7-0366/2011 - Piotr Borys) (vote)
 7. Explanations of vote
 8. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 9. Signature of acts adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure
 10. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting : see Minutes
 11. EU-US summit of 28 November 2011 (debate)
 12. The open Internet and net neutrality in Europe (debate)
 13. Situation of the Roma in Member States (debate)
 14. Banning cluster munitions (debate)
 15. Modernisation of VAT legislation in order to boost the digital single market (debate)
 16. Composition of committees and delegations : see Minutes
 17. Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (debate)
 18. EU support for the International Criminal Court (short presentation)
 19. Negotiations of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (short presentation)
 20. Gender mainstreaming in the work of the European Parliament (short presentation)
 21. Agenda of the next sitting : see Minutes
 22. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: JERZY BUZEK
President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting opened at 09.00)

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

3. Implementing measures (Rule 88): see Minutes

4. Delegated acts (Rule 87a): see Minutes

5. Economic governance
Video of the speeches
MPphoto
 

  President. − Good morning, welcome to our plenary.

– The next item is the statements by the Council, the Commission and the Euro Group on economic governance.

We are all aware of how important this discussion is for the European Union and for its citizens. Therefore, we will carefully listen to all the proposals that will be submitted here, and we are also very much counting on an open and thorough discussion.

Group leader, welcome to the European Parliament. We will start with the speech by Mr Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.

 
  
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  Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. Mr President, it may at first sight appear strange to be addressing the issue of longer-term reforms to our system of economic governance when we have not yet completely dealt with the immediate difficulties which are the legacy of past mistakes. Yet these are two sides of the same coin: short-term solutions will not be credible in the absence of a longer-term perspective. The longer-term perspective also presupposes that we can turn the corner on the current crisis, but in today’s debate I will focus, as Parliament has suggested, on the longer term.

As you are aware, the conclusions of the Euro area Summit of 26 October 2011 charged me, in close cooperation with the President of the European Commission and the President of the Euro Group, to identify possible steps to strengthen the Economic Union to make it commensurate with the Monetary Union, focused on strengthening economic convergence within the euro area, improving fiscal discipline and deepening Economic Union, including exploring the possibility of limited Treaty changes.

I will present an interim report to the December European Council, which will include a roadmap on how to proceed while fully respecting the prerogatives of the institutions, including the European Parliament. A final report will be finalised by March or June 2012. The task I see for us is clear: we have to bring the Economic and Monetary Union to a solid end-state. I relish this opportunity to listen to your views.

In discussing this, I think it is first advisable to look at what we have already done over the last 20 months and then to see where it is desirable to move further. At that point it will become clear whether or not such further advances need Treaty change and, if so, what changes.

What is it that we have achieved so far? It is often overlooked and underestimated, not least by the outside world and the markets, and we need to be extremely vigilant in implementing it. We have in fact put in place a multi-faceted reform, combining institutional pressure, peer pressure and market pressure. I mentioned these in the debate last month, but allow me to be more detailed now.

Institutional pressure has been strengthened, also thanks to your Parliament, through: the establishment of the three financial sector supervisory authorities and the European Systemic Risk Board; the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, providing for shorter deadlines, a greater focus on debts (and not just on deficits), and making it easier to sanction a Member State not fulfilling its obligations; adding a new macroeconomic surveillance procedure looking at other macroeconomic imbalances – after all, that is only a part of the wider economic picture – and finally, establishing the EFSF (and the long-term ESM) capable of providing support in return for strict conditionality. Conditionality is a powerful tool, as is now becoming clear to all those who follow these matters.

At the same time, peer pressure has been enhanced. To give a few examples, for a start all governments now realise much more acutely how the conduct of another country can have an enormous economic and financial impact on their own. Peer pressure will also be exerted at the highest political level through regular Euro Summits. The events of the last weeks show how effective this can be for some countries. The European semester provides an annual cycle of intense macroeconomic, budgetary and structural policy coordination. Finally, 23 of the 27 Member States have agreed to go further and work together in the Euro Plus Pact on structural reforms that have a bearing on their competitiveness, over and beyond the important Europe 2020 programme.

Market pressure will complement the above because institutional and peer pressures will also have an impact on the market, amplifying their political effect. Markets may now be over-reacting, but they will not go to sleep again!

Indeed, the combination of these three pressures is already producing results. At their summit last month, euro area Member States entered into a number of additional commitments, notably the following: to translate the Stability and Growth Pact rules into national legislation, preferably at constitutional level or equivalent, by the end of 2012; to ensure that national budgets are based on independent growth forecasts; to consult one another and the Commission before the adoption of any major fiscal and economic policy reform plans with potential spillover effects; and also to stick voluntarily to the recommendations of the Commission and the relevant Commissioner regarding the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact. Finally, a number of Member States have adopted further reform measures, not least as a result of these pressures.

It was also agreed that for euro area members in an excessive deficit procedure, the Commission and the Council will be able to examine national draft budgets and adopt opinions on them prior to their adoption by the relevant national parliament. The Commission will now bring forward proposals on closer monitoring to the Council and Parliament under Article 136.

The Commission has already strengthened the role of the competent Commissioner in this field, and I would like to congratulate Olli Rehn on his elevation to the Vice-Presidency of the Commission. The Euro Group of Finance Ministers will, together with the Commission and the ECB, remain at the core of the daily management of the euro area, as is explicitly mentioned in the conclusions of the Euro area Summit. As you know, the Treaty provides for the euro area Finance Ministers to elect their own president, currently Jean-Claude Junker, to whom I want to pay tribute today for his work and his engagement. When his mandate expires next year, a decision will be taken on whether his position should become a full-time one based in Brussels.

The Euro area Summit – and I quote – ‘will define strategic orientations for the conduct of economic policies and for improved competitiveness and increased convergence in the euro area’. In the same way as the European Council does for the Union as a whole, we will also organise a better coordination among the euro area institutions and strengthen the existing administrative support without creating new bodies.

Does this strengthening of cooperation among the 17 – I repeat among the 17, no more, no fewer – create a two-tier Europe? There has been much exaggerated talk about this; it is time to de-dramatise this debate. After all, it is perfectly natural that those who share a common currency take some decisions together. Indeed, the existing Treaty already provides for that with a special chapter containing provisions specific to Member States whose currency is the euro and other provisions where only members of the Council from euro Member States can vote.

It is thus a perfectly normal part of our current institutional arrangements, a specific working method. As I said to you last month, the euro area is not a derogation from the European Union, it is part of the European Union. The Treaty is quite clear: it is the Member States who have not joined the euro which are referred to as Member States with a derogation, and of course most of them will in due course join the euro. It is in the interest of the non-euro area EU members that its financial stability is organised and secured. A better structured euro area is in everybody’s interest while ensuring coherence among the 27.

It is my intention to organise Euro area Summits as a rule in conjunction with European Council meetings, if possible following them. This will enable all 27 to contribute in the full European Council meeting and make points, should they so wish, on the issues to be discussed among the 17, and likewise the Commission and the Parliament will continue to play their substantial roles involving their members from all Member States. I will report to Parliament on Euro area Summits.

I wanted to outline all this to you because it shows that the steps taken over the last few months, each one perhaps small in itself, amount cumulatively to a significant change already in our governance structures. It is clearly the starting point for any reflection on where to go further. In doing so, it is my intention to examine the ‘what’ before the ‘how’. We should examine the goals, and only afterwards the legal instruments required to get there, including limited Treaty changes should these prove necessary.

A lot can be done within the treaties, including the use of instruments such as enhanced cooperation. For Treaty changes, a unanimous ratification is needed by every single Member State. Institutional changes are no substitute for dealing with the immediate financial crisis, so we have to get the different time perspectives right. However, improvements of all kinds are possible and in themselves desirable.

It is useful too to give the public and the markets a sense of our medium-term direction. Some of these areas in which improvements to our economic governance could be envisaged are obvious; others less so. Let me mention the three issues in the mandate from the Euro Summit statement: strengthening economic convergence, improving fiscal discipline and deepening economic union.

Firstly, as regards strengthening economic convergence, we need to examine whether to go beyond the ‘six-pack’ in terms of further macroeconomic surveillance, how to strengthen the framework for commitments under the Euro Plus Pact, and whether there are areas in which enhanced cooperation is desirable among the 17 in areas of economic policy that are crucial for competitiveness.

Secondly, in terms of improving fiscal discipline, should we go further in terms of the automaticity of the sanctions provided for under the Excessive Deficit Procedure? Should we provide, in extreme cases, for further sanctions such as suspension of voting rights, suspension of structural funds or other payments, or power for a central authority to intervene in national budgetary procedures?

Thirdly and finally, in terms of deepening economic union, is there a need for harmonisation in certain areas such as taxation or even some social fields? Should there be a limited mutualisation of public debt, and what further regulations are needed for the financial sector?

Again, all these questions are interlinked and changes in one respect cannot always be assessed independently of changes in others. This crisis in the euro area does require us to do more. We have come a long way from the empty, and now discredited, toolbox I discovered when I took office – which I still consider as a major error, all the more so that during the Convention warnings were given by lucid observers.

We now need to go further, and we need both fiscal discipline and economic and fiscal integration focused on growth – not only to punish the sinners but also to link our policies, to demonstrate that we share a common destiny.

We need to acknowledge that this means a sharing of sovereignty for all members of the euro area, and not only a loss for the countries in difficulty. We need to find the right balance between intrusiveness and legitimacy, discipline and incentives, effectiveness and accountability. This will guide my thinking on the fundamentals of the Economic and Monetary Union in the months ahead.

But above all, today, I want to listen to your views, your ideas and your

suggestions; this Parliament has always been a rich source of ideas, a laboratory of proposals for the development of our Union. I look forward to hearing them.

 
  
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  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. Mr President, the European Commission’s recent economic forecasts are further proof that the backdrop against which we are all working is indeed pressing, and extremely challenging. Economic recovery has hit a standstill. Since our last fully-fledged forecast in May, global economic conditions have worsened. Investment and consumption are stagnant, and are being damaged by a persistent lack of confidence. Growth forecasts are low and unemployment is set to remain at around 10% for the next two years, at 23 million people across the European Union: a terrible situation. Added to this are the continued turbulent events in the sovereign bond markets meaning that our challenges are of a greater magnitude today.

It is precisely for the restoration of confidence that our work on fiscal consolidation, on structural reforms, on strengthening economic governance and on boosting growth is more important than ever before. That is why the Commission is advancing its work and taking its responsibilities with the utmost seriousness.

As I said to this House on the day after the Euro Area Summit on 27 October, the Commission will advance its second Annual Growth Survey on policies for growth and jobs in the European Union for 23 November. At the same time, we will come forward with our proposals on further strengthening the economic governance of the euro.

The purpose is to continue the comprehensive approach I set out in my State of the Union address to this Parliament, and also in the Commission’s Roadmap to Stability and Growth two weeks later. We need more discipline, but we need more convergence. We need more responsibility, but more solidarity. We need financial stability, but also economic growth. And this is the pact we are proposing to the European citizens. We cannot do this only through responsibility; we need solidarity. We cannot do this only through financial stability; we need economic growth.

The Commission’s second Annual Growth Survey will provide a first assessment of progress in the implementation of commitments made in the first European semester, including country-specific recommendations and those under the Euro Plus Pact, and constitutes the starting point for the second European semester.

Let me make two remarks on the Annual Growth Survey. The first message will be the importance of staying the course and implementing what has already been agreed. Consistency in implementation is key. We cannot change our plans all the time. We have to be consistent and deliver concretely the commitments that have been made.

The problems we will face in 2012 are even more systemic and urgent. We should continue to deal with them robustly and not be diverted from the direction we have set ourselves. The downbeat economic perspectives do not mean we can allow ourselves to reduce our efforts in fiscal consolidation or in promoting growth. They must be stepped up, because we are reforming for the long term.

The second remark is that the experience of having completed one full Annual Growth Survey and European semester, combined with the strengthened rules we now have on economic governance, means that our decisions need to be reinforced and adapted in certain respects. Not least to take account of the persistent and pervasive nature of the crisis. We are indeed now facing a truly systemic crisis that requires an even stronger commitment from all and may require additional – and very important – measures.

For 2012, the Annual Growth Survey will focus on five key areas. First, on pursuing stability through fiscal consolidation. Second, on further strengthening the financial sector. I would like to thank this House for its support for the 27 proposals on the financial sector that the Commission has put forward over the last months. I count on you in 2012 to support the financial transaction tax and the proposal we adopted yesterday on credit rating agencies.

Third, on boosting growth by reducing fragmentation in our markets and making Europe a more attractive place to create and invest. In the year ahead, I count on the support of this Parliament to fast-track a number of measures on the table, namely the Single Market proposals. Let us not forget that we have to liberate the full potential of the single market, because the key to the response to the current crisis is growth, and without growth there will be no way out of this crisis. We can do much more – through structural reform – to achieve the goal of growth.

Fourth, on nurturing our human and social capital. I am thinking here specifically of young people unable to find meaningful work in Europe, and all that can be done to help them.

Fifth, on modernising our public administrations, which are a determining element of competitiveness and productivity.

Today we are invited to discuss economic governance. For some, it may seem frivolous to discuss this topic at a time when urgency demands action. And yes, let me be clear: all levers of action must now be used without delay. Discussing governance, including Treaty change, must not be an excuse not to take action now, because action is needed now.

Having said that, governance matters: it defines the parameters within which action can – or cannot – be taken. In this respect, we have been held back by the intergovernmental approach that has been predominant in many of the decisions, because the intergovernmental approach puts a premium on the slowest and the most reluctant, not on the most decided and the most engaged.

Take the European Financial Stability Facility, for example. It must be as flexible as possible. The unanimity rule has held back its development for too long, until we finally came to the decisions of 27 October, and this is one of the problems. Today the markets, the investors, are not only looking at the deficits, at levels of debt, but also at the capacity of the euro area and the European Union to take decisions.

That is why having a stronger governance of the euro area is vital for the survival and the reinforcement of our common currency. Markets and investors demand stronger governance in the euro area – it is not just a political issue for those, like me and many of you, who share a passion for a stronger Europe. It is indeed now just a matter of common sense to have stronger economic governance in the euro area, and of course in the European Union.

Reforms at national level must be completed with appropriate structures at European level that will give weight and resonance to the economic decisions. On 23 November, I expect the Commission to adopt, and to send to this House, two initiatives on further deepening European Union and euro area economic governance in line with the Roadmap for Stability and Growth that I presented to you on 12 October, and which was largely endorsed by the European Council.

These initiatives are based on Article 136 of the current Treaty. In addition, the Commission will present a Green Paper on stability bonds, which I know is eagerly awaited by this House.

This will be followed, before the end of the year, by a Communication that deserves special attention: a Communication on the external representation of the euro area, based on Article 138(2) of the Treaty. It will make proposals towards a more consolidated European voice and representation in international fora and institutions such as the G20 and the IMF. In strengthening our integration, we must also strengthen our voice and strengthen our credibility worldwide.

The initiatives based on Article 136 that Vice-President Rehn is now completing will address two issues. On the one hand, the need to increase surveillance, especially for Member States that put at risk the financial stability of all. The first Regulation is for enhanced surveillance of euro area Member States that are experiencing severe financial disturbance or requesting financial assistance. It will provide an interface between intergovernmental financial assistance and Treaty-based surveillance – in other words, bringing it into the Community framework. It will step up surveillance for euro Member States receiving precautionary assistance and assistance under an adjustment programme, and will also ensure post-programme surveillance. The key here is to ensure coherence between reinforced governance in the euro area and the overall acquis of the 27 Member States of the European Union, thereby increasing convergence in the 17 members of the euro area without damaging the interests of all the European Union.

The second Regulation is for enhanced surveillance for euro area Member States in excessive deficit procedure, thereby translating one of the commitments of 26 October. It will set out graduated steps and conditions for monitoring national budgetary policies. It should enable the Commission and the Council to examine national draft budgets ex-ante and to adopt an opinion on them before their adoption by the national parliaments, requesting a second reading in serious cases. In addition, the Commission will monitor budget execution and, if necessary, suggest amendments in the course of the year.

But in connection with this, I want to be clear about one thing in particular. The final say on national budgets will remain where it belongs, with national parliaments. But national parliaments have to be made much more keenly aware of the European rules which their governments – and they themselves – have agreed to respect. Increased surveillance by the Commission will lead unavoidably to a greater role in domains previously restricted to national governments or parliaments. But this is necessary and indispensable if we want to have a common currency. Here, I think, the European Parliament can play an absolutely vital role, in particular through interparliamentary dialogue and cooperation.

The final part of our package is the Green Paper on euro stability bonds. It will present and assess the options for the joint issuance of bonds in the euro area. It will also explore reinforced economic governance options that would need to be developed, depending on the decisions taken. I believe that euro stability bonds will be seen as natural when we achieve our goal of reinforced governance and, of course, discipline and convergence in the euro area. They will be a concrete demonstration of the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

I should like to summarise by saying a few words on the principles behind this package. The increasingly systemic nature of the crisis has made it clear that we must progress with greater integration of economic governance, especially within the euro area. This crisis has exposed weaknesses and gaps in terms of surveillance, intervention and decision-making. Some of these can now be addressed thanks to the recent successful conclusion of the ‘six-pack’ negotiations, for which I thank this House for its excellent cooperation – more than that, for its decisive commitment.

The ‘six-pack’ will come into force in around one month from now and, as Vice-President Rehn has stated, the Commission will use its provisions from day one. But, as we could see from the conclusions of the Euro Area Summit on 26 October, there is full consensus now to go further, and this is a very important development. Member States are now accepting what some time ago would be considered unthinkable. Euro area Member States must now consult the Commission – and each other – before adopting any major fiscal or economic policy reform plans. They have committed to respect the Commission’s recommendations in implementing the Stability and Growth Pact. And they have entrusted the Commission with the lead role in monitoring the implementation of the second Greek programme and the reforms in Italy.

That is why this package, and in particular the Regulations based on Article 136, will address problems that have become more visible and more acute in the sovereign debt crisis, namely the risks of contagion and spill-over from countries experiencing severe financial disturbances. Reinforced surveillance is absolutely crucial in bolstering confidence among the general public and market participants.

While this reinforced discipline is now recognised as entirely necessary, the Commission is committed to going further to make sure that changes in economic governance are done in a transparent way; in a democratic way; in the Community way. These Regulations will be based on the principle of full transparency. Both Regulations will of course be subject to codecision. And we look forward to continuing the excellent cooperation with this House which we saw, for instance, in the ‘six-pack’ negotiations.

The instruments we have developed and are still developing will be essential to ensure that we do not face again the kind of situations that made Europe so vulnerable to the crisis. They insist that Member States, especially in the euro area, live up to a long-standing obligation. It is, to quote the European Union Treaty, that Member States must – ipsis verbis – ‘regard their economic policies as a matter of common concern’.

This is the fundamental lesson of the crisis: it is the lesson of interdependence. It is the lesson that, when things go wrong, the consequences are felt far beyond national borders. And the hardest lesson is this: when things go badly wrong, the impact is felt by every European taxpayer and by far too many European workers, whose prosperity and livelihoods are put at risk not only by their own governments but, sometimes, by someone else’s government. That is why we need to learn these lessons, to do all we can to rebuild our structures and revise our rules in a unified way that takes proper account of our interdependence and the responsibility that places on all of us, including of course the European institutions.

A key way to ensure this is – as I have said many times to this Parliament and also to the European Council – to insist that the Community method and the Community institutions remain at the heart of our response to the crisis. They must be at the core of how we shape the European Union to make it stronger and fitter for the future; to make it more efficient, but at the same time to uphold its democratic principles. It means governance for all and by all, not only by a few.

In the future, we will need to go even further on strengthening integration. This will require Treaty changes. Let me be clear: I am in favour of Treaty change if the Treaty change is to reinforce the European Union, the Community method, the European institutions and the sense of a common purpose. But let us not fool ourselves. Treaty change takes time and should not be seen as the immediate solution for the current crisis. Let us discuss it seriously, with due reflection and with due involvement of relevant actors and institutions, namely this European Parliament. As President Van Rompuy has mentioned, there will be a report to the next European Council. The President of the European Council was asked, in close cooperation with the President of the Commission and the President of the Euro Group, to identify possible steps on further strengthening economic convergence within the euro area, improving fiscal discipline and deepening economic union, including exploring the possibility of Treaty changes.

But this should be seen as just the beginning of a process in which the level of ambition, democratic participation and involvement of the representatives of the European citizens is absolutely crucial. I am committed, and I will make sure, that this process will be conducted in close collaboration and cooperation with you, the European Union citizens’ representatives.

The Community method and the Community institutions remain at the heart of the process and they must also remain at the core of how we shape the European Union to make it stronger and fitter for the future.

This also shows that for the euro – if we are committed to the Community approach, and if we are committed to respecting the Treaties – we do not need another Commission, another Parliament, another Court of Justice. The euro is a central part of the European Union, not something separate or apart.

(Applause)

The euro is not an opt-out from the European Union. This is why we should implement the Community approach when we deal with the euro. We will not make the euro stronger through the fragmentation of the European Union.

As I have stated several times to you and also to the European Council, the economic government of Europe in matters of European Union competence is the European Commission. Its accountability is to this Parliament. This is the responsibility of the full College, not a part of it. I have given Vice-President Rehn special responsibility regarding euro governance and we have made sure that economic analysis is done in the most objective way. But let us be clear: in matters of political decision, the responsibility of the Commission is collegiate. We need to respect the rules. We need, more than ever, strong Community institutions and strong governance.

This is also part of rebuilding confidence. Any revision of the Treaty should be for deeper integration of the euro area, but also for a stronger European Union, in full respect of the Community method and, of course, the prerogatives of this Parliament.

Reinforcing the governance of the euro is also reinforcing our Union. There should not be any divide between the current 17 Member States on one side and 10 on the other; most – almost all – of which have a vocation to join the euro. All Member States are full Members of the Union, and all should be committed to fulfilling the objectives of the Treaties. The Member States of the euro area have committed to completing the monetary union with an economic union, but this must also be completed with a political union, and with the political unity to move forward together.

The Community institutions par excellence – this Parliament and the Commission – have never left in doubt their determination to tackle this crisis head-on and to work for a stronger European Union. I know that I can count on you and you can certainly count on the Commission to continue doing precisely that.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Euro Group. (FR) Mr President, President of the European Council, President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, as I understood it, the debate which brings us here today was to be on governance of the euro area and should therefore not be about the substance in the first instance, but first and foremost it should instead be about our style of work and the dovetailing between our different working methods.

To tell you the truth, I can hardly tell the difference between style and substance, because in Europe I have often found that style is the substance that rises to the surface. If your working methods are intergovernmental, then your will is not entirely community-based, which obviously explains the working methods.

I would very briefly like to go over a few points in our train of working methods: first of all macroeconomic surveillance and the European semester. I do not honestly believe that we are now in a position to draw definitive conclusions from this first experience of the first European semester. I am not disappointed with the results provided by the first European semester, however I do believe that they can absolutely be improved upon.

I think that it is quite normal during a first, hasty and rather superficial experience that not all possible lessons can be learnt. I believe that when governments present their draft budgets for 2012, this ex ante and a priori consultation exercise will enable us to check whether or not governments have fully or partially followed the recommendations sent to them during the first European semester.

Generally speaking, I want this exercise to become more political, more inclusive and less technical. If we want to be the economic government of Europe, we should have the ambition of a government. It is obvious that all the different groups within the Council should be more involved in the exercise revolving around the European semester and that all the sensitivities expressed through the different Council groups must be listened to properly.

As economic government amounts to more than just managing budgets, I do not think it can be exclusively in the hands of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council and the finance ministers.

(Applause)

Wait! I can already hear the train whistle.

What I mean by this – as pointed out by both presidents – is that as the growth dimension is equally important, when preparing European councils, whether European councils at euro area level or European councils as we know them, the Council for Social Affairs, the Competitiveness Council, as well as the Research Council, the ministers for energy, transport and innovation, for employment, and for combating poverty will all obviously need to be involved, and I want them to be just as actively involved in the debate as the finance ministers.

(Applause)

I want our working methods to become more political in all our actions. If the truth be known, after many years’ experience in all things Community, I often see that with finance ministers, and sometimes even prime ministers, texts are endorsed that we have not even prepared or even discussed amongst ourselves. It is a bit like in some European Parliament committees, but with us, it is more …

(Exclamations)

I had you going there! I was just trying, in vain, to get you out of your overly benevolent shell. Forget it. It was a test.

I want our work to be more political. I want us in ECOFIN, and in the other Council groups, and in the European Council under Mr Van Rompuy’s presidency, to discuss the specific situations of the various Member States in more detail. When recommendations are made to a government, I want that government to be able to say whether or not it agrees and for the others to be able to engage in a virtuous dialogue with the government of that country. We are not a government if we fail to nurture meaningful debate amongst ourselves on the key points of political choices which together we will make but which we will have to apply individually in our different countries.

As for budgetary and macroeconomic surveillance, I want the European Parliament to be as closely involved as possible with our approach. I realise how difficult the Council and the European Parliament found it to agree on the exact content of so-called economic dialogue. However, I want the various presidents of the various Councils to be invited by the European Parliament to discuss the major decisions that have been made by Member States and by the Council of Ministers.

As President of the Euro Group, you know that I will always be willing to come and talk and discuss the various recommendations and decisions that we have made. I am one of those that believe that a Member State facing particular difficulties, a Member State with a huge deficit, a Member State under specific pressure, ought to have the opportunity to come to the European Parliament to put over its own case. It is stipulated that Parliament can invite a Member State – the Member State does not have to come – but if we want to make Europe more mutually supportive, it seems obvious to me that those wanting solidarity and who need to demonstrate their strength must also explain themselves to the European Parliament, if only to gain a better understanding of the brand image and the level of difficulty which the other Member States, and members of Parliament will understand better if a government explains itself live and in colour to the European Parliament.

As for actual governance, President Van Rompuy has explained to you the dovetailing of relations between the Euro Council chaired by Mr Van Rompuy and the Euro Group which I have the honour of chairing. There is no rivalry and no competition between the two of them. The Euro Group still plays a vital role when it comes to the detail of organising day-to-day, or monthly management of economic policy coordination. The Euro Group has to prepare Euro Council meetings and we will see, when my mandate comes to an end, that is on 1 June 2012, whether or not we will transform the Euro Group presidency into a permanent presidency building on Protocol 14 of the Treaty, which does not actually say that a member of the Euro Group has to chair the Euro Group, but that another president of the Euro Group can be chosen from outside the members of the Euro Group. We shall see in due course.

What I want, in any case, is that we make the job of president of the Euro Group Working Group, in other words this subgroup of the Economic and Financial Committee, a full-time job. It is vital, if only to organise the day-to-day relations between the Commission, the Directorates-General and the Euro Group, that a president of the Euro Group Working Group be finally established permanently in Brussels. That will really help with the work involved in preparing and finding solutions.

In the very short term, I want to tell you that, in the Euro Group, we are currently finalising the amendments that need to be made to the framework agreement regarding the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Mr Klaus Regling, the big boss at the ESFS, is currently looking in detail at the various options, particularly those involving the leverages to be taken under scrutiny. I have every confidence that we can complete this work before the end of November. We have no choice, in any case, but to speed things up. I refer to the wise words spoken by the President of the Commission on this aspect of governance.

Before the end of the month, we will have to discuss things before taking a final decision on the matter of paying a sixth instalment of EUR 8 billion: we will pay two thirds to Greece and the International Monetary Fund will pay one third. During its session a week ago, the Euro Group decided that this instalment could be paid if sustainability is proved, if we agree on a new Greek programme on which Mr Van Rompuy had also got us to agree to on 26 and 27 October. Payment of this sixth instalment is subject to our conditions that all elements of all the decisions taken in Brussels on 26 and 27 October are met and we expect to have before us a letter from the Greek Prime Minister informing us of the exact intentions, now and over time, of the Greek authorities in meeting these recommendations and the decisions taken on 26 and 27 October.

We will up the pace to finalise the amendments to be made to the Treaty regarding the European Stability Mechanism. We will examine the tricky issue of private sector involvement, of the private sector participating in future operations of support. This is a deceptively simple issue, which, in fact, is more difficult on closer inspection.

Briefly speaking, Mr President, that is, in the main, my current thoughts on the matter.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Joseph Daul, on behalf of the PPE Group.(FR) Mr President, Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy, Mr Juncker, ladies and gentlemen, the economic and financial crisis is turning everything on its head and things are changing at an increasingly dramatic pace: changes in Greece and Italy, with the establishment of governments of national unity, which we welcome; whereas until now, our citizens saw European integration as being far removed from their day-to-day lives, now they are calling for more integration. Well, not everyone, as just yesterday, David Cameron saw fit to attack a Europe to which, last time I checked – yesterday afternoon –, his country still belongs, when what we really want is constructive positions, even from him, on how to emerge from the crisis.

Still, all the influential players in the Union acknowledge – as I have been saying for years – that the answer to our problems is not less but more Europe. The solution is Europe. I think some presidents realise this. Those who do not are replaced; which is a good thing. A Europe that needs to be transformed along the lines of integration which should have been done when the euro was created because, I will say it again, the current crisis is not just a crisis of the euro which, this morning, Mr Juncker, was still trading at around 1.35 against the dollar – or 1.34 as it might have dropped a centime, which is still acceptable.

The reason for this crisis is the mistake made in setting up a currency without giving it the governance needed to make it work. We need to acknowledge this political error, but, above all, we need to put it right, and very quickly. That is what the euro area Member States are being forced to try and do and, once again, I congratulate the Council, Mr Van Rompuy, which is hard at work but which, in my opinion, is not working quickly enough because when your house is burning down, the fire-fighters get to work and, I tell you, fire-fighters are never criticised. I used to be a voluntary fire-fighter myself. We would sum up after the fire: we would look at what had been lost and what could be improved. That is what I am asking of you, Mr Van Rompuy. Do not be afraid. Be stronger. We will work it out later.

However, once again, I want to emphasise the importance of crisis management which is a new source of division in Europe. Ladies and gentlemen, we are seeing it more and more, we need to take care to distinguish between those that are in a deep crisis and those that have managed it better. We need to recognise this.

I want to stress how crucial it is that the Seventeen take into account all the instruments of the Euro Plus Pact when making any decisions on governance of the euro area. Mr Juncker, this is your job, do it. There are many countries wanting to join the euro area. We must not create different categories of players in this Euro Plus zone. We must not leave those countries wanting to join warming up on the sidelines. We must not exclude them from strategic decisions taken in the dressing rooms. I want to underline, here, the merit of countries like Poland, which has the Presidency, and which, despite not yet being in the euro area, are making extremely brave efforts, from a political viewpoint, to clean up their finances and boost growth. We should encourage them; we should make them feel a part of our club. Similarly, and I shall say it again, we should not abandon the Community method.

As much as I firmly believe that the Franco-German alliance is a key driving force in Europe – which recent weeks have again proved –, I call on all Member States to contribute and go further than Paris and Berlin, instead of complaining about the impetus provided by Paris or Berlin. Nobody is stopping them.

Likewise, Mr Barroso, I also call on the European Commission, with your commissioners, to do everything in your power to safeguard, strengthen and shield European cohesion. Do what you can to reassure small and medium-sized States that the Community method is still the glue that holds us together, that makes us stand firm and binds us together. It is in times of difficulty that it needs to be reinforced. That is the main responsibility of both institutions, the European Parliament and the Commission, which stand up for the European general interest.

I want to finish my part in the debate on a possible revision of the European Treaties. Yes, changes will definitely need to be made to put right what is necessary. Yes, these will definitely have to be major adaptations, given the significance of the issues at stake. My group is open to this process as long as there is open, democratic debate involving elected representatives and civil society as part of an agreement. Above all, however, we must not fall back into the temptation of spending all our time talking about the mechanical tools, to the detriment of our political objectives. We must not lose sight of what is urgent, namely credible economic governance, and of what is less urgent, and let us do what can and must be done to current treaties, if necessary by making small changes to the rules of procedure as I call them. I am thinking of the establishment of the internal market, of the rules governing financial supervision or credit rating agencies. I am thinking about the political role played by the Vice-President of the Commission responsible for economic and monetary affairs, which is yet to be defined. I am thinking about the rapid implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact and of macroeconomic surveillance.

(The President interrupts the speaker following an interruption off-microphone from Mr Bloom)

I am thinking about real budgetary, fiscal and social integration. Mr President, it is Europe which speaks while the anti-Europeans scream and shout. That is not my way of moving Europe forward.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Martin Schulz, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today, Mario Monti is introducing his new Government. Prime Minister Papademos is today facing a vote of confidence in the Greek parliament. Both of these Heads of Government – the one in Italy and the one in Greece – are certainly facing challenges of historic proportions in their respective countries. On behalf of my group, I would like to start – after what has been, it seems to me, a very technical debate – by saying that this Parliament, too, would like to express its solidarity with the people of these countries, who have to cope with the biggest crisis. We are discussing Treaty changes and the structure of the EU – when will we actually be debating the fact that these countries need investments and growth, without which they will never recover? That is the task with which we must engage this morning.

(Applause)

Mr Monti has said that democracy needs time. He is absolutely right. However, the markets do not give democracy time. What we are experiencing is a footrace between democracies and anonymous forces that expose the democracies to an indeterminable risk through their speculation. We would therefore be well advised to do everything we can to stabilise those countries that, in my estimation, and that of my group, are not only the victims of excessive national debts, but also subject to speculation through which, as a result of these national debts, democratic State systems can be driven to bankruptcy while people make money out of that very occurrence.

We are, at the moment, spending a lot of time discussing what the Council is and is not doing – and what it wants and does not want to do – and what the Commission brings to the table, and what it does not want to bring to the table. I want to tell you which institution in this Europe of ours delivers. In six months, Parliament has delivered the six-pack and the Canfin report, which we adopted here: the ban on naked short selling – a tough measure against speculation – was delivered by this House. That being the case, I would like to thank the President of the European Council for ending his speech by saying that we are a rich source of ideas. Parliament is no think tank though – we represent the citizens of Europe, and we deliver tangible solutions.

(Applause)

We are discussing a revision of the Treaty, indeed we are. I do not know whether Mr Monti needs a debate about revising the Treaty. Nor do I know whether Greece needs a debate about revising the Treaty at this point in time. The reason we are debating a revision of the Treaty is that Chancellor Merkel wants to write the six-pack into it. That is all. And you two, there – and you, as well – do not have the guts to say ‘Leave it be!’, despite the fact that everyone here knows that you do not actually want it. That is the reality.

It is my belief that, if this revision of the Treaty takes place because it has been forced, then I say to you, once again, what I said to you last time, which is that a convention would then be needed, and Parliament would have to be involved in that. I want to make it very plain to you that without the European Parliament there will not be any efficient reforms in the European Union – and I refer you back to what I said before.

(Applause)

One of the reasons for this is that this House is the best institution to ensure cohesion in Europe. What we are experiencing is the splitting of this continent. I have said it on numerous occasions, there is a tripartism: there is the cosy Franco-German relationship, the rest of the euro area, and the rest of Europe.

We accept the fact that the Heads of State or Government of the euro area states need to come together under the pressure of the markets and, where necessary, also have to take quick decisions outside the Treaty. We accept that one hundred per cent. What is currently being attempted, though, is to make a rule out of this exception, and that is wrong. I will tell you where that leads: if we discuss revising the Treaty, we also discussing whether or not the Community method is to remain.

In that respect, Mr Daul is right when he makes reference to the speeches of the British Prime Minister. Is the Community method to remain or not? Like my fellow Members, I do not defend the Community method because it is a technique, but because behind it is a philosophy. The Community method was the opportunity – Europe’s big achievement – to balance the interests of large, medium and smaller states with one another in common institutions.

If we give that up and the Heads of State or Government of the euro area represent the economic government, I have to ask on what basis decisions will be reached. Will they be made by unanimity? If unanimity is the system, then that leaves us dependent on the result of the ballot vote of the FDP party in Germany, on whether a narrow majority of 60 000 members of that party will decide the future of the euro. If decisions are made by majority voting, then it is always Germany and France that have the majority. Yet that leaves Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy to decide on what Luxembourg must do, or Mr Monti in Rome, or Mr Papademos in Athens. What we have then is not the European Council, it is the Congress of Vienna – and we do not want to go back to those days.

(Applause)

Mr President, before you again refuse to respond to all the shouting and screaming, many thanks for your attention.

 
  
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  Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Mr President, let us come back to reality. Yesterday interest rates in the bond market rose to 7.05% for Italy. Yesterday the interest rates for Spain were 6.27% and 3.6% for France.

France has triple-A status – exactly the same as Germany – but the reality in the markets is that France has to pay double the interest rates of Germany. As I am always saying, I do not know what these ratings from the rating agencies mean, but they certainly have no effect on interest rates, because today France has double that of Germany.

It is obvious that the euro crisis has reached a very dangerous point, a decisive point where everything is possible, even the most dramatic scenario. We are at a point where countries which are Europe’s third and fourth economies have interest rates of nearly 7% – which is not sustainable – and where the second biggest economy is paying double that of the benchmark, Germany.

We first have to recognise that we have to go beyond the decisions of 21 July and 26 October 2011 if we want to deal with this crisis. It is very good, Joseph, that France and Germany meet each other from time to time – they do it every two weeks – but it is not sustainable and it is not convincing for the markets. Their decisions only calm the markets for 24 hours. After 24 hours everything starts again.

What we need is not the combining of two important countries in the euro area, but to stand behind the global approach of the Commission. My message today is that we must ask the Commission to formalise this package as fast as possible. Maybe a number of new elements are needed, but what the Commission must do is put an act formalising an economic and fiscal union on the table for the Council and the Parliament: we are not only talking about the package, we should formalise and legalise this economic and fiscal union.

That is the only way we can end the euro crisis of today. Do not think that a new two-day summit or a new combined effort by the two big countries can stop it. We need other more formalised, legalised initiatives.

What we need is economic governance based on the European Commission. I propose that we should end this discussion of who should chair the Euro Group and so on. If we are to have a Vice-President who is responsible for the euro, let him also share the Euro Group. Let us not continue to multiply functions inside the European Union and inside the euro area. That is the first thing.

Let us have a convergence code. Let us have this Green Paper and decisions on the Green Paper. I hope that the Green Paper on stability bonds can be put before Parliament in the coming days. Let us also look into the very important proposal made two days ago by the five wise economists of the German Council of Economic Experts. What they have proposed, in a paper directly addressed to Ms Merkel and the German Government, is to create what could be called a European collective redemption fund to neutralise debts of above 60% in the euro area, combined with a bold debt reduction scheme, for countries who are not using the EFSF.

That is a fund of EUR 2.3 trillion to stabilise the euro crisis. Together with the EFSF that means that you have firepower of EUR 3.3 trillion, based on eurobonds. Was it the federalists who proposed that to the Parliament? No, it was the five wise economists who are the direct advisors of Ms Merkel and of the German Government. Now is the time to do something about that. Beyond the 60% threshold, there is only one solution to this crisis, and it is the eurobond market.

Finally, a word on the question of whether we need a Treaty change. I think many things are possible without a Treaty change. Many things can be done with today’s existing Treaty. But if we are to have Treaty change, then we also need a convention before this Parliament.

 
  
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  Daniel Cohn-Bendit, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Mr President, there are times in life when you have to step back and think things through properly.

I was a long time fan of Hölderlin who said: ...

(DE) ‘Where there is danger, salvation grows too’.

(FR) ‘Where there is danger, salvation grows too’. Europe has unfortunately taught us that things are not quite so clear-cut, that the danger is increasing but we cannot really see what our salvation will be.

I am a little dumbstruck at Mr Van Rompuy’s words. Mr Van Rompuy, you tell us: ‘Everything is fine, we have worked hard for 20 months’. You are a good accountant, you have been doing your sums and, meanwhile, the world is moving in all directions. But you, the accountant, are counting and continue to count how many days you have spent in your office. No, Mr Van Rompuy, not enough has been done. The fundamental question for all of us is that, in the face of the crisis, many believed that federalising the intergovernmental approach was the most effective way forward.

 
  
 

(FR) If we look at public opinion, federalists believed this and still believe this. In fact, there is evidence that this is not true. Europe is no longer effective because the European telephone line is in Berlin and there is a small second line in Paris. That does not make for a unified Europe. Mr Schulz talked about the Congress of Vienna, one could pick any number of examples.

What has astonished me in today’s debate is, in fact, that the politicians are giving up and they are saying that what is going to save us is the European Central Bank’s intelligence. Everyone knows that the Central Bank will continue to shell out. Everyone knows that the Central Bank will set up its Eurobonds in its own way, but there is just one fundamental democratic problem: who controls the Central Bank? I am not criticising the Central Bank, I am just saying that you are telling us stories about the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and you know full well that that will not resolve the crisis. Mr Monti will go straight to Mr Dragi and say: ‘How do we do it? I need 200 billion in spring. If I go to the market, that will be catastrophic, so I am coming to you’. In response, Mr Dragi will say to Mr Monti: ‘I will help you’. That is how it will happen and not with your small funds from here there and everywhere. Or we actually make a move towards Eurobonds and I think Mr Verhofstadt is right –, and the mighty Merkel will say to the five Wise Men: ‘I have my doubts’. That this lady should have doubts concerns me greatly. She already had her doubts about helping Greece before the elections in North Rhine-Westphalia. If we set any store by Mrs Merkel’s doubts, we are heading for disaster. I beg you, therefore, to put Mrs Merkel’s doubts to one side.

If you are going to analyse the problems in Europe, I would call on the Commission to establish a European observatory on the investment needed in Europe to kick-start the economy. We need Keynes in Brussels. Nation states cannot keep on investing, not even Mr Verhofstadt’s Belgium, not even if he were Prime Minister.

Everyone now knows that there can only be one European initiative. We need to know what to do to achieve this. As for us, we advocate green growth – as everyone knows – and ecological transformation. If we are debating the quality of investment, yet the Commission is saying: ‘We can not simply judge stability, budgetary deficits’; the need for investments then needs to be judged and the whole of Europe told.

Then, if you are analysing countries, spreads, I want to hear about a spread: how can it be right that the minimum hourly wage in France is nine euro while in Germany, there is talk of introducing a minimum wage of five to six euro. You are going to tell me that that is economic convergence and that we can work like that in Europe. Utter madness! Mrs Merkel needs to be told. Such a rich country where almost 20% of the population live in poverty, it is utter madness! I want the Commission to take responsibility and say that Germany’s economic policy, with its export surplus, is madness when there are such inequalities in that country.

This also needs to be said.

(Applause)

I want to finish on this one note, Mr President: Europe sometimes needs 30 seconds more to survive. You need to know this.

(Interjection from the floor from Mr Bloom) You shut up, OK? If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. You know. Churchill.

I should like to say one thing about Treaty changes. There will only be Treaty change if this Parliament and the national parliaments – in other words by means of an agreement – really are the instruments for this Treaty change. If you want to sneak Treaty changes through the back door, this Parliament will oppose it, as will the federalist groups and the European groups. We need to realise this so that no time is wasted with false treaty changes.

 
  
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  Jan Zahradil, on behalf of the ECR Group. Mr President, I am a very disciplined person so I will try to keep this within the time, since there is nothing much to talk about. All of you have said that more centralisation, more fiscal and political union, is needed in the euro area. Your direction is clear. Instead of reducing the number of euro area members that might create a leaner, healthier and stronger single currency, you have gone the other way round.

I am sorry to say this but this is once again ideology prevailing over economy. People from my part of Europe lived in a system that promoted ideology over economy for a long time and it did not go well at the end.

One good thing you are trying to do is to restore fiscal discipline in the euro area. But you are not doing it through political will and democratic means but by implementing some kind of fiscal dictatorship which would be run from Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin and Paris. I can agree to a large extent with Mr Schulz that this is much more like the Vienna Congress than a European Union, but where I disagree with Mr Schulz is that the Community’s so-called Community method can save us. The Community method and all that federalist ideology is only an illusion in my understanding. It is only a coat of varnish behind which power games are played out and if this continues it will undermine the very little that remains of the credibility the EU has in the eyes of its citizens.

Secondly, any Treaty changes would require the unanimous approval of all 27 EU members, not just the 17 euro area members. There are 27 European Union members, including my own country and including the United Kingdom. You might or might not like it but that is the situation and if you open the Treaties you should expect that those non-euro-zone members will negotiate. They will not grant automatic approval to any Treaty change because what happens in the euro area does affect all of us. We will negotiate: you may want more centralisation, we do not. We will negotiate for more flexibility. I am not scared of a two-tier or a multi-speed or a variable geometric Europe.

So, if you want to open the Treaties you must be prepared for negotiations and there will negotiations just not in a one-way road but in a two-way road. It is that simple.

 
  
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  Lothar Bisky, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (DE) Mr President, Presidents, ladies and gentlemen, as the example of Italy shows, where risk premiums for government bonds exceeded the critical mark of 7% for a while, the markets are relatively unimpressed by the decisions of the most recent European summit. The next euro area country is already in their sights. The increase in rates in Italy since October is not based on any trends in the real economy, and as the experiences of Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain in similar situations show, concentrated remedial measures from the EU and the IMF and the use of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) appear inescapable.

That clearly shows that the measures we have adopted so far to regulate the financial markets do not fully take effect. I fear that, even with the new plans to strengthen the economic governance of the euro area, this will not significantly change. When I think of the package of European Commission measures that you have announced, President Barroso, with the five proposals for increased economic policy coordination, I cannot see the answer to the main question, namely do you have the courage and the ability to regulate the players on the international financial markets in such a way that, in future, speculative activity could be excluded as far as possible? Ecofin’s discussions on the financial transaction tax demonstrate that there is no political will in the Member States even for small steps. The finance ministers continue to answer global challenges with national thinking and proposed solutions based on the interests of their national banks. How big does this crisis have to get, how many countries need to be mired in it, and how big must the sacrifices of the populaces of the countries affected be before people see that we need to act?

You propose, for example, issuing a Green Paper on Euro Stability Bonds. Much as I stress the necessity to introduce Eurobonds, I am astounded by the method. How long do you want to spend talking about the necessary minutiae of the shape to be taken by the mechanism? What effect will the time spent on the discussion process have on the markets? For me, these are the crucial questions.

Instead, the monitoring of the budgets of individual countries is to be tightened up again. It is as if you believed that forcing austerity measures would trigger growth. In reality, however, the most pressing issue is the need for specific measures to improve growth and employment, with the resultant income and thus domestic demand. The austerity measures put in place in the crisis only serve to deepen it. The key economic figures for Greece, Portugal and Ireland for 2010 and 2011 surely show this.

There is one question that, it seems to me, has not been given sufficient consideration, namely how can additional sources of finance be unlocked for these Member States? Their Government revenues need to be increased. Up to now, we have only heard proposals to cut social security payments, wages and pensions, or to increase VAT. The result of this is to stifle consumption by the mass of the population, and the fairness gap between the rich and the poor could become even larger. The citizens, too, can feel this. They do not see themselves as responsible for this crisis, and they are right. They are calling for social equality, including fair taxation. That is why there are mass protests in the Member States where austerity packages have been imposed. That is why there is political instability in the crisis countries, where numerous governments have already been swept aside. If the austerity course were to be made worse, the protests would also grow further. Where does that lead us?

It strikes me that there is a complete lack of taxing the banks, the big corporations and the rich in the Member States. They could make a greater contribution to overcoming the crisis without difficulty. Tangible steps in this direction are required. That would give the citizens the feeling that the pain was being shared more fairly. However, that policy direction must also come from you, from the Commission, the Council, the Euro Group and other international institutions. It has been shown, after all, that the neoliberal mantra of tax cuts and reducing the regulation of market forces led to such terrible distortions that the entire global financial system is in jeopardy. A reorientation of thinking and approach is required here. We need a ban on short-term trading of credit default swaps, on short selling and of other high risk financial products. That is the order of the day.

 
  
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  Nigel Farage, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, here we are, on the edge of a financial and social disaster, and in the room today we have the four men who were supposed to be responsible. Yet we have listened to the dullest, most technocratic speeches I have ever heard. You are all in denial.

By any objective measure, the euro is a failure. Who is actually responsible? Who is in charge out of you lot? Well of course the answer is none of you, because none of you have been elected. None of you actually have any democratic legitimacy for the roles that you currently hold within this crisis. Into this vacuum, albeit reluctantly, has stepped Angela Merkel. We are now living in a German-dominated Europe – something that the European project was actually supposed to stop, and something that those that went before us actually paid a heavy price in blood to prevent.

I do not want to live in a German-dominated Europe and nor do the citizens of Europe, but you guys have played a role. When Mr Papandreou got up and used the word ‘referendum’, you, Mr Rehn, described it as ‘a breach of confidence’, and your friends here got together like a pack of hyenas, rounded on Papandreou, and had him removed and replaced by a puppet government. What an absolutely disgusting spectacle that was. And not satisfied with that, you decided that Berlusconi had to go, so he was removed and replaced by Mr Monti – a former European Commissioner, a fellow architect of this euro disaster, and a man who was not even a member of the Parliament. It is getting like an Agatha Christie novel where we are trying to work out who is going to be the next person who is going to be bumped off. The difference is that we know who the villains are.

You should all be held accountable for what you have done. You should all be fired. I have to say, Mr Van Rompuy, that 18 months ago when we first met, I was wrong about you. I said that you would be the quiet assassin of nation state democracy, but you are not any more. You are rather noisy about it, are you not? You, an unelected man, went to Italy and said that this is not the time for elections but the time for actions. What, in God’s name, gives you the right to say that to the Italian people?

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI).(NL) Mr President, if one form of common policy does not work, then what we need is more common policy. That is the axiom, the dogma, professed by the Commission, the Council and also a majority of this House.

I would like to give my fellow Members a reality check. Is there, for example, democratic support for the systematic rush ahead to a kind of super-Europe that will even involve itself in the tax and the social security systems of the Member States? Is there a point in keeping a Member State that does not structurally fit into the euro area within that area purely and simply out of a refusal, on ideological grounds, to admit that mistakes were made in the past? How much further can we go in taxing the EU’s net contributors?

Ladies and gentlemen, it is high time that we brought EU policy into line with the reality of the real world, instead of continuing to try and do the opposite.

 
  
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  Werner Langen (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Presidents, I would like to start by congratulating you. All three of you have been elected – one by Parliament and two by the Council. Mr Farage’s information was therefore not correct – and now he is leaving.

Three things go together: regulation of the financial markets, the Stability and Growth Pact, economic governance and the rescue packages. If we do not tackle regulation of the financial markets, the rescue packages will have no effect. That is the first prerequisite. If we design the economic governance properly, we will not need the rescue packages. That is why this crisis is a European Union institutional crisis.

Looking at the regulation of the financial markets, I see that the United Kingdom is blocking whatever it can, which is in every nook and cranny. I believe, in this connection, that we must also consider how we can improve on that. As Mr Juncker said, we need to involve all the different configurations of the Council. Personally, I would go further: the President of the Commission must involve all the Commissioners and the Directorates-General, as there is no common thread in the proposals in this regard.

I believe that moderate changes to the Treaty are necessary. As well as Article 136, we need the abolition of Article 126(10), which expressly denies the Court of Justice of the European Union the ability to monitor compliance with the Treaty.

The Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro needs the same powers as the Competition Commissioner: rights of intervention. That is the right way to go. Propose it.

Eurobonds and collectivising the debts is not the right way to go. The Member States bear the responsibility themselves and thus the only issue is inflation. One group wants to prod the European Central Bank into action and create more money, while the other wants to collectivise the debts. The right approach is to realise that inflation hits the poorest hardest, while only self-responsibility on the part of the Member States creates the stability that we all need.

 
  
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  Stephen Hughes (S&D). - Mr President, President Barroso has said we need some positive action. I agree with him, so I would like to suggest some positive actions.

First, the December Council should agree on a coordinated Europe-wide strategy to fight youth unemployment. This should involve a special European Youth Unemployment Fund to finance targeted programmes in countries with the highest youth unemployment rates.

Second, the March 2012 European Summit should agree on the creation of a eurobond system within the euro area. That would follow up a proposal by the Commission to the December summit, and that system should aim at grouping at least two trillion euros of euro area public debt in a joint guarantee fund by the end of 2012.

Third, the March Summit should also define a European strategy of investment for growth with the objective of raising average EU public investment to 2.5% of GDP in 2015 and 3% by 2020. This should be accompanied by a declaration by the Commission regarding the implementation of the new Stability and Growth Pact committing the Commission to a differentiated use of the rules in the interest of strengthening public investment.

In return, the Council would agree to specific powers to the Commission in assessing in detail national public investment plans, plans contained in draft national budgets on the basis of a list of public investment spending recognised as productive public investment.

These actions would give hope to our young people. They would have meaning for the people on the streets of my region and your region. They would actually give us the chance of growth and employment.

What you are talking about is rearranging the deckchairs while the ship is sinking.

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

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD). - Mr President, Mr Hughes mentioned youth unemployment which is of grave concern. Would he perhaps consider the effect of the Commission’s Temporary Workers Directive on youth unemployment?

 
  
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  Stephen Hughes (S&D). - Mr President, the effect of the Commission’s proposal – or rather not its proposal, but the directive that is now in effect – is, in my view, extremely positive.

My son is an example. Having left university, he went through a series of temporary posts where he was grossly exploited, quite frankly. As a result of the directive, he now has pro rata rights with full-time workers.

I think it is an excellent proposal and I am glad it is now implemented.

 
  
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  Sylvie Goulard (ALDE).(FR) Mr President, thank you all for being here and for actually keeping this dialogue alive. I very much appreciated what Mr Juncker said about the need for frequent dialogue covering many subjects.

In this morning’s Financial Times, Mr Van Rompuy, you are quoted as saying that it is not enough for Italy to have a brilliant prime minister, he still needs the support of parliament. I think that this is also true at European level.

I should just like to say today that for both the revision of Treaties and for a certain number of crisis management measures, it would be in your interest, it would be in our collective interest for this Parliament to be more involved, not for us, but to get citizens on our side, to do away with the feeling that there is a lack of democracy even when democratic problems are often found within the States.

One word, Mr Barroso, about external representation, about Eurobonds: we expect ambitious measures. Do not choose the smallest common denominator from the Member States. Make sure that the euro area is represented externally in a way that wins over our external partners. Opt for Eurobond solutions that are credible on external markets.

The world is watching us right now and that is what makes matters extremely serious. We therefore need to work together, but without this Parliament, we will get nowhere.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 
  
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  Sven Giegold (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, I have three points to make in this debate on economic governance. First of all, the continued blocking of the Eurobonds and the stability bonds by Germany – and I address this point to Members representing the German Christian Democrat and Liberal parties – will mean that you are forcing the European Central Bank to take on the necessary stabilisation measures. You are sounding the death knell of the European Central Bank’s credibility and, Mr Langen, what you had to tell us here re-emphasises that point.

The second point that I wish to address concerns the area of taxation. We are aware that we have a problem on the revenue side all over Europe, and at the moment the working groups for greater cooperation on tax and countering tax dumping are in deadlock. The reason for this is that, as ever, the measures against business tax, dumping and tax evasion get blocked for reasons of national interest. For that reason I would ask you, Mr Barroso, to be brave and put forward a new taxation package now, during this crisis, and to attempt, in so doing, to increase the pressure on the Member States that are doing the blocking.

My third point is that we in this House have adopted a package of measures against economic imbalances with a large majority. We now hear that, in the last Ecofin meeting, the Council again called for this package not to be implemented. In Germany’s national interest, Mr Rehn had to declare at that meeting that he would be proposing sanctions against surplus countries. At the same time, Germany is currently attempting to manipulate the indicators for when economic surveillance kicks in. Originally, you wanted to implement plus 4% of gross domestic product as the surveillance point for economic imbalances, for current account surpluses. You have since retreated to plus 6%. That is not good enough for Germany. At the most recent meeting of the Council, Germany insisted on plus 7%.

Mr Rehn, Mr Barroso, I call on you both not to make these joint decisions weaker than they already are. Implement the law in full. Make it clear that all the instruments of the law are still on the table. Do not allow the Council and its national interests to dictate the stripping down of this package of measures to counter economic imbalances – which we urgently need – before it has even been signed.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Mr President, Parliament, the Council and the Commission have spent hundreds of hours over the course of the last 12 months discussing and negotiating a suitable text on EU legislation to establish the principles of good economic governance. Now is the time to deliver these carefully crafted words through definite actions, by thoroughly implementing the agreed rules and measures and ensuring their compliance in all relevant countries. It must be monitored and then enforced.

We do not need at this time any more grand plans or structures or statements. The time for delivering the existing plans is here. The EU will be judged by its results, in terms of concrete measures which will assist stability and go towards re-establishing investor confidence in the European economy.

The ink may not yet be dry on this afternoon’s signing of the legislation, but deep structural reforms are only just beginning in certain Member States. Unpleasant and unpopular actions are required to ensure a competitive EU for the next decade and beyond. Action, not words, is now needed. Growth, not additional regulation, has got to be the prime focus.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the euro should be a guarantee of stability and security, but it is proving to be a straitjacket which does not allow ailing states to implement necessary measures. It seems to be more than clear that it is not only Greece and Italy who are ailing – in fact, the whole euro area is in crisis. What is dramatically entertaining is that there are two patients, called France and Germany, who are playing at being doctors without being in possession of the rights or the qualifications to do so.

Europe is moving further and further away from its citizens. In Greece it was not permitted for workers to be able to express their opinion through a referendum on the possibility of choosing between having their salaries halved and witnessing the failure of a foreign bank.

It is not by dictating governments from above that situations are resolved. What is happening is yet another slap in the face to the sovereignty of the people. The European Union must understand that at the base of everything are citizens; otherwise, sooner or later, the entire structure will come miserably tumbling down. Long live the sovereignty of our European States!

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI).(DE) Mr President, what would we have advised our fellow parliamentarians in 1931 or 1938, when we were in the Depression, when the financial markets had already annulled the democracies – and when we were heading for war? Two things would be necessary, two emergency measures: we need something like a transitional arrangement. Do what you have to do and do it quickly. Do not allow yourselves to be slowed down. Regulate every product, every institution and every player, as Chancellor Merkel has said.

However, a transitional arrangement implementing the fiscal emergency programme cannot, on its own, have a future without an emergency programme for democracy. In this case, what this means is that we clearly do need a new European community, we clearly do need different treaties and we clearly do need an opus that works but that is legitimate and acquires legitimacy through referendums. We would have to begin the campaign for this now that the situation has become so dramatic that there must be a serious rethink before the Right, before the national splitters, again get the upper hand in relation to something that had actually already been established.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE).(IT) Mr President, President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, I will resume with a key point of this intervention, that is to say how we can take steps to unite interdependency and development with democracy.

These days, in line with the demands made from many points of view, even from European Institutions, the main parties in Italy have favoured the birth of a technical government that will have the task of imposing sacrifices on a country that has always been reluctant to promote reforms and changes. As I see it, and in response to Mr Farage’s speech, the birth of this government is fully legitimated by the standard procedures of our constitution, by the consequent initiative of President Napolitano and by the deep sense of responsibility displayed in the circumstances by Mr Berlusconi, President of the Council, and by the main majority and opposition parties.

In this sense the birth of this government is good news for Europe and for the stability of the euro area. Certainly, this set of circumstances is also the fruit of that interdependence that you cited and that binds the EU’s Member States and the most significant protagonists of the global economy. This sense of interdependency is the fulcrum of future political strategy on our continent and, if governments can and must take a step backwards when unable to face up to given difficulties, that is all the more reason why we should not hesitate to consider the guidance given by European Institutions, the Presidents of the Council and of the Euro Group, who should step in when courageous and timely measures cannot be made to correspond to the dramatic nature of the situation. What I mean to say is that in anticipation of changing the Treaties we should act promptly and well in a manner permitted by the Treaties, but an excessive subordination to the reasoning of certain Member States is dangerously curbing our ability to do so.

 
  
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  Enrique Guerrero Salom (S&D). (ES) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, Mr Barroso, as we have seen in recent weeks and recent days, the crisis has now reached a high-risk systemic situation.

Countries that were complacently looking at others are now facing this risk, and if we do not break the current dynamic, it will affect everyone, including Germany.

Against this background, immediate measures are needed rather than going down a difficult path of institutional reforms; on the one hand, we cannot give a rapid response to those reforms, and on the other, their outcome is uncertain. In the end, these measures could produce a result which paradoxically may complicate and weaken our position.

In any event, we are not ruling out these reforms. However, if they are undertaken, it is necessary at this stage to bear in mind that within the Union there are those who think that the Union has too many powers, and that they should be transferred back to Member States; those who think that there can only be an intergovernmental response to the problems; and those, like me and many others, who believe that it is necessary to have greater economic integration – with discipline, but also with growth – greater solidarity, a Community response and a role for Parliament that is consistent with its role as the direct depository of democratic legitimacy.

Therefore, not a step backward, but a step forward.

 
  
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  Sharon Bowles (ALDE). - Mr President, crisis solutions are fast becoming binary: lenders of last resort and leaders of last resort, or not. Further shocks will happen and I do not think that we can avoid accepting losses on overpriced assets at some stage.

But there are more ways to exploit the depth of a combined bond market. There is more strength within Europe than going round with a begging bowl to China. Investors are reluctant about the EFSF and now care must be taken in courting sovereign wealth funds. If guarantees are wrong, instead of a transfer of funds from Germany to other parts of Europe, which does have mutual benefit, we risk transfer of those same funds to China with no benefit.

The single market is crucial for growth. The fruits of tighter discipline within the euro area could be undermined if intergovernmentalism and protectionism fragments the EU and damages reputation. In this, the Community method is our guardian.

 
  
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  Derk Jan Eppink (ECR).(NL) Mr President, in the style of the Roman senator Cato, I would like to say that Greece must leave the euro area. We all know that Greece cannot recover within the euro area. Italy is now paying higher rates of interest and we cannot find investors, speculators, for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Quite simply, no one wants to do it.

We are also finding that, just as the problems actually get bigger and the wheels are coming off, European leaders want to accelerate. Mr Verhofstadt would rather drive into a wall at 100 miles an hour than take his foot off the pedal a little.

We want to reform the euro area economy, but where are we heading? We need competitiveness. Yet with a financial transaction tax, with European taxes and with emissions taxes what we are doing is exactly the opposite. We are making the euro area economy too expensive. We are not competitive, we have no growth and that will lead to economic stagnation that will last for years.

What we are doing is replacing competitiveness with bureaucratic coordination, and democracy with technocracy. In Belgium, the former Prime Minister Mr Eyskens – you know him, Mr Van Rompuy – has already proposed government by decree, which would actually bypass the parliament there. That is the opposite of all the aims with which European democracy began.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD).(EL) Mr President, I fear that the results of the last summit failed to persuade the markets that the European rescue fund is alive and kicking. Interest rates have risen and both the euro and stock exchanges have fallen. Although I believe that the measures proposed are a step in the right direction, I worry about the reticence to use the basic instrument of quantitative easing, which could be used to finance the European Financial Stability Facility which could, at the same time, guarantee Eurobond issues. At the same time, it would motivate private individuals to participate in the programme.

I think that, in order to rebalance the volume of money in circulation, which was upset by quantitative easing by the United States, the Union could comfortably print new money in excess of EUR two trillion. I think that would limit attacks by the so-called markets. To put it simply, I fail to understand how a stockbroker’s agent can produce money by increasing the price of a share and an entity such as the European Union cannot do likewise.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Mr President, I notice the word ‘competent’ is missing from the title of this debate, for competence and financial probity are strangers to this project.

The very foundations of the euro were dug up when the Commission allowed Member States to ignore the convergence criteria of Maastricht. We all know that this is a political project, not an economic one, and political expediency will always prevail over sound economic rules.

But what do you care about the ordinary person on the street? The EU has shown its utter contempt and arrogance concerning the detrimental effect your deluded economic policies have on their lives. Maastricht had only four criteria, that you negligently brushed aside, and now you are proposing a six-pack. This exercise will fail and expose the soft underbelly of Europe.

What confidence do you all project? Absolutely none. Your answers to economic problems are more political solutions, more political and financial integration and more blatant disregard of democratic values.

‘Stop now’, my constituents say. It takes a wise person to accept they are wrong. Just for once, just once, say you were wrong and dismantle this project.

 
  
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  Jean-Paul Gauzès (PPE).(FR) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy, Mr Barroso, Mr Juncker, I obviously agree with what was said by Mr Daul, Mr Langen and Mr Mauro, so I will not go back over the same ground.

I want to talk to you about something else, about what citizens understand. Last night, I was with a hundred or so citizens who were asking me about the crisis, as, unfortunately, it is one of the issues that I am dealing with. What we need to do now for Europe is win the citizens over and, above all, get them on side. You have two categories of citizens: those who give in to the lure of populism and who scream and shout ‘Europe is a failure; Europe is good for nothing’; and then you have all the other citizens, larger in number, who say ‘We expect a lot from Europe, but Europe is not convincing us in what it is doing’.

It is therefore our job to convince these citizens together. What is more, I say convince the citizens before convincing the markets. I have heard endless talk about the markets; I know the markets and I know them professionally. Has nobody ever told you that the markets will never be satisfied? They will always ask for more. There is a change of government in Italy, and now they are saying that it needs guarantees that it will do this or that. When it has done this or that, they will ask it to do something else.

The politicians need to regain control. The markets are useful. The economy needs them. They allow it to work. However, they should not take advantage. When I see the Commission back down, yesterday, on the credit rating agency project, on innovative proposals which, in my opinion, did not go far enough, this is no way to convince the markets. This is proof that we are all weak, that we give in to those who put pressure on us, forgetting that we are here to serve the citizens.

You can count on this Parliament. I have just heard that Mr Schulz endorsed the ‘Six Pack’, which he did not vote for. That just proves that here, once you have voted, you are able to follow the Commission, to help it. Mr Barroso, you have just said ‘Help us!’ Does Parliament not help the Commission to move Europe forward?

Then let us all be courageous and brave together.

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D). - (FI) Mr President, at least the Commission cannot be accused of prettifying the situation: on the contrary, Mr Barroso and Mr Rehn, you have been frank and said that the economic situation in Europe has become dramatically worse.

Now it would actually appear that the medicine – and all strong medicines generally have side-effects – has arrested growth, and that is why we need a new plan, a plan B. I am pleased that we have heard today that we will have some sort of new plan in the shape of the Green Paper on stability bonds, with which the firewall will be reinforced. On the other hand, we will be making long-term plans to tame market forces, by means of the financial transaction tax and Eurobonds, for example. This is very important.

It should also be remembered that a Europe for Citizens cannot exist without a social Europe. Mr Bisky, you were right when you said that we also need to feel that Europe is going in the right direction. We need government, we need action, but we also need to feel that Europe is going in the right direction.

Mr Van Rompuy, I have an idea for you. Could you please put the earphones on because I am going to say it in Finnish. You say that the European Union is a source of ideas. Put pressure on the Member States to give the Commission power to close down the tax havens, because this would be a great act of justice and would reaffirm the feeling that Europe is now on the right track.

 
  
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  Niccolò Rinaldi (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, President Van Rompuy, President Barroso, Commissioner Rehn, ladies and gentlemen, just yesterday the Italian statistics office reported that the figure for tax evasion in Italy in 2008 was between 16% and 17% of GDP, which comes to between EUR 255 billion and EUR 275 billion. With such figures there will never be any control of the deficit. In its annual report the Italian Court of Audit spoke of the cost of corruption for 2009 at EUR 60 billion, adding that we will never have any kind of growth. The income gap is widening, and we therefore have no social cohesion.

I believe it is imperative for the EU to update its convergence criteria, also adding parameters relating to good governance and social equality. I should say that the verification carried out by the Commission on the tax shield of the last Italian government, that from our point of view violated a large part of the European standards on money laundering, competition and tax evasion – as well as on VAT evasion which, following our appeal, was proven to be correct – demonstrates lack of attention on the part of these institutions regarding an approach that should be fair and global.

 
  
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  Lajos Bokros (ECR). - Mr President, a couple of months ago I made a speech here indicating that the best solution to the Greek crisis would be an orderly default, with a significant ‘hair cut’ to private and public bond-holders. I made a distinction between insolvency and liquidity, and argued that insolvency cannot be addressed by throwing good money after bad.

Commission Rehn dismissed my proposal because he felt it would trigger a domino effect and the Commission feared contagion. Now we do have contagion – see the example of Italy – without having made any significant move to solve the Greek crisis. The Commission and the whole European political class is dangerously behind the curve.

What needs to be done? Euro area governments have to push through an orderly ‘hair cut’ immediately; the EFSF needs to be recapitalised before France loses its triple-A rating; Greek banks should sell their Balkan empires, and the remaining carcasses have to be taken over by well-capitalised financial institutions; privatisation should go ahead at full steam; the tax system must be streamlined, and its rules enforced with rejuvenated administrative vigour; societal solidarity needs to be rebuilt. For the sake of preserving democracy in Europe, capitalism must be saved.

 
  
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  Nick Griffin (NI). - Mr President, when there is a stench of death and decay in your house, there is no point complaining about the neighbour’s drains or arguing about which air freshener to try next. The first thing to do is to admit that the real problem is the rotting corpse of the dead elephant in the living room.

It is absurd to speak of economic governance while ignoring the root cause of the debt crisis that is dragging Europe, and indeed the world, down to economic disaster.

The thing that is rotten is the fiat money banking system. A system that allows the banks to create credit out of nothing and lend it into circulation as interest-bearing debt; a system that makes bankers the masters of the universe, instead of the servants of productive industry. A system that leads to poverty, division and war.

The first step to long-term economic stability is to put an end to the international bankers’ swindle and restore the power to create credit to sovereign national governments. This is the only way out of the crisis; the way to prosperity and peace.

 
  
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  Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (PPE). - Mr President, it is telling and symbolic that this debate, which is supposed to be on economic governance, is on the euro area in the absence of the President of the Council. Are we already in the two-tier Europe? Do we need, as Pervenche Berès proposes, a separate Parliament for the euro area?

The present crisis is not a crisis of the euro as a currency – it is a healthy currency. It is a crisis of excessive indebtedness. Dividing lines, if unavoidable although deplorable, should not go between the 17 and the 10. They do appear, de facto, between macroeconomically healthy and unhealthy countries. It would be fatal to institutionalise a smaller club within the bigger club. That would lead to unravelling and undoing the reunification of the continent, creating disunion in place of the Union. For those left outside, it would be unfair and unacceptable to be ‘sort of’ expelled and then obliged to re-enter, for the second time, the true, so-called core Europe.

A split Union will not work. A spread Union will not work, but will further disintegrate creating divergent levels of solidarity. A split Union would make the crisis deeper. The only answer is more convergence and more Community method.

We should say no to this two-speed Europe. Many non-euro area Member States are much more in the de facto first speed when it comes to growth, fiscal discipline and reform – my country Poland included – than some euro area member countries. Moreover, they are, with two exceptions, committed and obliged – no derogation, as you said – to join the euro area. Should that lead to institutionalising a ‘euro- and economically healthy Member States’ group also? Certainly not. That would be against our principles of unity and solidarity.

The answer is centrifugal Euro Plus. It equals 23 at least. Euro area summits, President Van Rompuy, should precede – not follow – EU summits.

 
  
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  Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D).(NL) Mr President, today I want to speak not about the increased spread, however disquieting that may be, or about some future reform of the Treaty, but about democracy in the European Union today. I have two examples that I would like to give.

The first is from my own home country, which is also that of President Van Rompuy – and he follows this closely, I know – a country where we still await a government and the associated budget. In the margins rages a very acidic discussion between liberals and social democrats. Liberals believe that the Commission’s recommendations need to be implemented in full as part of the budget, while social democrats think that there needs to be a debate about this. Mr Barroso, you are nodding, but these recommendations have not been approved in any parliament – not in this House and not in a national parliament. I listened closely to what Mr Juncker had to say. He said that, in future, he wants there to be more participation by the national parliaments and this House on this kind of thing.

I now turn to my second example, Mr Van Rompuy. You provided an impressive overview of all the initiatives that have been taken. Was it really impressive? In any case it was certainly valuable. There are, however, two groups who are not impressed. The first of these, about whom we hear a lot, is the financial markets. They are not impressed. Then there are the people who are out on the streets today – the Occupy movement, the trade unions and all sorts of different initiatives. Gentlemen, do not make the mistake of filing this as some sort of leftist plot, as there is an important common thread, namely uncertainty, the demand for work and the future. In a democracy – and I am finishing off with this, Mr President – it is not the financial markets but the people who have the last word. It is high time we returned to the core business of our European project.

 
  
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  Wolf Klinz (ALDE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union stands at an absolutely crucial crossroads. We need to deepen integration, especially in the fields of financial and economic policy. We need a strong Commissioner who combines the functions that are currently spread between the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, the President of the Euro Group, a different Finance Minister every six months and the regent of economics Herman Van Rompuy into a single role and who represents the EU and the euro area to the outside world.

If that does not succeed, we will not even be able to defend the status quo, we will then inevitably find ourselves in a disintegration phase. We do not want a union of debt. We need a union of stability, and that is why the solution does not consist of issuing Eurobonds.

Only today, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) had to pay 200 basis points more for its bond issues than Germany. The situation is getting worse – the bonds already issued are quoted far below face value. We need to attempt to also raise reserves that we still have in every Member State. The whole issue of the subsidies must be approached. In my country alone this is certainly a high two-digit, maybe even a three-digit, figure in billions that thus can be adjusted in the budget, with the effect of raising taxes.

Mr Trichet hit the nail on the head today when he said that time is of the essence. The reality is that we must act fast or else the markets will continue to set the course for politics.

 
  
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  Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR).(PL) Mr President, what I am missing from the current debate is the element which would encourage the citizens of the European Union to place more confidence in us. What is it that I am referring to? We are talking about the crisis in Europe; however, the way we are talking about it is as if it has fallen out of the sky, as if it was a part of some natural disaster, even though we can trace the litany of errors which have been made and which have led to the current crisis. If we want this crisis to mark a new beginning, a better start for Europe, then for our own credibility, we have to own up to those elements of our structure that have failed. This does not imply euroscepticism or a negation of the European Union. On the contrary, admitting to the mistakes that we have committed will only strengthen our credibility.

I do hope that this crisis will present an opportunity to build a ‘greater Europe’. The question, however, is what does a ‘greater Europe’ mean? Does it imply more bureaucracy, more regulation and consequently less competitiveness, or does it signify a greater Europe with a larger free and single market?

 
  
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  José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil (PPE).(ES) Mr President, I think that, in order for this exercise to be useful, we should start by telling the truth. The truth is that we are not capable of resolving any of the problems that we have on the table: neither the problem of Greece, nor the problem of Italy.

This incapacity to resolve these problems is affecting every economy in the European Union, it is rendering the efforts of Ireland and Portugal useless, and it is spreading contagion everywhere, including to Belgium and France.

The truth is that the penalty for sovereign debt does not arise for economic reasons, because the foundations of our current account deficit are better than those of the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. Therefore, if it does not arise for economic reasons, it is because it arises only for political reasons. We have not succeeded in finding the right model, and we do not have the institutional structures to resolve the issue.

Up to now, all the solutions that have been adopted – and many have been discussed – all those that have been accepted are based on a restrictive fiscal policy and a restrictive monetary policy; this simply has not worked.

Now is probably the time to consider whether we should look at other models, for example the Anglo-Saxon model, which is based on a lighter fiscal policy and an ultra–accommodating monetary policy.

Obviously we cannot import the model to the European Union exactly as it is. No state, except probably Germany, is in a position to boost public spending, lower taxes or borrow. The room for manoeuvre is very limited, and it will be necessary to submit to fiscal discipline.

We can, however, do this at EU level, and that is what you are responsible for. What needs to be done? I think that in the first place the European Central Bank has to do much more that it is doing now. Since 2007, the Federal Reserve has increased its budget by 226%. The European Central Bank has increased its budget by 103%. The Bank of England has a volume of debt equal to 16% of the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom. That of the European Central Bank is only 2%.

Secondly, a bailout fund will have to be put in place using Eurobonds – with joint responsibility until the Treaty is amended – but before 9 December. It will then be necessary to cater for growth using the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the project bonds, which are like the Loch Ness monster: we all talk about it but nobody has seen it.

If that is not done, what Minister Tremonti said in Italy will happen: the Titanic will sink and it will take everyone with it, including the first class passengers.

That is your responsibility.

 
  
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  Roberto Gualtieri (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all allow me to offer my sincerest congratulations to Mario Monti for his good work; his nomination to guide the Italian Government is fantastic news not only for Italy but also for Europe.

I believe that from this debate strong messages from all political groups will emerge with clarity, and I hope these will be listened to attentively. The first message is that without instruments for growth and development, and with only an austere approach to fiscal matters, the idea of a stable Union is a chimera. The second is that the government of peers, this peer pressure of which President Van Rompuy has also spoken, cannot function. We need provisions that have a legal basis, and we need institutions legitimated democratically. This is the only way to produce a true European economic government.

In all this, to think that reforming three paragraphs of Articles 121 and 126 as decided in Berlin should be a panacea is an illusion not only because of the difficulties and risks of the revision itself but also because, of these three amendments, the first is useless, the second is irrelevant and the third is impossible.

Thus, our position is clear. Firstly, before changing the Treaty of Lisbon, apply it and read it, and you will discover that Articles 136 and 352 are founded on strong legal grounds for strong governance of the euro area based on communitarian methods. Secondly, it is obvious that this Parliament is not opposed in principle to strengthening the EU’s jurisdiction by reforming the Treaty, but this mandate can be limited and should be well-balanced, and this Parliament will not accept a reform which, alongside stability, does not create a Union of solidarity, growth and democracy.

 
  
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  Andrew Duff (ALDE). - Mr President, I would like to address Mr Van Rompuy. I have to say that I find your timetable much too leisurely, both for the markets and for democracy. In a bureaucratic timetable from December to March the leaders will ponder the goals of Treaty change.

Mr Barroso has spelt out clearly the goal. It is to create a credible, discernible, strong, federal economic government for fiscal union. He has also quite correctly said that all Member States should be committed to achieving that exercise.

I have to say to my British colleagues that if the UK thinks it has the moral authority or the political will to block what is necessary and desired by everyone else, it will be a profound tragedy for Britain and also for Europe.

 
  
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  Marietta Giannakou (PPE).(EL) Mr President, I have listened to the Presidents of the Council, the Commission and the Euro Group on the subject of economic governance, which is considered necessary to the proper functioning of the euro area and in order to address the continuing economic crisis. Of course the Union, and especially the countries in the common currency, need a long-term strategy and plan to protect them from international crises.

Economic governance cannot succeed alone; it needs to be accompanied by properly functioning institutions, democratic equilibrium and respect for institutional competences. The problems we have witnessed, with the Council – and, in particular, certain members of it – taking charge of everything, is out of keeping with the basic principles and values of the Union and of the Treaty of Lisbon. It is understandable that the large countries should play a bigger role. However, the power of the Union and its importance in the global system stem from the balance struck between large and small countries and from its unity. The European Commission and Parliament are the strong and necessary factors that give the Union credence as an area of peace, prosperity and democracy, for the benefit of European citizens and of the entire world.

The crisis in the euro area, in which certain countries, such as Greece, are the weak links, cannot be addressed with panicked reactions and fragmented decisions. The austerity programmes for the countries with debts and deficits are absolutely necessary; however, without a long-term plan for growth, without coordinated policies and without disseminating resources between the Member States, the crisis will return again in other countries.

The introversion that marks certain political decisions is undermining the Union’s common future and success. The European Commission should assume fully the role allotted to it in the Treaties and Parliament is entitled to timely information and to participate in the decisions taken to deal effectively with the crisis, in order to give them democratic credence. It is said that history teaches that nothing can be taught. Let us hope that the European Union does not confirm that.

 
  
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  Anni Podimata (S&D).(EL) Mr President, allow me to start, as did Mr Gualtieri, by wishing every success to Loukas Papademos’s government, which is expected to win today’s vote of confidence in the Greek Parliament, and to emphasise that, if this government – like Mario Monti’s government – is to succeed, it will need our honest and undivided support, both within our countries and in the European institutions, and it will need support from all the European capitals.

Today we are debating if and to what extent institutional changes are needed, if the Treaties should be amended, at a time when the debt crisis is growing and expanding while, according to the Commission’s data, growth is slowing, putting the European economy at risk of another recession. All this is happening, more and more, on the orders and at the instigation of the markets and, more and more, behind the backs of the citizens of Europe. We have plenty to say about fluctuations in lending rates and spreads, but we have too little to say about people-related indicators, we have too little to say about unemployment, employment and growth and we have barely anything to say about the very worrying Eurobarometer data on the rapid increase in extreme and nationalistic views throughout Europe. None of this is creating the right environment for a debate about amending the Treaties.

President of the Commission, of course you can rely on our assistance in pushing ahead with a financial transaction tax; we have done so in the past and we shall continue to do so today; however, we too are asking for a firm stand and support from you in defending democracy and the rights of 99% of European citizens, a percentage which, as one of the Occupy Wall Street slogans says, is a very big number to reduce.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE).(PT) Mr President, President Barroso, President Van Rompuy and President Juncker, I would like to say, first of all, that it is with much satisfaction, but also without surprise, that I note in the speeches of all three presidents a strong commitment to Europe and a great will to resolve the current crisis. Nonetheless, it is essential that your energy and will be passed on to the Heads of State or Government and, in particular, the Heads of State or Government of those countries with the greatest economic and financial weight in Europe.

This is for the following reason: there has been a great deal of talk about Treaty change, including behind the scenes here in Parliament. Yet no national public opinion, no Member State electorate, will accept Treaty change if the European Union is not capable of resolving the crisis and of providing the prospect of a solution to the current situation.

We could have the best institutional solution; we could have the best economic governance we could imagine: the best solutions. If, in the next six, seven or eight months, we do not show signs that we are resolving the crisis, no European electorate or national parliament will be willing to change the rules of governance within the European Union in order to change the Treaties, which would indeed give us the tools to prevent crises of this sort.

In view of this, I call on all the European bodies and institutions to move forward with a plan for resolving the crisis once and for all, because, as my colleague Mr García-Margallo y Marfil rightly said, not only have we failed, but we have failed repeatedly.

I also wanted to say that it is crucial that this be done with a view to the single market that we have, both to the area of the 27 Member States and, in particular, to the area encompassing those countries that wish to join the euro area. The solution to the crisis will be achieved not only through austerity, but also through growth, and there can only be growth if there is a single market. If we separate into two Europes and break with the idea of the single market, we can be sure that sinking will certainly not be the path towards growth.

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès (S&D).(FR) Mr President, Mr Barroso, Vice-President Rehn, I think that you heard Mr Juncker when he talked about how the European semester should become a political tool. To that end, the founding act of the discussion – which is at least what we think you called the Annual Growth Survey – must become annual guidelines for sustainable growth. You have the chance, this time, to change it before next time, so do it. If this European semester is to be a debate about political guidelines, there will then be no economic government without Parliament involved, having its say, creating discussion around these political and economic guidelines.

You must realise that, in 2012, this European Parliament might propose amendments to this Annual Growth Review, which would be debated at the European Council. That is what this Parliament is proposing. I hope that you can take it into account, because then you will be keeping democracy and political debate alive and national parliaments and the European Parliament will be involved in what must be genuine governance of the euro area and of the Union.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE). - Mr President, first of all can I make just three points? Is it good governance that states and multinational institutions dance to the tune of powerful unelected wealthy secret figures?

The role of rating agencies, with a precarious history of triple-A rating products, including subprime property, comes to mind. So-called free markets appear to be open to manipulation by powerful interests that can even target countries in the euro area and beyond: we have seen sterling in the past, and we may see the yen in the future.

It is right that countries should behave responsibility and ethically, but it is also right that public service institutions serve the public interest and equip themselves to address manipulation and reckless greed. I invite the President of the Commission to reflect on this matter.

In the time available let me make two other points. First of all, I support what President Barroso said in relation to intergovernmentalism. I come from a small Member State; we suffer most when intergovernmentalism is at its best. When things are set down in the Treaties it is best for small Member States, it is best indeed for the Union, because we are not then at the whim of a particular leader in a particular Member State.

The third point I want to make is in relation to growth, and a point made recently by the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He said that the IMF has said that, if there were a global growth pact to increase consumer spending in Asia and infrastructure spending in the West, the world economy would grow much faster, and 25 to 50 million jobs would be created.

He then asked, in relation to the good governance of Europe, who in Europe had the capacity to deal with this. The answer is: none of the Presidents here present. Apparently the real power to do this lies with the President of the French Republic, who happens be in the chairmanship of the G22. But we need to start thinking in terms of what the IMF has said: we are too small in our thinking, we need to be bigger in our thinking in relation to growth.

 
  
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  Elisa Ferreira (S&D).(PT) Mr President, let us be honest. For three years we have been using the same remedy to get out of the crisis, yet the situation is worsening day by day. Instead of a cure, we have created two fatal vicious cycles. The first of these is between the banks and the Member States. It is now more likely that we in Europe will be discussing the bankruptcy of a Member State than of a large bank, but we continue to hope that the banks will finance the Member States and the Member States will save the banks.

This spiral must be broken. The Commission must come forward with European legislation to protect taxpayers from the banking crisis. Yet it is also vital to protect Member States’ debt from attacks by speculators. In order for this to happen, there is an urgent need, already overdue, to prepare the coordinated issue of sovereign debt, known as Eurobonds or stability bonds, and to guarantee them through robust instruments of a Union, rather than intergovernmental, nature. In short, we must also reconsider the involvement of the European Central Bank.

However, the second vicious cycle stems from the argument that some Member States are rich because they are virtuous, while others are poor because they have sinned. This narrative is politically incendiary and technically incorrect. It ignores the essential fact that a single market and currency, built out of political choice and between unequal parties, inevitably exacerbates imbalances in competitiveness between the centre and the periphery.

It is this which must be addressed by economic governance. Not, Mr Van Rompuy, through sanctions which promote squeezing salaries and incomes, with one country monitoring another. Rather, Commissioner, the issue must be addressed through the involvement both of countries with surpluses and of countries with deficits, so as to make productivity converge through investment, education and science. The sanctions have only generated unemployment, disillusionment and a wave of recessions from which we cannot escape.

 
  
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  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE).(PL) Mr President, I have listened very carefully to the speech made by President Barroso and the statement by Mr Van Rompuy, on behalf of the European Council, as well as the statement by President Juncker. Firstly, I would like to say that it appears that we have a consensus in the House regarding one issue, namely that the proposed preventative measures and coordination mechanisms that we are adopting with regard to credit rating agencies or short-term sales are essential. There is absolutely no doubt that in the current unstable situation, these solutions are vital and necessary. They need to be implemented as quickly as possible. The question only remains whether they address the core of the problem and whether they resolve future problems. We truly need more ambitious measures for which the measures currently proposed serve as a foundation only. The need to strive towards true convergence is of key importance today, since it is only under such conditions that the Economic and Monetary Union can grow effectively in the long term. Union regulations must support true convergence, otherwise we will only drift and will not be able to develop and compete in world markets. Convergence means, first and foremost, the single market, which is a guarantor of our competitiveness in the world market. If I may, I would like to make a remark addressed directly to President Van Rompuy. The euro is not the property of the euro area States. The euro is a value of importance to all of us.

The impact of the euro currency and its stability on the economies of Member States that are currently availing of a derogation which, let me remind you, is only temporary, is often as important as it is for euro area States. Therefore, decisions in this matter have to be taken jointly. Mr President, we need to take them using the Community method, together with all the Member States. This is because, although the Community method is quite slow and often fails as a result of the focus on the particular interests of individual Member States, it was the intergovernmental method that created a euro area without a common policy for fiscal and revenue matters. It was the intergovernmental method that constructed a flawed, or far from perfect, currency system. The Community method, on the other hand, ensures that if we pass certain regulations, they will apply to all of us and not only to weaker Member States. Today, we can ask ourselves the question: if the governments of Germany or France, for example, were weak, would we be able to change them by exerting external pressure? Or would we not? Thank you very much.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE).(IT) Mr President, President Barroso, President Van Rompuy, ladies and gentlemen, I have put on a shirt bearing the name of Italy because Italy, like Greece, is ready to play its part. However, without a European plan for investment and for fighting unemployment, the sacrifices are at risk of being in vain. Austerity policies should be followed urgently by effective actions for growth and development, thereby accelerating progress on Eurobonds, project bonds and the financial transaction tax, as well as the fight against tax evasion.

In order to be credible we should not simply reassure the markets and support the banks, but also give more faith alongside concrete answers to the people of Europe, to our enterprises and to our youth, who are in danger of paying too high a price. As President Van Rompuy has said, we should not only punish sinners but also feel that we are united in a common destiny of responsibility, solidarity and social cohesion.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Mr President, the December summit of the European Council will deal in particular with the mechanism for ensuring the financial stability of the euro area and the requisite changes to the Treaty of Lisbon. However, I fear that measures of this kind will not be sufficient on their own, even if they are clearly necessary. Much more will have to be done.

There are more effective alternatives which our citizens quite rightly expect from us. I would like to say on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament that ever since the outbreak of the crisis in 2008, we have been proposing economically effective and socially just measures, including a financial transaction tax, or the regulation of international financial markets, resolving the problem of tax havens, and ending speculation about the sovereignty of individual Member States.

Last but not least, it is important that the much-needed recapitalisation of banks is accompanied by measures to protect the public interest, transparency and allocation of responsibility.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, seamlessness, more Europe and more economic governance.

I support the measures set out, but we are still in this political crisis. Assume your leadership and, please, inspire confidence, because Europe is not just Merkel and Sarkozy.

Make the speeches we listened to this morning a little more human. Speak out about the need to restore values and the need for people. Economic control, of course, but Europe is paralysed.

For this reason, it is vital to have a serious plan for economic recovery, with more investment, more collaboration between the public and private sectors, more innovation, more technology, more risk and more economic development backed up by social development.

These measures were the model of success in the Basque Country during the crisis of the 1980s when the Basque Nationalist Party was in government. We achieved a triple A rating, just like Germany. However, we were dragged down by the Spain brand.

Look to the regions. Mr Juncker, in this constructive dialogue, take account of everyone’s knowledge. The method is important. Look to the regions to rebuild Europe from the bottom up.

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts (Verts/ALE).(FR) Mr President, Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy, you are right, the Commission must be the Union’s economic government.

In fact, it already is in that it dictates the conduct of Member State governments in budgetary matters and also increasingly in other areas such as in social affairs.

What is not right is that political choices governing these recommendations are made behind closed doors between the Council and the Commission. The only concession you are willing to make is for the European Parliament to be kept ‘informed’. Do not think for one minute that national parliaments are consulted any more, because of what Mrs Merkel does at every turn when she consults the Bundestag. How many Heads of State or Government do the same with their parliament?

What we are saying, is that there can be no federal economic governance in Europe unless these major guidelines are adopted under codecision with the European Parliament and unless they are translated to the Member States under codecision with national parliaments.

Taking short-cuts with democracy is the surest way of weakening it. There are plenty of people in Europe hoping that will happen, our citizens will not put up with it.

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen (ECR).(NL) Mr President, Europe was too mono-focused on the euro, and this mammon is now on the verge of imploding. In its temples, called hedge funds, stock exchanges and bonus banks, people worked feverishly to keep the money altars up. We are now seeing all kinds of disasters occurring at the same time: rising unemployment coupled with high levels of public and private debt. Never in history have so many people been depressed.

Europe traded in its Christian values of moderation, justice and compassion for money and goods. That is no basis for a sustainable existence and a sustainable economic policy. The forthcoming European Council would do well to address a couple of real questions of government, such as: how can we return to being a Europe of standards and values, what riches do our Christian roots have to offer and how can we become considerate stewards for our fellow human beings and creation? Let the debate about this begin so that a new and future-proof vision of Europe is born.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL).(PT) Mr President, Mr Van Rompuy has come here to say that the governments are doing everything right, that the European semester is the be all and end all, and that what is needed at the end of the day is pressure, more pressure and yet more pressure. He applauds budgetary discipline and calls for it to be stepped up, and for automatic sanctions, even if this means blocking voting rights or structural funding for countries in difficulty.

Dr Barroso has come to talk about rebuilding trust, about strengthening growth policy in a pact with Europeans and for Europeans, about the Community method, and about more Europe.

Mr Juncker has come to tell us that so much can be done one way or another, and that there is ultimately not a great difference between form and content; that it is the ends that are important. He is somewhat disappointed with the European semester because he says that it needs to be more political and less technical.

Mr Van Rompuy, Dr Barroso, Mr Juncker, can you hear one another? If you can, are you really listening to one another? You are destroying Europe.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI).(DE) Mr President, we need functional economic policy coordination between the Member States, as we actually want to see real action. We need clear definitions to be established for once, so that we can tackle the sweeping critics. There is no need for the fear of the loss of heterogeneity that has been stirred up despite the fact that none of the elements that differentiate us are affected.

We have had a common economic area for a long time. A transparent analysis of national budgets by the Commission will benefit the citizens. One example of what I am including here is greater monitoring of the national budgets. When it comes to the potential Treaty amendments that are under discussion I would say that we should finally take seriously, for example, the existing stipulations of the Stability and Growth Pact.

Presidents, nous sommes l’Europe – we are Europe. Let us make it happen.

 
  
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  Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Euro Group.(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I am somewhat surprised at this debate. After all, I am someone who has come before Parliament willingly and I am dealing with the matter entrusted to me. Since my task this morning is to talk about governance – or gouvernance or wirtschaftpolitische Steuerung, whatever you want to call it – then that is the dry subject matter with which I must grapple. Consequently, I do not like it when know-it-alls then stand up and say that I should get to the point. If I am asked to speak about a particular matter – albeit rather rudely and very late in the day – then that is what I will talk about. I, too, would much rather talk about the things that these wise guys have allowed themselves to talk about, but they are not on the agenda.

Many of you talk about Europe and the European Parliament, but give arguments that are quite clearly motivated by domestic politics. Some are in favour of Chancellor Merkel, others are against her. Funnily enough, the former are in the CDU and the latter are in the SPD. It is exactly the same with President Sarkozy. Is this a European Parliament, or is it an extension of domestic parliamentary debate? If so, do not force the President of the Euro Group to take part in such a debate; it has nothing to do with the matter in hand.

(Applause)

A few months ago, I spoke in favour of Eurobonds in an article in the Financial Times – because I always use British newspapers if I want to get across a message in Europe. I have not given up on this idea, but others did not want them. Listening to the groups here, in each group there are those in favour of Eurobonds and others who are less keen. One might expect the national governments in Europe to advance only national viewpoints, but very often that is also what happens in this House. I would therefore ask you to hold back on the collective damnation that is regularly rained down on the governments here.

I am in favour of Eurobonds, and I do not like it when this idea is permanently subjected to so much character assassination as to be unrecognisable – as has been done by some of my colleagues in Germany. It does not, after all, represent the absolute communitarisation of all the debt; it is an instrument of solidarity with conditions attached. That is what Eurobonds are. One day we will come back to this instrument. As Head of the Euro Group, however, I am not authorised even to say that here. Yet since everyone here is saying what they think, I am allowed to say what I think sometimes too.

I believe we should incorporate as much flexibility as possible into the recast of the framework agreement on the European Financial Stability Facility, because the financial markets cannot comprehend our insistence on unanimous opinions that are set in stone and never change even after debate. So long as we have the principle of unanimity we will not be flexible or able to react. We complain that the financial markets are much faster than the democracies – although that is no reason to abolish democracy. If we want to react quickly, then we need to drop these unanimity clauses. Not everyone in the Euro Group shares this opinion, however. I am in favour of the financial transaction tax, but not all the euro governments are in favour of this tax. We therefore have to consider how we organise these debates in future.

In this debate precisely 84 questions have been put which have nothing to do with the actual subject of the debate. If I am invited here to talk about governance, then I wish to speak about governance. I would far rather spend time on the other matters, because they are infinitely more important. I then get five minutes in which to answer 84 questions. It may be parliamentary procedure, but it is pointless and there is nothing smart about it.

(Applause)

 
  
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  José Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission. Mr President, many issues were raised during the debate. These issues are, in a way, interlinked. That is why, when we put forward our roadmap for stability and growth, we mentioned the need to combine growth and stability.

During the debate, one specific issue that was referred to in some statements was taxation. It is important to look at this in more detail at European level. The truth is that, after the United States, the European Union is the richest region in the world. Yet some are suggesting that we should depend on emerging economies, countries which are much poorer than us, to rescue the European Union. I find this rather strange, to be honest.

The reality is stark. We have the resources in Europe to respond, provided there is the political will. The reality is that our Member States spend more than they receive from taxpayers. This is the reality. When the point has been reached where you can no longer cut expenditure, you need to think about raising revenue. This is unavoidable. This means appropriate, fair taxation. This taxation, I want to make clear, should not be dependent on labour – because we need more employment, not less – but should be dependent on, for instance, resource consumption, on excessive consumption of energy or on considerable fortunes and patrimony.

The Commission has made proposals on the fight against tax evasion through the request for a mandate to negotiate with third countries. So far we have not received a mandate from the Council to negotiate with third countries to fight tax evasion. We have made proposals in the Energy Tax Directive. We have made proposals on the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) as a first step to some kind of coordination. We have made proposals for a financial transaction tax.

So let us be honest. It is not necessary to bring forward yet another package. It is time for the Council and the Member States to act, and to act quickly, also in the field of taxation.

Let us speak in very concrete terms. Some governments have said that their country is very rich. The state is poor because people do not collect taxes, but the country is very rich. So, if the country is very rich, it will probably be the right moment to ask the rich country to contribute to stabilising the situation, rather than putting itself and the euro area as a whole at risk because it does not have a proper taxation system.

Regarding the more general debate about economic governance, the Treaty requires that Member States regard their economic policies as a matter of common concern – all the Member States, not only the euro area countries –and that their budgetary policies are guided by the need for sound public finances. The Treaty further requires that Member States’ economic policies do not risk jeopardising the proper functioning of Economic and Monetary Union.

These are the guiding principles for the package of proposals for deeper economic integration which the Commission is finalising for next week. We aim to find a package with the right balance between substantial reinforcement of economic governance, on the one hand, and assessing options for stability bonds, on the other. Such bonds could, if well designed, strengthen financial stability and fiscal discipline in the euro area, and thus facilitate sustainable growth and job creation in Europe as a whole.

Let us be very honest about this. There are no miracle solutions. We have to have some kind of instruments to fight the current financial instability in Europe. If we want to keep a common currency, something more is needed in terms of the common instruments to fight this financial instability. We have to make a decision on this as a matter of urgency, even before any revision of the Treaty.

As demonstrated by the current crisis, and in particular by the need to put in place common financial backstops, euro area Member States are liable to experience spillovers. They should come up with more concrete responses to possible spillovers from their policies. Therefore, Member States in the euro should consider their budgetary plans to be of common concern. That is why we think that draft budgetary plans should be assessed at European level before they become binding. We will, of course, assess budgetary plans with regard to both fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic imbalances.

This is why we have been discussing governance today. Governance is not just an objective issue regarding the substantive issues of economic policy. As we have seen during this crisis, what investors – and our citizens, of course – are asking is ‘are you in the euro area ready to take decisions?’ ‘Are you in the euro area able to sustain a common currency?’

So the governance issue is a substantive issue. It is not a formal issue. This is the reality all over the world. Just today, the President of the United States, speaking in the Pacific, asked the European Union to take bolder decisions in terms of structure and governance. I think our partners are right to ask us to have a clearer, streamlined way of taking decisions.

This is why it is important to discuss these matters of governance. They should not be seen in terms of turf – if matters are decided at European or national level, if they go to Brussels, to this institution or another. An indispensable pre-condition for a strong common currency is to have some kind of integration in terms of the governance of the euro area. Without this increased integration, convergence and discipline, we will not be able to sustain a common currency.

That moment of truth is coming. Either Member States accept this and complete what was initiated in Maastricht, by supplementing monetary union with an economic union that requires further discipline, further convergence, and further integration, or they do not accept it, which would jeopardise our goal.

This is the truth. These coming weeks will see very important decisions being taken. The Commission is coming with proposals which I hope will enable us to achieve our goal and I have seen the determination in many of our Member States. We know that it will be extremely difficult; let us be fair to all our Member States.

There are 17 democracies in the euro area and 27 democracies in the European Union. The rhythm of democracy is slower than the rhythm of markets. We now need to show, also through increased Community governance, that we are able to respond to the immediate and longer-term concerns. We can only achieve that through stability and growth, only through responsibility and solidarity.

This is the pact at the core of our response. Some just want to speak about discipline and responsibility. They should also think about solidarity. Others just want to speak about growth. They should also speak about discipline.

We need this pact to be achieved so that we can have a consistent, coherent, credible response to this crisis. We can come out of this crisis stronger, but, in order to do this, some important decisions have to be taken.

 
  
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  Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. (FR) Mr President, I will be very brief.

I was invited here by the President of Parliament to talk about economic governance. This was the subject in preparation for the European Council to be held on 9 December including the report that I had to deliver in cooperation with the President of the Commission and the President of the Euro Group. It was the subject of this debate and I therefore stuck to it.

I was very analytical in my introduction. What has been done and what will be done? It is as simple as that. I therefore drew up a list, a summary, in fact, of what has been done. Is it enough in itself to say what is being done? No. It is a completely factual report that has been drawn up, which should have been done long before the euro area crisis. It was not done, it was not even requested and now we are paying the price for it.

After the chapter about what has been done is the one about what should be done. Once again, chapter by chapter, I will put forward the subjects that we need to discuss. These subjects are central to the interim report that I will make in December with Mr Barroso and Mr Juncker. These subjects involve budgetary discipline, budgetary integration, in fact the Economic Union, and economic convergence. For each subject, I have specified the issues to be raised. It is not about me having to come up with a plan at this stage.

What is more, I have nothing but respect for the Community method. The Commission is the one that has to come up with the proposals, not me. It is therefore the Commission which has come up with the proposals and which will continue to do so. My role is to try and find a consensus at the European Council between both the Seventeen and the Twenty-Seven. That is my role and that is why I was asked to take on this job. I will do it. Yet I think that I asked the right questions earlier and I thank those of you who wanted to put their point across on those issues now on the agenda and on economic governance.

As for the three major issues – budgetary discipline, budgetary integration and economic convergence –, I have just one comment. What we are experiencing is a private debt crisis, made much worse by what the banks and financial institutions did not only in Europe, but across the globe, and in a way, I would say by a global policy of extremely low interest rates. That brought about escalating debts in some countries, which led to a loss of competitiveness and the current balance of payment deficits. Many of the problems we face stem from this, alongside a sovereign debt crisis. Private debt and public debt are what got us into this trouble in the first place.

I often hear a lot of talk in this House about the effects of the austerity policy, but seldom do I hear anybody saying much about this policy of budgetary discipline being inevitable in many countries. Some countries are not under attack from the financial markets, and there is a reason for that: they have conducted a sound enough budgetary and economic policy. If all countries had a, shall we say, satisfactory ratio in terms of private and public debt, we would not be in this euro area crisis. First things first, then: we need to bring each house into order. That comes at a cost, I know, but it is absolutely essential. Even for conducting a policy of budgetary integration, and there has been a lot of talk about stability bonds, Eurobonds, a way of pooling the debt. That cannot be done without budgetary discipline. They go hand in hand. The two go together.

Yes, it has been said, I agree, but there has been no real focus on it. This is the very least that can be said. If we want to go along the path of budgetary and financial integration, we need to do so in stages, because we are currently not ready for fully-fledged budgetary integration as there are too many economic, social and budgetary divergences within the euro area.

When the rate of youth unemployment stands at 8% in some countries and 48% in others, we are not ready; the divergence is far too great. Therefore, if we want budgetary integration, we need to choose the means and the instruments, then see if there is a need for Treaty change for some methods and if there is no need or less need for others.

We will work on these three channels and we will discuss them in December. I am sure that we will also discuss them again in this Parliament and at the European Council in the months ahead

I will make two small comments on division in Europe. Ladies and gentlemen, the thing that would create the biggest division – which will not be the case – would be failing to guarantee stability in the euro area. Should that happen, division will indeed be great. We must therefore provide the 17 countries with all the instruments and means to ensure they safeguard stability in the euro area. In my opinion, this is the primary objective. At this stage, I am not concerned about knowing whether so and so is frustrated or whether so and so would love to have this or that. We must do everything in our power to ensure that we are sailing in the same boat: first of all the Seventeen, and secondly the Twenty-Seven. However, the primary objective is to secure financial stability in the euro area.

Just one final comment on economic growth. It is not just a European problem. Obviously, we have to make our own contribution to growth and the first condition is to restore confidence in our own zone because the recession, or rather the stagnation these days is caused, in the first instance, not by austerity policies but by the lack of confidence shown by investors and consumers in the euro area. This mainly explains the current stagnation. There is obviously the United States which is also suffering a debt problem and which is also suffering a structural problem with its economy. I was just there in September and I heard business leaders there saying practically the same as they do in Europe. Of course, emerging countries are also experiencing a loss of growth. I have to be extremely wary in how I express myself when I say that they also need to accept greater flexibility in their exchange rates so that the problems they face are not exported to other parts of the world. Growth is a whole. It is not just Europe and in Europe, it is not just a matter of austerity, it is also a matter of confidence.

We need to work on economic growth. We also need to work on it using non-financial means, hence the importance of the single market. We have not yet exploited all the possibilities of the single market by far. We must work on different levels and not only in Europe but across the entire planet.

These are some of the explanations that I wanted to give you in this debate on economic governance.

(Applause)

 
  
 

(The sitting was suspended at 12.05)

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) Today we are debating long-term reforms in the area of EU economic governance, which will determine the principles on which the European economic governance and surveillance system will be based. The European economic governance mechanism adopted is the greatest body of law aimed at economic and financial regulation since the establishment of the Economic and Monetary Union. This package sets out economic priorities, regulates enhanced supervision of national fiscal policies, provides for measures for ensuring greater economic stability and eliminating the financial sector’s regulatory deficiencies. Mr President, you have expressed your support for the economic governance model chosen, which many fear will split Europe into a so-called two speed Europe. Although all countries will be able to participate in the mechanism and fulfil the criteria set out in it, only countries belonging to the euro area will have the right to make decisions. Those Member States which have already linked their currencies to the euro and have transferred their monetary policy to the European Central Bank, but for certain reasons have not yet introduced the euro (such as Lithuania), are directly affected by all aspects of decisions made in the euro area but are unable to influence them. I believe that we have to reconsider in detail the principles of the economic model chosen and ensure that those Member States whose exchange rate is pegged to the euro also have the right to make decisions in the European economic governance mechanism. Perhaps such a principle would be a greater incentive for non-euro area countries to firstly link their currencies to the euro and thus strengthen their aim of integrating into the euro area and at the same time participate in decision making.

 
  
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  Nessa Childers (S&D), in writing. With a strengthening of action comes a strengthening of credibility. It is clear to all that we need a Community-wide approach if we are to see stability again in Europe. The economic crisis is our common problem and it will only be resolved through common action based on a collection of democratic institutions, rather than a small coterie of EU leaders. The European Parliament is the representation of European citizens and the guarantor of democratic legitimacy. MEPs must be given more say in the resolution of the financial crisis, particularly in light of the unsuccessful resolutions put forward by a small group of national leaders. The European Parliament is already taking action on speculation. This week in Strasbourg, MEPs voted to ban the short-selling of bonds in the financial markets, which is the first in a number of important steps needed to temper the markets, restore demand and create sustainable jobs. We have tried the European Council route to stabilise the euro, and it has proved unsuccessful. The focus must now be to utilise the EU’s other democratic arm for fiscal reform – only in this way can we ensure support for our plans by European citizens.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) From summit to summit, from document to document, the leaders of the EU are allowing the dictatorship of the markets to be imposed, the crisis to spread to more countries and the veritable theft to continue, above all through financial speculation, leaving the most vulnerable economies, workers and peoples to live with the consequences.

It is time to stop heading down this path to social and economic disaster. The way out cannot be the dictatorship of budgets based on irrational and nominal criteria, which exacerbates inequality, increases unemployment and poverty and impoverishes peoples, always to the benefit of big business and the financial sector. This is implemented through so-called economic governance, which is nothing more than the deepening of centralisation and the concentration of economic and political power, shoving democracy aside and paving the way for the intensification of social struggles and tensions.

The way forward is to fight these policies, as in the general strike due to take place on 24 November in Portugal.

 
  
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  Kinga Göncz (S&D), in writing.(HU) Only together can we overcome the intensifying crisis of the euro area. We need steps that serve the deepening of integration while more efficiently utilising Community tools and methods. The markets reject belated and slow half-measures and separate deals. The intensifying debt crisis makes it clear that only quick, commonly adopted and implemented decisions and credible measures taken by Community institutions invested with extended powers can keep the euro area, and consequently the European Union, from falling apart. I agree with those who believe that the strengthening of European economic governance and the deepening of political integration is needed for the EU to break free from this crisis, which is reaching an extent not seen since World War II. The crisis, which threatens the existence of the Monetary Union, can be felt throughout Europe. It is for this reason that Member States that are not members of the euro area are urging countries using the common currency to engage in closer cooperation. At the same time we reject the intention to create a two- or multi-gear Europe, as well as intergovernmental solutions. What we need now is openness and the consideration and reconciliation of the interests of all Member States. The European Parliament must have full say in decisions that concern the basis of the future of integration. A commonly governed Community deciding on closer integration needs a budget reflecting its ambitions, and a strong cohesion policy.

 
  
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  Liem Hoang Ngoc (S&D), in writing. – (FR) The agreement of 27 October is flabbergasting. The austerity policies that it intends to include in the constitutions will plunge Europe into a recession where tax revenues will dry up and deficits will widen. They will increase the risks associated with holding sovereign debts, leading to higher interest rates. The banks will see their balance sheets deteriorate and will struggle to increase their capital. Only the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) would allow for a restructuring of debts and recapitalisations and defuse any new tension about rates. To do so, it would have to turn into the embryonic European Treasury, issuing Eurobonds which the European Central Bank (ECB) could buy back at a lower rate. There are no plans for this. The fund, which started off with EUR 440 billion, now only has EUR 250 billion. To raise the EUR 1 trillion supposed to reassure the markets, it will transform the sovereign debts held into derivatives to activate the ‘leverage effect’. However, the recession will increase the risk of defaults. We hardly dare imagine the effects of this securitisation of Italian and Spanish debts should these countries partly default. This agreement is explosive for the financial system, already under threat from austerity measures which are crippling growth. Turning to China rather than the ECB is detrimental to industry and employment in Europe.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing.(HU) It has been almost one month since 26 October and Europe is still powerless when it comes to deciding on such cardinal issues as the calming of the European markets or the objective management of the ratings of credit institutions. Europe can only be taken seriously if it is able to offer the citizens genuine, forward-looking answers. That is why I envision our activities in two dimensions: a short-term dimension which refers to tasks that need to be completed immediately, and a long-term one that pertains to several decades, and guarantees economic growth and job creation, that is, European prosperity. However, in order for us to be able to keep our long-term strategies – which are based on mutual solidarity and are often not without serious tradeoffs – such as the creation of the common financial supervision or the launching of economic governance, we must not allow short-term goals and actors from outside of Europe to make the achievement of our common goals impossible in any way. It is welcome that after a long time the Commission has initiated the stricter regulation and legal accountability of credit rating agencies, but it is shocking and perplexing that the proposals on the temporary suspension of ratings and the creation of a European credit rating agency have been postponed. I therefore urge the Commission to create as soon as possible a European credit rating agency that is intimately familiar with the moods of the European markets and is fundamentally interested in the upturn of the European economy in order to create a stable and predictable European economic atmosphere, which can be considered the key to our future.

 
  
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  András Gyürk (PPE), in writing.(HU) It is unacceptable for global economic processes and the reputations of the economies of individual countries to be at the whims of credit rating agencies who are responsible for the outbreak and intensification of the economic crisis through the series of erroneous and sometimes self-serving ratings they have given in the past few years. It is high time for Europe to step up in unison against the wrong and damaging practices of credit rating agencies. In this regard the announcement made yesterday by Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, stating that the European Commission will initiate a stricter regulation of credit rating agencies in several respects, and that in certain cases the agencies will be held legally accountable, is welcome. However, it is disappointing that the Commission has, for the time being, postponed the decision on the temporary suspension of ratings and the establishment of a European credit rating agency. It is in the common interest of Europe that the European Commission decide as soon as possible on these matters as well. The Hungarian delegation of the Group of the European People’s Party supports all efforts by the European Commission that include the further harmonisation and tightening of the rules on the operation of credit rating agencies. Until then, however, the opinions of credit rating agencies should be treated with ample reservations, because, as revealed unfortunately over the past few years, there is often serious doubt as to their soundness. Increasing the uncertainty on the financial markets, unfounded and unjustified downgrades only serve to further deepen the crisis, and may plunge European countries already struggling with difficulties into further recession. In the most severe crisis in the history of the European Union this is unacceptable irresponsibility.

 
  
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  Iliana Ivanova (PPE), in writing. (BG) The most recent turmoil in Europe’s economic and financial environment showed once again that the efforts of individual countries are not sufficient to stabilise Europe’s financial markets. At the moment, we are not talking about a few problems with public debt, but are facing a systemic crisis which is having an impact on every citizen in the EU’s Member States. At this difficult time, Europe must be united more than ever and not give into the populist voices calling for the euro area to be disbanded. We can only tackle the challenges in the world around us if we are together. Europe’s institutions must strengthen their role as a unifying force and use the crisis as an opportunity to create a sound legal framework for economic governance.

I call on the European Commission to implement the economic governance package measures as soon as possible and to present other European instruments which will help financial stability in the EU. Member States which do not belong to the euro area must be involved on an equal footing with the other states in making decisions about the European Union’s future, and must not be isolated from the processes. This is the path Europe must pursue to avoid a two-speed Union, which will be detrimental to the European project in the long run.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The outcome of the latest Council meeting on the future of the euro area was positive and demonstrated the solidarity shown by all Member States towards the states which are experiencing hardship, although we still have many grounds for concern at European Union level. A variety of options at euro area level have been discussed so far, ranging from the European Union’s Solidarity Fund to Eurobonds or intervention from the ECB on secondary markets. It is absolutely necessary to implement these options without any restrictions. However, I think that unless proper European economic governance is established for the euro area, with increased decision-making powers, the European Union will not be able to respond as an entity. This European economic governance will allow us to develop much closer coordination of fiscal policies at EU level, carry out macroeconomic supervision of Member States and devise a common economic strategy which will make the European Union more powerful globally. In the opposite scenario, the future of the single European currency and even of the European project itself may be seriously jeopardised.

 
  
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  Vladimír Maňka (S&D), in writing. (SK) We all agree that imbalances must be eliminated and we must stop getting deeper into debt. On the other hand, we have to prevent Europe from falling into the same situation as fourteen years ago with the Far Eastern crisis, which slowly engulfed one state after another. A policy of cutbacks in one country would not only slow that country down economically, but would have a knock-on effect on the others. A policy of excessive cutbacks is also an infection that could bring down a country’s immediate neighbours and drag down others. This would be untenable without measures to stimulate growth.

It is very important to make maximum use of the European funds. If we use them according to plan, we would have 2% higher economic growth, 1% higher employment and 1% greater labour productivity in the new Member States

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. Mr President, Presidents of the European Council, the Commission and the Euro Group, just as in a Shakespearean tragedy the European Union must, like Hamlet, ask: ‘To be, or not to be, that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die, to sleep...’ The question that expects a swift response is just as existential, as in principle there are two extremes: either to abandon the European project as such altogether or to reinforce it radically. All the other options fall between the two, yet it must be kept in mind that any half-hearted effort that stalls progress towards an effective solution that actually saves the Euro area only paves the way for the ultimate demise of the EU. My concerns are primarily related to the security of Eastern Europe. I am afraid that the current division within the EU on the solution of the crisis only works against us, therefore I call for more purposeful action. We will not survive with a solution that everyone can accept, but with a solution that works.

 
  
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  Jacek Protasiewicz, (PPE), in writing.(PL) At a time of deepening crisis, which is being experienced in Europe in particular, the overriding objective should be to take joint actions aimed at the stabilisation of European economies and better coordination of anti-crisis measures. Discussions as to how this objective should be brought about effectively often come with concerns that the introduction of new principles of economic governance in the European Union may lead to the creation of a two-tier Union. These concerns are not unfounded. However, the facts already point to the existence of two Unions: one encompassing the euro area Member States and the other, more political, consisting of all 27 Member States.

It is evident to me that the States with the common currency need to have instruments for conducting common fiscal and monetary policy, as well as measures for enforcing discipline across these two areas. Accession to the euro area comes with shared responsibility for the state of the single currency. It is therefore obvious to me that membership in the euro area must be linked to acceptance of the principles of single economic governance. This is not only for the benefit of a particular Member State, but also for the common good.

 
  
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  Edward Scicluna (S&D), in writing. We all state in public that European economies are so interconnected that we need to coordinate our actions. Yet what we have seen in practice are creditor countries in the euro area, with relatively sound and stable public finances and strong economies, pursuing the same austerity policies as those receiving emergency loans. As a result, last week’s economic forecasts by the Commission demonstrated that the euro area has now been brought to the brink of a new recession. This is definitely not the time to be talking about changing the treaties. As we saw from the creation of the European Stability Mechanism earlier this year, even the use of the new simplified procedure takes months – and that is without changing the EU’s competences. The issue of embedding the current emergency measures in the treaties should wait until we see the resolution of this crisis. Rather than behaving exclusively like conventional creditors, Europe’s strongest countries should take this opportunity to pursue more demand-driven policies and stop the EU from going over the brink.

 
  
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  Theodor Dumitru Stolojan (PPE), in writing. (RO) I firmly believe that, if we implement the new European economic governance legislation as it should be, we can prevent in the future the current tough situations caused by some Member States’ excessive indebtedness. I agree that we perhaps need new measures to enhance economic governance. However, we should beware of needlessly increasing European legislation, only because we make compromises politically when it comes to the behaviour of an individual Member State.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D), in writing.(HU) The European economy is on a knife’s edge. Thanks to the forced austerity measures and erroneous economic policy decisions of the past period, forecasts now indicate a drastic slowdown in the economic growth of European countries for the next year. At the same time budget deficit will once again soar and it will be more difficult and more costly to finance public debts. There is only one way to break free from this two-fold stranglehold. We must implement the legislative package on economic governance which serves budgetary discipline as soon as possible, and must adopt additional rules serving the reinforcement of economic cooperation. In the medium term, however, we need a policy that encourages investments, and accelerates sustainable economic growth in Europe primarily through energy efficiency, the development of renewable energy sources, and expenditure on research and development, education and the improvement of the health care situation. Without stable and sustainable economic growth the renewal of the European social model and the at least partial preservation of its most important accomplishments is unthinkable.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) In light of the downbeat forecasts for short-term economic growth, the economic governance legislative package is intended to restore confidence in the financial markets. I think that imposing austerity measures alone without any measures promoting economic and social development would prolong the current economic crisis and exacerbate the social crisis. Europe’s leaders and institutions need to focus on devising and implementing structural measures capable of creating jobs and economic growth. The efforts to exit the crisis must be made using the Community method rather than the intergovernmental method, while Europe’s institutions have to remain at the heart of this process. The EU and Member States need industrial development in areas where the EU is competitive, as well as development of the transport, energy and communications infrastructure and investment in education and research. It is vital that the economic governance measures do not restrict these investments which are crucial for the EU’s economic and social development, and for its competitiveness. I think that an extensive campaign is required to inform and consult with the public and local authorities, which need to have the capacity to attract investment and create jobs locally, with regard to the economic governance measures that are adopted at European or national level.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE), in writing. (SK) The anniversary of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe is also a good opportunity to remind the whole of Europe that socialist economic planning does not work. It creates an illusion of prosperity which has to end one day. The Slovaks have lived through this. The opening up of the market showed us how inefficient a planned economy is. The majority of enterprises were unable to survive in a competitive environment. The result was a 23% drop in Slovakia’s GDP from 1991 to 1993. In 1993, every fifth family and every fourth child were living on the poverty line. But there was no other way.

This has to be acknowledged even by those who today want to avoid the painful but necessary measures that are needed to save the European economy. On 17 November, the Slovaks and Czechs took a courageous route. They turned their backs on the certainties of socialism, which had become unsustainable. The freely-elected politicians had the courage to tell the unpalatable truth and take painful, but necessary, measures. That is just what the EU needs today – the courage to venture into the unknown. Three bail-out funds and a two-speed Europe, however, give rise to fear and anxiety.

 
  
 

(From 12.05 to 12.20, Parliament held a formal sitting for the award of the LUX Prize)

(The sitting resumed at 12.20)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: EDWARD McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 

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

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

 

6.1. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2010/019 IE/Construction 41 from Ireland (A7-0375/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)

6.2. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2010/021 IE/Construction 71 from Ireland (A7-0377/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)

6.3. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2010/020 IE/Construction 43 from Ireland (A7-0376/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)

6.4. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2011/001 AT/Lower and Upper Austria/Austria (A7-0379/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)

6.5. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2011/004 EL/ALDI Hellas/Greece (A7-0378/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)

6.6. ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2010 (A7-0315/2011 - Filip Kaczmarek) (vote)

6.7. European Heritage Label (A7-0331/2011 - Chrysoula Paliadeli) (vote)

6.8. Single European railway area (A7-0367/2011 - Debora Serracchiani) (vote)
 

– Before the vote on Amendment 53cp:

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE). - Mr President, I am the Liberal shadow rapporteur on this report. The Liberal Group would like to make an oral amendment. In the last sentence of Article 6(4), we would like to improve the text, adding only four words. After ‘capital employed’ we could add ‘except from public funding’. I think that the other rapporteurs of the big Groups are in favour of this.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was not accepted since more than 40 Members were opposed)

 

6.9. Climate change conference in Durban (B7-0571/2011) (vote)

6.10. Accountability report on financing for development (B7-0574/2011) (vote)

6.11. European cinema in the digital era (A7-0366/2011 - Piotr Borys) (vote)
 

– Before the vote:

 
  
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  Piotr Borys, rapporteur.(PL) Mr President, this is a true festival of cinema; this report complements the LUX Prize and, at a time of crisis, is an important signal for European film. European cinematography has been waiting for this report for nearly 10 years, and I would like to tell you that its adoption will not only accelerate work on the full digitisation of European film, but also on expanding the opportunities for Europeans to access European film. I warmly encourage you to vote, and express my enormous gratitude to the shadow rapporteurs for their cooperation.

(Applause)

 
  
 

(The sitting was suspended for a few moments)

 

7. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Filip Kaczmarek (A7-0315/2011)

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, a democracy is only a democracy if it is formed by informed, aware and committed citizens. The Cotonou Partnership Agreement is important precisely because it aims to give legal support for the birth of an active civil society in places such as Africa, which are still immature in their expressions of democracy. However, it is essential that it should above all be Africans who desire this social growth, and incentivising all initiatives, including the smallest ones, can help to make this happen.

The second revision of the Agreement, which took place in January 2010, should be an opportunity to adapt the Agreement in the light of the crises of recent times and those that are current, including the uprisings for democracy in North Africa, climate change, soaring food and petrol prices, the financial crisis and extreme poverty. Nevertheless, it should still be stressed as an inescapable necessity that the EU-Africa strategy should be people-centred and focussed on the active participation of civil society.

This is where the innovation of the Cotonou Agreement lies. This Agreement establishes cooperation in the economic and financial sectors and in political dialogue, by introducing a new participatory approach. Participation, which is the fundamental principle of cooperation between the EU and the ACP countries, is understood in Article 2 as the primary instrument for encouraging integration of all branches of society, from the private sector to civil organisations. These are the reasons why we have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the text on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly which, due to the quality of its work, has established itself as a key player in cooperation between the north and the south of the world. As a member of that assembly, I too have participated in the meetings held in Brussels and in the work that took place in Tenerife in April 2010 and in Kinshasa, Congo, in December of that year. Thanks to these trips I was able to see at first hand, as in Angola in 2009, the sad conditions that some people live under every day while at the same time assessing the efforts made by the ACP to improve things.

In conclusion, I feel inclined to underline that at this unique historical and political moment – particularly for the countries of North Africa and the Middle East – the role placed by the ACP has been fundamentally important. This is particularly so in the context of supervising negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements, improving the transparency of these processes and the development of deprived local areas.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Mr President, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the representatives of the European Parliament and selected African, Caribbean and Pacific countries is, so far, the only international panel which sits regularly with the aim of promoting the interdependence of North and South. It plays a particular role through the monitoring of negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements.

I therefore see a need for the Commission to provide the parliaments of ACP countries with all available information and to support them in exercising democratic control. Efforts that strive to uphold the freedom and independence of the media are extremely important and are aimed at ensuring pluralism and the participation of democratic opposition representatives and minority groups in political life. The exchange of views with local authorities on the situation in a given country, which took place for the first time in Kinshasa, may become an appropriate solution. I also hope that in the future misunderstandings such as the absence of the Council’s representative during Question Time will not occur again, as this casts an unfavourable light on European diplomacy. I endorsed the report.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). - Mr President, it is all very interesting for politicians from the EU and the ACP countries to get together, but if we really want to help development, if we really want to help entrepreneurs in developing countries, quite often the best way is for politicians to get out of the way and allow entrepreneurs in those countries to trade with each other.

We also need to help entrepreneurs in many of these countries to tackle some of the barriers to trade that they face, whether in terms of local state monopolies or companies that are connected to corrupt local politicians. What we need to do is free the spirit of free enterprise to allow those entrepreneurs to create wealth for their citizens, and ensure that they do not face trade barriers when they are selling their goods and services to us in the EU. Let us make sure that we reduce our trade barriers. Let us make sure that we help the entrepreneurs of these countries, and let us make sure that, together, we tackle poverty.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Chrysoula Paliadeli (A7-0331/2011)

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR). - Mr President, I am deeply unimpressed with this idea of a European Heritage Label ‘to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the EU’. Once again, we seem to have a scary 1984-style rewriting of history, just like the wasteful Museum of European History, where no-one can agree when this history is due to start and where, of course, no-one can mention the war. This is an Orwellian exercise that seeks to term World Wars as mere European civil wars, with the realities obscured in a haze of half-truths.

In Brussels last week a French lady insulted my red Remembrance Day poppy as ‘out of date’. I find it disgusting that a symbol of the huge sacrifice that has guaranteed all our freedoms should be treated with such contempt. That poppy commemorates, too, the British soldier who died just last week in Afghanistan. History may be inconvenient and painful but, by God, you get into far more trouble seeking to deny its realities.

 
  
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  Franck Proust (PPE).(FR) Mr President, we will soon be having monuments and sites labelled ‘European Heritage’.

I support this label as it will be a response to the underlying need to bridge the gap between Europe and its citizens. Europe is often said to be remote and inefficient. When put to use properly, culture and heritage can bring people together. With this type of initiative, Europe will be able to prove that it is indeed active and, above all, real.

I am more than well placed to talk about this as I am actually an elected member for a region whose history began with the very first European civilisations. In the land of Nîmes, and throughout the Mediterranean, men often came from elsewhere in Europe, marked out roads, built monuments and set up the towns and cities in which are still living today.

The way I see it, these are the landmarks of our common heritage, which we should bring to the fore and that is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I welcome this proposal, which aims to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union through shared history and heritage, and an awareness of diversity, as well as to intensify intercultural dialogue.

Promoting initiatives like the recognition of European heritage, which aim to bring citizens closer to an idea of belonging to a Europe that unites us is, in my view, hugely positive. Often, the concept of Europe remains vague and national identities still tend to dominate.

The European Heritage Label has a special characteristic: it shows the historical importance of a monument, indicates that it had an important role for European culture and clearly underlines its intangible value as a bearer of a historic and cultural message. It stands apart from other labels in this field that refer to the object’s extraordinary historic, cultural or artistic value due to its material nature. Of course, that is not to say that the historical substance of a monument is irrelevant; that is precisely what makes it authentic, as its physicality strongly conveys the intangible importance of a place. Essentially, it represents a symbol of ideas like democracy, freedom and diversity.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I personally think that establishing a European Heritage Label is an interesting project. At a time when due to the ongoing economic crisis a certain euro-scepticism is creeping into many Member States, I think an initiative of this kind can reinforce European citizens’ sense of belonging to the Union. The unique characteristic of the European label is not, in fact, the beauty of a site but rather the symbolic value that it has represented or still represents for bringing European citizens on board in the journey towards better intercultural dialogue.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I supported the stance taken by Ms Paliadeli because I think it is worth simplifying and smoothing the way for genuinely promoting Europe in all Member States, providing a potential tourist attraction and enhancing particularly significant sites. To put it briefly, this provides a tangible manifestation of the founding values of the community in which we live. I approve of the rigorous selection of projects for educational activities, which are essentially for young people. The European Heritage Label is without doubt something we must pursue, both in terms of rediscovering and redeveloping the sites, but also to tangibly and genuinely make the best of the places of civilisation and authentic remembrance in whose image our memories must always be remade.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Europe and its history speak through the huge achievements that have distinguished the development of civilisation in our countries. Much of Europe’s history is told through the roads, the monuments and the convents that, in times of darkness, have given dignity to the journey of the peoples of Europe. I support the stance taken in this measure which, naturally, perhaps ought to be extended to the countries waiting to join the EU, the Western Balkan countries, because I think it would be a good idea to involve them in this project of identifying a European brand. I think their involvement would send out a positive message to them. I am delighted that this measure has been adopted today by a broad majority and this further assures me that the Council cannot throw up further obstacles to its swift approval.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the goal of promoting a European identity and improving knowledge of our shared history – especially among young people – is of crucial importance, especially at a historical and political juncture like the present.

To work towards achieving this goal I voted in favour of the report by Ms Paliadeli, in which I completely agree on the criteria for identifying the sites, which I think should take place transnationally and on a two-yearly basis, thereby boosting the quality of the process.

Lastly, I fully agree with the role given to Parliament, which will be duly involved in the process of selecting the chosen sites. For one thing, Parliament has always supported the development of this label, firstly in the 2007 tourism resolution and then in the 2008 resolution on the European agenda for culture in a globalised world.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, Ms Paliadeli’s report on the European Heritage Label is excellent and worthy of support. I believe that all of us in this House agree that it is important for the public to know more about Europe, the history of the European Union, and European values and identity.

It is especially important to realise that, if we want to build European cooperation, this can only be based on knowledge of the facts and of history, and then we will be able to deal with issues more successfully, in the historical context established.

We should also remember that this programme will not be in competition with the UNESCO World Heritage label: rather it will be different, more educational and, above all, directed at youth. It expresses our genuine desire to strengthen our knowledge and expertise with regard to history. In this respect, it does not, in my opinion, increase the fear of history being rewritten: on the contrary, there are many national symbols, one example of which is the poppy mentioned here, which many British people wore last week. Others should know why such national symbols exist. We will get to know and respect each other’s culture and history, and, in that way, establish better understanding.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). - Mr President, whenever there is a German general election British newspapers always run the same photograph, which is of Germans voting in traditional national costume – Bavarians in their leather shorts, and North German ladies in these fantastic dresses.

It seems to me that those photographs are now the perfect symbol of European democracy. Voting has become a folkloric activity. Our constituents go through the motions out of atavism, out of some half-remembered civic duty from the time when it used to matter, rather than in the expectation that casting their ballot will make any difference.

And do you know what? They are right to think that. According to a study by the German Federal Justice Ministry, 84% of the laws in the Member States are there to give force to EU Directives or Regulations. The split is no longer between Left and Right, between capitalists and socialists; it is between the ‘euro elites’ and everybody else.

How sad that this Continent, which developed and exported the idea that laws ought not to be passed nor taxes raised except by our elected representatives, should have turned its back on democracy itself.

The thing that now deserves a heritage label is the ideal of representative government in Europe.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Mr President, I have abstained from voting on the European Heritage Label report, as I still have a number of concerns that have not been addressed from the first reading.

My main concern is that the tone of the report is one of homogenisation. This goes against the principles of the European Committee of the Regions, which stands for respecting the cultural differences between Member States. Indeed the difference between Welsh heritage and the rest of the UK does not even support this integrated approach. I do not agree with the potential increased bureaucratic burden which will be placed on Member States as a result of processing these applications. I also worry about the potential difficulties that could arise in relation to the financing of such a European Heritage Label. Given our current economic climate, I think this is poorly timed.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Mr President, I was happy to support this report and I am delighted that it has been accepted today with a large majority. Without any doubt it has advantages, especially in fostering the Tourism Initiative and also in fostering interest and understanding amongst young people, especially in the history of Europe.

I think this label first of all is different to the world heritage UNESCO label and is pretty distinctive; it is not based on beauty or architectural value, but on the history and the contribution of a particular site to creating the history of Europe and I think that is a good idea. I think no harm can come from it; the scheme which would be reviewed every two years is a good idea; thirteen people in the committee; a million euro maximum as a budget. I think that if it promotes tourism and promotes understanding, then it is all very well.

I am sorry that my own country is not taking part because there are a number of sites which could contribute: the Irish College in Leuven, the Irish College in Paris, Kinsale Town, the Blasket Islands, etc.

 
  
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  President. − Just while you are in the Chamber, Mr Kelly, I am aware of your complaint about the way in which we select speakers in Question Time to the Commission and I am one of the two Vice-Presidents who chairs that. There are problems. Yesterday, for example, there were 60 people requesting the floor and we could only get through 20 questions, so that is 40 dissatisfied Members. We are considering alternatives to selecting the speakers. One of the proposals from me is that we have a big glass bowl on the table here and we fill it with coloured ping pong balls with numbers on, and I merely select from the bowl. We are indeed considering alternatives to the way we do it at the moment, but thank you for pointing out the problems.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). - Mr President, I would not go down the road of the glass bowl for the moment, but you personally are absolved from all blame.

Thank you for your forbearance and for your explanation.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). - Mr President, one of the issues that we often see here is this idea of building a European identity. As the previous speakers mentioned, we have had the Museum of History, which seeks to erase the unpleasant episodes of European history. We have had the European Prize for Journalism, and now we see the European Label of Heritage.

But what is this label? As Mr Kelly said, the label is not about a site’s beauty or its architectural quality, but rather its symbolic value for European integration and the history of the Union. It is not about the conservation of sites, but about the activities they can offer and their educational dimension, especially for young people.

So there we have it. It is not really about heritage; it is actually about propaganda and educating young people to believe more in European integration. If we really want to focus upon heritage, let us not forgot those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy our freedom today.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Mr President, I supported this amendment to reject this proposal on the European Heritage Label as I believe it is an artificial attempt to create a European identity. Only in your twisted imaginations does such an identity exist, an identity that my constituents want no part of, nor the expense of paying for.

We have no joint heritage. Most of you have lived under totalitarianism – either communism or fascism – whilst we in the UK have fought against many of your countries for our freedom. Are you so insecure that you have to develop such a scheme? Be proud of your national heritages, if you can. I am of mine.

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). - Mr President, maintaining cultural heritage is of course an important aspect of national identity. It contributes to the understanding and preservation of our natural environment, as well as highlighting Europe’s rich and diverse historical roots.

Whilst I welcome this initiative and initiatives that can help Member States coordinate their actions in this area, I am not convinced that the benefits of the European Heritage Label will outweigh its cost implications. The delivery of existing and highly regarded programmes, such as UNESCO, would be undermined and in fact duplicated. Additionally, in the current period of financial austerity, I do not feel that it is appropriate to be utilising funds that could otherwise be channelled into initiatives that provide jobs and growth. Quite simply, we must prioritise.

Therefore, I voted to abstain on this second reading for a number of reasons. There has been little substantive change since the first reading, which I also abstained on. The label will duplicate existing heritage programmes at national level and by the UN, and the financial contribution of Member States should be questioned, given these times of budget cuts. On a practical level, the proliferation of European Heritage Label sites under the current proposal will serve to diminish any label’s credibility.

 
  
  

Report: Debora Serracchiani (A7-0367/2011)

 
  
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  David Campbell Bannerman (ECR). - Mr President, I speak as someone with a railway industry background. I worked for Britain’s passenger railways, the Channel Tunnel high-speed rail link, and as a ministerial adviser.

Whilst I support the concept of a British-style model of liberalised rail services, which has given the UK the fastest-growing railways in Europe, of track charges, of open access, of train leasing and of a strong and independent rail regulator, I simply do not see this as anything to do with the European Union.

Britain has 10 000 miles of rail lines and only one line is connected to Europe. Continental-gauge trains would not even fit on our lines in Britain. They would demolish our bridges and tunnels with their bulk.

So I am sorry, but this idea of a single European railway area is a nonsense. It is unnecessary, undesirable and excessive interference in the responsibilities of national governments, so I do not support this report.

In short, will the EU please keep off our tracks!

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Chrysoula Paliadeli (A7-0331/2011)

 
  
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  Milan Zver (PPE). - (SL) Mr President, listening to this debate, I feel it is rather one-sided, mostly in favour of those who oppose this report, which from 2013 introduces a European Union cultural heritage label. However, this report was adopted by an overwhelming majority. I supported it myself and it received strong support in the Committee on Culture and Education. But, ladies and gentlemen, men develop different...

(The President cut off the speaker.)

 
  
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  President. − Mr Zver, I am sorry but we have moved on from heritage to railways, I do apologise. This is not a debate, it is an opportunity for Members to make a point about the way they voted. This is the explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Report: Debora Serracchiani (A7-0367/2011)

 
  
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  Herbert Dorfmann (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I voted in favour of the proposal for a directive establishing a single European railway area. I am convinced that only by opening up the markets can we improve the quality of the offering for both passenger and freight transport on the railways of Europe.

Above all, however, I am pleased that Article 32 was adopted, because rail transport also gives rise to noise. This is mainly related to the quality of the rolling stock; some completely outdated wagons are used, particularly in the freight sector.

There is increasing opposition to this noise among the population, and this is likely to be putting at risk the shift in freight transport – particularly that from road to rail. Consequently, urgent measures must be taken to reduce the noise pollution. Noise must cost money, and I believe that the approach set out in Article 32 moves us in this direction. I hope that agreement can soon be reached with the Council on this matter.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). - Mr President, I voted against the recast of the Railway Directive because it is very clear that, despite the promises of the neo-Liberal doctrinaires in this House and elsewhere, the Railway Directive will remain the ugly duckling that it is and will never become a swan. It continues on the course, which is already failing across Europe, of chopping up our public transport systems into bite-size pieces for the private sector to gobble up.

The result is clear right across Europe, where you have services being cut back, leaving communities completely isolated, you have a lack of investment in maintenance that has caused an increase in delays, an increase in down-time and, most worryingly, an increase in accidents, including fatal accidents. You also have railway workers suffering under the burden of a massive increase of working pressure and of massive attacks on their working conditions and trade union rights.

Developing our railway services means pushing back the private sector, it means pushing the private sector out of our vital public transport services, it means renationalisation of those parts that have been privatised so far. It is on that basis – together with massive investment by the public sector, together with democratic control by the railway workers and users – that you could develop a railway system that is user friendly, environmentally sustainable, reliable and safe.

 
  
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  Guido Milana (S&D). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this report was adopted with a huge majority in Parliament. I voted for it, but I would have liked to vote on something different, something bolder. In my opinion, Parliament has missed an opportunity to go further.

It is quite true that the single European railway area can and must result in a much better relationship with consumers than we have had so far. Why stop, however, at a single national regulatory body and not push on towards a single European regulatory body? Why stop short of the issue of unbundling, bringing in a clear separation between ownership and service management? Yes, the budgets have been separated, but probably this time in Parliament it was not this House’s authority to make its voice heard that has prevailed, but rather the representatives of the abundant privilege and competition present today in the European railway market.

We will only manage to truly change the fortunes of freight, improve people’s lives, improve the free circulation of goods when this single European space is worthwhile. Essentially, keeping well away from the train tracks is good for the health and not for economic policy; perhaps by getting too close you will get run over.

 
  
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  Hubert Pirker (PPE).(DE) Mr President, European rail transport remains dominated by the monopolies, and different types of current, different track gauges and even different safety requirements are preventing the expansion of cross-border rail transport.

The European Parliament has therefore decided to recast what is known as the railway package. In future, strong authorities – known as regulators – in all the Member States will ensure that these barriers are removed, that we bring about a customer-friendly liberalisation of the market and that those who continue to block service-oriented competition will be rapped across the knuckles.

I have therefore been vehement in my support of this directive. At the same time, this decision is the first step towards a European, uniform and thus competitive rail market. Only once the barriers that exist in rail transport have been removed completely will Europe benefit from the new rail transport corridors, and only then will the businesses along these corridors be able to develop too.

What I would like is for us to be able to travel all the way across Europe in the near future using just one engine, one set of carriages and one ticket.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D). (PL) Mr President, I have endorsed the report, since in my opinion, the European Parliament should deal with the issue of rail transport more frequently and in a more concrete manner. At the moment, we have a situation where the state of the railway sector in Europe is not improving. It is worth noting that in just the last 10 years, the share of rail freight in Europe fell to 10%, while that of road freight has already exceeded 45%. Unfortunately, cross-European rail services are still encountering a multitude of financial, technical, legal and, regretfully, political obstacles.

I think that we have an opportunity to achieve progress in two areas. The first area concerns the increase in funding for rail transport, while the second involves the effective elimination of discrepancies between individual Member States. This report creates an opportunity to achieve such progress. Thank you.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the recast of the first railway package is of huge importance for creating a truly European railway area that is more competitive, modern and efficient. We certainly expected a more ambitious final text, given the rather timid stance taken by the Commission. We are taking away a more effective national regulation structure, which must fully carry out its role of monitoring the market, as well as greater clarity on financial management.

We are handing back to the Commission the responsibility to present, by the end of next year, a new text on the separation between the infrastructure managers and the operator, and on opening up the market. I think that the liberalisation of the railway market – particularly opening up national markets to foreign operators – is a precondition for modernising Europe’s rail system that will guarantee mobility for our citizens with the least disturbance possible and without creating competitive distortions between national markets.

I must draw some negative attention to the rejection of the amendment that sought to bring in a distinction between light maintenance and ordinary maintenance compared to heavy maintenance works. A maintenance centre must not be obligated to provide heavy maintenance services to all rail operators, because what is at stake here is responsibility and the principle of safety, which even recent accidents have shown to be a very sensitive issue for European rail transport. I hope that a more ambitious stance can be reached in the forthcoming negotiations with the Council.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE).(ES) Mr President, I voted in favour because the first railway package was not complied with. The direct consequences were infringement proceedings against states and loss of competitiveness, effectiveness, sustainability and time.

Ten years later, the provisions are recast in the hope of creating a proper single railway area. We have agreed on greater liberalisation of the sector, better financing, greater transparency of costs and a strengthening of the national regulators. These will establish a European network and lead to the creation of a European regulator in the future.

I regret the fact that there is no provision in this document to separate the infrastructure manager from the service operators, even though there will be a later proposal, that the Council refused to include the correlation tables, despite the position of the Commission and Parliament, and that the majority groups rejected the possibility of including regional authorities, some of which have powers in this area.

This attitude turns its back on reality and, regrettably, I am certain that within 10 years this Parliament will include the regions in order to achieve the competitive, effective and sustainable European space which we all so desire, at least some of us.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Mr President, I too voted in favour of this document, because I accept the argument that ‘a general attempt at liberalisation is better than nothing’, as per the headline of Finanza e mercati, a well-known Italian financial daily. As many of my fellow Members have said, this document could certainly have been more ambitious and gone further. It makes a stab at considering the guidelines brought in by the 2011 White Paper on transport, but does not manage to follow through; it fails to demonstrate courage as much as it could. As many other Members have pointed out, the rail transport sector has not grown at all since 2001, losing out to road transport which is now worryingly saturated. I think today’s decision sees us take a step forward, above all by introducing new regulatory and financing systems for the transport system. However, there is still much to be done and, unfortunately, we will have to wait for the decisions of late 2012 for real liberalisation.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, the traffic density on the roads continues to increase, and with it the stress suffered by car and lorry drivers. Neither does this bring us any closer to our goal of reducing CO2 emissions. Rail transport – both passenger and freight transport – must therefore be promoted and improved. For this reason, I also voted in favour of the motion. On the other hand, the expansion of the rail sector naturally brings with it not just advantages, but also new challenges and disadvantages – and noise pollution is clearly among these. We have made an important decision of principle here: that we also want to combat noise pollution effectively, using new rail track and new technology.

If rail transport is to survive in competition with other modes of transport, however, then we also need more competition within the sector. The demand for strong national regulatory authorities to control the rail sector is therefore a major success. European parochialism will get us nowhere here. European rail transport could represent a great opportunity, if we can overcome national egotism.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the railway sector has always been something of a special case, where the competitive ethos of the single market and the European Union has taken root rather late. The deficiencies in the services that this sector offers to citizens are linked precisely to this lateness. I am convinced that more transparent and smoother conditions for accessing the market, together with explicit rules on conflicts of interest and discriminatory practices in the railway sector, will be the right measures to spur on greater competition.

I completely agree with the legislative proposal on the complete, mandatory separation between infrastructure managers and businesses operating the transport services, namely train companies. I invite the Commission to put forward concrete proposals on this within the pre-established timeframes.

I believe that the measures contained in the report will allow us to make it easier to provide train services, boosting the quality offered to passengers and people using freight services. Ms Serrachiani’s report provides tangible responses to the request for greater liberalisation and competition in the railway sector and accordingly I have given it my full support.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). - (SK) Mr President, here in the European Union we have been witnessing a decline in the share of freight carried by rail, while road haulage, which is less environmentally friendly, has increased to as much as 45.9%. The opening of the EU railway market involves reviewing and harmonising the laws on rail transport.

I firmly believe that the establishment of competitive railway services will require additional investment in the railway infrastructure, whereby the EU structural funds will only be one of many resources. The Member States and the EU must look at other sources of funding for European railway projects, encourage private investment and in particular make the railway market attractive to private investors by securing a transparent legal environment.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Mr President, whilst I can appreciate the vision of the rapporteur for a single European railway area when it concerns a single landmass, I believe that the proposed measures would inevitably create unnecessary regulatory burden for the rail industry throughout Europe, including those that would not benefit at all from being part of that single landmass. This is why I voted against this report.

This report excludes provision for an obligatory minimum service for rail companies in the case of strikes which, in my view, would be detrimental and not acceptable for European citizens.

In addition to this, it is envisaged that there would be a high level of involvement from the Commission. I cannot support the additional oversight over the work of national regulatory bodies and the creation, ultimately, of a European regulatory body for railways.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Mr President, I voted against this report. Unbundling of infrastructure management and operation of transport services is good, but we already have that in the UK.

Calling for additional financing in Member States for a TEN-T is problematic at a time of economic crisis. In fact, in my country, the cost of a new high-speed rail link – HS2 – is causing such an outcry that the government is trying to portray the project as a domestic necessity, rather than part of an EU-wide project.

Even the UK state broadcaster, the BBC, seems to have fallen for this deception. The first railway package of 2001 was such a failure that the Commission had to take 13 Member States to the Court of Justice for failure to implement it properly. The truth is they probably could not afford to implement it properly.

Since 2001, the percentage of freight being moved by rail has actually fallen: the exact opposite of what this package is set to achieve.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is essential to halt the decline of rail transport and reform it with a particularly close eye on European citizens’ right to mobility. Passenger trains must be adapted to transport disabled persons, decent and reasonably priced. It is therefore well worth establishing minimum quality standards for train carriages, ensuring respect of timetables and connections, and allowing free competition between operators in order to keep ticket prices under control.

We need to insist on the construction of massive European infrastructures for transporting freight and passengers at high speed. Given the positive outcome of sharing the costs of building the third pass – the Rotterdam corridor – and the high-speed Turin-Lyon corridor, as well as their inclusion among the ten big projects deemed essential by the European Union, it is crucial that the works begin as soon as possible.

With regard to the mandatory separation between infrastructure managers and historic railway operators, which traditionally own the infrastructure, compensating for the costs incurred is the right thing to do.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the free market environment remains unchanged compared to pre-existent legislation and includes all rail transport services, with the sole exception of passengers travelling within national borders.

The request that we have put forward with force moved towards the need to extend liberalisation to that market segment as soon as possible. The amendments made in this vein commit the Commission to submitting, not later than 2012, a suitable regulation on complete, mandatory separation between infrastructure managers and transport service providers, together with a proposal to extend liberalisation to passenger rail transport within national borders.

In a free-market context, which is the natural goal of the liberalisation process undertaken by Parliament, there can be no doubt that completely separate infrastructure managers is an essential pre-condition for the optimal functioning of competitive mechanisms. I also hope to see a liberalisation of delays, so that the delays that accumulate in some countries like mine can be liberalised, extended and divided among all European countries; perhaps some of them, like Italy, would be able to improve their punctuality.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0571/2011

 
  
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  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the resolution on the forthcoming international United Nations conference in Durban because I think that the climate change challenges posed by global warming require, more than ever, extremely strong commitment from Europe.

Climate upheaval due to overheating is shown by irrefutable scientific proof and the consequent environmental, human and economic damage is now quite clear to everyone. This situation requires us to take fast, courageous decisions. Europe must retain a leading role in the fight against global overheating, committing to provide aid to other countries in terms of technology and resources. These financial resources must also be recovered through an international ‘Tobin tax’ on financial transactions.

The Durban conference must lead to a legally binding international agreement with tangible outcomes for the fight against global warming. Above all, it must produce a clear calendar with deadlines and precise commitments for all countries of the world. All countries must finally put collective interests above their own individual interests because either we make an effort, or we will all pay a very hefty price. These are tough, extremely important and essential decisions, because there is no plan B any more.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). - Mr President, in 1949 in an article entitled ‘Why Socialism?’ Albert Einstein wrote: ‘We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if Mankind is to survive’. The relevance of that idea today hits home when you look at the dire consequences of climate change and the threat to the future of our planet and humanity that it poses.

Then you look at the response of the capitalist establishment and the political leaders around the world and you have no new thinking, no sense of urgency. The world’s 21 developed economies and the European Commission publicly announced pledges of USD 28 billion in fast-track money after Copenhagen. Only USD 12 billion have so far been budgeted for, and as little as 30% has been delivered. If we are serious about tackling climate change, empty pledges are simply not good enough. We need a massive increase in internationally coordinated, patent-free, cooperative research and development into combating climate change.

Fundamentally, we need a new way of thinking about how we run our society and our economic system. Capitalism is a system. It is built on wastage and short-term profit. A so-called green economy built on the same logic of profit and competition will not solve climate change. We need socialist transformation of society. We need the massive resources that exist on our planet to be democratically planned in the interests of the majority and to protect our environment.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, the resolution voted upon this morning asks the European Union to arrive at the negotiating table with a commitment to reduce emissions by more than 20% by 2020, regardless of the result of the international negotiations.

As is well known, nobody thinks that a global agreement can be reached at Durban. The European Commission has declared that the earliest possible date for reaching a global agreement could be 2015, and a transition period is in progress until then. I think that the international context means that it is not possible to go further than the pre-established goals. The European Union already has a post-2012 commitment, namely to reduce emissions by 20%, as per the energy and climate package.

The EU then confirms its willingness to sign up to a second period of commitments only as part of a transition towards a global climate treaty that involves an agreement from all countries on setting out a road map and a schedule. Ms Hedegaard herself has stated that it would be a strategic error for the European Union to sign up to a second Kyoto commitment without the other economies. Furthermore, it is well known that some large economies have already declared that they will not sign up to a Kyoto 2 agreement.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, climate change has been a key political topic for some years now. It is obvious that CO2 emissions need to be reduced.

I should like to make two comments regarding this, however. Firstly, I feel that it is completely wrong to focus essentially only on CO2 as an indicator when looking at climate change. Climate change does not have only one cause, and therefore it cannot be combated simply by reducing CO2. In my opinion, we should instead be putting conservation of our natural resources at the heart of our agenda.

Secondly, there is little point in the European Union trying to achieve agreed targets if third countries are lagging far behind the targets they have set themselves. That is another problem we need to address.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, in December 2009, I took part in the 15th Conference of Parties at Copenhagen as an official member of Parliament’s delegation. Around two years have passed and regretfully I can say that the work undertaken and the commitments taken in Copenhagen, which were then formalised in Cancún, will not be enough to limit the annual average temperature rise on Earth to two centigrade.

Some large polluting countries such as Japan and Russia seem to want to renege on the commitments taken, while others do not seem to be giving the climate change issue the correct level of priority. Today, although I am voting in favour, I am aware that only through a sizable and robust commitment from Heads of State or Government around the world will be able to create the conditions for a complete international agreement.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). - Mr President, the markets have withdrawn their confidence in the euro area, the bond spreads are widening, our economies are contracting, the Doom is almost upon us and here we are solemnly talking about these proposals massively to increase our debt and deficit and pour more money into this climate change project. It would be disastrous if we actually meant it, but of course what is really happening is an exercise in post-modern legislation: we are not using the law as an instrument of effecting real change; we are using the law as a way of showing what terribly nice people we are.

The rest of the world has made it clear that they have no intention of applying the targets being discussed at these UN conferences, but Europe still has this pious requirement that we pretend to mean it, even though we have no intention of implementing it.

Just ponder, though, that that might be why we are in this mess in the first place. Constantly using our constituents’ money – because MEPs generally are exempt from national taxation – to show what terribly concerned and decent human beings we are has landed our Continent in this debt crisis in the first place. More spending is not going to be the way out.

 
  
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  Hynek Fajmon (ECR). (CS) Mr President, I voted against the resolution on the climate change conference in Durban. The world's climate has changed, is changing and will continue to change, regardless of human activity, and people have always adapted to the changing climate and will continue to adapt in the future, without costly central climate control from Brussels. So-called global warming, or what today tends to be referred to as climate change, cannot be a pretext to the adoption of global social engineering measures that will introduce new taxes, prohibit certain technology and subsidise other, supposedly green, technology. The cost of these measures are already huge and seriously hamper the economy of those States which have introduced them. We can see this after all in the constantly rising price of electricity in the European Union caused by the spiralling costs of renewable energy resources. It is absurd to continue this process, as the world just does not have the means to do so. In addition, this approach will not lead to the limitation of emissions on a global scale. I have therefore voted against this report.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0574/2011

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). - Mr President, whenever we have looked at the issue of development finance in the past, it has really been an exercise in taking the money from taxpayers in Europe, giving it to the wealthy elites of the developing countries and calling that direct budgetary support. Now is definitely the time for us to be far more imaginative and more targeted, but also let us not forget that if the governments withdraw from this role and we actually help entrepreneurs in the developing countries, there is a role for finance.

Let us look at an example: the Kiva website, which encourages people from all round the world to lend money directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries. When that money comes back, we lend again and we help take more people out of poverty than development aid often does.

Let us also look at the other issues and instruments, such as private equity, which is responsible for about 12.5% of South Africa’s GDP. Unfortunately, when we had a debate on the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, there was a move to prevent investors in the European Union investing in funds outside the EU that invested in the development of these countries. Let us make sure that we are consistent on this and we really want to help finance development.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0375/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of allocating financial assistance to Ireland. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. Ireland has requested assistance in respect of 4 866 workers made redundant from 1 482 enterprises involved in the construction of buildings. This application complies with the requirements for determining financial contributions, and I therefore welcome the mobilisation of an amount of EUR 12 689 838.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the remit of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. At this time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which has been an increase in unemployment, the EU needs to use all the means at its disposal to respond, particularly with regard to providing support for those who find themselves without a job from one day to the next. That is why I voted for this report on the mobilisation of EUR 12 689 838 from the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting workers made redundant from 1 482 enterprises operating in Division 41 (‘construction of buildings’), in the regions of Border, Midlands and Western, and Southern and Eastern.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) I voted in support of the assistance required by almost 5 000 people made redundant in Ireland. Parliament’s request to simplify the procedures and speed up the process of awarding grants is fully justified by the current situation. The fact that this is already the 19th application due to be examined confirms the need to speed up the process.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The application to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in question is part of a broader request by Ireland totalling EUR 35 741 805 for 5 987 redundancies targeted for assistance in 3 272 enterprises operating in the construction sector. More specifically, the application in question, ‘Construction 41’, requests the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 12 689 838 from the EGF for Ireland in relation to 3 205 redundancies targeted for assistance. Since it does not present any critical issues and it fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. Although I have great sympathy for those 6000 redundant workers from 300 companies active in construction, architecture, engineering and technical testing in Ireland, I cannot support this report. I believe that UK taxpayers’ money, which provides a significant contribution to the EU and thus Global Adjustment Fund budget, is better concentrated on providing jobs for unemployed workers in the UK. Unemployment in the UK continues to rise to unexpected levels. Many of our heavy industries have shut down and our workforce is inundated with EU migrants. Many Brits have lost their jobs in industries that have relocated to other EU countries under EU law to then find that their contributions as taxpayers are being spent by the EU in assisting unemployed people in Ireland. As unemployment continues to rise in the UK, particularly blighting some of the former mining towns in Wales, I cannot justify assenting to aid newly unemployed workers abroad when long-term unemployed people continue to suffer in communities in my constituency. I was elected to support them and make sure their interests are properly represented therefore I cannot agree to that kind of use of British taxpayers’ money.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Given the various repercussions that Ireland has suffered owing to its vulnerability in the face of the financial crisis caused by mortgage lending in the US and structural changes in the patterns of world trade, I believed it important to vote for this report, which will provide vital one-off, time-limited assistance to workers who have been made redundant. Furthermore, I believe in the purpose for which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has been mobilised, to a total of EUR 12 689 838 for Ireland. This support for the reintegration into Ireland’s labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis is vital in order to safeguard 3 205 redundancies which occurred in 1 482 companies in Division 41.

Of the package of measures proposed by the Commission, I would like to emphasise, in particular, two which are imperative, namely occupational guidance, whereby one-to-one occupational counselling sessions will be arranged for redundant workers in order to give them advice on steps to be taken towards a return to employment; and also vocational and second-level education and training programmes and income supports, which will be developed for the retraining that is increasingly important in the context of increasing competitiveness in a more globalised world.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as the Irish application has been made within the framework of the support provided for in the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The EGF is aimed at supporting workers affected by major structural changes in world trade and assisting their reintegration into the labour market. I also hope the EGF will be mobilised swiftly, and that it will have the desired effect, so as to lessen the psychological, social and economic impact on the affected workers.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this proposal, as I believe it will make a useful contribution to reducing the high unemployment rates in Ireland. Following the international global financial crisis, demand for labour in the Irish civil construction sector has fallen by around half, and the sector is not expected to recover quickly. In view of this, it is important to contribute to the retraining of some of the country’s workforce, and it makes perfect sense to use the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to this end.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Irish civil construction industry has been affected by the crisis, with 4 866 workers made redundant from 1 482 companies in the sector. Ireland is one of the countries currently experiencing a serious financial and economic crisis, which originated from the mortgage credit problems in the US and affected Irish banks. It therefore merits particular attention and solidarity from other Member States, in particular as regards aid provided to its workers.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The low wage policy practised in some regions of the world has not only caused many EU companies to relocate, but has also caused others to go out of business. This situation has occurred in the civil construction sector in Ireland.

This report concerns a proposal for decision by the European Parliament and the Council on the mobilisation of EUR 12 689 838 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), with the aim of supporting the reintegration of Irish workers made redundant as a result of the current economic and financial crisis. This application, the 19th to be examined within the framework of the 2011 EU budget, was submitted by Ireland on 9 June 2010, and concerns 4 866 redundancies from 1 482 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 41, in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02). Given that this involves a specific budgetary instrument, and that the amount requested is legally acceptable and complies with the proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Ireland, I am voting for this proposal, and I hope that it contributes to rapidly improving the economic conditions in that region.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) With this report, Parliament is giving the green light to a proposal to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), whose purpose is also to benefit Ireland by supporting the reintegration of workers made redundant as a result of the economic and financial crisis. It relates to 4 866 redundancies, 3 205 of which are targeted for assistance, in 1 482 enterprises operating in Division 41 (‘construction of buildings’) in two contiguous regions, which comprise the entire Republic of Ireland. No matter how many of these applications there are, we are bound to express our regret that, in each case, much could and should have been done to prevent them.

Once again, although we support the mobilisation of the EGF to help workers who have been made redundant, we would stress that this is a mere palliative that does not solve, as is necessary, the root causes of this wave of redundancies. These causes are inextricably linked to the policies of the EU, which is bringing the crisis upon itself, as we have been saying for a long time. It is imperative that these policies be changed to prioritise growth and development and job creation, rather than the irrational criteria of the Stability and Growth Pact.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) With this report, Parliament is giving the green light to a proposal to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), whose purpose is also to benefit Ireland by supporting the reintegration of workers made redundant as a result of the economic and financial crisis. It relates to 4 866 redundancies, 3 205 of which are targeted for assistance, in 1 482 enterprises operating in Division 41 (‘construction of buildings’) in two contiguous regions, which comprise the entire Republic of Ireland.

This was another case of redundancies that we regretted, but we voted for the mobilisation of the EGF to support the workers who are the victims of these redundancies.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission allows the release of funds from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) using the flexibility instrument within the annual ceiling of EUR 500 million beyond the relevant rounds of the financial framework. On 9 May 2010, Ireland submitted request No EGF/2010/019 IE/Construction 41 because of redundancies in 1 482 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 41 (Construction) in the NUTS II Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02) regions. These two neighbouring regions constitute the entire Irish state. The request is one of three submitted for the construction industry in Ireland. After carefully considering the requests, the Commission has come to the conclusion that they meet the condition for a financial contribution. I also firmly believe that in the light of the above circumstances, the request should be granted.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. (GA) I welcome this money to provide retraining to those who are unemployed as a result of the economic crisis. We must look at the structure of this scheme, however, because it is not flexible enough at present.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Ireland in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. I welcomed this document because this particular case relates to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States in mid-2007. As a small export-oriented economy, Ireland suffered from the effects of the credit crunch on its major trading partners. The credit crunch severely affected the banks in Ireland, with further effects on mortgage loans and the construction sector. The Commission therefore proposes to mobilise an amount of EUR 12 689 838.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted to give the green light to the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist workers in Ireland made redundant due to the downturn of the construction industry.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − I welcome the decision by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to allocate EUR 12 689 838 to Ireland in assisting this case concerning 4 866 redundancies in the construction sector. One of the major challenges facing the construction industry nowadays is the need to diversify and develop new skill sets. This fund, designed to assist with retraining and back to work programmes, will be a welcome step in the right direction for the workers directly affected by the financial crisis.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of company relocations that occur in the context of globalisation.

More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is essential for facilitating access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Ireland, which has applied for assistance with regard to 4 866 cases of redundancy, 3 205 of which are targeted for assistance, at 1 482 enterprises operating in the NACE Revision 2 Division 48 (‘construction of buildings’) in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), in Ireland. These two contiguous regions comprise the entire Republic of Ireland.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − This is the nineteenth application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 12 689 838 from the EGF for Ireland. It concerns 4 866 redundancies, 3 205 targeted for assistance, in 1 482 enterprises operating in the field of construction in Ireland, during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009 to 31 March 2010. It is necessary to help Ireland, but the criteria of the fund should be amended to make it available in Latvia. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund provides additional support to workers across Europe who are suffering the effects of major structural changes in world trade patterns. It finances measures such as occupational orientation and further training programmes, but also new businesses and helping people into self-employment. In the Commission’s assessment, the application from Ireland – where the construction industry has taken a severe battering as a result of the financial crisis – meets the eligibility criteria set out in the Regulation establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, and it is recommending to the budgetary authority that the application be approved. This will fully utilise the reinforcement of budget line 04 05 01 and, in accordance with the Regulation establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, more than a quarter of the annual maximum amount of the fund will remain available to cover needs arising in the last four months of 2011. The Fund can be utilised up to an annual upper limit of EUR 500 million. I am in favour of this use of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome this decision to allocate support to Ireland’s construction sector because this sector has been hit particularly badly by the economic and financial crisis. In order to mitigate the negative impact of globalisation, the funding available from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund needs to be used in a targeted manner. It is very important to ensure that assistance for workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible. I believe that the amount allocated is sufficient to mitigate the consequences of mass redundancy in the construction sector and will create favourable conditions for workers in this sector who have suffered to return to the labour market.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by the consequences of major structural changes in the patterns of world trade.

On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the 19th application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of the total sum of EUR 12 689 838 from the EGF for Ireland, with regard to 4 866 redundancies, 3 205 of which are targeted for assistance, from 1 482 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 41 (‘construction of buildings), in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), in Ireland, during the nine-month reference period between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010. As all of the requirements necessary to apply this financial assistance mechanism have been met, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Given that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns, the proposal to mobilise the fund for Ireland stems from the need to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. In light of the above and in view of the importance of the proposal for a decision in question, I voted for the proposal for a decision since it can provide for measures for occupational guidance, training programmes and associated training allowances and redundant apprentice on- and off-the-job training and support.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The application submitted by Ireland for the intervention of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) relates to 4 866 redundancies, 3 205 of which are targeted for assistance, in 1 482 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 41 (‘construction of buildings’), in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009 to 31 March 2010. This application is related to the mortgage crisis, which severely affected Irish banks, with further effects on the construction sector.

According to the Commission’s assessment, this application meets all of the legally established eligibility criteria. Indeed, EGF involvement in situations like this is provided for in the EGF Regulation, in which, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’. I therefore voted for this resolution, in the hope that the assistance will be made available to the workers who have been made redundant swiftly and efficiently.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to congratulate Ms Matera on her excellent work, considering that this application for mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is the nineteenth proposal submitted to the Budget Authority in 2011 alone. This time, the EU applicant country is Ireland, which calls for the EGF to be activated in three applications put to the vote this morning: the first for assistance in relation to 4 866 redundancies – 3 205 targeted for assistance – in enterprises operating in the ‘construction of buildings’ division; the second for 842 redundancies – 554 targeted for assistance – in enterprises operating in architectural and engineering activities; and the third for 3 382 redundancies – 2 228 targeted for assistance – in enterprises also operating in specialised construction activities. Among the various crises that have hit Europe’s economy over the last three years, one of the deepest and longest-lasting (as demonstrated once again today), and most difficult to overcome, is the crisis in the construction industry. The recession has affected, and is still affecting, the construction market.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who lose their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. With a budget of EUR 500 million for 2011, the Commission believes that EUR 6 598 378 should be made available for Ireland, so that it can address the 4 866 redundancies at 1 482 enterprises in the subsector of construction of buildings located in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western and of Southern and Eastern.

I also believe all procedures should be sped up, in order that the redundant workers might have quick access to vocational training that will enable their quick and effective reintegration into the labour market.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Ireland, in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. The application concerns 4 866 redundancies in 1 482 enterprises located in two contiguous regions which comprise together the entire State of Ireland. Almost 80% of the enterprises are located in the Southern and Eastern region, while the remaining 20% are located in the Border, Midlands and Western region. The redundancies were made during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009 to 31 March 2010. In the wake of the economic and financial crisis and of the closure of numerous SMEs in the construction industry, which enjoyed steady growth for a decade, the unemployment rate in this sector soared by 19% between 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, Ireland has an export-oriented economy, which resulted in the credit crunch which, in turn, seriously affected the mortgage loans market and, consequently, the building sector. This is why we advocate the mobilisation of the EGF in support of the Irish workers made redundant so that they are reintegrated into the labour market.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) In the wake of the economic crisis many small and medium-sized enterprises that were operating in the construction industry have had to close down in Ireland. The building trade was booming before the crisis and made a not insignificant contribution to Irish GDP; as a result of the present closures, 4 866 workers have lost their jobs within a period of months. Among those affected were 669 apprentices. The further training measures have been coordinated with the local social partners and educational institutions, and are being sensibly invested in growth areas such as environmental technology. I voted in favour because the collapse in this sector could potentially have substantial effects on other parts of Ireland’s economy, which is only now beginning to stabilise to some extent.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the application for mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) submitted by Ireland on 9 June 2010. At a time of economic crisis, perhaps without precedent, I feel that it is right to approve the allocation of funds necessary to fulfil the requests for mobilisation submitted by Ireland, such as the one in the text in question, as well as those submitted by other countries when conditions have been satisfied.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0377/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of allocating financial assistance to Ireland. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. Ireland has requested assistance in respect of 842 workers made redundant from 230 enterprises involved in architectural and engineering activities and in the areas of technical testing and analysis. This application complies with the requirements for determining financial contributions, and I therefore welcome the mobilisation of an amount of EUR 1 387 819.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the remit of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. At this time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which has been an increase in unemployment, the EU needs to use all the means at its disposal to respond, particularly with regard to providing support for those who find themselves without a job from one day to the next. That is why I voted for this report on the mobilisation of EUR 1 387 819 from the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting workers made redundant from 230 enterprises operating in Division 71 (‘architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis’), in the regions of Border, Midlands and Western, and Southern and Eastern.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The application to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in question is part of a broader request by Ireland totalling EUR 35 741 805 for 5 987 redundancies targeted for assistance in 3 272 enterprises operating in the construction sector. More specifically, the application in question, ‘Construction 71’, requests the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 1 387 819 from the EGF for Ireland in relation to 554 redundancies targeted for assistance. Since it does not present any critical issues and it fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the various repercussions that Ireland has suffered owing to its vulnerability in the face of the financial crisis due to mortgage lending in the US and structural changes in the patterns of world trade, I believed it important to vote for this report, which will provide vital one-off, time-limited assistance to workers who have been made redundant. Furthermore, I believe in the purpose for which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be mobilised, to a total of EUR 1 387 819 for Ireland. This support for the reintegration into Ireland’s labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis is vital in order to safeguard 554 workers made redundant from 230 companies in Division 71.

Of the package of measures proposed by the Commission, I would like to emphasise in particular two which are imperative, namely occupational guidance, whereby one-to-one occupational counselling sessions will be arranged for redundant workers in order to give them advice on steps to be taken towards a return to employment; and also vocational and second-level education and training programmes and income supports, which will be developed for the retraining that is increasingly important in the context of increasing competitiveness in a world that is also increasingly globalised.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Like the position that I took in relation to Report A7-0375/2011, I am voting for this report, as the Irish application has been made within the framework of the support provided for in the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). I would reiterate that the EGF is aimed at supporting workers affected by major structural changes in world trade and assisting their reintegration into the labour market. I also hope the EGF will be mobilised swiftly, and that it will have the desired effect, so as to lessen the psychological, social and economic impact on the affected workers.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this proposal, as I believe it will make a useful contribution to reducing the high unemployment rates in Ireland. Following the international financial crisis, of which the crisis in the Irish construction sector is a by-product, engineering and architecture activities fell in unprecedented ways. Since the sector is not expected to recover quickly, it seems reasonable for the EU to promote retraining and reintegration for this unemployed workforce.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The crisis in the construction sector in Ireland, which has affected companies and workers throughout the country, cannot but impact related activities, such as engineering and architecture, which have also been hit by the international crisis and exacerbated by the crisis in the euro area. There are 554 workers expecting to benefit from the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I hope this can be granted in the shortest possible timeframe, so as to be as effective as possible in helping the workers, and without them being penalised because of a delay in the funds being made available.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Having seen the severe social impact of the current economic and financial crisis, the EU created the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to provide additional assistance to workers affected by changes in the structure of global trade.

On 9 June 2010, Ireland submitted an application, case application EGF/2010/021 IE/Construction 71, based on Article 2(b) of the EGF Regulation, supplemented by additional information up to 17 June 2011. On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision, the 21st under the 2011 budget, on the mobilisation of EUR 1 387 819 from the EGF for Ireland in order to support the reintegration of 842 workers made redundant at 230 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 71, in the regions of Border, Midland and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), in Ireland. As this is a properly substantiated proposal in legal terms, which is necessary to meet the financial requirements for the EGF’s implementation in this region of Ireland, there is nothing that stands in the way of its adoption, as far as I am concerned.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is yet another case of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and, once again, it is for a country with a so-called ‘bailout programme’, namely Ireland. This is the 21st application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 1 387 819 from the EGF for 842 redundancies, 554 of which are potential beneficiaries of assistance, at 230 enterprises in Division 71 (‘architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis’), also between 2009 and 2010.

This succession of applications for mobilisation of the EGF – in other words, this succession of mass redundancies – should be enough to ring alarm bells in the EU institutions. There is a need to change policy, with every effort being made to create jobs, not to destroy them with recessive policies, as has happened in several countries, above all in those being targeted by the programmes of the International Monetary Fund and EU, like Portugal and Ireland.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) In this instance, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is also being mobilised for Ireland. On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.

This is the 21st application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of the total sum of EUR 1 387 819 from the EGF for Ireland, for 842 redundancies, 554 of which are targeted for assistance, from 230 enterprises in Division 71 (‘architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis’), also between 2009 and 2010. The application was submitted to the Commission on 9 June 2010 and supplemented by additional information up to 17 June 2011. It was based on the criteria for intervention set out in Article 2(b) of the EGF Regulation, which requires at least 500 redundancies over a nine-month period in enterprises operating in the same NACE Revision 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level in a Member State.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Union has established appropriate legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional assistance to workers who are feeling the impact of the major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation and to help them return to the labour market. In accordance with the joint announcement of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, EU financial assistance for the workers made redundant should be made available as quickly and effectively as possible. Ireland has made a request in respect of 842 redundancies (the aid applies to 554 of them) in 230 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 71 (Architecture and engineering activities: technical testing and analysis) in the NUTS II Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) ane Southern and Eastern (IE02) regions. These two neighbouring regions constitute the whole territory of Ireland. As the request meets the eligibility criteria set out in the regulation on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and the conditions for a financial appropriation under Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 have been met, the financial assistance should be made available to Ireland. (brief presentation)

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. (GA) I welcome this money to provide retraining to those who are unemployed as a result of the economic crisis. We must look at the structure of this scheme, however, because it is not flexible enough at present.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. On 5 October 2011 the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Ireland in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. I welcomed this document because this particular case relates to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States in mid-2007. As an export-oriented economy, Ireland suffered from the effects of the credit crunch on its major trading partners. The credit crunch severely affected the banks in Ireland, with further effects on mortgage loans and the construction sector. The Commission therefore proposes to mobilise an amount of EUR 1 387 819.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted to give the green light to the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist 842 workers in Ireland made redundant due to the economic downturn.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of this report and welcome the support provided by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in the sum of EUR 1 387 819 to the specialised construction industry. These funds will provide much-needed assistance to those made redundant in this sector as a result of the global economic crisis.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of company relocations that occur in the context of globalisation. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights.

The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is essential for facilitating access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Ireland, which has applied for assistance with regard to 842 redundancies, 554 of which are targeted for assistance, at 230 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 71 (‘architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis’) in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), in Ireland. These two contiguous regions comprise the entire Republic of Ireland.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − This is the twenty first application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 1 387 819 from the EGF for Ireland. It concerns 842 redundancies, 554 targeted for assistance, in 230 enterprises operating in the field of Architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis in Ireland, during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009 to 31 March 2010. It is necessary to help Ireland, but the criteria of the fund should be amended to make it available in Latvia. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) In order to mitigate the negative impact of globalisation, the funding available from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund needs to be used in a targeted manner. It is very important to ensure that assistance for workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible. I welcome the decision to allocate assistance to Ireland in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. I believe that the amount allocated is sufficient to mitigate the consequences of mass redundancy, will create favourable conditions for workers who have suffered to return to the labour market and will enable other active labour market measures to be implemented. This assistance will cover the costs of job search, training and retraining and the promotion of entrepreneurship and will effectively halt the spread of unemployment in the country. Moreover, redundant workers who have received assistance will be encouraged to find work for themselves and take up employment as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by the consequences of major structural changes in the patterns of world trade. On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the 21st application to be examined within the framework of the budget for 2011, and relates to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 1 387 819 from the EGF for Ireland, with regard to 842 redundancies, 554 of which are targeted for assistance, from 230 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 71 (‘architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis), in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), in Ireland, during the nine-month reference period between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010. As all of the requirements necessary to apply this financial assistance mechanism have been met, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. As a small export-oriented economy, Ireland suffered from the effects of the credit crunch on its major trading partners as a result of the financial crisis, which in this particular case is related to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States in mid-2007. Given that the credit crunch severely affected the banks in Ireland, with further effects on mortgage loans and building activity in the country, I voted for the proposal for a decision on mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Ireland.

 
  
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  Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. I am delighted that the European Parliament today cleared the payment of this money, which will assist almost 6 000 construction workers who have lost jobs in the wake of the Irish banking crisis. Our economic collapse had a particularly dramatic affect on the construction sector as the previous government had adopted an unsustainable development model. Roughly half the jobs in the construction sector between 2007 and 2010 were lost, so this money is a critical lifeline to those workers, renewing their hopes of finding employment again. This funding can be used for retraining and upskilling, occupational guidance or support for self-employment and enterprise creation. This can also include support to part-time students or apprentices. Together with the share contributed by the Irish Government, the funding for construction workers adds up to EUR 55 million and is also a welcome development in that it mobilises resources to assist workers from small and medium-size companies. I believe our government will keep in mind the mediocre management of EGF monies by the previous administration, and manage the programmes in a timely fashion, so as to get the best value for themoney and avoid loss of funding due to missed deadlines.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The application submitted by Ireland for the intervention of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) relates to 842 redundancies, 554 of which are targeted for assistance, in 230 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 71 (‘architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis’), in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009 to 31 March 2010. This application is related to the mortgage crisis, which severely affected Irish banks, with further effects on the construction sector.

According to the Commission’s assessment, this application meets all of the legally established eligibility criteria. Indeed, EGF involvement in situations like this is provided for in the EGF Regulation, in which, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’. I therefore voted for this resolution, in the hope that the assistance will be made available to the workers who have been made redundant swiftly and efficiently.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of Parliament and the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who lose their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy.

I am voting for the report as I am concerned about the 842 redundancies at 230 enterprises in the subsectors of architectural and engineering activities, technical testing and analysis, located in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western, and Southern and Eastern. I believe that the sum of EUR 1 387 819 should be granted quickly to this application, case EGF/2010/021 IE/Construction 71, and that the Commission should support workers made redundant as a result of the mortgage crisis in the US in mid-2007, which has affected Irish exports.

I would also stress that a simple, rapid and efficient procedure should be adopted for approving decisions on the mobilisation of the EGF, in order to provide one-off, time-limited individual support geared towards helping workers made redundant as a result of globalisation and the financial and economic crisis.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0376/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of allocating financial assistance to Ireland. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. Ireland has requested assistance in respect of 3 382 workers made redundant from 1 560 enterprises involved in specialised construction activities. This application complies with the requirements for determining financial contributions, and I therefore welcome the mobilisation of an amount of EUR 21 664 148.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade, and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the remit of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. At this time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which has been an increase in unemployment, the EU needs to use all the means at its disposal to respond, particularly with regard to providing support for those who find themselves without a job from one day to the next. That is why I voted for this report on the mobilisation of EUR 21 644 148 from the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting workers made redundant from 1 560 enterprises operating in Division 43 (‘specialised construction activities’), in the regions of Border, Midlands and Western, and Southern and Eastern.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The application to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in question is part of a broader request by Ireland totalling EUR 35 741 805 for 5 987 redundancies targeted for assistance in 3 272 enterprises operating in the construction sector. More specifically, the application in question, ‘Construction 43’, requests the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 21 664 148 from the EGF for Ireland in relation to 2 228 redundancies targeted for assistance. Since it does not present any critical issues and it fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. − Although I have great sympathy for those 6000 redundant workers from 300 companies active in construction, architecture, engineering and technical testing in Ireland, I can not support this report. I believe that UK taxpayers’ money, which provides a significant contribution to the EU and thus Global Adjustment Fund budget, is better concentrated on providing jobs for unemployed workers in the UK. Unemployment in the UK continues to rise to unexpected levels. Many of our heavy industries have shut down and our workforce is inundated with EU migrants. Many of Brits have lost their jobs in industries that have relocated to other EU countries under EU law to then find that their contributions as taxpayers are being spent by the EU in assisting unemployed people in Ireland. As unemployment continues to rise in the UK, particularly blighting some of the former mining towns in Wales, I cannot justify assenting to aid newly unemployed workers abroad when long-term unemployed people continue to suffer in communities in my constituency. I was elected to support them and make sure their interests are properly represented therefore I cannot agree to that kind of use of British taxpayers’ money.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the various repercussions that Ireland has suffered owing to its vulnerability in the face of the financial crisis due to mortgage lending in the US and structural changes in the patterns of world trade, I believed it important to vote for this report, which will provide vital one-off, time-limited assistance to workers who have been made redundant. Furthermore, I believe in the purpose for which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be mobilised, to a total of EUR 21 664 148 for Ireland. This support for the reintegration into Ireland’s labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis is vital in order to safeguard 2 228 redundancies in 1 560 companies in Division 43.

Of the package of measures proposed by the Commission, I would like to emphasise in particular two which are imperative, namely occupational guidance, whereby one-to-one occupational counselling sessions will be arranged for redundant workers in order to give them advice on steps to be taken towards a return to employment; and also vocational and second-level education and training programmes and income support, which will be developed for the retraining that is increasingly important in the context of growing competitiveness in an increasingly globalised world.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Like the position that I took in relation to Report A7-0375/2011 and Report A7-0377/2011, I am voting for this report, as the Irish application has been made within the framework of the support provided for in the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). I would once again reiterate that the EGF is aimed at supporting workers affected by major structural changes in world trade and assisting their reintegration into the labour market. I also hope the EGF will be mobilised swiftly, and that it will have the desired effect, so as to lessen the psychological, social and economic impact on the affected workers.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this proposal, as I believe it will make a useful contribution to reducing the high unemployment rate in Ireland. Following the severe global financial crisis, the demand for labour in the Irish civil construction sector fell by around half, and this sector is not expected to recover quickly. In view of this, it is important to help the retraining of some of the country’s unemployed workforce, and this justifies the use of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the broader context of civil construction, specialised construction activities have not been spared in the economic and financial crisis currently raging in Ireland. In fact, 3 382 workers have lost their jobs. Of these, 2 228 are targeted for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). I hope that Ireland, like Portugal, Greece and other countries in difficulty, will be able to respond adequately to the problems that it is facing, and that the EGF will be an effective means of helping its workers at a particularly difficult time. It is therefore necessary that the EGF be mobilised in time, and that its use be adequate and proportional to situations of unemployment confirmed to have taken place.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is yet another report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), this time for Ireland. This is the 20th application to be examined under the 2011 budget, and it refers to the mobilisation of a total of EUR 21 664 148 from the EGF. The application relates to 3 382 redundancies, 2 228 of which are targeted for assistance, in 1 560 enterprises operating in Division 43 (‘specialised construction activities’) during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009.

It is situations like this that, in the country that they have been touting as a success story and is one of the victim countries of the programmes of the International Monetary Fund and EU, have led to tens of thousands of people leaving the country every week in search of work elsewhere. This is reminiscent of other waves of emigration which took place in other dark periods in Ireland’s history.

The Irish Government says that the credit crisis has severely affected Ireland’s banks, with further effects on mortgage loans and construction activity in the country. When the crisis hit, the share of those employed in construction in Ireland dropped from 12.25% in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 9.2% in the first quarter of 2009 and 6.25% in the third quarter of 2010.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This time, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is also being mobilised for Ireland. On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.

This is the 20th application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 21 664 148 from the EGF for Ireland. This application relates to 3 382 redundancies, 2 228 of which are targeted for assistance, at 1 560 enterprises in Division 43 (‘specialised construction activities’), during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009. The application was submitted to the Commission on 9 June 2010 and supplemented by additional information up to 17 June 2011.

The Irish Government says that the credit crisis has severely affected Ireland’s banks, with further effects on mortgage loans and construction activity in the country. When the crisis hit, the share of those employed in construction in Ireland dropped from 12.25% in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 9.2% in the first quarter of 2009 and 6.25% in the third quarter of 2010.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission allows the release of funds from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) using the flexibility instrument within the annual ceiling of EUR 500 million beyond the relevant rounds of the financial framework. The European Union has set up appropriate legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation and to help them return to the labour market. In June 2010, Ireland submitted request No EGF/2010/20 IE/Construction 43 for financial assistance from the EGF because of redundancies in 1 560 enterprises (3 328 redundant workers, with the assistance allocated to 2 288 of them) operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 43 (Construction) in the two Irish NUTS II regions, Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02). The request is one of three submitted for the building industry in Ireland. After careful consideration of these requests, the Commission has come to the conclusion that they meet the conditions for a financial contribution and that the request should be granted.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. (GA) I welcome this money to provide retraining to those who are unemployed as a result of the economic crisis. We must look at the structure of this scheme, however, because it is not flexible enough at present.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. On 5 October 2011 the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Ireland in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. I welcomed this document because this particular case relates to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States in mid-2007. As a small export-oriented economy, Ireland suffered from the effects of the credit crunch on its major trading partners. The credit crunch severely affected the banks in Ireland, with further effects on mortgage loans and the construction sector. The Commission therefore proposes to mobilise an amount of EUR 21 664 148.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted to give the green light to the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist 3382 workers in Ireland who have been made redundant due to the downturn in the construction industry.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report, by which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has allocated substantial support, some EUR 21 664 148, to Ireland. I welcome this decision to allocate funds to support Irish workers in the sectors of architectural and engineering activities and technical testing and analysis made redundant as a direct result of the global financial crisis. This fund, designed to assist with retraining and back to work programmes, will be a welcome step in the right direction for redundant workers looking to diversify and develop new skill sets.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of company relocations that occur in the context of globalisation. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is essential for facilitating access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Ireland, which has applied for assistance with regard to 3 382 redundancies, of which 2 228 are targeted for assistance, at 1 560 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 43 (‘specialised construction activities’) in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02).

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. This is the twentieth application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 21 664 148 from the EGF for Ireland. It concerns 3 382 redundancies, 2 228 targeted for assistance, in 1 560 enterprises operating in the field of Specialised construction activities in Ireland, during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009 to 31 March 2010. It is necessary to help Ireland, but the criteria of the fund should be amended to make it available in Latvia. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome the decision to allocate support to Ireland because this country’s construction sector has been hit particularly badly by the economic and financial crisis and hundreds of workers have been made redundant as a result. I believe that the amount allocated is sufficient to mitigate the consequences of mass redundancy, will create favourable conditions for workers who have suffered to return to the labour market and will enable other active labour market measures to be implemented. Moreover, it is very important to ensure that redundant workers who have received assistance are encouraged to find work for themselves and take up employment as quickly as possible. The assistance must therefore be dynamic and made available efficiently so that it covers the costs of job search, training and retraining and the promotion of entrepreneurship, and effectively halts the spread of unemployment in the country.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by the consequences of major structural changes in the patterns of world trade.

On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Ireland, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the 20th application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of the total sum of EUR 21 664 148 from the EGF for Ireland, with regard to 3 382 redundancies, 2 228 of which are targeted for assistance, from 1 560 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 43 (‘specialised construction activities’), in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), in Ireland, during the nine-month reference period between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010. As all of the requirements necessary to apply this financial assistance mechanism have been met, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Given that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns, the proposal to mobilise the fund for Ireland stems from the need to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. In light of the above and in view of the importance of the proposal for a decision in question, I voted for the proposal for a decision since it can provide for measures for occupational guidance, training programmes and associated training allowances and redundant apprentice on- and off-the-job training and support.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The application submitted by Ireland for the intervention of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) relates to 3 382 redundancies, 2 228 of which are targeted for assistance, in 1 560 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 43 (‘specialised construction activities’), in the NUTS II regions of Border, Midlands and Western (IE01) and Southern and Eastern (IE02), during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2009 to 31 March 2010. This request is related to the mortgage crisis, which has severely affected Irish banks, with further effects on the construction sector. According to the Commission’s assessment, this application meets all of the legally established eligibility criteria. Indeed, EGF involvement in situations like this is provided for in the EGF Regulation, in which, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’. I therefore voted for this resolution, in the hope that the assistance will be made available to the workers who have been made redundant swiftly and efficiently.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of Parliament and the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who lose their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. I fully support this report, as it is important to safeguard the economic and social conditions for 3 382 workers made redundant as a result of the closure of 1 560 enterprises in the subsector of specialised construction activities. Given that this application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, I agree with the mobilisation of EUR 21 664 148. I would also stress that the EGF should not be a substitute for the legal and financial responsibilities of the enterprises mentioned in case EGF/2010/020 IE/Construction 43, but rather an additional support granted by the EU in order to reduce the social difficulties that these workers will face.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0379/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of allocating financial assistance to Austria. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. Austria has requested assistance in respect of 2 338 workers made redundant from 706 enterprises involved in land transport and transport via pipelines. This application complies with the requirements for determining financial contributions, and I therefore welcome the mobilisation of an amount of EUR 3 643 770.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the remit of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. At this time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which has been an increase in unemployment, the EU needs to use all the means at its disposal to respond, particularly with regard to providing support for those who find themselves without a job from one day to the next. That is why I voted for this report on the mobilisation of EUR 3 643 770 from the EGF for Austria, with the aim of supporting workers made redundant from 706 enterprises operating in Division 49 (‘land transport and transport via pipelines’), in the regions of Niederösterreich and Oberösterreich.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) With regard to this report, I voted in support of the rapporteur’s proposal to make available the EUR 3.6 million required to assist the 2 338 persons made redundant in the land transport and transport via pipelines sector in Austria.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is an instrument intended to assist the reintegration of workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the ongoing process of globalisation of world markets. This fund supports workers and does not aim to benefit the business that made the redundancies in any way. With regard to mobilisation of the fund for the case in question, I voted in favour since it does not present any critical issues and it fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down. Austria has requested the mobilisation of EUR 3 643 770 for 502 workers targeted for assistance operating in the ‘land transport and transport via pipelines’ sector.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the various repercussions that Austria has suffered owing to its vulnerability in the face of the financial crisis and structural changes in the patterns of world trade, I believed it important to vote for this report, which will provide vital one-off, time-limited assistance to workers who have been made redundant. I believe in the purpose for which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be mobilised, to a total of EUR 3 643 770 for Austria. This support for the reintegration into Austria’s labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis is vital in order to safeguard 502 redundancies in 706 companies in Division 49. Of the package of measures proposed by the Commission, I would like to emphasise in particular two which are imperative, namely with regard to occupational orientation, whereby sessions are organised for the development of skills with a view to broadening career prospects, and also small classes on entrepreneurship; and one-week internships in enterprises in the sector, which are essential in order to face a world that is increasingly competitive and where redefining or updating one’s professional profile can make the difference.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The marked downturn in the freight business in Austria has suffered a sharp increase, leading to 2 338 workers in the sector being made redundant in the regions of Niederösterreich and Oberösterreich. This reduction is all the more worrying in terms of the relatively central role that this country plays in the EU context, which would suggest that its freight activity could have been safe from the economic downturn currently being experienced. However, it appears that this is not the case, and that Austria’s workers and companies have been hit hard by the crisis. I hope the workers affected will be able to find new jobs as soon as possible, and that the Austrian freight industry, like those of the other Member States, will once again thrive and transport European products to markets inside and outside the EU.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Matera, concerns the proposal for a regulation of Parliament and the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), in accordance with point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (application EGF/2011/001 AT/Niederösterreich-Oberösterreich from Austria). On 22 September 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Austria, with the aim of supporting the reintegration of workers made redundant due to the global crisis. This is the 17th application to be examined under the EU budget for 2011. It was submitted to the Commission on 3 January 2011, and concerns the mobilisation of a sum of EUR 3 643 770, aimed at mitigating the social impact of 2 338 redundancies at 706 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 49 (‘land transport and transport via pipelines) in the NUTS II regions of Niederösterreich (AT12) and Oberösterreich (AT31), in Austria. As the legal requirements have been met, I voted for this motion for a resolution, which I hope will revitalise the economic situation in the region.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) There have been a number of requests for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). There has been virtually no sitting in which this House has not been called on to approve this mobilisation of this fund. This is the 17th application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 3 643 770 from the EGF for Austria. It relates to 2 338 redundancies, 502 of which are targeted for assistance, at 706 enterprises in the area of ‘land transport and transport via pipelines’ in the regions of Niederösterreich and Oberösterreich, in Austria, during the eight-month reference period from 1 February 2010 to 31 October 2010. The application was submitted to the Commission on 3 January 2011.

It was based on the criteria laid down in the EGF Regulation, which makes intervention subject to there being at least 500 redundancies over a nine-month period in one region or two contiguous regions in NUTS II level in a Member State. On 22 September 2011 the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Austria, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is the 17th application to be examined under the 2011 budget. It refers to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 3 643 770 from the EGF for Austria. It relates to 2 338 redundancies, 502 of which are targeted for assistance, at 706 enterprises operating within NACE Revision 2 Division 49 (‘land transport and transport via pipelines’) in the NUTS II regions of Niederösterreich (AT12) and Oberösterreich (AT31) in Austria, during the eight-month reference period from 1 February 2010 to 31 October 2010. The application was submitted to the Commission on 3 January 2011 and supplemented by additional information up to 9 June 2011. It was based on the intervention criteria laid down in Article 2(b) of the EGF Regulation, which requires at least 500 redundancies over a nine-month period in enterprises operating in the same NACE Revision 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level in a Member State.

On 22 September 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Austria, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Union has established appropriate legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional assistance to workers who are feeling the impact of the major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation and to help them return to the jobs market. For applications submitted after 1 May 2009, the scope of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) has been extended to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the world financial and economic crisis. Point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission allows the release of funds from the EGF using the flexibility instrument within the annual ceiling of EUR 500 million beyond the relevant rounds of the financial framework.

On 3 January 2011 Austria submitted request No EGF/2011/AT/Niederösterreich-Oberösterreich for a financial contribution from the EGF because of redundancies in 706 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 division 49 (Land transport and transport via pipelines) in the NUTS II regions of Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) (AT12) and Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) (AT31). After carefully considering these requests, the Commission has come to the conclusion that they meet all the conditions for a financial contribution and that under the relevant regulations the financial contribution should be paid to Austria.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. On 22 September 2011 the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Austria in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. I welcomed this document because this particular case concerns the 30-50% decrease in freight business in Austria in July 2009. For lorries with an authorised total weight above 3.5 tonnes, traffic fell by 17% in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period of the previous year. These downward trends continued in 2010, with the result that many Austrian road transport businesses had to lay off workers. Austria argues that the crisis, with its impact on European consumer behaviour and the reduced production of goods, has had a particularly heavy negative impact on the transport sector which has emerged later than was the case for the main industries of the secondary sector. The Commission therefore proposes to mobilise an amount of EUR 3 643 770.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) The aim of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is to support the reintegration of European workers affected by redundancies resulting directly from profound changes in international trade. The ultimate aim of the fund is also to help redundant workers find a new job and keep it. Until 31 December 2011, the fund will also provide aid to workers who have lost their job due to the global financial and economic crisis. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is a vital tool. That is why I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted to give the green light to the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist workers in Austria made redundant due to the global economic downturn.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. This report refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 3 643 770 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Austria. It concerns assistance to retrain and up skill workers made redundant in the ‘Land transport and transport via pipelines’ sector. I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of company relocations that occur in the context of globalisation. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF, which aims to help workers who fall victim to the relocation of companies, is essential for facilitating access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Austria, which has applied for assistance with regard to 2 338 redundancies, of which 502 are targeted for assistance, at 706 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 49 (‘land transport and transport via pipelines’) in the NUTS II regions of Niederösterreich (AT12) and Oberösterreich (AT31).

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. This is the seventeenth application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 3 643 770 from the EGF for Austria. It concerns 2 338 redundancies, of which are 502 targeted for assistance, 706 enterprises operating in the field of Land transport and transport via pipelines in Austria, during the nine-month reference period from 1 February 2010 to 31 October 2010. It is necessary to help Austria, but the criteria of the fund should be amended to make it available in Latvia. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The financial crisis led to a huge decline in the freight sector – in Austria’s case, a decline of between 30% and 50% in July 2009. Traffic involving goods vehicles with a total permissible weight of more than 3.5 tonnes reduced by 17% in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period the previous year. This downward trend continued in 2010, with the result that many Austrian haulage contractors had to make job cuts. The decline in consumption and the reduced production of goods had particularly severe repercussions for the transport sector; compared with the core industries of the secondary sector, there was a time lag before these took effect. I am in favour of resources from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund being used for the imminent training measures.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome the decision to allocate support to Austria’s transport sector, which has been hit particularly badly by the economic and financial crisis, with hundreds of workers being made redundant as a result. It should be noted that small and very small transport companies have been worst affected by the crisis. I believe that the amount allocated is sufficient to create favourable conditions to return to the labour market and enable other active labour market measures to be implemented which would encourage people who have received assistance to seek work themselves and take up employment as quickly as possible. The assistance must therefore be dynamic and made available efficiently so that it covers the costs of job search, training and retraining and the promotion of entrepreneurship and effectively halts the spread of unemployment in the country.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by the consequences of major structural changes in the patterns of world trade. On 5 October 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Austria, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the 17th application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 3 643 770 from the EGF for Austria, based on 2 338 redundancies, of which 502 are targeted for assistance, at 706 enterprises operating in NACE Revision 2 Division 49 (‘land transport and transport via pipelines’) in the NUTS II regions of Niederösterreich (AT12) and Oberösterreich (AT31), in Austria, during the eight-month reference period from 1 February 2010 to 31 October 2010. As all the necessary requirements to activate this mechanism for financial assistance have been fulfilled, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Given that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns, the proposal to mobilise the fund for Austria stems from the need to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. In light of the above and in view of the importance of the proposal for a decision in question, I voted for the proposal for a decision since it can provide for measures for occupational guidance, training programmes and associated training allowances and redundant apprentice on- and off-the-job training and support.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The application submitted by Austria for the intervention of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) relates to 2 338 redundancies, of which 502 are targeted for assistance, at 706 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 49 (‘land transport and transport via pipelines’) in the NUTS II regions of Niederösterreich and Oberösterreich, during the reference period from 1 February 2010 to 31 October 2010. This application is related to the decrease in the freight business in Austria of 30-50% in July 2009, as a result of the crisis and its impact on the consumption and production of goods. According to the Commission’s assessment, this application meets all of the legally established eligibility criteria. Indeed, EGF involvement in situations like this is provided for in the EGF Regulation, in which, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of nine months, particularly in small or medium-sized enterprises, in a NACE 2 division in one region or two contiguous regions at NUTS II level’. I therefore voted for this resolution, in the hope that the assistance will be made available to the workers who have been made redundant swiftly and efficiently.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) When considering Austria’s application, the European Commission evaluated the economic and financial crisis which has led to redundancies and major structural changes in world trade patterns. In 2009 in Europe, national full truckload transport fell on average by 25% in terms of journeys and by 27% in terms of turnover, compared with the previous year. International full truckload transport fell on average by 22% while turnover fell by 25%. In this particular case, there was a decrease in the freight business in Austria of 30-50% in July 2009. For lorries with an authorised total weight above 3.5 tonnes, traffic decreased in the first half of 2009 by 17% compared with the same period of the previous year. These downward trends continued in 2010 with the result that many Austrian road transport businesses had to lay off workers. Indeed the crisis, with its impact on European consumer behaviour and the reduced production of goods, has had a particularly heavy negative impact on the transport sector which has unfolded in a delayed manner in comparison to core industries of the secondary sector.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of Parliament and the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who lose their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. I am voting for the request for the mobilisation of the EGF submitted by Austria in relation to 2 338 redundancies at 706 enterprises located in the NUTS II regions of Niederösterreich and Oberösterreich. I believe that the Commission should mobilise EUR 3 643 770 to help the employability of workers from the Austrian enterprises in the sector of ‘land transport and transport via pipelines’. The financial package that has been adopted should be channelled towards supporting measures of assistance in the areas of occupational orientation, individual training and making general information available through specific employment channels.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the application from Austria in connection with the huge redundancies made in the automotive manufacturing industry. The application concerns the mobilisation from the EGF of a total amount of EUR 3 643 770 for Austria in connection with 2 338 redundancies in 706 enterprises operating in the land transport and transport via pipelines sector in the Austrian regions of Niederösterreich and Oberösterreich. The redundancies were made in the period between 1 February and 31 October 2010. The economic and financial crisis caused a 30-50% decrease in the freight business in Austria in July 2009. For lorries with an authorised maximum total weight above 3.5 tonnes, business dropped in the first half of 2009 by 17% compared with the same period of the previous year. These downward trends continued in 2010, with the result that many Austrian road transport businesses had to lay off some of their workers. I call on the Commission and Member States to simplify the procedures for awarding grants so that those made redundant as a result of the economic and financial crisis can benefit from the European funds available to support their reintegration into the labour market.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) Road freight, which declined by 10% across the EU in 2009, seems to be recovering more slowly than other freight sectors. The Austrian road freight sector was already far more severely affected than other parts of Europe, declining by 30-50% compared with 20-30%, and this downward trend continued in 2010. This negative trend particularly affected small and micro haulage contractors in Oberösterreich and Niederösterreich, which have had to make 2 338 job cuts. Those affected are mainly truck drivers, who have not been able to find other work because of their lack of qualifications; moreover, 51 of the 502 people needing support having long-term health problems or a disability. Occupational further training measures should now provide these people with assistance, the proposed package of measures being coordinated with the sector-specific social partners and monitored by the state labour department. For this reason, I voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0378/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of allocating financial assistance to Greece. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. Greece has requested assistance in respect of 642 workers made redundant from two enterprises involved in the retail sector. This application complies with the requirements for determining financial contributions, and I therefore welcome the mobilisation of an amount of EUR 2 918 500.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the remit of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. At this time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which has been an increase in unemployment, the EU needs to use all the means at its disposal to respond, particularly with regard to providing support for those who find themselves without a job from one day to the next. I therefore voted for this report concerning the mobilisation of EUR 2 918 500 from the EGF for Greece, with the objective of supporting workers made redundant from the company Hellas Supermarket Holding EPE & Assoc. E.E. and one supplier, Thessaloniki Logistics S.A.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) This report concerns the assistance expected for reintegrating 642 workers made redundant from the ALDI chain into the labour market. I believe that the Greek authorities are right. These redundancies were caused by the economic and financial crisis. I voted in favour of granting the assistance.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is an instrument intended to assist the reintegration of workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the ongoing process of globalisation of world markets. This fund supports workers and does not aim to benefit the business that made the redundancies in any way. With regard to the case in question, I voted in favour since Greece’s request to mobilise a total of EUR 2 918 500 from the EGF for 642 redundancies targeted for assistance did not contain any particular critical issues and it fulfilled the criteria required for its activation.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. − Although I have great sympathy for redundant workers from ALDI Hellas/Greece, I believe that UK taxpayers’ money, which provides a significant contribution to the EU and thus Global Adjustment Fund budget, is better concentrated on providing jobs for unemployed workers in the UK. Unemployment in the UK continues to rise to unexpected levels. Many of our heavy industries have shut down and our workforce is inundated with EU migrants. It is a pure injustice towards hardworking Brits who have lost their jobs in industries that have relocated to other EU countries under EU law to then find that their contributions as taxpayers are being spent by the EU in assisting unemployed people in Greece. Increasingly the UK is becoming a hub for people who have fled their own EU Member States to try to earn more money or claim benefits in the UK, which they often send large proportions of back home rather than inject it into the local economy. As unemployment continues to rise in the UK, particularly blighting some of the former mining towns in Wales, I cannot justify assenting to aid newly unemployed workers abroad when long-term unemployed people continue to suffer in communities in my constituency. My constituents will not accept this, neither can I.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) Although the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is not the real solution to the problem of unemployment, it offers an opportunity to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of unemployed persons and from the problems caused to the workers of Europe by the financial crisis and neoliberal globalisation. However, it is inexplicable why this should be the first request from Greece which, until now, has not asked for the fund to be activated, given the very high unemployment rate (officially 18.4% in August), despite my repeated suggestions. In fact, the present report accepts the request for support for 642 persons made redundant by the supermarket chain ALDI. Despite the fact that the Greek Government has requested a fairly small amount and despite the fact that we have no answer to the question of whether suitable use will be made of the relevant resources and whether another request will follow from Greece, I voted in favour of the report, so that the persons made redundant by ALDI can receive what they are entitled to.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the various repercussions that Greece has suffered owing to its vulnerability in the face of the financial crisis and structural changes in the patterns of world trade, I believed it important to vote for this report, which will provide vital one-off, time-limited assistance to workers who have been made redundant. Furthermore, I believe in the purpose for which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be mobilised, to a total of EUR 2 918 500 for Greece. This support for the reintegration into Greece’s labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis is vital in order to safeguard 642 redundancies at two companies in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’). Of the package of measures proposed by the Commission, I would like to draw particular attention to two that are imperative, namely the contribution to business start-up, aimed at encouraging redundant workers to set up their own businesses, receiving up to EUR 20 000 as a contribution to cover setting-up costs, and occupational guidance and job-search assistance with sessions for developing skills and CVs, thus assisting with job-search techniques that are essential in an increasingly globalised world.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Like the position that I took in relation to the Irish and Austrian applications, I am voting for this report, as the Irish application has been made within the framework of the support provided for in the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). I would once again stress that the EGF is aimed at supporting workers affected by major structural changes in world trade and assisting their reintegration into the labour market. I also hope that the fund will be mobilised swiftly, especially in this case and in view of the difficult period that Greece is currently experiencing, so as to lessen the psychological, social and economic repercussions experienced by the affected workers.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report as I believe it very important that the EU support the Member States experiencing great difficulties in their stoic efforts towards economic restructuring. I share the opinion that the resources at issue here, from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, can make an important contribution to reducing the rise of structural unemployment in Greece, and thus mitigate, in a sustained manner, the economic and social crisis that the country is experiencing.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Greece is perhaps the most urgent example of the tension to which citizens, Member States and companies are being subjected in the context of the current crisis in the euro area. This crisis in Europe, linked to the global crisis which has been affecting markets throughout the West, has been causing serious problems for Greek companies and leading to workers from a wide range of economic sectors in that country being made redundant. Worrying scenes of social conflict are multiplying, and it is difficult to make out a clear or simple path towards escaping all the problems affecting Greece. There are high hopes of the new national unity government, but there are many more unknowns than certainties. A sign that the Greek market is shrinking is its abandonment by the German supermarket chain ALDI a few years after its establishment in Greece, which has led to 642 workers being made redundant. I hope that mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund can mitigate the problems experienced by these workers and enable their reintegration into the labour market.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report relates to the proposal for a decision of Parliament and the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), in accordance with point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (application EGF/2011/004 EL/ALDI Hellas from Greece). On 22 September 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Greece, with the aim of supporting the reintegration of workers made redundant due to the global crisis. This is the 18th application submitted under the 2011 EU budget, submitted to the Commission on 10 May 2011, on the mobilisation of a sum of EUR 2 918 500, aimed at mitigating the social impact of the redundancies of 642 workers from the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’) in the regions of Central Macedonia and Attica. I am voting for this proposal as it realises the objectives which led the EU to create the EGF, and I hope that it contributes to the swift recovery of the economy in these regions.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This time, the application for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is for Greece, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the crisis. This is the 18th application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 2 918 500. It relates to 642 redundancies, all of which are targeted for assistance, at two enterprises in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’) operating in the regions of Central Macedonia and Attica, as well as other Greek regions, such as Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Western Macedonia, Epirus, Western Greece, Mainland Greece and Peloponnese, during the five-month reference period from 4 November 2010 to 4 March 2011.

Of these redundancies, 88 are outside the reference period, but are related to the same collective redundancy procedure and the event which triggered the redundancies during the reference period. As in the previous cases, although I am voting for this mobilisation, I would protest that not enough was done to prevent this being necessary.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report aims to support the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Greece. On 22 September 2011 the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Greece, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.

This application related to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 2 918 500 from the EGF for Greece. It concerns 642 redundancies, all of which are targeted for assistance, in two enterprises operating in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’) operating in several regions, during the five-month reference period from 4 November 2010 to 4 March 2011.

Of these redundancies, 88 are outside the reference period, but are related to the same collective redundancy procedure and the event which triggered the redundancies during the reference period. The application was submitted to the Commission on 10 May 2011 and supplemented by additional information up to 22 June 2011; it was based on the specific intervention criteria set out in Article 2(b) of the EGF Regulation.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission allows the release of funds from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) using the flexibility instrument within the annual ceiling of EUR 500 million beyond the relevant rounds of the financial framework. At the beginning of May this year, Greece submitted request EGF/2011/004 EL/ALDI Hellas for a contribution from the EGF with regard to 642 workers made redundant from the firm ALDI Hellas Supermarket Holding EPE & Assoc. E.E. and the haulage company Thessaloniki Logistics S.A. in Greece. After considering the request, in accordance with Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, the Commission has come to the conclusion that they meet the condition for a financial contribution under the regulation. Greece’s application for the financial contribution should therefore be granted.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. I support the allocation of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund to workers in EL/ALDI Hellas/Greece. This is the first application from Greece and it is very important that Greek workers can access the fund. The Globalisation Adjustment Fund was designed as a solidarity instrument and during extremely difficult times in Greece, this is a small sign that the EU is delivering on its message of solidarity.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. I welcome the EGF, but stress the need for a more flexible approach for its administration into the future.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. On 22 September 2011 the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Greece in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. I welcomed this document because in this particular case Greece argues that the economic and financial crisis has had devastating consequences for the Greek economy. There has also been a decrease in average income in the private sector. An immediate effect of reduced income was a decrease in consumption. In 2009 the private final consumption expenditure figures for Greece followed the same negative trend as the average of the 27 EU Member States. In 2010, there was a recovery in private consumption at EU27 level while the drop in private consumption in Greece was even bigger than that in the previous year. The decrease in private consumption has severely affected the retail sector and in particular supermarkets. The Commission therefore proposes to mobilise an amount of EUR 2 918 500.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted to give the green light to the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to assist workers in the retail sector in Greece made redundant.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. This report, the eighteenth such application to be examined under the 2011 European Globalisation Adjustment Fund budget, refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 2 918 500 for Greece. It concerns 642 redundancies, all targeted for assistance, in two enterprises in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’). I voted in favour of the positive decision in respect of this application.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of company relocations that occur in the context of globalisation. More and more companies are relocating, taking advantage of lower labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on those countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF, which aims to help workers who fall victim to the relocation of companies, is essential for facilitating access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU Member States in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Greece, which has applied for assistance with regard to 642 redundancies, all of which are targeted for assistance, at two enterprises in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’) operating in the regions of Central Macedonia and Attica, where the greatest number of ALDI stores were located. The ALDI chain also reported redundancies in other Greek regions, namely Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Western Macedonia, Epirus, Western Greece, Sterea Ellada and Peloponnese.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. This is the eighteenth application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 2 918 500 from the EGF for Greece. It concerns 642 redundancies, all targeted for assistance, in two enterprises in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’) during the five-month reference period from 4 November 2010 to 4 March 2011. It is necessary to help Greece, but the criteria of the fund should be amended to make it available in Latvia. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) In order to mitigate the negative impact of globalisation, the funding available from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund needs to be used in a targeted manner. It is very important to ensure that assistance for workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible. I welcome the decision to allocate support to companies in Greece operating in the retail sector because hundreds of workers have been made redundant as a result of the economic and financial crisis. I believe that the amount allocated is sufficient to mitigate the consequences of mass redundancy in this sector and will create favourable conditions for workers in this sector who have suffered to return to the labour market. This assistance will cover the costs of job search, training and retraining and the promotion of entrepreneurship and will effectively halt the spread of unemployment in the country.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report. The case of the 642 persons who lost their jobs in Greece following the withdrawal of ALDI from the Greek market is the first Greek request for which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has been activated. The fund has been activated in order to pay one-off individual aid which is limited in time, in order to support the workers made redundant as a result of globalisation and the financial and economic crisis. Greece, which has the second highest unemployment rate in the EU and is constantly losing jobs, must make maximum possible use of the fund, by including many more cases that meet its criteria. Moreover, according to the reply which I received from the Commission to a question, despite the rapid increase in the number of applications for support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund since the start of the economic crisis, the total amount available has not been used up and, at the moment, Greece has not asked for the fund to be mobilised for cases other than the case referred to.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by the consequences of major structural changes in the patterns of world trade. On 22 September 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for Greece, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. The 18th application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, this relates to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 2 918 500 from the EGF for Greece, with regard to 642 redundancies, all of which are targeted for assistance, from two enterprises in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’) operating in the regions of Central Macedonia and Attica, as well as other Greek regions, such as Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Western Macedonia, Epirus, Western Greece, Mainland Greece and Peloponnese, during the five-month reference period from 4 November 2010 to 4 March 2011. As all of the requirements necessary to apply this financial assistance mechanism have been met, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Given that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns, the proposal to mobilise the fund for Greece stems from the need to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. In light of the above and in view of the importance of the proposal for a decision in question, I voted for the proposal for a decision since it can provide for measures for occupational guidance, training programmes and associated training allowances and redundant apprentice on- and off-the-job training and support.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request by Greece for the intervention of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) relates to 642 redundancies at two enterprises in the retail sector (‘supermarket and supplier’). This request is related to the devastating impact that the economic and financial crisis has had on the Greek economy, particularly in terms of the fall in private consumption. According to the Commission’s assessment, this application meets all of the legally established eligibility criteria. Indeed, EGF involvement in situations like this is provided for in the EGF Regulation, in which, as a direct result of the global financial and economic crisis, there are ‘at least 500 redundancies over a period of four months in an enterprise in a Member State, including workers made redundant in its suppliers or downstream producers’. I therefore voted for this resolution, in the hope that the assistance will be made available to the workers who have been made redundant swiftly and efficiently.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The objective of this proposal is undoubtedly to improve the legislative and budgetary instruments in order to provide additional support to all European workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and to assist their reintegration into the labour market.

In the context of the current economic and market crisis, Greece has requested assistance in respect of a case concerning 642 redundancies, all targeted for assistance, in two enterprises in the retail sector operating in the regions of Central Macedonia and Attica where the greatest number of ALDI stores are located.

The institutions involved must therefore make the necessary efforts to improve procedural and budgetary arrangements in order to accelerate the mobilisation of the EGF. At the same time, it is to be hoped that further improvements in the procedure will be reached in the framework of the upcoming reviews of the EGF and that greater efficiency, transparency and visibility of the fund will be achieved.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of Parliament and the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who lose their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. Greece has submitted a request for the mobilisation of the EGF for 642 redundancies at the enterprise ALDI Hellas Supermarket Holding EPE & Assoc. E.E. and one of its suppliers, Thessaloniki Logistics S.A., both located in the regions of Central Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia-Thrace and Attica. The sum of EUR 2 918 500 is being used to fund professional assistance for individual workers and is not being used to restructure the companies or replace measures that are their sole responsibility by virtue of national law or collective agreements. I believe that the EGF should fund active measures towards re-entering the labour market, allowing new skills to be learnt and these to be adapted to the new work situation.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is a mechanism that should be widely debated. Officially, this fund enables the European Union to fund specific actions to counter the effects of the crisis. It is about as effective as sticking a plaster on a wooden leg.

This mechanism, however, is only used on a case-by-case basis. In reality, it funds redundancy schemes.

Today, in the case of Greece, the ALDI supermarket chain and one of its suppliers have received support from this fund. The champion of hard-discount which rakes in tens of billions in sales each year has laid off over 500 people in two stores in Greece.

At a time when the Greek people are at the mercy of the austerity measures imposed on their government by the European Union, we are encouraging and funding a big business which is laying people off.

I therefore voted against this report and I regret, once again, that European funds are being misused.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) In 2010, the company ALDI Hellas announced the closure of all its branches in the regions of Central Macedonia and Attica, a region severely affected by the crisis. However, ALDI Hellas has been reporting losses since 2005 – so the company’s financial situation was in dire straits even before the crisis. For this reason, I voted against the proposal.

 
  
  

Reports: Barbara Matera (A7-0375/2011), (A7-0377/2011), (A7-0376/2011),

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. I welcome the overwhelming approval today by the European Parliament to approve the allocation of EUR 55 million of EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid for the retraining of construction industry workers in Ireland. The three Irish North West MEPs initially approached the Irish Government with the proposal to seek funding from Europe. I am very pleased that our efforts have borne fruit and that this funding will now be available to retrain and up skill construction industry workers adversely affected by the slump in their sector. It is an imperative that every effort is made to ensure that the best possible opportunities are identified to equip workers for future employment opportunities. The three applications on behalf of 5,987 Irish construction industry workers will total EUR 55 million, of which the EU will provide EUR 35 million and Ireland EUR 20 million. The package of measures will include training programmes and training allowances, 2nd and 3rd level education programmes and supports, and redundant apprentices training programmes and supports.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. In favour. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has been created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. According to the provisions of point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management and of the Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, the fund may not exceed a maximum amount of EUR 500 million, drawn from the margin under the global expenditure ceiling from the previous year, and/or from the cancelled commitment appropriations from the previous two years, excluding those related to Heading 1b. The appropriate amounts are entered into the budget as a provision as soon as the sufficient margins and/or cancelled commitments have been identified.

As concerns the procedure, in order to activate the fund the Commission, in case of a positive assessment of an application, presents to the budgetary authority a proposal for mobilisation of the fund and, at the same time, a corresponding request for transfer. In parallel, a trilogue could be organised in order to find an agreement on the use of the fund and the amounts required. The trilogue can take a simplified form.

 
  
  

Reports: Barbara Matera (A7-0375/2011), (A7-0378/2011), (A7-0377/2011), (A7-0376/2011), (A7-0379/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as it concerns an application that meets all of the criteria for the mobilisation of this fund. In this time of difficulty, Europe should, more than ever, be a Union of solidarity.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) The aim of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is to support the reintegration of European workers affected by redundancies resulting directly from profound changes in international trade. The ultimate aim of the fund is also to help redundant workers find a new job and keep it. Until 31 December 2011, the fund will also provide aid to workers who have lost their job due to the global financial and economic crisis. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is a vital tool. That is why I voted in favour of these reports.

 
  
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  László Surján (PPE), in writing. (HU) Today we approved five payments from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: one for Greece, three for Ireland and one for Austria. It is not companies or governments, but the people concerned who receive this assistance. I always vote in favour of such proposals, even though I know that the concept is flawed. It is a displacement activity. As with social policy itself, the management of unemployment, too, falls within the responsibility of the Member States. Of course there is truth in saying that if it is global effects that are responsible for the problem, then global assistance is equitable. However, I hardly believe this to be the real solution, even if all governments could use the extra funds. If a company makes the assessment that it would be more profitable to relocate its production for example to Ukraine, because there it would have to pay, say, one tenth of the wages it has to pay in Greece, it will of course relocate.

As a recompense, the EU contributes to the retraining or assistance of workers laid off and left behind, but the problem still persists. Tomorrow it will be another company that packs up and leaves, and chooses greater profits over its former employees. This is how Europe is slowly becoming like a waiter for the multitudes of Asian tourists, happily snapping away with their cameras, who visit to admire the relics of our past. But there is no production. This phenomenon needs more serious addressing than the granting of a European recompense. We need to act before it is too late.

 
  
  

Report: Filip Kaczmarek (A7-0315/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. I welcome the fact that the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) has succeeded in establishing itself as a key player in North-South cooperation. However, more attention should be given to the results achieved on the ground, to the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and to consistency between its resolutions and those of the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) At an international level, the European Parliament has relations with various geographical areas. Some of these relations are at a more advanced stage, which is true of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP). In 2010, the ACP–European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly met on two occasions. During these meetings, the cooperation agreement between the two entities and respect for the commitment of Member States to allocate 0.7% of their GNI to development aid were discussed. As I am convinced that dialogue, based on democratic principles, is the starting point for any good relationship, I voted in favour of the Kaczmarek report.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) Mr Kaczmarek’s work consists of the annual report on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2010. I voted for the report because I consider that it is well balanced and makes interesting suggestions for the future activities of the Assembly. Indeed, the report urges MEPs to participate more in the work of the Assembly, it encourages African and European countries to cooperate with regard to democratic scrutiny and it calls for monitoring of the situation in Haiti, Madagascar and South Sudan to continue, for a mission to be sent to the Horn of Africa and for election observation to be continued.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because we need to pay more attention to the outcomes of the work of the African, Caribbean, Pacific – European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) and ensure coherence between its resolutions and those of the European Parliament. Through the quality of its work, the JPA has succeeded in establishing itself as a player in North-South cooperation. The European Commission now subjects country and regional strategy papers to parliamentary scrutiny by both the European Parliament and the ACP countries’ national parliaments. It is important for the Committee on Development and the JPA to monitor the situation and ensure that effective use is made of this means of parliamentary scrutiny. The Assembly has played, and continues to play, a key role in monitoring the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Hearings of the head negotiators on both sides, meetings with economic and social players (both at formal meetings and at events held alongside them) and interaction between European and southern parliamentarians have helped to make the process more transparent and have made it easier to take local issues into account. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, there can be no doubt that the Assembly’s work has had a bearing on the process.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) The ACP-EU partnership has proved to be growing in stature in the context of global partnerships, developing on numerous levels so that it currently encompasses measures on economic cooperation, human rights, trade relations between the EU and six ACP regions, as well as political dialogue. I feel it is appropriate to call on the ACP’s national parliaments to increase their involvement in the process of drafting national strategy documents on cooperation between the EU and the relevant countries for the 2008-2013 period. The importance attached to women being involved in resolving social problems such as gender-based violence or human trafficking is also significant.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the EU represents a comprehensive partnership unique in the world, the content of which has been developed at institutional level, and which now includes aspects such as aid, economic cooperation, human rights, trade relations between the EU and the six ACP regions, and political dialogue. In my view, this wealth makes ACP-EU cooperation a unique model for this kind of partnership in terms of development. I therefore welcome the fact that in 2010 the JPA continued to provide a framework for open, democratic and in-depth dialogue between the EU and the ACP countries, which last year resulted in two meetings, in Tenerife and Kinshasa, although I am bound to regret the EU Council’s absence from the latter.

I would stress the importance of the JPA maintaining its pressure on the EU Member States to take steps to honour their commitments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, of greater national parliament involvement in country and regional strategy papers and in implementing the European Development Fund, of measures for combating poverty and climate change, and of strict adherence to all aspects of human rights.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the EU is an important forum for debate, discussion and decision making between members of parliaments from both of these regions, and where, under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, they can strengthen their relations and learn more about their respective situations, as well as promoting the exchange of experiences and the adoption of best practices. In this context, the involvement of national parliaments and respective public opinion is crucial in order for what is decided upon to have a real impact on the lives of the people and influence local political debate in a positive way. I regret that the importance of Portuguese language, spoken by no fewer than seven countries in the ACP-EU JPA, has still not been duly recognised, and it has not been granted translation and interpreting facilities or access to documents in a timely manner, unlike English and French. This discrimination is unacceptable and has persisted due to unconvincing arguments about budgets. The damage that this causes to people from Portuguese-speaking countries is far greater than the potential benefits brought about by this kind of stubbornness.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since its beginning, the European Union has maintained privileged relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) in the area of development cooperation, especially at political, economic and social level. Currently, relations between the EU and the ACP countries fit into the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, signed in 2000. This report, drafted by Mr Kaczmarek, assesses the activities of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), which met twice during 2010, in Tenerife (Spain) and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), adopting nine resolutions and the Declaration on the Second Revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. The ACP-EU JPA has a decisive role in strengthening North-South dialogue. As such, it is essential that Parliament focus on this, so as to achieve our objectives, whether these relate to the rebuilding of post-conflict countries or the functioning of democracy, especially in countries in receipt of international aid. As such, I am voting for this report, I welcome the measures mentioned and I am pleased with the Commission’s intention of collaborating in the implementation of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report assesses the work of Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the EU throughout 2010. Some of the most positive aspects of the JPA’s operations are identified in this assessment. We also agree with the warning that there is a need to pay greater attention to the JPA’s work and the results obtained. It is also crucial for ACP national parliaments to have an active role. However, we believe that some matters needed to be tackled in greater depth. In fact, we did so during the debates in plenary on issues as important as economic partnership agreements, land grabbing, and the weight of external debt and servicing it. However, we disagree on some points of the resolution, such as when it advocates consistency between Parliament’s resolutions and those of the JPA. In our opinion, part of the value of the JPA resides in its frequent disagreement on many matters with the position dominant in Parliament. This ends up revealing and helping to denounce the limitations and contradictions – and, frequently, the ulterior motives – of EU development cooperation policy.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report looks at the activities of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the EU. Not being a member of this JPA, I see this in a positive light, although I do not agree with all of the information it contains. One issue that concerns us is the conclusion of so-called ‘economic partnership agreements’ (EPAs) and the European Commission’s insistence on free trade. As the rapporteur rightly says, more attention needs to be paid to the results of the work of the ACP-EU JPA. In this work it is possible to see the repeated resistance of the ACP countries to EPAs, which is fair, legitimate and entirely understandable.

The way that they have been conceived of means they could be very lucrative for some European multinationals, but will be disastrous for these countries. Lastly, I would like to mention the economic and financial crisis and its effects on the ACP countries, which require the cancelation of the enormous burden This is debt that has already been paid several times over yet is still growing. This debt urgently needs to be cancelled so as to bring an end once and for all to this unacceptable expropriation of wealth, and effectively help these countries to find a sovereign and independent path to development and social progress.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In 2010, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly met twice. The nineteenth session was held from 6 to 9 April in Tenerife. In addition to the reports by the standing committees, the session adopted resolutions on post-disaster reconstruction in Haiti and the situation in Southern Sudan. In addition, six sets of conclusions on the Regional Strategy Papers for the six ACP regions were adopted. The twentieth session was held from 30 November to 3 December 2010 in Kinshasa. The Assembly adopted three resolutions contained in the reports by the standing committees and two urgent resolutions on food security and the situation in the Sahel-Saharan region. A declaration on the results of the presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire was also adopted. A regional meeting in Mahé was also held during the year. After 2009, when no JPA fact-finding missions were organised, in 2010 the ACP Secretariat was able once again to fund mission expenses for three missions: to Madagascar, Burundi and Haiti.

Thanks to the good work done by the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, it has become a key actor in North-South cooperation. Currently the European Commission has passed the national and regional strategy documents to the European Parliament and the ACP country parliaments for parliamentary control. It is important for the Committee on Development and the JPA to monitor the situation and ensure that effective use is made of this means of parliamentary control.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because in 2010 the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) continued to provide a framework for an open, democratic and in-depth dialogue between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries on the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, including the issue of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). I believe that we need to pay more attention to the outcomes of the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and ensure coherence between its resolutions and those of the European Parliament. In particular we need to stress the crucial role of the ACP national parliaments, local authorities and non-state actors in managing and monitoring the Country and Regional Strategy Papers and the implementation of the European Development Fund (EDF). I also agree with the opinion that there needs to be close parliamentary scrutiny during the negotiation and conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The JPA must maintain its pressure on EU Member States to take urgent steps to meet their 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) commitments in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals as well as their specific pledges to Africa and the least developed countries. However, these measures must be fully transparent, multiannual, binding and should include legislation. The Commission must supply all available information to the parliaments of the ACP countries and assist them in exercising democratic scrutiny, in particular by means of capacity-building in this area.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) This own-initiative report gives an overview of the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) for 2010. The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly brings together 78 European and 78 ACP members of parliament. It meets twice a year – once in Europe and once in an ACP country. The 2010 JPA was held in Tenerife (Spain) and in Kinshasa (Congo). Various subject matters were discussed and in particular the impact of climate change in ACP countries, the social impact of the global crisis, food security. As it has been adopted unanimously by the Committee on Development (DEVE) and no problems raised, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this report which points out that through the quality of its work, the JPA has succeeded in establishing itself as a key player in North-South cooperation. The European Commission now subjects Country and Regional Strategy Papers to parliamentary scrutiny by both the European Parliament and the ACP countries’ national parliaments. It is important for the Committee on Development and the JPA to monitor the situation and ensure that effective use is made of this means of parliamentary scrutiny.

The Assembly has played, and continues to play, a key role in monitoring the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Hearings of the head negotiators on both sides, meetings with economic and social players (both at formal meetings and at events held alongside them) and interaction between European and southern parliamentarians have helped to make the process more transparent and have made it easier to take local issues into account. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, there can be no doubt that the Assembly’s work has had a bearing on the process.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) We congratulate the work carried out in 2010 by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) which, through the quality of its work, has succeeded in establishing itself as a key player in North-South cooperation. This Assembly continues to play a key role in monitoring the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). All the hearings of the head negotiators on both sides, meetings with economic and social players and interaction between European and Southern parliamentarians have helped to make the process more transparent and have made it easier to take local issues into account.

In 2010, an important result was achieved in that certain proposals for the second revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement were negotiated. In fact, this revision provides for the necessary strengthening of the Assembly’s role in scrutiny of other institutions, as well as for the regionalisation process. The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and the establishment of the European External Action Service will have a huge impact on relations between the JPA and the other institutions. We therefore hope that the absence of the EU Council at the 20th Session will be rectified in 2011 and we encourage closer cooperation between all the European institutions involved.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Kaczmarek’s report. The aspects on which we should continue to work, such as election observation and supporting enterprises, are identified in an appropriate manner.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report and commend the work of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2010 in continuing to provide a framework for an open, democratic and in-depth dialogue between the European Union and the ACP countries.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) has become increasingly important in the context of global partnerships, as it has been developing in various areas, especially in terms of the institutions and content, and today it encompasses aspects such as aid, economic cooperation, human rights, trade relations between the EU and the six ACP regions, and political dialogue. This broad array of aspects makes ACP-EU cooperation a unique model for this kind of partnership in terms of development. However, it is important that the JPA maintain pressure on the EU Member States to take steps to honour their commitments in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, of greater national parliament involvement in country and regional strategy papers and in implementing the European Development Fund, of measures for combating poverty and climate change, and of strict adherence to all aspects of human rights.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The Joint Parliamentary Assembly is a unique institution in the world, a key player in North/South cooperation, the driving force of a partnership in which elected members respect each other, put across their opinions freely and without taboo to forge a freer, fairer and more humane world. This assembly has successfully created an arena where debate is open, without preconceptions and where mutual respect is the rule, which enables us to have vibrant, lively and enriching debates where all parties are heard. It has a real political impetus. In 2010, therefore, we did not turn down any debate that affected the world’s fate, whether that be Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), climate change, food security, Haiti, South Sudan ... For instance, in Kinshasa, we congratulated the fantastic work of Doctor Denis Mukwege who is trying to build a new future for female victims of sexual violence, underlining that impunity was unacceptable for this type of wartime practice. In Budapest, we also covered the subject of homosexuality because any minority, regardless of the nature of that which makes it a minority, must enjoy identical rights.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. Since the report insists on the importance that the Joint Parliamentary Assembly monitors the situation in Africa, Caribbean Basin and Pacific Region I support it. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted for the report on the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2010. This very comprehensive report points out the central role of the JPA, particularly following the 2010 revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The JPA is a key player in North-South relations. Whether for the European Development Fund (EDF), negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) or controlling and monitoring Regional Strategy Papers (RSP), the Joint Parliamentary Assembly is always at the heart of the process. I would like to remind you of how important it is to include national parliaments more in the democratic process, in preparing RSPs and the EDF. I also want to reiterate the importance of joint election observation missions and fact-finding missions of the JPA. These missions provide real added value in the field. They need to be promoted more. We must maintain our momentum and ensure that the JPA is up to the ambitions that we have assigned it.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Given the fact that the African, Caribbean, Pacific – European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) is the largest parliamentary body encompassing countries of both the North and the South, more attention must be paid to the outcomes of its work. It should be noted that the Assembly has played and continues to play a key role in monitoring the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). We should welcome the fact that an open and democratic dialogue between the European Union and the ACP countries on the Cotonou Partnership Agreement has finally begun. I believe that the parliaments of the ACP countries should be given greater assistance so that they can exercise effective democratic scrutiny. Furthermore, we should also increase efforts to achieve the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report on the work of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the EU in 2010. I would stress the increasingly parliamentary – and thus political – character that Parliament gives the JPA in this report. It is also necessary to stress the increasingly active role of the members of the JPA and the improved quality of its debates, which has been a factor in making the JPA’s contribution vital to the ACP-EU partnership.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) In addition to the importance of its decisions, such as post-disaster reconstruction in Haiti and monitoring of the situation in South Sudan, and in addition to support for food security and the situation in the Sahel-Saharan region, the major commitments made by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly have enabled the Assembly, through the quality of its work, to establish itself as a key player in North-South cooperation. In light of the above, and having evaluated the importance of the Assembly, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. I commend this report from Mr. Kaczmarek. I wish to speak on two elements which concern the Africa Caribbean Pacific-European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly. First, I endorse the call for a greater role for the national parliaments of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, in the scrutiny and implementation of programmes such as the European Development Fund and the Country and Regional Strategy Papers. I would also call on the Commission to ensure that such an oversight role is formally recognised and protected in both the negotiation and execution of future ACP-EU JPA plans. Secondly, I support the call for EU and ACP countries to promote participation and dialogue on issues concerning gender violence and human trafficking. Frank and honest discussion of experiences common to countries in both the north and south of the globe, will undoubtedly highlight the ever-present danger of sexual crimes in both parts of the world.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the EU convened twice in 2010, in Tenerife and in Kinshasa. For their part, the three standing committees met four times: as well as the two part-sessions, they met twice in the interim in Brussels. As part of the work carried out, resolutions were adopted which, dealt with, inter alia, Haiti, Southern Sudan, election results in Côte d’Ivoire and the situation in the Sahel-Saharan region; fact-finding and election-observation missions were also organised. As a result of the assessment of the work from 2010, it is important to highlight that the JPA today has a very valuable role in North-South relations, constituting a good forum for dialogue between the countries of the two hemispheres.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. The Joint Parliamentary Assembly met twice in 2010. The 19th session was held in Tenerife (Spain) from 6 to 9 April and the 20th session was held in Kinshasa (DRC) from 30 November to 3 December. Nine resolutions and the Declaration on the Second revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement were adopted. One regional meeting was also held during the year, in Mahé (Seychelles). In the course of its proceedings, the assembly welcomed the Member of the Commission with responsibility for development, Mr Andris Piebalgs. The successive Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Council also attended the first session but only the ACP Council was represented in Kinshasa.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this report because it paints a full and comprehensive picture of the work of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in 2010. During the various sessions, documents were adopted on extremely delicate issues ranging from the resolution on post-disaster reconstruction in Haiti to the situation in South Sudan, not to mention the adoption of six sets of conclusions on the Regional Strategy Papers for the six ACP regions. The Assembly’s objective now is to establish itself as a key player in North-South cooperation, and to play an increasing role in monitoring the negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In 2010, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) convened twice: firstly from 6 June to 9 June in Tenerife, Spain, and, secondly, from 30 November to 3 December in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These meetings resulted in nine resolutions and a declaration on the second review of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. In addition to these meetings, a regional meeting also took place in Mahé, in the Seychelles. In 2010, the importance of cooperation and partnership between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries was reaffirmed, in order to promote in-depth, open and democratic dialogue on the Cotonou Agreements and on the economic partnership agreements with the six ACP regions. I would stress the importance of the country and regional strategy papers on cooperation with the European Union until 2013, so I call on the JPA to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, stressing the crucial importance of adopting clear, effective and transparent legislation on the commitments made.

 
  
  

Recommendation for second reading: Chrysoula Paliadeli (A7-0331/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as it should ensure a solid basis for implementing the European Heritage Label. This initiative will be of immense importance for promoting our continent’s history and our culture(s), as well as an important resource for future generations, even from an education perspective. I must stress the natural wealth of the outermost regions, like the Azores, which will certainly feature in the list of sites to which this label will be assigned.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. I fully support this report, which welcomes the Commission’s proposal to use the European Heritage Label as a tool, among other more efficient ways, to bridge the gap between the European Union and its citizens. The report suggests that, whereas the Commission proposed to award the label each year, Members consider that selecting sites every two years would ensure better quality of the selection process and of the selected sites. It states that transnational sites should be favoured, as they promote commonalities, and they should feature prominently in all Member States’ ordinary quota of two proposed sites per year. The report insists that the new label should not be a mere transformation of the old one: no transitional provisions should be needed but the new, well defined criteria must be the object of future negotiations with the Council. The Commission is also asked to inform Parliament, the Council and the Committee of the Regions at each stage of the selection process.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the draft resolution on the European Heritage Label since it strengthens European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union. The label will undoubtedly bring added value to labelled sites, which must have a symbolic value for European integration and the history of the Union. They will be identified from voluntary candidate sites, taking into account the activities they can offer and their educational dimension, especially for young people. The identification of symbolic sites for shared European history and heritage will enhance European identify, not least by means of cooperation instruments that promote intercultural dialogue, the exchange of ideas, projects and good practices, as well as a relationship based on solidarity for the benefit of the whole of Europe.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Heritage Label endeavours to enhance the value and profile of the sites which have played a key role in the history and construction of the European Union, so that European citizens gain a better understanding of European integration and their common cultural heritage. The distance between the European Union and its citizens is largely to do with the lack of knowledge about European history, the role of the European Union and the values which it is based on. Therefore, the European Heritage Label is intended to help bring Europe’s citizens closer together and strengthen the sense of European identity by improving their knowledge about their shared history and common European heritage, especially among young people.

The European Union’s involvement with the European Heritage Label will enhance coordination between Member States and help with devising and applying appropriately common, clear and transparent selection criteria and new procedures for selecting and monitoring the label, thereby ensuring the sites’ relevance to the objectives.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The purpose of introducing a European Heritage Label from 2013 is to promote European identity through the history and heritage of Europe. This label will be awarded on a voluntary basis for transnational cultural sites. As I support any initiative that seeks to bring the European Union closer to its people, I voted for the Paliadeli report.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) I support the notion of a European Heritage Label and voted in favour of our colleague’s report. I hope that this idea will make citizens in the 27 Member States feel that they belong to the European Union and that this means not only diversity, but also shared aspects of history and heritage.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this recommendation because the Council adopted its position at first reading, which is based on the agreement negotiated after Parliament’s first reading. Special attention is given in the Commission’s proposal to the added value of this label as compared to other initiatives within the field of cultural heritage. The label is not about a site’s beauty or its architectural quality, but rather its symbolic value for European integration and the history of the Union. It is not about conservation of sites in itself, but rather about the activities they can offer and their educational dimension, especially for young people. Finally, it will help labelled sites become more effective through working together. The European Parliament and the Council have agreed that each Member State may pre-select up to two sites, a national and a transnational site, every two years. The coordinating country only applies a quota for the transnational site so as not to discourage Member States from actually taking part in these site initiatives. A panel of independent experts will choose a maximum of one site per country to be eligible for the label.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report on the European Heritage Label. When we talk about European culture, we generally mean the individual cultural experiences of the various Member States, whereas we rarely refer to our common heritage, namely European heritage, which extends beyond the borders of nations’ individual ‘histories’. In this regard, the European label is a vitally important initiative that bears witness to Europe’s common roots, irrespective of the past sites. The European label will, therefore, strengthen the cohesion, visibility and credibility of the whole of Europe by setting out clear and stringent selection criteria. It will be awarded every two years following approval by an authoritative, independent committee. The yardstick will not be a site’s beauty, although this will be subject to assessment, but rather its intrinsic and symbolic value, primarily for European integration. Therefore, the European label is essential to develop a cultural, and not just an economic and political, Europe.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the European Parliament legislative resolution on the Council position at first reading with a view to adopting a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Union action for the European Heritage Label. I support the proposal’s aim of strengthening European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union, based on shared elements of history and heritage, as well as the valuing of diversity and deepening of intercultural dialogue. The proposal expands an intergovernmental initiative launched five years ago and introduces new common, clear and transparent criteria for the label, which will be applied by all participating Member States on a voluntary basis. The new selection and monitoring procedures will ensure that the label is awarded only to the most relevant sites, while those which no longer meet the required criteria will lose it.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I welcome the European Union’s proposal on creating a European Heritage Label that is different to the UNESCO World Heritage List or to the European Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe because it will enable high-profile monuments in Member States which are less well known at a European level to be promoted better. We also support the involvement of representatives from the Committee of the Regions in the final stage of the selection process, based on the model used to select the European Capitals of Culture.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report establishing a European Union action for awarding the European Heritage Label and which will improve our understanding of our shared history and heritage. The new biennial selection procedure will ensure greater quality in the selection and monitoring of sites adopted, and give our territories the chance to come together and to make the most of our local heritage at European level.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI), in writing. − The Commission has stated that the general objectives of the European Heritage Label are to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union. How timely it is, therefore, that we are presented with this report at a time when citizens of Member States across the EU, fed up with the constant interference into their lives and national identity, feel more and more disenchanted with the EU, and at a time when the great EU project of currency harmonisation is blowing an economic tornado across the euro area and, indeed, beyond. MEPs must come to the realisation that people want less Europe, not more. When it comes to heritage, we want to celebrate our own national heritage and that of other nation states, but we do not need an EU narrative imposed upon the rich heritage of countries across Europe, diluting what means so much to each of us.

 
  
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  Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The recommendation for second reading on the decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Union (EU) action for the 'European Heritage Label' is primarily intended to strengthen European citizens' sense of belonging to Europe and, by extension, the EU. Cultural, historical or other sites could be awarded the label 'European heritage' in a selection process which would take place every two years, whereby the main criterion would be its symbolic value for Europe and European integration. There are already many labels for cultural and other sites, however a system of 'European heritage' labels may, with a small financial outlay, bring added value in the form of an increase in tourism. It may thus become another symbol for tourists from Europe and around the world and would thereby contribute, at least in a small way, to economic growth in Europe. I welcome any such initiative, and I have therefore voted for the adoption of the recommendation.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Heritage Label is spread throughout the EU, which has successively experienced Greek, Roman and Judeo-Christian influence, broken down into Jewish, and Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christian traditions; in some cases it was also touched by Arab and Ottoman influences. The European ‘label’ is specifically the heritage, both built and non-built, which points to the diversity of different civilisations that, layered one on top of the other on the same land, today underlie the cultures of the Member States. In order to properly talk about a European label, we cannot hide the role of each Member State in the formation and configuration of this same label, and we must resist the temptation to look solely for references that are consensual but that fail to demonstrate the multicultural reality par excellence which permeates all so-called European high culture. I welcome the decision to valorise European heritage. I hope this valorisation of European heritage will not take a discriminatory path and will not seek to rewrite history.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Paliadeli, consists of a recommendation for second reading with regard to the Council’s position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Union action for the European Heritage Label. The Commission’s proposal, tabled on 9 March 2010, aims to reinforce European citizens’ sense of belonging by valorising their history, heritage and intercultural dialogue. Indeed, we are part of the same continent and we share a common history. As such, this label is something we should celebrate and be proud of in this time of economic recession. This label is an achievement essential to European unity and is a way of raising the awareness of young Europeans, so that they are proud of belonging to the Old World. I welcome this initiative, which aims to promote our heritage and our culture through education, and constitutes another step towards a way out of the financial crisis through an effort to increase European cultural tourism. I hope it will be a great success throughout Europe.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The position that we expressed on first reading of this report remains the same on second reading. We would thus like to reiterate the original warnings we put forward: there is no single ‘European cultural heritage’. Culture, like all historical phenomena, is not founded on any homogenous and shared identity: quite the contrary, it is the expression of antagonisms, conflicts and situations of cultural domination.

We are still unclear as to the point of defining a ‘European Union heritage’ on the basis of merely locating the elements of the heritage in question, when we know that ‘European’ heritage is borrowed from many cultures and could also be claimed by the Islamic world, by the cultures of the Mediterranean or by the cultures subjected to European colonialism.

The rapporteur seeks, through the construction of a symbolic EU cultural dimension, ‘to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union’. However, this ignores the fact that the EU is increasingly out of step with the interests and legitimate aspirations of the public. It ignores the terrible consequences of EU policies in many areas, including culture. There are many examples which prove this, as we had occasion to report during the debate.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. (IT) I welcome the proposal to establish a European Heritage Label. The importance attached to the symbol as an embodiment of values and as a means to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging is well known and widely shared. The sites and symbols which have played a part in European history and integration must be recognisable and disseminated. Thanks precisely to this common core of values that unites the Member States, and on the other hand, to the differences that differentiate us from each other, we need to give special consideration to the evaluation of candidates on the basis of pre-established criteria that are widely endorsed and balanced when it comes to remembering Europe’s history.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) In this report, culture is viewed as an instrument to, in the words of the rapporteur, ‘strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union’. However, the truth is that there are various cultures. Let us talk, specifically, about the so-called ‘financial bailout’ programmes of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which are, in fact, veritable attack programmes; attacks on democratic values, on social and labour rights, and on culture too. It is the heritage being neglected; it is the penury budgets; it is the restrictions on the free creation and enjoyment of culture; it is the closure of schools; it is the increased prices of museums and cultural attractions ...

We are talking about making efforts, on the basis of creating a symbolic cultural dimension, to legitimise integration whose direction is, unfortunately, ever more out of step with the interests and legitimate aspirations of the public. This initiative cannot, therefore, be separated from the intense ideological struggle inherent in the extremely lively social struggle taking place throughout the European Union. However, heritage is a sensitive area, because it cannot be separated from history. We hope this will not be yet another opening for the worrying and shameful processes of rewriting history that we have been witnessing in various countries over the last few years.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) On 9 March 2010 the Commission submitted a draft resolution of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European initiative to support the European Heritage Label. The aim of the proposal is to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union based on common elements of their history and heritage. Special attention is given to the added value of the label, which is not about a site’s beauty or architectural quality, but rather its symbolic value for European integration and the history of the Union. It is not about conservation of the site itself, but rather about the activities it can offer and its educational dimension, especially for young people. The proposal extends an intergovernmental initiative launched in 2006. It responds to the conclusions adopted by the Council in November 2008, inviting the Commission to submit a proposal transforming the initiative into a formal action of the Union.

Parliament’s legislative resolution, adopted by a large majority at first reading, was accompanied by 62 amendments. The great majority of these amendments dealt with relatively minor issues and contributed to further improving the text. Finally, the Council’s first reading was based on the agreement after Parliament’s first reading. I believe that the Council’s position on the first reading should be adopted without any proposals for amendments and without further delay.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) I think that the new criteria and selection and monitoring procedures will ensure that only the most relevant sites are awarded the label, and that those that no longer meet the requisite criteria will lose it. I therefore voted against it.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. (SV) I abstained in the vote on this report. The purpose of the proposal is said to be to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union. This is one of many artificial symbolic acts in order to create an EU identity amongst citizens. My abstention is not a defence of nationalism, but a stand against the EU’s attempt to create artificial cultural identities in order to justify the creation of a superpower.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. I am fully supportive of initiatives designed to promote history and cultural heritage and I voted in favour of today’s second reading documents which highlight the need to appreciate national and regional diversity. I am dubious however as to whether ‘strengthening European citizens sense of belonging to the Union’ can or should be fostered by way of legislation. Identities cannot be forced on anyone and political institutions can only survive for as long as they have the support of the people.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The aim of the European Heritage Label is to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union, based on shared elements of history and heritage, as well as an appreciation of diversity, and to strengthen intercultural dialogue. I believe that this is a fine initiative which we should foster.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) The notion of the European Heritage Label first appeared in 2005. It is now seen as one of the tools that can help bridge the gap between the European Union and its citizens. This will now show that European history is linked to a diverse, rich and complementary shared cultural heritage. It will reinforce the values of the European Union, such as cultural diversity, tolerance and solidarity. Lastly, it will help make the European Union more visible and reinforce its prestige and its credit. Therefore, in the interest of the European Union, I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report by Chrysoula Paliadeli on the creation of a shared European Heritage Label. From 2013, this label can be awarded to symbolic sites (monuments, natural, industrial or urban sites ...) for European history and integration as well as to contemporary heritage depending on its relevance to shared history and heritage. With this label, the focus can be placed on our shared European history, highlighting in particular the recognition of transnational sites. It is, I hope, a new step forward in the development of a genuine European citizenship and in the recognition of a shared history and future.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The idea of the European Heritage Label is excellent as it will help raise the general public’s awareness of our common cultural heritage and boost cultural tourism. The added value supplied by this initiative, compared with the UNESCO World Heritage List, for example, comes from the fact that sites will be chosen which have played a key role in the history of the European Union, and not on the basis of beauty or architectural quality. This initiative will enable a few of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest to be appreciated, such as the Cantacuzino Palace and the Romanian Athenaeum, along with the Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuşi at Târgu Jiu.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. I voted for this proposal which aims to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union, based on shared elements of history and heritage, as well as an appreciation of diversity, and to strengthen intercultural dialogue.

 
  
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  Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (CS) Although I do not begrudge the initiators and authors of the 'European heritage' label programme their entirely good intentions, I believe that the labelling of monuments – after thorough monitoring – with the 'European Heritage Label’, is far from being the main thing that, according to the draft report, would ‘strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union’ and contribute to ‘the strengthening of intercultural dialogue’. I consider this to be an unnecessary measure which, however, can be agreed with as, so to speak, it does not harm anybody. Citizens' sense of belonging to the European Union, however, is fundamentally shaped by completely different matters, specifically for example how the EU affects their standard of living, the extent to which they are affected by the democratic deficit and how the EU is managing to address the problems caused by the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing.(IT) We support this proposal to establish a European Heritage Label because it aims to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union, based on shared elements of history and heritage, as well as an appreciation of diversity, and in this way to intensify intercultural dialogue.

We believe that the proposal adequately highlights the added value of this label as compared to other initiatives within the field of cultural heritage. It is not in fact about a site’s beauty or its architectural quality, but rather its symbolic value for European integration and the history of the Union. It is not, in fact, about conservation of sites in itself, but rather about the activities they can offer and their educational dimension, especially for young people.

Finally, the label will help designated sites become more effective through their working together. We are convinced that awarding the label to sites every two years would ensure better quality of the selection process as well as of the selected sites.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) Creating a European Heritage Label means creating a common European identity and strengthening the citizens’ interest in the Union and its origins, while at the same time reducing the gap separating the European institutions from Europeans. The political objective of the European Heritage Label must be to achieve close cooperation between the labelled sites, with the aim of sharing best practices and launching joint projects, thereby fostering transnational cohesion.

I believe that the European Parliament must play its role in the label award process, not least by closely cooperating with the European Commission in selecting the nominated sites. Within initiatives such as the European Heritage Label, knowledge of Europe’s history and participation in actions supporting intercultural dialogue mark a step towards restoring citizens’ confidence in Europe. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is important that a European Union action for the European Heritage Label should be established. I agree with the Council’s position at first reading and I hope the recommendation will be approved.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Heritage Label is diverse, as it encompasses Greek, Roman, Judeo-Christian and, in certain cases, Arab and Ottoman influences. In short, the European label represents a heritage encompassing all the different cultures of the Member States in all of their diversity. It is extremely important to valorise European heritage.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The creation of a European Heritage Label puts out a strong message. It is essential to raise awareness of European history and the history of the European people so that the younger generation feel fully engaged in the European project. It is more than just drawing up a list of our finest sites to promote them, it is more about putting in place a genuine educational project sending out a message of peace and democracy. Beauty or excellence is a gift given from one to another. The other being, to some extent, the world.

This label is much more than taking a look at the past, it is also very much a stamp on our present. While some harp on about times of crisis, hardly conducive to the development of such a label, I believe that continually chipping away at matters of culture is a grave mistake.

Culture is the cornerstone of positive identities, which defines both the individual and the collective, which makes us exist, as mankind and as a people. In a way, it is also a kind of mental glue for social cohesion. Culture is the foundation on which we build our organisation and our work.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − Knowledge of the history of our continent; familiarity with its common cultural heritage, which transcends national borders; increased educational awareness for the next generations: these are regarded as key aspects in efforts to bridge the divide between the European Union and its citizens. The label will be granted to sites with strong symbolic and aesthetic value from the point of view of European heritage, and it also intends to contribute to the sustainable economic development of regions by encouraging cultural tourism.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The European Heritage Label is intended to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union by highlighting shared elements, and is particularly aimed at evoking such feelings in young people. The European Heritage Label will be awarded on the basis of criteria that are precisely defined by the Commission. An expert panel (12 members appointed by the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament) shall examine the sites pre-selected and proposed by the individual Member States (two each per year, of which a maximum of one will be awarded the label). The Member States undertake to preserve the sites according to criteria laid down by the Commission. If these criteria are met, which will examined by the panel, then the label will be remain awarded for an indefinite period; if not, the label will be withdrawn after two warnings and a 36-month deadline. Transnational sites will be given priority when judging the pre-selected sites, and sites that have already been awarded the label will be reassessed. I voted in favour of the report because the amendments clearly pay greater attention to the added value of the label as compared to other initiatives within the field of cultural heritage and should also ensure that it is genuinely only the most outstanding sites that are awarded such a label.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) The intergovernmental initiative of 2006 has been successful, and 68 sites in 18 Member States have been awarded the EUROPA label. Political agreement by the Council for a shared action for the European Heritage Label is an important choice as it transforms what has hitherto been a governmental initiative into a formal act of the Union.

The purpose of the label is to acknowledge the aesthetic and/or historical value of a place, and it has an important symbolic value for European cultural heritage, helping to promote the ideals of democracy and human rights that underpin European integration. This initiative represents the concept of excellence to which Europe is linked by its artistic tradition and aesthetic vocation, an excellence that extends to and is embodied by its manufacturing and food industries.

The European Heritage Label will hopefully boost cultural tourism, representing as it does the conviction that there exists a heritage of excellence and beauty worth discovering and promoting. It will be something for Europeans to be proud of and a clear message that the asset should be preserved for future generations. I therefore had no hesitation in voting for the resolution and would like to thank Ms Paliadeli for her excellent work.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The European Union intends to become the number one tourist destination in the world, based in particular on the quality of its services, but also on the sites of interest – historic or otherwise – hosted by Member States. To achieve this, the EU must become, first and foremost, the biggest and most interesting tourist destination for its own citizens, especially for the younger generation. This is why the European Heritage Label initiative is valuable, and I welcome the proposal’s adoption during today’s session.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) Ever since 2006, I have supported the European Union Member States’ initiative to highlight the European Union’s most important monuments of historical and cultural heritage. To ensure that the said initiative functions effectively and achieves international recognition, it should be made into an official European Union measure. In contrast to the commemorative labels issued in the various Member States themselves, a European cultural heritage label would highlight the most important stages or symbolic values in the history of the formation of the European Union. I believe this to be important both from the point of view of the recording of history and also for the education of young people. In addition, the issuing of such labels would better reveal the common history of Europe, thereby intensifying integration within the European Union. As a result, I support the Paliadeli report concerning the European Union measure for the creation of a European cultural heritage label.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) We must ensure that this initiative does not conflict with existing initiatives, such as the UNESCO World Heritage List. I believe that European countries must be given the right to propose the most important objects and places of cultural heritage, bearing testimony to each country’s identity as an integral part of Europe, prominent people and historical events that have played an important role in the history and cultural development of that country and Europe. Consequently, we must set out clear and strict criteria to be used in choosing a heritage site according to its symbolic significance for Europe and educational work carried out, not its beauty or architectural quality. It is also very important to ensure that participation is on a voluntary and equal basis.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report seeks the adoption of the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Union action for the European Heritage Label. During the vote on the decision of the European Parliament at first reading, I extolled the virtues of this project. Given that the amendments proposed by the Council incorporate, totally, partially or in spirit, the majority of the amendments at first reading by the European Parliament, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Despite the importance of strengthening European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union, based on shared elements of history and heritage as well as an appreciation of diversity, and in this way to intensify intercultural dialogue, I do not consider this initiative to be of major importance, and therefore I decided to vote against it.

 
  
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  Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. I fully support the introduction of the European Heritage Label and the important role it can play in the promotion of tourism in Munster. According to statistics published by Failte Ireland, more than 3 million overseas visitors engaged with cultural and historic sites during the course of their visit in 2009. An estimated 45% of these visitors came from mainland Europe. However, despite these numbers, the Irish hospitality industry has been substantially weakened by the economic crisis, with 40% of hotels reporting a drop in staffing levels in the Quarterly Barometer published in June 2011. I would argue that the European Heritage Label would not only encourage a greater number of visitors from Europe, but would also incentivise these visitors to go off the beaten tourist trail. I can think of a number of examples, in my own area, of sites which could potentially qualify for such a designation. The Rock of Cashel, in County Tipperary, with its rich history as a European centre for religious and monastic education in the 10th and 11th centuries seems to me to be a perfect example of one such heritage site. It is said that, after graduation from this school, these clerics were sent all over mainland Europe to places such as Regensburg in Germany.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The initiative for the creation of a ‘European Heritage Label’, proposed by the Commission, has the objective of reinforcing European identity, aiming to identify certain locations on the basis of their importance, in order to create a common cultural area. As such, the Council’s position at first reading was subject to Parliament’s assessment. The Council accepted the majority of the amendments proposed by Parliament.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I welcome this agreement after 20 very long months of negotiations between the Council, Parliament and the Commission. An agreement based on Article 167 of the Treaty and which reinforces European action in the cultural field with the creation of a ‘European Heritage Label’, an initiative designed to strengthen our shared identity and sense of belonging to the European Union. We already have UNESCO World Heritage sites, ‘National Historic Sites’ in the United States, now we will have European Heritage sites too. Once a year, each Member State can submit a historical landmark to be included in this list. A panel of experts will select the candidate sites according to their cross-border dimension and their role in the history and construction of Europe. At this stage, the EU will only communicate on the initiative and highlight the selected sites, with Member States remaining exclusively responsible for their management. The ultimate goal is for pilgrimages to all of these places that have gone down in the history of the old continent, such as the Roman Forum, the Forest Glade of Compiègne, the Brandenburg Gate, Palos de la Frontera or ... the Lion’s Mound of Waterloo.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) In today’s sitting, Ms Paliadeli’s report was put to the vote. Following the decision taken today, 16 November, a European Heritage Label may be awarded from 2013 on a voluntary basis to places of symbolic value for European integration and the history of the Union. From 2013, each Member State may pre-select up to two sites every two years. The label will guarantee the quality of the selected sites, which may be monuments or natural, underwater, archaeological, industrial or urban sites, culturally rich landscapes, places of remembrance, cultural assets, and intangible heritage or things associated with a place. The label may also be awarded to contemporary heritage of importance to Europe’s history and shared heritage, as well as for architectural or aesthetic merit. Member States will be responsible for managing, safeguarding and promoting the sites. The communication and promotion of the European Heritage Label will, on the other hand, be the responsibility of the Commission, including the creation of a website dedicated to the project and the promotion of activities online for sites that have been awarded the EUROPA label.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Education in European History is an absolute must in developing a sense of belonging and in preserving a common memory. In this sense, the major sites associated with major events that have made Europe what it is must be recognised and valued among citizens. Only a European initiative could provide a framework capable of meeting these goals. I therefore welcome the adoption in plenary of Ms Paliadeli’s report on the European Heritage Label. This initiative, which was originally intergovernmental, had to be rolled out across the Union to ensure recognition of its added value and thereby its effectiveness. I particularly welcome the proposed labelling of transnational sites. They will be best placed to represent this shared history and to encourage intercultural dialogue. Finally, lowering the frequency of selection to every two years is quite sensible as it avoids excessive labelling and thereby guarantees the quality of this label in the long run.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − There is no final vote at second reading. However, we voted against the amendments presented by the EFD, which were finally adopted by the majority.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted for this document because I believe it is a highly significant gesture to allow the award of a European Heritage Label from 2013 on a voluntary basis to places of symbolic value for European integration and the history of the ‘Old Continent'. The label will guarantee the quality of the selected sites, which may be monuments or natural, underwater, archaeological, industrial or urban sites, culturally rich landscapes, or places of remembrance. This decision is another string to our bow for guaranteeing, promoting and safeguarding Europe’s abundant riches, which are so often undervalued.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the recommendation by Ms Paliadeli, because I consider that the creation of a European Heritage Label is a positive initiative and will give European citizens a stronger sense of belonging to the European Union, based on common aspects of our history and cultural heritage. The proposal introduces new clear, common transparency criteria for the label that will be applied by all participating Member States.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The public’s distance from the European project, and demonstrations of nationalism and populism are proof that action must be taken at European level to create a sense of identification with European integration. The idea is for a European identity that complements the 27 Member States’ national identities. The purpose of what the Commission aims to do is to identify emblematic places that are part of the history of European integration. This initiative is voluntary, and, at the request of Parliament, should be carried out every two years, with the Member States’ pre-selection of the locations and the final selection to be carried out at European level. I am voting for the report, and I support the idea that Parliament should play an active role in the selection process. I agree with this type of initiative, which aims to bring European institutions closer to the European public, which is all the more important at a time when scepticism and total disbelief are growing.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the Council position at first reading with a view to adopting a decision establishing a European Union action for the European Heritage Label. The proposal’s aim is to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union, based on shared elements of history and heritage, as well as to value diversity and deepen intercultural dialogue. The label does not focus on the sites’ beauty or architectural quality, but rather on their symbolic value to European integration and the EU’s history, and it is aimed at the activities which they can offer and their educational aspect, especially for young people. The proposal introduces new common, clear and transparent criteria for the European Heritage Label, which will be applied by all participating Member States. The selection and monitoring procedures will ensure that the label is awarded only to the most relevant sites, while those which no longer meet the required criteria will lose it. Each Member State may pre-select a maximum of two sites every two years, both national and transnational sites. A panel of independent experts will chose one site per country at the most, which can be approved for the label. The first sites will be selected in 2012, and we would like to see as many sites as possible participating from the new Member States as well.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. − (DE) I voted in favour of the report. The attempt to create a European Heritage Label is interesting and of genuine value. It should be borne in mind, however, that cultural heritage labels are already awarded by many institutions – for example, by Unesco. I imagine that after a period of five years a critical evaluation of the label will need to be made to ascertain whether the action has given rise to advantages overall, such as an increase in awareness of the sites awarded the label or more value added through marketing.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. – (CS) Currently 17 European Union Member States, including the Czech Republic, are active participants in the intergovernmental project relating to the 'European heritage' label. This label was granted to 64 sites on the basis of mutual agreement between the Member States. The first nominations have been made by each national ministry. It was agreed that each Member State participating in the initiative may propose a maximum of 4 nominations. In the case of the Czech Republic these are Kynžvart castle, Vítkovice Machinery Group (national cultural monument), Zlín - the city of Tomáš Baťa, and the Antonín Dvorák Memorial in Vysoká u Příbrami. The original labels in the form of metal plaques were made and paid for by France. Each plaque bears the label ‘European Heritage Label’ in three languages, of which one is the national language of the country concerned. Now this project is being moved to European Union level. I support the draft decision because this label plays an important role in respect of the recognition of the cultural traditions of Europe and will promote tourism in these places.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) With its sites and monuments soon to receive the ‘European Heritage’ stamp, the Union is proving that is still active, dynamic and indeed a reality, particularly in terms of culture. By highlighting our shared historical heritage in this way, we will be promoting European culture. I fully support this label, which remains relevant in the face of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, as it aims to promote the symbolic European dimension of sites and monuments classified for their historical value, more than just for their beauty and architecture. I therefore welcome the adoption of this recommendation which will increase the sense of European identity among the younger generation of Europeans, and thereby honour our duty of remembrance. Nor must we forget the resultant economic benefits with the subsequent development of tourism in the classified regions. The city of Marseille, from which I hail, and its entire region are familiar with these issues. Indeed, they both represent a stage for raising awareness of the first Greek and Roman European civilisations, which permeate the region’s historical heritage, and a window opening out on the Euro-Mediterranean world, advocating intercultural diversity and dialogue.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) In March 2010, the Commission submitted a proposal for a decision on the European Heritage Label, which expands an intergovernmental initiative from 2006. The aim of the proposal is generally to strengthen the feeling of solidarity experienced by European citizens and their sense of belonging to the European Union by highlighting shared elements of our history and heritage, and strengthening intercultural dialogue.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. Europe does not need a heritage label for historic sites. At a time of austerity we cannot afford to duplicate the UNESCO World Heritage sites or Member States’ own programmes such as English Heritage’s Blue Plaque scheme for London. London is my home town and my home constituency and I am proud that it is one of the few cities in the world with four separate UNESCO World Heritage sites. Nevertheless I see no added value in re-branding Westminster Abbey, Kew Gardens, the Tower of London and Maritime Greenwich as EU Heritage Sites. Of course there is no guarantee that London’s great historic buildings would qualify for the European Heritage Label. The integrationist tone of this report suggests that special attention should be paid to sites of ‘pan-European importance’, so perhaps European tourists in the future will be asked to gaze in wonder at the Berlaymont building in Brussels or the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Perhaps a heritage label is what the European Parliament in Strasbourg deserves; at least that way we would be consigning it to history.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE), in writing. – (SK) In the discussions on this resolution the French Senate asserts that the principles of subsidiarity were breached. The national parliaments must always be alert during the legislative process. There are already two similar instruments: UNESCO’s world heritage list and the Council of Europe’s European Cultural Itinerary. Why do we need more of the same? The aim of the European Heritage Label is to draw attention to places and sites and their symbolic value for Europe. Attention will be focused on publicising and providing more detailed information about their European significance and on organised educational activities for young people.

The time has come to draw attention again to the importance of religious heritage in shaping the European consciousness. Labelling is above all an instrument for transplanting national awareness through local heritage and is associated with the European significance of a particular site. If we want to get out of officially supporting our Christian roots, religious sites and buildings should also be labelled. When it comes to the Vendée or Spišské Podhradie, monasteries, churches, towers and cemeteries, all of these shape the way people think and characterise a country. In addition they preserve the values, ideals and symbols of the peoples they belong to.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing. − I have voted in favour of the resolution (10303/1/2011 – C7-0236/2011 – 2010/0044(COD)) to establish a European Union action for the European Heritage Label. The aim of the proposal is to strengthen European citizens’ sense of belonging to the European Union, based on shared elements of history and heritage, as well as an appreciation of diversity, and to strengthen intercultural dialogue.

I feel that this is imperative to developing a type of ‘European culture’ where we can all work together and live together and respect and understand our fellow citizen’s views and beliefs. In addition, this legislation provides for the foundation in which we can continue our Christian Democratic base and continue to build upon it. As we move forward and accept new Member States we will continue to grow, not only as a Union but more importantly as Europeans.

 
  
  

Report: Debora Serracchiani (A7-0367/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as reform of the first railway package is of vital importance, particularly on matters such as financing railway infrastructure and related services, the role of the rail transport sector’s regulatory bodies, and the independence of infrastructure management.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) During this parliamentary session, there has been talk about reviewing the European legislation of 2001 on the liberalisation of rail services. The rail transport sector has recorded poor results compared with other means of transport. It is therefore a question of encouraging rail transport both for the carriage of goods and passengers. The Serracchiani report, which I supported, advocates a tightening of competition rules to improve rail services and encourage investments in the sector.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing.(LT) I voted in favour of this proposal, which is important for the whole rail system in Europe. When debating this issue, I have constantly stressed the need to evaluate the specific characteristics of the Baltic States, where railways not only have a broader track guage than in the majority of European Union Member States but are also technologically and commercially integrated into the rail networks of third countries. This was reflected in the amendments I tabled. I am pleased that the rapporteur and other MEPs have listened attentively to the differences that exist in the Baltic States and have made an appropriate exception in Parliament’s draft report. Parliament has approved the compromise amendment to the report as regards infrastructure charges, including an amendment regarding the possibility of setting higher charges for the carriage of goods to third countries, which is very important for the Baltic States. This will ensure that the Baltic States do not have to subsidise the carriage by rail of goods from third countries and that all costs incurred by rail infrastructure managers are covered when providing carriage services.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I voted against recasting the directives on rail liberalisation. A complex subject if ever there was one, it was a question of going back over legislation on freight and international passenger transport which was poorly implemented. Yet the text also called on the European Commission to submit proposals in 2012 to finalise ownership unbundling and opening up of the domestic market. The fact is that competition, in this field as in many others, is not a panacea. The effectiveness of vertical separation is far from proven. To indicate my opposition to 2012 being the year in which we forge ahead with further rail liberalisation, I voted against the Serrachiani report.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because it is very important to aim at establishing a more sustainable and greener rail transport system in the European Union. Trains are one of the main modes of transport which are constantly expanding and hold potential for growth. Over a 12-year period from 1996-2008, road freight transport increased around 2%. These rates are low due to increased competition, but looking to the future, we are trying to reduce CO2 emissions in the European Union and are also concerned about using resources as efficiently as possible. In order to enlarge the single European railway area and increase the efficiency of trains, it is proposed that action should be taken such as tightening rules on rail transport safety, developing rail infrastructure and using railways more efficiently.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) One of the main reasons for the railway sector’s state of stagnation is the many discrepancies between current national rules. Regulations vary far too much to be beneficial to the railway sector. This problem is compounded by the flawed implementation of the first railway package by many Member States. Following Parliament’s resolution of 11 June 2010 on this topic, the Commission has taken 13 Member States to the Court of Justice of the European Union ‘for failing to implement correctly the first railway package’. The numerous procedures involved in identifying failure to meet obligations under EU legislation certainly demonstrate the need to clarify and improve legislation.

Another reason for concern is Member States’ lack of investment in infrastructure, the quality of which determines to a large degree the sector’s competitiveness. Many Member States have neglected the funding of the railway sector, while giving maximum support to the road infrastructure. The recast should help achieve a European railway area. The current reform should go beyond the limits of nationally defined interests in the railway sector. It is time now to construct a proper European railway area where passengers and goods can cross borders effortlessly.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) The first railway package approved in 2001 was an attempt, unfortunately disregarded, to stop the decline of railway transport. The entire system has been unable to catch up with other modes of transport, such as road transport, as shown by the figures. Between 1996 and 2008, rail freight transport fell by around 2% to 10.8%, whereas road freight transport increased from 42.1% to 45.9%. There are various reasons for this. Transnational rail services encounter numerous technical, legal and political obstacles, unlike road services. Then there is a lack of investment in railway infrastructure by Member States, whereas they have given maximum support to road infrastructure.

The railway system needs to be strongly supported, also in light of the EU’s goal’s to reduce CO2 emissions, as it still holds considerable potential for growth, whereas road transport shows more and more signs of over-saturation. The report therefore has the merit of promoting a comprehensive and integrated European railway area. For these reasons, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) I agree with the proposal for a form of separation in order to create independent control of the infrastructure from service operations and to ensure that there is a natural monopoly, by which the network is managed, to the benefit of all service operators. This would lay the basis for more competition, investments and better services. If the EU wants to increase the rail transport's modal share and create a single European railway area it needs coherently unbundled rail systems. I support the Commission's approach to increase the independence and powers of national regulatory bodies and considers the reinforcement of regulatory control vital for the railway sector: efficient regulatory control at national and European level is the indispensable pre-condition to achieve any further integration of national rail markets, as it safeguards the rules of a fair and non-discriminatory railway market. By contrast, I do not believe that the European dimension of regulatory control should be reinforced. I therefore do not support amendments that would lead to the creation of a European network of regulatory bodies which should pave the way to a European regulatory body.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted against the report, because it paves the way for the privatisation of the European railways, with very serious consequences in terms of the public interest, transport safety and passenger rights. The report espouses the prevalent neoliberal philosophy and sets profit as its priority, forgetting that it is the Member States which fund all existing infrastructures and that the public is entitled to a high standard of safe transport. It pushes for further, almost compulsory liberalisation of the railway sector in all the Member States and further divisions between services, operations and maintenance. It therefore fragments the concept of an integrated and safe transport system and backs the philosophy and practice of subcontracting, thereby undermining the rights of workers and passengers and existing European safety measures. The amendments tabled by the left-wing group in the European Parliament in defence of keeping the railways in the public sector and of making safety the priority over profit were voted down by the other political groups, thereby ceding even more ground to speculative private groups and leaving room for action to circumvent workers’ and passengers’ rights.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing.(IT) I too should like to join in thanking my colleagues for their work, not just as a formality but because I really mean it. This was a complex task, but I think we can all be pleased with the outcome, especially as regards the development of a new concrete action plan. In this regard I appreciate and support the recast proposal for a global, integrated European railway area because it lays the foundations for going beyond the restrictions of nationally defined interests in the railway sector and finally aims to construct a truly European railway area where passengers and goods can cross borders effortlessly. The report sends a very clear message to our governments, and that is that they need to act in a coordinated fashion whilst ensuring that safety regulations are stringent and effective. Compliance with new safety requirements should therefore play a more important role when operators apply for a licence, and therefore the Commission needs to collect more data. I sincerely hope that this move will enable the railway market to make our economy more efficient and competitive in terms of resources.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) The reform of the single European railway area is imperative because this sector has been in steady decline for years, while road passenger and freight transport has risen, causing congestion on the roads and deterioration of the environment. Unfortunately, the 2001 railway package targets were not met, which means that measures are required to make this sector more attractive, compared with other modes of transport. Rail freight transport, which has achieved a 10% share, while road freight transport has risen to 45.9%, offers potential for development and can play a key role in the EU fulfilling its objectives in terms of a more sustainable and greener transport system for Europe. With this in mind, measures are required to reduce the numerous discrepancies between current national regulations, as well as to remedy the underfunding of the railway sector due to the lack of infrastructure investment from Member States. In addition, with a view to improving safety, I think that compliance with safety regulations must be an absolute prerequisite for applying for a licence.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) Further opening up of rail transport to competition is a necessary development, which we should consolidate without delay. The text voted on today in the European Parliament should enable us to fight against the many obstacles that hinder the development of competition, in particular by strengthening the resources of regulatory bodies in the railway market. However, I regret that this text overlooks a date for opening up passenger transport on domestic routes to competition: our citizens actually aspire to having a wider range of transport, no longer under the monopoly of a single operator, and which raises the overall quality of the services provided.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on a single European railway area, because it tables proposals to clarify and improve legislation in the area of rail transport, so as to make it more attractive as a means transporting passengers and goods, and thus contribute to the development of more sustainable transport systems in the EU.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Rail transport has clearly been in decline in some Member States. This situation provokes fears as to its viability and provokes reflection on how to establish a single European railway area able to reverse this tendency towards decline and to promote a means of transporting people and goods which is quick, safe and less polluting than those running on fossil fuels. Member States should closely monitor the implementation of the European railway area and promote the use of this mode of transport domestically, as well as encouraging connectivity between the railway lines of the various Member States. A Europe with a single railway area will be more environmentally friendly and better equipped with goods and services.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) In recent years, except for high-speed rail lines in some EU Member States, all other railway projects have been sidelined in terms of investment, with the consequence of significantly increasing road traffic and improving roads. This report, drafted by Ms Serracchiani, concerns the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a single European railway area. We all know how inconvenient it is to arrive at a border and have to change trains because the track gauge is different. Indeed, there are few trains that cross borders. This is a market for transportation, whether of passengers or goods, with an enormous potential for growth since, as well as being cheaper and faster than road transport, it has major environmental benefits. As such, I am pleased with the adoption of this report, I welcome the measures proposed aiming to break down the administrative barriers preventing the market’s development at European level, and I hope that we will soon be able to enjoy a single railway area in the EU.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The recast railway package adopted today constitutes a serious threat to public national rail services, making it more difficult to provide high-quality, safe public transport at prices affordable to the general public. Once again, there is an insistence on the same old idea – clearly disproven by experience in several countries – that more market and more competition lead to better services.

This directive will exacerbate the serious consequences for the general public, leaving them with fewer services, which are of worse quality, and which are also more expensive; for workers, owing to an intensification of labour force exploitation at European level; for safety, which will be dangerously jeopardised, subjugated to free competition; and for national interests, which will be sidelined in a strategic sector, and subjugated to the interests of multinationals.

There are certain aspects of the proposal presented today which are particularly serious and even worrying, for instance, the fact that railway transport safety criteria will be subject to single market competition rules.

This is what stems from forcing competent national authorities to submit security protocols to the opinion of a regulatory body which assesses the compliance of established safety rules with competition rules. Furthermore, it is illustrative of the values and principles which inspire the majority of this Parliament.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The recast railway package adopted today by a majority in Parliament – including the Portuguese Members from the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Socialist Party (PS) and the Democratic and Social Centre – People’s Party (CDS-PP) – constitutes a serious threat to public national rail services, making it more difficult to provide high-quality, safe public transport at prices affordable to the general public.

This directive will exacerbate the serious consequences for the general public, for workers in the sector and for national economies of the liberalisation and privatisation of the railway sector that has taken place in various countries, with the insistence on the same old idea – which experience has been disproving – that more market and more competition bring better services.

Among the most serious aspects of this directive, the following stand out: the total separation of managing infrastructure and railway operations which is liberalising the railway sector, privatising the profitable areas and leaving to the state areas that require significant finance, like building and maintaining infrastructure.

The proposed fragmentation is tailored to the sector’s multinationals, which are taking over railway transport and colonising related service markets in various countries. The example of German multinational Deutsche Bahn, which controls more than 60% of Europe’s cargo sector, where liberalisation first took hold, is very enlightening.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The increasing popularity of road and air travel means that railway transport is becoming correspondingly less popular. In an attempt to remedy the situation, the European Union has adopted a raft of legislative measures aimed at raising interest in railways by gradually establishing the Single European Railway Area. In the past it has put forward several packages and guidelines to state its intention to reform the regulatory framework, ensure integration of the railway sector at European level and thereby help it to compete with other forms of transport. EU transport policy has set itself the aim of building an internal market, in particular by developing common policies, to achieve competitiveness in transport. The recast proposal for the first railway package can make a significant contribution to achieving this by facilitating integration and the development of the European market in railway transport. In my view, we should concentrate our efforts on setting up a comprehensive and integrated European railway area.

The joint interests of the EU as a whole – at least as far as the railway sector is concerned – should take precedence over the interests of individual Member States. We need to build an effective European railway area where passengers and goods can travel without any additional effort. Finally, considerable attention should be given to maintaining safety standards, as this should play an important role when licences are allocated to railway companies.

 
  
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  Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing.(FR) I voted against the review of directives governing the organisation and regulation of European railways, because the risk of rail transport being dismantled can only be a cause for concern for the future. A truly objective assessment needs to be carried out by the Commission between now and late 2012 on the question of a complete separation between railway undertakings and infrastructure managers. Regarding rail services and equipment maintenance, we Greens cannot accept the Union obliging incumbent railway undertakings to sacrifice maintenance of their own equipment to new entrants, as it would compromise the ability of incumbent operators to fulfil their public service remit.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) I voted for the report establishing a single European railway area. Nearly 10 years after the first railway package which brought about the opening up and liberalisation of the various European railway operators, we have successfully achieved essential safeguards for the protection of employees and train users in Europe, particularly with the rejection of total unbundling between infrastructure managers and railway operators, and the removal of the reference to a minimum service level in case of strikes. It also includes a rendezvous clause with the European Commission, which will enable new debate on the legal framework for this single European railway area, and in particular on the status of employees in the sector.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. This report is the first step towards ensuring a more sustainable transport network, with regard to European railways.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. It is appropriate that we voted on this report in the week that the Scottish government launched a major consultation for Scotland’s rail network post-2014. The Scottish government is committed to a rail network offering value for money, quality of service and with the passengers’ interest at its heart.

 
  
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  Anna Ibrisagic (PPE), in writing. (SV) The report contains a passage that states that the president and governing board of the regulatory body for the railway sector are to be appointed by the national parliament. In Sweden, the Swedish Transport Agency is answerable to the government and it is the government that is responsible for appointments, not the Swedish Parliament. In spite of this passage, we decided to vote in favour of the report, as it contains proposals for important initiatives such as the further opening up of the market, better opportunities for investments, an independent monitoring body and increased transparency. These are key initiatives for achieving a non-discriminatory and competitive European railway sector.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) It is expected that the need to unbundle rail infrastructure and the carriage of freight and passengers would serve the creation of a more effective single EU transport market, ensure the development of the rail sector and improve the quality of services. Lithuania fully supports an integrated rail management model. Our position of principle is that Lithuanian Railways does not need to be split up because the current management model is more beneficial to Lithuania. I was and I am convinced that the provisions of the directive cannot be applied blindly throughout the Community. There need to be clauses that would allow problems specific to individual Member States to be resolved. By pursuing this position we have managed to get the European Commission to reconsider the proposal on the unbundling of the different activities of the rail sector and to draw up a new draft directive by the end of next year. Legislative amendments, which would ensure a more liberal, more competitive rail market, are essential. However, these amendments should not have the opposite effect and must be adopted by evaluating the experience to date of not just the countries in the EU but worldwide. This shows that integrated rail management is often more effective. In countries where the rail sector has been split up, this has not led to the emergence of more effective operators, competition between them has not increased the attractiveness of the rail sector and railways have not conquered a greater share of the transport market. In Lithuania, rail sector issues are even more complicated due to our specific situation. The rail track does not comply with European standards and remains largely integrated into the market of the CIS countries. Consequently, it is particularly important for there to be close liaison between infrastructure and freight transport operators when transporting freight from third countries.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson, Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) The Member States of the EU have had since 2003 and the first railway package to implement all of the requirements relating to the opening up of the market and other matters that were agreed at that time. The process has nevertheless gone extremely slowly and serious shortcomings have been pointed out by the Commission in a number of cases. Competition is still not sufficiently free and small market players are still placed at a disadvantage by national traditionally dominant players acting as railway companies and infrastructure managers in one.

Against this background, we are pleased that there is now a proposal to appoint supervisory bodies at national level to scrutinise the implementation of the rules that have been adopted. We believe that, in this situation, it is both valuable and necessary for independent supervisory bodies to support the process to create a more open railway market in Europe.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) The first railway package adopted in 2001 was a preliminary attempt to halt the decline in rail transport, integrate the sector and make it more attractive compared with other means of transport. Unfortunately, there has been no great improvement in the situation since this first reform. Adoption of this proposal for a directive was therefore extremely pressing. By merging the three directives already in force, it includes provisions relating to the funding and relevant pricing of rail infrastructure, the conditions of competition in the railway market and the organisational reforms needed to ensure adequate supervision of the market. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Jaromír Kohlíček (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (CS) The report by my colleague, Ms Serracchiani, is based on several false assumptions. The first of these is the proposition that in order to ensure effective and non-discriminatory access to the railway infrastructure it is sufficient to separate the infrastructure from the operation. The second mistake is the claim that the creation of a single European railway area is a prerequisite for increasing the share of railway transport in the railway sector. The author completely neglects the necessity of unifying the safety and operating rules between states. On the contrary, it underlines the vague need for compliance with the strictest safety rules, and similarly does not over-obligatorily refer to employment and the working conditions of employees. The introduction of a uniform collection of data on incidents and the endeavour to reflect external costs in prices for the use of the infrastructure are positive steps. At the same time, annex VIII of the report points out the importance of simplification and harmonisation of charges for the use of the infrastructure. The possibility to modify the rules contained in the annexes without parliamentary debate is highly dangerous for the stability of the operation of railway services. Here I agree with the opinion of the rapporteur that annexes II to VIII can only be modified through the normal legislative procedure. The entire report has its usual weaknesses and I have to oppose the constantly repeated claim that further liberalisation is the only correct way to increase the importance of rail transport. Despite this I partially support the report, and I will therefore not vote it down.

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing.(PL) I voted in favour of the report, especially with the adopted amendment concerning the exclusion of the LHS line. The directive provides an opportunity to accelerate the process of creating the European railway area, improving the prospects of the rail transport sector in increasing its competitiveness in the transport market of the Member States. The directive strengthens the Community approach and method in the creation of policies and in supervising the adherence to common principles within the EU railway sector. I would like to express my esteem for the rapporteur and the political group coordinators. I hope that the Council will support Parliament’s position.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Rail transport has been unable to develop in the same way as the other modes of transport for a variety of reasons. In recent years, there has been a decline in international rail transport, especially for freight, due to the fact that transnational rail services are facing numerous technical, legal and political obstacles.

I think that rail transport can play a key role in meeting the EU’s targets for reducing CO2 emissions and can be very economically efficient. Since we are talking about a sustainable, green transport system for Europe, the Commission must assign a more important role to rail transport and must make every effort to get rid of the many discrepancies between existing national rules.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. The first railway package adopted in 2001 was the first serious attempt to stop the steady decline of railway transport and to reform the European regulatory framework. Ten years later we see that this first reform was unable to improve significantly the railway’s situation: rail transport was unable catch up with other modes of transport, in particular road transport. For example, between 1996 and 2008 rail freight’s share decreased by almost 2% to 10.8%, whereas road freight transport increased from 42.1% to 45.9%. This development is even more worrying against the background of a steady overall growth in freight transport of around 2.3% annually: the railways sector has been unable to profit from an otherwise favourable environment. Where trucks and planes cross borders seamlessly, transnational rail services encounter numerous technical, legal and political obstacles.

Yet while road transport in particular shows more and more signs of saturation, rail transport still holds potential for growth. Moreover, it can play a key role in supporting the EU’s goals to reduce CO2 emissions and make its economy more resource efficient. The European Commission in its 2011 White Paper therefore rightly attributes a major role to rail transport in achieving the goals of a more sustainable and greener transport system for Europe.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The first railway package adopted in 2001 attempted to reform the European regulatory framework and to ensure integration of the sector, enhancing its attractiveness compared to other modes of transport. Unfortunately, ten years later, we can see that this first reform has been unable to significantly improve the situation of the railways. Rail transport has been unable to catch up with other modes of transport, in particular road transport.

One of the main reasons is the discrepancies in national rules and the flawed implementation of the first railway package by a good number of Member States, many of which have neglected the financing of rail while giving maximum support to road infrastructure. The current system has demonstrated its shortcomings. Rules therefore need to be strengthened and harmonised and new elements need to be added to make railways more attractive as a mode of transport for both passengers and freight.

We therefore support this report because, as amended, it sets itself the ambitious goal of establishing a global, integrated European railway area, a truly European railway area where passengers and goods can cross borders effortlessly.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for the report on the single European railway area. Rail transport still offers great potential which we tend to overlook. It is all about making this sector more dynamic and competitive. This requires removing the technical, legal and political obstacles that lie on the track to a European railway area. Transparency must be increased, rules rewritten more clearly and the railway area placed under fair and strict control. By improving the conditions of competition on the railway market, this report will offer our citizens an efficient and diversified railway network that better meets their needs. It will make it easier and cheaper to take the train to travel within Europe.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) I voted against this resolution because it aims to deepen the privatisation of railway services. The separation of related activities as recommended therein invariably leads to the transfer of revenue-generating activities to the private sector and loss-making activities remaining in the public sector. If the European railway network is to once again be the most efficient means of transporting freight over medium and long distances, it needs coordination, integration and investment. This report will not enable this, hence my vote against.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) We urgently need to close the gap between the railway sector and other sectors of transport. Therefore I agree with the rapporteur that the 2001 railway package is no longer sufficient.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. Opening Europe's railways to increased competition could provide consumers with more and better rail services. I voted in favour of this report but stress the importance of safety, which must remain at the heart of any future proposals.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Unfortunately, rail transport usage has been in decline in some Member States. This should cause us some concern, as it is a means of transporting people and goods rapidly, safely and with less pollution that those that use fossil fuels. The establishment of a single European railway area may therefore go some way towards reversing this trend. A Europe with a single railway area will be more environmentally friendly and better supplied with goods and services.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) With freight transport continually on the up, rail transport has not been able to keep up with the other means of transport, particularly road transport. Despite European Union legislation aimed at halting the decline in the railway sector, its ability to compete with other means of transport is still hampered by problems caused by funding and the inadequate pricing of infrastructure, persistent obstacles to competition and the lack of appropriate regulatory supervision. The railway sector can play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions and in introducing a more sustainable transport network. The railway industry must assume its fair share of modal transport. The rules governing it must be reinforced, harmonised and added to to make the train more attractive for passenger and freight transport. Intermodality needs to be encouraged for both passenger and freight transport. It is also important to tighten up safety rules making them as strict as possible.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. Reforming the first railway package involves issues such as financing rail infrastructure, the operation of rail related services, national regulatory bodies’ role and the separation of infrastructure management from operations.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) It is clear that there is still a lot of catching up to do when it comes to investment in expansion of the rail network and improving the attractiveness of rail transport as compared with road transport. For this reason, the promotion of important projects such as the development of the Baltic-Adriatic axis should be vigorously pushed forward. Only then can it be ensured that the infrastructure for traffic flows, which will increasingly shift from road to rail in the coming years, is developed appropriately. However, I fear that the proposed liberalisation of the European railway area will result in a concentration on cross-border passenger and freight transport, and that the regional connections will be forgotten. After all, massive cuts have been made in this area over the past ten years. Moreover, there is also a risk that liberalisation of rail transport could go hand in hand with a concentration on the attractive main routes, with a decline in services to rural regions. Since these developments need to be counteracted, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) Rail transport has still not fully developed its potential at a European level. There is still too much fragmentation and not enough competition, which translates into a disadvantage for all citizens wishing to use this mode of transport which is safe, economical and has a low environmental impact. European mobility is becoming more and more closely linked, and this requires greater harmonisation between the differing sets of national rules, with the ultimate aim of helping the service users, in other words the passengers, by reducing ticket prices and ensuring smoother journeys within the various EU countries. This report highlights these and other priorities worthy of support, which is why I decided to vote in favour of it.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) In order to guarantee that there is a truly united and competitive railway area in Europe, it is extremely important that the European Union and the Member States increase investment in rail network infrastructure. The condition of European railways differs greatly from one Member State to another, because many Member States invest more in road transport than in the development of more environmentally sustainable rail networks. The condition of the rail network is significantly worse in Eastern Europe, including my home country Estonia, where the track guage is more closely integrated with the Russian Federation than Western Europe, and as a result road transport is predominantly used for the movement of goods and passengers, thereby causing more pollution of the natural environment and heavily endangering human life. The increase in the proportion of road transport is also at variance with the recommendations of the corresponding European strategies, in which the priority is to increase the relative importance of rail transport as a more environmentally friendly mode of transport. In order to achieve this objective, it is of key importance that the EU support such projects as Rail Baltica to connect the rail networks of Western and Eastern Europe and create a truly united European railway area. I strongly support this report, which aims to do precisely this.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome the initiative to establish a single European railway area. However, I do not agree with the proposals on the separation of the infrastructure manager, operator and transport services. I believe that the implementation of these proposals will hamper the opening-up of the rail market. Furthermore, there will be a negative impact on the quality of rail transport services. Attention should be drawn to the fact that only a limited range of stakeholders will be able to take advantage of the exception provided for by the proposal applicable to the 1 520mm gauge network. Meanwhile, countries such as Lithuania, where there are integrated companies working on the network connected to third countries, will be prevented from applying the said clause because their lines are part of the trans-European transport (TEN-T) network. Such legal regulation will have a particularly negative impact on Lithuania and its whole rail transport sector.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The first railway package, adopted in 2001, constituted the first serious attempt to halt the decline of railway transport and reform the European regulatory framework. It intended to ensure the sector’s integration and make it more attractive than other modes of transport. This report aims to put forward a new framework to stimulate the growth of the railway sector’s modal share, carrying out an in-depth review of the legislation. Since the current system has already shown its weaknesses, it will be necessary to reinforce and harmonise the rules, and to bring together new elements to make rail travel more attractive as a means of transporting both passengers and goods. I voted for this report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Having ascertained that the first railway reform in the shape of the first railway package adopted in 2001, which attempted to stop the steady decline of railway transport, has not had the desired results, having failed to significantly improve the situation of the railways in Europe, a new reform is needed in order to iron out discrepancies in the numerous national rules and to guarantee development of the sector. In order to ensure that employment growth and working conditions in the railway sector play a greater role in the legislation in force, and that safety regulations may be as stringent as possible, I voted in favour of this proposal for a directive, although I do not agree with every point of the wording

.

 
  
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  Franck Proust (PPE), in writing. (FR) About time too. It is 10 years now since Europe set out the rules to move towards a single railway area. Yet there has been no real progress. Rail expansion has come to a halt. The rail industry has even become the only industry to have lost market shares in recent years. The explosion of low-cost offers for short and medium haul routes has a lot to do with it. However, the train meets a number of our demands: means of transport that are more environmentally-friendly (Europe 2020 goals), more profitable, involved in the sustainable development of our territories while offering solutions to the increased need for speed and intermodality, for both passengers and freight. Today, we now realise that the train was a safe and valid means of transport. We now need to put together the appropriate legal instruments. This is the spirit of this legislative package.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) In spite of its potential as an environmentally sustainable mode of transport, rail transport has not managed to impose itself as a preferred means of transporting either people or goods. In this last area, market share was lost to road transport in the period 1996-2008. There is therefore a need for policies enabling the revitalisation of this mode of transport, so reducing obstacles to international transportation – since, in this sector, there are still artificial barriers to freedom of movement – and promoting new entrants into the market. As such, it is necessary to separate the entities dedicated to rail infrastructure from service operation companies, so that they are all on equal terms, so preventing abuse of dominant position by operators with greater economic weight. Since I believe that this reform of the railway area’s regulatory framework will contribute to the creation of a European transport network with significant advantages in terms of quality of service, job creation, safety and environmental sustainability, 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 Serracchiani. The railway system has to catch up with other modes of transport. At present rail freight has an EU market share of no more than 7%, and passenger services have just 11-12%.

In order to establish a single European railway area we need to tighten the rules on fair competition, particularly with regard to cross-border routes. I believe that every Member State should guarantee the independence and impartiality of the national regulatory body in order to eliminate discriminatory competitive fare and platform assignment practices and allow access to related services (such as ticket sales, repairs and maintenance facilities, stations, shunting stations and so on). Furthermore, I call on the European Commission to present a legislative proposal by the end of 2012 on the total separation of the management of infrastructures and transport services, as well as the opening up of national passenger railway markets to free competition.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − Abstention. Main text on Amendment 162 (on burden of proof and equitable use of capacity in service facility) was rejected. However, we welcome that MEPs agreed to postpone the question of unbundling until the end of next year when the Commission will present a legislative proposal on the relationship between infrastructure and railway services.

Unfortunately, the EPP and S&D groups nonetheless managed to include an ambiguous new provision on the separation of financial flows that is open for interpretation. This may keep the Transport Council from concentrating on the implementation of strong and independent regulators in all Member States and thereby possibly delay the creation of the Single European Railway Area.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this text because I believe it would be useful in encouraging new railway operators to enter the European market and boosting the supply of quality services. The railway system needs to catch up with other modes of transport, and for it to do so the rules on competition need to be strengthened. Every Member State should in fact guarantee the independence and impartiality of the national regulatory body in order to eliminate discriminatory competitive practices, particularly as regards fares, platform assignment and access to related services. Now the European Commission needs to present a legislative proposal on the complete separation of infrastructure and transport services management.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report on the establishment of a single European railway area, as the objective is to safeguard and improve the attractiveness of this sector. One of the main reasons why the railways have stagnated is because of the numerous discrepancies between national laws. If we are to build a competitive EU, the transport sector needs to be improved and coordinated at European level, in order to bring about exponential results and improve the Union’s competitiveness. Furthermore, this will safeguard and improve employment and improve working conditions in the railway sector by improving the current legislation.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) In today’s vote on the report on the revision of the directive establishing a single European railway area, I supported only part of the directive in the final vote. There were, unfortunately, some amendments that I was unable to support. I will comment on these below. Firstly, Parliament approved an amendment that does not offer sufficient clarity regarding the use of public funds. This makes it possible for an entrepreneur who owns both infrastructure and the organisation of freight transport to use government support for purposes other than the development of infrastructure. Secondly, Parliament approved an amendment that adds to the list of direct expenses of organisers of freight transport restaurant and kindergarten expenses, which clearly do not belong there. I am glad that the increasing of the rights and obligations of supervisory organisations was supported under the leadership of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe , and the procedure for their funding was elaborated upon. In addition, parliament supported a proposal to define the rights and obligations of rail service providers and their differentiation from the largest rail enterprises, in order to guarantee the accessibility of services and equal price policies for all market participants.

Although the rapporteur sought complete separation, this was unfortunately not supported in Parliament, and no great breakthrough took place in that area. One noteworthy amendment concerned the Baltic States. This permits the continuation of the existing usage fees system, which avoids the use of public funds for the subsidisation of freight transport originating from third countries.

 
  
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  Brian Simpson (S&D), in writing. − I will vote for this report today even though I believe that yet again vested interest from the railway lobby has diluted it in certain key areas. The rapporteur is to be congratulated on doing a difficult job well. It is interesting to see how many votes in the Transport Committee follow political lines. But when it comes to railways Members vote along national lines, defending their own national railways. Perhaps this is why we have failed to deliver the single market in the railway sector, that this sector is still in many Member States dominated by States owned railways, who jealously guard their near monopolistic positions and why progress on interoperability and particularly cross-border traffic has been painfully slow if not lethargic. As we enter 2012 our railways are about to enter 1912. In many areas the speed of trains is now slower that the steam era and international freight is no more than a trickle. What the railways need is a radical shake-up with independent regulation and transparent accounting allied with a can do attitude. Status quo is not an option if we are to deliver on efficient, safe, affordable and transparent pan European train network, yet it seems (...) many railway quarters status quo is what they desire.

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 170)

 
  
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  Alf Svensson (PPE), in writing. − (SV) At the European Parliament’s sitting in Strasbourg on 16 November, I voted in favour of a report on establishing a single European railway area. The report contains a passage that states that the president and governing board of the regulatory body for the railway sector are to be appointed by the national parliament. In Sweden, the Swedish Transport Agency is answerable to the government and it is the government that is responsible for appointments, not the Swedish Parliament. In spite of this passage, I decided to vote in favour of the report, as it contains proposals for important initiatives such as the further opening up of the market, better opportunities for investments, an independent monitoring body and increased transparency. These are key initiatives for achieving a non-discriminatory and competitive European railway sector.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The creation of a single European railway area as expressed in the objectives of the 2011 White Paper on Transport requires the harmonisation of national regulations, in order to make the sector highly competitive in relation to other modes of transport. The implementation of the first rail package did not meet the proposed objectives and the text’s lack of clarity gave rise to several interpretations and, consequently, infringement proceedings against Member States. In order for the sector to be revitalised, there is a need for clearer, integrated legislation through standardisation of technical and legal regulations and establishment of the conditions needed to make the sector more competitive. The main points of the report are the liberalisation of the national passenger market, the reinforcement of national regulatory bodies’ independence and powers, the internalisation of external costs, funding issues, working conditions, and safety rules. The creation of a European regulatory body will be the next step. In addition, by the end of 2012 the Commission will table two legislative proposals on the vertical separation of the infrastructure manager from the service provider, and on opening a more transparent, fairer and non-discriminatory railway market, so preventing distortions in the sector.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the proposal for a directive establishing a single European railway area. The main elements of the adopted proposal concern the following: transparent market conditions for competent rail services; ensuring strict separation of accounts between infrastructure manager and railway companies; compliance with legislation on social protection and health by operators and companies in order to avoid the practices of social dumping and unfair competition. The Commission must submit by 31 December 2012 a proposal for a directive containing provisions relating to the separation of infrastructure management and transport operations. I voted for Amendment 125 calling for the obligatory service to be removed in the case of a strike, and for Amendments 51 and 52. They call for the infrastructure manager to manage its own IT services, so as to provide adequate protection for commercially sensitive information. Member States ensure that both railway companies and infrastructure managers, which are not completely independent of each other, are responsible for their own staff policies. We call on the Commission to monitor the use of the networks and the development of framework conditions in the railway sector, in particular infrastructure charging, investments in railway infrastructure, development of prices, quality of rail transport services, as well as employment and social conditions.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. – (DE) The report is consistent and necessary. Following the amendments in committee, it has a logical structure and contains ideas and proposals aimed at achieving a single efficient rail market in Europe. Common standards coupled with strong, smooth coordination are essential for the European railways of the future. A strong single European regulator is also required. The question of the separation of networks and operators is not decisive for increasing competition, efficiency and quality; rather, the key factor is having transparent, fairly calculated track usage charges. Strict, comprehensive control of this with corresponding sanctions mechanisms will be essential.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. − (LT) Rail transport is one of the leading modes of transport in Lithuania. Statistics show that last year 4.4 million passengers used services provided by Lithuanian Railways and more than 40 million tonnes of freight was carried by rail. However, the technical level of infrastructure in the Lithuanian rail sector remains lower than that in Europe. Modernisation and technical interoperability between Lithuanian and European railways is essential in order to link up Europe. One of the main tasks of Lithuanian transport policy should be to promote rail transport, drawing particular attention to the passenger transport sector. Currently in Lithuania the freight transport sector is somewhat more developed than the passenger transport sector and passenger numbers are in constant decline. Lithuania and the EU should promote passenger transport by rail more and try to make this mode of transport more attractive – let us not forget that rail journeys are somewhat safer and more environmentally friendly than journeys by other means of transport. I support the rapporteur’s call for greater financial transparency and I agree that national regulatory authorities should monitor rail services more closely. I also believe that the European Commission should play a more active role in the coordination of the Rail Baltic project. This is an important strategic project which is designed to link the railways of the Baltic countries and Western Europe. We cannot allow a lack of funds to hinder this project.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. – (CS) The proposal for a directive establishing a single European railway area unifies the existing legislation into one legal act which records, compared to the existing arrangement, a large number of fundamental changes. These relate in particular to the financing and charging of the infrastructure, non-discriminatory and transparent conditions for competition in the railway market and the supervision of the railway market. Although I supported the European Parliament's position because I consider it a fragile compromise, I am convinced that the proposed application of the principles of the internalisation of external costs will lead to an unnecessary increase in the regulatory burden. I am also cautious as regards the proposals on the definition of the extent of the powers of the Commission and the extensive transfer of powers relating to the regulation and supervision of competition in the rail industry under one regulatory authority. In this respect, the proposal would merit significant refinements.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) Although rail transport was reformed in 2001 with a specific package of measures aimed at making this mode of transport more attractive, there has been a significant decline in rail freight – which now has a market share of just 10.8%, compared with 45.9% for road freight. The reform was prevented from having its desired effect by legal shortcomings (in 13 Member States the implementation of certain parts of the package of measures had to be brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union), technical inadequacies (due to low levels of investment in appropriate infrastructure) and, not least, a lack of political will to achieve a real change in the status quo.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing.(PL) Once again, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on her effective work on the document concerning the recast of the first railway package (a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a single European railway area). I did, of course, support the document at the final vote.

I am pleased that Parliament adopted Amendment 135, which I tabled jointly with Mr Marcinkiewicz and 40 other Members from different Member States and different groups. I believe that the support which we have achieved represents a clear signal for the Council and the Commission that the issue of exclusion contained in Amendment 135 is a priority for the European Parliament, and that this fact will be taken into consideration as further work is carried out on the document.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0571/2011

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution, as it reinforces the message urging the European Union to publicly and unequivocally confirm its strong commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, and to take all necessary steps to avoid any gap between K